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Serenade of the Seas Reemerges from Drydock

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SERENADE OF THE SEAS

photo: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas has reemerged from its three week $29 million drydock at Navantia Ship Yard in Cadiz, Spain, with a host of new dining concepts, entertainment options and technology advancements originally introduced to industry-wide acclaim aboard Oasis-class ships. Serenade of the Seas, a Radiance-class ship, is the eighth ship overall to undergo revitalization since the line announced an extensive revitalization program in 2011 which will leave no ship untouched.

Serenade of the Seas emerges from drydock with nearly double the dining options with the addition of five of the brand’s most highly-acclaimed signature dining concepts, including:

  • Giovannis Table: An Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family-style (open for lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)
  • Izumi Asian Cuisine: A pan-Asian restaurant with an authentic dining experience featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner, plus a la carte menu pricing)
  • Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring made-to-order salads, sandwiches including the signature Kummelveck beef sandwich, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)
  • Rita’s Cantina: A casual yet vibrant restaurant, catering to families by day, and adults by night; offering Mexican appetizers and a comprehensive selection of margaritas (open for lunch and dinner, a la carte menu pricing)
  • Chef’s Table: An exclusive and private experience co-hosted by the executive Chef and Sommelier for a wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 per person)

Guests interested in sampling these new venues will have the opportunity to choose from one of the new dining packages recently introduced. These include the Royal Choice Dining Package, which includes dinner at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi for $55 per guest, or the Chef’s Table Dining Package for $130 per guest, which includes all of the specialty restaurants as well as the Chef’s Table.

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As part of Serenade’s revitalization, the Centrum – which is the focal point of the ship – was transformed into a spectacular new space featuring the new Centrum experience, which includes the addition of the 60’s-inspired R Bar as well as a multitude of entertainment experiences in the five-story Centrum to include enriching daytime activities, dazzling nighttime entertainment and a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the atrium.

In addition, the ship also features a new Concierge Club for suite guests, a Diamond Club for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program members, the Crown and Castle Pub and the popular Royal Babies and Tots Nursery giving parents more opportunities to enjoy the ship’s highlights with peace of mind that their babies are being tended to by qualified care givers. Guests also will find that staying connected at sea will be easier with Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship and enjoy a host of technology enhancements that include, flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, an outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck, as well as a digital way-finding system.

Serenade of the Seas is offering Mediterranean itineraries through January 2013 before moving to Dubai for a series of seven-night sailings from February through mid-April.

Source: Royal Caribbean

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Creating The Ultimate Cruise Ship

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Cruisers tend to fall into two different categories. There are those who are loyal to one line, whether because of its rewards program or the fact that it “fits” their particular style. Others jump from line to line, often deciding which ship to sail on based on the amenities — from restaurants to ropes courses — it happens to offer. And it is those in the latter category for whom we’ve decided to create the ultimate cruise ship.

Imagine if you could take the best features from each ship and meld them into something of a Frankenship. What would you take from the various ships you’ve sailed over the years? We compiled some of our favorite elements to create our dream ship. Read on to see what we’d steal from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess ships… then hit the comments to add your own elements!

The Ultimate Cruise Ship

Ship Design, Interior
We’re not naming names or pointing fingers, but too many ships have public spaces that are basically indistinguishable squares and rectangles. By thinking outside the literal box, Royal Caribbean’s public spaces offer unconventional shapes and eclectic designs that make exploring a delight. (It doesn’t hurt that many of those spaces are filled with unique, occasionally downright odd, artworks.)

You never know what you’ll find on the Royal Esplanade.

Ship Design, Exterior
Norwegian changed the game with their Waterfront area, putting passengers on their megaships closer to the ocean they love thanks to venues which offer indoor or outdoor seating. And it’s not just the restaurants. Want to sip a drink at an outdoor table while listening to the jazz band playing in fat cats? Thanks to the fact they pipe the music outside, you can. So popular is this format that it’s definitely become a trend, with ships like Carnival Vista and MSC Seaside among the latest to offer their spin on it.

Dining venues along The Waterfront offer beautiful sea views.

Cocktail Bar
Every ship offers specialty drinks at their watering holes, but Carnival elevated the game with the introduction of the Alchemy Bar. Don’t come here looking for a glass of wine or a beer. This hot spot is all about hand-crafted cocktails that are, as the menu says, “mood enhancers developed by our mixologists.” Don’t see something on the menu — which is almost as much fun to read as the drinks are to consume — that’s to your liking? The bartenders will make something specifically for you, with or without alcohol. (But if you don’t find the Cucumber Sunrise to be the most refreshing thing you’ve ever consumed on a cruise ship, there might be something wrong with you!)

The Alchemy Bar has the cure for what ails you.

Wine Bar
Over the past few years, many cruise lines have introduced wine bars. But Holland America put a unique spin on the concept by introducing Blend on the ms Koningsdam. Passengers are offered the opportunity to bring out their inner Angela Channing (and bonus points if you get the TV reference) by creating their own vintage. After learning a little bit about wine and creating their signature label, guests can then take their bottle of vino to dinner!

