15 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Hawaii Cruise Reviews

Background. We have been married 28 years, are in our mid-50's and have done 6 previous cruises with Royal Caribbean in the past 4 years. This cruise started and terminated in Los Angeles. This meant that there are almost 10 ... Read More
Background. We have been married 28 years, are in our mid-50's and have done 6 previous cruises with Royal Caribbean in the past 4 years. This cruise started and terminated in Los Angeles. This meant that there are almost 10 full "AT SEA" days of the cruise. If you are not fans of "at sea" days you really need to take this into account when considering taking any Hawaiian "circle" cruise. That said, Hawaii is fantastic as each island is so different from the others. Hawaii is a must see destination. We had been on Radiance class before and all of the ships in this family are identical. The Serenade was in excellent shape and we always saw people cleaning and maintaining the ship. This would probably be our favorite class except that it does not have a skating rink, and I love to skate. Embarkation. We got to the ship just after 11AM and we were processed straight away. The only line up was getting your picture taken and this was 10-15 minutes long. Disembarkation was very quick once your color was called. All in all these processes were painless. We had cabin 1102. This is a tenth deck D1 category that is a true aft balcony. The balcony is approximately 11 feet long by 8 feet wide. It came with 2 chairs, a small table and 2 deck chairs. The view was fantastic and it gets a ton of sun. It is situated right under the Windjammer which for the most time was not an issue. On 2 nights we were woken up by a loud scraping noise at 4:00 AM. We could not figure out what caused the noise as the tables directly above our cabin were fixed to the deck. A little noise once or twice was a small price to pay for the location of this cabin. It is quite a walk from the elevator to the room but again a true aft balcony cabin just blows away all other cabins. The Windjammer. This is a buffet and people need to understand that as a buffet the food was very good to excellent. I never had an issue with any of the food and there was a lot of variety. On occasion we had difficulty finding an empty table and on more than a few occasions we had to clean up from the previous people. We usually went to the outside dining area of the Windjammer so we could look at the wake. Main dining room. We found the food here to be good to very good. The days of people comparing shipboard cuisine to 5 star restaurants are long over. I used this cruise to try items that I normally would not try in a restaurant. On the first I did try the Black Angus steak, which in the past has been very good, but on this occasion was not very good. But, the food here is probably far better than what you will make at home and you don't have to cook it or clean up afterwards. Chops. It is as wonderful as everyone says. The service and food were to die for. This is now a "must do" on all cruises. Service. Our cabin attendant was excellent and took excellent care of us. We couldn't ask for a better person. Our waiter and assistant waiter were good. We had a table of 10 but had only 8 people for the first few days then 2 more were added. On the first day there were a few hiccups that made us worry such as forgetting to bring salad dressing for a salad, drinks were slow in coming but starting the second day everything went as it should. Our headwaiter was almost invisible and I never knew his name. There was a situation at our table of 10 where 2 people had raw chicken served to them and it was not handled very well. Although we were not served the chicken I can attest that it was raw. The issue was that they put frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu into the oven but only cooked it for the length of time to cook thawed chicken. It came out cooked only about ¼ inch deep and the rest was absolutely raw. As Murphy's Law would have it the chicken was served to the only people at our table who were chronic complainers. One of the "offended" passengers and her husband went ballistic so much so that 3 couples, including us, at our table were so embarrassed that we actually considered asking to have a new table assigned to us. We decided to give it another night and the couple never returned to our table, instead eating every meal at Chops or Portofino's gratis. The head and waiter, maitre d' and executive chef just fell over themselves to appease these people. They basically gave them whatever they wanted. They just wanted this situation to go away. The staff should have apologized, given a few freebies such as dinners and wine, then warned the couple that their actions were unacceptable and any further outburst like this would be dealt with severely. Instead they were fawned over. Talk about reinforcing poor behavior. The other "offended" couple who handled it better were upset at not getting the same freebies or attention that the other couple was provided. She then devoted her cruise to complaining and getting as many freebies as possible. The passengers. Overall a great mix of people. We met some wonderful people through the Cruise Critic Mix and Mingle. We also had, at our table, another couple we traveled with and an absolutely wonderful couple from L.A.. This made dinner something we looked forward to every night. Our table was always one of the first to arrive in the dining room and our table was always one of the last to leave. So much depends on who you get at your table and we just happened to win the jackpot. Issues. Some of the things that did not sit well with me were the number of people in the dining room wearing jeans, shorts and t-shirts. Nothing was done by the staff to correct the situation. I asked our waiter if this was common and he nodded. As well the chair hogs were in fine form. Each morning people would appear with an arm full of towels and save chairs for when they required the chairs hours later. They did this in full sight of the pool staff who preferred to do nothing. My issue is this. If you have rules enforce them. If you ignore or do not enforce the rules then eliminate the rules. Tours. I will only cover tours that we did that were bought through the cruise line. Kona. The ladies did the "Highlights of Kona" tour and were greatly disappointed. The tour did not go to every destination that was on the itinerary and the driver said very little of interest. The boys did the Kayak and Snorkel. One of us had a great time and the other did not. It was me who did not. The secluded bay is actually quite open and the waves were quite high. I spent about 2 hours chumming for fish while my friend snorkeled and had a great time. Honolulu. All 4 of us did the Little Circle Island tour. It was tremendous. Ensenada Mx. Take everything that is bad about Mexico and you have Ensenada. The number of beggars is staggering. We saw children around 2-3 years old begging with their mother. I gave a few dollars to one child who appeared to be alone and within seconds a crowd of young children surrounded me with their cups raised up. This was so sad. The streets are also filled with vendors who are friendly but very, very persistent. The same goes true for the people in the stores. All you are is a walking talking wallet. Should we ever HAVE to stop in Ensenada again to satisfy the PVSA act we would not get off the ship. I asked for some input for this review from the others at our table at here are some of the things they said. 1. The Medical Facility is very competent, understanding, and friendly. However, once onboard you may be quarantined in your cabin for 48 hours should you have any possibility of a virus. That happened to us. 2. The art auctions appear to be a farce. Art expert passengers couldn't believe the prices of some questionable items. These art auctions are on all the Royal Caribbean ships that we've been on. 3. The Sea View is a small dining treasure on the top deck. Most passengers never discover it. And when they do find it, they ask if there is a charge for the food... It's very nice. 4. Wine selection included many inferior wines. Very disappointing. 5. The Internet Wifi seemed surprisingly faster than on other cruises we've been on. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. The islands we visited, the ship, the crew and especially our dinner companions made this a wonderful and special cruise. The little things that went wrong did not affect our cruise in any way. It is such a shame that RCI is discontinuing the Hawaiian Circle cruises as they are so wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
As background, this is a continuation of our review since we did a back-to-back Alaska/Hawaii cruise on the Serenade. I've already posted the Alaska review. We stayed in the same inside stateroom (4539). There were six of us family ... Read More
As background, this is a continuation of our review since we did a back-to-back Alaska/Hawaii cruise on the Serenade. I've already posted the Alaska review. We stayed in the same inside stateroom (4539). There were six of us family members on the first cruise, but only DH and myself on this Hawaii cruise. Because this was the very last Hawaii cruise by RCCL, I won't elaborate on the ports or the entertainment—just point out some interesting ship things on the ship and the B2B routine. Turnaround day was fun. Everybody else has to leave, and we (and 23 other people) had the ship to ourselves. We were given a card to present for re-embarkation if we wanted to leave the ship and come back easily, but we chose just to stay onboard because we had been to L.A. so many times. There was a special luncheon prepared for us at Portofino's, but it was a bit too fancy for our taste, so we went up to the Windjammer at 11:30 to enjoy our regular lunch there without much of a crowd. Some people were already boarding. It was nice to see our Alaska waiter there looking handsome in his new uniform—supervisor. He deserved the promotion. We achieved the status of platinum at the end of the Alaska cruise, so we had to go to the Crown & Anchor lounge to get a sticker on our sea pass card indicating this. Then we traded our gold coupon books (already efficiently put in our rooms by Skinner, our room attendant) for the more generous platinum books. As platinum, we were also eligible for terrycloth robes to use during the cruise. We were offered priority bookings in the spa and for excursions, but we did not take advantage of that. Then on to the dining room to check out our requested table for two. We found out that instead, we had been assigned to a large table near the window. We asked the maitre d' for a change and were given a nice table for two. That first night we went. Our waiter and assistant waiter probably would have been fun as the 15 days went on, but we had definitely been spoiled on the Alaska portion of the cruise. Also, we found the slow pace of the meal was not so pleasurable with just two, so we decided to sign up for My Time Dining. Well - too late. We could switch, but there were no early time slots. We signed up anyway so we could release the coveted table for two but told them we would probably eat in the Windjammer every night (which we ended up doing and enjoying). By eating in the shorter time period, we were able to go to the early evening programs in the theater. As B2B cruisers, we had earlier received a letter in our stateroom offering