Serenade of the Seas—Pre-inaugural Cruise Aug. 12-14, 2003
I was invited on the pre-inaugural cruise of the Serenade of the Seas from Boston, and while this cruise did not visit any ports I wanted to post a review of the ship and onboard services.
I have been fortunate enough to have sailed on every Royal Caribbean ship, and I must say that the Serenade is by far the prettiest ship in the fleet. RCI has done an outstanding job with the dEcor and layout. This ship combines rich wood, plush carpets and furnishings with an outstanding collection of artwork throughout the ship. Having only been on the ship for 2 days, it was impossible to view all the artwork and details that make up this ship.
Deck 2 and 3 contain passenger cabins.
Deck 4 is where you'll find the Lobby Bar, RCI Online, Guest Relations and Explorations Desks as well as the lower level of Reflections Main Dining Room. Reflections Main Dining room is nicely decorated in tones of gold, red and burnt orange.
The areas on the sides near the windows are accented by dark wood beams and columns which give a more intimate feel. The silk tapestries that flank both sides of the main dining area give the room a smaller feel, as you can't see the balcony of the upper level.
The Lobby Bar is a nice place to sit, have a drink and listen to the music played by a variety of onboard entertainers. When live music isn't being played the player piano gently plays soft background music. The Tropical Showroom spans Decks 4,5 and 6.
Deck 5 is the upper level of Reflections Dining Room, Latte-tudes coffee bar, the Shops of the Centrum, Photo and Art Gallery, Conference Center and the Tropical Showroom's main level. Latte-tudes coffee bar was quite popular on this cruise, and with only 2 crew members manning the counter the lines were often quite long and slow moving. I suspect this was due to the fact that everything onboard this cruise was complimentary. I would assume that on regular "revenue" cruises, the lines would be less lengthy. Adjacent to Latte-tudes is a nice sitting area with comfortable chairs and couches as well as several internet stations. The Shops were well laid out and offered the usual wares. Prices were average. The Photo and Art Gallery was nicely laid out and did not cause any "bottle necks" when the traffic increased through the area on the way to the main showroom.
Deck 6 is where you'll find the Safari Club (Colony Club on Radiance and Brilliance).
The Schooner Bar, Chops and Portofino restaurants, the Champagne Bar, Casino Royal, Cinema, The Pit Stop Sports Bar and the upper level of the Tropical Showroom. The Safari Club is laid out exactly like the Colony Club, however it's dEcor is more like an upscale African Lodge rather then the British Social club dEcor of the Colony Clubs.
The 2 self leveling pool tables are at the entrance, there are 2 bars in the "main" club.
This was a very nice lounge to enjoy a drink, and look over the wake of the ship. They held various events, game shows, karokee etc. Each night a live band played music for several hours. The Schooner Bar is typical of any other RCI ship and had nightly entertainment by either a piano player or a Latin guitarist. Directly off the Schooner Bar is Chops and Portofino's. Chops is richly decorated in warm earth tones with an open kitchen for added entertainment. Portofino's is decorated in light colors with murals on 2 walls. The Champagne Bar has a nice size bar and lots of seating near the windows. Casino Royal is quite large and has a nice sized bar located directly in the center. There are lots of slot machines and there seemed to be an adequate number of blackjack and craps tables to satisfy everyone onboard. Directly behind the Casino is the Pit Stop Sports Bar with large circular bar, several small seating areas and plenty of large, plasma screen TV's to keep an eye on multiple sporting events. The Cinema was small but had stadium style seating for a clear view of the screen from any seat. The Tropical Showroom spans 3 decks and is a well laid out and comfortable room. This area is decorated in tones of yellow, gold, green and blue. The dark wood accents adorn the walls and the beaded curtain adds some dazzle to the room. The seating is comfortable and allows enough legroom for someone over 6 feet tall to sit comfortably. There are great sight lines, however some balcony seats may have an obstruction from the support pillars. The 2 production shows we saw were very good—the singers were some of the best I've seen on any cruise.
Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 contain mostly passenger cabins. Deck 8 houses the Explorer's Court, a quite place to sit and read. The Library is on Deck 9 and while small, it looked like a comfortable room to sit and read. The Yacht Club and Concierge Lounge are on Deck 10. Both rooms are small yet functional.
Deck 11 houses the ShipShape Spa, Solarium, Main Pool and Windjammer Cafe.
The Spa had several treatment rooms, all with private windows looking out across the ocean. The Thermal Suite offers dry and wet saunas, aroma-therapy and heated loungers.
The Solarium is a beautiful, lush area to relax. Several padded loungers surround the pool and hot tubs. There is also a bar and small cafe located inside. The Solarium is reserved for adults only. The Main Pool is surrounded by 2 hot tubs. The Windjammer has several food stations and is well laid out. Each station had a different offering and allowed for smooth traffic flow. Just behind the Windjammer is a covered outdoor seating area where you could dine al fresco and watch the wake of the ship.
Deck 12 is the main sports deck onboard. The ShipShape Center is laid out nicely, with the aerobic area in the center of the space surrounded by various treadmills, stairmaster and weight training machines. The Sky Bar is a nice place to have a drink and is 1 level above the main pool so you can still hear the music being played below. Also located on Deck 12 is the video arcade, Fuel teen's disco, Adventure Ocean, kids pool and slide, Basketball court, Golf and Sports area and the Seaview Cafe. The children's facilities onboard are very nice and looked like it would be fun to be a kid again. The Seaview Cafe is tucked away on the side of the ship, and once found offered an excellent alternative for a quick snack or lunch.
Deck 13 contains the Mini-golf course and the Viking Crown Lounge. The Viking Crown is broken up into several smaller lounges, including the Vortex Disco complete with revolving bar, and the Hollywood Odyssey jazz lounge which is also the nightly cigar bar.
Cabins—as this was a special cruise, they had 1 cabin from each category open for viewing. Each cabin was nicely decorated and richly appointed with wood accents and nice fabrics. The cabins were compact but functional and the bathrooms have replaced the shower curtain for sliding doors.
Food—The food was excellent. We ate in the main dining room each night and had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and Seaview Cafe's.
Service—The crew onboard were taken from various ships in the fleet and were the typical friendly, fun and efficient crew RCI is famous for. Nothing was too much trouble and you were always greeted with a smile and a "hello" from every member of the crew from the Captain down to the maintenance workers.
Summary—I would not hesitate to sail on this beautiful ship again. As a matter of fact I have several cabins booked on her to Alaska in July 2004. The Serenade of the Seas is truly a work of art, and a ship RCI should be proud of. I took over 130 pics while onboard and once I get them developed I will post the link.