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Charles

Age: 34

Occupation:L.E.

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 13th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise and we had heard so many different stories about cruises in general. Some of the stories were great and some pretty horrible. First we had set up our ship board account (SeaPass) through our travel agent months prior to our departure. We made regular “deposits” to the travel agent and once we boarded our money was there in the form of ship board credits. This saved us from using cash or credit cards to set up our onboard account. What we had left in our account was returned in cash at the end of the cruise prior to leaving the ship. We still had the option to use a credit card or cash for the on board account SeaPass if we went over our pre set limit. This is an excellent idea if you want to stick to a budget while on vacation.

Once on the ship I purchased the soda pass that allows you to get unlimited soda and various juices for the entire cruise. It is worth the $43.00 and you get a souvenir cup. Simply bring the cup or show your SeaPass with the Coke sticker to a any bar and you get the soda or juice for free.

We had an inside cabin that was perfect for my wife and I. I can’t see spending the extra money to have a cabin with a view considering the amount of time we spent in the cabin. I know others disagree and want a suite or view but for the value an inside cabin is perfect. The cabin was clean and the stateroom staff kept did an excellent job on the cabin during the cruise.

I recommend reading and the Cruise Compass which is placed in your cabin every night. It gives a complete list of activities for the next day, drink specials and various important pieces of information. Pick what you want to do and go for it. This really helps plan your day and ensure you don’t miss anything. Remember you can’t do it all so pick what you really want to do. We are not big drinkers but I do recommend the “Cocktail Seminar” held on one of the sea days. It cost $9.95 a person and you get four drinks. They teach you how to make different drinks plus it is loaded with entertainment. Lots of interaction is involved so if you embarrass easily don’t sit near the front!

Key West – We had a good time here. We chose the glass bottom boat for our excursion but that turned out to be a poor choice because of the weather. The weather was windy and rained a little bit at the start of our excursion so that prevented us from doing what the glass bottom boat excursion advertised. We wrote a review of the excursion on the ship and did receive a credit for half the cost of the excursion. The next cruise we will do Key West on our own and skip the excursions. It is small enough to walk (We Think) and everything is pretty centralized. If you see an excursion you want to do book it through the cruise line. I say this because, as in our case we received some credit for a poor excursion.

Grand Cayman- We booked the Stingray City Swim and Snorkel (No Lunch) as our excursion. We definitely recommend this! It was a once in a lifetime experience and the water is beautiful. The problem with Grand Cayman is there were a total of six cruise ships there at once. It was so crowded and made getting around difficult. The cruise lines need to do something about this!!! Our excursion departed the ship a little after 7AM which left little time to sit down and eat breakfast beforehand. I recommend room service for breakfast so you don’t go hungry while on your excursion.

Cozumel – We entered Cozumel harbor but were unable to tender due to Tropical Storm Gamma. The piers in Cozumel are destroyed due to a hurricane and tendering is required. This was disappointing but the weather is out of everyone’s control. We spent an extra day at sea which allowed us to relax more.

Overall we had a fantastic time. We are hooked on cruising as way to vacation. I don’t think we will book another cruise during hurricane season though. We thought we were pretty safe in late November but Gamma proved us wrong. Plus from what I see you can get some pretty good deals in the “Off-Season”.

The treatment we received from the Royal Caribbean staff was excellent. The ship was clean and stayed clean throughout the cruise. There were about 180 kids on board and they never bothered us. Honestly some of the adults on board were far worse than the kids. Don’t let the idea of kids on a cruise bother you. The ship is large enough that we found areas that we had to ourselves when we wanted to.

Enjoy yourself and we definitely recommed Royal Caribbean to anyone considering a cruise.

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