Jump to content
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

Serenade of the Seas - Short Mexico Cruise 10/16-10/21

Recommended Posts

What follows is a review of our 5-night cruise aboard the Serenade of the Seas. A few pictures can be found at http://community.webshots.com/album/555017976uoTAnK. This was a filler cruise in between her Hawaii-Ensenada trip and a chartered event. Even though this was a short cruise, I will be my usual wordy self. Executive summary: we had a fabulous time!



We drove down from LA County on the morning of the cruise. Thanks to our ever-vigilant group leader, Bob DeAgazio, we knew that Serenade would not be in port until 1:00 pm, so we decided to visit Coronado Island. As we crossed the Coronado Bay Bridge, we saw the ship approaching the harbor. DH, knowing the harbor well, predicted that she would be docked in an hour. We arrived at the pier shortly after 2:00 and it was madness, as the boarding process was only up to group 3. DH said to me, “it is good to be queen, isn’t it?” as we headed to the Platinum/Diamond/Suites line with our Set Sail passes and passports in hand. We were checked in and ready to board in 5 minutes. We bypassed the photographers, who created quite a backlog later in the process, headed up a flight of stairs and were on the ship in 10 minutes.


The Ship

We are big fans of the Radiance class of ship, and Serenade is a worthy member of the group. Like her sisters, she has a soaring atrium that hits you with the “wow” factor as soon as you enter the ship. There are lots of windows, and the ship is very well-appointed. I didn’t care for the artwork, but beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.


The Cabin

We inhabited cabin No. 1602, a JS on the stern of the ship. We are big fans of 1100, the other JS back there, but our friends had beaten us to it. No matter! We felt no deprivation whatsoever. The cabin is nicely appointed, and the balcony is enormous –two loungers, two regular chairs, one sort of Adirondack chair and a low table. Our cabin steward, Donovan, was good, not great. I think he may have been new. We had to ask for robes (oh, the horror!) and he did not deliver our priority disembarkation tags. We carried our bags off, so it didn’t really matter.


The bedding is still the old stuff, but was actually perfectly comfortable. The walk-in closet could easily hold weeks and weeks’ worth of stuff. Wrona had reported a problem with the bathroom, or maybe it was a leak, when she stayed there this spring. I can’t remember what it was, but we didn’t have any issues.


Privacy issues: Many posters have expressed concern about visibility from the outdoor Windjammer area above the cabin, so we did some research. 1600 and 1100 (the 2 corner aft cabins) are barely visible from above – you could only see somebody from the waist up. 1602, 1604, 1104 and 1102 have greater visibility, as they bow out further than the other 2. If you’re standing within 2 feet or so of the rail, people can see your entire body from above. But if you are lounging on one of the chairs, you cannot be seen.


1602 has more overhead coverage than 1100, so, depending on the angle of the sun, will provide more protection. But during the day, the balcony can be in full sun with no protection (we experienced that going north from Cabo to LA).


Noise from above: The elephants were lawn bowling on this cruise. We heard quite a bit of noise during the night – crew moving furniture, hosing down the decks, etc.- that we had not noticed on our other cruises in aft cabins.



We had late seating at 8:30. Our waitstaff of Monty (HW), Virgil (W) and Jose (AW) were good and very friendly, but not the most efficient – we were usually in the last batch to leave. The food was mostly very good. The seafood dishes were sometimes overcooked. My one steak was tough and not very flavorful. Soups and salads were very good.


We had breakfast several times in the dining room, and the food was just ok – DH’s scrambled eggs appeared to have been scooped out of a steam tray, but my eggbeater omelet was just fine. It was very slow going, even though there didn’t appear to be that many diners. I think room service orders overwhelmed the kitchen.


We had dinner in Portofino’s, and the food was wonderful. I had the risotto with prawns, the salad with pears and gorgonzola and the frutti di mare, a tower of seafood. For dessert I had the “dolcetti di Portofino,” which was a sampler of the various desserts. Delicious!


We did not visit Chops, but heard from other passengers that it was very good, too.


The Windjammer served up tasty buffet food (the fish was dry, though). Custom omelets (eggbeaters available) were nicely cooked.


The Seaview Café was not crowded, although it certainly had been “discovered.” We had lunch there 3 times – I tried the Rueben, the Cuban and a cheeseburger. All were very good. Fries were crispy, green salads were fresh and the famed onion rings were very good 2 out of 3 times – the 3rd time they were greasy. We did not eat at the Solarium Café, but the menu included pizzas, wraps, fresh fruit and cookies.



Serenade has a terrific gym at the bow on Deck 12 with lots of treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. I actually went this time!


I had planned on getting a massage in Ensenada, but we were an unexpected arrival that day, so “my” day spa was closed. I bit the bullet and got an aromatherapy hot stones massage onboard. The man who made my appointment had enough of an attitude to qualify as an ass, but Jenny gave me a wonderful treatment and didn’t breathe a word about products (I had noted on my form that I didn’t want a sales pitch).



