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Chris

Age: 40

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 6th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise and included our family of five ages 11-49. We loved it and will definitely do it again.

Not really knowing what to expect, it will be hard to compare so I will just state how it was for us.

Embarkation was okay. We drove to the port, dropped our luggage with a porter, my husband parked and met us back in the terminal. The wait in line was not that long. There were employees in the lines that reminded us what documentation to have handy so that probably sped things up a bit.

We found our stateroom and settled in then went exploring and getting ready for the muster drill.

We were satisfied with the food and variety. We did dress for the formal nights and posed for pictures. This was a big deal to us!! We had late seating for dinner and next time will probably opt for the early. It's my thought that if you're going to be up late doing something, then the late seating is probably a good thing but eating and then calling it a night by 11pm is just too much!! It was neat to see all of the people dressed up! It was so glamorous!

We never had a problem finding a lounge chair anywhere. We preferred the upper deck for sunbathing and watching some of the poolside activities. The Solarium was a nice break from the noise and was relaxing.

Our stateroom attendant was wonderful and attentive. We always had fresh towels and if we needed anything, he knew how to get it or helped. We loved the towel animals and went to a class that taught us how to make them and we turned the tables and left animals for HIM!! Of course he had to guess at what a couple of them were (our version of an octopus and turtle!) but he enjoyed them just the same! We found all of the staff extremely helpful, hardworking, and friendly.

The only downside to the ship itself, and it's so minor but still worth mentioning, is that the library is for smokers. We went there one day to tutor our son and couldn't stand it. We're non-smokers so it was very unpleasant. I guess they have the cigar aficionado’s activity there, which seemed unfair to me. But, we just avoided it and found another quiet spot to study.

I had to purchase hairspray while on board and I about had a cow!! An $.89 bottle of White Rain hairspray was $4.99!! A can of Pringles was $3.99!! I just thought, "What a gouge!" I did pay for the hairspray because I had no choice but made a mental note to make sure not to leave home without the necessities again!! I would suggest the lanyards they sell and have your Seapass card put on it. It was an easy way to keep up with it and have it handy. They will punch holes in the card for you too. J

Speaking of necessities, I had done a little homework on the net before cruising to make sure I would have everything I needed. My top picks that worked out best for us are: a nightlight, a glow in the dark travel clock, an over the door shoe hanger with several pockets for hanging on the bathroom door, some kind of deodorizer for the moldy/sour smell in the bathroom, and highlighter pens. There was an abundance of hangers in the closet so next time I won't bring my own. Our room was fine for the four of us and the luggage stored perfectly under the beds. We didn’t need a power strip or extension cord, even though I brought both! The walkie-talkies we brought were virtually useless since there was always a stranger on our channel! We just agreed to check in somewhere and kept up that way.

Our stop in Key West was fast! It seemed like we had just gotten off the ship and it got dark. We rented an electric car and explored as much as we could before dark then walked Duval Street. It hadn’t been that long since Wilma had blown through there and in the residential areas we saw refrigerators and brush piled up at the curbs in several places. The beach was closed.

At Grand Cayman we had booked an excursion on our own with Captain Marvin’s for snorkeling and swimming with the stingrays. We enjoyed that but it left little time for anything else. Make sure if shopping here, that you ask if the price is US dollars or Grand Cayman.

Costa Maya, again not knowing what to expect, was different. The excursions had all been booked up so we strolled the little shopping area and went back to the ship. It reminded me of a small Juarez, Mexico because some of the vendors were aggressive and because of some of the touristy junk in the shops. There was a beach area that looked inviting but it wasn’t open. The only area near the ship that we saw open to the public was just rocks so that you couldn’t even get to the water. I would not deliberately book a cruise with this place on the itinerary.

We will cruise the Rhapsody again. Now that we have a better idea of what there is to do onboard and onshore, I know we’ll get more out of it. For a first cruise, this was a successful journey.

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