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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 6: Saturday, New York
New YorkSaturday morning brought more sun and a view of the beautiful (though now forever incomplete) New York City skyline. Always gorgeous -- but little time to enjoy it this morning, as it was time for disembarkation!

Having decided to opt for Express Departure -- and, thus, having postponed that bummer chore of packing until this morning's veritable last minute, squashing everything into my suitcase was a challenge. After a last few (longing) looks at the view from my balcony, I wrestled my suitcase down the hall and waited in the Pit Stop on Deck Six where I waited for a not-bad 15 minutes before being called.

Express departure is a tremendous timesaver and I'd recommend it to anyone who's light on luggage -- and patience! You register at Guest Services on the last full day of your cruise, and they'll assign you to one of three express departure groups. There were surprisingly few people taking advantage of this option -- I'd expected to be trampled when they called my group -- so it's a nice way to bypass the herds. Disembarkation was really smooth.

The pier in New York was a different story -- getting back to my car was a bit of a nightmare, primarily because each one of the half-a-dozen "helpful" terminal staff I asked for directions to the parking lot gave me different answers.

Once in the parking deck, I located my car and followed signs to exit the terminal, then from that point on the Lincoln Tunnel was well marked, and I was on my way home to Pennsylvania. I still felt a bit rocky, as if we were still at sea -- not to mention somewhat sleep-deprived -- from the cruise but also was full of great memories from my time onboard. On the drive home I had plenty of time to think about tips for everyone sailing onboard Serenade in the future:

Don't miss the outdoor seating at Windjammer -- head straight to the back and you'll find a seldom-used terrace that's a great place for lunch on sea days. Often the main sitting area is packed, so it's a great little getaway.

The Schooner Bar is by far the best place to meet cruisers onboard and has a friendly, easygoing atmosphere that everyone can enjoy. It's also strategically located between Chops and Portofino's and is jammed with passengers stopping by for a drink or smoke post-dinner, so it's a great way to get the lowdown on the best menu offerings before checking it out for yourself.

Do not miss a Bay of Fundy shore excursion in Saint John, as this port is all about nature! The city itself doesn't have quite as much to offer in the uptown area (as, by comparison, Halifax).

If you pack light, be sure to take advantage of the express departure option, as it cut down on disembarkation headaches immensely.

Want to avoid tipping in cash on the final day? Be sure to pay attention to the Compass (I didn't) and don't miss the deadline to register to have the tips added directly to your SeaPass card (I did). That way you avoid having to withdraw cash from an ATM or the casino (or spending the last of your vacation cash -- when you could be hitting the duty free store!).

The logowear and other Royal Caribbean souvenir items all went on sale to 50% off on the final day at sea -- if you're considering picking up anything for souvenirs, it's best to wait till the end of your trip. This way you're open to searching for different mementos in port -- and, if you decide to buy something in the shops at the end of the cruise you may well get a better deal.

If you're feeling tired but don't want to miss the "Love & Marriage" show, don't worry -- it's rebroadcast almost 24/7 on your in-cabin TV. I saw it in its entirety at least three times!

I found it's a good habit to arrive at Reflections about five minutes after your seating time begins, as crowds tend to form before they're letting passengers in and it takes awhile for the congestion to be alleviated. Arriving five minutes late, the other passengers are still getting settled, so you can coast right to your table and not miss a drink order!

It's a good idea to double-check any reservations you make through the in-cabin television reservation system -- I heard of a few passengers having issues logging in and I had an incident with a room service order that never made it to the kitchen! If it's an important request or booking, do it in person or over the phone.

The lounge chairs in the Solarium are a great place to watch sail-away and just relax.

This itinerary is not for children, unless they're very mature or self-reliant. The ports are not exactly kid-friendly.

Pay attention to the Compass each day -- though the spa services are expensive, there are freebies offered occasionally (like a free makeover on the final day at sea).
Day 5: At Sea red arrow  

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