This was our fourth cruise on an RCCL (RCI) vessel. The Rhapsody of the Seas was surprisingly clean. We expected her to be less than superb given that the port of Galveston is not one of the premium ports for RCCL. She was clean and well maintained.
Embarkation. We started our embarkation at approximately 11:45am. We were onboard in about 20 minutes. We had to get duplicate keys to our rooms and that added about five extra minutes. Smooth getting on.
Day 1 Departure. This day saw us departing Galveston just after a cold front passed through at 5:00p.m. We left behind the Carnival Conquest. It was windy (35mph) on the fore peak and cold. The wind was driving the waves and thus the vessel was rolling a bit in the 12-15 foot swells. Later that night, the Captain announced we were in 20-22 foot swells and the vessel was rolling a bit more, but we were fine. I do know a few people either did not come to dinner or left in the middle of dinner. I enjoyed the rolling and was rocked to sleep.
Day 2 at Sea. The seas had fallen back to 10-15 feet and the sky was sunny. Still a bit of wind and cool, but no big deal. Plenty of games and goings on throughout the vessel. We walked, played shuffleboard, slept, ate, played trivia, ate some more, and had a good day. The Solarium's food is below par for me. It was like eating at a Friday night high school football game. Hot, filling, but little else. The Windjammer Cafe was better. Food was hot, tasty and satisfying. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just good wholesome food. Dinner was at the main seating. We enjoyed our meal. Very good quality, good selection, and we drove our poor brand new assistant waiter nuts. He is better trained after a week with us. Thanks NuNu. Anroy our waiter was excellent. Handled the trip with ease. The Solarium pool was invaded by children due to the temperature of the outside air.
Day 3. Key West. Sorry, Been there done that. Key West is the type of port that should be deleted and a port such as Roatan added. Arrival at Key West was at 3:00p.m. Daylight gone by 5:30pm and me want to go home. We went to Ripley's Believe It or Not....daughter has a desire to go to them all (76 more to go). If you like drinking and loud music, there are a lot of small bars near the port that will entertain you. We returned to the ship in time for dinner. The ship left at midnight. Nice lights as we sail away, sail away, sail away.
Day 4 At Sea. Nice day at sea. Sunny, warm, cruising the coast of Cuba. Lesiurly day. Spent most of the daylight hours listening to books on tape. Talked to my son for a few hours. Played shuffleboard, walked around, listened to music, played trivia, took a nap, just a lazy day. Sweet. Formal lunch. Good selection, good food, nice company.
Day 5 Grand Cayman. We departed on the 2nd tender to go to our personal diving trip with Absolute Divers. Mark did a good job. The water on the north shore was not cooperating and the swells were running 4-6 feet and we stayed on Stingray City for two dives. My daughter had a great time. We played with the rays, a green moray, saw lobsters, and a lot of fish. Returned to downtown, tendered out, cleaned up and came back to town to shop for trinkets.
Day 6 Cozumel, Mexico. Again, we had arranged our own personal dive trip and chartered a six pack for diving and snorkeling from Blue Angel Diving. Great dive. We went to Columbia Wall, Columbia Shallows and the Star Fish Flats near Columbia Shallows. Beautiful water. We saw turtles, Eagle Rays, lobster, a sleeping nurse shark, barracuda, and a large assortment of beautiful corals, sponges, and fish. Thanks to the Blue Angel crew. We will be back on a diving trip. The water was rough on departure from Cozumel. That night the seas climbed again to 15-18 feet. Mechanical noise at bow.
Day 7 At sea. Gray and dreary day. Spent time catching up on sleep, listening to books on tape, eating, snoozing, and then packing.
Entertainment. We had four comics, the Rhapsody not ready for prime time dancers and singers, the Gouchos and a lot of fun. The main showroom was very good. We enjoyed the acts of the comics, comic jugglers, and comic singer. They were all very entertaining. The Rhapsody Singers and Dancers put a lot of energy into their shows and were entertaining. The audio was a bit overpowering from a musicians standpoint and overwelmed the singers. I do not know if this was by plan or just trying to pump up the volume. The drinks in the showroom were very good.
We really enjoyed Eric in the Schooner Bar for Kamakazee Karaoke. Not for the faint of heart and at times an adult themed show. Worth the ticket price and was more fun than normal adult karaoke. Rhapsody Mania was OK. We got to play in several trivia games and the Majority Rules. The pools were well used. Good music on the pool deck. The Brazilian muscians in the Champagne Terrace Bar kept my daughter entertained. She was amused at their language and the way they were singing. Good band. The Viking Crown Lounge was under utilized. I don't know why.
Casino was in full swing every chance it could be running. Too many novice blackjack players to make it worth staying on a table. No one playing the odds and too many people taking hits with the dealer showing 3, 4, and 5. Saved my money for better things.
The disembarkation procedures were somewhat more formal with everyone having to go through immigration. We were near the end of the getting off groups and were still off by 9:50am.
We had a good time, enjoyed the trip and will be taking our next one on the Golden Princess in July 2004. We will return to the Rhapsody or another RCCL vessel. We signed onto this cruise with just four week to go to cruise day.
Food. As mentioned above, the Solarium Grill was not my favorite. The Windjammer cafe had good breakfasts. Omelettes to order, greasy bacon....I like it that way... Cereal, milk, hard waffles, good French toast, average pancakes, ham, and bananas. Lunch in the Windjammer was also good. A mixture of entres, tacos, sandwiches and wraps to order, good macadamia nut cookies, and good desserts. Frozen Yogurt and lemonade.
We did not eat dinner in the Windjammer as we were not going to miss dining in the formal dining room. The appetizers were all good. I usually always had two. Something and a soup. The roasted garlic soup was very good. The rolls are a bit hard. The cornbread was very good. We enjoyed the Ceasar salad. There was always at least two fish dishes, a pasta, a meat, and usually a poultry dish as well. The Royal steaks were a bit tough. We were eating them medium and medium rare and they were still tough. I am not a fish eater, but I tried a few fish dishes and they were ok. My son got into eating shrimp cocktail every night and while they were not on the menu, they always appeared. Thanks to Hank and Anroy. The desserts were all good. Every one of them. All that we ordered.....all that we tried....yea, you can order more than one. My favorite, Bananas Foster.
Ask for just about anything and you will get it. One of the boys sitting next to us put away five lobster tails......I told Anroy he could do it. Our wait staff was excellent. Even NuNu got into it once he figured we were not going to roast him.
Herbert my room attendant did a jam up job in the room. Thanks.
Accomodations. Our room was 4524. It was an outside cabin near the starboard bow. It was good. The bed was a bit hard. There was some mechanical noise in the high seas, but it did not bother me. It did bother my wife. There was some smoking odor in the hallway. We have been told that most ships allow smoking on the starboard side, but not the port side. Check that out before you cruise.
See you at sea. If you can't laugh at yourself, don't get up from your seat. "Bob"