We cruised out of New Orleans on March 14th, 2015. We arrived in New Orleans a day early and stayed at the Hyatt across from the Convention Center. We parked our car at the Fulton Garage right next door. If you book your parking on line ahead of time it is a lot cheaper. And so convenient. We will always park at the Fulton Garage from now on when going on a cruise out of New Orleans. We ate at Mannings on Friday night. It was very good. I would highly recommend going to Mannings. It is located in Fulton Square.
Boarding the ship was very easy. We were dropped off at the pier around 11:00 and we were easily on board by 11:30. Went directly to the Windjammer for lunch. Went to the back of the Windjammer and went outside to eat. Great place to eat. Could always find a nice table out there.
The ship was very nice. We had traveled on the Serenade in February of 2013 and not much had changed as far as the appearance of the ship. However, the crew had changed quite a bit. When we traveled in 2013 there was a husband and wife team. The husband was the cruise director, I believe, and the wife was in charge of activities on the ship. They were great. This time was very different. The new cruise director, in my personal opinion, was not very good. She was older and didn't have the personality to do the position of cruise director justice. And the younger girl out by the pool in charge of activities out there was even worse. Could not for the life of her, generate any energy. The games by the pool were rather boring and there was not very much participation. Having said that... we do not cruise for the cruise director or the activities by the pool. I am a firm believer that the cruise is what you make of it. And we had a great cruise. Met many new friends. Enjoyed other venues of the ship.
We only went to the main dining room on three occasions. We had anytime dining, which works out perfectly for us. We always like to see what is going on each day in the evenings before we decide when and where to eat. Each evening the food in the Windjammer was practically the same as in the main dining room. So we weren't missing out on much. The idea of having to go in at a certain time to get cleaned up for dinner is not too becoming to us. We did not do any of the specialty restaurants this time. We did Chops in 2013 and we weren't too impressed with the food or our waiter. We did do Rita's one evening and it was very good and nice to sit outside and eat. We really liked to sit outside in the evenings and eat. Added so much to our cruise. We also enjoyed going to the Park Café for lunch on most days. Very fresh sandwiches and salads. And I am sure they were probably a lot better for us considering all the other junk we were eating (ice cream... lots of ice cream). We always eat our lunch in port whenever we had a port day. That way we don't get too tired of the food on board.
Our cabin steward was great. His name was "Happy". He took care of all of our needs. They should give him a raise.
Also, twice in our room we had a problem. First time was with the T.V. We could not get a good picture. We called and within five minutes we had someone in our cabin fixing it. The second time we were having trouble with our air... it continued to get very hot. We called and that time we had someone in our room within ten minutes fixing it. High praise for the "fixers" on the ship.
We enjoy watching movies at night on the screen by the pool. However, on the Serenade, it is a little awkward. You have to be on a certain side of the pool to get full view of the screen. And, the sound is not too good. However, we did enjoy two shows during our cruise.
The theater shows were O.K. I have seen much better. The theater is very large and we never had a problem getting a seat.
There were a lot of activities on the ship so you always had something to do. Zack in the Crown and Castle Pub was very good. We usually went in there every night for a while. He was from Australian. Very good entertainment. The Pub is a little small. Every night it was packed. Later at night they had adult karaoke in the Pub.
As it was Spring break there were a lot of kids on the ship. However, that didn't bother us. In fact, they were very well behaved kids. Even the college kids behaved themselves. And you could tell they were all having fun. As I said before... your cruise is what you make of it.
We hit three ports... Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. We thoroughly enjoyed each port. In Jamaica and Cozumel we booked out excursions on line with independent tours. Much cheaper tan booking through the ship. In Jamaica we went to the Hilton Rose Hall on a day pass. Very nice. People there were extremely nice. Had a great day there, even though it rained a little. In Cozumel we booked a tour of the island driving a convertible volkswagon. Our tour guide was Omar. He was great. We made several stops, including one for lunch, which was included in our cost. Had a great day on Cozumel. Weather was perfect. In Grand Cayman we just shopped and ate lunch at The Bar at the Sunset House. Very nice... right on the water. Great view of the ship. It was about a mile south of where the boat was docked. We walked it. Very nice walk; however, some may have chosen to take a cab. Would definitely go back there. Very nice place to have lunch.
I probably won't go on the Serenade again. We have done it twice. Nothing to do with the crew or any shortcomings the ship may have had. Just want to try something different next time. It was very convenient for us each time we went on the Serenade as it went out of New Orleans and it is easy for us to drive there and board the ship. Saves a lot on airfare. We found out that Royal Caribbean will no longer be going out of New Orleans after March. Someone said they did not choose to renew their contract.
Getting off the ship went very well. They are very organized and it went very smoothly. Said getting off that morning. We had such a great week. Wished we could have done it all over again.
Nice picture window in room. Always kept clean. Very convenient - near elevator. Very quiet. Had no problem sleeping. Awkward position of the toilet. A bit cramped shower.