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Sail Date: January 2015
This was a great vacation to take over New Years! I was a part of a 25 member group. We wanted to go on a major brand cruise, such as Royal Caribbean, but on one of the smaller boats, which we find to be more enjoyable with smaller crowds ... Read More
This was a great vacation to take over New Years! I was a part of a 25 member group. We wanted to go on a major brand cruise, such as Royal Caribbean, but on one of the smaller boats, which we find to be more enjoyable with smaller crowds and more personalized guest service. The embarcation was a total breeze, after about 45 minutes, we were boarded with our baggage accounted. This ship is a mid-sized ship, which is great for me, because there are fewer people onboard and shorter lines. However, one problem I want to note out is that this ship only has nine elevators to cater to 2000+ people. This means that taking the elevator can take around 5 minutes. In addition, there is no aft elevator shaft, so the few elevators in the central atrium are very backed up. I found it much easier to use the stairs, so if you cannot use the stairs, this ship will be harder to traverse. However, this ship's sea front elevators are a great idea and something I love about this ship. The whole boat was very clean, and there was staff everywhere cleaning windows, cleaning the floor, and even painting the wood accents. The boat's exterior is covered with glass. Almost all rooms are sunlit, with windows pouring in lots of natural lighting. This also gives most rooms a view of the water outside. On some of the larger ships, the wider body puts rooms on the interior and decreases the connection with the ocean. The narrower body boat also makes it possible to look out either side in a single room. While the Serenade is smaller, it has no shortage of activities. With rock climbing and basketball court for the kids, and spa and fitness center for the adults, this ship caters to all ages. Youth and teen programs are provided also, and there is a curfew for all children from 1 to 5:30 AM. Children were not much of a disturbance, so if you would like to relax, there are plenty of places to lie out on a lounge chair. One feature I used extensively was the wraparound promenade on deck 5. I often sat out on the bow of the ship and meditated several times, and I would stare off the stern at the froth behind the mighty boat. Also, during the morning and evening hours, it made a great running track. The dining onboard this ship was stellar. Although it was not gourmet, it was very consistently delicious. At the dining hall there are different selections every night. Our party had some trouble, however, trying to reserve some tables. We had claims on 3 tables, but some of them had people not in our party, and some had only one person sitting at them. The dining room staff was very quick and glad to fix this problem, and by the second evening, the party's seating was fully organized. Food was delivered very quickly after order. We had a member of our party with a special dietary restriction, and her special menu was handled very well thoughout the week. Live entertainment every night was very, well, entertaining. There were fewer of the "brodway-style" shows we typically expect, and shows included acrobatics, acapella, aviation, and many other shows that don't start with A! In all seriousness, the variety was great and always exciting. In addition to the main theater, unique aerial performances are held in the grand Centrum, a 9 story atrium in the middle of the ship. Films were also shown in the cinema. There were A LOT of pianos onboard, and if you were lucky, someone would be playing the piano for you there. In fact, I would occasionally play a few songs around the boat. The main special of this itenerary was that it occurred over the New Year holiday, and there were planned to be three formal dinners instead of the usual two. However, the final formal dinner was cancelled, and the number was reduced to two. This evening had parties around the boat for young and old. The main party occurred in the Centrum, people were dancing, balloons dropping, drinks, and several centimeters of confetti on the ground. This was obviously a huge mess to clean up, but 6 hours later, when I woke up the next morning, it was completely cleaned up, everywhere! I was so impressed when I saw this, I think the crew was excellent to do this! Over the next few days, this amazing work ethic of the crew slightly declined as the end of the cruise approached, but the workers still served with a smile, and were happy to get anything from a glass of water to an extra dish. Debarkation was also a breeze, and within about 15 minutes, we were on a shuttle back to the airport. Overall, this was a great cruise, I would definitely reccomend it. While there will not be another new years itenerary for another year, I thought the food and entertainment were thoroughly pleasing, the staff worked very hard, and the ship was very clean. I would reccomend this cruise to anyone with a week off! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
The customer service (or lack thereof) was horrendous! Staff members were rude and at any question would say "that's not my job, go find someone else". The was a total lack of accountability. I got the third degree when ... Read More
The customer service (or lack thereof) was horrendous! Staff members were rude and at any question would say "that's not my job, go find someone else". The was a total lack of accountability. I got the third degree when ordering room service and the woman questioned me on who it was for and how many people. What does it matter?? My son was quarantined for a day for getting sea sick and the medical staff were rude and angry. They must keep these people on board for too long because they all seemed to hate their jobs. The primary reason we went on this ship was for the kiddie pool. Don't be fooled!! The slide is only open for 4 hours a day and there was a mushroom growing out of the pool edge when we went. The food was sub par. Not much variety at the Wind Jammer and the dining room food was hit or miss. To top it all off our power went out completely on our second to last day and stayed that way until we got off. No power, no lights, no AC: horrible! And not one word of apology from Royal Caribbean. I have sailed on other cruise lines and will never go back to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Been on a couple RCCL cruises in the last 4 years and our group of 11 opted for this cruise due to the great experiences we had on the previous cruises. I'm sorry to say, to us, it was obvious the services on the ship are sorely ... Read More
Been on a couple RCCL cruises in the last 4 years and our group of 11 opted for this cruise due to the great experiences we had on the previous cruises. I'm sorry to say, to us, it was obvious the services on the ship are sorely lacking, lots of rust on the exterior surfaces showing through the white paint. On previous ships you'd often see workers out with paint and bucket keeping things tidy, not on this boat. Rust was prevalent everywhere. Other ships in port didn't show any rust on the ship body proper when looking, sure did see it on the Serenade, example; the place the anchor comes out of, all orange with rust, nasty looking. The nightly towel sculptures, gone...got 3 over 7 days and a lame effort at that, that could surely just have been our lame steward though. We had 4 aft balcony rooms all next to each other and all of us felt the same. While out on deck, you get used to see workers constantly running around asking if you'd like drinks of any sort...gone....now that many folks get drink packages they no longer have people trying to push drinks. Figure they're saving lots of money on drinks by not having the wait staff asking customers out on deck if they want drinks. Now you need to go to the deck bar and get your own drinks, which is fine but staff the bar with enough tenders to handle the crowd! Many days there was only 1 or 2 bar tenders on and there would be a fairly long wait for a beverage. The quality of the food in the buffet has also dropped by a fair amount. Same things every morning and little change in the afternoon. Went to dinner buffet once and it was so unappealing that we walked to Chops and had dinner instead. The regular dining room food was good though, service a bit slow but someone we were traveling with is works in a restaurant and she said the service was slow because of the size of our group and us being pigs and ordering too many apps!! To us, it just seems RCCL just doesn't care about the ship's appearance or the quality of the entertainment for the guests. Live deck music twice a day for 45 minutes each. Heck, if it is a nice day (and they were) and there are tons of people on the deck, leave the band out the play! no, the band played for 45 and was gone, then they take that nice big screen TV and put an aquarium view on it, show a movie, news, sports...something! we see enough fish snorkeling! The ports were good...didn't care for New Orleans itself but the other ports seemed nice. Our excursion in Jamaica never happened as after waiting for 75 minutes for the bus to show up we just cancelled. RCCL said they didn't expect so many people and didn't plan properly. The excursion in Grand Cayman got cut in half, they said the water was too rough to snorkel so we only did the stingray tour, which was awesome. they gave us back $20 on a $80 tab due to no snorkeling. The snorkeling in Cozumel was good, the seas were just as rough as in Cayman but these guys still brought us out and it was just fine. All in all, if you've never cruised before you'll think this ship if the best...if you have and know what a decent cruise is, you won't come back. It is unfortunate too, we made a point of going with RCCL again only because our prior experiences were good. They lost 11 customers this time. There were also plenty of other travelers that were stating much of the same things that I commented on, the ship exterior condition (rust) and the quality of the breakfast and lunch buffets. There were a couple really nice ships we saw in port, with no rust! that looked mighty nice and might be worth investigating for next time around. MSC and Holland America... Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
The state room was extremely clean, the staff were friendly & the ship was small. We were at sea for two days and the pool deck was extremely crowded. I enjoyed the dinner in the main dining room but some of the servers were somewhat ... Read More
The state room was extremely clean, the staff were friendly & the ship was small. We were at sea for two days and the pool deck was extremely crowded. I enjoyed the dinner in the main dining room but some of the servers were somewhat rude. They would walk in front of you not waiting for you to pass, and one waitress made us wait almost 10 minutes before taking our order. The head waiter noticed us sitting there & he just took over our table. The specialty restaurant Izumi was off the hook delicious! The staff were fun & friendly and it was affordable considering the quality of the food. The entertainment was also very well planned, the cruise director also entertained and he was very energetic. The last night of the cruise the ship lost power in the state rooms, including heat, It was difficult packing with glow sticks. This is the second time I sailed on an older RCCL & the last. I prefer larger, newer ships. Overall the cruise was a fun time but the last night put a damper on things. No word if RCCL will provide us with a credit for the inconvenience of the malfunction of their ship. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
First let me start by saying I am a long time cruiser with Royal Caribbean and have been Diamond for a while. Below is my review of our cruise (10 being perfect thru 1 lousy). EMBARKATION: No problem as we arrived around 10:30. Although ... Read More
