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Royal Caribbean International: Serenade of the Seas

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Royal Caribbean International

Serenade of the Seas Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

A spacious, modern ship with plenty of nightlife and all the other trappings of a mega-ship without the crowds.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A small-ship congeniality and comradely atmosphere; single open seating; a large variety of dining options

Decor

Serenade is an airy and open ship, with plenty of views of the sea, unlike her Voyager-class brethren. The atrium, called the "Centrum" rises nine light-filled decks with vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass making this ship a joy to sail to picturesque destinations. In fact, fully half the ship's exterior is glass, some 110,000 square feet of it! An enormous glass panel rises from Decks 5 (the lobby) to 12, making visible vast expanses of sea and sky.

The ship's most beautiful rooms are on Deck 6. Schooners Bar is thoroughly nautical, with dark paneling and blue carpet. The enormous low-key Colony Club evokes a private British club you'd see in a film adaptation of a Graham Greene novel set in India or Hong Kong. The Solarium, a glassed-in pool area, has an African theme, with three enormous plaster elephants overlooking the pool. You'll hear bird and animal sounds through the towering tropical plants.

Even the ships' high-style public bathrooms, with their marble floors and counters and porthole-like mirrors, are gorgeous. And cabin deacute;cor, featuring navy blue and copper tones, is a welcome change from the line's very Miami Vice pinks, mints, and baby blues.

Public Rooms

The obvious heart of the ship is the lobby bar, where an ensemble performs each night, is people naturally congregate. Two decks above. the low-key Champagne Bar offers views of the atrium through floor-to-ceiling windows. A small but well-stocked library also faces the atrium.

On Deck 6, Bombay Billiards Club has the first pool tables at sea - and very high tech pool tables at that, each balanced on a ball bearing the size of a grape; the table may move as the ship rocks, but the balls are always stationary. The natty Schooners features marine blue chairs accented by real teak throughout, with nautical antiques and reproductions. In the adjacent Colony Club there is a large dance floor and stage suitable for a variety of entertainment.

Deck 12 offers Scoreboard, a sports bar with multi flat panel televisions and a satellite connection to ESPN. Close by is the tiny Crown and Anchor Club, but don't miss it, you can stand on a glass platform with a view of the entire atrium beneath your feet.

Perched high atop the ship, the traditional Royal Caribbean Viking Crown Lounge offers a near 360 degree panoramic view above the top of the entire ship. On Serenade it is divided into a disco and a low-key room with small stage for performances.

The tranquil library evokes a traditional English study; while the literary retail outlet Books, Books & Coffee features some 200 titles - as well as cappuccino, pastries and pizza.

Serenade boasts a more upscale shopping area than what appears on other Royal Caribbean ships, including designer-branded fashion wear and brilliant jewelry store. Nearby the Internet area is a small coffee and pastry shop with the unforgettable name of Latte'tudes. One of the best features of the ship is the cinema which shows two features per day, or for more interactive amusement, gamblers are drawn as moths to flames to Casino Royale, the ship's large gaming spot.

Indoor smoking is allowed only on passenger cabins, a small area at the rear of the Colony Club Lounge on Deck 6, in the casino, and in a designated area in the Starquest Disco. Outside, smoking is restricted to the starboard side of the ship. Remarkably, even the seating areas immediately in front of the outdoor bars are designated non-smoking areas. The ship is well laid out and easily navigated.

Cuisine

It's as good as on any of the mass market lines', though only one salad is offered on the menu (in addition to the always-available Caesar). The ship has two alternative dining venues,Chops offers delicious food with equally delectable presentation. The $20 per person surcharge includes the service fee. Serenade also features a Murder Mystery dinner one evening in Portifino that requires reservations. The price is a dear $49.95 per person, but includes a pre-set wine selection.

Tipping

Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Fitness/Spa

The 15,500 sq. ft. ocean view ShipShape Spa comprises three sections: a beauty and health center with 12 treatment rooms including Rasul and thermal suite ($15 for a half-hour); an aerobics area with mirrored wall and wood-suspended aerobics floor; and the gym, with 18 treadmills, 10 Reebok Recumbent Cycles, eight Reebok Body Peaks, four Reebok Ridge Rocker Cycles, four Reebok Body Treks, free weights, and multiple benches. There are stereo sound and television monitors throughout. There's a wide selection of scheduled fitness activities, including stretching and aerobics classes and aquadynamics. The famous rock-climbing wall rises 200 feet above the sea with five separate climbing tracks. The Sports Club & Country Club has golf simulators, ping-pong, a basketball court, and deck games. There's even a 9-hole miniature golf course and a jogging track.

