We returned last week from our wonderful cruise on the Serenade for our Thanksgiving cruise from Nov. 21 to Dec. 02. Let me begin my review with debunking a few rumors.........fleet wide, I hope. We were offered fresh ground pepper ... Read More
We returned last week from our wonderful cruise on the Serenade for our Thanksgiving cruise from Nov. 21 to Dec. 02. Let me begin my review with debunking a few rumors.........fleet wide, I hope. We were offered fresh ground pepper ten nights out of eleven. I had brought my own, more as a joke but never had to use it. Parm was also served when the dish called for it.
The very best debunking of rumors was meeting several Pinnacles in the main theatre and having wonderful conversations about everything and anything including status level. They were some of the nicest people aboard. I hope this was not an unusual situation for our sailing. and a very Happy Birthday to Bill celebrating his 64th. Hope to meet up with you on another sailing and buy you another White Russian.
OK, that out of the way, we drove from Myrtle Beach to Melborne and that was enough. We stopped to eat at Appleby's and needed to find a hotel. Bad area to wing it as the space launch sightseers had booked everything for miles. We could not find a hotel with any vacancy until hotel number 5, we took it and almost walked out as it truly was a dump of a rathole that was probably rented out by the hour. We were way to tired to continue so we took a blanket and pillows from our car and made the best of it. Going on a cruise is an adventure and seedy hotels on the way may be part of the experience. We were out of there by 7:30 am and were very lucky not to have brought out any bed bugs with our own blanket and pillows.
We arrived at our reserved hotel with free parking and free shuttle. I believe the Quality Inn on Hollywood Blvd.,it was not ready for us as we were extremely early. We were offered a light late breakfast and coffee by the sparkling pool and beautiful flowers. This was turning into a great day, and it became better as the day wore on.
After checking in and breathing a sigh of relief, we walked to Walgreen's for batteries for my camera with no luck. Surely they will have them on the ship. We purchased a few items and went back to take a nap.........hey, we are on vacation and all that driving is exhausting!
We decided on an early dinner at Rickey's across the street. Rickey's was recommended by a cruise critic member
who I'd like to thank. Rickey's is the local Cheers and our waitress did say she knew everyone's name around the bar and half of the booths! This is a family run "joint" since the '50's with lots of personality. It can get quite loud with 19 TV'S on football and Nascar. As the saying goes........"Go with the flow" We did and had a happy hour wine and their special of two twin lobster tails with a side for $25. The price was amazing, the food was awesome, and we felt very welcomed to this neighborhood sports bar.
We walked back to the hotel for some TV and an called it an early night as tomorrow was the big day. We are going on a cruise!
We had to drive a few miles to the sister hotel to pick up the shuttle. About six couples were already waiting with their luggage, and we still had two hours to go. We were told well over a hundred people had to be shuttled and it was first come first served. We were offered to be taken to the terminal early for $2.00 and we jumped on that as the chaos had not yet begun. Good Move!
We arrived at the terminal a bit after 9 am and yes the doors were not opened yet, but our luggage was checked and we met up with DH's brother who flew down that morning. We were at pier 18 were the Oasis used to be.
Once we were allowed in, they really checked your status so BIL was separated from us and we met up in the Windjammer.
We boarded about a half hour later than usual as the coast guard was doing some once a year inspection. Waiting wasn't bad as we were going on a cruise.!
The bad news. BIL developed a choking, coughing problem that got worst. We insisted he see Medical during Muster, he was taken off the ship to Broward County Medical Center. We were kept informed by the ship's Doctor and were able to call the Hospital and his cell, with no answer. We finally reached him at home days later where he was back in the Hospital with walking pneumonia. He is much better now, but missed the cruise. Yes, we all had insurance and it came in quite handy for my BIL.
After being on the Anthem, our guaranteed balcony cabin was a bit tight, but really no complaints. It was very private, forwrd 8508 and I would book it again. We were assigned our cabins within hours of booking.
The cooler was bare, so our wine and ice bucket and a few waters fit just fine.
Our steward, Victor, was a gem and one of the best we ever had. He brought us extra pillows, kept our ice filled and was just so pleasant.
We ate in the MDR each night and the dress code was all over the place. We were at a ten top and ate alone the first two nights. On the third night we were invited and approved to join two British couples at another ten top. I know we made life time friends and had such a wonderful time . I even developed a slight British accent that I found quite lovely but drove DH crazy. We had a lot in common and the conversation flowed with ease. We were very happy to be able to join them as they did with us. We looked forward to dinner, always found something we liked, and had our fill of escargot. And if I remember correctly, the beef was on the menu the first night. The everyday menu had sliders and the steak was removed. Steak was on the menu a few nights and it was excellent and twice the size of Chops. I heard that Chops had gone down hill.
Our first port was Antiqua and we did a ships shore excursion snorkeling on a cat. Our tickets said to meet on the pier, We were late getting in and were NOT allowed to exit with tour tickets in hand. We were told to go to the theatre to get a sticker..........no way were we getting out of that line and did manage to make the tour. If anyone is booked on deck 3 center to aft, you may want to rethink it. On port days, it will be quite noisy and almost impossible to get in and out of your cabin with the line waiting to get off the ship.
The snorkeling was wonderful, We saw stingrays and the usual Doctor's office aquarium fish. The rum punch was good too. We came back to the ship, had lunch , then walked around a bit. Nothing new in Antiqua.
We zip lined for the first time in St. Lucia over the Pitons. It was exhilarating and a check off the bucket list. We have some interesting talk for upcoming holiday family dinners.......Mom Mom & Pop Pop did WHAT? And yes, they know about the I- FLY on Anthem.........check!! OK, back to the catamaran and another day of rum punch and reggae back to the ship. We had lunch and watched a movie in the cinema.
We canceled our tour in Barbados as BIL wasn't there to enjoy Harrison's Cave. We had done that before, so we just walked around the terminal area and picked up four bottles of vanilla for the family as they requested. We went back to the ship, the vanilla made it with no problem, had lunch and enjoyed our balcony.
We had been to Grenada in 1999 and 2000 and did not recognize it. It has turned into a shopping mall and quite expensive. No more $1 beers. We were hoping to hook up with our tour guide way back then, but no one knew who we were talking about. It was disappointing. We also thought the locals would be dancing in the streets with the news of Castro, but most of the venders were young and History is being lost. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Heartbreak Ridge with Clint Eastwood..........great movie!
Next was Bonaire which we had also been to before in 1999 and 2000. It was as clean as I remember it, and we were off to snorkel again sailing on a Samori Junk. It was amazing, and I swear we saw what I named an American Flag fish, the tail was red and white striped and the body was white with blue spots that looked like stars. The fish was very bright in color and was not on their charts. We saw three of them.
We have been to Aruba many times and had nothing booked. Since we loved the snorkeling so much, we booked another one which was the best of all. We were on another cat, had an excellent time snorkeling again, and this time you had the option of enjoying something other than rum punch. The bartender made a dozen "glowing neon" drinks at a time. Mine was green, he called it a green iguana. It was 90% booze, vodka, at least 4 different types of local rum, a splash of blue curacao and banana liquor, pineapple juice and shaken up with coco loco. I had three, I don't remember much after that, but was in no pain. The cat turned into a dance party and all was well. I'm sure we needed a shower and a nap after that.
The Serenade does need some updating, but this did not in any way effect our cruise.
After being on the Anthem, it was a pleasure to be in a real Schooner bar with windows and nautical décor.
Elevators were slow.
Getting wine or any drink in the dining room was a joke. If you were served before the dessert menu, you were lucky. We learned to carry wine in.
The crew was amazing, the CD was Topi and very likable. A shout out to Melody, behind the bar in the Centrum who kept us filled with Moscato.
Our waiters, Joy and OK, you really didn't think I'd remember, but soooooo cute. You guys were amazing!!
Thank you to Royal and all Cruise Critic members who had a hand in planning everything. It was well attended.
Also a thank you to Janet who organized our slot pull.
This sailing on the Serenade had two Vet's meetings that were both well attended.
Most of the passengers knew the rule about letting people off the elevators before trying to get on.
This sailing was a very International crowd and very little children.
The Thanksgiving turkey was moist and delicious, but the stuffing was a blob of mystery.
No Silent Party that we always look forward to.
We bought the Surf and Stream package on sale. It worked for us, we used email and watched a bit of TV on our FIOS. Put the extension cord in with your two computers.
Even with worrying about BIL, this 11 night adventure was a very positive experience and a wonderful cruise with the nicest of passengers. I hope your experience on the Serenade is just as great.
Thank you for reading,
Ocean Dancer Read Less