Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by cruisetiludrop
- Sail Date: January 2017
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
Ft Lauderdale boarding process was poorly handled. Getting a Sea Pass card was easy but they were taking photos onboard rather than in the terminal so there was a backup in the terminal of passengers. They would let 50 people at a time proceed to the ship but they did not effectively take them in order which irritated us and many others.
Leaving the ship was also unpleasant. After calling your number you proceeded down to deck two to exit the ship. They were holding people at the exit so people backed up in a very crowded and confined area for about ten minutes. Then it was a long walk outdoors to the terminal for luggage pick up. The only saving grace was our use of the mobile passport (phone app) that terminal 25 has installed. In effect you moved to the front of the line if you used the mobile passport so we got out quickly.
We utilized Park N Go for the fourth time and again had a very good experience using them.
Serenade has some good features and some lacking features that we noticed. We were in cabin 8598 which was always quiet even though it is near the centrum where live music is played. The layout of this balcony cabin is very similar to all the other balcony cabins we’ve been in but was a bit more compact. This was most notable when walking past the end of the bed to get to the balcony door and in the bathroom where fitting two people at any time/way was a challenge. The balcony itself was a reasonable size relative to all our previous experience with two chairs and a reasonably large sized table.
We noticed there was only one place to get a cup of free coffee….in the “foodjammer” on deck 11. The only other place coffee is available (for $) was deck 5 at Café Latte-tudes. Also there was less availability snack foods onboard. Again at Café Latte-tudes you could get cookies, pasteries, donuts etc appropriate to the time of day but no thing else to eat. You could get food at Park Café inside the Solarium most of the day and we liked what they offered albeit intentionally minimal offerings. The “foodjammer” most of the days had limited offerings but on some days they had surprises like fillet mignon or sea bass and lobster (after previous night’s formal affair). There were no self serve drink dispensers so drinks were pre-poured and set out. This always leaves them watered down.
A big plus was the amount of live music available throughout the ship. The schooner bar had the piano player (sometimes a singer most times just a pianist). The pianist was very talented. The Centrum had a variety of music throughout the day and evening and also served as a dance floor where some dance classes were held. In previous times the Centrum also was the place for aerial acts. These have been permanently discontinued as well as other ships where they also occurred. Too bad as I’m sure it would have been a site to see.
Another big plus was the quality of the onboard singers. The lead male and female singers even had their own show one night. Think Michael Buble and Witney Houston and you know what they sounded like. It was that good. Even the cruise director did a show one night singing 50’s/60’s songs with the orchestra backing him. Although the songs were dated and not my cup of tea, his performance was top notch.
We enjoyed being able to sit outside for breakfast and lunch at the back of the ship behind the “foodjammer”. One side is set up for Rita’s Cantina which is only open at 6pm’ish to about 8pm. You could use that area for seating for lunch and dinner despite a sign saying otherwise. We were disappointed that you could only buy from Rita’s Cantina menu for dinner. We did not go to Izumi for sushi.
We stopped first in Tortola were we took a taxi to Brewers Bay beach for $6 per person one way. The beach had some exposed stones from a storm a couple nights earlier. The sea was a bit churned up so snorkeling was not productive due to an on shore breeze for most of the day. There was a place to buy food and drink. Chairs were $5 apiece but I didn’t use or see any umbrellas.
St. Kitts was next were we walked off the boat and found a local tour operator offering a 2 hour island tour for $20. We took this in an open air truck with several other couple who also chose this tour. It went around the whole island with several stops, one of which was a $3 entry into a garden. This was worth its price. We opted not to go to the fort which would have cost another $10 entry fee. Besides the cost, we opted to skip it because the 2 hour tour was already at the three hour mark by then and we were still heading away from the ship. Well after another couple stops we eventually saw Carambola beach and headed back to the ship in plenty of time. It was a heck of a good value but obviously misrepresented to get you to go on the tour. I’d encourage you to go because you see the heck out of the island and it’s worth the time.
Dominica was a stop where we used RCL excursion to see the Trafalger twin falls and Emerald Pool. They are quite disparate in location so expect a drive between them. Again about a four hour tour. Not too strenuous and each site was worth while seeing.
St, Johns Antigua was a beach day. A $3 per person ride to Dickenson Bay Beach. We were let off at Siboney Beach Club…Coconut Grove Restaurant and Bar where we rented two padded lounge chairs and an umbrella for $25.
In St. Martin we walked to the beach across from the ship and spent $15 for two chairs and an umbrella. The walk took you out of the port to the city street and back onto the beach boardwalk a little ways from the port. That took about 15 to 20 minutes to do. The other option is taking the water taxi for $7 per person for all day. The walk paid for the chairs and umbrella.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Emerald PoolAll in one tour to see both Emerald Pool and Trfalgar Falls. Doable for average fitness person. Both worth seeing. Walking time was maybe 15 to 20 minutes max at either location. They are not near each other so it takes 4 hours to see them both. I'd recommend doing it.View All 41 Emerald Pool Reviews
Trafalgar FallsAll in one tour to see both Emerald Pool and Trfalgar Falls. Doable for average fitness person. Both worth seeing. Walking time was maybe 15 to 20 minutes max at either location. They are not near each other so it takes 4 hours to see them both. I'd recommend doing it.View All 50 Trafalgar Falls Reviews
St. John (U.S.V.I.)Spent $3 a person taxi which took about 10 minutes to get to. Most of this beach is taken up by Sandals Resort. Saw people on horses on the beach at one end. Keep a sharp eye out when walking that way for the local "souvineres" left by the horses.View All 13,765 St. John (U.S.V.I.) Cruise Port Reviews
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Island tourSaw everything except the fort. Expect a 4 hour day not the 2 hours quoted. For $20 a person it was well worth it. Would recommend it.View All 272 Island tour Reviews
Beach20 minute walk to the beach chairs and umbrella for $15. $2 beers, nice people, nice view. A few too many offers from local vendors on the beach but they always moved away with a polite no thankyou. Spent a nice day looking out towards the ship.View All 239 Beach Reviews
SnorkelingShort cab ride to Brewers Bay Beach. Pleasant but snorkeling was not possible with wave action. Beach was a bit stony but manageable. About 30 to 40 people present. Chairs available for $5 but no umbrellas. Food and drinks available at reasonable prices.View All 73 Snorkeling Reviews