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Hoopster95

SERENADE Sept 17-28,2014 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Passing through the end of the Casino Royale brings you to the front entry of the Crown & Castle Pub. I did not spend a second here the entire cruise as there were no activities offered other than the guitarist. In comparison to my Radiance in Australia cruise, the Crown & Castle was standing room only sometimes with Karaoke and some of the game shows offered there, and the venue was heavily used and really fun. On Serenade, it wasn't deserted by any means but sparse. Personally, it's wasted real estate dead center middle of the ship with no windows. I can go sit in a bar anywhere at home without spending $1000's on flights and cruise costs

 

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Heading further forward brings you to the Tropical Theatre balcony level entrance, and the deck 6 forward elevators. Passing by the elevators and over to the other side, turning away from the theatre is the Cinema. With no offense to anyone reading this, I truly do have a hard time believing that anyone travelling all the way to Rome/Venice/Malta/Naples/Dubrovnik/etc would spend any time at all here to watch a movie in an enclosed room as the world sails by. But there were a few....

 

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Beyond the Cinema is the back entrance to the Crown & Castle Pub

 

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I made my way back through the Crown & Castle and the Casino Royale back to the Centrum and headed aft on deck 6 towards the Schooner Bar, which also acts as the entry points for access to the rear lounges, pool tables, Giovanni's and Chops

 

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Immediately to my right at this point, and on the wall, is the navigation map which is on every ship and sailing showing our route.

 

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And now entering into the Schooner Bar

 

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Just past the bar and baby-grande ahead and on the right are Chop's grill and Giovanni's. There were several groups/couples in Chops so I did not take a quick snap shot there, but I did get this quick one in Giovanni's. I have to say it is much nicer in the evening with the mood lighting and ambiance of the food & wine! I'm a big fan of Giovanni's and have really enjoyed it there on each of the last few sailings. I have not been to Chop's I believe in over 5 sailings.

 

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Looking back into the Schooner Bar, Giovanni's just to the left of this picture

 

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Heading further aft and away from the Schooner Bar you approach the entry into the Safari Club, a really nice lounge & dance floor used for multiple events including the Quest, various game shows, various dancing events (ie. latin, ballroom, etc), Art auction, etc.

 

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Immediately through those doors you don't quite see the lounge yet... to the right you have the Loyalty Ambassador and the "Next Cruise" area where you can book your next cruise on board.... on the right you have the two self leveling pool tables.

 

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Now we get to the very back of the ship and into the Safari Club. There is a lot of excellent and I would think "high priced" real estate in this area, especially against the rear windows, that are empty 99% of the time during the cruise. There is so much more that this entire square footage of the Safari Club could be used for, which is why I believe the Voyager Class and above were designed so much more efficiently and effectively for flow and use of space to support passenger numbers. The lounge was empty when no events were on.

 

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Deck 5... check. Deck 6... check. Whew! And it's not even muster yet!!! I have yet to check out the upper decks in full so I headed out through the Schooner Bar to the Centrum panorama elevators and up to deck 13 to visit the DL & CL. Here's a bit of trivia for you if you ever ask.... where do you find a cow on any RCL ship?

 

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And here's deck 13 elevator area leading to the lounges and Viking Crown - Vortex Nightclub. The carpeting and flooring on this floor is different then all the other elevator areas on the ship with the carpet design and tile

 

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Here's the DL, which has great view over the main pool area

 

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And here's the CL. I'm a D+ virgin on the cruise, so I actually had access for the very first time. I had remembered reading several CC posts regarding Concierges, and specifically a "Mario". To my surprise, Mario was the CL! He turned out to be a super nice guy just like everyone said. Every morning and evening I had a voicemail from him ~ "Good morning to all you wonderful people!!! ~ Lol! Those of you who know what I'm talking about are probably smiling at that quote. I spoke with him every morning when I got my coffee, turns out he's leaving Serenade in a month to go over to Quantum... he made sure to ask me to come see him in the CL in December on my sailing. I will 110% definitely will as I want to get my Quantum Crystal block for reaching 210 pts on that sailing hehe!!

 

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I headed down the stairs to deck 12. I was truly surprised at how nice Fuel and especially Adventure Ocean was. Here's Fuel, the teen area and disco.

 

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And here's Adventure Ocean

 

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If you remember a few posts ago from yesterday where I pointed out the blue doors leading in from the Sports Court... well, there's the inside of the blue door with easy access to the outside for the kids. Lots of space and things to do here, I can see why kids would have a hard time going back to parents while spending time here and making friends with other kids.

 

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Out of Adventure Ocean I went to the aft of the ship... time to get some sunshine and some fresh air, and check out the outside deck areas again. The rear Windjammer seating area had finally cleared out somewhat as the rush-hour at lunch had been long gone, so I able to get a good shot of this area and the view it provides. It's the perfect place to have breakfast when in port or even when at sea to watch the wake of the ship ... I had breakfast here 11 of the 12 days :D

 

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And immediately behind me at that vantage point on the port side is Rita's Cantina. It was not well attended at all throughout the voyage, and was used as an overflow for Windjammer seating more often than not. I did go there one night with friends as they offered 2 for 1 Margeritas from 8pm-10pm, but that was it... prime dinner hour and they were serving only 3 other tables. Again, a huge waste of space with prime real estate and views with no demand from the paying public. They need to change this venue imho.

