Serenade of the Seas - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Serenade of the Seas


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 383 out of 500

Accommodation: 141 out of 200

Food: 242 out of 400

Service: 279 out of 400

Entertainment: 74 out of 100

Cruise: 275 out of 400

Overall Score: 1394 out of 2000

Serenade of the Seas Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 90,090

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9228344

Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)

Original Cost: $350 million

Entered Service: Aug 2003

Registry: Bahamas

Length (ft/m): 961.9/293.2

Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 27.8/8.5

Propulsion/Propellers: gas turbine (40,000kW)/2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 12

Total Crew: 858

Passengers (lower beds): 2,100

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.9

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.4

Cabins (total): 1,050

Size Range (sq ft/m): 165.8-1,216.3/15.4-113.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 577

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 14

Wheelchair accessibility: Best

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 9

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 3

Self-Service Launderette: No

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/40

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


This is a large resort ship for family-friendly casual cruising

Overview. Serenade of the Seas is a ship that all the family can enjoy, especially with the addition of a wider choice of restaurants and eateries (in a 2013 make-over).

The Ship. The ship uses gas and steam turbine power, as do sister ships Brilliance of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, instead of the conventional diesel or diesel-electric combination.

As aboard all Royal Caribbean International (RCI) vessels, the navigation bridge is fully enclosed. In the very front of the ship is a helipad, which also acts as a viewing platform for passengers (it makes for a good photo opportunity). One of two swimming pools can be covered by a large glass dome. In 2013, a large poolside screen was added for movies in the open air.

Serenade of the Seas is a contemporary ship, and has a two-deck-high walk-around structure in the forward section of the funnel. Along the starboard side, a central glass wall protrudes, giving great views; cabins with balconies occupy the space directly opposite on the port side. The gently rounded stern has nicely tiered decks, which gives the ship a well-balanced look.

The interior focal point is the Centrum (city center), a nine-deck-high atrium lobby with glass-walled elevators (on the port side of the ship only) that travel through 12 decks, face the sea and provide a link with nature and the ocean. In a 2013 makeover, the whole area was revamped, and new features added. Centrum is now the real focal point within the ship, and the social meeting place. It houses an R Bar (for some creative cocktails), several passenger service counters, art gallery, and Café Latte-tudes (for coffees and specialty coffees). Close by is Casino Royale (for gamers and slot machine lovers), and the Schooner Bar, with its nautical-themed decor and maritime art. Aerial entertainment takes place in the Centrum, too.

Other facilities include a delightful, but small, library. There’s also a small dedicated screening room for movies, as well as a 194-seat conference center and a business center.

A Viking Crown Lounge, an RCI trademark, is set around the base of the funnel. It is an observation lounge by day, with views forward over the pool deck. In the evening, it morphs into a dance club, as well as a more intimate and relaxed entertainment venue for softer mood music.

Many ‘private’ balcony cabins aren’t private, however, as they can be overlooked by anyone standing in the port and starboard wings of the Solarium, and from other locations. There are no cushioned pads for sunloungers, and the deck towels provided are small and thin. It is virtually impossible to escape background music.

Families. Children’s facilities include Adventure Ocean, an ‘edutainment’ area with separate age-appropriate sections for junior cruisers: Aquanaut Center (for ages 3-5); Explorer Center (6-8); Voyager Center (9-12); and the Optix Teen Center (13-17). Royal Babies and Tots Nursery was also added for toddlers 6-36 months old. Meanwhile, Adventure Beach including a splash pool complete with water slide, is outdoors.

Accommodation. There is a wide range of suites and standard outside-view and interior cabins, in many different categories.

Apart from the largest suites (six Owner’s Suites), which have king-size beds, almost all other cabins have twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed. All cabins have rich (but faux) wood cabinetry, including a vanity desk with hairdryer, faux wood drawers that close silently (hooray), a television, personal safe, and three-sided mirrors. Some cabins have ceiling-recessed, pull-down berths for third and fourth persons, although closet and drawer space would be extremely tight for four people, even if two of them are children.