a free bag of laundry—just things like underwear and socks, not jeans, etc. We stuffed the bag and left it with Skinner, and then we got everything back nicely folded. (Later in the cruise we got another offer, but we would have had to pay $20 for that one.) I like the library on Serenade because it is open all the time. There is an honor system. While it is very tiny and there are not lots of books, you don't have to be there at a certain time to check books out with a staff member. Two things I noticed right away about the demographics on the ship. There were many more children who apparently were not part of the children's program. They were in the dining room a lot (one running loose a lot). There were also a LOT more canes, walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs. I would have thought Alaska would have been for the older crowd and Hawaii for the younger. Apparently not so. I tried climbing the rock wall one day but didn't reach the top (I'm 69 years old!). The next day I reached the top and rang the bell. Carly B (the cruise director) had a little chat session which we enjoyed. The seas were much higher in Hawaii area, and it was fun to watch the self-leveling pool tables by the Schooner Bar. They were really rocking and rolling at times. As platinum members, we were privileged to sit in Portofino's on our last morning until time to disembark. We were the last group to leave, and we took a van to our airport hotel ($17 each). We had originally scheduled a tour in L.A. to kill some time but canceled it because of heavy fires in the area. As it turned out, the fires did not cover the area with smoke, but we were tired anyway and enjoyed just resting in our hotel. I had bid on the hotel on Priceline and got it for $60 (Crowne Plaza). Very nice hotel, but not many places to eat nearby. We found a Burger King a short walk away. The reason we had to get a hotel is that we could not get a flight back to Greenville on Saturday but had to wait until Sunday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My wife and I are 45 and 47; this was our 3rd cruise, the first on Royal Caribbean. Our first two cruises were on Celebrity. We booked this cruise 18 months prior to sailing mainly because the price was so low. We booked an inside ... Read More
My wife and I are 45 and 47; this was our 3rd cruise, the first on Royal Caribbean. Our first two cruises were on Celebrity. We booked this cruise 18 months prior to sailing mainly because the price was so low. We booked an inside stateroom on deck 3 which we found to our great surprise on our last cruise worked just fine. An inside cabin got us out of the cabin quicker in the morning giving us more time to use the public areas and to meet new people around the ship. We arrived 2 days prior to sailing and stayed at the Best Western Bayview, the accommodations there were adequate. A complementary hotel shuttle dropped us off at the cruise terminal the day of departure. Upon arriving at the cruise terminal around 12pm there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to where we should line up with our luggage in hand to enter the terminal, no porters were visible at this time... There was also a Carnival ship in port that day so that added to the problem. We finely did get some answers to where we should line up and from there the line moved slow, but not that bad, before you know it we were in the cruise terminal getting our sea passes and boarding the ship. This whole process would have been hard if you were not able bodied. Our cabin 3077 was right in the middle of the ship It was a quite nice space, about 165 sq ft with plenty of storage for even our bulging luggage for this 15 day voyage. We were able to get four suitcases under the bed after unpacking them and found plenty of space for our stuff in the cabin drawers and closet space. The room was always cleaned when we expected but never smelled of any cleaning products so we don't think the job was very thorough. We are kind of clean freaks so many may not be able to relate to that statement. Our cabin attendant did provide us with body location and an extra large bucket of ice everyday after we requested it. He did serve us very well! Unfortunately there was a sewer smell on deck 3 throughout the cruise. They seemed to be working on it each day but to no avail. Some folks we talked to had toilet problems early on in the cruise but they were resolved. This is a beautiful ship; with about 2300 passengers aboard it never seemed crowded no matter where we were. The public areas are quite large and the expansive windows allow magnificent views out over the ocean. The Windjammer was on 11 deck and was the ship's informal dining venue. The layout of the food was in a station format not a single line format like on Celebrity. This worked very efficiently. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were available here with selection of entries, sandwiches, cold cuts, salads and deserts. The food never changed day to day for breakfast and lunch which got very old after a few days. The Reflections Dining Room was a large space with dark wood giving the room a warm feel I did notice some wear and saw the same finger prints around the wood serving stations throughout the cruise. Cleaning may not be a strong point with RCL. Things were not all that bad though as we were blessed with some very interesting tablemates to share our dinners and lives with. Our Waiter (Cesar) and his asst waiter were the best we ever have had on any previous cruise. They were a great team, There service was as good as any five star restraint we have ever experienced. The food was very abundant as Cesar made sure of that. I probably gained 5 pounds in just the first two nights. Food quality was pretty good on most nights, not the made from scratch that you get from Celebrity but not bad either. We ate at Chops Grill and Portofino's each one night. Chops was very disappointing in both the service and the quality of the food. Something did not feel right for our diner this night in Chops. Portofino's was a big improvement to Chops in service and up to our main course was good. We both had the seafood skewers' which were disappointing to say the least. We ate many lunches at the Seaview Cafe which was always hot and fresh. It was a nice place to have a cold one with lunch in a casual atmosphere. The most surprising to me was the lack of entertainment. No upbeat pool band until the last 4 days. The band was weak at best. We heard much better in the karaoke contest. Shows were also quite weak compared to what I have seen on Celebrity. Although I must say our Ohana CC group was very entertaining at all times. The Deck areas were virtually spotless throughout the ship which was very nice to see, but the public bathrooms looked clean but smelled of urine. Unfortunately our ship had to turn back for a medical emergency which a gentleman was airlifted off; they did report that he was in stable condition in Oahu so that part was good. Unfortunately this caused many to miss there flights as we arrived a few hours late to San Diego. I thought the ship communication on this matter was very uneven as is always the case on cruise ships. To there credit they let us use the ship phone and internet to reschedule flights and hotel reservations for which the charges were reimbursed at the front desk, this was never put in writing causing undue stress for many who did not know this first hand.. There was a very large cruise critic group aboard that we had the pleasure of meeting many. before we cruised. It felt more like a large family cruising together at times with no lack of planned CC activities to partake in. One other disappointment was the selection of wine in their wine package. I do understand that they need to make money on these bottles but you can get a decent bottle of wine within this price point. It just take a little effort which they made none. Overall this cruise was better than I thought it would be. The ship is gorgeous and the people we sailed with were all great fun. I would consider Royal Caribbean again. I will be going back to Celebrity for our next cruise. The food is better and they have a more professional staff throughout the ship. After all is said and done the price is really about the same, and for us it is more about the food and cleanliness than anything else. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Well it finally arrived & we were looking forward to a relaxing cruise.We are seniors & I still needed a cane for the long walks due to replacing 2 hips.My reason for telling about my hip replacements is specifically related to the ... Read More
Well it finally arrived & we were looking forward to a relaxing cruise.We are seniors & I still needed a cane for the long walks due to replacing 2 hips.My reason for telling about my hip replacements is specifically related to the night mare when we arrived at the pier to board the beautiful Serenade of the Seas. As it has been since 2006 the pier in San Diego is a disaster.There were people mostly congregating out side the gates.Perhaps many hundreds.When I asked to speak to a supervisor, I was ignored by the gate personnel. You see I am still handicapped & so were others in wheel chairs. The port makes no provisions for handicapped passengers & thus is in violation of the American Disabilities Act.We literally were forced to wait in line with 5suitcases. After having to get outside help we finally get into the building.In the building there were 2 lines one for our ship & the one for the Carnival Elation.However there was no markings or directions as to what line we should be on.Thus more confusion Once we were able to see Royal Caribbean personnel for check in I asked & spoke with a RCL supervisor.I related the night marish saga we endured& asked that RCL take part responsibility in ensuring that this treatment to their passengers would cease in the future.This supervisor immediately placed blame that it is a union problem ;which in my opinion is passing the buck.On October 22nd ,Monday I phoned RCL & spoke to their executive level. So we will see if the pier boarding problems will be corrected. Federal Law was violated by not giving handicapped persons special access to the lines.In addition some vehicles were turned away & could not enter ,while the taxi cabs were allowed in .Againin my opinion that was discrimination. We are San Diego Countyresidents & before 2006 we were able to have the driver drop us off at the curb inside the gates ,place our luggage at the curb.A porter wouldtake the luggage & we would enter the terminal seamlessly to board. Once aboard the ship our days at sea were fantastic. We always have our breakfast & dinner in the dining room with luch in the Windjammer buffet .The food at breakfast & lunch had good selections & good quality.however, we found the dinners below RCL's normal quality.Over all food service was very efficient & our waiter Joseph & ass't Herman,both from India,were the best we ever had on 35 cruises.In addition out head waiter Mark from Australia was also the best.Their service & attitudes were impecable. Can'tleave out our cabin attendant ,as he was the best.Alwaysknew what we needed with out us having to ask him. With this type of service it was a great pleasure to over tip them. Having been to the Hawaiian Islands on 2 other trips I arranged to have 2 other couples join us in sharing mini van rentals on Kona,Hilo & Ohau ports.We were able to see more & pay a lot less.In fact in