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Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,679 Reviews

Excessive Gratuity Rip-off

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by shanagarry

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Sep 2018
  • Destination: Canada & New England
  • Cabin Type: Spacious Ocean View Balcony

This was our second and most probably our last cruise. Having previously travelled with P&O, we were lead to believe that things could only get better. Our maiden cruise to the Norwegian Fjords was plagued with badly arranged events and a very poor attitude by the crew we encountered, The 'best' part of the P&O cruise was the time spent ashore and away from the boat. Royal Caribbean was recommended by the agents, IGLU, clearly to suit their own agenda and not ours.

This cruise was Boston - Boston with 4 shore excursions to truly lovely places. The food and entertainment on board was also excellent. In particular the Cruise Director, Jamie Fentiman proved to be a spirited entertainer and got everything he was involved in 'going'.

Now for the not so good news:

The cabin or Stateroom (totally inaccurate description) was inferior to the cabin we enjoy on the Brittany Ferries vessel Pont Even - a ship we use from Portsmouth to Santander on a regular basis. We paid for a cabin with a balcony and seating area and while we got all of those - the amount of space was very cramped. Our P&O cruise provided at least 30% more space in this area.

Before booking the cruise I reviewed many alternatives - with particular emphasis on the free to spend on board amounts. Having discovered that the headline price for a cruise is a distant relation to the actual cost you are eventually confronted with, I believed I had taken every precaution to avoid any chance of being mislead again.The unacceptable face is the area of 'Gratuity' giving closely followed by charging every onboard expense with an inbuilt gratuity. On boarding the cruise we were presented with a sheet of paper on which we were informed that a $14.50 per day gratuity would be charged to our cabin - I challenged this and had it removed. I believe that any gratuity is earned and I will determine the level - I will and did not accept the prescribed amounts. On leaving the ship I tipped the cabin steward because he did a good job, despite being harangued by his supervisor.

When we used the bar we saw that every purchase carried an 18% 'Service Charge'. I believed I had paid for the service in the cruise cost. To add insult to injury there was a further opportunity to add an 'additional tip' to recognise outstanding service. This curtailed our use of the onboard facilities yet we still managed to spend $1,187 on excursions and speciality dining (very disappointing).

I understand this to be standard practice on cruise ships as the people who work behind the scenes are seldom recognised. I countered this with one crew member by suggesting they pay proper salaries instead of lining the pockets of their shareholders.

shanagarry's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Spacious Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 3B 9050


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Portland (Maine)

We took a trolley tour with a great guide to have the various places explained to us.

Saint John (New Brunswick)

There's too much good to say about this tour - but it was fantastic. Our Guide, Brenda Kelly and driver Al MacDonald were superb


This is the way to see the way things happen in the area. A personal taxi with a superb driver/guide took us to places we would never have seen on an organised tour.

Bar Harbor

We were unable to book an excursion on board - so made our own arrangements. Better value and less expensive

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