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My wife and I took the Serenade of the Seas' southern Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. I did a few short (Catalina/Ensenada) cruises many years ago, this was my wife's first cruise. Overall, it was a great experience and we would recommend this ship and cruise. POSITIVES: -The balcony stateroom was fine. The layout of the stateroom and bathroom is "cozy" but well designed and there is plenty of storage, even though we had a lot of luggage. The balcony is a good size but annoyingly there were only 2 regular chairs and no lounge chairs. My wife loved to sit out here and that was a negative. Also, the beds weren't the most comfortable and were "short sheeted" on the first night. -The dining room experience was fantastic. Great service, great food and food selection. My wife is Celiac and needs a gluten free (no wheat, rye, or barley) diet. We had noted this when booking, and the dining staff were well informed and accommodated her wonderfully. She got gluten free bread each night, and was able to review the following night's menu to make her selection early. The cooks would modify certain dishes and desserts (within reason) to be gluten free. Beyond that, the overall quality of the food and service was excellent as noted. We did the "My Time" dining and sat by ourselves, since we're not especially social and just enjoyed the time to ourselves at the end of a long day. -The overall appearance and facilities of the ship were definitely up to expectations. We especially liked the pools and jacuzzis. Annoyingly, though, they closed several of them for cleaning the last few nights, which is when we used them. Also, the indoor pool in the Solarium is not heated, which was OK with me but not with my wife. Also note that both "adult" pools are deep even at the "shallow" end (5'5") and are not suitable for non-swimmers. -The ports were great and varied, which is the main thing that attracted us to this particular cruise in the first place. NEGATIVES: Nothing that spoiled the overall experience but there were a few. -The "Explorations" desk was undermanned, not open very often, and disorganized. RCL obviously wants you to use their interactive TV to book the excursions but we had questions and were frustrated trying to get answers. -The Windjammer buffet is good and varied for regular guests but my wife definitely struggled with gluten-free choices for lunch. As noted above, we were impressed with the care and concern RCL takes to special dietary needs in the dining room and were disappointed this didn't carry over to the Windjammer. Having symbols to indicate gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. choices on the labels doesn't seem too difficult a concept to implement, but we had to ask a lot of questions to find safe choices for lunch. -The onboard activities were very underwhelming. Towel folding demonstrations, bingo, sales pitches, geriatric 50s do-wop groups and an embarrassingly bad lounge singer seemed to be the order of the day. We had enough fun with the shore excursions and pool facilities that this wasn't that big an issue, but c'mon RCL. Throw us 40 and 30 somethings a bone here. -I occasionally noted an unpleasant odor in the bathroom and in our hall, maybe from cleaning products? All in all it's a good ship with a good itinerary and made for a really wonderful week.