Attire

An unusually high percentage of gentlemen don actual tuxedos on the two formal nights per cruise, though no one would grouse if they chose a dark suit. There's so much to do on any given evening that not all passengers dress alike anyway.

Onboard Experience

As the third ship in the Radiance-class of modern vessels by Royal Caribbean, (Radiance, Brilliance, Serenade Jewel) Serenade and her sisters were built as the antidote to the concept of bigger is better as typified by the larger Voyager-class ships of Royal Caribbean, 1999. These ships are newer and smaller, and they are also better, carrying all the sports and dining options of the bigger ships, but in a smaller package with more space per passenger.

And what's not to like? At just over 90,000-tons for 2500 passengers (maximum), these ships fit in to the "right-sized" category of ships akin to Carnival Spirit, and Island Princess, to give you the best a mega-ship has to offer, such as an array of onboard activities, but in a more uncrowded and accessible manner. These are the modern mid-sized ships which give you the best of all possible cruising worlds, comfort & convenience with plenty of action in an uncrowded environment.

Restaurants

Cascades, the glamorous two-level main dining room, has a waterfall, a grand staircase, and enormous pillars, and could be right out of a 1940s film. Two smaller dining rooms, Breakers and Tides, enjoy the same high level of service. The Windjammer Cafeacute; serves casual breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dinner. This restaurant has food stations for individual courses (meat, sandwiches, vegetables), cutting down on lines. In the morning, get yourself a made-to-order omelet. The best seating is just beyond the main restaurant area, where you may dine al fresco overlooking the aft, or in cozy banquettes. The specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino, are both tiny, elegant and quite wonderful. The Seaview Cafeacute;, perched above the Windjammer, serves light meals in the afternoon, early evening, and late night to 1 a.m.

Service

It's obvious that the multinational staff and crew enjoy watching their passengers enjoy themselves. They're uniformly cheerful, knowledgeable, and eager to help. The wait staff in every restaurant is noticeably solicitous and conscientious.

Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser's desk is notably responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must have to do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.

Entertainment

The two-level Aurora Theatre has an Arctic theme, with sculptured balconies, sidewalls and parterre divisions resembling glacial landscapes, and a dazzling stage curtain inspired in the Aurora Borealis. Sight lines are excellent, and you're highly likely, whatever your musical prejudices, to enjoy the likes of Rockin' in Paradise, a special-effects-laden celebration of tropical music. Lounges have pianists and combos playing everything from C&W to jazz. The lobby bar has a group performing Broadway show tunes each night. Two non-first-run movies are screened daily in the ship's cinema. In-cabin movies are also scheduled throughout the day.

Cabins

Out of a total 1,050 staterooms, 813 have ocean view and 577 private verandas; Standard features in all cabins include refrigerator/mini-bar, hair dryer, interactive TV, telephone, computer jack, and a large closet and plenty of drawers. In standard and most balcony cabins, bathrooms have a shower and one large medicine cabinet. There are also such welcome touches as beds with rounded corners and lighted vanity tables with mirrored cabinets. Tubs are found only in the highest category staterooms; most bathrooms have just showers (though unexpectedly large ones) with medicine cabinets. There are even full-length mirror in the "superior" category cabins. There are 14 wheelchair-accessible staterooms.

Serenade has some of the best balcony cabins at sea, and for the very best look to the aft cabins on decks decks 7-10 where the Cat. D rooms have the largest balconies on the ship, measuring 13 ft. long x 9.5 ft. wide. There are steel walls between balconies instead of the glass common to most new ships, which affords no privacy at all. Overall, the staterooms on this ship are larger than the average Royal Caribbean cabin. While inside cabins measure only 165 sq. ft.; outside cabins range from 170 to 204 sq. ft., and the five categories of suites from 293 to 1,001 sq. ft.

Beware the uncomfortable "cot style" beds, which RCI has promised to replace fleet wide by the end of 2007. Let's hope they also spring for better sheets, blankets and towels.

Children's Facilities

"Adventure Ocean" is the title of Royal Caribbean's youth programs where youths are separated into five age groups: Aquanauts (age 3-5, must be toilet trained), Explorers (age 6-8), Voyagers (age 9-11), Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens (age 15-17).

Facilities open 30 minutes ahead of morning shore excursion departures so parents can leave their children before they leave the ship. On sea days, organized activities are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee. The program runs year-round in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Teen centers are now open past 2 a.m.

