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Serenade of the Seas Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1615 reviews
12 Awards

Spectacular Splendour of the Seas

Review for Serenade of the Seas to Alaska
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First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

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Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

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Sail Date: Sep 2009

Seattle - In a word; GORGEOUS. We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast called the Shafer Bailie Mansion on Capitol Hill and it was lovely. One block away from Volunteer Park, walking distance to quaint shops and several restaurants. We ate at the Coastal Kitchen which was fabulous. We discovered on the trip from the airport to our B&B that Seattle is not the best of cities to drive in and is far better suited for walking. We actually walked the almost 3 miles from Capitol Hill to the Space Needle and took a bus back. (The bus dropped us off a block from our B&B for a whopping $1.75 apiece) Drive to Vancouver - Played tourist at Pike Place Market and could have stayed there all day. Enjoyed a chamber of commerce day in Seattle with weather in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky! We drove to Vancouver via Chuckanut Drive. Beautifully scenic. We stopped to have lunch at the Peace Arch Park in Blaine which is a beautiful little town and the port of entry into Canada. Endured a horrible traffic jam getting into Vancouver (Labor Day traffic and evidently the wrong time of day to arrive; between 4:30-5:30 p.m.) and discovered the hard way that there's only one gas station in Vancouver. Checked into the Sheraton Wall Centre, (a beautiful, centrally located property) gladly dumped the rental and begin walking. Vancouver is another city that is ideal for walking. Cruise Day 1 - Ballantyne Pier/Boarding the Serenade - The pier is not the most scenic but pretty darned functional. About a 7-10 minute cab ride from the Sheraton Wall Centre. Once there, we were checked in and on the ship before noon. (We left the hotel around 11:15 or so) We were on the "pop out" (mid ship) portion of the ship and while we had some smokers that sometimes interfered with our balcony time, the location was absolutely perfect. I'd recommend this location (Cabin 7602) to anyone. It's prime real estate right above the Champagne Bar which is generally one of our favorite spots on any RCL ship. This Champagne Bar was smokier than most and we were quite pleased to discover that the Schooner Bar (adjacent to the Champagne Bar) which is usually a fog bank of smoke on other RCL ships was practically smoke-free. We'd taken too long to decide on one of the tours we wanted and bought it via our TV once we arrived in our room. We also stopped at the dining room to sign up for My Time Dining (MTD). (We enjoyed the flexibility of MTD but I'm not sure we'd do it again as we ended up at a table for 2 every time.) We split our time between the dining room and the Windjammer for dinner. Day 2 - Sea Day - Had our Mix and Mingle (M&M) on the ship. We began our progressive trivia contest with a couple of folks we'd met on the cruise critic board/M&M. It was great to finally meet everyone in person. Huge sale on board. Every Alaska souvie you could imagine on sale for 50-75% off. There's an incentive to an end-of-season cruise! We did our part to help rid the ship of its inventory. Day 3 - Icy Strait Point/Hoonah - You have to tender here; maybe 100 yards! We'd scheduled a Bike Ride/Ziprider tour. Bike ride was a lot shorter than advertised but our guides were great. Had about 15 minutes to shop before the bike ride. Forty-minute drive up to the Ziprider on a zig zag road in a bus. No guard rails but beautiful views below. Looking back, it was the bus ride that was scary. The Ziprider was exhilarating! A note to those doing the ziprider- there are 2 porta-potties, a small pavilion (with a campfire) and NO FOOD at the wait station for the ziprider. We had to wait almost 4 hours to board the zip and hadn't eaten since breakfast. After some debate as to whether or not we'd even get to go on the ziprider due to delays we were on our way. And, while it was truly unfortunate that we had to wait so long, the Ziprider is awesome! Gratefully this was an RCL excursion. Our delay made the ship late by about 30 minutes and after our complaint to the shore excursion desk, I'm happy to report that RCL did the right thing by us before our cruise was over. Day 3 - Tracy Arm Fjord - Glacier - Absolutely beautiful glacier and the route to it is breathtaking. Waterfalls everywhere! Kudos to the captain (or whomever "drives" the ship) for some pretty amazing pivoting/maneuvering. Paid for a spin class in the gym and got our money's worth! Had brunch in Portofino's with a view of the glacier as our backdrop. Kept kicking backside at our progressive trivia . . . Day 4 - Skagway - We did the train/hike combo which I highly recommend. (The ship uses Packer Expeditions and their guides were great.) Drizzly and maybe 55 degrees here. Hiked about 4-5 miles total along the river. It was absolutely beautiful. We rented a car to drive to Emerald Lake upon returning from our hike. Breathtaking scenery on the way to the Yukon where we discovered that signs of any kind are few and far between. We sped past Emerald Lake without realizing it and saw 20 extra miles of bonus scenery. We see- what has now been identified as a coyote- in a National Geographic moment as he caught and played with a mouse before ultimately making it a mid-afternoon snack. And while Mr. Coyote was aware we were there, he was totally unimpressed with our paparazzi-esque attack as we photographed and filmed from every possible angle. Day 5 - Juneau - We were greeted by a light but persistent rain that never let up. The ship had made an announcement that all helicopter tours booked through the ship had been grounded. I'd booked ours independently and we were a go. I'm glad we got to go but visibility was poor and it was sleeting heavily on the glacier. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. (Hello! I was on a GLACIER!) Returned to the ship after making our last souvie purchases in Juneau. Onboard, the Captain announces that we'll have rough seas on the way back . . . Day 6 - Sea day - The Captain was right. We wondered why there were so few people at the Vortex as we're dancing our backsides off to 80s music and getting a LOT of help on our dance moves from Mother Nature. Evidently the rough seas didn't sit too well with a lot of folks . . . many of whom chose to be cabin-bound rather than boogie. (It DID get pretty rough!) Earlier that day our team ties for first in progressive trivia and we're the proud owners of gold medals and other fabulous prizes! Day 7 - Debarkation - We opt to get off the ship early as we could (barely!) carry our own bags. Dressed and down for breakfast by 6:00 a.m., at the Tropical Theatre by 7:15. Off the ship by 7:45, through customs, in a cab, and on the way to the Pacific Palisades Hotel before 8:00 a.m.! Make it there by 8:15, drop off our bags off with the bellman and begin enjoying Vancouver. The Pacific Palisades is a lovely hotel located right on Robson Street and our room was larger (and much prettier!)than my first apartment! It's a beautiful property within walking distance of everything. We walked to the ferry and toured Granville Island in the morning and rented bikes on Denman Street and circled Stanley Park (twice!)on a glorious Saturday afternoon.

We had an absolutely wonderful time aboard a beautiful ship, enjoyed fabulous ports, participated in some amazing excursions, met some great folks, and can't wait to get back!

Cabin Review

Cabin BAL

Cabin 7602 aboard Splendour is prime real estate. The balcony is bigger than what we had on Voyager and perfectly suited for having a nice hot cup of coffee while enjoying some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

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