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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Let me start by saying this is my 4 cruise. We've done 2 with Royal & 2 with Carnival. My husband and I are in our early 30's. Overall the ship was very nice. Our cabin was larger then most other ships I had previously ... Read More
Let me start by saying this is my 4 cruise. We've done 2 with Royal & 2 with Carnival. My husband and I are in our early 30's. Overall the ship was very nice. Our cabin was larger then most other ships I had previously been on. Ship was also clean and wasn't as gaudy as some others. We had an oceanview with a large window. The food in the main dining room was very good and our server was great. He often brough out extras for us to try and better our experience. The Windjammer is ok. They had the same food everyday for breakfast which got old. We had previously cruised on Carnival Freedom in October and that was fresh in our minds. The Freedom had many free dining options. In fact there were so many different options we couldn't even try them all. While Serenade only offers Windjammer buffet, main dining room & the Park Cafe. We were lucky enough to have Guys Burger Joint on Freedom and got spoiled. Serenade can not compete with those. Not really a huge fan of the pay extra restaurants. There are 4 on Serenade... none of which we tried. The entertainment was not the greatest. The comedian was funny but we felt like they could have had more of them. The broadway style shows were ok but not our cup of tea. We felt Carnival offered more options that catered to our age group. Poolside activities were not so great. In fact they were pretty non-existant. RC and Carnival both had DJ's but RC just had a guy basically playing backgroud music. While Carnival had a guy who was really entertaining and pumped up the crowd while at sea. The reggae band on RC was nice but not very visable as the hot tubs block the stage if you're sitting on the right side of the pool. Debarkation was a breeze on RC while a pain on Carnival. Might have had something to do with the size difference of the ships. Would sail on RC again but more likely to do Carnival as they are usually cheaper and we felt more satisified with them. I would recommend sailing on Carnivals newer ships or ones with the 2.0 upgrades. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned ... Read More
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned so much from CruiseCritic! I really think it made our experience more enjoyable. Our family included myself, husband, 16 y.o. son, and 17 y.o. son. About a week before our cruise I read some not so great reviews of the Serenade and was a little scared, but honestly we had a great time and didn’t have any complaints. Well, the only complaint was the wifi unlimited package because it worked only some of the time for my husband and most of the time for me, but not worth 200.00. Embarkation: We’re from the New Orleans area so getting to and from the port terminal was a breeze. We had a family member drop us off near the porters on Julia St at around 10:15 a.m. The only hiccup was that even though I had printed our set sail passes they had no record of it and we had to fill out everything again at the desk. Not a huge deal, but I was nervous and felt like I did something wrong. lol After that hiccup, we were on the ship playing mini golf by 10:45 Cabin: We had cabin 8604 and 8606. They were balcony cabins and 8604 was on the hump and had a deeper kind of pie-shaped balcony. My sons are 6’ and 6’4 and their feet kind of hung off of their beds, but all was good. Our cabin steward was great and always kept things clean and made awesome towel animals most days. Staff: All staff we encountered were really great. I did not see one person that was not smiling and they went out of their way if we had a question or request. The cruise director, Carly, held our roll call meet and greet and I found her to be very warm and fun to be around. The whole cruise director staff worked really hard making sure everyone was having a good time all week. Food: We ate in the main dining room (5:30 seating) every dinner and really enjoyed the food and selection. I would give the food an 8 out of 10. Our waiter, Kavi, and assistant, Videsh, were great as well as our table mates. My sons grumbled about wearing pants and dressing for dinner, but by the second day they were in a groove and didn’t complain because they really liked the food. We saw some shorts, but for the most part everyone around us dressed in pants (for the men) and sundresses or capris for women except formal nights. I did see a man in shorts on the second formal night and the server motioned to the maitre d, but I don’t know what they told him (he was already sitting) because we were on our way to our table. We mainly ordered room service for breakfast and it was great to watch the sunrise on the balcony every morning and have coffee, fruit, pastries and yogurt. On sea days, we sometimes ate lunch in the Windjammer, but it was usually crowded and the food was not the best, but it is probably because we don’t like buffets that much. We enjoyed lunch in the main dining room and the park cafe in the solarium also. Drink package: I purchased the replenish package for my sons and I haven’t calculated to see if it was worth it or not. They did get several frozen non alcoholic drinks every day and frozen coffee. My husband and I just drink water or coffee so we didn’t get a package. Entertainment: The live bands and shows were great on the ship. We loved the comedians, the pub singer, the Unexpected Boys and most of the entertainment staff shows. My sons did leave one show where they were acting and singing from different movie musicals. There was a nice instrumental guitarist, latin band and house band in the centrum that we really enjoyed listening to. Salsa dancing, 70’s party and cake decorating contest were fun too. Photographers: This is the best surprise of the cruise for me! It is so hard to get my teenage boys to dress up and take a family picture…. I bought the whole package on the 3rd day because they had a 50.00 off special. I am sooo glad I did because we got a stack of about 50 great professional photos for less than a sitting fee at some photographers. We really loved one of the photographers too, he would always pop out at dinner and say, “It’s me again!” I am really thankful for all of the great photos. Pools: We didn’t use the pools because they are small and were usually filled with little kids (main pool) or older people (solarium). It was nice to just lay out on a pool chair in the sun. Casino: We mainly went for about 20 minutes in the mornings. The casino was really smokey, but in the mornings it wasn’t bad at all. They also did double points from 9-11 a.m. The left side is non smoking, but it still smelled at crowded times. Things I learned: Luckily, none of us get seasick. We had rough seas one night and it was the best sleeping night for me. The bathrooms on ships are too small (like an R.V. bathroom). I also learned that I packed too much… Grateful to CruiseCritic for: I am grateful for tips about bringing an automatic air freshener. It really helped to come back to a great smelling cabin. I also learned a lot about how dining worked and other research so that I could know what to expect. Ports: Jamaica: We actually loved Jamaica! The port was beautiful and organized. We did the Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin encounter with lunch. Our guide was Lyndal and he was great. Even though I read horror stories of vendors and such, we didn’t encounter one pushy vendor. Lynval had us on the falls in one of the first groups and the first group at Dolphin cove. The food was also really good there (except the hot dog). Grand Cayman: We did a reef and wreck snorkel and it was fun. The port seemed chaotic and 6 ships were docked. It was also really expensive to eat there because everything was in cayman dollars so when it was converted if you weren’t expecting it, you could get a shock. Cozumel: We love Cozumel and have been before (not on a cruise). We did the San Gervasio ruins with beach break. Our guide, Bianca, was great. Surprisingly, the souvenirs we bought there were cheaper for the same shirts than at the shops near the port. Our beach break was beautiful and we went to Pescadore restaurant right on the beach. I am excited that we finished our first cruise and am sad that Royal Caribbean is leaving New Orleans. I will be booking again, but out of Galveston. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, we went to Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls. This was our favorite excursion. I would not travel around Jamaica on your own but with an excursion and in the port we felt safe. The port was nice and not crowded. On our excursion, our tour guides were great, especially at Green Grotto Caves. Our group did not get a videographer at Dunn's River Falls, but the groups that did seemed to get a better tour (ours was still great!). We also visited Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the cruise port. I would not get food there again (it was pricey and mediocre) but it was fun to walk around and take pictures there. In Grand Cayman, we did the Stingray City, Snorkeling, and 7 Mile Beach lunch buffet excursion (I don't think that's it's exact title-but similar). I would NOT recommend this excursion. Grand Cayman was extremely crowded and busy. We will not take a cruise here again. The excursion was disorganized, started late, and we had a very large group. They cancelled our snorkeling part of the trip due to "rough" waters but most people in our group thought it was due to running behind with their disorganization-the waters weren't bad. Royal Caribbean refunded everyone $30/person for the inconvenience. We did not like Stingray City. I have snorkeled with Stingrays in Belize and swam with them in a small group. This excursion felt like exploiting the rays. There were hundreds of people crowded standing on a sandbar with some rays swimming around. The guides were holding them out of the water trying to get people to take pictures with them. Our guide charged $40 per picture. Our guides were very pushy and begging for tips. After the stingrays, we went to 7 Mile Beach. Our lunch and the beach were nice. There were chickens walking around on the beach. We snorkeled on our own here (we brought our own equipment, but you could rent some there). After our excursion, we walked around the crowded port and got gellato (it was a bit pricey for gellato but good). In Cozumel, we went snorkeling and to Playa Mia. We loved this. The port was nice and a bit crowded but not as crowded as Grand Cayman. We would like to come back on a cruise or stay at a resort. The boat ride to snorkeling and Playa Mia was great. Our guides were fun and informative. We took pictures, sang, and danced on the boat. They provided water, soft drinks, beer, rum punch, and margaritas on the boat. The snorkeling was nice and the group wasn't too large. Playa Mia was busy but there was lots to do. The food wasn't impressive, but we had fun! All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman, we went on Royal Caribbean's excursions. All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Having just returned from 7 nights on the Serenade of the Seas, there are a few areas that could use improvements. This was my first experience with " my time dining" and proved out to work well. We were able to book the same ... Read More
Having just returned from 7 nights on the Serenade of the Seas, there are a few areas that could use improvements. This was my first experience with " my time dining" and proved out to work well. We were able to book the same table and wait staff and time for every night. I do find the menu needs some updating. We did dine at Chops and Giovanni's table, of the two I prefer Gionanni's table. Ate very few meals in Windjammer because I do not like buffets but when we did the staff was attentive and got our drinks for us. The cruise director and staff were very visible and friendly. RCCL is my choice if they go where I want to go. Was recognized for 280 cruise nights with RCCL on this cruise and have 36 more booked before the end of the year. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
I’m not going to call this a review, because I’m really going to try to keep this one short…difficult for me at best, and it may prove impossible…we’ll see. A little about us…this was our 23rd cruise – our 10th with Royal ... Read More