First let me start by saying I am a long time cruiser with Royal Caribbean and have been Diamond for a while. Below is my review of our cruise (10 being perfect thru 1 lousy). EMBARKATION: No problem as we arrived around 10:30. Although we are Diamond, there was no line for us so we took our turn with all of the others. After we checked in, the ship was not ready for another 45 or 60 minutes, so we just had a seat (8). Once onboard, everything proceeded at a normal pace. SHIP: Ship seemed to be well maintained (8). The only problems were the long waits for elevators while they passed by the floor, also and the temperature in the Schooner bar area was always chilly. On the last day before the ‘Farewell Show’ started in the theater and fore quarter of the ship lost power from the front elevators forward. It would stay off until after the following cruise at least. C.D. John and Katrina and the rest of the crew handled it in a very professional manner. The Captain even came on the speaker and gave us an update of the seriousness of the flooding and electrical shorts that occurred. It looked like the fix would take a while. Our cabin was right behind the darkened halls so we were fortunate. We finished packing and prepared to go to bed. CABIN: Our interior cabin was small like they always are, but who stays in their cabin?? Everything worked with no calls to maintenance for anything (9). A special WOW shout out to our cabin Stewart CARLOS. On the first day DW let him know what we needed and without making notes said he would remember. Well he remembered everything told to him and nothing was missed (10). SPA: The SPA was well maintained and clean. Every sea day DW and I would use the treadmills and bikes because of course we were on a cruise. We attended a ‘Good Feet’ presentation which was enjoyed by both of us. Fernando (DW loved his dance with the Village People) and Jessee were very good at their jobs (8). FOOD: We ate all meals, including dinner in the Windjammer falsely believing that the diner food would be almost as good as the main dining room. What has happened to the Windjammer selections and quality (3). Breakfast: We always had an omelet after the first day of hard, dry scrambled eggs. The waffles with Strawberries and whipped cream were very good and very filling. The rest of the breakfast was just average - overall (6). Lunch: A carving station usually with beef brisket, cauliflower, hamburger, hotdogs, pasta and a couple of other hot dishes. Desserts were the best part. The chocolate roll was awesome (10), the best dessert I have had in a looong time. I could have been happy (fat but happy) on a dozen pieces every day. Unfortunately if you came a bit later, it was all gone (7 with chocolate rolls), (4 without the chocolate roll). Dinner: Basically leftovers from lunch. If you wanted beef curry, there was always some to be had. Except for the very good vanilla ice cream, dinner was well below average (2). I would like to give a special WOW to Wang Xu. She was so personable we seeked her out for breakfast and dinners for good conversation she provided. ENTERTAINMENT: Overall pretty good as compared with some others we have seen (8) The ventriloquist Ronn Lucas was hysterical (10). We enjoyed it so much we went back for the second show. Singer and dancer Earl had us up and enjoying (9). The cast ensemble was pretty good. (Vibe-ology (8). Stage-to-screen (6)). We missed the farewell show due to electrical problems mentioned earlier. The Centrum shows, like the Cirque De Soliel flying show and the return to the 70’s are very well done, but you have to get there early to be able to get a good viewpoint y the railings (8). Finally a special WOW to Raphael, a 11 or 12 year special child protégé who plays the piano better than any professional I have ever heard. He also assisted one night in the theater (10). PORTS: Falmouth – As we were in with the Oasis, we just took our time and walked around the port area with our first day in the warm sun (6). Grand Cayman – Took an excursion though RCI titled Land And Sea, which stopped at the turtle farm, where I was able to hold and pet a turtle while DW took pictures. Unfortunately there was just not enough time to do everything (8). Next was Hell. A small but very interesting geological formation. So we spent a little time in Hell until we got back on the van (7). Next was a stop at the Rum Cake factory, with samples, which I must agree were very good (6). Finally we took a submersible ride on the Nautilus which was very entertaining, educational and well enjoyed (10). Cozumel – We again shopped around the port area as we were once again in with the Oasis (5). POOLS: We spent time at the Solarium pool a couple of days and enjoyed it immensely because it was quiet. I still do not understand the saving of chairs. One lady while we looked for a lounger moved her stuff from two different chairs and put it back on the lounger she was already using in the next row. We never went to the main pool to hang out or to see any of the MUTS shows (9), but we did enjoy the belly flop competition looking down on it from the upper deck. DEBARKATION: Went smoothly except for the usual delays slightly were more pronounced, but I chalked it up to the problem with the electricity being out in the front of the ship (8). MISC: The Muster drill was painless (9). The Photo gallery was well documented and were able to find our pictures without incident. They should have more help on the last sea day though (7). Due to eating at the Windjammer for dinner, we were able to spend more time at the Diamond Club and as always it was run expertly (10). Meet and Mingle event appeared to be over as soon after it started and it felt like we were given the bums rush (4).   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We chose this itinerary specifically because one of our party had never been to New Orleans. We arrived the day before sailing and our group of 8 had dinner at the Comamnder’s Palace (highly recommended, reservations required). There ... Read More
We chose this itinerary specifically because one of our party had never been to New Orleans. We arrived the day before sailing and our group of 8 had dinner at the Comamnder’s Palace (highly recommended, reservations required). There was a fairly long line to check in and board the ship, but because we are Platinum members on RCI we joined a shorter line and we were on the ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the dock. At first glance, two days at sea before hitting any foreign ports might seem like too much time—but we found it was a great segue to “vacation mode” and we found plenty to explore on the ship. Our first port was Falmouth, Jamaica, which is a bit of a drive to the majority of the excursion sites. We chose the Dunn’s River Falls Express tour through the cruiseline, and it did not disappoint. We had a delightful tour guide who shared information about Jamaica during the approximately 60-minute drive to the Falls. The Falls are amazing—you literally walk in the water, on the rocks, holding hands with the rest of your party. The excursions clerk on the ship said “you don’t need a guide, you can do the Falls yourself,” which is technically true, but I wouldn’t even attempt it. We had a wonderful guide, Tammy (the only female guide at the Falls) who led the way and made sure we were able to safely make it to the top. Note that water shoes are an absolute necessity; I was amazed how well they work on the rocks and it is incredible that no one fell during our journey considering the amount of water you are walking through and the terrain in the falls. This is a fairly strenuous walk although our party of 60ish year olds had no problems making it to the top. On the return bus ride we stopped at a small roadside diner for jerk chicken and/or jerk pork and rum punch (optional to purchase). For the next stop in Grand Cayman we chose the 4x4 Jeep and Snorkel excursion, again through the cruiseline. Our party of 8 drove two jeeps in a caravan with 5 other vehicles for a tour of the national park and beach stop. At the conclusion, our tour included a beach chair, rum punch, and snorkel equipment for about 90 minutes of beach time. The water is very clear and there were lots of fish to see, particularly if you swam out a bit to the reef. It was awesome! In Cozumel we selected the Mayan Ruins, tour and snorkel excursion (through the cruiseline) because we knew that the Tulum ruins excursion would be much longer and a much farther drive. We had a fascinating guide, Jose, who explained the ruin and offered to help negotiate with vendors at the site if needed for fine jewelry purchases. Then we stopped at a beach on the west side of the island where we could have snorkeled, but it was a windy and cooler day and we elected to eat Mexican food and drink Margaritas instead, which suited us just fine. The entertainment on the ship was very good. The first night at sea we had the acapella group, The Alley Cats, who did lots of 50s songs in harmony and were very funny, too. Excellent show. There was also a comedy duo, Alfred & Seymour, who were very high energy and lots of fun. The musical shows (one was 1970s) were good too. There was also a spectacular aerial show in the center atrium one evening that is best viewed from the 7th floor. We found the food to be good, but nothing really outstanding. Service was friendly and punctual but we felt a bit rushed (get in, get out) in the dining room. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants. We enjoyed the casino but were not big winners (no surprise there). We also enjoyed seeing The Hundred-Foot Journey on the big screen by the outdoor pool our last night at sea, even though it was a bit chilly. We just piled on the pool towels to keep us warm! Our last day at sea was quite a bit cooler than our days in the Caribbean (in the 80s), and we were wearing sweatshirts all day. New Orleans was bitterly cold and windy on our return, so we had dinner at Criollo in our hotel (the Hotel Monteleone). This is a great location for exploring the French Quarter without too much chaos from Bourbon Street. The next day we took the trolley from just west of Canal Street out through the Garden District to the end of the line (west of Tulane University) and back. This was a nice way to see all the beautiful homes without being in the cold or walking too much. All in all, a wonderful trip for us four couples.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I am going to start my review off by admitting that our experience may have been less than optimal as a result of the fact that we were the last cruise before the Christmas cruise. My wife and I have been cruising for almost a decade now ... Read More
I am going to start my review off by admitting that our experience may have been less than optimal as a result of the fact that we were the last cruise before the Christmas cruise. My wife and I have been cruising for almost a decade now and we have been cruising with Royal Caribbean for the majority of our cruises. Unfortunately, this was one of our worst Royal Caribbean experiences. The Good: This ship is older and smaller than many in the fleet, but don't let that deter you - it's been immaculately maintained. I understand they have recently renovated the ship, and it's in great shape! My wife and I have always enjoyed traditional dining and have been disappointed industry-wide that the dining room experience has seemed to be on the decline. Our last cruise on the Allure of the Seas, we were absolutely horrified by the quality of the dining room food. The Serenade of the Seas, however, renewed our faith in quality dining room food and service. There was a great selection, the food was fresh and the service was AMAZING. This is literally the ONLY time on a cruise ship that I've ordered a steak in the dining room rare and it actually come out as ordered. We were very pleased. The Bad: The entertainment options on the ship were extremely disappointing. The only option for entertainment after midnight was the "club" and even it was a ghost town. Again, this very well may be a result of the demographics of the passengers or the time of year and not the fault of the cruise. The ship was absolutely dead after 11:00 at night. It literally blew our minds. We always love sitting in the Pub listening to late night live music, and the pub on this ship didn't even have live music - just karaoke. The other negative we experienced was the lack of late-night dining options. On most Royal Caribbean ships we've been on, the Wind Jammer has always had food at least until midnight, if not a midnight buffet. The Wind Jammer on this ship closed at 8 PM and after that literally all you could get was either a hot dog by the pool or room service - which had an extremely limited menu as well. Otherwise, the trip was great. I'm not sure I would go on this ship again, but I'll definitely still give Royal Caribbean a pass that perhaps we caught them on an off week. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We arrived at the Hyatt Place in New Orleans the day before our cruise, the hotel is quite noisy, our room was facing the street. Embarkation was fine, after getting on the ship our room was ready by 1pm. We lounged in the Sloarium, which ... Read More
We arrived at the Hyatt Place in New Orleans the day before our cruise, the hotel is quite noisy, our room was facing the street. Embarkation was fine, after getting on the ship our room was ready by 1pm. We lounged in the Sloarium, which is quite nice since its kid free. Very tranquil... Lunch in the Windjammer was pleasant. Salads were always fresh and they had a nice assortment of breads and cheeses. We stayed in cabin 3074. Our steward was a dream, wish I could have brought him home with me !! He was so attentive and we always had a fresh bucket of ice ! We ate in the MDR every night except for the last night. We went to Chops. I must say, it is pricier than it was worth. The MDR had food that was comparable. Our wait staff was great. The nightly shows were ok, they did have the Las Vegas Tenors one night and they were superb !! The ship itself is nice. not a lot of flash, just comfy. The wine selection could use a bit of variety but it was tolerable. The prices of course are always exhorbitant. We did bring 2 bottles on board and were not charged for corkage which was a plus. First stop was Jamaica, if you are ever there, enjoy their veggie patties, they are great !! Next stop Grand Cayman, we had to tender in and take a taxi downtown which was inconvenient but it was due to high winds that day. The tortuga rum cakes there are awesome. Cozumel was just.....Cozumel. Nothing new....same pushy sales people. If you are in the market for booze to bring back, look no further than the ship !! The prices are always less expensive and if you see something you want in another store off the ship and it's cheaper, just take a picture of the price and Royal Caribbean will match it !! So no hauling around bottles !! Disembarkation went ok, had to wait over an hour for a piece of our luggage, do not have a clue where it went but they found it. Customs a breeze, back to the hotel, then sight seeing in New Orleans. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We booked the Serenade of the Seas for a cruise over Christmas It was a surprise for my mother in law and our 7 year old daughter. Overall we were pleased with the cruise. Dining in Reflections was hit or miss. Kids program was OK but not ... Read More
