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Age: 52

Occupation:Retired Investigator

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 26th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise, the first being October 6, 2002. The first cruise we departed Galveston and stopped at Key West, then Belize and then Cozumel. Boarding on both cruises went quickly and efficiently.

I should tell you that when we originally booked the 2002 trip, We upgraded to a balcony Junior Suite, 8040 to be exact. I dug myself a deep hole by doing that, cause once you've stayed in a balcony suite you are gonna be hard-pressed to downgrade. Trust me I'm not complaining. When booking a suite you get priority boarding and having a balcony is well worth the extra bucks, sitting out on the patio and having a favorite drink while enjoying the private view with your sweetheart is something you'll remember.

On the 2002 cruise, we were celebrating my retirement and both our birthdays so we wanted to have a table for two, and we actually got it. Keep in mind there are few tables for two available, and are usually gone very quick to the folks in the suites or RC's frequent cruisers.

A short note on food. Bacon and suasage at breakfast is always a bit greasy, scratch that-just plain greasy so be prepared. For you folks that prefer eggs over easy (like myself), forget it, not happening. In the Windjammer you either get scrambled eggs or omelettes, all things considered, it's ok. The drinks, fruits, breads and such are pretty good and you can go back and get as much as you want. Lunchtime you also have a large selection. For dinner you have a choice of casual dining or the formal dining room (the Edelweiss). We prefer the late 8:30pm seating. My wife and I never had a complaint regarding the food or service. The wine list was fairly broad with some very good selections.

Entertainment-there is always something going on or if you prefer to sit back and relax, you can do that too. The pool parties can get a little loud and wild, but it's always fun to join in or just "people watch". Do what you want, you're on a cruise to have fun. In the casino the slots are fairly tight, but some folks did walk out with some extra cash in hand. (not us).

Enough on the 2002 cruise, now to 2004.

After dropping my wife and our luggage at the pier I parked in the RC lot (lot A). I was back with her in about 25 minutes. We brought along a set of talk-about radios and they were very handy for crowded situations. You might want to consider taking a set.

Again boarding went quickly and efficiently. We were through security and on our way to our cabin in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind that security is tight since 9-11 and they keep a wary eye out for anything or anyone unusual. That in itself made me feel a bit more relaxed.

On the last cruise I told you I dug a hole for myself, well it's a little deeper now. I surprised my wife with another upgrade. This time to the Antigua Suite, cabin 8006. When we walked in I was blown away. The other suite was quite comfortable, but this one had a large bar, a large tub and more storage space then we could even think about using. The patio was twice the size of the junior suite and had a chaise lounge and table, and table with two chairs. We had breakfast out there on a regular basis.

This itinerary was originally supposed to take us to Key West, Georgetown in the Caymans and then Cozumel, but due to the damage to Georgetown from the hurricane we went to Costa Mayo instead. (It's gonna take months to rebuild Georgetown by the way).

As far as the cruise goes we had a blast. Service, food and entertainment was great. Met some great folks along the way, Jeff and Robin were a lot of fun, we hung out "a bit" at the Schooner Bar listening to the karaoke and the dj, Derrick (he was hilarious).

I guess I've said about all I can. Both cruises were above our expectations, I've already booked another(same suite)for next year. The ship goes into dry dock in Alabama in November this year for three weeks. They will rip out all carpeting, drapery and furniture and will install new stuff. It should be great when they finish. Also, on our next Rhapsody cruise the itinerary will change, we'll be going to Montego Bay Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands and then Cozumel. We are ready to pack.

One last note, when packing try to mix some of your spouses clothes together with yours in different bags in case of a lost/misplaced bag one wont be totally without. A couple we met were missing a bag containing ALL of thier shoes except for what they were wearing. We never heard if the bag was found, but I wouldn't chance it.

So, if you want to take a cruise make it Royal Caribbean and let the world go by. We've found our vacation paradise, goodbye Las Vegas, hello Caribbean......

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