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Impressions From A First Time Cruiser


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Well, we are back from our first ever cruise and just wanted to let you know that Leslie and I had a great time! Really, words cannot express our feelings and amazement of it all, but I will try and condense everything into as little as possible.

  • Embarkation Day- Smooth sailing from the start.(yes, pun intended) Arrived at the pier in Boston at 10am, was not given a boarding number at the beginning. After talking to some fellow passengers, went back up and inquired. Was told we did need one and was given group 1! Score! On the ship by 10:50am, first one to play a round of mini golf by 11am. Didn't seem to get crowded on board till after about 1pm, with some passengers still boarding during our muster drill 3:15. Our cabin was ready before 1pm and our luggage arrived before we arrived back from the sail away around 5:30. We experienced sail away from the Helipad. Great spot.
  • Ship- Although it had been mentioned in other threads about Serenade of the Seas age, we did not see many signs of it. The public areas were in great shape and very clean, especially the bathrooms. My hat's off to the men and women who made it possible and when I ran into them as I did quite a bit on board, I let them know. That is a thankless job. We thought that Serenade was very large until we were docked behind Anthem of the Seas in Halifax. Wow!  We thought Serenade was a great ship for a first timer though. 
  • Cabin- We had cabin 4554 just four cabins in from the Centrum. We found this to be a great central location. We were close enough to the Centrum for easy access to the elevators or stairs, but far enough away that the noise from the Centrum did not effect us.  The cabin although not large was bigger than we had expected and had a ton of storage between the closet, desk drawers and cabinet above the television. The bathroom although small was also larger than we had expected, after weight loss for both of us, maybe we are just smaller?  The cabin did show some signs of age a little. One the arms of the couch was a little worn and the bathroom had a little wear and tear, but nothing that deterred from our stay. 
  • Food- Overall we found the food to be very good. Some better than others, but none of it that we found to be bad.

                          Park Café- Good for a quick snack, sandwich or salad during the day. Perfect place to grab a first cup of coffee in the morning with a pre-breakfast bagel sandwich.

             Café Latte-tudes- We were here quite a bit. Got my refreshment package worth of lattes daily. Staff was friendly and efficient, even under stressful conditions. It got very hectic at times,                                                                especially first thing in the morning. For those of you who care, they are now serving Illy espresso. We thought it was very good.

                     Windjammer- We ate here mostly for breakfast and found it to be quite good. Like most other meals, it always seemed to be very crowded. We tended to navigate to the open air seating                                                        near the back, which always had open seating. Breezy and cool, but sunny. Some notable items spied during our breakfast excursions. Bangers, English Bacon, Grits, Miso                                                        Soup, Vegetable Curry, Fried Rice and Vegetables, Grilled Mushrooms. As you can tell, I go for the non-traditional breakfast items.

                                               We only ate dinner once. It was late, about 8:30, 30 min before they closed. Although the food was good, they had Indian that night on the buffet, it did seem to be a little                                                            picked over as they were condensing down to only one line. The Indian was very good, very authentic flavors. We did enjoy the made to order dessert crepes. 

                                   MDR- We ate here for dinner three nights and two sea day lunches. The dinner's were all very good. Leslie was impressed that the couple of times she had chicken, it was                                                                      always moist. Not easily done when cooking in the volume that they do. Seems like a silly thing, but we were quite impressed with all the breads, pastries and desserts,                                                              through out the ship. As mentioned in various threads, do not, I repeat do not be afraid to ask for multiple starters, desserts, or even main courses. We did every night and not                                                  once were looked at cross-eyed or given the feeling that our request was out of the question. When I questioned our waiter about a special request one evening, my question                                                    of "Is that possible?" was met with a response of "Anything is possible." Ask and ye shall receive. 

                                               We enjoyed the Sea Day lunch very much. The Tutti Bar was great and they had a good variety of items on their regular lunch menu as well. Both days they had a carving                                                            station one day with beef tenderloin. They also had a hot station along side, that had a starch, a vegetable and other items that varied including bbq ribs,                                                                                         chicken wings, garlic shrimp. They also had a live station that was pasta one day and stir fry the next.

                                               Notable exclusion from the MDR menu. No Bolognese offered? Sorry Matt!