We booked the Serenade of the Seas for a cruise over Christmas It was a surprise for my mother in law and our 7 year old daughter. Overall we were pleased with the cruise. Dining in Reflections was hit or miss. Kids program was OK but not as good as Disney's. Hallways were hard to maneuver with a wheelchair when attendants were cleaning the cabins. Had to go up and around to get to places. We had handicap accessible ocean view room 4008 and balcony 8008 just above the S on Serenade. The balcony is the same as other balconies but has a piece blocking the front since it is the first bale on deck 8. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We just returned from an extended-family (11 of us - 3 brothers in early 40's with 4 kids, 7 adults) Christmas cruise on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. We had 2 in their 60's, 4 in early 40's, 4 kids aged ... Read More
We just returned from an extended-family (11 of us - 3 brothers in early 40's with 4 kids, 7 adults) Christmas cruise on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. We had 2 in their 60's, 4 in early 40's, 4 kids aged 8-14. (Side note: suggestion: bring walkie talkies ($50 amazon for 3) if you have a group esp with kids and want to stay connected so you can find each other for meals or other times on board) I have been on a half dozen cruises, most with Carnival, one Norwegian. Overall, I hoped for an experience a slight cut above Carnival and from the crew and ship perspective it fell short of that. From a fellow passenger perspective, it generally delivered - the people seemed a little more well behaved and more well heeled and they felt like the kind of people we'd hang out with around our home community gym or youth sporting events, etc. We come from a nice middle-class suburb full of professionals who expect their kids to achieve and have manners and it felt like others on board were of like mind. In Summary: I won't go out of my way to get on this boat again - I'd look for a newer ship with more of the recent 'wow' factors if I can. I'm at heart a pragmatist looking for a deal and a time and a port I can make work to get away - so I may not be able to find something that fits what I want - and any cruise beats staying home in Ohio! All in all, we had a great time because it was a warm Christmas away with lots of family and more than enough good stuff to outweigh the more average/mediocre stuff (entertainment, ship in general, food in general---all good, just not fantastic). Vessel Our ship is not one of the newest and best but it was pretty good. It was in good repair. It doesn't have a big 'wow' factor but it's got all the basic stuff you might expect: pools (open/adult), areas to lay out, main theater, buffet, snack bar, casino, shops, and public areas. In addition, there's a climbing wall, putt-putt, movie theater and game area (pool tables & game tables). Always some place to go to get away from crowds and noise if you wanted. Service Stateroom service was perfect - never an issue. Main dining service was adequate - we were breaking in a new assistant waiter which was not a big deal, we had some small hiccups with dinner service but issues were usually addressed. Unlike our other experiences, it was not always easy / convenient to flag down someone by the pool or to get a drink at the bars which were often busy. I ordered a beer my first night at dinner and then never saw the guy from the bar again at dinner--we mostly brought our wine to dinner and maybe that kept him away but I thought it was strange. Staff The staff didn't seem to have the best morale and most cheery dispositions. Sometimes, they were just doing their jobs and that was that. The cruise director seemed OK - not super cheery but usually pretty energetic and enthusiastic when on stage. Felt overall like a notch down from Carnival & Norwegian where the crew seemed more happy and enthusiastic and the cruise director had a lighter touch and was more humorous. In the casino, some of the dealers were fun and personable and others varied: humorless/poor english/just doing their job. Food The main dining food and buffet and snacks were OK. My socks were not knocked off most of the time. It was good, just not great or super memorable. Some dishes hit the mark and others missed theirs. We were always able to order flexibly - e.g. 2 starters or if we didn't like what we got they were replaced. My family has a mix of high expectations and anything-is-OK, so those with high expectations tended to disparage the service and/or food pretty regularly. Entertainment The talent and the shows were average at best. Some of the acts were enjoyable. I felt like Carnival and Norwegian again exceeded what we saw. Options were generally limited to a few things each night in the main theater plus a bonus in the main atrium or side bar (Safari club) -- Carnival had a comedy club with nightly acts to boot... And the entertainers were decent but again not superb. Seemed like we barely saw the main troupe doing singing and dancing at all except for the last night - in fairness, we did not go to all acts - but when we saw them, they were good. The backup band seemed really good - they sat behind the main acts and played the music in support of the shows. The main comedy act around midweek was just raunchy and poorly done. Mildly funny at best and I was perhaps most disappointed with that. Room - more with my deck plan portion, but good marks here all around - we had four beds - 2 bunks that came down and 2 on the floor - they were all separated and I don't think we could push the 2 lower beds together though we didn't try. Couch, flat TV, closets bath and storage areas -- all very serviceable and proportional. We had a very large porthole/oceanview. Felt like the room was a smidge larger than similar rooms we've had on other ships though we book all kinds of rooms from interior to balcony - we did like this one. It was well kept and the steward did the typical ninja routine where he snuck in and out practically unnoticed when we were away and took care of everything well. Fitness center Decent equipment it looked like - I only did treadmill but was very unhappy to find myself staring out a window that looked to the ocean from ground level but when I got up on the treadmill, I looked down at the ground and could not see out to the sea... I was up near the ceiling and the window stopped - so I was bummed to be so close to having a view but in reality not having one. I did not find a place to get a drink in the fitness area either !? Kid programs My 14 year old was happy to participate an come and go - didn't say much which meant he had a fine time and I know he found friends to hang with. My 11 y/o was not super satisfied- something not to his liking happened where the attendants didn't treat him fairly and he was done with the place. He was perfectly happy to roam the ship with his cousins so this was not much of a surprise nor a letdown - he's not a little kid and not yet a teenager so he's in a tough spot to please - the check in was fine but my impression was that the program wasn't stellar - either the folks had a bad day or the program didn't knock his socks off. Excursions and Misc. We only booked one excursion - we did it on board - for some inexplicable reason, it was cancelled - we had a hard time tendering in at Grand Cayman due to the port authority's whims and maybe that's why - we did not know of the cancellation until we got off. Then we booked basically the same thing for a lot less. (Stingray & snorkel - US$40 as soon as you walk off, which was almost the same thing we wanted to pay $115 for... which is why we almost never book excursions from the boat.) Verdict for stingrays: Do It Yourself when you get off. Warning: Cayman is expensive: we had a light lunch near the tender port (not inside the arrivals holing pen area) - 5 alcobevs, 4 kids drinks, 5 starters = US$190 - ouch! While I'm at it: Falmouth: we did Dunn's River Falls. We got a driver from the port for the day $35pp (5 of us). paid admission $20 pp. Stopped for lunch $35 for all of us at Scotchies, which was very good, esp. 200 jamaican for red stripes (under US$2). This same excursion was about $90pp from the boat. Cozumel: Chankanaab park - $25 one way cab for 6, $21 admission. Then we sprang for the dolphin/manatee encounter which my wife expertly negotiated for $70 pp. The photos are where they really nail you - $194 for the digital DVD of all pics, also negotiated down by wife to $127 (all US$). Excursion from boat was like $120pp I think. Verdict: expensive either way if you do Chankanaab dolphins - not much difference there. Finally: the logistics of the boat overall were good: Onboarding and off-boarding were very smooth (we carried our own luggage off, and strangely we did not get our luggage when we got on until we told our steward we didn't get it yet - and we studiously avoided "high times" for getting on and off whenever possible). Main buffet dining was well organized to avoid lines and hassle. I did not like the lack of drink stands - instead we had to queue up to get coffee or OJ in the main buffet dining. Other ships have better coffee e.g. brewed on demand - I'm no snob but I love that strong fresh euro-brew from the German 'WM' machines I've seen elsewhere. I prefer do it myself service of drinks. There were like 10 water/ice machines that never worked on board but had permanent signs 'temporarily out of service'. I didn't have to wait at guest services any meaningful time though I visited about 5 times for misc stuff. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas met all of our expectations for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. My wife and I sailed on the Serenade from New Orleans on December 6, 2014, on a trip that included stops in Falmouth, Jamaica, George Town ... Read More
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas met all of our expectations for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. My wife and I sailed on the Serenade from New Orleans on December 6, 2014, on a trip that included stops in Falmouth, Jamaica, George Town in the Cayman Islands and the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Our superior ocean view cabin on Deck 10 (cabin 1062) included a balcony and sufficient storage space for our luggage and closet space for our clothes. It was just big enough for the two of us, provided we walked single file! The crew was universally cheerful and helpful, including one server in Reflections, the main dining room, who learned our names the first day she served our table and called us by name each time she saw us; we had chosen My Time Dining, and she wasn’t even our regular server. The food was delicious; the portion sizes just right. Kudos to the bakers on board! The bread was always tempting and delicious. The service and food were superb in Giovanni’s Table, a premium Italian restaurant. The service was friendly but slow and the food just average at another pay-per-item eatery, Rita’s Cantina. Finding a seat for breakfast was always a challenge in the Windjammer Café on Deck 11. You not only had to search for a table, but also had to “walk defensively” to avoid collisions with fellow passengers who were turning quickly away from the buffet lines to return to their seats. We found it more relaxing to have a seated breakfast in Reflections, although some items such as fruits and cereals were located at a buffet table in the middle of the main dining room. While there was a library on board, it was tiny and always seemed disorganized when we walked past. It was not a separate room, but adjacent to one of the hallways. We were spoiled by the Explorations Cafes we found on Holland America ships like the Noordam or the Westerdam. The entertainment was great—singers and dancers and comedians. Not quite Broadway but good enough to keep your attention for the 45 to 50 minutes they were on stage. There was also a small movie theater on board. Random, non-emergency announcements interrupted the dialogue, prompting more than one moviegoer to yell “Shut Up!” As opposed to other cruises where Internet service is only offered by the minute, Serenade sold an unlimited Internet package for up to 2 devices for $225 for the entire cruise ($189 for one device). There was a daily plan for $56 and 60 minutes to be used anytime for $30. Sure, the Internet speed is glacial, but if you're just using it for text messaging or emails without attachments it should be fine. Just don't plan to share pictures or download huge files! On our first stop, we spent some time browsing the new “tourist-friendly” area of Falmouth, Jamaica directly off the pier. The shopping zone was super-clean and secure, filled with the usual kiosks offering Bob Marley T-shirts, woodcarvings and cold drinks. The “real” Falmouth was filled with hawkers