Rhapsody of the Seas
by Barbara Bland Western Caribbean November 12, 2006
Parked in cruise sponsored parking lot for $70. There were other lots that were cheaper and that would shuttle you back. You pay in advance so have your cash ready! Porters were readily available to help with your luggage. Be sure and put something that stands on your luggage (bright ribbon) so you can easily pick it out of all the luggage on the ship. We were on the ship by 1pm, found our own luggage, and headed to unpack.
Ship Highlights - Captain's reception didn't have food and just champagne. You can meet the Captain and have your picture taken but the line is generally long. Crown and Anchor reception had food and drinks. Attended the drink making seminar for $9.95 and got to taste and learn how to make specialty drinks. Sit closer to the front so you don't get left out. Got to sample 5 drinks. Free wine tasting seminar was good (had coupon from being past cruiser). Love and Marriage game is really funny. Shows were great! Lots of contest and activities throughout the ship. Be sure and look at your compass each evening and highlight what you want to do the next day.
Ocho Rios - Trevor Hudlin Tours .trevorhudlintours.com) took 12 of us on a tour for $55 each (he purchased the tickets for $15 each at Dunn's Falls and the tickets for rafting). Emailed him ahead of time to make reservations but didn't pay him until the end of the tour (cash only). Went to Dunn's River Falls first. Climbed 600' waterfall with two guides. You hold hands and walk aup as a group helping each other climb. This is not something to do if you are not agile and in relatively good shape. You can however watch from points if you choose not to climb it. Was beautiful but cold. RCCL will take pics of you and so will the locals. Tipped each guide $10. Kids loved it!! You do have to walk through a small narrow village when you leave the waterfalls. They are very pushy and will hand stuff to you and then they want money. Once we finished Trevor was waiting for us.
Next we went tubing down the white river. Tubes had fiberglass bottoms so your hind end would be saved. Water was cold again but you got used to it. Two guides went along with us and video taped and took pics to try an sell you at the end. Before we got to the end we stopped and you could jump off the side into the water. Kids also liked this! They are very pushy with the pics but everything is negotiable and they bring them to you at the end. $5 each pic. Tipped the main guide $10 and the other one $5.
Last Trevor took us through the town and to Fern Gully where the Ferns grow and where the road used to be where a river flowed through. At the end we paid Trevor and his helper. Tipped them $10 each. Grand Cayman we used Moby Dick Tours (www.mobydicktours.com). They were easy to find when we got off the tender. Unless you get an early tender you will be on a later tour. I also emailed them to make reservations so they were expecting us but couldn't give us a time as we couldn't firm up a time we would arrive. The ship lets passengers who booked early tours through them get the early tenders (you will pay double for the tours and there will be twice A LOT more people)! Our tour was not until 11 so we walked around and shopped. We then boarded a school bus to the boat and headed to stingray city. It is beautiful and there were only like 15 of us on this boat compared to like 50 on the ship tour boats. We had very personalized interaction with the stingrays from the guide. We also were able to hold them and feed them. We then got to snorkel near a corral reef before returning back. We then paid the guide $10 and headed to the bus. This tour was $35 each.
Cozumel- Dads and daughters went scuba diving with enn's for $82 each if you need equipment (http://www.divecozumel.com/emerald/index.html). This had to paid in advance to ensure that they got to dive. This place had been recommended by the dive shop where the kids were certified. We sent them a cashier's check and she emailed us upon receipt of the check. They all were certified divers so they did a 2 tank dive. They got sick going out because of the high winds and all the boat movement. Taxi ride to their pier was $12 each way. Taxi ride to Paradise Island was $12 each way. Paradise Island has chairs, trampolines, climbing wall, etc. but all this was put away because of the high winds. There is no entrance fee and it is only $8 to use everything but they constantly come by to ask if you want food or drinks. We then went shopping in Cozumel. They are fairly pushy but negotiate any price. Wished I had purchased vanilla for teacher gifts.
Food was great. We preferred to eat in the dining room as much as possible as you got served and had good choices. You can order whatever you want and as much as you want which the kids loved. We had requested a window seat before going and we had it. Be sure and choose late seating for dinner so that you can stay on the island longer and will still have time to get ready. Food is readily available throughout the day. The midnight buffet is beautiful and worth the wait in line. Always check to see what the drink of the day is because it will be the cheapest drink ($4.25). You can quickly drink up some money!
Cabin was small but plenty of storage space under the bed, by the vanity area, 3 big drawers, 3 small drawers, 2 drawers in each nightstand, medicine cabinet. You aren't in the cabin much so the size has never really mattered to us.
Kids-Between the two couples we had 4 kids age 10-14. They stayed in a room next to us by themselves. We let them go around on the ship as long as they stayed together. Bought them unlimited soft drink cups for $28 each and they could get refills at any bar area. They would not participate in the kids program. They didn't like the salt water in the pool. They did enjoy playing ping pong.
Things to pack: Warm clothes-it is chilly when you leave and when you come back and some days at sea when it was windy. Over the door hanger was great for the bathroom. Got it at Dollar store. It had 8 pockets. There are only two plugs in the whole room so bring something to give you some extra plugs. Bring a clock. Bring a nightlight if you are in an inside cabin as it is pitch black but great for napping during the day. Bring plenty of underwater cameras. Bring a backpack or something to carry your things when you go on an excursion. Bring plenty of small denomination of bills. Highlighter, sticky notes, various size ziplocks (take snacks on excursions, put your money in, I use the 2.5 gallon ones to pack clothes tight and increase my space), bought $1 ponchos at Bass Pro but didn't need them, packed water bottles for excursions, extra memory card for camera,. We put the tips for the week on our credit card-$68.25 pp for waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter, room attendant. We also had them all a thing of cajun seasoning to show our thanks.
Disembarking We opted for the express check out and carried our luggage off and we were on the road by 8am. Otherwise, you can be on the ship for awhile.