Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by RicksClan 2
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
Stockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking tours and meeting with a friend from home for lunch before he went home the next day. Lots to see and do, ran out of time.
Helsinki- cold. Steves walking tour. Helsinkin library was a must see we may have missed if not told about it
St. Petersburg- cold rainy. crowds, crowds, do a tour to get past them all. so much glitz. Peterhoff was a nice break.
Tallin- warmer. very quaint town. Iron man competition was happening but navigable.
Riga- Not much there, tried to do church but not easy to get around. Not as cute as we had hoped.
Visby- a favorite spot for us. You have never seen a medieval festival till you have been here. The only ones not in authentic wear and gear was tourists from the ship. So amazingly authentic and not the hype of festivals we americans are used to. We were very disappointed the ship left so early so we couldn’t see the evening games. cute town easily walkable.
Warnemunde- took tour to schwerin. Ok, but could have spent time seeing the incoming tall ships for the next day festival.
Fredericia- rainy. we took the train to Jelling for a change, then walked around Fredericia till time ran out.
Copenhagen- rainy. we were worried hot to get off the ship and what to do with luggage but it worked out to take it to our hotel early and store it there. Again lots to see and not enough time. Steves walking tour.
Embarkation- lightening fast. Never had it so good and easy. Props for organization.
Disembarkation- very fast and easy although there was much confusion among many passengers about when we had to actually get off the ship, and how.
Transportation to and from ports each city was different. The Compass was to give information but one of our first ports was wrong in the compass. We had researched it and knew we needed a bus or taxi but compass said walking distance. Good thing we had already made our plans. City bus (bought the 2 day pass) for Copenhagen was a lifesaver. A few tours picked us up. Mostly we just walked to towns although we did spend for taxi a few times with luggage.
Someone mentioned and there is lots of confusion over getting off in Russia. We had a private 3 day tour booked with Alla. We did not have visas. We did have have lines showing passports going thru checkpoints at the dock like everyone else. We got off like everyone else. We read you had to have a ‘sponsored’ tour to leave the dock BUT I saw plenty of people coming and going and taxi’s outside. Not sure if legal to do so. Our second day a few of us wandered out the door but were missing one. The guard there (not on the last day) wouldn’t let us back in to get the one who we could see inside and didn’t know we had left him…he eventually did. We waited outside for our tour leader.
Main dining room
Reservations for each night depending on the schedule. twice placed at a new location than our ‘regular’ spot.
Waiters were very good. They remembered our evening requests like no ice, herb tea, and most importantly 2 plates of grilled veggies for the 6 of us (once we started asking for it). (veggies seem to be non existent on cruise ships).
Background music got a bit too loud for conversations a few nights but they turned it down when we mentioned it.
Food was hit and miss. We were told the first night that the bottom half of the menu stayed the same the entire cruise, that meant that only a few items in each category changed each night with many repeats. Unfortunately my favorite 2 desserts I had the first night were never again to be seen. Many nights a good portion of the dishes were variations of seafood. Fine if you like seafood, and I do, but not so many options ruling out other choices. Other nights most of the offerings had some type of alcohol which I don’t want so was limited. Some dishes were really good, a few were not. Among my group of 6 the hit was the apple ‘pie’, cheese plate, and sugar free variations. We were disappointed that there was no ‘local’ options or fresh seasonal fruits other than easy to store stuff. We did breakfast on the sea day with menu or buffet option (or as it turned out both). Our food took forever to come and was only mediocre. Buffet was better options. Better than the mobs upstairs but not the variety.
Why is there so much indian and japanese food? No mexican or other options. I like indian but this was all too spicy (as some main dining dishes were when I asked for mild). Lots of variety of breads, eggs, healthy stuff. Short on fruit options other than the easy to store stuff like melon, apple, oranges…I am not a buffet type diner as I find food not as good and I eat too much but we used it for all breakfasts but one due to the schedule, and lunch on the sea day. Nothing great. I really wanted a chef salad as opposed to the basic, caesar, etc. and none were available so I resorted to creating my own and asking for a sliced hard boiled egg. It was the best meal I had there. We found it easy to find spots to sit with our group (we kept crossing paths) off to the sides, behind drink station, and in the wing which gets opened and is very nice, just away from the food.
After hours dining
Limited options. Period. Mediocre. I recommend grabbing a cheese plate at dinner and taking it to your room for an evening snack.
For 6 of us not into the bar and noise scene, we never really found an ideal place in 2 weeks to play games. The best we did was the safari club which was very underused and only the stage area for the most part. It had a great rearward view and was quiet unless a game was happening which was rare. The chairs are ok and table would be if it didn’t have an annoying mounted lamp in the middle we had to work around. The game room we had planned on using didn’t have any space. Safari was comfortable and our ‘meeting’ spot. People seemed to go there to read and have quiet.
The dining areas were closed off during down time, so not usable
Pool- too cold and busy and was actually covered up each evening even though it was supposed to be open. Props for having life guards who looked official even if it wasn’t necesary.
