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bigque

Serenade 10/10/10-Southern-Review with Pics!

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This is my review of Southern Caribbean Cruise (San Juan, Barbados, Sea Day, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maartin, St. Croix) aboard the Serenade Of The Seas 10/10/10. I always wanted to do one of these…Feel free to ask questions as I go along. I hope you all enjoy!

 

I Arrived in San Juan at about 1:30pm the day before the cruise. After getting luggage went and got a taxi (There is an over abundance of taxi’s) to the hotel and arrived at the hotel at about 2:45pm. The taxi fair to the hotel Courtyard Marriot Miramar was $16.00. It took longer than usual to get to the hotel as the traffic was heavy due to recent heavy rains that had streets flooded, but our driver knew some great short cuts off the main roads to get us there quicker. The normal time with normal traffic would only be about 15 minutes.

 

The Courtyard Marriot Miramar (3 star) has a lot of mixed reviews, so I did not know what to really expect when I booked it. I booked it for the price ($129.00 with no resort fees). The hotel turned out to be great! Friendly staff, easy check in, very clean inside and out. Our room on the 11th floor had plenty of room, very clean and a very good view. It was located in the convention district and within a two blocks there were 3 restaurants, A Japanese Sushi Bar, a fast food taco place (Like Taco Bell), a Subway, a Supermarket, Domino’s Pizza, 2 Pharmacy’s and a U.S. Post Office. Contrary to reviews that I have read, the area was very safe day and night, and only saw one vagrant on the streets (I saw more in old San Juan than I saw here). The restaurant in the Hotel was expensive so we never ate in there. Went down the street and ate in one of the restaurants to eat authentic Puerto Rican food and it was very good and very reasonably priced. We also ate breakfast there the morning of the cruise (Ham & Cheese Omelet with toast and coffee for $4.50). Bought some snacks at the supermarket and the prices there were comparable with the prices in mainland United States Supermarkets. This hotel is not hotel to be at however, if you want to be at the beach (Not within close walking distance) or if you are looking for a lot of entertainment (None at the hotel or in the vicinity). I was mainly looking for a hotel to rest my head overnight without spending a lot of money, that was close to the pier and close to Old San Juan.

 

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View From The Room

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At 3:30pm we were ready to go off to Old San Juan. If you decide to go in a Taxi (They are lined up outside the hotel day and night), it will cost you $14.00. We went by bus, which the stop is one block up the street for 75 cents (Must have exact change). The ride by taxi is approximately 15 minutes or 20 minutes by bus due to stops for passengers along the route. After arriving in Old San Juan we walked around for a bit until the heat became a bit much and we wanted to get into some air conditioning. We were meeting with people for a Meet & Greet from our Roll Call from Cruise Critic at Mojito’s Restaurant,

 

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but the 1st people from the Roll Call that had arrived Friday found out that it closed for vacation. They put a sign on the door to let everyone know that the plans had changed to meet at Senior Frogs instead.

 

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The Meet and Greet was great, There was about 28 people that showed up and we had a good time getting to know each other. It was like getting together with old friends even though it was the 1st time that anybody had met each other.

 

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There was even a little show put on that was entertaining.

 

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After the Meet & Greet, we took a taxi back to the hotel as we didn’t want to take the bus back at night. After we got back we went down the street, had dinner. While in the room we heard music from outside. Across the street from the hotel there was some type of School of Law and in the parking lot they were having some type of celebration with little souvenir stands, food and a live salsa band. Walked over and watched the band perform for a short while and then back to the hotel. This was an unexpected little treat.

Edited by bigque

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We're leaving in 2 weeks on the same cruise so I'm looking forward to your ongoing review and photos. Thanks!

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Day 0 Sunday - Embarkation Day:

 

 

Checked out of the hotel at 11:00am (Smooth), got a taxi to the Pan Am pier ($14.00 - 10 minute ride), and there she was…. The Serenade Of The Seas!

