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We're booked on the 13-night Ultimate Scandinavia/Russia on Serenade this summer.  I'm thinking about the refreshment package but it really adds up on such a long cruise and I want to make sure we'll get value from it, so I have some specific questions I'm hoping the experts can help with!

  1. We only have one sea day so I think breakfast will usually be at Park Cafe or Windjammer.  Is there a convenient nearby location for fresh-squeezed juices and espresso?  I'm not clear on what exactly the Park Cafe itself offers in terms of beverages.
  2. Along the same lines, is there specialty coffee anywhere besides Cafe Lattitudes?
  3. Does Serenade have milkshakes anywhere?
  4. Is canned soda included since there's no freestyle machine?
  5. Do they have bottled water stations set up where we could grab 2 bottles each before heading out into the port each day?  Can we also stockpile a few in our room?
  6. How much of a savings is it to order a virgin cocktail with the package and then pay for a shot of alcohol to add to it?  Are we better off getting a drink card or sticking to the drink specials when we do want alcohol? I know we won't drink enough for the unlimited package.

I recently read a review that described RCL coffee as "brown water" and the Windjammer orange juice as "flavored water with food coloring" so I'm suddenly nervous about the included beverages.  We're mainly into coffee and I've heard that Serenade is one of the ships that isn't good for the coffee card.  I do like the thought of unlimited bottled water and being able to order virgin cocktails for shows and that kind of thing, but with so many port days, it's really hard to say whether it'll be worth it.

Appreciate any thoughts you can give!  This group is so friendly, I love it.

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We did the 12 night Serenade repo last October, let's see what I can remember.

1. I only remember seeing fresh-squeezed OJ in the MDR at breakfast.  That being said, there should be one in WJ as well.  We had seven sea days so spent more time in MDR than WJ for breakfast. I do not believe you can get espresso-based drinks in the WJ.

2. Cafe Latitudes is the only place for specialty coffee outside of the MDR.  They will also spike your coffee.

3. Cafe Latitudes does have milkshakes.  

4. Soda is included in the beverage packages; we don't drink soda so not sure if they will give you a can or if it comes from a tap.  Our friends drink diet soda, and always had it served to them in a glass. 

5. There was bottled water available each port day as you disembark the ship.  But there was usually a line.  Best plan is to grab a couple each evening and store them in your room fridge, so you are ready to go.  The stations use paper receipts and while the beverage package folks often just get their card glanced at and handed the water, those paying have to wait for a paper receipt to be written.  I've seen little handheld things scanning cards on other ships, but Serenade did not have that on our trip.

6. A shot will cost you $5-10 depending on what you are getting.  Drink cards are few and far between at this point, almost to non-existent and never a guarantee.  You'll see a draft beer card before a drink card which doesn't help much.  Drink specials, on the other hand, are a daily occurrence.  Read your Cruise Compass and hit up those specials as you see them.  The casino has $2 mimosas almost daily during their happy hour as well as the bar specials.  At the pool, you'll often see different specials like buckets of beer that aren't available anywhere else on the ship.

Enjoy Serenade - she's a great ship! 

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I just got off the Allure sunday.  The refreshment package seems to be difficult to justify.  You almost force yourself to get multiple coffees, multiple juices per day and sugary non alcoholic cocktails and sodas.  Not because you actually want it or need it but because you feel you have to get it to "get your value".  

At Cafe Promenade they only had 1 size of all speciality coffees, i think it was about 12  oz cups now.  realistically for that long of a cruise you are better just buying what you want when you want it then spending as you say 600 dollars on beverages that you will feel forced to consume.

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On longer cruises the drink package has questionable value for me, but others may find value.  

I gravitate to longer cruises since I have to fly to cruise.  On a 7 night cruise drink fatigue begins to set in around day 6 for me.  On a 13, 14 or 16 night cruise I'd never buy the drink package.  It approaches the price of another cruise as cruise length increases.  I'd rather sail on another cruise.  

I'm not a coffee aficionado.  I drill the WJ coffee and I'm fine with it.  I rarely ever drink Starbucks coffee, I just don't see the point.  I suppose if someone lives on Starbucks in the daily life the WJ coffee might seem unsatisfactory.  That however is personal opinion and just like food, tastes differ from person to person.  

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