Why a cruise: Because it is without a doubt the best, easiest, most carefree way to see the world! After you decide where you want to go, the cruise line will do all the rest for you. No hassles, no stress, no worries, no complications. So isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be all about? You bet it is!
Why the Serenade of the Seas or Royal Caribbean:
Because like no other cruise line, Royal Caribbean makes you feel so welcomed and part of its family. Once you cruise with RCI, you are immediately remembered and begin your path to many rewards and benefits. After experiencing all the other cruise lines as a travel writer, I feel that RCI has so much more to offer. From the ships themselves, to the itineraries, price value, size of the cabins, amenities, activities, food, restaurants, shows, shops and excursions, to the unbelievably friendly service and eager to please staff, Royal Caribbean reigns supreme in my book!
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas is part of the “radiance-class ships” and as far as I am concerned it is the absolute ultimate “at sea” experience! Other ships in the Radiance class include Jewel of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas.
To begin with, the ship itself is spectacular and stunning. I love the size of this ship. Not too overwhelming or big and crowded. It is friendly and comfortable walking about. There is a remarkable ten-story glass-constructed Centrum and there are glass elevators facing the sea so that you can be “at one with the sea” your entire vacation. There are spectacular views from most of the public rooms. The ships chic décor accentuates elegance, charm, and beauty as well as the traditional handsome style design of the past. The ship’s warmth somehow creates a wonderful, serene environment. People tend to get lost on ships and ask where things are right up until the last day. However, this ship is very easy to navigate, as indoor public rooms are located on decks five and six – sports deck, pools, spa, fitness center on decks 11 and 12.
When I first came aboard, I noticed one of the Royal Caribbean’s typical unbending modern, contemporary art sculptures enhancing the nine-story atrium. However, as I walked about the rest of the ship it had a much more traditional feel, with beautiful wood paneling, tan and brown leathers, and calming deep-sea-blue furnishings and carpeting.
There is an estimated 110,000 square feet of glass which covers about half of the radiant exteriors. This is the effect that allows for wide-open views from the Viking Crown Lounge, Singapore Sling’s piano bar, Crown & Anchor Lounge, Sky Bar, Windjammer Café, and Champagne Bar. The atrium has the same affect plus four banks of glass elevators.
The Serenade has the highest percentage of outside cabins in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The Cabins (considering that this is a ship) are quite spacious, very practical and functional. It is evident that much attention was paid to detail in using all possible space. The cabins are quite attractive and decorated with navy blues and copper tones. All of the cabins have mini-fridges, hair dryers, nice sitting areas with mini-couches, plenty of drawer space, a generous amount of room in the closets, bedside reading lights, and interactive TVS. The cabins also have a very useful vanity/desk, and, thank goodness, modem jacks to use for any electronic equipment etc. The bathrooms, as in most ships, are small, but there is plenty of storage space and it will get the job done.
Suites are on Deck 10. There is the Royal Suite (The best), six Owner’s Suites and 35 Grand Suites. Suite guests have the luxury of complimentary in-cabin butler service in addition to cabin stewards. In my opinion, the best part to having a suite is you are invited to be a part of the Concierge Club on Deck 10. This is truly a wonderful treat. Every night the most wonderful group of people met in the club for complimentary drinks, appetizers and sweets…YUM! During the day I would come here to use the computer, request services or grab a cup of coffee and newspaper. A light breakfast and lunch spread are also set up in the concierge club. On my voyage, the ever so charming, outstanding and amazing concierge expert Francois Roux took care of his guests with grace, ease, style, confidence and poise. Loved him!!!
My cabin steward, Raul, bent over backwards to make me completely happy. All of the stewards are so very kind, caring, friendly and so helpful that you might almost feel guilty for all that they do for you with a smile…
Total: 1,055 Ocean View: 829 (589 with balconies), interior: 226
Staterooms with third/fourth berths: Wheelchair accessible staterooms: 19.
All cabins are equipped with a television, telephone, Cyber Cabin, refrigerator/mini-bar,
Hair dryer, and there are 110/220 electrical outlets.
In all of the ships restaurants I received memorable, brilliant, friendly, efficient and personable service. You will find an amazing experience wherever you decide to dine!
The two-story Reflections main dining rooms serve a multi-course menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reflections features a wide variety of delectable menu items and impeccable service. These rooms are enchanting and stylish with cascading waterfalls which makes its appearance old world classy. Four dramatic silk columns enhance the main floor, and a spacious double staircase joins the two decks magnificently. Its appearance is so majestic and dramatic I was actually waiting for Angelina and Brad to gracefully walk down the Hollywood style staircase. It could happen!
The Windjammer Café: sports the traditional ship décor and is a self-serve buffet dining experience with 11 food stations. Ironically, somehow there is no waiting and any lines do move along swiftly. You can eat inside or out and there are cozy tables with oversize rattan chairs and thick cushions to relax on while enjoying the fabulous foods created in this café.