I’m not going to call this a review, because I’m really going to try to keep this one short…difficult for me at best, and it may prove impossible…we’ll see. A little about us…this was our 23rd cruise – our 10th with Royal Caribbean, and we’ve also cruised on Princess, HAL, Celebrity, and Carnival. We cruise without children, so the children’s club and family activities aren’t important to us. We don’t usually go to BINGO, we’ve never rock climbed, and cruise ship pool games don’t do much for us either. We seldom use room service, don’t eat late at night, and make a game out of Windjammer avoidance – the more we can avoid it, the higher our score! The things that matter and that we judge a cruise on are good service, a comfortable cabin with as much private outdoor space as possible (yes, I’m a balcony snob), good wine, reasonably good food, and some decent entertainment and activities sprinkled in there. We used to be die-hard late traditional diners, but now prefer MTD at an earlier hour, and we eat more in the specialty restaurants than we do in the MDR. We seldom go to the production shows any more, and we’ve never been big fans of cruise ship comedians, but we do often enjoy guest performers, spending time in the Schooner Bar for the piano player or listening to whatever entertainer is in the pub, and some late-night gambling. The other thing we usually do a lot is join in on trivia, but for some reason that never happened on this trip – I guess our timing was off. Pre-Cruise – We stayed at the Hampton Inn on St. Charles (in the Garden District) and it worked out perfectly for us. I liked being a little bit away from the action, and the very reasonable price of our room included parking for the cruise! We actually changed our plans and stayed two nights instead of one, since the price was so reasonable. We were upgraded at check-in, and we had a huge room overlooking St. Charles with a seating area and dining area. I would stay here again and recommend it as a great choice for cruisers who want a quieter location than the hotels in the center of the action. The cab fare to the port is fixed, so it will cost you $7.00 per person regardless of location. This was my first trip to New Orleans…hard to believe since I’ve lived in Houston for 32+ years! We enjoyed dinner at Commander’s Palace the night we arrived, and I would call it a must do for anyone who has never been to NOLA. We had a VERY busy Friday. We started with a self-guided walking tour of the Garden District, including Lafayette Cemetery. What a fascinating place! After we finished touring the cemetery, we walked around the Garden District for another 30 minutes or so, admiring the lovely restored homes and interesting architecture. We rode the street car down to the Quarter, and had lunch at Tableau – also highly recommended. After lunch, we took a photography walking tour of the French Quarter with American Photo Safari. This was good, and we definitely saw a couple things we might have missed otherwise, but I thought it was a little heavy on technical camera instruction as opposed to seeing unusual sights and the composition (artistic) part of photography. At some point during the tour, I remarked to my husband that I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, that New Orleans was no wilder or weirder than any other big city. Remember those words, because in a few hours they will come back to bite me in the rear and what happened impacted my cruise! We were fortunate to have “private guides” for our evening. Friends from Cruise Critic and the Mariner in 2012 know New Orleans well, and they helped us find our way around and see the important sights. We started at the Carousel Bar, then went to Felix’s for dinner. We followed that up with Pat O’Brien’s (twice), had front row seating at Preservation Hall (fabulous – don’t miss this!), and ended the night at Café du Monde for a fat and sugar fix! So, back to my earlier comment…what bit me in the rear? When we went into Felix’s for dinner it was still light, but when we walked out and rounded the corner onto Bourbon Street it was dark and my jaw hit my chin. I was stunned by the difference from day to night! Now, I’m not graceful at the best of times, but I’m especially clumsy when I’m gawking and not paying attention to where I’m walking. One of those little dips in the brick at the edge of the street got the best of me, and down I went, sprawling in the middle of Bourbon Street. I have no excuse – at that point I had only had one drink – I just wasn’t paying attention. My tumble took the skin off my right knee and I badly twisted my left ankle, but thankfully my husband used his leg to partially break my fall and both my head and my camera emerged unscathed. A “nice” merchant in a bead and junk shop was kind enough to sell me three band aids for $4.35, and I had some Neosporin in my purse (remember, I’m a klutz!), so I tended to my knee and went about enjoying the rest of the evening. Fortunately, walking to Café du Monde at the end of the evening I discovered Rouse’s Grocery Store and bought a box of band aids and an ace bandage that would basically salvage my cruise. I had to go sandal-less and wear long pants for the week, but the cruise packing Gods were looking out for me because I actually had packed two pairs of closed toed shoes with Velcro straps that I could get on over the bandage. Usually I only have tennis shoes, and I never was able to get those on! The cruise – I think I’ll just bullet this instead of a blow by blow description of our days on the ship. We’re really not that interesting and there’s a limit to how many days’ worth of “we relaxed and took a nap on the balcony” you can read! What we liked: • Our cabin – GS 1554 was very conveniently located and a little different from the other Grand Suites. It was a bit smaller because it was on the hump, but we had a full outer wall of glass with double sliding doors that basically served to make the cabin and the balcony seem like one space. • We thought the ship was beautiful! This was our first time on a Radiance class ship, and I see why people love them. We thought Serenade was easy to navigate, beautifully decorated, and impeccably maintained. • The staff we encountered on the Serenade were great! I know several people have written otherwise recently, but that wasn’t our experience at all. I had to visit guest services once, and they were friendly, helpful, and extremely apologetic they couldn’t help me find my lost earring. I thought the Concierge Lounge staff was phenomenal. Alan, the concierge, went out of his way to make guests comfortable. I think the server in the lounge, Melody, is quite simply the best in the fleet! If you have the good fortune to meet her in your travels, make sure you ask for a Chocolate Martini, and tell her Cindy, Deedee, and Carol said hi! The only “great staff” exception all week was a grumpy bartender in the Solarium. He seemed put-out by having to get me a bottle of water, but he looked put-out by life in general, so I just ignored his attitude and moved on! • I also really liked Carly, the CD. I didn’t think she was phony at all as others have written, and I liked her low-key approach. This is totally a matter of taste, and while I don’t pay a lot of attention to Cruise Directors, the ones I dislike are the ones who always seem to be in my face drawing attention to themselves. I’m sure some of you remember Becky “Hallo Luv” from the Mariner. She had a huge following but she drove me crazy, and I thought everything was about her. I didn’t get that from Carly at all. • The food, generally speaking, was very good. We only went to the Windjammer once, so the most I can say about that is I thought it was the standard buffet fare that I’ve seen on every ship. We ate in the dining room (MTD) on both formal nights. The first time, we had an excellent table and wait staff, and the food and service were both very good. The second time we weren’t as lucky, and both the food and service were lacking. We ate at Giovanni’s Table the first and last night. Although I love their food, the meal on Saturday was marred by extremely slow service and difficulty getting food out in the correct order as well as them serving everyone’s entrées at different times. We tried it again on Friday, and although the service was better, there was still something a little off about it. It appeared to me that there weren’t enough servers, and it also seemed like the kitchen had a difficult time getting food out in the intended order. Both evenings, the pasta was served when we were almost done with our mains. Chops was excellent in both food and service. I thought Chops was just as good as it’s always been, and it was better than Chops on the Oasis. By the way, Chops on the Serenade has tablecloths! • Special events on the Serenade were extremely well done. We went to Chef’s Table, and thought the food was delightful. The wine pairings were good, not great (I would have rather had Caymus!), but they complemented the food and our waiter/sommelier Bento did a great job of explaining the choices. We were blown away by the suite “Cocktail Party” which was anything but a cocktail party. It was an exquisite upscale buffet lunch in Chops! What a pleasant surprise! We also attended a brunch in Chops on the last sea day. It was the first time they had offered this, and I would definitely do it again. We started with a galley tour, and then had a fantastic brunch that included steak, lobster, stuffed chicken breast, and eggs cooked to order. We didn’t attend either of the C&A parties because we found them to be at inconvenient times. • We had an active roll call on CC, and ended up doing quite a bit with people from the roll call throughout the cruise. The Vortex was full for the official M&M…it seemed like everybody showed up! Our cabin crawl was very well attended, everybody who participated as a host went all-out with decorations and trinkets, and we were fortunate to end the event in the Royal Suite! Sometimes roll calls work out, and sometimes they don’t. This one was mostly a positive experience both on and off the ship. • I love having two sea days at the end of the cruise…it just makes the whole packing and leaving process so much less painful when it’s spread out over two days! Things we’re neutral about: • Entertainment…we didn’t go to much of it, so it’s hard to judge. We saw the Las Vegas Tenors and thought they were great! There was a problem with the aerial shows on our cruise. A cable snapped right at the beginning of the performance on Monday night, and the show was cancelled. They did an abbreviated performance on Friday afternoon, but there was only one aerialist instead of two, and only one apparatus was used. I would have liked to see the full show, but I understand the safety concerns and sometimes things just happen! We also enjoyed QUEST and the 70’s Party on the Serenade, but there were other areas that we thought needed improvement. The most glaring one was, to us, the piano player. He seemed to always be on break when we tried to listen, and he seemed to spend most of the evening behind a cocktail instead of the keyboard! • Embarkation and disembarkation were fine…I’m not going to go into a lot of detail since RCI is pulling out of NOLA. Embarkation was slowed by some extreme ineptitude at the security scanners, but after that it was smooth and quick for us. Disembarkation was the fastest and most efficient we’ve ever had on US soil – be prepared for a very long walk to transportation though! • Photo Gallery – I think I got spoiled by the folio system on Oasis and on Navigator. I hated having to go on a search and rescue mission to find my photos! We don’t get many, but I needed to get my freebies, and even finding those was difficult. There were some shots that never showed up, and no one in there seemed especially helpful. • Shops – meh. They seemed to have a lot of the usual stuff, just less of it. I did have some OBC I was trying to use, so I ended up finding some cute purses on sale and picked them up for my nieces for Christmas gifts. I thought the jewelry and clothing selection was skimpy compared to other ships. My husband was not bothered by this AT ALL…believe me, I don’t need to shop. • We had the Ultimate Beverage Package, and I probably could have done without it on this trip because the CL was so accommodating. Even though we have lounge access and the evening HH drinks loaded on our cards, we’ve found it beneficial to have the package in the past because I am a wine snob, I hate the wine they pour in the lounges, and I’ve never been able to get any “frou frou” martinis in there either. I would have been fine on this trip to just get the Royal Replenish for water, Pellegrino, and fancy coffees and then loaded up on OBC to cover alcohol and wine. I will say it seemed a bit easier to use the package than it has been in the past, but the experience still isn’t as good as on Celebrity where you never sign anything. What we didn’t like (thankfully not much): • The elevators were an issue the entire trip. We were on Deck 10 and ordinarily would have just walked up to 13, but I had the annoying issue of a bad ankle and had great difficulty walking up or down the stairs. Often, completely empty elevators would whiz by, but what was even worse was the people who thought catching an elevator was a sporting event. They would hit the close button before others could get on, and then laugh as people missed the ride. Seriously. What kind of a jerk does that? I’m not talking about kids playing, I’m talking about totally rude and inconsiderate adults. Shame on them. Only slightly less annoying were the people who would arrive at the elevator lobby and dart onto the first one that came, despite the fact there were people who had been waiting. Sheesh…I was just stunned at the number of self-centered, inconsiderate people I encountered in an elevator lobby. I guess they were taking a vacation from manners. • This was a Spring Break cruise, and although I didn’t think we had any “typical” Spring Break behavior, there were a few VERY large groups travelling together. They tended to monopolize the space wherever they were. On the first night, their chosen location happened to be the CL, and they were so loud we had to leave…we literally couldn’t have a conversation. Again, I think it all boils down to being considerate of your fellow passengers and remembering you’re on a large cruise ship, not a private yacht. • Port times were poor (although I booked the cruise knowing this, because I wanted to go on a Radiance class ship and sail out of New Orleans). We didn’t get into Nassau until 1:00, and our time in Key West was only 11:00-5:00. The only port with what I would call “normal” hours and a full day was Coco Cay. • I didn’t think the perks for suites were as good as on other ships. I missed having Chops for breakfast and a place to sit during lunch to get away from the Windjammer crowds. • For some reason, this wasn’t a good sleeping cruise for us. Neither one of us thought the mattress was very comfortable, and although we couldn’t hear any noise from the Centrum (they kept the fire door closed at night) we did have some noise from above. • Finally, and to me this is the biggie and the one that Royal Caribbean needs to address is the smoke. The smoke from the casino wasn’t just bad in the casino, it was bad in the Centrum on all the decks above