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Sail Date: April 2014
To explain my review title "Get the suite"...I debated as to whether or not I should spend the extra money for a suite and finally went ahead and splurged. It started paying dividends right away. I got to skip the long lines to ... Read More
To explain my review title "Get the suite"...I debated as to whether or not I should spend the extra money for a suite and finally went ahead and splurged. It started paying dividends right away. I got to skip the long lines to board the ship. That alone might have been worth the extra money. The room cabin was larger and the balcony was twice as big. Definitely worth it. This was my forth cruise but my first Royal Caribbean. I don't have a lot of time to write this so I will make it short and simple. Casino perks were not great, food could have been better and more available. What I mean by that is after about 9:00PM you either had to order room service or go to one small sandwich type shop. I'm used to having more access to food on a cruise, so that was a short falling. I had to pay for more things then previous cruises. Had to pay for nachos at a little Mexican restaurant/stand...didn't care for that. Dining room food was Okay, but nothing outstanding. Dining room staff was good. They would tell you that you could have as many servings as you wanted as compared to the Carnival waiter who would make a face at me if I asked for more. Cabin was always clean and fresh and oh yeah, did I already say how much I enjoyed the over sized balcony? Best spot on the ship. My final bill was more then I anticipated. Drinks added up I guess, plus all the little extras that I am not accustom to paying for. Overall energy on the ship seemed a little low, but I wasn't there to party hard so it didn't bother me. Also, I've read some complaining about the my time dinning and having to make a reservation. I found that it really didn't matter if I made a reservation or not. Just avoid the busy times after a show and you will be okay. Watch where your cabin is. Ours was on deck 1o right under the Windjammer Cafe(Buffet) and quite noisy at night. So if you are a light sleeper, DO NOT book cabin in the area. All in all, it was a good cruise and I enjoyed it. Again not being a professional cruiser, I don't have a great deal of cruise experience. Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean. If I had to put them in order of best to worse, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We booked our twentieth anniversary cruise aboard the Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans, LA. We chose this cruise because one of the three ports was Coco Cay and we had never been there before. We traveled to New Orleans (a five ... Read More
We booked our twentieth anniversary cruise aboard the Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans, LA. We chose this cruise because one of the three ports was Coco Cay and we had never been there before. We traveled to New Orleans (a five hour trip from home) the morning of Friday, April 18th. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Super dome, where we have stayed before cruises previously. There is covered parking at the hotel where we can leave our vehicle during the cruise. We ate a super dinner at Oceana Grill (we love this place); taking a bicycle taxi from the hotel was $16.00. It was something we just wanted to try. It was fun! We had a nice early breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant in the morning of the 19th, and then went back up to the room to get our luggage and take it down to the lobby to wait for the shuttle to the cruise terminal. The shuttle left the hotel at 11 a.m. There was a Carnival ship leaving the same day, so the driver dropped those passengers off first and then dropped the Royal Caribbean passengers off next. We had booked an Owner’s Suite, so we found the suite passenger’s line and we were checked in and on the ship in about 20 minutes. We went up to the Windjammer to eat some lunch shortly after boarding. All of our food throughout the cruise was great! I won’t spend a lot of time discussing food; I will say that we ate all our dinners in the Reflections dining room on Deck 4 and we had traditional, late dining. We are not fans of the My-Time option, and we do not usually visit the specialty restaurants. We prefer getting to know our table mates and wait staff. We were seated with some great people who were also from Louisiana. Our wait staff was terrific—attentive, prompt, and fun! We ate most of our breakfasts on our balcony and the room service was very good; the food was warm and plentiful. We ate some lunches in the dining room and others in the Windjammer. When eating from the Windjammer, we found a nice, uncrowded area at the aft of the ship that allowed us to eat outside. We never had a bad meal. We had many very good meals! The Windjammer was always clean and tables were cleaned up quickly. Our room was ready for us to drop off our carry-on luggage right at 1:00 p.m. We had previously stayed in a Royal Family Suite aboard the Mariner of the Seas, but this Owner’s Suite was more posh. The floors at the entrance/dining area and the bathroom were marble. There was a nice sectional sofa, a large, flat-screened television that turned around to face the king-sized bed, a chair, end table, and coffee table in the large living room. There were floor to ceiling windows across the entire living room and bedroom, and a HUGE balcony. On the balcony there was a table and two chairs where we ate our breakfasts and two lounge chairs. It was not at all crowded with the furniture and we had visitors on the balcony one morning and there was plenty of room for eight of us. There is a structure over the top of the balcony that keeps the balcony shaded and would have provided shelter from rain if we had ever had any. The bedding was terrific, as always. There is a huge amount of storage throughout the entire Owner’s Suite. There were three huge closets, a sort of bar area in the dining room area with shelves behind cupboards and drawers, and a huge vanity with shelves/cupboards and drawers. There were bedside tables at each side of the bed and two tables at the door. All of the tables contained drawers and shelves. The bathroom had two sinks, a jetted tub, a stand-up glass enclosed shower, a duvet, a toilet, and it was very nice. Our room steward was terrific, of course. He emphasized how he would like us to use the card in the door when we left the room or didn’t want to be disturbed, and he constantly kept the room spotlessly clean. There were plates of special treats, fruits, and a bottle of wine brought to us every day, compliments of the chef, the captain, and our wonderful concierge, Rami. The ship is in excellent condition and we really enjoyed the views from all public areas and the elevators. We often used the mid-ship elevators since they were so close to our room, and we liked looking out at the water from these elevators. We loved the aerial shows in the centrum area. I had to visit the guest services desk once to have a new card made when mine stopped working (no big deal) and they were very kind and helpful. We also had to present our dive certification cards at the shore excursion desk and that took very little time. The worker there reminded us to bring our cards on the day of the dive and gave us the usual forms to fill out. He was also friendly and helpful. We visited the concierge lounge every night at 4:30 and enjoyed the happy hour until dinner time. Other suite perks included the suite seats in the show lounge, a breakfast area on deck 5 (we only ate in there once, service was a little slow and there was a screaming baby nearby), and priority tenders without tickets. We also used the concierge lounge on debarkation day and leaving the ship and getting through customs to the taxi took 12 minutes. We used bar services throughout the ship and my husband found a few new flavors of beer to enjoy. There were some good fruity drinks onboard and I got a few souvenir glasses to bring home. There was a decent sale of t shirts on the last sea day and I bought a few for family members. The shop also marked down some items on this last sea day and many things were half price. We booked private tours in Key West and Nassau. In Key West we just did the hop-on/hop-off trolley tour and ate lunch at the Conch Republic restaurant. Then we did a bit of bar-hopping and walking around. In Nassau we had a private tour in a van with some other cruise critic friends from our roll call. We saw a fort, a rum distillery, a beach, watched conch harvesting, and did a bit of shopping. After our tour we ate at a local bar/grill and used the free WIFI. At Coco Cay we did the shore scuba diving, and it was actually pretty good. The maximum depth was around 40 feet. We could have stayed down much longer, as both of us had over 1000 psi when we surfaced. After our dive we met some other cruise critic friends at the private cabana area where we ate an enhanced lunch and relaxed. The concierge had emailed us about a week before the cruise to offer a chance to book a cabana which could be used for up to six people, and through our cruise critic roll call, I had met another couple who wanted to share. After walking through the shopping area, I asked at the para-sailing area if they had availability for the afternoon and made a reservation for two of us to para-sail. It was a very enjoyable day. There was another Royal Caribbean ship at Coco Cay, but the island didn’t seem crowded. The workers on the ship said that due to sea conditions, the ship had missed the Coco Cay port for quite some time and they were all pleased that we could anchor and tender on our day. Everything about this cruise was terrific. We would definitely cruise on the Serenade again—it is absolutely a beautiful ship. We would also love to visit the ports again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
I could go into a lot of detail, but that would be a book.  Bottom line is, their web site is horrible, caused me to lose our stateroom, ended up paying $300 more per person just to go on this cruise. My time dining still requires a ... Read More