                                 Izumi- We liked it here very much. Sushi was fresh. Hot rock was fun and tasty. Not sure we would do it again as a meal, as Leslie is not a huge sushi fan. Maybe just grab a couple of                                                 rolls or two to go and eat them out on the deck while watching the ocean. They did forget our fried rice with the hot rock. After I mentioned it in passing at the end of the meal,                                                 20% was taken off the bill. Not necessary, but appreciated.

                     Chops Grille- We thought Chops was great and a good value for the $30pp, we got it when it was on sale. I enjoyed the lamb chops very much, Leslie had the chicken, and once again as in                                                   the MDR, if was cooked perfectly moist and delicious. We enjoyed the shared sides. Service was formal, but not overly formal. 

              Giovanni's Table- This was by far, our favorite dining experience while on board. The food and service was outstanding. I had the Osso Buco. Outstanding! Leslie had the chicken, and not to                                                          sound like a broken record, it was cooked perfectly, again, moist and delicious. We shared a couple of pastas. We had the Ricotta Crepes with Bolognese and by suggestion of                                                @KLAconQueso, the Mushroom Risotto. Both were fantastic. They came by with the dessert cart after dinner and were just given a sample of everything to share, not to                                                            mention a slice of Key Lime pie from Chops next door, to celebrate our anniversary. A steal at $24pp and if you only wanted to do one specialty restaurant, this would be our                                                     suggestion.

  • Entertainment and Activities- We thought the variety and quality was very good. Enjoyed the shows in the Tropical theater. All of the music on board was varied and very good. I especially enjoyed the classical guitarist playing on at least two occasions, Nothing Else Matters, by Metallica! By the median age of the cruise though, I might have been the only person to recognize it! We won a trivia contest one morning and came home with a couple of sweet RC pens, which was fun.
  • Crew- Overall a great guest experience. Crew was all friendly, helpful and efficient. We especially enjoyed the service by Anna our room attendant, Randy, Solarium bartender and Sandra our Giovanni's server. Carly was a great Cruise Director and a special shout out to Tino, our Activities manager. He was funny, energetic and provided us with one of our highlights of the cruise, a 20 min tribute to Michael Jackson, one night in the Centrum! He was fantastic!
  • Shore Excursions- All were great! Enjoyed Top Ten Best of Halifax, St John Bucket List and An Intimate Look at Arcadia National Park. Arcadia was by far our favorite. The sights were breath taking and the fact that there were only 13 of us on a small shuttle bus, made it more intimate. We would recommend this tour to everyone. The only downside to the tours was the amount of time spent on the buses, opposed to off the buses. But, I guess if you want to go see the sights, you have to get there some how. It was, they said, the busiest day ever in Halifax the day we were in port, with 5 ships in port. Peggy's Cove was insanity! A sea of people and buses, but beautiful non the less. Spent our port day in Portland, ME on our own just walking the town. You must make these food stops while in Portland.  Standard Baking Co., Gorgeous Gelato, Holy Donut and Duckfat.  I promise you. You will not be disappointed. We also enjoyed Turkish Delight in Halifax, and Thirsty Whale and Slice of Eden in Bar Harbor. 
  • Debarkation Day-  Had a 8:20 debarkation time, so we grabbed a couple of muesli and one last latte at Café Latte-tudes and waited for our number to be called. Didn't want to deal with the expected breakfast crowd at Windjammer or MDR. Debarkation was quick. Found all of our luggage, right away, which was good. And then off to breakfast and to kill time before out 2:05pm flight home.

A few last minute recommendations while in Boston. Seaport Boston Hotel, Flour Bakery and Café and Row 34.

Well I guess that's enough. All in all it was a great experience for us.  I know this is only the start of our RC cruise life and are already thinking about where we want to go next.

Thanks again for all your help along the way.

Fred and Leslie

 

 

 

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So happy that you enjoyed it.  I've enjoyed the journey with you from joining the blog group to your discovery of so many new and exciting things and now to share your first ever cruise with us.  I'm so pleased.  Serenade is a beautiful ship.  If you think Anthem was big wait until you see one of the Oasis class ships !  YIKES !

Welcome to being a cruise veteran !

Joe, you're next !

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On 10/13/2017 at 12:58 PM, FManke said:

Well, we are back from our first ever cruise and just wanted to let you know that Leslie and I had a great time! Really, words cannot express our feelings and amazement of it all, but I will try and condense everything into as little as possible.

