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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
"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
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
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.