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Charles Vassel

Age: 62


Number of Cruises: one

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: March 6th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I had a wonderful time just relaxing on this cruise. We were celebrating our February birthdays, our March anniversary, and my March retirement, which all came within a week of the cruise. This was our first cruise and we have booked another one for December 2005. Additionally, we are looking at another cruise in Sep/Oct 2005 time period.

We left from Galveston, Texas on March 6, 2005. The embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and seemed to be very well organized. We understood that being on Deck 2 would provide less motion than decks above, which turned out to be true during a few storms. However, when the time comes for disembarkation we were among the last to leave the ship. On our next cruise we will again be on Deck 2 because we were in no hurry to leaving the ship. Everything is so well organized that finding luggage was no more difficult than at most airports. I would rate this as a “B+”.

We had an outside stateroom and the window made the nice size cabin appear even larger. The bathroom was small but put together wonderfully. The rounded shower was just a perfect size for my wife and I. Behind the mirror was a large storage area for our necessary items. The stateroom had a great number of drawers and an adequate closet. The small couch was perfect for just relaxing, but we did not stay in the cabin choosing to relax on other decks. Our stateroom attendant “Derek” was just fantastic and always seemed to have a smile on his face. His towel creations were very creative and he seemed to enjoy doing those little things to help make our trip fun. I would give this an “A.”

The food can be hard to judge since this was our first cruise. We loved the evening meals, at the Edelweiss Restaurant” because we were fortunate enough to be seated with a wonderful couple (Donnie & Barbara) and their two teenage children (Matt & Mollie). You will not find better prime ribs and steaks . I am not a seafood eater but my wife loved the lobster, as did our fellow diners. The salads were good but limited, as was the appetizers. The deserts did not turn us on, except for one chocolate cake that was the best I have ever eaten. Our waitress was Josephine (from India) and her assistant was Sergio (from Chile) and they were “Excellent” with a big “E.” During the evening meals the “Rosario Strings” played for our enjoyment. Rate the evening dining experience an “A-” and maybe a “B+” with another wait staff. Remember, if you do not like the food ask for something else.

As for the Windjammer, it is simple a buffet. Breakfast had fruits, cheeses, sliced deli type of ham, several different types of sausages, scrambled eggs, and potatoes. They had someone slicing wonder ham for each meal. The omelet station was great but sometimes the lines would be long and caused a small delay, which always proved to be worth the wait. Then we had the cereal and “other” area. They had biscuits with gravy, oatmeal, grits, pancakes, waffles, French toast, and sweet rolls. They also provided a large variety of boxed cereals. The lunch meals offered a variety of foods and the omelet station served one of the best ham sandwiches that I have ever eaten. The station had other sandwiches and pizza. The cereal area became the “desert” area and at least 6 or 8 different deserts were served, as well as a fantastic taco mixture. Fresh fruit (Bananas, apples, plums, etc) was available for all meals. We always attended the evening meals because of Donnie & Barbara and their children. However, I did make the Windjammer a few late evenings. The ship also has pizza and hamburgers in the Solarium Café, which we understood from others to be good. I would give the Windjammer food a solid “B” because you can always find something that you enjoy eating. You must pay for soft drinks and juices during the day, however, for a small fee ($42 for 7 nights) you get all of the soft drinks and juice you want. Juice is free at breakfast and you can get a soft drink free at the evening meals.

As a child my father came to America, from Romania, and I had wonderful visits with three of the Romanian staff workers. Since returning home we have been exchanging e-mails. I would rate the staff on the Rhapsody as exceptional from the cruise director to the workers cleaning tables. Definitely an “A”.

The shows were as good as some we have paid to see in Branson but were not exceptional. I would rate the shows as a “B”. There was a constant stream of activities from bingo to dancing or rock climbing. We were impressed that the ship had a section of the ship devoted to children, where they were entertained and kept busy.

As for the ports they can keep Key West. I talked with a large number of people and visited with people cruising from another ship and had maybe 1% tell me they like Key West. As seems to be the case on a regular basis, we were unable to see the Grand Caymans due to the weather. We were taken to a small new port “Costa Maya” which has only had electricity for 3 months. We were impressed with the beautiful new shopping plaza and enjoyed our stay. It seems this port is getting a push by Royal Caribbean and will probably be the next Cozumel.

In summary our trip was just what I wanted, relaxing and fun. Nice people, wonderful staff, very good food, and just a very nice relaxing vacation.

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