This was our fourth cruise but our first with RCI. We had tagged the cruise on to the end of our cross-Canada trip and were flying home straight after the cruise. Check in was brilliant. We were 35 minutes from leaving our Vancouver hotel by taxi to actually stepping onto the ship. They could not process us quickly enough!! Even getting through US immigration was a breeze. We could not have our cabin until 13.00 so we went for lunch in the Windjammer restaurant and thought this was very good. Whilst there we found out about a wine promotion they were running for the duration of the cruise. Basically you signed up for a set number of bottles (eg 7 - one per night, or 5 if you preferred) and then paid up front but with a discount of around 25% on the normal bottle price if you chose it at the table each evening. We thought this a deal (and it was too, with decent wines and a good choice!!!). On arriving at our cabin on Deck 9 at 13.00, one of our 3 checked bags was waiting outside the door. However, the other 2 did not arrive until around 18.00 which was a bit of a pain. I know they have thousands of bags to deliver but when 3 are checked in all at once it is a mystery why there is 5 hours between them arriving at the cabin. Our cabin had a balcony which was of a good size with 2 chairs and a table.The interior of the cabin was long and narrow in design but the best use was made of every inch of space. There was masses of shelf space, including drawers but hanging space was a bit tight. We had one big bed which was actually very comfortable. The temperature in the cabin was easy to control and was efficient. There were plenty of mirrors, TV, efficient hair drier and a good sized safe. The shower room was very small but everything was there and easily to hand. We had a problem with flushing the toilet on the first evening and had to ask twice for this to be rectified. When it was everything was fine. We chose to dine at first sitting for dinner in Reflections restaurant. We did not go there on the first night as all our luggage had not arrived in time for us to get changed so we went to the Windjammer. My husband had the Indian curry and declared it to be rather bland. Otherwise we thought the choice very good and what I had was fine. The first morning we decided to have breakfast in the Reflections restaurant. You do not sit at your assigned table but are placed anywhere. We were on a table for 12 and it took ages to have the meal so we decided to use the Windjammer for breakfast in future. Actually this was very good with plenty of choice although it could be tricky getting a seat at times. We soon found our way around the ship and thought it a nice size and we really liked the Vortex lounge where you could relax in comfy armchairs and look straight out of the windows at the direction of travel. There was lots of excitement when we saw the first whales!! Our ports of call were 1. Icy Strait Point - a haunting place which is basically a couple shacks in the middle of nowhere. You are tendered in from the ship. 2. Skagway. We did the Yukon exploration by coach and train. A long day but very interesting. 3. Juneau. We did a whale watching tour followed by a trip to Mendenhall Glacier. The whale watching was brilliant and at one time we were literally surrounded by whales. The highlight of the trip was the cruise up Tracy Arm Fjord to the Sawyer Glacier. Amazing, just amazing. And congratulations to the ship's Captain for getting us so close to the glacier and the waterfalls. Brilliant.
There were 2 formal dress nights on the trip. We like formal nights and so had gone prepared. Around 98% of the female passengers made a good effort to dress appropriately but around 98% of the male passengers made no such effort. Some looked as if they were just about to go and do the weekly shop rather than escort their partner who had taken the trouble to dress nicely. Come on guys you can do better than that. Other nights were casual or smart casual - quite difficult to tell the difference.
We thought the food overall on the ship was very good - excellent in some cases and a definite notch or two up on P&O, for quality, presentation and service. We ate one night in Chops Grille and this was one of the best meals we have had anywhere in the world. Seriously good. The wine deal we had signed up for worked well until the last night when someone had made a mistake in recording what we had consumed sometime in the week and it seemed as if we had already had our 7 bottles when in fact we had had only 6. This could, and should, have been sorted out in double quick time by the head waiter but, no, I had to provide proof of what we had had each evening - they also had their own copies. Fortunately I had kept our receipts. We were not amused by this. It was sorted out but left a bit of a bad taste. That apart, the service from the ship's staff was excellent, especially Sammy, our table waiter. The main problem is that you are not allowed to use a travelling iron and there are no facilities to do some ironing to get creases out of packed clothes unless you are willing to let the ship do this for a cost. Fortunately I had taken a travelling steamer which helped to get rid of most of the creases in the clothes in one case which had been packed for nearly 3 weeks!! But beware, people who had travelling irons in their checked bags had the irons confiscated to be collected when leaving the ship back in Vancouver. The procedure for leaving the ship was efficient and we soon found our cases and got a taxi to the airport. Overall,we thoroughly enjoyed our week on the ship. We had met some nice people and seen some wonderful things. The ship was nice and we would have no hesitation in travelling with RCI again if all their ships are on a par with Serenade.