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This was our first cruise so we had no idea what to expect. We flew into San Juan and rented a car (white mustang convertible) from Enterprise. They picked us up at the airport and took us off site to rent the car. My dh and I do not speak Spanish (despite many years of it in school) and our directions that we were given from the car rental to our hotel we were less then perfect. We got lost on some major highway and didn't even know the difference between North, East, West and South. Apparently when you enter Old San Juan and try to make it to the Sheraton (NOT in Old San Juan) it's pretty tricky. Once we figured it out we did great and really enjoyed exploring Old San Juan. This is a beautiful little old town with forts, beaches and great shops all within walking distance of each other (except the beach). I never once felt unsafe and I am a bit nervous.The Sheraton was very nice, with a beautiful infinity pool on the roof. It did close very early, in my opinion. We no sooner felt like we got there and they were closing. I think it was like 8 at night. We could hear the Coqui frogs chirping in the background. The food at the hotel was pricey but good. There really are no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. If you want to stay in Old San Juan, you want the other Sheraton. The parking was pricey there too. Overall it was a very nice hotel, with a very upscale feeling. Room was comfortable and new and we had a great view of the pool, and pier. Our disembarkation was quick and painless. We actually left on Halloween night and something major was going on in Old San Juan with helicopters and police activity. We did not leavce port on time but we didn't mind. My first impression of the ship's decor was a bit tacky but I have never been on a cruise before. By the end of the trip I grew to appreciate the style. I LOVED how the elevators were all glass and so was the outside of the ship by the elevator. So as we were going up and down the elevators we looked out onto the blue ocean.Our first Port of Call was supposed to be Aruba but there was a hurricane so we went to Barbados. It was beautiful there as we went to "The Boatyard" beach. This was recommended to us by our waiters. We were so concerned about not knowing where we were going but it was great. Had no problem getting a taxi/shuttle to The Boatyard, paid our nominal fee for the beach and enjoyed ourselves for the day. Beautiful water, and soft sand. There were some locals trying to sell us goods but the people at the Boatyard really looked over us and made sure they didn't linger too long. We bought a necklace and earrings from a local man. Our way back to the boat was not so nice. In fact it kinda put a damper on our perfect day at the beach. The taxi driver took the long way back to the boat, due to an incredible amount of traffic so the detour took us through back roads and I was scared! We were so glad to back on the boat.Dinner was amazing and our waiters were TOP NOTCH! Seriously, above and beyond all expectations we ever had. WE actually wrote Royal Caribbean headquarters, praising them for our two waiters. We made sure we got their names and proper spelling before we left the ship.The shows were pretty good. The one guy that did the lasso show was hysterical... my face hurt from laughing so hard. The other comedian was really good too. The only shows we didn't care for were the in house entertainment shows. But there were only 2 of them and they weren't horrible just not our taste. The next port was Antigua and we booked an excursion of kayaking and snorkeling. It was another wonderful day. It poured while we snorkeled and we didn't even care. The kayaking was fun, we picked up a few really large starfish right off the mangrove roots. Our tour guides were great and fun and the more we interacted with them the more fun it was. I got to hold a sea cucumber too (yuck) but it was so fun. One of our favorite things was going to bed after a great meal, fun entertainment and waking up in a different place. Looking out over our balcony at a new port each morning was truly wonderful. The later in the night entertainment they has was good too. We played the Quest game, I highly recommend going to this and taking part in the game. It was so much fun... I could not believe I saw my husband participating in this funny game. Very out of character for him, but we did win. We played pool on the self leveling pool tables. Went to the newlywed game and roared laughing.Next port was St. Maarten and that was not such a good day. My husband did the scuba diving which was horrible for him and truly ruined his day. The seas were so rough they should have cancelled, but it's all about money so they didn't. He got so sea sick and was even sick while under the water. *side note on this... my husband used to LIVE on a sail boat and has built boats, spent MUCH of life on boats and does NOT get sea sick... just to show how bad it was* He went to the front desk to complain about this VERY expensive excursion and was pretty much told there wasn't much to be done about this. That they would submit a complaint but all he received for his horrible day was a letter in the mail a few weeks later saying they were sorry he didn't enjoy the excursion. That was probably our most disappointing thing on the whole trip and the only thing we found that Royal Caribbean did not do well.The shopping was ok at St. Maarten alot of shops, no bathrooms to be found but McDonald's. I didn't not enjoy that port much but I never ventured off the beach/shopping area and my dh's experience put a damper.St.Thomas was AMAZING!! We didn't book and excursion, got off found a driver who filled up his open air van/truck and gave us the tour of a lifetime. All over the island, stopping at shops and then asking us where we wanted to go. We picked the beach and were dropped off at Sapphire Beach where you can rent snorkel equipment for a cheap price. The beach has a bathroom (nothing special) but we had a chair and a fresh shower for when we were done. The fish were as soon as we put our face in the water. We snorkeled so far out and truly had the time of our life. This was my favorite stop and I want so badly to go back for a week sometime. We have 4 children and have been married for 15 years, this was our first long trip without the children and we actually forgot we had kids a few times. It was an amazing vacation and one we are so glad we did. We were very pleased with Royal Caribbean's food, entertainment, staff and room. The cruise director was tolerable in my opinion but maybe that is the way they all are. I do not have anything to compare him to. We liked our cruise so much we booked another cruise, this time we are taking all 4 kids. Two cruises in one year! Thank you Royal Caribbean!

