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A group of 6 of us cruised the Southern Caribbean (Tortola, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia & Grenada) route on the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. Four of us are have cruised Southern Caribbean before and two were new to both the itinerary and ship. The cruise was fantastic and we all had a great time! Pre/Post-Cruise: We flew in a day early to avoid the stress of just making it to the ship on time We stayed at the Caribe Hilton, enjoyed their beautiful grounds, comfortable rooms, and proximity to the bus stop to get to Old San Juan. Had some great food at La Bombonera, Parrot Club, and El Patio de Sam. Had a less than stellar dining experience at Budatai. We wandered around the colorful ballast-stone streets, enjoying the Spanish Colonial style architecture and the combination of history and Caribbean charm. We've been to San Juan several times and never get tired if it! Embarkation: We got to the Pan Am Pier in the mid afternoon for a quick and easy embarkation. Lines were short and everyone was friendly. Except... being solicited for tips from the porters who I watched slam the luggage around. I have read about the porter/tip issue, but never encountered it at the Pan American Pier. Each year we have been happy to tip, but once solicited, we were much less eager to pull out the wallet. We still tipped, but... Once on the ship, all was well. We checked out our rooms, dumped our carry-ons, and headed for the Windjammer. Nothing like a good afternoon gorging before dinner! The rest of the evening was spent checking out the ship until the muster drill which, sans life jackets, was a breeze. Ship: The Serenade is a beautiful and elegant ship. It feels spacious and never too crowded. The ship is well-appointed with many unique lounges and other various common rooms. We enjoyed spending some time in the Safari Lounge, with its vibrant colors and comfortable seating. We also love the Concierge Lounge, partly for the bottomless supply of espresso drinks and evening snacks, but also for the great view and relaxed atmosphere. As for dining spaces, the Reflections dining room is very classy and the Windjammer is never too crowded to find seating. Chops and Portofino are both beautiful as well. Finally, the fitness center has plenty of equipment to accommodate the active (though it can be a bit hard to find in the dark when you are still groggy at 6am!). Overall, we love, love, love the Serenade! Staterooms: We all had grand suites and found them to be completely comfortable and in great repair. The balconies are large enough to relax and have a nice sized table with a couple of chairs. There was no lounge chair, but our stateroom attendant was nice enough to bring one when we asked. Great for napping in the late afternoon! The suites have more than enough storage space and the larger bathrooms are a plus. Staff: Our concierge was Gershwin and he was terrific! We were more than a little sad not to see Kenneth BooDoo this year (he left for vacation the week we sailed) but we were perfectly happy getting to know Gershwin and Ligia. They are both very accommodating and full of good conversation. Ligia was especially wonderful, always circulating and ready with another drink before we even finished the first. She is full of energy despite the fact that she had already worked all day in the casino and then late night at the cigar bar. We hope to see them both again on future cruises. The cruise director, Dennis, was very personable and funny. We met him in San Juan before the cruise and he always made a point of saying hi when we saw him on board. Our stateroom attendant, Putu, was very nice, though we rarely saw him. Food: For dinner, we had late seating in the dining room at table 445. Our head waiter was Monty, who we saw once every night or two. He was very nice, but not as involved as some of the head waiters we have had in the past. Our waiter Ergun was very nice and accommodating. His assistant Li was wonderful, very helpful and always smiling. The food was good-to-great, depending on what was ordered. The Vidalia onion tart was delicious (as always), the artichoke dip was very tasty, and we were never disappointed with the soups. Our wait staff was always kind enough to bring us a curry dish to share at the beginning of the meal, which we really enjoyed. We had one dinner in the Windjammer, which was good. A lot of the food was the same as the dining room menu and we were able to make our own pizza-YUM! Breakfasts were either in the Windjammer or Concierge lounge, both of which were good. I am typically fine with the continental breakfast at the CL, but I got sucked into the Windjammer a few times to make French toast sandwiches with cream cheese and strawberry topping. Mmm... Most of our lunches were off the ship, but we enjoyed late afternoon snacks in the Windjammer. Gotta love the soft serve and toffee cookies! Entertainment: We are usually too tired to go to shows, but we made an effort to join in the fun on this cruise. We saw the impressionist and a comedian, who were both very entertaining. We also saw the RC Singers and Dancers in Vibeology. This show was entertaining and timed well, as we had fun watching, but were ready for it to be over at the end of the hour. We also went to the C&A cocktail and captain's receptions. These were nice, but we probably didn't need to go to all three. Quest was a riot as always, but seemed much more crowded than when we watched on the Adventure. The space was smaller and there were many more groups participating. Crowded or not, the antics were hilarious! Finally, though we did not participate, I believe they