30 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Spring Break Cruise Reviews

After some amazing cruises with TUI and Royal Caribbean, we chose to do the Norwegian Fjords primarily for the scenery. Sad to say Gerainger aside we didn’t see too much of the Fjords and spent a lot of time on choppy sea. Trips further ... Read More
After some amazing cruises with TUI and Royal Caribbean, we chose to do the Norwegian Fjords primarily for the scenery. Sad to say Gerainger aside we didn’t see too much of the Fjords and spent a lot of time on choppy sea. Trips further into the Fjords were available but at a price. The ship wasn’t clean at all. Many windows were filthy, and some of the public areas were extremely dusty. We ate in the Windjammer as like many other cruisers we didn’t feel the need or the urge to dress up. As ever the awindjammer food was plentiful, varied and of a high standard. The captain of the ship was very conspicuous by his absence, making rare appearances and hardly any announcements. Probably the most disengaged captain we have ever experienced. Same could be said of the Cruise Director who although very pleasant could have done a lot more to liven things up. His job was made much harder by the lack of quality in the production team. One singer Suzanne was excellent but the remainder were amongst the worst we have ever experienced on our cruises. The headliner acts were also poor compared to other cruises apart from the Barricade Boys who put on a great show. As a consequence the theatre was never packed out. Overall the cruise lacked atmosphere, and would make us think seriously about using Royal Caribbean in the future. Our experience was further dampened with the spa staff failing on 4 occasions to correct my wife’s hair salon bill after over charging her. This was put right by guest services on the final morning. Also we had to vacate the ship at 8:15 am despite our flight home not being until 17:55, an extra 4 hours on the ship was offered at $44 each, which essentially meant sitting on the ship with no access to facilities apart from lunch in the Windjammer. We chose to endure 9 hours at the airport instead. We met some nice people whose views were much the same as ours. We would have happily come home after 3 days but decided to make the best of a bad job. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I spent a lot of time giving feedback at the end of this cruise on their survey. Below are my comments to RCI (with edits). We had sailed on the Royal Princess recently (I know it's a newer ship and a different class) so we could ... Read More
I spent a lot of time giving feedback at the end of this cruise on their survey. Below are my comments to RCI (with edits). We had sailed on the Royal Princess recently (I know it's a newer ship and a different class) so we could make direct comparisons easily. I hope they use some of the comments to improve the experience for others. This is not a new ship but well maintained with a very friendly crew. We enjoyed the rock climbing and tried to participate in many of the activities offered. We just sailed on the Royal Princess about 8 weeks ago so it was easy to compare our experiences. Both cruises were enjoyable BUT the Princess cruise was more enjoyable overall. We embarked in Ft. Lauderdale and it was not as nice looking a terminal as the Princess cruise from the same port. The buffet on the Princess cruise has a much bigger selection and really really good food and an insane variety of foods from different cultures. It was so good, we hardly went to eat in the dining room. To get superior food on the Serenade we had to eat in the dining room. We also enjoyed the buffet service better on the Princess cruise. There seemed to be more staff at the buffet to get our drink orders (no having to get up to get our drinks) and tables were cleared very often on the Royal Princess. The dining room staff on the Serenade were very good and charming. Also, little touches like water and wet face clothes after an excursion were not done on the Serenade. To return towels after an excursion we had to return on the Lido deck (long hike after a tiring day). Also we felt we were charged more for services like laundry (we loved the self-serve laundry on every deck on the Princess), photos, spa, etc. We felt the Princess had better value for us in general and a more pleasant overall experience. Our experience on the Serenade was good but it could have been excellent. We did love seeing Captain Aris around all the time. And the entertainment staff, dancers and singers were very fun. We loved the Switched On Band and tried to dance as a family overnight with the band! We participated in the mob dance (thanks Naomi!). We also enjoyed the Flag Ceremony and the Farewell Ceremony as we know the crew really work hard. We also thought the entire crew were friendly and charming from our Steward to the Wait Staff. In terms of hand washing, the Royal Princess has very efficient had washing stations before entering the buffets and restaurants that were enforced. We loved that. We know the Serenade is an older ship but during a retrofit, you should do that (safety first). The small outdoor movie screen also has a pixel issue. The app on the Princess allowed your party to text/message each other for FREE! The RCI app is looks beautiful but not as useful for our family to communicate with each other around the ship. Also your TV, doesn't allow people to select movie and shows on demand (which we had on the Royal Princess). We liked how it was announced by the captain on the first day that everyone fist pumps on the ship and does not hand shake. We enjoyed hearing from the captain as he seemed to really participate in the events. We enjoyed the dance classes by professional dancers (the dance team was very good) and we enjoyed the meet and great with the dancers and singers on the last day. Loved the live music around the ship and in the theatre! We liked the actual glass shower doors (no mess). The spa double charged me for a service (no way I could get my pedicure twice on the same day). I went to speak with Mina (spa manager, it was later in the evening). Instead of processing the refund right away, she said she would need to speak to her team first and find out the reason for the mistake. This is not good customer service - she should have processed my refund immediately and then spoken with her staff the next day. We enjoyed the egg drop, ship building battle (our kids won), mob dance, napkin folding, towel folding, bartender show, 70's night and 70's night dance training with Naomi. My husband showed up for the darts and table tennis contests but no staff were at the "events" so the passengers did their own "contests and games" which was too bad because he won both competitions. We thought this cruise's entertainment was more fun but our general feeling was that it could have been a better overall experience in the other areas. The Ft. Lauderdale terminal did not look nice at all on departure; it should be renovated so keep that nice ship feeling all the way through. The terminal didn't understand that Global Entry passengers should have a separate line to get to the customs agent! We had to speak to someone to help us with that and thankfully, he understood and helped us. Finally the kids club, our 10 year old preferred the one on the Princess and thought it was really restrictive on the Serenade and never wanted to go there as she wanted free time to do her own thing in the club. The photos, we liked the experience on the Princess better (they also retouch your photos for free on the Princess). As we "collected" the photos, they kept it for us so it wasn't a chore to find them all the time, we purchased them on the ship (we were told they didn't have enough room on the Serenade to do this). and they used the bar code to put the digital photos right away on a USB stick for us so I was not concerned about an email coming to me. The photo package for all the photos were also more affordable on the Royal Princess. It seems like such a waste of printed photos to have them all displayed and most of them trashed. All ships should have computer terminals that with a simple swipe of your sea pass card or medallion, you get to see all of your photos on a screen and get your digital files emailed to you or on a USB stick. Not environmentally friendly at all and waste of your staff resources. No more printed photos! Who really wants 8 x 10s! We just want to post on social media and be done with it or just print out a few at Costco. We loved how often we saw or heard Captain Aris around the ship. He looks like someone who enjoys his job! We would love to see a female captain one day. We enjoyed the dining room staff, especially manager Kaviraj and his staff Sheldon, Maynard and Hurray. Special acknowledgement to Adikash who made a wonder paper jumping frog for my child and her cousin. They loved it! We enjoyed the soft serve ice cream in the buffet and the sorbets in the dining room. Sanya, our steward was great and we loved to hear her laugh. Napkins should be available at the self service drink stations. We also thought the buffets hours were odd on the Serenade (they close at 9:00 and before lunch and before dinner) because it never closed on the Princess during the day and was open to 11PM every night! Tip for muster station info on the sea pass cards, put the deck number on it too. Hand sanitizers should also be located right by the food at the buffet too. I didn't trust that everyone had clean hands so after handling the food serving spooks and ladle, I sanitized my hands again but had to walk all the way back to the hostess or the front doors. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The cruise was very enjoyable and we had a great time. Cruise staff were excellent. Shore activities were great - particularly the trip to the Pitons to snorkel. All a very professional approach until the return journey which became ... Read More
The cruise was very enjoyable and we had a great time. Cruise staff were excellent. Shore activities were great - particularly the trip to the Pitons to snorkel. All a very professional approach until the return journey which became a party - the crew were great - the shore staff even called us the party boat as we arrived back at the dock with minutes to spare music blaring and everyone still dancing. Emma the shopping director was excellent and she provided excellent advice for the in-port shopping. Cabin Steward was great and always upbeat - a morning chat was the perfect way to start the day. Main dining staff were great and very attentive - always willing to go the extra mile to ensure our dining wishes were met. Chops Grille was very disappointing - we had better steaks in the main dining room but Royal Caribbean didn't want feedback on our dining experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Like the smaller ships, and enjoyed the ports in the Southern Caribbean although 5 in a row left us tired and worn out. Should break up the port days with a day at sea. Staff always friendly, guest services always promptly answered your ... Read More
Like the smaller ships, and enjoyed the ports in the Southern Caribbean although 5 in a row left us tired and worn out. Should break up the port days with a day at sea. Staff always friendly, guest services always promptly answered your calls with satisfaction to your inquiries. Main dining room food quality great, service was SLOW though and not always did you receive what you ordered. Onboard selection of entertainers very good, and on-board 'company' dancers/singers always put on quality shows. Ship is old, casino very old, but ship well kept and clean. Avoid Bingo. Embarking quick, dis-embarking had major glitch and 1hr delay with port personnel not ships fault. Will not go on this ship again, not enough 'there' to want to go back to. Excursion staff very friendly and will go out of their way/the extra mile. We had mixed up our port dept time, and would have missed the excursion otherwise had they held the bus for us and had one of their personnel WALK us there! It turned out to be the best excursion boat trip too! RCI did not impress us as being so much better or worse than other lines to either avoid or only cruise with them either. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I chose this cruise because I think a week is too short, and it was offered over spring break. This was my first Royal cruise. I was told I can't base this ship on being a Royal comparison, but since it is all I have, this is my ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I think a week is too short, and it was offered over spring break. This was my first Royal cruise. I was told I can't base this ship on being a Royal comparison, but since it is all I have, this is my comparison. I have cruised 5 times on NCL, and 1 Disney. I thought this would be way worth it since I had a 14yr old, and I figured there would be so many more teen activities, and teens themselves, that it was worth trying. She did not join in any teen activity, or even go check any out. Nothing was left in our room to encourage her attendance, or even to let us know where to meet or, what was available. I never could find the older club till the second day, even though I asked several staff, and by then, she would not even consider it, so, that became a mute point. She stayed with us at all times. She did climb the wall once. Our room was ok, very close quarters, since the only closet opened right at the door, and bathroom door, so the trio of doors was always inconvenient. our room was 7144, a balcony with a blocked view of looking down at the water, because we had the roof to the lifeboats directly in front of us, so a big white expanse that stuck out about 8'-10'. Something I will be well aware of from now on to make sure I know where the lifeboats are to not pick that room. Our room was made up twice a day nicely, but in 10 days, we had 3 towel animals. I bought 3 drink packages, deluxe, regular, and the soda. Not one of us used the value that we paid, especially with 5 full port days. Having enjoyed the NCL included drinks, I never think how much I am drinking if I am drinking "enough". But having added that approx. $700. made me well aware that we over spent. The entertainment was quite surprisingly low grade. The good was the comedy on the first night. He was upbeat and funny. The live ship band was good also as the intro. The next night was a manic singer who said he did all types of songs, but they all sounded the same and were oldies. Next night the house production group, again, dated old songs, with tacky cheesy choreography. second show, the comic again. he was entertaining. Next night, just a animated MOVIE was offered, Coco. Next night was show worthy, The great Dubois, a juggling acrobat couple. They were in the movie The greatest showman, so day 6, the only show offered was a movie again, The greatest showman. At least there was a tie in, I suppose. Day 7, ANOTHER singer show, a tribute to Celine Dion, we didn't even go.Guess what day 8? ANOTHER singer, hits from the 60s to today. We did not go. Day 9, Oh, boy, The house production group back again, with songs from the 60s-the 90s. At least this night they offered a late night adult comedian. He was fine. And the last night he was also the only show, lasting 45 min.not a lot of energy, but funny. His act would have been great as a second show of the evening playing in a lounge. I never knew that Norwegian had far better entertainment and variety, I certainly assumed from all RCC accolades, that theirs would be comparable, not even close. I went on the Pearl through the Panama Canal, so comparable ship size and time, and every night had two MainStage shows, other shows in different venues, and you wanted to go to every one! The good of this ship was the dining room staff. I had bought the 5 specialty restaurant nights, and ate in the steakhouse the first night, and it was fine, and I planned to space out the rest, so the next night we ate in the main dining, and the food was great! I have celiacs, so each night they would bring me the menu to plan ahead, and modify if needed, and everything was so good, I cancelled the rest of our specialty meals! They brought me everything I ordered immediatly, however I ordered the night before, and had our drinks there before we ordered, the waitstaff was the best I've ever had! We ate in the buffet for breakfast each morning, with a stop at the coffee stand for lattes. Afternoons could have been improved by some snack options. We would get back on the boat in that between lunch and dinner time, and the option was only the little Park cafe, or the coffee stand, fine for my family, but rare for me to have any option but a salad or fruit. just some potato chips or fries would have been good. The wierd option that should have been available, was Cantina Ritas. The compass would list it open11:30-9:00, but that was not often true except as a place to sit. In the afternoon, you could order a drink, but no chips, only at dinner 7:00 could you order the guacamole and chips $5. or chips and salsa, but they didn't offer other food, so it was this strange option that I would have willingly bought as my late lunch each day, but wasn't offered then, only if you went out to that deck during 7:00-8:00. even being able to just have the corn chips would have been nice! Pool entertainment was few and far between also, and music was just DJ, or recorded. Never live. The ports we stopped at were all wonderful, I booked private excursions which were all wonderful, and got back to the boat on time. It sounds like there wasn't much we liked, but we actually had a wonderful time, I am just disappointed in how much more RCC cost than NCL while providing so much less. I think cruises are a fantastic family vacation, and I would happily go again on this boat even with the crummy entertainment, if I got a good price, and I would probably not buy the drink packages, although I really appreciate the not thinking dollar signs every time I order, or not order, so I love that NCL includes this in its package. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
