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Serenade of the Seas picture heavy fun review–12 day Med cruise incl DIY port trips!

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We always get the airport shuttle bus, it's right by the exit, very quick and cheap (around 6 euros for a single and 10 for a return) and it stops at a number of places along the way and terminates at Catalunya. Having seen those pictures of the train I think I'll stick with the bus for our trip in September ;)

 

think seeing those train station pictures I would also stick to the shuttle busses or taxi's. No way would I go near that station :D

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We always get the airport shuttle bus, it's right by the exit, very quick and cheap (around 6 euros for a single and 10 for a return) and it stops at a number of places along the way and terminates at Catalunya. Having seen those pictures of the train I think I'll stick with the bus for our trip in September ;)

 

Hi Bobal,

 

Thanks for helping me out with the info on the shuttle busses:)!

 

Stef

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Thank you swim13 and crazyventures!

 

It feels so good hearing that you all are enjoying this pretty extensive review. ... and no worries...of course I have a gazillion pictures of the Serenade as well:D. Patience -- we'll get there eventually!

 

But today I won't be able to write another review post... Life with a kid and tons of animals getting in the way, you know....sorry folks....but I promise there will be more tomorrow!

 

Stef

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Shortly before Christmas 2012 the cruise fever hit us real bad again. Under the Christmas tree we started debating about the summer holiday vacation.

 

100_3881_zps05fa7e7b.jpg

That’s us – in front of our Christmas tree – already giddy about an upcoming cruise.

 

It had to be a cruise – we were hooked, no way around it. But where would the summer cruise take us? We had some things we knew for sure. We wanted to be in the Mediterranean region again, since we enjoyed it so much the summer before and we felt that we didn’t even scratch the surface of the things to be seen there. We wanted to travel with Royal Caribbean again, since this would be a great opportunity for Tarik to practice his English. And last but not least we wanted to be “on the road” heehee – or sea:) in this case for more than 8 days. So after typing in all of our wishes we had 6 cruises that fit perfectly:

 

Kreuzfahrtplanung1_zps887611b1.jpg

 

Sorry, some of the words are in German , but I’m sure you can figure it out anyway. Pretty much Ports, Departure and Arrival times. We were on the Adventure the year before, so this was the first two routes we deleted in the planning process --- not because we didn’t like it, but we wanted to experience something new. So we still had the two Independence cruises and the two Serenade cruises. This was hard. We really would have loved to try out the Flow Rider on the Independence, but several other factors made us decide on the Serenade after all. First the embarkation port. The flight to Southhampton would have cost the same as the flight to Barcelona. But being in Barcelona already we would be in the Mediterranean region right away and wouldn’t need two seadays right in the beginning of the cruise to get there. Plus the Serenade cruise would have the two sea days at the end of the cruise, so we would be able to recover from all the port excitement. So now we only had the two itineraries of the Serenade to decide on. This was by far the toughest decision. Greece or Venice overnight? We loved both of these equally and only decided on the Venice overnight cruise because – well the romantic overnight stop (sigh, little did we know what would happen – but more on that later).

 

All these decision makings took until maybe the end of January. On Feb 7th I checked the Internet once again for prices and availability and saw much to my surprise, that one of the cheapest inside cabins was once again free to book. We really don’t want to spend any more money than necessary on the cabin, since we only use it to crash at night. We had an inside cabin on the Adventure the summer before and didn’t mind. Okay, this time we would share it with a teenage boy, but we were pretty confident, we would get along. So on February 7th we couldn’t hold ourselves back any longer. We booked the cruise, the flight, and the hotel online. Whoooohoooo we’re going on a cruise!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

more to come!

 

Oh my goodness Stef, you are mad! Tarik is so cute, often said hello to him as we wandered round at night in search of our boys! Just contemplating an Xmas 2014 cruise!

 

Emma

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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I LOVE reading extensive reviews!! It is more like a really good book than a review!

 

Tarik looks so happy! With all of the bad things that he has encountered in his short life, I know he has to feel blessed to have found stability with you and Tanja! I can tell from your pictures that you feel blessed too!

