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This was our 3rd - the last 2 being with Thomson for 7n each and we thought we would try a longer period with another cruise line. This allowed a comparison. RCI is very American. The arrival - transfer on was poor - 3k passengers meant that we did not get our bags for 5 hours (took longer than the flight and wait from UK. Lots and lots of queueing) Ship and cabin- good and well appointed - cabin has two USA and one European socket. We had taken a kettle - for good medical reasons - but were warned that if it was seen, it would be confiscated if we did not hide it each day. Booked anytime dining (with gratuities prepaid) but this was a myth. We were corralled into a 6pm slot - fortunately with a very good and interesting group that we got on well with. Meals arrived promptly and acceptable but we were not allowed no time to keep chatting as the tables were wanted for others. Wine and drink prices were outrageous at $80 -100/ bottle. We did not see wine bottles being ordered at the tables in the silver service restaurant -not surprising. We were constantly being searched for liquid when re-boarding - not convinced that this was for security We understood the reviewer who got over the wine issue by buying square cardboard packs. We can do without thankfully but did use the agreed on board spend. Even transfers into town were not covered on occasions. Entertainment - conjurer was brilliant (best I have seen) as was the juggler/ comedian but the rest was poor - very low attendance - very different to Thomson as is the daytime entertainment. No talks and limited to quizes and very occasional deck activity. Casino is like Lss Vegas and not our scene. We were constantly being told that "we were enjoying ourselves" -rather like a holiday camp I imagine? Fortunately we had booked 3 excursion through Cruisingexcursions.com and these were excellent as well as being cheaper than RCI. Highly recomended. Some RCI excursions were cancelled the night before leaving people stranded. Messina not on CC list and visit to archeological sites can be doine by train from in the town. Taxies - try bargaining away from the port - much cheaper. Our choice of cruise was because of the itinerary Majorca Malta, Messina Naples Rome and Florence and this was a good choice despite having been to most before. Staff friendly but happy to push you out of the way to get on with their tasks Comparison: Thompson's - Food, friendliness of staff and on board entertainment as well as the party/holiday atmosphere was better. RCI - Ship and cabin better Because of the company we found, we enjoyed the holiday despite the constant money grabbing approach but would put RCI below Thomson which surprises me. So probably will not use them again -they are not tuned in to UK brits.

Be prepared for a rip off throughout

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by flycgb

Trip Details
This was our 3rd - the last 2 being with Thomson for 7n each and we thought we would try a longer period with another cruise line. This allowed a comparison.
RCI is very American. The arrival - transfer on was poor - 3k passengers meant that we did not get our bags for 5 hours (took longer than the flight and wait from UK. Lots and lots of queueing)
Ship and cabin- good and well appointed - cabin has two USA and one European socket. We had taken a kettle - for good medical reasons - but were warned that if it was seen, it would be confiscated if we did not hide it each day.
Booked anytime dining (with gratuities prepaid) but this was a myth. We were corralled into a 6pm slot - fortunately with a very good and interesting group that we got on well with. Meals arrived promptly and acceptable but we were not allowed no time to keep chatting as the tables were wanted for others. Wine and drink prices were outrageous at $80 -100/ bottle. We did not see wine bottles being ordered at the tables in the silver service restaurant -not surprising.
We were constantly being searched for liquid when re-boarding - not convinced that this was for security
We understood the reviewer who got over the wine issue by buying square cardboard packs. We can do without thankfully but did use the agreed on board spend. Even transfers into town were not covered on occasions.
Entertainment - conjurer was brilliant (best I have seen) as was the juggler/ comedian but the rest was poor - very low attendance - very different to Thomson as is the daytime entertainment. No talks and limited to quizes and very occasional deck activity. Casino is like Lss Vegas and not our scene.
We were constantly being told that "we were enjoying ourselves" -rather like a holiday camp I imagine? Fortunately we had booked 3 excursion through Cruisingexcursions.com and these were excellent as well as being cheaper than RCI. Highly recomended. Some RCI excursions were cancelled the night before leaving people stranded. Messina not on CC list and visit to archeological sites can be doine by train from in the town. Taxies - try bargaining away from the port - much cheaper. Our choice of cruise was because of the itinerary Majorca Malta, Messina Naples Rome and Florence and this was a good choice despite having been to most before.
Staff friendly but happy to push you out of the way to get on with their tasks

Comparison: Thompson's - Food, friendliness of staff and on board entertainment as well as the party/holiday atmosphere was better. RCI - Ship and cabin better
Because of the company we found, we enjoyed the holiday despite the constant money grabbing approach but would put RCI below Thomson which surprises me. So probably will not use them again -they are not tuned in to UK brits.
flycgb’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3038
Cabin spacious enough with sofa etc. Toiletries - very basic - worse than 1 star B and B. TV poor - but had own DVD etc. Sockets 2x USA, 1x EU. Told that kettles would be confiscated if found. Level 3 fine in bad weather - very large ship.
  Serenade of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Firenze Walking Tour
    Excellent. Comfortable new Minivan with 6 in it + driver and excellent English speaking guide. Could ask for changes etc and comfort breaks etc. Pisa first then Florence with guided tour Chose to go to Uffizi Guaranteed to get you back to ship on time and it took 55 mins from Florence to ship. Excellent highlights tour EU over 65, take passport - free entry into colliseum
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  • Pisa Walking Tour
    Excellent. Comfortable new Minivan with 6 in it + driver and excellent English speaking guide. Could ask for changes etc and comfort breaks etc. 3o mins to Pisa on way to Florence
    View All 83 Pisa Walking Tour Reviews
  • Uffizi Museum
    Brilliant although undergoing refurbishment. EU Over 65, take passport - free entry
    View All 23 Uffizi Museum Reviews
  • Malta (Valletta)
    used hop- hop off blue to visit Mdina again but local bus is less than 2 euros/ day. Two hop on services operate at about 15E each - have different frequencies
    Really not advantageous as we were trapped in open top in Jan and fairly cold
    View All 628 Malta (Valletta) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Private Tour
    Excellent. Comfortable new Minivan with 6 in it + driver and excellent English speaking guide. Could ask for changes etc and comfort breaks etc. 20 mins from ships to Pompeii, entrance free to EU over 65 (take passport). Our Guide was very good and officially registered. Then part of Amalfi close to Positano before going onto Sorrento Guaranteed to get you back to ship on time but it Archeological buffs - try combining Pompeii (taxi?) and the Archeological museum in Naples where most of it is kept
    View All 89 Private Tour Reviews
  • Sorrento
    Excellent. Comfortable new Minivan with 6 in it + driver and excellent English speaking guide. see abve
    View All 159 Sorrento Reviews
  • Palma de Mallorca (Majorca)
    Been before so visited old town and cathedral - enjoyable break
    View All 850 Palma de Mallorca (Majorca) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Private Tour
    Excellent. Comfortable new Minivan with 6 in it + driver and excellent English speaking guide. Could ask for changes etc and comfort breaks etc. 35 mins from ships steps to outskirts of Rome, Vatican first - taken to entrance to buy tickets 19E. Then various sites including Forum etc and then Collisseum
    Guaranteed to get you back to ship on time but it took 60 mins from very wet colliseum to ship. Excellent highlights tour (been before but 30 years since seing the sights) EU over 65, take passport - free entry into colliseum
    View All 147 Private Tour Reviews