As my husband preferred to golf in Palm Springs rather than cruise the Caribbean one more time, my friend and I booked the 11 night Southern Caribbean on Serenade March 19th. We booked this cruise based on the budget my friend could ... Read More
As my husband preferred to golf in Palm Springs rather than cruise the Caribbean one more time, my friend and I booked the 11 night Southern Caribbean on Serenade March 19th. We booked this cruise based on the budget my friend could afford - Everything was perfect until we opened the door to the cabin. The smell of urine and dirty socks was like hitting a brick wall! And so the cleaning process began because of course the ship was fully booked and there was no where to move us. The cleaning, sprinkling of powder on the carpet, steaming the carpet 2x continued until everyone gave up. And the stink continued. Finally the spa loaned us a diffuser the last days of the cruise that masked the smell long enough to get things done before having to flee the cabin. The duvet covers were also a concern - neither would have qualified as thrift store goods! The staff tried their best to get rid of the odour and we did end up with two free bottles of wine. Plus 20% future cruise credit ... however, I think it is unlikely that I will be using mine anytime soon. My husband and I are Diamond Plus and usually like a Jr. Suite but I know it sounds petty, but I don't think that my cabin location should determine how I am valued by RCI. We had a shore excursion in St. Lucia that was a disappointment. Cox and Company was the provider - beach loungers were torn and dirty (included in the cost), umbrellas torn ($10 to rent). Their section of the beach was pretty tight so if you weren't the first ones off the bus, you got no view other than the first row of umbrellas. The complementary drink (assume alcohol-related rum punch) wasn't available either - beer, water, coke or sprite. When we let Shore Excursions know they refunded us a whopping $3.90 each. Wow! Now I really feel like a "valued client". We cancelled the other excursion booked for Granada. We still haven't figured out why my friend's account was credited 2x with the same amount of tax... I have a sneaking suspicion that one of those is mine. As you can see from our ratings, the rest of the cruise was excellent! The dining and bar staff, the food and entertainment were amazing! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute we didn't have to spend in the cabin! We met some wonderful people on the cruise and made some new friends.... The service was outstanding, thank you to all who helped us make some wonderful memories. So, that being said, will I book another cruise with RCI - unlikely. As a travel agent, will RCI be my first recommend to my clients, also unlikely. It's the little things that keep clients coming back.... Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We are a group of 7 (3 Adults, 2 Seniors & 2 kids that are 12 and 10) and wanted to choose an itinerary that would go further south rather than the standard Eastern and Western. The cruise consisted of 11 days. 2 days at Sea, ... Read More
We are a group of 7 (3 Adults, 2 Seniors & 2 kids that are 12 and 10) and wanted to choose an itinerary that would go further south rather than the standard Eastern and Western. The cruise consisted of 11 days. 2 days at Sea, Ponce Puerto Rico, Basseterre St Kitts, Castries St Lucia, Bridgetown Barbados, St Georges Grenada, St John's Antigua and then 2 days at Sea. Overall the cruise was very good and it was interesting to see the West Indies but we found that 6 stops in 6 days was tiring with the different age groups. We only chose on ship excursion - the Pitons in St Lucia. The other ports we found it easy to get a cab and do our own excursions. We had some great taxi drivers and specifically Victor in Grenada who was very proud of his island and was very interesting to listen to as he has spent his entire life on the island. In St Kitts we were lucky enough to have Kevin take us to the beach. He was very knowledgeable about the island and full of personality - he was a highlight of the St Kitts experience. Antigua was frustrating. As soon as we left the security of the cruise ship area we were harassed by taxi drivers to take an excursion. This needs to be addressed by Antigua as it turns visitors off and made us leave the area and not spend any money in the shops. Once we finally decided to take a trip Barry, our driver, was excellent and Long Beach was beautiful. On Barbados we went to Harbour Lights. A great facility that offered chairs, umbrellas, good food, a great beach and things to do - all at a fair price. Check it out. In regards to Serenade of the Seas it is a nice boat and good size to get around easily. The ship is in need of of some care. The railings on the balcony was peeling and didn't look as though any attention was given to it in years. There is some rust at some of the connection points on the balcony and the rooms are dated. In our room, the overall square footage was about 165 sq feet. It was 2 small for 2 adults and 2 growing boys. Next time we would look at 2 adjoining inside rooms. Limited plugin locations for electronics. I found the dining room menu, for lack of a better word - boring. There were many items on the menu that were there every day. We ended up eating dinner in the Windjammer a couple of times to change up the menu. What a great choice! The windjammer had great food with lots of choice and the Indian Food was fantastic. If you are looking for a cruise to the West Indies this is one that I would consider but the age of the average traveller is higher than we were use to - many more electric scooters than we had seen on previous cruises. We have been on RCL before (without kids) and had a great time. 3 other cruises were on the Disney Fantasy and those staterooms are much better - the split bathroom and higher beds are something all lines should copy. Our kids, 12 and 10, found limited things to do and did not go to the kids programs as there didn't fit their needs. I think a lager RCL ship would be better but then you don't get the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This is our second time on board Serenade of the Seas and we've been on Oasis and Explorer & Jewel. My husband and I do prefer the this size of ship or Voyager but the kids love the Oasis class as there's just more things for ... Read More
This is our second time on board Serenade of the Seas and we've been on Oasis and Explorer & Jewel. My husband and I do prefer the this size of ship or Voyager but the kids love the Oasis class as there's just more things for them to do. I do admit with a smaller ship, you're limited to what you can do but if your cruise is port-heavy, I think this size of ship is great. We were on an 11 day cruise with 6 ports - Ponce,Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. John. We booked on deck 4, outside, mid ship and it was a great location. We are a family of 4 with ages 7 & 11 kids and I did find our room to be smaller & a bit tight for the 4 of us, but doable.Our room attendant was always polite and very efficient. Food in the main dining was wonderful To be honest, I was not expecting much and even booked a 4 night specialty package as I've heard that food has gone downhill. To my surprise that was not the case. I would say out of 7 nights we've dined there, only 1 night proved to be slightly disappointing. Apparently they rolled out a new menu on our sailing. Some nights I thought that the food was better in the main dining compared to what was offered at Chops! Serenade is showing some signs of wear and tear but it is kept clean and you'll often see crews working on the ship. Entertainment - comedians were great and so were ReVoiced, an a cappella group - they were fantastic! Ports: Ponce, Puerto Rico - definitely not as developed as the other ports. It's a new one for RCL. It is charming, quaint but not much to see. We did take a tour (external) - just outside of the ship, there's a tent with a tour company there and we signed up with them. Went to see the Serralles mansion and it was beautiful, with a spectacular view of Ponce. We also went to downtown, and walked around and saw the popular Firehall. Just a note that there's a free shuttle to take you to the boardwalk and back to the ship. A nice area but very small. St. Kitts - took a tour with Thenford Grey, great tour, and would recommend and ended the day at Cockleshell Beach. Barbados - Went to Lobster Alive & Carlisle Bay. Best beach hands down out of all the ports we've been to. St. Lucia - tour with Cosol Tours & my favourite port. We booked in advanced and asked for Yellow Bird. Great tour guide. We had our friends come with us, so there were 8 of us in 1 van so had a semi-private tour. Pitons were a sight to see. Just a note that the roads are windy going up the mountains and I suggest taking something if you get nauseous easily. Grenada - very lush and green. We booked with Vaughan from Tropical Adventures. Very gracious man, and we couldn't have gotten a better tour. It beats going with a large bus and saw so many things, Etang crater, nutmeg plant, waterfall, cocoa factory (chocolate factory), and Grand Anse beach - beautiful and voted one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. We didn't have time to swim but were able to take pictures at the beach. St. John, Antigua - Took a cab to Jolly beach, gorgeous beach but the waves were a bit rough. Got a massage and it was wonderful. For all those that like to shop - Longchamp at this port is well priced, same price as you would get in Paris. All 4 of us had a great time. Kids enjoyed the kids club. Overall we had a great time and would love to explore more of the Southern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I choose this cruise because of the cities we would visit and because the cruise began and ended in Copenhagen. From my view everything was perfect. The crew onboard was very accommodating and service minded. Our cabin was perfect in size ... Read More
I choose this cruise because of the cities we would visit and because the cruise began and ended in Copenhagen. From my view everything was perfect. The crew onboard was very accommodating and service minded. Our cabin was perfect in size with ocean view. The restaurants we visited, Windjammer and Reflections had various menues to choose between and the quality of the food was in top. There were a lot of very interesting and amusing entertainment every day. On board there are a lot of activities from early morning til late in the evening so there is no time to be bored. Depending on the weather you can have outdoor activities or indoor activities. The decoration of the Serenade of the Seas was very elegant and well maintained. So - overall a very succesfull experience for me and my wife. We will recommend this cruise to friends who ask me for advice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Embarkation was quick and painless (Fort Lauderdale) and the stateroom was ready very quickly. We were in a balcony cabin and it was neat and clean but with some signs of its age. A bit of wear on the sofa, some discoloration around the ... Read More
Embarkation was quick and painless (Fort Lauderdale) and the stateroom was ready very quickly. We were in a balcony cabin and it was neat and clean but with some signs of its age. A bit of wear on the sofa, some discoloration around the shower and rust on the balcony but all in all a nice room with comfortable bed and very attentive room attendant. We missed out on my time dining and ended up with second seating in the main dining room at 8:30PM. Neither of us likes eating that late so we spent many nights in either Giovannis or Chops. We also had a delightful night at the Captain's table and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has never eaten there. The menus at both restaurants could use some more variety. By day 7 we had eaten each of the entrées from both menus that interested us and we were stuck with duplication if we didn't want to eat at 8:30. The theatre was only so-so. The song and dance show was a repeat of a mediocre show we had seen 16 months before on another ship. It turned us off the theatre for the rest of the cruise. The only salvation was the piano bar in the Schooner lounge. The performer (Danny Burgess) was terrific and while a talented musician he was a master at getting the audience involved. Throughout the ship the staff was pleasant and eager to please. Someone once said that Royal knew how to recruit and train their staff and it sure showed on this cruise. The shore excursions ran the gamut of good to horrible. Neither of us is a beach fan so we generally take the scenic tours. St.Thomas USVI was a major disappointment. The island wide poverty was very obvious once you got away from the ship. Ramshackle buildings and trash was everywhere. Our guide said that the closure of the refinery had been a major blow and it showed. Tortola BVI was a world of difference.The Brit influence was clear to see. Dominica was a very pleasant tour with a native Caribe guide who was a joy to travel with. At Antigua we took the catamaran/lobster tour and if you've not done so jump on it. A five hour cruise and swim with a grilled lobster tail lunch and a no cost bar made for a great day. Two stops were made to let the swimmers enjoy the tropic waters and lots of time to sightsee and eat/drink. St Maartins was a huge disappointment. We arrived on Good Friday and every shop(except the expensive places on the pier) where closed for the holiday. We had booked a trolley tour of the city expecting to do some shopping and it didn't happen. I wish the tour desk had warned us of the closure so we could have done something else. Finally, I wish someone would tell the clean up folks in the Windjammer that wiping a table with a damp cloth is not a clean up. It doesn't do anything to clean up sticky spills and I doubt that it does anything to sanitize the tables either. My wife and I enjoyed the cruise and will likely cruise with Royal again. Perhaps on a newer ship... Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Our itinerary was very enjoyable with 5 ports nestled between two days at the beginning and two at the end in which to rest up and relax. Coordinating with various local touring companies provided exciting and enjoyable experiences such as ... Read More