the casino. It drifted down the cabin hallways…I could smell it when I opened my cabin door. I’m not a militant anti-smoking person, but I thought it was awful, and I hated smelling smoke in all the public areas. This won’t be a popular opinion on here, but if they can’t find a way to properly extract the smoke then maybe it’s time to get rid of inside smoking completely. Create a sheltered, comfortable, well-ventilated area outside and be done with it. The only good thing was that I found the smoke so oppressive it kept me out of the casino. Since there was a thief in there masquerading as a Wheel of Fortune machine it’s probably a good thing I stayed away! Ports – Key West: We did our own walking tour, based on recommendations in the Ports of Call section of CC and on Trip Advisor. We started with lunch at Bo’s Fish Wagon, which is a fascinating, kitschy, delicious, and probably totally unsanitary place built around an old food wagon. If you’ve never eaten conch fritters while chickens roam freely by your feet and jump on the tables, then I suggest Bo’s! We walked after lunch, through a neighborhood with beautiful restored homes and on to Duval Street and some local color. We spent about 45 minutes at the Butterfly Conservancy before walking over to the Southernmost Point and waiting our turn in line to take photos. By that time, I was beat, sweating (because I had on long pants and closed toed shoes), and my ankle was throbbing, so we grabbed a pedi-cab to take us to our next stop for a little slice of heaven – Kermit’s frozen, chocolate-dipped Key Lime Pie on a Stick! Yum! I had thought about that treat for 22 months (the length of time between booking and sailing) and it didn’t disappoint. After that, I was pretty much done. We wandered slowly back to the ship, browsing as we went and generally taking our time. I would have loved longer in Key West, but on that particular day I was happy to get back to my floating home for the week and put my foot up! Nassau: We had a group of 13 (all from the roll call) take a Tru Bahamian Food Tour. This was fantastic and I highly recommend it. The owner was great to work with, and happy to set up an afternoon tour to accommodate our late ship arrival. Our guide, Murray, was a wealth of knowledge and interesting anecdotes, and we had a terrific time. After the tour Jim and I went back to the ship, and never went back on shore. We were sound asleep LONG before the Serenade sailed at midnight. Coco Cay: We shared a cabana with a Cruise Critic friend from the ship, and it was perfect for us. Neither Jim nor I are big beach people, especially if it’s crowded, so I was perfectly content to have a lovely shaded couch to lay on and only emerge to take pictures or eat! I thought it was a good choice for us since the Majesty was there too and the island did seem extremely crowded to me. Conclusions – We would go on the Serenade again in a heartbeat! While she doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of the newer and bigger ships, she’s beautiful, and for our tastes this was a great cruise. If someone needs to be entertained instead of finding the ocean itself entertaining, or likes to be active 24/7, the Serenade might not be a great choice. Much has changed in the cruise industry in the 15 years since we took our first cruise, and in many ways the product in 2015 is unrecognizable next to the product in 2000, or even 2010. Some things are gone never to return and some now cost extra, but that’s not all bad. There are more choices than ever, and a person can really personalize things to their tastes. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Serenade of the Seas is one of the easiest ships to navigate. I never got lost the whole cruise. I'm not really sure what made this ship so easy....was it the well placed elevators, was it the touch screens on each floor, was it ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas is one of the easiest ships to navigate. I never got lost the whole cruise. I'm not really sure what made this ship so easy....was it the well placed elevators, was it the touch screens on each floor, was it being able to see every floor from the atrium, was it being able to go front to back on all floors? The planners of this ship certainly had me in mind when they designed it. I am going to miss her when she leaves New Orleans. Getting to the spa was easy. The massages and facials (yes, I went more than once) were wonderful and worth the money. Lying on the heated lounges in the spa is the best way to relax. My cabin was close to the stairs and elevators. Even being in a busy area, I was never bothered by loud noise. Do not let convenience of stairs and elevators cause you concern. It is still quiet in your room. Activities on the ship were loads of fun. Watching the cooking demonstrations, the line dancing, and the belly dancing instructions was so much fun.....even if you just watched. The music was all over the ship. All I had to do was choose the music I was in the mood to listen to and find it on the Cruise Compass. The photographers worked with me to capture some great looks. They certainly know how to make me look my best. It is so sad we are losing Royal Caribbean in New Orleans. Maybe one day RCCL will return. Until then, I will have to travel to other ports to catch the wonderful ships of Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco ... Read More
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco Cay stops Staff was great everywhere on the ship, friendly and helpful. Our room steward was awesome, enjoyed talking to him and we had an issue with safe not opening one day, he instantly called a tech and the guy arrived in 5 minutes. Had an interior cabin, was perfect, all we did was sleep in it, never spent a minute there otherwise. Tons of food with a good variety, we ate in the dining room most nights, ordered 2 meals some nights to get a variety. Servers were awesome, Marek was one of our servers and he was great to talk to. These folks work their backsides off. The Buffet always had lots to choose from and was always hot. Omelette station every morning was my stop, perfection every time. Expect to gain weight :) Shows were good, comedians were very funny. Check in was smooth, getting on and off boat was trouble free and efficient. Boat was clean, crew were always touching up things, painting over spots, cleaning railings etc (mostly while everyone slept, i was up really late one night, crew were busy all over the ship, cleaning, dusting. polishing, vacuuming etc) The only things that need "fixed" are the pool table cues, they need some new tips, also the darts in pub are the cheap ones and not worth playing darts with.(bring your own) No problems bringing water on board, we had a dozen bottles of Perrier water in the carry-ons, no one said a thing In Key West we did the Conch Train tour, it was like 20 something dollars each at the booth by the stop in Key West. That was like half the price of what was offered on the ship, but it gets better, as i was talking to the rep and said that was a bit much and started to walk away he called me back and offered my 4 tickets for the price of 2, SOLD, a much better deal. 4 adults for 40 bucks - It was worth it, got to see alot of Key West that way. Even my 2 "kids" enjoyed it which i was surprised about. Yes the water and Photos on the ship are over priced but no different then going to Disney - bring your own water and take your own photos. Shore excursions can usually be purchased for way less off the ship as we did with the Conch Train tour (and a buddy that cruises all the time says they always book tours off the ship, sometimes even ahead of time via the internet rather then pay ship prices.) Hope this review helps Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
First, I would like to say this is my first review on any travel site ever on any subject. We are a family of 4 (kids - 12 and 7). This was our second time cruising. Our first cruise was last year aboard the Norwegian Star. We travelled ... Read More
First, I would like to say this is my first review on any travel site ever on any subject. We are a family of 4 (kids - 12 and 7). This was our second time cruising. Our first cruise was last year aboard the Norwegian Star. We travelled with 2 other families both with 2 kids each for a total of 12 people. It was the first cruise for all 3 families. We had SUCH A GREAT TIME and were so pleasantly surprised and impressed with the Norwegian Star that we ALL really wanted to cruise again. This year, we decided to go with Royal Caribbean as we had all heard from EVERY single person we talked to that RC was much better in all aspects (food, service, activities, entertainment, etc…). We travelled with the same families again, except this year, after hearing our enthusiasm we convinced 3 more families to come along for a total of 24 people. (One family had never cruised before). Kids ranged from ages 7-16. Adults were ages 38-50. The cruise was from New Orleans with stops in Key West, Nassau, and RC’s private island CocoCay (Sounds more impressive then it was). I will be comparing the RC Serenade of the Seas to the NCL Star throughout this review as it is all I have to compare it too. THE SHIP Embarkation was fairly quick and painless. Uneventful and uninviting. Security…Famiily photo… on the ship. Now what? Compared to NCL Star, on the Star they were playing music and it was like a party atmosphere and was much more inviting and we felt so much welcome to be there. The RC Serenade was newer and more modern having been renovated just 2 years ago. Although, when we first embarked on the ship, we couldn’t help but smell poop up and down the hallway to our cabin. It was only on the first day, but not a good start. The ship was well setup and designed. POOLS The main pool was smaller than the Star and did not have a slide, but the adult pool was larger and better decorated. The kid’s pool was pretty much useless as none of our kids ever used it. It was too shallow and only had ONE slide that was meant for really really small kids 5 and under (WAY TOO SLOW). Pool deck - Had two guys playing some Caribbean style music sometimes and some recorded music. Kind of just background music. NCL Star had 2 slides at main pool and one on the smaller kid pool. All 3 slides were good for our kids and on some days, the kids never left the pool. NCL Star had and a 4 piece band also playing same type of music but the band was much more enthusiastic and played more often and involved passengers more frequently to make it more ‘fun’. FOOD Food quality was pretty much the same on both ships. Maybe slightly better quality on RC Serenade but more selection on NCL Star. Only one dining room and one buffet. NCL Star had 2 main dining rooms and one buffet. BUFFET - Windjammer Equal in quality, but I believe NCL Star had a bit more variety and more international items on a daily basis. The RC Serenade had the exact same items for breakfast EVERY day and NO Eggs Benedict or Crepes unless you went down to the Main dining room and order from the menu. NCL Star had both Eggs Benedict and Crepes at the buffet, without having to go to the main dining room. Seating during peak hours was a bit difficult on both ships. MAIN DINING ROOM - Reflections Service was just OK the first night, we had the 5:30 seating and we all felt very very rushed to get us out for the next seating by all the staff. We genuinely felt like cattle. Maybe we were spoiled but, aboard the NCL Star, some of us were used to ordering 2 or sometimes 3 appetizers and 2 main courses and probably 2 desserts each adult. One adult loved the desserts, she would save room and not order as much of the main courses and get 5 desserts. We were actively encouraged by the NCL staff to order more items and try new things every night. We could even custom order items not on the menu. If they could do it, they would. For example, one night there was some type of Curried Prawns and rice dish on the menu and it consisted of a bed of rice and veggies with 3 or 4 prawns on top. A couple of the adults really enjoyed the dish abut just wanted to order a plate of extra prawns. The waiter said, absolutely and brought a big plate of full of prawns, and he brought it with a smile. On the RC Serenade, when we asked for extra items from the menu, the waiters didn’t seem too thrilled about serving us more. When we asked for extra mussels from mussels item on the menu, the waiter promptly told me “No, we can’t do that, the mussels are a just a garnish”. After a moment or two, he said he’ll check with the kitchen and might be able to bring me a few extra and later brought me a small plate of mussels. This was from the very first night of our cruise aboard the RC Serenade and I felt right from that point, this is not going to be a good experience on this ship. Later that night we complained to the maître d' while he was trying to get us out of the dining room for the next seating, but he seemed uninterested. The next day we talked to the Head Maître d' (Pedro). We explained the situation and how the 2 cruises differed in service and he vowed to make it better. That night, and for the remainder of the cruise, we were booked into the private dining room (The Mirage Room) just for our party of 24. We were given the best senior waiter staff on the ship (Cleeven, Cloudeu, Rodney and Ramon), and they did not disappoint. Their service was awesome, and definitely on par (if not even better) than the service we received aboard the NCL Star. LATE NIGHT DINING – Solarium Park Café RC Serenade - Almost Non-existent. After 11 pm, good luck!! There was one place open (Park Café) and barely had any selection to choose from (pizza, hotdogs heated under lamps and a few desserts) LAME, LAME LAME. We are all fans of late night dining, but this ship had almost nothing after the dining rooms closed, and they all seemed to close early. The Castle pub was open until 1AM and had fun Karaoke and a live musician playing and