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Re-Positioning Cruise, 14 days, Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale We have cruised annually since 2008 on RC ‘08 through ‘12, 2 Celebrity in ‘13 and ‘14, our last Royal cruise being on the SOTS in 2012. This cruise due to the itinerary, time of year and cost is probably one of the best we have ever taken. The ship went into dry dock after 2012 and the exterior public areas are nicely done and always clean and shiny and taken care of. This cruise was loaded with veteran cruisers, approximately 35% being C&AS Diamond, Diamond Plus or Pinnacle. Most were our age (mid 60’s) or above and mostly from the US, very few children on board. We did notice changes on Royal in those 3 years - few of them for the better of the customer. DINING: We had 530pm in MDR and ate there every night but one, windjammer for that one. Our dining service was one of the best ever with John and Reggie, but dining service has always been good with Royal and Celebrity. They were efficient, moved quickly to take our orders, and the food was always delivered hot with a genuine friendly smile, they were wonderful to deal with. Usually we were finished by 645 pm and were not rushing. Some of the meals were outstanding, most were good, a few times I found nothing on the menu that was appealing in the appetizer, entrée or dessert section. Several times the meals were very average, this was a change from 3 years ago when all meals were good to outstanding. We did breakfast and lunch in windjammer except for one lunch in Giovanni’s, at $15 each a bargain but that meal was slightly above average, not exceptional. Windjammer was dependable, good variety and usually good to very good on their offerings. 3 formal nights; it seemed this was done so the photo shop could get pictures they could sell as they were taking pictures throughout the dining room and on the staircases. PORTS: What a treasure this cruise was; boarding in Quebec City, overnight there and left the next afternoon. Next day was Saguenay, a sea day, then 6 straight port days: PEI, Sydney, NS, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Portland, Boston, 2 sea days, Charleston, SC, a sea day then Ft. Lauderdale. We did no ship excursions but did do PEI and Sydney NS in rental cars and did independent tours in Bar Harbor and Charleston, otherwise walked off and viewed the city on our own. More specific info to follow on the city portion. One observation on the ports - RC seemed to provide little information on the ports - I recall receiving a map in the past as to where we were docked and what was nearby. Now it seemed to be a case of depending on the locals, inside the pier arrival building to provide the local city information. In most cases the locals did a good job with this aspect, also RC provided no free transport from the ship into town, pushing their tours or selling a ride into town. So if you did not book their tour or buy their transport you were on your own, walking or using local transport or car rental to get around. On Board Shows and Activities: We normally went to the evening shows, usually starting at 830 pm. Royal has a 9 piece orchestra who were outstanding. Most of the shows were decent, 1 or two very average, shows were well attended. Other than the shows we did Trivia, sometimes several times per day - usually a good crowd - found they were saving money on the trivia prizes - 3 years ago they were giving pens or key chains, this cruise was whistles and other very minor items for the winners. Casino--some of the tightest machines every experienced, good variety just no payout (to us). Bingo - $27 minimum to play - did not indulge. Course there was the gym (N/A), zumba classes (N/A) and an on board movie theater, seating 40 so you had to get there early to get in and most of the movies shown were decent ones. The usual art auction (N/A). It seemed many of the on board activities involved an out of pocket feature. INTERNET: 3 years ago I recall a per minute charge of $6.95 or so and the option to buy a package of 60 minutes for a fixed price. Well, that has been replaced by $20/day unlimited, if you buy the entire cruise days, if you want 1 day it was $40 for that 1 day, continues to be slow. NEXT CRUISE OFFICE: This is what the future cruise booking office is called. With all the upper tier cruisers this was a very busy place, hard to get in without an appointment and in the recent years it appears to me that they have really cut back on the booking incentives on board, particularly for interior cabins. No more on board credit to the next cruise, instead the deposit down goes immediately to your present sea pass account as a credit. We booked a 7 day on the Harmony and paid a $50 deposit to hold it, which came off the cost, but showed up as a $50 credit on the present sea pass account. I appreciate the ability to hold the reservation for basically zero but this is almost nothing as an incentive to book; a big change in 3 years time. CROWN & ANCHOR: Appeared to be more cutting here - incentives and freebies are practically worthless now, buy 1 beer or wine, get one free. In the bars - 20% off 1 drink per day per bar. Meanwhile the mandatory gratuity was recently raised from 15 to 18%. We listened to a veteran cruiser (Diamond) complain about cuts at her level, no longer does she get free laundry service as she used to. We had a couple meet and greets with a free drink and a little better disembarkation because of our status but too many cuts already. THE SUGGESTED TIP AMOUNT - Another recent change, now $12.95 per person per day. Looking back to our 1st cruise in 2008 this number was $9.75, a 32% increase in 7 years. I have no objection to paying the help well for a job well done but when the cruise is advertised at a certain, good price, down in the fine print and you add the tips, the port charges, which can be $200 to $400 each and the insurance cost (which most people purchase) this puts a ever increasing floor on our minimum cruise cost. All most see is the cruise cost only and on an interior, lost cost cruise the tips, port charges and insurance can become a 50% add on to the final cost, not to mention the constant selling and marketing to spend while on board. Vigilance is required on the sea pass card to make cruising the affordable travel option it can be. As the suggested tip amount continues to be raised I am less inclined to offer even more even for a job well done. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION: 30 minutes in line in Quebec City to get on, rooms were available at 1pm. In Ft. Lauderdale express got off at 615am, we were scheduled for 840am but were off by 815 am and at the airport via cab at 9 am. RC ride to the airport was $16.75 each, cab was $22 total with 3 adults sharing. OVERALL - Due primarily to the ports, the cruise cost and our traveling companions this was a great experience. I did not like the increased marketing and selling exposure and the cutbacks in various ways I saw vs. 2012 and the decreased incentives. The employees continue to do a good job, always smiling and greeting, sometimes the language issue is a problem. The Master and senior officers get the award for the lowest visibility of any of our cruises, but the job they did was the usual we have come to expect, on time arrival and departure, business on board is taken care of. We did feel the food quality had slipped a little since 2012.