 

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When we arrived at 11:15am there was people already lined up. We checked our luggage right at curbside and got in line. The doors opened at noon and we processed and was on the ship in about 20 minutes (We travel with passports and I cannot tell you if it was any faster with passports as compared to DL/BC’s and didn’t really care – I just wanted to get on board).

Edited by bigque

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We went right to the spa to get a massage reservation, but they had a table set up and was able to do it as soon as we got off the elevator by the Windjammer. There was a very friendly and comical person who greeted you at the entrance to the Windjammer that was there every day. She was always able to make you smile and laugh. We ate lunch and the food offered was pretty good. We are not 5 star restaurant gourmet dinners and do the occasional buffet restaurants. The offerings in the Windjammer were as good as anything I have eaten in any buffet restaurant so we had no complaints and by 1:00 the rooms were ready. Got to the room (9580 – Balcony on the hump) and everything that I had pre ordered was there waiting. My DW did not know about the things I had ordered as it was a surprise. I had ordered one of the romance packages and a wine and fruit tray and anniversary decorations. In spite of what I had read on here, the decorations were just as advertised on the website. Our State room attendant (Denardo) was at the room within 5 minutes of our arrival to introduce himself and to set the start of what would turn out to be a very pleasant experience for the entire week. We did the prepaid gratuities and he was one of the persons that we tipped extra in cash to at the end of the cruise.

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We then went on our exploration of the ship to check things out. Serenade is a beautiful ship. Glass to look out over the ocean everywhere including the centrum elevators. Following is a few pictures of our exploration:

 

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Reflections MDR - Our table 460 was the table to the right directly in front of the painting

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Edited by bigque

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Looking Down through the Glass Floor from the 13th Deck

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View when walking out of our stateroom 9580

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The Famous Serenade "Blue Cows"

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Edited by bigque

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Went to the solarium and bought a beer package ($39.00 for 9 beers with a insulated carrying case, then refills were $28.00 if I remember correctly) then sat and chilled for a bit with a couple from our roll call. Our Roll Call did a Meet and Greet at 4:00 with everybody that was at Senior Frogs in San Juan and the rest who was not there until embarkation day up at the Sky Bar above the pool area.

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The Meet & Greet

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It started getting close to dinner time (Early Seating), so we went back to the room to see if our luggage had arrived yet, but it had not. At 6:00 we went to be seated for dinner. The dress on embarkation day is whatever you have on, due to many people not having luggage to arrive yet. We were escorted to our table (460), which was a table for 4. We greeted by our Waiter for the week (Filton who received the other extra cash gratuity) and our assistant waiter (Francisco) as well as our table mates. Dinner was great (Don’t remember what we had each night). Now about the MDR dining experience….. Although I said we don’t eat in fine dining gourmet restaurants, I mean we don’t all the time, but do on occasions. If you are looking for that kind of dining you might be setting you expectations too high. I believe that the chefs on board do a hell of a job to provide a quality menu to give you a gourmet type meal experience each night. I applaud them for their efforts to feed over 2000 people nightly. I would love to see a 5 star gourmet restaurant do that and still maintain the same quality. After dinner we returned back to our room about 7:40 and our luggage had finally arrived. The luggage by the way is left “Inside” your room.

Edited by bigque

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Self leveling pool tables - Balls do not roll with the movement of the ship!

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Centrum Elevators - Glass Doors & Glass windows out to the sea & 3 more that face the middle! There are 3 more elevator at the front of the ship that I used a lot because they didn't get a lot of traffic!

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Direction Loacator - Ouside the Centrum elevators on each deck

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Casino Royale

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Edited by bigque

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A little after 8:00pm there was the call for muster (No life vest required) and at 8:30pm sharp we were pulling away from the pier and on our way! Got a couple of night pictures of the Carnival Victory and Old San Juan as we were leaving port:

 

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Went around to the pool deck to check out what was going on at sail away. There were people there, some music, but not really a sail away party. At10:30, went to check out the entertainment the 1st night in the theater and there was a comedian. He was pretty funny, not fall out your seat hilarious, but funny! Afterwards went around to check out the clubs but there was not much happening, so around midnight, I called it a day for embarkation day.

