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Embarkation was a breeze. We had all of our paperwork ready and were on the ship within an hour of getting off of our plane. We dropped off our carry-on's and took a brief tour of the ship. We were very impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and the friendliness of the staff. We then headed to the Windjammer for lunch and were pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of food. After lunch we changed into our swimwear and headed to the upper pool deck for sun and drinks. The service was terrific. As has been stated many times before..the drinks aren't cheap!! I like to drink Corona and after tip it comes to around $5 per 12oz bottle. Domestic beers are a bit less pricey. We ate in the dining room every night except for one. The service was excellent and the food was good. Not great, but good. We had the 830 seating and many times we were quite hungry before then. On two occasions, we headed to the windjammer for a Sushi appetizer to hold off the hunger. Since this cruise only had one at sea day, we spent the majority of the day on excursions. We would come back, eat a late lunch and head to the pool deck or solarium. The at sea day was somewhat of a problem if you wanted to have a lounge chair. Although they ask you not to and post signs forbidding it...people simply do not care and will 'save' lounge chairs with towels/books for hours on end. At around 10am I got one of the last loungers available and it was at the Rock Climbing Wall! There were some very upset people re: saved lounge chairs. We attended the Beatles show and it was terrific. We did not go to any other shows, although we watched a few on the TV. The comedian was pretty lame, in our opinion. Disembarkation was very simple. We had a 10:00am flight, so we were in the 'early' group to disembark. We had prepaid our transfers, which means the luggage gets piled in large trucks which follow the bus to the airport. Unfortunately, our luggage was at the front and it took 20 minutes or so to get it off the truck. Next time, I will not utilize the transfers, but will instead take a cab. The other mistake I made in booking with RCI was letting them book my flights. The price I paid for airline tickets was far more than it should have been and on my return flight from Atlanta, they stuck me with a 3.5 hour layover when there was another flight available (and nearly empty). All in all, it was a great cruise and we had an excellent time. Other than a couple of disembarkation details, it was almost perfect. The only other negative I can think of is there was a slight sewage smell in many of the halls. Oh, did I mention the weather? In 7 days we saw a total of about 10 minutes of rain!

