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Bob VanSlyke

Age: 43

Occupation:Legal Assistant

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: July 16th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I have enjoyed the Rhapsody of the Seas four times in the past 18 months. Every visit has been amazing! The ship, the food, the ports of call and the staff have always been wonderful.

The Ship

The Rhapsody is a wonderful ship. It’s clean and up to date. The crew is in constant motion to keep paint fresh, carpets immaculate and windows sparkling. All of the facilities are first class.

The Food

Given that we have been on the ship four times, it is safe to say that we have eaten in every facility on the ship.

The Windjammer is the place to go for breakfast and lunch. The quality and number of choices are excellent. Each day has a different theme for how the scrambled eggs are prepared. It may sound strange but it is really wonderful to have a variety like that. They also offer a wide variety of fresh fruits. They make it easy to have some healthy items while still being able to indulge if you choose.

The Solarium Snack Bar fills the gap between lunch and the late seating for the dining room very nicely. My family, as well as others that have been on The Rhapsody, love the French fries. I am not sure what they do to make them different than the normal fry but they have an addicting quality about them. It’s amazing to see adults belly up and ask for just a plate of fries. They also serve burgers, hot dogs and pizza. Each day they offer a different theme pizza, along with the standard pepperoni and the standard cheese pizza.

The Edelweiss Dining Room is wonderful. Each night offers a different theme; however, if you choose to eat steak every night, you have that option too. The desserts are awesome! In fact, we normally take one back to our cabin to enjoy later in the evening. On our most recent visit to the Rhapsody, during a discussion about cuisine, our head waiter asked us if we enjoyed Indian Cuisine. It happens to be a favorite of ours. The next evening, he surprised up by serving us a shrimp curry that he made especially for us. IT WAS AWESOME! After having been on the ship 4 times, it normally takes us 30 minutes to say all of our goodbyes each evening to all the staff that we have met in the dining room.

The Ports of Call

Key West is beautiful. We normally walk around a bit. We stop at the Starbucks downtown. This is your last opportunity to have Starbucks until arriving in Galveston on Sunday morning. We have done the pub crawls, rented scooters and visited the butterfly exhibit. It’s a fun place to visit. DO NOT MISS THE SUNSET! It is one of the most beautiful things that you will ever see.

Ocho Rios is a shoppers dream. This is the first stop on the cruise and shop owners tend to give good prices to entice you to buy there rather that later on the cruise. They will also serve you a Red Stripe while you shop. There is nothing like a cold beer in a hot steamy place to make shopping a pleasurable experience. We left Ocho Rios about 6:00 PM. It was so beautiful to sit on the deck as we cruised down the coast. Jamaica is very beautiful at sunset.

Grand Cayman is my favorite port. The water is beautiful, there are wonderful attractions and the shopping is great. We have swum with the sting rays, visited Hell and the turtle farm and snorkeled a ship wreck. The water, regardless of time of year, is always comfortable to swim in. Hurricane Ivan hit the island pretty hard last year, but they are doing a great job of getting it back together.

Cozumel, bring your rain slicker. Every time we have visited there, it has rained. The rain normally only lasts for a short amount of time; however, I’d still rather be dry. The shopping area is huge, and it’s inexpensive to take a taxi from the pier to the main shopping area. The shop owners are courteous and will negotiate with you on prices. It’s very important to stay at the RCI approved shops to make sure you get good quality and are treated well.

Costa Maya is a new port. We visited there in November of 2004 in place of Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman was still trying to recover from Ivan and was unable to accept ships. My wife and I chose to visit the Chakchoben Mayan ruins. It was a wonderful experience. These ruins are a relatively new find and they are very early in the excavation. Our tour guide was Mayan. He gave us quite a bit of good information on the bus ride to the ruins. The shopping area at Costa Maya is quite small. They are in process of building a huge shopping area for future cruise ship use.

The Staff

Rhapsody’s staff is second to none. If you need something, ask and it will be done courteously and promptly. Cabin staff members are thorough and efficient. Every night brings a different towel animal, and mint on the pillow. Dining staff members work very hard to make your dining experiences memorable. Constant refilling of beverages, checking to make sure everything on your plates is of your liking and taking the extra step to keep you happy, they will blow you away. After the first meal with them, they know your name, and what beverages you prefer.

The Rhapsody of the Seas is an awesome cruise experience. Some suggestions that I have is that you bring a small kit with Tylenol or Advil. If you drink a lot of water, bring a case of bottles with you. The cost on the ship is pretty high. My wife and I also bring trail mix and other snacks with us. It’s also a good idea to bring your own shampoo and soap or body wash. They do provide it; however, we prefer to bring our own.

I wish you all smooth sailing and I highly recommend you try The Rhapsody of the Seas.

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