 

 

Next up… The Sea Day!

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Great review! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this, especially with the pictures. I know it can take a while to get them all organized!

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Great review! We'll be doing our first Southern at Christmas....we have some similar ports, so looking forward to hearing more about them :-)

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Wonderful review!!! Looking forward to reading all about your week on the Serenade of the Seas. We have a b2b cruise booked on her June 5 and 12. :)

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Excellent job! Cannot wait to read/see more.

 

With the Beer Cooler package did you have to buy only Bud products?

 

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You can mix it up with any combination of whatever brand you want!

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Great review. We will be ready of sail away 21 days from right now!!

 

glad to hear you can mix up the beer purchase. Sounds like it is a little higher, but for 9 beers instead of 8.

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Great review so far Mike!

 

Glad to have met you and your wife! LOL, did you ever get that $500 onboard credit out of the CD??

 

Oh, the awesome greeter at the Windjammer was named Colleen. She was so nice each day I felt like she was family wishing me a good morning....even though I was grumpy some mornings she made me smile!

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Nice review so far, Mike! I spotted us in at least three of your pics, lol! Nice to have met you and everyone else.

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Yay!! Feels like we are right there all over again!! Awesome pictures Mike!! I typed a whole review...and then deleted by accident. Yours is much better, and there are more pictures ;) win-win in my opinion!! It was great meeting you and Eileen, we had fun avoiding the sunburned butts with you guys!

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Day 1 Monday - Sea Day:

 

 

Went to the Windjammer for breakfast. Never doing the entire cruise did we ever have any problem finding a place to sit. The best kept secret that I knew about from being on cruise critic is the outdoor seating area for the Windjammer in the aft of the ship. We ate breakfast there on this day and there were only 2 other tables occupied. Most people did not find out about this area until about half way through the cruise. We ate lunch there also. Even when it’s hot outside, it did not feel bad while the ship was moving. While in port one day we tried to eat out there but the heat and humidity was too unbearable for us while sitting still in port, so we went back inside in the air conditioning. Here was our view at breakfast on the sea day:

 

 

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At 11.30am we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle at the Hollywood Odyssey on the 13th deck. Dennis the cruise director was there and spoke and allowed us to ask him questions. They provided a nice fruit tray, non-alcoholic drinks and gave away door prizes. After Dennis finished we did our gift exchange, talked and then went our own ways. Also they do leave a reminder in your room if you did sign up for the Meet & Mingle.

 

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Sea Day Continued:

 

After the Meet & Mingle, My DW went to her massage appointment and I went to hang out on the pool deck. The pool deck on sea day is the most crowded days on the pool deck. By the time I got up there at about 1:00 there was not a chair available around the pool, on the upper deck or the solarium, so I mainly sat up at the sky bar people watching and sipping a cold brew. After DW’s massage was through, Had lunch at the Windjammer outside again. The stations are setup the same each day with various variations of the foods offered in each station. A very complete Salad Bar, cold cuts to make your own sandwich or hoggie, hamburgers, fries and hot dogs are offered every day. You really should not have a problem finding something that will suit your taste buds. The rest of the day until dinner was filled with more outside at the pool deck and sitting at the tables across from our room that over look the centrum having a drink of the day and a brew or two. These tables and the Library was directly out of room about 5 or six steps out and you were there. Once again we were in 9580. Being that centrum was right there we never heard a lot of noise. Even when they had the 70’s party in the centrum, you could hear the music and people, but it was not enough to be really disturbing. It was more of a muffled sound when behind closed doors.

Lunch outside (Aft) of the Windjammer

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Everybody is always asking about the size of the showers! This is in a D2 (9580) Balcony on the hump!