Our itinerary was very enjoyable with 5 ports nestled between two days at the beginning and two at the end in which to rest up and relax. Coordinating with various local touring companies provided exciting and enjoyable experiences such as biking, hiking, touring, snorkeling and kayaking. The clean and comfortable Windjammer always had a variety of palette pleasing choices with readily helpful staff. The dining experience was a mixed bag. The wait staff was impeccably professional and attentive, but the host staff often seemed overwhelmed and confused. Even with reservations, our table was rarely available and we were seated in a variety of places. Poor Robet and Ketut had to keep waiting on us in a variety of places. Both the piano bar as well as the guitar pub were reliably entertaining. Our room service was prompt and polite as well as very tidy. We didn't travel with children. We would definitely return to this cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was my very first cruise and I loved it was a ten day cruise.Our room servive was amazing our room maid named speedy made us towel animals and was very nice,pacient and friendly.the ship had lots of stuff to do including a rock wall,a ... Read More
This was my very first cruise and I loved it was a ten day cruise.Our room servive was amazing our room maid named speedy made us towel animals and was very nice,pacient and friendly.the ship had lots of stuff to do including a rock wall,a mini golf course, a cinema, a theater,a basketball court,two outdoor pools,a water slide,and self leveling pool tables and a arcade which is money to play the games.It also has a casino and 16 bars and lounges. if you have kids there are lots of things for them to do onboard the ship they have things to do for kids.They can go to a place were they play games supervised by crew members and they can meet new people in their age group and make new friends.they also have lots of activitys like ring toss games,bean bag toss,and lots more,what was really cool the top three got medals.There were lots of places to dine at too,their was chops grill,the windjammer which is open for breakfast,lunch and dinner,chefs table,Izumi,and the main dinning room.The dinning was very nice are waiters were very nice are head waiters name was Mirche and are assistant waiters name was Hua. the food was very good they had meats,salads,desserts and much more.our room was very nice with a pull out bed and a queen sized bed ,and a small bathroom,lots of storage,and a nice big ballcony with two chairs and a table.The service was very good all the crew members were very nice and were very helpful.The ports were amazing.Our first port was st.croix and the beach was very good we went snorkeling and saw some fish and it was very fun to just go and relax in the ocean,our second port was Tortula we went up to the baths which had very good snorkeling.Our third port was Dominica we went on a tour and the tour was amazing it was very nice,our fourth port was Antigua we went to Long Beach its had amazing snorkeling. We saw an eel which was very cool.our last port was St.marten we went to Maho beach which is the beach were the planes fly over you it was very cool.this ship may not be as big as the Oasis and radiance class ships but this is a amazing ship I would really want to go again on this cruise.I hope I can go on another cruise like this again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We choose this cruise because of the ports of call and the 10 days. Its and excellent ship, rather small but plenty to do and see. Staff was very cordial and food was excellent at Giovannis specially. Disco was always empty, no plan ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the ports of call and the 10 days. Its and excellent ship, rather small but plenty to do and see. Staff was very cordial and food was excellent at Giovannis specially. Disco was always empty, no plan activities there at night, more of the older crowd and families with small children. We enjoy having days at see and relaxing. Shows at theater could be a lot better but comedian was funny and orchestra was great. If you are looking for extravagant shows and activities this is not your ship but if you want a quality and relaxing cruise this is your vacation. Ports of call are excellent and lots to do in the islands. Teen program was average at best, my teen didn't participated much cause not many activities for her but she enjoyed the cupcake decoration and free arcade night very much. Needs more live entertainment by the pool areas during the day and at night and lunch our at dinning room was very short from 12 to 1:15. Not much variety in the stores but they had many events there and promoted their merchandise very well. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We were a little apprehensive about the age of this ship when we booked especially after being on the Allure of the Seas which is very modern. But we were pleasantly surprised when we boarded at the interior design of the ship especially ... Read More
We were a little apprehensive about the age of this ship when we booked especially after being on the Allure of the Seas which is very modern. But we were pleasantly surprised when we boarded at the interior design of the ship especially the the Schooner bar area and the leisure area just through the Schooner bar. Very elegant and comfortable. This was a very relaxing cruise. The staff were very friendly and the food was good. The bedrooms looked a wee bit tired but comfortable. We found that the shows in the theatre were mediocre,the one we liked most was the Violin musician. having said that we did like the singer in the Pub ( Kevin ). We found that some of the islands would not be on our itinerary again, like St. Kitts or Dominica which were very a bit like slums in the port area. All in all the cruise was excellent and we certainly will cruise with Royal Caribbean for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned ... Read More
Hi! We just returned from the 3-28 to 4-4 Western Caribbean sailing on Serenade of the Seas out of New Orleans. We are still newbies, but I thought I’d post our experiences in case it helps anyone else. Prior to our cruise I learned so much from CruiseCritic! I really think it made our experience more enjoyable. Our family included myself, husband, 16 y.o. son, and 17 y.o. son. About a week before our cruise I read some not so great reviews of the Serenade and was a little scared, but honestly we had a great time and didn’t have any complaints. Well, the only complaint was the wifi unlimited package because it worked only some of the time for my husband and most of the time for me, but not worth 200.00. Embarkation: We’re from the New Orleans area so getting to and from the port terminal was a breeze. We had a family member drop us off near the porters on Julia St at around 10:15 a.m. The only hiccup was that even though I had printed our set sail passes they had no record of it and we had to fill out everything again at the desk. Not a huge deal, but I was nervous and felt like I did something wrong. lol After that hiccup, we were on the ship playing mini golf by 10:45 Cabin: We had cabin 8604 and 8606. They were balcony cabins and 8604 was on the hump and had a deeper kind of pie-shaped balcony. My sons are 6’ and 6’4 and their feet kind of hung off of their beds, but all was good. Our cabin steward was great and always kept things clean and made awesome towel animals most days. Staff: All staff we encountered were really great. I did not see one person that was not smiling and they went out of their way if we had a question or request. The cruise director, Carly, held our roll call meet and greet and I found her to be very warm and fun to be around. The whole cruise director staff worked really hard making sure everyone was having a good time all week. Food: We ate in the main dining room (5:30 seating) every dinner and really enjoyed the food and selection. I would give the food an 8 out of 10. Our waiter, Kavi, and assistant, Videsh, were great as well as our table mates. My sons grumbled about wearing pants and dressing for dinner, but by the second day they were in a groove and didn’t complain because they really liked the food. We saw some shorts, but for the most part everyone around us dressed in pants (for the men) and sundresses or capris for women except formal nights. I did see a man in shorts on the second formal night and the server motioned to the maitre d, but I don’t know what they told him (he was already sitting) because we were on our way to our table. We mainly ordered room service for breakfast and it was great to watch the sunrise on the balcony every morning and have coffee, fruit, pastries and yogurt. On sea days, we sometimes ate lunch in the Windjammer, but it was usually crowded and the food was not the best, but it is probably because we don’t like buffets that much. We enjoyed lunch in the main dining room and the park cafe in the solarium also. Drink package: I purchased the replenish package for my sons and I haven’t calculated to see if it was worth it or not. They did get several frozen non alcoholic drinks every day and frozen coffee. My husband and I just drink water or coffee so we didn’t get a package. Entertainment: The live bands and shows were great on the ship. We loved the comedians, the pub singer, the Unexpected Boys and most of the entertainment staff shows. My sons did leave one show where they were acting and singing from different movie musicals. There was a nice instrumental guitarist, latin band and house band in the centrum that we really enjoyed listening to. Salsa dancing, 70’s party and cake decorating contest were fun too. Photographers: This is the best surprise of the cruise for me! It is so hard to get my teenage boys to dress up and take a family picture…. I bought the whole package on the 3rd day because they had a 50.00 off special. I am sooo glad I did because we got a stack of about 50 great professional photos for less than a sitting fee at some photographers. We really loved one of the photographers too, he would always pop out at dinner and say, “It’s me again!” I am really thankful for all of the great photos. Pools: We didn’t use the pools because they are small and were usually filled with little kids (main pool) or older people (solarium). It was nice to just lay out on a pool chair in the sun. Casino: We mainly went for about 20 minutes in the mornings. The casino was really smokey, but in the mornings it wasn’t bad at all. They also did double points from 9-11 a.m. The left side is non smoking, but it still smelled at crowded times. Things I learned: Luckily, none of us get seasick. We had rough seas one night and it was the best sleeping night for me. The bathrooms on ships are too small (like an R.V. bathroom). I also learned that I packed too much… Grateful to CruiseCritic for: I am grateful for tips about bringing an automatic air freshener. It really helped to come back to a great smelling cabin. I also learned a lot about how dining worked and other research so that I could know what to expect. Ports: Jamaica: We actually loved Jamaica! The port was beautiful and organized. We did the Dunn’s River Falls and Dolphin encounter with lunch. Our guide was Lyndal and he was great. Even though I read horror stories of vendors and such, we didn’t encounter one pushy vendor. Lynval had us on the falls in one of the first groups and the first group at Dolphin cove. The food was also really good there (except the hot dog). Grand Cayman: We did a reef and wreck snorkel and it was fun. The port seemed chaotic and 6 ships were docked. It was also really expensive to eat there because everything was in cayman dollars so when it was converted if you weren’t expecting it, you could get a shock. Cozumel: We love Cozumel and have been before (not on a cruise). We did the San Gervasio ruins with beach break. Our guide, Bianca, was great. Surprisingly, the souvenirs we bought there were cheaper for the same shirts than at the shops near the port. Our beach break was beautiful and we went to Pescadore restaurant right on the beach. I am excited that we finished our first cruise and am sad that Royal Caribbean is leaving New Orleans. I will be booking again, but out of Galveston. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, we went to Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls. This was our favorite excursion. I would not travel around Jamaica on your own but with an excursion and in the port we felt safe. The port was nice and not crowded. On our excursion, our tour guides were great, especially at Green Grotto Caves. Our group did not get a videographer at Dunn's River Falls, but the groups that did seemed to get a better tour (ours was still great!). We also visited Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the cruise port. I would not get food there again (it was pricey and mediocre) but it was fun to walk around and take pictures there. In Grand Cayman, we did the Stingray City, Snorkeling, and 7 Mile Beach lunch buffet excursion (I don't think that's it's exact title-but similar). I would NOT recommend this excursion. Grand Cayman was extremely crowded and busy. We will not take a cruise here again. The excursion was disorganized, started late, and we had a very large group. They cancelled our snorkeling part of the trip due to "rough" waters but most people in our group thought it was due to running behind with their disorganization-the waters weren't bad. Royal Caribbean refunded everyone $30/person for the inconvenience. We did not like Stingray City. I have snorkeled with Stingrays in Belize and swam with them in a small group. This excursion felt like exploiting the rays. There were hundreds of people crowded standing on a sandbar with some rays swimming around. The guides were holding them out of the water trying to get people to take pictures with them. Our guide charged $40 per picture. Our guides were very pushy and begging for tips. After the stingrays, we went to 7 Mile Beach. Our lunch and the beach were nice. There were chickens walking around on the beach. We snorkeled on our own here (we brought our own equipment, but you could rent some there). After our excursion, we walked around the crowded port and got gellato (it was a bit pricey for gellato but good). In Cozumel, we went snorkeling and to Playa Mia. We loved this. The port was nice and a bit crowded but not as crowded as Grand Cayman. We would like to come back on a cruise or stay at a resort. The boat ride to snorkeling and Playa Mia was great. Our guides were fun and informative. We took pictures, sang, and danced on the boat. They provided water, soft drinks, beer, rum punch, and margaritas on the boat. The snorkeling was nice and the group wasn't too large. Playa Mia was busy but there was lots to do. The food wasn't impressive, but we had fun! All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something ... Read More
We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon. We loved our experience on Serenade of the Seas. Our room was an interior room on the 2nd level, 2005. The cruise director was great and for the most part there was always something interesting to do. There were enough food options to always be well fed (not all food was great but most was pretty good). We enjoyed out 8pm dining in the main dining room, Reflections. Our wait staff was fabulous! They were always friendly and had good recommendations. The plating of the food was always nice and most was really good. We also liked having breakfast and lunch on the back of the boat at Windjammer. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants or buy a drink package (water, flavored water, lemonade, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, orange juice, and apple juice are all provided) We enjoyed the evening shows, Bingo, salsa dancing, and the workout room. We did find that the pools and hot tubs could be crowded at times, but still swam in the pool. We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans, Jamaica, and Cozumel. We did not care for Grand Cayman as much but still had fun. In New Orleans, we went sight seeing on our own with my husband's brother the day of embarkation and disembarkation. In Jamaica, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman, we went on Royal Caribbean's excursions. All in all, we loved our first cruise experience and look forward to more spring breaks (we are both teachers) of cruises! We were very impressed with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Meh
