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Rhapsody of the Seas
Bringing on the WOW

High above Centrum, those “chandeliers” are actually aerial apparatus.  

by Linda Coffman

Alaska, 2012: When it comes to the on board passenger experience, Royal Caribbean reigns supreme. The line’s newest ships wow their guests with parades and events on the Royal Promenade—the ships’ indoor Main Street and gathering space. But what about the older shipmates in the fleet—the ones featuring a Centrum—the central atrium that was so innovative when Royal Caribbean introduced the concept in ship design more than two decades ago? In a move that is sheer genius, Royal Caribbean has turned those 65-foot tall spaces on their Vision-class ships into a vertical “royal promenade” with aerialists executing gravity defying stunts on a variety of apparatus overhead while singers and dancers perform in concert below. Designed to provide a bit of serendipity to passengers on the Centrum floor level, as well as those lining the deck railings above, they have become so popular that the show times are now listed in the daily Cruise Compass schedule of events so no one will be disappointed by missing them.

“Now Our Best Ship Is Every Ship”
In a move sure to satisfy Royal Caribbean’s fans, the most popular features of the newest Oasis-class ships are being added throughout the fleet to offer a consistent onboard experience.

Upgrades are complete on the Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas and were met with resounding approval on our recent Alaska cruise. Launched in 1997, Rhapsody of the Seas was certainly due for a makeover, but one thing hasn’t changed—she still has expansive glass skylights that allow sunlight to flood the Centrum and acres of windows that offer expansive sea views.

Of the 1,020 staterooms and suites, 613 feature an ocean view and, of those, 233 also have private balconies. My Superior Oceanview Stateroom on Deck 7, pictured here, measured in at 192 square feet with a 42 square feet balcony. I was in 7650 and, along with my counterpart on the ship’s opposite side in 7150, had a “partially obstructed” view. Actually, it was simply a bit of angled steel, which you can see through the sliding balcony door in the photo, that didn't obstruct much and was still a great spot to breathe in the fresh sea air and watch for whales in Alaska waters.

In addition to the two twin beds (that can be converted into a single queen-size) and a sitting area with sofa bed and occasional table, other fairly standard features in my home aboard Rhapsody of the Seas were a mini-refrigerator, vanity/desk area, hair-dryer, telephone, safe, and 110/220 electrical outlets. New stateroom amenities include a flat screen television and refreshed interior décor with new carpeting, linens, and furniture. There was plenty of storage in drawers, a shelving unit, and closets, as well as in the remodeled bathroom, where a ‘tower’ of shelves and a small drawer are adjacent to the stylish vessel sink. 

Like other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas offers four main categories of accommodations—suites, balcony staterooms, outside staterooms with an ocean view, and inside stateroom. After choosing a category, you can then select a specific room type to suit your needs whether that means large enough for a family or accessible for the mobility impaired. 

Smokers should note that smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom on board Rhapsody of the Seas or any other Royal Caribbean ship. Smoking is permitted only on private outdoor balconies of suites and staterooms that have them and in other specially designated public areas. 

Something new to me was a small pot for boiling water, cups, and instant coffees on the desk. Also new was a notice that ice would not be automatically provided—if you wanted it, your steward would deliver an ice bucket and keep it filled. 

Izumi Asian Cuisine

Although Rhapsody of the Seas previously had no specialty dining options, to meet passenger demand for them she now has several, in addition to the Edelweiss Restaurant, which serves dinner in two assigned seatings or the more flexible My Time Dining option, and the Windjammer Café for buffet-style meals.

New dining options include:

Giovanni’s Table: The trattoria serving Italian classics family-style (open by reservation for lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)
Izumi Asian Cuisine: A pan Asian cuisine restaurant and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking (open by reservation for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing)
Park Café: An indoor/outdoor deli/market in the Solarium that featuring light fare, such as salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)
Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse offering premium cuts and quality meats (open by reservation for dinner, $30 per person)
Chef's Table: Set in a private area of the main restaurant, an exclusive dining experience co-hosted by the executive Chef and Sommelier for a five course wine pairing dinner (dinner only by reservation, $95 per person)

Park Café

Children between the ages of 3 to 13 are welcome in the specialty restaurants prior to 7:00 pm. However, if your family prefers the atmosphere of the main restaurant and you would like to celebrate a special occasion with a special dinner, you can order some of the specialty restaurant entrees to be served there for an additional charge. A 1 ¼-1 ½ pound Maine lobster, broiled, grilled, or steamed and served with drawn butter is available for $29.95; a 10 ounces filet is $14.95; and Surf & Turf (Maine lobster and filet) is $37.50. Side dishes include mashed or baked potato and asparagus or vegetable of the day.

For snacking on the go, Café Latte-tudes serves specialty coffees, teas, and hot chocolate (charges vary from $1.75 to $5.20) and complimentary pastries; Ben & Jerry’s serves popular ice cream treats (charges vary from $2.50 to $5). Late night cravings for munchies can be satisfied with bite size goodies, available for a small charge in the Viking Crown Lounge, and complimentary snacks that are served in Park Café. Room service is available around the clock, but there is a $3.95 service charge for Light Snack orders from midnight to 5:00 am.

Bringing on the WOW -> Part Two

Photos © Linda Coffman

Join Cruise Diva in Alaska aboard Rhapsody of the Seas:

Comfortably at Home Aboard Rhapsody of the Seas
Aboard Rhapsody of the Seas, Fun Food in the New Park Café
Rhapsody of the Seas: In Juneau, Alaska
Rhapsody of the Seas: In Skagway, Alaska
Rhapsody of the Seas: Glacier Sighting
More On Board Rhapsody of the Seas For Families

Rhapsody of the Seas: In Victoria, BC

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