I could go into a lot of detail, but that would be a book.  Bottom line is, their web site is horrible, caused me to lose our stateroom, ended up paying $300 more per person just to go on this cruise. My time dining still requires a reservation, why bother if I still have to make a reservation, not something I want to have to worry about when I am on vacation. Good steak and lobster.....EXTRA....like almost everything else with this cruise line. Way too may up sells, to get anything other than bland cold food, you have to pay more. The entire cruise seemed focused on the guests spending a lot more money, not on whether we have a fun relaxing time. Just not the great time I was expecting, and that I got on previous cruises with other cruise lines. Our "large ocean view stateroom" had a large porthole type window, which you could only see straight out, nothing to the sides at all. The tv was at small at best, maybe 19 inch, old, terrible picture. Bed was two twins pushed together (which I know is typical) but on our other cruises, it felt like a high quality king bed, on this cruise it felt like a cheap set of twins, pushed together. My husband or I one would get caught in the seam every night. Cabin staff was great, Windjammer staff was great, main dining staff was very rude. Most of the staff at the shoppes were very helpful. Cruise director was less than entertaining, as were most of the activities and shows. The Centrum aerial show was amazing as was the final night show. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Our last cruise with RCI was 5 years ago and since then we've done another 8 with Celebrity. We thought we would try RCI again as the itinerary was new to us. Our first impressions were that this is quite an old ship and the decor is ... Read More
Our last cruise with RCI was 5 years ago and since then we've done another 8 with Celebrity. We thought we would try RCI again as the itinerary was new to us. Our first impressions were that this is quite an old ship and the decor is a little old fashioned. Our cabin , 9520, was the smallest balcony cabin we have ever had, including others on P&O and Cunard. Our biggest gripe was that neither of our two suitcases would fit under the bed despite the fact that they fit the standard airline size and we have never experienced this before. Because the cabin is so small the tiny sofa is very close to the bed which in turn is close to the balcony door so it is impossible to push a suitcase underneath. We ended up with one on the floor of the wardrobe and one just standing in the cabin in the way all the time. It was a good job the cruise was only for 7 nights as all our clothes then had to squeeze into one side of the wardrobe. Despite this our stateroom attendant kept the cabin pristine and forgot nothing. Our Elite status with Celebrity gave us Diamond status and the Diamond lounge was great. I would even say it was better than the Sky lounge on Celebrity. We ate in the main dining room on 4 nights and the food was really quite good. We bought the 3 night dining package and would rate Giovanni's as the best. We thought Chops Grille was good but the deserts were poor. Izumi is really not worth the bother. We had the $5 cover charge and $20 credit each covered by the package but it was not worth the money. We had a problem finding information on how to get our free internet minutes and were given wrong information by Guest services and we ended up being charged over $20 for our first session and even after complaining and getting the free minutes the charge was still on our bill at the end. RCI really need to up their game on this as the staff are not being properly trained. Key West and Nassau were okay and Coco Cay was cancelled because it was a bit windy so not impressed with having all those sea days. Embarkation and disembarkation were the best we have ever had. No wait at all even though they warned that sequestration could lead to delays there were one. Would we use RCI again ? I doubt it. Unless we were sure the ship was better I think we will stick with Celebrity. Read Less
Meh
Sail Date: March 2014
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of ... Read More
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of cruise lines). Pre-cruise experience: By far this was as bad as it could possibly be. RCI's website is terrible. In fact, my experience(s) in trying to book excursions and other onboard activities were so bad that I may not book with RCI again unless they fix this. I spent roughly 12-14 hours on the phone with RCI (and my travel agent spent even more time on the phone with them) trying to book the Barbie Premium Experience which was/is advertised on the site and was advertised on the link for my personal cruise itinerary. While the agents were to a person, polite, none could give me a good answer as to why I couldn't book this experience for my daughter. At times I was told that it wasn't available, it was only available at a certain time of the year, it was only available on certain ships, it was only available if a certain number of people signed up (and how would they know if they wouldn't let us sign up?), and that I had waited too long to sign up for this experience. In any case, once on board the staff let us sign up, but there were only two girls...in part because of the frustrations with trying to get this. Furthermore, getting the shore excursion(s) that we wanted was difficult as well. RCI, if you review the reviews about yourself, let it be known to whoever is in charge that for some of us, the pre-cruise experience is an important part of the vacation - anticipating and planning our cruise can be a lot of fun - and you are AWFUL at this portion of the vacation. Embarkation - lines, but nothing out of the ordinary. Parking in NOLA isn't too bad if you do a little research. We parked at Fulton Street Garage (about $85 for the week in a covered spot). The shuttle to the terminal is about 5 minutes and the people are professional. Onboard Experience 1. Cabin - We had a outside cabin. Previously with Carnival we've had an outside cabin on one and a balcony on another. The balcony is a game-changer. Not RCI's fault that I didn't pony up a little more cash to get that balcony. The room was comparable to Carnival's outside cabin. Cramped, but plenty of storage for your stuff if you know where to put things. Bringing a power strip makes a difference, too. Our cabin steward was a gem - super-friendly, very professsional, capable of keeping a 120 sq. ft. space with three humans in it clean and neat. The beds and pillows, on the other hand, were awful. I wasn't expecting my bed at home, but the linens are old and worn (showing frayed edges/hems/etc.), the pillows were all lumpy and weak, and the bed was thin and worn. RCI - time to spend a little cash on new beds. 2. Food - Our first cruise was 10 years ago on Carnival and our second cruise was last summer on Carnival. We noted that there was at least a half, if not full step down in quality. I was hoping that RCI's food would be more like what Carnival's was 10 years ago. I was disappointed. The Windjammer cafe (the open all the time buffet) was mediocre. The fruit was fresh, but the burgers were flat and stale, the coffee was bitter (change a filter every once in a while, RCI), and the casseroles were flat. The dining room food was better, but not well seasoned. Again, I was not expecting five- or even four-star dining, but Royal Caribbean is not better than Carnival. For the price, I was expecting better. The dining room staff was attentive and professional, friendly even. However, the food was exceedingly bland and not very flavorable. We had maybe two above average meals out of seven in the dining room. One other complaint: there was not a single lime on the whole ship! Seriously - not even in the bars! Coronas were served with lemons. Mojitos were served with lemons. How do you send a 2500 passenger cruise ship to sea without a single freaking lime?!? We did not eat at any of the for-pay restaurants. 3. Common spaces - The Serenade is a pretty ship. We sailed on the Conquest previously, so that is comparison I can make. The Serenade is not really showing age - the carpets and floors appeared clean and well-maintained. The elevators all worked the entire cruise. There are several neat areas including the Centrum (the central atrium) where there was a nice bar, sitting area, and several acrobatic shows. The Schooner Bar is a really neat space. The Casino is smallish and has more slots than table game seats, but I never had trouble getting a seat at the blackjack table if I wanted it. I confess that the production shows are really not our bag, so we didn't partake in the theater, but it looked to be spacious and well kept. One neat thing about the Serenade is that passengers can access the forward helipad. Anyone can get their Leo "King of the World!" on - something not possible on the Carnival Conquest. The large pool area on top was well attended with movies at night and the NCAA tournament on during the day. The kid's pool area was ok for my daughter and she loved the water slide, but the Serenade needs to upgrade the slide as well - it is small and slow and it looks like every other cruise ship on earth has a pretty neat one. A water slide isn't a deal-breaker for me, but it could use some work. The fitness center is large and has plenty of equipment. Classes were too advanced for the largely senior crowd on board. 4. Kid's Activities - Adventure Ocean was pretty neat. We hadn't taken advantage of this possibility before (on Carnival), so I don't have anything to compare it to, but our daughter had a great time. The staff was professional, friendly, and capable of dealing with kids of all ages. They also had plenty of security protocols in place so we felt secure leaving our daughter with them. I've written about the Barbie package already. 