Most cabin bathrooms have tiled accenting and a terrazzo-style tiled floor, and a rather small shower enclosure in a half-moon shape, 100 percent Egyptian cotton towels, a small cabinet for toiletries, and a small shelf. In reality, there is little space to stow toiletries for two or more people.

The largest accommodation consists of a family suite with two bedrooms. One bedroom has twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed, while a second has two lower beds and two upper Pullman berths, a combination that can sleep up to eight people - this would suit large families.

Occupants of accommodation designated as suites also get the use of a private Concierge Lounge, where priority dining room reservations, shore excursion bookings, and beauty salon/spa appointments can be made.

Dining. Reflections, the main dining room, seats 1,096, at tables for two to 10 persons. With a water-themed decor, it spans two decks; the upper deck level has floor-to-ceiling windows, while the lower level has picture windows. It is a pleasant but inevitably noisy dining hall, reminiscent of those aboard the ocean liners of yesteryear, although eight thick pillars obstruct sight lines.

Two small private dining rooms - Illusions with 94 seats and Mirage with 30 seats - are located off the main dining room. When you book, choose one of two seatings, or My Time Dining.

The cuisine is typical of mass banquet catering that offers standard fare comparable to that found in American family-style restaurants ashore. The menu descriptions make the food sound better than it is. The selection of breads, rolls, fruit, and cheese is quite poor, however.

Other dining options. During a 2013 makeover, several other restaurants and eateries were added or revamped, giving you more choice. These included:

Chops Grille (opposite the Schooner Bar): this venue features large-size premium-quality steaks and seafood items (a cover charge applies and reservations are required). Also, the food is cooked to order. The menu doesn’t change throughout the cruise.

Giovanni’s Table (adjacent to Chops Grille): featuring Italian cuisine in a rustic setting (a cover charge applies and reservations are required).

Izumi: an extra-cost Asian-style eatery with a sushi bar and hot-rocks cooking (it’s open for lunch and dinner, with a small cover charge plus à-la-carte menu pricing).

Chef’s Table: for a private experience, typically co-hosted by the executive chef and sommelier for a multi-course wine-pairing dinner (it’s a little expensive, but worth it for a special occasion).

Park Café is a casual no-charge market-style eatery for salads, sandwiches, soups, and pastries.

Informal breakfasts, lunches and dinners can be taken in the self-serve, buffet-style Windjammer Café, accessed directly from the pool deck. It has islands dedicated to specific foods, and indoor and outdoor seating, but it gets crowded at peak times.

Entertainment. Facilities include the three-level, 874-seat Tropical Theater, which also has 24 stations for wheelchairs, and good sight lines from most seats. Strong cabaret acts are also presented in this main showlounge.

A second entertainment venue is the Safari Club, for more casual cabaret shows, including late-night adult comedy. Entertainment is always upbeat - in fact, it is almost impossible to get away from music and noise. There is even background music in all corridors and elevators, and constant music on the pool deck. If you want a quiet holiday, choose another cruise line.

Spa/Fitness. The Vitality Spa and Fitness center has themed decor. It includes a 10,176-sq-ft (945-sq-m) solarium, a gym with 44 cardiovascular machines, a 50-person aerobics room, sauna and steam rooms, and therapy treatment rooms. The climate-controlled 10,176-sq-ft (945-sq-m) indoor/outdoor Solarium has a sliding glass dome roof that can be closed in cool or inclement weather conditions, and provides facilities for relaxation. It has Balinese-themed decor, and includes a whirlpool and counter-current swimming.

For the more sporting, there is activity galore - including a 30ft (9m) rock-climbing wall with five separate climbing tracks. It is located outdoors at the aft end of the funnel. Other sports facilities include a nine-hole miniature golf course, and an indoor/outdoor country club with golf simulator, a jogging track, and basketball court.