This was our first cruise and our expectations were exceeded at every stage. The serice by the staff in the dining room was exceptional and the food and menu were terrific. The shore excursions were well done by professionals and the ship reacted to a cancelled port in an extremely efficient manner. All in all, a wonderful experience.
The A la carte restaurants were great, we eat 5 days in those. The food in Izumi was great, but the ambiance of this restaurant feels like a cafeteria. The ambiance in this restaurant needs to change, but the food was perfect.
The best port on this cruise is the Geiranger Fjord, the last port of call in Norway. The Serenade of the Seas ship is a smaller ship, so it is able to navigate the narrow passages deep inside the fjord. The ship itself is pleasant, a little tired, but very clean and the staff are the best! The dining options were great, we especially loved the Chops Grille specialty restaurant. Our balcony cabin mid-ship was the perfect location. They could use more activities during the day and in the evening, but overall, we enjoyed the shows they put on in the Theater and the Centrum areas.
As mentioned above, overall cruise was good. We did not always liked the lunch food choices - most of them tasted bland and did not look appetizing. The dinners, on the other hand, were much better. Almost every day we had very good food and some of the days the taste was excellent. We also would like to recognize some people that served us. To begin with, our dining room server Petrovic, Marko and his assistand Ferreira Dias, Ademerson.. the service we received from both was top notch - prompt, accurate, cordial, attentive and just pleasant to deal with. We also would like to recognize our cabin steward. Unfortunately we don't remember his name. We would like to pint point that were were in Cabin 1102 on Deck 10 and maybe this way you will be able to figure out the name of the person. In addition, we thought the the Entertainment Director were SUPERB - funny, witty , talented, articulate, and overall very pleasant person. He was a star. The rest of the crew were very good in making our life on the ship pleasant, organized and easy. Thank you very much for well run ship.
Roaming around the Baltic Sea is much more interesting than simply parking oneself in St. Petersburg and hitting the museums. It was a good opportunity to see how the countries interrelate. The shore excursions arranged by Royal Caribbean were excellent with very informative guides. If you want to see and do everything in St. Petersburg, however, you should arrange a private tour ahead of time that leaves the ship at 7 am each morning and returns at 11 pm. Royal Caribbean's excursions try to get back to the ship (a 20-minute drive from the city center) by 5:30 pm so that people can change and then go back out for an evening event if desired.
Royal Caribbean apparently leads the industry in Internet service. I measured 3 Mbits down and 2 Mbits up consistently for their Voom service (about $15/day depending on the number of devices connected). This makes it practical to work from the ship using Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. I uploaded about 30 GB of photos and videos using Voom. Streaming from Netflix worked well.
We didn't take any children but the ones that we saw were having a great time exploring the ship and looked only slightly bored on the cultural shore excursions.
Food? If you're trying to kick the bread habit, this is the place to do it. They bake everything from scratch every morning and yet somehow the donuts and croissants didn't work out at all. We stopped eating bread after a few days and consequently didn't gain any weight. Food safety is the #1 priority and we didn't get sick nor hear of anyone who got sick. The price that you pay for perfect safety is that you're not going to get spectacular and unexpected tastes.
Alcohol? I didn't see anyone staggering around drunkenly. People did seem to be enjoying the bars. I refrained from buying the unlimited drinks package and limited myself to one or two glasses of wine per day ($8-14 for regular wine; only about $6 for a Graham's port with dessert, plus 18% gratuity). For any given wine, the prices were comparable to what we would pay at a hotel here in Boston.
I'm not a coffee snob, but the regular drip coffee was pretty week. I guess it is comparable to what would happen if you bought Maxwell House at the supermarket and ran it through a Mr. Coffee. There were some on-board espresso bars (prices similar to a Starbucks) but there didn't seem to be a Dunkin' Donuts equivalent with slightly stronger drip coffee.
Staff are friendly and obviously competent. We never waited in a line for more than about 5 minutes. I.e., they manage to get 2400 passengers plus some crew back on the ship before sailing, putting everyone through a metal detector and all bags through an X-ray, without making people wait. The gym is fantastic with a great view towards the bow from Deck 12. It was never crowded. I got a great haircut for about the same price as I would pay in downtown Boston ($25; thanks, Annie!).
The ship was 13 years old at the time of our sailing and was in perfect condition. I wish these guys would come over and maintain our house.
The on-board entertainers were great. The band, mostly Eastern Europeans, could have played in any Broadway theater. I wished that they had done some longer performances, e.g., a full Broadway show or play instead of one hour of excerpts. The theater itself is an impressive facility that, again, rivals anything you'd find in a big American city. The cinema is kind of weak. It doesn't look like a 4K projector and the lenticular screen impairs resolution.
The itinerary is well-designed. Three days in St. Petersburg is kind of the minimum. Fredericia, Denmark is not a place a typical tourist would go and Royal Caribbean uses it mostly as a launching point for shore excursions, e.g., to LEGOLAND. However, I enjoyed the fact that the folks in this small town were delighted by our visit and turned out as volunteers, to park their classic cars, to dance and play in bands, etc. It was a good reminder of what it would be like to visit on a ship in the 18th century. I would have liked to stop in Poland at least briefly instead of having the "at sea" day from Lithuania to northern Germany. Alternatively I would have preferred to stop in Hamburg instead of a port that is a 3.5-hour bus ride away from Berlin (we did a local shore excursion instead; Warnemunde would be a great town if the weather had been sunny, which it wasn't). Stopping at all three of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania was wonderful and educational.
Our basic oceanview cabin was larger and much more usefully organized and equipped than our hotel room in Paris. That said, given that my mom could do only one activity per day and there aren't a lot of quiet indoor spaces on the ship (no library or reading room, for example), it would have made more sense to get a suite. We spent more time in the room than originally planned.
My mom suffered a minor medical issue at one point and visited the on-board clinic and was favorable impressed.
It was a great experience overall and Royal Caribbean puts together a pretty amazing floating city at a reasonable price.
A good cruise for those looking to experience the Baltic, detailed visits with enough time in each port to experience the town and people. We had children ranging from 7-17 and there was rarely a wait for any of the boats amenities.
Ports of call were wonderful. Did not do any of the ship excursions. Dinning Room Service was great. I do object to the asking of an additional tip on all signed receipts. We paid daily gratuities, 18.5% and than you make the servicers ask for more.
This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise and we loved it! The ship was clean and the food was absolutely amazing! From the buffet to the main dining room to paid specialty restaurants. Our cruise director, Topi from Finland was amazing. What a crazy cat. There was such great entertainment aboard the ship, that I didn't even get to gamble in the casino.
The only thing I didn't like was the smoking that came out of the casino while I was watching a show in Centrum.
We had an issue with our stateroom but it truly had to do with the booking through BJ's Wholesale Club rather than Royal Caribbean. I booked a room for 3 with a sofa couch and received a room with a pullman. I do feel that Royal Caribbean could have done something so my 76 year old mother didn't have to climb up the pullman but they didn't. That annoyed me some, but hopefully BJ's will make good on this.
Great cruise ports, great food, great entertainment, and amazing entertainment staff. We had the time of our lives on it. We loved it so much that I booked another cruise on Royal for next year!
I highly recommend this line and ship to everyone!
get the Thermal Suite package on the first day! it averages out to about $14/day per person which is absolutely worth it. Also, we really enjoyed the Evening Stretch class provided in the gym which was free & as challenging or as relaxing as you choose to participate.
Remember it's YOUR vacation, just because the ship is at port doesn't me you HAVE TO get off the boat. Do what works for you, if your 'my time' dining doesn't work, then change it. If service is bad, SAY SOMETHING to a manager. And if someone is great, recognise them. :)
When picking your stateroom, make sure there are no public areas above it . Deck 10 is where most of the suites are but unfortunately Deck 11 is where the pool, Windjammer, Park Cafe, the Solarium and the Spa are located. If you are a light sleeper, you'll be able to hear all the movements at night
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on external web sites.