no case was it more than $15 per person & that is for the whole day on shore. In Lahania we walked around the historical building walking tour.Warning it is a longgggggg walk.I had to stop. We did take the $1 shuttle bus to Kanapali & the Whalers Shoping Center.There is a beautiful beach to relax on & soke in the rays. On Ohau we went to the Arizona Memorial & the Bishop Museum. It was a Sunday & Family day.Werewe surprised to get free hula lessons & slurpies. dion't miss the Bishop Museum & the Polynesian Cultural Center when on Ohau.We had seen the Polynesian Cultural Center on a earlier trip.But it is closed on Sundays. Buy your Hawaiian Shirts & macadamia nuts at Wal Mart & save big bucks.There are Wal Marts on the Hilo Side of the big island & in the Honolulu areas. On the Kona side of the big island we drove to the painted church & where we could take pictures of the Captain Cook Monument (where he was slain by the natives) from across the waters.Only way to get up close is ti be on a snorkel tour.During our visit the Iron Man competition was taking place ;which was a nice extra to watch.We stoped at a nice beach & bought my wife a hand made necklace with a wood turtle.This is a great place to shop at the beaches. Hilo we went to the Volcano Ntl Park & with my Golden Passport we all got in free.If you are over 62 pay $10 & get your Golen Pass Port for entering any Ntl Park for free. Then we drove to a Orchid Farm & took lots of pictures.we then drove to see Banyan Tree park & The Japanese Gardens .From there we visited Rainbow falls.a;though Akaka Falls are more spectacular it is not adviseable for but only the very fit & young. All in all we enjoyed our Hawaii cruise so much that we plan to take this cruise every year (Lord Willing). On our return from Hawaii we were out at sea & someone apparently suffered a heart attack.The Captain turned the ship around so the Coast Guard Helicopters would be able to reach & air lifted him to a Honolulu hospital.As far as we know he was in stable condition.I applaud the Captain & RCL for their fair treatment even though flights for many had to be rearranged. However, this is why to have trip insurance. The trip delay & interruptio portion takes care of the extra costs. Looking forward to many more cruises with RCL.Just please RCL help get the San Diego port problems resolved. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This is absolutely the worst vacation I have ever had ruined by any cruise line. Here are some highlight of my two week nightmare: 1: Bed was atrocious. A fold up "cot" with a board on it! 2: Television is the same thing over ... Read More
This is absolutely the worst vacation I have ever had ruined by any cruise line. Here are some highlight of my two week nightmare: 1: Bed was atrocious. A fold up "cot" with a board on it! 2: Television is the same thing over and over..........and over. Movies are $11.95. 3: Food is terrible unless you eat in the "Pay For" dining rooms. 4: Did I mention the bedding is terrible? My back still hurts. 5: The amount of items for sale that is thrown at you makes one feel very uncomfortable. 6: "EVERYTHING" ......is not included!!!!!!! From the minute you enter your stateroom there are "not included" items. The refrigerator is full of soda and candy. They do NOT tell you that they are chargeable items. Your cell phone works but the charges will not show on you cellular bill until next month and they are Ridiculous!!! Every day there is an itinerary sent to your room. It is a list of the day's happenings. Most of which you need to pay for. Basically your room and the terrible food is included. NOTHING ELSE! Soda is even an extra charge. This is ridiculous, especially when you can call room service and get a ten dollar pitcher of juice for no charge. They do not tell you this! 7: On our last cruise someone's toilet blew up and the entire hallway smelled of fresh sewage for days. They agreed to give us a $200.00 on our next cruise. When we went to use it fort this cruise and they said that it was no good any more. We needed to use it within 12 months. Who the heck goes on two cruises a year? 8: Did I mention that the bed was too hard? 9: The internet provided is fifty cents per minute and it is almost dial up speed. You sit there waiting and it may cost you a dollar or two for each page to load. It seems almost like they do it on purpose. An annoying feeling but they bring it to be with the throwing at you of items for sale at ALL times. 10: I feel like I am being held hostage for my wallet. Everywhere that I go on board there is someone trying to sell me something. From six to eight dollar drinks to "Gold by the Foot" at a price that you could buy genuine gold for at home to ninety-nine cent wrist-watches for a $29.95 "bargain". 11: I decided to get a bottle of wine with dinner one evening and asked the waiter to bring his suggestion. A nice cabernet was brought, a nice full bodied 2005 California Cabernet Sauvignon that I am very familiar with. A nine dollar bottle of wine at home. I was charged thirty-eight dollars. Come on guys, why don't you just bend me over.......... 12: The Casino is not governed by any state statutes; hence it is closed while in port. Also, hence you're chances of winning anything are slim and none because they are free to set the programs on the machines any way they see fit. They, again, fail to mention this little tid-bit of info. 13: The state room attendant is probably one of the nicest guys that I have ever met. After talking to another staff member I find out why. If anyone complains about them they are thrown off the ship. I am not sure that I want someone faking to like me every day. I am a nice guy and don't need my help to be threatened to be nice to me. We are probably not going to go on any more Nazi Cruise line cruises........... 14: So, let's talk about tendering! I got up at 6:00 Am so that I could eat my breakfast and shower and get to a tender on time. So some guy, who has a shore excursion, sleeps until 10:00 AM and walks on the tender in front of me after I have been standing in line for two hours. "Well, he has a shore excursion that he has to get to" was the explanation. I had everything that I could do to keep from punching someone. First of all.......I waited TWO Freaking HOURS to get a tender. There are some two thousand people on board and all of them are trying to go ashore at the same time and they decide to have only TWO TENDERS RUNNING?????? Whoever is in charge should be fired. Several hundred of these people, including myself, were VERY angry. 15: So, it gets even more wonderful on the way back, we go to the pier where the tenders are and there are about a thousand (yes a thousand!) people in line waiting for the tenders. The line was about a quarter mile long! Many of which were well in to their eighty's. We waited in line for fifty minutes to get a tender back to the ship. All it did was make me more angry seeing those little old ladies standing there in line for nearly an hour. Then our tender pilot decided to drive away with the boat still tied to the pier! Great? It gets better; he then drove the tender straight IN TO THE SHIP!!!! BOOM!!! Everyone on board pretty much just fell out of their seats. This is what I paid FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR? After All of this I get to go back to my room and sleep on my sheet of plywood that they call a bed. 16: Here is one that REALLY made my blood boil! I called room service to order dinner and breakfast for the following morning as is required. I asked if I could get Eggs-Benedict for breakfast. The answer was "You can have ANYTHING you want for breakfast"!!! I was also informed, for a second time, that I can have anything on the dining room menu for any room service meal. I was woken in the morning with a call from a different person in room service to tell me that I COULD NOT have what I had ordered for breakfast! I simply told her that I had called and asked and was told that I could. She said "Oh, o.k., then I will get it for you'. WHAT???? You woke me up for that!?!?!?!? Ten minutes it was at my door. ..........HUH? 17: So, someone had a heart attack. They turned the ship around, one day out from Hawaii. We were to meet a helicopter to bring the ill gent to the hospital, which we did. All of our travel arrangements were changed. We got a plane at ten p.m. and arrived home at 10 a.m. All night flying. 18: Here is an amazing anomaly, I was served a FAR superior glass of Red Zinfandel Wine in the "buffet" area than was available at an extensive cost in the Chops or Portofino's restaurants that are an extra cost. YES, I was AMAZED ! Although an amateur and not a global wine connoisseur, I am quite versed in wines. What I was served was far from difficult to discern the difference in quality, taste, full body and finish of the glass that was served to me in the buffet area. It was FAR superior to the wine that was served in bottles only in the "Pay Extra" restaurants. ...........I am at a loss of words! 19: We went to try and have a nice Dinner at Chops Grille. We had a nice meal, at an added cost. When we were done the bill was returned and we were told that our charging "privileges" were revoked! THIS WAS THE FOURTH, YES FOURTH TIME!!! I popped my cork! I went to the front desk and we were told that our credit card was denying charges. This was the fourth time! Just the day before we insisted that a special call was made to clarify that the card was in sufficient working order and it was. We had charged items that morning. So all of a sudden they changed their minds? I was embarrassed to say the least. This is ridiculous my card has a twenty-thousand dollar limit and is not even close to being maxed out! Charging privileges SHOULD NOT be revoked. Where am I going to go? You are not allowed to leave the ship if your bill is not paid. They should leave a message on the door or on the phone to contact them. I was very embarrassed, FOUR TIMES. 20: The shower has a mind of it's own. If you try to make it hotter or colder it will change temperature for a second and then revert back. You have no choice but to us the temperature that THEY decide for you. Come on, this is just ridiculous. 21: We spent over $500.00 in the Casino. They tell you that there are reward points for each penny that you spend. When we went to redeem the points we were told that the points getting combined for my wife and myself was not allowed, although we were on the same account. We were given five key chains, worth about two cents each, another slap in the face. No matter what the concern is it seems that they always just want your money. Promising you wondrous things and then explaining away why you can't have them is common place. ****Needless to say I will NEVER spend a dime of my hard earned money with this rip off scam of a cruise line. Employees(all except my room attendant) are rude and pushy and only want to talk to you if you are spending money. Apparently they are rewarded somehow for good sales. Several times I got a look of disdain if I did not want to purchase what was being pushed at me. Three times I could not sleep because I was made so angry that I was having chest pains all night. This IS NOT what I paid five thousand dollars for! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Embarkation was very efficient. I love this ship and her sisters. Especially the lexan model as you exit the elevator and know instantly where the bow and stern are. Sea days were lovely, except for the consistent pop elevator music which ... Read More