The Chops Grille: is totally my favorite dining on the ship. It is lovely, cozy and oh so charming with, of course, an ocean view. Chops is decorated in dark rich woods, elegant upholsteries, and high-backed booths; all intended to make guests more comfortable while eating the most delectable and decadent steaks anywhere. The menu is stellar as well as the food and service. So yummy and all for a minimal fee! Do make reservations!
Next to Chops is Portofino: which also enjoys an ocean view. This is an intimate, upscale, Italian restaurant. The food selections and service are amazing as well. I felt very spoiled and fussed over while dining in both of these spectacular restaurants. BRAVO!!! Do make reservations!
Up on the Sports Deck, the Sea View Café is a very cool, relaxed, informal café that serves lunch, dinner and a casual light fare such as chili, fish and chips, popcorn shrimp, and burgers. Lots of fun to be enjoyed here!
At a counter in the Solarium, freshly made pizza is served by the slice, and a coffee shop serves cappuccino and pastries.
Don’t forget about the complimentary room service served 24 hours a day!
Café Latté-tudes is a specialty coffee house that serves sweets and there is a 24-hour internet center right there as well.
Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities:
The Radiance vessels have tons of recreation outlets and acres of space to relax on the heavenly wooden chaise lounges to sunbathe and enjoy, “dolce far niente”, “the sweetness of doing nothing”!
The Sports Deck has a 9-hole miniature-golf course and golf simulators, a jogging track, a rock-climbing wall attached to the funnel, and a combo basketball, volleyball, and paddle-tennis court. The sprawling ocean view gym has a huge aerobics floor and dozens of state of the art work out machines. Here is where I went to alleviate my guilt of eating my way through the ports!
Ships Highlights: You need never have a dull moment!
REST & RELAXATION
The Solarium: A stunning large, lush Solarium, with amazingly exotic eastern motifs. Tropical foliage and waterfalls impart an Asian-spa mood, and stone reliefs, regional woodcarvings, and statues made me feel as though I was in paradise.
3 whirlpools and an adults-only retreat
Vitality Spa: The spa has 13 treatment rooms and a special steam-room complex with heated tiled lounges and showers that simulate tropical rain and fog. Pamper, indulge, treat and baby yourself at the spa for all your hard work during the year. I completely did!!!! Guiltiness I might add! Spoil yourself with the over 100 up to the minute treatments offered. This is probably my favorite part of the ship. On the sea days after working out to assist my waist line from all the pasta and pizza I gorged down, I had the most wonderful massage, got my hair and nails done. Pamper, pamper, spoil and indulged, there I was all ready for formal night!
State-of-the-art Fitness Center, with classes including yoga and tai chi
Library and Card Room
Concierge Club: For diamond, diamond plus, pinnacle and guests in suites only.
ACTION & ADVENTURE:
The Rock-climbing wall is not just for kids! Royal Caribbean cruise ships are the only ones in the world to offer rock-climbing walls. You should know there are challenges for all levels of experience. Royal Caribbean provides all of the equipment, including shoes, helmets and harnesses. Listen; if I can do it you can do it…TRUST ME! Live a little!
There is also a Mini-golf course, Basketball court, Jogging track and Video game arcade to keep you busy.
For the KIDS:
There is an awesome, Complimentary Adventure Ocean Youth Program. The kids loved every minute of these activities. There is also the Royal Babies & Royal Tots programming that features specially designed Fisher Price activities. In addition, there is the Adventure Beach kids pool with waterslide. The huge kids area on Deck 12 includes a sprawling playroom divided into several areas, with a video arcade. Teens have their own lounge areas and disco with a DJ booth, music videos and a soda bar. There are many family-friendly activities including games, contests, enrichment classes and lectures. They do a marvelous job keeping children of all ages happy and euphoric.
ENTERTAINMENT & SHOPPING:
There is complimentary Broadway-style entertainment in the Main Theater that I say is a must to attend each night. You will be mesmerized, moved and impressed by the talent that appears on this stage. There is also, of course, a 6,459 square foot Vegas-style Casino Royale with 195 slots and 11 tables. All I can say is go and have fun. I will tell you, I heard a lot of screaming and coins falling from the slots!
16 bars, clubs and lounges that never have a cover
The Safari Club featuring self-leveling pool tables
Duty-free Shops Onboard featuring name brand jewelry, perfumes, apparel Illusions (Private) Mirage
Tropical Theater Safari Club: Here you’ll enjoy the experience of dynamic productions with all the glitz, glamour and special effects of Broadway or Las Vegas.
Serengeti Card Club
The Game Reserve Public Room Capacity
Viking Crown Lounge
Schooner Bar – This nautically themed bar-lounge with the decor of classic yachts, university clubs, and cigar lounges is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink with friends and family. It is intimate with its cozy wood-and-leather couches. The room is enhanced by the inlaid wood flooring, Oriental-style area rugs and a lovely piano. I had great times playing trivia here!
Vortex Lounge (Disco/Bar) Dance the night away, I surely did!
Champagne Bar – This quiet and elegant bar is the perfect place to enjoy a glass (or two, ok perhaps 3) of champagne. Thank goodness you don’t have to drive home!