5. Ports of Call - Key West - only 5 hours? Really? RCI is obviously skimping on fuel costs by going super-slow (average about 12 knots) instead of spending a little extra time in port. I would have much more enjoyed the normal "get into port at 8am - leave at 6pm" than an 11am-4:30pm rush job. The Key West terminal/dock was nice and we had enough time to ride the Conch Train and see the Truman Little White House - nothing else. RCI - go 15-16 knots and give us more time in port! Nassau - a run-down pit. Unless your bag is hanging at Senor Frogs or buying overpriced t-shirts and knick-knacks, you have to leave Nassau. We did by going on an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island for a dolphin encounter. This staff was also professional and friendly. It is ridiculously over-priced and then they charge even more for pictures and videos, but you gladly pay it because when are you going to get shots of your 7-year-old daughter grinning ear-to-ear while hugging a dolphin again. I can't really complain. Lots of other folks who went to Atlantis on Paradise Island said good things as well. The only real complaint I have about this port of call is that we were there from 1pm-11pm. Just a weird time. Would have preferred the 8am-5pm sort of option. Coco Cay - Not surprisingly, we were unable to go ashore. The crew told us that they hadn't been able to tender to Coco Cay and had cancelled that port of call for over a month because of rough seas. It didn't take an experienced tar to know that there would have been major injuries and deaths had we tried to tender in 10-foot seas. Thanks to the captain for making a wise (but easy) decision. I won't be taking any more cruises in the springtime in the Bahamas to ports that require tendering. I wish that I had known that before this cruise and I would have chosen a different itinerary (probably in the western Caribbean). Fellow Passengers - a late March cruise always will bring out the families and there were a ton of us. Lots and lots of seniors as well. I don't think I've ever seen so many rascals (or whatever those electric scooters that seniors ride on these days are called) in the same place before. If you were a single on this cruise hoping to find your true love or even just a hook-up, I bet you were exceedingly disappointed. All in all, I was disappointed. I had a good vacation, but I expect a lot for the price that I pay when I go on a cruise. I had high hopes for Royal Caribbean, but those were definitely dashed. My family and I will cruise again. Not sure that I'll chose RCI - I'd definitely do Carnival over RCI considering the price - and if I'm going to pay RCI rates, I may try Norwegian or someone else next time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
I've cruised on Carnival and Celebrity in the past and thought RC's Serenade of the Seas was a couple of steps down from my other cruise experiences. The food was bland and usually overcooked, the port stops were way too short ... Read More
I've cruised on Carnival and Celebrity in the past and thought RC's Serenade of the Seas was a couple of steps down from my other cruise experiences. The food was bland and usually overcooked, the port stops were way too short and we missed our private island stop entirely. According to the staff, they had been missing the stop for weeks on end. I wish I had done better research because I would have chosen another destination had I known that CocoKay had about a 50% track record. We had a ninth deck stateroom with a balcony, which was lovely. Our steward was great, the staff was very accommodating and the dining service was excellent -- far better than the food. In the dining room you could order a dried out, overcooked, thin strip steak (I ordered rare and got well done) or you could pay an extra $13 for a "good" steak. The add-on sales tactics were insulting. Because we missed our private island stop, we were at sea (a very rough sea) for more than 72 hours. The first at sea day was freezing, and despite the policy written on Royal Caribbean's website stating that they would let the kids use the solarium pool in inclement weather, the staff refused to let the kids in. We had to shiver on deck while droves of kids crowded into the two hot tubs. Meanwhile, the solarium pool was warm and completely empty. Apparently high winds, rain and cold temps aren't inclement enough to execute a written policy. We ordered the drink packages, but when we got on board, we realized that they didn't save us anything. Drinks are very reasonably priced, so unless you have 10+ drinks a day, it's not really worth it. The workout room was great with brand-new beautiful equipment, but RC charged for spin and fitness classes, which was a real bummer when you have to work off the crappy dining room steak. All the activities in the fitness area were annoying sales pitches. On the sixth day of the cruise we were climbing the walls. Bad weather, missed ports, bland food and no limes for our mojitos. I decided to take the kids on a scavenger hunt, which would have been great if they didn't give us the wrong scavenger hunt. I enjoyed cruises in the past, but after this experience, I am going to spend my money at a true all-inclusive resort or stay on land European style. I spent nearly twice what I would have spent at Iberostar Paraiso Maya for a week, including day trips and airfare. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
This was my 3rd cruise, the other two Carnival. I'm going to break this down into sections. Parking: Horrible. Not enough spaces and no shuttle service to the docks like Carnival offers. Embarkation / Debarkation - Fabulous, ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise, the other two Carnival. I'm going to break this down into sections. Parking: Horrible. Not enough spaces and no shuttle service to the docks like Carnival offers. Embarkation / Debarkation - Fabulous, especially Debarkation. We were off the ship in 30 minutes and on the highway driving home! That is incredible. Service: Fabulous. Everyone on board was super nice and helpful. Loved our waiter for dinner, he was great with our 6 year old twins. Food: I expected better food on Royal Caribbean over Carnival because it is billed as a 'step up' but this was not the case. The food was fair to good. Nothing we had all week was great. About the same as Carnival. We did not do the specialty restaurants. Room: Bad. The beds were hard, the linens were flat. Carnival has them beat in this department by far. Location is right off the "Centrum" which unbeknownst to us was the main entertainment location for the ship. Loud bands playing till midnight ever night. Great if you are young, but horrible with 6 year old kids. There were not many 'family of 4 rooms' to select from. I booked this cruise 8 months ago, so not a last minute thing and this was one of the few rooms I could pick. Entertainment. The shows were great. Dancing / aerial displays were well done. Singing was also really good. Comedy acts top notch. I enjoyed most of the shows they offered and this was a major step up from Carnival. Ports of Call: Key West was far to short. Nassau was sad. We honeymooned there 18 years ago and what a drastic change for the worst. Coco Cay was canceled due to wind. I booked this cruise specifically to see Coco Cay, so this was a MAJOR blow to our moral, due to Nassau being a warn down drug pit and Key West only 5 hours long. This left us on the ship 3 full days and most of the two days we were suppose to be 'in port'. Ship's appearance: Good. No real sign of rust on the ship itself, like the last Carnival trip I took. It was in good repair and all the services offered on board were available. The kids loved the pingpong tables, shuffle board, mini golf, rock climbing, etc. Pool. Kids pool is either 3 inches deep or 6 foot deep. There is no shallow end. This was a major blow to my 6 years old who couldn't 'swim'. We had hoped to teach them to swim on the cruise, but we as adults couldn't stand in this pool. Poor design. A huge let down. Kids Club. Thank goodness for a great kids club staff. Because the pool was unsuitable for my kids, they spent the vast majority in the kids club playing with other kids their age. This was open from 9-noon, 1-4, and 6-10pm. My kids practically lived there and we were thankful for the time alone on all those sea days. Had it not been for the great kids club workers, I would be giving this cruise a very low review. They saved our vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
My Husband and I went on a Royal Caribbean " Serenade of the sea's" this time instead of the Carnivals we were on before ( Carnival Fascination and Carnival Conquest) Well we thought we would try a total different ship. We ... Read More
My Husband and I went on a Royal Caribbean " Serenade of the sea's" this time instead of the Carnivals we were on before ( Carnival Fascination and Carnival Conquest) Well we thought we would try a total different ship. We were very Disappointed and very Upset.. First the Bedrooms were very small, so was the bathrooms.. Showers? We laughed at. There were several large people on this ship, we wondered how they took a Shower .They were little round ones,Ridiculous. We had trouble with Teenagers. Where ever we went they were there.I guess Royal Caribbean doesn't care if the Older people are bothered or not. We are 61 years old.We found no where for Adults only to go. We went to play pool and We waited for Teenagers to play 3 games ,then My husband asked Both tables could we play now. No they said, You can Just wait ! We were not happy. Everytime we went back to play pool it was run by the kids. We won't go with Royal Caribbean again..The company let the Kids run wild and didn't seem to care about us. We will go with Carnival from Now on.. We talked to about 8 different couples and they all said the same ,we are going to stay with Carnival Ships... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We are a family of 3, our son is 8 . This is our 2nd RCI cruise . Hubby and I have sailed on Princess. Embarkation: very smooth , had a 3hr drive to New Orleans and arrived about noon , had a few lines but they moved quickly. Very ... Read More
