Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
What an amazing experience. This was a first cruise for my husband and I and we had a wonderful time.
We had an inside cabin, which turned out to be just fine. Well worth the savings that you get from not having a window...my only advice, bring a nightlight, so that you don't have to sleep with the bathroom light on for the entire cruise. Those rooms get DARK. Great for sleeping in and catching up on rest, but if you have to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a serious toe-stubber. Our cabin steward did a fine job of keeping up with our constantly unmade bed. One more piece of advice...bring a plastic over-the-door shoe rack. It takes very little space, and when hung in the bathroom, it provides several pockets for toiletries, curling irons, make up, jewelry, etc. This was my sister's advice to us and we were so glad to have taken it.
We had the second seating for dinner, which at first we thought would be way too late, but especially on port days, it was nice to be able to return to the ship and leisurely get ready for dinner. Those on the first seating really had to rush. About half of the shows for the second seating dinner happened before dinner, so there weren't that many late nights. We were at a ten seater table at first, but asked to be moved when 4 complete drunks joined us on the first night. They had been drinking for hours and continued to be served shots over and over again at dinner. I thought that the ship should have cut them off or at least asked them to leave the dining room, when their extremely loud profanity was clearly bothering not only those at our table, but several tables away. After that, we were very efficiently moved to a great table by the head-waiter, Tolga. He was absolutely outstanding. Doing everything in his power to make up for the first night with the drunks.
Forget about all of those reviews saying that the food is not the best on Royal Caribbean. We thought it was terrific. My husband has worked in high-end restaurants forever and he was very very pleased with not only the quality of the food, but the portions and most of all, the service. If you travel on the Rhapsody, get Slobodon and Janush as your serving team. Fight for them, they are outstanding. We made several meal requests: seconds, change of side dishes, specially prepared meat selections, etc. and every single one was granted without an error.
I will agree with many, that the ship photographers do sometimes become a nuisance. I could have saved them a lot of time, knowing that I would not pay $20 for any single photo. I'll take my own thanks. There were lots of people willing to take photos for you.
We took advantage of a lot of the free activates on board, such as Name that Tune, the Olympics, the Talent Show (both my husband and I performed) and opted out of all of those that suck away your money: the casino, bingo, horse betting, etc. We are not gamblers at all, and chose to spend our money on either the ports or extra tips at the end of the cruise for the staff.
As far as the ports go...
Key West---good thing it was first. If it had been at any other time, we would have absolutely hated it. It is a town of Profane T-shirts and bars. If you like to drink and watch out for drag queens, you would probably have a good time. We are not drinkers, so we opted to rent an electric car and cruise the island. Two-hours is plenty of time to rent the car, and don't get it through the ship. There are plenty available when you arrive, and we paid $68 for 3 hours ( a 4-seater car). These guys definately bargain with you.
Grand Cayman--They are still recovering from the hurricane season, but they are close to being ready. We took the Stingray City swim and Snorkel tour, which turned out to be great. The sting-rays were awesome and the boat trip out was good. If you choose this tour, expect what we did not....that after the 15 minute drive and then 40 minute boat ride out to the sand bar, they will then give you another 20 minutes of very verbose instructions. We wondered why they couldn't do that on the boat and then let you get in the water as soon as you docked. After being on the ship for the day Sunday, Monday and then Key West tuesday, which really has no beach, & then another day at sea on Wednesday you just can hardly wait to get in the water. Standing for another 20 minutes with all of your gear, while the guide tells stupid jokes, was no fun. I did really like the fact that this tour does not require life-vests, when almost every other group was out there standing in waist-deep water with their life vests on. It was nice to be free from that. As far as the rest of Grand Cayman goes...there was a great FREE snorkeling spot very close to the boat dock site. If you get off the tender and go right, about a 1/8 mile down the beach is an area called Eden's Rock. There are steps down to the water, great snorkeling, and even a fresh-water shower there for when you get out. This was a great tip that we took and were glad that we did.
Cozumel---Could we have just docked there every day? We took that side trip to end all side trips. PLease please take our advice and go to XCARET.. It was amazing. We could have stayed for a week. Well worth the money. Great beaches, great food, tons to do, not crowded, very authentically mexican, nice people, great tour guide, etc. Please expect though, that the tour guide will expect a tip. We didn't even stay with the tour and still felt pressured to tip. We would have been o.k. with it, but we had hardly any cash with us. Don't let this deter you however, and please don't let the cost of this trip decide for you. It is worth every penny, especially if you like to swim and snorkel. For our next trip, we want to take the kids and stay there for a week.
In addition to all that I said before, we also want to add that we went during Spring break and there were NO college partiers, hardly any noisy kids (those that were there were extremely well behaved) and although we were nervous that it said expect 80% of the cruisers to be Texans, we found them to be extremely kind, gracious, and friendly.
Take this advice.....TAKE this cruise. You will not be sorry.
Hope you have as much fun as we did.