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Serenade of the Seas cruise ship review - Royal Caribbean International

Ever wondered what it takes to build a cruise ship? On May 24th, 2003 I was introduced to the mind-boggling world of modern shipbuilding when I visited Royal Caribbean International's new Serenade of the Seas at her  birthplace: Papenburg, Germany. With a history that dates back to 1795, the family-operated Meyer Werft must be one of the oldest shipyards still operational in the western hemisphere. They sure have come a long way since they delivered their first ship 218 years ago!  

The bow of Serenade of the Seas

The 90,090 ton Serenade of the Seas officially came to life on February 16th, 2002 when the first steel block was lifted into position in the covered dry dock and work started on assembling the 66 individual blocks. Each of these blocks is made separately and can weigh up to 400 tons. Like an oversized jigsaw puzzle,

all blocks are put in their meticulously prepared position and welded together. Voila, a ship is born! Ah, if only it was that simple... Once the "skeleton" of the ship is in place, work starts on the inside of the ship. Hundreds of people alone are kept busy assembling all 1,050 passenger cabins. Other than on sister ships Radiance and Brilliance, cabins on Serenade of the Seas were delivered to Meyer Werft pre-fabricated and were put on board through holes in the hull before being moved into position. These cabins are delivered to the yard in a completely finished stated with bathroom fixtures, lamps and curtains already in place. Once welded in position on the ship, each cabin is sealed to prevent them from getting dirty. Before the ship sets sails the cabin is thoroughly cleaned and provided with the necessary linens and towels, ready to welcome the first guests. When I visited the ship some ten weeks before delivery, all cabins were installed and work concentrated on the indoor public spaces. Workmen could be seen everywhere laying carpets, putting up ceilings panels and generally keeping VERY busy.

Rock climbing wall already in place

The logistics of building a ship like Serenade of the Seas are beyond all imagination. The contractors and sub-contractors (companies hired by the shipyard to help them build the ship) work according to a very strict timetable and any delays will create a domino effect that could ultimately result in a late delivery of the ship which will cost the

shipyard huge amounts of money.  That said, Serenade of the Seas is slated for delivery on July 31st and work is progressing completely according to schedule. With Meyer Werft having an enviable reputation for on time delivery, all should be ready when the first official guests are welcomed on board in Amsterdam on August 2nd. During a thorough 2-hour tour of the ship I was able to visit the bridge, have a look at one of the gas turbines deep down in the ship and wander through restaurants and lounges under the expert guidance of Serenade's personable Staff Captain Karin Stahre Janson and Chief Officer Malcolm Rodger. As a twin sister to Royal Caribbean International's Radiance of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade represents no sensational changes over her older sisters' layout. Instead, minor design changes have been planned to prevent the ships from being complete clones.

Dusty slot machine

First and foremost, Serenade of the Seas will of course boast her own huge collection of art objects. Focal point will be a huge "paddle wheel" structure in the atrium, apparently in the colors of the rainbow.  The Solarium will have  a Thai theme and the elephants guarding the pool have already received a gold paint layer.

Let's wait and see if they will have earrings, too just like on Brilliance...! The main show lounge on decks 4 and 5 is named Tropical Theatre and features a blue, yellow and green decor. Large expanses a multi-colored fabric adorn the walls on both sides, creating a a more magical atmosphere combined with the blue ceiling panels overhead.. The main two deck high Reflections Dining Room features the familiar opulent decor of her earlier sisters, albeit in a "cinnamon roll" color scheme. Directly adjoining the Centrum are the RCI Online Internet Cafe, Guest Relation Desk and the ever-popular Latte-tudes Coffee Bar. The beautifully detailed inlaid wooden panels in the Boutiques of Centrum show the craftsmanship that has gone into these ships. In fact, it would be a waste to spend a week on board and not look at the many design details that make this ship one of a kind. 

Dusty slot machine

Last but not least, we have a look at the Safari Club. This secondary show lounge (named Colony Club on the Radiance and Brilliance) all the way aft on deck 6 features an African look and feel, with lots of wood accents. Of course you will again find two computer-controlled pool tables that will remain completely horizontal

even when the ship is rolling. The Staff Captain told us the story of one of the contractors on the rather rough crew-only delivery trip of Radiance of the Seas. The man was very prone to motion sickness and decided to sleep on one of the pool tables in the Colony Club. Every night, he would grab a blanket and climb on his stabilized "bed" to get a decent night's sleep. Of course this practice was never repeated again...

After my visit to the beautiful lady of Papenburg, I can only express my admiration for the workforce that are able to turn tons of bare steel into an exciting new cruise ship. The sheer logistics of building Serenade of the Seas are mind boggling and Meyer Werft has swiftly adapted to the changes in shipbuilding techniques ever since they built that small wooden ship back in 1795.

Golden elephant in the Solarium

Solarium
ShipShape Spa reception
The Centrum
Casino Royale
The Pit Stop Sports Bar

Boutiques of Centrum

Tropical Theatre
Safari Club
Safari Club
Entrance to the Tropical Theatre

The Pool Deck and Viking Crown Lounge

Windjammer Cafe
Viking Crown Lounge
Looking down in the Centrum
The Centrum
Reflections Dining Room
Reflections Dining Room
Schooner Bar
Tropical Theatre
Safari Club
Promenade Deck

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Year built: 2003
Building Yard: Meyer Werft, Papenburg
Gross Tonnage: 90,090
Length: 293.2 m (961.9 ft)
Beam: 32.2 m (105.6 ft)
Passengers (norm.): 2,100
Passengers (max): 2,496
Crew: 858
Service speed: 24.0 knots
Sister ship: Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas

Golden elephant in the Solarium

Windjammer Cafe
ShipShape Spa reception
The Pool Deck and Viking Crown Lounge

The Centrum

Solarium
Viking Crown Lounge
Looking down in the Centrum

 

Photos and text: 2003 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on May 31st, 2003 and revised on August 4th, 2003. This version published August 20, 2006

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