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Stef,

 

It was wonderful to meet you and your family. Tarik was all smiles when we saw him on ship. It's fun to follow along with your review and relive the wonderful cruise. I also enjoyed the planning immensely. Just not quite as organized as you.

 

Erika

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Oh my goodness Stef, you are mad!

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

 

Hi Emma,

 

:Dlol -- I guess I'll take that as a compliment:D.

 

Stef

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I LOVE reading extensive reviews!! It is more like a really good book than a review!

 

Tarik looks so happy! With all of the bad things that he has encountered in his short life, I know he has to feel blessed to have found stability with you and Tanja! I can tell from your pictures that you feel blessed too!

 

Hi Ireallyneedavacation,

 

Glad, you're enjoying the (just started:)) review.

 

and yes -- we definitely feel blessed! He's our little sunshine....but actually we're even more happy when he gets grumpy from time to time --> first glimpses of puberty peeking through --YES! He's developing and moving on!

LOL -- we're probably the only parents happy about puberty. Ask us again in a year or so -- full blown teenage moodswings will probably not still be on our top wish list by then:D.

 

Stef

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Stef,

 

It was wonderful to meet you and your family. Tarik was all smiles when we saw him on ship. It's fun to follow along with your review and relive the wonderful cruise. I also enjoyed the planning immensely. Just not quite as organized as you.

 

Erika

 

Hi Erika,

 

It was fun meeting you too!

 

Wasn't your son part of the infamous karaoke group on board?...what were they called...fabulous 8...or something like that? Or am I mistaken? I would love to remember their real name for later on in the review:).

 

Stef

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After we miraculously made it into the train of course the place was so packed, there were no seats left. We somehow managed to shuffle our heavy suitcases a little bit further away from the entrance, so at least we could stand freely and hold on to the edge of a nearby seat rather than being squished like sardines. At the next stop there was a band, which entered the train and started unpacking their instruments as soon as the train started to move. They had a saxophone, a cello ( or a contrabass? – it was huge) and some other stuff. Here’s a picture:

 

APDC0414_zps730d4194.jpg

 

I never heard live music on a public train before, so actually it was pretty neat. If it wouldn’t have been so full of people it would have been a real pleasure. Not like there would have been any way what so ever I would have been able to reach my wallet in this cramped situation….so sorry – no tips from us this time. They left again at the next station, ran a couple of entrances up and reentered the stuffed train… and the show began anew. I wonder how much money they make doing this all day long. No way it’s allowed I believe, but still we enjoyed it.

 

We exited at Sants station. We planned to switch to the metro from here. Same station name: Sants. That lead us to the crazy idea, it shouldn’t be too far. Worst idea we had pretty much all trip long! It was an epic journey up (many) stairs, down (even more) stairs --- not to forget with THREE 22 kg trolleys!!!! Tarik was brave pulling his own on even ground. But lifting it was just not an option. Up to that day his weight was only about 30kg – so the trolley made up more than 2/3rds of himelf!

 

So it was getting one suitcase up or down numerous stairs, then wandering back, getting the next one and so forth. I was completely covered in sweat when we were about half way to the metro. But still more tunnels to walk through, more stairs, sometimes an escalator (which seemed like heaven at that point!). Worst part – we needed to hurry now, since we had prebooked tickets for the Sagrada Familia, where they only let you enter in a one hour time frame! Since we didn’t expect an epic journey before getting to our hotel, we were a little time pressed.

 

NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!

 

We really take public transportation often and in many places --- but this voyage with the suitcases was just hell! Maybe it’s better, when you cross over to the metro at other stations…but at Sants…..HELL!!!!!!!!

 

We decided we would take a taxi from the hotel to the airport after the cruise.

 

But here’s a positive remark about the Barcelona Metro! It rocks! Fast connections to basically every destination, nice, not too crowded trains, great info about which stops come when above the doors, tv entertainment (in catalan?)….fun to ride!!!

 

If you don’t have to drag luggage (and don’t attempt to cross from the railway to the subway at Sants with it)….it’s really great and absolutely something I would recommend!

 

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This is the exit "Parallel". From here it was only one more block to our hotel.