 

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Leaving the rear end of the ship I walked up the stairs from Windjammer aft up to deck 12 where Izumi's is located starboard side, along the jogging track enjoying the view and the pool deck below, towards the front of the ship. Here you can see the Sky Bar to the left, where we would have our Cruise Critic - Roll Call Sailaway meet up. You can also see the glass enclosure of the Solarium

 

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I was surprised that the loungers and chairs on this deck as well in the photo below were heavily used on deck 12, especially on sea days and late afternoon port days. They were almost full. Note to the left of the picture below on deck 12 would be the gym... there is an access door immediately to the left (it's not in the picture) that allow joggers/walkers to access the gym directly from the jogging track. There is also a door on the opposite corner port side. Also note the stairs leading down right in the middle of this picture... I'll mention those in another picture coming up shortly.

 

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Here are those stairs I had mentioned... the sign says "Suite guests or Gold card holders only"

 

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And these stairs lead down to this area on deck 11 just above the bridge and just below where the "steerage" get to stand lol! This was a real shame as this area was primarily empty at all times and on sailaways as well. Excellent and high end real estate and highly unused throughout the voyage.

 

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This area also has the very best forward facing view, but challenges looking side to side, which is why in port entries you will see in upcoming pages of this review I stayed on deck 12 so that I can be more mobile with my camera for side shots or 180 degree panoramic pictures as we sailed into port

 

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Muster's coming up soon... have I missed seeing anything yet? Think.... think... ah yes! I haven't been on the helipad yet. I wanted to head down to my stateroom on 3 anyways before muster to charge my camera for a bit so going up and over the Helipad would be perfect at this time. So down the forward elevators I went to deck 5, and out onto the promenade. I walked forward reaching the enclosed area of the walkway that almost feels like you're entering forbidden staff area... but you're not. Here's a shot on the starboard side looking back to the promenade from where I came.

 

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And here I am looking forward at the same position

 

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Yep, climb those stairs and you get here. I have some great memories on several helipads during sailaways and sail-ins over the years, including this cruise where I did sailaway from Venice (you'll see pictures later in the review). My favorite Helipad sailaway was on the Adventure from Madeira whereby I had friends up on the bridge tour taking pictures of me down below on the Helipad, and took pictures of them up on the bridge... epic!!

 

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So this may be another good trivia item, can someone confirm?? I checked my Radiance photos and the stairs on both starboard and port sides leading up to the helipad were exactly the same... but not on Serenade. Is this the only ship in the fleet with two different staircases on either side?

 

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I had to walk aft to get to my stateroom so I just followed the promenade and enjoyed the view. Equinox was moored to our port side and you can still the Epic sitting there just aft. You also get a great view of the life boats and tenders from here.

 

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I realized that the likely last square inch of the ship (other than medical) that I hadn't yet seen is the aft of the ship on this deck 5 promenade, and for the life of me I couldn't remember it from the Radiance, so off I went past the sliding doors that would lead to the staircase/elevators to the back of the ship. There's really nothing there and this is the only time I had stepped into this area for the entire cruise. Now I know why I couldn't remember this area from the Radiance

 

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It was time for muster, so I got down to my stateroom, plugged in my camera and was just getting ready to leave when there was a knock on the door. My stateroom attendant, Benefacio, greeted me as he was in the process of ensuring all his staterooms were vacated before the alarm was sounded. We had a nice chat... turned out he was one of the best stateroom attendants ever. You know how on some cruises many attendants are pretty good, but every once in a while they leave a rag somewhere, or don't clean somewhere, or forget one day to leave an extra towel, or another day miss something else? Not this guy. Perfect every single day... and he didn't have to be for me a solo traveler with no demands. I did give him praise in the survey as well as extra tip. Well deserved.... plus he had a cool sense of humour, I really liked bantering with the guy and he always had a smile on his face when we met up.

 

Muster, as always, was a necessary drag. But did not take long and it was time for our Cruise Critic meet & greet that we set up on our roll call, meeting up at the Sky Bar to discuss our private group excursions, etc. This went really well with the "main players" who posted often, however and as expected I would say half of those on the roll call did not attend this (nor the official M&M on sea day). Needless to say we were prepared!!! This turned out to be a really fun get together.

 

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This meet up was great and we all spent a good 45min to an hour while sailing away enjoying each others company and mingling. The last picture above is important to me as the couple on the right, John & Marlene, are ex colleagues of mine from over 15 yrs ago ... I hadn't seen them since then. In fact Marlene had emailed me prior the cruise on the roll call after she recognized me. The couple on the left, Jeff & Keri, ended up being one of my best friends on the trip and a hoot to hang out with.

