Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Serenade of the Seas
Sailing Date: August 1st, 2004
My fiance and I were so looking forward to this cruise. It turned out to be just an okay experience, but it certainly could have been better. The ship is beautiful and well maintained, and the Captain did a wonderful job of keeping people informed. However, we had many "unenjoyable" experiences, all of which could have been avoided with some coordination and attention from Royal Caribbean.
First of all - a personal tip. If you want a "quiet" enjoyable vacation to Alaska, be sure not to travel during school vacation months. The noise level of kids screaming and running up and down the halls day and night was ridiculous. Not to mention them hogging every table everywhere. We had a nice room with a balcony where we would have liked to sit and have a glass of wine in the afternoon, but with crying kids on the balconies on both sides, not particularly enjoyable.
The dining room staff was just okay. Service was slow, and the food was a C-. Another waiter served our bottle of wine to the table behind us, and when we mentioned it to the head waiter, he yelled at us!! Like it was our fault! The salad dressing were watered down, the meat was tough, and the fish was old. We did have a nice table by the window, but we had to tip the maitre d' handsomely to get it.
The Windjammer was a nightmare. No one spoke English, and the food was barely warm. Things were hard to find, and there was never anywhere to sit. We gave up after the first morning, and just brought coffee and bagels back to our room to eat.
The shows were just okay. A not so funny comedian who repeated his show on the first and last nights, and some musicals by the RC dancers and singers. We walked out on two of them.
No information or coordination of anything, anywhere. Complete disorder and chaos. Ask someone a question, and they either didn't speak the language, or didn't know.
As far as the e-mail center, we tried repeated to send messages via AOL only to have them disappear and to be charged 50 cents a minute. It wasn't until the fourth day that someone told us that AOL doesn't work from the ship. If that's the case, why do they have it listed as accessible? We got the charges reversed, but they were quite rude about it, and had to ask several times to actually see it reversed. The claimed "computer problems". I think it was more like "personnel problems".
The scenery is magnificent and we did have a stretch of good weather. We saw the whales, the seals, lots of salmon, eagles, and some beautiful sunrises.
Most of the help was just so-so. Our cabine attendant was the best of those who waited on us. The wait staff in the dining room made us feel like they were doing us a favor.
I made an appointment in the hair salon for the following day. When I appeared for my appointment, there was no one to do my hair, and a technician had to be called up from her room to take care of me. I waited 15 minutes. Again, no coordination.
The formal nights appear to be nothing but a scam to get you to have your pictures taken. The Captain's welcome event lasted abouat 40 minutes. For this I bought a formal gown. The second formal night was more ridiculous. We changed right after dinner. Of course, photographs were everywhere trying to snap you to fill up the photo walls with your faces for you to purchase at a heft $20 a pop.
Dancing for the middle aged people was non existent. You had loud club stuff on the top floor (if you cared to stay up until midnight) and some country hip hop stuff, but no actual "dancing" or dancing music at reasonable hours.
The casino was smokey and unappealing, and the people who work there need smiling lessons.
It was an okay vacation, but we expected better. Next time, we will choose a different cruise line that pays more attention to detail.