SERENADE - 3 YEARS LATER

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by Arizona Budgies

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Re-Positioning Cruise, 14 days, Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale

We have cruised annually since 2008 on RC ‘08 through ‘12, 2 Celebrity in ‘13 and ‘14, our last Royal cruise being on the SOTS in 2012. This cruise due to the itinerary, time of year and cost is probably one of the best we have ever taken. The ship went into dry dock after 2012 and the exterior public areas are nicely done and always clean and shiny and taken care of. This cruise was loaded with veteran cruisers, approximately 35% being C&AS Diamond, Diamond Plus or Pinnacle. Most were our age (mid 60’s) or above and mostly from the US, very few children on board. We did notice changes on Royal in those 3 years - few of them for the better of the customer.

DINING: We had 530pm in MDR and ate there every night but one, windjammer for that one. Our dining service was one of the best ever with John and Reggie, but dining service has always been good with Royal and Celebrity. They were efficient, moved quickly to take our orders, and the food was always delivered hot with a genuine friendly smile, they were wonderful to deal with. Usually we were finished by 645 pm and were not rushing. Some of the meals were outstanding, most were good, a few times I found nothing on the menu that was appealing in the appetizer, entrée or dessert section. Several times the meals were very average, this was a change from 3 years ago when all meals were good to outstanding. We did breakfast and lunch in windjammer except for one lunch in Giovanni’s, at $15 each a bargain but that meal was slightly above average, not exceptional. Windjammer was dependable, good variety and usually good to very good on their offerings. 3 formal nights; it seemed this was done so the photo shop could get pictures they could sell as they were taking pictures throughout the dining room and on the staircases.

PORTS: What a treasure this cruise was; boarding in Quebec City, overnight there and left the next afternoon. Next day was Saguenay, a sea day, then 6 straight port days: PEI, Sydney, NS, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Portland, Boston, 2 sea days, Charleston, SC, a sea day then Ft. Lauderdale. We did no ship excursions but did do PEI and Sydney NS in rental cars and did independent tours in Bar Harbor and Charleston, otherwise walked off and viewed the city on our own. More specific info to follow on the city portion. One observation on the ports - RC seemed to provide little information on the ports - I recall receiving a map in the past as to where we were docked and what was nearby. Now it seemed to be a case of depending on the locals, inside the pier arrival building to provide the local city information. In most cases the locals did a good job with this aspect, also RC provided no free transport from the ship into town, pushing their tours or selling a ride into town. So if you did not book their tour or buy their transport you were on your own, walking or using local transport or car rental to get around.

On Board Shows and Activities: We normally went to the evening shows, usually starting at 830 pm. Royal has a 9 piece orchestra who were outstanding. Most of the shows were decent, 1 or two very average, shows were well attended. Other than the shows we did Trivia, sometimes several times per day - usually a good crowd - found they were saving money on the trivia prizes - 3 years ago they were giving pens or key chains, this cruise was whistles and other very minor items for the winners. Casino--some of the tightest machines every experienced, good variety just no payout (to us). Bingo - $27 minimum to play - did not indulge. Course there was the gym (N/A), zumba classes (N/A) and an on board movie theater, seating 40 so you had to get there early to get in and most of the movies shown were decent ones. The usual art auction (N/A). It seemed many of the on board activities involved an out of pocket feature.

INTERNET: 3 years ago I recall a per minute charge of $6.95 or so and the option to buy a package of 60 minutes for a fixed price. Well, that has been replaced by $20/day unlimited, if you buy the entire cruise days, if you want 1 day it was $40 for that 1 day, continues to be slow.

