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Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman

Rhapsody of the Seas
Western Caribbean from Galveston 
November 2001

by Alaina & Chris Furgerson

The first thing you see when you get on is the Deck 1. You either have to take the stairs up or use the elevator. If you have children under 12 yrs. old, there is a crew member there at a table to give them a bracelet and info on the children's programs etc. The bracelet, which my 4 yr. old soon forgot about on her wrist, is so that if they are anywhere on the ship without you someone on the staff knows where to take them during muster.

After we settled into our room we took a walk around the ship. The Rhapsody's Centrum floors of marble, leather, wood, etc. are all beautiful. But, they do show a little wear and tear. What do you expect from having 2000+ people traipsing through all hours of the day and night? We saw crew keeping up with doing repairs here and there where they were needed. The glass sculptures they have decorating the stairways were what I loved the most in all of their decor. Rhapsody's art collection of pictures and sort I thought were a little eclectic, but isn't that what art is? All in all the ship did not seem very crowded even with as many people that were on board. For the first sailing out of Galveston they said they were to capacity.
I do have to say that you need to get anything/everything you can for seasickness before you go. Just so you don't have to make that EXPENSIVE trip to the infirmary. Although if you had to be sick that the best you can find in nurses etc. are right there. Where else could you find a nurse who could successfully do a IV when the ship is going through waves 5-6 decks high and sway in four directions.

CREW - The crew were fun and very helpful. My older daughter could not get over how they would be singing all the time and were so helpful and nice. The cruise director and staff made the evenings go by so fast, too fast for me. They kept the adults entertained with fun games and great entertainment. The crew were exceptional, they helped make the bad weather conditions a second thought. They made it a trip worth doing again minus the bad weather of course.

CABINS - The cabins were not really what we expected. My only complaints with the rooms are that you can hear when the person next to you is opening their closets and the drawers. They are on metal rollers and bang opened & closed if the person is NOT QUIETLY D0ING SO. The quad cabin is not very good for more than two adults and two small children. If you put 3 or 4 adults in them (larger interior room) it will be toooo crowded. Our cabin attendant was exceptional though. When my husband became sick he did all that he could do to help. I know that some people would say this was so that we would tip better in the end but the crew do have a honest desire to help you. Also, he made little towel animals for us and sometimes just made designs with all the pillows. My kids wanted pictures of these every night.

Storage space is minimal. They give you lots of drawers to put things in, but, depending on the amount of luggage you brought, you may not have enough space to hide it away. Our cabins had a TV, phone, safe, and two pull-down beds from the ceiling. We saw in the brochure and were told that the kids would sleep on a pull-out love seat. What we really got was much better. Everyone asks about hair dryers, but unless you bring a travel one you have to get one from the pursers desk. Also, it's a good idea to bring extension cords and outlet extension. As the only "normal" outlet was one and on the vanity in our room. The bathroom had a European outlet.

FOOD/DINING ROOMS - My family thought the food was fabulous. We tried something new every night, except for my 4-year old who stuck to hotdogs and chicken pretty much. Still we were amazed. I bought the cookbook so that I could continue to have some of the meals and desserts over again at home. The children's menu is about what you would find in any restaurant. Chicken nuggets, pizza, hotdog, hamburger, etc. All good. We tasted it too. The desserts were to die for. Chocolate--that's all I have to say. YUMMMMY. My husband wants to add that the lobster tails were not even "fishy" tasting. That it melted in his mouth. Our table staff was great. I read in some reviews that the staff pushed for "excellent" on the ratings cards but, ours really deserved it. We usually ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Café, it was easier with the two girls to be a little less formal with the utensils and all. We also ate there for dinner a few nights. It was alright, but I liked the dining room better.

On the 7 night cruise there are two formal nights, one informal night, and four casual nights. We found that most men seemed to go with a tux the first time but wore a suit the second night of formal. I, like most other women, wore the "fancy" dresses on the formals but also choose to dress up on the other nights too. I rarely get to do so, so I took the opportunity to do it.

The Solarium (indoor pool) has snacks throughout the day and night sometimes. Only pizza and hotdogs. We grabbed a snack here before the ship left the dock the first day. You can get a drink anywhere though. You can get a sticker for the kids to put on their cards for about $20 apiece. This way they can get a coke anywhere, anytime, with or without you, and are not charged again. It lasts the whole trip.

LOUNGES/BARS - The Viking Crown Lounge, which is on deck 11, is reachable from the Centrum's one set of glass elevators. We had the 70's disco night there and I do have to say it was a bit crowded. They should have had it in the Shall we Dance lounge. Now, that had room. We "partied" there for the 50's-60's night. They also seem to have a little bar in almost every little nook and corner of the ship that isn't taken up by something else. The Internet lounge didn't seem to ever be occupied. I guess people decided they'd leave all that till they got home. The only time I ever saw anyone in there was when we would be going to a port for excursions. Then it seemed people, like us, were there checking the weather for the next day. To use the computers it was .50 a minute. It was really the only way to keep up with the world since there are no papers and CNN only seemed to be talking about AMERICA at WAR. (not what people on vacation want to see, since most wanted to forget about it for a little while I'm sure).

OCEAN ADVENTURE-KIDS PROGram - Rhapsody has a children's program called "Adventure Ocean" for kids from 3-17. (The younger ones have to be toilet trained.) They are broken up into age groups. My 4 year old had a blast, always wanting to go to the "playroom." My older daughter was so-so with it. She liked the counselors, but the age grouping was too small for her age (13-15). It should have been done a little differently or at least made an exception, since she was the only one who really ever showed up for her group. When you get on they will let you know how many other children are on board your children's ages. The 4 year old had 23 the 14 year old had 12.

Babysitting is available from the staff but we never needed it. You can drop off the younger ones in the playroom and they give you a beeper to keep while anywhere on the ship. You just return it on the last night aboard. The older one went about her own as we had walkie talkies to keep tabs on her. That is a great idea to do even if you are just a large party of adults. It seemed there were several who had them and you can also purchase some in the shops aboard too.

SHORE EXCURSIONS - There were plenty to choose from but with our terrible weather most were unable to do any of them. Cozumel was the only real area to do anything and that was a little limited as well. Still, you can do it yourself on Key West if you have a good map and a little electric car ($90.00 for 2 hours). And, shopping is the thing to do in Grand Cayman.

SHOWS/CASINO - Every night they had a show in the Broadway Melodies Lounge. I especially loved the comedians Howie and Bert. Also, the trumpet and singing of I believe John Bonham. There was also a funny woman who played the violin. We came in late and I didn't catch her name. Wish I had looked it up. The seats were comfortable and even had a drink holder. The bar "people" will come around before the show starts and take your order if you want a drink.

The casino has slots and a few card tables. We won and lost so it was fun. I ran into a couple of women who would take the long way around with the elevators because they found it too tempting. This is true. My husband could not help stopping to "try again"--thank goodness the change machines didn't take the "new" dollar bills. Those had to be changed at the desk.

The pool is small but has a special spot for smaller kids. Not sure if that was its intent but it works. You do have to keep an eye on them, though, because there is an easy access on the sides to the deeper end. If they see more fun going on over there then that's where they'll head to. It also has a bar here.

Overall, the entire experience was fantastic considering what we had to deal with, Mother Nature and all. I just wish the ship went to more ports than what they do for future cruises out of Galveston in order to have more than one option.

Royal Caribbean - Cruise Reviews