Flashbacks from the Serenade, Part 2

As any cruiser knows, the food is the highlight of the ship!
Unfortunately, the food in the Main Dining Room was somewhat below what I expected, since we sailed on the Radiance of the Seas last year, same company, and very similar menus. The Main Dining room food on the Radiance was substantially better than the Serenade.

The main dining room

Although the Radiance ranks higher for food in the Main Dining Room, the Serenade wins for the specialty restaurants! We went to both Chops Grille and Portofino. After those two dinners, Chops at the start of the cruise, and Portofino about halfway through, everyone at the table was stuffed to the gills, and quite happy about their meal!

Chops Grille

At Chops on the first night of the cruise, we started out as the only table there, and another table wasn’t filled for 45 minutes. 3-4 tables were served that night! The waiters commented that “normally people don’t know about the specialty restaurants until the 3rd or 4th day!”

My Steak was perfect, and the sides that were brought or the table were excellent. All of the deserts were “oversized”, meaning my slice of Red Velvet Cake was about 8 inches tall! I couldnt finish half of it. I now regret taking a picture!

As for Portofino, besides an odd pesto Minestrone soup, dinner was great. The Mushroom Risotto and “Bistecca (steak) Fiorentina” we’re some of the best things I have ever eaten on a cruise!


I’m not into seafood, but this did look great, being the most popular item on the menu:


Desert, ahhh, the best! I had the tiramisu, which was in a bowl made of chocolate. Royal Caribbean is doing a great job with their specialty restaurants!

Here is a photo of the sampler of deserts,


Going back to the Man Dining Room, I still had a number of great dinners there. The Service was not a problem at all, in fact, Myla and Jason (our waitstaff), were some of the best we have ever had.

Look for more “Flashbacks from the Serenade” throughout the week.


Adíos to the Serenade of the Seas

Hello from the B Hotel in Barcelona,
I have said it before, and I will say it again, I love cruises and traveling, but I hate to see it all end.
I want to thank you all for following us throughout our trip. I will try to post from Barcelona again later this afternoon since we have just finished a city tour and were all starving!

Here is the view from our Balcony from this Morning (not as luxurious as in past days)

Disembarkation in Full Swing

I hope you have all enjoyed!

Our Final Port Day, Yesterday in Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

Good afternoon from the beautiful Serenade of the Seas, we are currently traveling at 16.8 Knots back towards Barcelona, Spain. It is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit or about 25 degrees Celsius. It is very humid though, and it feels more like the upper 80s in the full sun. We are sailing in some of the smoothest seas that I’ve ever seen, and with a slight haze, it makes for a beautiful day on the Med!

Yesterday, we were picked up by our tour guide in Salerno, Italy at about 8:00 in the Morning, and our first stop was a place where I have always dreamed of going, Pompeii. If someone was to ask me what the best representation of a Roman City was, I would say Pompeii, not Rome! This is because Pompeii was buried under volcanic ash and preserved during the Time of the Roman Empire.

It was 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius blanketed the city in 20 feet of ash and killed practically everyone within the City Walls. In Rome, on the other hand, there are many artifacts and buildings from the ancient Empire, but the city as been lived in by other people since the Empire fell. Overall, there is more history throughout the years in Rome, but Pompeii paints a better picture of the ancient Roman City.

To save some time on our onboard Internet package, I am going to number the photos and caption them ahead of time.

In Pompeii, we visited the Forum (1), An Original Pompeian Street,(2) an ancient Roman Pub/Bar(3), some of the original preserved skeletons found on the site, with a plaster cast put over the top to create the correct body shape (4)(5). These people knew they were going to die and there was no escaping it.






After Pompeii, we began our drive along the Amalfi Coast. Here is a great photo looking down over Positano on the Coast.


We drove even further up above Positano for lunch, which was incredibly fresh, all organic, and there were incredible views!

Here are the views from the Restaurant, and some photos of our fresh Italian lunch:



Well, yesterday was another incredible day in what I have now decided is the best place I have ever visited, Italy.

Look for a brief ship tour blog post later on today.

I hope all of the photos are in the right order!

Ciao for now!


A little bit late, but the highlights of Santorini for you all to see…

Good Evening from the Serenade of the Seas as we sail away from our final port of call, Salerno Italy.

