The night of 22 January, 2015, the Serenade of the Seas experienced an electrical malfunction and subsequent flooding of 199 cabins. The damage was not repairable in time for our sailing on 24 January. (Later, 119 more cabins were added to the unavailable list.)
What we experienced on January 24, 2015
We faced locked doors when we arrived at the New Orleans RCI terminal for a 7 day cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. No official from Royal Caribbean was telling us what was going on. One person who directed car traffic told us to go to Door Three. There we found no chairs, no representative. We found no help. We have been on over fifty cruises. Eleven have been with Royal Caribbean. We arrived before 11:00 AM. We were denied any communication. We waited and waited. There were no chairs, no food, no water, and no help. We were promised help with wheelchairs when we booked our cruise. I have arthritis and so does my husband. My husband also has diabetes. We needed wheel chairs. We needed something to drink. My husband fortunately brought some energy bars. With diabetes you can get into health problems when you do not eat regularly. We got on the ship at 5:30 PM. It took hours before we found out if we were affected by electrical problems. This is not acceptable. We were never shown a complete list of rooms affected. Even when we finally got our Sea Passes; we knew very little about what would happen. All of this left us in a poor, exhausted condition. I never was able to feel less stressed and able to ease my arthritic pain the entire cruise. I know I felt a lot better before we got to the cruise terminal on Saturday where I stood and waited and waited. I also should mention the bathroom facilities were extremely poor.
We felt sorry for newly weds and families who traveled to New Orleans to make this cruise. We saw children and other people upset and crying. We would have gladly given up our place to one of these travelers. We are retired and we were making this cruise to rest after the Christmas holidays and to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I gave him a cruise because he loves to sail. His birthday celebration on the ship was not done on the day stated on our booking. Our table guest made our waiter arrange a song and a candle on a small desert. On other RCI we received a small cake or I have arranged for him to get his favorite ice cream.
RCI apparently had no plan to deal with the over 800 passengers who were denied boarding. I talked to one couple who were prepared to yield their cabin to one of the displaced couples. They were told they would be charged for cancellation.
One of the desk representatives, told a guest the cruise was free. The next day the same statement was made. Later that day a different desk representative told guest the home office was still evaluating the situation. Finally we were told each cabin would get $200.00. We did not. We got $125.00. Was my discomfort any less than guests in other cabins? I saw champagne delivered to many other guests on our deck at 7:30 PM. on the last night. Travel agents usually give their clients this on the first day of the cruise. Was this another benefit for some guests but not all?
I like quiet times. Deck 5 should have been the place I could go to read, enjoy the ocean and meditate. There were no chairs out at times you would expect them out. No adjustments were made to enable the guests to have an enjoyable time. The deck had to be washed at a time you would be outside, enjoying the fresh air. On Deck 11 no service was readily available. You had to get up and look for a waiter. I had little purchases on this cruise because they were not readily available.
Our Room Stewart Evert was very nice and efficient. When we asked; he did provide. I asked for a room mini bar price list, he provided it. I asked for lotion and he provided it. I asked for Kleenex and he provided it. He kept ice in our room which we really did appreciate. Evert told me only upper decks got lotion. RCI’s decision to remove this from the cabins is a shame since the comfort of guests should always be considered. Guests often get dry skin when they cruise.
I have been on cruises delayed by fog causing delays in boarding in Galveston. I thought that was bad because I found myself sitting on a concrete floor. I could not do that this time because I could not get up by myself. My husband has the same problem. RCI blamed the problem on the port.
I have been on cruises out of Long Beach where the Noro virus was present on the cruise before ours and the ship had to be disinfected. Departure was delayed for six hours. Food and drink were provided for lunch and buses took us to a variety of restaurants where vouchers were honored for dinner. A plan was in effect. RCI had no plan. We were treated terribly. RCI showed no respect particularly to the children, disabled and elderly passengers.
On previous cruises the TV when working showed entertainment on the ship continually. RCI only showed a few programs in English and you had to be lucky enough to find one.
The Library was poor, almost non-existent. We always donate our read books or exchange them for others. I saw no plan for this.
Breakfast was a disaster. The coffee was not good. I asked for half and half; I received coffee artificial creamer. Again, I asked for real cream - half and half. I got artificial creamer. Even the pitcher labeled half and half in the Windjammer was not HALF AND HALF. I asked for tea. I received no tea pot to brew it. I asked for English Breakfast Tea and I got Tetley Black tea. I had to go to the Windjammer to get tea and bring it back to my cabin. I received cantaloupe on my fruit plate smaller than my little finger and no wider. I did not know that was possible. The breakfast rolls were often the less desirable ones. Misshaped or crushed.
One time our breakfast was delivered much earlier than we indicated on our breakfast order. I was awakened by a faint knock on my door. Another time we did not indicate a time and when I called the room service, they were very nice and delivered our breakfast in a short period of time. That was very nice. We appreciated this kindness.
We could not get our intercom to work to get announcements. The only time we heard an announcement was by opening our door. One time the Captain came on and began “I have more bad news.” This really frightened me for a few seconds. I felt a disaster was coming. He did say we would not be able to go ashore at Coco Cay because of the windy conditions. We found out other ships could not go there because of windy conditions. RCI knows this and continues to put this as a stop. Perhaps they should only advertise two stops and not three. There is a possibility that RCI knew weather was a factor and we went to Belize instead of the port affected. A survey of previous guests suggests that the Coco Cay sop is not made half the time.
