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Debbie

Age: 46

Occupation:Business Analyst

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: April 1st, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my fourth cruise. I have sailed the Seabreeze on Premiere Line (now at the bottom of the Atlantic!), The Inspiration on Carnival, Statendam on Holland American and now have added The Rhapsody of the Seas on Royal Caribbean. Wow what a difference in all these ships! The Rhapsody was definitely the best of the ships I have been on. Here’s why:

1. The food. The dining room food was excellent and the waiter did a great job of picking out those menu items that were a ‘sure bet’ and he was 100% correct. The steak (NY Strip) was a little tough but cooked to perfection (medium rare). The dining room staff was impeccable. No flames on the baked Alaska anymore...that was disappointing but understandable. Aside from the steak mentioned above, everything else in the dining room was great. They really, really do have the best key lime pie I have ever tasted and it happens to be my very favorite dessert. Please try the flourless chocolate cake. It will give you a chocolate overload! The buffet in lieu of dining room was very nice. The breads were all hand made and excellent. The soups were perfect and hot: cr. of asparagus, cr. of broccoli, black bean, minestrone, chicken, etc. are examples. The salad bar was small but very complete: bacon, ham, olives, and at least three types of prepared salad, too, like potato, waldorf (to DIE for!). The buffet also has hamburgers, hot dogs and most excellent and a surprise was the mac and cheese. It was done with different pasta almost every night: tri-color, rigatoni, elbow, etc. They always had a hunk of meet to slice, too: corned beef (with cabbage), roast beef (rare if you want it), pork roast, etc. Please also note that there are plenty of sugar free desserts both in the dining room and in the buffet. I tried them all and aside from some lime pudding, they were all excellent! Some sugar free dessert: peanut butter pie, Key Lime, berry torte, pistachio cookies, chocolate mousse, strawberry mouse, etc. Don’t miss the ice cream machine if you are not on a diet!

2. The drinks. The free drinks at meal times are lemonade, iced tea, hot tea, coffee and water. You have to buy your own soda even at meal times. The soda card was $6 for adults and $4 for children. You get a free soda sipper (metal!) for signing up. The ship is a ‘Coca Cola’ ship and they do have Diet Sprite for those of you who are Diet Sprite lovers like me. Wine: there are three tiers (I think only three) of the wine ‘club’. As the price goes up, so does your selection. The lowest selection is adequate. We chose the next one ‘up’ (the platinum package) so we could enjoy our favorite wine, Beringer White Zinfandel. It was not on the cheapest package. The platinum also has two sparkling wine selections (Korbel and Argyle) whereas the lowest only had one (Korbel Brut). The Argyle sparkling wine was divine and much better than Korbel in my honest opinion. We got the 10 bottle package which was $250. The packages range from 5 bottles on the lowest package for about $125 up to 10 or more on the upper package for over $400. I’m glad we did the middle of the road only because we are wine drinkers and enjoyed the Footprint Shiraz (which remarkably was NOT from Australia!!!) and the Beringer White Zin and Cabernet Sauvignon. All excellent. The drinks at the bars are all around $6 apiece unless you want the really cool hand blown glass that you can keep....that was $10. I have a set of EIGHT of those glasses because they were so awesome looking.

3. The kids. Not a problem...and I am a crotchety old 45 single women who doesn’t care for kids. There weren’t that many of them and when you did see them, they were mainly at the pool. the closed ‘solarium’ pool with two hot tubs was adults only and very, very nice and soothing. Kids...no problem! AND plenty to do to keep them busy...the staff does a great job with that!

4. The entertainment. Lame-o. middle of the road and not too interesting except for the juggler guy. don’t bother going to any of the audience participation shows such as the love and marriage (newlywed game wanna-be) or the talent show. They are all broadcast over and over and over on the television. So are the shopping seminars. The shows were all alright but nothing WOW really. You will get more entertainment out of the poolside events such as the belly flop contest, horse racing, sexiest men’s legs contest, and the pool Olympics. Bing-o? GO TO IT! But beware of all the walkers and canes....walk slowly and be prepared to dodge them...but Bingo is always pretty neat-o. The Music everywhere was pretty exceptional and nice to listen to...very calming. The funniest was the 2-piece orchestra that tried to play ‘Devil went down to Georgia’ on ‘Cowboy night’ in the dining room. There are two formal nights in addition to cowboy night, but no other ‘theme’ nights. Guys were wearing short sleeve Izod shirts and Dockers to formal night. Not a problem...just don’t try and wear shorts to the dining room (gasp!!!).

5. The cabins. Spacious cabins with lots of hanging space and hangers and lots of drawers. I bought two over-the-door plastic shoe organizers from Target for $5.88 each and they worked like a charm: one on the inside of the bath door for toiletries and one on the outside of the bath door for cords, electronics, misc. Great investment.

6. Things to remember to bring: Extension cord, duct tape (I never leave home without it!), power strip with built in circuit breaker so if you blow a circuit you can reset at the power strip and not have to wait an hour for an electrician to set your cabin breaker, zip lock bags for packing wet things on the way from the beach and on the way home, extra wire hangers that you can just throw away or leave there after the cruise (yes, they will fit in the closet), a room deodorizer (I brought my small Lah-ti dah...similar to a Lamp Berge), night light especially if you have a very dark inside cabin, and a really great book to read because there is nothing but time!

7. The Ship. Devine!!! The best I have been on yet. The starboard (right side facing forward) is where you can smoke. This includes the deck area just outside of the buffet. You can also smoke in the casino. They have two $5 black jack tables: one multi-deck and one single-deck. There is also a $10 multi-deck black-jack table. There is a craps table, 3-card poker and Caribbean stud. Oh yeah, and a very lonely dealer at the Roulette table. There are also 5 cent slots, 25 cent, dollar and five dollar slots...and plenty of them! They have a black jack and slot tournament ($20 entry fee). There are two ‘Wheel of Fortune’ dollar slots but none at the 25 cent level. One progressive 25 cent slot area and a small area designated non-smoking slots. They also have a few of those machines that you drop quarters into and you try and make the quarters fall off the ledge. If you’ve played one at a carnival or casino, you will know what I am talking about. In addition, there is also a Ben and Jerry’s on board that costs extra if you are missing your favorite weird-named ice cream! The shops aboard are very nice and even have toiletries and OTC drugs. There are great bargains later in the cruise, esp. on the last day. There is a library and decks of cards/games for you to enjoy anytime you feel the urge.

8. The good, the bad, the ugly.
The good: The Centrum (ship’s atrium) and the solarium are the best spots to relax. The flourless chocolate cake, key lime pie, Tango Mango frozen drink and lobster are the best edibles. The Stingray Swim in Cayman Islands is the best Cayman Is. excursion (even handicap accessible). Paradise Island is the best Cozumel excursion. The Conch Train is the Best Key West Excursion. Senor Frogs ½ in Cozumel is the best on land party bar.

The Bad: Not all stateroom attendants are good at making towel animals every night. The elevators are slow esp. on the first and last day due to the enormous load of people trying to use them. Steer clear of the chicken and shrimp salad in the buffet and the chocolate brownie dessert in the dining room...yuck!

The ugly: The floor in the solarium is super slippery when wet and I saw an elderly couple slip and fall right in front of me there...it was scary. They were both hurt. I almost slipped twice in the same spot.

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