A new program for developed in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price offers tots 45-minute playgroups for children six months to three years old when accompanied by an adult. The program involves storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games.

Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.




Ship Overview

In 2003, Royal Caribbean introduced Serenade of the Seas, the third of four Radiance-class ships. In 2012 popular features from other ships in the fleet were added to Serenade, including an outdoor movie screen poolside, Asian and Italian specialty restaurants, a Mexican restaurant, digital signage, lounges for elite past passengers, a new nursery,

Considered by many people to be the most beautiful vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Radiance-class ships are large but sleek and swift, with sun-filled interiors and panoramic elevators that span 10 decks along the ships' exteriors.

Big, bigger, biggest! In the early 1990s, Royal Caribbean launched Sovereign-class ships, the first of the modern megacruise liners, which continue to be the all-around favorite of passengers who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Plunging into the 21st century, each ship in the current fleet carries more passengers than the entire Royal Caribbean fleet of the 1970s, and has amenities—such as new surfing pools—that were unheard of in the past.

All Royal Caribbean ships are topped by the company's signature Viking Crown Lounge, a place to watch the seascape by day and dance at night. Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Aft on deck 6, four distinct lounges and a billiard room form a clubby adult entertainment center
  • Spacious family ocean-view cabins sleep up to six people
  • Ships offer a wide range of family-friendly activities and games

Cons

  • Upgraded features of the fleet are not consistent throughout this ship class, so check before booking
  • Dining options that charge have replaced some that were previously complimentary
  • Libraries are tiny and poorly stocked for ships this size
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 857
  • Entered Service 2003
  • Gross Tons 90,090
  • Length 962 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,056
  • Passenger Capacity 2,112 (2,501 max)
  • Width 106 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Apr 1, 2017

Review of Serenade of the Seas

Jim Reed Age: 71 Occupation:retired Number of Cruises: 8 Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Ship: Serenade of the Seas Sailing Date: 2016-11-21 Itinerary: Southern Caribbean Worst cruise we've been on. Very uncaring staff and in some cases, appeared to be untrained in what they were doing. Bland and nondescript food. Last cruise was on the Royal Princess and the food was excellent. Maybe set the standard to high and we were expecting more. However the

dining room staff did a great job. Stateroom was adequate and was keep clean and serviced Typical shows. Evening activities seemed to be poorly scheduled. Often conflicted with the meal times. Other cruises we've been on had set times, early and late meal times with shows scheduled accordingly. Other activities also crowded into the same time period. Good selection of tours. However costly. Of the six ports of call, we took one excursion. On the other five, we took a taxi. One on board excursion to a beach tour cost $37.00. A cab took us to a very beautiful beach for $2.50 each way The 1st half of our 12 day cruise went as expected. There was coughing heard around the ship and in time, we too were having our coughing spells. There were 4 of us traveling together. My wife went to the ships doctor and was immediately put in quarantine. The last 4 days of our cruise she could not leave our stateroom. No instruction was given as to how she was to receive meals. Room service only served breakfast and snacks for lunch. When it came time to depart the ship, we were forced to wait until the entire ship departed. My wife's luggage was carried off by staff but my luggage and our traveling companions was taken off in the normal manner. We were told that it would be on the dock and that our travel connections would not be affected. Wrong. All unclaimed luggage had been put away. My luggage was lost. I had to fill out a claim and was told to wait about a week before calling. Our pre arranged shuttle service to where our car was parked had stopped running and we were forced to call a cab. Through this whole ordeal no one showed any sign of compassion or caring. The hint of this was a letter from the head of Guest Services stating that they would determine the amount of a refund for my wife's time in quarantine and it would be applied to a future cruise if taken with in the next year. This is not acceptable as I have no desire to cruise Royal Caribbean again. The bottom line is, not with the quarantine. This is necessary to prevent the spread of infection. My complaint is the way the crew members responded to our needs and the way we were treated. We were made to feel that we were guilty of some criminal act.

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  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Dec 31, 2016

Oldie but Goodie!

Serenade shows its age but is due for upgrade November 2017. However, attention to cleanliness and hygiene is very well done. Kid programs are great. Entertainment better then average . If you are a drinker consider the drink package. Food was well prepared and selections varied day to day. Above all, service was great. Our dining room servers were Mario and Anton. They made a wonderful team. They made excellent suggestion on meals and often

tailored them to meet our special requests. We had Grand children in tow and as anyone knows a happy kid makes for a happy cruise! As we arrived at the table food magically appeared for the kids and that made our dining experience much more relaxed. The dining room was extremely active and busy; yet both servers made the time to visit with us. We may not see them again but we will always remember them. Head waiter Narby Figueroa was ever present and directed many severs efficiently. It was obvious there was much respect for her from her subordinates. She is a lovely person. They are marvelous ambassadors for Royal Caribbean. We commend Royal for having such great employees!

