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Dennis

Age: 43

Occupation:Writer

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: March 26th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

I just got back from my cruise! I took mom on a 7 day cruise last week and we had such a great time. We left out of Galveston, Texas and went to Key West, Fl; Georgetown, Grand ayman Islands; and then to Cozumel, Mexico. I was a little afraid I might get seasick and would have been so embarrassed if I had (since I’d spent so much time in the Navy), but there were no problems in that area. It took a few days to get my 'sea legs' back and soon the ship was gently rocking us to sleep at night. I'd open the door to the balcony and listen to the waves splashing and drift off to 'Never-land'. Lol!

First the good:

The ship's crew gave us exemplary service and always had a smile for us. They work so hard and I'm sure I wouldn’t have the ability (or patience) to do that. They made little animals for us each night out of the towels in our room, and cleaned the room and turned down our beds. Little mints were placed on the pillows and we had 24 hour complimentary room service too! The waiters carried huge trays piled high with dinners (often 16 at a time) and I could tell they were very heavy. Our waiters had some problems with the language barrier (and seemed to be preoccupied at times), but they were polished and very attentive.

We met some nice folks at dinner and had 2 formal evenings where everyone dressed for dinner. There was also a large buffet area and we could dress casual for that. The frozen daiquiris tasted great!

I had fun in the casino too. I’d never played slots before and won a little (then promptly lost it all plus a few more dollars). Lol! It was fun though.

Key West was neat and I wish I'd had more time there. Mom and I went to a museum where they'd recovered a sunken Spanish Galleon and they showed us all this gold and silver they'd brought up. Mom bought a silver coin made into a pendant and it is pretty.

We shopped for gold and silver in Georgetown and mom bought a gold cross. Not sure if she plans to give it to someone as a present of if she plans to keep it. I wanted to buy some black coral there, but it was so expensive!

The duty free shopping was terrific! I got a $500 gold Citizen watch for 44% off! Its the new 'Eco-Drive' watch that doesn't need a battery. It’s run by solar power. I also bought some liquor (Bailey's Irish Creme) for approximately half price as well. I love that stuff!

Then mom bought a very beautiful emerald and diamond ring! I dunno how much she actually paid, but I did see the price tag and it was around $900. She probably got it for half-price though because everything was marked down.

We pulled into Cozumel, but neither mom, nor myself had the energy to go ashore there. We sort of lay around on the ship all day and relaxed.

Also...I I fell in love a couple of times on the ship. Lol! (Well, maybe a slight crush is a better word). *Chuckle* I met two girls in the store from the UK. Ok, I admit it…I fell in love with their British accent and just hung on every word. Lol! (I think she knew it too because she's the one who sold me the watch). I dunno how I am going to manage it, but I just have to find me a lovely Brit girl for my very own. Lol!

Now the bad:

In Georgetown we took a tender over to the shore and we went shopping. They wouldn’t let mom take her motorized wheelchair, so I had to push her around in a normal chair. We talked to 2 or 3 people about this and got different excuses as to why we couldn’t use mom’s chair. First, it was too heavy (I can pick it up by myself). Then it was too wide. (It actually is no wider than the ship’s own wheelchair that they lent us). It was hot and Georgetown apparently doesn’t have laws to support the handicapped there, but we still got to see some things. Some of the stores didn’t have ramps for handicapped access and some sites were upstairs. Thank God for the ADA.

Our room was…not good. It was large, but that is its only saving grace. The furniture was old and shabby looking. There was plastic falling from the headboards and from over the window. There was a tear, or seam that was ripped in the carpet and the carpet was old and needed replacing. The beds were rock-hard and mom asked the steward to bring in another mattress to place atop her own (which they did). I didn’t want to cause problems (or play the arrogant, rude American), so I just slept on my own thin mattress. The bathroom shower was awkward. There was a hand-held shower head that hug on an adjustable hook. That was fine except that the hook kept falling.

Our tv wasn’t working at all until we called for help. The entrées in the Windjammer was just not good at all. I can’t stress this enough. It was not good. Hamburger buns were hard and dissolved into a fine crunchy powder when you bit into them. The breakfast hash brown potatoes literally exploded when I cut them with my fork. The eggs were often watery and mushy. (The ham was good though as were many of the desserts). The macaroni was tasteless and cold. Much of the food was cold.

The dinners in main dining were of better quality, but only just. My Prime Rib dinner was overcooked and tough. The fish was soggy. The veggies were often undercooked. The rolls were hard as rocks. The steak was…ok. Not great, but ok. And the grilled Shrimp was pretty good, but I only had that one night.

The ugly:
In Georgetown I had to get mom a manual wheelchair from the Purser’s desk. Those guys (all except for the lady Purser) had the personalities of a fish. I got the impression that they were being put out by my asking for help. They made me sign a ticket for a wheelchair and then promptly told me that if I stole it, they would charge me $150. (Like I wanted to steal their chair).

I signed the ticket and then waited and waited. Our tender ticket number was called and still we waited. I asked the purser again about the chair and he acted as if he’d forgotten about it. Finally they brought us a chair. I went back up to our room to get my mom, took her down to get in line for the tender. They pulled us aside and told us that they were going to let everyone else on and we would go on last because it would be easier. That made sense and a few other handicapped people joined us in line. I know probably a hundred people went by us and then when we tried to board, some blonde girl stopped us and told the security above we’d have to wait for the next tender. She wouldn’t even talk to us…it was as if we were cattle being loaded up in a chute and were unworthy of her attention.

We waited for the next tender and then learned the girl didn’t know how to operate the handicapped access lift that would bring mom down the steps. She kept yelling for ‘Serge’ and I ended up having to load mom up myself. The girl brusquely told me to stand to one side and mom was lowered down the steps. Then she couldn’t figure out how to drop the ramp on the lift to let mom off. Another girl stepped up and couldn’t figure it out either and they both began yelling for ‘Serge” again. (There’s a pin that had to be pulled on a chain and that dropped the ramp). I made the mistake of pointing at the pin and my finger accidentally bumped it. It must have been barely holding the ramp because at that moment the ramp fell, slamming to metal deck. One of the girls said “You’re not Serge are you!” in the snottiest tone she could muster. I didn’t say anything and mom and I boarded the tender. My question was…if these people can’t operate the equipment (or deal with the public) why are they there at all?

As I have said though….most of the service was outstanding. But I was disappointed in the state of our room, the quality of the food, the Pursers and the snotty attitude of a couple of college age girls working with the tenders. Everyone else was very nice.

We do plan to cruise again next year…but we’ll be taking a different cruise line.

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