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Nancy Wiegand

Age: 56

Occupation:travel consultant

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Serenade of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 6th, 2003

Itinerary: 5 night Canada

We've just returned from a 5 night New York to Canada sailing aboard the shining new star...Serenade of the Seas. We upgraded from a Category D with veranda to one of the five owner's suites and were very pleasantly surprised with the long list of amenities. This stateroom is very similar to a suite at a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton with it's large marble bath with glass enclosed shower, jacuzzi tub, double sinks and a bidet. Also included was a very fine concierge service with morning and evening food presentations as well as bar drinks. The veranda was enormous with four deck chairs and a table. The wide flat screen TV swiveled between the bedroom and the living room. There was also a dining room area w/mini bar and enough closet and drawer space for at least 4 passengers. We were disappointed with the mediocre and very bland food served in the main dining room and the service at Portofino, one of the two surcharge restaurants. Chops, the other of the two, was absolutely a 5 star establishment. The Windjammer Cafe served buffet/station style and was good and well maintained, but don't put your fork down for more than a minute or your plate may be carried away by an overzealous attendee. The Seaview Cafe had some very tasty snacks and lunches, however unless you wanted to purchase a beer or soft drink, you had to walk downstairs to the Windjammer for beverages.

The ShipShape gym and spa is as beautiful as it is state of the art! There are at least 15 or more treadmills, but there may still be a wait depending on the time of day. Entertainment was very good, especially the comedians who performed several times. The cruise director, Alan, was excellent and quite a comedian himself. You will never be able to be bored on this ship as there are so many activities to keep you busy if that's what you're looking for. The outdoor pool and hot tub area is a hub of noisy activity and constant commotion. The solarium pool is lovely, but could use a few more lounging deck chairs as people tend to save (a big no-no) for those who never actually show. Captain Nikolas Antalis from Greece is very personable and seemed to enjoy chatting and joking with everyone. If you are lucky enough to be included in the concierge level amenities, please be sure to introduce yourself to one of our favorite people on this ship ... Concierge Maritza Moolman. She is absolutely delightful and a professional all the way. She is certainly destined to go far with RCCL or in whatever she may choose for her future endeavors. Someone else worth mentioning would be our assistant waiter at dinner in Reflections upper level 2nd dining ... we ate there only 3 times, but "Charlie" was always ready to greet us with his cheerful smile and expert service.

Be sure to visit the beautiful Safari Club on deck 6. Also, your vacation will not be complete without at least one game of pool on the full size self-leveling pool tables. The Casino is quite large with many slots and tables and then there's always that game of bingo ... hey don't laugh, you might get lucky. I won a whopping $72.00. If you're without fear, try the rock climbing wall. We're quite OK with the fact that we didn't, but those who did seemed to love it. A big thank you to our room steward, Maria, who we almost never saw, but we'd always know she'd been there by the treats and towel animal creations she'd leave behind in our immaculate stateroom. Just a few words on the ports. We opted to rent a Hertz car in Halifax for approx. $35 USD and drove out to Lunenberg via the highway and then returning via the coast road and lovely Peggy's Cove (try the delicious lobster chowder at the Lobster Shack on Lobster Lane) and Mahone Bay as well as many other breathtaking cove towns. We left no time to explore Halifax, however, so that will have to wait until our next trip. St Johns is beautiful, historic and quaint. We walked to reversing falls and cabbed back to shop, sightsee and eat lunch. We definitely recommend this ship and cruise line, but are hoping that next time we will see improvement in the food so that we can give RCCL a full 5 star rating.

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