taking requests (He was really good Aussie guy) but did not have any food at all. Just overpriced booze. What kind of pub doesn’t have any munchies to eat, not even some chips. LAME LAME LAME! NCL Star had several places open late night, even the buffet was open later and had lots of selection. Even a late night CHOCOLATE buffet (very popular with our dessert loving friend). Your kids could go get hot wings, chips and salsa at 1 AM if they wanted, no problem. NO CHOCOLATE BUFFET AT ALL ON RC SERENADE. They kept pushing to come get fresh grilled burgers on deck. But, they didn’t have a grill anywhere on the boat. There is a huge difference between a fresh grilled burger from a BBQ and a burger cooked on a griddle and kept under a heat lamp or in a stainless steel dish with a burner underneath for hours. NCL Star had a huge PROPER GRILL on the pool deck on all cruising days. Grilling fresh burgers, chicken, hot dogs, with a much better selection of toppings and condiments. Not just the standard ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomatoes and lettuce. NCL Star also had Fajitas and Taco during the lunch BBQ. We did not try any of the specialty dining options on either ship. When talking with other passengers aboard the Serenade, we found they were all having the same less then great experience. There was 3 separate occasions when we were in the buffet dining room and we overheard people complaining to the staff about the food and the service. When further discussing it with those passengers, they were experienced cruisers and have always felt RC was on the top of the list for cruise lines. And this cruise was a major disappointment. Rating it dead last. SERVICE Excellent dinner service every night (except the first). I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the staff seemed overworked, not that eager to please and genuinely not that happy to be working on the ship. I didn’t see a lot of smiles on their faces. Another example, one of our passengers forgot to bring conditioner with her on the trip, she went to guest services to ask for some and she was even willing to pay for it. They told her only the Suites and the Balcony units could have conditioner. REALLY?! Even the scummiest of 1 star hotels provide conditioner to their guests. She flipped out and they eventually gave it to her. This kind of behavior generally comes from above (supervisors and management). I heard from several of the crew that they were tired and overworked and always in a state of insecurity (unsure if their contract will be renewed for the next 3 months). I did notice on the last 2 days of the cruise, we were asked many times by various crew members in dining room, if we had a good trip and if they could improve in some way. They kept offering to get things for us and trying to ramp up their service (probably trying to get some points and a good review by the passengers). On the other hand, Most of the NCL Star staff seemed thrilled to be there and eager to please at all times. CABIN We had regular inside lower level cabin. Slightly larger than the cabin on the NCL Star. It was adequate and what we expected. The Cabin Steward was pretty good, kept the room clean and left the occasional animal made out of a towel. NCL Star steward made a different animal every night. The kids couldn’t wait to get to the room to see what animal was left there. ENTERTAINMENT Some nights, only one show at 6:30. Other nights, 2nd show at 10pm. Comedian – Two African American comedians (can’t remember their names) were hilarious. They had two shows. Magician/Comedian John Ferrentino was beyond brutal. Not funny and less magical. There was times I thought the room was empty. He should be performing at a senior care facility. Another comedian on the last night was pretty funny. Used a funny slide show. Broadway type shows were just OK. 3 Las Vegas Tenors were really good. Disco – was pretty quiet most nights, music was good. All our kids were not too interested in the kids club on the ship. They tried it out the first day or two but not impressed. They ended up playing hide and seek late at night until security told them to stop running around. Some of the older people were complaining. They did have a 70’s dance party in the center of the ship on the second last night of the cruise, which was a blast. But Party was over at 11pm. Everybody to bed. BOOOO! NCL STAR had really good acrobatic artists (Cirque type show) from France that were awesome. Broadway type shows were very entertaining and dancers were awesome. Really good Italian Magician/Comedian with a huge Albino snake. Overall, NCL Star had better entertainment and more shows (early and late shows). PORT STOPS Key West – Nice town Nassau, Bahamas – Nice Beach Coco Cay (Private Island) – Nice beach, Blue water. When they say ‘Private Island’, they make it sound like it’s some super-secret exclusive place ‘EWWWWW WHOAAAA’. But, you’re herded over there in little boats along with 2000 other people. Oh yeah, and there’s another RC boat docked beside you unloading their 2000 passengers (Not so private island now, is it?). They have big BBQ there on the island with Burgers, Dogs and chicken and ribs and all the fixins’. But wait, still no BBQ grill. Yes, once again, the burgers are cooked on a griddle and kept warm under lights. It’s their private island but you still have to pay $35 to go down their slide and play on the water park. ?? No point in comparing port stops to NCL Star as we cruised the Mexican Riviera the last time. Special shoutout to excellent friendly staff on RC Serenade of the Seas: Cleeven, Cloudeu, Rodney, Ramon, Pedro, Michelle Gallagher, Marco Aerelio Ship of ‘NO’ NO, we cannot bring you a plate of mussels. NO, you cannot enter this buffet line up, it is closed, go to another lineup. (Even though it was not roped off yet). NO, we cannot toast your bread at midnight, the toaster is not working (It was only turned off). NO, your child cannot go up the rock climbing wall. Free climb is over at 5pm and it is 5:05 pm (It was still open for adult speed climbing). NO, we do not serve any food in the pub. NO, we do not have Eggs Benedict here, you have to go to main dining room (After I was told they did by another crew member, and waited in line for 5 minutes)   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
This was my husband and my 8th cruise and 2nd on RCCL and I must say that the service and quality was not very good as compared to other cruises. It appears that the number of staff people in the dining room and Windjammer buffet was ... Read More
This was my husband and my 8th cruise and 2nd on RCCL and I must say that the service and quality was not very good as compared to other cruises. It appears that the number of staff people in the dining room and Windjammer buffet was extremely lacking. No one ever asked if wanted anything to drink in the buffet area and dishes sat on the table a very long time before being cleared, if at all. My husband used a scooter onboard and when he went to the omelette line, not one staff person offered to help him to his table. He had to balance his plate and drive the scooter. I don't call that service at all. Quality of the food was lacking and basically was the same every day in the buffet. The bacon at breakfast was basically raw. The staff was clearing food items and emptied some of the food tables a half hour before service ended. The Dining room also had some same menu items every night as well. The best meal we had was the last night when the buffet had fresh cooked stir fry where you picked all your own ingredients. One night in the dining room, we ordered crème brulee for dessert. What was served was banana pudding with a slice of banana and melted sugar on top. How they thought they could pass this off as crème brulee is beyond me. The best thing about the cruise was the various musicians and the ship itself. The ship is very easy to navigate and is beautiful. I hope RCCL is not short staffing their older ships to take care of the mega cruise staffing nor compromising their food menus either. Not sure I will use RCCL on my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We cruised out of New Orleans on March 14th, 2015. We arrived in New Orleans a day early and stayed at the Hyatt across from the Convention Center. We parked our car at the Fulton Garage right next door. If you book your parking on line ... Read More
We cruised out of New Orleans on March 14th, 2015. We arrived in New Orleans a day early and stayed at the Hyatt across from the Convention Center. We parked our car at the Fulton Garage right next door. If you book your parking on line ahead of time it is a lot cheaper. And so convenient. We will always park at the Fulton Garage from now on when going on a cruise out of New Orleans. We ate at Mannings on Friday night. It was very good. I would highly recommend going to Mannings. It is located in Fulton Square. Boarding the ship was very easy. We were dropped off at the pier around 11:00 and we were easily on board by 11:30. Went directly to the Windjammer for lunch. Went to the back of the Windjammer and went outside to eat. Great place to eat. Could always find a nice table out there. The ship was very nice. We had traveled on the Serenade in February of 2013 and not much had changed as far as the appearance of the ship. However, the crew had changed quite a bit. When we traveled in 2013 there was a husband and wife team. The husband was the cruise director, I believe, and the wife was in charge of activities on the ship. They were great. This time was very different. The new cruise director, in my personal opinion, was not very good. She was older and didn't have the personality to do the position of cruise director justice. And the younger girl out by the pool in charge of activities out there was even worse. Could not for the life of her, generate any energy. The games by the pool were rather boring and there was not very much participation. Having said that... we do not cruise for the cruise director or the activities by the pool. I am a firm believer that the cruise is what you make of it. And we had a great cruise. Met many new friends. Enjoyed other venues of the ship. We only went to the main dining room on three occasions. We had anytime dining, which works out perfectly for us. We always like to see what is going on each day in the evenings before we decide when and where to eat. Each evening the food in the Windjammer was practically the same as in the main dining room. So we weren't missing out on much. The idea of having to go in at a certain time to get cleaned up for dinner is not too becoming to us. We did not do any of the specialty restaurants this time. We did Chops in 2013 and we weren't too impressed with the food or our waiter. We did do Rita's one evening and it was very good and nice to sit outside and eat. We really liked to sit outside in the evenings and eat. Added so much to our cruise. We also enjoyed going to the Park Café for lunch on most days. Very fresh sandwiches and salads. And I am sure they were probably a lot better for us considering all the other junk we were eating (ice cream... lots of ice cream). We always eat our lunch in port whenever we had a port day. That way we don't get too tired of the food on board. Our cabin steward was great. His name was "Happy". He took care of all of our needs. They should give him a raise. Also, twice in our room we had a problem. First time was with the T.V. We could not get a good picture. We called and within five minutes we had someone in our cabin fixing it. The second time we were having trouble with our air... it continued to get very hot. We called and that time we had someone in our room within ten minutes fixing it. High praise for the "fixers" on the ship. We enjoy watching movies at night on the screen by the pool. However, on the Serenade, it is a little awkward. You have to be on a certain side of the pool to get full view of the screen. And, the sound is not too good. However, we did enjoy two shows during our cruise. The theater shows were O.K. I have seen much better. The theater is very large and we never had a problem getting a seat. There were a lot of activities on the ship so you always had something to do. Zack in the Crown and Castle Pub was very good. We usually went in there every night for a while. He was from Australian. Very good entertainment. The Pub is a little small. Every night it was packed. Later at night they had adult karaoke in the Pub. As it was Spring break there were a lot of kids on the ship. However, that didn't bother us. In fact, they were very well behaved kids. Even the college kids behaved themselves. And you could tell they were all having fun. As I said before... your cruise is what you make of it. We hit three ports... Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. We thoroughly enjoyed each port. In Jamaica and Cozumel we booked out excursions on line with independent tours. Much cheaper tan booking through the ship. In Jamaica we went to the Hilton Rose Hall on a day pass. Very nice. People there were extremely nice. Had a great day there, even though it rained a little. In Cozumel we booked a tour of the island driving a convertible volkswagon. Our tour guide was Omar. He was great. We made several stops, including one for lunch, which was included in our cost. Had a great day on Cozumel. Weather was perfect. In Grand Cayman we just shopped and ate lunch at The Bar at the Sunset House. Very nice... right on the water. Great view of the ship. It was about a mile south of where the boat was docked. We walked it. Very nice walk; however, some may have chosen to take a cab. Would definitely go back there. Very nice place to have lunch. I probably won't go on the Serenade again. We have done it twice. Nothing to do with the crew or any shortcomings the ship may have had. Just want to try something different next time. It was very convenient for us each time we went on the Serenade as it went out of New Orleans and it is easy for us to drive there and board the ship. Saves a lot on airfare. We found out that Royal Caribbean will no longer be going out of New Orleans after March. Someone said they did not choose to renew their contract. Getting off the ship went very well. They are very organized and it went very smoothly. Said getting off that morning. We had such a great week. Wished we could have done it all over again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We started out with a Pre-Cruise at Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome in New Orleans. We can enthusiastically recommend this hotel if you are staying there. We found the service, friendliness of the staff and the rooms were all excellent! ... Read More
