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This was our 6th cruise with Royal Caribbean and our third on Serenade on the Seas. We were looking forward on cruising again with Serenade 9 years later. My husband and I were traveling with a young child and 2 seniors. Embarkation On departure day, our hotel had a a shuttle taking us to the cruise terminal around 11 am. Embarkation went smoothly enough. We were early enough to grab some lunch at the Windjammer even though it was already a total zoo. I remember an announcement asking passengers to eat and leave promptly to let other people have a chance to sit down and eat - don't think it worked well. Cabin Our cabin was nice (standard) and fairly well maintained, although some fixtures, shelves and towels looked a bit tired. We got decent service from our stateroom attendant. Dining The Windjammer was a zoo, same as always. The food was quite adequate, however. We felt we always had to get there early to avoid being trampled or run over by scooters. Staff-wise, it was hit and miss. Most were friendly, but I found those working at the coffee and drink stations often inattentive and slow. In the Reflections dining room, we only went there for dinner. We tried breakfast on the first sea day and the service was so slow and mediocre that we gave up. Our dinnertime wait staff, Randolph and Marisol, and head waiter Oscar were efficient and friendly, especially when it came to our young son. On the second night (first formal night) we found a group in hawaiian shirts and shorts sitting at our table and eating our bread. I assume this was confusion on their part and not the staff's fault. I really hope so, anyway. We had to ask for a change of cutelry and bread baskets. As for the food, the menu was quite repetitive and the quality inconsistent. I believe it was the exact kids menu every day. I often went with our waiter Randolph's suggestions, which worked out pretty well for me. I can't say the same for my in laws, who were mostly disappointed in their choices and often went to the 'staple' choices. I wish they had less few huge tables (10-12 people). They are very loud and seem to drain way more attention and time from the wait staff. Not everyone is travelling in a huge group. We went to Chops Grille one evening, and Giovanni's Table twice. The atmosphere was quieter and the service more attentive at both venues, but I remember being more impressed with the food in our past Serenade cruises. Giovanni's pasta in particular didn't 'wow' me on this cruise - it should have - so I'm not certain what accounts for the decline in taste and quality. Entertainment I didn't attend the evening shows but I overheard favorable comments from other passengers. I enjoyed the guitarist and pianist playing in various lounges and bars and in the Centrum. There was a band playing a bit too loud in the Centrum at times - glad my cabin was not too close. My son enjoyed spending time at Adventure Ocean and in the kids' pool and slide. The staff were really friendly, patient and attentive; I guess it helps that there were very few children on this cruise. Overall appearance and layout The ship size offers a balance of accessibility and diversity. It is well laid out generally. I wish there was just a bit more in the shops. Not much in terms of clothing and always too much jewelry. How many watches do you need? Since cruising with Serenade 9 years ago, I noticed quite a few renovations and changes to the ship, most unfavorable in my opinion. The Centrum has been redone. I miss the lighted staircase. It is a high traffic area so it would benefit from more access points. The elevators were slow and packed as always. The 13th deck is a total mess. The Vortex has been massacred to house two separate areas, with an 'exclusive' Diamond club. The separation is artificial and looks awful, the view is gone and there is almost no seating space. The Hollywood Lounge is now a Concierge Club. To me, it seems the Safari club would be a better venue for private events and to host the frequent cruisers. I understand these senior cruisers need to feel pampered but Royal Caribbean should really concentrate more on attempting to cater to Platinum, Gold, and new cruisers. On the subject of elitism, it seemed to us the elevators seemed rigged to favour the 13th floor for these 'elites' - we kept seeing empty elevators bypassing our floors and going directly up top. Disembarkation Always my least favorite part, not just because the vacation is over. Having to get up as early as possible to try to grab a table at the zoo-like, completely packed Windjammer is never my idea of a good time. It seems everyone is a bit more rude than usual. We were able to get off in a timely manner, found our luggage fairly quickly and had to wait in line for a while to clear customs. We wanted a porter but weren't able to get anyone - none were available when we needed one. Oh well, at least we saved a few bucks. Other observations -The staff was not too pushy overall - good! I've been on cruises where the photographers and other sales staff were way more agressive. -Photography is really getting pricey. -Dress code: Would it be possible for Royal Caribbean to let passengers know in advance at the very least how many formal nights to expect? There used to be 'smart casual' and other theme nights, and 3 formal nights for longer cruises. Now it's all casual except for 2 formal nights, a suggestion that is taken very lightly by a large portion of the passengers. Had I known about these decreasing standards, I would have packed different clothes. Overall, the ship still looks great, the crew is friendly, and the cruise experience wasn't bad. The problem is that we saw a huge decrease in quality and service since we last cruised on Serenade. Royal Caribbean has been disappointing us in the past few years in favor of other cruise lines offering more value for money. What we noticed the most this time around, though, was the obvious favoritism towards the frequent/lifetime cruisers. We would not encourage first time or less experienced cruisers to cruise on Serenade.

