Serenade of the Seas Entertainment
There's certainly no shortage of entertainment -- day or night -- onboard Serenade of the Seas, and you'll find a little something for everyone. Cultural/educational courses like wine tasting and digital photography seminars are offered, along with blackjack tournaments, horse races, elaborate production shows in the Tropical Theater, and informal dancing nightly in the atrium lobby. Night owls shouldn't miss Hollywood Odyssey, the cigar/jazz bar on Deck 13. It has a swanky, beatnik feel and live music every night - it's a great place to unwind with a martini.
Those looking for more excitement can head over to Vortex, also on deck 13, which is typically where singles tend to congregate. The DJ plays everything from the Village People to Top 40 rap hits till late each evening. The bar at Vortex literally spins -- not for those prone to seasickness -- and it's a great place for interesting people-watching!
The Casino Royale is busy at night, though there was rarely difficulty finding a seat at the slot machines (not sure if this is a good or bad thing!). Blackjack tables got progressively more full as the cruise wore on.
The Schooner Bar, also on Deck 6, was my favorite lounge on the ship. Featuring a dark wood decor and strategically located between entrances to Chops and Portofino, it's a lively bar with a friendly atmosphere and the easiest place to meet fellow passengers onboard. If you're oscillating about the decision to visit an alternate restaurant, just have a few drinks at the Schooner between 7 - 9 p.m., and you'll be able to get a first-hand -- and let me just say quite-candid -- review of the menu offerings and dining experiences. The Schooner offers nightly live music, including a Latin guitarist and a pianist with whom everyone loved to sing along.
The Champagne Bar is underused and overpriced ($9.15 for a Bellini). The lobby bar is also sparsely populated, except on formal night and arrival/departure days.
The Safari Club, located on Deck 6, has the feel of an old-world library - lots of dark woods and heavy pieces of furniture - and is a great place to shoot pool, play cards, or just relax with a drink.
Also of note -- don't miss the "Love and Marriage" show, which is hilarious, though also rebroadcast on your in-cabin television no fewer than ten times, so don't stress if you're on a hot streak in the casino and have to pass on the live event. Other live shows included "Vibeology," a glitzy production that features top hits from the 1960s through present time, performed with elaborate costumes, and Cirque du Soleil-type dancers, and "Stage to Screen," a performance of some of Hollywood and Broadway's most famous musical numbers.
Serenade of the Seas Public Rooms
The ship is overflowing with glass and natural light, and the center of it all is a ten-story all-glass atrium, that features live music and dancing every evening. You'll find the most crowds poolside and around the dining area during major seating times, though the rest of the ship is surprisingly not congested.
Shops onboard are located on Deck 5 and are pretty standard: liquor, jewelry, RCI logowear, perfume. The stores were never crowded and much of the logowear went 50% off on the last day of the cruise.
One of the interesting features of all the Radiance class ships, including Serenade, is that Internet-accessible terminals are located in various pockets around the vessel. The main Royal Caribbean Online area is on deck four, right off the lobby, but there are others -- a few in Latte-tudes, the coffee bar, and some on deck seven. Teens have their own bank of computers in Fuel. Connections are 50 cents per minute, or $15 per day for in-cabin rates.
Serenade has a state-of-the-art medical facility and also has a helicopter landing pad for emergency medical evacuations.
Serenade of the Seas Spa & Fitness
The gym facilities at the ShipShape Fitness Center are excellent, with treadmills, universal machines, weights, and everything else the average fitness enthusiast will need to work off the midnight buffet. A jogging track is also available around the Sky Bar area, though this is a common thoroughfare for passengers and seems difficult to use during the afternoons.
Fitness classes like yoga and spinning, as well as personal fitness training, are also available for an additional fee (usually $10 per class) - check out your Daily Compass each day for a schedule. Spa facilities are exotic and have a gorgeous Tahitian decor, though the services are a bit overpriced ($44 for a manicure?). Don't miss the spa tour on your first day onboard, and keep your eyes peeled for occasional freebies in the Daily Compass. My favorite place on the ship was the spa's Solarium area; an indoor/outdoor pool (with a retractable roof), it's designed in an exotic Bali-esque scheme. The teak furnishings are as comfortable as they are elegant - and, get this: it's open 24 hours a day. Another advantage: you can always find a space in one of its two whirlpools - and it was a lovely way to relax as the ship was pulling out of port after a busy day.
Another relaxing spot was the spa's thermal "suite" - it's co-ed and offers a variety of scented (and non-scented) steam rooms and saunas. This is an a'la carte item: it's $15 per day or $50 per cruise - though you may be able to negotiate a discount on port days when there's not as much demand..
There are also the "usual" Royal Caribbean diversions - nine-hole miniature golf, basketball court, shuffleboard, rock climbing wall, art studio, and game room.
The main outdoor pool has two hot tubs and is nearly always festive, with a combination of poolside activities (horse racing and the bellyflop contest were favorites) and live music.
The pool's main bar is also usually packed but is where you find the best frozen drinks onboard (but if the crowd's too massive, check out the Sky Bar, just above, as well as the Solarium's bar).