We started out with a Pre-Cruise at Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome in New Orleans. We can enthusiastically recommend this hotel if you are staying there. We found the service, friendliness of the staff and the rooms were all excellent! EMBARKATION- This was a breeze. We had priority boarding, but it didn't seem to make a difference. It was very well organized. CABIN- The cabin was well laid out with lots of storage space and a decent size balcony. It was very clean and the bed was comfortable. CABIN ATTENDANT- The cabin attendant was pretty efficient. She wasn't very personable and we did not see her around a lot, but she kept the room clean and was prompt to respond to any requests. MDR- We ate in the Main Dining Room 3 of the 7 nights. After the first night, we did not have to ask for the same table. We had a table for two, but there was a table for 4 right next to us and the same 2 couples were there each night. Very nice people. The quality of the food was much better than I was expecting. We really liked our assistant waiter, but never once met the waiter. This applies only to dinner. We did eat in the MDR for breakfast one morning and it was not a good experience. WINDJAMMER/PARK CAFE- The food in the buffet was also very good and there was a wide variety to choose from. The scrambled eggs for breakfast as well as the hash browns, were generally not hot, but there were a couple of omelet stations where you could get eggs cooked to order. If you just wanted a snack, there was the Park Cafe for sandwiches. BARS- Believe it or not, we did check out several of the bars. If you have ever been on an RCI ship, there is no need to discuss the Schooner Bar as they are the same on every one. We used that one a lot if we just wanted to relax for a bit or get on the internet (BTW, the wi-fi on the ship was really slow). The Crown and Castle Pub is right by the auditorium and we stopped there fairly often. The only other bars we went to with any regularity were the R Bar, which was in the Centrum, and the Pool Bar, which was conveniently located by the pool. BARTENDERS- There were no bartenders that really stood out, except for maybe Vic in the C&C Pub and maybe our drinks server in the MDR. The overall service was very good and the lounge service was exceptional, for the most part. GUEST ENTERTAINERS- The guests entertainers were top notch. We enjoyed those shows very much. MAIN SHOWS- It only took one of these shows to tell us we did not want to waste our time going to any others. the talent of their crew, especially the lead male singer was average at best. LOUNGE ENTERTAINMENT- This was a high point for us. They had a couple piano players and a couple guitarists, each playing a different style. Their singers were good, but not great. CROWN AND ANCHOR PIER EVENT- This is the lamest excuse for an event we have ever seen. Seats were jammed together, so if you didn't get there early, you were pretty much out of luck. They didn't have the different managers up front to introduce them individually, and the Captain didn't even speak. Most of the speaking was done by the Assistant CD. SHORE EXCURSION- We only did one shore excursion and it was post cruise. It was a tour of New Orleans with an Airport drop off. We did this excursion because our plane wasn't scheduled to depart until later. It was worth the price. DISEMBARKATION- This was very well organized and there were no problems. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We are loyal Royal Caribbean customers. This was our 8th cruise. The Serenade is a smaller ship than we use to and we sailed out of New Orleans. Our Cabin was great. This was our first experience with a balcony room. Once you go ... Read More
We are loyal Royal Caribbean customers. This was our 8th cruise. The Serenade is a smaller ship than we use to and we sailed out of New Orleans. Our Cabin was great. This was our first experience with a balcony room. Once you go balcony you can never go back. The dinning room felt overly crowded and the servers didn't seem very knowledgeable. On past cruises the waiter seamed to go the extra step, made dinner fun. Our port were Fairmouth Jamaica, Cozumel, Grand Cayman. We enjoyed 2 of the 3 port. Jamaica is a very poor town, and unless you take a shore excursion to the falls, (which we had already done on a previous cruise) there is nothing much to do in the safe shopping area. The other two port were great. We snorkeled and swam with the dolphins. The worst part of the cruise was the mystery dinner. This was a staged murder mystery that we were lead to believe that we were to solve the mystery. It was in a work DUMB. Not only was it not entertaining, it was scheduled on the same night as the lobster dinner which we ended up missing. Not cool! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was my 4th cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean. I had high expectations because of the rave reviews I had received of Royal Caribbean. I know traveling in February would not be a typical "family" crowd but the other ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean. I had high expectations because of the rave reviews I had received of Royal Caribbean. I know traveling in February would not be a typical "family" crowd but the other cruised I have been on were during the school year and my 15 year old son loved the teen club activities and made great friends on the other cruise lines. He was the ONLY teen that showed up for any events the entire week. He was so bored we let him charge $300 worth of games in the arcade because there was NOTHING else for him to do. There were other teens on board but they did not participate in the FUEL club activities. I don't know if this is necessarily RC's fault but on our previous cruise lines, the teen club staff would go around the first night at sea and personally go up to the teens on ship and ask them to join them to get the word out about the activities (this is how we found out about teen clubs in the first place). So entertainment for the week for the only child 15 year old was a complete bust. Perhaps I am not a seasoned cruiser but our other huge disappointment was that one of the ports of call was cancelled. This has never happened on other ships. We had all our big excursions and activities planned for Cococay which was canceled because the tender boats couldn't make it to the ship due to waves. I have tendered before with rougher seas. I had no idea that they would just sail an extra day at sea and not make a substitute port of call. We were bored beyond measure by the last day at sea. The entertainment was horrible. Other cruises we've been on had broadway style shows nightly, comedians or magicians in a smaller theater nightly and matinee performances. There were no shows during the day (factor in that extra day at sea and cooler temps and you can only sit at the pool for so long) and while this ship did have a movie theatre the movies shown were the same 4 the entire cruise (which we had already seen). The food in the dining room each night was good and service was great. The food in the Windjammer was not. Other cruise lines had speciality burger bars open all day and night or pizza, nothing like that on this ship. Overall I was extremely disappointed with the experience and will more than likely not travel with Royal Caribbean in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We were originally scheduled to sail on this cruise on Jan 24 with 4 other couples. Our cabin was one of 150 or so that were cancelled at the last minute due to water pipe break/electrical failure in front of ship. This part was not well ... Read More
We were originally scheduled to sail on this cruise on Jan 24 with 4 other couples. Our cabin was one of 150 or so that were cancelled at the last minute due to water pipe break/electrical failure in front of ship. This part was not well handled or well communicated by RCCL - we grade them a FAIL for this part (unrelated to this review, though). We flew home after waiting 6 hrs at the dock. We rebooked the same cruise for a sailing 2 wks later. Generally, we would NOT have selected this cruise unless we were traveling with our 8 friends. The itinerary has too few ports for our liking. Also, at this time of year, Cococay is almost ALWAYS cancelled .... too much wave action. (we were actually surprised that it was cancelled on this cruise because the seas were relatively calm). The captain pulls up beside the private island and explains why you will not be tendering ... however, you will be surprised when you look out to the ocean and notice minimal waves. The embarkation and disembarkation were the BEST experience that we have had versus any of our prior 8 cruises on RCCL, Princess, NCL, Carnival. Well done !! We arrived at 1030 am for embarkation .... very smooth. We were VERY pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed the 5 sea days. Many activities on the ship, of course, and we met many nice cruisers. Approx 2000 passengers vs 2200 capacity on this sailing   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our 3rd cruise, but the first one in 7 yrs and the first one that was just me and my husband. We drove to New Orleans and were a little concerned about the overflow parking area, as it doesn't seem very secure and it is in an ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, but the first one in 7 yrs and the first one that was just me and my husband. We drove to New Orleans and were a little concerned about the overflow parking area, as it doesn't seem very secure and it is in an open field, but we did come back to find that we still had a car and all 4 tires/wheels :). The cruise was wonderful and just what we were looking for....rest and relaxation. Since we had cruised before, we weren't really interested in excursions, so we just did our own thing in Key West and Nassau and we were unable to stop at CocoCay due to high waves. We had 5 days on the ship and we just used this time to lay around and relax...play some pool on the cool gyro-tables...watch some shows...ate way too much great food and had wonderful service with our room steward and our waiters in the dining room. Probably not the best cruise for children or for families that want to do excursions, but if you wanted an enjoyable relaxing time........this was it! A++++++ Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
Royal has yet exceeded our expectations when it comes to cruising! We had an absolutely wonderful cruise on Serenade of the Seas and have already planned our September cruise with Royal again. The port of New Orleans was great! They moved ... Read More
Royal has yet exceeded our expectations when it comes to cruising! We had an absolutely wonderful cruise on Serenade of the Seas and have already planned our September cruise with Royal again. The port of New Orleans was great! They moved smoothly, quickly and had us on the boat within 30 minutes of getting to the port. From our experience on sailing out of Galveston, New Orleans has it completely together! We were so happy with our port experience in New Orleans. Now for the cruise! Cruising in February is a great time to go. The weather was perfect everyday, especially in ports. Our last day at sea was cloudy and 60 degrees, but that was ok with us as we got to be very relaxed and they had a lot of stuff going on inside the ship. I wrote port reviews under the ports below. But, we loved each port we went too (Key West, Nassau and CocoCay) and would definitely do this itinerary again. Serenade of the Seas is a very beautiful ship! All of the glass windows everywhere make it great for looking at the ocean at all times! We have been Navigator of the Seas in the past, so it was quite smaller than what we were used too, but the ship itself was beautiful, very kept together and clean. The crew and service on this ship was Top-Notch! Everyone made us feel like family and made us feel so special. We never went without someone saying hello, asking us how we were doing and enjoying everything. It was so nice to see that. Our stateroom attendant was incredible. Gizelle kept our room tidy and clean at all times and always made a point to have a conversation with us each time she saw us and that made a very huge impression on me. The food on the ship was great everyday! We had lunch in the Windjammer everyday except on port days and I can't say anything bad about it. It was always warm/right temp and fresh. We ate in the Main Dining Room each night and the food was very very good! Everything we tried, we loved! Our servers Vladmir and Adriana were incredible and never let us go without drink, bread or anything we desired. We did eat at Chops Grille one night of the cruise. This was our third time eating at Chops Grille on a Royal ship and we were pretty disappointed. This is the only negative thing I have to say about the cruise. We got seated and it took someone 25 minutes to come up and let us know they were going to be our waiter and get out drinks. Then we waited another 15 minutes for them to bring the bread appetizer. We watched the tables around us get waited on quite well by other servers, but ours just wasn't getting started out right. Finally, after we placed our order, he started coming around quite a bit more and checking on us. My filet was very good, but my husbands wasn't at all. He said possible one of the worst filet's he has in awhile. But, we didn't say anything, because we don't like to complain unless it's just terrible. We think they were just having a rough night and not enough wait staff available. So, just one suggestion, please have more wait staff in Chops Grille! The entertainment on the ship was great! We enjoyed all of the shows that we went too. The 70's night in the Centrum was very fun to watch and participate in, the Broadway Musical show by the RC singers and dancers was awesome, both comedians they had onboard were hilarious and we really enjoyed them, the Aerial show in the Centrum was quite impressive! The belly flop contest and World's Sexiest man out by the pool were so funny and we had a great time watching men embarrass themselves! The Cruise Director did a fabulous job with all of the entertainment and fun onboard! She was awesome and we could tell she really enjoys what she does and that is great to see! All in All we had such a great time and no complaints at all! We met some really great people and felt so relaxed while on this cruise! We loved it! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We just got off the Serenade on 2/7/15 in New Orleans from traveling to the Western Caribbean. The cruise was great. We were very happy with the ship, the service, the food and the shows. Check-in was very easy because we didn't get ... Read More