Not what it used to be

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by Ottawaquail

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 6th cruise with Royal Caribbean and our third on Serenade on the Seas. We were looking forward on cruising again with Serenade 9 years later.

My husband and I were traveling with a young child and 2 seniors.

Embarkation

On departure day, our hotel had a a shuttle taking us to the cruise terminal around 11 am. Embarkation went smoothly enough. We were early enough to grab some lunch at the Windjammer even though it was already a total zoo. I remember an announcement asking passengers to eat and leave promptly to let other people have a chance to sit down and eat - don't think it worked well.

Cabin

Our cabin was nice (standard) and fairly well maintained, although some fixtures, shelves and towels looked a bit tired. We got decent service from our stateroom attendant.

Dining

The Windjammer was a zoo, same as always. The food was quite adequate, however. We felt we always had to get there early to avoid being trampled or run over by scooters. Staff-wise, it was hit and miss. Most were friendly, but I found those working at the coffee and drink stations often inattentive and slow.

In the Reflections dining room, we only went there for dinner. We tried breakfast on the first sea day and the service was so slow and mediocre that we gave up. Our dinnertime wait staff, Randolph and Marisol, and head waiter Oscar were efficient and friendly, especially when it came to our young son.

On the second night (first formal night) we found a group in hawaiian shirts and shorts sitting at our table and eating our bread. I assume this was confusion on their part and not the staff's fault. I really hope so, anyway. We had to ask for a change of cutelry and bread baskets.

As for the food, the menu was quite repetitive and the quality inconsistent. I believe it was the exact kids menu every day. I often went with our waiter Randolph's suggestions, which worked out pretty well for me. I can't say the same for my in laws, who were mostly disappointed in their choices and often went to the 'staple' choices.

I wish they had less few huge tables (10-12 people). They are very loud and seem to drain way more attention and time from the wait staff. Not everyone is travelling in a huge group.

We went to Chops Grille one evening, and Giovanni's Table twice. The atmosphere was quieter and the service more attentive at both venues, but I remember being more impressed with the food in our past Serenade cruises. Giovanni's pasta in particular didn't 'wow' me on this cruise - it should have - so I'm not certain what accounts for the decline in taste and quality.

Entertainment

I didn't attend the evening shows but I overheard favorable comments from other passengers. I enjoyed the guitarist and pianist playing in various lounges and bars and in the Centrum. There was a band playing a bit too loud in the Centrum at times - glad my cabin was not too close.

My son enjoyed spending time at Adventure Ocean and in the kids' pool and slide. The staff were really friendly, patient and attentive; I guess it helps that there were very few children on this cruise.

Overall appearance and layout

The ship size offers a balance of accessibility and diversity. It is well laid out generally. I wish there was just a bit more in the shops. Not much in terms of clothing and always too much jewelry. How many watches do you need?

Since cruising with Serenade 9 years ago, I noticed quite a few renovations and changes to the ship, most unfavorable in my opinion.

The Centrum has been redone. I miss the lighted staircase. It is a high traffic area so it would benefit from more access points. The elevators were slow and packed as always.

The 13th deck is a total mess. The Vortex has been massacred to house two separate areas, with an 'exclusive' Diamond club. The separation is artificial and looks awful, the view is gone and there is almost no seating space. The Hollywood Lounge is now a Concierge Club. To me, it seems the Safari club would be a better venue for private events and to host the frequent cruisers. I understand these senior cruisers need to feel pampered but Royal Caribbean should really concentrate more on attempting to cater to Platinum, Gold, and new cruisers.

On the subject of elitism, it seemed to us the elevators seemed rigged to favour the 13th floor for these 'elites' - we kept seeing empty elevators bypassing our floors and going directly up top.

Disembarkation

Always my least favorite part, not just because the vacation is over. Having to get up as early as possible to try to grab a table at the zoo-like, completely packed Windjammer is never my idea of a good time. It seems everyone is a bit more rude than usual. We were able to get off in a timely manner, found our luggage fairly quickly and had to wait in line for a while to clear customs. We wanted a porter but weren't able to get anyone - none were available when we needed one. Oh well, at least we saved a few bucks.

Other observations

-The staff was not too pushy overall - good! I've been on cruises where the photographers and other sales staff were way more agressive.

-Photography is really getting pricey.

-Dress code: Would it be possible for Royal Caribbean to let passengers know in advance at the very least how many formal nights to expect? There used to be 'smart casual' and other theme nights, and 3 formal nights for longer cruises. Now it's all casual except for 2 formal nights, a suggestion that is taken very lightly by a large portion of the passengers. Had I known about these decreasing standards, I would have packed different clothes.

Overall, the ship still looks great, the crew is friendly, and the cruise experience wasn't bad. The problem is that we saw a huge decrease in quality and service since we last cruised on Serenade. Royal Caribbean has been disappointing us in the past few years in favor of other cruise lines offering more value for money.

What we noticed the most this time around, though, was the obvious favoritism towards the frequent/lifetime cruisers. We would not encourage first time or less experienced cruisers to cruise on Serenade.
Ottawaquail’s Full Rating Summary
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