and run down, tin-roof buildings. Most passengers, if they ventured outside the secured area, took a quick walk around the block before retreating into the world of “faux Jamaica”. We purchased an excursion that included a bus ride to the Good Hope Estate, a short tour of the plantation home there built in the 1700s and tea. It was well worth the time and minimal expense. Our visit to George Town was marred by sea conditions which did not allow the ship to moor off the city, but instead on the other side of Grand Cayman. The change in location showed us the ship had no “Plan B” for those of us who booked tours of George Town. After riding the tender to shore, we discovered there was literally nothing at the secondary landing site. Taking a taxi to town would have been at our own expense and we were warned about setting out on our own and getting stuck in traffic. We were advised by the excursion director to return to the ship and come back an hour later to board a mini-bus to get to the beginning of our “Trolley Roger” tour of George Town. Once we finally got to town, the tour was enjoyable, followed by another quick trip back to the site where we boarded the tender to return to the Serenade. If the ship had arranged for shuttle buses to go back and forth from the landing area to George Town during the duration of our stay, all of us could have maximized our short stay there. The sight of Mexican drug dogs in Cozumel sniffing around the middle-aged and elderly passengers entering the port made us smile (They were worried about us smuggling drugs INTO Mexico. Really?) We took an $8 cab ride into the center of the shopping district, ran the gauntlet of storeowners trying to entice us into their shops, had a nice lunch and returned to the ship. Overall, there was plenty to do, or not on the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our second cruise on the Serenade in 2014, our first being in February. We chose the cruise for the port of embarkation and the ports. Serenade is a nice ship, spotlessly clean indoors, and a friendly staff. We recognized many ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Serenade in 2014, our first being in February. We chose the cruise for the port of embarkation and the ports. Serenade is a nice ship, spotlessly clean indoors, and a friendly staff. We recognized many faces from our ship from 10 months before- cruise director, activity director, restaurant staff, and that felt nice. Our room attendant, Rocky, was outstanding. We had a good time (we went with 3 other couples) and the food was very good. The only complaint was, it was same old, same old. Same entertainment, shows, menus, activities. In fact, some things were not as good as in February- no poolside cook out, no 9:00 shows every night. Last year we went on 2 cruises on the Explorer, 3 months apart, and didn't feel like it was all a repeat. In truth, I prefer the amenities of a larger ship with a Promenade. (We were parked next to the Oasis and I can't wait to go on that one day.) We did have that same room as before, which has a larger than average balcony, which was wonderful. The ports were fine. Jamaica was wonderful, went on beach excursion and it was perfection. Enjoyed Cayman's and Cozumel was interesting. If I were to plan 3 favorite place to go in one week in the future, it would be Key West, Jamaica and Cayman's. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Our shuttle dropped us off at the port of New Orleans just after 12pm. It was busy but the line moved swiftly and check-in was even quicker. The only delay was in getting on to the ship as the lines to have your photo taken for your ... Read More
Our shuttle dropped us off at the port of New Orleans just after 12pm. It was busy but the line moved swiftly and check-in was even quicker. The only delay was in getting on to the ship as the lines to have your photo taken for your seapass card were backed up on the gangway bridge. They moved quickly though and we were on the ship and at the Windjammer by 12:30. As is almost always the case the WJ was packed for the most part but being the brave souls we are, went out to the open area of the WJ along the back where there was plenty of open tables. It was in the low 50"s on embarkation day and quite windy but we had jackets with us so it didn't bother us. Considering it was in the 20"s when we left Ohio, 50's felt pretty good at the time. As for the food it was all the usual fare on sail-away day including honey stung chicken.... (wings). Guess thats as close as we can get to the original we grew to love over the years. We thought overall there were enough choices and everything we had was tasty. After lunch, we headed to the centrum area to have a look around at how the ship was decorated, and to see some of the changes since Serenade was updated in 2012. We liked the more vibrant colors and they did a nice job decorating the entire centrum area for Christmas. Next, we headed for the MDR to check out or table for dinner. We had requested a table for two as we always do. We were assigned a table for four but a quick stop to the dining room manager got us a move to a table for two. By this time it was after 1pm and the staterooms were ready so we headed up to deck 7 to have a look. It was pretty much as expected. A clean room, ample storage, a regular shower without that darn curtain to stick to you. Balcony was average size with 2 chairs and a table. The bed was just okay. It was not rock hard but it was certainly far from soft. Our room attendant did a wonderful job during the week and was very efficient. The entire crew of Serenade gets high praise from us. They were friendly, visible, and active in all the activities throughout the week. The captain was a delight but unfortunately he became ill midway through the cruise and was limited for the remainder of the week. The other officers did a great job filling in for him at events. John & Katrina Blair did a wonderful job in their roles as cruise and activities director. There were plenty of events to keep you busy if you so chose and we felt the entertainment on Serenade was a step above what we have seen on many of our 20 prior cruises. The entertainer who stood above the rest for us was Finas Henderson. If he happens to end up on your ship, go see his show. Google him to find out more about him and his Hollywood ties. Food is always subjective but here's my take. You will not go hungry. If we ate breakfast, it was in the WJ. We would get a made to order omelet and whatever else from the buffet. We never were disappointed in any meals we had in the WJ or in the MDR. It was exactly the same as it has been for us every cruise. The MDR service was good but not fast. Many of the crew were fairly new and still learning the ropes. Bar service in the MDR was not very good. Not enough servers to do the job. This cruise was full to capacity and the MDR was busier than usual so the staff cutbacks RCI has done showed up big time. We went to Chops twice, the 1st time was absolutely wonderful, the 2nd time was absolutely forgettable. We booked a post cruise tour of New Orleans and disembarkation was quick and ahead of schedule. We found our luggage immediately and was through customs less than 5 minutes later. In summary, this was our 2nd time on Serenade and it was just as memorable for us. We enjoyed sailing down the Mississippi to get to the Gulf of Mexico. The ship still looks great and they are constantly at work, cleaning, staining, and painting to keep her looking so. The railings looked a little worn and that is the case with some furniture or chairs as well. Other than that Serenade of the Seas looked even better to us than in 2012 over in Europe. The crew works very hard to provide you and I the very best vacation possible within their means. They are trying to do more tasks than ever before with less staff to do it with. We felt they did an outstanding job given the circumstances. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much ... Read More
My extended family (10 total, ages from mid-70s to early teens) decided to celebrate the holidays somewhere warm where nobody had to host. Most of us were first-time cruisers, although my parents have taken numerous river cruises on much smaller ships. We chose this cruise based on a combination of the dates, the ship size, and itinerary. We all arrived the day before departure, staying overnight at the Hilton Riverside. There are easily-found shuttle busses that take you straight there from the airport for $20 each, or of course the taxis become economical for larger parties sharing a ride. This venue turned out to be a lucky choice, as the weather in New Orleans was miserable -- cold and rainy -- but you can navigate from the hotel to the cruise terminal entirely indoors. The worst part of the experience was huddling outdoors just onboard on the ship for our boarding photos! The Serenade was a wonderful ship; it seemed quite large to us (until we docked next to the Oasis of the Seas later on, LOL) but we were navigating it confidently after only a day or so and nothing felt too far away, although the elevators seemed to be crazy busy on embarkation day. I particularly liked deck 6 aft, where the Schooner Bar and Safari club combined to provide a piano bar, pool tables, a great dance floor, and relaxed/quiet ambiance. My nephew lived on the basketball court up on deck 12. ;-) There was often live music in the Centrum too, but its stone floor was brutally hard on our feet. I would not have thought so before experiencing it, but all of us agreed that the days at sea (two at the beginning, and one at the end) were the most relaxing parts of the cruise -- all of the ports were, to varying degrees, rat races that left you either on the run or looking at your watch or trying to catch your breath. The single best thing we did, also by luck, was to schedule our entire party (10) for MyTime dining with a standing reservation at 5:45. We had a large windowside round table, ideally sized for our party, and the best wait staff I have ever experienced in any restaurant anywhere. Each evening, we'd stroll in and sit down and spend a few hours being treated like kings and queens. From my chair I couldn't help notice the queue of would-be diners waiting to be seated -- something we bypassed entirely after the first night. From this, we learned: (a) Choose the MyTime option, which puts you in the more genteel and less cramped tables on deck 5 [vs the cattle-call on deck 4]; (b) Choose an earlier time so you never have to wait on somebody else to free up your table; and (c) Get a standing reservation -- at which point on the first night you can request to have the same table (and waiters) all of the remaining nights. This took some trouble to set up (in advance) -- we were spread across 5 staterooms -- but the results were more than worth it. Aside from dinners, crew service had definite high points and low points. The staff were unfailingly cheerful and polite, but there were a few rough edges. Several of us found that it was nearly impossible to contact a stateroom attendant if you didn't run into them in the passageway -- there's a handy button on the phone in the cabin, but it should be labelled "Ring No Answer" not "Stateroom Attendant". For some reason, our visit to George Town, Grand Cayman, turned into a logistical disaster. We knew we'd be using tenders and that extra time would be required to get onshore, but apparently the presence of several other ships (I counted at least six, including the Serenade, in port that day) totally overwhelmed whatever planning had occurred. At 0800, the stairways were still choked with passengers trying to reach their 0715 excursions and there were no signs of movement anywhere. A little after 0830, I visited the Excursion Desk to express my concern about our 0930 excursion. The representative offered to cancel and refund the excursion, but had nothing even vaguely similar to offer as a substitute. When we grew tired of waiting for ticketed tenders to be announced (apparently they never were), we joined the throng in the stairways and eventually got onshore just in time to make the excursion. Since the Excursion Desk hadn't collected the excursion tickets when I had them cancelled, we proceeded to use them and had a great time. Afterwards, back onboard, I visited the Desk again and had them "uncancel" our tickets, which they did. (Correctly, even.) Nevertheless, it is hard to avoid feeling the day would have worked out better if (a) Royal Caribbean had planned the tendering better [surely they have done this before????] and (b) they had used the tender passes after bothering to hand them out and (c) they had told me "don't worry, sir, you have time to make your excursion" instead of "oh, we'll just cancel and credit you". We gave the Serenade's doctor more of a workout than any of us (or him) probably wanted, but our several encounters were handled with professionalism, courtesy and above all, a sense of comfort. Somewhat to my surprise (first-time cruiser, remember?) I ended up having an interview with him before being allowed to board -- I'd come down with the flu a week previously, but fortunately gotten on Tamiflu right away. (Great stuff, by the way, and heartily endorsed by the doctor.) It makes total sense in hindsight, but he told us that I wouldn't have been allowed aboard if I'd still had a fever -- which thankfully I hadn't for several days previously. All I'd been thinking