I made it to the second production show, a review of music from the 50s to the 80s, which was very good - the singers are better than the dancers. The musicians around the ship are very talented. Matt Yee in the Schooner Bar is hilarious, and the illusionists were fun to watch. There are ample opportunities to sit and listen to music. Vibe, the pool band, throws a great party!


C&A Perks

As Diamond members, we were eligible to use the Concierge Club. Juan was in the unenviable position of having to sub for the legendary Maritza, and he did not live up to her lofty standard (reputed – I’ve never had the pleasure). He was nice to me, but then again, I didn’t ask for anything but a cocktail (or two) and some help with Internet issues. Others in our group reported that he was unfriendly, messed up appointments and reservations and was generally unhelpful. The CC was very crowded right before early dining, and he couldn’t keep up with the rush of passengers. Overflow sat in the Yacht Club area right outside the club, or just took drinks to go.


The ship held a Platinum/Diamond brunch on our second sea day. It was held in the Safari Club. Waiters circulated offering mimosas, Bloody Marys, champagne & screwdrivers. The spread was nice, but oddly (IMHO) nobody took the mike to greet us.



Internet access was as slow as molasses in January, and was in fact often unavailable, especially on the wireless, which rendered my laptop useless for that purpose. I used my free minutes up trying to get a connection, Juan got me another credit, and I blew through that with one CC posting.


The Solarium was a peaceful oasis on sea days, and there weren’t a lot of chair hogs out in force.


In spite of only having a 5-night itinerary, RCI threw us an M&M on embarkation night. It was lightly attended, but we had fun putting faces to CC names. We boarded just before our planned 3:00 meeting, so we missed that. We had planned a sailaway party, but embarkation was delayed until 8:30 (from 5:00), so that plan fizzled. A few of us showed up for our Schooner Bar rendevous on our 1st sea day.



This cruise had 2 stops, in Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. We had been to Ensenada 8 times without taking an excursion, so we did the wine country tour. The red wines were tasty enough, but not worth the $10-15 for the higher end wines, IMHO. I wanted to get a small bottle of the very good olive oil at L.A. Cetto, but only liter jars were available. It was a nice enough way to spend a morning. We then got off the bus in town & had lunch at El Pueblo. My shrimp fajitas were undercooked, which they quickly remedied, and the rest of the lunch was good.


In Cabo, it was over 90 degrees, so we walked about town and then headed back to the sanctuary of the ship. We might take a tour next time we’re here, as there are lots of water-based activities that would have kept us cool.



What a disaster! Foreign passengers were required to report to Immigration at 6:30 or so. Quite a few declined to do so, and were responsible for about an hour’s worth of the delay in disembarking. It was another hour before the ship was cleared for disembarkation, at about 8:45. We passed the time with Bob and several others in our group, and went on a cabin tour. At 9:15 DH and I decided to go down to the Platinum/Diamond lounge to wait for them to call the white tags (there were 3 groups of express disembarkation passengers and they were only to group 2). The lounge was filled to overflowing, so we sat on the floor outside, which proved fortuitous. 5 minutes later the Loyalty Ambassador started shepherding us to the gangway (and we were at the front of her line), which was overrun with people in spite of the usual instruction not to congregate there (note to Serenade: put a few ropes up and have a few staff members keeping the area clear, the way they do on Monarch). We were off the ship about 10 minutes after that (oddly enough, we didn’t have to present our passports to Immigration, and we turned in our customs forms before arriving at the luggage area), and in the car 5 minutes later. I’m sure they were still disembarking pax at noon. It was a tough way to end an otherwise marvelous cruise.


The End (are you still with me?:) )

Any issues noted above were merely minor blemishes on a fantastic cruise. Bob did a wonderful job of organizing our group and making sure we were well taken care of (including getting me my long-coveted bartender’s shirt), and we couldn’t have asked for a better group of fellow travellers. We’re hoping that this was just the first of many cruises with these wonderful people!:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jean, great review and you hit the nail right on the head with many points. How does the shirt fit?


I didn't leave Laurel and Charlie's suite until they called for White Tags and by then they had gotten the crowd under control. The line was minimal and I was off the ship in 10 mins.


I slept most of the day/night, and now I'm trying to muster the strength to get my bags out of the car..LOL.


It was so nice having such a "low maintenance" group for a change. I look forward to many more with this crowd.


As for those that want more details or pics... SORRY... as mentioned this is classified-- you'll just have to join us next time to see what you missed!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for you review!:) It was excellent (as always). Did you manage to check out Lattetudes, or notice if coffee was available outside the dining room in the morning?


We went by Lattetudes, but I forgot to check their brewed coffee policy. I did look outside the dining room for you, and they didn't have any coffee set up there. I still think you could get them to pour you a cup to go, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice review, Jean. It was a wonderful cruise! I definitely agree with your comments regarding disembarkation. What an ordeal!


We enjoyed meeting you and Don and many others from our roll call!


Laurel - thanks for being such a great "neighbor" for five days!


Connie - if you're "lurking":) - many thanks to you and Stan for the "Champagne" balcony party!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...