We just got off the Serenade on 2/7/15 in New Orleans from traveling to the Western Caribbean. The cruise was great. We were very happy with the ship, the service, the food and the shows. Check-in was very easy because we didn't get to the ship until 3:30, nobody in line. RC did a great job moving us through. It was a breeze. With that we were able to take our luggage straight to our room and unpack without waiting for our clothes to arrive. It was much different with the ship traveling through the Mississippi River. I never realized it would take 7-8 hours before you reach the gulf. Seeing land and then oil rigs at night is pretty cool if you never have seen them. The staff was great throughout the ship. There always seamed to be plenty to do. Typical stuff by the pool. The shows were very good. A juggling comic, a standup comic had great laughs. RC's own shows were a little corny but entertaining. We would not recommend the Mystery dinner. It was very disappointing for a couple reasons. 1st. The show was lame, we expected maybe something like the game clue, it was nothing like it. There was a skit, a little more acting, ask questions of the actors and the finale. In between, you had great service, great food, drink and company. The second disappointment was that we were in Giovannies Italian Restaurant. Our meal choice was steak or seafood. We expected a choice of italian food, our bad, where it was never mentioned in the outline of dinner. RC did a good job with the excursions, getting off was quick and easy. My biggest complaint on entertainment would be the music that was being played by the pool and in the disco. It always seemed to be the same. The live music was fine. When you go to a place that has a DJ, most dj's talk it up and get people pumped. Not this guy. He would put on a series of songs and then spend time talking to people. Maybe that is what they want but overall it was boring. They had a young Australian, Zach Coombs playing guitar, he was excellent. We were not keen on the piano bar player. There is a nice Pub for karaoke and Coombs. The downfall to this Pub is, it's next to the crowded, smokey Casino. Unless you go up or down a floor, you have to walk thru the Casino to get to the Pub or that part of the Tropical Theater. If you are a non smoked it's quite gross. Overall this was one of the better cruise's we have been on and will use Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was about my 80th cruise and I have done at least 12 on this class of ship. Not much special about our balcony cabin but our room steward did a excellent job. I noticed how well kept up the ship was, even the high up places were ... Read More
This was about my 80th cruise and I have done at least 12 on this class of ship. Not much special about our balcony cabin but our room steward did a excellent job. I noticed how well kept up the ship was, even the high up places were clean unlike some other ships. The high energy Cruise Director was very much into the parties that she hosted. She did a super job. The food continues to decline over the years in the RCL fleet. Lots of things are missing now like green grapes not once did I see them. Salmon is the next thing to go we were told. Also the ice and fruit carvings are a thing of the past. The best port was the last one Cozumel as Grand Cayman is a tender port and a pain so we did not get off the ship. Falmouth was a get off and walk about the compound for a bit of land walking. Would we do this again, you bet we would as it is a very nice ship and a enjoyable vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We are back from our cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. This was our first ever cruise, and we really enjoyed the experience. I've broken the review down into segments concerning different aspects of the cruise. Embarkation – I ... Read More
We are back from our cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. This was our first ever cruise, and we really enjoyed the experience. I've broken the review down into segments concerning different aspects of the cruise. Embarkation – I read several reports that Royal Caribbean does embarkation well at NOLA. Our experience is that these reports are true. From parking garage to standing at the entrance to the Windjammer was about 70 minutes. Well done Royal Caribbean. We did the early arrival, getting to the garage by 10:40 AM. Plenty of agents to check you in. Best service can be gotten by having everything ready – passport.ID, SetSail Pass, credit card, etc. We saw several groups having problems due to not having documents ready. Kind of a bittersweet revelation, though – when the Serenade leaves in April for Europe, it won't be returning to NOLA, nor will any Royal Caribbean ship, at least for the foreseeable future. Tip – when you get your SeaPass card, get it punched at the processing desk if you plan on using a lanyard. That will save you a trip to a busy Customer Service desk later in the day. Get To Know The Ship – If you boarded early as we did, you probably have one to two hours before your room is ready for you. Take that time to explore the ship. After eating lunch at t,he Windjammer (nice view from the outside seating at the back of the ship), we walked up to the pool deck, thru the Solarium, took the elevator down to the Tropical Theater, walked thru the shops to the Centrum, and then our room was ready. And we knew the basic layout of the ship. Tip – every stairwell on the ship has different paintings and artwork on every landing. Take the time to see them. I suggest taking the elevator to deck 11 and walking down, as opposed to walking up. Extra points for finding the blue cows... Your Cabin – DW has a slight case of claustrophobia, so we booked an aft balcony. (#7172). Loved it. We can proudly declare we are FOREVER AFT-ers. Spent many hours just sitting on the balcony, eading, watching the wake, listening to the sounds of the sea passing by. After unpacking and meeting our cabin attendant (Ernesto), we sat on our balcony and watched the un-docking progress and watched NOLA recede in the distance. We took the time to walk forward on deck 5 to the bow of the ship, to get the experience of watching the Mississippi roll by. Tip – when you meet your cabin attendant for the first time, get to know them. We found out that Ernesto was from the Philippines, had 2 boys, and had worked on cruise ships for 10 years. He knew our names from the start and gave us excellent service. And if you get good service, tip well and mention them prominently in your after-cruise survey. Sea Sickness – If you don't know if you suffer from it or not, take the precaution of taking some Dramamine/Bonine/Sea Bands/whatever prior to boarding. Made it thru the first night fine, and thought I was going to be OK. The Gulf of Mexico thought differently. By 9 AM the first morning, I was either flat on my back on the bed or in the bathroom. Finally got some Bonine in me and I was fine by 1 PM. DW didn't suffer as much, just slightly queasy when she got up. She also took some Bonine and she was fine. Knowing now how we are, we will start taking Bonine the day prior to boarding. Tip – Go to the medical facility on the ship. They will have a box full of generic Bonine in the lobby – we grabbed a handful that lasted for the rest of the trip. Dining – I understand that this is very subjective. DW and I are from a small rural town in East Central Illinois. Our idea of fancy dining is someplace where you don't have to order at a counter and carry your food to a table. Treating ourselves to a nice dinner means going to Texas Roadhouse. With that in mind, here is our dining experience on the Serenade. This was our first ever cruise, we took it to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and to have the honeymoon we never had. I signed up for My Time Dining, requesting dining at 6:45 at a table for two. When boarding the ship, we were asked to go thru a line confirming MTD reservations. We did so, and our reservations were correct. We showed up 5 minutes early the first night, and were ushered to our table. Technically is was a table for two – and about 6 inches from a full table for six. OK – so much for a romantic dinner. We were served some dinner rolls – tough but good tasting. Our head waiter came by asking if we would like something to drink. I requested some iced tea. I was informed that head waiters don't served iced tea, and he left. DW and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and drank our water. Another waiter came by and took our orders (horseradish crusted salmon for her, mojo -marinated pork chop for me). I had cut open my roll and put some butter on it, leaving some crumbs on the table cloth. When our entrees were brought, after setting them down, the waiter proceeded to bring out a small comb-like brush and proceed to brush the crumbs off the table cloth. Made me feel like I was some kind of uncouth slob. After our moist almond chocolate cake, we left, having felt we wasted an hour and 45 minutes of our cruise. Walking out, we noticed a table for two that was actually separated from the table next it by a column. We went to the MDR the next day to see if we could reserve that table for the night. We were told it was already reserved, and the lady we talked to didn't seem particularly interested in helping us. So, despite the food being good, we decided to forego the MDR for the rest of the cruise. We did eat at Giovanni's Table the next night (formal night). It was very good. Our waiter Murat was excellent. We ordered the Focaccie Alla Giovanni for ourselves, and he also brought us the Insalata Caprese Per Due for us to try. Delicious. DW had the chicken breast stuffed with ricotta and mushrooms, I had the veal tenderloins filled with provolone, mushrooms, and ham. Delicious again. Had several desserts off the dessert cart, all in all enjoyable. Close to 2 hours, but a more enjoyable experience. Too bad you have to pay extra. As for the Windjammer Cafe – we loved it. Were able to get what we wanted, there was a variety of food every meal, and was able to try some different foods (chicken florentine – good, tika masala not so much). There was a different meat each day being sliced and served (roast beef, pork tenderloin, turkey breast, etc), and a place that served grilled items (pork chops, chicken breasts, etc). You could also get omelets made to order, eggs cooked to order, etc. As long as you avoided the busiest times, seating was not a problem. And we ate at our own pace, either leisurely or quickly to get to a show or activity. And I was not made to feel like a hick from the sticks. My tip for dining? Do what make you feel comfortable – it's your cruise. DW and I discussed maybe going with some family members or church friends on our next cruise, and giving the MDR another try. It wasn't worth the hassle this cruise. Disembarking – We did the self-disembarking on our cruise. The Cruise Compass said that everyone who wanted to do the self-disembarking should report to the Tropical Theater at 6:45 AM. DW and I got up around 5:45, got dressed, hit the Windjammer for a quick breakfast, and reached the theater around 6:40. There were a group of people in the theater waiting with their luggage. I looked out the door leading to the promenade on deck 5, and saw the station that was set up for processing people leaving the ship. There was a couple our age waiting there with their luggage. DW and I decided to join them, and watched the ship finish docking. When they started processing people off the ship, we were 3rd and 4th off the ship. Within 10 minutes we were thru customs and walking to our car. This is the way to go if you have an early flight or just want off quickly. Several people on our roll call had later flights, and just waited in one of the lounges until they had to leave. Tip – Do whichever meet your needs or disposition. I hate lines, so the self-disembarking fit my needs. They can't keep you from leaving when you want. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
My husband and I have previously sailed on Celebrity and Carnival and were excited to take our first Royal Caribbean Cruise. We anxiously waited for a whole year for our trip. Back home in New Hampshire the weather was below 0 and we had a ... Read More