about had been "I don't want to be sick on my vacation!" but obviously the cruise line is properly worried about all these people crushed together. We used more Purell in a week than I have in probably the rest of my life to this point! Two days in, one of us came down with tonsillitis and headed down to the medical bay. A quick diagnosis and some prescribed antibiotics had him feeling better by the next day, with minimal impact beyond a temporary prohibition on alcoholic beverages. And if that hadn't been enough, on Christmas Eve one of us became inexplicably nauseous, dizzy and weak. We trooped down to medical again (minor glitch -- the wheelchair was too wide to fit through the stateroom door). It wasn't clear if the problem was dehydration or something worse/contagious, but the doctor prescribed drugs for the symptoms and required him to stay in the stateroom until we knew what was happening. In recompense, all of the treatment was provided free, as was room service from a special menu, and he got credit for a future cruise to offset the "missed" day. 24 hours later, all was well. I'd never want anything bad to happen to anybody, but it was reassuring to know the medical staff on the Serenade were ready and equipped to deal with all of our various ailments (and many more besides). Most people probably will never visit deck 2, but it's there if you need it. I've mentioned dinner already, and most of our other meals were eaten at the Windjammer (the buffet on deck 11). I walked by the specialty restaurants several times, but we had such a great time at our table in the main dining room (on deck 5) that I never felt seriously tempted to eat at them. A few times, for a change of pace, we went to the main dining room (on deck 4) for breakfast or lunch, but it wasn't as much fun. The tables were close together, which meant that navigating to the salad bar in the center of the dining room was a serious challenge. The food itself ranged from good to great, and of course there was as much of it as anybody cared to eat. We'd brought a few bottles of special wine with us, which turned out better than planned. We declared it on boarding, but it wasn't taken away from us, and it is unclear if Royal Caribbean was actually enforcing their two-bottle per stateroom limit or not. More to the point, when we brought the bottles to dinner, we never got charged the $25 corking fee, which turned an okay deal into a great one. ;-) The dress code was slightly more casual than the Royal Caribbean guidelines might lead you to believe. There were few tuxedos in evidence on the formal nights, with jackets and ties more common, and the last night ("dressy casual") looked pretty casual to me. We are pretty much "make your own entertainment" types, so we looked in at the movie theatre (without staying), and watched one of the shows without being either thrilled or annoyed. The dancing was better, as both of the bands onboard played danceable music and were happy to take requests. As mentioned earlier, the wooden parquet floor at the Safari Club was far preferable to the tile floor of the Centrum. Disembarkation, which unfortunately came days too soon for us ;-), was a smooth experience although it was disconcerting to say goodbye to our luggage the night before. We watched others wheeling it off themselves, and I'm still of mixed mind which way I'd go if I had it to do over again. Overall, our trip was a wonderful experience and Royal Caribbean hosted a great holiday event. I don't have any other first-hand basis for comparison, but I'd definitely consider RC and the Serenade for a future cruise -- they treated us well, and I don't know that I need to be on a larger (or smaller) ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the ... Read More
I will begin this review by saying we are not fly by night cruisers or first timers – our latest cruise on the Serenade was our fourth RCCL cruise with 5 cruises total under our belts. We have sailed on Oasis – Freedom and twice on the Radiance Class Ships with RCCL and one Holland cruise comparable to the Voyager Class of RCCL. So here is my review of the Serenade. Our first cruise was on RCCL Jewel of the Seas which was phenomenal however after experiencing the Oasis and Freedom Class ships the Radiance Class Ships didn’t seem to be as exciting. But I would highly recommend Radiance or Voyager class Ships for First or second time cruisers. I will break this review down in segments and give it a 1 -5 Rating (5 Being the Best) Port of Departure New Orleans (Rating 2.5) In my opinion this port is very congested and wildly disorganized we have sailed out of Port Canaveral / Ft Lauderdale and Tampa in the past and if I had to compare I would sum it up like this – The security in New Orleans ports are very laid back, understandably we all complain about the added security measures when traveling but there is peace of mind that comes with it. For example at the Florida terminals the customs and security are checking Ship Reservations / IDS and Passports prior to entering the Ship Dock Area – in New Orleans your first Security check comes inside the building which is fine, but Being ranked #6 among American cruise ports (I) you would think it would be a little more secure. However once you get past all the uncertainty and ciaos things seem to move rather fast The parking areas are scattered around the port so you have a choice to park your car just about anywhere, however you will be walking a great distance to the port or trying to catch a shuttle or cab to the main entrance – which promotes another problem, there is only one lane traffic so if there is a traffic back-up you are paying a cab fee for sitting. My only suggestion is you park your car at the terminal parking area which is adjacent to the port terminal but still a 5-10 min walk depending how far from the door you are. You can leave your bags with a porter before parking but keep in mind whatever luggage your hand carrying on board you will have to walk with through all the security check points and onto the ship. The other down fall of leaving out of New Orleans is that it takes approx. 5 Hours for the ship to get to the Gulf and an additional 4 Hours before Casinos and Stores are open – In our case the Ship left the dock at 4pm and the Casino and stores opened at 10am the next morning, this is just an FYI. This is due in part because ships have to follow duty free laws and duty free generally goes into effect approx. 4 hours off any U.S Mainland. Lastly if you are looking for the cruise port terminal on your GPS – Verify where it is – we typed in Port of New Orleans with the address and it took us to a restaurant on the opposite side of town, so do some research on this one first and please note you are looking for the “Julia Cruise Terminal for RCCL”. Luggage and Room (5.0) Upon boarding we headed to the windjammer for lunch which was open and ready for service – we were told through the grapevine staterooms would not be ready until 1:00pm and luggage to soon follow, so with past experience we figured about 2 – 2:30 but to our surprise the doors opened at 1:05pm and our stateroom was ready and low and behold our luggage was outside the door waiting for us too. So this is an advantage to a smaller vessel for sure. – We actually had time to unpack, get our room situated and get ready for dinner. So this was an absolute plus. Nice Job RCCL Crew State Room (Rating 4.5) We stayed in State Room 4536 which was down the hall from the Centrum and Customer Service desk this room had its pros and cons. The room was quiet and we rarely heard any noise from the Centrum. In fact we heard a lot more noise above us. The noise we heard were kids running around see as we were on Deck 4, I can only assume these were kids running along Deck 5 which is the outside walk way but this was sporadic and didn’t last long maybe 9-10pm if I recall. The Centrum as aforementioned was located down the hall from us although surprisingly you didn’t hear any noise it is the central area for shows and ship gatherings. I can only imagine if you were closer you might hear some noise but I was extremely surprised we didn’t hear anything from our Stateroom that involved the Centrum Activities. However, if and when there was activities in this area the access to your stateroom was compiled with getting through crowds of other passengers or you could walk to the elevators located at the front of the ship and bypass all the extracurricular activities which again was not a big deal just kind of annoying because other guests assumed you were trying to get the front line of the venue and you had to keep expressing to them you wanted to get to your State Room. Hence the reason I rate this a 4 out of 5 Main Dining “My Time Dining” (3.5) We went to our “My Time Dining” our first evening out to meet our waiters and well I was somewhat disappointed. We generally do this so we can meet the waiters and get a feel on the service and activities in the main dining room. We were welcomed by are main waiter and his assistance, the food was ok but the service and wait time was more than I would deem acceptable. I will go on to say that we met another couple on board and even tried a different area of the “my time dining” and the service was no different so I am not exactly sure what the issue was but it was slower than I expected. Overall I have to say we only seen our main waiter one time and for the life of me I can’t remember his name or even remember if we were introduced – However his assistance Moncef was incredible and an asset to RCCL he was always around and always lending a helpful hand to us during dinner / Lunch and Breakfast. Windjammer (4.8) We always enjoy the windjammer – I am not sure if it is the ability to come and go as you please and experience the different types of food or the friendly one on one with the waiters / waitresses but never have a complaint here Windjammer Buffet Food (4.0) I will not sugar coat this – buffet food is buffet food with our many travels on cruise ships and dry land buffets I don’t think I have ever had one better than the other – If you are cruising because you heard the food is out of this world please don’t be naïve – the only difference is there’s more of it and you can have as much as you want. Now with that being said here are a couple things to keep in mind first and foremost the Serenade offers fresh cook specialty meals in the Windjammer every night I am partial to the pasta night as they will make your dish to order – they also had Stir Fry night / Fish Night and Pork night, these dishes were great and freshly made and yes you can go for seconds or thirds. The buffet was not bad it’s all about preference and what you like – for example the pasta sauce is more tomato tasting then what I make at home but it was still enjoyable. So seeing as you can’t please 2500 people take it with stride. I heard a lot of people in the past mention how bland the food is – well again cruisers think about the 2500 people on board, it is easy to add spice / salt or pepper to any dish to exact it the way you like – it’s impossible to take these ingredients out when there is too much for someone to consume. So to error on the side of judgment it is safer for any Chef or Cook to leave the pallet open and keep the spice / salt / pepper etc.. down to a minimum. Over all depending on the food you like I still think that it was pretty good food On Board Live Entertainment Headliners (5.0) The on board entertainment shows were great we seen the Performances by “Finis” a musical genius and impressionist if you ever get an opportunity to see him do it. We also seen “Horizon” a Detroit Michigan based 4 Man Mo-town group – again this was a great show. I can’t speak of the other shows like Love and Marriage etc.. But heard no complaints from anyone on the ship. On board Entertainment / Pool Deck (3.5) I do think that there were enough afternoon festivities on board i.e. trivia games at the lounges etc.. The live band playing on the pool deck was extremely loud – I am no stranger to music as I dabble with playing my drums on occasion and loud music doesn’t bother me however, when you have to literally scream your drink order to the waiter and or scream to talk to other people that are seated inches from you then it’s entirely too loud – that also applied to the late night TV I finally had to tell someone to lower it down – there was only 10 people on the pool deck and I couldn’t hear my self-breathing let alone the conversation at hand in my opinion this was a gross oversight by the Cruise Director and his or her assistance. Being a Christmas cruise we were impressed that the crew celebrated Christmas with a Santa Claus visit for the children that was really nice – and the passenger Christmas sing along was also and additional feature that we enjoyed very much, however we were a little disappointed in the decorating of the ship for Christmas although Hanukah was very noticeable on board, Now please don’t take this the wrong way I am no way saying Hanukah should not be celebrated in fact I am very much happy to see it was, however the vision of Christmas décor was not apparent on the vessel which was more of a surprise than a disappointment. Shops onboard (3.0) The Shops are located on Deck 5 and are pretty standard: liquor, jewelry, Serenade Wear, perfume. The stores were never crowded and much of the logowear went 50% off on the last day of the cruise. These are pretty basic – again