  • Embarkation Day- Smooth sailing from the start.(yes, pun intended) Arrived at the pier in Boston at 10am, was not given a boarding number at the beginning. After talking to some fellow passengers, went back up and inquired. Was told we did need one and was given group 1! Score! On the ship by 10:50am, first one to play a round of mini golf by 11am. Didn't seem to get crowded on board till after about 1pm, with some passengers still boarding during our muster drill 3:15. Our cabin was ready before 1pm and our luggage arrived before we arrived back from the sail away around 5:30. We experienced sail away from the Helipad. Great spot.
  • Ship- Although it had been mentioned in other threads about Serenade of the Seas age, we did not see many signs of it. The public areas were in great shape and very clean, especially the bathrooms. My hat's off to the men and women who made it possible and when I ran into them as I did quite a bit on board, I let them know. That is a thankless job. We thought that Serenade was very large until we were docked behind Anthem of the Seas in Halifax. Wow!  We thought Serenade was a great ship for a first timer though. 
  • Cabin- We had cabin 4554 just four cabins in from the Centrum. We found this to be a great central location. We were close enough to the Centrum for easy access to the elevators or stairs, but far enough away that the noise from the Centrum did not effect us.  The cabin although not large was bigger than we had expected and had a ton of storage between the closet, desk drawers and cabinet above the television. The bathroom although small was also larger than we had expected, after weight loss for both of us, maybe we are just smaller?  The cabin did show some signs of age a little. One the arms of the couch was a little worn and the bathroom had a little wear and tear, but nothing that deterred from our stay. 
  • Food- Overall we found the food to be very good. Some better than others, but none of it that we found to be bad.

                          Park Café- Good for a quick snack, sandwich or salad during the day. Perfect place to grab a first cup of coffee in the morning with a pre-breakfast bagel sandwich.

             Café Latte-tudes- We were here quite a bit. Got my refreshment package worth of lattes daily. Staff was friendly and efficient, even under stressful conditions. It got very hectic at times,                                                                especially first thing in the morning. For those of you who care, they are now serving Illy espresso. We thought it was very good.

                     Windjammer- We ate here mostly for breakfast and found it to be quite good. Like most other meals, it always seemed to be very crowded. We tended to navigate to the open air seating                                                        near the back, which always had open seating. Breezy and cool, but sunny. Some notable items spied during our breakfast excursions. Bangers, English Bacon, Grits, Miso                                                        Soup, Vegetable Curry, Fried Rice and Vegetables, Grilled Mushrooms. As you can tell, I go for the non-traditional breakfast items.

                                               We only ate dinner once. It was late, about 8:30, 30 min before they closed. Although the food was good, they had Indian that night on the buffet, it did seem to be a little                                                            picked over as they were condensing down to only one line. The Indian was very good, very authentic flavors. We did enjoy the made to order dessert crepes. 

                                   MDR- We ate here for dinner three nights and two sea day lunches. The dinner's were all very good. Leslie was impressed that the couple of times she had chicken, it was                                                                      always moist. Not easily done when cooking in the volume that they do. Seems like a silly thing, but we were quite impressed with all the breads, pastries and desserts,                                                              through out the ship. As mentioned in various threads, do not, I repeat do not be afraid to ask for multiple starters, desserts, or even main courses. We did every night and not                                                  once were looked at cross-eyed or given the feeling that our request was out of the question. When I questioned our waiter about a special request one evening, my question                                                    of "Is that possible?" was met with a response of "Anything is possible." Ask and ye shall receive. 

                                               We enjoyed the Sea Day lunch very much. The Tutti Bar was great and they had a good variety of items on their regular lunch menu as well. Both days they had a carving                                                            station one day with beef tenderloin. They also had a hot station along side, that had a starch, a vegetable and other items that varied including bbq ribs,                                                                                         chicken wings, garlic shrimp. They also had a live station that was pasta one day and stir fry the next.

                                               Notable exclusion from the MDR menu. No Bolognese offered? Sorry Matt!

                                 Izumi- We liked it here very much. Sushi was fresh. Hot rock was fun and tasty. Not sure we would do it again as a meal, as Leslie is not a huge sushi fan. Maybe just grab a couple of                                                 rolls or two to go and eat them out on the deck while watching the ocean. They did forget our fried rice with the hot rock. After I mentioned it in passing at the end of the meal,                                                 20% was taken off the bill. Not necessary, but appreciated.

