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Unknown to me until after sail-away, my now-fiancE had planned this vacation as a proposal-and-engagement cruise. Our relationship began on the Jewel of the Seas, another Radiance-class ship, in March 2007 so it was very sentimental. :) By sheer coincidence we also had the same cruise director, Marc Walker, so it was fun to get a chance to tell him the story at the Meet & Mingle. We flew into San Juan the night before the cruise and spent the night at the Radisson Condado. We had credit card reward points to use so the stay was free. The hotel was nothing special but neither was it problematic in any way; in the end, it was a perfectly decent place to spend the night and the cab for both of us to the pier was simple and reasonable. Embarkation went smoothly; we arrived early, around 11:45, and we were picking out seats in the Windjammer about ten minutes after the cab driver dropped us off at the pier. Our room took until 1:30 to be ready and even then we kept crossing paths with the cabin steward as we went in and out in the afternoon, but I understand how quickly they have to do a ton of work on embarkation day so it wasn't really a big deal. Our luggage arrived around 4:00. We were in aft cabin 9256, one of the 8 corner-aft cabins that Radiance-class ships have. The balconies are large enough for two loungers, two normal chairs, a couple of small tables, and some room left over. (They are also large enough for a romantic night-time proposal!) The walk to the nearest stair / elevator, at the Centrum, can be fairly aggravating if you have to do it several times in a row ("oops, I forgot my...") but in a general sort of sense wasn't an issue at all. I would like very much to luck into having one of those cabins again! (In our case, it happened to open up 2 months before sailing and we managed to grab it.) The ship itself was beautiful and well-maintained, as we expected. The service from our poor room steward was a little mixed, but it's not his fault we kept a very odd schedule for most of the cruise and were extremely difficult to work around some days, I'm sure. Our waiter and assistant waiter were professional and competent, but for the first time ever I *really* liked our head waiter. He was outgoing, full of smiles, and brought us a celebratory cake. (Anyone bringing cake gains my favor, hehe!) The dining room food was very good; not superbly excellent, but quite good. Chops and Portofino, on the other hand, were astounding as always and well, WELL worth the money. The entertainment was mixed. We left one "impressionist's" show after about 10 minutes, since every singer he was imitating sounded just like him, only in a funny hat, but the production shows were great. (We also won a private backstage tour and Q&A in the Make-a-Wish auction, and that was actually fascinating. The singers and dancers were very friendly!) The comedians were all very funny, surprisingly good, and the last night's duo were fun enough to watch. The ports were mixed, but varied from "nice enough" to "utterly amazing," as described below. The only excursion not described below was our disembarkation excursion when we returned to San Juan. We did the walking tour of Old San Juan and for anyone who likes cities and history, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Old San Juan is beautiful and fascinating. Overall, I had the time of my life on this cruise. Our travel went smoothly, our ports were beautiful, the weather was fine, the ship was great. Royal Caribbean is now 2 for 2 in my book, and we're looking forward to planning the honeymoon!

