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Hoopster95

SERENADE Sept 17-28,2014 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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I went downstairs to get ready for a day at the pool. This was going to be a "no camera" day... ah freedom! But having been inside for the Flag parade and then down in my room, as I went up the Centrum elevators facing out to the ocean there in front of me in the distance was an awesome site! So down I went to get my camera and delay my pool day.

 

Capt Anders announced on day 1 that on our way from Civitavecchia to Salerno we would pass Strombolli at about 3am, so if you got up you just might see the redness of lava flow in the distance. I did not hear anyone actually see it, and I had totally forgotten about this. I did hear the Capt when I was in my stateroom muffled from the hallway, so I guess he announced the approach while I was inside.

 

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Totally awesome!!!! And within about 5 minutes....

 

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Ya! It was venting and expelling I suspect. I was wondering really how much it would blow but this was about the max. Every 10-15 minutes on the nose for that hour we passed the smoke would turn black as it shot up a new set of material

 

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Very very cool! As we continued alongside and then began sailing away, the angle view back we could see that the lava/material was going down the mountain. You can see the puffs of smoke making a trail down dead center in the picture below

 

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As a frame of reference, here's an actual size shot of Stromboli from deck 12 just outside the entrance to the Centrum elevators port side

 

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The rest of the day was lounging poolside in the beautiful sunshine. Everyone was there, and we all hung out until late in the afternoon past 5pm. I packed before dinner as it only takes me 1/2 hour tops. Our final dinner was excellent again in the MDR... I will comment on MDR again in my final summary post when I give ratings for everything. The evening line-up of entertainment was typical to most of my experiences.... a final trivia, a single farewell show, and some Jazz tunes sung by the RCL singers in an intimate venue (Centrum for this ship).

 

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It was time for the final farewell by the staff on stage, and our last event at the Tropicale Theatre. Good-bye Serenade crew and thank-you for an excellent time

 

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The rest of the night was basically empty.... and I do mean EMPTY! I think everyone went to their rooms and called it a cruise after the previous hectic 10 ports in 12 days. Having already packed, I wanted to stay up this evening... I'll sleep on the bus and plane tomorrow. I went to check out the Michael Jackson tune trivia at the Lounge but there were only 4 tables. Ahmed still ran the trivia but in all honesty it was a little lame, and it was the only thing going until the Jazz performance at the Centrum. Even the jazz performance was very poorly attended, I stayed for that and it was extremely good. Once that ended, nothing else was scheduled at all so we all headed up to Vortex to dance the night away.... you guessed it, better than the other events but still very sparse. We all hung out there and had a great time to end our cruise. I've tried to give every staff member who did a great job for my experience kudos in this review, and in this fun shot is DJ Phil with many friends

 

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Shortly after midnight, it was time for bed and an early wake-up call to get off the ship in the morning. (YUCK!!!)

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My 5:30am wake-up call came waaaaay too ealry lol! But I did get up right away. Looking out my window I noted we were already in port, so I got prepared for the day. After getting ready and putting my last few clothes and toiletries away I went up for the last deck 11 aft breakfast in the morning dawn light. I brought my camera with me as I wanted some last shots of the ship. It was still quite dark as the Equinox was just coming into port as well right beside us

 

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Once I was done breakfast, the morning sun was coming up quite quickly and daylight was increasing. I made my way around top deck to check out the ship one last time.

 

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I realized that I had missed a couple of photos I wanted to take in previous days! One of them was of the bronze swimmer poolside with the life ring around him... every ship has something different on pool deck or close by, a statue or something that makes it unique, and this was it for this ship. I normally take a "funny" picture beside the figure, but no time here. I also realized that I take the photo of the ship's coat of arms on every ship above the pool bar/under the Sky Bar. This was my last picture from the ship..... farewell Serenade!!!

 

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I had booked the RCL shuttle to FCO airport ($92). My gathering place was the Safari Lounge at the back of the ship at 7:15am and I got there right at that time. Within 5 min we were being escorted to the shuttles outside.... "Bong"..."Bong"... "Bong".... {sigh}... ah well, back to reality. I found my luggage easily, and the instruction from the port staff was excellent in leading people to their appropriate buses. The bus filled and we are on our way within 15min after that. All in all, we left the port a few minutes after 8am and we arrived at FCO at 9am. My flight was 11:45am and RCL recommends no flights booked before 11:30am. Everything worked out perfectly. Soon enough I was on the plane to Heathrow looking down at the Alps from my window seat, reminiscing and looking through my camera of all the excellent photos and videos I had taken

 

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I truly hope those of you who have followed this review and my incredible bucket-list adventure enjoyed all the commentary, tips and pictures. I'll be doing a summary and ratings segment tomorrow. If any of you have any questions about the Serenade on this trip or any of the ports, let me know and I'll try my best to answer.

