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Monday, January 19, 2015

Serenade of the Seas Grand Suite Review (1536)

It can be difficult to decide what category state room to select when you are booking a cruise.   The real goal when choosing a state room needs to be getting a good value.  Value is incredibly hard to define.  What is a value for one person could be a total waste of money for another.  This is one of the reasons why I am writing this review.   I'm going to break down a Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas and what goes with it.

One - It's all about the gold card.  When you book a grand suite you receive a gold card that serves as your room key and credit card.   Overall, very few people get these.  When the ships crew see this card, they typically go above and beyond.  Honestly, the best thing you can do is get a lanyard with a clear card holder and wear the card around your neck.  Not only will you not lose the card, you will get better service.

Two - Getting on the ship.  A grand suite comes with priority boarding.  Sometimes they almost take your hand and walk you on the ship.  At other ports, like New Orleans,  they have no idea what you are doing, so you have to take control.  Bottom line -  no matter what is called, if you booked a grand suite, you get on with the first group you call.  Flash the gold card and you are good.

This sounds amazing, but all it really does is get you out of the holding pens and onto the ship.  You are confined to the public areas for about two hours.  Normally around 1pm you can go to your room.  If you hate crowds, this is going to be a big perk for you.

Three - The room itself is about three times the size of a typical balcony room.  It has a few extra perks to it, but overall there is nothing really amazing about these rooms.  The size is nice, the large balcony is nice, and the larger bathroom is cool.  However, do not expect anything really cool in the room itself.

To see the room in detail, check out this video.  It's an overview I did and uploaded to YouTube.  If you want a direct link, click here.

Four - The Concierge Club - Now for the real reason you book this suite.  The Concierge is more than just a guy who can book things for you.  He can do almost anything for you, while on the ship.  This guy is almost a personal assistant.  He busts his hump to make you happy.

On top of that the private club that only a few people have access to, has 24hr coffee, free alcohol for 4hrs a day, snacks, and more.  This lounge is awesome.  It's a nice play to relax and have a few drinks.  I should also mention that "coffee" is actually lattes and other high end beverages.  This lounge can save you hundreds over the corse of your cruise, if you have a couple drinks a night.

Five - The priority seating that comes with this stateroom is incredible.  You can see an example of it in the video above.  It's some of the best seating in the house and eliminates the need to get to a show thirty minutes early to get a good seat.   Make sure you use this perk.  It really is awesome.

Six - Getting off the ship - The end of your cruise is normally the worst.  Getting off the ship can be awful.  However,  when you book a grand suite, go to the lounge.  Once there you can have a light breakfast and then, the concierge will walk you off the ship.  I'm not kidding.  They walk you right off.  No waiting in huge lines or dealing with crowds.

Those are the biggest reasons to book a grand suite.  There are other perks too.  Ask your travel agent for more details or check out Royal Caribbean's website for more of the small details.

Now back to the room.  1536 is a non-adjoining room.  This is very important.  To see why, check out this video I took on the Grandeur of the Seas.   This is an overview of an adjoining room.

If you compare the two videos you also see that you have a little more usable room in a non-adjoining room.

You might have noticed that in both rooms, power is an issue.  The best thing you can do is to bring a small power strip.  It will really come in handy.

Now lets really pick apart this room.  I went digging and was able to uncover the age of this room.  This room is a little banged up if you look in the right places.  Check out these pictures.

A few dents in the ceiling.  How they got there, I have no idea.

 The wallpaper is starting to peel back in a number of areas like this.

If you zoom in, you'll notice a lot of dirt and mystery smudges.

Either the door was replaced or they did an awful job of hanging it.  It almost doesn't close.

The mirrors are showing their age.  You don't get wear like that overnight.  It normally takes many years.

Yes I'm splitting hairs there, but you pay a premium for this suite.  You deserve to know what it's going to be like.  These rooms are not in "premium" shape.

Overall a grand suite is a value IF you use all the perks and put a high value on your time.  A grand suite may not be a value if you don't mind crowds, don't mind waiting, don't drink alcohol, or are really traveling on a budget.  Again, unless you take advantage of all of the perks, it's not going to be worth it.

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