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Ricky Bumgardner

Age: 49

Occupation:Loan Officer

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 17th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with RCCL. Every cruise we have taken was from a different port. This time we left from Galveston. It is about a 5-hour drive from our home in Bossier City, Louisiana. We read on a forum to park at EZ Parking. We paid for parking online. It was cheaper than the parking lots offered by the cruise line.

This was our first time to book a suite. It paid off in several ways. The line to get on the ship (1:30 p.m.) was very long. We just walked right up to the front and were on the ship in less than 10 minutes because there was a special line for those that booked a suite. It also allowed us to get off the ship earlier because they debark starting from the upper levels.

The Rhapsody is an older ship but is in very good condition. We had a few minor problems with water pressure and the air conditioning, but it was remedied very quickly. We had previously been on the Mariner of the Seas, so we missed some of the features such as the ice-skating rink, miniature golf, and Johnny Rockets. But the Rhapsody is a beautiful ship and has it’s own charm. Of 2500 passengers, 1700 were Texans. They were a very friendly bunch, especially our tablemates. After having been on several cruises, we seem to be somewhat discriminating. However, the Rhapsody met or exceeded our expectations. We had read reviews of this ship about the food. Let me just say I thought it was great. The dining room food was outstanding as was the service. Our cabin steward did an excellent job on the room also. We may have made a mistake at booking a balcony room, because now we do not want to downgrade to a regular room. It’s wonderful just sitting out watching the beautiful water with the wind gently blowing. One morning we woke up early and sat outside just to watch to sunrise. It makes for some good photo opportunities.

The ports of call were Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We had not planned on getting off in Jamaica, but changed our minds at the last minute and did some shopping close to the pier. We experienced the same atmosphere in Ocho Rios as we did in Montego Bay on a previous cruise. Everybody wants to sell you something or just down right beg for money. Needless to say we did not tarry in Ocho Rios. We had heard great things about Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman. It was all that and more. Even though the wife and stepdaughter were too scared to get off the boat, I had a blast. Also got some great shots of fish and stingrays while snorkeling on that same excursion. Last stop that day was 7-mile beach. We swam and sunbathed that afternoon. We booked the excursion that included lunch. That was a mistake. You are better off eating a big breakfast and waiting for dinner on the ship. The buffet on the beach consisted of hot dogs and hamburgers. We were expecting a bit more for the $95.00 we paid for the excursion. Cozumel excursion consisted of riding a taxi to Playa Mia beach resort. Actually better than 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman. The highlight of the day was renting jet skis for the 3 of us. Had a blast. Prices were reasonable, $60.00 per half hour. We paid $90.00 for a half hour on our last cruise in Labadee. We read on some websites to book excursions not connected to the cruise line, but we felt more secure knowing they would get us back to the ship on time.

The entertainment on board was very good. We did not make every show, but the ones we attended were great. The cruise director, Dan Dan the Party Man, was fantastic. He kept everything lively and fun. “ The Quest” had to be the funniest thing I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The music was varied to suit most any taste. We have cruised on Carnival in the past and their entertainment was good, but Royal Caribbean is just a notch above. They are professional all the way. Hard to find anything negative about this cruise. Of course, some people look for things to gripe about. To me a cruise is about relaxing and having fun and that’s exactly what we did. A few side notes, weather was perfect, ship was very smooth (although we wanted a little rocking motion to let us know we are on a ship). All in all a wonderful vacation. I would recommend the Rhapsody to anyone who is considering a cruise.

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