The Internet has been down, but here is my post from two days ago, when the ship anchored in the protected harbor of Santorini Island in the Greek Isles. It was more about the beauty and scenery than any other day, not much history here. It’s a volcanic island that was originally round, but half the island collapsed into the water around the volcanic crater, which is still active today.

What is left is a caldera (almost a cliff) that gradually slopes downward to the Sea on the opposite side. The two largest cities are perched on the cliff, Fira (pronounced Fee-ra), and Oia (pronounced ee-ya). We began by tendering, taking a small boat to get to land because there are no cruise ship docks in Santorini, and then we took the cable car up the caldera. Once we were up in Fira, we had an hour to spare before we had to meet our tour guide, so we wandered around and picked up some souvenirs before it got too crowded. We were on the second run of the cable car for the day, but we knew that 5 ships would eventually be in.

To start the tour, we got a view of the most famous of the Blue Domed Churches, and continued on to Oia, where we looked around and got some great photos. A stop at a winery with great views, and a roadside stand selling Santorini’s specialties, such as real sun-dried tomatoes, pickled capers, grown in the volcanic rock of the island, and more!

For lunch, I had Souvlaki with the freshest Tatziki Sauce I have ever had!
Next up was a stop at a black sand beach, where the sand was made from volcanic rock, not clear crystals like most beaches.

Once we got back into Fira, I could barely recognize the area because 5 ships, 2 Royal Carribean, Holland America’s Noordam, a small European line called Etstur, and NCL’s Jade were all dumping passengers onto the island, and the cable cars were bringing them, about 10,000 passengers among those ships, up onto the same street at only 30 at a time. At 2:30, when we thought we would get back on the cable car, we got on line in the brutally hot sun and we were squeezed in like sardines because of the many rude people who can’t wait their turn in line like everyone else. They just have to push, shove, and work their way around the line. After 45 minutes we were so desperate for even the slightest breeze, but we made it onto the cable car and down to the tender to bring us back to the Serenade of the Seas.

Here are the highlights of my photos from Santorini because there is no way I could share all 211 of them!







Freshly Sun Dried Tomatoes

This is what happens when 5 ships dump passengers onto Cable Cars that bring them onto one small street!

I will put up a post about today in Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast of Italy, bright and early tomorrow morning!


A Double Blog, Athens, Greece and Kusadasi, Turkey

Hello from the Serenade of the Seas, we are underway towards Santorini, Greece at a speed of 14.7 knots.
I am going to give you all a double blog tonight, Athens from yesterday and Kusadasi, Turkey today.
Lets Start with Yesterday morning. We left the ship nice and early to head into the European Capitol of Knowledge, Athens, Greece. It was once of those days that was brutally hot, but just what I wanted it to be!

We were on a private tour, and our guide, Dimitris, made sure that we made it up to the Acropolis just ahead of the ship tours for our ship, and both Holland America ships in port.
The Acropolis was home to incredible feats of architecture before the Roman Empire even existed, and to know that people can still admire the Parthenon and other temples up there is great! Just as I said about Rome, you can’t really describe it, but it is all just so incredible!

We enjoyed the Temple to Athena (The Parthenon) along with the Olive Tree planted in honor of the tree that the goddess Athena supposedly gave to the city long ago.

Later on, we visited the 16 pillars left of the Temple of Zeus, which contained over 100 originally. The only negative part of the day was the heat. It was about 100 degrees (Fahrenheit).The Changing of the Guards in front of the Parliament building was also entertaining. The ceremony has been carried out every hour of every day for over 150 years, with no exceptions. There is a major ceremony that is only once a week, Sundays at 11am. That is the one we saw. What precision in the way they march and move!

I got just what I wanted for Lunch, a Gyro! A traditional Greek sandwich with either Chicken or Pork, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions, and Tatziki Yogurt Sauce.
We strolled around on the Plaça, the marketplace of Athens, and then headed back to the port of Piraeus with our driver.
We had a great day in Athens, Greece yesterday!

Here are some photos from the day:




The Changing of the Guards

A Family Photo. I’m on the Right!

The Parthenon

Now today in Kusadasi, Turkey we took our one and only ship tour of the trip, “The Tastes of Turkey”. We started by going into a small village by the name of Sirince, with a population of 600. This was definitely off the beaten path. We had a freshly prepared traditional lunch in a small Turkish restaurant… Pictures below.