The Casino was not staffed with enough waiters. Not once did I have a waiter ask me if I needed something. I am a person who enjoys the slot machines. I was told by one waiter they did not have what I wanted. Since I knew it was available on the ship, I suggested he get someone to go and get it. I did get it eventually. He was very nice and I appreciated that he did go for me. When the casino was not operating it remained open to pass through. I could also go and sit down there. On the last night it was sealed off. I would have to go outside on deck 11 to find a chair. The Deck 5 had chairs out only sometimes. It was also less populated and I felt more secure with people around me so the Deck 11 was where I would have had to go. Instead I went again to my cabin. I understand why the casino was closed and it was announced but I did not expect it to be locked and blocked. I also would have enjoyed a person to explain the messages on the slot machines. I got two tee shirts but believe I could have gotten something else but was to late dining to get back to the casino that last night to ask. I also played a machine that was off centered and I did not know this until the next day when I found the machine very readable. One man from the casino saw me playing the machine and never told me it was off centered. It was the boogie dance by the two steps down by the tables.
The Dining Room was hard to get through. We were the last table in the dinning room on the right, against the back wall. Our waiter wasn’t able to get my order correct on several occasions. I missed some courses and other courses were placed before me stacked up in front of me. I was rushed. We took no longer than other passengers. Our assistant waiter was good in his job and rally tried to please us. He tried to anticipate our needs.
The wine steward never came to our table. We had to ask for a wine list every night. One time we were asked if we wanted the same wine. My husband and I enjoy wine and felt we were not given the time we wanted or needed to make decisions. As a result, we drank less wine than we usually do. Unfortunately we were not able to experience this joy on this cruise. This became less attractive to me and others at our table. One lady said nothing appealed to her that night. Our dinning experience was not as good as it has been on other RCI cruises. I a can remember in l999 the delightful salad dressings RCI developed and a recipe book published. I experienced this on a cruise to Alaska. At our first lunch in the dinning room, our waitress thought we wanted a 30 minute lunch. This is not my idea of dinning on a cruise. I felt as if it were on a fast lunch break from work.
The Loyalty Advantages were not easy to be used. Our waiter told us he had to go someplace else to get the two for one wine and we only managed to use the 10% discount on wine once. We were surprised this could not be automatically dome by the Serenade computer system. A flyer in or cabin said all discounts were on the Sea Pass.
One night I had steak and it was delicious. Two nights after the steak was full of ligaments, hard fat and was uneatable. I was also served cold onion soup once. The ice cream which is usually delicious was full of ice chunks. Our waiter never knew what ice cream was available. He always thought we would not order it. Our desserts were mostly chiffon like and not particularly good. They were pretty. As a person who enjoys good food, I thought they were poor. Even in the Windjammer my husband went to get me apple pie (a special treat at the entrance) and it was gone. As I waited in line, the servers told us to get dessert first but I thought they were kidding. They were not.
The RCI previous passenger loyalty party at 10:30 AM was unusual. I do not drink much wine, champagne, or alcohol at 10:30 AM. I can see this cut RCI’s budget because many people are like me and much less alcohol would be consumed. An afternoon party or cocktail party would have been much better. I wonder if RCI really showed appreciation to as many loyalty members as possible. We did not attend. We did get feedback from others and it was not positive.
Usually you are offered champagne or a mimosa upon entering the ship. There was nothing. One glass half filled with champagne on the first night was not enough. It is too bad RCI did not have a band come out to the waiting room before we got our Sea Passes to help elevate the mood. A glass of wine or champagne or a soft drink would have help smooth a lot of ruffled feathers. It would have shown good faith. Where were the officers? No one in authority was to be found that day. Even the guest relations table was left unmanned. We had one RCI staff member low on the totem pole shouting at us to behave and wait until a list would come out. I never did see a second list and therefore did not know if we were getting on the ship. One couple was told they already checked in and, of course, they were not. The RCI person did not know what to do. Another family had one room given away and one not.
The Cruise Director was personable. He was able to get out of everyone a good laugh or and enjoyable experience. He had 3 assistants to do all that work when the ship usually has 5. Cutbacks that affect passengers negatively should be reevaluated. If a change is made in a venue, someone should always be there to direct you to the revised place. Trivia was moved more than once and we did not know where. Once it was announced but my husband was not where he heard the announcement. Our cabin had to have the hall door open to hear the announcements.
RCI did not have experts or the same kind of lecturers in enrichment lectures. It looks like RCI put their own personnel on to give abbreviated lectures. We loved the enrichment lectures.
We did appreciate the Compass daily program. It was delivered in a timely manner. I did not see the revised editions that were promised on at least one occasion.
Again I think the entertainment should have been better. I know RCI added two more performers after the catastrophe but they were still single acts more like a lounge show. Smaller ships have better entertainment and better lecturers than this cruise had. I am aware the theatre was not usable in the first part of the cruise but I still think alternative plans still should have been in place if needed.
There were more foreign movies than English ones. Yes I know you have many nationalities but more English films should have been provided in a New Orleans departure city. Movies in the theatre were limited. You only had a few.
We purchased a tour from RCI representative. We asked her several times if this train were the tour train. She assured us it was. It was not. We had to walk over a block in downtown Key West to get to the correct train. We were last to get the train and I had to sit backwards. I missed half of the sights. The walk back to the tram to the ship was not as bad.
Our departure was not smooth. We were directed by guest services the night before to go to the Safari Lounge. The Compass had the Reflection Dinning Room. People in the Safari Lounge told us to go to Deck 4 to get a wheel chair. We finally got there but should have been with the loyalty passengers. The man there did get us a chair after a 30 minute wait. He was very nice and helpful.