Entertainment Venue
Every ship has a theater, but Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas is the only ship currently sailing out of the United States in which you’ll find the jawdropping Two70 complex. During the day, the two-story aft-facing space offers to-die-for views and a great place to snag lunch (thanks to the attached Cafe Two70). But at night, the space transforms into a theater space combining live performers and technology for a one-of-a-kind experience that redefines the concept of cruise ship entertainment. (We suspect Eden, the dining and entertainment complex which will be unveiled when Celebrity Edge debuts in 2018, will give Two70 some competition in this category!)

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Entertainment offered in Two70 is as jawdropping as the venue itself.

Asian Restaurant
There are a fair number of so-so Asian restaurants on cruise ships. And then there is Carnival Cruise Line’s take on the standard, JiJi’s Asian Kitchen. From the simple-yet-elegant design to the limited-but-perfectly-curated menu, this place gets everything right. The pork belly melts in your mouth, the Kung Pao chicken has just the right kick and the house cocktail — a green tea martini — goes down almost too easily. It’s impossible to imagine our Ultimate Cruise Ship not finding room for this gem.

Carnival Sunshine

Nanjing Style Duck. photo credit: CCL

Unique Dining Experience
In some of the categories we’ve listed, there’s room for debate. But this one is, as far as we’re concerned, a slam dunk for Royal Caribbean’s Wonderland. From the magical menu to the unusual presentation of each course, this is a foodie’s paradise. But be warned: dishes like Tomato Water and Liquid Lobster won’t be for everyone. This is not a place for picky eaters or children, despite the Alice in Wonderland theme. But if you’re adventurous and ready for a meal you’ll never forget, this is definitely the spot for you.

Believe it or not, this is what passes for a “salad” in Wonderland!

Beverage Package
There’s no clear winner here, so instead, we want to pick-and-choose elements from the drink packages offered by a few lines. While we’re not big fans of Carnival’s 15-drinks-a-day rule, we love that it includes things like coffees, milkshakes and smoothies. (The fact that those cut into your 15 drinks a day are where the problem comes in.) And while Norwegian’s drink package is ridiculously priced at over $100 a day (and does not include nearly the selection that Carnival’s Cheers! package does), the vast majority of cruisers are able to get the package as a “free” perk when booking.

Bed
That’s right, we’ve thought of everything… including the place where you’re going to rest up for the next day’s activities. And honestly, there was no choice but to go with Princess Cruise Line’s Luxury Bed. They consulted a sleep-expert when developing it, for heaven’s sake! So loved is this bed that people actually come home from cruises and order one for their own home.

What features, venues or other attributes would you insist that your “ultimate cruise ship” come equipped with?

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Cruise Lines

5 Favorite Carnival Cruise Line Desserts

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It’s no secret that Carnival Cruise Line knows how to do dessert well, and is known for a few ultimate favorites.  I took a look around the internet, and asked guests in a few social media groups what their onboard favorites were.  These seem to be the top five, so enjoy our Carnival dessert countdown!

5. Tiramisu

Found in the Italian restaurant Cucina del Capitano, Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert.  Lots of cruisers mentioned that this was one of their favorite desserts aboard the ships, and it’s not hard to understand why.  There’s just something about soaked lady fingers, marscapone, and a chocolate finish that begs to be devoured.

4. Grand Marnier Soufflé

Thankfully, this is a dessert that is found right in the ship’s main dining room.  This sweet, mouth-watering dessert received several comments – and some guests even dared to say that it is better than the warm melting cake.  Plus, it’s served with an orange vanilla sauce, so how could you go wrong?

3. Banana Split

When I think of fancy cruise desserts, I don’t normally think of a banana split.  Apparently though, Carnival knows how to do them right.  This is actually found on the kid’s menu, but there was a great number of adults that said they can’t resist ordering it, anyway.  But who am I to judge… are there really many that can really resist smooth ice cream, bananas, and delicious sauces?

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2. Creme Brûlée

Found on the American Feast menu during formal night, the Vanilla Creme Brûlée received many high remarks among frequent Carnival guests.  It’s such a special dessert, and really does convey that this evening is more special than the others.  A warm, creamy interior with a hard, sweet top layer is just what any sweet tooth needs to end an elegant meal.

1. Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

Carnival’s signature Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

There is no way this wasn’t going to come in as the very top dessert aboard Carnival’s ships.  Long-time guests and newbies alike rave about this warm chocolate dish, and scour the internet to find the real recipe straight from the onboard chefs. (It’s right here!)  Served with vanilla ice cream, it’s the perfect balance of hot, cold, and gooey for the ultimate after-dinner dessert.

Honorable Mentions

These desserts got a few comments from cruisers too, so I figured I should include them: the chocolate chip cookies in the Lido Marketplace, the chocolate sampler in the steakhouse, Bitter & Blanc bread pudding, the chocolate cake from the café, and the S’more’s Parfait.

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Cruise Lines

Ship Tour: Queen Elizabeth

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Cunard’s 2,092-passenger ship Queen Elizabeth debuted in 2010.  She’s the second largest ship in the line’s fleet, exceeded by Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II named the ship in a ceremony in Southampton on October 11, 2010.

 

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