One of the most interesting parts of the day was going into a Turkish Carpet shop where they weaved their own silk, wool, and cotton carpets, and allowed us to try some strong Turkish Coffee.
Today definitely helped open my eyes to the genuine old world culture, and knock off name brands that make up what we call Turkey!

Now, here are some Photos of our day in Turkey:


Part of my Lunch

The Restaurant

The Carpet Weaving


The Sea is Calling…

And we’re answering it Royally on Royal Caribbean, but I still love Norwegian Cruise Line. (They have similarities, but distinct differences too!)

We are enjoying our second sea day onboard the Serenade, and as any past cruiser should know, our routine sounds pretty much like “Breakfast, Rest, Lunch, Snack, Second Snack, Dinner, and then we end another day stuffed to the gills. “Carpe Diem” as the Romans said!

Yesterday, we passed the island of Stromboli near Sicily, Italy. Stromboli is an active Volcanic Island with toxic gases coming out of the top as I type, just not harmful unless you are at the crater.

Here are some photos of Stromboli:



The view from our balcony, taken from my iPad this afternoon:


That’s all for today!

A Day in Rome, and now, Two sea days…

Hello from the Serenade of the Seas once again!
We are wrapping up a day at sea after a great time in Rome!

I hope the last post wasn’t too confusing since I typed it on the day we were in Livorno, but published it yesterday due to Internet troubles. Sorry about the switching back and forth between current and past tense!

Yesterday we took a 9 hour tour to Rome which was incredible! We started the day with a drive from Civitavecchia into Rome. At first Rome was just like any city, lots of Hotels, Stores, Offices, and Pedestrians. As our guide Marco said, Rome is just like New York, but once you cross the ancient Brick City Wall, you are hit with 3,000 years of History. That’s what NY doesn’t have. A good portion of the buildings in Rome are older than the USA itself! Old Rome is like walking through a museum.

We started out with the Colosseum, which is actually a nickname for the Roman Amphitheater.
After the Romans adopted Christianity, they stopped the practice of watching people and animals fight to the death and the Colosseum was no longer used.
When a major earthquake occurred after the empire fell, the Catholic Church took much of the marble and bronze from the Colosseum, and other Roman landmarks such as the Panthenon, and used those materials to build St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

We visited Circus Maximus, which was the Roman’s favorite spot after the Colosseum’s time. It was the largest and most elaborate Chariot Racing Track in the World! Now after many years, I mean over 1,000 years, all that’s left is a large grass field, with Julius Caesar’s Palace on the opposite side on Palatine Hill. Of course, with each new emperor after Caesar, starting with his adopted son, they remodeled, or in some cases, built new palaces, all in the same area on or around Palatine Hill.

We visited the Roman Forum, filled with ruins of the greatest and most powerful empire to ever exist. After passing by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we went to a nice restaurant where I had what may be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten!

Now, for what I had been looking forward to all day, the Vatican!

We started off in the Vatican museum, where even though the millennium-old statues and tapestries were the highlight, even the ceiling details made my jaw drop!

The Sistine Chapel was overwhelming as well, but I wasn’t able to soak in the masterpiece of the ceiling, painted by Michelangelo because of the disrespectful tourists who think its okay to take a flash photo in a holy place where electronics must be turned off!

Once we entered the Basilica itself, once again, I was hit by a wave of sights that I cannot even start to describe. All I can say is that it was incredibly beautiful, and taking photos is so difficult because they don’t even capture 1% of the magnificence of St. Peter’s Basilica. Before exiting the Basilica, we went down to the Grottoes, where many Popes, going back over 1,500 years, are buried. It was so peaceful down there, as it should be.

Now, it was time to go back to the ship, but first, how can you leave Rome without getting a gelato? That’s exactly what we did on our way back to the port!

Well, the day after tomorrow we will be arriving bright and early in Piraeus, Greece and spending the day in Athens! I’m looking forward to it, but also enjoying these relaxing sea days on the beautiful Serenade of the Seas!

Tonight is formal night and were eating at the Italian Restaurant, Portofino, soon to be renamed “Giovanni’s Table”.

Here are the long awaited photos, but first, I would like to thank everyone who has been following our trip so far! I truly appreciate it 🙂

Here is exterior and interior shots of the colosseum.



Trevi Fountain


St.Peter’s Basilica

Roman Forum