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of ... Read More
This was my third time cruising and first with my 7-year-old daughter. The other two cruises were with Carnival. We chose Royal Caribbean because it was supposed to be a step up from Carnival (which has been described as the Wal-Mart of cruise lines). Pre-cruise experience: By far this was as bad as it could possibly be. RCI's website is terrible. In fact, my experience(s) in trying to book excursions and other onboard activities were so bad that I may not book with RCI again unless they fix this. I spent roughly 12-14 hours on the phone with RCI (and my travel agent spent even more time on the phone with them) trying to book the Barbie Premium Experience which was/is advertised on the site and was advertised on the link for my personal cruise itinerary. While the agents were to a person, polite, none could give me a good answer as to why I couldn't book this experience for my daughter. At times I was told that it wasn't available, it was only available at a certain time of the year, it was only available on certain ships, it was only available if a certain number of people signed up (and how would they know if they wouldn't let us sign up?), and that I had waited too long to sign up for this experience. In any case, once on board the staff let us sign up, but there were only two girls...in part because of the frustrations with trying to get this. Furthermore, getting the shore excursion(s) that we wanted was difficult as well. RCI, if you review the reviews about yourself, let it be known to whoever is in charge that for some of us, the pre-cruise experience is an important part of the vacation - anticipating and planning our cruise can be a lot of fun - and you are AWFUL at this portion of the vacation. Embarkation - lines, but nothing out of the ordinary. Parking in NOLA isn't too bad if you do a little research. We parked at Fulton Street Garage (about $85 for the week in a covered spot). The shuttle to the terminal is about 5 minutes and the people are professional. Onboard Experience 1. Cabin - We had a outside cabin. Previously with Carnival we've had an outside cabin on one and a balcony on another. The balcony is a game-changer. Not RCI's fault that I didn't pony up a little more cash to get that balcony. The room was comparable to Carnival's outside cabin. Cramped, but plenty of storage for your stuff if you know where to put things. Bringing a power strip makes a difference, too. Our cabin steward was a gem - super-friendly, very professsional, capable of keeping a 120 sq. ft. space with three humans in it clean and neat. The beds and pillows, on the other hand, were awful. I wasn't expecting my bed at home, but the linens are old and worn (showing frayed edges/hems/etc.), the pillows were all lumpy and weak, and the bed was thin and worn. RCI - time to spend a little cash on new beds. 2. Food - Our first cruise was 10 years ago on Carnival and our second cruise was last summer on Carnival. We noted that there was at least a half, if not full step down in quality. I was hoping that RCI's food would be more like what Carnival's was 10 years ago. I was disappointed. The Windjammer cafe (the open all the time buffet) was mediocre. The fruit was fresh, but the burgers were flat and stale, the coffee was bitter (change a filter every once in a while, RCI), and the casseroles were flat. The dining room food was better, but not well seasoned. Again, I was not expecting five- or even four-star dining, but Royal Caribbean is not better than Carnival. For the price, I was expecting better. The dining room staff was attentive and professional, friendly even. However, the food was exceedingly bland and not very flavorable. We had maybe two above average meals out of seven in the dining room. One other complaint: there was not a single lime on the whole ship! Seriously - not even in the bars! Coronas were served with lemons. Mojitos were served with lemons. How do you send a 2500 passenger cruise ship to sea without a single freaking lime?!? We did not eat at any of the for-pay restaurants. 3. Common spaces - The Serenade is a pretty ship. We sailed on the Conquest previously, so that is comparison I can make. The Serenade is not really showing age - the carpets and floors appeared clean and well-maintained. The elevators all worked the entire cruise. There are several neat areas including the Centrum (the central atrium) where there was a nice bar, sitting area, and several acrobatic shows. The Schooner Bar is a really neat space. The Casino is smallish and has more slots than table game seats, but I never had trouble getting a seat at the blackjack table if I wanted it. I confess that the production shows are really not our bag, so we didn't partake in the theater, but it looked to be spacious and well kept. One neat thing about the Serenade is that passengers can access the forward helipad. Anyone can get their Leo "King of the World!" on - something not possible on the Carnival Conquest. The large pool area on top was well attended with movies at night and the NCAA tournament on during the day. The kid's pool area was ok for my daughter and she loved the water slide, but the Serenade needs to upgrade the slide as well - it is small and slow and it looks like every other cruise ship on earth has a pretty neat one. A water slide isn't a deal-breaker for me, but it could use some work. The fitness center is large and has plenty of equipment. Classes were too advanced for the largely senior crowd on board. 4. Kid's Activities - Adventure Ocean was pretty neat. We hadn't taken advantage of this possibility before (on Carnival), so I don't have anything to compare it to, but our daughter had a great time. The staff was professional, friendly, and capable of dealing with kids of all ages. They also had plenty of security protocols in place so we felt secure leaving our daughter with them. I've written about the Barbie package already. 5. Ports of Call - Key West - only 5 hours? Really? RCI is obviously skimping on fuel costs by going super-slow (average about 12 knots) instead of spending a little extra time in port. I would have much more enjoyed the normal "get into port at 8am - leave at 6pm" than an 11am-4:30pm rush job. The Key West terminal/dock was nice and we had enough time to ride the Conch Train and see the Truman Little White House - nothing else. RCI - go 15-16 knots and give us more time in port! Nassau - a run-down pit. Unless your bag is hanging at Senor Frogs or buying overpriced t-shirts and knick-knacks, you have to leave Nassau. We did by going on an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island for a dolphin encounter. This staff was also professional and friendly. It is ridiculously over-priced and then they charge even more for pictures and videos, but you gladly pay it because when are you going to get shots of your 7-year-old daughter grinning ear-to-ear while hugging a dolphin again. I can't really complain. Lots of other folks who went to Atlantis on Paradise Island said good things as well. The only real complaint I have about this port of call is that we were there from 1pm-11pm. Just a weird time. Would have preferred the 8am-5pm sort of option. Coco Cay - Not surprisingly, we were unable to go ashore. The crew told us that they hadn't been able to tender to Coco Cay and had cancelled that port of call for over a month because of rough seas. It didn't take an experienced tar to know that there would have been major injuries and deaths had we tried to tender in 10-foot seas. Thanks to the captain for making a wise (but easy) decision. I won't be taking any more cruises in the springtime in the Bahamas to ports that require tendering. I wish that I had known that before this cruise and I would have chosen a different itinerary (probably in the western Caribbean). Fellow Passengers - a late March cruise always will bring out the families and there were a ton of us. Lots and lots of seniors as well. I don't think I've ever seen so many rascals (or whatever those electric scooters that seniors ride on these days are called) in the same place before. If you were a single on this cruise hoping to find your true love or even just a hook-up, I bet you were exceedingly disappointed. All in all, I was disappointed. I had a good vacation, but I expect a lot for the price that I pay when I go on a cruise. I had high hopes for Royal Caribbean, but those were definitely dashed. My family and I will cruise again. Not sure that I'll chose RCI - I'd definitely do Carnival over RCI considering the price - and if I'm going to pay RCI rates, I may try Norwegian or someone else next time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I and two teenaged daughters sailed on Serenade during our Spring Break, March 22-29. We had a great time and the Serenade is a really beautiful ship. I will try to break my review down into parts so I don't forget ... Read More
My husband and I and two teenaged daughters sailed on Serenade during our Spring Break, March 22-29. We had a great time and the Serenade is a really beautiful ship. I will try to break my review down into parts so I don't forget anything! Arrival/Embarkation: We arrived in New Orleans the day before departure and stayed at the Hilton Riverside on the edge of the French Quarter. We didn't realize until the next morning that the port was within walking distance to our hotel and, when we woke up and looked out our window the morning of departure, we had a fantastic and very close-up view of the ship. We arrived at the port around 11:30, parked at one of the private garages in the area, took their shuttle and were able to board the ship and get on all within an hour. Once on board we went to the Windjammer, ate a quick lunch and were able to get into our rooms quickly. Ship: The Serenade is a beautiful ship and, although it is a more medium sized ship than some of the others at RCI that we have sailed on, you never get the feeling that it is small. The ship is decorated in very warm tones and it is very cozy. Some of our favorite places were the Safari Club, the Centrum listening to D'version, the Schooner Bar, (for a pre dinner drink), the Park Cafe in the Solarium, the back of the Windjammer where you get a great wake view and Izumi specialty restaurant. There is lots of glass so there are great views from almost anywhere on the ship. The artwork is usually not something I notice but it was really stunning on this ship. I would sail on this ship again anytime. Service: Service was good but there were a couple of people that were outstanding. Our waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter were the best I have ever had on a ship. Our cabin steward was excellent and always left really creative towel animals each night. He was very observant and learned our schedule quickly so that he was able to make up our room when we went to breakfast. Ports: This is my only complaint and it is something that bothered me quite a bit. We had three scheduled stops on this cruise. Key West (which was outstanding), Nassau and Coco Cay. We arrived in Key West at 11:00 am and had time to take a great bike tour around the city. We also had some shopping time before the all aboard at 4:30. I didn't really feel that this was enough time but Key West has a limitation on how long the cruise ships can stay in port. All cruise ships have to be out before sunset because of the sunset celebration in Mallory Square each night. We arrived in Nassau at 1:00 and stayed until midnight and while this was enough time in port, the actual time in port was really not all usable. It would have been so nice to be able to arrive earlier so that we could have had more sunlight and beach time. We didn't feel safe being out in Nassau after dark so we bought a day pass at the Hilton which expired at 5:00 and then ate at Senor Frogs and boarded the ship at around 7:00. The next day we didn't tender at Coco Cay because of rough seas. I think this happens quite a bit and, while I understand about the seas, it was quite disappointing. I wish there was another option to guarantee another port day. Three days on the ship was too much at the end of the cruise. Food: We ate at Izumi one night and I would definitely go again. Very good sushi! Main dining room was great and our waiter was never hesitant about recommending what he thought was good. He was always spot on. One of my favorite places for lunch was the Park Cafe in the Solarium. The custom made salads were so good and fresh. Their roast beef sandwiches were outstanding too. We usually would run by there again late in the evening after our show to pick up some cookies or a late night piece of pizza. The ice machine there is really good too. There was a definite improvement in food over the last time we sailed on Royal Caribbean two years ago. Much better food this time. Entertainment: We went to a show most nights and they were well worth our time. The second night there was a comedian that had my husband and teenaged daughters rolling on the floor. Appealing to both age groups was something he did well. There was also a broadway night that was good. The third or fourth night there was a guest group that imitated the Temptations and they were excellent. There was also an italian opera singer (Mario I think) that was outstanding. The band D'version that played in the Centrum at night were my favorites. Lots of Eagles/Fleetwood Mac type music with a little country thrown in.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Prior to the cruise I had linked up with others via the Roll Call. As a solo traveller this was a way of getting to know others prior to sailing. We met at the Sky Bar on sailaway and often met up during the cruise, either on various ... Read More
Prior to the cruise I had linked up with others via the Roll Call. As a solo traveller this was a way of getting to know others prior to sailing. We met at the Sky Bar on sailaway and often met up during the cruise, either on various excursions or around the ship. I had been staying with family who are based in Dubai so had already done a lot of sightseeing in Dubai. I made my own way to the port and embarkation went very smoothly. I was in my cabin by 1 pm and luggage arrived shortly afterwards. My cabin steward, Clinton, was there to greet me and throughout the cruise he kept the cabin spotless. He was efficient, friendly and always had a cheery greeting. The balcony cabin (D9062)on Deck 9 was spacious with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. The shower was a good size and the water always hot. The balcony had two comfy chairs but the round table was a bit small. DINING - When I booked the trip I requested My Time Dining and this was confirmed and gratutities taken at the time. However, my SeaPass Card showed I had been put on 2nd sitting. Apparently My Time Dining was overbooked and a lot were not given the seating they had requested. I was unable to change to even the 1st sitting. Found the late dinner meant it was not always possible to see and do all I wanted to of an evening but I did manage to fill my evenings with an early show, pre-dinner drink and fun in one of the many bars afterwards. The food was very good with plenty of choice to suit all tastes. It was nicely cooked and well presented. My table waiters (Table 492) were efficient, curteous and made the dining experience most enjoyable. The Windjammer Buffet served good food but it got so crowded. I tended to have a relaxed breakfast in the Reflections Dining Room and did have Room Service on a couple of days. This was delivered at the requested time and is free of charge (plus a tip if you wish to the person who brings it). Lunch would be either in the Windjammer Buffet or at the Park Cafe which served delicious snacks and salads. I did eat at the Chops Grill one evening and this was such good value - the best steak I have ever tasted. BARS - Each Bar had something different to offer. The Centrum had a small dance floor and the group the Boogies certainly got your feet tapping. My favourites were the Schooner Bar, Safari Club and the Crown & Castle Pub. The bars around the pool areas were good and the staff very attentive. ENTERTAINMENT - This was not as good as on some cruise lines I have been on. However the YMCA NIght was superb; the Beatles - A Musical Celebration was fantastic with everyone singing along and even dancing in the aisles of the theatre. The Arabian Night around the pool was great fun. The highlight for me though was Jonathan Ansell (exG4)whose performance of classical, show music and rock could only be described as magical. He remained on board ship for a couple of days and even entered into the fun of the Belly Flop competition at the Main Pool. Needless to say when the judges realised who Jonathan From England was he scored perfect sixes and was awarded the Gold Medal. He was a very likeable person and did not fail to say hello if he met you around the ship. DRINKS - Prices were outrageous and I feel a 15% surcharge on all drinks is disgraceful. I am glad that I orderd a water package and the Soda Package. With the prices so high for wines and spirits I tended to stick with the cocktail of the day and was content with my Soda Package option. FACILITIES ON BOARD - The main pool could get crowded but the Solarium Pool (Adults Only) was much more relaxing. The water slide and children's pool area was nicely set out. I found no problem in finding a sun-lounger even on the day at sea. I did treat myself to a spa treatment (Seaweed Wrap with full body and head massage) This lasted 90 mins and was sheer bliss and I thought a reasonable price as spas at sea go. The rock climbing wall was impressive but having a problem with arthritis I was not tempted to try it. It was fun to watch others though. I instead had a leisurely game of golf and shuffleboard with some new friends - we had quite a few laughs going round the golf course - not as easy as it looks! I did visit the Casino and had a few goes on the 25c slot machines but did not win very much. Glad I made sure I had Dollars to hand because if you get dollars from the cashier and put it on your SeaPass, RCI will charge you 3%! There are some things I can give a miss - Can never understand the need for Art Auctions on board and the discount sessions in the ships shops did not impress and I found the photographer's prices far too high. I managed to get some good pictures taken by other passengers so saved a lot there. There was so much to see and do on board throughout the day with something to suit all preferences. It was often difficult to fit everything in. SHORE EXCURSIONS - I opted for the ships excursions because as a solo traveller I did not want to venture out alone and the prices I felt were very reasonable. In Abu Dhabi I took the City Tour and Grand Mosque tour - absolutely wonderful; in Fujairah I did the East Coast Tour which was enjoyable but not that wonderful - a lot of on and off the coach for short periods. In all a little rushed but it was interesting nontheless. In Muscat I did the Mystical Muscat and this was very good indeed. Excursions were well organised and the guides very knowledgeable. GRATUITIES - As mentioned earlier my tips were deducted from the beginning as I had requested My Time Dining. However as I did not get my requested dining option I decided to ask for a refund of my pre-paid tips and requested I be allowed to tip those of my own choosing . The Purser's Desk was very obliging, there was no hassle and the money is to be re-imbursed. I then handed out tips to those I considered had earned them e.g. cabin steward, dining room waiters and certain bar staff. Serenade of the Seas is a lovely ship.It is spotlessly clean and the decor is well thought out. I can understand why people keep returning to RCI as their standards are so high This was my first cruise with RCI and although I feel I had a good deal on this cruise I will have to carefully look at their prices on future cruises because the single supplements tend to be quite hefty. I would however recommend RCI. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was our first cruise (with three children, ages 18, 14, and 14), so despite our research we were somewhat unsure what to expect. To our delight, we had a wonderful week. Here are some specifics: Embarkation: Thirty minutes from ... Read More
This was our first cruise (with three children, ages 18, 14, and 14), so despite our research we were somewhat unsure what to expect. To our delight, we had a wonderful week. Here are some specifics: Embarkation: Thirty minutes from the door of the taxi to being on the ship, and it seemed to to take even less time. Really quite painless. We were on the ship by 12:40 and room was available at 1:00. Two of our bags arrived by 2:00 but the other three bags didn't arrive until after 6:00 (for some unexplained reason), so dressing for dinner was problematic for our kids. Meals Despite an opening night snafu (see below), meals and service were absolutely superb, even by our admittedly high standards. We generally had breakfast and lunch in Windjammers and dinner in the dining room, although we occasionally had lunch outside at Seaview (you should do this). The one downside was our first night. We had reserved a table for 5 three months ago for the 6:00 seating, but when we arrived there were already people sitting at the table to which had been assigned. When we brought this up with the maitre-d, he replied that we were supposed to sit with this other family who were sitting at our table. There were two problems with this. First, we had expected a table for our family alone. (That seems like a reasonable expectation.) Second, even if we wanted to sit with the other family, there were not enough seats at the table. Clearly, they had screwed up but the maitre-d kept insisting that we "weren't happy with our table" as if it was our fault. He also said that there was no more room and that we would have to eat every night at 8:45. Only after we insisted on being seated did a table magically appear -- both for that night and for the rest of the week. Luckily, the somewhat officious attitude of the maitre-d was not repeated by the various waiters. They were absolutely wonderful. My wife and I ate at Chops one night and Portofino another night. Both restaurants were half-empty (we ate at 7:00). Service was great and food was fine, but not worth the extra $$ in our opinion. Excursions We booked four through RCI and they were a bit hit or miss. The Baths at Virgin Gorda was superb -- perfect first day. We then did the volcano hike on St Kitts. It poured rain, the hike (which was strenuous) was very muddy, and there wasn't much to see from the top. Not much fun. We went snorkeling in Dominica. The snorkeling was outstanding but the catamaran didn't have enough pairs of flippers (really??) and thus we only were in the water for 1 hour or a 3 1/2 hour excursion. The moral of the story: book carefully.Service Outstanding in every way. Nightlife We took in two shows (beautiful theater). One was a magician/comedian who was superb -- funny, clever, and a little edgy in a way that appealed to our teenagers. The other was an aging crooner who made his name singing the "Happy Days" theme song. He was pretty awful. The casino was fun and the bands downstairs were pretty good. Our teens all found a lot to do (and had late nights). Cabin We had two balcony staterooms on deck 10. Both were very quiet and perfectly fine in terms of size. We had considered a junior suite, but think we made the right choice saving money with these cabins. Overall This is a beautiful ship -- spacious without seeming to be overwhelming. So it was the perfect size for our first cruise. The week was a perfect balance between fun and relaxation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our 3rd spring break cruise. Our previous cruises had been with Carnival. We have done one 5 day cruise and the other 2 were 7 day cruises. I disliked the 5 day cruise. I found it to be over to soon considering your 5th day is ... Read More
This was our 3rd spring break cruise. Our previous cruises had been with Carnival. We have done one 5 day cruise and the other 2 were 7 day cruises. I disliked the 5 day cruise. I found it to be over to soon considering your 5th day is disembarking. But my main reason for never doing a 5 day cruise again was because it appeared to be more "partiers" on board. For a family cruise, I found this unacceptable. We found it worth the price to pay a little more for a 7 day cruise which changed the clientele of cruisers considerably.We flew into San Juan on the first day of boarding. We grabbed a cab at the airport which only charged $3 per person plus $1 per bag. With 7 of us, we thought it was very reasonable. Much cheaper than using the ship's service.The Serenade of the Seas was a spectacular ship! It was kept exceptionally clean. We enjoyed most areas of the ship. It was equipped to entertain all ages of people. There was a kiddie pool, a main pool and an adult-only pool in the solarium. It also had a water slide. For some reason, the slide did not open most days until 3:30. The ship also had a mini golf, a climbing wall, and basketball. For those who like to exercise during their cruise, there was an outdoor track which was 1/6 of a mile. The fitness room was well equipped. We just wish it had fans going as it got very hot with no air circulation. The kids' club had good activities for the most part, however, my almost 11 year old rarely wanted to venture there. We wished they had put times on their itineraries to know precisely when certain activities would take place. Our friends' daughter and her friend loved the teen area. They met lots of new people! As for the food, we enjoyed doing our breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer and had a 6:00 seating reserved at Reflections. There was a large variety of good food. Everyone would be able to find plenty to their liking. I was a little disappointed in the desserts. I'm a chocolate fan and none of the chocolate desserts seemed to have much taste to them. There were some complaints that the Windjammer closed to early in the evening for all those peoople who like to snack at night, especially the ice cream lovers!I was extremely impressed with the entire staff on Serenade of the Seas! Everyone was extremely kind, patient, personable, and happy! Getting on and off the ship was painless. It went very quickly! Be sure to have paperwork done ahead to get on ship! It saved a lot of time. Because we were not flying out of San Juan until 2:30, we also decided to do one last exploration instead of sitting in an airport for 4 or more hours. That was a great decision! We disembarked the ship, got on a bus and toured, then we were dropped off at the airport! Our luggage waiting for us! I highly recommend this. As far as excursions go. We did many. In St. Thomas we did a snorkeling/turtle adventure in Buck Bay? The crew was amazing! It ended with everyone getting pirate tatoos! (stick ons) In St. Croix, we did the bike hike. It was fun but extremely exhausting. It was 12-13 miles. My son and I were elated we actually finished! We had hoped to go on a waterfall hike adventure but it was full. We did visit 2 beautiful beaches in St. Lucia and Grenada. Our friends did an aerial tram and zip lining activity, which they loved. We were unable to do this due to minimum age requirements of 12. We also did a river cruise on tubes which was lots of fun! Over all, this cruise was sensational and I would definitely recommend a southern caribbean cruise. Serenade of the Seas was a spectacular ship to do our adventure on. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My wife and I plus our two daughters (16 & 11) cruised on Serenade of the Seas out of San Juan on April 2nd. Our ports of call were San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada.We left Minneapolis at 7:00am and ... Read More
My wife and I plus our two daughters (16 & 11) cruised on Serenade of the Seas out of San Juan on April 2nd. Our ports of call were San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada.We left Minneapolis at 7:00am and arrived in San Juan around 5:30 on the day before departure. We took a cab ($19 + $1 per bag) from the airport to Radisson Ambassador Hotel and Casino. After getting checked in, we took our girls to the rooftop pool. They looked out over the wall and saw the beach. It was beautiful. So, we walked to the beach and relaxed while the girls swam. The walk is about two blocks and we had no problems getting onto the beach. We walked around the Condado area and found a restaurant for dinner. We had outside seating at Miro's...great food and nice atmosphere. The check for the four of us was about $130, including several fabulous Margaritas.On Saturday morning, we took a cab to Old San Juan (we were able to leave our luggage at the hotel in their storage room). The cab ride cost $15 for the four of us. We found a small restaurant (Mirano's) and had outdoor seating for breakfast. They served a simple breakfast of 2 eggs, 2 slices of cheese bread, 2 strips of bacon, 2 slices of ham and a scoop of mashed potatoes, along with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice for $3.25. The food was great and you can't beat the price.We spent the rest of the morning touring Old San Juan. We walked the shoreline paths and eventually ended up at the El Morro fort. We toured the fort ($3 for adults and free for kids under 16). This is a very interesting structure with numerous levels, tunnels and towers. We all enjoyed this self guided tour in spite of almost steady drizzle. After the fort, we walked around the old city. We found a Ben and Jerry's, so we had to stop for some treats. At around 1:00, we got another cab and went to the hotel, picked up our luggage and then went to the Pan Am Pier to board the ship. This cab ride was $15 plus $1 per bag. We got to the cruise terminal around 1:30. There was a long line outside of the terminal, but the line went fast and we were on the ship within 40 minutes. Our rooms were ready, but our luggage didn't arrive until around 7:30.We had My Time Dining reservations for 6:30 each night. We stopped by the main dining room in the afternoon and picked out a nice table for four next to an outside window. We were done with dinner by 7:45 and made it to the theatre in time for the 8:00pm Muster Drill, which took about 20 minutes.We had a balcony stateroom (1510) and an interior across the hall (1509) on the starboard side of the 10th deck towards the front of the ship. I was impressed with the size of the room (I had expected them to seem smaller) and the great job of utilizing storage space. Martha was our stateroom attendant. She did a wonderful job of responding to our needs and paid special attention to our two daughters. The only problem we had with the balcony was that our next door neighbor was a smoker. We could tell when they were smoking even with the balcony door closed. We didn't spend much time on our balcony because of this. There was some movement in these rooms (we noticed it mainly when laying in bed), but we didn't have any problems with seasickness.The ship is beautiful and well maintained. Our favorite spots were dining outside in the Windjammer, snacks at the Seaview Cafe and just relaxing in a small outdoor lounging area on deck 11 (accessible from the walking track on deck 12). The only time we noticed any crowd was on the sea day by the pool. We had 3 pool loungers (1 in the sun and 2 in the shade) and spent the entire sea day on the pool deck. The Centrum is beautiful and is a great spot to hang out after dinner...there is always some type of music there in the evenings.Our kids did not seem interested in Adventure Ocean, so I can't speak to that. Our girls did have a great time on the ship. We played some mini-golf and also table tennis. My 11-year old went to the water slide in the kid's pool a few times. It was not open very often and was much more suited for younger children.We really loved My Time Dining. The 6:30 reservations gave us some extra time to get ready after getting back from shore excursions while allowing us to finish eating in time to see the main stage performances. Our waiter (Inacio from India) and assistant waiter (Muhammed from Indonesia) were always there when we needed them and provided excellent service. They gave our kids extra special treatment, including a few days early birthday surprise (cake and song) for our 11 year old daughter.Ports of Call:Day 2: St. Thomas - we chartered a private sailboat (The Jolly Mon) and sailed to Buck Island - Turtle Cove for some snorkeling. We had the whole cove to ourselves for the 1st hour...saw many sea turtles, a barracuda and numerous species of fish on the coral reef. After an hour, the cove got quite busy with a BOSS Scuba excursion, a catamaran snorkel excursion and a pirate ship snorkel excursion all arriving within a few minutes of each other. Still, this excursion was the highlight of our cruiseDay 3: St. Croix - we took a taxi to Sand Castle Beach Resort. We paid $30 for 3 chairs, 1 umbrella, 2 rum punch drinks and use of the bathrooms/showers. This is a nice beach about a mile south from the cruise ship pier. We had a nice swim, although there were a few rocky sections on this beach.Day 4: Antiqua - we took a taxi to Valley Church beach. Our driver dropped up off at the beach and came back later (we arranged a time) to pick us up. He did not collect the money until he brought us back to the ship. Valley Church Beach has a nice small bar/grill right there. We rented 2 chairs and 1 umbrella for $15. We also paid $45 for thirty minutes on a jet ski. This is a beautiful beach with lots of shade trees. The water is a beautiful shade of aqua and the sand was clean the soft. We ate lunch at the bar, although I didn't think that the food was anything special.Day 5: St. Lucia - we didn't do any excursions in St. Lucia. We needed a break from the Sun, so we spent the morning relaxing, went into port shopping around 11:00am and were back on the ship by 2:30pm. Day 6: Grenada - we woke up in Grenada to rainy weather. We went shopping (much nicer shopping experience in their cruise shopping center), then hired a taxi to tour the island. For $40, he showed us some of the sights within St. Georges, and then took us to Annandale Falls and the rainforest. His commentary was very entertaining. We finished the tour at Grand Anse Beach. This is a beautiful beach...two miles of white sand. We relaxed on the beach and tried to avoid the rain squalls. We finally gave up and left around 2:30. It was rainy and windy and my kids were getting chilled. Still, we really enjoyed Grenada and wish we had taken a rum distillery tour here. We heard some great comments from other passengers about the rum tours.Day 7: At Sea - we arrived in the pool area by 9:30am (it was raining) and picked out 3 chairs. Our kids did the Make A Wish Walk during a break from the rain. By the afternoon, the sun came out. We spent all day in the pool area. The Belly Flop contest was especially fun for everyone.Summary - this was our first cruise and will not be our last. We really enjoyed the Southern Caribbean and will do a similar itinerary again. I'm still trying to decide if we'll stick with Royal Caribbean or try out one of the other lines. The Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship and the Royal Caribbean experience was exceptional. I just don't have anything to compare against. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Just a bit about us first: We are Patti and Chris, a married couple in our 40s with a 10 year old daughter, Abby, from the Cleveland, Ohio area. We decided to take a Caribbean cruise to say goodbye to the miserable, cold, snowy winter we ... Read More
Just a bit about us first: We are Patti and Chris, a married couple in our 40s with a 10 year old daughter, Abby, from the Cleveland, Ohio area. We decided to take a Caribbean cruise to say goodbye to the miserable, cold, snowy winter we had. My parents, in their 70s, from near Ocean City, Maryland decided to join us. It is Patti and my 20th anniversary this year. It is also my parents 50th and Abby's 10th birthday this year so we thought it a good time for a celebration. We were going to originally book a Junior Suite for the cruise but the price difference for the Grand Suite was only about $300 total so we decided to go with the upgrade. That was a good decision! My parents booked a D2 on deck 9 and although they had a pull out couch, it was pretty small. We flew out of Cleveland on Good Friday morning at 6:00am, arrived in San Juan at 3:30pm and spent the night in the Renaissance Resort in San Juan, using Marriott Reward points. General CommentsSuite 1052The cabin was in a perfect location mid ship, a few steps away from the elevators and main stairway. We were one deck down from the Windjammer (WJ) and two from the Adventure Ocean. It was also right next door to the Concierge Lounge (CL). We went there every morning for coffee and hot tea and every afternoon for drinks. Our suite attendant was Amelia and she was very efficient. We did not see her often, but we always had what we needed including a different towel creature each night. The beds including the foldout couch were all very comfortable. There was plenty of closet, cupboard and drawer storage in the room. The bathroom was huge with double sinks and a tub/shower combo. The only problem was every morning around 5:30am we had some noise from the deck above that sounded like they were rearranging furniture on deck. It only went on for a minute or two, but it woke me up!PortsWe were very happy with the ports: Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Dominica and Barbados. It was a fairly short walk to shops and taxis in all of them. We docked on our side of the ship (port side) in each one, which was strange, but it made for great viewing of the runners at 5:00 each evening! The downside of a holiday week cruise was that in Tortola on Easter most everything was closed and on Easter Monday, a local bank holiday, the beaches were packed because all of the locals were there as well as the cruisers.FoodIt was much better than I expected it to be. Not gourmet, but for the most part cooked very well and it arrived hot. We ate in the MDR every night and in either the WJ or Seaview for lunch. We also had breakfast in the WJ each day, except one. At dinner we had the early seating and when we got to our table of 10 the first night, we were the only ones there! We had Biju as our Waiter and Melwyn as our Assistant Waiter both wonderful fellows from India. Our Head Waiter was Monty, also from India. Dinner was quite good, not gourmet, but very good for a banquet type setting. We are foodies and it actually exceeded our expectations. We decided to go with the 12 bottle platinum wine package, $300 plus 15%. We saved some money on it vs. the actual list ($5-$15/bottle), but I just liked the ability to order a couple of bottles and not worry about the cost!ServiceExcellent. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to be pleasant and accommodating. It seemed as if it was a happy crew that was really having a good time. I am sure there are always some grumpy crew members, but we did not meet any. Francois was our Concierge. He was always pleasant, but the only thing we actually asked of him was if we could get a tour of the bridge. He came through for us on it, so we were very happy. Angelica was our bar tender in the CL and she was great as well. She always had our white wine ready and refilled the glass as soon as it was empty.LuggageWe brought 4 checked bags and 2 carry-ons. One checked bag held our snorkel gear which was useful to bring. We bought the sets at Costco for $40 each and I think it saved us about that much in rental fees and it was of a much higher quality that what you would rent anyway. It was also helpful as I did not need to pay a baggage fee since I am a Continental Elite flier. We brought a bit too many clothes as it is easy to re-wear some stuff. I also brought 2 cameras, my Nikon D5000 for onboard and land tours and my new Canon D10 for wet tours and underwater shots. The D5000 is great I love it. The D10 is new so it took me a while to figure it out and unfortunately I had a bad SD card in it and lost the wet pictures from the first two days. Luckily I always bring extras and the camera seems to be working fine now.Day 1 San Juan, Puerto RicoWe got to the pier around 11:15am. For those of you who have not done this, here is the drill as best I remember it! 1. First we got in a line to drop off our luggage. We tipped the porters $1/bag. 2. You are immediately shown to another line that did not start moving until around 11:40. This line is for the first security check. You need your passport and go through the metal detector and x-ray machine. Now you are in the building! 3. You find the sign that has your deck number on it and get in line. In this line you get your seapass card and are then you are free to get on the ship (you show your passport and give your credit card here). 4. The next line gets you through another security checkpoint where they check your passport and seapass card. 5. Now you are at the place where they take your picture so they have something to compare you to when you enter and exit the ship. 6. You then go up a series of ramps where you check onto the ship with your seapass and I think your passport as well. 7. Finally you go through one more x-ray machine before you are finally free to be onboard! This whole process took about 20 minutes once the initial line started to move, not too bad as it was all fairly well organized.Once on board, we had lunch in the Windjammer and by the time we were done, our rooms were just about ready. We were stunned by the size of the Grand Suite! I do not think we will ever be able to go back to a regular cabin after this! We quickly got into our swim suits and hit the pool. We were originally going to get back off and explore Old San Juan, but by the time we got on the ship and had lunch, we decided to just stay on board and explore the ship. Around this time we met up with Lori and Chris and their two girls Elizabeth and Carolyn and both of their grandfathers Walt and Bob from California. Lori and I met on CC before the cruise and decided to get together so our girls could have someone their own age to play with. The girls were Abby's age and they hit it off great! We adults also got along well and we actually went on quite a few of the same excursions during the course of the cruise.At 5:00 we started our daily ritual of a glass of wine (or two) in the concierge lounge. Here we met Ray and Marilyn, retired educators and veteran cruisers from Connecticut. Such nice people and a wealth of knowledge for us about cruising!Our table mates did not make it to dinner the first night. Cold Soup Report: Each night Abby decided to try the cold soup so I will report on that part of the meal as well as anything that stood out good or bad, this night Abby had the watermelon soup and she liked it a lot. We mentioned to Viju our waiter that we liked Indian food. From that night forward they brought us an order of Indian food, either something on the menu or something else that was not on the menu. Usually the stuff that was not on the menu was very good! After dinner we had our muster drill. Some people are very rude and showed up late for the drill. This causes everyone to have to stand around on deck and wait until they show up. After muster we went to the heliport deck and watched sail away. After that we just went back to the cabin and crashed!Day 2 Tortola, BVIWe woke up, had breakfast at Windjammer and then headed into town to catch the 9am Speedy's ferry to Virgin Gorda. After the 30 minute ride we made it to the pier and hopped in the Speedy taxi to the Baths. We had been here once before in 1993 and it looked quite a bit the same, except more buildings on the way to the Baths. The trail to the Baths is downhill, but fairly easy going and most people would be able to do it unless you had serious mobility issues. There is a small bar at the bottom where you can get a bite to eat or rent some snorkeling equipment. The trail through the Baths to Devil's Bay is tougher than the one down to the Baths. It is not easy and you do have to crawl, duck low, climb some rocks with assistance of ropes and climb ladders. You need to be in decent physical shape to do this. After about twenty minutes we finally made it through and got to Devil's Bay. It is a beautiful sandy bay with a bunch of the boulders sprinkled in for good measure. However, this bay is open to the Atlantic, so you get some pretty good swells and currents. It also drops off quickly and gets deep. It is beautiful, but you do have to be aware when swimming. The snorkeling is not the best, but the walls of the boulders do hold some sea life, just be cautious. There is another path back that does not require you to go through the boulders again and we were back up top in about 15 minutes. We snarfed down a drink and some food at the Top of the Baths restaurant and the girls took a dip in the pool there. We then got back on the taxi to the pier and hopped aboard the ferry for the trip back to Tortola. Most of Tortola was closed up for Easter so we just went back to the ship and relaxed until dinner. Unfortunately, today the card in my camera decided to not work correctly and I lost most of the Bath pictures! Cold Soup Report: Abby had what I think was a mango and pineapple soup. This one also had some strange spice in it and she did not really like it too much. I finished it for her, it was OK but not great. Our dinner companions joined us tonight. A couple from NJ, Doug and Diane as well as their friends Brian and Tanya their son Sean and Tanya's parents from Ecuador. There was a bit of a mixup on the dinner times they were all scheduled for, so we actually had 12 people at a 10 top. The people were very nice, but the table was a bit too crowded!After dinner we went to the Broadway Stage to Silver Screen show. It was fairly well done and some of the singers/dancers were very talented. However, the sound was too loud and it made many of the words distorted. But it was fun!Day 3 Philipsburg, St MaartenIt has been such a smooth cruise that I wake up around 5am and I think we are in port as there is absolutely no motion. So I stay up and read the Kindle on the balcony. We thought we should do a beach today on our own with my parents. We took the advice of many on the boards and went to Le Galion. This did not turn out how we hoped. After breakfast at the Windjammer (great omlet by Abby from Jamaica) we headed out to find a cab. We hooked up with a cabby named Cool Cat and he took us to the beach. He warned us that this was the local holiday Easter Monday and the beach would be crowded with locals. Well we got there at around 8:30 and it was already full of tents, tarps and tons of people. As the day wore on, more and more people came setting up huge speakers and blasting all different kinds of music across the beach. All would have been great except the beach concession decided to be closed today so we could not get chairs or umbrellas. We did find a small shade spot under some sea grapes near the unfinished buildings. The beach was nice with shallow water and a fairly sandy bottom, however, I was not happy with how much litter there was on the beach. We also got a few wiffs, when the wind was right, from the riding stable on the road in. It was really interesting to see how the locals kicked back with their families, but while we can deal with a lack of amenities on a beach when we are prepared for it, we were not prepared for it! On another day, it might be a great beach, I would only give it two out of five palm trees based on the day we were there! Thankfully Cool Cat showed up 15 minutes early (12:15pm) and we made it back to the ship for lunch at the Windjammer. We basically just relaxed on board until cocktails were ready in the Concierge Lounge at 5pm where we had another great chat with Ray and Marilyn. Tonight was singing night at the MDR and we cheered on our "team" while they sang O Sole Mio. I had the potato and jalapeño soup which had a nice little bite to it. We ordered a brie and asparagus torte and shared it with the family. We then went to our suite and polished off the bottle of red we had with dinner. Cold Soup Report: Abby had the mango/cranberry soup and she liked it a lot. Day 4 Basse Terre, St KittsWe decided today to go to South Friars Bay. So far this was one of the best decisions of the cruise! After getting off the ship at 8:30am we found a taxi driver at the pier who called himself "Johnny". His real name was something else, Linden I think, but Johnny was a great driver. He took us to the beach and the cost was $16 for the three of us. We were the second people to arrive on the beach. The Shipwreck bar was exactly what we wanted to see and it reminded me of Bomba's Shack on Tortola 17 years ago. We got a piece of shade (not really an umbrella, but more of a 2X4 frame with palm fronds on top (way cool) as well as 3 chairs for $13. This beach is great, smooth sand bottom on the left side of the beach for maybe 1/8 of a mile and about the same distance of reef to the right. I would rate it 4½ out of 5 palm trees. We parked right in the middle near the swim platform. The Caribbean water was a little choppy, but the Atlantic side of the island looked like surfers would be happy, way too rough to swim! The snorkeling was good as far as the sea life goes, but it was great because it was within 10 yards of shore! We called the driver to come back an hour later than we originally told him because it was so cool there. Patti even got a aloe vera leg and foot massage from a dude on the beach, it set us back $45, she is not one to haggle. Lori and Chris and the girls showed up and therefore, Abby had a great time. We had one round of drinks, a local Carib beer and a lime colada, $9. Before we left, we watched the monkeys and mongooses (or is it mongeese?) feed on the hillside. Johnny was back right on time and we stopped on the way back at the Marriott to pick up one of his other clients as well at the top of the hill to take the classic Atlantic/Caribbean picture.Back on board around 1:45pm we had lunch at the Seaview where we enjoyed a very good Reuben with onion rings. Patti then decided to go back to the end of the pier to the shops and did some shopping. I took Abby to play ping-pong, but the two tables were both in use (why only 2 tables on this ship?) so we went to the Safari Club and I taught her to play pool on those cool self leveling tables. She beat me both games on eight ball scratches. I had my nightly cocktail at the CL and then we went to dinner. Cold Soup Report: Abby had the lettuce, cucumber and tomato gazpacho and she liked it a lot. After dinner we had a nightcap at the CL and then retired early as we were bushed. The tropical sun really saps your energy! Tonight we rocked and rolled just a bit as the waves were in the 7-10 foot range, just enough to rock you to sleep.Day 5 Rousseau, DominicaAgain I woke up at 5am as the sailing smoothed out and I thought we were at dock. We were going to order room service for breakfast, but the menu is fairly limited so we just went up and had a quick bite to eat at the WJ instead. Today was an early tour and we met Levi of Bumpiing Tours for our tour of Titou Gorge at the dock at 8am, as soon as the ship was docked. As we got there we noticed some smoke coming out of one of the buildings on the street running along the water. In just a few minutes, billowing black smoke was pouring from the building and the fire brigade was on the way. The building was a night club/pool hall and the top floor was entirely engulfed in flame. We found out later that a man was sleeping in the building, but he managed to jump out the back window to safety. Later in the day, despite the entire roof being caved in, the shops on the first floor were open for business.We saw the signs for Bumpiing and soon met Levi right off the ship. We had to wait for a bit for the last stragglers to show up. We also convinced Levi to rearrange the people on the tours so we could travel with Lori, Chris and their family. Levi put us with Garry and he was great! Even though the roads were steep with big drop-offs we felt totally secure with Garry at the wheel. We went to Titou Gorge first and it sure can rain up there on the mountain! We left everything in the van and just went to the trail with our bathing suits, underwater camera and water shoes. The gorge was way cool, and I am not only talking about the water! I did not think water could get so cold in the Caribbean! But once you just dunked yourself in, you got used to it pretty fast, well not really, but it was still worth it! We then went to Trafalgar falls where we got to lounge in the thermal springs. There was even a small tunnel that was like a water slide that we went down. It was so relaxing to just soak in the natural hot tub. We finished our tour with a drive-by of the botanical gardens and then a stop on top of the hill overlooking the ship for pictures. Throughout the tour we had free access to water, local banana soda, and Kubuli beer. All of this for $125 total including the 15% tip we added on. We were back at the ship by 1:30 or so and had lunch in the WJ. After lunch we were treated to a bridge tour which was conducted by none other than Capt. Karen. It was very interesting. I was also impressed by the security procedures we had to go through to get access. As we were leaving, the Captain told Abby, Elizabeth and Carolyn to be sure to eat their vegetables, do their homework, listen to their mothers and then they would be able to do anything that they wanted to in life! The tour lasted about 25 minutes. After this we hung out on board until dinner including the CL cocktails and getting beaten in shuffleboard by the girls. We had a couple of dock runners that I think got on board, but they really cut it close. Once out to sea we saw 35 knot winds and 7-10 foot seas and the boat was rolling a bit during dinner. After dinner it seemed to calm down a bit and then we just had a gentle rocking for most of the night. It was steak and shrimp cocktail night and they were both fine. Cold Soup Report: Abby had the Pineapple and Raspberry soup. She liked the taste but was not a fan of the pineapple chunks in the soup. The waiters also did their goofy dance with all kinds of things on their heads, it was very entertaining. Afterwards, all the diners had to get up and do the Macarena. A good laugh was had by all. We were so exhausted from the day we just went back to the cabin and crashed as we had an early tour with Shasa Catamarans to swim with the turtles in the morning.Day 6 Bridgetown, BarbadosWe arrived at the dock at around 6:00am to a cloudy wet morning. The Captain told us on our tour yesterday that she wanted to get the ship in early so she could get a good dock space. Well, it is early, but the dock looks like a cargo port complete with container cranes. Oh well, I guess if this is a good dock, I would hate to see a bad one! Just before we were ready to get off the ship, the heavens opened up with rain. We waited a while but finally made our way to the taxi area where Shasa was scheduled to pick us up. Right on time a taxi came and took us to the beach where the catamaran was waiting. Due to the rain, the tour was changed from a 5 hour lunch cruise to a 3 hour cruise without lunch. Patti, Abby and I got on the catamaran with 6 other people and motored out to the bay with the turtles. I would not recommend this to people with mobility difficulties. You need to get onto the catamaran from the beach and if the swell is up, you have to time it just right. Also, you need to use a swim ladder to get back on the boat after snorkeling which requires a bit of strength. However, Jason is great about helping people a bunch! We got to the turtle bay within 15 minutes of getting on board under motor. As soon as we jumped in there was an abundance of turtles. We counted at least 10, possibly a couple of more. They swim right up to you and you need to be careful not to kick them, although if you did you were more likely to stub your toe than hurt the turtle! We stayed there for about 30 minutes which was plenty of time to see, swim with, and pet the turtles. We were the only boat in the bay so we had all of the turtles to ourselves, but as we were leaving, a much larger boat came into the bay with at least 50-75 people on board. We spoke with our table mates that night and they were on that boat. So many people in the water must have spooked the turtles as they only saw four of them! We had 9 people and about ten turtles, they hat 75 people and only four turtles, you can do the math, I like our turtle ratio much, much better! After the turtles Jason raised the sails and we sailed to a shipwreck and a coral reef where we saw literally thousands of fish. We were there at least 30 minutes and then we returned to the dock and a waiting taxi under motor. We did use the sail the one time, but it was mainly because it was a fairly calm day and we just could not make any speed under sail. We paid $150 plus a $20 tip because Jason was so good helping Abby as she is a new snorkeler and this was a fairly open water swim.We got back on board the ship and relaxed having a late lunch at the Seaview and playing some shuffleboard before Abby caught up with the girls who did whatever 10 year old girls do. (Played mini golf, swam, waterslide, etc.) We also got a tour of the Royal Suite because our friends Walt and Bob (Lori and Chris' fathers) got upgraded from a Grand Suite to the Royal Suite. Abby and her friends got a chance to play the piano in the suite for a bit! We had dinner with the entire table tonight and it was lobster formal night. The lobster tails were quite small, but still very tasty. Biju brought me a second one after I inhaled the first one. Monty, our Head Waiter, also brought a lobster curry that was not on the menu that was really tasty, but not spicy hot enough for our tastes. Cold Soup Report: The roasted peach soup was not one of Abby's favorite as it was a bit too sweet and tasted kind of like the juice from a can of peaches! My dad polished it off!We went to see the Vibeology show this evening. The ship was rocking and rolling with 8 foot seas, and the singers and dancers did a great job staying on their feet. It was a very enjoyable show and some of the singers had some great pipes on them! After this we went to the Love and Marriage show. It was OK, but not great. The couples were fine, but the questions were a bit boring. Finally we went to bed and were rocked to sleep by the wave action.Day 7 Sea DayWe woke up around 7:00am and the seas had quieted a bit overnight. We decided to go to the MDR for breakfast as it is "Chocolate Breakfast Day". We asked to be seated at Biju's table as he was working there that morning. They had hot chocolate, chocolate milkshakes, chocolate donuts, chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate waffles with chocolate sauce, etc. This may have been Abby's favorite meal of her entire life! It was also nice to eat in the MDR for breakfast as a nice "elegant" alternative to the WJ buffet. After breakfast we went on deck to play some games before it got too crowded. We started with shuffleboard. When we got to the court, the Eastern European couple who were on our Bumpiing tour were playing a match. They were a very nice couple that spoke very little English, but we ha assumed they were on their honeymoon as they looked so very young! After they finished their game, they surrendered the court to us. My father and I beat Abby and my mother in a very close game. We then gave the court to the next group who was waiting. It was now time for mini golf. This was a nice course as far as golf on a ship goes. We had a great time except half way through our round we found an injured bird between the glass panel and the deck. It looked like it had a broken wing, it probably flew into the glass. We alerted a crew member who came by and took it away, alas I am guessing the injuries were too great and the bird was probably euthanized. We finished our round on a down note. We then went to the rock wall where Abby climbed to the top and rang the bell on her first attempt. She got her coveted two stars stamped into her Seapass card! I should have given the wall a shot, but I did not! Abby and I caught up with her friends on deck and watched the ice carving demonstration. It was interesting and we were very impressed by the skill of the Philippino culinary ice artist who chopped out the fish sculpture in 25 minutes. We then went to see the captain, hotel director and chief engineer compete in a cake building contest, blindfolded. We were able to get a piece of the captain's cake and it was actually quite tasty!We then hung out with the kids while they had fun around the ship including quite a bit of time on the rock wall. I was surprised that on the sea day there were not more people using this wall. It turns out that Abby's friend Elizabeth was a pro on the wall and climbed for speed as well as trying many different difficult routes. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids climb! We took a break from climbing and I bought the girls some fru-fru non-alcoholic cocktails and Patti bought us a couple of mojitos. I thought mojitos were supposed to be made from rum, but Patti said the bartender made ours from vodka, and they were way too strong!We retired to the cabin to work on packing and getting ready for our final dinner. We had our customary cocktail at the CL and said our goodbyes to Ray and Marilyn. We also distributed tips to Angelica, Francois and the lady who greeted us every morning at the WJ with "washy, washy" clean your hands. She was such a ray of sunshine every time we saw her. We unfortunately never ran into Amelia, our suite attendant, again so we left her tip envelope in the room.Dinner was uneventful, a bit sad as it was our last night, and we said our goodbyes to our wait staff and table mates. The staff really did a great job and were truly good people. Our last event was a champagne reception that Bob and Walt hosted in the Royal Suite with all of the people we hung out with on the cruise. Even Francois and Angelica stopped by to say goodbye!We finally went back to the cabin, finished packing and turned in for our last night at sea.Day 8 Departure and Final ThoughtsSadly, we got into San Juan early and were docked by the time we awoke. We had a last breakfast at the WJ and then packed our carry-on bags for the disembarkation. We had arranged with Francois for my parents to be able to join us in the suite disembarkation area. There was a continental breakfast available there. We were the first group escorted off so the line getting through the US Customs was short. We quickly caught a cab and were at the airport in no time. That ended our wonderful vacation!Final ThoughtsWe had a really good time on this cruise. I think the overall cruising experience was better with RCI this time than with Princess 5 years ago in Alaska. While the Grand Suite was a luxury, I think it really made the vacation a special experience. If we cruised every year or multiple times per year, we could not justify the suite, but cruising every few years we can! Having the much larger cabin, huge bathroom with dual sinks, the big balcony with lounge chairs, easy access to the upper decks and the use of the lounge was really great. We really liked the traditional dining experience, especially the wait staff. I do wish the first dining time was just a little later, even 6:30 would have been better, but that will not happen or the late seating would be too late! Hooking up with Lori and Chris' family was also something that just added greatly to the whole experience. We were very pleased with all of the tours we took and the suggestions from both Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. I do not know how people can plan a vacation without all of these great online resources! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
RCCL Serenade of The Seas - April 3 - 10, 2010 - Southern Caribbean Background - We are a family of 3 (Donnie 46, Sandy 46 and Katelyn 12). This was cruise #13 for Sandy and I and #6 for Katelyn. We flew to San Juan on the morning of the ... Read More
RCCL Serenade of The Seas - April 3 - 10, 2010 - Southern Caribbean Background - We are a family of 3 (Donnie 46, Sandy 46 and Katelyn 12). This was cruise #13 for Sandy and I and #6 for Katelyn. We flew to San Juan on the morning of the cruise - not our usual routine, but work schedules did not permit us to fly down on Friday. We arrived in San Juan a little before 1 pm, waiting maybe 20 minutes for our bags and caught a taxi. The taxi que worked very efficiently. We told a guy working at the stand where we were going and gave us a ticket with the cost for the fare written on it. After a ride that lasted maybe 15 minutes, we arrived at the pier. We waited in a pretty long line to give our bags to the porters and then waited in a pretty quick line to get our sea pass cards. We were on board by 2:30 pm. Our cabin, an E2 balcony type (8582) was ready by then so we dropped our carry on bags off at the cabin and headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. More on that later. Cabin 8582 - Is an E2 balcony. As you enter the cabin the closet was on the left and the door to the tiny bathroom was on the right. Beyond the closet was a desk with mirror and opposite that was a small, not quite double seated love seat. There was a small night stand (12" wide at most) between the love seat and bed and the bed sat with its head against the right wall. Between the end of the bed and the left wall was roughly 16" and then between the bed and the balcony door wall the same nightstand roughly 12". That sizes up the cabin. The bathroom was big enough barely, for one person. I am 5'-5" and roughly 175 pounds and the shower was a tight fit - I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone who is taller or weighing in excess of 200 pounds. The balcony was the width of the cabin and roughly 4 feet deep. It was Just large enough for two chairs and a small table (not dining size). Storage space was adequate with our major requirement being met - our empty bags fit under the bed. The closet was a little tight and a little strange. It was comprised of a section for hangers on the right and left with a section of shelves in the middle. Hangers from home would not hang on the right side (the hangers were too deep and had to hang at an angle in order to fit). Strange, but useable. The cabin is located just forward of the "hump" on the starboard side of the ship. This was our first time on a Radiance class ship and I now know why the "hump" cabins are so popular. From our balcony, you could not see past the hump looking toward the stern. From the standpoint of moving around the ship, the cabin is in the perfect location. Deck 8 is 3 decks down from the Windjammer and pool and 3 decks up from the main Centrum activities and dining. Tour of the ship - Center of the ship reaching from deck 4 to deck 13 is the Centrum. It is a very impressive space with lots of glass and polished metal. Compared to the "indoor mall" of the newer ships - much nicer in our opinion. It seems as if you can see the ocean from anywhere in the Centrum. Deck 4 - The lowest level of the Centrum which has Guest Relations, Excursions desk, and the Centrum Bar. The lower level of the Main Dining room is on this deck as well. If you look at a deck plan, it says there are 3 separate dining rooms on this deck (Illusions, Mirage, and Reflections). However, It really comes across as one room when you walk in. The lower level of the Tropical Theater is on this deck, but you really have to be on deck 5 to get to it from other areas of the ship. Deck 5 - The upper level of the Main Dining room is on this level. This room is a very elegant room with a grand staircase, water wall and grand piano (played much too loud most of the time by the way). The shops of Centrum are on this deck - the usual shopping fare. Conference Center and Photo gallery are mid-ship. The photo gallery is a traffic bottleneck as people try to get to the Tropical Theater which is at the bow end. The main entry for the theater is on this deck and the theater is a very nice room. Sight lines are very good from most seats. Deck 6 - The highest level of the Theater is on deck 6. The Pit Stop sports bar is midship outside the Casino. The Casino Royale takes up a major portion of the midship area but had fewer table games than other ships we've been on. They did hold a couple of non-smoking nights which was a nice change. Located at the Centrum area is the Champagne bar. Continuing toward the stern, you enter the Schooner Bar which is a neat area decorated to make you feel like you are on an old ship. Beyond the Schooner are the Billiard tables (2 each). They stayed pretty busy so we did not get a chance to play. We did stand and watch in amazement the night we sailed toward Barbados as we had 6-8' seas and the ship was rocking pretty good. The tables were moving drastically while the balls on the table stayed perfectly still. I hope my video of it turns out good. Located off the Schooner Bar are Chops and Portofino. I peaked inside and the areas look nice and the menus sounded good but we did not ante up the extra to try them. Finally at the stern is the secondary show lounge (Safari Club) which is broken into smaller areas with different names for each of the bars. This room has horrible sight lines and worse traffic flow issues. You pass through the Safari Club to get to the Card Room, a small but nice room stocked with board games. Deck 7 - Guest cabins and Business Services Deck 8 - Guest Cabins and Explorers Lounge (never saw anyone here) Deck 9 - Guest Cabins and the Library Deck 10 - Guest Cabins, the Concierge Club, and Yacht Club Deck 11 - At the bow is the Spa. It has the typical spa services plus an area called the "Thermal Suite". An area that cost $$ to use that has an aroma sauna, and some funky tile lounge chairs that are heated. Moving toward the stern you enter the Solarium. This is an indoor pool and hot tub area where rather than pool music playing, they have piped in bird sounds. You almost think you are outside with real birds in the trees. This area is "Adults Only" with the exception of the Solarium Cafe. Further back you enter the main pool area. It seems fairly small for a ship this size but is a pretty nice pool area. At the stern is the Windjammer. The layout works very well with a basic mirror image of the food counters centered on the ship. Seating could be sparse at some times, but for the most part seats could be found pretty easy. There are both inside and outside seating areas. Deck 12 - At the bow is the fitness center. This area is well equipped and was used very regularly. There are large areas of outdoor deck with lounge chairs between the Fitness Center and the funnel on this deck. Once you get past the funnel you find the kids pool, sports court, and gold simulator. The kids pool is called "Teens Pool" on the deck plan. However, it was used by kids rather than teens. Finally, on this deck is the Seaview Cafe. This is a sandwich shop with odd hours that we never managed to try. Peaking through the locked doors, the menu looked interesting, but with the odd hours I'm not sure how much use it gets. Deck 13 - The highest deck has the Viking Crown lounge, Disco, and Cigar bar located at midship. Also on this deck is the rock climbing wall - also very limited hours, and the putt putt course. The putt putt course was probably the best we've played on a ship. Dining - Windjammer - as stated above, the layout keeps crowd flow moving and spread out so that long lines are not really an issue. Food selections were pretty much the same every day at breakfast and lunch respectively. Breakfast has an omelet station on each side. On one side you could also get toasted bagels. There was an island on each side with a couple of versions of scrambled eggs, sausage links (pork and turkey), greasy bacon, corned beef hash, and a couple of potato choices. Another island had fresh fruit. Another has cereals and breads and one has more fruit with cheese, cold cuts and smoked fish. For the most part food quality was good (except the greasy bacon) as far as a buffet is concerned. On one side there was a soft serve ice cream station with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Solarium Cafe - this serves as the pizzeria / wrap / crepe station. The pizza was good, but Carnival Glory had better last year. The crepes - not so good. Based on comments on Cruise Critic I was really looking forward to a crepe as an afternoon snack. The guy making them put at most, a teaspoon of strawberry jam filling inside and drizzled the top with a little more. Blah tasting is the best rating I can give it. After two bites, I sat it down and went to the Windjammer for strawberry ice cream. Main Dining Room - We always request a large table in order to sit with others and make new friends and dinner time is a big part of our cruise experience. On Saturday we arrived at our table set for 12 and no one else was there yet. After 15 or 20 minutes another family of 3 arrived but the dad only stayed a few minutes as the 10 year old son was desperate to go get an airbrush tattoo. On Sunday night, we sat at a table for 12 alone. On Monday night - same story. All the while, we watched the table next to us with 3 empty seats having a fun time each night. Finally as we were finishing dinner on Monday, our head waiter (Suny) asked us where our dining partners were. We told him that he needed to go knock on their cabin doors and round them up (our next move was to ask to move to the fun table) but Suny suggested it before we could ask. We jumped at the idea. Suny immediately went to our waiter Royston and told him the plan and then they sprung the plan on our future tablemates. They (new tablemates) then turned and welcomed us to the table for the next night. The balance of the week was a lot of fun dining with Boyd and his family (from South Carolina) and Jim and his family (from North Carolina). It was funny on Tuesday night as we sat down and started the introductions. It turned out that Jim was an acquaintance from our roll call and recognized my name from Cruise Critic. Service by Royston was very good as he always had good suggestions each night. His assistant Leon was ok but not great. He forgot my ice tea on most nights. The menus were not outstanding and each night we looked at the menu and had a pretty easy time choosing unlike on previous cruises where we normally had to decide between a couple of items that looked really good. There really were not any fish dishes that sounded really great. Last year on Carnival, we loved the chilled soups so we were really looking forward to trying the chilled soups each night. Major disappointment. The chilled soups on Serenade were nothing to get excited about. Desserts - good but not great with the exception of the key lime pie. I'm wondering if dining room quality is being downgraded in an effort to encourage the use of the extra fee dining. Of the 13 cruises we have been on, the food on this one (Main Dining) was probably the worst. Entertainment - The RCCL singers and dancers - ummmm, the 4 singers probably could not get a gig at Six Flags. They were just not that good. Both shows are old and worn. In fact, once they advertised the "Vibeology" show, I told Sandy - we've seen that before - I'm sure. When we got home, I pulled out scrapbooks from cruises past and sure enough - there was "Vibeology" in the Compass from our 2005 cruise on Voyager. The other show - "Stage to Screen" was not much better. Maybe RCCL should cut some costs on the floating islands they are building and spend it on developing some new shows. The other shows were scheduled "pre-dinner" for late seating diners which defeats the purpose of having late dinner, so we missed them. Youth Facilities - our 12 year old looked at the daily schedule each day and said "lame" and didn't attend one function. So I can't comment on how the 12-14 year old groups were. Based on dinner conversations, even though they break the teens into two groups (or so you think) they actually do most activities as an entire group. So you end up with 17 year old high school boys trying to knock 12 year old girls unconscious in dodge ball. Ship Overall - a beautiful ship no question. In fact, probably one of the nicest we've sailed on with the Princess "Sun" class maybe slightly better. The ship is the perfect size and you really never sense the crowd with the exception of the sea day. On the sea day, the deck looked like the mall parking lot on Black Friday with people resorting to laying on towels spread on the deck. We did see the Pool Attendants removing "chair hog" droppings, so hooray for RCCL on this issue. Arriving / Departing - very smooth. We used the luggage valet program upon arrival. We were off the ship at 8:45 and through security at the airport by 10:00. Ports - St. Thomas - we were in St. Thomas on Easter Sunday. I booked a day sail via the internet with Day Dreamer and several Cruise Critic friends joined in as well. We sailed from the Wyndam Sugar Bay which was a $15 pp taxi ride round trip. The Day Dreamer is a beautiful catamaran with an excellent crew. We sailed over to Caneel Bay on St. John and snorkeled for roughly and hour, had lunch, and sailed back to St. Thomas. The crew went out of their way to take care of us. There were roughly 30 people on board. The shops at the pier were open late for a Sunday since a ship was in town (we were the only ship by the way). St. Croix - I reserved a car with Budget via the web. Upon arriving in their office at the pier, they acted like they forgot I was coming (even after I reconfirmed the week before). After a 30 minute wait, they had a car ready and we were off to explore on our own. We took the south coast road around to Point Udall. Then back along the north coast road to Christiansted. We got lucky and found a parking spot in the Fort parking lot. We toured the historic district and looked for something fairly quick to eat. We had no luck as anyplace that looked good was packed so we headed back to the car. As we headed out of town again long the north coast road toward the rain forest we found the unique local dining establishment. Ok, so it wasn't unique or local, it was a Subway. But it was fast which was what we wanted. After eating, we continued on to Cane Bay for some photos. We then headed up through the "Rain Forest" which was a fun drive. We arrived back at the pier with about an hour to spare before "all aboard". There were a few shop near the pier but Frederiksted is pretty much a sleepy little town. St. Kitts - we had booked an island tour with Rosevelt Taylor and had him personally as our guide. We had no interest in beach time but we saw Brimstone Fort, Caribe Batik, and an overlook of Frigate Bay where we could see the tiny stretch of island separating the Atlantic from the Caribbean. Rosevelt did a great job of showing us flowers and trees as he gave us a good glimpse of the island's history. I would use him again without hesitation. St. Kitts is on our list of islands to go back and visit on a land vacation. Tons of shopping near the pier. Dominica - I booked a Snorkel / Hot Spring tour with Reyno Tours. I requested snorkeling at Champagne and a visit to the Soufirere Warm Springs where we wanted to soak in the springs. We went first to Scotts Head which had some really nice views. On the way back toward Champagne we stopped a the Church in Soufriere where a small pool was built with rock at the edge of the sea. This was supposed to be the warm spring but the water was cold. This is not the location we were supposed to go to, but the driver did not seem to understand that and he seemed like he'd rather be doing something else anyway. So we went on to our snorkel stop. An hour of snorkeling and it was great. There was a $4 admission fee and a boardwalk along the beach to the snorkel area. When I say beach, it's not what you would typically think of when you hear the word. All of the beaches we saw along the south coast were smooth rocks / boulders rather than sand. It was really cool to stand and listen to the stone roll back and forth with the waves. The reef area was close to shore and had shallow and deep areas with lots of bubbles and very colorful fish. Worth the stop, but I would have been better off to just hire a taxi to take us there and back for a lot less than I paid Reyno. I would not recommend Reyno. Barbados - we had planned to head to the Hilton and get a day pass. However it rained most of the day so we decided to do a little shopping and head back to the uncrowded ship. Overall we enjoyed the cruise. The ship is beautiful and hardly shows its age. It is easy to see why the Radiance class is so popular. The entire crew was friendly and constantly greeted us when we encountered them in the public spaces. I think the one down side was the food in the main dining room. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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