January 2015 - Serenade of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas
This was the first cruise my boyfriend or I had ever been on and it was a great experience. We are both 30 years old and looking for a cruise to relax/unwind. It was easy to get overwhelmed at first but once we settled in, everything was wonderful. If you haven't cruised before & you're reading this review, GREAT! It felt a little silly doing so much research before our first cruise but I'm so incredibly glad that I did.
We had an oceanview stateroom on the 3rd floor which truly was perfect. Our location kept our "seasick" feeling to a minimum and the room was just the right accommodation for a couple. We benefitted greatly from having a window for 2 reasons: 1. the view over the ocean was incredible- providing beautiful scenery during the say and a really unique view of the ocean lit up by the moon at night. 2. a window allowed us to acclimate to time changes and be aware of the time of day much more easily than if we'd just been looking at a clock.
The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful. Any issues we had were minor and painlessly remedied. Moving a shipload of people from place-to-place went smoothly and it was obvious the staff had every scenario well in hand. I think we made the right choice by starting with a smaller ship. At times, the "salesman" aspect can feel pushy & be a little exhausting but I assumed as much.
We opted for an upgrade to the Thermal Suite which was on sale for $198/couple on Day 1. It was money well spent and we both enjoyed the luxury of the aromatherapy room and hot stone beds thoroughly. We also managed to go to the suite on off-peak times (like during the first dinner sitting) and we had the suite all to ourselves.
Our only real complaint would be the room service food. It was often late (sometimes an hour late) and not worth the wait. I'd imagine the system will be remedied in subsequent cruises. Whatever the challenge is that the kitchen is facing, it wasn't worth any effort put forth on our part. A few tupperware containers and some planning ahead at the buffet made up for the lack of room service food. The food on the rest of the ship is really spectacular by comparison so focus your dining efforts in the restaurants instead.
We also had several reservations for the sushi restaurant, Izumi, for the cruise. I was under the mistaken impression that the specialty restaurants required reservations and a cover charge ONLY, not a cover charge in addition to paying full price for your meal. The menu at Izumi is geared toward diners that are new or possibly unfamiliar with sushi and most of the food is cooked. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal we had at Izumi but the menu wasn't diverse enough to tempt us to pay for another meal on an otherwise all-inclusive trip. It really was some of the best sushi we've ever had so if you're interested in trying something new, by all means make a reservation. The prices were very reasonable so that alone was not a deterrent for us.
The ports were all really interesting and varied. We had a fabulous time and we can't wait to cruise again. If not for our own curious nature and desire to experience new things, we would book on the Serenade again in no time.