We are a family of 3, our son is 8 . This is our 2nd RCI cruise . Hubby and I have sailed on Princess. Embarkation: very smooth , had a 3hr drive to New Orleans and arrived about noon , had a few lines but they moved quickly. Very organized ! Had lunch in Windjammer , crazy as usual on embarkation day. Ship/Cabin: very nice , loved the Centrum area with all the glass !! Also , the Soloarium was a nice area with a less crowded and heated pool. Everything was very clean and neat . Cabin was big enough for the 3 of us. Son slept on bunk which our wonderful attendant Laura from Nicaragua would let down and up for us . Laura was fantastic , loved to laugh and smile !! Made the cute towel animals : elephant, monkey , stingray and a bat ! Kids Club: My son loved it !! He was waiting everyone morning when they opened. He loves playing video games , when they had free time between organized activies he got to play . Pirate night was fun, where they dressed them as pirates and paraded around the ship and in the centrum. It was also nice when they did the Adventure Dining where they took them to the Windjammer for dinner. Entertainment: We didn't see alot of the shows . The cruise director , John Blair , was awesome !!! Very talented man . We did go to a Neil Diamond tribute he did , WOW !! He nailed Neil Diamond !! He can sing , is super funny as well !! Dining : Mostly ate in Windjammer due to having our son with us. It was good , no complaints. We ate breakfast a few times and did formal night in MDR. We had My Time Dining for dinner. Everything was delicious. One of the nights our son was able to eat with Kids Club we made reservations for Chops. It was $30 for each of us, but oh so good !! We both got the small filet , mushrooms , roasted potatoes and the asparagus - very good !!! Creme Brulee for dessesrt is a must ! Service was top notch !! Shore Excursions: 1st stop : Key West - we did the Old Towne trolley booked via ship. It was good , driver was humerous and informative . 2nd stop : Nassua - we booked the Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encouner through RCI before we left to make sure it didn't fill up with it being Spring Break. Expensive but very good! We boarded a double decker boat for about a 40 min ride to the island. Nice trip. Had 3O min in water with dolphin. They are not in tanks. Its a natural area where they swim in open, but are fenced off from the open water. We got to hug, kiss, pet , feed , and dance with them !! 3rd stop: Coco Cay- it was pretty windy that morning with white caps . Due to safety concers because we would be going to island by tenders we had to skip CoCo Cay. This was the only negative we had for the whole cruise. We had been there on a previous RCI cruise and I was so looking forward to going back !! I had heard its a 50% chance that we may not due to weather. I can understand Captains decision, it would've been very unsafe in those small boats . Also very windy on the island. We had an addtiional day at sea , which made 3 days in a row. There were plenty of activities and things to do. Pool areas tended to be pretty crowded . Embarkation: Once again very smooth. We were last group to get off at about 9:15 , walked off and got our luggage in the numbered area of our tag. I was expecting it to be like an airport , but was so impressed to see all the tag numbers posted with the bags right there !! We parked in the cruise terminal parking lot and it was a bit of a walk through the terminal with our luggage. I saw baggage guys you could get to carry to car if you need . It was very good vacation which we all had a great time even if we did eat way too much !!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
My husband and I and two teenaged daughters sailed on Serenade during our Spring Break, March 22-29. We had a great time and the Serenade is a really beautiful ship. I will try to break my review down into parts so I don't forget ... Read More
My husband and I and two teenaged daughters sailed on Serenade during our Spring Break, March 22-29. We had a great time and the Serenade is a really beautiful ship. I will try to break my review down into parts so I don't forget anything! Arrival/Embarkation: We arrived in New Orleans the day before departure and stayed at the Hilton Riverside on the edge of the French Quarter. We didn't realize until the next morning that the port was within walking distance to our hotel and, when we woke up and looked out our window the morning of departure, we had a fantastic and very close-up view of the ship. We arrived at the port around 11:30, parked at one of the private garages in the area, took their shuttle and were able to board the ship and get on all within an hour. Once on board we went to the Windjammer, ate a quick lunch and were able to get into our rooms quickly. Ship: The Serenade is a beautiful ship and, although it is a more medium sized ship than some of the others at RCI that we have sailed on, you never get the feeling that it is small. The ship is decorated in very warm tones and it is very cozy. Some of our favorite places were the Safari Club, the Centrum listening to D'version, the Schooner Bar, (for a pre dinner drink), the Park Cafe in the Solarium, the back of the Windjammer where you get a great wake view and Izumi specialty restaurant. There is lots of glass so there are great views from almost anywhere on the ship. The artwork is usually not something I notice but it was really stunning on this ship. I would sail on this ship again anytime. Service: Service was good but there were a couple of people that were outstanding. Our waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter were the best I have ever had on a ship. Our cabin steward was excellent and always left really creative towel animals each night. He was very observant and learned our schedule quickly so that he was able to make up our room when we went to breakfast. Ports: This is my only complaint and it is something that bothered me quite a bit. We had three scheduled stops on this cruise. Key West (which was outstanding), Nassau and Coco Cay. We arrived in Key West at 11:00 am and had time to take a great bike tour around the city. We also had some shopping time before the all aboard at 4:30. I didn't really feel that this was enough time but Key West has a limitation on how long the cruise ships can stay in port. All cruise ships have to be out before sunset because of the sunset celebration in Mallory Square each night. We arrived in Nassau at 1:00 and stayed until midnight and while this was enough time in port, the actual time in port was really not all usable. It would have been so nice to be able to arrive earlier so that we could have had more sunlight and beach time. We didn't feel safe being out in Nassau after dark so we bought a day pass at the Hilton which expired at 5:00 and then ate at Senor Frogs and boarded the ship at around 7:00. The next day we didn't tender at Coco Cay because of rough seas. I think this happens quite a bit and, while I understand about the seas, it was quite disappointing. I wish there was another option to guarantee another port day. Three days on the ship was too much at the end of the cruise. Food: We ate at Izumi one night and I would definitely go again. Very good sushi! Main dining room was great and our waiter was never hesitant about recommending what he thought was good. He was always spot on. One of my favorite places for lunch was the Park Cafe in the Solarium. The custom made salads were so good and fresh. Their roast beef sandwiches were outstanding too. We usually would run by there again late in the evening after our show to pick up some cookies or a late night piece of pizza. The ice machine there is really good too. There was a definite improvement in food over the last time we sailed on Royal Caribbean two years ago. Much better food this time. Entertainment: We went to a show most nights and they were well worth our time. The second night there was a comedian that had my husband and teenaged daughters rolling on the floor. Appealing to both age groups was something he did well. There was also a broadway night that was good. The third or fourth night there was a guest group that imitated the Temptations and they were excellent. There was also an italian opera singer (Mario I think) that was outstanding. The band D'version that played in the Centrum at night were my favorites. Lots of Eagles/Fleetwood Mac type music with a little country thrown in.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Serenade of the Seas is a nice ship. The entertainment, food, crew, etc were all good. We tried three of the pay restaurants and liked them all. Our favorite was Giovanni's Table. Service and food were great. Chops was also very good. ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas is a nice ship. The entertainment, food, crew, etc were all good. We tried three of the pay restaurants and liked them all. Our favorite was Giovanni's Table. Service and food were great. Chops was also very good. Rita's Cantina was a good lunch option to change up buffet eating. Also very inexpensive. Ten of us ate for about $30. I highly recommend the drink packages. I chose the ultimate because it included all drinks, special coffees and bottled water. I don't know that we saved any money but the removed hassle of signing receipts and worrying about what your bill was up to every day was a very nice feature. The entertainment was headed up by a husband wife team and they were really great. Very obvious that they both had a passion for there jobs. The broadway style shows were excellent but I would have to say the unicycle juggler was my favorite. What an incredible act. Some negative to consider... if you don't care to be stuck on a ship 95% of the trip, you may consider another itinerary. You only get two half day stops in Key West and the Bahamas. We unfortunately discovered during the cruise that the full day stop in CocoCay is canceled frequently. It was canceled on our trip and on a very nice day. I can't imagine you can often get a better day but regardless it wasn't good enough. We had all gotten up early, finished breakfast and were eagerly awaiting our disembarkation to the island. Instead the ship sailed past the island without pause. About 30 minutes later the Captain nonchalantly announced the stop was canceled in a way that indicated this was common practice. Our teenagers were very disappointed as this was to be our only beach day. My concern at the moment was we were just one sailing day from New Orleans and had 3 days to get there. Two half day port stops is not enough (for our group) for a 7 day cruise. RCCL should have a better contingency plan than cutting donuts in the Gulf of Mexico for 3 days. I would think there has to be a port somewhere that would love to host 2500 folks itching to get off a ship and spend some cash.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
SHIP - My partner and I are in our 60s, 6th cruise, 4th on RCI. We love the size of the Serenade, the enclosed pool, the ease of navigating around the ship, and the elevators with glass overlooking the ocean. It’s not too big, not too ... Read More
