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Age: 51


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 14th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Although my husband and I have 33-ft. sailboat, we have never taken a real cruise before. We chose this one because we could leave from Galveston (we live in Austin) and we wanted to see Key West and Cozamel.

The ship was really like a good hotel.

We had a private balcony and if you can possibly handle the cost (we got a good deal the week before Thanksgiving), get a balcony. We slept with the door open most of the time and the sound of the wind and waves is amazing. We ate a lot of room service meals in our "private piece of the ocean" and the food was excellent. BTW, room service calls before delivering the morning tray; great idea! I fell off the low-carb wagon deliberately and had no qualms at all about eating such delicious and varied kinds of bread. This was one reason we ate most of our meals in the Windjammer cafe; we love trying different kinds of things and the buffet offered more choices. And the desserts were fantastic too. They offer several no sugar desserts that were delicious too.

HINT: There is no coffee maker in the room. If you require coffee (or tea, as I do) as soon as you wake up, then you need to plan for that. I'll bring a 2-cup electric kettle with me next time.

The room was attractive; bed comfy; storage ample. Anthony Thomas from Trinidad was our Attendant and you'll be lucky to have him. He was on the job all the time, very pleasant, answered a lot of first-time cruiser questions. He also makes great "towel art"...we had something different to greet us each day. He gets to go see his family on 6 month rotation; I hope that you think of his hard work when tipping...

HINT: The only complaint I have about the accomodations is no good light for reading in bed. You may want to bring along a battery powered booklight.

The first day at sea, going across the Gulf, was extremely rough. I;ve been sailing in Galveston Bay during the tailend of a tropical storm and never got sea sick before. However, there were 13 foot seas on this trip and I got sick. The cafe is at the front of the ship, which has the most motion. Our room was towards the middle rear, which had a lot less action, being closer to the fulcrum. The rest of the voyage was generally calm.

HINT: Start seasick remedy before you get on the boat. Even if you think you will not get sick, don't take the chance. And try to get a cabin towards the center rear (aft) of the ship.

The time in Key West was short; we chose to just sightsee. The sunset there is famous; you can see it from where the ship is docked. we're amateur photographers; got some great photos of the three-masted schooner against the setting sun.

Costa Maya literally is an invention for tourists. It was built soley to accomodate shopping. We're not into that much, and elected to take a kayak trip a little bit down the coast in Mahahaul (sometimes spelled Mayahaul).

The weather was not cooperative so we walked the beach there instead. Mahahaul is the real deal; it's a genuine fishing village, with many native Indian inhabitants. If you are looking for luxury, this is not the place for you. However, if you want to meet some very nice people who speak amazingly good English in spite of their isolation, then you may like it as much as we did. The people are genuine; they are friendly as well as dignified. I especially want to recommend that you visit El Sabor de mi Tierra, a little place on the right down the main street from the big yellow hotel. There are tables at El Sabor on the beach, with welcoming shady umbrellas. The waiter there will greet you with a smile and perfect English; the beer is ice cold; the chips are homemade and delicious. The chips are served with a mild sour-cream duip as well as a green sauce made by the owner that is not for sissies. If you go there, tell the nice young man that you read about the restaurant on the Internet; I promised him I would post this review.

We also chatted with a vendor who looked as though he had stepped right out of a Mayan stone carving. Again, he spoke English flawlessly. Look for the stand with the brightly colored string hammocks and the vendor who looks like a Mayan king. We took some very colorful photos here. (This is not Miami Beach; do not expect American "standards" of beach upkeep.)

Cozamel: We took the BOND Adventure excursion. We snorkled and did the underwater motor scooter. Spend the extra $33 for the scooter. If I can do it, anyone can. It was a blast! Gorgeous clear water.Recommend this +++. There was a free luncheon and free bar on baord; good guacamole and margaritas. Nice open deck, with more fine photo possibilities.

Finally, the ship was lovely,as well as perfectly clean and maintained.

The staff were all pleasant, smiling, cooperative. The Solarium was our favorite space; adults only hot tub and wave pool, with salt water. IT's decorated like an Egyptian Temple, which could have looked cheesy, but it was done so well that it all seemd to work. The gym is fantastic; located at the rear of the ship with sweeping ocean views.

HINT: I had a personal training session with Damjan (pronounced "Damyun")Canzek, from Slovenia. This may have been the best single investment I could have made. I wish I'd been able to work with him everyday, instead of scheduling on the last day of the trip. After all those meals, it was satisfying to do some physical exercise, too.

LAST HINT: Although we're not big shoppers, we bought our share of stuff. One of the best bargains on the ship is the rolling bag (navy blue with logo) for $29.99. You can get one of these to haul your loot home; it has a handy side pocket to put all those documents you need to have while disembarking. OH, that leads to LAST HINT #2: The Harbor House Hotel is literally walking distance to the terminal. You can spend the night there and it makes dealing with the whole thing easier.

We will sail again on this ship; soon I hope!

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