Our flight arrived about 2:30. We booked air and transfers thru RCCL, so our luggage was taken care of. We boarded a van and after a short line wait at the pier to get our Seapasses, we were on the ship at about 4:00. Very easy.
The ship is absolutely beautiful. We went to our cabin, Cat. D. with balcony, Deck 10, near the Centrum elevators....very convenient. Our cabin attendant was nearby and he came to our cabin and gave us the lowdown. He mentioned that our luggage is usually delivered by around 10 PM. As we were wearing shorts, we were concerned about whether we could have dinner in the dining room, but he assured us that the first night was very casual and that what we were wearing would be fine, which we found to be true. As it turned out, our luggage was at our cabin after dinner.
We did main seating, at 6:00. Late seating was 8:30. Our waiter (waitress, in our case) and asst. waiter were very friendly and we really enjoyed them all week. I have read conflicting stories about the food, but I thought it was fine all week...both the selections and the quality. The breads and desserts were particularly good. The Windjammer buffet was terrific.
The ports were great....we booked excursions months ago through RCCL at every port except St. Thomas and they were fun and informative. In St. Thomas, we went on our own over to St. John and went to Trunk Bay for beach swimming and snorkling.....beautiful. Just a heads up- we booked the Surf and Turf excursion in Barbados that was to have included some beach swimming, however the tour itinerary did not include a visit to a beach that you could swim at. There was a beautiful beach at the restaurant where lunch was served, but it was very rocky and the surf was too rough to allow swimming. If you just want to sunbathe on this beach, you would probably have about 45-60 minutes to do so, after a quick bite.
On Friday, the only "sea day", we were taken on a sightseeing tour past Montserrat where we saw the devestating effects of the active volcano that has chased away all but a few thousand residents. Also cruised past St. Kitts, Nevis and Saba...all narrated by the Captain. This was a great opportunity for some great photographs. I came to the conclusion that I do not like "sea days". The sun decks were way too crowded to suit me, although we were able to find some chairs on the aft on deck 12, which turned out to be a great vantage point for the island sightseeing.
We only went to 3 shows.....2 were Broadway type shows by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. I didn't think they were very good, but I generally do not like this type of stuff, so I'm probably not a good reference to go by. The third show was a performance by James Stevens III, a comedian/singer/impressionist, and it was fabulous. If you ever get the opportunity to see this talented young man perform, just do it!
There was plenty to do for our kids.....they do a great job with the program for the younger set. One side note: we had the "opportunity" to see the medical facility first hand (very minor injury to my son) and it is unbelievable......thought we were in a modern hospital.
At cruise end, disembarking was very smooth and transfer to airport was fine. SJU airport was a bit of a zoo, however, with long lines, but we had a late afternoon flight, so we were not rushed to get our flight.
The only thing about the cruise that I might change is our room category, and that is only a "might". As stated, we had a Cat. D stateroom with balcony, and it it turned out to be very cramped for the 4 of us, particularly after it was made up in the evening, with the couch in "bed mode". We were tripping over each other as we were changing after dinner. I learned, during the cruise, that a Cat. FF family stateroom might have served us better and allowed for a bit more room and privacy. However, that category does not have balconies and I REALLY would have missed the balcony, in hindsight. I'm afraid that the suites with balconies would have been a budget buster for us, so next time we'll be faced with a tough decision.
In all, I felt that RCCL and the crew of the Serenade overdelivered in their service and would highly recommend this ship and the itinerary to anyone.
I would be happy to answer any specific questions....ask away!