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Home > Virtual Cruises > Serenade of the Seas: New York to Saint John
Serenade of the Seas: New York to Saint John
Day 1: New York
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Halifax
Day 4: Saint John
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: New York
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Day 5: Friday, At Sea
At SeaIt seemed an ominous start to the morning when I awoke to the sound of booming thunder. The rocking increasingly picked up, but instead of cursing the storm I embraced it, grabbing a blanket and heading for the balcony. It was wild -- immediately, I was blasted in the face by a combination of sea spray and heavy rain. A bracing way to wake up and much more effective than my alarm clock.

Room service arrived promptly this morning. I've figured out how to work the television-ordering-system and one nice touch is that the kitchen tucks in a few cinnamon rolls even if all you ordered was coffee and yogurt. I loved the fact that the last (full) day of the cruise was a sea day (even if the ship did rock a bit). It's wonderful way to relax after a busy week. And Serenade, which is, despite its size, a cozy-feeling ship, is still big enough to offer some as-yet unexplored nooks. This morning's discovery was Latte-tudes, the coffee bar (and Internet cafe). I ordered a cup of cappuccino and curled up in a comfy sofa near the window, and just watched the ocean, mesmerized.

Another first: I checked out Reflections, the ship's main dining room, for lunch, where I joined a big table. Isn't this strange: some of the passengers actually live within walking distance from me! Hearing I was a first-time cruiser, they were really generous with insights and opinions about cruising -- and the ship, too. Apparently, I missed out on a really great midnight buffet last night (after rolling out of Portofino's I was exhausted!), that really was gorgeous, complete with ice sculptures and ornate desserts that, they felt, rivaled that of Royal Caribbean ten years ago.

Lunch was delicious and relaxing -- a far cry from grabbing a quick burger in the Windjammer Cafe and hustling off to a shore excursion. I had chilled pineapple soup, pan seared tilapia, and low-fat carrot cake (an oxymoron?). It was pretty crowded; it was so windy outside today that most of the outdoor seating options were too blustery. Side note: though I didn't try any, several of my lunch tablemates commented that the sugar-free dining options have been delicious.

After coffee, it was up to the pool deck, where I found lots of action, loud music, and passengers filling almost every lounge chair. The big event was a lively horse racing competition and I watched the second heat, cheering on horse #6, owned by my partner-in-crime from the Historical Pubs tour in Halifax. She actually won -- too bad I didn't bet, or I could have been $54 richer. The Solarium was well-used too, and definitely is an option for passengers who really just want to read and relax. The Bali-esque atmosphere really induces serenity.

Later on I checked out the ship's shopping gallery, which was featuring a 50 percent off last-day sale on logo-wear, crystal trinkets and t-shirts.

From that point on, it was all about saying goodbye -- to new friends, my favorite staff, and the ship itself. I stopped by the Schooner Bar for a farewell drink and to chat again with the bartender. He is hilarious and should not be missed (not to mention charming -- he makes napkin roses and scents them with various lemons or liquors for all the ladies). The pianist in the Schooner Bar started to liven things up, and the mood kicked into high gear, with the entire bar singing along to "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

From the Schooner Bar, I dressed for dinner then headed up to the Concierge Lounge to say goodbye to the concierge, and sample some appetizers. There, I met more Cruise Critic members and have to say that (and, obviously, I'm biased) we have the greatest readers. I hated to leave.

The wait staff was really friendly and chatty tonight, though I'm not sure if it is because it was the last night onboard or if, coincidentally, it means it's tip night for them. Either way, my table mates and I got to know them a little better and the mood was pretty festive. I had a chilled cucumber soup that was terrible, so I sent it back and instead had a vegetable spring roll, then a Caesar salad, and sweet and sour swordfish, and, for dessert, "brownie madness." I said goodbye to the waiters, extended my gratuities (suggested is $3.50 per person per day for the waiter, $2.00 per person per day for the assistant waiter, and tipping for the invisible head waiter is at your discretion), and then, with promises to meet my tablemates later that night, headed to my room to pack.

The big dilemma: Everything but a carry-on (for essentials) needed to be outside our staterooms by 11 p.m. But what's considered essential? My only carry-on bag was a laptop case, which certainly wouldn't be able to fit my clothes from that night, pajamas, and all of the toiletries/makeup/hair dryer/etc. that I'd need for the following morning. So I opted to take advantage of Express Departure, which you can sign up for at Guest Relations. With Express Departure, you carry your own luggage off the ship -- and not only does that eliminate the 11 p.m. packing deadline but also means you avoid the luggage-color cattle calls in the morning.

Later that evening, I stopped by the casino, where I spent a few hours with my friends from the Halifax shore excursion, and cheered on a few passengers as they took their chances at the craps table. I said goodbye to the slot machines with a $20 departure gift (I'd love to meet whoever invented that dratted Wheel of Fortune machine), then said goodbye to the casino staff and my new friends, who were retiring early to prepare for tomorrow's departure.

Upstairs, it was more goodbyes to the staff in the Hollywood Odyssey. I felt sad! That's a testament to the service as a whole on Serenade of the Seas, as I'm not a very emotional person. But people really take the time to get to know you and establish a super-friendly rapport from day one.

From Odyssey, it was on to Vortex, where I met my tablemates and a few other friends; the dance floor was crowded and it was definitely the place to be on the cruise's final night. People of all ages were laughing and dancing and toasting. Alas, the ship was still swaying so I avoided the spinning bar and just had a blast on the dance floor until it was closing time. After a flurry of number exchanging and business-card-swapping, I hugged everyone and made promises to keep in touch, and made my way down to my stateroom for the last time.

Stay tuned for my last epistle, covering debarkation day, which we'll post on Monday!

Day 4: Saint John red arrow Day 6: New York

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