I'm late posting this review, but wanted to make a few comments regarding our recent cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas. This was the 12-night Vancouver to Hawaii cruise in September.
We've cruised many times and enjoy RCI and Princess the most. This was our first time on the Rhapsody of the Seas and we like this size of ship. There were lots of signs of its recent refurbishment. New carpet, paint, upholstery, flat screen tv's, etc. Overall the ship is well maintained and even though there are signs of its age, none of these are a distraction.
We stayed at the Marriott Pinacle for three nights prior to the cruise. Weather was perfect and we enjoyed exploring Vancouver. This is a great hotel in the perfect location. It is only a couple of blocks to the cruise terminal and we just rolled our luggage over for embarkation. We arrived at about 11:30 and deposited our bags with the porters. They recommended we shop around in Vancouver a bit and come back in a couple of hours to avoid the crowds. We declined their invitation and got in line. We were processed in less than an hour. Those that followed their advice ended up waiting several hours to get on board.
The singers and dance team on the ship are some of the best we've ever seen. The shows were a bit dated, but the performers were all very talented. Often we have seen performers that look fresh from a high school production. But that was not the case here. And the additional performers were also excellent.
We booked anytime dining but were very disappointed with the food in the main dining room. In fact, after a couple of nights we decided to eat our remaining dinners in the Windjammer Cafe. Honestly, the main courses and appetizers were bland and not very interesting. We never eat in the alternative restaurants as we've always enjoyed the food in main dining rooms. This cruise was the one exception. That being said, we did enjoy several breakfasts in the main dining room. Food in the Windjammer was very good and we felt the atmosphere at dinner time was much more relaxing and the same friendly crowd seemed to be there every night. There was a large group of Indians on the cruise, so one side of the buffet had some interesting Indian food offerings. I was disappointed in desserts overall on the cruise. The one time we saw a cheesecake selection, it was terrible. Hopefully, this will not be the case on our upcoming cruise on the Mariner.
We've cruised in balcony cabins, outside and inside cabins. Generally we book the cheapest cabin available which helps me justify cruising a little more often. We aren't in the cabin much, so we booked a large inside (#4465)on the Rhapsody. We were satisfied with the cabin until the sixth night. Apparently our cabin was adjacent to a galley or storage room. At 1:30 am someone began doing dishes, storing pots and pans or moving shelving. The noise was incredible and sounded like they were right in the cabin. After half an hour I called the front desk. They sent a security team to our room who verified the noise and they went to stop it. When it began again an hour later, I called the front desk again. Finally it stopped. After three nights of this, they moved us to another cabin. And while this fixed the problem, I was a little disappointed that they couldn't fix the real problem, but just escaped it by moving us. We feel sorry for the next people that get this cabin. I was amazed that the ship had a policy that allowed for such noisy work to take place in rooms adjacent to sleeping cabins.
We enjoyed the five sea days and the ship seemed to have a lot of activities to keep passengers busy throughout the day. I enjoyed the morning lecture series and the afternoon series on the history of the areas visited. Excellent. Mind you, I'm happy with my book and a comfortable chair, but my wife did enjoy the activities.
It was our first trip to Hawaii. And we loved it.
Maui, Day 1 we rented a car and drove from Lahaina up the west coast to Kapalua. We stopped along the way at Ka'anapali Beach and several other beaches. We hiked to the Nakalele blow hole and sampled the famous banana bread in Kahakuloa. Great day. One tip: if you're going to rent a car, go with Hertz. Their office is right in Lahaina and is a short 15 minute walk from the pier. Day 2 we booked a snorkeling excursion with Hawaii Ocean Project. We snorkeled off the island of Lanai and then off a sunken pier near Lahaina. Not the best snorkeling we've experienced but the crew was friendly and the food was great. If your cruise stops in Lahaina, there are lots of kiosks offering low priced excursions. Unless you arrive at a busy time, you can get away with a last minute choice here.
Hilo, Hawaii - here we booked the Waterfalls Spectacular excursion through the ship. We visited several waterfalls and were able to swim in one. Then finished with a great lunch. Weather was perfect.
Kona, Hawaii - here we also booked through the ship a snorkel trip with Captain Zodiac. I would strongle recommend this group. Great fun and great value.
Kauai - here we rented a car for the day and drove from Nawillwili to Waimea Canyon. A shuttle picked us up at the pier for a short drive to the airport and our car rental. Waimea Canyon is incredible and the weather again was perfect. We had no cloud cover even at altitude. Simply beautiful. When we got back to town that afternoon we had time to drive over to Wailua Falls.
Oahu - we stayed an extra five days in Waikiki and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, including visits to Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, North Shore and more. Great place, great time.
Just wanted to make one mention regarding the captain of this ship. As stated earlier, we've cruised quite a bit, but we have never seen a ships captain as friendly and professional as this one. He had a great sense of humor, was very approachable and added a pleasant spirit to the cruise. Captain Hempstead is the best we've ever seen.
Again, there were some bumps along the way in this cruise, but none that diminished our enjoyment. Would be happy to answer any questions.