Embarkation was very efficient. I love this ship and her sisters. Especially the lexan model as you exit the elevator and know instantly where the bow and stern are. Sea days were lovely, except for the consistent pop elevator music which seemed to be omnipresent. Which is ok, except that perhaps the volumne could be turned down and the tunes should be changed daily, otherwise, one begins to really get bothered by the repetition. I liked the pool area, when I could find a lounge chair, and again, when there was a quiet time (both being the exception). RCCL should realize that some of us old folks do not like to be bombarded with rap crap. Dancers beware, before dinner, there was no dancing in the Atrium, not that I do not like classical violin, but we do cruise to have a good time. And by 10:30 when the bands did start both here and in the Safari Club, we were ready to call it a day. Dance teachers on board were exceptionels and hopefully they will be on our next cruse. Dining room was average, the service however was below par. If you have 3 tables to serve, one of 12 and two of four, who do you serve first? the table of 4 of course, right? not in this case, the table of 12 got the go, so we had to wait and wait. Not cool. Consequently, there were some nites,we simply headed up to the Windjammer for stirfry. It's Showtime,,,, rather disappointing, we have seen better shows on cheaper cruises with older ships. The cruise directors favorite word seemed to be "fantastic" and after 10 nites it became rather playful. The dancers who are usually friendly and approachable were very aloof and indifferent. There was no contact here between staff and passengers unfortunatley. Policy?? Easy to be a critic, I wonder if RCCL is listening. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We booked everything through Royal Caribbean and received our information packet about 2 weeks before we left. We arrived at the airport, only to discover our flight time had changed and was leaving in TEN minutes! Thankfully we made it, ... Read More
We booked everything through Royal Caribbean and received our information packet about 2 weeks before we left. We arrived at the airport, only to discover our flight time had changed and was leaving in TEN minutes! Thankfully we made it, but prayed that wasn't a precursor of things to come. We were delayed in Chicago for almost an hour and therefore were late arriving to San Diego. There was no one at the baggage claim to pick us up. We were not the only people waiting, we found two other couples also looking for a RC rep. My husband finally called and, get this, was told "just take a cab". Uh, I don't think so.....we already PAID for a shuttle! While he was on the phone arguing with this person I spotted a rep outside and practically tackled her! We put our luggage on a truck and then took the shuttle over to the ship. We had no problems boarding, everything went fairly smoothly. Our room was nice, we were on Deck 9 with a balcony. Two of our three bags arrived by dinner time, of course MY bag was among the missing. We checked with the front desk several times and they said it probably was just misplaced and would turn up. The next morning we still didn't have my bag, so my husband went down to the guest relations desk, where he was greeted by security. They interrogated him as to what was in the bag, asking if he brought sharp objects, knives or weapons of any kind. He explained it was his wife's bag and he'd have to come back to the room and get the key. They let him just take the bag. Well, I brought a pair of scissors with me and they were in that bag. Egads, all that over a pair of scissors?!?!? Royal Caribbean went through and put all new bedding in since we were on the Serenade in August of '06 (to Alaska). We were praying that it would be better, but it wasn't. It's still two cots shoved together with a thin pad over it. The first morning we woke up and neither one of us could move. Our backs hurt SO bad. We called guest relations and asked for an egg crate. Sorry, none available. Our room steward (Shaun, aka "007" - who was INCREDIBLE) worked some magic and got us one. It didn't help. Our backs killed us the next day. Shaun got us another egg crate. It still wasn't fantastic, but we dealt with it. Anyway, the first night at sea was SO incredibly rough we were ready to put our life vests on and wait for the alarm to be sounded. We were convinced the ship was going to break in half. I have never gotten sea sick before but I spent the entire first day in bed, as I couldn't even stand upright. Yep, a full day in that extremely uncomfortable bed. Day 2 was much better and I was able to get up and around. We ate in the Windjammer for both meals. The food was mediocre. Your basic buffet (or barf-et) as I call it. Days 3 & 4 were uneventful. We relaxed, played backgammon. We were VERY glad we brought our own board as the ones in the Schooner Bar had several pieces missing, which was very disappointing. We went to Portofino's for dinner one night, it was good, but not as good as I remembered it being the last time. We also dined in Chops which was VERY good. One night we went to the main dining room. Again, it was good....MUCH better than the Windjammer, but still not as good as the last cruise. That was the only night we ate in the main dining room. After that we just ordered room service. We did try the Seaview Cafe once and it was terrible. I had fish and chips and my husband had the Cuban sandwich. The only good thing were the onion rings. We spoke with other people and they said they had good food there, so maybe it was just our luck. Kona: We finally made it to Kona and were very happy to get off the ship. Only we needed to take a tender, which was terrible. We got up at 6 am so we could eat and shower and get on the island. We went to Kona Harley Davidson and rented a Harley for the day. We then went up to Kaholo which was a great ride, very beautiful. We stopped and had lunch at a restaurant called Bamboo. WOW, the food was absolutely INCREDIBLE! It was SO good we had to buy their recipe book! We then rode back down through the mountains, which also had incredible views. Our last stop was the Kona Brewing Company, which was right around the corner from the Harley dealer. We had a beer sampler, but weren't impressed. We returned our bike and had a nice chat with the owner. She was SO incredibly nice, the people at Kona Harley should be commended for their courtesy, they are completely opposite of the local Harley dealers at home who are rude and unsociable. Lahaina/Maui: The first morning we got up very early and went down to get a ticket for a tender. We got #9. We waited 2 ½ HOURS to get a tender. Meanwhile anyone who had a shore excursion that they booked through RC (it didn't matter what time it was) went to the front of the line, which was extremely frustrating and everyone who had been waiting for hours voiced their aggravation. At around 11:30am we finally made it to shore. I felt so bad for the people still waiting for a tender. RC should have had more than TWO running! They have FOUR on the ship. It was beyond ridiculous. We went to Island Riders to rent another Harley for the day. We were greeted with "Do you own a Harley or just a t-shirt?" by the tattooed imbecile behind the counter. Within 30 minutes we returned it as it had an exhaust leak and was burning my husband's leg. We told the guy and he insisted that "that's a Road King for ya". Let me preface this by saying my husband has been riding for 30 years and builds high end, one-off custom motorcycles for a living, he KNOWS what he is talking about. We were treated like we had NO clue what we were talking about. They gave us another Road King and off we went. This one was better, but it had been dropped several times and the handlebars were bent and it rattled terrible. We set out to explore. We had lunch at The Plantation golf course which was incredible! We rode some more and then found a place called Buzz's Wharf. It's a really nice restaurant right at the Marina. We went in and had a Mai Tai and chatted with the bartender named Jeff who was extremely nice. We then headed back to Lahaina to attend the Old Lahaina Luau. Neither of us were that impressed, but we did have a good time and can say we have been to a luau. We found a parking spot for the bike overnight and headed back to the ship. The line for the tender was at least ¼ mile long, no less than one thousand people in line.....again, VERY frustrating that they only had TWO tenders running! There were a lot of elderly people forced to stand in line for about 45 minutes waiting to get a tender. We finally got one and as we pulled away from the dock we discovered we were still TIED to the dock. Then, instead of stopping when we got to the ship the driver drove straight INTO the ship! Oh boy, that was fun. The next morning we had no problem getting a tender right away. We went and got our bike and headed out for the Road to Hana. The closer we got, the darker the skies got until it finally started pouring. We stopped at Maui Harley Davidson and did some shopping. We started out again, more rain. So, we scrapped that idea and just followed the sun for the day....ironically, it led us back to Buzz's Wharf where we had a really good lunch (and more Mai Tai's). We returned the bike and did some walking around town, eventually making it to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for dinner, which was fantastic. No problems getting a tender back to the ship. Hilo: We actually got to DOCK in Hilo, so we had no problems getting off the ship. We had booked "The Secrets of Puna" tour and were met at the dock. The tour groups are small, 6 per vehicle (new Suburbans), so it was VERY nice. Our tour guide, Anna, was the absolute BEST! She took us to several spots, one being a volcanic heated pool where we went snorkeling and saw the most amazing fish. After that we went to a Macadamia Nut farm and had a nice lunch and then she took us to a lava flow to see the nice black sand beaches. We both agreed that this was the best tour we've ever been on. They had the vehicles packed with anything and everything we could ever want. Beer, champagne, snacks, towels, umbrellas, snorkeling gear, everything! Honolulu: Again, we got to dock and had no problem getting off the ship. We went on the Arizona Memorial and Mighty Mo tour, which seemed to be the most popular one because there were a million people in line. We boarded a bus and went to the Arizona first, where we had to take a number and wait for it to be called to view a movie and then take a boat over to the memorial. We waited over two hours. We saw the memorial, which was very touching. Then we went to tour the Mighty Mo, which we enjoyed much more. Had we known there was a plane museum right there we'd have gone to that too, but we didn't know. What was supposed to be like a 3-4 hour tour turned into the entire day. For some reason we thought we had another day in Honolulu, but were reading the itinerary wrong. So, in a panic I rushed off the ship to do my last minute shopping. There is a really big mall right near the ship which has some great shops. Thankfully a few stores were still open (it was a Sunday night) so I made my purchases and went back to the ship. Had we known we only had that one day we would probably have skipped the tour and gone to the beach. We left Honolulu and cruised for about a day and a half when we