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The dispenser on the wall is a shampoo dispenser. They give you those hotel size bars of soap, but we brought our own toiletries

Edited by bigque

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Sea Day is also the 1st formal night. Here is the real deal about dress on formal night as well as dress in the MDR on other nights aboard The Serenade of the Seas. 1st we like to dress for formal nights as part of our overall cruise experience. I brought one suit along with two shirts and two ties to have a different look at both formal nights. You saw various types of dress for men and women on this night from formal wear, suit and ties, pants suits, gowns short evening wear for women, as well as sports jackets and slacks, shirts and slacks or smart casual. We did not see anybody being questioned or put out because of what they were wearing. On the other nights we saw various types of dress also, even some with shorts on. Did not see tank tops or flip flops, but it appeared that anything else was acceptable.

 

After dinner, went to the Welcome aboard show at the Tropical Theater. It was alright, Dennis the cruise director did his usual funny comedy routine, followed by a production show by the cruise ship dancers. Did not stay for the whole show…. Been there done that! After that I did my nightly walking around the ship people watching thing, hung out in the Vortex (Party atmosphere varied from night to night, from good party some nights to downright boring on other nights) for a while and about midnight, went back to the room and hung out on the balcony under the moonlight and then to bed and thus ended my sea day!

 

 

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Night Picture of the smoking area on the 5th deck (Notice the ash receptacles between some of the chairs

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About smoking: This is not a good area at certain times of day, if you do not smoke. Other smoking area's I noticed are in the Casino, though I never smelt it bad in there. The Sports bar leading into one side of the casino is about the worse area for smoke & I mean real bad! At the Sky Bar and there is a section on the pool deck leading back to the Windjammer on the starboard side. Before the cruise I read a lot about smoking on the balconies on here. I was on my balcony at various times of day and night, and I never noticed anyone smoking. If anyone was smoking on any balcony below, above or beside me I never knew it cause I never smelt any smoke.

 

View of Ocean from the room

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9580 Balcony

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Kyakers directly below balcony before we left San Juan (Would not have seen them if we were in a balcony that didn't look straight down

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Up next – 1st port - Barbados

I am going to give a grade for the tour and the island of each day. (My opinion – And you know what those are like!)

Edited by bigque

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Day 2 Tuesday - Barbados

 

 

 

Woke up early to go get pictures of the sunrise (As beautiful each morning as pictures have been shown on cruise critic):

 

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Have to go go for now. The rest of Barbados tomorrow!

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Thanks for taking the time to post with pictures! Loving it!!

 

Thanks! I am enjoying doing it! As I started out saying.. I always wanted to do this after a cruise!

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I'm so happy to see the picture of you on the aft deck outside of the Windjammer. We were on the Constellation (Celebrity) and the entire back deck outside the buffet area was open with tables. We loved eating out there and I can't wait to do the same on the Serenade!!! Waiting for more...;)

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I'm so happy to see the picture of you on the aft deck outside of the Windjammer. We were on the Constellation (Celebrity) and the entire back deck outside the buffet area was open with tables. We loved eating out there and I can't wait to do the same on the Serenade!!! Waiting for more...;)

 

It is the same on the Serenade. The entire back deck is open with tables. Until about half way through the cruise, you might only see people at 3 or 4 tables. Best kept secret on the cruise for the 1st 3 days.

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Hi there. Great review. We did the Serenade in '08 (also stateroom 9580, not a bad spot) and are doing it again in 2011. You are right, that outdoor dining is awesome, both the Windjammer and the Seaview Cafe up high. You're also right about the sail away party. There's no party like those leaving before sunset (say, for instance, a sailaway from Ft. Lauderdale), when you can see better. Still, it's nice that sail away is a little earlier than it used to be from San Juan. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves.

Edited by Worn out mailman

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Hi Mike - thought I'd take another stab at finding your review from work and I DID! I'll read it tonight when I'm home. This will just keep my after-glow going....

 

Joan & Larry

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