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I know -- it isn't fancy. But we were looking for something reasonable (paid €94 per night for the three of us) and close to metro and port, which wasn't a hostel. It worked out great for us. But right now we were just happy to get rid of the trolleys.

 

 

This was our room. A place to sleep -- not more--not less.

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The bathroom

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The reception area.

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Next to it they have a storage room for luggage, if your room isn't ready yet. We used that after the cruise.

 

 

I would have really enjoyed to take a picture of the tiny elevator (two trolleys and one person max!) but there just wasn't enough space to get the picture right. It's an adventure I tell you.

 

 

Would we book this hotel again? Yes! Not because we love it, just because it fits our needs.

 

 

 

 

next up: the Sagrada Familia

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After finally arriving at our hotel we really just grabbed our prepaid Sagrada tickets, our T-10 Metro ticket and the cameras and we were off again. Sigh, I really would have loved a quick shower and a change of clothes --- but it was not to be. We took the Metro right to the Sagrada Familia….

 

ahhhh what a pleasure to travel without the trolleys!

 

When you get to the Sagrada Familia station it’s a WOW moment to exit the station, turn around and ….booom.

APDC0416_zps78debaff.jpg

 

There she is. Pictures just don’t do it any justice. This is just something everybody should experience in real life. We first were a little confused to where the entrance was. You need to walk towards the church, go around it on the right side, pass the gigantic line waiting for admission and walk right in the entrance for prepaid tickets only. We didn’t have ONE person in front of us. The regular line was at LEAST a 2 – 3 hour long wait in the sizzling sun! This really was a good idea to prepurchase.

 

Once we passed the entrance to the site (still outside) we turned right to get to the audio guide building. Here there was a little line (about 5 minutes). The audioguides come in pretty much any language you desire and a re fun and easy to use. We were happy to have them…but to be honest after quite some time after entering the church we were too stuffed with information. We just turned it off and wandered freely to take the rest in. And boy it’s a lot to take in. I absolutely recommend seeing this from both the outside AND inside. It’s breathtaking. I believe you either love it or hate it. I LOVE IT! Especially the inside. For me it feels like you entered some sort of elb cathedral fresh from the Lord of the Rings. The differences in Light and color….

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….plus the gigantic tree like columns….

 

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…completely blew me away! Again – the pictures here don’t come close to the actual experience. You HAVE TO SEE THIS!!!!!!!!

 

Okay and now some more pictures:

 

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APDC0445_zpsb35eac8d.jpg

 

 

IMG_0725_zps2b5b3152.jpg

 

more to come!

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more fun and mysterious pictures of the Sagrada Familia (just because I love it so much:)):

 

IMG_0705_zpsfda5765c.jpg

 

APDC0444_zpsb478451f.jpg

 

 

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strange -- but cool. The audioguide tells a lot about this.

 

 

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what's this about? Anybody know? We don't.

 

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Yay -- a turtle! Tanja just LOVES turtles!

 

okay folks -- enough of the Sagrada Familia. Go visit it!

 

more to come!

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After the Sagrada Familia we grabbed a snack and returned to our hotel for the long awaited shower. AHh, it felt like heaven to get out of those sweaty warm clothes. When we were changed it was time to get moving again. We wanted to meet two cruise critic friends from our role call for a Tapas dinner. Once again we took the Metro. Due to a (cough) – little – (cough) mistake of mine we walked into the wrong direction after getting off the Metro. Until we figured it out, it was almost time to meet. So now we almost jogged to our appointment. We didn’t make it quite in time, but Tatiana and Steve weren’t mad. Actually they had used the spare time wisely to order a table, since everything was full. Tatiana can speak fluent Spanish (she’s from Cuba) and that sure was a blessing. Steve’s from Canada (the French part) and so it was the 5 of us all with English as a foreign language. Pretty cool – especially for Tarik’s first encounter with English speaking people. He did pretty well. We had a fun evening. Laughed a lot, drank some nice beer (only us – Tarik had a coke), tried different Tapas. The mussels were to die for. Time flew by and by the time we were saying our goodbyes, we had the feeling of having met some extra nice and wonderful people.

