The 90,090-ton, 2,100 passenger Serenade of the Seas was actually delivered to the cruise line on July 30 by German shipyard Meyer Werft after a "birthing period" that took 18 months. Prior to today's first official Canada sailing, Serenade has already logged two repositioning passenger voyages -- an Atlantic crossing from Amsterdam to Boston and a cruise from Boston to New York.
The ship is similar to its quite successful Radiance-class siblings, adhering to a philosophy that Jack Williams, president and chief operating officer of Royal Caribbean, describes as "if it's not broken...don't fix it." Passengers who are already familiar with predecessors Radiance of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas will notice just one difference. That's a new facility for teens called "Fuel" -- which features a disco, soda and juice bar, music video area and computer terminals with Internet access. The "Fuel" concept is, at present, only found on other one ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet (the 140,000-ton Navigator of the Seas).
Otherwise, similarities to Radiance-class siblings include the Schooner Bar and Viking Crown lounges, Chops Grill and Portofino, the ship's alternative restaurants, and the more casual Seaview Cafe and Windjammer buffet. There is, of course, Royal Caribbean's ubiquitous rock-climbing wall, a gorgeous Bali-inspired solarium pool area, a 9-hole miniature golf course and a basketball court.
Size-wise, Serenade of the Seas just squeaks by in its Panama Canal measurements. Williams says the ship has a foot to spare on its port and starboard sides (and just fits lengthwise, at 960 feet long).
Serenade of the Seas will spend the fall sailing a schedule of four and five day trips to Canada from its Big Apple homeport before heading to San Juan this fall. There, Serenade of the Seas will sail an exotic Southern Caribbean itinerary, featuring ports of call including Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia in addition to long-established favorites St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
The ship is the third in a series of what ultimately could be six Radiance-class vessels. Jewel of the Seas, the next to follow, is slated for a spring 2004 debut. Royal Caribbean has options on two more ships but has, as yet, not acted to place new orders. Those options expire at the end of this year.