being a smaller ship these venues are suitable for their needs. Specialty Restaurants (2.9) The specialty restaurants included Rita’s cantina / Giovannis / Izumi Asian / Chops Grill and Café Latte-tudes which is a coffee house – We visted Rita’s Cantina and although the food was mediocre at best the service was slow and honestly the few dollar cover charge didn’t make for anything spectacular, the Lattitudes specialty coffee is always great to me as I am a big coffee consumer however the wait time was very disappointing – there always seemed to be a long line and only one service employee – definitely something RCCL needs to improve on – this is an additional cost of course but I seen just as many people walk away from the line as there were in line so in essence this was lost revenue for RCCL Staff (5.0) Like any cruise we have ever been on we certainly can identify with specific people and crew members and this cruise was no exception Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed even when we told him we needed no special treatment he went above and beyond Moncef – Was our dining steward in the Windjammer and Mytime Dining He was beyond his professionalism – smiles and service was beyond our expectations this man is a definite asset to RCCL. He is the nicest person we have met on our cruise endeavors he was very personable and always smiling and even found time to stop us in the windjammer to see how we were doing and if there was anything he could do for us A+++ if any one travels on the Serenade ask for Moncef (He sort of resembles Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”) and is and exceptionally great person to be around. Shusant – The Chef in the Windjammer was always there to greet us in the mornings or afternoons smiling and ensuring our meals were top notch, again an absolute gentlemen and professional. Michael Martin – Our room steward was excellent – always there when we needed him and always smiling and making sure we had everything we needed, We even advised Michael we didn’t need any special treatment we were easy going yet he still went above and beyond. Aninke Van Antwerpen – The guest Services Officer Was beyond our expectations – She is absolutely wonderful – We only visited Guest Services a few times during our cruise but we always waited to ensure she was on duty and we could get her assistance even if it meant waiting longer in line and she would always smile and acknowledge when we were in line. All of these people exceeded our expectations and we hope RCCL will acknowledge their excellent work ethics and customer service – They truly our why we continue to cruise with RCCL Conversely and only to be fair, I will say overall the crew seemed to be over worked and looked extremely tired, rumor was Royal Laid off 300 Employees – Honestly with the type of revenue cruise lines make - I can’t see where cutting jobs adds to customer service. Hopefully this is not true but if it is RCCL may want to reconsider. Serenade Cruise and Activities Director (2.5) Based on other cruise directors onboard RCCL I rate this one a (2 out of 5) – although this may vary from passenger to passenger this is my opinion – It seemed to me that this cruise director (John Blair) had to force himself to smile – acknowledge passengers and or entertain the passengers, Now I don’t mean this is a terrible way – I mean this in a “Not a very personable person / his personality does not fit that of some of the cruise directors we have had on the past” the best being Allan Brooks or Joff Eaton. Now to sum it up, in the mornings when I seen him it appeared to me that he just woke up, dabbed some water on his hair put on the same Serenade of the Seas Sweat Shirt he wore the day before and pranced around the ship (hence the reason why I didn’t purchase one) and he wouldn’t make any eye contact with passengers unless the passengers reacted to him first. Now I am not saying he must engage with all passengers but the reality is, it’s his job to keep the entertainment alive on the ship not when it’s a convenience, and further I found it a little uncouth for him to have to mention in one announcement that his assistance was his wife, in my opinion that was TMI. The only real entertainment I seen from him was during the time he was trying to set up the Charity walk on the pool deck – it was a side show watching him and the others try to arrange tables and chairs during a windy day – again it seemed very unorganized but yet it was entertaining to say the least. The Serenade Ship (4.7) Overall the Serenade is a nice ship – It was well maintained and very clean – the only complaint I have which again is rare – was the crew was Wood Staining the Deck 5 hand rails and failed to put any signs up so passengers including myself would come out and naturally lean or hold onto the rail and yes you guessed it – either their clothes stuck to the rail or the varnish stuck to your skin. As aforementioned although the Serenade is a nice vessel we would be more prone to cruise on the Oasis or Freedom class ships from now on – this is our preference. If you enjoy a more intimate one on one ship and mixing and meeting with other cruise passengers and by far more personable the crew then this is absolutely the ship class for you, as I said we have never had bad experience on RCCL ships with the crew although bigger ships may be a little less personal with the crew members we always find a few stand outs that we get immediately attached too and vice versa. The one huge difference we missed on the Freedom Class Ships that the Radiance Class Ships don’t have is the “Promenade Deck” it makes the ship seem like so much more with a lot more room to move around and more people to meet. Overall I would give this cruise a 4.15 out of 5.0 this does not include the Port of New Orleans as I feel the Cruise Line has no control over this operation   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
Sailed on this ship last year on a (9) day cruise in Dec. Decided to try again because price was great and we liked the ship; and especially the CREW. Different Cruise director, John, and had his wife helping him, Katrina. They were the ... Read More
Sailed on this ship last year on a (9) day cruise in Dec. Decided to try again because price was great and we liked the ship; and especially the CREW. Different Cruise director, John, and had his wife helping him, Katrina. They were the BEST! This was a 60th birthday cruise for me , so I got a drink package for some of the trip. That's what made it a BLAST! Stopped at (2) places I've been before Key West and Nassau. I could go to Key West (10) times and still find things to DO. It's a Crazy place, that I can really LIKE ! Nassau is OK! Didn't stop at Coco Cay cause of High Winds. Royal has to Quit using this as a stop or have a different place to go as a Backup, back to Key West!!!!!!! Serenade and Royal Caribbean are leaving New Orleans in April 2015. Hurry and book a trip, or you'll miss out on a great TIME!   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
my wife and i and another couple who Just Love to Cruise, Decided to Try a different Cruise Line for the first time in 2014. We were 5 time Cruisers on Carnival Out of New Orleans. Since my wife does not like to Fly we Choose to Leave out ... Read More
my wife and i and another couple who Just Love to Cruise, Decided to Try a different Cruise Line for the first time in 2014. We were 5 time Cruisers on Carnival Out of New Orleans. Since my wife does not like to Fly we Choose to Leave out a port that is close to home. At first glance the terminal is a bit Cluttered when trying to get all of the luggage out of the car with so many people in one tight space, that was in my mind the start to a bad trip. But i keep a stiff upper lip and told my self this was not going to get me down. after having to park about half a mile away and waiting for 20 min for a transport back to the terminal decided to walk back to the boat. Now i have to tell you this is the End of my complaining. from the point of getting back to the Cruse terminal on I did not have any thing to complain about AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!! Going through the Security Checkpoint, and getting the Room Key was so fast i was almost scared. We were used to 45 min to get thought Security and then waiting in line for about 2 to 3 hrs to get room keys and then about 30 more min to get on the boat. Again that is what we were used to, so i made the decision to insure we would be at the terminal before noon as i figured it would take us 3 hrs to get on the boat just like Carnival. Boy was i WRONG!! i doped off the luggage at 11:30 and we were on the boat eating Lunch at 12:45!!!! Now the Food was Unbelievable!!!!! we ate breakfast every day in the formal dining room instead of the Buffet. It is more laid back having the staff wait on you. and there are some things you cant get on the buffet that are available in the sit down Breakfast.Lunch and snacks were usual done at either the Sandwich shop or the buffet. I tried to keep Lunch some what light but with food being around all the time it is hard. then comes dinner, We did the my time dining all but 2 nights the food was FANTASTIC!!!!!!! the weight staff were fun and entertaining, always willing to help and give you anything you needed. after the first night our staff remembered what we were drinking and willing to insure as the glass was half empty there was another one waiting for you. And since i drink about 3 gallons of water a day, I keep him running till he made the connection to have 3 glasses waiting on the table for me, one i was half finished with one i was drinking next and one he was to refill on next round. The dinner started off with a bred Roll which we tried to eat a different one each time but half way through we found each of our favorites. and they staff were happy to insure we got as many of them as we desired. Now some New Cruisers may not know this but order as much as you want and as many of Off the menu and you want with out being wasteful. most nights i would order an appetizer, a soup, Salad, another appetizer, and at least 1 entree for me and one to share with my wife. We did this to taste something we could not each deiced on and wanted to try. the portions are not Very big so it sounds like a lot of food but it is not too big. then came time for desert and coffee. i think i did gained too much weight on the boat. now something some people do not know about this boat was the drink packages. They have several of them we chose to go with a drink package that was not the top of the line but the second one. this gave us unlimited sodas, Water bottles, Specialty Coffees cold and hot, and Non alcoholic Frozen drinks. now this might sound like it is not that big of a deal but it made a impression on us. We do not drink much but having the non alcoholic frozen and refreshing fruit drinks were a nice afternoon drink treat. then having different coffees in the morning and soft drinks daily. we did the math water bottles were $3 each, Soft Drinks were $1.72, Coffees were $5, and Frozen Non alcoholic drinks were $4, i know we had 3 cokes with dinner and say 2 more all day($15) one coffee in the morning and one after dinner ($10) 10 water bottles daily ($30) and then 2 or 3 Frozen Non alcoholic drinks ($12) so adding that up $62 daily is what i would have sent if we did not get the drink package of $150 per person for the week. so you can see that was worth it for us. now we ate one night in Chops and that was the best $20 stake i have ever had Worth it I suggest do it on a night if yo are not the get formal for dinner person, that is when we did it, not too crowded. we did go to the buffet one night just because we had not Been to the buffet. it is Ok if you are not the sit down and get waited on type of person but i suggest the restaurant for dinner. Also the Buffet shuts down a bit early and so for that reason i did not care for it that much. we went to Key west only thing was we were not there that long, but it was nice we stopped at Nassau Bahamas, we were there till midnight, we would have liked to know more about the night life so we could have maby stayed out later then we did and made more of the island that what we did. look at where you are going to before you go checking into the time in port so you know what you will have time to do. our 3rd stop was canceled @ Co Co Ka because the wind and waves would not allow us to get off the boat safely. So the captain Just made for New Orleans at a slow pace. 3 days back to New Orleans sounds like a boar but it relay was not. the Crew stepped up and keep us entertained with many activities. I was so relaxed by the time i got back to New Orleans i did not want to get off the ship and Join the hand full of Retirees we had met who had been riding the ship non stop for the last 2 months!!!!! It was that good of an experience for us and we would love to do it again but Royal Caribbean has decided to Leave the port of New Orleans again since My Wife does not Fly it looks like we will be sailing with Who ever is In New Orleans Next November Please take the time to search ever thing you like about relaxing and insure you will enjoy you activities befor you book it makes a diffrence and do everything you think you will like. Like i tell my wife, "WE do not know any of these people who cares !!!!"   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
