1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Royal Caribbean International
  4. Royal Caribbean International Cruise Reviews
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was a small ship with great staff and activities. Steve, the cruise director, was easy to understand and added energy to the events. There were two comedians and a juggler in addition to the singers and dancers who put on ... Read More
This was a small ship with great staff and activities. Steve, the cruise director, was easy to understand and added energy to the events. There were two comedians and a juggler in addition to the singers and dancers who put on productions. There were several game shows, a guest talent show and the zombie Thriller dancers. We are dinner at the main dining room each night. There was always a good selection to choose from. Lobster was served on the second formal night. The room steward was accommodating and got us anything we asked for. There was a main pool that usually had some type of music playing and many contests were held here on sea days. For some peace and quiet, we usually visited the adults only Solarium. The roof is retractable in this area so it can be enjoyable rain or shine. Check in was a breeze. Many guests began to line up for self debarkation prior to any announcement stating the ship was cleared. They let the people in line off of the ship prior to making an overhead announcement that the ship was cleared. We had an enjoyable vacation and Royal Carribean made sure to see to that (however check the charges on your account, we had to get some corrected). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Greetings All! This was our first time on Royal. We've done Disney and Carnival multiple times. We wanted to try a different crowd and a smaller ship. !. New Orleans is within driving distance, so we again departed from ... Read More
Greetings All! This was our first time on Royal. We've done Disney and Carnival multiple times. We wanted to try a different crowd and a smaller ship. !. New Orleans is within driving distance, so we again departed from this port. We were off to a rocky start, as our pre-planning missed the fact it was Mardi Gras!!! ooops. Luckily we drove down the night before, intending to hit the Quarter for an evening, but unexpectedly endured the traffic and blocked streets due to parade. We toured, but only in circles until the streets opened. :( I'm just happy we went the night before!! 2. Royal parking and luggage drop off is different from the others we've done. Parking is uncovered. And we missed luggage drop of as their process is different--- (so again, our pre-planning missed something). This was not a pleasant surprise, but it quickly recovered. Because of #3 3. Embarkation was seamless. No lines, no waiting, no nonsense, no problem! Immediately to our room--- and luggage within an hour!!! WOW! The bars were open--- (something we indulge when we 'check out' of real life) and taking a deep breath, our adventure began! 4. Our room. A scary decision, but one of our nervously anticipated new choices for a new cruise line. Ultra Spacious Oceanview ---- for two :) . I put pics on cruisedeckplans.com with this feedback: This cabin was a pleasant surprise. We have always had a balcony room, but this room was a different kind of choice-- because of the 2nd bedroom. The cabin sleeps 6, but it was just hubby and myself. It was our anniversary--- and he romantically ordered the anniversary decor. It was soooo charming for the week. The second bedroom... we used for a closet!!! (7 days worth of clothes/shoes! And we always dress for every dinner and/or event.) For us, having an out-of-site area for luggage/belongings made the room so cozy and tidy. The bathroom was good. Plenty of room for us, along with the over the door (shoe) organizer for our brushes/jewelry/personals. We also took magnetic hooks for lanyards/sunglasses. Every surface seemed magnetic! Plenty of power outlets for us--- on the vanity as well as one in the bathroom. We took plug converters just in case. WARNING: DO NOT TAKE A POWER STRIP! Disney and Carnival didn't seem to mind our power strips, but Royal does not play! We were called to the "principal's office", and were all but body searched and fingerprinted because of this!!! They kept it during the voyage, and we didn't even bother to pick it up afterwards because it was an unpleasant memory. (Shame on us for testing the the rules). Temperature was great, with two thermostats. TV with limited stations (take your players, as they DO have apps and ports to access your personal movies, etc. on the TV) Despite some of the blogs I've read, there IS indeed a tiny refrigerator. Our steward was always available for our needs. But we are we are very low maintenance--- sleeping late, and staying out till wee hours. We requested ice one time, and it was always there for us. The cabin was perfect for us. There are very few of this floor plan so grab it quick! 5. Overall ship was quaint and well maintained. The crowd was different, as we expected, and actually HOPED. We're reaching the 50yo mark, so it was nice to be a part of the younger 1/3. Not the party/rowdy group of Carnival. Not the helicopter parents of Disney (There were a FEW children/families). It was quiet and peaceful. I must say: THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM people-wise. We NEVER had trouble finding space at tables/pool/bars/deck... I loved this! Our "personal space" is important to us, and this was GREAT! No lines at the buffets, no worrying about tables, no worries of rudeness/getting bumped going through doors/hallways/elevators. A huge difference from Carnival and Disney. 6. Food--- We're not picky. Buffet was ample/variety. Menus in dining room were nice. All typical of a cruise. One thing we did not like, there is no 24 hour snack availability. We could have done room service after hours, but there is a delivery fee. Snacks available until 2am at one area, which we learned to grab something there before 2am. 7. Service --- No complaints at all, (except the Customer Relations and Security listed above as I embarrassingly cringe). Dining staff was superb (we had a table for two). Bar staff was superb and SPEEDY! There is no dilly-dally like the other lines. Alcohol flows freely. Steward was happily available. 8. We did not do excursions this time--- we walked the ports at our leisure, and got our token souvenirs as we do at every stop (ALWAYS a Harley-Davidson Pin for hubby's little "Harley Davidson Christmas Tree"). The ports were clean with a gentle crowd. 9. We did not attend the shows this time. (Boy, we sound boring. But we were very much enjoying our personal time together- wink). There were many to choose from, with a variety of events scheduled for participation. They do have the daily "Compass" similar to the "Navigator" and "FunTimes". The phone app is sufficient. 10. Disembarkation --- Very organized and seamless. Dismissal groups were smaller and well planned. We rolled right off the ship. Customs was a simple walk through (NOTHING like the cattle herding on the others). I was wow'd. Luggage was waiting. Porters were a bit hard to flag down--- but we got the RIGHT one -- he cleared the lobby and took ALL of our luggage ALL THE WAY to our vehicle in the distant parking lot. WOW AGAIN. Overall--- YESSSS --- we will do Royal Caribbean again. Next to test out a bigger/newer ship--- but selectively. Our social/personal space is very important, and this one will be hard to match. So a 5000 passenger ship is now very intimidating-- but I want to see the "Central Park" set up on one of the new ships I hope this wordy review helps. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We are Platinum with Carnival but decided to join friends who were taking a trip on the Vision. We were a little skeptical about being newbies on Royal and selecting an older, smaller ship on top of that, but we were pleasantly surprised. ... Read More
We are Platinum with Carnival but decided to join friends who were taking a trip on the Vision. We were a little skeptical about being newbies on Royal and selecting an older, smaller ship on top of that, but we were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation port was in New Orleans, very easy and quick process. We had no problems bringing a 12 pack of our favorite soda on board. Cabins were ready promptly at 1pm, and our bags were delivered even before the muster drill. We stayed in a balcony room, 7542. Cabin attendant, Danny, was great and never missed a chance to greet us by name. At night they closed doors between the Centrum and staterooms, which was a thoughtful way to keep the hallways quieter during the late night shows and live music. Not a complaint but for those who are sensitive to sound, there were times when generally the noise was more than we have experienced on other ships. Most noticeably you could hear toilets flushing as you walk down the halls, and in our stateroom we could hear it when neighbors cough/laugh. Occasionally there was noise above us but it was not excessive. It was foggy on the Mississippi as we were getting back to New Orleans and the fog horn was quite loud and woke us up, while our friends who were at the front of the ship never heard it. From the balcony you could often hear the live music from a distance, which I thought was great. Service in the main dining room was always outstanding and we enjoyed most of the food. We were always able to find something to munch on. They don't state this on the menu, but they can usually whip up an Indian or Asian food entree in the main dining room for dinner, such as curry chicken or Adobo pork, if you give 24 hours' notice. The majority of guests were ages 50+ and there were very few children, but it was a fun bunch and everyone was friendly. We easily found space in the Solarium and due to the mature travelers nobody overcrowded or overstayed in the hot tubs so we were able to hop in even on sea days. It was also surprisingly easy to catch elevators any time. Plenty of seating for shows, etc if you get there a few mins early. We enjoyed the comedian and the band was great, but found the shows to be kind of average (show singers were pitchy, not many shows to see). Did enjoy playing Blackjack with the friendly dealers and passengers. Happened to luck out and pick a night to visit the casino when the smoking was not out of control. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for two reasons. We wanted to visit New Orleans and the price was phenomenal! Embarkation was fast and easy, being the only ship in town that day. I agree that the ship is a bit dated and has a few maintenance ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons. We wanted to visit New Orleans and the price was phenomenal! Embarkation was fast and easy, being the only ship in town that day. I agree that the ship is a bit dated and has a few maintenance issues. This was obvious in a few areas such as the public restrooms where toilet paper holders were broken or sinks did not work. There were also a few areas where cracks in flooring could be seen or furniture in the lounges that had cushions needing repaired or replaced. These were certainly small issues and did not affect our enjoyment of the cruise. The staff was wonderful and My Time Dining service was fabulous. I must give a shout out to Moti and Keem who were the best wait staff we have had in some time. The Windjammer was another story. The staff were fine and worked very hard, and to be fair, we only ate there for lunch on embarkation day, one supper, and breakfast on debarkation day. The entrance was difficult as there is a buffet bar right as you walk in. This caused such congestion! Also, it seemed whatever I needed was empty and waiting replacement...half/half for the coffee, butter for toast, etc. I found the Windjammer to be a complete zoo and the nickname given to it by the staff, "Mouthjammer" was appropriate. The food was mediocre at best. We much preferred the dining room. The activities were fantastic and the staff obviously put their all into them. We enjoyed the shore excursions and were thrilled to be a part of RCI's first visit to the Banana Coast, Trujillo, Honduras. We did the Best of Trujillo tour which included a tour of the town in a very small, hot bus. Everyone had a good attitude, though, and it was fine. It also included a tram tour of Campo Del Mar Nature Reserve, lunch buffet and beach time. There were two lovely pools and the beach was wonderful. Our tour guide kept a close watch on us and made us feel safe. The tenders were a challenge, as 2 of the 4 tenders had difficulty that put them out of service so the queue to return to the ship was long and hot. The locals there were so welcoming and happy to see us. They are working hard to boost their economy with tourism and get so few ships-only 2 in the month of February. Entertainment on the VOS was fine. We loved the comedians and the Rockstar Juggler. I was bored with the production shows and would like to see more variety in entertainment. Overall, it was just a great vacation. We would certainly recommend it. Every cruise is what you make it and we loved it! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise as our 'maiden' voyage. We had never cruised before but heard so many good things. All are true. Although Vision of the Seas is an older ship and a smaller ship, we had a lovely introduction to cruising. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as our 'maiden' voyage. We had never cruised before but heard so many good things. All are true. Although Vision of the Seas is an older ship and a smaller ship, we had a lovely introduction to cruising. We took a Junior Suite with balcony - so spacious, so efficient with respect to storage! Impressed! We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment onboard: Special thanks to cruise director Steve - so much energy, so funny; Orlando (on the activities team) - again, so much energy, so much fun and Paolo (activities manager) - so endearing! Food - excellent. Service - excellent. Activities - varied and excellent. Entertainment - fun and good quality. I know we shouldn't really compare to the all inclusive beach vacations....but we did. Dollar for dollar, activity for activity, service for service- this cruise far outdid a high end all inclusive. We'll be cruising again! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We wanted to leave out of New Orleans since we had never done that before. Also, since we live in East Texas, we wanted to drive. I thought it would be a nice trip to drive to the port and take our time getting there. I was not ... Read More
We wanted to leave out of New Orleans since we had never done that before. Also, since we live in East Texas, we wanted to drive. I thought it would be a nice trip to drive to the port and take our time getting there. I was not disappointed. The drive was nice and pleasant. I heard that it would take the ship about 8 hours to get our of the Mississippi so I wanted the opportunity to say that I had done it. I found that to be interesting. I usually sail from Galveston and I wanted the opportunity to visit new ports for a change. I love Key West so I really wanted to go. I had sailed on Vision once before and we enjoyed the experience so I wanted to try it again. I knew that the opportunity to sail Royal out of New Orleans was limited so I did not want to pass up the opportunity. The only shore excursion that was booked was a bungalow at Coco Cay. We shared this with my niece and her husband. It was well worth it. We had our lunch in there since we were located far enough that they have golf cart type transportation that they use to take you there. We had Bungalow 19. It had a nice view of the ocean and the restrooms were right behind us. The floating bar was awesome. Drink packages work on Coco Cay. You will need cash if you wish to purchase souvenirs from the vendors. The tide went out and we save conch shells everywhere! The food was very good. We had no complaints at all. The only slight issue we had was in Chops. The crab cake was served cold and the bacon was not cooked crisp. The shareable portions were not enough for four people. The steak was the best ever! Lots of people dressed up for 70s Night so that made it really fun! We found that we participated in activities that we normally do not participate in. The egg drop was really fun and we enjoyed participating. There were very few children on this cruise. The Parade of Flags is a definite don’t miss! Getting on and off the ship was easy. The only issue was that the streets around the Julia Street Port are closed due to construction but people directing traffic were extremely helpful. We dropped our luggage off before we parked our car. If you go early enough and are waiting to check in you can walk to the Riverwalk from the port and have breakfast at Cafe Du Monde. You can go after you park your car for the cruise and not have to worry about public parking while you are there. Then just walk back over to check in. They sent me an e-mail that said our sea pass would be in our room but they handed it to us when we checked in. Getting off was super fast and easy too. We had #3 and our time was 8:10, but we were called, got our luggage, our car, and on the road before 8:20. I would definitely go on this cruise again! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 4th cruise with RCCL and by far our favorite! We loved the Vision and her crew. Our waiter was absolutely amazing, making recommendations and making sure everything was to our liking. He had a great personality and gave us ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with RCCL and by far our favorite! We loved the Vision and her crew. Our waiter was absolutely amazing, making recommendations and making sure everything was to our liking. He had a great personality and gave us great, personal service. The food in the windjammer and MDR was excellent! The windjammer staff did a great job of keeping the buffet area stocked and clean. There were always plenty of options for each meal. We did MTD and were able to walk right in for our table at our reserved time. Our stateroom attendant was also great, quickly taking care of our room in the morning and evenings. The ship was lovely and the activities staff constantly had fun things going on. The ship did not seem dated to me, despite previous reviews I had read. Everything looked updated and clean. The entertainment was good but I would have preferred more variety than the 3 comedians. In the past we’ve had magicians, aerial acrobats, etc. I definitely recommend the Vision! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We loved Vision of the Seas. We’ve sailed on Oasis and although it has more things, we loved the friendliness of the other guests, the staff, the cleanliness and the ability to find things to do on the ship much better. I live near ... Read More
We loved Vision of the Seas. We’ve sailed on Oasis and although it has more things, we loved the friendliness of the other guests, the staff, the cleanliness and the ability to find things to do on the ship much better. I live near Baltimore but chose to cruise out of New Orleans. We had a great time and loved sailing from there as well as Baltimore. Grandeur and Vision are so similar. The staff was exceptional Cruise director was awesome! Loved all the activities and games we played. We were never bored! We did both indoor and outdoor activities. Loved finding the Compass was available on the app on our phone. We could check it often! Meals were delicious. We have favorites The Schooner Bar was our meeting spot for our group and we ended up including our table mates in activities there as well. We agreed to sail again on Vision! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We a RCCL cruise as a gift from a local casino and chose Vision out of NOLA since it's a drivable distance. Embarkation was quick and easy and we only had to wait about 30 minutes before cabin was ready. We enjoy the smaller ships so ... Read More
We a RCCL cruise as a gift from a local casino and chose Vision out of NOLA since it's a drivable distance. Embarkation was quick and easy and we only had to wait about 30 minutes before cabin was ready. We enjoy the smaller ships so immediate liked Vision and the layout of the ship. The ship had recently been refreshed with new carpets, wall coverings, deck loungers, etc. We had what appeared to be new mattresses which were very nice. The safe also looked new and was very easy to set up with a 4 digit code rather than swiping a card. The Windjammer buffet was set-up with salads, fruit and hot food choices on two lines, one on each side of kitchen area which meant lines moved quickly and we rarely had to wait. Another area before getting to tables was set up with sandwiches and taco making for lunch and dinner and omelets or freshly prepared eggs for breakfast. Across from it was another area that had pancakes, waffles, etc at breakfast and at lunch and dinner hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, etc. Everything was kept at proper temps. In the center of dining area, there were desserts for lunch and dinner and pastries and cereals for breakfast. We chose my time dining which was on deck 5 just above the set time dining room. We liked the layout since there was a large opening in the center of deck 5 dining area that allowed a spacious feeling and ability to enjoy any entertainment happening in the deck 4 dining room. Our wait staff was the best we've ever had with Rama as head waiter, Remy as waiter and Jocqaim as asst waiter. Being a waiter in my time dining room can be a real challenge and these guys made us feel like we were their only table. Food was all very good and hubby enjoyed the Indian food many nights. We felt no need to pay for specialty dining on this cruise. It was very easy to get a table for two each night and once we had a good idea of when we wanted to dine, I made reservations. Even though the smaller ships don't have the extra activities the larger ships have, we felt the cruise director and his crew did a great job with activities. We found plenty to do and also found it to be a very relaxing cruise. There was live music in the centrum most of the time and the thriller dance classes were very popular. It was fun to see their final performance on last night. We would sail again on Vision with no second thoughts. We'll definitely consider a European cruise on Vision. This cruise was out of New Orleans with stops at Miami, Nassau and Key West. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise because RCCL has not sailed from New Orleans in many years. Was very happy to see them back as it is only hours from home. Embarkation went fairly smoothly. They needed more people to manage the seating for priority ... Read More