Great Experience for first time Cruiser

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by rpurkey

Trip Details
Embarkation was a breeze. We had all of our paperwork ready and were on the ship within an hour of getting off of our plane.
We dropped off our carry-on's and took a brief tour of the ship. We were very impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and the friendliness of the staff. We then headed to the Windjammer for lunch and were pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of food.
After lunch we changed into our swimwear and headed to the upper pool deck for sun and drinks. The service was terrific. As has been stated many times before..the drinks aren't cheap!! I like to drink Corona and after tip it comes to around $5 per 12oz bottle. Domestic beers are a bit less pricey.
We ate in the dining room every night except for one. The service was excellent and the food was good. Not great, but good. We had the 830 seating and many times we were quite hungry before then. On two occasions, we headed to the windjammer for a Sushi appetizer to hold off the hunger.
Since this cruise only had one at sea day, we spent the majority of the day on excursions. We would come back, eat a late lunch and head to the pool deck or solarium. The at sea day was somewhat of a problem if you wanted to have a lounge chair. Although they ask you not to and post signs forbidding it...people simply do not care and will 'save' lounge chairs with towels/books for hours on end. At around 10am I got one of the last loungers available and it was at the Rock Climbing Wall! There were some very upset people re: saved lounge chairs.
We attended the Beatles show and it was terrific. We did not go to any other shows, although we watched a few on the TV. The comedian was pretty lame, in our opinion.
Disembarkation was very simple. We had a 10:00am flight, so we were in the 'early' group to disembark. We had prepaid our transfers, which means the luggage gets piled in large trucks which follow the bus to the airport. Unfortunately, our luggage was at the front and it took 20 minutes or so to get it off the truck. Next time, I will not utilize the transfers, but will instead take a cab.
The other mistake I made in booking with RCI was letting them book my flights. The price I paid for airline tickets was far more than it should have been and on my return flight from Atlanta, they stuck me with a 3.5 hour layover when there was another flight available (and nearly empty).
All in all, it was a great cruise and we had an excellent time. Other than a couple of disembarkation details, it was almost perfect. The only other negative I can think of is there was a slight sewage smell in many of the halls. Oh, did I mention the weather? In 7 days we saw a total of about 10 minutes of rain!
rpurkey’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    This was by far our least favorite port. Mostly because of what we chose to do, I would imagine.
    We exited the pier and told them we wanted to go to Dickenson Beach. We were told to follow a certain cab driver. He never spoke to us and we simply followed him a couple of blocks into an area that didn't look so great. His driving was borderline insane. I have been on many cabs in the caribbean and understand how it is. This guy was NUTS. The fact that he was also unfriendly made it a bit scary.
    Anyway, he took us to Sneaky Pete's on Dickenson. It is a few hundred yards from Sandals. The Beach was very nice. The restroom facility was nasty and we were CONSTANTLY approached by local vendors/wave runner guys. They weren't necessarily pushy, but my idea of relaxing on a beach doesn't include having to tell someone no every 5 minutes.
    Again, the beach itself was great. Next time I go to Antigua, I think I'll do some kind of private excursion or go to a beach that is not so filled with local vendors. Antigua has 365 beaches...surely I can find one??!!
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  • Barbados
    We took the Silver Moon Catamaran tour. This was NOT an excursion booked through the Cruise Line. Highly recommended. It was $90 per person. However, that included a huge lunch of mahi/mahi, grilled chicken, slaw, vegetables, bread, salad, etc. We also had breads for breakfast upon boarding the Cat.
    We sailed out to snorkel with the sea turtles. There were 3 or 4 other Catamaran's there as well and it was pretty crowded in the water. Our group only ended up seeing 1 large turtle. We then went to snorkel over a reef and a wreck. The guide was in the water feeding the fish. There were thousands. Excellent snorkeling.
    We anchored off of the exclusive resort where Tiger Woods was married (Sandy Lane?) and at lunch/swam.
    There was beer/rum punch offered from the moment you got on the Cat until you disembarked. In fact, on the return cruise they mixed Strawberry Daiquiris and Pina Coladas.
    Excellent tour. We would definitely do it again.
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  • St. Lucia
    We did Cosol's tour and really enjoyed it. It was $65 per person. Considering it was nearly 7 hours long and included breakfast, lunch, and a semi-open bar...I think that is a great deal.
    The only negatives with the tour was that the bar-car that they talked about so much was not with you the whole time. Our group had 10 different vans. Don't get me wrong..I had plenty to drink. However, there were a couple of times when I wanted another one when I couldn't get it. The other issue is that due to his popularity, the tour is getting very large. There was approximately 120 people in our group which made the breakfast stop kind of crowded. All in all, it wasn't that bad since the vans are somewhat independent of each other. For example, half of the vans went to the Waterfall, while the other half went to the beach in between the Pitons.
    Bottom line, we had a great time and would probably do it again. I would caution those that are prone to motion sickness. There were several people who did not feel well due to the sharp curves and extended time in the van.
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  • St. Maarten
    We left this ship around 830 and cabbed over to Orient Beach. Our Cab driver recommended we not get TOO close to Club Orient so he suggested Kakao Beach. He dropped us off and said he would be back at 1230 to pick us up.

    Kakao Beach was perfect. We were almost the first ones there. The staff was raking up a bit of seaweed that was present that day. We paid $10 pp for lounge chairs (umbrellas were an extra $5) on the 'front row'. They were $7 each on the 2nd and 3rd rows. The first hour or so there was quite a bit of fully nude people walking the beach. After that, it was mostly topless women. I would think Orient Beach is definitely not 'child friendly' for most Americans.

    Again, Kakao was great. Bar beach service was excellent. There was another mini bar on the beach as well as a full restaurant and gift shop. Also had small showers and restrooms.

    Our driver was there early and we cabbed back to the ship (15-20 minutes).

    Terrific Day.
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  • St. Thomas
    We took the Ferry over to St. Johns and went to Trunk Bay for a lazy beach day. Arguably the highlight of the trip. Trunk Bay is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. We got their around 9am, rented a couple of lounge chairs and simply sat on the beach for several hours. By the time we left, it was getting somewhat crowded, but nothing too bad. Trunk Bay has restrooms, showers, a small gift shop and a Snack Area (with beers, etc).
    Before boarding the Ferry for the trip back to St. Thomas, there is a nice area for shopping that includes a few restaurants/bars.
    If we ever go back to St. Thomas..we will head straight to St. Johns!
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