December 2013 - Serenade of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas
We have had superb luck with Royal Caribbean in the past, and were expecting to have a similar experience again. However, the Serenade of the Seas 7 day Bahama's Cruise out of New Orleans over Christmas was the worst cruise exeperience we have had to-date. I do not want to get into intimate detail about the issues, but primarily the food (other than in the specialty restaurant) was the worst we have experienced. I can only liken the food in the buffet to what you would find in the mess hall during basic training for the Army. Not only was the quality of the food poor, but even more scary was the fact that the food was cold to luke-warm causing concern of possible health issues.
Key West was the one shinning light in the cruise, but the short time we had in Key West didn't allow much time for exploring or partying. The time we had in Nassau would have been nice had there not been five other cruise ships docked there at the same time and their thousands of passengers roaming the streets and filling the bars and restaurants before we arrived. Atlantis would have been a fun place to spend time, but their casino was geared closer to Monte Carlo pricing, as were their restaurants. We couldn't utilize their buffet unless we were guests of the resort. Then the final straw was when we reached Cocao Cay and the tenders had been shut down due to rough seas.
This resulted in our continuing on for three days at sea (slower paced obviously). On a small ship like Serenade of the Seas, where the food was already a problem, we now were able to identify that the entertainment and activities were equally lame (unless you love playing Bingo that is). The only positive things coming out of this trip wwas the service at the various bars, and the other service staff who did go out of their way to try to do a good job.
I do have to say that this is also the first cruise where we felt that we were actually on a ship with the continual rocking, and it took us three days to get our sea legs on then another three days to get them off once we were back in New Orleans. If you were looking for a cruise where you could rest on deck and sleep and unwind, this might have been adequate, but we decided two things from this experience. First that we will no longer cruise the Caribbean (mostly because we are not really beach bunnies) and secondly that we will be more careful to chose a ship where the food and off-ship activities more closely meet our goals. So would I recommend this cruise? No I don't see an older crowd like myself feeling like they got their monies worth, and I wouldn't recommend it for the younger beach crowd because of the short time we were in port. That coupled with the poor food quality makes this a non-starter for a return engagement by our family.
Tim Winn 12/21/2013 Voyage of Serenade of the Seas Bahama's Cruise