My husband and I have previously sailed on Celebrity and Carnival and were excited to take our first Royal Caribbean Cruise. We anxiously waited for a whole year for our trip. Back home in New Hampshire the weather was below 0 and we had a lot of snow. We arrived in a rainy New Orleans where we stayed 2 nights. Not enough time and we would like to return at some points in our life. On Saturday morning, after a harrowing cab ride we arrived at the pier around 10:15am where a porter took our luggage and asked our room number. He said everyone was supposed to get an e-mail stating not to arrive until Noon because some rooms were damaged and to go to the Riverwalk Mall and return at Noon. We went back downstairs around 12:30 only to be informed that there were 299 rooms that would not be sailing but they did not know which ones. A short time later, they said that there were another 117 rooms that would not be sailing. We stood in the cold in line for over 3 hours before being let into the cruise terminal. After another 2 1/2 hours, we found out we were one of the lucky ones to sail. We could not go home, we were having whiteout conditions. By the time we boarded the ship, it was very late. We found our stateroom and headed off to get something to eat. After dinner, I unpacked while my husband went to explore. By the time he got back and I was done it was almost 11pm. We still had not moved. The next day, we found out that the Coast Guard had cleared us and we were finally going to sail. It has not been more than 24 hours with little communication, we were still in port, the theater did not work and neither did our television. It did not feel like the relaxing vacation we were looking forward to. PROS We had a balcony room that was very nicely laid out and clean with a lot of storage. The only thing that was not clean was the glass on the balcony but our cabin steward took care of that by the next day. The closet had a lot of storage. Our cabin steward Ellliott did a great job and we gave him some extra money on the last day. The cruise director, John Blair, and his wife, Katrina, the cruise activities director were very upbeat and fun. The entertainment we saw in the theater once it was up and running was top notch. The seats were comfortable. My only complaint is that the beverage holders only held a wine glass and not a mixed drink. The barista in the coffee area was great with a lot of energy and usually knew what we wanted to order as soon as we got there. He knew my husband's name right away. We also gave him something extra. On the last day, getting off was well organized and smooth. The best we have seen so far. CONS While we tried to like the food, we were very disappointed in this area. Besides the first night, service in the main dining room was patchy and very slow. The tray of rolls they bring out and the desserts were the highlights. We found that the menu was quite boring and did not change from day-to-day. We only ended up eating dinner in the main dining room twice. We ate in all the specialty restaurants and were especially disappointed in Chops and Giovanni's. Chops was the most disappointed. For appetizers, I had the scallops and my husband had the bacon. My scallops were cooked perfectly but were overwhelmed by the onion flavor on top and my husband's bacon tasted like a fatty piece of pastrami. We both ordered the filet and I wanted Bernaise sauce - the waitress aid it comes out with 4 sauces to choose. It comes out with a heavy au jus sauce that makes the other sauces not worth having. Mine was cooked medium rate but had little taste and my husband had to send his back. Definitely disappointing. We ate at Giovanni's and it was a touch above Chop's but not by much. Sorry to say, but I have had better meals at Olive Garden. The service was outstanding. On our last night at sea, we ate at Izumi which was the best out of the 3 but we each had the hot rock experience and cooked our own food. We did enjoy Rita's Cantina which we paid $6.50 to have fajitas. We ate there 3 times. We ate the rest of the meals in the Windjammer. We like the cooked to order eggs, the rolls, and the desserts but did not finding anything that was outstanding. POOL TABLE They had 2 beautiful pool tables but no chalk the whole time. SERENITY POOL Supposed to be heated but it was cold. It is not Royal Caribbean's fault what happened, but, they had very poor communication and offered a $200 obc the second to last night which did not really make up for all of the troubles. My husband said he may go one another Royal Caribbean cruise but it would take a lot of convincing for me. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
The night of 22 January, 2015, the Serenade of the Seas experienced an electrical malfunction and subsequent flooding of 199 cabins. The damage was not repairable in time for our sailing on 24 January. (Later, 119 more cabins were added to ... Read More
The night of 22 January, 2015, the Serenade of the Seas experienced an electrical malfunction and subsequent flooding of 199 cabins. The damage was not repairable in time for our sailing on 24 January. (Later, 119 more cabins were added to the unavailable list.) What we experienced on January 24, 2015 We faced locked doors when we arrived at the New Orleans RCI terminal for a 7 day cruise on the Serenade of the Seas. No official from Royal Caribbean was telling us what was going on. One person who directed car traffic told us to go to Door Three. There we found no chairs, no representative. We found no help. We have been on over fifty cruises. Eleven have been with Royal Caribbean. We arrived before 11:00 AM. We were denied any communication. We waited and waited. There were no chairs, no food, no water, and no help. We were promised help with wheelchairs when we booked our cruise. I have arthritis and so does my husband. My husband also has diabetes. We needed wheel chairs. We needed something to drink. My husband fortunately brought some energy bars. With diabetes you can get into health problems when you do not eat regularly. We got on the ship at 5:30 PM. It took hours before we found out if we were affected by electrical problems. This is not acceptable. We were never shown a complete list of rooms affected. Even when we finally got our Sea Passes; we knew very little about what would happen. All of this left us in a poor, exhausted condition. I never was able to feel less stressed and able to ease my arthritic pain the entire cruise. I know I felt a lot better before we got to the cruise terminal on Saturday where I stood and waited and waited. I also should mention the bathroom facilities were extremely poor. We felt sorry for newly weds and families who traveled to New Orleans to make this cruise. We saw children and other people upset and crying. We would have gladly given up our place to one of these travelers. We are retired and we were making this cruise to rest after the Christmas holidays and to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I gave him a cruise because he loves to sail. His birthday celebration on the ship was not done on the day stated on our booking. Our table guest made our waiter arrange a song and a candle on a small desert. On other RCI we received a small cake or I have arranged for him to get his favorite ice cream. RCI apparently had no plan to deal with the over 800 passengers who were denied boarding. I talked to one couple who were prepared to yield their cabin to one of the displaced couples. They were told they would be charged for cancellation. One of the desk representatives, told a guest the cruise was free. The next day the same statement was made. Later that day a different desk representative told guest the home office was still evaluating the situation. Finally we were told each cabin would get $200.00. We did not. We got $125.00. Was my discomfort any less than guests in other cabins? I saw champagne delivered to many other guests on our deck at 7:30 PM. on the last night. Travel agents usually give their clients this on the first day of the cruise. Was this another benefit for some guests but not all? I like quiet times. Deck 5 should have been the place I could go to read, enjoy the ocean and meditate. There were no chairs out at times you would expect them out. No adjustments were made to enable the guests to have an enjoyable time. The deck had to be washed at a time you would be outside, enjoying the fresh air. On Deck 11 no service was readily available. You had to get up and look for a waiter. I had little purchases on this cruise because they were not readily available. Our Room Stewart Evert was very nice and efficient. When we asked; he did provide. I asked for a room mini bar price list, he provided it. I asked for lotion and he provided it. I asked for Kleenex and he provided it. He kept ice in our room which we really did appreciate. Evert told me only upper decks got lotion. RCI’s decision to remove this from the cabins is a shame since the comfort of guests should always be considered. Guests often get dry skin when they cruise. I have been on cruises delayed by fog causing delays in boarding in Galveston. I thought that was bad because I found myself sitting on a concrete floor. I could not do that this time because I could not get up by myself. My husband has the same problem. RCI blamed the problem on the port. I have been on cruises out of Long Beach where the Noro virus was present on the cruise before ours and the ship had to be disinfected. Departure was delayed for six hours. Food and drink were provided for lunch and buses took us to a variety of restaurants where vouchers were honored for dinner. A plan was in effect. RCI had no plan. We were treated terribly. RCI showed no respect particularly to the children, disabled and elderly passengers. On previous cruises the TV when working showed entertainment on the ship continually. RCI only showed a few programs in English and you had to be lucky enough to find one. The Library was poor, almost non-existent. We always donate our read books or exchange them for others. I saw no plan for this. Breakfast was a disaster. The coffee was not good. I asked for half and half; I received coffee artificial creamer. Again, I asked for real cream - half and half. I got artificial creamer. Even the pitcher labeled half and half in the Windjammer was not HALF AND HALF. I asked for tea. I received no tea pot to brew it. I asked for English Breakfast Tea and I got Tetley Black tea. I had to go to the Windjammer to get tea and bring it back to my cabin. I received cantaloupe on my fruit plate smaller than my little finger and no wider. I did not know that was possible. The breakfast rolls were often the less desirable ones. Misshaped or crushed. One time our breakfast was delivered much earlier than we indicated on our breakfast order. I was awakened by a faint knock on my door. Another time we did not indicate a time and when I called the room service, they were very nice and delivered our breakfast in a short period of time. That was very nice. We appreciated this kindness. We could not get our intercom to work to get announcements. The only time we heard an announcement was by opening our door. One time the Captain came on and began “I have more bad news.” This really frightened me for a few seconds. I felt a disaster was coming. He did say we would not be able to go ashore at Coco Cay because of the windy conditions. We found out other ships could not go there because of windy conditions. RCI knows this and continues to put this as a stop. Perhaps they should only advertise two stops and not three. There is a possibility that RCI knew weather was a factor and we went to Belize instead of the port affected. A survey of previous guests suggests that the Coco Cay sop is not made half the time. The Casino was not staffed with enough waiters. Not once did I have a waiter ask me if I needed something. I am a person who enjoys the slot machines. I was told by one waiter they did not have what I wanted. Since I knew it was available on the ship, I suggested he get someone to go and get it. I did get it eventually. He was very nice and I appreciated that he did go for me. When the casino was not operating it remained open to pass through. I could also go and sit down there. On the last night it was sealed off. I would have to go outside on deck 11 to find a chair. The Deck 5 had chairs out only sometimes. It was also less populated and I felt more secure with people around me so the Deck 11 was where I would have had to go. Instead I went again to my cabin. I understand why the casino was closed and it was announced but I did not expect it to be locked and blocked. I also would have enjoyed a person to explain the messages on the slot machines. I got two tee shirts but believe I could have gotten something else but was to late dining to get back to the casino that last night to ask. I also played a machine that was off centered and I did not know this until the next day when I found the machine very readable. One man from the casino saw me playing the machine and never told me it was off centered. It was the boogie dance by the two steps down by the tables. The Dining Room was hard to get through. We were the last table in the dinning room on the right, against the back wall. Our waiter wasn’t able to get my order correct on several occasions. I missed some courses and other courses were placed before me stacked up in front of me. I was rushed. We took no longer than other passengers. Our assistant waiter was good in his job and rally tried to please us. He tried to anticipate our needs. The wine steward never came to our table. We had to ask for a wine list every night. One time we were asked if we wanted the same wine. My husband and I enjoy wine and felt we were not given the time we wanted or needed to make decisions. As a result, we drank less wine than we usually do. Unfortunately we were not able to experience this joy on this cruise. This became less attractive to me and others at our table. One lady said nothing appealed to her that night. Our dinning experience was not as good as it has been on other RCI cruises. I a can remember in l999 