SHIP - My partner and I are in our 60s, 6th cruise, 4th on RCI. We love the size of the Serenade, the enclosed pool, the ease of navigating around the ship, and the elevators with glass overlooking the ocean. It’s not too big, not too small. We sailed on the Serenade back in 2008, so we were curious what the newly updated ship looked like. The main updates were in the Centrum: where it used to be a pleasantly pastel-colored, rather quiet gathering place for a drink, it is now energized with dramatic lighting, and has become the venue for a lot of ship activities. The decor is now mostly white with baroque curly-cues backlit with multi-colored LED lighting, changed for different events. Alas, a dramatic glass staircase was removed, presumably to make more room. Unfortunately, there still isn't enough spectator or participant space for big events, and people crowd the main floor and fill every balcony, bobbing around trying to see over all the heads. A small-scale Cirque du Soliel style acrobatic act was added to the Centrum, but it only played once (briefly) on our cruise. A scheduled performance was cancelled due to mild ship movement. CRUISE - Our cabin (9210) was not much updated, but was fine. The bulky CRT TV set was replaced with a flat screen TV, but little else was changed. The old, beat-up couches were still there! Generally, though, we were pleased with the cabin, which had plenty of storage, and was clean and well managed by the capable, if not overly friendly, staff. A slightly worn sofa does not ruin a good cruise. Our cruise was the "7-night Western Caribbean Cruise" on March 1, 2014. We arrived in New Orleans three days early and enjoyed a stay in the Residence Inn New Orleans Downtown on St. Joseph St., a pleasant loft-like hotel only a 3 blocks from the cruise terminal and about a mile from the French Quarter. Recommended. Embarkation in New Orleans was slower and more congested than any we've had in 6 cruises, but the New Orleans terminal is small compared to the much larger Florida terminals. Baggage handling both coming and going was fast and efficient. EXCURSIONS: The excursion at Falmouth, Jamaica (FYA5 - High Tea at the Good Hope Estate) was a pleasant trip, recommended for people who don't need high-octane entertainment. This was our third time in Grand Cayman, so we just walked around the main street of the town. In Cozumel we took the Tulum excursion (CZ02), but barely had time to do it all: we were among the first off the ship, and were the last ones to board before departure. Don't even think of doing this on your own! The Tulum trip is excellent for those who enjoy archaeological sites, but the guide information and the two leisurely gift shop stops left a lot to be desired. Overall, though, it was a good excursion to a unique site. I have a more detailed review in the excursions section. ENTERTAINMENT on the Serenade is up to the high RCI standard: comics were good and the production shows were excellent. First shows were sparsely attended, but the second shows were crowded. John Blair and his Bette Midler-esque wife Katrina were the best cruise directors ever: real talent beyond the usual happy talk. John can really sing well, and both are genuinely fun. The Serenade is easy to get around in, but our favorite spot is the Solarium, an indoor pool that not every RCI ship has, unfortunately. It's adults only, and the water is heated. We have seen outdoor pools on other RCI ships that were frigid and not used much. We have found food on RCI cruises to be excellent, and this trip was no exception. DEPARTURE - We love the RCI Luggage Valet service at the end of the cruise: you put your luggage in the hallway on the last night, and the next time you see it is in your airport at home. Incredible! Unfortunately, it is only available at five RCI ports, and New Orleans is not one of them. So we decided to rent a car (Hertz is in a building only a couple of blocks from the cruise terminal) and took an excellent day trip to the Oak Alley plantation, about an hour east of New Orleans, a truly beautiful place, not to be missed. We then dropped off the car at the airport. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Here are my thoughts on our Serenade cruise out of NOLA, March 15-22, 2014. How did this trip come about? DH mentioned to me last year that he wanted to go to NOLA (long on our list of must-see cities,) and I said that would be great as ... Read More
Here are my thoughts on our Serenade cruise out of NOLA, March 15-22, 2014. How did this trip come about? DH mentioned to me last year that he wanted to go to NOLA (long on our list of must-see cities,) and I said that would be great as long as we add a cruise, and thus a trip is born. We arrived one day pre-cruise and stayed at the Hilton Riverfront, which I booked on Last Minute Travel. We spent the day sightseeing around NOLA using the trolley, which has a stop right at the hotel. Just as a side note, we also spent 4 days/nights post-cruise in NOLA at the Hotel Provincial in the French Quarter. NOLA is a city not to be missed, and we covered probably as much as anyone could see and do in the time we were there. EMBARKATION: On Saturday morning, we walked the 2 blocks to the Julia Street Cruise Terminal, and boarded Serenade. We got to the terminal early, at 10:20, and were on the ship before 11 a.m. It was one of the fastest and easiest embarkations we’ve ever experienced. THE SHIP: Beautiful, just beautiful! We are big fans of the Radiance-class ships, and Serenade was the only one we hadn’t sailed on previously, so we were excited to see her. The ship was as beautiful as I remembered her sister ships to be. The one thing that I missed, however, was the soaring centrum sculpture that was the hallmark of all the ships in that class. Due to the aerial shows, they had to be removed. The ship is in beautiful shape. There is plenty of seating in and around the Centrum, on multiple levels. We were in cabin 7092, Category E2, which is located right off the Centrum. We never had an issue with noise from the Centrum. The balcony for that cabin is larger than the typical balconies. It is pie-shaped, and there were 2 loungers, 2 regular chairs, and a small table. It was a little tight with the second lounger, but we enjoyed having it. This ship’s staff and crew are outstanding, and that was evident everywhere. FOOD & DINING: We had MTD, and I pre-reserved our seating time for 6:45 each evening. Unfortunately, for the second cruise in a row, the powers that be decided to change it. The reason I was annoyed by this was because the exact same thing happened to us on our Grandeur cruise last year and I deliberately emailed the Dining department before this cruise and requested that our reservations not be changed. And they were. So much for pre-reserving times. Following a pleasant conversation with a staff member at the MTD desk, we worked out our new times, and the problem was resolved. MTD now takes over the entire 5th Deck dining room. On one or two nights there were extra tables squeezed in, which made for some tight quarters, but most nights were fine. We enjoyed the menu offerings, and most meals were very good. We went to Chop’s one night, and that was, without exception, the BEST Chop’s experience we ever had. We did most lunches in the Windjammer, and also Park Café. The Diamond Lounge was wonderful, and the Concierge, Rami, does an excellent job making his guests feel welcome. We went to that lounge for breakfast most mornings, where there was a buffet of fruits, yogurts, cheeses, lox, and all kinds of breads and pastries. And my husband’s favorite, the cappuccino machine. In the evening, we enjoyed the cocktails along with the hot and cold hor d’oeuvres. PORTS: Jamaica—we walked around the terminal area for an hour and went back onto the ship to enjoy the pool while it was relatively empty. Grand Cayman—we took a taxi to Royal Palms Beach, where we spent several hours. There was a very small entrance fee, and a small charge for chairs/umbrellas. Cozumel—we took a taxi to Paradise Beach, which was my favorite day of the cruise. The beach is gorgeous, and we had a fabulous day. This was, without a doubt, the best deal of the cruise. There was a small entrance fee, and that included the chair and umbrella. Both beaches do request that you make a purchase at their bar/restaurant. Taxis were plentiful at both beaches, and we had no trouble getting back to the ship. ENTERTAINMENT: CD John Blair and his wife Katrina did a fabulous job all week long. These folks are everywhere, and they interact and mingle with the guests all day long. I had to wonder if they ever get time off. They work hard, yet make it look effortless. John is a talented performer in his own right, and he did a one-man show on the last sea day in the afternoon. It was terrific. The headline show, Savannah Jack, was outstanding. They were, without exception, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen anywhere. While they are known as a Country group, their show covered many genres of music. FINAL THOUGHTS: When we booked this cruise, it did not occur to us that we were booking the Spring Break cruise. But we did. So what did we think about cruising with so many families traveling with kids of all ages? And what did we think about all of the college spring-breakers on our sailing? We loved it! We hardly ever saw the younger children, as they were probably involved in the kid programming on the ship. And the college kids were well behaved, and in fact, we met and befriended many of them. They brought to the ship a dynamic and fun energy, and we loved it. After taking so many cruises (though many of you reading this have far exceeded our number of cruises,) I was starting to feel like, hummm, cruising—same old, same old. Well, I’m here to tell you that this cruise will go down as the one that made me fall in love with cruising again.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
I have lost count of cruises after my 45th one, but I know how to compare and what to expect. This was my first seven day cruise in a long time as we are now used to longer ones. Overall, it was outstanding. Hotel: We stayed at the ... Read More
