32 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

This was an experienced crew who worked well together and knew the itinerary. All our experiences onboard were much more than satisfactory. Because the cruise was so port-intensive, we didn't have the energy to take in much ... Read More
This was an experienced crew who worked well together and knew the itinerary. All our experiences onboard were much more than satisfactory. Because the cruise was so port-intensive, we didn't have the energy to take in much entertainment or enjoy activities onboard. What we need was excellent service, good food, and a comfortable refuge after walking many thousands of steps each day ashore. This the Serenade and her crew delivered without fail. The weather was not our friend on this cruise. After the first stop in Crete, the clouds rolled in and the waves started bouncing. We were diverted away from Mykonos, and I congratulate the captain, who quickly arranged for us to dock in Kusadasi at 5 p.m. the evening before we were expected. Thanks for the quick response - we really enjoyed the extra evening in Kusadasi! The ship, while a little elderly, is a beauty. And it was polished, buffed and maintained like a gem. Our dining room waiters had a difficult situation (not going into details on this) and they did everything they could to make the table work out well - and it did. Hats off to them. This was a complicated situation, and they handled it really well. One thing that surprised me was that our large round window in our Oceanview cabin on Deck 3 had to be battened down for the high winds and waves. That meant the crew installed an aluminum disk over the window for about 36 hours. Huh. I didn't know that could happen. But since it was nasty outside, I didn't really care! The itinerary was wonderful. Crete, Santorini, Mykonos (well, a miss on that), Kusadasi, Athens, and Olympia, plus Rome at the beginning and the end. Bring your very best shoes for trips like this. Walk yourself into exhaustion all day long, then hope you can settle yourself into the capable hands and lovely environment of a ship like this at the end of the day. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Just got off a 12 day Mediterranean/Adriatic cruise on Serenade of the Seas. After reading several recent reviews, I thought I would weigh in with a more positive experience. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, well organized ... Read More
Just got off a 12 day Mediterranean/Adriatic cruise on Serenade of the Seas. After reading several recent reviews, I thought I would weigh in with a more positive experience. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth, well organized and we felt we got on and off the ship in record time. The fact that we got on and off in the same port probably helped - no need to clear customs or immigration when we arrived. We have cruised on Royal Caribbean previously and are diamond members of Crown and Anchor. We did make use of the Diamond Lounge for pre dinner cocktails and the continental breakfast. It was delightful to have a quiet spot to have our breakfast and plan our day on this port intensive itinerary. The concierges (Nizar the first week and Alan the second) were very pleasant and helpful - confirming dinner reservations and printing boarding passes. We were extremely pleased with the food in the Main Dining Room. We only ate dinner there, but found the selections to be good and in fact we only had a "classic, always available" entree on one evening. Our wait staff was excellent, accommodating special requests with ease and remembering our preferences. We found the Windjammer offerings to be varied and never had a problem with lines or finding a seat - although we did tend to go at off peak times. We did go to the Chef's Table one evening. Food was outstanding, wine pairings were non descript, but overall it was a very nice experience. The room used is quite lovely and both the chef and waiter were very pleasant and informative. We chose this cruise because of the ports and were not disappointed. It is a very port intensive itinerary; with only 2 sea days. I would have preferred a 14 day cruise, with two additional sea days to have a bit more down time between these exciting new ports of call. Port destination guides were not overly informative - I had seen port guides for the same ports prepared by Celebrity - they were a bit better - perhaps they should collaborate and produce a better port guide. We did not take advantage of many of the entertainment options. After a full day of touring and second seating dinner, we tended to go back to the cabin and just read a bit before calling it a day. One minor criticism - there seems to be a trend toward having pre-dinner shows for second seating passengers - I would prefer to have a pre dinner cocktail, dine and then go to a show after dinner. If there were more late shows, we might have taken greater advantage of entertainment options. Overall, we had a great cruise experience. Staff was helpful and responsive (with the exception of guest services response to smoking complaint noted in cabin review) Ports were fantastic and the weather could not have been better. Would have liked another day or two to relax, decompress from all our wonderful experiences and just enjoy this lovely ship.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The ship was beautiful. Very well maintained. Great staff, very accommodating. Formal nights on most ships insist on a reasonable mode of dress but on this ship you could be casual. There is usually a cocktail offered on formal nights but ... Read More
The ship was beautiful. Very well maintained. Great staff, very accommodating. Formal nights on most ships insist on a reasonable mode of dress but on this ship you could be casual. There is usually a cocktail offered on formal nights but again nothing was offered. The balcony cabin we had was extremely tiny. If one of us was getting dressed, the other had to wait so we wouldn't bump each other every minute. Ports of call were great. Didn't take too many tours, did mostly hop on hop off. In Venice I was only interested in getting to St. Marcs Square. Didn't go with the ships shuttle for $28. US. Took a water taxi at the end of the pier for 15 Euro return. There's also a People Mover which is cheaper but I wanted to go by water. We did specialty dining in Chops Grill and were very disappointed. The steak was the best part of the meal after sending it back because it was undercooked. Caesar salad was terrible. Giovannis was very unimpressive. I love Lamb but they served it with a red wine reduction. I hated it. Just eat in the dining room. You're better off and it's cheaper. A lot of people got the norovirous. I got it the night before we left. The medical staff was fantastic, The came in twice, gave me shots for nausea and immodium. I wouldn't have made it home without their help. The cabin, dining room and buffet staff were fantastic.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This is the first time that I am writing a review but I feel compelled to do so. We sailed the Caribbean with Carnival Glory in 2010. The Grand Med on the Magic in 2011. Northern Europe and Norway on the Legend in 2013 and now 17th Sept ... Read More
This is the first time that I am writing a review but I feel compelled to do so. We sailed the Caribbean with Carnival Glory in 2010. The Grand Med on the Magic in 2011. Northern Europe and Norway on the Legend in 2013 and now 17th Sept 14 on RC Serenade of the Seas, the Adriatic. We were obviously spoiled by Carnival as our latest cruise did not meet our expectations at all. For the first two days we had no idea what was happening on-board as there were no announcements in the room and somehow the daily "Compass" had not been delivered! Our first thought was, did the cruise director jump ship? Upon enquiring we were told that they stopped making announcements in the rooms as there had been too many complaints...surely the choice should be left to the guest to opt to have the system on or off. So that was a very bad start. The ship: Do not expect the grandeur of Carnival's ships. The bars on Serenade are tastefully decorated. The theatre is nothing to write home about and there is only one. The cinema is terrible. There is only has 1 main dining room for its 2100 passengers. The Windjammer is definitely much better in appearance than the Lido but that is where it stops. There is no serenity, the deck chairs are plain plastic without any cushions, so they are uncomfortable and are crammed so close together that it is difficult to sit down on one as you have to climb onto them...difficult for seniors! The two pools are very much over salted and hurt your eyes. The staterooms are much smaller than Carnivals and the bathroom is minute, there is only one wardrobe to be shared (on Carnival you have his and hers) and in it are the worst shelves that I have ever encountered they were hopelessly inadequate in depth therefore whatever you packed on them fell off. The food: RC must be on a big saving spree, to same food seems to be dished up day after day not much to choose from and is typically canteen type food. Admittedly Carnival's food was not much better but there was FAR MORE variety to pick from. One thing is to be said, the deserts at the Windjammer were very good. Now and then the Windjammer had something special on offer at 6pm but invariably when we decided to eat there after 7pm these dishes were not replaced and we had to ask the chef why, he then very kindly brought us a big plate of the missing item to our table. The lunch time menu was disgusting and so was the room service. The room service coffee was undrinkable. BTW do not expect a "gala" welcoming lunch on embarkation day, you will just get the same slop as any other day! Oh and I forgot to mention that the best kept secret is when they will serve the shrimps, that day the electronic display of the menu outside the dining room, was mysteriously out of order!!! Gone are the days when they served you lobster! The entertainment: mediocre to say the least; some shows were not repeated to accommodate both dinner sittings, which was no great loss as they were luke warm. Do not expect illusionists, comedians, acrobats and Las Vegas style dancing. There was one decent show but it lasted only 10min in the sentrum, all this on a 12 night cruise! Ports of call: These were great, but unless you are going on the ship's excursion do not expect any information to help you find your way in and out of the port, this should be the cruise directors field but no…sort yourself out before the cruise or pay through your neck for the excursions! They also did not stay in port for as long as possible thereby not leaving us enough time to do all we wanted to do. Customer services: Poorly managed. On embarkation day in Civitavecchia we were told that all Italian passports were to be kept by them but no explanation was given. You would at least expect to receive a copy of an official letter by the Italian authorities informing you of this rule to be applied and the reason why. The second incidence was on the last evening, we received a note saying that we were on a cash basis and had to pay our account. We had given our credit card details TWICE but they did not have it on record! So we had to stand in a queue for 40min to sort this out as they only had 2 consultants to help at such a peak time...most upsetting! The staff: They were great, well trained and very helpful, no complaints there. Lastly another annoyance was that they kept on changing the meal times so you could never count on e.g. breakfast to be served until a certain time, they said it all depended on the time we docked in the port. Yep, we were definitely spoiled by Carnival, unfortunately they are no longer operating in Europe. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We sailed for 12 days on this ship and enjoyed all the ports of call. The ship is clean and the crew is very friendly. The food in the main dining room was very good. Duck was served 3 of the 12 nights. We did not use the dining room for ... Read More
We sailed for 12 days on this ship and enjoyed all the ports of call. The ship is clean and the crew is very friendly. The food in the main dining room was very good. Duck was served 3 of the 12 nights. We did not use the dining room for breakfast after the first day as it was not to our liking. The windjamer was great for breakfast and lunch. There is free self serve soft ice cream. Our wait staff in the dining room was Fransico and Maria and they were great. Entertainment was great up to the last few nights on board when it got a little lame. We took the ships self guided trip to Pompeii and it was a good value. Salerno port is in a industrial area and you had to take a shuttle bus into town. Not a pretty location to dock. In Venice the ship hard sells their boat transfer that gets you near St Marks square. But if you walk out the boat and follow the road to the "people mover" a little train that takes you into Venice you can ride for 1.30 euro. vs 28 euro for a one day pass with Royal. The people move goes back and forth all day. We heard complaints from numerous people about some the the excursions and some people got some of their money back. They are priced too high in my opinon. Dubrovnik is fantastic. Share a cab and go to the old walled city and walk the wall. This was a clean neat town. Kotor and Corfu were also great towns to visti. All in all this is a very nice ship well run, great crew that works hard. Very good entertainment and a neat cruise on the Dalmation coast. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Having travelled with RCI several times before we thought we knew the standard we would be getting - how wrong we were. Gone are the frills and little 'extras' that made RCI different and hello to budget airline service standard ... Read More
Having travelled with RCI several times before we thought we knew the standard we would be getting - how wrong we were. Gone are the frills and little 'extras' that made RCI different and hello to budget airline service standard for a high price. No free Orange Juice at lunch, now an 'extra' to be paid for! Main Dinning We went to the main dinning to eat on the first night. We had chosen the 2nd sitting as the alternative 1830, was way too early for us, even though 2100 was a little late. Our table was located in the poorest spot imaginable, in a corner next to the kitchen entrance and next to a 'plate' station as far away from the entrance as possible which was strange as the room was by no means full and there were empty tables all around. The noise was terrific and every so often there was the sound of breaking plates to add to the general din. The table was for 6 but only 4 people were there, as was the table nearest to us. The aircon was set too high and all there mentioned it but it made no difference.The staff were nice and I did feel a little sorry for them as they were fighting a losing battle as the food was poor both in choice and standard. We decided after day 1 that the Windjammer was the better option for the evening meal. Windjammer The food in the Windjammer during the day was a bit of a pot luck situation. Some days it was good, hot and edible while on other days it was lukewarm and distinctly leaveable this pot-luck situation included the ability to find somewhere to sit at mealtimes. The Grill It was our wedding anniversary and we had booked the Chops Grill for a meal. The discreet lighting made the menu unreadable and a waiter actually brought a light to the table so that my wife could see. The meal was a complete disaster and I sent back my steak as it was overcooked. The manager apologised and offered another 'free' booking. He did not offer to waive the cover charge when I pointed out to him that we only have one 30th wedding anniversary and they had ruined it. Entertainment We went to a couple of the shows and found the singers to be very loud and slightly off key. On the night they put on a show in the Centrum Bar it was so loud we had to leave. On other nights the 'band' was a latin american combo. The murder mystery night was good and the entertainers played their parts well. As for the rest The staff are, in the main, RCI's greatest asset and they do make up in a small way for RCI's penny pinching savings but no matter how good they are RCI needs to take a step back and reassess some of the policies now in place or they will be losing customers to other lines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We had a very good holiday on this ship, the staff were great, the food was good although the vegetarian choice was sometimes limited. The entertainment was good and the ports visited were very interesting, except perhaps for Salerno and ... Read More
We had a very good holiday on this ship, the staff were great, the food was good although the vegetarian choice was sometimes limited. The entertainment was good and the ports visited were very interesting, except perhaps for Salerno and Messina where we had been before. We did not take part in any organised trips as they were not value for money. we managed to organise our own trips quite economically and in Venice the use of the Alilaguna water bus was much better value than the Royal Caribbean alternative. Similarly the use of the Open Top tour buses in a couple of the places we stopped at was excellent. In Corfu we used a taxi for four for $12 rather than $10 each on the shuttle bus. Nor did we eat in the main dining room as we did not want to be too formal on our holiday. It may seem like we were penny pinching but having paid £2000 each we were surprised by the extras that Royal Carribean added at every opportunity. At breakfast fresh orange juice was $5. Every time you turned round a photographer was there wanting £20. All drinks (already very expensive - an bottle of Heineken was $6) had a 15% service charge added. The company also had in the small print which I did not see until the third day of the cruise a mandatory $12 per person per day gratuities charge. That was $288 (about £200) for the pair of us and something I had not budgeted for. Here in the UK the norm is to tip only for good service and I resented having to tip EVERY member of staff, most of whom I had not spoken to. After complaining to customer services this charge was removed from my account and I tipped the three persons who had been most helpful to us. I cannot recommend ANY cruise ship with such a gratuities policy and will be looking at other companies for future holidays. I left the ship with a feeling that I had been staying at the Inn in Les Miserables! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We were on our honeymoon and decided to take the 12 day with stops in Salerno, Sicily, malta, Montenegro, Venice, croatia and Corfu. The ports were wonderful. We went in September so we're on one of the "oldest cruises they had ... Read More
We were on our honeymoon and decided to take the 12 day with stops in Salerno, Sicily, malta, Montenegro, Venice, croatia and Corfu. The ports were wonderful. We went in September so we're on one of the "oldest cruises they had ever seen" and it seemed the ship was more geared towards that age demographic so there was not much of interest for our age group (we're in our thirties.) They closed the disco at least an hour early every night. We had heard the food was spectacular so we're expecting good eats...not the case. The main dining room serves their prime rib grey, and the other meals were also sub par. We paid extra for the lobster and it was overlooked and dry. Also, the first night we had to wait till after our mains till our wine showed up. On the last evening we stood in the front of the restaraunt and waited 35 minutes and were not even acknowledged. The couple in front of us and their two children had been waiting 45 minutes so I guess we should be considered lucky. The buffet is full of fatty, inedible food that made my husband and I sick so the main dining room is really your only option unless you want to pay more. We were scared to try after upgrading our main dining room experience to no effect. Tried to mention the above to the staff and were brushed off in a rude manner. Not impressed with the food, atmosphere or staff on this cruise line. This was my second and my husbands first cruise and neither of us will ever be on one again that's for sure!!! Totally ruined our cruising experience and put a damper on our honeymoon. We're planning a "redo honeymoon" for next year to wash away this bad taste in our mouths. South of France here we come...not on Royal Caribbean!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I hope that cruise companies read some of these reviews and take note ! We were on an 8 week tour of Europe and our Cruise on The Serenade was at the end We got a private transfer from Rome to the port Aprox 80 KM away and were dropped ... Read More
I hope that cruise companies read some of these reviews and take note ! We were on an 8 week tour of Europe and our Cruise on The Serenade was at the end We got a private transfer from Rome to the port Aprox 80 KM away and were dropped off outside the check in area which was fantastic Check in was easy and smoothest I have every experienced and were on the ship within 30 minutes. I have now cruised around 150 nights, we love cruising. We only cruise now on RCCL as we believe they are great value for money and the loyalty program is fantastic The Serenade was a nice ship well appointed and maintained and this was a cruise where we only had 2 sea days so it was almost a port a day. The food on board was fantastic in my view and we ate in the dining room most nights and our waiter Hilton was awesome. However, it appears now RCCL has removed kettles from rooms so you can't make a coffee in your room , which on the surface seems no big deal but we like a coffee in the room and as an early riser I now have to go to the pool deck to get a coffee or get room service. Both options just make life harder for the staff in my view. I have discovered that you can have a great ship and crew but if your cruise director is not on the ball then it can spoil everything else and that was the case on this ship. The entertainment on the ship was poor and clearly pointed towards her preferences and not the guests Twice I reviewed the cruise compass and found that about 70% of the activities involved a potential purchase. The popular quiz programs were poorly organised and just plain terrible. 1 person could not find the questions on a music quiz Latino, Music, Latino comedians, if you get my meaning. Juggling Comedians please !! On a cruise with little amount of sea days you start the first show at 9.00 pm Crazy Now Drinks- Prices are now getting just plain stupid, $10 US + for a glass of wine and $10+ for a cocktail and every cruise they just get more and more expensive. It was noticeable on this ship that people were not drinking very much at all. I am still struggling with the notion why they pack people in like sardines into the smaller centrum venue while the larger lounge and dance floor is left vacant. It seems to be the normal thing on Radiance Class ships as it was the same on Radiance of the seas. We booked all our tours through RCCL, they are a bit more expensive but we believe worth the extra cost most of the time Ports Salerno - we did Serrento an Pompei excellent Tour guide knew it very well Messina- We did Tandari which was very ordinary Malta- Surprise packet of the cruise Hot but a beautiful Place, we did old Capital Medina and was great Corfu- I called it the European Bali, sun and drinking a lot Kota- Nice very pretty, we did a tour of the old city and the guide was great, really knew her stuff Split- Could not get off due to bad weather Venice - we did a walking tour for 2 hours and it was great Loved Venice Dubrovnik- great city tour but the place was packed with 7 ships in port but still wonderful Overall we enjoyed the ship, met some wonderful people as you always do, wonderful food but a shame about the entertainment side We got off at Rome and as getting on it was as smooth as silk Our next cruise will be on our favourite ship Voyager of the seas in November, Just after the refit. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I gave my review a title of surprised but unfortunately it was surprised in a bad way. I've been on several RCI cruises so thought I knew what to expect but I was totally wrong. My recent cruising experiences have been with other ... Read More
I gave my review a title of surprised but unfortunately it was surprised in a bad way. I've been on several RCI cruises so thought I knew what to expect but I was totally wrong. My recent cruising experiences have been with other cruise lines so perhaps that clouded my experience but in reading other reviews I find that's not the case. Dining was not a good experience. We tried before going on the cruise to call RCI and set a My Time Dining time. Phone calls were not helpful so we arrive on the ship to find we had been allocated, thought it was MY TIME, find we were allocated a time of 9 pm. We were a party of 8 with two children aged 10 and 6. It was sorted out but took three days of being ready by 6 pm and waiting for a phone call from the dining staff to tell us if they had a table for us. From the third day on we had a regular table at 6:15 pm. Food too was disappointing, too many items the same every night. Gone were the days of lobster or any desserts being fixed at the table. The one good thing about the dining was our wait staff. Yasser, his assistant and head waiter went out of their way to bring the food hot and to look after the children's needs. The Windjammer was too crowded most of the time and the food only okay. Seemed the same choices everyday. The cabin was all right but was surprised to find cutbacks. No pen, paper, no individual shampoo, conditioner, lotion and no chocolates on the pillow. We thought there was something wrong with the speakers as we couldn't hear announcements. Found out that they no longer have announcements in the cabin. The only way to hear them is to have your TV tuned to the right channel. Entertainment was also a disappointment. Shows not great! There was also too much done in the Atrium making the Atrium area congested and LOUD! Played Bingo once but only once. The staff member who did it raced through the number calling making it difficult to check your cards. There was no fun in it. Each time we had a need to go to Guest Services the line was far too long. The assistants were helpful but wait too long. Particularly near the end of the cruise. Was also surprised by the extra charges for things. Things like paying for transport from where the ship was docked to get into town. Venice - the charge the ship charged was way more than you had to pay if you did it on your own. Fresh orange juice was also an extra charge. It's been a long time since I was last on a RCI. Last year I was on Cunard, several years ago I did three Crystal Cruise. Given my experience this time with RCI, RCI will not be my cruise line of choice in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Let me start by saying that we loved to cruise with Royal Carribean (7 years already) and did exactly the same trip with the same ship 2 years ago before the refresh of the ship. Over the years we have noticed that the benefits and ... Read More
Let me start by saying that we loved to cruise with Royal Carribean (7 years already) and did exactly the same trip with the same ship 2 years ago before the refresh of the ship. Over the years we have noticed that the benefits and extra's you get on Royal Carribean are going downwards every year. A few years ago there was a chocolate fontain with strawberries for example which is gone. The difference with this ship before and after the refresh is enormous. - We didn't had hair conditioner, shower cap, ... wich was standard on all ships and something you get standard in any hotel. - Windjammer food assortment is less then it used to be - Sushi is now in a different restaurant Izumi where you have to pay extra, before the refresh it was free every night in windjammer - Lobster was on the menu on every cruise at least 1 time. Now you it's on the menu but the charge 40 dollar extra for that. It still is served in cruises in the US but not anymore in Europe. - Stationary paper, envelopes and a pen where standard on the room when you arrived now it's gone. - Free internet coupons as platinum membership benefit are gone - No more goodby show last night in main dining room - No more ice sculptures - No more sculpted fruits in the windjammer - No more buffet on the pool or night pool buffet on sea days. - No more chocolates on your pillow every night - No more separate free hamburger café. This is changed in a paying venue (izumi) where you have to pay extra. Part of the aft in windjammer also changed to paying restaurant Rita's Cantina. After complaining we got conditioner, hair caps, strawberry with chocolate and a chocolate every evening on the pillow but for standard stuff you shouldn't have to complain and get them standard. In short the WOW feeling that Royal Caribbean speaks so high of is only getting less wow in my experience. It is if the client has to pay for the refresh of the ship in getting less as it used to be. If you are a first cruiser on Royal Caribbean you probably will not notice these things but as a frequent one this is getting annoying. The new smoking policy is ridiculous, you are discriminated as a smoker. No more smoking on your balcony (the only reason why we take a balcony) even e-sigarettes who are harmless in pretense of security hazard. Only 2 places you can smoke (poolside + Deck 5) and the Casino. Casino closed at 1 o clock on normal day and we had to leave it escorted by security as if we were criminals or children on a curfew. Although we were with about 20 people still drinking on the bar but the only care if there is mony to be made when people gamble once there are only 10 people gambling they close it including the bar. As it is the only bar you can smoke the only alternative is go to sleep. Other bars like the vortex (disco) were closed at 2.45 so if you are young and want to party that isn't an option either because they close that to. This was probably the most disappointing Royal Caribbean cruise we ever made as far as the company policy. The people on the ship that work there still have the same excellent service as they did 7 years ago so and do an incredible job !!! The itinerary in the Mediterranean was spectacular an the excursions was what it makes it all worth your while. Bottom line: we had an good cruise but the last with Royal Caribbean.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My girlfriend and I sailed on Serenade of the Seas on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise. We are in our late 40s. This was our first cruise on RCI and 7th overall for each of us. It was our longest cruise and the first time in Europe for me. ... Read More
My girlfriend and I sailed on Serenade of the Seas on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise. We are in our late 40s. This was our first cruise on RCI and 7th overall for each of us. It was our longest cruise and the first time in Europe for me. In a nutshell we loved the ports, the service, but were disappointed in the ship overall. Travel to Barcelona: We flew from non-stop from Miami to Barcelona; an overnight flight arriving at 9:30 local time. We purchased the transfer from RCI. The transfer was efficient and relatively fast. The best part was once our luggage was put on the bus, we did not have to handle it as it was delivered directly to our cabin. Embarkation: Embarkation was fast and we were onboard around 11:00 am. We did receive some disinformation regarding the need for passports for renting a car in France. The staff at the check in desk told us that we did not need a passport to rent a car in the EU. However, that information was false as the rental care company in Cannes required a passport to rent a vehicle. Fortunately, my girlfriend had a passport with her because of a name change and we were able to rent the car. Passengers: The crowd on the ship appeared to be older than us, with a large amount of seniors. There were very few children. I would attribute this from the time of year and the length of the cruise. The nationalities of the passengers was very diverse, with a substantial population of Americans, British, Australians and Canadians. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin, mid ship on deck 9. The room was good size with lots of storage, making it easy to store two weeks worth of clothes, shoes, etc. The balcony seemed a little larger then the other ships we've been on. The room was clean and our cabin stewart, Gusti, was wonderful. Ship: The ship itself was disappointing. The layout felt very closed, making the ship feel crowded much of the time. The concept of the Centrum being the central gathering location for meeting and entertainment contributed greatly to this feeling. There was no "promenade" area where shops and bars would be located. Everything felt hidden and many of the spaces seemed under utilized. For the sea days the ship was crowded with tables of merchandise making certain areas (especially on deck 11 between the Windjammer and the pool area) even more crowded. Food: The food was the biggest disappointment. While there were a few good meals, the dining room was average at best. Many dishes lacked any flavor, especially, the prime rib and Manhattan steak. Pretty much everything was forgettable in the dining room except for a sea food ceviche appetizer which was flavored perfectly and lots shrimp. The food at the Windjammer was fair to poor. Many of the selections were comparable to those at a hospital. I'm a big guy with a healthy appetite and there were a number of times I could not find anything that was remotely pleasing at the Windjammer. We did eat at Chops and Giovanni's Table. Chops was very average, but the experience at Giovanni's was wonderful. It was by far the best meal we had on the ship and it is very much worth the $25 surcharge. Entertainment/Activities: The production shows were very amateurish. We also saw the comedian/magician who was absolutely awful. After those experiences we did not go to any more shows in the main theater. There was a duo playing during day on the pool deck and they were ok, except they must only know about 6 songs since they were played over and over again for twelve days. The rock band was pretty good and played a nice variety of songs from the 60s to the present. There were also a few "dance parties" in the centrum with the 70's event being the most fun. The piano guy at the Schooner Bar was better than a sleeping pill. The guitar guy at the pub seemed ok, but we were only in there for a few minutes because of the cigarette smoke. We participated in Karaoke, but did not partake in any other on-board activities. We did watch the pool side contests including the belly-flop competition, the "sexy" man and the guest versus staff volleyball. They were very entertaining. Ports: In Cannes we rented a care from Sixt. I've rented from them before and found them very good. Our experience this time was same. The staff was very accommodating as there were problems with us not having a passport. Luckily they accepted my girlfriend's passport with a prior name and they ever upgraded us to a BMW! In Florence, we had a tour with Rome In Limo which was booked prior to the cruise. Our driver, Rafaelle, was fantastic and showed us Pisa and Florence providing information on the history of the cities and Tuscany as a whole. With a small group of 8 in a small van we were able to get into areas of Florence where the big coached were unable to go. This allowed for us to be dropped off right at the steps of the attractions we visited. He also guided us to a great restaurant and brought us to the best gelato we had on the trip. I hardily recommend Rome In Limo for your tours in Italy. See below for our experiences in Rome and Naples. TIP: Buy tickets in advance if you want to visit the Academia to see Michelangelo's David. This saved us at least an hour wait and enabled us to see this great work of art. In Rome we used Rome In Limo again with the same great results. Our driver Sergio was able to get close to all of the main attractions with his van and our small group of 8. We were able to get up close to the Coliseum and other main attractions without having to walk long distances. TIP: Again, but tickets to the Coliseum to save at least an hour or more in line. Overall Rome is amazing! In Turkey we visited the ancient city of Ephesus. We used ephesustours.biz, a company we found on line. Without knowing anything about the company, we were pleasantly surprised with the services that was provided. They are also highly recommended. Our guide Betul was gave us some great information about the region where Ephesus is located. During our tour of Ephesus, she shared with us some of the details in the structures as a friend of hers was part of the archeological team at the site. Truly an amazing tour! Our tour included a lunch of Turkish cuisine and then "sales pitches" from a rugs manufacturer and a leather goods store. The way the rugs were made was very interesting as well as the "show" on the types of hand-made rugs available for sale. While they provided lunch to launch their sales pitches, they were very not to low pressure and they did not approach you unless you showed interest in their products. We next saw a "fashion show" featuring leather clothing at a leather store. The best part was seeing one of our new friends dress in a patchwork leather coast strutting his stuff! In Athens we were also part of a small tour and the sites were amazing. We saw the Acropolis, the changing of the guard, the temple of Zeus and much more. Our guide, Bill, was friendly and knowledgeable and again we were able to get close to all of the attractions. He also shared with us some unfortunate fall-out of the Greek financial crisis such as the 35% unemployment and the lack of police and public works personnel. That may be one reason why Athens was the dirties of the cities we visited. Santorini. This was without a doubt the most picturesque ports of our trip. Everywhere you turned there were postcard-like views. We did not take a tour here, but rather met up with friends who were vacationing there for lunch and a visit to the Oiya section of the island. Salerno: We took another tour with Rome In Limo with another great experience. Our driver was named Diego and was just as good as our drivers in Florence and Rome. We visited Positano, Sorrento and ancient Pompeii. Sorrento was beautiful. We were there on a Sunday and the locals were getting out of mass and congregating in the town square. The small city was busy and bustling with activity. It does not seem as "touristy" as Positano. In Pompeii, our tour organizer hired a guide for us and show us around the ancient city. It was well worth the extra cost. Our guide was from Rome In Limo and was also excellent. Debarkation: We had plans to stay in Barcelona for two days after the cruise, so we were in no rush to get off the ship. For us departing the ship was uneventful. We did however have to wait about 30 minutes to get a cab to our hotel. Again, it was no big deal, since we had no place to be. Barcelona. We opted to stay in Barcelona on the back end of the cruise. We stayed at the Med Apartments Barcelona and small place in the Gothic section of the city. It was close to the ports, beaches and lots of restaurants and about a 15 minute walk to La Rambla. The apartment was a one bed room with a den and full kitchen and was clean and comfortable. Not luxurious, but definitely a good value at about 90 euros per night. The city itself is beautiful and I would like to visit again. The gothic architecture was amazing and is kept in place despite the modernization of the city. We took the hop on hop off bus and experience the sites and sounds of the city. The highlight of our stay in Barcelona was our visit to La Sagrada Familia, the stunning church which has been under construction since 1882. In sum, this trip was amazing with great weather, great food (once at the ports) and making new friends. While the ship was disappointing, the design flaws did not take away from great service provided by RCI. We will definitely sail with RCI again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
A general review of Serenade of the Seas Before embarkation, I had read so much about the Serenade. I heard she was beautiful, I heard she had a facelift and I'd heard various other rumors about what this lady would be like before I ... Read More
A general review of Serenade of the Seas Before embarkation, I had read so much about the Serenade. I heard she was beautiful, I heard she had a facelift and I'd heard various other rumors about what this lady would be like before I had an opportunity to actually meet her in person. The Serenade does not disappoint in person and her recent time in dry dock has been worthwhile. I've had the pleasure of enjoying six cruises, three of which were on the Royal Caribbean, and this ship may be one of the best looking. The centrum is small and the common areas have limited space, but it can all be overlooked for those taking a port intensive journey. The staff has yet to disappoint on this trip and with all previous sailings. I have always enjoyed Princess Cruises, but Royal Caribbean has a certain charm when it comes to room service and dining room staff. People say good morning and try to thank you by name as if it's obligatory. Even if the kind gestures are a job requirement, I think it's nice to be thanked by name every so often. This is my first Mediterranean cruise and have previously sailed for the Caribbean itineraries. One cruise, four countries with few sea days was a selling point for me. It's economical when you figure the cost of of hotel, food, etc. Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, I mean, wow. The food is pretty good and I'm sure the cruise newbies would find it more than acceptable. For those of us who've had a little experience under our life vests- you're just not wowed and I want to be wowed. There are now three courses rather than four, although feel free to order another course without additional charge. You already know that lobster is now $34 on formal nights and is no longer part of the all inclusive deals that we have grown accustomed to. Grr. There are fewer dinner options on the menu and I felt that the selection was not outstanding. Some nights I left part of my food on the plate, skipped dessert (!), or headed to the buffet. On all previous cruises, I have always had the dining room breakfast, lunch and dinner when possible, because it was always a notch above the buffet. We took an excursion to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast through Royal Caribbean and I have no complaints. The tour guide was a spunky Italian woman who had the gift of gab and somehow managed to talk for 9 hours. She was informative and entertaining the entire time and she helped to make the experience unforgettable. Love her. The buffet was better than I expected and was not the chaotic tornado that others have portrayed it in their reviews. I found it disappointing that the buffet consisted of some similar food items that were in the dining room...the night after they were served. I've read every possible review before coming onboard and I'm pleased to say that I generally enjoyed everything that I ate at the Windjammer. The ports of call were great, but the actual ports were the cost effective choice for the cruise; basically expect to cough up a little more cash. In Ravenna, you are more or less dependent on RCI for their $14 shuttle if you want to sightsee. In Civitavecchia you have to take a ~50 min train to get into Rome (and possibly metro) depending on what your plans are. It seems that they chose the more industrial ports because RCI is not charged as much to dock there. The other problem is the day of the week that we visit various ports. The Accademia (Statue of David) is closed on Mondays, most shops in Ravenna are closed on Sundays or everything else closes early, several things were closed in Cannes and Antibes (also on a Sunday.) I know that Europe spends their Sundays a little differently than folks in the states, I just wish that the sea days were planned around these (not necessarily practical.) I felt like a lot of this was also based on economics. I'm sure that cruise ships are not lining up near Florence when the Accademia is open, because it's a major point of interest and probably a little more money. The rumor onboard today is that are last port, Dubrovnik, closes many shops on Mondays too. There are so many nationalities onboard the Serenade and there are several languages spoken. The one prevailing complaint that we seem to be united on: RCI knows how to nickel and dime you. Everything, everything, everything is a charge. It would take up too much space to write all the examples here, but it's annoying. The charges are not always obvious until the last minute. For example, you get into Ravenna and you find out that the downtown area is nearly 10 miles away and you can either cough up more ca$h for a taxi or pay the cruise $14. Despite the aforementioned gripes, I have enjoyed this trip thoroughly and have made it a point to enjoy it to the fullest. This is a trip that I'll remember for the rest of my days and I have no regrets. While I enjoyed it, I have doubts on whether or not I'll return to RCI. I feel like I'm sailing the waters from inside a shark that's eating my hard earned cash. My first cruise was on RCI and it will always be my favorite. Enchantment of the Seas was my least favorite and now, the Serenade, was nice for a price. For now, it looks like we'll be parting ways, but at least I have my memories. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I am going to focus on the negatives first, just to get it off my chest, and then we'll get into all the good stuff! Royal Caribbean is cutting corners. Since I last cruised with them a year ago, they have gotten rid of the Assistant ... Read More
I am going to focus on the negatives first, just to get it off my chest, and then we'll get into all the good stuff! Royal Caribbean is cutting corners. Since I last cruised with them a year ago, they have gotten rid of the Assistant Cabin Stewards. Now the Cabin Stewards have to do double duty on their own. Also gone are the chocolates on the pillow, the stationery in the drawer and the pen (they couldn't keep the plastic pens?) And most unfortunately, there is no longer any lobster in the dining room on formal night. If you want lobster, you have to shell out (no pun intended) $34.95. They instead serve jumbo shrimps on formal night. Food costs are so low now that a salad is a dinner entree, as are beef sliders! (My advice: double your appetizers; they're really good!)You want to cut costs? Keep the lobster and cut out the towel animals; you'll save towels, water and electricity, as well as give the cabin stewards more time to make up the rooms without their assisants. Activities onboard are mostly geared to sales -- the ones that do not carry a charge, that is. Apart from trivia and dance classes, there were, in my opinion, too many "health lectures" sponsored by the spa and fitness center, all geared toward getting you to try acupuncture or buy items to help ease back pain or restore youth. I was disappointed in the ship's lax attitude toward dress codes. This is what I saw: a man wearing shorts, a T shirt and flip flops in the dining room on formal night. Children (not babies or toddlers, but older kids) wearing pajamas to breakfast. And a woman in the jewelry shop in a bathing suit without a cover-up. Here is the most annoying aspect of the Serenade. They put on different kinds of shows, including aerial acts, music performances and the captain's toast in the Centrum. This is especially unfortunate for those who have late seating, because by the time you get to the Centrum you have all the early seating people taking up all the very limited balcony space. We had to jockey for position to see over the balconies into the Centrum, or even run from floor to floor to get a decent view, if at all. One of my fellow passengers suggested I watch the mirrored ceiling to view the performance. Children would grab the computer chairs from the internet area and bring them over to the balconies to watch the Centrum shows, leaving practically no space for anyone to stand or see. Making matters worse was the fact that the photographer would take up valuable Centrum viewing space (as well as hallway space) to use the Centrum as a backdrop. It would be a much better idea to utilize the empty theater to put on some of the Centrum performances. I prefer the big open space of the Promenade on the Explorer of the Seas to the small and congested Centrum. So, now that you've heard me vent, let me tell you all the good stuff. Background: This was my 27th cruise, and first to the Mediterranean. My husband and I are in our 50s, and we traveled with two teenage daughters (who have been on nearly 30 cruises each) and my mom, who is in her 80s. We have sailed on Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We flew into Barcelona the day of the cruise (July 30). Barcelona has a beautiful, modern airport. We purchased the shore excursion that takes you from the airport to the ship. It is a decent orientation to the city, but it is mostly viewed from a bus window. For instance, do not expect to visit the Gaudi cathedral; you will view it from down the street as the bus passes by. The tour included two stops, a beautiful panaromic view and about 15 minutes of free time in the Gothic Quarter, just enough time for us to grab a cup of hot chocolate with churros. Embarkation was easy, but unusual. They took our passports from us and held them for the rest of the cruise. Also, they took our security pictures and validated our Sea Pass cards outside on deck 5 before we entered the ship. Our stateroom had ample space, and our cabin steward, Jimnie, was both hardworking and caring. She even sang in the housekeeping show, and was really good! The ship is well-kept and clean. The beds are new and very comfortable. As a word of advice, don't book a room near the Centrum -- the loud and echoing music will be unbearable if you need to go to sleep before midnight. Dining was very good. We took advantage of one upcharge restaurant, Izumi, and the sushi was excellent. By the way, whereas alternative restaurants used to just involve a cover charge, Izumi, and I believe, Rita's Cantina, make you pay a cover charge plus a la carte! The buffet on deck 11 served a variety of good food, including American and English breakfast items. All the meals in the main dining room were very good, especially the lamb, pork chops and fish dishes. There is a different choice of breads every night. Our waiter, Corwin, and his assistant, Fabio, took excellent care of us. Activities on the ship were just OK, nothing truly special. We hardly ever saw the Captain -- not during the Walk for Wishes to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation, nor at the farewell show. Also, because one-third of the passengers were from Spain and Latin America, there was a large amount of Latin music onboard, as well as a member of the cruise staff, who acted as a translator for the cruise director during the shows and announcements. The pool was always crowded and the deck chairs were always taken. It was even hard to find room to lie down in the Solarium. Kids' Club. My younger daughter, who is 15, did not use the kids' club. She would much rather hang out in the piano bar or listen to the singers belt out a jazz number rather than hang out with kids their age, who all congregated during the late night hours, at the Park Cafe, which is next to the Solarium pool. The service was outstanding. In my opinion, people could not do enough to please you. Entertainment was not as excellent as on other Eoyal Caribbean cruises I have taken. There were only 2, not 3, production shows in the span of 12 days, and the rest of the acts consisted of singers, a magician, a juggler, and Cirque du Soleil type performers. We also saw the gaucho act we've seen several times before on Eoyal Caribbean. The aerial acts in the Centrum are breathtaking ... if you can actually watch them through the throng of spectators! I really wish the Serenade had a rollicking piano bar instead of the pitiful old gent they stick at the piano who complained about how dead it was there, and ended up singing to me because no one else was listening to him. The ports were what made this trip truly amazing: In Cannes, we did not take a shore excursion. We took the "Petit Train" for a touristy little ride through Cannes, and then explored on our own. Do not miss a store called Jean-Luc Pele. They sell wonderful French macaroons, and to see these multicolored treats so beautifully displayed was irresistible. In Livorno, we took a shore excursion called "Pisa and Florence on Your Own.: It is quite challenging to try to see everything in such a short span of time, so we ended up seeing the outsides of the most famous sights, but not the insides of the museums or churches. The guide suggested a restaurant for lunch, which cost just 17 Euros with wine and gave me an amazing lasagna with pesto. The same happened in Rome, where we took a tour called "A Taste of Rome." This tour took us to the exterior of the Coliseum,St. Peter's in Chains (the Moses statue by Michaelangelo), the outside of St. Peter's Basilica and other sights, and gave us some time to explore on our own. In Athens, we took an afternoon tour of the major sights with shopping in the Plaka. This included a stop to view the Acropolis, but not a tour through it -- which was OK, because the sun was hot and my mother is 85! In Santorini, we were on our own. The island was choked with tourists (3 ships were in). We took the cable car up, enjoyed the lovely views, and did some shopping. I recommend a store called Athens Protasis for beautiful, inexpensive jewelry including necklaces made from Santorini lava rock, which make great gifts. Kusadasi, Turkey was my favorite port. We skipped the tour of Ephesus for a more cultural experience. We heard the Muslim call to prayer, bargained for silver jewelry in the bazaar, and went to Ladies' Beach, where we enjoyed the warm water. By the way, we had glassy seas and clear blue skies for all but one day of the entire cruise! Before we went back to the ship, we stopped by a Turkish candy store for Turkish delight, halvah, sugared nuts and the best baklava ever. (Turkish baklava is better than Greek baklava, I think.) In Salerno, my mother and younger daughter took the shore excursion "Leisurely Amalfi by Motorlaunch." They enjoyed their boat ride and stop in Amalfi, where they enjoyed gelato and bought all kinds of foods made with lemons. My husband, older daughter and I did the tour of Pompeii, which was fascinating -- wait until you see the brothel! The places we passed during the cruise were beautiful, too: the volcanic island of Stromboli, with steam rising from the top ... the Strait of Messina, with Italy on one side and Sicily on the other ... the strait between Corsica and Sardinia ... and watching the double rainbow as the sun set over Capri. We certainly snacked our way through Europe -- French macaroons, gelato, a prosciutto and parmagiano cheese sandwich, lemon soda, churros, hot chocolate, horchata, baklava, gyros, strong Greek coffee, espresso and more. Disembarkation must have been so easy, I don't remember it. We purchased a transfer for $31.50 each that took us to the airport in Barcelona. To sum it up, it was the best way to see the most famous places in Europe while enjoying all the amenities of cruising! I would definitely recommend this cruise to everyone!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Flew from Atlanta nonstop to Barcelona and stayed 2 days in king suite at Casa Camper which is a unique hotel close to Las Ramblas . Embarkation was very slow because we had one cruiser who needed wheelchair-we waited at least 45 minutes ... Read More
Flew from Atlanta nonstop to Barcelona and stayed 2 days in king suite at Casa Camper which is a unique hotel close to Las Ramblas . Embarkation was very slow because we had one cruiser who needed wheelchair-we waited at least 45 minutes for an attendant. Both of our junior suites were available when we checked in at 1pm but bags didn't arrive until 530 pm. Cabin was great- I quickly Gave my attendant a nice tip which I think helped with quick service entire trip and I replenished that regularly . Cabin was very clean , spacious and bed very comfortable. I am non meat eater and thus had limited choices- all fish was overcooked and dry was very disappointed over all with the cuisine even with the specialty restaurants of which we tried them all . The only one I enjoyed was Izumi because I could cook my own seafood on hot rock. Ports were great and we did private tours at all of them except Ravenna and Venice. My friend had her phone stolen Rome tour so be careful. I had a special bag from Travelsmith that has straps which can't be cut and zipper compartments which lock . I booked my trip through Noe at Vacations to go and had a 600 dollar on board credit which was great because I left ship after 12 days owing only 5 dollars Fellow passengers were overall very nice almost all spoke English - we shared the dinner table with charming family from Ireland and did several of our tours with great English couple. Too many children on ship for my taste and the pool was overrun with screaming little ones. They need a separate pool for adults only. So that's a quick review hope its helpful esp for novice cruisers like myself. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
First of all let me say that booking a suite out the aft of the ship sounded good at the time but turned out to be a disaster. I did however do my due dilegence and ask about what was above,the noise level and the movement of the boat ... Read More
First of all let me say that booking a suite out the aft of the ship sounded good at the time but turned out to be a disaster. I did however do my due dilegence and ask about what was above,the noise level and the movement of the boat before booking this and was reassured that it was "THE BEST ROOM ON THE SHIP" Deck 10 (the highest, room 1602). The windjammer is right above and from 6am the chairs are drug across your ceiling while the crew are cleaning and it does not stop all day. Actually it does not stop at night either. The kids find that running back and forth here after the resturant closes is great fun. Security was called every night starting about 1030PM. The ship needs a lot. The hallway carpets are torn and stink. One night we had to hold our noses to get from the elavator to our room because of the rotting smell of stagnant water. We had a suite which had a loveseat type couch that probably should have been replaced 5 years ago. With the amount of money they charge for this room they could easily buy a new loveseat for 250 bucks. Food was average at best. Waiters did a fine job. The pool for adults was never that way and the main pool was so crowded you could never get in.The Pool Bar bartender "Carlos" did not have good tings to say about RCL. Just what you want to hear on your first day. As far as the itinerary they should leave Sorrento and Ravenna completely out.Stay on the ship nothing worth seeing. It seems to me that when you pay to go on a cruise to see certain ports there should not be an extra added cost to shuttle you into the city you booked for. When did this start? It could be anywere from 6 Euros to 40 Euros per person.Unbelieveable.In Venice you got off the ship and had to walk for about 20 minutes in the hot sun to catch a water taxi to Venice that you had to pay for. Could they not even spring for a tram to take you to the water taxi? The head people seem to really want to help you with problems but unfortunately most could not be rectified by them. If I travel on RCL again it will be on a new ship. This one need to be melted down. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our 19th cruise, 18 on Royal Caribbean and one on Celebrity, and we chose it to introduce family members to cruising. We had done this cruise in 2009 and knew it was awe inspiring. Our air travel was a nightmare - late out of DFW ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise, 18 on Royal Caribbean and one on Celebrity, and we chose it to introduce family members to cruising. We had done this cruise in 2009 and knew it was awe inspiring. Our air travel was a nightmare - late out of DFW due to a missing log book (took an hour to locate), we missed our connection in Madrid to Barcelona. Got another flight which was also delayed due to mechanical problems. We spent two nights in Hotel Regina which is near La Rambla. Although sparsely decorated, the room was nice and the staff was friendly. With La Ramblas within easy walking distance, we had plenty of shopping to so and sights to see. We took all three on-and-off bus tours and saw the incredible architecture the city is famous for. The RC shuttle bus was on time and delivered us to the terminal. Being Diamond Plus, check-in was easy. The ship was in excellent condition, and our JS was large and confortable. We had a table for ten at first seating and were blessed with very compatible companions. Our dining room wait staff struggled to remember names and drink preferences but overall they were satisfactory. Our head water Paul was excpetional, taking charge when he discovered that we were having some problems getting our food at times. The food was standard RC fare, good enough but not momorable. This was true of the other dining venues too. Excursions were very good. We did a walking tour in Cannes before doing some shopping. Livorno was next, and we did an extended walking tour of Florence before seeing Pisa. The tour guide in Florence persistently ignored several requests for toilet breaks, opting to deliver the last word of her canned speech before directing us to the nearest facilities. Many of us were made very uncomfortable by her insensitivity. Rome was next and the extended tours of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Bascilica and the coliseum were excellent and well worth the money., The guide was friendly and professional. Athens was Athens, crowded, covered in grafitti, but the Acropolis is a must-see. We also visited the Museaum of the Acropolis which was nice. The stone paving into, around and out of the Acropolis has been worn smooth but millions of feet and it can be treacherous. A tour guide slipped and fell right in front of me, breaking her ankle. My brother-in-law and I carried her down the stairs to the entrance where she was taken for medical treatment. We also visited Kusadasi, touring Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary. The tour guide may have been the best we have ever had on any excursion in all of our many cruises - friendly, educated, courteous,knowledgeable. We visited Santorini which must be seen to be believed. We took the cable car to the top, then a taxi to Oia and back, and then walked down on the mule trail. Having done the mule trail, we won't need to do it again. It wasn't so much the mule poop that made it a difficult trip, although there was plenty of it. It was the very slick and steep stone paving. It was a sli-and-slide all the way to the bottom - not too bad for me in my walking shoes but my wife's shoes had smooth soles which were not compatible with the surface. Salerno was our last stop before returning to Barcelona. We saw Pompeii which is not to be missed, and then we did a bus tour of the Amalfi coast. What a trip that was. Our driver was amazing as he negotiated the 1100 curves over that 34 mile route, dodging motorcycles and small cars driven by tourists and other lunatics. The scenery was incredible - jaw dropping beautiful. The weather was perfect for our entire trip, and the seas were glass smooth for all but the last day as we returned to Barcelona. The service provided by the Serenade's staff in all departments was excellent. The Hotel Director was especially friendly, greeting us by name on several occasions and coming to our aid at the guest services desk when we had an internet problem. It was a great cruise, and The Serenace of the Seas delivered on all counts. Go see for yourself. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
On June 23, we arrived to Barcelona - a day prior to embarkation. We attempt to use public transportation when possible and due to the location of our Marriott Renaissance hotel, we opted to take the RENFE train from the airport. It all ... Read More
On June 23, we arrived to Barcelona - a day prior to embarkation. We attempt to use public transportation when possible and due to the location of our Marriott Renaissance hotel, we opted to take the RENFE train from the airport. It all worked fine, however, note that we had to find the free green shuttle bus to the other terminal that connects to the train. As we were staying in Barcelona a day before and 3 days after the cruise, we knew to purchase the T10 ticket (10 rides that can be shared) for under 10 Euros. The RENFE train let us off at the new Passig de Gracia exit and our hotel was a few steps away. We arrived at the airport at 7:15 and were in the hotel by 9:15am. The other option, if our hotel had been just slightly closer to the plaza catalonya, is the airport bus. Very easy, but for us, we were worried we would not find a cab once getting off at the bus drop off. The Renaissance was lovely, we used points and they gave us a quiet, small room. They were very kind and let us in immediately, so we showered, rested, and then headed out. Our goal was the Picasso Museum free on Sunday after 3 pm. The concierge provided a map and suggested walking tour to see some sights along the way. The line was 1 hour long, but the time went quickly in the old streets. We have been to lots of Picasso museums and we enjoyed wandering around the old palaces which house the art. From there, we walked the Gothic Quarter, back to the hotel and dinner near the hotel. We decided to try to get to the port using public transportation - this time with a few mistakes. We easily walked to the Metro stop (Passig de gracia), however at this location, we did not see an escalator or an elevator. Being very careful not leave any luggage unattended, we bounced our bags along the steps down, used our T10 pass again, arrived at the Dressages stop (at the columbus statue), found the elevator up. Not really knowing where to find the port shuttle bus, we aimed for the dock - saw a blue bus marked port shuttle to the right and it was 2.50 Euro each. I will let you know right now, when we returned, we did this backwards, with less success as elevators were not operating (carrying 2 bags UP stairs). I would suggest taking a cab from the hotels for about 25 Euros.Getting on the ship - very easy. Our room - 8th floor, balcony on back of the ship - wonderful suggestion by our travel agent. The weather was gorgeous and we were out on this very large balcony all the time. Cannes - we took the $59 4 hour ship tour to the Fraganard fragrance and then onto St. Paul de Vence. Lovely town - and my husband did buy aftershave. Florence - it is a little difficult getting to the train station - so, we opted to take the ship's $99 all day tour that gives a 2 hour guided tour and 3 hours on your own. It was very nice - used headphones to hear the guide, she gave the highlights in a walking tour. She constantly warned everyone to watch their belongings. Rome - we took the free port bus to the end of the docks, turned right, walked several blocks and on the left was the train station at 7:45 am for the 8:02 train to Termini Station in Rome. It was 12 euros per person and included using the metro and buses in Rome. It was a lovely 90 minute journey. If you are going to the Vatican, the stop is sooner, but we had decided we only had enough time to do the ancient parts. From Termini, we walked inside the giant station to the metro and took the one with 2 stops to the Colliseum. Knowing NOT to buy our 12 Euro tickets in the colliseum, but instead buying them at the Forum entrance, we immediately walked in. We traveled with our own guide book/map, so read as we walked through and then onto the Colliseum with no wait (walk past all the people hanging around, trying to buy tickets). We then walked to the Pantheon, Pizza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and took the metro from the Spanish Steps (to the right of the steps) back to Termini station for a 2:42 pm departure. Lots of folks from the boats were on this return train. Salerno - we took the ship $69 tour to Pompeii - very great. There was a strike in the morning, so we did not leave at 8, instead at 10:30. We did not get to go to Salerno (free shuttle), as there was not time. Venice - wonderful sail in - everyone up on deck. After the boat docked, we decided to walk and attempt to find the Peggy Gugganheim museum. We walked over lots of little bridges and had fun - finding it about 40 minutes later. Wonderful museum - a real treat to also sit out on her deck on the Grand Canal. Our second day, we had purchased tickets on-line - months before - for the Doge's Palace Secret Itinerary tour. I think it was about 20 Euros per person and included admission to the palace. We opted to find the Vaperetta at P. Roma - a walk from the ship and then over the street. The ticket was 8 euros. it was hot and crowded and we could have walked a quickly as the time it took to get to the Piazza San Marco - but, it was a funny experience. the tour highlighted Cassanov's time in prison there, we then walked through the palace. On to walking toward the Rialto bridge, jumped on a vaperetta again to get to the Jewish quarter and the interesting area on that side, then on the vaperetta again to the stop near the ship. The ship offered a $25 ticket for boats to and from the piazza san marco. this would not have worked for us as we were walking around. Ravenna - we loved this town - we could have taken a ship tour of San Marino and ravenna, which i am sure would have been lovely. Instead, we took the $12 transportation to town (you MUST do this, as you cannot walk and it was a very long ride). Once there, we walked to the nearest mosaic's church (Sant appallinare Nuova) and bought the Opera di Religione ticket for 8.50 Euros (a 1 Euro discount with the map provided from a RCCL gal leading the bus. We did all 5 of the mosaic items on the ticket and dante's tomb along the way. I will suggest, at the first church, we purchased a 5 euro book about Ravenna and the churches. This was invaluable and described everything you would want to know. Debrovnik - we purchased the $12 transportation from the boat. If there were more than 2 of us, a cab would have been cheaper, but this was easy. The old city is pretty, very touristy - we walked around, went to a museum which had an interesting photo exhibit about the war, shopped around and took the shuttle back. 2 great days at sea with trivia games, tango lessons (well, my husband gave into that), a 4th of july party, etc. On the ship, the entertainment was ok - a magician comedian we may have seen before, but the bands in the centrum were great as were the evening dance parties, high wire shows, etc. Once back in bacelona for 3 days, we went to the fabulous Park Guell (T10 ticket)and walked an architectural tour we brought with us, purchased our tickets the next day for Montserrat - a wonderful day trip, and finally went to the Sagrida Familia and Las Romblas on our last day. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
As a first-time cruiser, I thought I would provide some tips following our cruise on the serenade of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. We flew from the UK to Barcelona and were transferred from the airport to the ship via a coach. There was a ... Read More
As a first-time cruiser, I thought I would provide some tips following our cruise on the serenade of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. We flew from the UK to Barcelona and were transferred from the airport to the ship via a coach. There was a very long queue for embarkation and this took quite some time. The process is quite easy and involves setting up an on-board account whereupon you are handed a sea pass card which is used to purchase items and to embark and disembark from the ship at each port. The only money you need is when you purchase at each destination. We really enjoyed our cruise and found the staff to be very friendly. The hidden extras are expensive, for example, the approximate price for a pint of lager is £5 or £6 and a bottle of wine is $46. Gratuities are added to any food/drink purchase on top of the $12 a day compulsory charge. Everything is charged in dollars. There is plenty of entertainment on board including a cinema, casino and gym. It is very much akin to a four-star all-inclusive hotel. The Windjammer cafe provides basic food with a large choice but possibly not fantastic quality. The Park Cafe provides salads and some lovely beef sandwiches. There is plenty of choice on the menu in the Reflections dining room. The food is good but not excellent. Excursions booked on board can be expensive so see below for a guide to travelling independently to the various locations (Nice - weather too bad to dock). Livorno - shuttle bus (5 euros return) takes you from the ship to Livorno centre where you can get up further bus to the train station for two euros. The trains to Florence run every half an hour and cost nine euros each way. You can stop at Pisa on the way to Florence. The train journey to Florence is one and a half hours. Florence is worth a visit, one of the highlights. Watch some of the ice cream prices though!Civitavecchia - shuttle bus is free to the centre where there is a 10/15m walk to the train station (follow the crowds and buy your ticket from a travel agency next to the entrance; not on the way). The train to Rome is five euros each way. We got a taxi from train station to the ship for five euros each on our return. Train journey time is approximately 1 hour and 15 min. Rome is busier than Florence but the Coliseum is worth a visit.Athens - shuttle bus is free to the port terminal but there is a 25 min walk to the Metro station (follow the line of the port) which takes you to the Acropolis for 1.40 euros. You can take a taxi from the town to the Acropolis for 20 euros plus. The open top tour buses cost about 35 euros. The metro stop at the Acropolis is Thissio where you can walk through the market stalls to the Acropolis. You have to queue at the ticket store to get a ticket to enter the Acropolis which costs 12 euros.Kusadasi - we did not travel to Ephesus. You can buy very cheap leather goods in Kusadasi. Prices for leather jacket started £100/150 upwards. Bartering is of course compulsory!Santorini - the shuttle boat takes you to the shore from the ship where you can take a cable car to the town or walk up steps. The view from the top is amazing and the town is beautiful, worth a visit. The highlight for me.Salerno - free shuttle bus takes you to the centre where the train station is very nearby, a five-minute walk. Return ticket to Pompeii (Naples train) was eight euros. Don't queue at the main ticket office, buy your ticket from a kiosk toward the rear of the station (the ticets should be validated in punch machines located on the platform - put your ticket toward the left in the slot). Pompeii is a highlight and worth a visit. The ruins are a 20m walk from the station and are not well signposted. Entry is 11 euros. My advice is to book a guide as well. We did not go to Capri but I remember this being very beautiful from a previous visit. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This Cruise is perfect for anyone wanted to visit lots of amazing places in a very short space of time.The Ship herself is beautiful, she's not a floating block of flats like the Epic or Carnival Legend, she's all curvy and the ... Read More
This Cruise is perfect for anyone wanted to visit lots of amazing places in a very short space of time.The Ship herself is beautiful, she's not a floating block of flats like the Epic or Carnival Legend, she's all curvy and the fantastic glass Centrium adds to the impressive look.MOST of the staff are lovely, we had the best room steward called Sheddy, nothing was too much trouble and he even taught our 11 year old how to make each of the towel animals he left us each night. We were greeted with his lovely smile every morning and he always seemed interested in what we had done that day. In the main dining rooom the food is very good, the seafood dishes are cooked to perfection, steak should be eaten at Chops or Giavanni's where they are carefully prepared rather than mass produced and chicken is usually left on the bone but on the whole the food in the main dining room was very good. Our Waiters were excellent, we had Ashutosh as our main Waiter and Jose as our assistant Waiter, we could not have had better. If you can't choose between two meals - you get both! If you really liked something (the Calamari) they just keep bringing out more plates until you say " Nooooooo!" The pools are hardly used and it is only kids that seem to be in them. They are salt water.The pitch and put is great fun and really well maintained, a bit of a pain if you get a large group infront as a big queue builds up but just enjoy the fabulous views all around and you're soon on again!The only negative I would say about the whole trip was that the same singers sang in the Centruim every day, in our case it was a miserable voiced lady and a strange spainish sounding band, they were really loud and you couldn't sit and talk with friends while listening to the music as it was just too loud.Other than that FABULOUS time - I'm so jealous of anyone going on their Cruise on the Serenade soon. :-) Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Having sailed on the Serenade in the past, I was looking forward to see the ship since its makeover in November. The boat is still in very good shape although some of the restaurant modifications seem to be a bust. Embarkation along ... Read More
Having sailed on the Serenade in the past, I was looking forward to see the ship since its makeover in November. The boat is still in very good shape although some of the restaurant modifications seem to be a bust. Embarkation along helpful staff was good as usual. The average age on this trip seemed to be about 60 and there were very few children present. The stops in Cannes, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Salerno, Venice, Ravenna, and Split were awesome and full of history and beauty. If you were lucky enough as we were to get excellent tour guides, an incredible amount of history was given, making the excursions that much better. It would be very easy to spend a week in cities like Rome and Pompei and not see everything. Pricey fees of water taxis and shuttles in some ports such as Venice and Ravenna were not very pleasing to many people. When we booked our excursions, these were never mentioned. Luckily the awesome cities we visited made us forget about the time on the ship. When at sea the Serenade seemed to be a bit dead. Same old trivia games and towel folding classes. The entertainment aside from the dancers and orchestra was not very good for the first time I could remember. This was the first cruise I have been on where there was no comedian for the entire 12 nights! Com'on man!!! The new sushi restaurant which replaced the awesome Seaview Cafe has great food, but is one more place you have to pay for and was rarely busy. Rita's Cantina, the new "Mexican" restaurant was also not a big choice for the passengers. The Park Cafe had very good food but was crammed into the solarium area, turning a once peaceful reading area into a busy food stop. The normal dining room was very good and a new menu had just been released on this cruise. The Windjammer Cafe was decent and what you expect from a buffet for the most part. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Arrival Picked up the RCI shuttle from Barcelona airport even though we hadn't booked. We had planned on taking a taxi but were glad that we didn't as the ship was berthed a long way from the harbour gates. Check-in was slow and ... Read More
Arrival Picked up the RCI shuttle from Barcelona airport even though we hadn't booked. We had planned on taking a taxi but were glad that we didn't as the ship was berthed a long way from the harbour gates. Check-in was slow and the queues were long, but this probably reflected the two bus loads which had arrived from the airport. However the receptionist was very pleasant and efficient. Stateroom The stateroom was clean and well presented although there were two maintenance issues (shower and telephone)which were quickly resolved by the engineer. Dining We were unable to reserve a table of our choice when we booked and were placed in the "My Time" dining. This proved to be a misnomer as "My Time" meant "Their Time" as the staff making the reservations for dinner would only accept certain times which suited them. We had dinner every night in the dining room and found the food very good, well presented, with sufficient choice and perfect portions. The staff were helpful - especially the junior members. Activities We didn't get involved with any activities except the Trivia quiz. I hadn't packed any reading material and was disappointed to see that the "Library" had shrunk to a bookcase. Still, most of the books appeared to be unread. Entertainment Thoroughly enjoyed the comic juggler; the violinist; and the other single acts. We didn't go to the in-house presentations. The centrum was used for the "trapeze" acts but was too small as only a handful could get in. It was better to attend one of the (many) rehearsals than to try and see the real show. The Centrum was also where the Captain held her Officers' introduction and it was impossible to see any of them from one side of the balconies. Finally, the noise from the Centrum made it an impossible place to have a quiet drink before dinner. I only saw one couple use the wine bar. In other ships this area is converted into a pleasant cocktail area. Port and shore excursions We took three excursions, including one around Barcelona on the last day and enjoyed them. However, I had pre-booked Civita Tours when visiting Rome. I paid 25 Euro for a bus to Rome (which is about 1.5 hours from Civitavecchia where the ship docks) and included a tour of the major sights. The bus was only available outside the dock gates, but with a shuttle bus going to the dock gates this was very easy and straightforward. I would recommend this rather than take a ship-sponsored tour at three times the price. Disembarkation Straightforward and quick. No problems. Summary The price of drinks was extortionate especially as there was a gratuity and a sales tax added to the quoted price. The dress code was flexible in the extreme. The pre-cruise planner said three formal dinners and three semi-formal dinners. The suit I packed was never worn! However, we met some interesting people, went to some great places; looked after by by attentive and friendly staff; so overall, an enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
BOARDING Boarded at Barcelona without any problem - arrived at terminal around 12 noon and was aboard in under 15 minutes. DINING Immediately went to see Head Waiter staff in main dining room to confirm our request for a table for ... Read More
BOARDING Boarded at Barcelona without any problem - arrived at terminal around 12 noon and was aboard in under 15 minutes. DINING Immediately went to see Head Waiter staff in main dining room to confirm our request for a table for 2 at dinner. Despite booking 8 months previously, they had no record of our request and weren't able to find us a table so put us on the wait list. This is now my biggest issue with RCI as it happens on every cruise we take. As a result, we missed the first 2 nights dining in the main restaurant and made do with Windjammer. On the 3rd day (formal night) we went to see Head Waiter again and were told he had sent a table change to our cabin the day before - we never received anything. When we did go in for dinner, we found our "table for two" was in fact part of a table for 8, where our section was simply pulled away from the rest leaving a 12inch gap - certainly not a table for two. Overall, food and service was good throughout the ship - though I did hand back dirty cutlery on 3 occassions. The majority of guests used the hand sanitisers but I did notice it was the japanese/chinese/korean guests who didn't (which surprised me). ALCOHOL We didnt drink much during this cruise. At $8 + 15% Grat + 10% Spanish IVA, it made an oil can of fosters (roughly 1.5 UK pints) come in at $10 or GBP6.30 each. They have introduced the alcohol packages ($55/day for beer/wine/soda) but all persons in cabin must purchase it - my wife had the $7.50/day soda package so that meant I couldn't have the beer deal. So, I just cut down and saved myself some cash that way. ADDED TAX On the issue of Spanish IVA at 10%. RCI decided to change one of our ports of call and we remained in Europe throughout the cruise. That decision meant the 10% IVA Tax was added to all of our beverage purchases (and 20% added to shop goods). I can understand why they changed the port (cancelled Tunisia) but feel they could have given us an extra sea day in a location farther south (ie better weather) and none of us would have had this added tax through all of the cruise. SHOWS The new aerial shows were constantly practiced and then performed for the first time during this cruise. The Centrium location just isn't big enough for this type of show. You really must be seated on decks 4 or 5 (facing stairs) to get the most out of the short 15 minute performances. With 2000+ people aboard, only 200 or so will get to enjoy each performance - the rest (on floors, 6,7,8 etc) just wont get to see much of it, especially if you're not at the front of the crowd. One performance a night just isn't enough. CENTRUM NOISE DO NOT - I REPEAT, DO NOT book a cabin anywhere near the Centrum on this ship. Now that they have made the Centrum area more of an entertainment venue, the noise along cabin corridors near to the Centrum is VERY loud. I know I wouldnt be able to relax/sleep in one of those cabins. GUEST SHOWS Overall, these were good. The ABBA tribute was better than when we saw them last year. Tne Violin guy was much better than we though he would be and the comedy juggler was excellent (we watched both shows). The Rat Pack act were over-rehearsed to the extent that they were embarassing to watch (and didnt sound that great either). The two production shows were good but singer volumes need to be increased as hard to hear them above orchestra (especially drums). PORTS We had been to them before so (thankfully) when it rained very heavily in Civi (for Rome) and Naples we stayed on the ship. Thankfully, we hadn't booked any tours thru the ship (too expensive anyway) so didnt get a good soaking each day. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES Why do they always overlap activities? There werent that many things going on during this cruise (even the trivia quiz was limited) but they seemed to put the limited items on together. CRUISE DIRECTOR STAFF Overall, the Cruise Director staff were excellent - some great characters among them. Sadly, we felt the only one to be lacking was Ken the Cruise Director - by far the worst we've had aboard any RCI sailing. SUMMARY I know Ive pointed out a few negatives BUT we did enjoy this cruise. We've done Serenade before but have now decided we much prefer the larger Voyager class ships as there is more to do. The food was mainly good and the service was excellent. Thankfully, and unlike our experience aboard Adventure back in May, there was no issue with smokers aboard this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We chose this cruise for the Itinerary, lots of interesting Ports of Call. Embarkation was very smooth and easy. We had opted for an inside cabin as this was a winter cruise and views of ports were not that important. Plus we had not ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Itinerary, lots of interesting Ports of Call. Embarkation was very smooth and easy. We had opted for an inside cabin as this was a winter cruise and views of ports were not that important. Plus we had not long been back from a 28 day cruise through the Panama Canal on The Vision of the Seas where we had an inside cabin on the first leg then upgraded to a balcony for the more interesting segment and the cabins were fine. The first thing we noticed on arrival in our cabin was that the refurbishment of this ship included a change of bed shape! The ends have now been curved, presumably to give slightly more room in the cabin but this has resulted in the bed being smaller, be warned, if you are tall, as is my husband, your feet hang off the end! This resulted in him not being able to get a good nights sleep for the entire cruise. Had we known this, we would have booked an oceanview which still have the wider beds so the loss of the corners would not have been so apparent. My only other grumble about this ship was that the TV/Movie screen on the Pool Deck showed only sports programmes and at a very loud volume, thus discouraging any conversation at a reasonable level. As a result, hardly anyone used this deck. It was in fact quite difficult to find any 'quiet' areas on this ship. Amazingly, this ship has a Pool Table! It is fitted with some form of stabiliser which keeps the table absolutely flat, the balls do not move an inch. The floor however does move, this makes for very interesting and comical games of Pool!! Such fun! OK so now onto the Ports of Call and tips for getting around : Palma, Mallorca - note that The Soller Train does not run in the winter months, shame as this is a great way to see the island. We took a cab (there were 4 of us) to Placa Espana, cost 14 euros between us all, then took the bus from the bus station to Valdemossa, 3.50 euros return each. A beautiful little town and well worth a visit, the bus takes a very scenic route so you see quite a lot. Check out the return times though as they run about every hour. The tourist information office in the town is very helpful, they gave us a great walking route through Palma for when got back to town. Valletta, Malta - absolutely stunning. Walk off the ship, there is a bus stop opposite. Buy a ticket for 2.60 euros, this will entitle you to ride the buses all day long, so keep your ticket to show on other buses.. We took the bus 130 to the Post Office which you cannot miss, it is on a roundabout. Get off there and wait for the Circular Bus number 133, this takes you all around Valletta, you can then go around again and just get on and off where you want. Make sure you visit St Johns Cathedral, it is amazing, costs 6 euros entrance but well worth it. You get the audio guide included. Messina, Sicily - we hired a car for the day, booked it before we went and only paid 20 euros. Between 4 of us that was very cheap! We drove down to Taormina which is built on a natural terrace sheer above the sea, then carried on up to Castelmosa which is absolutely beautiful, very quaint and peaceful, then up to Mount Etna, it was a fabulous day, there was snow on the volcano and we watched the smoke pouring out of the crater. Stopped at a Mountain Refuge for coffee where they had a roaring fire, it was cool up the mountain! Naples (Pompeii)- the courtesy bus drops you in town, we bought bus and train ticket from the paper kiosk, this is cheaper than buying them on the bus, it was 8 euros each return to Pompeii. Take the bus or tram to Circumvesuviana Station, the tram stops directly outside, takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Use the same ticket for the train to Pompeii, don't forget to activate your ticket both on the buses and the trains before the journey. The trams have little machines inside, at the train station they are usually on the platforms. There is a heavy fine for not doing this! The train takes about half an hour to get to Pompeii, entrance to the ruins is 11 euros. This is definitely a MUST, what an awesome place. Trains run about every half an hour. Naples is just a dirty busy city with lots of pickpockets etc. Civitavecchia (Rome) - Exit the port entrance and cross the street, again you buy your train ticket from the Newspaper Kiosk, it is a 5/10 minute walk to the train station. I think the train was 12 euros return to Termini Station in Rome. My advice would be to get off at St Pietro which is the stop for The Vatican, it only takes about half an hour to this stop. We then got the bus no.81 to Via del Corso where we could then walk to all the main sites such as The Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, Trevi Fountain and The Colosseum. Termini Train station is just 1 or 2 metro stops from The Colosseum. Train back from here takes about an hour. Livorno (Pisa) - the ship shuttle drops you at Piazza Grande, buy your ticket from the kiosk again, take bus 1 or R1 to Livorno Centrale Station cost 1.20 euros each way. At the station buy your return ticket for Pisa, costs 5 euro return. It is about a 15/20 minute walk from the station to the leaning tower, follow the signs for Torre Pendente. Livorno itself is a lovely town and well worth exploring too. I hope this information helps anyone planning to explore these Ports on a budget! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We are Diamond Club members and have cruised with RCI and Celebrity for almost all of our 16 cruises. So when we selected Serenade for this cruise we were confident that it would be a great cruise. We were not disappointed. The high ... Read More
We are Diamond Club members and have cruised with RCI and Celebrity for almost all of our 16 cruises. So when we selected Serenade for this cruise we were confident that it would be a great cruise. We were not disappointed. The high standard held by Royal Caribbean continues to grow. Of all of our cruises this one was the best, not only from the standpoint of the ship and crew but also the ports of call. I had been looking for a cruise that went to both Rome and Athens, and I was glad to see this one. Traveling to the port, what a mistake I made, I didn't consider all the time changes associated with getting to Barcelona and didn't get us there earlier than the day of embarkation. What a mistake and we paid for it, jet lag for the first 4 days (my bad). We had not traveled that far prior and didn't realize the problems associated with it. We learned. The transfer from the airport to the pier was well run and efficient. The embarkation precess was a trying process due to all the baggage checks between the front counter and finally arriving on board, trying but necessary now a days. Our stateroom was somewhat small for a balcony but it had everything we needed. Our room stewardess) was one of the best we have had and was a welcome sight after a long day. Our Cruise was the second to the last before refitting and dry dock so she showed a little of her miles but you had to really look to see them. She was very well maintained and cared for by her crew. Speaking of which, after so many cruises you get used to seeing the smiles that aren't smiles, but on Serenade they actually meant them, not just the normal crew members that you see everyday but everyone that you met in the halls and other ship locations. They all seemed to be happy and ready to help you. Captain Karen has a most fabulous crew and it starts at the top. Due to weather conditions on our way to Cannes we were late getting into port and for those of us that had reserved an all day tour, she held the ship for us to take our arranged tour. That was a first for us, you always hear about them leaving you if you are not on-board when it is time to sail, Thanks Captain Karen it was appreciated. After all that traveling of course we were hungry, the menu items in the Windjammer and in the dinning room were different than the ones that we were used to for the Caribbean cruises. The menu items did try to incorporate the local foods and it was a great experience for us. Our Waiter and assistant were very professional and personable. We had such a good time with them (we really did want to bring them home with us). The Diamond area for breakfast was wonderful, the specialty coffees and the attentive wait staff were everything they were supposed to be. Can you say PAMPERED. This cruise was so port heavy that other than seeing the shows after dinner we were too tired to do much else. They did have a toga party one night but we missed it. Halloween was on one of the few sea days and the costumes were everywhere including the melon carvings and the veggies. All of the ship services from the Pursers desk to the stateroom attendants was excellent. We usually pack enough to last for the entire cruise but weight limits on the airlines meant that we had to watch it. Packed for a week and had the laundry done on the ship (a first for us). The entertainment depended on where you were. Most of the shows were very good and a few were so so, but all in all they were good. Our return flight was scheduled for 1100 AM and we had tickets for disembarkation for 630AM. I wasn't even awake yet. Disembarkation went so smooth that I actually enjoyed it. Our luggage was where it was supposed to be and not lined up in endless lines so you had t waste time searching. The transfer to the airport went extremely smooth and efficient. This cruise will be extremely hard to top for our next cruise. It just seemed that everything came together and made for a perfect time for us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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