the delightful salad dressings RCI developed and a recipe book published. I experienced this on a cruise to Alaska. At our first lunch in the dinning room, our waitress thought we wanted a 30 minute lunch. This is not my idea of dinning on a cruise. I felt as if it were on a fast lunch break from work. The Loyalty Advantages were not easy to be used. Our waiter told us he had to go someplace else to get the two for one wine and we only managed to use the 10% discount on wine once. We were surprised this could not be automatically dome by the Serenade computer system. A flyer in or cabin said all discounts were on the Sea Pass. One night I had steak and it was delicious. Two nights after the steak was full of ligaments, hard fat and was uneatable. I was also served cold onion soup once. The ice cream which is usually delicious was full of ice chunks. Our waiter never knew what ice cream was available. He always thought we would not order it. Our desserts were mostly chiffon like and not particularly good. They were pretty. As a person who enjoys good food, I thought they were poor. Even in the Windjammer my husband went to get me apple pie (a special treat at the entrance) and it was gone. As I waited in line, the servers told us to get dessert first but I thought they were kidding. They were not. The RCI previous passenger loyalty party at 10:30 AM was unusual. I do not drink much wine, champagne, or alcohol at 10:30 AM. I can see this cut RCI’s budget because many people are like me and much less alcohol would be consumed. An afternoon party or cocktail party would have been much better. I wonder if RCI really showed appreciation to as many loyalty members as possible. We did not attend. We did get feedback from others and it was not positive. Usually you are offered champagne or a mimosa upon entering the ship. There was nothing. One glass half filled with champagne on the first night was not enough. It is too bad RCI did not have a band come out to the waiting room before we got our Sea Passes to help elevate the mood. A glass of wine or champagne or a soft drink would have help smooth a lot of ruffled feathers. It would have shown good faith. Where were the officers? No one in authority was to be found that day. Even the guest relations table was left unmanned. We had one RCI staff member low on the totem pole shouting at us to behave and wait until a list would come out. I never did see a second list and therefore did not know if we were getting on the ship. One couple was told they already checked in and, of course, they were not. The RCI person did not know what to do. Another family had one room given away and one not. The Cruise Director was personable. He was able to get out of everyone a good laugh or and enjoyable experience. He had 3 assistants to do all that work when the ship usually has 5. Cutbacks that affect passengers negatively should be reevaluated. If a change is made in a venue, someone should always be there to direct you to the revised place. Trivia was moved more than once and we did not know where. Once it was announced but my husband was not where he heard the announcement. Our cabin had to have the hall door open to hear the announcements. RCI did not have experts or the same kind of lecturers in enrichment lectures. It looks like RCI put their own personnel on to give abbreviated lectures. We loved the enrichment lectures. We did appreciate the Compass daily program. It was delivered in a timely manner. I did not see the revised editions that were promised on at least one occasion. Again I think the entertainment should have been better. I know RCI added two more performers after the catastrophe but they were still single acts more like a lounge show. Smaller ships have better entertainment and better lecturers than this cruise had. I am aware the theatre was not usable in the first part of the cruise but I still think alternative plans still should have been in place if needed. There were more foreign movies than English ones. Yes I know you have many nationalities but more English films should have been provided in a New Orleans departure city. Movies in the theatre were limited. You only had a few. We purchased a tour from RCI representative. We asked her several times if this train were the tour train. She assured us it was. It was not. We had to walk over a block in downtown Key West to get to the correct train. We were last to get the train and I had to sit backwards. I missed half of the sights. The walk back to the tram to the ship was not as bad. Our departure was not smooth. We were directed by guest services the night before to go to the Safari Lounge. The Compass had the Reflection Dinning Room. People in the Safari Lounge told us to go to Deck 4 to get a wheel chair. We finally got there but should have been with the loyalty passengers. The man there did get us a chair after a 30 minute wait. He was very nice and helpful.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We have taken 8 cruises out of New Orleans,4 of them on Royal Carribean,we got there a little early,checked our luggage,parked our car.We stopped and talked to a family that were just getting off of the ship,they had sailed the previous ... Read More
We have taken 8 cruises out of New Orleans,4 of them on Royal Carribean,we got there a little early,checked our luggage,parked our car.We stopped and talked to a family that were just getting off of the ship,they had sailed the previous week. They told us there had been a rain storm,that had shorted out some wiring,that had started a fire and set off the sprinklers from the front of the ship ,top to bottom.Of course,you never know how accurate this info is,because no one on any of these ships will ever give you a straight answer. We started getting recorded messages on our phone to delay embarkation first to 12pm,then 1pm,3pm,there was a list of staterooms that had been cut,we were not on the 1st list,about 4pm the list was revised,our cabin was not on that list either.There were people standing everywhere,a lot of them with luggage,people in wheelchairs. What a MESS!!! The idiots at the port II guess they worked for RC,They treated all of us like we were inmates at a prison,waiting for transport.We were finally able to board around 5pm,we waited in long lines and walked past a room full of people,whose cruise had been canceled,they were waiting to find out there fate. We did not sail until 12 pm the next day. We were told that they had worked on the mechanical breakdown for 36 hours.The crew never stopped patting themselves on the back,the entire cruise.No one ever mentioned the hardship the passengers endured. The fitness room was not open for 2 days,The main stage was not open for 2 days,We were not able to go to Coco Cay,due to rough water, this by the way happens a lot,we were told & was the only reason we booked this particular cruise.The stop at Key West was rearranged and cut short. The Ship is very nice,the food was good,the entertainment is good,the casino was tight,I liked the Captain,inspite of it all. This was our 22nd cruise,and it has changed my entire attitude about cruising. You think these people have your back,they don't They put thousands of people out on the ocean,and when something goes wrong,you are on your own. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
My wife and I were renewing our vows and arranged for our kids and their spouses, my in-laws and my parents to go with us. I also invited a couple from work since they had never been on a cruise and wanted to go with someone they knew. ... Read More
My wife and I were renewing our vows and arranged for our kids and their spouses, my in-laws and my parents to go with us. I also invited a couple from work since they had never been on a cruise and wanted to go with someone they knew. This was my 4th cruise and my wife's 3rd, all with RCI. Our last cruise, last January, was a bit of a disappointment as we felt the service was not very good and the crew was not very helpful or friendly. This cruise was the exact opposite. Overall, this was the best cruise I've been on so far. Every RCI employee we met was outstanding. The entire crew was always smiling and friendly. The very few issues we had were solved without problem or delay. The weather wasn't great, but you take what you can get cruising in early January. Boarding: We showed up at the terminal about a half hour before boarding started. The check in process was very quick and we were ready to get on the ship in just minutes. It was very well organized and smoother than the Galveston experience. The Ship: I've read a lot of reviews from people saying that Serenade is their favorite ship and I can see why. Serenade is beautiful. The staterooms and public areas were all very clean and well maintained. I love the elevators that look out over the water. We didn't get to walk around the deck as much as we usually do or go up on the helicopter pad to look at the stars, that was because of the weather, not the fault of the crew or the ship. The Crew: I can't say enough good things about the crew. Our room steward, Clinton, was fantastic. He was always available and met all of our requests within minutes. We held our vow renewal in our suite and he made sure we had enough plates, silverware and toasting glasses for everyone. He kept our champagne on ice for the ceremony and continued to provide us for ice buckets for our wine over the entire cruise. Our towel animal the night our our ceremony was a pair of kissing swans with three chicks sitting on a big heart. Dining: The dining room experience was great. The food was excellent and the variety was overwhelming. I ate way too much, as usual. Our server and assistant server couldn't have been any more attentive to our needs and even went back to the kitchen to have the chef cook extra dishes when someone at our table inquired if it was too late to get more of an item. Our glasses were never empty, I hate having to ask for water refills and never did once this entire trip. Our stateroom: We had a Grand Suite on deck 10 at the back of the ship. The room was very large and the bathroom was huge, plenty of room for two people to be in at the same time. The only issue we had with the room was the noise of chairs moving in the Windjammer above us. It wasn't bad and didn't wake us up or keep us awake if we were trying to sleep. The ports: This was our first trip to Key West. We didn't have enough time there to really explore it but we enjoyed what we saw and will be back. Because of the size of our group, we didn't do very much in Nassau. My wife and I did the Seahorse Snorkeling tour. The water was kind of rough, expected this time of year, but the reef was loaded with fish and very colorful. This was my first time snorkeling so I can't compare it to any others. The weather was perfect for CocoCay and the island is great. We used the beaches, hammocks, paddle boats and canoes. There are plenty of lounge chairs and it was easy to get some shade when we needed a break from the sun. The entertainment: The cruise director, John, did an excellent job of organizing the shows. The RCI singers and dancers were very energetic and put on excellent shows. The juggler/comedian Chuck Gunter was very good, as was the singing group Horizons. The highlight entertainment wise had to be ventriloquist Ronn Lucas, he had us laughing so hard our eyes were watering. Disembarking: Very smooth. Our family was in four different groups and we were all off the ship by 9:00. Customs was very quick and we were on the road home by 9:30. There were no long lines or struggles to find luggage. Again, it was very hard to find any negatives to say about this cruise. Nothing that would be relevant to put here. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We are both in our 60's and avid cruisers. Serenade of the Seas was a new ship for us but the Port of New Orleans was not. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Hammond, La. We have stayed here several times. It is an hour from N.O. and ... Read More
We are both in our 60's and avid cruisers. Serenade of the Seas was a new ship for us but the Port of New Orleans was not. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Hammond, La. We have stayed here several times. It is an hour from N.O. and less expensive than the city hotels. RCCL parking is in an outdoor parking lot (Whale Lot). Our GPS took us to the lot but we entered from the wrong entrance. This was confusing and not marked in any way Do not enter from Julia St!. Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the Lido deck in less than an hour. Serenade is an older, smaller ship which is able to cruise the Panama Canal. She has been maintained well. This was the smoothest running ship we have been on. The captain told us she has airplane-type engines which are not as fuel efficient but much smoother running. We rarely felt any movement. The Centrum is lovely and is used a lot for entertainment. Our favorite area of the ship is an open aft area with tables where we ate breakfast and lunch while enjoying the wake of the ship. Our balcony cabin 9018 was small but adequate. You can see into the bridge from the balcony. The ship entertainment was wonderful. Very talented staff. The cruise director John was amazing. He did a tribute show to Neil Diamond and received a standing ovation. We had early dining and had the best waitstaff we have ever had. It was hard to tell them goodbye. The food in the dining room and the Windjammer was excellent. Our ports were Key West, Nassau and CocoCay. In Key West we walked and shopped and went to Irish Kevins Pub. Don't miss that! Lots of fun. We had been to Nassau before and weren't impressed with it. CocoCay was beautiful. Not my kind of beach as I like waves but very pretty. We did the self disembarkation and were in our car by 7:30AM. We liked this ship so much that we booked another cruise on her while we were onboard. Read Less
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