The not so good points:
This was my third cruise with Royal Caribbean (I had previously sailed on Enchantment of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas), and I have to say I was disappointed with this trip. I booked the trip aboard Serenade ... Read More
The not so good points:
This was my third cruise with Royal Caribbean (I had previously sailed on Enchantment of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas), and I have to say I was disappointed with this trip. I booked the trip aboard Serenade of the Seas because the departure port was close to my home and because it was one of the newer RCCL ships. We had a great time, but we didn't think this trip was up to par with the other RCCL trips we'd taken.
Embarkation was a mess (we'd never had this problem before). The posted departure times (listed in my cruise documents as well as the web site) indicated all 2500 passengers would board between 2:00 and 4:00 for a 5:00 departure. It seemed everyone arrived at 2:00. We waited in a long line (the Online Check-in line) when we arrived. Our friends who did not do the online check-in actually got through their line 15 minutes quicker than we did (so there was actually a disadvantage for us in doing the online check-in). Once we finally got our sea pass cards, we had to wait another 45 minutes or so for our group to be called to board. Unfortunately, during that time, the public address system broke, and people had no idea what group was being called. So, eventually, everyone just ended up in a giant line to board the ship (regardless of their group number). I've never seen such a disorganized mess before! Also, the ship actually didn't sail until 8pm (there was apparently a misprint in the departure time).
We finally checked in our cabin. As soon as we stepped inside, we noticed the strong stench of cigarette smoke (my wife and I do not smoke). The ship was full, so switching cabins was not an option. At least it was a balcony stateroom, so we left the balcony door open as much as possible (and the smell eventually subsided toward the end of the cruise). Cigarette smoke usually doesn't bother me, but I've never had a stateroom that smelled this bad before.
I thought since this was a newer ship it would be in great shape. Either it is due for maintenance or is poorly managed at the moment, because everything was not quite as clean as other RCCL ships we'd enjoyed. It wasn't really dirty, but not shining clean either. A couple we ate dinner with said they sailed the same ship back in the spring, and it had been in great shape then (they agreed with me that it currently was not up to the usual RCCL standards of excellence).
Most of the crew were friendly as expected. Our waiter and stateroom attendants were kind and helpful (but seemed overworked). At dinner, there were several times we needed something (i.e. more water, bread, etc.), and we found ourselves waiting for it. It seemed like our waiter and assistant waiter had too many people assigned to them, because they were working very hard.
We had one unfortunate dinning experience. We were assigned the late seating of dinner at 8:30 pm. We chose to go to a movie at 7pm that was supposed to last an hour and nine minutes. The movie started late, and it didn't finish until nearly 9pm. Since we were really too late to go to the main dining room, we thought we'd eat in the Windjammer Cafe (the buffet). We didn't realize it also closed at 9pm (that seemed too early to us). We tried room service, but they directed us to order using our television rather than over the phone (and the menu was limited). We decided to eat in the Seaview Cafe which was open from 10:30 to 11:30. When we arrived, the staff were not friendly, and not eager to serve. The bartender (or perhaps we should call him soda JERK) was in an especially foul mood. He made a milkshake for the passenger ahead of us in line then poured some on the back of his hand and licked it off then kept working (didn't wash his hands). He was also eating potato chips while making the milkshakes/serving drinks. We didn't eat in the Seaview Cafe anymore.
The good points:
I've mentioned all the bad things about our trip, but there were many positive points too. Matt, the cruise director, was the best I've seen on any RCCL ship. The shows were also the best we'd seen on any cruise ship. We also really enjoyed the shore excursions. Disembarkation was also VERY good. We used the express departure option (meaning we carried all our bags off ourselves) and were at the airport within half an hour of being cleared by customs to leave the ship.
Ensenada We took an atv/quad trip that ended at a winery. The trip was one of the best excursions we've ever taken. Jackson (the tour lead) was funny and entertaining. Riding the quads was also a lot of fun (each person had their own quad). The winery we visited was small, beautiful, and elegant. We sampled many of their wines, and bought three bottles of wine.
Cabo San Lucas We boarded the Spin Doctor (a catamaran) and sailed to an area called Santa Maria for snorkeling. The crew was friendly and helpful. The snorkeling was great, and the sailing was even better. We thought Cabo San Lucas was a beautiful port. Read Less