The Pit Stop
Crown & Anchor Lounge
Fuel Nightclub (Teen Area)
Youth Pool Area (Adventure Beach)
Conference Center and Services
I believe Royal Caribbean does an outstanding job on their excursions and that most definitely includes the Serenade of the Seas. I know some people like to venture out on their own and that is fine if you can navigate these cities by yourself. However, if this is your first time in any of the ports, my advice is to book a tour. Some of the tours might appear pricey; however, you get a lot for your buck. The way I look at it, I would rather be taken care of by the ship and not worry about getting back on time and possibly missing the ship, as it sails away without me. That does happen, so play it safe and book a tour! In the past I found out that I inevitably missed out on some of the sights in these ports when I tried to navigate the towns on my own. My best advice, on most of the ports (unless you are familiar), book an excursion with the cruise. I would also advise you to book in advance before your cruise begins. Sometimes tours book quickly and you don’t want to be left out.
Here are some of my favorite ports that I took amazing and fantastic excursions on…
Capri and Ana Capri: The lemons, the food, the gardens, the Faragione, the Capri sky lift, the Il Funiculare, the breathtaking awe inspiring views, the charming city, the handmade shoes and Rosario…My absolute favorite tour was The Capri Tour. First of all, this is one of the most beautiful ports ever. Rosario Sammarco, the multi-lingual, handsome, informative, patient, fun and ever so charming tour guide gave us a storybook adventure of this gorgeous Island. This highly experienced professional took us to places that we could never have done without him. He miraculously fit 20 hours of touring into 8 without even rushing us. Rosario, without a doubt, gave everyone on his tour the best, most enjoyable and memorable day ever! Bravo and well done Rosario!
Florence: Rich in culture, the pasta, the beauty, the many museums, the David, the art, the pasta, the Duomo, the Church of Santa Croce, the shoes, the leather, the purses, the bore market, the pasta and yes the shopping! Do go to the market and rub the boar’s nose and make a wish!
Rome: Rich in culture, beauty, the museums, the history, the ruins, the fountains, the ice cream, the art, the Vatican, the Colosseum, the food, the churches, the Piazza Navona, the Spanish steps, the beautiful men, the beautiful women, and yes shopping, shopping ,shopping, and one of the most exciting cities in the world. Don’t forget to throw 3 coins in the Trevi Fountain! That is if you want to return to Roma!
Venice: The romance, the gondolas, the bridges, the Grand Canal, the Piazza San Marco, the Venetian Glass, the masks, the art, the music, the food, it’s magical! Here is the city where you come to celebrate love, romance and passion!
Greece: The ancient culture, the food, the history, the ruins, the Gods, mythology, the architecture and the beautiful islands. But, what do I know; it’s all Greek to me!
Cannes: The film festival, the rich and famous, the yachts, the beaches, the food! Crazy as it seems, here is where I enjoyed the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life.
Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Amalfi: The awe-inspiring storybook beauty, the money, the homes, the cliffs, the beaches, the winding and curving roads, the spectacular views, the blue, blue ocean and the mountains. Ever so romantic!
Santorini, the Greek volcanic Island: Stunning, amazing the achetecture, the cliffs, the views, the sunsets, the museums and the food! Santorini, in my opionion, is one of the most beautiful views in the world. It gives Capri a run for its money.
Split Croatia: Charming, ancient, medieval, historic, the museums, the food, the people the fun, the ocean, the cafes!
Turkey: Such a fun port. The people are great, the shopping is unique, the food is delicious and you will have great, great, great, great fun bargaining at the old town bazaar!
Thank you Serenade for a life time of excursion memories!
I would like to thank the stellar and very professional Sanjay Kumar, the Serenade of the Seas Hotel Director and Ghana Sterling, the guest services manager for all of their guidance, information and hospitality in writing this feature. I asked Mr. Kumar why he feels The Serenade of the Seas is so extraordinary… Here is what he told me…
“The ship is unique, small and cozy. We are committed to dazzling and delighting our guests. We want to make sure each guest has an unmatched memory and experience to remember for years to come. We will do whatever we can to make this happen. We have the highest ratings for the last 12 years and we were voted the friendliest ship in RC for the last 3 years”.
I, for one, applaude their dedication, the way they go above and beyond for each and every guest to make them happy, and their personal pride and love for this ship!
I want to thank so very much the amazing Lyan Sierra-Caro, the
Senior Acct. Executive, brand Communications for all her help, assistance and kindness in making this feature story possible. What a stellar part of the RCI family you are!
Cruising on the Serenade of the Seas is truly a magical dream vacation. No matter what the reason is for your cruise, be it family, friends, romance (don’t miss having a cocktail in the moonlit night on the top deck) or business, you will no doubt have all your vacation wishes, hopes and desires come true.
I cannot rave enough about this spectacular ship. I say Bravo and I extend a well deserved A+ to RCI and everyone involved in the Serenade of the Seas!
BON VOYAGE … … …