Perfectly

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by EtoilePB

Trip Details
Unknown to me until after sail-away, my now-fiancE had planned this vacation as a proposal-and-engagement cruise. Our relationship began on the Jewel of the Seas, another Radiance-class ship, in March 2007 so it was very sentimental. :) By sheer coincidence we also had the same cruise director, Marc Walker, so it was fun to get a chance to tell him the story at the Meet & Mingle. We flew into San Juan the night before the cruise and spent the night at the Radisson Condado. We had credit card reward points to use so the stay was free. The hotel was nothing special but neither was it problematic in any way; in the end, it was a perfectly decent place to spend the night and the cab for both of us to the pier was simple and reasonable. Embarkation went smoothly; we arrived early, around 11:45, and we were picking out seats in the Windjammer about ten minutes after the cab driver dropped us off at the pier. Our room took until 1:30 to be ready and even then we kept crossing paths with the cabin steward as we went in and out in the afternoon, but I understand how quickly they have to do a ton of work on embarkation day so it wasn't really a big deal. Our luggage arrived around 4:00. We were in aft cabin 9256, one of the 8 corner-aft cabins that Radiance-class ships have. The balconies are large enough for two loungers, two normal chairs, a couple of small tables, and some room left over. (They are also large enough for a romantic night-time proposal!) The walk to the nearest stair / elevator, at the Centrum, can be fairly aggravating if you have to do it several times in a row ("oops, I forgot my...") but in a general sort of sense wasn't an issue at all. I would like very much to luck into having one of those cabins again! (In our case, it happened to open up 2 months before sailing and we managed to grab it.) The ship itself was beautiful and well-maintained, as we expected. The service from our poor room steward was a little mixed, but it's not his fault we kept a very odd schedule for most of the cruise and were extremely difficult to work around some days, I'm sure. Our waiter and assistant waiter were professional and competent, but for the first time ever I *really* liked our head waiter. He was outgoing, full of smiles, and brought us a celebratory cake. (Anyone bringing cake gains my favor, hehe!) The dining room food was very good; not superbly excellent, but quite good. Chops and Portofino, on the other hand, were astounding as always and well, WELL worth the money. The entertainment was mixed. We left one "impressionist's" show after about 10 minutes, since every singer he was imitating sounded just like him, only in a funny hat, but the production shows were great. (We also won a private backstage tour and Q&A in the Make-a-Wish auction, and that was actually fascinating. The singers and dancers were very friendly!) The comedians were all very funny, surprisingly good, and the last night's duo were fun enough to watch. The ports were mixed, but varied from "nice enough" to "utterly amazing," as described below. The only excursion not described below was our disembarkation excursion when we returned to San Juan. We did the walking tour of Old San Juan and for anyone who likes cities and history, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Old San Juan is beautiful and fascinating. Overall, I had the time of my life on this cruise. Our travel went smoothly, our ports were beautiful, the weather was fine, the ship was great. Royal Caribbean is now 2 for 2 in my book, and we're looking forward to planning the honeymoon!
EtoilePB’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9256
ASTOUNDING, unbelievable balcony. Very long walk but no problem unless you have mobility issues.
  Serenade of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    In Antigua we were feeling a little silly, so our excursion was a pirate-themed party sailboat. (I've been very into pirate history since I was a small child, so the current cultural popularity of the theme works quite well for me!) The Black Swan excursion was quite entertaining. The staff and crew were friendly, the captain was fun-loving and competent all at once, and the rum punch was surprisingly excellent! I wasn't really into the swimming and the beach stop, because I love to be on boats, but it was nice enough. The would-be snorkelers on board were foiled by the weather it was a very windy, occasionally-rainy day but there's nothing you can do about that one way or the other.
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  • Barbados
    I was a history major back in college and remain a history geek to this day, so in Barbados we took a historical tour. We visited a rum distillery (where the gift shop, yes, sells bottles of the product, which is quite good, at a *very* reasonable price) and went to Sunbury Plantation, where a four-course lunch was included. The (ship-sponsored) tour was very good and I probably would have given it higher marks if we hadn't been mentally comparing it all to such a high standard of excellence set just the day before. The tour was as-described and I, at least, enjoyed seeing the scenery and some of the history. I could have dealt without the visit to the local artisan, at the end, but at least he gave an interesting demonstration and didn't push too hard for sales.
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  • St. Lucia
    It seems that every single person on Cruise Critic who's ever been to St. Lucia says, "You MUST do Cosol's tour!" So we did. And now we're both firmly among the camp advocating this tour! Cosol and the drivers (ours was Pascal) were thorough, friendly, professional, and generally wonderful. The food was AMAZING and the sights were just stunning. (The 69-image gallery I've linked with this review contains approximately 1/3 of the photos we took in St. Lucia.) Cosol deserves all the business he gets and anyone in St. Lucia for just a day would do well to take his tour. We saw Castries, Canaries, and Soufrière; we went to a volcano, a waterfall, and a beautiful beach. We had bananas off the tree at a banana plantation and every local item (curry, bread, seafood, fruits, meats, candies, beer, rum) you can imagine at a wonderful spread. It was worth every penny and then some. Highlight of the trip.
    View All 1,390 St. Lucia Cruise Port Reviews
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  • St. Maarten
    We took another low-key, no-real-plans day in St. Maarten. We were feeling a little silly and so we took a cab over to Maho to watch the planes land from the beach.

    That was actually a lot of fun, but we had no real sense of how -big- St. Maarten is and so we had some worried moments where we wondered how long it was going to take, how bad the traffic could really BE, and would we be able to get back?! Happily we worried for no real reason and it was a lovely day.
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  • St. Thomas
    I have very mixed feelings about our brief time in St. Thomas. We didn't book an excursion; rather, we thought of a few things we'd like to go see. We planned to take it easy sleeping in, really letting ourselves be "on vacation" and then go do our thing in our own time. Well, we were in St. Thomas on a Sunday and it turns out most everything closes up early. That's on us for not doing more thorough research. However, our cab driver, knowing *full well* that the place he was taking us would be closing within 2 minutes of our arriving there, gleefully drove us there and back, pocketing full fares each time. It left a bad taste in our mouths, particularly the way the cab driver and the man at the destination bandied it back and forth between them. We just decided to call it all off and go veg in the Solarium on board for the rest of the day.
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