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Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review
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Copyright © 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman

Rhapsody of the Seas
Sailing from Galveston
December 7-14, 2003

by Kay Edgar

Our cruise was Dec 7-14 and was a family Christmas present from our parents. We range in age from 70 to 13. Our parents drove over from Phoenix, AZ and we drove at night from Springfield, Mo. We got to La Marquee on Saturday to rest before departure on Sunday. There is a big festival in Galveston that weekend so be sure and book a hotel early and be prepared to spend more than you would normally.

We were able to board the ship in about an hour from the time we dropped off luggage to clearing security. It was a nice touch to have a Santa playing the accordion as we waited in line. The ship is striking from the outside and the inside is just as inspiring. It has a very European flair. Not what most Americans are used to. The artwork throughout the ship is tasteful and interesting. It just seems to remind you that you are at sea.

Our room 3096 was a little larger than I expected. There was plenty of room for all our things and I am a clothes horse. Our luggage was delivered before we set sail and we unpacked in record time. I wish I had such a well designed room at home. The window looking out on the sea was both calming and exciting depending on where we were. It was like a picture postcard that moved. The parents and grandkids were in 7122, which had a balcony. Sister and hubby were next to us in 3094. Winston our attendant was wonderful! The room done in a matter of minutes each time we left. My parents had Virgil on the 7th level. The "man" he did watching TV was outrageous! The whole family took turns going up and looking at it. The screams of delight we had could be heard all over the ship.

The elevators do move pretty well considering that 2000 people are trying to us them at the same time. Getting oriented to the ship is easy and kind of fun to navigate. You can learn some shortcuts to make it easier to avoid crowds. We never really felt crowded unless we were in line to debark at port and they had us off ship pronto.

It is not publicized and it takes some time to find the smoking areas. It was not inconvenient at all either. Just takes some planning.

The restrooms are fairly easy to find but for some reason there is not one close to the dining room.

We had 1st seating for dinner; had Drubravka (Duby) and Joseph for waiters and Mystify for our head waiter. They were spectacular! When they said that they wanted to serve us they did. The professionalism they displayed was outstanding. The presentation for each course was perfect. I usually took Duby's suggestion and was not disappointed at any time. We did Wine and Dine and found it to be the perfect compliment to every meal. Joseph seemed to remember what everyone like to drink and had it at the table before we had to a chance to request it. To make matters even better, all requests were supplied in a very timely manner. I wish the service was available in the US that we had onboard. We read that the coffee was weak and not good; they listen because it was so strong it was the first time in 49 years I saw my mother use cream and sugar. She said it was delicious.

We dressed for each formal night and we looked spectacular! It's not for everyone, but we loved it. My 13 year old nephew got a chance to dress as an adult for the first time and he loved it. To dress in a ball gown and have your man in a tuxedo makes for some fantastic pictures. And they take pictures all the time onboard. They give you proof to show back home how beautiful you can be when away from the office.

The casino was better than we expected. Caviar at midnight anyone? My boyfriend won the slot tournament and we all had a great time there. (The shirt he won did shrink to Barbie doll size when we washed it; I wonder if we could get it replaced?) People seemed to win even the last night and we read that didn't happen. Just be careful if you use your Seapass to get money from, it adds up fast!

The theater was really beautiful and we had a great time laughing to John Pinette. He appealed to all of us and had some great tag lines... nay nay! The other comedian was quite good too; sorry cannot remember his name. We chose not to attend some of the others shows and we heard from the family that there were good as well.

If you're not sure what to in Grand Cayman, you must swim with the stingrays! It was much more than I thought it would be. They are so graceful and sweet! The squeals of adults the first time they contact them is priceless. To see and hear grown men act like 6 year olds is worth it! My daughter was snorkeling and someone from another boat guided a stingray over her body. It was so great! Use every picture on your underwater camera. They will turn out much better than you think they will. We did buy some photos from the boat we went on. They were mailed to us in about a week instead of the 2 weeks were told it would take.

The shopping there is pretty good but the GC$ is more than the US so be prepared for a shock. We bought the passport shopper package and used it at all 3 ports. The best buy was the canvas bag. We used it there and will use it at home. Jewelry was a big buy; what they don't tell you is that it is available at both GC and Cozumel. What you see at one might be available at the other. (Next cruise will be more for fun and less for bargains.) Liquor was a good buy in Cozumel. Just remember you do have to lug it back to the ship and it gets heavy.

The ports of call were great but too short. We docked next to Voyager of the Seas in Cozumel. Now that's a big ship! It made ours look like a baby boat. I think I preferred ours as easier to manage.

You will be surprised by how much is going on if this is your first cruise. There is something to do all the time! Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to do them all. Or enough money to pay to do them all! There is a cost to most of the fun activities and it adds up. If you go to the purser's desk you can get a running total of the tab to prevent sticker shock the last day. It was money well spent for the memories it created.

The staff was even more friendly than I expected. From the man who vacuumed outside our room every night up to the officers of the ship. Any question was answered politely and promptly. The crew did seem to all like the jobs they had. All the crew seemed to work so hard too. Some one was doing something all the time. It almost made me feel guilty to be on vacation... well no not really.

The food in the Windjammer was surprisingly tasty. The chefs work hard to feed a large number of people and offer such a wide variety. I am a somewhat finicky eater and I did not have one bad meal onboard the whole time. It was all delicious and there was something for everyone! They took care even there to make sure your meal was enjoyable.

We have not booked it yet but we will be going again! It was the vacation of a lifetime for the whole family to be together and all have such a wonderful time. I completely encourage any and all to take a cruise the first chance you get. I have not been on other lines but I will stay with Royal Caribbean. I don't think another line could measure up to them. Like they say on the TV commercial... Royal Caribbean... GET OUT THERE!!

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