I took this cruise out of New Orleans with a group of lady friends. I didn't expect a lot so was not disappointed. The ship is obviously older but has very recently been refurbished. It was clean and well maintained.. I had a Junior ... Read More
I took this cruise out of New Orleans with a group of lady friends. I didn't expect a lot so was not disappointed. The ship is obviously older but has very recently been refurbished. It was clean and well maintained.. I had a Junior Suite which was very nice. The sitting area had a small sofa and a very nice good sized chair plus a table big enough for room service breakfast. Storage was fantastic--many drawers plus a walk-in closet. The bathroom was also nice--good lighting and mirrors and plenty of hot water. However no electrical outlets and the shower curtain was too short and a shower created a minor flood. Also the supplied shampoo and conditioner were terrible. Warning--bring your own. Friends had balcony cabins which had obviously been created from Ocean View. They were very small, had minimal storage, and were poorly arranged with the "sitting area" on the inside. My cabin attendant was great but I think that was not the usual level. Some of the hospitality staff were not as proficient in English as they might have been. For example the director of the trivia game could not pronounce the clues. Service in the main dining room was poor--very slow, mixed up orders, food not cooked as ordered. Room service selection was very limited but breakfast was delivered very promptly. The elevators were ridiculous-not nearly enough of them, very slow, would not stop even though totally empty. They became the joke of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
Check in was atrocious with some of the longest lines I can remember. We brought 2 bottles of wine and water with us. We were required to go to a special table so RCI could check to see they were sealed. Really? Intimidation tactics at ... Read More
Check in was atrocious with some of the longest lines I can remember. We brought 2 bottles of wine and water with us. We were required to go to a special table so RCI could check to see they were sealed. Really? Intimidation tactics at work. This is a new practice it seems. When we finally approached the desk to register, we could see through the windows that muster had started on board. When we walked on board we literally walked into our muster station, carry on bags in hand. That was a first after 20 cruises. Food was scarce the time we boarded as everything had shut down for muster and were starving after traveling all day. About the Serenade, she's a little long in the tooth with worn fixtures, some rust and corrosion. The vinyl laminate in the cabin drawers and bath cabinets were worn allowing the particle board underneath to swell and bubble out. We really enjoy the food on board and have these highlights to share: Salmon with horseradish crust was ok but over cooked. Recommended dishes include the Pork chop, Duck, Sliced tenderloin, Chicken marsala, Garlic tiger shrimp (like stuffed shrimp without the stuffing), Pork shoulder was excellent, Rack of Lamb seasoned beautifully although a little tough for me. They also had good coffee. I asked for robes and received them 3 days in. We made our attendant a towel animal. Maybe that helped. This is my third RCI cruise and I felt nickeled and dimed on this cruise. I had a credit from my travel agency and because I didn't use it, it was lost. They now charge your credit card immediately for any purchases on board as opposed to one total charge at the end. The gold level on board offers were confusing and frankly lame. I will say that RCI compensated me, when in my white silk pants, I sat in a theatre seat that had had coffee spilled on it. In Jamaica we went on the Flavors of Jamaica tour. The grounds were beautiful. The young woman who conducted the class did a very nice job and the food was tasty. We learned about jerk seasonings and how to use them. The recipes that were provided had little resemblance to what was actually prepared. Afterwards we walked into town searching for wifi. After walking about for a few blocks and being asked several times if we were looking for pot (we weren't), we stopped in at Taste of Jamaica. FYI it's $5 for wifi access. Red stripe, Smirnoff, rum are $3, Pina colada $8, Sodas $2. What a racket. Owner walks around chain smoking but he's friendly enough. We did not purchase the wifi although did enjoy sipping rum. In Grand Cayman, since the SO had not ever been, we did stingray city with Moby dick tours. The SO said it was a life highlight, not just a cruise highlight. Moby dick tour guides were wonderful and you knew they cared about the animals. Btw there is free wifi at the Tortuga store at the pier, best signal is in the store. In Cozumel we took a taxi in and walked around. We used a coupon available on line for a free margarita at Ponchos back yard. San Miguel center is under complete reconstruction. Roads are chewed up. You need to walk over planks to get to stores. The owners are dismayed as it's keeping people from venturing down steets. We found Havana Bob who claims to be the only licensed shop to sell Cuban cigars. He was friendly and helpful. Check out the pictorial health warnings on the cigar boxes. Chillingly entertaining. Because it was a cool day we walked back from town. If you're not used to walking a lot or hiking you may find it a bit of a challenge especially if it's hot. Please do not use the horse and carriages in Cozumel. The animals are abused and maltreated. I saw a poor horse standing in place wheezing. His front tendons were so bowed from trotting on the pavement his front legs were shaking and was unable to straighten them. This is very painful and he was probably screaming inside. Unfortunately there is no one to protect these animals. Overall the crew did a wonderful job. The cd John and wife Katrina, the activities director, were a good team. The Captain was great. Have you ever seen the captain and master of the ship participate in the cake decorating contest? This guy did and he was funny too. The entertainment was very enjoyable and the service was good. Bon voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We are foodies and this cruise did not disappoint. We chose it for the timing and the port- we love Cajun food. We were more than happy with the food on this ship. It was the best food of all 14 cruises we have taken, but the dining staff ... Read More
We are foodies and this cruise did not disappoint. We chose it for the timing and the port- we love Cajun food. We were more than happy with the food on this ship. It was the best food of all 14 cruises we have taken, but the dining staff seemed "off". We ate in the dining room the first night, and requested table for two. Didn't mind waiting for it but THEN it was butted up against another 2 top and when a couple was seated there as were eating, the buffoon who seated them proceeded to introduce them to us as "your new best friends" and commented on how much we loved potatoes. VERY rude and weird. We ate in the Windjammer all the remaining nights except for one in Izumi which was EXCELLENT and a great dining experience. Windjammer food was same as dining room and we could sit privately, guaranteed, which is our preference. Room steward was fantastic and took great care of us. We requested ice once and he kept the bucket full and fresh! Room service was good. The chicken strips are a great late night snack and come with sweet potato fries, which we love. On the last night, my chicken was raw so that was not only disappointing but also disgusting. I called to tell them and they said "oh". I hung up. I had the women's sauna and steam room completely to myself. I never saw another soul in there except the staff who kept it maintained perfectly, so I used the steam and sauna for at least an hour each evening. Hot tubs are scarce and the ones at the pool are usually filled with children. Large screen in pool is wasted space--- they don't show movies on them at night like "Movies Under the Stars" on Princess. They do have a movie theater, though, which is very cool. There are two shuffle board areas so that's nice. We went to the card room and played backgammon one day then the boards disappeared. Beware--- the card room is closed to gaming after 4pm. They use the space as overflow for my time dining. Bar staff pours small single shots. We ordered doubles/neat instead and they poured a little more liberally. Great food overall. Not a huge exotic variety, but the best quality we have experienced at sea and so that is comparing Carnival, Princess and Norwegian. Breads, desserts, fruit are all superior to other lines. Seasonings and flavoring all perfect. Windjammer did not taste like a buffet at all. The adult show was a huge disappointment. Potty humor at it's worst and the rest was very cheesy jokes. I hope they bring on better comedy. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
At first I wasn't too sure about doing the transatlantic cruise for our Honeymoon but my wife and I really did enjoy our time on the ship and at the ports. I will try and be as thorough as possible. Ship: yes the Serenade of the Seas ... Read More
At first I wasn't too sure about doing the transatlantic cruise for our Honeymoon but my wife and I really did enjoy our time on the ship and at the ports. I will try and be as thorough as possible. Ship: yes the Serenade of the Seas isn't the latest and greatest but we found the ship to be very clean, spacious that included many different amentities. we especially enjoyed the movie cinema, under the stars screen at pool deck and Chops grill/Giovannis. Spend the extra money on the package for the specialty dining. I ate some of the best food I have ever eaten at these restaurants. you cant go wrong. Staff: the dining staff were phenominal. we sat at table 462 and were served by melbert and max, paul was the head waiter. they went above and beyond to meet our needs. our stateroom attendant also did a great job and was always greeting us with a smile. the entertainment staff also were great. Bobby (cruise director), Lorenzo and debs were great. ports: we enjoyed Malaga spain the most and found it to be very picturesque. we also did the dolphin excursion in Anguilla, loads of money, but totally worth it! Days at sea: it was a transatlantic cruise, so we had many days at sea. we always found that there was something to do which was nice. but for times when we just wanted to relax we found that not to be a problem to kick back by the pool and read a book. all in all, great service, nice ship and some cool ports. we plan to try a larger ship for our next cruise. happy cruising!   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We are mid 60's and retired. This was our 29th cruise. We are Diamond level on RCCL. We chose this cruise because we had never been to New Orleans and wanted to "experience" it prior to the cruise. Pre-Cruise: We booked ... Read More
We are mid 60's and retired. This was our 29th cruise. We are Diamond level on RCCL. We chose this cruise because we had never been to New Orleans and wanted to "experience" it prior to the cruise. Pre-Cruise: We booked this cruise 7 months prior to embarkation, and then had some difficulty booking a hotel room and flights, as it turned out to be WRESTLEMANIA weekend in New Orleans. Got room for 2 nights at Embassy Suites near to the Convention Center, which was hosting the wrestle festivities and 3 conventions at the same time. New Orleans has a good thing going for itself. We were very pleased with the hotel. We did a couple days of sightseeing, "experienced" Bourbon Street for a couple of hours in the afternoon (that was enough) and heard some great music. Embarkation: We walked out of the hotel, turned left, pulled our bags 3 short blocks, gave them to the porters, registered, and got on the ship. The entire time, from when we left the hotel, took about 30 minutes. Passengers: There was a group of approximately 500 "Cajun Cruisers". Fun, laid back people. Some people wore dress clothes to dinner and some wore shorts. Everyone seem to have a good time. If you are bothered by jerseys, tee shirts, and baseball caps, I advise you not to sail from New Orleans. But we thought it was different and enjoyed it. Ports: We only did Key West for about 5 hours and Nassau for too long. Cocoa Cay was missed due to high winds so that we could not tender. I guess this happens quite often, but no one seemed too upset, and the comedian even had jokes about it. In Nassau, we joined with some other CC members to do a walking tour of various food places. We really enjoyed this. Food: We ate 2 nights in the dining room, 2 nights on the back open deck with Windjammer, 2 nights in Giovanni's and 1 night in Izuma. Enjoyed all of it. Entertainment: Pretty good. Comedian made me laugh, which is saying something after 29 cruises. Service: OUTSTANDING, especially the staff in the Diamond Lounge. Great fun every afternoon. Being Diamond level creates an entirely different cruise experience. Dis-embarkation; Our flight was at 3:00 pm. We skipped breakfast. Walked off at 8:00 am, got our luggage, through customs; Gave our luggage to Courier Direct in the terminal ($40 for up to 4 pieces). They had it waiting for us at the airport at 1:30. Made arrangements with KLM transportation to pick us up at 1:00 in the French Quarter. ($14 pp, cheaper than a taxi) Then we caught the trolley right outside the terminal and went to Cafe DuMonde for beignets and coffee. We were there by 8:45. EASY PEASY. We then enjoyed some of the French Quarter Festival (21 stages, hundreds of food booths and drink stands) until our pick up at 1:00. The whole thing worked out wonderfully. Summary: As we are retired, and have to fly to all of the ports, we normally do longer cruisers. We only did this 7 day to see New Orleans. But the whole trip was great. We are planning to do it again, but there won't be a Wrestlemania next year. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