I have lost count of cruises after my 45th one, but I know how to compare and what to expect. This was my first seven day cruise in a long time as we are now used to longer ones. Overall, it was outstanding. Hotel: We stayed at the Embassy Suites which is walking distance to the port (two long blocks). You can pull your luggage down the street and they will take it from you and put on the cart, then you just walk inside to check in. Hotel was outstanding and a short few minute walk to Bourbon Street. New Orleans is a great town - go a couple days early and enjoy the sites. Ship Information: I prefer Royal’s larger ships like the Independence or Freedom class, but this was nice also. The only problems were the main elevators which seemed rather slow. The ship was spotless and looked to have been redone recently. Staff was super friendly everywhere we went and I quickly made friends with all the bartenders I could find. Good layout of everything on the ship overall. Activities: Usual activities and there is something for everyone. The big screen playing sports outside by the pool annoyed me but I am sure others like it so no big deal. Pool games going on, etc. All good fun while you are soaking up the sun. Service: My service on this one was the best I have ever had, bar none. My wife loves Princess over Royal, and even she admitted this staff was much better than any of the other ones. My dining room waiters went above and beyond like I have never seen. That really made the trip. Same for all of the other staff – smile on their faces all the time. Ports: We love the water and we are divers. You cannot ask for better ports than these. Cozumel has the best diving in the world and Grand Cayman is right there with it. If you like sun and sand, you cannot go wrong. Cabin: We are finally at the stage in life where we can afford the Owner Suite. I must say, it was really too big for just the two of us. Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic, with the dual sinks, separate tub, shower, coffee maker, massive balcony, 55' flat screen, etc. However, on our next one we will go back to the Grand Suite which is a little smaller but at least I can find the drawer where my underwear is while getting dressed before dinner is over. Dining: The food was perfect and outstanding! I cannot say this about our last 15 day Royal Transatlantic in which the food sucked. I was really worried because I did not want to listen to the wife say how much better Princess food is - anyway, she agreed, it was awesome. Great dishes with great flavors. Entertainment The pool band SUCKED! I mean, it was the worst in the world!! Even the crew was laughing at how bad these guys were. It was like being stuck in a bar with the worst Karaoke singer you have ever heard!! The rest of the entertainment was fantastic. Good comedy, shows, piano bar, etc....all great! But I am scarred for life by that pool band..... Disembarkation We all agreed, it was the fastest we have ever done. I was one of the first off and my luggage was waiting and I was out the door in five minutes. Totally organized. Summary You cannot go wrong on this ship with this crew with the exception of the pool band. If you hear them playing, run!!! Also, this is the first time I have bought the alcohol package and they do not hold back pouring you anything. The only problem with the package is I feel the need to get my money's worth, which hurts a guy’s head in the morning. But you will try everything and your waiter will have your favorite drink waiting at dinner when you arrive. Anyway, highly recommended Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
To start I should tell you that this is my sixth voyage on a commercial cruise liner in my 46 year life. I have been on Princess, Carnival and one other RCI cruise besides this one and so far the serenade of the seas is my "happy ... Read More
To start I should tell you that this is my sixth voyage on a commercial cruise liner in my 46 year life. I have been on Princess, Carnival and one other RCI cruise besides this one and so far the serenade of the seas is my "happy medium" sized ship that shines in so many ways. To start the size if the decks and the layout of the public areas is so easy to navigate it had to have been engineered that way so people could enjoy all areas with out walking up and down stairs constantly to get to the front to the back of the ship. The drinks stations are strategically placed so you're never very far from the free drinks no matter where you are located. My favorite place to be on the ship was in the solarium pool area free from kids and rowdy music. The air conditioned atmosphere and heated pool is perfect on most days rain or shine. Another positive on the serenade was the excellent food. I would say it was even tastier than the las RCI we took in the Mediterranean sea. The chefs sure have the food figured out. Even the Park ave. grill was delicious if you didn't feel like buffet or getting dressed for the dining room. All in all I can recommend this cruise ship with 100% confidence. In fact I a, already planning to take another trip on it next year. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
I had expected the same great food as I got on Mariner before it moved to Asia. OOPS. Not so much. MDR food was bland and blech for the most part. Decadent chocolate desserts were to die for. Rooms were not as clean. I didn't like the ... Read More
I had expected the same great food as I got on Mariner before it moved to Asia. OOPS. Not so much. MDR food was bland and blech for the most part. Decadent chocolate desserts were to die for. Rooms were not as clean. I didn't like the short time in Nassau. Their own island, Coco Cay was more fun with lots of options. The gift shop area is not a promenade, which means narrow hallways, lots of congestion trying to get around the ship. You could smell the cigarette smoke 40 ft. away from the casino, so I never went in. Shows were good. Getting on and off the ship was easy peasy. New Orleans had great sorting liines but there were so many gold that it took a while. Now that I'm platinum maybe it will be quicker to embark. Staff as always were helpful and courteous. My first cabin was forward and it smelled of mildew so they moved me to another cabin, aft. and it was much better. I liked that they served poolside food. Lots of locations to get my soda refills...never had much of a line for Windjammer, or MDR. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This is our third cruise all on RC. The other two were on the Freedom of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. We purposely wanted a "smaller" ship, so decided to try the The Serenade for my 50th Birthday. We from Northwest Florida ... Read More
This is our third cruise all on RC. The other two were on the Freedom of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. We purposely wanted a "smaller" ship, so decided to try the The Serenade for my 50th Birthday. We from Northwest Florida to New Orleans. RC does not have a exclusive parking terminal in New Orleans, like Carnival Does. The share the Conference Center Parking. Unfortunately this caused an issue as the parking lot was completely full at 11:00. This may have been due to some comic con convention going on. After sitting in line for over 45 minutes to park we were directed to turn around and follow traffic to a far end parking lot. I instead decided to park at a private lot called Parking Management Services Fulton Garage located on 901 Convention Center BLVD. They provided a free shuttle mostly covered parking with the exception of the rooftop for $12.00 a day. I highly recommend them. They were waiting when the ship got back with a shuttle. They drove us to the garage. My wife watched the luggage and I got the car and we were on our way to the interstate in 15 minutes after disembarking. The Serenade is a nice ship. We actually enjoyed the size. There was always a lounge to be found by the pool. We purchased the alcohol package for $55.00 day each. This includes everything except the really high end stuff. I was drinking Belvedere Vodka which would be $9.00 a shot. Remember to Tip you bartenders a $5 spot every few rounds. I know tips are supposedly included, but you will be surprised how far a little extra goes. Canned mixers were not included in this package, but they never charged me. The shows were the usual cruise ship fare. Key west was a short stop of 5 hours, but long enough to get acquainted with the area. Nassau and Coco Cay were all day. I would have preferred a day between stops, but understand the schedule is dictated by distance. Coco Cay is RC private Island and for me was the best port. It has a nice low pressure straw market and unlimited outdoor beach activities. I thought the tenders would be a pain, but actually enjoyed the 15 minute ride to the ship. The hammocks and sitting areas in the shade were a nice touch. Smokers beware RC changed there smoking policy on 1-2014. You can no longer smoke on your balconies. There are designated smoking areas in the Casino, select Bars and one side of the pool deck. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Background Info I traveled with my cousin. This was our 3rd cruise together, all on Royal Caribbean. I am 30 and he is 25. We like the rest and relaxation of cruises and visiting the different ports of call. Hotel Info We stayed at the ... Read More