 

Well, we're heading outta here and towards our first port of call, Salerno and the Amalfi Coast!!! Stay tuned........

 

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I am so loving your review and especially you pics of the ship. My mom and I cruise together often, but I doubt we will ever be able to get my dad on board a ship (he is too scared to be that far out from land). At the very least, I think I can use your pics (which are far better than those I took on embarkation day aboard the Serenade last year) to at least show him what the inside of this amazing and beautiful ship looks like!!!

 

Thank you so much for doing this wonderful review!

 

Melissa

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Ah yes, after chatting with them on CC in our roll call I never did meet them on board! I don't think they attended the sailaway nor the m&m. I think I ran into them in the Casino one night as I overheard them mention Vancouver but that was about it. Yes, they mentioned on the roll call they did the Oasis TA over, stayed on land a few days, did the Serenade b2b 12 days x 2, then land a few days, and then they're getting on the Oasis back to Florida.... W O W!!! What an awesome adventure :D

 

Yes, that's them. Don't think they attend those events...too many cruises, LOL They are on a wonderful adventure right now and loving it.

 

Joyce :D

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This is a GREAT review and thanks OP for so many pics and information...we're on her on the last voyage out of New Orleans next April for 13 day repo to Boston and can't wait!

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To answer your trivia question....on ships with the Ben and Jerry's 'sweet', there is a cow.....it stands above the Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop. It is a Holstein cow, much different than the one on Serenade, LOL

 

Just an FYI :D

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Great photos (you've left no stone unturned!!) and review so far!

 

AND.....Jen and I are in 3 of your "Sailaway" pics!! :D

 

It was great meeting you and everyone on the Roll Call :)

 

Wish I could jump into those photos and start that cruise all over again.....

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I guess they got rid of the sports bar on Serenade...the Pitstop?

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Ciao Claudio!

 

Loving the review with your great photos! We will be home in a few days. This cruise was awesome, nice ship and wonderful itinerary - it was so much fun to do some travelling with you.

 

Thank you for doing the review, it will be a great memory for us too.

 

 

Marlene and John. :)

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Great review. Loved the pictures from the "wedding cake" and didn't know you could go to the top!

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Thank you for the wonderful review! I am hanging onto very word.:) We are planning a Med cruise in 2017, so I will be taking notes. I can't wait until we see the itineraries so we can make a choice. Reading this review will help us make an informed one.

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I guess they got rid of the sports bar on Serenade...the Pitstop?

I thought they turned the sport bar into an English pub?:confused:

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Thank you for this review! I have barely gotten started with it. We were supposed to be in Rome now getting ready for a Celebrity cruise, but had to cancel, so the pis of Rome are especially neat. We are sailing Serenade in Feb.

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I thought they turned the sport bar into an English pub?:confused:

 

Yes....that's what I meant. By hubby will be disappointed!

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To answer your trivia question....on ships with the Ben and Jerry's 'sweet', there is a cow.....it stands above the Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop. It is a Holstein cow, much different than the one on Serenade, LOL

 

Just an FYI :D

 

Of course!! Bah :o I forgot all about the Ben & Jerry Suites, Just went back and checked my pics in the Promenade on Freedom for example. Thx for reminding me :)

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Thx again everyone, I really enjoyed doing my last review after reading probably over a hundred over the last few years. I think I'll do one everytime I sail now :D. Bare with me on this one as it takes a lot of time to upload photos, etc and my time has been precious since returning. I'll hope to post once per day but that is likely a little ambitious.:)

 

Ciao Claudio!

 

Loving the review with your great photos! We will be home in a few days. This cruise was awesome, nice ship and wonderful itinerary - it was so much fun to do some travelling with you.

 

Marlene and John. :)

 

Ciao John & Marlene!! No doubt, this was a great trip and I'm really glad we got to meet up. One of my better memories of Malta is sitting down at that cafe in Marsaxlokk and enjoying that local beer with you two that John bought me. I'll post pics of that when I get to the Malta segment. Now that you have my email etc keep in touch

 

 

AND.....Jen and I are in 3 of your "Sailaway" pics!! :D It was great meeting you and everyone on the Roll Call.

Wish I could jump into those photos and start that cruise all over again.....

 

Haha, nice meeting you too Dave. When I turned around to snap a few shots you just happened to be in the frame. Now you're famous lol. And I agree with you... got off the plane when I got home, woke up next day wishing I was getting ready for the gym and my morning double shot Macchiato in the CL while watching us sail in to Salerno/Malta/Kotor/Venice/etc etc etc.... {SIGH} :)

 

 

Great review. Loved the pictures from the "wedding cake" and didn't know you could go to the top!

 

Thx! You know, been to Rome 3 times before, and I do quite a bit of research so that I know what I want to see and do, but this one was a shocker for me as I hadn't known at all either! And it's been there since 2007 lol! Ah well, nice to have nice surprises yes? ;)

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