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What a great review/diary! We were on the cruise after yours and had a fabulous time as well. Mid I can get my pictures organized, I may do a reviews but think I will just point people over here for picture of the ship since yours are so great.:)

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I really hate to see this review end. :( It was an amazing journey, and I am thankful to you for allowing us all to join you.

 

Pictures were some of the best I've ever seen and commentary very entertaining and informative.

 

It was nice to spend the waiting time for my next cruise, in two weeks, on a virtual cruise with you, to someplace I will never get to.

 

Thank you very much and will look forward to your final thoughts and your next review, if you choose to do one.

 

 

Gwen :)

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What a wonderful review, Hoopster!!! I truly felt like I was on the ship with you. I'll keep an eye out for future reviews from you. :)

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Wow - entertaining and very informative! It provided me several tips (and got me really geeked) for our upcoming first European cruise! Thank you very much for a great review and sharing your experiences and photos. :)

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Great review!!! I loved being able to see many of the same ports I stopped at last year on the Serenade through your eyes. It's always interesting to read about how other's spent their days differently. I have to say, you certainly packed a TON of stuff into each and every one of yours. There were times that I was exhausted just reading about everything you managed to cram into a single day :eek::D

 

Melissa

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Great review, great pics! Doing a B2B in Feb, can't wait...:)

 

We took the same cruise the next week. Can't believe you actually walked up that hill in Kotor. Looking forward to the rest of your shots. We came back totally exhausted. Very port intensive with no down time.

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Hey CC'ers,

 

Thx to all for the kind words from everyone who followed along! Really nice of you to let me know that it's helping you make decisions on your future cruise or that your just plain entertained with the photos :D... Yep, I'm pretty active and I do get around to see plenty of sites. I'm hoping that those of you looking to maybe do a Med cruise in the future can look back on this review not necessarily to copy my tours exactly, but at least be able to reference the ports and activities through photos & descriptions. I had a hard time finding any real info on Malta and Kotor for example.

 

Like my Navigator review, I'll rate the various things about the Serenade how I perceived them. Although I'm usually happy and go with the flow, I think I'm tough and realistic on my ratings (I don't give 10s just because) so bare with me and my perception of things:

  • "5" is a pass, but just barely...
  • 6 ok
  • 7 is very good but not memorable
  • 8 memorable, but not the best ever
  • 9 totally excellent, have recommended or raved
  • 10 the best EVER

 

Food: -- overall 8.5 --

  • Giovanni's 9 ...(memorable superb group dinner, incredible entrees but I remember the tiramisu & canolis were much much tastier on Navigator and Oasis)
  • Chops n/a ... (didn't try)
  • MDR 8.5 ... (best MDR food in last 2 years from any ship, couple of memorable meals I can actually remember and describe)
  • WJ 7 ... (6 on Navigator, WJ here was very good especially at breakfast. The regular Jamaican gal chef at the omelette station was totally awesome!!! Hot eggs, not overly greasy bacon, etc)
  • Park cafe 7 ... (ate here twice, both times excellent but the aft deck 11 had me sold at Windjammer the entire cruise)
  • DL n/a ... (barely used, couple of coffees during the cruise)
  • CL n/a ... (never sat here either, just routine morning coffee)

 

Entertainment: -- overall 7 --

  • Production Shows 7
  • Singers 7.5 ... (Whitney is one of best in fleet, the guys just ok)
  • Dancers 7
  • Headliners 8 ... (Spanish Ballet & Motown Girls excellent)
  • Pool band n/a ... (there was none!!! Then again, pool time was limited)
  • Latino Band 9.5!! ... (Latin Vibes from Navigator, great band, same rating, kept the crowd dancing and played lots of hits)
  • Schooner piano player n/a ... (did not seem engaging times I walked by)
  • 3 pce ballroom band 6
     
    Staff -- overall 9 --
  • Activity Director and staff 9.5 ... (awesome people that I consider I made friends with and spoke with on a daily basis. I will definitely remember them if I visit I ever see them on another ship someday)
  • CD Mercedes 7 ... (not as visible as many others, decent job but I'll forget who the CD was on this vacay in less than a year... I'll have to look up this review to remember)
  • Stateroom attendant 9 ... (not a single thing missed, never once mentioned the survey or WOW card)
  • MDR Dennis & Mary 9 ... (one of the better pairs in a whiel for me personally, excellent service)

 

