Rhapsody of the Seas
February 10, 2009
We were on The Rhapsody of The Seas on the 14 night trip from Sydney around the 2 islands of New Zealand and back to Sydney. For us the trip was just too long. We have sailed several times before, but this was our longest trip. There are 2 days at sea in the beginning of the trip and 2 days at the end, but there are also two other days at sea, one when cruising the Sounds and the other cruising White Volcano Island. There were a lot of people complaining of catching a cold and coughing in the passages and lifts. It is just too unnatural to live in an air-conditioned environment for so long. The fact that the weather was quite chilly resulted in most people staying inside the ship.
The ship, although an old ship, was very well maintained. The entertainment in the theatre was outstanding, the best we had ever seen on a Royal Caribbean ship. The waiters in the dining room were very good and friendly -- actually the whole staff on the ship was extremely friendly and helpful. The food was fine, but one could see there were cut downs on very luxury foods like crayfish, etc., but on the whole it was good.
Please try to avoid the medical facility on the ship, because it is day light robbery! My husband went to the doctor with a nasal drip and sore throat. He drew blood before making a decision what to prescribe! He also wanted to take X-rays, but my husband refused. The drawing of blood and the results thereof amounted to $180; the total of the visit was $298! He gave him a few antibiotic tablets costing $10. Imagine what the bill would have been if he took the X-rays?
After leaving Sydney on the evening of the 10th of February we were in a storm at sea. It was really scary. The ship creaked, things slammed and our TV was rolling in and out on its rails the whole night. The ship rocked and rolled for two days. People fell in the passages and for the first time on a cruise I noticed that vomiting bags were placed on all staircases and other strategic places. The swells were about 8 meters high and the wind about 40 knots. On the 5th deck water came through the sliding doors and soaked the carpets in the lobby. A window was apparently also broken in the Windjammer. It was a blessing when we woke-up the third morning and were cruising in the calm waters of the Sounds.
We arrived at Milford Sound about 6.30 am and it was absolutely awesome! The sun was slowly rising behind the majestic snow capped mountains. A nice place to be is on deck 5 as you can walk through to the other side and see the Sound from both sides. We had a perfectly clear day cruising the Sounds and it was really breathtaking.
When taking excursions try to avoid the Panoramic tours. They are a total waste of time, because they just drive through all the places with only a few photo stops. There is no time to just browse around the city or do some shopping. If you want to stay behind you will have to make your own way back to the ship. Most of the docking harbours are about 7 to 15 kilometers from the actual city. There are shuttle busses, but at a cost.
New Zealand is a beautiful country with lots of water, hills and coves. I particularly liked Christchurch with the Avon river flowing through the city. At Auckland we unfortunately did not even bother to leave the ship as it was pouring rain, with a strong wind and a thick fog hanging over the city.
After the last two boring days at sea we could not wait to be back on terra firma.
Back in Sydney we stayed at the Marriott Harbour Hotel at Circular Quay for another two days. We had a deluxe room with views of the Opera House on the 26th floor. The hotel is really recommended, with a very friendly staff and it is very centrally situated.
When taking a tour of the Opera House, just make sure that the Opera House itself is open for viewing. After we bought our tickets and climbed several stairs to get to the foyer, the guide told us that we will not be able to view the Opera House as they were busy with a rehearsal. The funny part is that we were allowed to enter the concert hall while a rehearsal was going on, but not in the opera house which was the actual reason for taking this tour.
My opinion of this cruise is that it was too long and apart from Sydney, nothing was really outstanding except for the Sounds.