                     Chops Grille- We thought Chops was great and a good value for the $30pp, we got it when it was on sale. I enjoyed the lamb chops very much, Leslie had the chicken, and once again as in                                                   the MDR, if was cooked perfectly moist and delicious. We enjoyed the shared sides. Service was formal, but not overly formal. 

              Giovanni's Table- This was by far, our favorite dining experience while on board. The food and service was outstanding. I had the Osso Buco. Outstanding! Leslie had the chicken, and not to                                                          sound like a broken record, it was cooked perfectly, again, moist and delicious. We shared a couple of pastas. We had the Ricotta Crepes with Bolognese and by suggestion of                                                @KLAconQueso, the Mushroom Risotto. Both were fantastic. They came by with the dessert cart after dinner and were just given a sample of everything to share, not to                                                            mention a slice of Key Lime pie from Chops next door, to celebrate our anniversary. A steal at $24pp and if you only wanted to do one specialty restaurant, this would be our                                                     suggestion.

  • Entertainment and Activities- We thought the variety and quality was very good. Enjoyed the shows in the Tropical theater. All of the music on board was varied and very good. I especially enjoyed the classical guitarist playing on at least two occasions, Nothing Else Matters, by Metallica! By the median age of the cruise though, I might have been the only person to recognize it! We won a trivia contest one morning and came home with a couple of sweet RC pens, which was fun.
  • Crew- Overall a great guest experience. Crew was all friendly, helpful and efficient. We especially enjoyed the service by Anna our room attendant, Randy, Solarium bartender and Sandra our Giovanni's server. Carly was a great Cruise Director and a special shout out to Tino, our Activities manager. He was funny, energetic and provided us with one of our highlights of the cruise, a 20 min tribute to Michael Jackson, one night in the Centrum! He was fantastic!
  • Shore Excursions- All were great! Enjoyed Top Ten Best of Halifax, St John Bucket List and An Intimate Look at Arcadia National Park. Arcadia was by far our favorite. The sights were breath taking and the fact that there were only 13 of us on a small shuttle bus, made it more intimate. We would recommend this tour to everyone. The only downside to the tours was the amount of time spent on the buses, opposed to off the buses. But, I guess if you want to go see the sights, you have to get there some how. It was, they said, the busiest day ever in Halifax the day we were in port, with 5 ships in port. Peggy's Cove was insanity! A sea of people and buses, but beautiful non the less. Spent our port day in Portland, ME on our own just walking the town. You must make these food stops while in Portland.  Standard Baking Co., Gorgeous Gelato, Holy Donut and Duckfat.  I promise you. You will not be disappointed. We also enjoyed Turkish Delight in Halifax, and Thirsty Whale and Slice of Eden in Bar Harbor. 
  • Debarkation Day-  Had a 8:20 debarkation time, so we grabbed a couple of muesli and one last latte at Café Latte-tudes and waited for our number to be called. Didn't want to deal with the expected breakfast crowd at Windjammer or MDR. Debarkation was quick. Found all of our luggage, right away, which was good. And then off to breakfast and to kill time before out 2:05pm flight home.

A few last minute recommendations while in Boston. Seaport Boston Hotel, Flour Bakery and Café and Row 34.

Well I guess that's enough. All in all it was a great experience for us.  I know this is only the start of our RC cruise life and are already thinking about where we want to go next.

Thanks again for all your help along the way.

Fred and Leslie

 

 

 

I am glad that you had an awesome time. I went on the ship 4 times before I changed ships. They really dress her up for the holidays. She was in New Orleans for the holidays a few years back.

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7 minutes ago, Sweety said:

I am glad that you had an awesome time. I went on the ship 4 times before I changed ships. They really dress her up for the holidays. She was in New Orleans for the holidays a few years back.

We enjoyed her very much. We thought she was a great ship for a first timer.

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6 hours ago, coneyraven said:

So that was Tino doing the MIchael Jackson ..... Before going to Serenade, Tino was on Grandeur, and on his very last night before going to Serenade, there was a Michael Jackson tribute ..... I had absolutely no idea that was him ..... Bravo!!!

Yes, he was fantastic. We got to talk to him briefly a couple of times during out cruise. He has so much personality and charisma. He will definitely be headed for a cruise directors job, if he's interested. We might consider taking a cruise, just because of him. I know my wife would! :10_wink:

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