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This was our first cruise, so my comments may sound as if I am a greenhorn – which I am as far as cruises are concerned. The cruise was on the "Serenade of the Seas" (Royal Caribbean) on the Baltic Sea from Copenhagen stopping at Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Helsinki, then returning to Copenhagen. The ship is huge (though I was told there are even bigger), well-organized, clean, plenty of food, entertainment. There are lots of things for children to do, and of course there was the casino for those like to gamble. And, very important, the staff was very friendly and efficient. Food: you can very easily eat too much. The dining rooms are full of food for all tastes and diets. However, Reflections (the main dining room) has a limited selection for dinner, but there are changes every day. For vegetarians, there are 2 choices for starters, one for the main dish and of course no problem with dessert. This may be contrasted with the Windjammer Café, which has almost a constant buffet, and the variety of dishes is far greater. One (minor) criticism: There was no honey for breakfast on the last two days. One solution to the substantial food offered and attempts to eat two main meals only (breakfast + one other meal, be it lunch or dinner) is to offer half-board, as it were. As in hotels, everyone eats breakfast, and they can choose one of the other two meals. Anything else may be purchased and eaten at one of the cafes. This seems easy to administer: the SeaPass would have to be read (in a machine) when going in to eat lunch and supper, and if one of the two meals of that day has already been eaten, you are charged for the other. Formal dining: why bother? This is a remnant of cruising of a generation and more ago, and no longer relevant. There were a few gentlemen in tuxedos and women in long dresses, but many of the passengers dined in casual clothing, though usually with a jacket. Beverage packages: We did an overkill without realizing it. We thought that we should make sure that we have enough water in the stateroom (cabin), and that we will have enough coffee breaks apart from coffee at breakfast and dinner. But what we did not know was that there is no lack of food at meals and of course it's already paid for. As for water, we could have done with 3-4 bottles between us for the 7 days, and not 12! And the extra coffee was good, each came with a "free" cake, but if we had known, we would have made do with one card with 15 coffees, and not one card each (one for me and one for my wife). But we are new cruisers. Never had previous experience. You live and learn. Stops and shore excursions. We did not take any of the excursions organized by the ship, but made our own way around at the four ports of stop. If you want to take full advantage of the ship's facilities, then a passenger would have to cut down on going ashore. So, there is a choice between going ashore and staying on board (where activities are still going on). Going ashore allows you to see cities you may never have gone to, were it not for the cruise. However, if you do not take an organized excursion, it does take time to get off, and then to get to the centre of the city (in Stockholm by hop-on/hop-off bus, in Tallinn and Helsinki by shuttle bus and in St. Petersburg by public transport or by taxi). Of the four stops, Helsinki was in a way a waste of time. We had only half a day. We disembarked at around 9.30 -- we were on holiday, so why leave the ship at 7.30, which was possible? So, we could manage a couple of hours in town, which is not enough time. The best of the shore trips was Tallinn, perhaps because it is a small town, and you have plenty to see and you have time. The answer probably from the cruise company would be that we should take an organized excursion – that would be OK if you want to pay the fairly high price and run around after a man or woman in a flag. It's not our style. Criticisms: public loudspeakers were not clear unless you were standing or sitting in specific areas. When in your stateroom, you could hear that someone is speaking on the public address system but you can't catch what is being said.

A greenhorn report

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by denK21

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2018
  • Destination: Europe
This was our first cruise, so my comments may sound as if I am a greenhorn – which I am as far as cruises are concerned.

The cruise was on the "Serenade of the Seas" (Royal Caribbean) on the Baltic Sea from Copenhagen stopping at Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Helsinki, then returning to Copenhagen.

The ship is huge (though I was told there are even bigger), well-organized, clean, plenty of food, entertainment. There are lots of things for children to do, and of course there was the casino for those like to gamble. And, very important, the staff was very friendly and efficient.

Food: you can very easily eat too much. The dining rooms are full of food for all tastes and diets. However, Reflections (the main dining room) has a limited selection for dinner, but there are changes every day. For vegetarians, there are 2 choices for starters, one for the main dish and of course no problem with dessert. This may be contrasted with the Windjammer Café, which has almost a constant buffet, and the variety of dishes is far greater. One (minor) criticism: There was no honey for breakfast on the last two days.

One solution to the substantial food offered and attempts to eat two main meals only (breakfast + one other meal, be it lunch or dinner) is to offer half-board, as it were. As in hotels, everyone eats breakfast, and they can choose one of the other two meals. Anything else may be purchased and eaten at one of the cafes. This seems easy to administer: the SeaPass would have to be read (in a machine) when going in to eat lunch and supper, and if one of the two meals of that day has already been eaten, you are charged for the other.

Formal dining: why bother? This is a remnant of cruising of a generation and more ago, and no longer relevant. There were a few gentlemen in tuxedos and women in long dresses, but many of the passengers dined in casual clothing, though usually with a jacket.

Beverage packages: We did an overkill without realizing it. We thought that we should make sure that we have enough water in the stateroom (cabin), and that we will have enough coffee breaks apart from coffee at breakfast and dinner. But what we did not know was that there is no lack of food at meals and of course it's already paid for. As for water, we could have done with 3-4 bottles between us for the 7 days, and not 12! And the extra coffee was good, each came with a "free" cake, but if we had known, we would have made do with one card with 15 coffees, and not one card each (one for me and one for my wife). But we are new cruisers. Never had previous experience. You live and learn.

Stops and shore excursions. We did not take any of the excursions organized by the ship, but made our own way around at the four ports of stop. If you want to take full advantage of the ship's facilities, then a passenger would have to cut down on going ashore. So, there is a choice between going ashore and staying on board (where activities are still going on). Going ashore allows you to see cities you may never have gone to, were it not for the cruise. However, if you do not take an organized excursion, it does take time to get off, and then to get to the centre of the city (in Stockholm by hop-on/hop-off bus, in Tallinn and Helsinki by shuttle bus and in St. Petersburg by public transport or by taxi).

Of the four stops, Helsinki was in a way a waste of time. We had only half a day. We disembarked at around 9.30 -- we were on holiday, so why leave the ship at 7.30, which was possible? So, we could manage a couple of hours in town, which is not enough time. The best of the shore trips was Tallinn, perhaps because it is a small town, and you have plenty to see and you have time. The answer probably from the cruise company would be that we should take an organized excursion – that would be OK if you want to pay the fairly high price and run around after a man or woman in a flag. It's not our style.

Criticisms: public loudspeakers were not clear unless you were standing or sitting in specific areas. When in your stateroom, you could hear that someone is speaking on the public address system but you can't catch what is being said.
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