Pool table- it 2 weeks to get it
Shuffleboard- we gave it a try on our sea day. missing ball, bent pusher. and the puck things were defective. After an hour we succeeded in only getting about 5 pieces on the game board. All others stopped half way or flew 3x farther than intended. We have played before without issue. so it wasn’t us. We couldn’t even get any points.
Movie theater- same movie all day and not great ones. Ok, too bad there isn’t a popcorn or refreshment stand nearby.
We tried a few ship activities on our sea day and evenings. Have had much better on other ships. Dancing lessons in the atrium could have been fun if we wren’t stepping on each other and getting smacked by inconsiderate flying arms in the cha cha. Why not use the Safari lounge with so much more room and empty??? Who cares if passers by can see?
The game ideas were good but completely dare I say ‘unfair’? Ok, I am being picky but if you go you have a hope of winning. The young people leading the games were so ‘whatever-ish’ that it was really a waste of time. The game where you try to find the unique answer…those of us at the beginning crossed off the answers others said Those at the end were talking and didn’t cross the answers we said a long time earlier. Trivia game, same thing. Scavanger hunt was for items in the ship but started early before we got there and we couldn’t find anyone to tell us what to do just ‘here’s your paper, go’. Then it ‘ended’ when someone said they had all the stuff but it wasn’t on their person.
I would like to see a ship do a ‘digital’ scavenger hunt where you have to bring back photos of items pertaining to the ship itself, not things you may not have in your cabin or a big group may have. After the first evening show would have been a good time to have some games but there wasn’t.
What we saw was excellent for the most part. We went to the introductory night and was not impressed by the ships entertainers so didn’t go back to their night. We heard it was OK, but not great. The other entertainers were a range of good to excellent, and we were glad we went to them.
We could hear bits and pieces of special musicians around the ship but again, they are always overlapped with other things we were doing, like the 5:30 -6 dinner and show afterwards. Guitarist was great as we passed by. I wish they were staggered more or someplace other than the atrium. If our cabin wasn’t just past the atrium on 4 we would have missed many happenings as we came and went.
Medical- yes we did have to make a stop for something (never had before). Hubby got bit by something someplace unknown, and it turned really nasty looking. After trying what we could we headed downstairs where the nice Dr. took a look and told us we were doing what needed to be done. At least we had it documented. We were also pleasantly surprised we weren’t charged the full bill, one we could handle without contacting our insurance company.
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Ours was slightly larger but mostly because of the bit window niche, I think.
More shelf, storage, closet, hanger space than we have ever had on another ship. Few charging ports/outlets.
Beds were very comfortable. Turns out all bedding for us was brand new. we were first users..
Shower was great. Bathroom tight but we managed and still had room to hang laundry to dry. lighting was very good. Nightlight would be handy. Bathroom light with door closed was too bright. Temperature was comfortable (on entire ship. I have been on 2 where I froze every minute on the ship no matter where I was).
Only negative about room was a wimpy Hairdryer which I came to find out was the norm at the hotels as well. You have to hold the power button on yourself. SO…if you do a lot of high heat and power drying bring your own.
Tv in room, limited channels for when we are getting dressed or retiring. Good movies but the same ones on a schedule the entire cruise. You can only watch parts of Dunkirk so many times….
Omar was great.
I do think the couch needed a serious vacuum job. It was pretty yucky when we started looking for bugs.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Schwerin CastleWarnemunde- took tour to schwerin. Ok, but could have spent time seeing the incoming tall ships for the next day festival.View All 17 Schwerin Castle Reviews
CherbourgFredericia- rainy. we took the train to Jelling for a change, then walked around Fredericia till time ran out.View All 64 Cherbourg Cruise Port Reviews
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CopenhagenCopenhagen- rainy. we were worried hot to get off the ship and what to do with luggage but it worked out to take it to our hotel early and store it there. Again lots to see and not enough time. Steves walking tour.View All 1,122 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Copenhagen Cruise Port Review
HelsinkiHelsinki- cold. Steves walking tour. Helsinkin library was a must see we may have missed if not told about itView All 856 Helsinki Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Helsinki Cruise Port Review
RigaRiga- Not much there, tried to do church but not easy to get around. Not as cute as we had hopedView All 68 Riga Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Riga Cruise Port Review
Private TourSt. Petersburg- cold rainy. crowds, crowds, do a tour to get past them all. so much glitz. Peterhoff was a nice break. 3 day private van tour for 6 was perfect.View All 186 Private Tour Reviews
StockholmStockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking tours and meeting with a friend from home for lunch before he went home the next day. Lots to see and do, ran out of time.View All 835 Stockholm Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Stockholm Cruise Port Review
TallinnTallin- warmer. very quaint town. Iron man competition was happening but navigable.View All 1,028 Tallinn Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Tallinn Cruise Port Review
VisbyVisby- a favorite spot for us. You have never seen a medieval festival till you have been here. The only ones not in authentic wear and gear was tourists from the ship. So amazingly authentic and not the hype of festivals we americans are used to. We were very disappointed the ship left so early so we couldn’t see the evening games. cute town easily walkable.View All 50 Visby Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Visby Cruise Port Review