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  • New

Dec 5, 2016

Southern Caribbean

Worst cruise we've been on. Very uncaring staff and in some cases, appeared to be untrained in what they were doing. Bland and nondescript food. Last cruise was on the Royal Princess and the food was excellent. Maybe set the standard to high and we were expecting more. However the dining room staff did a great job. Stateroom was adequate and was keep clean and serviced Typical shows. Evening activities seemed to be poorly scheduled.

Often conflicted with the meal times. Other cruises we've been on had set times, early and late meal times with shows scheduled accordingly. Other activities also crowded into the same time period. Good selection of tours. However costly. Of the six ports of call, we took one excursion. On the other five, we took a taxi. One on board excursion to a beach tour cost $37.00. A cab took us to a very beautiful beach for $2.50 each way The 1st half of our 12 day cruise went as expected. There was coughing heard around the ship and in time, we too were having our coughing spells. There were 4 of us traveling together. My wife went to the ships doctor and was immediately put in quarantine. The last 4 days of our cruise she could not leave our stateroom. No instruction was given as to how she was to receive meals. Room service only served breakfast and snacks for lunch. When it came time to depart the ship, we were forced to wait until the entire ship departed. My wife's luggage was carried off by staff but my luggage and our traveling companions was taken off in the normal manner. We were told that it would be on the dock and that our travel connections would not be affected. Wrong. All unclaimed luggage had been put away. My luggage was lost. I had to fill out a claim and was told to wait about a week before calling. Our pre arranged shuttle service to where our car was parked had stopped running and we were forced to call a cab. Through this whole ordeal no one showed any sign of compassion or caring. The hint of this was a letter from the head of Guest Services stating that they would determine the amount of a refund for my wife's time in quarantine and it would be applied to a future cruise if taken with in the next year. This is not acceptable as I have no desire to cruise Royal Caribbean again. The bottom line is, not with the quarantine. This is necessary to prevent the spread of infection. My complaint is the way the crew members responded to our needs and the way we were treated. We were made to feel that we were guilty of some criminal act.

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  • New

Sep 13, 2015

Bahamas

Crew advised my group that we could depart ship before it set sail and be fully refunded and reimbursed for some travel expenses due to onboard damage to ship. They didn't fully refund it and reimbursed NOTHING regarding travel expenses. Ship was damaged on prior sailing. We waited in line at dock over 7 hours- many standing with luggage, finally board after announcement that ship was cleared for boarding by coast guard. After waiting in

line and finally getting on board, we learned it wasn't cleared for SAILING and would not leave the port, might miss a island stop, a theater was down, work-out facility was down, Etc. We were told that, if the 15+ senior citizens in our group left the ship by 1:00 AM, we'd be refunded and reimbursed our expenses. The passengers they sent home early with no power in their rooms were giving full refunds and a free cruise for later. I mailed in all my expenses and was told, SORRY, can't help you, but here's a $116 credit toward another cruise that expires in a year with all sorts of conditions! It was a terrible experience and we should have at least been given MUCH more credit for another cruise. I just can't believe they would lie like that and treat one group of passengers one way then, once they got us on board and unpacked, treat us completely differently. So many got off the ship anyway because we just had no idea how long the ship was just going to sit at the dock. We were told that if we didn't opt to get off the ship by 1:00 AM that morning, we'd be stuck with ZERO refund, even if it sat at the dock. We felt we made the right choice, but were screwed over in the end! decent food except dessert ok entertainment no chance to try excursions

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Aug 5, 2014

Barcelona to Rome

Don't buy the cruise early. They have a policy to refund the money 75 days before the cruise. So they can sell the cruise for a cheaper price and the people who paid in advance cannot do anything. I bought my cruise in June this year and we payed 3000 dollars. I looked today and the cruise is 2500 dollars 500 dollar cheaper. I called Royal Caribbean and asked what they can do for me. If they can give me a refund or upgrade or some

credit for another use . They can not do anything because it is just for the people who buy the cruise last minute. It is not fair that I am getting this treatment, I spoke with four different people and they would not help me. Buy the cruise at the last minute.

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