Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Serenade of the Seas
Sailing Date: March 12th, 2005
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Overall: Fantastic Trip
Dining Room food: Very good. Variety was wonderful. Appetizers and desserts were great.
Wait Staff: Excellent! Sipahi (our Head Waiter) really made our trip special!
Windjammer food: Very good (and I typically don’t like buffets)
The ship. The Serenade is a beautiful ship and very easy to get around, especially for as big as she is. All the food was very, very good. The staff are all very helpful and friendly. The narration by the Captain of the Montserrat Volcano and the Piton Mountains was excellent. The efficiency of tours was unbelievable.
Disappointments: 7 days is not long enough, especially when stopping at 5 islands. The bon voyage party.
We arrived in San Juan around 3:00. When we got to the ship there was no one waiting in line to board and to get the Sea Pass card, so that was really nice. We checked out our staterooms (2005 and 2011), which were very nice and bigger than I envisioned. We were worried about being on the 2nd deck, but it turned out fine. There are only ~25 cabins on Deck 2, so that made finding our cabin much easier! It was also very quiet. We then headed downtown San Juan for a little shopping and sightseeing. We were back onboard for the mandatory life boat drill around 7:30 pm. We did not eat in the dining room, but instead opted for the outdoor Sea View Café. We set sail around 10:00 pm. There were not too many people on deck for the bon voyage party. I guess I was expecting more of a party atmosphere.
Day 1: St. Thomas. We took the “Ultimate Island Experience” tour through Royal Caribbean. We saw a lot of sights on the island and spent a couple hours at Megan’s Bay beach. We did not have time for a lot of shopping. Our tour concluded at 4:15 pm. My friend and I decided to get dropped off at the Paradise Point Tramway, which is located near the ship. The view is fantastic and the Bushwhacker drink is as good as they claim. One word of caution, however: Give yourself more time for this adventure. We were 20 minutes late for the ship. Luckily for us they waited!
Day 2: St. Martin. We took the “St. Martin Island Tour” in the morning. This was a good tour, but not as good as I was expecting. We had about 30 minutes of shopping time in Marigot. We were on an air conditioned bus for the rest of the tour. We also did the “Afternoon Beach Bash” to Orient Bay Beach. This was a very nice beach with rum punch, chairs and umbrellas included in the cost. However, we were only there for ~2 hours. So, it seemed that by the time we got situated, it was time to leave. Both of these tours were through Royal Caribbean. Once again, not much time for shopping.
We were anchored in port, so we had to tender to shore. This went very smoothly, and did not take much time.
Day 3: Antigua/St. Johns: Nice port. We did not do any organized excursions here. We shopped in the morning and then took a cab to a beach that was close by (I can’t remember the name). The shopping area was very nice.
Day 4: Bridgetown/Barbados. We didn’t do much in Barbados. There was a little shopping area near the ship, so we spent a couple hours there. We then headed back to the ship for some R & R at the pool.
Day 5: Castries/St. Lucia. This was my favorite island. Very pretty and lush. We took the “Land Rover Explorer” tour through Royal Caribbean in the morning. This was an awesome tour and a lot of fun. We rode in an open-air land rover through banana plantations and through the rain forest. We hiked to a waterfall and then spent about 45 minutes at a black sand beach (very hot on the feet!). After the tour, we did a little shopping and headed back to the ship.
Day 6: Sea Day. This was a great day! A couple more sea days would be nice, and is much needed. In the morning we looked at all the photos that were taken on the ship and decided which ones to purchase (more on that later). Then we checked out the “sales” at the on-board shops. Around 11:00 we headed to the pool. Of course, all the chairs were taken even though there were signs everywhere stating “saving chairs is prohibited”. We found a spot in the shallow part of the pool, which worked out just fine. The barbeque buffet for lunch was good. Mostly, we hung out by the pool, danced to the bands, watched the ice carving and horse racing and just tried to relax. However, since this was the last day, there was paperwork to fill out (customs forms, etc.), tip envelopes to fill out and deliver, and of course, the dreaded packing, so it was hard to totally relax.
Day 7: San Juan. We signed up for the morning “Walking Tour of Old San Juan” through Royal Caribbean. We thought this would get us off the ship quicker, since our flight departed at 3:00 pm. It was good and informative, but I don’t think I would do it again. Debarking was a breeze – very organized. Customs was not a problem either. Our luggage was all nicely organized and easy to find. I was very impressed.
Food: A very nice variety in the Windjammer. There were so many stations and so much variety that there were never any lines. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to eat lunch here. The Sea View Café had excellent sandwiches and fries. The Solarium Café had great wraps, pizza and warm cookies. The Barbeque buffet on sea day was good with a lot of variety. The dinners, I thought, were excellent. Our biggest problem was trying to decide what appetizer, entrée and dessert to order because they all sounded wonderful. By the second night, Sipahi decided to help us out and brought us “one of everything” (almost!). The midnight buffets looked fabulous, but we were way too full to even try a nibble (we had the late dinner seating).
Photography: There are pictures being snapped all the time. Every time we got off the ship at an island, they were there taking our picture. Also, every evening before and after dinner, they have several photographers with several different backgrounds where you can have your photo taken. You can have as many or as few taken as you wish. There is no obligation to buy any of them. Each night you can view your photos from the previous day and decide whether or not you want to keep them. We kept all our photos together until the last day so we could view them all at once and then make our decisions. I thought the pictures were very nice and very reasonably priced.
Staff: As mentioned earlier, our wait staff absolutely made our trip. They were so nice and so attentive, but yet very modest. Sipahi was fantastic. Marlena, our assistant waitress, was very good also and very patient when we were trying to decide what wine to order. Our maitre de, Vijay, was also very attentive. He even had the chef make us a special Indian dish, which was very good. The wait staff are very, very busy. During the day they rotate through all the dining venues. One day, Sipahi was working in the Sea View Café where we ordered sandwiches for the pool. He took our order and then happily delivered them to us poolside. Way above and beyond the call of duty, in my opinion! As you can see, I can’t say enough about our waiter! Our room stewards were just as attentive. We asked to have ice in our room in the middle of the afternoon/evening. Sure enough, every day there were two buckets of ice waiting for us. Anything we needed, they were able to get. Very impressive. We had all of our shore excursions booked ahead of time, so we did not encounter any of that staff. All of our tickets were delivered the first day on board, and everything was in order.
Shows: Unfortunately, we did not attend any of the shows. We were very busy during the day with shore excursions and opted to enjoy the pool and sunsets before dinner rather than being inside in the theater. After dinner (late seating) we were too full and too tired so we either enjoyed the hot tub or walked outside on the decks. Being from Minnesota, we wanted to spend as much time as possible outside.
The glass. The glass elevators overlook the ocean and the Centrum. This is a very big ship, but it is very easy to find your way around. The dining room is well laid out and was not crowded. I was a little disappointed in the Shops as there was not much variety. I was hoping for more “Serenade of the Seas” attire (sweatshirts, specifically). We spent a lot of time on the pool deck watching the sunrise and walking the track. They have what looked like a very nice exercise facility, but unfortunately I did not take the opportunity to use it. The outdoor pool was quite small, but yet never seemed crowded. There are 2 outdoor whirlpools, and these were always busy. There is a separate pool for kids with a water slide. This pool seemed well used and well liked by the kids. The Solarium is beautiful with an indoor pool and whirlpool. This area was not very busy, but we had beautiful weather, so I’m guessing most everyone was outside.
All in all, I would sail the Serenade again in a heartbeat!