I have been on 2 cruises in past, both with RC (Navigator, Rhapsody) and wife has never cruised. She finally got the chance April 2014 on Serenade out of New Orleans on a 7 day Caribbean. I must stay that I was victimized by taking the ... Read More
I have been on 2 cruises in past, both with RC (Navigator, Rhapsody) and wife has never cruised. She finally got the chance April 2014 on Serenade out of New Orleans on a 7 day Caribbean. I must stay that I was victimized by taking the Navigator in 2003 and then sailing on this smaller ship. Its hard to go big and then go small. Especially since the Navigator has had so many upgrades now. Anyways, my review and my $0.02. I stressed how the lines were going to be long so we prepared early and printed out guess booklet and paperwork. Arrived at check-in counter to learn we didn't have the stupid paper with barcode info to scan us in. I told lady I printed out everything it said to print and bring 30 days prior to sailing, under the CHECK-IN tab. She said but you have to go back and print out the single paper a week prior to sailing that allows you check in quickly. So I brought like 70 pages worth of paperwork/info when they did not even want any of it and only wanted the single sheet with the barcode that I didn't print out. Nonetheless, was still at the counter less than 6 mins after waiver and medical forms filled out so not gonna complain. How did I do it? Read on. Boarding on the ship was SUPER fast! Our cabin was on deck 3 and deck 3 boarding was printed for 3:00pm boarding... year right, like I was gonna wait until 3 when you can board at 11. Of course special needs and Pinnacle, Diamond, Platinum were all allowed to board 1st at 11:00am first, but guess when they called my class of Gold... at 11:20am!! we were boarding the ship 20 mins after boarding time was allowed! Conclusion... board anytime between 1st boarding and when the ship leaves. =) Arrived on ship and process was flawless and fast. We took advise of cruisecritic tips and packed a duffel with change of clothes and went straight to oceanview cabin. Room was nice as expected and we were off to snap photos of everything out of pure excitement! We checked out everything they had to offer on every floor until we got hungry around 5pm. Also took cruisecritic advice and stayed away from the packed Windjammer Café on deck 11 and sought lunch elsewhere. We found Park Café on same deck with few but wonderful options. It was deli style so sandwiches and light meals were on the menu. I had a Cuban Panini, wife had sandwich wrap, which were both excellent. Dinner time came and we met our wait staff Hugo (aka Hugo Boss) from Portugal and Walter from Columbia. These guys went out there way for us the entire trip and we will always remember their names and the service they offered! Wife anticipated 1st stop at Key West. I wasn't looking to forward to stop because I wanted to sail somewhere that wasn't considered in the USA but I knew the waters were excellent so I made the best of it. We decided to go with local excursions and not RC. Great choice! Found professional jet ski tour for $130. Talked guy down to $100 which was $50 each to take 1 ski. About 11 in our group with great instructor. Took us around entire Key West island (27 mi) for 1.5 hours duration. Did not shop because common sense tells you that you are still paying USA taxes in FL and prefer tax free duty free shopping in Bahamas. Even though I didn't care to much for Key West, it was quite enjoyable and I only chose this RC itinerary because most sailings only offer Nassau from like 7am-1pm. Its Nassau for Petes Sake! Only 6 hours? This itinerary had Serenade docked from 1pm-midnight which was more to my liking. It is a must to take the Atlantis Tour but more on that in a second. We enjoyed our days at sea. We totally booked ourselves on the days at sea with activities until worn out. We played bingo, shot pool, played putt putt golf, rock climbed. I think we were the kids on the boat. =) All you heard everyday was Nassau Nassau Nassau all over the ship regarding shopping there. Made it sound like the diamond capital of the world and how good the deals were. Had my wife looking like a 3rd grader going on field trip to Disney World in the face! They stressed all shops closes at 5pm and shopping needed to be done prior to 5pm in order to collect free charm bracelets and other low cost free gifts for visiting multiple stores. However, this conflicted with out Atlantis Tour we had scheduled at 2pm with 2.5 hour duration. Wife was having no negotiating with shopping after the tour and questioned if we could collect our Atlantis Tour tickets and take the tour without a guide in order to shop 1st which was no problem. Only exception was had to be done with tour by 7pm so we figured we needed to start tour no later than 4:30 to allow the 2.5 hours duration time. We collected our tour tickets and headed off to the so called one-in-a-life-time opportunity to shop in Nassau. Upon arrival to stores... not impressed at all! Wife saw a ring and asked how much, was told $11k but would sell for $5k. Wow! Negative. Saw another ring and said was $600 but would sell for $500. Really? 5 grand off 1 ring and $100 bucks off another? So we realized we were mislead and wasted our time and should have gone with guided tour. Its ok tho, Im a fast learner, fool me once! Stayed in town and checked out more stores before realizing we needed to get to Atlantis. Took taxi, guy offered $4 but we wasn't ready. Got 3 blocks away and decided we were tired of walking and took taxi that offered $12. His vehicle was much better than the other so I paid diff instead of negotiating, plus Im sure he needed $$ way more than I needed that $8. How was unguided tour of Atlantis? Imagine being dropped off at Times Square NY and saying have at it. You don't know where to start. Was totally our fault. We decided to check out the hotel and took some wonderful pictures and got tired and hungry. So we wrapped it up and headed back to ship. We had every intention of cleaning up, eating FREE dinner onboard, and living up the nightlife and music until midnight and we fell asleep after eating. LOL. Darn 5 star food ratings! Nassau was still enjoyable but would totally do things diff next time. Headed to Cococay, then the dreaded announcement came on that waters too rough and was headed back to NOLA with extra day at sea. Noooo. We looked so forward to kayaking and snorkeling there. Oh well, excursion refunded. I will admit the extra day at sea made the cruise a little bit more boring with the limited activities and entertainment onboard but I refused to used the B word when your on a RC ship that just left the Bahamas so we tried to make the best of it. But the large ships did have surfing, ice rinks, and other stuff. Comes in handy when your at that active age of 34 yrs young. Just saying. We enjoyed bingo with Deb from The Netherlands, such a sweet girl, throughout the cruise. But if we could do it again we would only play the last day which is x2 for $1000 and other for free 7 day Caribbean cruise on ANY ship they have. Guess who won cruise? Our dinner partners! Who were sitting right next to us! She did like 3 cart wheels when they yelled bingo. LMBO. Great time with Samantha and Tonya. So we witnessed why its good to play bingo on final day 1st hand. Other days are pots of like $300 bucks which you end up splitting with 4 other people so not worth playing until last day. That wraps up the trip folks. Great service, great time, 10's on reviews all the way across the boards. I will have to say I will limit myself to Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis and above class ships from now on. Bigger ships will have better experiences. Not sure if this is proper place but I would like to share some tips I learned as follows... -Sat with a couple for lunch who said they have been on 14 cruises, inside cabins only, until they hit Diamond status and got free upgrades to balconies. Spend $0 onboard, enjoyed free meals, free lemonade/tea (Arnold Palmers) mixes and water, used cruisecritic for best places to visit and walked the city together. Arrived home with $0 additional dollars spent I said... Amazing. I wanna do it. -Played bingo 3 days, they sell paper card for $22 and electronic machines $55 with 30 cards built in. 4 games played with purchase. Out of 12 games, machines won 9, you do the math! -Prepay gratuities and drink package with cruise cost. It sucked paying $385 on seapass for drink package when we could of added it to our monthly payments we were making to pay for cruise. Hope our experience helps make your experience better. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This cruise out of New Orleans was great. We visited the ports of Key West and Nassau (Coco Cay was cancelled). Embarkation was fast and easy. We were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving at the port. Lunch in the ... Read More
This cruise out of New Orleans was great. We visited the ports of Key West and Nassau (Coco Cay was cancelled). Embarkation was fast and easy. We were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving at the port. Lunch in the Windjammer was excellent. Going out of New Orleans is an experience in itself. There was much to see along the river as we twisted and turned our way to the gulf. Entertainment on the ship was very good. We had both musical and comedy shows. We also decided to do the Mystery Dinner Theater one night. The actual theater show was kind of silly and not well performed but the food and wine was exceptionally good. We did My Time Dining for the first time. We did not pick our times prior to getting onboard, which was a mistake. We were unable to get the dining time we wanted once onboard and ended up eating much later then we wanted to. Lesson learned and if we do MTD again, we will pre-select our times in advance of getting onboard. Although the food was really great, we are not fans of RCL's new menus. Many of our favorites are no longer offered. There were a couple of nights that we felt the selections were poor and we ordered off the of the Chops menu. We are also disappointed in the quality of steak offered on the regular menu. Our biggest complaint would be the sound level & type of music (and rehearsals) in the main centrum. This small area was overwhelmed by the loudness of the music. It was an insult to the ears even when getting off the elevators on other decks. We are used to having soft pre-dinner music in the area but that was not the case on this cruise. Our favorite place was the Diamond Lounge. What a wonderful job RCL did with this area. It was a wonderful retreat at all hours of the day. The host Rami was the BEST! He bent over backwards to make sure your every need was met. Although we missed the port of Coco Cay, the other ports were nice. We really enjoyed Key West. We do not do any organized shore excursions through the cruise lines but we heard RCL did a nice job on their excursions. Nassau was the same as usual. Nothing much new there. We could have spent much less time in that port. Being in Nassau until nearly mid-night is a waste of time (in our opinion). There was a pretty good selection of entertainment during our sea days and we enjoyed a few games of Trivia. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
I know this was my first cruise and sure no expert but with all the research I did I don’t think I could have picked a better ship. It wasn’t a booze cruise or a kids cruise although they had both it wasn’t too hectic. The ship had ... Read More
I know this was my first cruise and sure no expert but with all the research I did I don’t think I could have picked a better ship. It wasn’t a booze cruise or a kids cruise although they had both it wasn’t too hectic. The ship had glass everywhere which made it feel very open and having a refurbish job done on it made it feel like a new ship. The rooms were ok. We were more to the front which was quiet as for hall traffic noise. They were very good on cleaning the rooms and special care of your needs or wants. Deck 10 was just right to get to everything go up one and your at the pool and Windjammer cafe. Waiting for elevators could take some time so we just took the stairs. I couldn’t believe the service; it made me feel like I was someone rich or important. All I can say about the food is WOW! It was the best. I had the drink package which I may have broken even but it was nice not to have to sign a receipt all the time. My only complaint was the time spent at ports. Key West was short and Nassau was ok but only a half day of daylight and didn’t want to be on the island at night. All day at Coco Cay which was nice for the day to swim and just lay out on the beach. I learned the most common question was “Where are you from” I will cruise again. Read Less
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