Rhapsody of the Seas
by Andy Gilbert
April 9, 2006
Background: We traveled with our three children: 8 yr & 10 yr old boys, & 13 yr old girl. We had two inside cabins next to each other 3573 & 3575. This was my our 6th cruise and the children's 2nd. Past cruise experience: Chandris Victoria (1989), Celebrity Mercury (1999), Sea Princess (2001), Grand Princess (2003), & Carnival Paradise (2004) –with the kids.
Pre Cruise: We flew ATA airlines the day before the cruise from LaGuardia NY to Houston Hobby airport. Unfortunately one piece of our luggage didn't make it to Houston with us (our kids clothing). We did a one way Enterprise minivan rental to Galveston and stayed at The LaQuinta Inn & Suites. The hotel was clean and had free breakfast the next morning. Our missing piece of luggage arrived at around 1 am at the hotel.
Breakfast: We ate in the main dining room for breakfast in the mornings…the service at times was inconsistent and the food was sometimes not served very hot.
Lunch: We didn't care too much for the Windjammer for lunch so on sea days we ate lunch in the dining room. Excellent food and choices-Ribs, burgers, made to order pastas-with shrimp if you wanted. On port days we ate at the Windjammer-usually we ate salad & sandwiches. We had pizza, hot dogs & burgers at the solarium-decent but have had better on other cruise lines. My kids ordered room service on several nights and loved the service and the food they received. I think if there was one area they could improve the ship is to add more dining options during the next dry dock.
Dinner: The Edelweiss dining room was beautiful. We had a nice table for eight on the 4th deck. We were traveling with my wife's aunt, my brother and his girlfriend. Our wait staff was excellent. The waiter was from India and our assistant waiter was from Lithuania, All our requests were delivered with smiles. The food was good to excellent every night. Some of the highlights: Prime Rib, Lobster, Chicken Marsala, Sirloin & NY Strip Steaks, Shrimp Cocktail, the soups, Cherries jubilee, Baked Alaska, flourless Chocolate cake, and the Pineapple Sherbet. No problem ordering several entrees, apps or deserts. We were served extra Lobster tails until we said uncle. One thing that stood out on Royal Caribbean is that the Head waiter visited with us a few times during each dinner to make sure we were pleased with everything. He even cut my daughter's steak for her.. I almost never met them on the other cruise lines except on the last night to make an impression so you might tip them. We never felt rushed –we had the late setting (8:30pm). Our son's only ate with us on the first night. We would take them to the Windjammer or the Solarium for dinner earlier so they could enjoy the Adventure Ocean activities. One thing to note-the Rhapsody of the seas had open dining on Key West night. 6:30-9:30.
Cruising the seas:
Grand Cayman - We had to tender at this port and the crew had trouble loading the tender due to rough seas. We were planning to take the pirate cruise but the water was still pretty rough-my wife took one look at the pirate ship bouncing in the waves and she turned green. We went to Seven Mile Beach instead. This beach is beautiful. The water is crystal clear and was slightly cold which was fine since it was pretty hot. My daughter went snorkeling with my brother at the beach. A word of warning the sun is very strong in the Caymans our suntan lotion (SPF30) was no match for it and we all received a bad sunburn, This night was also our 2nd formal dinner (Lobster night)…and also the night they had the Midnight buffet. We looked at it but we were still stuffed from dinner.
Cozumel - The Rhapsody of the Seas was able to dock at International pier. This was great-only one ship at a time can dock in Cozumel. We were planning to go to Paradise Beach but everyone was not ready to go back into the sun. My boys stayed onboard and enjoyed Adventure Ocean. Everyone else went shopping in Cozumel. It was overcast while we were in port.
Adventure Ocean - Our boys loved the kids program onboard. Many activities including science projects, ball playing, scavenger hunts. They even offered a dining with the kids program on three nights. Our boys made several friends. The program for my daughter is much less structured-for the 12-14 yr olds they have activities planned but some were cancelled if not enough people showed up. She made friends the first day at the get together so they hanged out together. Because it was a smaller group they did get to do some things not normally on the schedule such as a behind the scenes look at the theater and even got to help prepare & deliver some room service. We gave my daughter a two way radio so she can let us know where she was at all times. They also had a small video game arcade onboard that was very expensive to use. Tip: If your kids like to drink soda purchase the Soda card for them-its about $32 including tip. This will be much cheaper then buying them individually ($1.75 a can).