Written by Chillie Falls, November 14, 2022
I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas on October 25, 2022 from Tampa, Florida. It was a five night cruise with a port call in Cozumel, Mexico. Since Serenade of the Seas is a smaller, older ship, I did not have high expectations of its accessibility to mobility challenged folks like me, on up to the fully handicapped in wheelchairs. I use a scooter.
Boy, was I shocked. From an accessibility standpoint, Serenade of the Seas was one of the best ships I have been on. A full detailed report is contained within, including two minor areas that were inaccessible.
This was the first Royal Caribbean cruise I have been on that allowed Scootaround to deliver scooter to the terminal. Actually, my Uber pulled up to the curb right at the Scootaround stand, and I actually took two steps and sat down on my scooter. From there, it was a breeze to go through security, and check in with the cruise line. I actually entered the ship 13 minutes after I got out of my Uber. By far, the easiest embarkation I have been through.
Debarkation was equally as smooth. I was back to my hotel, and picked up my car by 8:30 AM.
For this cruise, I had an inside handicapped accessible cabin with automatic doors and a key tap push plate outside and a push plate inside. The bathroom had all the usual fittings including a roll-in shower with a fold-down seat. Plenty of grab bars.
The room itself was huge with a queen sized bed, a couch, chair and table forming a little sitting area, normal storage and closet space and a dressing table which I turn into my work space and desk.
My room steward went way out of his way to assist me any way he could including running to unlock and hold the door for me. By the way, the door was plenty wide for a scooter, something I appreciate now that I took for granted. My next cruise on Carnival had a door with only about an inch of clearance outside the scooter’s wheels.
Dining Rooms and Bars
On the first night of the cruise, I was lead to a large table and without asking, my waiter removed a chair and helped guide me into position so I could sit at the table like “a normal” person by simply rotating my scooter seat. Obviously this waiter has had previous mobility challenged guests that prefer no transitioning to a dining room chair in the very viewable and public setting of the main dining room.
Luckily for me, the table was marvelous and we tended to be one of the last tables to leave simply because it was such an enjoyable experience. However, when I finally left, staff was always available to guide me out through the sometime tight journey around other diners to exit the room.
Bars were also very helpful and the bartenders would immediately ask for my order and provide service whether an adult beverage or a diet coke.
Pools and Hot Tubs
Like most pools and hot tubs on cruise ships, I consider them inaccessible. To enjoy the water, you have to, at best, walk a little, or climb a few stairs. Thankfully, I can walk enough to get in the water, or up steps to the hot tubs. Most pools have no ramps and usually have a bench around the pool. From a wheel chair, one can transition to the bench, but would still need to traverse some distance through very shallow water to get to the deeper part of the pool.
I was told Serenade of the Seas had a portable lift chair, but never saw it as it was not used during my cruise when I was on Deck 11.
I was able to get around the casino with difficulty only during the most busy evening hours. Rarely is there a casino layout that has adequate apace for scooters or wheelchairs. I would just plan casino time during less busy hours.
Restrooms on all public decks were equipped with automatic doors with pushbutton access pads both outside the rest room and inside on one wheelchair accessible stall. Unfortunately in men’s rooms, unthinking, ,or uncaring men use the handicapped stall first because they know it is bigger and roomier. They never consider that this might cause a scooter or wheelchair user to wait so they can use the space designed for their needs. Still, for an older, smaller ship, automatic doors on public restrooms were a pleasant surprise.
Other than the “normal” pool and hot tub issues, I could only find two areas that were not well suited to any mobility challenged guest.
Both are very minor and ones that disabled folks just need to be aware of. The wine bar, Vintages, is on Deck 6. The main section of the bar, a number of couches and seating is on one level. however, the back side of the bar, and more seating and views through a panoramic bank of windows, are on a level one step down. The steps down are not very well marked, so just be aware they are there.
Also, in the solarium, the bar is up a step or two from the main floor. However, that level is accessed via a ramp at the other end of the solarium.
I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on Serenade of the Seas, and can recommend this ship to any of our disabled community. The food, service and entertainment were excellent and the only port of call, Cozumel, is one of the few ports with accessible excursions. I have often used an accessible cab there. My accessibility rating is 9 out of 10 for Serenade of the Seas.
Enjoy Serenade of the Seas.