NEXT CRUISE OFFICE: This is what the future cruise booking office is called. With all the upper tier cruisers this was a very busy place, hard to get in without an appointment and in the recent years it appears to me that they have really cut back on the booking incentives on board, particularly for interior cabins. No more on board credit to the next cruise, instead the deposit down goes immediately to your present sea pass account as a credit. We booked a 7 day on the Harmony and paid a $50 deposit to hold it, which came off the cost, but showed up as a $50 credit on the present sea pass account. I appreciate the ability to hold the reservation for basically zero but this is almost nothing as an incentive to book; a big change in 3 years time.

CROWN & ANCHOR: Appeared to be more cutting here - incentives and freebies are practically worthless now, buy 1 beer or wine, get one free. In the bars - 20% off 1 drink per day per bar. Meanwhile the mandatory gratuity was recently raised from 15 to 18%. We listened to a veteran cruiser (Diamond) complain about cuts at her level, no longer does she get free laundry service as she used to. We had a couple meet and greets with a free drink and a little better disembarkation because of our status but too many cuts already.

THE SUGGESTED TIP AMOUNT - Another recent change, now $12.95 per person per day. Looking back to our 1st cruise in 2008 this number was $9.75, a 32% increase in 7 years. I have no objection to paying the help well for a job well done but when the cruise is advertised at a certain, good price, down in the fine print and you add the tips, the port charges, which can be $200 to $400 each and the insurance cost (which most people purchase) this puts a ever increasing floor on our minimum cruise cost. All most see is the cruise cost only and on an interior, lost cost cruise the tips, port charges and insurance can become a 50% add on to the final cost, not to mention the constant selling and marketing to spend while on board. Vigilance is required on the sea pass card to make cruising the affordable travel option it can be. As the suggested tip amount continues to be raised I am less inclined to offer even more even for a job well done.

EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION: 30 minutes in line in Quebec City to get on, rooms were available at 1pm. In Ft. Lauderdale express got off at 615am, we were scheduled for 840am but were off by 815 am and at the airport via cab at 9 am. RC ride to the airport was $16.75 each, cab was $22 total with 3 adults sharing.

OVERALL - Due primarily to the ports, the cruise cost and our traveling companions this was a great experience. I did not like the increased marketing and selling exposure and the cutbacks in various ways I saw vs. 2012 and the decreased incentives. The employees continue to do a good job, always smiling and greeting, sometimes the language issue is a problem. The Master and senior officers get the award for the lowest visibility of any of our cruises, but the job they did was the usual we have come to expect, on time arrival and departure, business on board is taken care of. We did feel the food quality had slipped a little since 2012.
Arizona Budgies’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9567
Interior - mid-ship, 9th floor, quiet, central location for walking and good for sleeping. Overall was in good shape but the sofa was tired looking, the glazing on the mirror in the bathroom needed a rework and wear on the bottom of the shower was evident, chipping paint. The flat screen TV had 29 channels, a wide variety but 8 of the 29 were devoted to RC and most involved promoting something for sale. 3 were cartoons, 1 news channel, 6 foreign language, 7 various TV shows (lots of reruns), 2 sports, 1 music, 1 TV Guide.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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  • City Tour
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  • Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)
    Docked 7am to 5pm. Walked to nearby Budget RAC, drove to Anne of Green Gables house and other island sightseeing drive, though cool and windy some of the most beautiful colors ever seen on the drive. $41.55 + gas for 4 people, a great way to see this beautiful place and get outside the city. Turned in the car and walked back to the ship. The people were so friendly and helpful.
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  • City Tour
    Did the city tour and Cape Elizabeth from 130-330pm for $24 each. Another trolley but was comfortable and a good way to see the city.
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  • Quebec City
    We were to arrive at 9pm the night before, due to flight delays got in at 115am, picked up by fellow cruisers at the airport, checked in to Best Western at 2am, up at 8am, breakfast nearby, car rental turn in, free ride to port via Hertz, 30 minutes in line, onboard at 1245pm. Docked at pier 30, not very close to old town, used a cab next day to come and go, $10 one way (CDN) for 4 people. Old town was great, was cloudy windy and in the 40s but a pleasure. Loved Quebec City.
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  • Sydney (Nova Scotia)
    Docked 730am to 4pm. Walked off ship, Budget shuttle waiting, got Chevy SUV off to the Bell Museum in Baddeck, very interesting, again fantastic colors enroute driving. Then to the Vogue cleaners (coin laundry with attendant) on Prince St in Sydney for a couple loads of laundry, took 1 1/2 hrs to do - now in good shape for the rest of the cruise. Vehicle turn in, shuttled back to ship by Budget. $36.89 + gas for 4 - this was a great way to sight see and get our laundry in shape. Again friendly people.
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