Almost Perfect

Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by jerseymomof4

Trip Details
This was our first cruise so we had no idea what to expect. We flew into San Juan and rented a car (white mustang convertible) from Enterprise. They picked us up at the airport and took us off site to rent the car. My dh and I do not speak Spanish (despite many years of it in school) and our directions that we were given from the car rental to our hotel we were less then perfect. We got lost on some major highway and didn't even know the difference between North, East, West and South. Apparently when you enter Old San Juan and try to make it to the Sheraton (NOT in Old San Juan) it's pretty tricky. Once we figured it out we did great and really enjoyed exploring Old San Juan. This is a beautiful little old town with forts, beaches and great shops all within walking distance of each other (except the beach). I never once felt unsafe and I am a bit nervous.The Sheraton was very nice, with a beautiful infinity pool on the roof. It did close very early, in my opinion. We no sooner felt like we got there and they were closing. I think it was like 8 at night. We could hear the Coqui frogs chirping in the background. The food at the hotel was pricey but good. There really are no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. If you want to stay in Old San Juan, you want the other Sheraton. The parking was pricey there too. Overall it was a very nice hotel, with a very upscale feeling. Room was comfortable and new and we had a great view of the pool, and pier. Our disembarkation was quick and painless. We actually left on Halloween night and something major was going on in Old San Juan with helicopters and police activity. We did not leavce port on time but we didn't mind. My first impression of the ship's decor was a bit tacky but I have never been on a cruise before. By the end of the trip I grew to appreciate the style. I LOVED how the elevators were all glass and so was the outside of the ship by the elevator. So as we were going up and down the elevators we looked out onto the blue ocean.Our first Port of Call was supposed to be Aruba but there was a hurricane so we went to Barbados. It was beautiful there as we went to "The Boatyard" beach. This was recommended to us by our waiters. We were so concerned about not knowing where we were going but it was great. Had no problem getting a taxi/shuttle to The Boatyard, paid our nominal fee for the beach and enjoyed ourselves for the day. Beautiful water, and soft sand. There were some locals trying to sell us goods but the people at the Boatyard really looked over us and made sure they didn't linger too long. We bought a necklace and earrings from a local man. Our way back to the boat was not so nice. In fact it kinda put a damper on our perfect day at the beach. The taxi driver took the long way back to the boat, due to an incredible amount of traffic so the detour took us through back roads and I was scared! We were so glad to back on the boat.Dinner was amazing and our waiters were TOP NOTCH! Seriously, above and beyond all expectations we ever had. WE actually wrote Royal Caribbean headquarters, praising them for our two waiters. We made sure we got their names and proper spelling before we left the ship.The shows were pretty good. The one guy that did the lasso show was hysterical... my face hurt from laughing so hard. The other comedian was really good too. The only shows we didn't care for were the in house entertainment shows. But there were only 2 of them and they weren't horrible just not our taste. The next port was Antigua and we booked an excursion of kayaking and snorkeling. It was another wonderful day. It poured while we snorkeled and we didn't even care. The kayaking was fun, we picked up a few really large starfish right off the mangrove roots. Our tour guides were great and fun and the more we interacted with them the more fun it was. I got to hold a sea cucumber too (yuck) but it was so fun. One of our favorite things was going to bed after a great meal, fun entertainment and waking up in a different place. Looking out over our balcony at a new port each morning was truly wonderful. The later in the night entertainment they has was good too. We played the Quest game, I highly recommend going to this and taking part in the game. It was so much fun... I could not believe I saw my husband participating in this funny game. Very out of character for him, but we did win. We played pool on the self leveling pool tables. Went to the newlywed game and roared laughing.Next port was St. Maarten and that was not such a good day. My husband did the scuba diving which was horrible for him and truly ruined his day. The seas were so rough they should have cancelled, but it's all about money so they didn't. He got so sea sick and was even sick while under the water. *side note on this... my husband used to LIVE on a sail boat and has built boats, spent MUCH of life on boats and does NOT get sea sick... just to show how bad it was* He went to the front desk to complain about this VERY expensive excursion and was pretty much told there wasn't much to be done about this. That they would submit a complaint but all he received for his horrible day was a letter in the mail a few weeks later saying they were sorry he didn't enjoy the excursion. That was probably our most disappointing thing on the whole trip and the only thing we found that Royal Caribbean did not do well.The shopping was ok at St. Maarten alot of shops, no bathrooms to be found but McDonald's. I didn't not enjoy that port much but I never ventured off the beach/shopping area and my dh's experience put a damper.St.Thomas was AMAZING!! We didn't book and excursion, got off found a driver who filled up his open air van/truck and gave us the tour of a lifetime. All over the island, stopping at shops and then asking us where we wanted to go. We picked the beach and were dropped off at Sapphire Beach where you can rent snorkel equipment for a cheap price. The beach has a bathroom (nothing special) but we had a chair and a fresh shower for when we were done. The fish were as soon as we put our face in the water. We snorkeled so far out and truly had the time of our life. This was my favorite stop and I want so badly to go back for a week sometime. We have 4 children and have been married for 15 years, this was our first long trip without the children and we actually forgot we had kids a few times. It was an amazing vacation and one we are so glad we did. We were very pleased with Royal Caribbean's food, entertainment, staff and room. The cruise director was tolerable in my opinion but maybe that is the way they all are. I do not have anything to compare him to. We liked our cruise so much we booked another cruise, this time we are taking all 4 kids. Two cruises in one year! Thank you Royal Caribbean!
jerseymomof4’s Full Rating Summary
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