heard someone on board had a heart attack and we had to turn around and go all the way back to have him airlifted off the ship. We had no problem with that, however we had a HUGE problem with the way RC handled it. They didn't tell anyone anything....it was like a gossip factory trying to figure out what was going on. They said we'd have our new arrangements that afternoon....nothing. Then the next day they said we'd know by that night....again, nothing. By the third day at sea I was ready to jump overboard and start swimming! We were going stir crazy. I felt really bad for the people who had made their own flight arrangements as they were on their own. We heard several people who had to spend a LOT of money out of their pocket to accommodate this change. Did RC do anything? No, they offered to pay up to $100 rebooking fee. Overall, they bungled this terribly and we were NOT impressed. Communication was non existent. We also had several other issues this trip with RC. It seemed that no matter where we went they wanted money. Soda is not included, so we had to buy a soda package to the tune of $110.50 for two weeks (for one person). Internet is not included, so we paid $100 for two weeks and I swear the darn thing only worked for about 5 emails. It was BEYOND frustrating! They sell fake gold by the inch, cookbooks, t-shirts, etc. all over the ship. They were even selling fresh squeezed orange juice in the Windjammer for $3.95 per glass the first morning, or milkshakes in the Seaview Cafe for $4. We only went to one show, a comedian who was 'ok'. We weren't impressed with any of the ships activities or show offerings. We're not old, so the napkin folding, arts & crafts and shuffleboard weren't our thing. And, of course, anything that DID interest us cost more, a lot more! We forgot to notify our credit card companies that we were traveling and our charging privileges on the ship were shut off, not once, not twice....but FOUR times! Each time we went to guest relations, who stepped away and said they phoned our credit card company and everything was fine. Sure, it was fine for one purchase, then it didn't work again. My husband was ready to kill someone by the time it happened the fourth time, which was when we had just had the only great meal that we had on the ship at Chops Grille! We were very embarrassed by this bungling of theirs. It will NEVER happen again as we are done with RC! We finally made it back to San Diego. For those of us flying out that day after 6pm they shuttled us to the Hilton for a buffet dinner. We sat in a banquet room for close to 8 hours with nothing to do. The food however was FAR superior to anything we had on the ship! RC paid for the buffet, but if you wanted an alcoholic beverage you were on your own. We had two draft beers at the bar and they were $12 before a tip! This was our third (and LAST) cruise with Royal Caribbean. We are going back to Disney where we feel we are treated like royalty instead of cattle and not nickeled & dimed to death! We were just VERY unimpressed with RC and how they handled everything. Overall we LOVED Hawaii, absolutely LOVED it and had a great time while on the islands, but we were very frustrated while on the ship. We almost felt like we were being held hostage for our wallets. You can't go anywhere or do anything unless you empty your wallet into theirs. Also, Disney lets you bring your own alcohol and soda is included with the price. This is a BIG rippoff by RC! I spoke to several people who had bar bills in the THOUSANDS! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was the seventh RCCL cruise for my wife and I and the second time we visited Hawaii. It was the second time we sailed with the Serenade of the Seas, the first being 39 days after its Christening. This was, also, the second time we ... Read More
This was the seventh RCCL cruise for my wife and I and the second time we visited Hawaii. It was the second time we sailed with the Serenade of the Seas, the first being 39 days after its Christening. This was, also, the second time we left from San Diego. Arriving the day before we stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown, about 4 blocks from the port. The hotel provided free pick up from the airport and free transportation from the hotel to the port. Embarking to the ship was very easy. There appears to have been a longshoreman strike, but this did not effect us as we handled our own luggage. RCCL, after a short wait, took the luggage and we proceeded to a very hassle free check-in. Shortly after that we board our ship. After a very pleasant lunch we rediscovered our home for the next two week. It was as nice a ship as I remember from the first cruise. Our room steward, Courtney, as very attentive to any request that we had. The cabin was spacious, compared to other we have stayed in. It was sometimes a challenge though to figure our where to put all the pillows that were on our bed (at least 6 of varying sizes and shapes) The couch in our room had at least 4 pillows of its own! The closet space was more than adequate for our needs.Daily, calling room service, my wife and I had coffee on our balcony, just watching the sea go by. The order of the day included a jacuzzi and swim in the Solarium before breakfast. Daily, calling room service, my wife and I had coffee on our balcony, just watching the sea go by. The order of the day included a jacuzzi and swim in the Solarium before breakfast. Relaxation was the order for the day. We ate breakfast and lunch more often than not in the Windjammer, as the Reflections dining room only had one menu for breakfast and only two for lunch which was alternated every other day. Dinner, however, proved to be a very nice surprise. It was always fresh and delicious. Our wait staff was always very attentive. We had the early seating so after dinner we went to the show. To have a different show each night with no repeats was a pleasant surprise. Our shore excursions were very enjoyable overall. Tendering is not one of our favorite things. Kona was very warm but this is Hawaii. Lahaina, Maui was a nice tour, but our driver was basically monotone for 6 hours. Tendering back from Lahaina could have been handled better. The line waiting for tendering was about 200 passengers long when we got there and there were only two tenders operating. It would have been much better to have more tenders and a shorter wait for the passengers. Security did hold up the process up at each port, but that is the world we live in. The tour in Hilo was the high point of the cruise for me. Though it was a long tour, our guide, Sharon, kept it lively and informative. She even sang to us and did an impromptu Hula (very very well, I might add)in the aisle of the bus. Her talks traveling from venue to venue were informative and made you look forward to arriving at your next stop. She was fantastic! On the return from Honolulu the ship had to turnback to take care of a fellow passengers medical problem. This did cause some scrambling for flights and accommodations, but that it could have been anyone of us, the disruption seems small. If it were my family or friends, I would hope the same would be done for us. Overall, I would say our experience was very positive and we look forward to our next RCCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Serenade of the Seas 15 Day Circle Hawaii Cruise October 5, 2007 By Host Joe This was our second time on Serenade, with the first being when she was only a few months old. This was our 25th cruise overall, with several of them being on ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas 15 Day Circle Hawaii Cruise October 5, 2007 By Host Joe This was our second time on Serenade, with the first being when she was only a few months old. This was our 25th cruise overall, with several of them being on RCCL. Embarkation We had arrived in San Diego a few days early and on the morning of embarkation joined our friends who were staying at the Holiday Inn across the street. Shortly before Noon we walked our luggage over. There was a moderate line but not bad. There seemed to be a lot of confusion due to the Carnival cruise that was loading at the same time, and for some reason there were a lot of tempers flaring. I never figured it out as we were inside and in the check-in process within a few minutes. Check-in was smooth, and we were on the ship just a few minutes before 1pm. The Ship We felt the ship was in beautiful condition. There were a few minor signs of wear, which is to be expected of any ship but all in all she is in gorgeous shape. The Radiance class of ships is our favorite for design. We had stateroom 8590, which is an E3 balcony on the "hump". The cabin was nice and in perfect shape. The balcony on this particular cabin is pie shaped and rather small. I knew this when we booked, but it was the only hump cabin available even though I booked this cruise within a couple of days of the itinerary opening. Weather The seas were fairly calm overall, with no major motion at any point. The weather within a day or so from the coast of California tends to be cooler and a bit overcast. Once you are within a couple days either way of Hawaii it is sunning weather and we enjoyed lying out on the decks! Once in Hawaii we had beautiful temps in the 80's and had mostly sunny skies, perfect! Dining The windjammer always offered up a nice selection of breakfast and lunch entree's that were fresh and hot. We were pleased with the windjammer all of the time. For a nice change we went to the Solarium cafe a couple of times for lunch where they make crepes to order, and they were awesome. We had a couple of lunches at the Seaview Cafe as well, and that was a good choice for diner style food. For dinner we had late seating on the upper level. Our waiter Enver, assistant waiter, Omar along with our head waiter, Ercan were all very good. We were traveling with 3 friends so we had a table for 5. We all felt that the appetizers, soups and salads were all very good and of good quality. The entree's were very hit and miss, which was a disappointment. We experienced several meals that were way below RCCL standards of the past, both in quality and preparation. In addition, the selections seemed to be much more limited than what we have seen in the past. For an example there were two people at our table who ordered chicken parmesan one night. It arrived all dried out, with the tomato sauce evaporated and glue like with the chicken dry and rubbery. It was obviously prepared hours before hand. We did think that the lobster night was excellent. The desserts were very disappointing much of the time with major inconsistencies. I ordered cheesecake several times, and one time it would come out like a good, thick cheesecake (as cheesecake should be!) and the next time it would be like jello fluff that was tasteless and unmemorable. We let our headwaiter know each time we had bad entree's and he did all that he could do that was within his control. I am not sure if this is a new direction for RCCL with food, or if this was an isolated incident with the current Serenade staff. We are on Brilliance of the Seas in a few weeks so we will see if we find the same experiences there when it comes to the entree and dessert in the dining room. One evening we went to Portofino's and all 5 of us had a wonderful meal! I ordered the filet, and it was one of the best I have had. All of our courses were wonderful and the service was fantastic. We were all very pleased and enjoyed our evening completely. A few nights later we went to Chops and had the opposite experience. After the soup our wait staff started clearing all of our salad forks and laying down our steak knives. We quickly asked about our salads and our wait staff acted surprised.. oops, they forgot the salad course. They quickly brought back our salad forks and bread followed by the salads we had all ordered. Soon after came our steaks. My partner and I ordered the full size filet mignon. His was full sized and mine was a tiny petit filet. I asked about that as they served it, and was told that it was the full sized filet. When we went to take our first bite, 3 of our steaks were COLD! Two of us opted to send them back, which obviously caused some issues between the chefs, wait staff and dining room manager that we could see in the distance. About 20 minutes later our two steaks arrived, hot and fresh. The others at our table had been done with their meal about 5 minutes. Overall it was a disappointing experience. I had expected that the dining manager would offer us a second take on another night or something, but she really did not care and it showed. Concierge Lounge We are Diamond members. For this cruise they closed down the Viking Crown area in the evenings and turned it into the Concierge Lounge due to the large amount of Diamond and Diamond Plus members aboard. Maritza was the Concierge and she does a wonderful job. She introduced herself on the first night and made sure to call us by our names and talk with us every evening. She was always there asking if there was anything that she could do for us, which was very nice. The open bar in the evenings for us was a very nice perk and the bartenders, Bernabe and Joey were fantastic. They knew what we drank after the first couple of nights and as we walked up to the bar they had our drinks waiting! Ports This was our third time in Hawaii so we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do. In Kona we did an afternoon of snorkeling on the Body Glove which we had booked on our own and had a nice time. In Maui we rented a car for both days. Note that Thrifty does not offer shuttle service to Lahaina passengers and their only location is at the airport which a long way away. We ended up canceling our Thrifty reservation after waiting for a shuttle for almost an hour and finding out that they do not come to Lahaina! Luckily Hertz had cars available. We went to the Old Lahaina Lua which we booked on our own and had a very nice evening. You have to pay to park your car overnight in one of many little lots, and it basically cost $25. On day two in Maui we did the road to Hana, which was very beautiful but a long day. In Hilo we drove our rental car to Volcano National Park, drove around the crater and then drove down the Chain of Craters road and enjoyed the many views. This day was a true highlight! Our final port was on Oahu, where we drove around the island for the day, which again was very beautiful. On our return trip there was a medical evacuation. We had left Oahu as scheduled at 2 a.m. At 6 p.m. the next day we noticed that we were completely turning around and heading back to Hawaii. Sure enough, a few minutes later the Captain announced that we had to head back towards the coast of Hawaii for an evacuation. We were going to meet the Coast Guard helicopter at 6 a.m. for the evacuation when were 70 miles from shore. We met the helicopter as scheduled and all went well. The captain announced that we would be arriving late due to the evacuation and estimated a 1 p.m. arrival instead of 7 a.m. There were many people that had to reschedule their flights due to the change. Another example of why you need a good travel insurance policy! When we arrived in San Diego, the Captain announced that we had actually set a record for the highest maintained speed for the RCCL fleet of 24.1 knots! We had flights out the following day, so we were fine. We always fly in at least a day early and leave the day after we return just for this reason whenever possible. We ended up leaving the ship around 3 p.m. Summary Overall, this was a fantastic cruise and we would do it again! We love Hawaii, and especially all of the relaxing days at sea. The ship and its staff were fantastic and once again we love the Radiance class of RCCL. Our sincere hope was that our dining issues were an isolated issue and we look forward to next RCCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was my husband's and my third cruise averaging about 5 years apart, the last 2 being RCCL. It was our 25th wedding anniversary during our cruise. We drove down to San Diego the day before and embarkation was really uneventful. We ... Read More
This was my husband's and my third cruise averaging about 5 years apart, the last 2 being RCCL. It was our 25th wedding anniversary during our cruise. We drove down to San Diego the day before and embarkation was really uneventful. We had no problems, although others seemed to be yelling and complaining. I might have been oblivious to all the problems going on because I was so happy to be going on a vacation. We are also able-bodied with no physical limitations, so carting around our luggage was easy for us. When we arrived on the ship, the welcome committee was out offering all kinds of activities and treatments. It was nice to be greeted like that. When we headed to our cabin, deck 3 window, (3116) we noticed a sewage smell when entering the hall. The smell was there the majority of the cruise and when asked what it was, our cabin attendant told us they were working on the a/c, which shared the same compartment as the toilet waste. We didn't believe this to be true because of various passenger complaints not being able to flush their toilets and flooding showers on decks 3,4 and 9. Our room was very nice and clean and our cabin attendant, Nelson, was friendly, although I never did get my extra pillow. Our room stayed fairly clean through the cruise, with exception to the dressing mirrors not being cleaned. It did lack the storage necessary for a 15 day cruise. Dining Room: I have a lot to say about this. Beautiful room. I think the wood was Zebra, polished to a shiny finish, which showed a build up of fingerprints and smudges near the work areas.-Never cleaned. Our headwaiter lacked attentiveness. If we asked for 2 appetizers, he'd only bring one. If you asked about the other one, he'd reply with, "I know", but we'd always have to ask or we wouldn't receive it. Assistant waiter was great. The food: For the most part, a huge disappointment. The menu read like a 5 star restaurant but when we received the food, it usually amounted to chicken fried steak, or some sort of whipped item trying to pass a cheesecake. One time I had mashed potatoes with my meal and I do believe they were made from a box, as they were still dry and crumbly. I could go on about the food but there isn't enough room. Lobster night was good as well as the flowerless chocolate cake. But to ask for 2 lobsters on one plate, they wouldn't do. Wind Jammer: We rarely ate there. The staff didn't insist on guests using antibacterial lotion before entering, and most people were not using it. I noticed a lot of people coughing in their hands, then picking up the utensils to scoop food, then allowing the utensil handle to fall into the food. It felt like a breeding ground for viruses so we mostly stayed away. By the way, many people we knew caught colds on board. Sea View Café: What a neat little place. Great food and service. Bars: The best drinks were made by Hugo and Daniel in the Schooner Bar. This is a great place to meet new people and the people who cruised the Serenade were very friendly. The bartenders on deck 4 in the Centrum didn't know how to make many drinks. Activities: Weeks before we boarded, we went on Meet&Mingle and met many passengers. What a fun group of people. We thoroughly enjoyed the activities on board as well as the extra activities planned by our M&M friends. This was the most memorable time of our cruise. RCCL had so many fun activities. Our only regret was not having enough time for them all. Having an adult only pool was great. The areas around the pools were very clean and the service was excellent. Excursions: Great ports and excursions available. We rented a car from Hertz, in Lahaina, Maui, and it was really gross inside, and we didn't get the car we were promised. Would never rent from them again. Disembarkment: If you're not on a flight, prepare to wait a long time to disembark. We watched a movie for part of the wait, but then we sat bored for a long time after. I wished they would've offered more movies to pass the time. Overall we really enjoyed this ship with all the entertainment and activities available, and would do it again. We don't cruise to eat, we cruise to play and this ship had a lot of play. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife Kelly and I booked this cruise to Hawaii some 18 months prior to the sailing. We took an E1 class stateroom, an outside stateroom with balcony on 10 deck starboard side. The ship was to depart at 5pm, we flew via United Airlines ... Read More
My wife Kelly and I booked this cruise to Hawaii some 18 months prior to the sailing. We took an E1 class stateroom, an outside stateroom with balcony on 10 deck starboard side. The ship was to depart at 5pm, we flew via United Airlines from San Francisco and arrived at 1:30pm. The taxi to the ship terminal in downtown San Diego took but 10 minutes and cost (with tip) 15 USD. Upon arriving at the cruise terminal the cab driver removed our three bags and placed them on the pavement beside the car. From that moment on the departure "procedure" became a confusing and poorly executed mess. In a line we trundled toward an apparent area where something related to getting the bags on large carts was happening in a halting and haphazard fashion. Finally what appeared to be a cruiseline employee hoisted our bags onto a waiting cart and we departed to the terminal building to check-in. We later learned there had been a longshoreman's strike action at the pier which caused all the apparent chaos. The check-in process took about 20 minutes, the usual security checks of our carry-on bags and whatever was in our pockets plus (of course) in inevitable shoe removal and xray. Now onto the ramp and up into the Serenade of The Seas. Once aboard we were directed toward the elevators, these things NEVER performed as elevators are supposed to in regard to stopping at floors with lighted up/down buttons. Who designed this system?! We waited and waited along with a growing crowd as elevator after elevator, sometimes full, most times NOT went past. Our cabin (#1500) was far forward on the 10 deck starboard. It was a quite nice space, about 170 sq ft. with a sliding door to the balcony with it's magnificent panoramic view. This was the first time we ever had such a room on any cruise we have taken and it made the room seem larger and brighter than the inside cabins we have had before. Well worth the added cost in my opinion. Storage room in the closet was adequate for our needs except that our larger bag could not be stowed in the closet and instead had to be left at the foot of the double bed. We shortly met our room steward with his kindly manner and big smile. The room was always cleaned when we expected and because of my wife's illness he had to work around the oxygen concentrator given to us by the hospital staff onboard at times. This is a large ship, at 90000 tons she holds about 2300 people though it never seemed crowded no matter where we were. The public areas are quite large and the expansive windows allow magnificent views out over the ocean. The Centrum is a large atrium midship that with it's glass, large modernist sculpture and elevators became the central feature of the ship. A dance floor with bandstand on the 4 deck was always full and with other public areas about the circumference the music was easy to listen to no matter where you were. The Windjammer was on 11 deck and was the ship's informal dining venue. Large and with the same expanse of glass it was quite inviting. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were available with a large selection of entries, sandwiches, cold cuts, salads and deserts. Large platters were the manner of serving oneself and though the hub bub of many people (the place was popular!) there was more than enough space to move around the islands of food. While we did take a few meals (mainly breakfast and when Kelly was ill it was convenient for me) we preferred to eat in the Reflections Main Dining Room on Deck 4. Overall I would grade this dining room as 6 on a scale of 10 as many entree items sat too long and became lukewarm and rather uninviting looking, smaller amounts available would have solved this problem easily. Also you should try to get there before near the end of the time of closure of the facility as this will improve the quality of your experience, less people and more and hotter food will be available. The Reflections Dining Room was a magnificent space with large cloth surrounded pillars and white table cloths stretching out for a hundred feet in all directions. It quickly became our favorite of the entire cruise as our table-mates and wait staff were exceptional people by any measure! Almost immediately we became fast friends and enjoyed telling tales of our lives and families and our activities both on the ship and on the shore. The food was abundant and of very good quality (8 out of 10 I'd rate it) throughout the entire cruise with a special night set aside for the lobster feed (Wonderful!). Our Waiter Cesar was exceptional in his good humor, bright and ready smile and continuous helpful, can-do attitude. He and his assistant MADE the dining experience for us! They were 10 out of 10! Two other dining venues, Chops Grill and Portofino's were used by out table-mates but not us. I would say that they had mixed reviews for those that I either overheard or talked to, food was very good (7 - 8 out of 10 perhaps) but some service flaws were apparent. Deck areas were virtually spotless throughout the ship, that and the 4 acres (Yes!) of glass made the ship feel light and airy as well. Distances to/from some facilities can be troublesome for those wheelchair bound cruisers or the elderly. Handrails are used throughout. This ship seemed to roll and pitch somewhat more than our other cruises even though it is both modern and stabilized. We arrived at the islands Wednesday morning offshore of Kailua-Kona on the large island Hawaii. We used the ship's tenders to go ashore. The entire transfer was efficiently and safely performed by a very well trained crew in very light sea conditions. The weather was perfect. Kailua lies on the dry side of the island with large expanses of lava. We rented a "crossover SUV, a Saturn car from Alamo (156USD for one day, gas included and unlimited miles) and began our circumnavigation of the island by driving north. Mile after mile of black lava flows spotted here and there by graffiti made of white lava, actually quite effective and somehow fitting for the location, a desert of lava. We turned east and crossed over into the wet and verdant green jungle of the lee side of Hawaii. We loved it, stopping for a picnic at a park in Hilo before climbing to see the volcano crater looming above the city. I mentioned earlier "kelly's illness". On Friday and Saturday after we had arrived at the islands we both came down with a mild illness resembling a cold. Sniffles, itchy, watery eyes and irregular coughs. We discounted the symptoms and thought ourselves lucky as there were quite a few empty spots in the Reflections Dining room in the last few days and we had but these mild symptoms to deal with. Sunday morning she was running a slight fever and wanted only to sleep and we watched Honolulu thru our balcony door. My condition improved but hers did not, with periods of sleeping growing longer and longer. We had dinner via Room Service's rather limited menu and I told her we'd be visiting the ship's hospital the next morning. I was still hopeful she'd improve and we could visit Honolulu the next day. In the morning...the motion told me that we were at sea NOT at the dock at Honolulu! The schedule had included 2 days there but because of the Hilo Iron Man competitions the ship's schedule had changed. We were on the way back to San Diego this Monday morning. We dressed and I took her directly to the Medical Clinic on 2 Deck forward. After filling out a three page document with her ID information she was taken into the facility, it was 9:15am. At 10:45 I asked if I could see her, the head nurse took me to her bed, she looked pale and drawn and was hooked up to an IV, oxygen and a nebulizer was delivering Ambutol to help her breathe. The doctor summoned me to his office, showed me the xrays and told me that she was very ill with pneumonia in both lungs. I was shocked, additionally so as he said they had discussed turning the ship around AGAIN (more about that later) to evacuate her by helicopter IF she didn't improve very soon. We retired to our stateroom to allow the Cipro to do it's good work. We returned at 5pm for a second treatment and she was looking and acting better even then. The staff was MORE than helpful, very skilled and communicative through the entire illness. Kelly has since improved and has a appointment with our physician at Kaiser tomorrow. I cannot thank or praise the staff of the ship's medical clinic enough, they saved Kelly's life in front of my very eyes with their quick and accurate diagnosis and proactive actions. Our emergency care nurse was equally impressed with the actions taken by the ships medical staff. A 10 out of 10 performance, hurray! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife and I love Hawaii and have always been curious about cruising, so it was a fateful moment when Lois spotted an ad in our local paper for repositioning cruise of The Serenade of the Seas off the Alaska season to Hawaii. The price in ... Read More
My wife and I love Hawaii and have always been curious about cruising, so it was a fateful moment when Lois spotted an ad in our local paper for repositioning cruise of The Serenade of the Seas off the Alaska season to Hawaii. The price in the paper was very reasonable for the cruise plus 2 nights in Honolulu and airfare home to Vancouver. I called a travel agent the next day and booked a deck 3 inside cabin, which on the advice of a friend we upgraded to a deck 8 inside cabin. This was good advice as the upper deck was very quiet. Living 30 minutes from Ballantine Pier made for a short drive to the ship which from ground level looked very big and somewhat intimidating. Our cruise agent suggested checking in after 2pm to miss the noon crush of guests arriving from out of town. This suggestion worked well as we were on the ship and in our cabin within 20 minutes of our arrival at the pier. Our inside cabin was very well organized, all space is utilized to maximum advantage and was clean and inviting. The Serenade of the Seas is an impressive ship! In the six months prior to our cruise date we spent many hours online viewing the ship on different websites. None of the photos we looked at could compare with the splendor of the real thing! The 9 story Centrum with the glass elevators, balconies and artwork simply can not be experienced on a small photo. Our dining experience was shared with two other couples also from BC. The food quality, quantity and presentation in the dining room was very good. Every evening brought a varied selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts which met the dietary needs and desires of all of our table mates. Three of our table mates were diabetics and found no difficulty meeting special needs. In fact the sugar free desserts were usually the best! I recommend trying them. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer. The relaxed cafeteria style was perfect for varied appetites and moods. The selection was always fresh, varied and plentiful. Tables overlooking the stern to watch the wake of the ship was relaxing and enjoyable. The entertainment on board was constant, always something going on. The piano players in the lounges were great, the stage shows lively and varied, the interactive shows such as the Quest were very funny to watch as well as take part in. Royal Caribbean should be commended on their efforts to promote physical exercise, all those calories need to get burned up! Our cruise stopped in Kona, Hilo, Lahina and Honolulu. At Kona and Lahina we were anchored off shore and tendered in. This ability to move 2000 people back and forth was very efficiently accomplished. We did only one shore tour at Hilo. This was an 8hr volcano/island tour with Roberts tours, which we booked online through Royal Caribbean prior to departure. The tour was good value as have been all of the Roberts tours we have been on. On Maui we acted as tour guides for a couple we met from Oklahoma, renting a car and seeing the sites. The opportunity to visit several islands was one of our reasons in choosing to cruise and we were not disappointed. Disembarking in Honolulu was a letdown. The dock is a working dock and as such is not pretty. The luggage handling and connections to our hotel went smoothly, once again thanks to a detailed set of instructions provided by our travel agent. Our first cruise was very enjoyable. For me it was the most relaxing vacation I have ever had. The service on board was exceptional. Our cabin steward Hollis was very helpful, polite and made wonderful towel animals. Arnel and Preston our dining room waiters were very efficient, friendly and attentive. The grand entrance and parade of waiters on Italian night was fantastic! Bernadette who waited tables in The Schooner lounge (one of my favorite hangouts) was friendly, lively and always interesting to talk with. Considering the long hours these people work and the length of time the are away from their families they were always smiling, congenial and ready to fulfill any request. I was impressed with the all the staff I met and spoke with. Royal Caribbean should be proud of their staff. My wife and I look forward to our next cruise experience with Royal Caribbean. We made some wonderful friends from all over Canada and the USA with whom we are now keeping in touch and planning on visiting with again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
We started in Mexico with no problems. We were told by Royal Caribbean that there were dance hosts on the ship. No true. We were told by Royal Caribbean that if we brought a letter from our doctor that we had to have early seating we were ... Read More
We started in Mexico with no problems. We were told by Royal Caribbean that there were dance hosts on the ship. No true. We were told by Royal Caribbean that if we brought a letter from our doctor that we had to have early seating we were sure to get it. No so. We were on late seating and on the first night our go no dinner since the windjammer cafe was close because of the lifeboat drill. The ship was beautiful, but if you have a cabin by the atrium, the music from 11:00 PM till 12:30 am is very noisy. Why did they have an idea to put music in the lobby at that late hour is beyond me. Our room steward only made the bed,changed the towels and nothing else. He did not even pick up a blouse that I had dropped on the floor on my rush out to go dancing, just kicked it to the side. I had finally had it and let house keeping know on about the 8th day and from then on our cabin was cleaned, The ship itself was spotless and beautiful. The crew was generally friendly and the front desk was very polite. We found to be less then we expected and if you are looking for 5 star dining go on Celebrity. The food was fair. The lunch in the dining room was the same everyday. So we like most others ate at the Windjammer. Hawaii was beautiful,but my next trip will probably not be on Royal Caribbean,but on Princess. Yes we finally did get the first seating but only after we told the front desk that we were taking it to the captain. We had other people at our table that had the same experience. Plus was there were only 46 kids on the ship, and I only saw about 5 of them the whole trip. The maitre d' should be fired and the people at the tour desk had me repeat my statement 3 times. I finally said what's the matter don't you understand English? Then she gave me a refund when they had wrongly charged me for a tour I did not want. The ship was so clean and beautiful. Service pretty good, Oh the entertainment, NO GOOD! Lousy shows, Princess is much better. If you had the same itinerary and the same ship,go Princess. My question is when will Royal Caribbean go to Australia and Asia? No plan for that. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
The embarkation process in Vancouver was not nearly efficient as it was in Miami, the backlog came with going through security and then immigration. The atmosphere and staff were great.. We really enjoyed this trip and did not want to ... Read More
The embarkation process in Vancouver was not nearly efficient as it was in Miami, the backlog came with going through security and then immigration. The atmosphere and staff were great.. We really enjoyed this trip and did not want to leave. We only wish we could have had a sea day between ports to recover. Our original itinerary was changed from 12 nights to 11 nights and 3 islands from the original 4. The advantage to only the 3 islands is that we had 2 full days in Lahaina, and 2 full days in Kona. It is too bad we missed Kuai though. Having more time in port was great. Food was good, although sometimes more variety in the main selections was needed, i.e. one chicken, one beef, one pork, etc. A couple of times the chicken was very bland and not spicy enough. Overall much better quality than on the Voyager. Good alternate selections were available with Portofinos, Chops and the Seaview Cafe. The entertainment was good, we did not attend many of the Broadway or comedian shows as we were busy with other shipboard activities. The cabins are smaller on this ship than on the Voyager, basically set out the same. Love the balcony. The shore excursion we did take was excellent... Captain Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure... Most of the tours are very expensive and really take you only to the Tourist Spots... Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Serenade of the Seas—Pre-inaugural Cruise Aug. 12-14, 2003 I was invited on the pre-inaugural cruise of the Serenade of the Seas from Boston, and while this cruise did not visit any ports I wanted to post a review of the ship and ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas—Pre-inaugural Cruise Aug. 12-14, 2003 I was invited on the pre-inaugural cruise of the Serenade of the Seas from Boston, and while this cruise did not visit any ports I wanted to post a review of the ship and onboard services. I have been fortunate enough to have sailed on every Royal Caribbean ship, and I must say that the Serenade is by far the prettiest ship in the fleet. RCI has done an outstanding job with the dEcor and layout. This ship combines rich wood, plush carpets and furnishings with an outstanding collection of artwork throughout the ship. Having only been on the ship for 2 days, it was impossible to view all the artwork and details that make up this ship. Deck 2 and 3 contain passenger cabins. Deck 4 is where you'll find the Lobby Bar, RCI Online, Guest Relations and Explorations Desks as well as the lower level of Reflections Main Dining Room. Reflections Main Dining room is nicely decorated in tones of gold, red and burnt orange. The areas on the sides near the windows are accented by dark wood beams and columns which give a more intimate feel. The silk tapestries that flank both sides of the main dining area give the room a smaller feel, as you can't see the balcony of the upper level. The Lobby Bar is a nice place to sit, have a drink and listen to the music played by a variety of onboard entertainers. When live music isn't being played the player piano gently plays soft background music. The Tropical Showroom spans Decks 4,5 and 6. Deck 5 is the upper level of Reflections Dining Room, Latte-tudes coffee bar, the Shops of the Centrum, Photo and Art Gallery, Conference Center and the Tropical Showroom's main level. Latte-tudes coffee bar was quite popular on this cruise, and with only 2 crew members manning the counter the lines were often quite long and slow moving. I suspect this was due to the fact that everything onboard this cruise was complimentary. I would assume that on regular "revenue" cruises, the lines would be less lengthy. Adjacent to Latte-tudes is a nice sitting area with comfortable chairs and couches as well as several internet stations. The Shops were well laid out and offered the usual wares. Prices were average. The Photo and Art Gallery was nicely laid out and did not cause any "bottle necks" when the traffic increased through the area on the way to the main showroom. Deck 6 is where you'll find the Safari Club (Colony Club on Radiance and Brilliance). The Schooner Bar, Chops and Portofino restaurants, the Champagne Bar, Casino Royal, Cinema, The Pit Stop Sports Bar and the upper level of the Tropical Showroom. The Safari Club is laid out exactly like the Colony Club, however it's dEcor is more like an upscale African Lodge rather then the British Social club dEcor of the Colony Clubs. The 2 self leveling pool tables are at the entrance, there are 2 bars in the "main" club. This was a very nice lounge to enjoy a drink, and look over the wake of the ship. They held various events, game shows, karokee etc. Each night a live band played music for several hours. The Schooner Bar is typical of any other RCI ship and had nightly entertainment by either a piano player or a Latin guitarist. Directly off the Schooner Bar is Chops and Portofino's. Chops is richly decorated in warm earth tones with an open kitchen for added entertainment. Portofino's is decorated in light colors with murals on 2 walls. The Champagne Bar has a nice size bar and lots of seating near the windows. Casino Royal is quite large and has a nice sized bar located directly in the center. There are lots of slot machines and there seemed to be an adequate number of blackjack and craps tables to satisfy everyone onboard. Directly behind the Casino is the Pit Stop Sports Bar with large circular bar, several small seating areas and plenty of large, plasma screen TV's to keep an eye on multiple sporting events. The Cinema was small but had stadium style seating for a clear view of the screen from any seat. The Tropical Showroom spans 3 decks and is a well laid out and comfortable room. This area is decorated in tones of yellow, gold, green and blue. The dark wood accents adorn the walls and the beaded curtain adds some dazzle to the room. The seating is comfortable and allows enough legroom for someone over 6 feet tall to sit comfortably. There are great sight lines, however some balcony seats may have an obstruction from the support pillars. The 2 production shows we saw were very good—the singers were some of the best I've seen on any cruise. Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 contain mostly passenger cabins. Deck 8 houses the Explorer's Court, a quite place to sit and read. The Library is on Deck 9 and while small, it looked like a comfortable room to sit and read. The Yacht Club and Concierge Lounge are on Deck 10. Both rooms are small yet functional. Deck 11 houses the ShipShape Spa, Solarium, Main Pool and Windjammer Cafe. The Spa had several treatment rooms, all with private windows looking out across the ocean. The Thermal Suite offers dry and wet saunas, aroma-therapy and heated loungers. The Solarium is a beautiful, lush area to relax. Several padded loungers surround the pool and hot tubs. There is also a bar and small cafe located inside. The Solarium is reserved for adults only. The Main Pool is surrounded by 2 hot tubs. The Windjammer has several food stations and is well laid out. Each station had a different offering and allowed for smooth traffic flow. Just behind the Windjammer is a covered outdoor seating area where you could dine al fresco and watch the wake of the ship. Deck 12 is the main sports deck onboard. The ShipShape Center is laid out nicely, with the aerobic area in the center of the space surrounded by various treadmills, stairmaster and weight training machines. The Sky Bar is a nice place to have a drink and is 1 level above the main pool so you can still hear the music being played below. Also located on Deck 12 is the video arcade, Fuel teen's disco, Adventure Ocean, kids pool and slide, Basketball court, Golf and Sports area and the Seaview Cafe. The children's facilities onboard are very nice and looked like it would be fun to be a kid again. The Seaview Cafe is tucked away on the side of the ship, and once found offered an excellent alternative for a quick snack or lunch. Deck 13 contains the Mini-golf course and the Viking Crown Lounge. The Viking Crown is broken up into several smaller lounges, including the Vortex Disco complete with revolving bar, and the Hollywood Odyssey jazz lounge which is also the nightly cigar bar. Cabins—as this was a special cruise, they had 1 cabin from each category open for viewing. Each cabin was nicely decorated and richly appointed with wood accents and nice fabrics. The cabins were compact but functional and the bathrooms have replaced the shower curtain for sliding doors. Food—The food was excellent. We ate in the main dining room each night and had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and Seaview Cafe's. Service—The crew onboard were taken from various ships in the fleet and were the typical friendly, fun and efficient crew RCI is famous for. Nothing was too much trouble and you were always greeted with a smile and a "hello" from every member of the crew from the Captain down to the maintenance workers. Summary—I would not hesitate to sail on this beautiful ship again. As a matter of fact I have several cabins booked on her to Alaska in July 2004. The Serenade of the Seas is truly a work of art, and a ship RCI should be proud of. I took over 130 pics while onboard and once I get them developed I will post the link. Happy Sailing!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
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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