had some activity in the Centrum on Valentine's Day. There were also a lot of decorations in that area, as well as a Valentine's cake in the windjammer. It was a nice touch. Ports: We booked our own excursions for most of the ports. Here is a brief description of each: In Tortola, we booked with Patouche Charters for a day sail to the Virgin Gorda Baths. The Baths were red flagged due to weather, but we had a great day of sailing, snorkeling, and relaxing anyway. The only complaint would be that the boat ran out of beer toward the end of the day (not a huge deal, but an inconvenience for the avid beer drinker or extra parched) and the restaurant where we had lunch was out of buns (so no burgers or burger-like sandwiches). Lucky for us, we ordered and enjoyed the roti, a curry chicken sort of burrito. And when it comes down to it, buns or no buns, the restaurant was not out of painkillers and painkillers = gooooooooood... In St. Maarten we rented a minivan and made our way around the island. Found a nice little stop for pictures, shopping and a drink. I can't remember the name of the place, but there was a little stand to buy the flavored rums and the owner's tips all go toward animal rescue. Good stop! We also stopped for delicious crepes at the Deli Spoon in Marigot, and at Orient Beach for a leisurely beach stroll. Our last and favorite stop was Maho Beach for some swimming under the arriving planes. Back to the pier for a bucket of beers. Ahhh, love St. Maarten! Antigua: We walked to the bus station and took the #22 to Valley Church Beach. We were impressed with the bus system last year, but this time we were stuck waiting nearly 45 minutes for the bus to leave, as they won't go without a full load. There just may be a taxi ride in our next Antigua trip! Beers are pretty pricey at the beach bars here so we bought 2 6-packs of local beer and some ice, and just brought a cooler. Much cheaper!! We ate lunch at The Nest, where the coconut shrimp was good, but pricey. It was also really crowded because of a ship excursion, but we were able to get a table after a while and we got to enjoy the entertainment that was set aside for the excursion. After getting back to the pier, we walked to the old church a few blocks up and looked around. Very cool old churchyard. St. Lucia is a gorgeous island. We booked COSOL tours for the 2nd year and we were able to get COSOL himself as our driver. Unbelievably good food, tasty rum punch, refreshing Piton beer, great snorkeling, and beautiful views everywhere! This is an island and a tour that can't be beat!!! As we left the island, we parked ourselves at the helipad to watch as the captain did a 360 for everyone to see the Pitons. The Pitons were gorgeous, there was a steel band playing, the sunset was amazing, and... the captain (or maybe other crew member) blew the horn when everyone gave the trucker honking gesture. Are you kidding me? Does it get any cooler than that?!?! We booked the Mandoo Tour in Grenada. The tour was very informative and the island is beautiful with so much greenery, flowers, and spices! We loved seeing the Mona Monkeys at the Grand Etang stop, and Mandoo held bananas on our shoulders so the monkeys would crawl up to get them. What a cool experience! This tour was a good one to take, as Mandoo is very passionate about the politics and the welfare of his island. However, for this same reason, the tour is not as fun and carefree as some others we have taken on different islands. We are glad we had this experience, but would probably not rebook for a second time. Sea Day: we were really thankful for a relaxing day after such a busy 5 days prior. We had a late breakfast and then found some nice space to pull up deck chairs near the pool. Enjoyed a couple of overpriced (but oh so good) poolside drinks--specifically the lava flow and the cocoloco. This was the first cocoloco any of us have had and it was mighty tasty! Sadly, our sunshine soaking time was cut short, but for a great reason: we were able to go on a bridge tour, which was very informative and interesting. Our last to-do was finding an opening to see the loyalty ambassador. They were completely booked and there was a line every time we walked by. Amazingly, we finally caught them in a freak moment of availability and made an open booking, which was a great deal for only $100 down pp and no regulations on when to book. Disembarkation: Getting off of the ship was great. We were signed up for the earliest departure, but we were running a bit late so we missed it by about 30 minutes. The result: walked right off by ourselves and found our luggage all alone because everyone else had already claimed their bags. No searching, no hassle. Wonderful! We got through customs quickly and were on our way... Overall: This was a wonderful cruise experience, great enough to have us clawing at the door of the loyalty ambassador (even though we all agreed we would not rebook again, no matter how much fun we had ;) ! If this was not our 3rd So Caribbean cruise in as many years, we probably would have rebooked the exact same cruise again instead of an open booking!

Doesn't Get Much Better Than This...

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by wanderlust79

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2010
  • Destination: Southern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
A group of 6 of us cruised the Southern Caribbean (Tortola, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia & Grenada) route on the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. Four of us are have cruised Southern Caribbean before and two were new to both the itinerary and ship. The cruise was fantastic and we all had a great time!