Memorable, Great Experience

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by playadel2001

Trip Details
My wife and I took the Serenade of the Seas' southern Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. I did a few short (Catalina/Ensenada) cruises many years ago, this was my wife's first cruise. Overall, it was a great experience and we would recommend this ship and cruise.
POSITIVES: -The balcony stateroom was fine. The layout of the stateroom and bathroom is "cozy" but well designed and there is plenty of storage, even though we had a lot of luggage. The balcony is a good size but annoyingly there were only 2 regular chairs and no lounge chairs. My wife loved to sit out here and that was a negative. Also, the beds weren't the most comfortable and were "short sheeted" on the first night. -The dining room experience was fantastic. Great service, great food and food selection. My wife is Celiac and needs a gluten free (no wheat, rye, or barley) diet. We had noted this when booking, and the dining staff were well informed and accommodated her wonderfully. She got gluten free bread each night, and was able to review the following night's menu to make her selection early. The cooks would modify certain dishes and desserts (within reason) to be gluten free. Beyond that, the overall quality of the food and service was excellent as noted. We did the "My Time" dining and sat by ourselves, since we're not especially social and just enjoyed the time to ourselves at the end of a long day. -The overall appearance and facilities of the ship were definitely up to expectations. We especially liked the pools and jacuzzis. Annoyingly, though, they closed several of them for cleaning the last few nights, which is when we used them. Also, the indoor pool in the Solarium is not heated, which was OK with me but not with my wife. Also note that both "adult" pools are deep even at the "shallow" end (5'5") and are not suitable for non-swimmers. -The ports were great and varied, which is the main thing that attracted us to this particular cruise in the first place.
NEGATIVES:
Nothing that spoiled the overall experience but there were a few.
-The "Explorations" desk was undermanned, not open very often, and disorganized. RCL obviously wants you to use their interactive TV to book the excursions but we had questions and were frustrated trying to get answers. -The Windjammer buffet is good and varied for regular guests but my wife definitely struggled with gluten-free choices for lunch. As noted above, we were impressed with the care and concern RCL takes to special dietary needs in the dining room and were disappointed this didn't carry over to the Windjammer. Having symbols to indicate gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. choices on the labels doesn't seem too difficult a concept to implement, but we had to ask a lot of questions to find safe choices for lunch. -The onboard activities were very underwhelming. Towel folding demonstrations, bingo, sales pitches, geriatric 50s do-wop groups and an embarrassingly bad lounge singer seemed to be the order of the day. We had enough fun with the shore excursions and pool facilities that this wasn't that big an issue, but c'mon RCL. Throw us 40 and 30 somethings a bone here. -I occasionally noted an unpleasant odor in the bathroom and in our hall, maybe from cleaning products?
All in all it's a good ship with a good itinerary and made for a really wonderful week.
playadel2001’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9634
9634: great, quiet location. We were SO happy we didn't book closer to the Centrum or, God forbid, the night club since having some quiet downtime at the end of the day was important. Only downside is we were starboard so we had limited views in port.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    Antigua was probably the low point. It's very poor and hardscrabble compared to the other islands and didn't give a lot to see. We didn't have an excursion booked so we took an expensive cab ($80 roundtrip/2 people) to the other side of the island for a brief stop at Nelson's Dockyard (closed up and boring this time of year) and then for briefer stops up on Shirley Heights. Some great views from the heights though, which pushes my rating to a 3 from a 2. In retrospect we should have gone to the beach or stayed onboard.
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  • Barbados
    Barbados was nice enough, but our excursion (Flavor of Barbados) was a little underwhelming. The Sunbury Plantation House and Foursquare Rum Distillery were interesting enough, if a little uneventful, but the last third was some kind of profit sharing arrangement with a local wood carver. I'm glad he's built his little Mahogany empire but I didn't really want to pay for his demo.
    Barbados did give us the funniest moment of the entire cruise, though. As we were walking around Bridgetown we were approached by a panhandler. Noting this, another local told him: "Hey mon, we work hard in Barbados! Get a job ya lazy sh*thead!" Trust me, you had to be there.
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  • San Juan
    We had a great time in San Juan before and after the cruise (we came in 2 nights before departure and had a late flight out when we returned). We spent our time in Old San Juan looking at the forts, wandering and shopping, and two trips to El Jibarito on Calle Sol for lunch. The people are great, it's a relaxed atmosphere, the food was good, and the sights were interesting. Besides St. Lucia, we'd like to return to Puerto Rico to see more.
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  • St. Croix
    We went snorkeling on St. Croix using Big Beard Adventure Tours. We took their catamaran out to Buck Island, had a brief lesson (neither of us had snorkeled before) and then off to a coral reef for about an hour. I had some claustrophobia in the mask and couldn't stay out too long but my wife (who had only started swimming 4 months ago!) went around twice with one of the very helpful guides. I would heartily recommend this tour company. They made the best of my limitations and I had a lot of fun even with my issues. We didn't really see too much of the rest of St. Croix since the excursion took most of the day.
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  • St. Lucia
    One of my best friends is from St. Lucia and she's told me how wonderful it is for years. I'm glad I finally got a chance to determine that she's right. We did the "Breathtaking Soufriere and Warm Piton" excursion, which includes a drive down a VERY windy road through some local villages to Soufriere at the Southern tip of the island. Unfortunately there are only a few quick stops for photos on the drive but it's very beautiful scenery, including a great view of the Petit Piton mountain. At the end you stop for a dip in a warm pool fed by a volcanic spring and waterfall. Then back in the van for the long drive back.
    Of all of our stops St. Lucia is the one I'd most like to see again, and spend a few days in. The vendors are aggressive, but they will take no for an answer and all of the people we met were uniformly warm and friendly.
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  • St. Maarten
    St. Maarten was our scheduled "beach day", but our excursion was cancelled due to extremely heavy morning rain. Fortunately the rain let up, and due to some research we did before the cruise we took a cab to the Westin Dawn resort on the Atlantic side of the island. My wife is a Starwood member, so the very nice folks at the resort let us use their pool, jacuzzi, and spa facilities all for free (your mileage may vary). Even though it was overcast and the surf was heavy we wound up having a great morning. Then we headed back to Philipsburg for lunch at the Green House restaurant, which I heartily recommend.
    I wish we could have seen the French side of the island, but we had a very good day here.
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