Venues -- overall 7.5 --

  • Helipad 10 ... (just look at my Venice and Malta sailaway pics :))
  • Sports Deck 6
  • Safari Lounge 6 ... (highly underutilized and very large waste of space that is not central or easy to get to)
  • Centrum 9.5 ... (the focal point of this ship, excellent events here and a great gathering place)
  • Casino n/a ... (I didn't use this time)
  • R-Bar 8 ... (great place at Centrum, excellent service & bartending)
  • Pool Deck 6 ... (too small, totally full on sea days, very small pool for number of passengers, did the job on this cruise for the only 2 sea days avail and smaller number of sun lovers in this demographic)
  • Solarium 9 ... (Oasis Solarium 10 in comparison imho)
  • deck 11 aft 10 ... (absolutely best area to have breakfast or lunch especially when in port)
  • Gym 9 ... (beautiful space with great view and excellent equipment)
  • Vortex 9 ... (excellent dance venue and bar/seating area)

 

Excursions: -- RCL 8.5 -- -- private 8.5-- -- DIY 10 --

  • Salerno 8.5 ... (private)
  • Messina 8 ... (private)
  • Malta 9 ... (private)
  • Corfu 7.5 ... DIY
  • Kotor 8.5 (RCL) and 10 (DIY)
  • Venice (1st day) ... 10 (DIY) and 7 (private Venice evening tour)
  • Venice (2nd day) ... 10 (DIY), 9 and 6 (read those segments for my review of excursions)
  • Dubrovnik 10 ... (DIY)

 

People

Fellow Cruises 100+ :p ... (superb friendships made this trip)

 

Overall

Itinerary 10 ... (the very best ports of call itinerary ever)

Overall cruise value ... 9 (highly memorable cruise that is in my top 5 cruises ever, totally due to the 3 most important things for me on this trip: bucket-list itinerary provided by RCL, great food & staff, and most importantly for any great cruise the great friends on board)

 

RCL & the Serenade did exactly what I had expected and wanted... she gave me the "home" that I am used to when cruising, but this time with great MDR meals, excellent activity staff and great night-time activities while transporting to the most amazing ports of call. This trip has truly re-enforced to me that Radiance Class is absolutely perfect for heavy itinerary sailings with lots of ports of call and likely not so much for a ton of sea days on the pool deck.

 

I will do a full heavy photo review of my Dec Quantum cruise, and you can bet I'll have a bazillion pics of the ship and venues rather than the ports themselves! Wow... that's only 6 weeks away :p

 

H A P P Y C R U I S I N ' E V E R Y O N E ! ! ! :D:D

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Great Review!! I enjoyed it as much if not better than your Navigator review. Just off the Navigator myself and thinking about Med cruise. Really want to visit Rome and Venice so I learned alot!

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Great Review!! I enjoyed it as much if not better than your Navigator review..... Really want to visit Rome and Venice so I learned alot!

 

Thx Frenchie! That's what I'm hoping re the learning :), Glad to have helped.

 

By the way if you haven't done so yet you should look at both Cool Girl/Crazy Mom and IrishCath current Med reviews as well for their perspectives & tips

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By the way if you haven't done so yet you should look at both Cool Girl/Crazy Mom and IrishCath current Med reviews as well for their perspectives & tips

 

Thanks for the shout-out, Hoopster!!!!

 

(Frenchie, also, be sure to check out the recent review by crvng4mr (Ayasha) as well as last year's review by Kreuzfahrtneuling (Stef... I used her review extensively while planning my trip)

 

Melissa

Edited by kirian

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Thanks for the shout-out, Hoopster!!!!

 

(Frenchie, also, be sure to check out the recent review by crvng4mr (Ayasha) as well as last year's review by Kreuzfahrtneuling (Stef... I used her review extensively while planning my trip)

 

Melissa

Thanks for the shout out! ;)

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I really liked the look and feel of the Casino Royale on the Serenade... and it wasn't overly smoky! I've participated in the poker tournaments and cash tables in the past, but my interests on this cruise, time in ports, and various shows/events/dancing around the ship didn't afford me any time or interest this time around to spend much time here. As normal, the Casino was a busy beehive of activity every time I passed through!

 

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thank you for all the work and photos and esp. answering my question about the indoor steam room, ceramic chairs and spa activities.

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OMG, thank you so much for this amazing review. I found your review yesterday and I just finished reading it now. Two days of wonderful reading. I will be on this ship in December for 12 days cruising the southern Caribbean.

 

I have been reading and looking at the amazing photos that you have of some of the ports you have been and brought back so many memories of places I have visited. Not through a cruise ship but I think it is a nice way to visit some ports when you don't have much time to spend on each city.

 

I will look for your other reviews so that way I will gather more information on other itineraries.

 

Thanks again!!!

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