Overall Rating: Excellent
|Departed From:||New Orleans|
|# of Nights:||7 Nights|
|Overall Value:||Very Good|
Our review of the Serenade of the Seas cruise Feb 8-15, 2014 - Key West, Nassau and Coco Cay
We began our drive to NOLA on Feb 6 and after spending the night just south of Jackson, MS. We arrived at the Holiday Inn on Loyola Street near the Mercedes Benz Superdome around 1:00 pm on Feb 7. We used their park and cruise package for the second time in the past 2 years. We would rate the hotel as ++++! After checking in we had a quick lunch there and headed on to the French Quarter.
Our first stop was at Café Du Monde on Decatur Street where we had coffee and their famous Beignets. This is a must do in New Orleans! The weather was rather cool so the coffee warmed us up. Afterwards we walked over to Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. The band recognized us from Sept and played 'Back Home Again In Indiana'! It is our favorite bar on Bourbon Street. We spent the next few hours there listening to the great live music.
The next day we took the hotel's 11:00 am shuttle to the port of New Orleans and were aboard ship by noon. We were very pleased with the boarding process.
The Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship and is now one of our favorites! Our inside stateroom 7553 starboard side on the seventh deck would not be ready until 1:00 so we went to the Windjammer on deck 11 for our lunch. The buffet food and choices were very good. Once again we were very pleased.
After lunch we took a quick tour of the ship and when we heard the announcement of all staterooms were ready we headed to ours. It was nice that our luggage was outside our cabin waiting for us. Once inside we noted the space was a little less than what we are accustomed to from other lines, however we knew this when we booked. As it turned out the space was enough for the 2 of us. There was plenty of storage for all our stuff.
After we finished unpacking we decided to do some more exploring before the muster drill. We also met our room steward Clifton who did a good job for us for the duration of our cruise. After the drill we met up with folks from our roll call at the Sky bar on deck 12. We then went down to deck 11 and got in the 'Cupid Shuffle' line dance for the sail away. It was still cool out so everyone was dressed in warn dudes.
That evening we went to our late dining table 453 in the Reflection Dining Room. It was a round table for 10, however there was only 8 of us for the duration of the cruise. Our table mates of three married couples were all from Texas. Two of the couples were traveling together. We all got along great and had fun all week. Our Head waiter Christopher from the Philippians and Carlos his assistant from Brazil were as good or better than any we've had on previous cruises. Christopher kept us entertained with his many magic tricks. Also, the dining room food and choices were very good. No complaints from us. We liked the dining room, staff and mates so well we never tried any of the specialty restaurants. In fact you could order a filet mignon from Chops Grille for half the price. I did that one evening and was glad we did not go there and pay full price as it would not have been worth it.
As far as the ports go we love Key West and had a great time there, especially at Irish Kevin's. We did a little shopping and Rita bought a pair of sandals at Kino's. In Nassau we walked to the straw market and bought a few things and stopped at Señor Frogs for a drink. At Coco Cay we just relaxed in loungers at the beach. It was a sunny day, however the water was a little cool for swimming.
Now for the ship itself, we loved it! They had plenty of live music and the bands were decent. We did a lot of dancing, mainly in the Centrum on Deck 4. Also in Schooner's on Deck 6 and to prerecorded ballroom music in the Vortex on deck 13.
We also loved the adults only Solarium pool and hot tubs on deck 11. We had lunch and snacks there most days in the Park Café. Even when we could not get lounges there we were always able to find lounges very near. For all the nonsmokers avoid the starboard side on deck 11 as it is the smoking area of the ship. RCI's new smoking policy is now in place which is no smoking allowed in any staterooms or stateroom balconies.
We went to one production show and to two late night comedy shows and they were all good. The aerial shows in the Centrum are not to be missed. They are outstanding. We had front rows seats and I posted this video on YouTube.
On our last full day at sea our cruise director, John Blair, performed an afternoon Neil Diamond show. He was a surprisingly good Neil Diamond impersonator and received a well deserved standing ovation. It was definitely a high energy performance.
This was only our third RCI cruise and the previous two on the Rhapsody and Freedom were only so--so. This cruise was great! We liked the ship and the crew so well we booked a B2B for New Year 2015 and the week after.
Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on. The process by RCI was handled very well. We caught a taxi back to the hotel and after loading up our luggage we were on the road home by 10:30 am and made it home by 10:30 pm. For a change the driving weather was actually good. Only ran in to snow flurries briefly.