Background Info I traveled with my cousin. This was our 3rd cruise together, all on Royal Caribbean. I am 30 and he is 25. We like the rest and relaxation of cruises and visiting the different ports of call. Hotel Info We stayed at the Hilton New Orleans Airport on a "Sleep and Sail" package that included one night hotel stay, one week of parking at the hotel and transportation from the hotel to the cruise terminal. The hotel was very clean and neat but is a little outdated. We did have to remind them that the package included the transportation to the cruise terminal, but it worked out in the end. Just a word of caution, the food prices at the hotel are VERY high. Ship Info The Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship with ocean views from many different views. My only complaint is that the ship has been refitted with the addition of many new venues beyond what it was designed to have and as a result several traffic "choke-points" have formed throughout the ship; such as in the Casino, the shops on board and any area around the centrum. Activities The onboard activities were "ok". There was not a huge variety of things to do at any given time and some of the activities were very poorly organized. It seemed that most of the things to do on the ship were geared towards a more senior demographic. The activities staff consists of the Cruise Director and his wife with 4 staffers. They are ridiculously understaffed. The Cruise Director was not very visible and at times 3 of the 4 staff members would all be working on one activity such as bingo. There were things to do but not like we had on the Voyager of the Seas. Part of this problem may have been because of the passenger demographic on this cruise. I would not go so far as to say that we were "bored" at all. Service The service on the ship was very good for the most part. We had a great cabin steward and all of the bartenders we encountered were very friendly. We did have a problem with our Chef's Table reservation, but I will go into detail about that in the "Chef's Table" section below. Overall I will say that service on the ship was very good. Ports/Shore Excursions The ports were good, but the stop in Key West could have been longer. We had a fun time in each port. Their private island of Coco Cay was exceptionally beautiful. We should have booked more excursions than we did, but we still had a great time. One word of warning about Nassau: We were approached by the people that rent the mopeds and bikes outside of the cruise terminal 3 times with propositions to buy drugs. Travel to Embarkation Of the 3 cruises we have done together and the 4 total that I have done this was by far the easiest embarkation that I have ever had. It was very smooth and very fast. All of the staff at the pier were very fast, friendly and helpful. Cabin Our cabin steward was nice and friendly. He was very fast and efficient and would always stop to say hi and talk to us. He went out of his way to help with one of my medications that had to be stored in a refrigerated location. Just FYI the coolers in the cabins are usually not cold enough to store medication. If you have a refrigerated medication you should tell your travel agent or the cruise line so that arrangements can be made for proper storage and for you to get a Sharp's Container if needed. Dining As usual the food in the dining room was awesome! Our service started out a little slow, but that was the waiter's first day on the ship and he tried really hard and was better and better every day. We could not ask for more. The food in the Windjammer was like any buffet food, not the freshest but was very good. Chef's Table We reserved Chef's Table online before the cruise. We had reservations for February 12, the day we were in Coco Cay. Royal Caribbean has a very poor reservation system and the system stopped allowing new reservations saying that the venue was already full so others could not book. When we got to the ship and inquired about our reservations we were told that not enough people had booked so we may be moved to another night. The following morning we got a call that were moved to the night we would be in Nassau, so our plans for Nassau were pretty much ruined. After I got the call I went to Guest Services. They called the Specialty Restaurant manager and we were told that there is nothing they can do to help us. After speaking with them I went up to see the Specialty Restaurant manager and was told that we were moved to a different night and that a private party was booked in our place. A lady there then chimed in that we only paid $70.00 per person because booked online and that the private party paid $95.00 per person because they booked onboard. Needless to say I was furious. When we arrived in Key West that day I called the corporate offices who emailed the ship. That evening the Head Waitress in the dining room asked to speak with us to see what was going on then we had a meeting with the Maitre D. We still had to go to dinner on the wrong night, but they did refund what we paid, gave us some free wine and a lunch in Giovannis. The food and service in Chef's Table was phenomenal. This was easily the best meal I have ever had and even with the problems we had I will book Chef's Table on every cruise I take in the future. Entertainment For the onboard programs we only saw the two adult comedy shows and they were pretty good. We did like the Quest and the Love and Marriage Game Show. Disembarkation Summary Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
I just got off of the Feb. 15 sailing out of New Orleans. Arrived at the port about 12 noon, dropped our large pieces of luggage at the terminal and drove to parking. I was expecting to park in a garage but it was in an open lot. We had to ... Read More
I just got off of the Feb. 15 sailing out of New Orleans. Arrived at the port about 12 noon, dropped our large pieces of luggage at the terminal and drove to parking. I was expecting to park in a garage but it was in an open lot. We had to pull our carry on across the lot, semi-paved, and across railroad tracks. not too bad then, killer when you also have the large pieces on return. Could be improved. Boarding was as smooth as could be considering I misplaced our sailing papers, we found them later in another piece of luggage. We were still on board in less than 45 minutes. My bad on that one. We waited to eat because the cabins were ready at 1:00. Dropped our carry-ons off in the cabin (8640), went to eat a bite, had lifeboat drill, explored some of the ship, went back to the cabin for sail away and started a very good vacation. 2 days at sea, 3 port stops, one more day at sea and back to New Orleans. Good points: Great room stewardess (Laura) Great waiter and assistant Great cruise director (John Blair) Crew was always smiling, friendly and helpful Ship was always clean and kept that way Some of the entertainment was new and fresh Learned about art auctions (won 3, great price), I never thought I would attend one. Not too bad points: Wished they had better places to eat when the Windjammer or restaurant was not open, like after port excursions Some entertainment was mediocre and old (to each their own) Nothing else much was bad abut the cruise that the cruise line could take care of. All in all it was a relaxing and enjoyable sailing. Would I do it again? In a heart beat. I got what I expected and then some. If I really did not like the cruise, I would say so. I would suggest that you should sail on her once and I am sure that you will want to sail on her again, I know that I want too. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This is an annual trip in February for me and my partner. We have sailed with RCCL for the past 3-4 years and have fallen in love with this class of ship. This was no different, in fact even more so with the recent renovations and ... Read More
This is an annual trip in February for me and my partner. We have sailed with RCCL for the past 3-4 years and have fallen in love with this class of ship. This was no different, in fact even more so with the recent renovations and upgrades. Generally the ship was very clean and all the furniture and carpet looked great. I am not sure but it's only been back at sea from it's dry dock since December. The new shows in the Centrum were great. A big step up in quality. The vitality spa was deluxe. The With 2 days at sea at the start of the cruise gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the layout. We had cruised before with the shopping guides and they were tops. Even remembered us from a year ago. After doing a couple cruises we have really loved the Art on Royal. Jasmine and Patricio were the best. They made the auctions fun, informative and fast. We did very well with them since they were turning stock the prices were like nothing you would find on any other ship auction. By the last day, they moved a lot of wonderful art to some very lucky guests. And the champagne was nice too. The redo of the ship now offers some different restaurants. We took a Sushi making class at Izumi (you make your lunch). We attempted to do the Mystery Dinner, but opted for the Chef's Table. If you are a foodie, a wine-y, or just love excellent service and food this is worth every minuet. It's a 5 course, wine pairing dinner with the chef du cuisine. He comes out and explains the dishes and the waiter/ sommelier explains the pairing. We joined a group that had already had the A menu a couple nights before. We then went back and the chef, with very little notice, created a 3rd menu. It was one of the best experiences I've had on any ship. We did book one excursion, The Discover Scuba at Don Foster's thru RCCL. It was a very fast, get into the water experience. If you have snorkeled and want to take the next step, I would highly suggest taking this on as an excursion.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
I was really impressed with the Serenade. Only problem I had was I like a cigar and there was no "cigar bar". (designated smoke area only). The service, the food, and the shows were top notch for what you would expect on any ... Read More
I was really impressed with the Serenade. Only problem I had was I like a cigar and there was no "cigar bar". (designated smoke area only). The service, the food, and the shows were top notch for what you would expect on any cruise ship. The crowd on the ship was more mature (which was a plus) because this time of year no kids were on break. This is my 4th aboard Royal, 2 radiance class, 2 voyager class, and I liked going back to the smaller crowd. The excursions we did were all booked through Royal. I've got some advice here--- go w/your cruise line excursions --- they will make sure you get back to your ship and there is a bit of quality to the excursion (long story, not worth it here!). We had two days at sea out of New Orleans (good food, dirty city!) Jamaica was OK, did Dunn River Falls who anybody can do if you can walk well. Next day was Grand Cayman. We went to snorkel the Kittiwake. I'm telling you, if you have never seen a ship under water, DO IT! Fantastic! We did the catamaran and it was memorable, trust me. Next, salsa/salsa in Cozumel. OMG! Thank heaven you got to eat some chips and salsa while you learned how to make same. Very entertaining and fun. Ya didn't care 'bout 1/2 Senior Frogs on the way back to the ship!!!! Next day was back to 65 degrees and the US. (It was 85 in the 3 ports) Embark and debark was flawless. Royal has got if going on. I can't tell you how many people on other cruise lines were not happy about their service, but I can't say that. Next up ---- Port Canaveral and the Freedom!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Pros: Sleeping rooms were better than I expected. Service was amazing RC is very organized with embarking the ships and clearly communicated the schedules and timing. Nice cruise for older people RC was very attentive to ensure people ... Read More
