Janet J. Imp
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Serenade of the Seas
Sailing Date: January 3rd, 2004
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
This was my husbands and I third cruise and second on Royal Caribbean. We had a great time and highly recommend this cruise. Let me share a little bit of feelings about the cruise.
We flew into San Juan via Houston on Continental. Once you arrive at the airport and pass out of the security area of the airport there are Royal Caribbean people everywhere. One thing we did not do was put our luggage tags on our bags before we left home. I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU PUT YOUR TAGS ON BEFORE YOU LEAVE. It would have saved us a lot of time waiting for the bags come to come off the plane. If you don’t put the tags on, you have to find your bags, put the tags on the bags, and place the bags back on the baggage claim. Royal Caribbean loads all the bags with the tags on to a truck to bring to the ship. We took the Royal Caribbean arranged shuttle to the ship.
When we arrived at the ship we were able to check in without a problem and didn’t have to wait at all. That was a huge relief. We got our ship card and got right on the ship after a painless picture was taken.
The ship was about 6 months old and was beautiful. It was tastefully decorated with lots of blues and wood accents. The elevators looking our towards the see are awesome. My only complaint was that going from the theater to the centrum after a show was difficult since you had to wind your way through the picture gallery and the on-board shops. It was a maze.
We had an oceanview stateroom. It was about 170 square feet. We were pleasantly surprised at how spacious it was especially after the tiny room we had on our previous Royal Caribbean voyage. There are tons hidden cubbies behind mirrors above the desk and in the bathroom and the closet is a decent size. The love seat was comfortable and most suitcases easily fit under the bed.
We ate in the main dining room every night. The food was very good, but not great. The best part is the variety - there is something for everyone. Our waiter was great with his recommendations for the meals. My husband followed almost every one and didn’t regret it. I would highly recommend the shrimp cocktail! We ate our breakfasts and most lunches in the Windjammer. Food was good and buffet style.
Overall we enjoyed the entertainment. The cruise director, Alan Brooks, was extremely entertaining. I don’t know how he could do so many high jumping kicks without falling and breaking a leg. If anything, you wanted to go to the shows just to see what he would do. He was very involved in all the entertainment on the ship and seemed to have a great time doing it.
As far as the shows go, it was hit and miss. The comedian for the first night was funny. We really liked the impressionist on the fifth night and the Miller Brothers show on the third night was good, especially the children that performed. The first production show was OK, but the second was better. I think it was the 70’s theme of the first show that didn’t appeal to us. The love and marriage game was funny, but the one on our previous cruise with Royal Caribbean was better. We didn’t get to see the magician.
They tried a murder mystery on the ship for the first time. It was a great idea, but needed perfecting to get more passengers involved and make it more of a scavenger hunt for clues. I hope to hear what they do with it in future reviews.
Do not go on this cruise if you want to stay on the ship while floating at sea. There is only one day at sea and that is the last day. The rest of the time you are in port from 7AM to 5:30PM. We loved the idea of visiting so many ports and that is the reason we chose this cruise.
Sunday – St Thomas:
Unfortunately on Sunday the in-town shops close at 1pm. Fortunately the shops near the ship is open until 5pm (when you had to be back on the ship anyway). Keep this in mind if you want to do an excursion and go shopping in town.
We did the Water Island Bike Tour. It was great and we highly recommend it. Water Island was hit heavily by hurricanes in the past, so it is non-commercial and has lots of natural beauty. At the end of the bike tour we got to go swimming in an almost deserted (rarely deserted per our guides) Honeymoon Bay. It was a great way to get the dirt of ourselves after biking.
Monday – St Maarten:
It was a beautiful day in St Maarten. There were a few quick rain showers, but otherwise the weather was great. We did a catamaran and snorkel trip. The water was a little rough, so the tour modified the snorkeling site slightly. The first site was near some rocks, so you had to be careful not to get pushed by the waves in them. Then we went to a calmer beach. The snorkeling was great at both places. After the tour, we got cleaned up, ate lunch, and had plenty of time to take the Water Taxi to town to look around the huge number of shops. I have never seen so many jewelry stores.
Tuesday – Antigua:
This was probably our favorite location. We did a snorkeling and kayaking tour around the mangroves. The sea was a little rough getting to the snorkeling site, but once we got there it was beautiful. Then we went to a calm bay to do some kayaking. The tour ended up back at the dock where we were greeted with warm aromatherapy hand and face towels and a snack of rum cake and rum punch. The tour site is about 45 minutes from the pier and you get to see some countryside during the bus ride there. After we got back to the pier we got cleaned up and walked around town.
Wednesday – St Lucia:
This island reminds you a lot of Hawaii and is beautiful. We went on a tour called Kool Kayaking. The tour starts with a large group of people all going to a common location for multiple events (biking, snorkeling, scuba, hiking, sun bathing, and kayaking). We broke up into groups. The first part of the kayaking started with a lesson on how to sea kayak on land and then some practice in the water. The first part of the water lesson is learning how to do a wet escape. During this skill you flip your kayak and get out of it. It was actually a lot of fun. After lunch we went back out in the kayaks and followed the shoreline. We got to see some water caves. We also got to see the Pitons from the water. It was an awesome site. We turned around and headed back to headquarters. We then took a 50min boat ride back to the pier and boarded the ship just in time to get ready to leave.
Thursday – Barbados:
This island is the complete opposite of St Lucia since it is very flat. Since we don’t have our scuba certification we decided to try SNUBA. It is kind of a combination of scuba and snorkeling. You wear a respirator like in scuba, but the tank floats on top of the water. After a brief training lesson we went out on a boat, got fitted with our respirator, mask, weight belt to keep you down, and went underwater to see some fish around the shipwrecks. It was definitely better than snorkeling since you get to see so much more. We got dropped off in town on our way back to the ship and got to see some of the shops on our walk back.
Friday – Day at Sea:
Unfortunately our day at see was the last day. This kind of made it a prolonged departure day. We tried to do some more activities this day, so we watched an art auction and sunbathed on deck for a little while. While we were on the ship we got to see some Islands from the ship like Montserrat, St Kitts, St Barts, and Seba. Montserrat was definitely the most interesting because you could really see the devastation from the volcanic eruptions.
It was a sad day leaving the ship. We ate our last breakfast in the dining room, a nice change from the Windjammer. Disembarkation went very smoothly. We had no problems going through customs. We put our bags on a truck to get to the airport and got on a bus for the airport. Unfortunately we had to wait for a little while for the bus to arrive with our bags, but they arrived safely and we made it to the airport with 3 hrs to spare before our flight left.