Pre/Post-Cruise: We flew in a day early to avoid the stress of just making it to the ship on time We stayed at the Caribe Hilton, enjoyed their beautiful grounds, comfortable rooms, and proximity to the bus stop to get to Old San Juan. Had some great food at La Bombonera, Parrot Club, and El Patio de Sam. Had a less than stellar dining experience at Budatai. We wandered around the colorful ballast-stone streets, enjoying the Spanish Colonial style architecture and the combination of history and Caribbean charm. We've been to San Juan several times and never get tired if it!
Embarkation: We got to the Pan Am Pier in the mid afternoon for a quick and easy embarkation. Lines were short and everyone was friendly. Except... being solicited for tips from the porters who I watched slam the luggage around. I have read about the porter/tip issue, but never encountered it at the Pan American Pier. Each year we have been happy to tip, but once solicited, we were much less eager to pull out the wallet. We still tipped, but... Once on the ship, all was well. We checked out our rooms, dumped our carry-ons, and headed for the Windjammer. Nothing like a good afternoon gorging before dinner! The rest of the evening was spent checking out the ship until the muster drill which, sans life jackets, was a breeze.
Ship: The Serenade is a beautiful and elegant ship. It feels spacious and never too crowded. The ship is well-appointed with many unique lounges and other various common rooms. We enjoyed spending some time in the Safari Lounge, with its vibrant colors and comfortable seating. We also love the Concierge Lounge, partly for the bottomless supply of espresso drinks and evening snacks, but also for the great view and relaxed atmosphere. As for dining spaces, the Reflections dining room is very classy and the Windjammer is never too crowded to find seating. Chops and Portofino are both beautiful as well. Finally, the fitness center has plenty of equipment to accommodate the active (though it can be a bit hard to find in the dark when you are still groggy at 6am!). Overall, we love, love, love the Serenade!
Staterooms: We all had grand suites and found them to be completely comfortable and in great repair. The balconies are large enough to relax and have a nice sized table with a couple of chairs. There was no lounge chair, but our stateroom attendant was nice enough to bring one when we asked. Great for napping in the late afternoon! The suites have more than enough storage space and the larger bathrooms are a plus.
Staff: Our concierge was Gershwin and he was terrific! We were more than a little sad not to see Kenneth BooDoo this year (he left for vacation the week we sailed) but we were perfectly happy getting to know Gershwin and Ligia. They are both very accommodating and full of good conversation. Ligia was especially wonderful, always circulating and ready with another drink before we even finished the first. She is full of energy despite the fact that she had already worked all day in the casino and then late night at the cigar bar. We hope to see them both again on future cruises. The cruise director, Dennis, was very personable and funny. We met him in San Juan before the cruise and he always made a point of saying hi when we saw him on board. Our stateroom attendant, Putu, was very nice, though we rarely saw him.
Food: For dinner, we had late seating in the dining room at table 445. Our head waiter was Monty, who we saw once every night or two. He was very nice, but not as involved as some of the head waiters we have had in the past. Our waiter Ergun was very nice and accommodating. His assistant Li was wonderful, very helpful and always smiling. The food was good-to-great, depending on what was ordered. The Vidalia onion tart was delicious (as always), the artichoke dip was very tasty, and we were never disappointed with the soups. Our wait staff was always kind enough to bring us a curry dish to share at the beginning of the meal, which we really enjoyed. We had one dinner in the Windjammer, which was good. A lot of the food was the same as the dining room menu and we were able to make our own pizza-YUM! Breakfasts were either in the Windjammer or Concierge lounge, both of which were good. I am typically fine with the continental breakfast at the CL, but I got sucked into the Windjammer a few times to make French toast sandwiches with cream cheese and strawberry topping. Mmm... Most of our lunches were off the ship, but we enjoyed late afternoon snacks in the Windjammer. Gotta love the soft serve and toffee cookies!
Entertainment: We are usually too tired to go to shows, but we made an effort to join in the fun on this cruise. We saw the impressionist and a comedian, who were both very entertaining. We also saw the RC Singers and Dancers in Vibeology. This show was entertaining and timed well, as we had fun watching, but were ready for it to be over at the end of the hour. We also went to the C&A cocktail and captain's receptions. These were nice, but we probably didn't need to go to all three. Quest was a riot as always, but seemed much more crowded than when we watched on the Adventure. The space was smaller and there were many more groups participating. Crowded or not, the antics were hilarious! Finally, though we did not participate, I believe they had some activity in the Centrum on Valentine's Day. There were also a lot of decorations in that area, as well as a Valentine's cake in the windjammer. It was a nice touch.