I chose this cruise because RCCL has not sailed from New Orleans in many years. Was very happy to see them back as it is only hours from home. Embarkation went fairly smoothly. They needed more people to manage the seating for priority boarding area. The overall condition of the ship was good. I saw nothing to complain about. I had a balcony cabin (#7028) on port side near the front. Was skeptical at first about the location but it proved to be just fine! There were two of us in the cabin and we had more than enough storage available. Actually we didn't use some of it. I also appreciated that it had a full size sofa, not a short two seater like on other cruise lines. We had a mini fridge which I appreciated very much. The only thing I was not really happy with was the shower - small and the shower curtain had a tendency to stick to you when showering. They should replace the curtain with a shower door. For the most part the food was good but average with the exception of Chops Steakhouse which was very much worth the extra $$ paid. There was always something going on somewhere on the ship. Lots of trivia type games etc. The entertainment was good though I didn't go every night. As far as service was concerned, everywhere - cabin, Windjammer, bars, main dining room - it was exceptional. I have no complaints. We had three ports of call. Nassau, Key West and Miami (supposed to be Coco Cay but there is construction going on there). I didn't get off the ship in Nassau, been there, done that. Key West was a lot of fun with visits to the Hemingway House, Sloppy Joes, and Kermits Key Lime Pie. Not enough time to do it all, must go back! Miami didn't interest me so just went to Bayside Marketplace and shopped and stopped at Bubba Gumps and Tradewinds for drinks and people watching. Bubba Gumps has free wifi of which I partaked. My past 5 cruises have been on NCL (smaller, older ships) which I liked until the last one (bad service). I will definitely be looking to sail again on RCCL, just their smaller ships though. I do not like the mega amusement park ships. I also will not plan another New Years cruise - to many kids on board with parents who did not control them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Had a wonderful cruise on the Vision over New Year's 2018/19. The food was great (too great, I gained weight for the first cruise of the last four!) And the service was amazing. While we enjoyed the "my time" dining, the ... Read More
Had a wonderful cruise on the Vision over New Year's 2018/19. The food was great (too great, I gained weight for the first cruise of the last four!) And the service was amazing. While we enjoyed the "my time" dining, the hostess were always accommodating if we wanted to dine a little earlier in the main dining room. We were seated in the same section each time, therefore the waiter and his associates were able to remember who we were and what we liked, not to mention our names! Our experience was great as well in the Windjammer. Tables were cleaned almost immediately after folks left or plates were emptied. Staff was always willing to help anyway they could. Entertainment was abound. There was always something to do. We ended up spending much time Schooner playing games (trivia, scattagories, etc.). Night entertainment was generally later than we liked (just can't stay up as late as I used to), so only heard one of the comedians, and he was great. Our cabin was a standard forward balcony. The storage in that cabin was amazing! We actually had storage areas we didn't even use! Shower was a bit small and the shower curtain liked to get a bit personal some days, but overall the layout of the lavatory was fine. We had just sailed on the Norwegian Star over Thanksgiving 2018 and were able to compare the two ships and crew and I must say, I was a Norwegian fan, but am now a Royal fan for sure. So, overall, I would highly recommend the Vision to anyone wishing to sail on a smaller ship with a wonderful captain and crew. I just wish they would stay in NOLA!!! If they would, I would certainly sail her again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our second cruise on the Vision, our last was in 2006. Our check-in at the Port of New Orleans was smooth and efficient. Although the ship is on of the smallest in the fleet, we did not find our selves crowded in. We could ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Vision, our last was in 2006. Our check-in at the Port of New Orleans was smooth and efficient. Although the ship is on of the smallest in the fleet, we did not find our selves crowded in. We could always find a place to sit back and relax and play cards. We always found a seat in the Windjammer regardless of the time of day. My time dinning was always available, we were quickly seated without reservations. Our cabin, 8519, was clean and comfortable. The A/C worked great. We found the food to some of the best overall we have enjoyed; both in the Windjammer and the main dinning room. The service was the best part. The wait staff in both the Windjammer and the dinning room was truly outstanding. Although we availed ourselves to my time dinning, we were set in the same area each night with the same waiters. They went out of there way to accommodate us, always there but not intrusive. They remembered our names and what we liked. Undoubtable, one of the best dinning experiences have had on any cruise. The ship being small was easy to get around. The entertainment was top notch. Two really good comedians along with excellent productions stage shows. They put together a special Christmas show for Christmas Eve that was greatly appreciated by all. The cruise director was great, one of the best we have observed. He was all over the place and was quite talented in his own right. Our port calls was the usual W. Caribbean which we have visited many times but we were on the cruise for the holidays and the ship. All in all, one of the best of the over 30 cruises we have enjoyed. We have had no bad cruises, they say a bad day on a cruise is better the a good day at work or home. :) Royal Caribbean was at the usual great performance. Happy New Year. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on Vision. We chose it for two reasons. We wanted to spend a day or two in New Orleans so we looked for a ship leaving from that port. We also wanted to be cruising rather than ... Read More
My husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on Vision. We chose it for two reasons. We wanted to spend a day or two in New Orleans so we looked for a ship leaving from that port. We also wanted to be cruising rather than dealing with any departure problems on December 23. Vision's itinerary was perfect. If you are "willing to share", breakfast in the Main Dining room is a great way to meet new people. The hot tubs in the adults only solarium are too. We visited with folks from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Others had come from India or the Philippines. Of course there were lots of folks from Texas, Alabama and Arkansas as well. The service on Vision was wonderful. Although I was warned the My Time Dining would mean that we would wait for a table and get a series of waiters, this did not prove to be the case. I made daily reservations to suit our schedule and Roberto and Manoj were always there to greet us. The food was wonderful in both the Main Dining room and in the Windjammer. The menu in the Main Dining room had many new and interesting options. It made each meal an adventure. However, I did find that I was able to make delicious, healthy choices in the Windjammer. We went to a show one night only, on a cruising night. After a day snorkeling or climbing a pyramid we were too tired to stay up late. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our first Christmas Cruise and it was a fantastic time. We spent three nights in New Orleans, the city is amazing, The southern hospitality and the music makes it a must visit place. We boarded the Vision early and it was a ... Read More
This was our first Christmas Cruise and it was a fantastic time. We spent three nights in New Orleans, the city is amazing, The southern hospitality and the music makes it a must visit place. We boarded the Vision early and it was a very quick check in. This was the smallest ship that we had sailed on and we weren’t sure what to expect. It did not take long to realize that this ship ticked all the boxes. Incredible entertainment, friendly staff and great food. Cruise Director Steve and Events Manager Talita were brilliant, as were all their entertainment staff. For a small ship they packed in more than the far larger ships. The bar staff were excellent, especially Catalan and Renato. In fact every department were exceptional. A very happy crew. The Captain was around quite a bit and very approachable. The Christmas Eve carols in the Centrum was really nice.i could write all day about our fun week on the Vision. This was, by far, the best cruise that we have been on. See you soon, Royal. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
We had a package which included 4 days in New Orleans and 2 days in Copenhagen. We had a great cruise... food ...entertainment and the crew were all excellent, We had 13 days around the Caribbean and what a glorious cruise and ports, ... Read More
We had a package which included 4 days in New Orleans and 2 days in Copenhagen. We had a great cruise... food ...entertainment and the crew were all excellent, We had 13 days around the Caribbean and what a glorious cruise and ports, Our next Port was Boston and we found it to be a lovely city. 2 days out of Boston we celebrated an Anzac day dawn service with the few Aussies on board and then a 10am service in the lounge area and other guests from different countries joined in. The crew were fabulous and helpful and they made our day a successful one, The ports through the British isles were interesting as were the European ports and we did a few ship tours which were great. There wasn't any children on board probably because of the length of the cruise. We didn't attend any enrichment activities so I can't say anything about that........ Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
A Long Winded Serenade of the Seas Review 4-11-15 "The One Who Must Be Obeyed and I just returned from a fantastic thirteen night repositioning cruise from New Orleans to Boston last Saturday. Background We are both retired ... Read More
A Long Winded Serenade of the Seas Review 4-11-15 "The One Who Must Be Obeyed and I just returned from a fantastic thirteen night repositioning cruise from New Orleans to Boston last Saturday. Background We are both retired educators in our mid-sixties. This was our twenty-fifth cruise, our fifth with RCCL, and our first on The Serenade of the Seas. Pre-cruise We got into New Orleans four days early to enjoy the city and stayed at the Prytania Park Hotel in the Garden District where we met several other members from our roll call. We made the most of our visit and took trips to the countryside to see the gators and tour two plantations. Since I operate a streetcar from New Orleans at the Lowell National Historical Park, I got up early one morning and spent two hours riding sister cars on the St. Charles Line. We were there during a French Quarter Music Fest and took time to enjoy the free live music venues. We had a great dinner cruise on the steamboat Natchez with live music. The highlight of our four day stay was a visit to the World War II Museum, a must see in New Orleans. We arrived shortly after it opened and they "threw us out" at closing! Check-in and Boarding We arrived at the pier at around 10:30 a.m. via cab, deposited our luggage with the porters and then started the check-in process which was very efficient. While other RCCL cruises have given us a number to be used in boarding, this time they were calling by Crown and Anchor status. When the "gold's" were called it seem as if it was 75% of the waiting area that responded. People were pleasant and we were on deck five of the ship hearing the "ding" of our sea pass being scanned in no time. The problem came with them sending everyone through a narrow door where many folks were making MTD reservations. This caused a huge back-up and the ship's photographers added to the situation. After some hurry-up and wait, we finally made it through to the centrum lobby. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Windjammer Café. Although it was somewhat crowded, we knew enough to head back to the outdoor tables aft where we met the first of several new acquaintances. Our Cabin Shortly after lunch, it was announced that cabins were ready. We were in #9536 forward on Deck nine which is a "Superior Ocean View Balcony" for what it is worth. It was very spacious and had plenty of storage and closet space with sufficient hangers. There was a full sized couch which gave us plenty of room to relax. The balcony had two chairs and the standard small table. We found that our luggage had already arrived and we put everything away as me darling wife feels that the cruise does not really being until everything is stored. We are "low maintenance" cruisers and when we met our cabin steward our only requests were for ice daily (for our two bottles of champagne and soda that we brought aboard with us) and a blanket as I love to sit out on the balcony at night and knew that it would get chilly as we moved up the east coast. Safety Drill and Setting Sail RCCL no longer requires you to wear your life vest to the safety drill, but you do report to your muster station (ours was outside on deck five) where attendance is taken and you have the short safety talk and jacket demonstration. After the drill was over, we waited for the crowd to clear and we headed to the Centrum Lounge to enjoy a cool drink and listen to some music. We returned to our cabin to sit on our balcony for the sail away. Having sailed out of other ports where you are almost immediately at sea, sailing out of New Orleans is different as it takes six hours or more to reach the Gulf of Mexico, although it took us much longer. When we woke up the next morning, we were still on the river and could see land. We were supposed to be in the Gulf. It seems as though a Chinese barge had become stuck ahead of us and we had anchored on the Mississippi for the night. By 9 a.m. or so, tugs had freed the barge and we were on our way! The Ship I believe that The Serenade of the Seas goes back to 2003 which makes it one of the older ships in the fleet. Nonetheless, it is in excellent shape. We noticed very little wear and tear. It is a smaller ship and we found it very easy to get around and as a result we were familiar with it by the second day. There are only two banks of public elevators, the main bank in the centrum area and a smaller bank in the forward area which was just a short walk to our cabin. At times you had to wait a minute or two for an elevator, but it was no big deal. The first and last day of course caused longer waits as folks boarded and disembarked. We were told that the ship was only 2/3 full which may have helped the situation. At no time did we feel crowded. In addition to our balcony, our two favorite spots to relax were on the deck five promenade and in the Vortex Lounge on deck thirteen which had excellent views and was a great place to enjoy quiet. Cruise Critic Roll Call Activities This had to have been one of the most active roll calls that we have experienced. As a result there were many activities organized by roll call members on sea days. Our "Meet and Mingle" must have had close to 200 in attendance. The ship provided complimentary champagne and mimosas along with some delicious snacks. The assistant CD was present to welcome us and a variety of door prizes were awarded. One of our roll call members organized the purchase of refrigerator magnets for $1 each and these made for nice souvenirs. Another made special name tags for all of us and yet another purchased plastic holders for them which we wore at roll call organized events. It was nice to be able to put names with faces. We had around fifty of us participate in a slot pull and each of us came out $7 ahead of the game! There was a cabin crawl where some of us were impressed with the suite and aft balcony cabins. Dining We must admit that we ate too much, but thoroughly enjoyed the offerings on the ship. Main Dining Room--We had My Time Dining and had dinner in the MDR on ten of the thirteen nights. We did not make reservations, but never had to wait more than a minute or two for a table. We arrived between 7:30 and 8 p.m. each night. We were so impressed with our waiter, Francis, that we requested his area each night and were always accommodated. His service was outstanding. We sat at a table for two each night and usually next to the same folks, so we had a chance to strike up some conversations. Now we know that food is subjective and have found the food to be okay, but not spectacular in the MDR on past RCCL ships. The Serenade has really kicked it up a few notches and we were never disappointed and had some great dishes. Specialty Restaurants--Since this was a thirteen night cruise, we took advantage of the offer of 20% off of the specialty restaurants if you booked in advance for three nights. We dined in Chops twice and Giovanni's once and enjoyed excellent food and service. Breakfast--We had breakfast most days in the Windjammer Cafe and usually found a table outside of the aft where it was less crowded and had great ocean views. The offerings were excellent even if it did mean that our cholesterol levels increased. I enjoyed the omelet station in particular. The eggs and breakfast meats can be too much every day on a longer cruise, thus we went to the Park Cafe in the solarium pool for lighter fare such as bagels and cream cheese on some days. Lunch--We enjoyed the Windjammer for lunch on most days even if the offerings were somewhat heavy. Whereas on past RCCL ships, hamburgers have been like hockey pucks, we found them to be much better this time around. The Park Cafe offers lighter fare and on a couple of days we enjoyed salads and sandwiches with chips! Desserts--Okay, I have a sweet tooth! In the past we have found that RCCL ships have offered way too many gelatin based desserts for our tastes. There has been a major improvement in this area. Evening Entertainment Having been on many cruises, we are just no longer wowed by the singers and dancers. We realize that they work hard, but it is not something we enjoy, thus we did not go to the shows every night. We did very much enjoy the comedy if Alfred and Seymour. These guys kept us in stiches. Donovan and Rebecca proved to be terrific acrobats. The demographics of our cruise saw most of us in our sixties and above, thus the retro fifties music of The Diamonds was very popular. On the other hand, if we had to have paid extra to see the magic show of Justino and Daniela, I would have asked for my money back! We looked forward to Segundo's guitar classics in the centrum each evening. We watched the movie "Fury" under the stars on the Lido Deck one evening and enjoyed it. Other excellent film offerings included "The Theory of Everything" and "The Imitation Game" which we had seen in the past. On Board Activities We don't feel the need to have non-stop activities on board as we are content with sitting, reading, and watching the ocean go by. I did get through five novels! We did enjoy the morning progressive trivia on all of the sea days. We had the same great team each day and won several daily prizes and brought back a collection of highlighters, luggage tags, and ball point pens. Out of the fifteen or so teams, we came in a close second, thus we did not win the grand prize baskets, but we very much enjoyed the experience. I was reading and resting in the late afternoon or taking a swim in the solarium pool, but "The One Who Must Be Obeyed" did go up to some of the afternoon trivia sessions. We did attend some of the specialty lectures on the history and culture of the ports. They were okay, but not spectacular. Ports Since we had been to all of the ports before, we did not do any of the ship sponsored excursions which we view as overpriced cattle herds, thus we did one private tour and DIY's for all others. Grand Cayman--We did take a private excursion with Safari Adventures and went to the east end or quiet side of the island to visit the botanical gardens and to see the oldest home on the island in San Pedro. Since there was an island wide power outage, we could not see the introductory film and our guide made up for it by taking us to a private preserve where we saw dozens or iguanas and other wildlife. We had hoped to take advantage of free WiFi locations in town to check in back home, but the power outage prevented that along with the frozen drink that I had promised "The One Who Must Be Obeyed". We had to settle for beer and soda. The upside of the power outage was that the shops could not accept credit cards, thus I saved a few dollars with someone who likes to shop! Aruba--We have been to this beautiful island several times before, thus we were old pros at navigating the public bus system to Eagle Beach where we rented chairs in shade and I spent several hours in the warm waters. Afterward we went back to the ship to have lunch and go into town for shopping and free WiFI and Starbucks, we were learned that our next grandchild will be a boy! Bonaire--We know that this has a rocky coast best known for diving or snorkeling and not for its sandy beaches. Research on these boards led us to take a shared van to Sorobon Beach where we enjoyed what is probably the only sandy beach (albeit somewhat small and shallow) on the island. We rented chairs in the shade adjacent to restrooms and a bar with food and enjoyed the warm and shallow waters. We watched dozens of windsurfers and wished that we were younger! St. Maarten--We wanted a break from beaches and thus took the water taxi into town for shopping for our grand children and me darling wife. She found some "bargains" in the straw market. We had some cool drinks while looking out at the harbor and took advantage of the free WIFI do to some facetime with our daughters back in the states. St. Thomas--Again, we have been there several times and chose to take a taxi to Emerald Beach which is at the Best Western Hotel. We rented chairs in the shade and swam for several hours in warm and calm waters and just read and relaxed. We again had our I-Pad and took advantage of the free WiFi. Conclusion Positives--When you first come home from a cruise, it always seems that it is the best cruise ever, but we have to admit that we really enjoyed the Serenade of the Seas and the itinerary and weather on this one! We had outstanding service from the crew Minor Annoyances--I won't even call them negatives. The ship's library has to be one of the weakest that we have ever seen with just one cabinet and a few shelves of books. Since St. Thomas was our first stop on U.S. soil, the ship had everyone line up very early in the morning to pass through immigration. It took us over an hour in a line that stretched from the theatre all of the way forward to the dining room all of the way aft to have an immigration official look at our passport for a second or two and to have the staff put a sticker on our sea pass card. We ran into some "complainers" at meal times and were embarassed with fuss that they chose to make. None of this annoyed us for more than a minute of two and we concentrated on positives. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We sailed from New Orleans and had time to take trolly to see some sights in the city.Bourbon Street,Jazz Festival .Serenade of Seas is a very well kept mid size cruiser.We enjoyed the public areas of the ship and found the Solarium to be ... Read More
We sailed from New Orleans and had time to take trolly to see some sights in the city.Bourbon Street,Jazz Festival .Serenade of Seas is a very well kept mid size cruiser.We enjoyed the public areas of the ship and found the Solarium to be the place to enjoy breakfast in the morning!There was plenty to do all day!The pool was at times crowded but always managed to find a chaise.Bingo,cinema and casino kept us busy during the day.The theater was always spectacular especially the two man comedy show from California!Had everyone in hysterics!!Everyone who worked on this cruise ship was helpful,accommodating and seemed to enjoy their role in RCCL.We pretty much did our own excursion in every port.Grand Cayman we walked to the downtown area and shopped.Had lunch right on the waterfront.We had previously vacationed in the Caymans so passed on Stingray City,Seven Mile Beach and Hell but highly recommend for those who have not been.Aruba was our second stop and took a cab to The Ritz and toured the Hotel.We then walked the boardwalk along the beach to the Hyatt and had lunch out on "The Pier".Bonaire is for snorkeling and diving.We walked to the Divi hotel and snorkeled right off the beach.The dive store is on site.St.Maarten is great for shopping and taking a van tour.We toured over to St.Martin( French side) and went to a nice beach. St.Thomas was our last port and decided to jewelry shop!There are some of the best beaches on this island!Our cabin was well maintained by the housekeeping staff and always had a bucket of ice in room!Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly and there was no problem leaving mid morning.Would take another cruise on The Serenade of The Seas . Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was my second cruise, the first one was for my 1st anniversary 12 years ago, and now this one with my husband and the kids (ages 10 & 8). I was a bit reluctant at first with the thought of being confined to a small space with the ... Read More
This was my second cruise, the first one was for my 1st anniversary 12 years ago, and now this one with my husband and the kids (ages 10 & 8). I was a bit reluctant at first with the thought of being confined to a small space with the kids for a week, boy was I ever wrong! We arrived in New Orleans a couple days early to have a pre-vacation and see the city which was a great start to the vacation. By far our favorite activity was the WWII museum which is a must-see for anyone in New Orleans. Also a couple trips to Cafe du Monde for beignets, and walks throughout the parks were a lot of fun. The boarding process in New Orleans went pretty smooth, lots of lines but that was expected. As soon as we got on the ship we headed to the Windjammer for lunch and then spent time exploring around. The kids were especially delighted to see the basketball/soccer court, ping pong tables, billiards, shuffle board and the pools. We spent much time playing ping pong throughout the week. The biggest surprise to my husband and I was the Ocean Adventure kids program, it was excellent!! On the first day at sea we signed the kids up for the program, and enabled them to be self-signers so that they could come and go without my husband and I needing to be there. We dropped them off for the morning session on day 2 and weren't too sure how they'd like it. We came back a few hours later before the morning session was set to end and the first response was "Why are you here? We want to stay!" The Ocean Adventure staff was great, they were so good with the kids and had new activities and fun games for them everyday. They even had late night sessions from 10:00PM-2:00AM for gagaball tournaments, etc. (my kids loved this!). They went to the late night sessions until 11 or 12 almost every night. The last night sessions cost an additional $7/hour per child, but well worth the money to get some quality adult time to enjoy our wine and drinks. Our cruise was during Spring Break so there were lots of other kids to play with, both my kids had lots of playmates and made lots of new friends. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10, the couch folded out into a bed for the kids to sleep on at night. It was a bit cramped at night once the bed was put out, but we were able to manage. Having the balcony was great and added a nice bit of extra living space. We had no problem storing our clothes and belongings in the room, plenty of closet and drawer space. We did take advantage of the $30/bag laundry special on day 4(?), which got us through the week. We were scheduled for 8:00 seating in the main dining room, and had a 10 seater table to ourselves. It was actually quite nice to be able to dine alone and not have forced conversations with others. We thoroughly enjoyed the wait staff and the food. The portions can be quite small, but we regularly ordered multiple appetizers and desserts. The afternoon and late night dining options are very limited. I was disappointed in the lack of selection and the limited hours. As part of the free beverages they had flavored water which was very tasty (and a good rum mixer), but it is only served during the Park Cafe hours, and even then they would run out at times. I started getting extras during the day and storing them in the cabin for later. I did pack my own reusable water bottle for my time on the cruise, this worked out perfectly. I just wish I had brought more than one. My kids both had the soda drink package which was a complete waste, I think they only had one or two sodas the entire cruise. They had the free juice or water most of the time. To get the soda you have to go to a bar to get it, it is not self serve. My husband and I would get a bottle of wine for dinner and that worked out well, and much less expensive then the daily drink package. The pool areas were always very crowded, but it didn't spoil any of our fun. Now for the ports of call: Key West - This was a nice stop, it's great that it's still US so do you feel safer. We walked to the Butterfly Museum which was a fun place and very cool to see the butterflies and flamingos. The flamingos were in mating season and we got to see the full mating call and dance, pretty neat. We then went to the Hemingway House, which was very cool and filled with lots of interesting history. Then the kids were begging to get back to the ship for the kids club, so we dropped them off and then my husband and I headed back to Sloppy Joe's bar for a few afternoon drinks, good times! Nassau, Bahamas - I was less-impressed with this stop. We walked to Fort Charlotte, which was a long walk and a bit tiring for the kids. Fort Charlotte is interesting and only $1 entrance fee, so definitely worth a visit. We then went to the Pirates Museum, which was a interesting, but a bit touristy and overpriced, but still worth the visit. On the way back to the ship we ran across a Greek restaurant (Athena cafe) and stopped in for some Sky juice and appetizers, this was one of the best meals on our vacation, absolutely delicious! Coco Cay - This was our favorite stop. The island is beautiful and the water crystal blue. The kids and I did the ocean play activities, this was so much fun! The kids had the all-day water slide pass, which they loved. We definitely good our money's worth. It was nice that the food was all inclusive and no need to buy or bring anything along. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned ... Read More
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned so much from CruiseCritic! I really think it made our experience more enjoyable. Our family included myself, husband, 16 y.o. son, and 17 y.o. son. About a week before our cruise I read some not so great reviews of the Serenade and was a little scared, but honestly we had a great time and didn’t have any complaints. Well, the only complaint was the wifi unlimited package because it worked only some of the time for my husband and most of the time for me, but not worth 200.00. Embarkation: We’re from the New Orleans area so getting to and from the port terminal was a breeze. We had a family member drop us off near the porters on Julia St at around 10:15 a.m. The only hiccup was that even though I had printed our set sail passes they had no record of it and we had to fill out everything again at the desk. Not a huge deal, but I was nervous and felt like I did something wrong. lol After that hiccup, we were on the ship playing mini golf by 10:45 Cabin: We had cabin 8604 and 8606. They were balcony cabins and 8604 was on the hump and had a deeper kind of pie-shaped balcony. My sons are 6’ and 6’4 and their feet kind of hung off of their beds, but all was good. Our cabin steward was great and always kept things clean and made awesome towel animals most days. Staff: All staff we encountered were really great. I did not see one person that was not smiling and they went out of their way if we had a question or request. The cruise director, Carly, held our roll call meet and greet and I found her to be very warm and fun to be around. The whole cruise director staff worked really hard making sure everyone was having a good time all week. Food: We ate in the main dining room (5:30 seating) every dinner and really enjoyed the food and selection. I would give the food an 8 out of 10. Our waiter, Kavi, and assistant, Videsh, were great as well as our table mates. My sons grumbled about wearing pants and dressing for dinner, but by the second day they were in a groove and didn’t complain because they really liked the food. We saw some shorts, but for the most part everyone around us dressed in pants (for the men) and sundresses or capris for women except formal nights. I did see a man in shorts on the second formal night and the server motioned to the maitre d, but I don’t know what they told him (he was already sitting) because we were on our way to our table. We mainly ordered room service for breakfast and it was great to watch the sunrise on the balcony every morning and have coffee, fruit, pastries and yogurt. On sea days, we sometimes ate lunch in the Windjammer, but it was usually crowded and the food was not the best, but it is probably because we don’t like buffets that much. We enjoyed lunch in the main dining room and the park cafe in the solarium also. Drink package: I purchased the replenish package for my sons and I haven’t calculated to see if it was worth it or not. They did get several frozen non alcoholic drinks every day and frozen coffee. My husband and I just drink water or coffee so we didn’t get a package. Entertainment: The live bands and shows were great on the ship. We loved the comedians, the pub singer, the Unexpected Boys and most of the entertainment staff shows. My sons did leave one show where they were acting and singing from different movie musicals. There was a nice instrumental guitarist, latin band and house band in the centrum that we really enjoyed listening to. Salsa dancing, 70’s party and cake decorating contest were fun too. Photographers: This is the best surprise of the cruise for me! It is so hard to get my teenage boys to dress up and take a family picture…. I bought the whole package on the 3rd day because they had a 50.00 off special. I am sooo glad I did because we got a stack of about 50 great professional photos for less than a sitting fee at some photographers. We really loved one of the photographers too, he would always pop out at dinner and say, “It’s me again!” I am really thankful for all of the great photos. Pools: We didn’t use the pools because they are small and were usually filled with little kids (main pool) or older people (solarium). It was nice to just lay out on a pool chair in the sun. Casino: We mainly went for about 20 minutes in the mornings. The casino was really smokey, but in the mornings it wasn’t bad at all. They also did double points from 9-11 a.m. The left side is non smoking, but it still smelled at crowded times. Things I learned: Luckily, none of us get seasick. We had rough seas one night and it was the best sleeping night for me. The bathrooms on ships are too small (like an R.V. bathroom). I also learned that I packed too much… Grateful to CruiseCritic for: I am grateful for tips about bringing an automatic air freshener. It really helped to come back to a great smelling cabin. I also learned a lot about how dining worked and other research so that I could know what to expect. Ports: Jamaica: We actually loved Jamaica! The port was beautiful and organized. We did the Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin encounter with lunch. Our guide was Lyndal and he was great. Even though I read horror stories of vendors and such, we didn’t encounter one pushy vendor. Lynval had us on the falls in one of the first groups and the first group at Dolphin cove. The food was also really good there (except the hot dog). Grand Cayman: We did a reef and wreck snorkel and it was fun. The port seemed chaotic and 6 ships were docked. It was also really expensive to eat there because everything was in cayman dollars so when it was converted if you weren’t expecting it, you could get a shock. Cozumel: We love Cozumel and have been before (not on a cruise). We did the San Gervasio ruins with beach break. Our guide, Bianca, was great. Surprisingly, the souvenirs we bought there were cheaper for the same shirts than at the shops near the port. Our beach break was beautiful and we went to Pescadore restaurant right on the beach. I am excited that we finished our first cruise and am sad that Royal Caribbean is leaving New Orleans. I will be booking again, but out of Galveston. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, we went to Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls. This was our favorite excursion. I would not travel around Jamaica on your own but with an excursion and in the port we felt safe. The port was nice and not crowded. On our excursion, our tour guides were great, especially at Green Grotto Caves. Our group did not get a videographer at Dunn's River Falls, but the groups that did seemed to get a better tour (ours was still great!). We also visited Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the cruise port. I would not get food there again (it was pricey and mediocre) but it was fun to walk around and take pictures there. In Grand Cayman, we did the Stingray City, Snorkeling, and 7 Mile Beach lunch buffet excursion (I don't think that's it's exact title-but similar). I would NOT recommend this excursion. Grand Cayman was extremely crowded and busy. We will not take a cruise here again. The excursion was disorganized, started late, and we had a very large group. They cancelled our snorkeling part of the trip due to "rough" waters but most people in our group thought it was due to running behind with their disorganization-the waters weren't bad. Royal Caribbean refunded everyone $30/person for the inconvenience. We did not like Stingray City. I have snorkeled with Stingrays in Belize and swam with them in a small group. This excursion felt like exploiting the rays. There were hundreds of people crowded standing on a sandbar with some rays swimming around. The guides were holding them out of the water trying to get people to take pictures with them. Our guide charged $40 per picture. Our guides were very pushy and begging for tips. After the stingrays, we went to 7 Mile Beach. Our lunch and the beach were nice. There were chickens walking around on the beach. We snorkeled on our own here (we brought our own equipment, but you could rent some there). After our excursion, we walked around the crowded port and got gellato (it was a bit pricey for gellato but good). In Cozumel, we went snorkeling and to Playa Mia. We loved this. The port was nice and a bit crowded but not as crowded as Grand Cayman. We would like to come back on a cruise or stay at a resort. The boat ride to snorkeling and Playa Mia was great. Our guides were fun and informative. We took pictures, sang, and danced on the boat. They provided water, soft drinks, beer, rum punch, and margaritas on the boat. The snorkeling was nice and the group wasn't too large. Playa Mia was busy but there was lots to do. The food wasn't impressive, but we had fun! All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman, we went on Royal Caribbean's excursions. All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
I’m not going to call this a review, because I’m really going to try to keep this one short…difficult for me at best, and it may prove impossible…we’ll see. A little about us…this was our 23rd cruise – our 10th with Royal ... Read More
I’m not going to call this a review, because I’m really going to try to keep this one short…difficult for me at best, and it may prove impossible…we’ll see. A little about us…this was our 23rd cruise – our 10th with Royal Caribbean, and we’ve also cruised on Princess, HAL, Celebrity, and Carnival. We cruise without children, so the children’s club and family activities aren’t important to us. We don’t usually go to BINGO, we’ve never rock climbed, and cruise ship pool games don’t do much for us either. We seldom use room service, don’t eat late at night, and make a game out of Windjammer avoidance – the more we can avoid it, the higher our score! The things that matter and that we judge a cruise on are good service, a comfortable cabin with as much private outdoor space as possible (yes, I’m a balcony snob), good wine, reasonably good food, and some decent entertainment and activities sprinkled in there. We used to be die-hard late traditional diners, but now prefer MTD at an earlier hour, and we eat more in the specialty restaurants than we do in the MDR. We seldom go to the production shows any more, and we’ve never been big fans of cruise ship comedians, but we do often enjoy guest performers, spending time in the Schooner Bar for the piano player or listening to whatever entertainer is in the pub, and some late-night gambling. The other thing we usually do a lot is join in on trivia, but for some reason that never happened on this trip – I guess our timing was off. Pre-Cruise – We stayed at the Hampton Inn on St. Charles (in the Garden District) and it worked out perfectly for us. I liked being a little bit away from the action, and the very reasonable price of our room included parking for the cruise! We actually changed our plans and stayed two nights instead of one, since the price was so reasonable. We were upgraded at check-in, and we had a huge room overlooking St. Charles with a seating area and dining area. I would stay here again and recommend it as a great choice for cruisers who want a quieter location than the hotels in the center of the action. The cab fare to the port is fixed, so it will cost you $7.00 per person regardless of location. This was my first trip to New Orleans…hard to believe since I’ve lived in Houston for 32+ years! We enjoyed dinner at Commander’s Palace the night we arrived, and I would call it a must do for anyone who has never been to NOLA. We had a VERY busy Friday. We started with a self-guided walking tour of the Garden District, including Lafayette Cemetery. What a fascinating place! After we finished touring the cemetery, we walked around the Garden District for another 30 minutes or so, admiring the lovely restored homes and interesting architecture. We rode the street car down to the Quarter, and had lunch at Tableau – also highly recommended. After lunch, we took a photography walking tour of the French Quarter with American Photo Safari. This was good, and we definitely saw a couple things we might have missed otherwise, but I thought it was a little heavy on technical camera instruction as opposed to seeing unusual sights and the composition (artistic) part of photography. At some point during the tour, I remarked to my husband that I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, that New Orleans was no wilder or weirder than any other big city. Remember those words, because in a few hours they will come back to bite me in the rear and what happened impacted my cruise! We were fortunate to have “private guides” for our evening. Friends from Cruise Critic and the Mariner in 2012 know New Orleans well, and they helped us find our way around and see the important sights. We started at the Carousel Bar, then went to Felix’s for dinner. We followed that up with Pat O’Brien’s (twice), had front row seating at Preservation Hall (fabulous – don’t miss this!), and ended the night at Café du Monde for a fat and sugar fix! So, back to my earlier comment…what bit me in the rear? When we went into Felix’s for dinner it was still light, but when we walked out and rounded the corner onto Bourbon Street it was dark and my jaw hit my chin. I was stunned by the difference from day to night! Now, I’m not graceful at the best of times, but I’m especially clumsy when I’m gawking and not paying attention to where I’m walking. One of those little dips in the brick at the edge of the street got the best of me, and down I went, sprawling in the middle of Bourbon Street. I have no excuse – at that point I had only had one drink – I just wasn’t paying attention. My tumble took the skin off my right knee and I badly twisted my left ankle, but thankfully my husband used his leg to partially break my fall and both my head and my camera emerged unscathed. A “nice” merchant in a bead and junk shop was kind enough to sell me three band aids for $4.35, and I had some Neosporin in my purse (remember, I’m a klutz!), so I tended to my knee and went about enjoying the rest of the evening. Fortunately, walking to Café du Monde at the end of the evening I discovered Rouse’s Grocery Store and bought a box of band aids and an ace bandage that would basically salvage my cruise. I had to go sandal-less and wear long pants for the week, but the cruise packing Gods were looking out for me because I actually had packed two pairs of closed toed shoes with Velcro straps that I could get on over the bandage. Usually I only have tennis shoes, and I never was able to get those on! The cruise – I think I’ll just bullet this instead of a blow by blow description of our days on the ship. We’re really not that interesting and there’s a limit to how many days’ worth of “we relaxed and took a nap on the balcony” you can read! What we liked: • Our cabin – GS 1554 was very conveniently located and a little different from the other Grand Suites. It was a bit smaller because it was on the hump, but we had a full outer wall of glass with double sliding doors that basically served to make the cabin and the balcony seem like one space. • We thought the ship was beautiful! This was our first time on a Radiance class ship, and I see why people love them. We thought Serenade was easy to navigate, beautifully decorated, and impeccably maintained. • The staff we encountered on the Serenade were great! I know several people have written otherwise recently, but that wasn’t our experience at all. I had to visit guest services once, and they were friendly, helpful, and extremely apologetic they couldn’t help me find my lost earring. I thought the Concierge Lounge staff was phenomenal. Alan, the concierge, went out of his way to make guests comfortable. I think the server in the lounge, Melody, is quite simply the best in the fleet! If you have the good fortune to meet her in your travels, make sure you ask for a Chocolate Martini, and tell her Cindy, Deedee, and Carol said hi! The only “great staff” exception all week was a grumpy bartender in the Solarium. He seemed put-out by having to get me a bottle of water, but he looked put-out by life in general, so I just ignored his attitude and moved on! • I also really liked Carly, the CD. I didn’t think she was phony at all as others have written, and I liked her low-key approach. This is totally a matter of taste, and while I don’t pay a lot of attention to Cruise Directors, the ones I dislike are the ones who always seem to be in my face drawing attention to themselves. I’m sure some of you remember Becky “Hallo Luv” from the Mariner. She had a huge following but she drove me crazy, and I thought everything was about her. I didn’t get that from Carly at all. • The food, generally speaking, was very good. We only went to the Windjammer once, so the most I can say about that is I thought it was the standard buffet fare that I’ve seen on every ship. We ate in the dining room (MTD) on both formal nights. The first time, we had an excellent table and wait staff, and the food and service were both very good. The second time we weren’t as lucky, and both the food and service were lacking. We ate at Giovanni’s Table the first and last night. Although I love their food, the meal on Saturday was marred by extremely slow service and difficulty getting food out in the correct order as well as them serving everyone’s entrées at different times. We tried it again on Friday, and although the service was better, there was still something a little off about it. It appeared to me that there weren’t enough servers, and it also seemed like the kitchen had a difficult time getting food out in the intended order. Both evenings, the pasta was served when we were almost done with our mains. Chops was excellent in both food and service. I thought Chops was just as good as it’s always been, and it was better than Chops on the Oasis. By the way, Chops on the Serenade has tablecloths! • Special events on the Serenade were extremely well done. We went to Chef’s Table, and thought the food was delightful. The wine pairings were good, not great (I would have rather had Caymus!), but they complemented the food and our waiter/sommelier Bento did a great job of explaining the choices. We were blown away by the suite “Cocktail Party” which was anything but a cocktail party. It was an exquisite upscale buffet lunch in Chops! What a pleasant surprise! We also attended a brunch in Chops on the last sea day. It was the first time they had offered this, and I would definitely do it again. We started with a galley tour, and then had a fantastic brunch that included steak, lobster, stuffed chicken breast, and eggs cooked to order. We didn’t attend either of the C&A parties because we found them to be at inconvenient times. • We had an active roll call on CC, and ended up doing quite a bit with people from the roll call throughout the cruise. The Vortex was full for the official M&M…it seemed like everybody showed up! Our cabin crawl was very well attended, everybody who participated as a host went all-out with decorations and trinkets, and we were fortunate to end the event in the Royal Suite! Sometimes roll calls work out, and sometimes they don’t. This one was mostly a positive experience both on and off the ship. • I love having two sea days at the end of the cruise…it just makes the whole packing and leaving process so much less painful when it’s spread out over two days! Things we’re neutral about: • Entertainment…we didn’t go to much of it, so it’s hard to judge. We saw the Las Vegas Tenors and thought they were great! There was a problem with the aerial shows on our cruise. A cable snapped right at the beginning of the performance on Monday night, and the show was cancelled. They did an abbreviated performance on Friday afternoon, but there was only one aerialist instead of two, and only one apparatus was used. I would have liked to see the full show, but I understand the safety concerns and sometimes things just happen! We also enjoyed QUEST and the 70’s Party on the Serenade, but there were other areas that we thought needed improvement. The most glaring one was, to us, the piano player. He seemed to always be on break when we tried to listen, and he seemed to spend most of the evening behind a cocktail instead of the keyboard! • Embarkation and disembarkation were fine…I’m not going to go into a lot of detail since RCI is pulling out of NOLA. Embarkation was slowed by some extreme ineptitude at the security scanners, but after that it was smooth and quick for us. Disembarkation was the fastest and most efficient we’ve ever had on US soil – be prepared for a very long walk to transportation though! • Photo Gallery – I think I got spoiled by the folio system on Oasis and on Navigator. I hated having to go on a search and rescue mission to find my photos! We don’t get many, but I needed to get my freebies, and even finding those was difficult. There were some shots that never showed up, and no one in there seemed especially helpful. • Shops – meh. They seemed to have a lot of the usual stuff, just less of it. I did have some OBC I was trying to use, so I ended up finding some cute purses on sale and picked them up for my nieces for Christmas gifts. I thought the jewelry and clothing selection was skimpy compared to other ships. My husband was not bothered by this AT ALL…believe me, I don’t need to shop. • We had the Ultimate Beverage Package, and I probably could have done without it on this trip because the CL was so accommodating. Even though we have lounge access and the evening HH drinks loaded on our cards, we’ve found it beneficial to have the package in the past because I am a wine snob, I hate the wine they pour in the lounges, and I’ve never been able to get any “frou frou” martinis in there either. I would have been fine on this trip to just get the Royal Replenish for water, Pellegrino, and fancy coffees and then loaded up on OBC to cover alcohol and wine. I will say it seemed a bit easier to use the package than it has been in the past, but the experience still isn’t as good as on Celebrity where you never sign anything. What we didn’t like (thankfully not much): • The elevators were an issue the entire trip. We were on Deck 10 and ordinarily would have just walked up to 13, but I had the annoying issue of a bad ankle and had great difficulty walking up or down the stairs. Often, completely empty elevators would whiz by, but what was even worse was the people who thought catching an elevator was a sporting event. They would hit the close button before others could get on, and then laugh as people missed the ride. Seriously. What kind of a jerk does that? I’m not talking about kids playing, I’m talking about totally rude and inconsiderate adults. Shame on them. Only slightly less annoying were the people who would arrive at the elevator lobby and dart onto the first one that came, despite the fact there were people who had been waiting. Sheesh…I was just stunned at the number of self-centered, inconsiderate people I encountered in an elevator lobby. I guess they were taking a vacation from manners. • This was a Spring Break cruise, and although I didn’t think we had any “typical” Spring Break behavior, there were a few VERY large groups travelling together. They tended to monopolize the space wherever they were. On the first night, their chosen location happened to be the CL, and they were so loud we had to leave…we literally couldn’t have a conversation. Again, I think it all boils down to being considerate of your fellow passengers and remembering you’re on a large cruise ship, not a private yacht. • Port times were poor (although I booked the cruise knowing this, because I wanted to go on a Radiance class ship and sail out of New Orleans). We didn’t get into Nassau until 1:00, and our time in Key West was only 11:00-5:00. The only port with what I would call “normal” hours and a full day was Coco Cay. • I didn’t think the perks for suites were as good as on other ships. I missed having Chops for breakfast and a place to sit during lunch to get away from the Windjammer crowds. • For some reason, this wasn’t a good sleeping cruise for us. Neither one of us thought the mattress was very comfortable, and although we couldn’t hear any noise from the Centrum (they kept the fire door closed at night) we did have some noise from above. • Finally, and to me this is the biggie and the one that Royal Caribbean needs to address is the smoke. The smoke from the casino wasn’t just bad in the casino, it was bad in the Centrum on all the decks above the casino. It drifted down the cabin hallways…I could smell it when I opened my cabin door. I’m not a militant anti-smoking person, but I thought it was awful, and I hated smelling smoke in all the public areas. This won’t be a popular opinion on here, but if they can’t find a way to properly extract the smoke then maybe it’s time to get rid of inside smoking completely. Create a sheltered, comfortable, well-ventilated area outside and be done with it. The only good thing was that I found the smoke so oppressive it kept me out of the casino. Since there was a thief in there masquerading as a Wheel of Fortune machine it’s probably a good thing I stayed away! Ports – Key West: We did our own walking tour, based on recommendations in the Ports of Call section of CC and on Trip Advisor. We started with lunch at Bo’s Fish Wagon, which is a fascinating, kitschy, delicious, and probably totally unsanitary place built around an old food wagon. If you’ve never eaten conch fritters while chickens roam freely by your feet and jump on the tables, then I suggest Bo’s! We walked after lunch, through a neighborhood with beautiful restored homes and on to Duval Street and some local color. We spent about 45 minutes at the Butterfly Conservancy before walking over to the Southernmost Point and waiting our turn in line to take photos. By that time, I was beat, sweating (because I had on long pants and closed toed shoes), and my ankle was throbbing, so we grabbed a pedi-cab to take us to our next stop for a little slice of heaven – Kermit’s frozen, chocolate-dipped Key Lime Pie on a Stick! Yum! I had thought about that treat for 22 months (the length of time between booking and sailing) and it didn’t disappoint. After that, I was pretty much done. We wandered slowly back to the ship, browsing as we went and generally taking our time. I would have loved longer in Key West, but on that particular day I was happy to get back to my floating home for the week and put my foot up! Nassau: We had a group of 13 (all from the roll call) take a Tru Bahamian Food Tour. This was fantastic and I highly recommend it. The owner was great to work with, and happy to set up an afternoon tour to accommodate our late ship arrival. Our guide, Murray, was a wealth of knowledge and interesting anecdotes, and we had a terrific time. After the tour Jim and I went back to the ship, and never went back on shore. We were sound asleep LONG before the Serenade sailed at midnight. Coco Cay: We shared a cabana with a Cruise Critic friend from the ship, and it was perfect for us. Neither Jim nor I are big beach people, especially if it’s crowded, so I was perfectly content to have a lovely shaded couch to lay on and only emerge to take pictures or eat! I thought it was a good choice for us since the Majesty was there too and the island did seem extremely crowded to me. Conclusions – We would go on the Serenade again in a heartbeat! While she doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of the newer and bigger ships, she’s beautiful, and for our tastes this was a great cruise. If someone needs to be entertained instead of finding the ocean itself entertaining, or likes to be active 24/7, the Serenade might not be a great choice. Much has changed in the cruise industry in the 15 years since we took our first cruise, and in many ways the product in 2015 is unrecognizable next to the product in 2000, or even 2010. Some things are gone never to return and some now cost extra, but that’s not all bad. There are more choices than ever, and a person can really personalize things to their tastes. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Serenade of the Seas is one of the easiest ships to navigate. I never got lost the whole cruise. I'm not really sure what made this ship so easy....was it the well placed elevators, was it the touch screens on each floor, was it ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas is one of the easiest ships to navigate. I never got lost the whole cruise. I'm not really sure what made this ship so easy....was it the well placed elevators, was it the touch screens on each floor, was it being able to see every floor from the atrium, was it being able to go front to back on all floors? The planners of this ship certainly had me in mind when they designed it. I am going to miss her when she leaves New Orleans. Getting to the spa was easy. The massages and facials (yes, I went more than once) were wonderful and worth the money. Lying on the heated lounges in the spa is the best way to relax. My cabin was close to the stairs and elevators. Even being in a busy area, I was never bothered by loud noise. Do not let convenience of stairs and elevators cause you concern. It is still quiet in your room. Activities on the ship were loads of fun. Watching the cooking demonstrations, the line dancing, and the belly dancing instructions was so much fun.....even if you just watched. The music was all over the ship. All I had to do was choose the music I was in the mood to listen to and find it on the Cruise Compass. The photographers worked with me to capture some great looks. They certainly know how to make me look my best. It is so sad we are losing Royal Caribbean in New Orleans. Maybe one day RCCL will return. Until then, I will have to travel to other ports to catch the wonderful ships of Royal Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco ... Read More
This was our first cruise and was with 2 kids age 19 and 21, my wife and i are in our early 50's We were on Serenade of the Seas March 7, 2015 week. 2 rooms at front of ship deck 9 Left New Orleans for Key West, Nassau and Coco Cay stops Staff was great everywhere on the ship, friendly and helpful. Our room steward was awesome, enjoyed talking to him and we had an issue with safe not opening one day, he instantly called a tech and the guy arrived in 5 minutes. Had an interior cabin, was perfect, all we did was sleep in it, never spent a minute there otherwise. Tons of food with a good variety, we ate in the dining room most nights, ordered 2 meals some nights to get a variety. Servers were awesome, Marek was one of our servers and he was great to talk to. These folks work their backsides off. The Buffet always had lots to choose from and was always hot. Omelette station every morning was my stop, perfection every time. Expect to gain weight :) Shows were good, comedians were very funny. Check in was smooth, getting on and off boat was trouble free and efficient. Boat was clean, crew were always touching up things, painting over spots, cleaning railings etc (mostly while everyone slept, i was up really late one night, crew were busy all over the ship, cleaning, dusting. polishing, vacuuming etc) The only things that need "fixed" are the pool table cues, they need some new tips, also the darts in pub are the cheap ones and not worth playing darts with.(bring your own) No problems bringing water on board, we had a dozen bottles of Perrier water in the carry-ons, no one said a thing In Key West we did the Conch Train tour, it was like 20 something dollars each at the booth by the stop in Key West. That was like half the price of what was offered on the ship, but it gets better, as i was talking to the rep and said that was a bit much and started to walk away he called me back and offered my 4 tickets for the price of 2, SOLD, a much better deal. 4 adults for 40 bucks - It was worth it, got to see alot of Key West that way. Even my 2 "kids" enjoyed it which i was surprised about. Yes the water and Photos on the ship are over priced but no different then going to Disney - bring your own water and take your own photos. Shore excursions can usually be purchased for way less off the ship as we did with the Conch Train tour (and a buddy that cruises all the time says they always book tours off the ship, sometimes even ahead of time via the internet rather then pay ship prices.) Hope this review helps Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
This was our 3rd cruise, but the first one in 7 yrs and the first one that was just me and my husband. We drove to New Orleans and were a little concerned about the overflow parking area, as it doesn't seem very secure and it is in an ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, but the first one in 7 yrs and the first one that was just me and my husband. We drove to New Orleans and were a little concerned about the overflow parking area, as it doesn't seem very secure and it is in an open field, but we did come back to find that we still had a car and all 4 tires/wheels :). The cruise was wonderful and just what we were looking for....rest and relaxation. Since we had cruised before, we weren't really interested in excursions, so we just did our own thing in Key West and Nassau and we were unable to stop at CocoCay due to high waves. We had 5 days on the ship and we just used this time to lay around and relax...play some pool on the cool gyro-tables...watch some shows...ate way too much great food and had wonderful service with our room steward and our waiters in the dining room. Probably not the best cruise for children or for families that want to do excursions, but if you wanted an enjoyable relaxing time........this was it! A++++++ Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise