April 2015 - Serenade of the Seas to Transatlantic
If an award exists for itinerary of the year this one wins hands down. This was a great trip in every respect. The cruise director, Carly B, introduced a new entertainment feature called Master Chef of the Seas wherein members of the officer ranks participated in a cooking competition similar to the TV show chopped it was very entertaining and well attended. The shows in the theater were as a group the best we have ever seen and with the exception of a piano duo who played well enough but just could not stop trying to tell jokes. At least one measure of the success of the shows was a fully packed theater each evening, I have never missed a show and I have never seen night after night such well attended performances. Dinning was pretty much true to RCI standards accompanied by excellent service. Our stateroom was well kept and the public areas were always clean although Serenade could use a little paint.
Out of Boston our 6 sea days went by very quickly the seas where running 12 to 15 feet with very strong winds but the ride was not uncomfortable but use of the outdoor facilities was limited to the very hardy. Our first stop in Cork was nice less than 100 yards to the train station for a ride into the city was very easy and quite cheap. We toured the city had a nice lunch in a little local dinning room, a nice day after 6 at sea. Portland in the UK was a nice visit to a popular British resort town although the weather was cool and damp the city fathers had provided a shuttle service into town that was very good. I took the opportunity offered by RCI to visit a couple to the Jurassic coast sites very picturesque and the country side on the bus ride out was very nice highlighted by sighting several pair of wild pheasant, beautiful birds. In Le Havre we got off the ship and made a deal for a driver for the day to take us to the home and gardens of Monet at Giverny. It is one of the most beautiful sites if you have not been I cannot recommend it to highly. Our driver then took us to Rouen to visit the Cathedral which is fantastic and a walk through the old towns, many of the shops were closed as it was Sunday but enough were open to make it worth the time. We made a short stop in Hornfloure and then back to the ship. Cherbourg was the highlight of my trip having wanted to again visit the invasion beaches of the Normandy D-day battles. We had made arrangements with Bayeux shuttles for a driver for the day and he gave us a full days worth of adventure I think every U.S. citizen should at some time visit the Cemetery at Colville it is inspiring and humbling. Bruges was a nice stop and we did the touristy stuff--bought chocolate-lace and did the canal tour on a very windy day. Amsterdam was a very rainy and could day but the sun came out just in lime for our trip to the Koukenhouf Gardens where the tulips were in perk form the fields and the gardens are just brilliant with color. A sea day followed our stop in Amsterdam which everyone was ready for. Gothenburg was pleasant we had a little shopping to do and the huge mall there was just what we needed.. Back open board for our last evening and off the ship ion Copenhagen to catch a flight to Boston and on to Houston the following morning.
I have no suggestions for a fix but Cruise lines really need to focus on the demarcation experience. No problem getting off the ship and our luggage was right where it was supposed to be but beyond that the crowd control and moving a mountain of bags to a bus which was not well marked turned into a bit of a struggle with people trying to get on excursions mixed in with hotel and airport transfers. This was not the first time we have experienced this but there has got to be a better way I just don't have any ideas unless they could just hold everybody else until I get off and loaded on a bus or taxi, just kidding.
A great trip and one I would recommend to anyone. The price was right and the itinerary the best.