 

APDC0528_zps1f043946.jpg

 

We couldn’t wait to meet them again on the Serenade (LOL – little did we know how often we would actually run into them all cruise long). We started walking back to the Metro…but since I got us lost on the way to the Tapas Bar… I wasn’t quite sure where to go to… We just wandered a bit … which turned out to be a really cool sightseeing walk. We saw these cool Gaudi houses….

 

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…and this pretty fountain

 

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….which constantly changed its colours (I think Tarik has at least 6 different colour pictures of this fountain).

 

Shortly after that we were pooped though and entered the next Metro to get back to our hotel.

First night for the three of us to sleep in one room.

 

NO PROBLEM!

 

We all slept like babies even though Tanja and I woke up in the middle of the night because of a severe thunderstorm. Boy, that thunder was loud! Tarik didn’t stir. I guess he was pretty pooped afterall.

 

Next up: Embarkation day!!!!!!!!!

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I am loving your review...You have a beautiful family (including the 4 legged members!!)

Going on the Serenade next summer, so I am looking forward to the rest of your review :)

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I am loving your review...You have a beautiful family (including the 4 legged members!!)

Going on the Serenade next summer, so I am looking forward to the rest of your review :)

 

Hi Halos,

 

Thank you so much! Maybe I can be of help for your cruise next summer. Will they still have the same itinerary? Greek Isles or Venice?

 

Stef

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Hi Halos,

 

Thank you so much! Maybe I can be of help for your cruise next summer. Will they still have the same itinerary? Greek Isles or Venice?

 

Stef

Venice :)

This is our itinerary:

 

 

05Sep Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy5:00 PM

06-Sep Naples (Salerno), Italy7:00 AM6:00 PMDocked

07-Sep Messina (Sicily), Italy10:00 AM7:00 PMDocked

08-Sep Cruising

09-Sep Split, Croatia7:00 AM4:00 PM Tendered

10-Sep Koper, Slovenia7:00 AM7:00 PM Docked

11-Sep Venice, Italy7:00 AM Docked

12-Sep Venice, Italy2:00 PM Docked

13-Sep Dubrovnik, Croatia10:00 AM7:00 PM Docked

14-Sep Kotor, Montenegro7:00 AM4:00 PM Tendered

15-Sep Corfu, Greece9:00 AM6:00 PM Docked

16-Sep Cruising

17-Sep Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy5:00 AM

Edited by halos

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[/i]

APDC0503_zpsd1d3b9fa.jpg

what's this about? Anybody know? We don't.

 

That represents Jesus' age at the time of his crucifixion. Add up any column, row, or diagonal direction, and it comes out to 33.

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Hi Emma,

 

:Dlol -- I guess I'll take that as a compliment:D.

 

Stef

 

It was meant as one Stef!

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Hi Erika,

 

It was fun meeting you too!

 

Wasn't your son part of the infamous karaoke group on board?...what were they called...fabulous 8...or something like that? Or am I mistaken? I would love to remember their real name for later on in the review:).

 

Stef

 

My boys were in that too, will ask them when they get back!

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Stef,

was it the 'magic fountains' you were near?

they are really cool. thw water changes colour and dances to the music of 'Barcelona' by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe. It really is 'magic :D

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That represents Jesus' age at the time of his crucifixion. Add up any column, row, or diagonal direction, and it comes out to 33.

 

Hi uscfknight07,

 

Oh wow!

 

Thank you so much! Mystery solved. I guess I really shouldn't have turned off the audioguide:o.

 

Stef

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Stef,

was it the 'magic fountains' you were near?

they are really cool. thw water changes colour and dances to the music of 'Barcelona' by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe. It really is 'magic :D

 

 

Hi Lorrdean,

 

aehm -- I have no clue. Sorry about that. Music? I can't remember any music. The fountain sure was pretty...but magic would be pushing it. I think we were at a different fountain:D.

 

Oh my God I LOVE that song!

 

Bummer -- now I need to get back there and find the magic fountain:)!

 

Stef

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Loving following along with this Stef...even more so now because I need to see your photos - I deleted all of mine last night by accident :(:mad::( 473 all gone!!! :eek:

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