Pros: Sleeping rooms were better than I expected. Service was amazing RC is very organized with embarking the ships and clearly communicated the schedules and timing. Nice cruise for older people RC was very attentive to ensure people sanitized their hands before eating, etc. I was not concerned with spreading of viruses. Cons: Not the right cruise for kids. Kids club was ok but kids didn't rave about them and only wanted to go late night when you have to pay for it Didn't have kid activities during the day outside of camp. The shows were geared to older folks They have a small slide for kids that is not open all day and only one main pool and an adult pool. The restaurants are ok. I can't rave about the food and If you are looking for a late night snack... well keep looking because it's so limited and closes down early.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Our cruise had electrical issues in the engine on the last night, and we are 3 hours late into New Orleans, so I figured that I would take the time to write a cruise review while it is fresh in my mind. The ship itself is probably one of ... Read More
Our cruise had electrical issues in the engine on the last night, and we are 3 hours late into New Orleans, so I figured that I would take the time to write a cruise review while it is fresh in my mind. The ship itself is probably one of the prettiest we have seen. The shape is interesting, with the glass elevators protruding. The room was small, especially the shower, but there was plenty of storage. Our cabin steward was terrific, and we had towel animals left most evenings. The bed was comfortable. The best feature of the ship IMO was the Solarium. It was especially nice to enjoy during the cooler weather. However, it was very busy. The food was excellent. We are not picky, and could always find something fun and new to try. We started trying more than one of the appetizers later in the week. There was lobster tail and shrimp on the second formal night (Day 6). My very favorite food was, strangely enough, the rolls with the pumpkin seeds on top. Our asst. waiter learned quickly to bring extra pumpkin seed rolls for our table, as everyone loved them. We tried Chops and Rita’s Cantina as well as the MDR. They were both good. I had low expectations for Rita’s, after reading such negative comments. We just got quesadillas $3.50, guacamole and chips $~3, and margaritas. I thought it was definitely better than Taco Bell, as some commented. Not excellent, but good. The chips were fresh, but not warm. It was a fun change. Chops costs $30/person extra. We went there because it was a perk from our TA. The steak was good, green beans even better, and the mudslide yummy. The best dessert, however, in my opinion, was in the MDR on the last evening (Portobello menu). It was a walnut tart. It was candied walnuts in a flaky crust with a smidgen of vanilla ice cream. Too bad it wasn’t served warm, but it was excellent as it was. My other favorite thing, foodwise, was the Tutti Frutti salad bar in the MDR at lunch. The salad bar has so many options to choose from, many that I wouldn’t pay for myself (prosciutto, shrimp, olives, roasted peppers, many cheeses, etc.) The shows- we saw all of the main shows, and appreciated each of them. The comedians were especially good. We also liked to listen to the different musicians. My favorite was the guitar player. However, he was not playing the last two days, so he may have left the ship. There was one band, called Island something, that was not nearly up to par with the other musicians on board. There are two aerial shows in the centrum. They are short, and you have to get there early to get a good seat. The first one is best seen from decks 4-6. The second can be seen from higher decks also. If you find a chair, make sure that you can see the upper part of the atrium from where you are sitting. Toby, the cruise director was good. There were slide shows with funny pictures before each main show. Another evening they showed a film of behind the scenes with the dancers-very interesting. There was a nice variety of offerings from dance classes to karaoke, belly flop contest, love and marriage, etc. If you are planning a cruise on Serenade of the Seas and like to dress for the theme nights, they had 70’s, country & western, The weather was beautiful for the most part, and we loved Coco Cay! The hammocks are wonderful! Would love to bottle a couple of hours there and save it for a week or so after we get back home! The snorkeling was decent on Coco Cay, but you have to swim out to find the reef. I saw 3 huge stingrays and a lot of ship. The coral itself was not that great. An observation that we made on this trip that I haven’t seen commented on before was the age of the passengers. This ship does not have some of the options that the bigger ships offer for children. There were very few children onboard. This was a plus from my perspective. Many older people, more on par with Holland America. Just an observation, not sure if it’s usually like this or more this particular sailing. Overall it was a great cruise. Everyone in our group agreed that they would sail on the Serenade of the Seas again.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We are RCCL Diamond Plus with 73 total cruises, so we are reasonably qualified to offer our view! This cruise (1/11/2014) on the Serenade of the Seas left us with one overriding thought: What is wrong with this ship which doesn't come ... Read More
We are RCCL Diamond Plus with 73 total cruises, so we are reasonably qualified to offer our view! This cruise (1/11/2014) on the Serenade of the Seas left us with one overriding thought: What is wrong with this ship which doesn't come close to offering the level of service we have come to expect from RCCL? In general, the staff was surly, unfriendly, and apparently unhappy ... and the lack of smiles, greetings, and other signs of caring were startling missing. This applied to all levels ... officers, included. For the first time in years, no one bothered either to ask our names, let alone make an attempt to remember them. We used the Windjammer (buffet) extensively, and unlike the service in this area on other RCCL ships, we were basically ignored by the wait staff ... no one offered us drinks or refills, no one offered to help to me as I tried to balance plates and silverware while dealing with a mobility difficulty, and tables remained littered with used dishes for long periods of time. Just not up to standard! We had minor dealings with the Concierge, who was less than friendly and actually came across as somewhat arrogant and a little insulting as he "talked down" to us (the "old folk?"). One promise of help from Guest Services never happened; and another request had to be repeated later in the week before being handled. We chose to handle our own tipping rather than have it added automatically to our account. On the last evening, we left an envelope (containing more than the recommended amount), on the bed for our cabin steward. When we've done this on other ships, the steward has always left a brief "thank you" note. But not this time ... and that summed up the approach to service throughout the entire ship. We admit, freely, that RCCL is our favorite cruise line; but, if this had been our first cruise with them, we would never have returned.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
This was our 2nd time on Serenade of the Seas but the first time sailing her out of New Orleans. We are avid cruisers, our favorite vacation. I had read some of the reviews on cruise critic so was a bit curious to see what the ship was ... Read More
This was our 2nd time on Serenade of the Seas but the first time sailing her out of New Orleans. We are avid cruisers, our favorite vacation. I had read some of the reviews on cruise critic so was a bit curious to see what the ship was like since it was renovated recently. Found the ship to be very clean, loved the renovations and the new layout of the areas. We did sail about 90 minutes late out of NOLA due to waiting for a food truck, very important you know. The late departure did not affect any of our ports. Key West was our first stop. We walked the town, found the southern most point of the US. Very nice town, beautiful weather. Nassau was our 2nd stop. Huge waste of time, town is dirty and very unfriendly. We walked a bit then returned to the ship. Coco Cay was very nice, great weather, etc. Our cabin was 9502, 2nd frm the front of the ship. By the way, this was one of the smoothest cruises we have been on; water was extremely smooth. Cabin was small, we kept bumping into each other. Our only complaint was the bed, it was hard as a rock, like sleeping on the floor. Considering that the majority of the passengers on the ship were passengers were "senior" citizens.........we couldn't wait to get home to our own bed. Our cabin steward tried to help out by padding the bed more, did help some. Overall, great service. Windjammer Cafe was good, dining room service impecable. Disembarkation was interesting......we experienced propulsion issues sometime during the night Friday night. Ship came to a full stop (we didn't know) and for 3 hours the crew worked on fixing the problem. Problem resolved and away we went again. Captain kept everyone up to date. Just as we docked in NOLA, an announcement came over the PA, "Oscar, Oscar, port side" crew went running. Apparently Oscar is code for man overboard as the Captain came back on and said the man had been rescued by a tug boat nearby. We finally docked around 11AM. Disembarkation went fine, no issues there. Parking at the Julia Street terminal for Royal is absolutely terrible. You park in a gravel parking lot then have to haul your bags back to your car; all this for $112.00 for the week. Last year on Carnival we parked in the Erato Street garage, same price but was in a parking structure. Hope Royal does something about the parking. Overall a great cruise. We are loyal to Royal Caribbean, hope to sail on Quantum this November. Read Less
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