So, I love reading the reviews on here on whichever ship I'm going on, but I always want to comment and they don't allow it. So here's my review of our recent Serenade of the Seas sailing to New England and Canada and you can hurl ALL the comments and /or insults you want my way! Hahaha. Enjoy!
We got to embarkation on the early side and waited in a line at the port for a little bit, but once it got moving, the process went quickly. The first thing we noticed was there were a lot of retirees. Always the best part...we see them and smile, they see our kids and become skittish. (They always realize we have great kids. It just takes them a bit to come around!)
Our room was 3076 and it was a quad with 2 beds coming from the ceiling. Our cabin steward was great, always had a smile, very thorough. We even got towel animals. The cabin was bigger than some of the Princess ones we've been or (or configured better). The location was perfect...low and mid. We didn't have any issues with seasickness.
We were originally slated to dine at a table for 12 (hoping to meet new people), but the head waiter called on the first day and asked if we wouldn't mind moving to a table for 4. No problem! Well, I guess we were in the "overflow" area at that point because we were suddenly in the "card room" for dinner. Haha. It was actually very private but the poor waiters were nowhere near the kitchen, so I know it was harder for them. They also had tables in the main area, but they did amazing. They were both very friendly and we enjoyed talking to them. There were 3 or 4 other tables in the same room and at one point, I heard a woman say she should "complain more often" because they liked the arrangement. From the bottom of my heart, please don't complain MORE.
As far as the food goes, I have celiac disease so my opinion is very different than my husband's. I thought the gluten free menu options (which were very well marked) were amazing. The fact that I didn't have to call out that I was on a "special" diet was so cool. I usually cringe when I have to order at other restaurants, so high maintenance! On RC, everything was labelled (most of the time) and I was able to ask for what I wanted if I couldn't find it. They were not without judgement at the buffet in the morning when I would ask them to toast my bread in the GF toaster (which I assume was in the bowels of the ship because very few volunteered to go do it! Ha), but generally, they were good about it. I got the impression that the cooks/staff weren't necessarily annoyed at the GF requests, just that they weren't convenient for them. I don't know the inner workings, so I cut them some slack and got other food while I waited.
My husband, on the other hand, wasn't as much as a fan. It wasn't that the food didn't taste good, it was just that they didn't mark which meals would be available daily versus which were there for just that night. So he'd order something thinking, oh, I'd better get that tonight and then he'd see it again the next day. I think they should take a page from Princess on this one...daily offerings on the left, nightly offering on the right. A reasonable fix and I put that in my suggestions. I thought their desserts were amazing---because they were GF. Hubby thought they were so-so. The buffet had some great GF goodies (cakes, mousse, etc.) but NO cookies! What??? And they don't advertise it, but one night in the buffet, they had chicken wings that were GF and they were downright amazing! (There were 2 other ones I couldn't try but hubby did and he liked them). We basically had a 2nd dinner. LOL.
The entertainment was a little off their schedule due to the weather. We saw a comedian on TV the first night (we were too tired to go to the show) and we still never found out if the show was from our sailing! Ha. He was funny. We went to the Elton John show, the stage production with the singers and dancers and the comedian on a unicycle. They were all awesome. The confusion came in when they had to reschedule a show due to the ship rocking too much, then we were in port, but they had already cancelled it. Then when they rescheduled it for the final night, I guess it was the comedian instead? Either way, it didn't bother us and we understood things happen.
Our kids have always been wishy washy about the childcare. Some cruises they want to go (if they get unlimited video games), other times, they want to hang with us. This cruise was hands down, the best experience for them in childcare. They are 9 and 10 and they asked to go back everyday. (This was their 10th cruise, 5th cruise line, so they have a lot to compare it to), The staff at the climbing wall were great. We went to do the water slides with the kids and there wasn't nearly enough water pressure, so that made for some great laughs and memories. (Let me just say, it wasn't pretty trying to move down a water slide with no water.) We loved the mini golf and the shuffleboard. Yep, my kids love shuffleboard! As a reminder of just how much they loved it, my 10 year old son started line dancing after dinner last night and I was like, where did you learn that? In the child care. Awesome.
I've already mentioned the service on the ship. I don't know if it's because they don't see a lot of kids during the fall and it makes them miss their own, but the staff was great with our kids and we really had a good time.Since it was a family trip, we didn't get to use the indoor pool (16+), so we froze our little tushies off in the outdoor pool and the kids made some friends. The weather turned, unfortunately, so a lot of what we enjoyed at the beginning of the cruise was closed by the end of it (mini golf, climbing wall, pool). Definitely a risk sailing the Atlantic in October!
Portland, Maine: We did a tour on our own through Lucky Catch. They were fantastic! We really enjoying catching lobsters and I even got to pick one our fot lunch, walk it over to the local restaurant and they cooked it for me. (Not vegan friendly, folks!) A seagull pooped on me while we were on the boat and I even got a free t-shirt! I highly recommend this tour! (It was not through the cruise line).
Bar Harbor, Maine: We walked around this port and had fun throwing rocks into the ocean. We were able to walk a nice path, walk around town and have some blueberry ice cream. YUM!
Saint John, New Brunswick: We did the Hop On/Hop Off tour through the ship and stopped at the farmer's market (which had a mall), went for a beautiful walk at the pavilion and stopped at the bridge near the reversing rapids. Just a few stops (didn't want to overdo it with the kids). They had a great time, and so did we.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: We went to Peggy's Cove on a tour through the ship. It was a little chilly so we made it pretty quick but we loved it. My kids finally tried lobster (lollipops). After a little time in the gift shop, we were happy to get back into the warm bus. I loved watching the scenery on the trip there and back. We finally found our fall colors!
Boston, MA: We did a bus tour through the cruise line that included a transfer to the airport to see a bit of history and kill time before our VERY late flight. The guide was great, but a bus tour might not have been the best idea with so much history. I basically have a lot of blurry pictures of "?". Next time, we'll get out and do a walking tour! Haha. We got the airport around 11am and our flight wasn't until 5:40pm, then delayed. I've never been happier to see an indoor playground at an airport. The kids played for hours (and even found a baby from the ship that my daughter was enthralled with). Sure, my son had a cold a few days after, but it was worth it! LOL.
Overall, an amazing experience with polite retirees. Even with late arrivals and delayed departures, it seemed like most passengers were well-traveled and took it all in stride, just like our family did. I would recommend this trip for all ages, as there was so much to see and do. People have the expectation that kids are going to be unruly and what could they possibly want to see in New England and Canada, but they had an amazing time and I got to take a trip off my husband's bucket list. Young families have the expectation that the older passengers are going to be curmudgens and complainers, and the ones we met were fabulous!