Ports: We booked our own excursions for most of the ports. Here is a brief description of each:
In Tortola, we booked with Patouche Charters for a day sail to the Virgin Gorda Baths. The Baths were red flagged due to weather, but we had a great day of sailing, snorkeling, and relaxing anyway. The only complaint would be that the boat ran out of beer toward the end of the day (not a huge deal, but an inconvenience for the avid beer drinker or extra parched) and the restaurant where we had lunch was out of buns (so no burgers or burger-like sandwiches). Lucky for us, we ordered and enjoyed the roti, a curry chicken sort of burrito. And when it comes down to it, buns or no buns, the restaurant was not out of painkillers and painkillers = gooooooooood...
In St. Maarten we rented a minivan and made our way around the island. Found a nice little stop for pictures, shopping and a drink. I can't remember the name of the place, but there was a little stand to buy the flavored rums and the owner's tips all go toward animal rescue. Good stop! We also stopped for delicious crepes at the Deli Spoon in Marigot, and at Orient Beach for a leisurely beach stroll. Our last and favorite stop was Maho Beach for some swimming under the arriving planes. Back to the pier for a bucket of beers. Ahhh, love St. Maarten!
Antigua: We walked to the bus station and took the #22 to Valley Church Beach. We were impressed with the bus system last year, but this time we were stuck waiting nearly 45 minutes for the bus to leave, as they won't go without a full load. There just may be a taxi ride in our next Antigua trip! Beers are pretty pricey at the beach bars here so we bought 2 6-packs of local beer and some ice, and just brought a cooler. Much cheaper!! We ate lunch at The Nest, where the coconut shrimp was good, but pricey. It was also really crowded because of a ship excursion, but we were able to get a table after a while and we got to enjoy the entertainment that was set aside for the excursion. After getting back to the pier, we walked to the old church a few blocks up and looked around. Very cool old churchyard.
St. Lucia is a gorgeous island. We booked COSOL tours for the 2nd year and we were able to get COSOL himself as our driver. Unbelievably good food, tasty rum punch, refreshing Piton beer, great snorkeling, and beautiful views everywhere! This is an island and a tour that can't be beat!!! As we left the island, we parked ourselves at the helipad to watch as the captain did a 360 for everyone to see the Pitons. The Pitons were gorgeous, there was a steel band playing, the sunset was amazing, and... the captain (or maybe other crew member) blew the horn when everyone gave the trucker honking gesture. Are you kidding me? Does it get any cooler than that?!?!
We booked the Mandoo Tour in Grenada. The tour was very informative and the island is beautiful with so much greenery, flowers, and spices! We loved seeing the Mona Monkeys at the Grand Etang stop, and Mandoo held bananas on our shoulders so the monkeys would crawl up to get them. What a cool experience! This tour was a good one to take, as Mandoo is very passionate about the politics and the welfare of his island. However, for this same reason, the tour is not as fun and carefree as some others we have taken on different islands. We are glad we had this experience, but would probably not rebook for a second time.
Sea Day: we were really thankful for a relaxing day after such a busy 5 days prior. We had a late breakfast and then found some nice space to pull up deck chairs near the pool. Enjoyed a couple of overpriced (but oh so good) poolside drinks--specifically the lava flow and the cocoloco. This was the first cocoloco any of us have had and it was mighty tasty! Sadly, our sunshine soaking time was cut short, but for a great reason: we were able to go on a bridge tour, which was very informative and interesting. Our last to-do was finding an opening to see the loyalty ambassador. They were completely booked and there was a line every time we walked by. Amazingly, we finally caught them in a freak moment of availability and made an open booking, which was a great deal for only $100 down pp and no regulations on when to book.
Disembarkation: Getting off of the ship was great. We were signed up for the earliest departure, but we were running a bit late so we missed it by about 30 minutes. The result: walked right off by ourselves and found our luggage all alone because everyone else had already claimed their bags. No searching, no hassle. Wonderful! We got through customs quickly and were on our way...
Overall: This was a wonderful cruise experience, great enough to have us clawing at the door of the loyalty ambassador (even though we all agreed we would not rebook again, no matter how much fun we had ;) ! If this was not our 3rd So Caribbean cruise in as many years, we probably would have rebooked the exact same cruise again instead of an open booking!
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Cabin Review

Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
Cabin GS 1048
1048 is a great room! The decor is very nice, there is plenty of space, and the balcony is a good size. The bathroom is large and has double sinks so two people can easily get ready at the same time. Storage space is plentiful! The room is quiet, with the exception of some noise overhead on the night of the midnight poolside buffet. We would stay in this room again!
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins