16 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Bahamas

After reading several opines on this trip I decided to add my humble one also. We ere 7 adults and 4 children, RC experience range from Diamond Plus for PaPa and Grandma to RC newbies, with a few Disney cruises under their belt, so here it ... Read More
After reading several opines on this trip I decided to add my humble one also. We ere 7 adults and 4 children, RC experience range from Diamond Plus for PaPa and Grandma to RC newbies, with a few Disney cruises under their belt, so here it goes. Embarkation security was slow and awkward, once to the RC line all went well. Our cabin steward met us and all was fine for the rest of the trip. Eats The food in the main dining room is slipping in our experience, however, the waitstaff was great to the children ranging in age from 18 month to 10 years, well done. We were typically one of the last out of the 5:30 sitting and did not feel rushed at all. I have the same opine on the Windjammer, lower selection and quality over the years. We never had any probable with seating nor service, the servers were always at out table asking if they could get us anything. Entertainment Directors cruise staff was great, needed anything they were there. Main theather has the typical mix of jugglers, comedians and RC cast shows and was typically good. Pool Pool band of two, needs improvement, more players, more songs and more time. Most times we could find a pool chair. Bar Staff Well there bar staff, happy times. Debarkation UNBELIEVEABLE short, the ship was delayed an hour due to traffic on the river, but we dinged out and nine minutes later we had our luggage was thru customs, phoned our limo bus and they were there..... The Serenade, Radiance class ship has its pluses and minuses, but we never felt crowded with 1900 of the nominal 2100 passengers onboard. So overall, it's not a five star luxury ocean liner, it's a cruise ship with most folks wanting to have a good time and not complain, about everything. We enjoyed the family vacay and were treated well across the board.....Its not the Ritz but certainly a good value for your money in my opine. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my second cruise, the first one was for my 1st anniversary 12 years ago, and now this one with my husband and the kids (ages 10 & 8). I was a bit reluctant at first with the thought of being confined to a small space with the ... Read More
This was my second cruise, the first one was for my 1st anniversary 12 years ago, and now this one with my husband and the kids (ages 10 & 8). I was a bit reluctant at first with the thought of being confined to a small space with the kids for a week, boy was I ever wrong! We arrived in New Orleans a couple days early to have a pre-vacation and see the city which was a great start to the vacation. By far our favorite activity was the WWII museum which is a must-see for anyone in New Orleans. Also a couple trips to Cafe du Monde for beignets, and walks throughout the parks were a lot of fun. The boarding process in New Orleans went pretty smooth, lots of lines but that was expected. As soon as we got on the ship we headed to the Windjammer for lunch and then spent time exploring around. The kids were especially delighted to see the basketball/soccer court, ping pong tables, billiards, shuffle board and the pools. We spent much time playing ping pong throughout the week. The biggest surprise to my husband and I was the Ocean Adventure kids program, it was excellent!! On the first day at sea we signed the kids up for the program, and enabled them to be self-signers so that they could come and go without my husband and I needing to be there. We dropped them off for the morning session on day 2 and weren't too sure how they'd like it. We came back a few hours later before the morning session was set to end and the first response was "Why are you here? We want to stay!" The Ocean Adventure staff was great, they were so good with the kids and had new activities and fun games for them everyday. They even had late night sessions from 10:00PM-2:00AM for gagaball tournaments, etc. (my kids loved this!). They went to the late night sessions until 11 or 12 almost every night. The last night sessions cost an additional $7/hour per child, but well worth the money to get some quality adult time to enjoy our wine and drinks. Our cruise was during Spring Break so there were lots of other kids to play with, both my kids had lots of playmates and made lots of new friends. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10, the couch folded out into a bed for the kids to sleep on at night. It was a bit cramped at night once the bed was put out, but we were able to manage. Having the balcony was great and added a nice bit of extra living space. We had no problem storing our clothes and belongings in the room, plenty of closet and drawer space. We did take advantage of the $30/bag laundry special on day 4(?), which got us through the week. We were scheduled for 8:00 seating in the main dining room, and had a 10 seater table to ourselves. It was actually quite nice to be able to dine alone and not have forced conversations with others. We thoroughly enjoyed the wait staff and the food. The portions can be quite small, but we regularly ordered multiple appetizers and desserts. The afternoon and late night dining options are very limited. I was disappointed in the lack of selection and the limited hours. As part of the free beverages they had flavored water which was very tasty (and a good rum mixer), but it is only served during the Park Cafe hours, and even then they would run out at times. I started getting extras during the day and storing them in the cabin for later. I did pack my own reusable water bottle for my time on the cruise, this worked out perfectly. I just wish I had brought more than one. My kids both had the soda drink package which was a complete waste, I think they only had one or two sodas the entire cruise. They had the free juice or water most of the time. To get the soda you have to go to a bar to get it, it is not self serve. My husband and I would get a bottle of wine for dinner and that worked out well, and much less expensive then the daily drink package. The pool areas were always very crowded, but it didn't spoil any of our fun. Now for the ports of call: Key West - This was a nice stop, it's great that it's still US so do you feel safer. We walked to the Butterfly Museum which was a fun place and very cool to see the butterflies and flamingos. The flamingos were in mating season and we got to see the full mating call and dance, pretty neat. We then went to the Hemingway House, which was very cool and filled with lots of interesting history. Then the kids were begging to get back to the ship for the kids club, so we dropped them off and then my husband and I headed back to Sloppy Joe's bar for a few afternoon drinks, good times! Nassau, Bahamas - I was less-impressed with this stop. We walked to Fort Charlotte, which was a long walk and a bit tiring for the kids. Fort Charlotte is interesting and only $1 entrance fee, so definitely worth a visit. We then went to the Pirates Museum, which was a interesting, but a bit touristy and overpriced, but still worth the visit. On the way back to the ship we ran across a Greek restaurant (Athena cafe) and stopped in for some Sky juice and appetizers, this was one of the best meals on our vacation, absolutely delicious! Coco Cay - This was our favorite stop. The island is beautiful and the water crystal blue. The kids and I did the ocean play activities, this was so much fun! The kids had the all-day water slide pass, which they loved. We definitely good our money's worth. It was nice that the food was all inclusive and no need to buy or bring anything along. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Having just returned from 7 nights on the Serenade of the Seas, there are a few areas that could use improvements. This was my first experience with " my time dining" and proved out to work well. We were able to book the same ... Read More
Having just returned from 7 nights on the Serenade of the Seas, there are a few areas that could use improvements. This was my first experience with " my time dining" and proved out to work well. We were able to book the same table and wait staff and time for every night. I do find the menu needs some updating. We did dine at Chops and Giovanni's table, of the two I prefer Gionanni's table. Ate very few meals in Windjammer because I do not like buffets but when we did the staff was attentive and got our drinks for us. The cruise director and staff were very visible and friendly. RCCL is my choice if they go where I want to go. Was recognized for 280 cruise nights with RCCL on this cruise and have 36 more booked before the end of the year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
First, I would like to say this is my first review on any travel site ever on any subject. We are a family of 4 (kids - 12 and 7). This was our second time cruising. Our first cruise was last year aboard the Norwegian Star. We travelled ... Read More
First, I would like to say this is my first review on any travel site ever on any subject. We are a family of 4 (kids - 12 and 7). This was our second time cruising. Our first cruise was last year aboard the Norwegian Star. We travelled with 2 other families both with 2 kids each for a total of 12 people. It was the first cruise for all 3 families. We had SUCH A GREAT TIME and were so pleasantly surprised and impressed with the Norwegian Star that we ALL really wanted to cruise again. This year, we decided to go with Royal Caribbean as we had all heard from EVERY single person we talked to that RC was much better in all aspects (food, service, activities, entertainment, etc…). We travelled with the same families again, except this year, after hearing our enthusiasm we convinced 3 more families to come along for a total of 24 people. (One family had never cruised before). Kids ranged from ages 7-16. Adults were ages 38-50. The cruise was from New Orleans with stops in Key West, Nassau, and RC’s private island CocoCay (Sounds more impressive then it was). I will be comparing the RC Serenade of the Seas to the NCL Star throughout this review as it is all I have to compare it too. THE SHIP Embarkation was fairly quick and painless. Uneventful and uninviting. Security…Famiily photo… on the ship. Now what? Compared to NCL Star, on the Star they were playing music and it was like a party atmosphere and was much more inviting and we felt so much welcome to be there. The RC Serenade was newer and more modern having been renovated just 2 years ago. Although, when we first embarked on the ship, we couldn’t help but smell poop up and down the hallway to our cabin. It was only on the first day, but not a good start. The ship was well setup and designed. POOLS The main pool was smaller than the Star and did not have a slide, but the adult pool was larger and better decorated. The kid’s pool was pretty much useless as none of our kids ever used it. It was too shallow and only had ONE slide that was meant for really really small kids 5 and under (WAY TOO SLOW). Pool deck - Had two guys playing some Caribbean style music sometimes and some recorded music. Kind of just background music. NCL Star had 2 slides at main pool and one on the smaller kid pool. All 3 slides were good for our kids and on some days, the kids never left the pool. NCL Star had and a 4 piece band also playing same type of music but the band was much more enthusiastic and played more often and involved passengers more frequently to make it more ‘fun’. FOOD Food quality was pretty much the same on both ships. Maybe slightly better quality on RC Serenade but more selection on NCL Star. Only one dining room and one buffet. NCL Star had 2 main dining rooms and one buffet. BUFFET - Windjammer Equal in quality, but I believe NCL Star had a bit more variety and more international items on a daily basis. The RC Serenade had the exact same items for breakfast EVERY day and NO Eggs Benedict or Crepes unless you went down to the Main dining room and order from the menu. NCL Star had both Eggs Benedict and Crepes at the buffet, without having to go to the main dining room. Seating during peak hours was a bit difficult on both ships. MAIN DINING ROOM - Reflections Service was just OK the first night, we had the 5:30 seating and we all felt very very rushed to get us out for the next seating by all the staff. We genuinely felt like cattle. Maybe we were spoiled but, aboard the NCL Star, some of us were used to ordering 2 or sometimes 3 appetizers and 2 main courses and probably 2 desserts each adult. One adult loved the desserts, she would save room and not order as much of the main courses and get 5 desserts. We were actively encouraged by the NCL staff to order more items and try new things every night. We could even custom order items not on the menu. If they could do it, they would. For example, one night there was some type of Curried Prawns and rice dish on the menu and it consisted of a bed of rice and veggies with 3 or 4 prawns on top. A couple of the adults really enjoyed the dish abut just wanted to order a plate of extra prawns. The waiter said, absolutely and brought a big plate of full of prawns, and he brought it with a smile. On the RC Serenade, when we asked for extra items from the menu, the waiters didn’t seem too thrilled about serving us more. When we asked for extra mussels from mussels item on the menu, the waiter promptly told me “No, we can’t do that, the mussels are a just a garnish”. After a moment or two, he said he’ll check with the kitchen and might be able to bring me a few extra and later brought me a small plate of mussels. This was from the very first night of our cruise aboard the RC Serenade and I felt right from that point, this is not going to be a good experience on this ship. Later that night we complained to the maître d' while he was trying to get us out of the dining room for the next seating, but he seemed uninterested. The next day we talked to the Head Maître d' (Pedro). We explained the situation and how the 2 cruises differed in service and he vowed to make it better. That night, and for the remainder of the cruise, we were booked into the private dining room (The Mirage Room) just for our party of 24. We were given the best senior waiter staff on the ship (Cleeven, Cloudeu, Rodney and Ramon), and they did not disappoint. Their service was awesome, and definitely on par (if not even better) than the service we received aboard the NCL Star. LATE NIGHT DINING – Solarium Park Café RC Serenade - Almost Non-existent. After 11 pm, good luck!! There was one place open (Park Café) and barely had any selection to choose from (pizza, hotdogs heated under lamps and a few desserts) LAME, LAME LAME. We are all fans of late night dining, but this ship had almost nothing after the dining rooms closed, and they all seemed to close early. The Castle pub was open until 1AM and had fun Karaoke and a live musician playing and taking requests (He was really good Aussie guy) but did not have any food at all. Just overpriced booze. What kind of pub doesn’t have any munchies to eat, not even some chips. LAME LAME LAME! NCL Star had several places open late night, even the buffet was open later and had lots of selection. Even a late night CHOCOLATE buffet (very popular with our dessert loving friend). Your kids could go get hot wings, chips and salsa at 1 AM if they wanted, no problem. NO CHOCOLATE BUFFET AT ALL ON RC SERENADE. They kept pushing to come get fresh grilled burgers on deck. But, they didn’t have a grill anywhere on the boat. There is a huge difference between a fresh grilled burger from a BBQ and a burger cooked on a griddle and kept under a heat lamp or in a stainless steel dish with a burner underneath for hours. NCL Star had a huge PROPER GRILL on the pool deck on all cruising days. Grilling fresh burgers, chicken, hot dogs, with a much better selection of toppings and condiments. Not just the standard ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomatoes and lettuce. NCL Star also had Fajitas and Taco during the lunch BBQ. We did not try any of the specialty dining options on either ship. When talking with other passengers aboard the Serenade, we found they were all having the same less then great experience. There was 3 separate occasions when we were in the buffet dining room and we overheard people complaining to the staff about the food and the service. When further discussing it with those passengers, they were experienced cruisers and have always felt RC was on the top of the list for cruise lines. And this cruise was a major disappointment. Rating it dead last. SERVICE Excellent dinner service every night (except the first). I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the staff seemed overworked, not that eager to please and genuinely not that happy to be working on the ship. I didn’t see a lot of smiles on their faces. Another example, one of our passengers forgot to bring conditioner with her on the trip, she went to guest services to ask for some and she was even willing to pay for it. They told her only the Suites and the Balcony units could have conditioner. REALLY?! Even the scummiest of 1 star hotels provide conditioner to their guests. She flipped out and they eventually gave it to her. This kind of behavior generally comes from above (supervisors and management). I heard from several of the crew that they were tired and overworked and always in a state of insecurity (unsure if their contract will be renewed for the next 3 months). I did notice on the last 2 days of the cruise, we were asked many times by various crew members in dining room, if we had a good trip and if they could improve in some way. They kept offering to get things for us and trying to ramp up their service (probably trying to get some points and a good review by the passengers). On the other hand, Most of the NCL Star staff seemed thrilled to be there and eager to please at all times. CABIN We had regular inside lower level cabin. Slightly larger than the cabin on the NCL Star. It was adequate and what we expected. The Cabin Steward was pretty good, kept the room clean and left the occasional animal made out of a towel. NCL Star steward made a different animal every night. The kids couldn’t wait to get to the room to see what animal was left there. ENTERTAINMENT Some nights, only one show at 6:30. Other nights, 2nd show at 10pm. Comedian – Two African American comedians (can’t remember their names) were hilarious. They had two shows. Magician/Comedian John Ferrentino was beyond brutal. Not funny and less magical. There was times I thought the room was empty. He should be performing at a senior care facility. Another comedian on the last night was pretty funny. Used a funny slide show. Broadway type shows were just OK. 3 Las Vegas Tenors were really good. Disco – was pretty quiet most nights, music was good. All our kids were not too interested in the kids club on the ship. They tried it out the first day or two but not impressed. They ended up playing hide and seek late at night until security told them to stop running around. Some of the older people were complaining. They did have a 70’s dance party in the center of the ship on the second last night of the cruise, which was a blast. But Party was over at 11pm. Everybody to bed. BOOOO! NCL STAR had really good acrobatic artists (Cirque type show) from France that were awesome. Broadway type shows were very entertaining and dancers were awesome. Really good Italian Magician/Comedian with a huge Albino snake. Overall, NCL Star had better entertainment and more shows (early and late shows). PORT STOPS Key West – Nice town Nassau, Bahamas – Nice Beach Coco Cay (Private Island) – Nice beach, Blue water. When they say ‘Private Island’, they make it sound like it’s some super-secret exclusive place ‘EWWWWW WHOAAAA’. But, you’re herded over there in little boats along with 2000 other people. Oh yeah, and there’s another RC boat docked beside you unloading their 2000 passengers (Not so private island now, is it?). They have big BBQ there on the island with Burgers, Dogs and chicken and ribs and all the fixins’. But wait, still no BBQ grill. Yes, once again, the burgers are cooked on a griddle and kept warm under lights. It’s their private island but you still have to pay $35 to go down their slide and play on the water park. ?? No point in comparing port stops to NCL Star as we cruised the Mexican Riviera the last time. Special shoutout to excellent friendly staff on RC Serenade of the Seas: Cleeven, Cloudeu, Rodney, Ramon, Pedro, Michelle Gallagher, Marco Aerelio Ship of ‘NO’ NO, we cannot bring you a plate of mussels. NO, you cannot enter this buffet line up, it is closed, go to another lineup. (Even though it was not roped off yet). NO, we cannot toast your bread at midnight, the toaster is not working (It was only turned off). NO, your child cannot go up the rock climbing wall. Free climb is over at 5pm and it is 5:05 pm (It was still open for adult speed climbing). NO, we do not serve any food in the pub. NO, we do not have Eggs Benedict here, you have to go to main dining room (After I was told they did by another crew member, and waited in line for 5 minutes)   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was my 4th cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean. I had high expectations because of the rave reviews I had received of Royal Caribbean. I know traveling in February would not be a typical "family" crowd but the other ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean. I had high expectations because of the rave reviews I had received of Royal Caribbean. I know traveling in February would not be a typical "family" crowd but the other cruised I have been on were during the school year and my 15 year old son loved the teen club activities and made great friends on the other cruise lines. He was the ONLY teen that showed up for any events the entire week. He was so bored we let him charge $300 worth of games in the arcade because there was NOTHING else for him to do. There were other teens on board but they did not participate in the FUEL club activities. I don't know if this is necessarily RC's fault but on our previous cruise lines, the teen club staff would go around the first night at sea and personally go up to the teens on ship and ask them to join them to get the word out about the activities (this is how we found out about teen clubs in the first place). So entertainment for the week for the only child 15 year old was a complete bust. Perhaps I am not a seasoned cruiser but our other huge disappointment was that one of the ports of call was cancelled. This has never happened on other ships. We had all our big excursions and activities planned for Cococay which was canceled because the tender boats couldn't make it to the ship due to waves. I have tendered before with rougher seas. I had no idea that they would just sail an extra day at sea and not make a substitute port of call. We were bored beyond measure by the last day at sea. The entertainment was horrible. Other cruises we've been on had broadway style shows nightly, comedians or magicians in a smaller theater nightly and matinee performances. There were no shows during the day (factor in that extra day at sea and cooler temps and you can only sit at the pool for so long) and while this ship did have a movie theatre the movies shown were the same 4 the entire cruise (which we had already seen). The food in the dining room each night was good and service was great. The food in the Windjammer was not. Other cruise lines had speciality burger bars open all day and night or pizza, nothing like that on this ship. Overall I was extremely disappointed with the experience and will more than likely not travel with Royal Caribbean in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was a great vacation to take over New Years! I was a part of a 25 member group. We wanted to go on a major brand cruise, such as Royal Caribbean, but on one of the smaller boats, which we find to be more enjoyable with smaller crowds ... Read More
This was a great vacation to take over New Years! I was a part of a 25 member group. We wanted to go on a major brand cruise, such as Royal Caribbean, but on one of the smaller boats, which we find to be more enjoyable with smaller crowds and more personalized guest service. The embarcation was a total breeze, after about 45 minutes, we were boarded with our baggage accounted. This ship is a mid-sized ship, which is great for me, because there are fewer people onboard and shorter lines. However, one problem I want to note out is that this ship only has nine elevators to cater to 2000+ people. This means that taking the elevator can take around 5 minutes. In addition, there is no aft elevator shaft, so the few elevators in the central atrium are very backed up. I found it much easier to use the stairs, so if you cannot use the stairs, this ship will be harder to traverse. However, this ship's sea front elevators are a great idea and something I love about this ship. The whole boat was very clean, and there was staff everywhere cleaning windows, cleaning the floor, and even painting the wood accents. The boat's exterior is covered with glass. Almost all rooms are sunlit, with windows pouring in lots of natural lighting. This also gives most rooms a view of the water outside. On some of the larger ships, the wider body puts rooms on the interior and decreases the connection with the ocean. The narrower body boat also makes it possible to look out either side in a single room. While the Serenade is smaller, it has no shortage of activities. With rock climbing and basketball court for the kids, and spa and fitness center for the adults, this ship caters to all ages. Youth and teen programs are provided also, and there is a curfew for all children from 1 to 5:30 AM. Children were not much of a disturbance, so if you would like to relax, there are plenty of places to lie out on a lounge chair. One feature I used extensively was the wraparound promenade on deck 5. I often sat out on the bow of the ship and meditated several times, and I would stare off the stern at the froth behind the mighty boat. Also, during the morning and evening hours, it made a great running track. The dining onboard this ship was stellar. Although it was not gourmet, it was very consistently delicious. At the dining hall there are different selections every night. Our party had some trouble, however, trying to reserve some tables. We had claims on 3 tables, but some of them had people not in our party, and some had only one person sitting at them. The dining room staff was very quick and glad to fix this problem, and by the second evening, the party's seating was fully organized. Food was delivered very quickly after order. We had a member of our party with a special dietary restriction, and her special menu was handled very well thoughout the week. Live entertainment every night was very, well, entertaining. There were fewer of the "brodway-style" shows we typically expect, and shows included acrobatics, acapella, aviation, and many other shows that don't start with A! In all seriousness, the variety was great and always exciting. In addition to the main theater, unique aerial performances are held in the grand Centrum, a 9 story atrium in the middle of the ship. Films were also shown in the cinema. There were A LOT of pianos onboard, and if you were lucky, someone would be playing the piano for you there. In fact, I would occasionally play a few songs around the boat. The main special of this itenerary was that it occurred over the New Year holiday, and there were planned to be three formal dinners instead of the usual two. However, the final formal dinner was cancelled, and the number was reduced to two. This evening had parties around the boat for young and old. The main party occurred in the Centrum, people were dancing, balloons dropping, drinks, and several centimeters of confetti on the ground. This was obviously a huge mess to clean up, but 6 hours later, when I woke up the next morning, it was completely cleaned up, everywhere! I was so impressed when I saw this, I think the crew was excellent to do this! Over the next few days, this amazing work ethic of the crew slightly declined as the end of the cruise approached, but the workers still served with a smile, and were happy to get anything from a glass of water to an extra dish. Debarkation was also a breeze, and within about 15 minutes, we were on a shuttle back to the airport. Overall, this was a great cruise, I would definitely reccomend it. While there will not be another new years itenerary for another year, I thought the food and entertainment were thoroughly pleasing, the staff worked very hard, and the ship was very clean. I would reccomend this cruise to anyone with a week off! Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I have been on 2 cruises in past, both with RC (Navigator, Rhapsody) and wife has never cruised. She finally got the chance April 2014 on Serenade out of New Orleans on a 7 day Caribbean. I must stay that I was victimized by taking the ... Read More
I have been on 2 cruises in past, both with RC (Navigator, Rhapsody) and wife has never cruised. She finally got the chance April 2014 on Serenade out of New Orleans on a 7 day Caribbean. I must stay that I was victimized by taking the Navigator in 2003 and then sailing on this smaller ship. Its hard to go big and then go small. Especially since the Navigator has had so many upgrades now. Anyways, my review and my $0.02. I stressed how the lines were going to be long so we prepared early and printed out guess booklet and paperwork. Arrived at check-in counter to learn we didn't have the stupid paper with barcode info to scan us in. I told lady I printed out everything it said to print and bring 30 days prior to sailing, under the CHECK-IN tab. She said but you have to go back and print out the single paper a week prior to sailing that allows you check in quickly. So I brought like 70 pages worth of paperwork/info when they did not even want any of it and only wanted the single sheet with the barcode that I didn't print out. Nonetheless, was still at the counter less than 6 mins after waiver and medical forms filled out so not gonna complain. How did I do it? Read on. Boarding on the ship was SUPER fast! Our cabin was on deck 3 and deck 3 boarding was printed for 3:00pm boarding... year right, like I was gonna wait until 3 when you can board at 11. Of course special needs and Pinnacle, Diamond, Platinum were all allowed to board 1st at 11:00am first, but guess when they called my class of Gold... at 11:20am!! we were boarding the ship 20 mins after boarding time was allowed! Conclusion... board anytime between 1st boarding and when the ship leaves. =) Arrived on ship and process was flawless and fast. We took advise of cruisecritic tips and packed a duffel with change of clothes and went straight to oceanview cabin. Room was nice as expected and we were off to snap photos of everything out of pure excitement! We checked out everything they had to offer on every floor until we got hungry around 5pm. Also took cruisecritic advice and stayed away from the packed Windjammer Café on deck 11 and sought lunch elsewhere. We found Park Café on same deck with few but wonderful options. It was deli style so sandwiches and light meals were on the menu. I had a Cuban Panini, wife had sandwich wrap, which were both excellent. Dinner time came and we met our wait staff Hugo (aka Hugo Boss) from Portugal and Walter from Columbia. These guys went out there way for us the entire trip and we will always remember their names and the service they offered! Wife anticipated 1st stop at Key West. I wasn't looking to forward to stop because I wanted to sail somewhere that wasn't considered in the USA but I knew the waters were excellent so I made the best of it. We decided to go with local excursions and not RC. Great choice! Found professional jet ski tour for $130. Talked guy down to $100 which was $50 each to take 1 ski. About 11 in our group with great instructor. Took us around entire Key West island (27 mi) for 1.5 hours duration. Did not shop because common sense tells you that you are still paying USA taxes in FL and prefer tax free duty free shopping in Bahamas. Even though I didn't care to much for Key West, it was quite enjoyable and I only chose this RC itinerary because most sailings only offer Nassau from like 7am-1pm. Its Nassau for Petes Sake! Only 6 hours? This itinerary had Serenade docked from 1pm-midnight which was more to my liking. It is a must to take the Atlantis Tour but more on that in a second. We enjoyed our days at sea. We totally booked ourselves on the days at sea with activities until worn out. We played bingo, shot pool, played putt putt golf, rock climbed. I think we were the kids on the boat. =) All you heard everyday was Nassau Nassau Nassau all over the ship regarding shopping there. Made it sound like the diamond capital of the world and how good the deals were. Had my wife looking like a 3rd grader going on field trip to Disney World in the face! They stressed all shops closes at 5pm and shopping needed to be done prior to 5pm in order to collect free charm bracelets and other low cost free gifts for visiting multiple stores. However, this conflicted with out Atlantis Tour we had scheduled at 2pm with 2.5 hour duration. Wife was having no negotiating with shopping after the tour and questioned if we could collect our Atlantis Tour tickets and take the tour without a guide in order to shop 1st which was no problem. Only exception was had to be done with tour by 7pm so we figured we needed to start tour no later than 4:30 to allow the 2.5 hours duration time. We collected our tour tickets and headed off to the so called one-in-a-life-time opportunity to shop in Nassau. Upon arrival to stores... not impressed at all! Wife saw a ring and asked how much, was told $11k but would sell for $5k. Wow! Negative. Saw another ring and said was $600 but would sell for $500. Really? 5 grand off 1 ring and $100 bucks off another? So we realized we were mislead and wasted our time and should have gone with guided tour. Its ok tho, Im a fast learner, fool me once! Stayed in town and checked out more stores before realizing we needed to get to Atlantis. Took taxi, guy offered $4 but we wasn't ready. Got 3 blocks away and decided we were tired of walking and took taxi that offered $12. His vehicle was much better than the other so I paid diff instead of negotiating, plus Im sure he needed $$ way more than I needed that $8. How was unguided tour of Atlantis? Imagine being dropped off at Times Square NY and saying have at it. You don't know where to start. Was totally our fault. We decided to check out the hotel and took some wonderful pictures and got tired and hungry. So we wrapped it up and headed back to ship. We had every intention of cleaning up, eating FREE dinner onboard, and living up the nightlife and music until midnight and we fell asleep after eating. LOL. Darn 5 star food ratings! Nassau was still enjoyable but would totally do things diff next time. Headed to Cococay, then the dreaded announcement came on that waters too rough and was headed back to NOLA with extra day at sea. Noooo. We looked so forward to kayaking and snorkeling there. Oh well, excursion refunded. I will admit the extra day at sea made the cruise a little bit more boring with the limited activities and entertainment onboard but I refused to used the B word when your on a RC ship that just left the Bahamas so we tried to make the best of it. But the large ships did have surfing, ice rinks, and other stuff. Comes in handy when your at that active age of 34 yrs young. Just saying. We enjoyed bingo with Deb from The Netherlands, such a sweet girl, throughout the cruise. But if we could do it again we would only play the last day which is x2 for $1000 and other for free 7 day Caribbean cruise on ANY ship they have. Guess who won cruise? Our dinner partners! Who were sitting right next to us! She did like 3 cart wheels when they yelled bingo. LMBO. Great time with Samantha and Tonya. So we witnessed why its good to play bingo on final day 1st hand. Other days are pots of like $300 bucks which you end up splitting with 4 other people so not worth playing until last day. That wraps up the trip folks. Great service, great time, 10's on reviews all the way across the boards. I will have to say I will limit myself to Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis and above class ships from now on. Bigger ships will have better experiences. Not sure if this is proper place but I would like to share some tips I learned as follows... -Sat with a couple for lunch who said they have been on 14 cruises, inside cabins only, until they hit Diamond status and got free upgrades to balconies. Spend $0 onboard, enjoyed free meals, free lemonade/tea (Arnold Palmers) mixes and water, used cruisecritic for best places to visit and walked the city together. Arrived home with $0 additional dollars spent I said... Amazing. I wanna do it. -Played bingo 3 days, they sell paper card for $22 and electronic machines $55 with 30 cards built in. 4 games played with purchase. Out of 12 games, machines won 9, you do the math! -Prepay gratuities and drink package with cruise cost. It sucked paying $385 on seapass for drink package when we could of added it to our monthly payments we were making to pay for cruise. Hope our experience helps make your experience better. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Meh
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of ... Read More
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of cruise lines). Pre-cruise experience: By far this was as bad as it could possibly be. RCI's website is terrible. In fact, my experience(s) in trying to book excursions and other onboard activities were so bad that I may not book with RCI again unless they fix this. I spent roughly 12-14 hours on the phone with RCI (and my travel agent spent even more time on the phone with them) trying to book the Barbie Premium Experience which was/is advertised on the site and was advertised on the link for my personal cruise itinerary. While the agents were to a person, polite, none could give me a good answer as to why I couldn't book this experience for my daughter. At times I was told that it wasn't available, it was only available at a certain time of the year, it was only available on certain ships, it was only available if a certain number of people signed up (and how would they know if they wouldn't let us sign up?), and that I had waited too long to sign up for this experience. In any case, once on board the staff let us sign up, but there were only two girls...in part because of the frustrations with trying to get this. Furthermore, getting the shore excursion(s) that we wanted was difficult as well. RCI, if you review the reviews about yourself, let it be known to whoever is in charge that for some of us, the pre-cruise experience is an important part of the vacation - anticipating and planning our cruise can be a lot of fun - and you are AWFUL at this portion of the vacation. Embarkation - lines, but nothing out of the ordinary. Parking in NOLA isn't too bad if you do a little research. We parked at Fulton Street Garage (about $85 for the week in a covered spot). The shuttle to the terminal is about 5 minutes and the people are professional. Onboard Experience 1. Cabin - We had a outside cabin. Previously with Carnival we've had an outside cabin on one and a balcony on another. The balcony is a game-changer. Not RCI's fault that I didn't pony up a little more cash to get that balcony. The room was comparable to Carnival's outside cabin. Cramped, but plenty of storage for your stuff if you know where to put things. Bringing a power strip makes a difference, too. Our cabin steward was a gem - super-friendly, very professsional, capable of keeping a 120 sq. ft. space with three humans in it clean and neat. The beds and pillows, on the other hand, were awful. I wasn't expecting my bed at home, but the linens are old and worn (showing frayed edges/hems/etc.), the pillows were all lumpy and weak, and the bed was thin and worn. RCI - time to spend a little cash on new beds. 2. Food - Our first cruise was 10 years ago on Carnival and our second cruise was last summer on Carnival. We noted that there was at least a half, if not full step down in quality. I was hoping that RCI's food would be more like what Carnival's was 10 years ago. I was disappointed. The Windjammer cafe (the open all the time buffet) was mediocre. The fruit was fresh, but the burgers were flat and stale, the coffee was bitter (change a filter every once in a while, RCI), and the casseroles were flat. The dining room food was better, but not well seasoned. Again, I was not expecting five- or even four-star dining, but Royal Caribbean is not better than Carnival. For the price, I was expecting better. The dining room staff was attentive and professional, friendly even. However, the food was exceedingly bland and not very flavorable. We had maybe two above average meals out of seven in the dining room. One other complaint: there was not a single lime on the whole ship! Seriously - not even in the bars! Coronas were served with lemons. Mojitos were served with lemons. How do you send a 2500 passenger cruise ship to sea without a single freaking lime?!? We did not eat at any of the for-pay restaurants. 3. Common spaces - The Serenade is a pretty ship. We sailed on the Conquest previously, so that is comparison I can make. The Serenade is not really showing age - the carpets and floors appeared clean and well-maintained. The elevators all worked the entire cruise. There are several neat areas including the Centrum (the central atrium) where there was a nice bar, sitting area, and several acrobatic shows. The Schooner Bar is a really neat space. The Casino is smallish and has more slots than table game seats, but I never had trouble getting a seat at the blackjack table if I wanted it. I confess that the production shows are really not our bag, so we didn't partake in the theater, but it looked to be spacious and well kept. One neat thing about the Serenade is that passengers can access the forward helipad. Anyone can get their Leo "King of the World!" on - something not possible on the Carnival Conquest. The large pool area on top was well attended with movies at night and the NCAA tournament on during the day. The kid's pool area was ok for my daughter and she loved the water slide, but the Serenade needs to upgrade the slide as well - it is small and slow and it looks like every other cruise ship on earth has a pretty neat one. A water slide isn't a deal-breaker for me, but it could use some work. The fitness center is large and has plenty of equipment. Classes were too advanced for the largely senior crowd on board. 4. Kid's Activities - Adventure Ocean was pretty neat. We hadn't taken advantage of this possibility before (on Carnival), so I don't have anything to compare it to, but our daughter had a great time. The staff was professional, friendly, and capable of dealing with kids of all ages. They also had plenty of security protocols in place so we felt secure leaving our daughter with them. I've written about the Barbie package already. 5. Ports of Call - Key West - only 5 hours? Really? RCI is obviously skimping on fuel costs by going super-slow (average about 12 knots) instead of spending a little extra time in port. I would have much more enjoyed the normal "get into port at 8am - leave at 6pm" than an 11am-4:30pm rush job. The Key West terminal/dock was nice and we had enough time to ride the Conch Train and see the Truman Little White House - nothing else. RCI - go 15-16 knots and give us more time in port! Nassau - a run-down pit. Unless your bag is hanging at Senor Frogs or buying overpriced t-shirts and knick-knacks, you have to leave Nassau. We did by going on an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island for a dolphin encounter. This staff was also professional and friendly. It is ridiculously over-priced and then they charge even more for pictures and videos, but you gladly pay it because when are you going to get shots of your 7-year-old daughter grinning ear-to-ear while hugging a dolphin again. I can't really complain. Lots of other folks who went to Atlantis on Paradise Island said good things as well. The only real complaint I have about this port of call is that we were there from 1pm-11pm. Just a weird time. Would have preferred the 8am-5pm sort of option. Coco Cay - Not surprisingly, we were unable to go ashore. The crew told us that they hadn't been able to tender to Coco Cay and had cancelled that port of call for over a month because of rough seas. It didn't take an experienced tar to know that there would have been major injuries and deaths had we tried to tender in 10-foot seas. Thanks to the captain for making a wise (but easy) decision. I won't be taking any more cruises in the springtime in the Bahamas to ports that require tendering. I wish that I had known that before this cruise and I would have chosen a different itinerary (probably in the western Caribbean). Fellow Passengers - a late March cruise always will bring out the families and there were a ton of us. Lots and lots of seniors as well. I don't think I've ever seen so many rascals (or whatever those electric scooters that seniors ride on these days are called) in the same place before. If you were a single on this cruise hoping to find your true love or even just a hook-up, I bet you were exceedingly disappointed. All in all, I was disappointed. I had a good vacation, but I expect a lot for the price that I pay when I go on a cruise. I had high hopes for Royal Caribbean, but those were definitely dashed. My family and I will cruise again. Not sure that I'll chose RCI - I'd definitely do Carnival over RCI considering the price - and if I'm going to pay RCI rates, I may try Norwegian or someone else next time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I've cruised on Carnival and Celebrity in the past and thought RC's Serenade of the Seas was a couple of steps down from my other cruise experiences. The food was bland and usually overcooked, the port stops were way too short ... Read More
I've cruised on Carnival and Celebrity in the past and thought RC's Serenade of the Seas was a couple of steps down from my other cruise experiences. The food was bland and usually overcooked, the port stops were way too short and we missed our private island stop entirely. According to the staff, they had been missing the stop for weeks on end. I wish I had done better research because I would have chosen another destination had I known that CocoKay had about a 50% track record. We had a ninth deck stateroom with a balcony, which was lovely. Our steward was great, the staff was very accommodating and the dining service was excellent -- far better than the food. In the dining room you could order a dried out, overcooked, thin strip steak (I ordered rare and got well done) or you could pay an extra $13 for a "good" steak. The add-on sales tactics were insulting. Because we missed our private island stop, we were at sea (a very rough sea) for more than 72 hours. The first at sea day was freezing, and despite the policy written on Royal Caribbean's website stating that they would let the kids use the solarium pool in inclement weather, the staff refused to let the kids in. We had to shiver on deck while droves of kids crowded into the two hot tubs. Meanwhile, the solarium pool was warm and completely empty. Apparently high winds, rain and cold temps aren't inclement enough to execute a written policy. We ordered the drink packages, but when we got on board, we realized that they didn't save us anything. Drinks are very reasonably priced, so unless you have 10+ drinks a day, it's not really worth it. The workout room was great with brand-new beautiful equipment, but RC charged for spin and fitness classes, which was a real bummer when you have to work off the crappy dining room steak. All the activities in the fitness area were annoying sales pitches. On the sixth day of the cruise we were climbing the walls. Bad weather, missed ports, bland food and no limes for our mojitos. I decided to take the kids on a scavenger hunt, which would have been great if they didn't give us the wrong scavenger hunt. I enjoyed cruises in the past, but after this experience, I am going to spend my money at a true all-inclusive resort or stay on land European style. I spent nearly twice what I would have spent at Iberostar Paraiso Maya for a week, including day trips and airfare. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
This was my 3rd cruise, the other two Carnival. I'm going to break this down into sections. Parking: Horrible. Not enough spaces and no shuttle service to the docks like Carnival offers. Embarkation / Debarkation - Fabulous, ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise, the other two Carnival. I'm going to break this down into sections. Parking: Horrible. Not enough spaces and no shuttle service to the docks like Carnival offers. Embarkation / Debarkation - Fabulous, especially Debarkation. We were off the ship in 30 minutes and on the highway driving home! That is incredible. Service: Fabulous. Everyone on board was super nice and helpful. Loved our waiter for dinner, he was great with our 6 year old twins. Food: I expected better food on Royal Caribbean over Carnival because it is billed as a 'step up' but this was not the case. The food was fair to good. Nothing we had all week was great. About the same as Carnival. We did not do the specialty restaurants. Room: Bad. The beds were hard, the linens were flat. Carnival has them beat in this department by far. Location is right off the "Centrum" which unbeknownst to us was the main entertainment location for the ship. Loud bands playing till midnight ever night. Great if you are young, but horrible with 6 year old kids. There were not many 'family of 4 rooms' to select from. I booked this cruise 8 months ago, so not a last minute thing and this was one of the few rooms I could pick. Entertainment. The shows were great. Dancing / aerial displays were well done. Singing was also really good. Comedy acts top notch. I enjoyed most of the shows they offered and this was a major step up from Carnival. Ports of Call: Key West was far to short. Nassau was sad. We honeymooned there 18 years ago and what a drastic change for the worst. Coco Cay was canceled due to wind. I booked this cruise specifically to see Coco Cay, so this was a MAJOR blow to our moral, due to Nassau being a warn down drug pit and Key West only 5 hours long. This left us on the ship 3 full days and most of the two days we were suppose to be 'in port'. Ship's appearance: Good. No real sign of rust on the ship itself, like the last Carnival trip I took. It was in good repair and all the services offered on board were available. The kids loved the pingpong tables, shuffle board, mini golf, rock climbing, etc. Pool. Kids pool is either 3 inches deep or 6 foot deep. There is no shallow end. This was a major blow to my 6 years old who couldn't 'swim'. We had hoped to teach them to swim on the cruise, but we as adults couldn't stand in this pool. Poor design. A huge let down. Kids Club. Thank goodness for a great kids club staff. Because the pool was unsuitable for my kids, they spent the vast majority in the kids club playing with other kids their age. This was open from 9-noon, 1-4, and 6-10pm. My kids practically lived there and we were thankful for the time alone on all those sea days. Had it not been for the great kids club workers, I would be giving this cruise a very low review. They saved our vacation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We are a family of 3, our son is 8 . This is our 2nd RCI cruise . Hubby and I have sailed on Princess. Embarkation: very smooth , had a 3hr drive to New Orleans and arrived about noon , had a few lines but they moved quickly. Very ... Read More
We are a family of 3, our son is 8 . This is our 2nd RCI cruise . Hubby and I have sailed on Princess. Embarkation: very smooth , had a 3hr drive to New Orleans and arrived about noon , had a few lines but they moved quickly. Very organized ! Had lunch in Windjammer , crazy as usual on embarkation day. Ship/Cabin: very nice , loved the Centrum area with all the glass !! Also , the Soloarium was a nice area with a less crowded and heated pool. Everything was very clean and neat . Cabin was big enough for the 3 of us. Son slept on bunk which our wonderful attendant Laura from Nicaragua would let down and up for us . Laura was fantastic , loved to laugh and smile !! Made the cute towel animals : elephant, monkey , stingray and a bat ! Kids Club: My son loved it !! He was waiting everyone morning when they opened. He loves playing video games , when they had free time between organized activies he got to play . Pirate night was fun, where they dressed them as pirates and paraded around the ship and in the centrum. It was also nice when they did the Adventure Dining where they took them to the Windjammer for dinner. Entertainment: We didn't see alot of the shows . The cruise director , John Blair , was awesome !!! Very talented man . We did go to a Neil Diamond tribute he did , WOW !! He nailed Neil Diamond !! He can sing , is super funny as well !! Dining : Mostly ate in Windjammer due to having our son with us. It was good , no complaints. We ate breakfast a few times and did formal night in MDR. We had My Time Dining for dinner. Everything was delicious. One of the nights our son was able to eat with Kids Club we made reservations for Chops. It was $30 for each of us, but oh so good !! We both got the small filet , mushrooms , roasted potatoes and the asparagus - very good !!! Creme Brulee for dessesrt is a must ! Service was top notch !! Shore Excursions: 1st stop : Key West - we did the Old Towne trolley booked via ship. It was good , driver was humerous and informative . 2nd stop : Nassua - we booked the Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encouner through RCI before we left to make sure it didn't fill up with it being Spring Break. Expensive but very good! We boarded a double decker boat for about a 40 min ride to the island. Nice trip. Had 3O min in water with dolphin. They are not in tanks. Its a natural area where they swim in open, but are fenced off from the open water. We got to hug, kiss, pet , feed , and dance with them !! 3rd stop: Coco Cay- it was pretty windy that morning with white caps . Due to safety concers because we would be going to island by tenders we had to skip CoCo Cay. This was the only negative we had for the whole cruise. We had been there on a previous RCI cruise and I was so looking forward to going back !! I had heard its a 50% chance that we may not due to weather. I can understand Captains decision, it would've been very unsafe in those small boats . Also very windy on the island. We had an addtiional day at sea , which made 3 days in a row. There were plenty of activities and things to do. Pool areas tended to be pretty crowded . Embarkation: Once again very smooth. We were last group to get off at about 9:15 , walked off and got our luggage in the numbered area of our tag. I was expecting it to be like an airport , but was so impressed to see all the tag numbers posted with the bags right there !! We parked in the cruise terminal parking lot and it was a bit of a walk through the terminal with our luggage. I saw baggage guys you could get to carry to car if you need . It was very good vacation which we all had a great time even if we did eat way too much !!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Background Info I traveled with my cousin. This was our 3rd cruise together, all on Royal Caribbean. I am 30 and he is 25. We like the rest and relaxation of cruises and visiting the different ports of call. Hotel Info We stayed at the ... Read More
Background Info I traveled with my cousin. This was our 3rd cruise together, all on Royal Caribbean. I am 30 and he is 25. We like the rest and relaxation of cruises and visiting the different ports of call. Hotel Info We stayed at the Hilton New Orleans Airport on a "Sleep and Sail" package that included one night hotel stay, one week of parking at the hotel and transportation from the hotel to the cruise terminal. The hotel was very clean and neat but is a little outdated. We did have to remind them that the package included the transportation to the cruise terminal, but it worked out in the end. Just a word of caution, the food prices at the hotel are VERY high. Ship Info The Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship with ocean views from many different views. My only complaint is that the ship has been refitted with the addition of many new venues beyond what it was designed to have and as a result several traffic "choke-points" have formed throughout the ship; such as in the Casino, the shops on board and any area around the centrum. Activities The onboard activities were "ok". There was not a huge variety of things to do at any given time and some of the activities were very poorly organized. It seemed that most of the things to do on the ship were geared towards a more senior demographic. The activities staff consists of the Cruise Director and his wife with 4 staffers. They are ridiculously understaffed. The Cruise Director was not very visible and at times 3 of the 4 staff members would all be working on one activity such as bingo. There were things to do but not like we had on the Voyager of the Seas. Part of this problem may have been because of the passenger demographic on this cruise. I would not go so far as to say that we were "bored" at all. Service The service on the ship was very good for the most part. We had a great cabin steward and all of the bartenders we encountered were very friendly. We did have a problem with our Chef's Table reservation, but I will go into detail about that in the "Chef's Table" section below. Overall I will say that service on the ship was very good. Ports/Shore Excursions The ports were good, but the stop in Key West could have been longer. We had a fun time in each port. Their private island of Coco Cay was exceptionally beautiful. We should have booked more excursions than we did, but we still had a great time. One word of warning about Nassau: We were approached by the people that rent the mopeds and bikes outside of the cruise terminal 3 times with propositions to buy drugs. Travel to Embarkation Of the 3 cruises we have done together and the 4 total that I have done this was by far the easiest embarkation that I have ever had. It was very smooth and very fast. All of the staff at the pier were very fast, friendly and helpful. Cabin Our cabin steward was nice and friendly. He was very fast and efficient and would always stop to say hi and talk to us. He went out of his way to help with one of my medications that had to be stored in a refrigerated location. Just FYI the coolers in the cabins are usually not cold enough to store medication. If you have a refrigerated medication you should tell your travel agent or the cruise line so that arrangements can be made for proper storage and for you to get a Sharp's Container if needed. Dining As usual the food in the dining room was awesome! Our service started out a little slow, but that was the waiter's first day on the ship and he tried really hard and was better and better every day. We could not ask for more. The food in the Windjammer was like any buffet food, not the freshest but was very good. Chef's Table We reserved Chef's Table online before the cruise. We had reservations for February 12, the day we were in Coco Cay. Royal Caribbean has a very poor reservation system and the system stopped allowing new reservations saying that the venue was already full so others could not book. When we got to the ship and inquired about our reservations we were told that not enough people had booked so we may be moved to another night. The following morning we got a call that were moved to the night we would be in Nassau, so our plans for Nassau were pretty much ruined. After I got the call I went to Guest Services. They called the Specialty Restaurant manager and we were told that there is nothing they can do to help us. After speaking with them I went up to see the Specialty Restaurant manager and was told that we were moved to a different night and that a private party was booked in our place. A lady there then chimed in that we only paid $70.00 per person because booked online and that the private party paid $95.00 per person because they booked onboard. Needless to say I was furious. When we arrived in Key West that day I called the corporate offices who emailed the ship. That evening the Head Waitress in the dining room asked to speak with us to see what was going on then we had a meeting with the Maitre D. We still had to go to dinner on the wrong night, but they did refund what we paid, gave us some free wine and a lunch in Giovannis. The food and service in Chef's Table was phenomenal. This was easily the best meal I have ever had and even with the problems we had I will book Chef's Table on every cruise I take in the future. Entertainment For the onboard programs we only saw the two adult comedy shows and they were pretty good. We did like the Quest and the Love and Marriage Game Show. Disembarkation Summary Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Our 48th cruise and it was wonderful. It is amazing how many people on the same cruise (1/11/2014) come away with different reviews. The ship was beautiful! All that beautiful glass. Hubby and I took this particular cruise just for the ... Read More
Our 48th cruise and it was wonderful. It is amazing how many people on the same cruise (1/11/2014) come away with different reviews. The ship was beautiful! All that beautiful glass. Hubby and I took this particular cruise just for the ship. We were very pleased with the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. Royal Caribbean's Radiance class ships are the perfect mid-size ships. Embarkation and debarkation was easy and fast. We did what everyone did, go to the Windjammer for lunch and then explored the ship until our rooms were ready. The staff, the food, the entertainment, was all good. We are making plans to take this same cruise again next year. Our balcony was perfect. We enjoyed wrapping up in our robes and blankets to cruise the Mississippi River. Watching the pilots get on and off the ship. As we were going down the river, we passed two Carnival ships coming back from their cruises. For hubby and me that was one of the most exciting nights. We stayed up until we got into the Gulf of Mexico. Our shore excursions were just shopping this time around. We mainly enjoyed having the ship to ourselves (almost) while at ports of call. We are also looking forward to our Allure of the Seas cruise in March. My advice is to take this ship for your next cruise. Staying in New Orleans before the cruise was also fun. Good people and good food. Laissez les bons temps rouler ! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our 7th Cruise with Royal Caribbean. I have never left a review before as it's just not my thing. First, let me say our previous 6 cruises with RCI have been great. However, I just couldn't let our recent experience on ... Read More
This was our 7th Cruise with Royal Caribbean. I have never left a review before as it's just not my thing. First, let me say our previous 6 cruises with RCI have been great. However, I just couldn't let our recent experience on Serenade of the Seas pass without a review. Short and sweet of it..... SERENADE OF THIS SEAS has endless PROBLEMS! We could have overlooked the lack of activities and terrible shows along with the rude ship staff. But when the FOOD IS TERRIBLE it is impossible to make the best of it and rack it up to just a bad week. However we we did a 9 day with a consecutive 7 day Christmas cruise back-to-back on this ship, and .... We couldn't get off this ship fast enough! Even the staff told us this ship had problems, so this review should not be a surprise to Royal Caribbean. It's hard to find a fault with a cruise, as its a cruise for goodness sake - make the best of it, right? Well, we failed miserably at trying to make the best of this debacle of a ship. I guess it helped by us overhearing many, many, many other cruisers during our 16 days on board complaining about the bad quality of food, shows, and activities in that we new we not alone and big complainers. Wow, did I just have the put that in a review for a cruise? Long complaint short - Choose a different Royal Caribbean ship for your next cruise other than Serenade of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We chose this cruise line because we had heard that Royal Caribbean is one of the most family-friendly cruise lines. And looking at the ship's offerings, there certainly seemed to be a lot for kids to do. Our primary disappointment, ... Read More
We chose this cruise line because we had heard that Royal Caribbean is one of the most family-friendly cruise lines. And looking at the ship's offerings, there certainly seemed to be a lot for kids to do. Our primary disappointment, therefore, was that there was pretty much nothing for our not-fully-potty-trained 3-year old to do on board the ship -- at least, nothing more than a totally non-family oriented ship would offer. And I should add that "fully potty trained", per their definition, means that the child is not only out of diapers, but is able to go to the bathroom by himself unaccompanied by an adult. I personally do not know many 3 or even 4 year olds that are able to venture into an unfamiliar bathroom by themselves to do their business. This was particularly annoying to us since we had called the cruise line in advance and spent almost an hour on the phone with a customer service representative explaining our situation and concerns (because it seemed that there was an infant room that would be too young for him, and the 3-5 year old room required being fully potty trained) and being reassured that accommodations would be made once we were on board the ship. As instructed by the person on the phone, we spoke to the staff at the Adventure Ocean youth program. They offered no solutions or options for us other than to hang out with our 3 year old in the infant room (which, not surprisingly, had no age-appropriate toys or activities for him). We explained that our son still wears a pull-up to avoid accidents (I mean, wouldn't you rather the kid pee in their diapers than in their pants??) and that he lets us know when he has to go, but needs to be accompanied to the bathroom, so we offered to stay in or right outside the 3-5 year old play space so that in the event he has to go to the bathroom, we would remove him from the play space and take him back to our room. To our utter shock, they said no!!!! And since the kids pool likewise prohibits swim diapers, there was absolutely nothing on the ship for our 3-year old to do except for the miniature golf course that sits atop the ship where it is very windy and there is no protection from the sun. We did that once with him and got about halfway through the course before we could no longer stand the wind and blazing sun. The rest of the cruise was spent entertaining him with the few toys that we brought (we would have packed more if we'd known he would not be welcome in the 3-5 year old play room) and the adult activities on the ship that had some appeal to him (such as the few and far between live music and performances that were not going on during his afternoon nap or bedtime). We literally found ourselves sometimes opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator just to have an "activity" for him. And we were far from the only family in this conundrum. We met plenty of other parents with 3 and 4 year olds who were "in the same boat" so to speak. And we met others who decided (and I don't fault them in the least) to be dishonest about their child's level of potty training and, sure enough, their kids had "accidents" while in the 3-5 year old room. The ship claims that it is some sort of public health issue that they don't allow diapers, but it seems to me like far less of a health issue to have a kid have an accident in a diaper than all over his clothes. However, the staff let those kids who'd had accidents back into the 3-5 year old room, but our child was not welcome because we don't like the idea of him accidentally peeing in his pants. Other than the wholly unhelpful Adventure Ocean kids staff, the rest of the staff on board was exceptionally friendly and accommodating. In particular, the various waiters and state room attendants that we encountered were outstanding. Other positive aspects included the cleanliness of the ship and the pool areas (which I was able to use when my husband stayed with our son during nap time). The food was OK -- best in the dining room, the other open venues were only so-so, and we did not try any of the specialty dining venues. The live music was quite good. Our son fell in love with D'version so we made a point of going to every performance of theirs that we could. There were supposed to be 3 port stops, but we were not able to do the Coco Cay stop, which is the one we were most looking forward to because it was the only early morning stop (our son gets up very early and naps in the afternoon) and was on the beach, so after days of wandering aimlessly around the ship it would have been a hugely appreciated time to spend on the beach and the only opportunity for my son to go swimming, but that stop was canceled due to the weather. The other two stops were basically tourist shopping ports that held no interest for us and were too late in the day anyway because of our son's sleep schedule. So, overall, the cruise was a huge disappointment, mainly because our son was not welcomed in the 3-5 year old room or the pool and there was nothing else for him to do. If they had just had some sort of play space (like with age-appropriate toys and a jungle gym type of thing so that he could burn off some energy) we would have been SO much happier. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Port Parking, Embarkation, and Disembarking was a breeze. We have cruised many times with RC, 2 Adults, 45. 2 Boys 7 and 12. We ate dinner all but one night at the early seating. We did not have one night that our order was correct and ... Read More
Port Parking, Embarkation, and Disembarking was a breeze. We have cruised many times with RC, 2 Adults, 45. 2 Boys 7 and 12. We ate dinner all but one night at the early seating. We did not have one night that our order was correct and that we were done within 1.5 hours. Slow and bad service that I had never experienced before. We didn't get to stop at CocoCay due to weather, not RC's fault however with the extra day at sea there was no back up plan. They had nothing for us to do. Another day sitting by the pool. 7 Days on a ship this size with kids and only two stops got a little long. On a larger ship it would have been ok as there would be more to do. In the past we had never seen our room attendant which is great, if you have cruised before you know what I mean, they appear out of nowhere, you come back and everything is done. Not this trip, bed was not made part of the time, bathroom not cleaned, twice the turn down service didn't happen. Any by the way, if you liked the little mints on your pillow that is a thing of the past. Windjammer variety wasn't as much as it has been in the past, by day 4 looking at the same stuff over and over, we were pleased to have a hamburger the next three days for lunch. Park Cafe is a great touch for a light snack. Don't get me wrong it was a great time and a great cruise, just not the service I have had in the past. It is my belief RC is concentrating on the large ships, more revenue, more expensive fare, better service and better products. The smaller ships I hate to say have become the B Team, or training ships.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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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