Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas is one of the most beautiful ships we've sailed, both from exterior and within her interior. For a vessel in the 90,000 ton range she's as sleek looking as many smaller ships we've sailed on, and appears as though she can cut through the open waters with ease.
Unlike her cousins, RCI's Voyager Class ships, where in most cases one must be out on deck to see the ocean, the Radiance Class (Radiance, Brilliance and Serenade, and Jewel - of the Seas) feature "acres of glass" offering passengers a connection to the sea from most of their interior public rooms.
Schooners Bar and the Safari Club and Lounge are roomy, with high quality furnishings, which make both these rooms comfortable, and attractive, and offer an atmosphere of upscale ambience. With one flowing into the other, the combination of these two areas ranks them amongst my favorite lounges at sea.
During our repositioning cruise onboard, from Hawaii to Vancouver, the magnificent beauty of the ship was somewhat overshadowed. Expecting a ship this beautiful to sing like a Diva, we were disappointed by the slightly "out of tune" cruise experience we received.
A rather odd take on the experience, because so many things onboard would seem to contradict coming to this conclusion.
The Captain of the Serenade, Nikolaos Antalis, and most of his officers and staff, and crewmembers exuded an air of friendliness, and a genuine desire to assist in any way they could. In short-- one of the seemingly happiest crews we've encountered at sea.
However, the actual delivery of the end product seemed to stumble along throughout the cruise, in spite of this.
The "Cruise Compass", the ship's daily onboard newsletter was more entertaining than informative, with it's errors and omissions. Even it's appearance was simply odd, as many days half the space on it was left blank. Though we did appreciate its daily weather forecast, of sunny and 84 degrees, even when it was 54 degrees outside.
On several occasions, the announcements in the Cruise Compass, promoting the headliners in the showroom listed only their names, with no mention of what type of act it was. Not earth shattering neglect, but we found this odd.
Service in the dining room struggled throughout the cruise. The service staff were trying very hard to please, and certainly saying the right things; telling us each day that if something wasn't right, just to let them know, and they'd remedy the situation. Yet the resulting service, even after suggestions were made as to what would please us, was inefficient. It was never bad, just "out of tune" enough to be a noticeable distraction. The service team of waiter, ass't waiter and head waiter were out of step with each other, and the result was bit like watching a synchronized swim team unsynchronized.
At times "the swim of the waiters" was in fact amusing, but combined with the fact the hot food items never got to our table hot, at times was somewhat annoying.
The Captain and Hotel Manager invited all Crown & Anchor Society Platinum and Diamond members, and suite guests to a "special" brunch one morning. While all the senior officers were present, available, and friendly, I was shocked at how little was offered at the "special brunch". If you're goal is to thank important passengers for their loyalty to the cruise line, serving a few stale finger sandwiches, and a poor and limited selection of deserts, is not the way to impress.
Sadly, most everyone went to the Windjammer Buffet to eat after leaving the brunch.
Disappointingly, to find the level of service we've come to expect from RCI, we found it necessary to dine in one of the ships alternate (with surcharge) restaurants, where the service was professional and efficient. and the only place onboard we found hot items served hot.
Nothing I've described here is consequential enough to have "ruined" our cruise experience, but certainly the leader of this "band" should call the player's in for more practice. This ship, and her passengers, deserve a "Carnegie Hall performance", but at this time they are sadly getting something less.