Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas
Sailing Date: September 12th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Ahh, Rhapsody of the Seas. Nothing sounds more enjoyable than a seven day cruise, with nothing but blue skies and sun to soak up. That is what I was expecting when I boarded the cruise ship; unfortunately I got very little of that and plenty of rocky seas, confrontations with drunks, and many uncomfortable situations.
We loaded onto the ship on Sunday afternoon. We got there as close to the time as possible just to be faced with line after endless line of others boarding. When getting onto these cruises, remember, they do not leave the port until late that afternoon, you do not need to be in a rush to board; all you will do is stand in lines. We left Galveston that afternoon and sailed for the high seas. That night we went to the introductory show and had dinner. Everyone is assigned tables to eat at in the main dining hall. Our table somehow was confused with another group’s, so we were reassigned to a different table. They food is very good in the Edelweiss dining hall, with four courses each night.
The ship is set up with two swimming pools, one outdoor and one indoor. There is a fitness room, running track, shuffleboard, rock-climbing, and four ping-pong tables. There is also a casino, nightclubs, several bars, karaoke nights, and bingo. The bingo was very enjoyable and “Jackpot” Julie makes it memorable. The pools are saltwater, so do not open your eyes. It is also located right next to the bar, and believe me, there is plenty of beer served. Between the bar and the pool is a patio area for people to dance and congregate. As I said, I have not been on any other cruises to compare to, but one day while my family was lying by the swimming pools, several people were dancing and goofing off. This one guy decided it would be funny to run out onto the dance floor and pull his swimsuit off, revealing his more-than-revealing thong underneath. Needless to say, it was very awkward, especially since my ten and five year old sisters were right there watching it happen. Because of this man’s action, we were voluntarily forced to leave so that we would not be exposed to anymore exposés.
Another thing that made this cruise rough was the fact that we had to go through the edge of hurricane Ivan to get to our ports. For one and half days we were going through rocky waters that made even the soberest of people walk like they were drunk. It was so bad that the pools were drained so that all the water was not sloshed out. Many people got sick and barf-bags were taped all along the handrails. At one point, we went through thirty foot waves with eighty mile an hour winds. When I signed up for a cruise, I did not know I would have to ride a rollercoaster with it. This made the trip very hard to enjoy, but many cruises do not have to go through a hurricane.
As far as the ports go, we did not get to go to two of the three originally planned because of the hurricane. Instead of Key West, Florida and Grand Cayman, we went to Belize and Costa Maya. The other place we were scheduled to go was Cozemel. Belize was nothing more than an extremely hot mall, with many souvenirs to purchase. Other than that, Belize is really just a hovel of a city. It was still fun to get off the boat, especially since we had just survived a hurricane ourselves. Costa Maya was a lot cleaner and friendlier than Belize, but it was basically the same thing with a few significant exceptions. For one, there was a big pool in the middle of the shopping center, which for all practical purposes would seem like a great idea. It was very hot, so it was wonderfully refreshing to take a dip in the pool while shopping. Unfortunately for my family, there was a swim-up bar next to the pool. One girl had a few drinks and then decided it would be fun to stand up on the bar and take her top off. Of course most of the people started whistling, and when one does it, why not everyone? For the next two hours, women would periodically flash anybody who happened to be looking their way. Again, this was a very uncomfortable position to be in with little girls nearby. As if that was not enough, the bartender got people to come into the bar and he would mix drinks in their mouth. Then he would cover their face with a towel and literally “blend” the drink by vigorously shaking their head. Costa Maya was the closest thing to E! Entertainment’s “Wild On” show that I had ever been to.
Cozemel was the last stop and it was very enjoyable. We went to a beach called Playa Mia, which was an all inclusive beach with an open bar. It also had a floating trampoline, inflatable “glacier” that could be climbed, kayaks, paddleboats, and even sailboats. It also has a small zoo with several exotic animals. It was very enjoyable to swim in the ocean and relax on the beach. Getting there, however, was a bigger proposition. You have to take a taxi, which we were told would cost about thirty dollars round trip. In reality it cost about double that. This made all of us a little agitated, but we had already booked the excursion, so we were forced to make the best of it.
All in all, Rhapsody of the Seas was an adventure. I can not say that I enjoyed all of it, but it definitely made a memory. If you are going to book a cruise, try to make sure that you do not have to go through any kind of hurricanes. I was mainly disappointed at all the partying that went on, especially since this was supposed to be “family” cruise line. It made it awkward for my family and made us feel like outcasts. All I can say is, if you like nightclubs and partying, this cruise is for you; if you don’t, then as “Jackpot” Julie said, “…Not so much.”