Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South Pacific, my wife is partly disabled and can't walk for long distances and needs to use a wheelchair as well as being large, so a standard stateroom is too small for her so we booked disabled stateroom 2102 on deck 2.
This was a category F, lower class stateroom on Deck 2 with a window. We really liked it, it was large at 254 square feet, about 20 square feet smaller than a junior suite but without a balcony.
It had plenty of room for a wheelchair and walking room around everything, features a queen bed ( 2 singles joined together which felt more like a king size bed ), ample room but the mattress was a little too firm for our liking and the pillows felt like we were sleeping on rocks, hence we had stiff necks in the morning and sore backs but for what its worth, any bed outside of your home will never be like your sweet home bed.
The bathroom was very spacious featuring a large disabled shower, with a shower chair that folded down on the wall as well as a free standing shower chair, flexible and fully adjustable shower head and outstanding water pressure and temperature control, I only wish our home shower was this good.
We had a fridge in our room but we had to request that at the time of booking so I could store my insulin as I am diabetic, lower class staterooms on Rhapsody do not come with fridges but they give you a minibar featuring the coca cola range and spring water WITHOUT A FRIDGE in low class, I think that's ridiculous without a fridge as standard, I mean who wants to drink warm coke!
We had a Samsung 24 inch flat t.v panel in the room which was part of the ships refurb which was excellent, first cruise we did on Rhapsody we had this old 12 inch boxy Sony trinitron old school crt television which you could hardly see a thing on, the new T.Vs are a definite improvement and the channel line up was better featuring several channels plugging Royal Caribbean programming and propaganda as well as an action movie channel, Turner Classic Movies TCM, a news channel, ESPN sports, Australia Network,a channel featuring American CBS network programming which included Hawaii Five O, Cartoon Network, another movie channel and a few useless french channels, the movie channels ran in a loop replaying the same line up of movies each day, on this cruise a few Christmas themed.
The channel line up and variety could be improved,but then you are meant to be out of your cabin a lot.
Our stateroom attendant, "I made", a native Philipian was excellent, he could not help us enough and at times my wife was sick with back and muscle problems and stayed in the cabin, he always checked on her while I was out and about and always ready to help us.
THE SHIP AND ACTIVITIES
On this cruise the ship was packed to cpacity, 2260 passengers, it could get rather crowded in the Centrum, the central area of the ship which starts on Deck 4 and is 6 stories high and is the main activity hive of the ship for music and demonstrations on cooking etc.
I found there was excessive art auctions on this cruise occupying the Centrum during the day, where really you wanted to sit in quiet and relax, I found the auctions annoying, there were other areas of the ship such as one of the dance lounges where this activity could be tucked away out of sight, for the record most of the auctions I heard were passed in and nobody bought the art.
The Centrum was one of the main areas that was refurbished and was very nice, featuring colour changing lighting and an area above were trapeze artists from the crew perform, on this cruise they performed 3 times briefly but you really did not see that much of them.
At night the Centrum was a hive of activity with dance contests and live music/singers and it was very crowded, impossible to get a seat there most nights so we went back to our cabin to relax.
On the pool deck, Deck 9 another refurb was the giant movie screen above the main pool, they only played one movie on it the whole cruise at night "Finding Nemo" and the rest of the time they played tropical and ocean scenery in a continuous loop day and night.
THE NEW SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS - THE THINGS THAT DON'T COME FREE
Rhapsody had 3 new restaurants aboard her, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, and Chops Grill.
We were fortunate enough to dine one night ( it was our 4th wedding anniversary ) at Giovanni's Table, a 50 seat Italian Tuscan style restaurant that costs $20 USD EXTRA PER HEAD TO DINE THERE.
We found this well worth it, not only was the food excellent, there was mountains of it, we dined on a 5 course meal and our stomachs were bursting at the seams well before the finish of it.
We recommend Giovanni's Table, its worth the extra you pay for it, its food is well above the standard of the main dining room and the buffet and we advise pre-booking this before you board the ship to get a seat as it only serves lunch and dinner ( the menu's are different for lunch and dinner ) and can only hold 50 people at a time, its located on Deck 6 at the back of the Schooner Bar.
THE ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT
We found apart from the new carpet, the 1200 seat Broadway Melodies theatre on 2 levels on Decks 5 and 6 at the front of the ship had not really changed that much, as for the shows, they had several guest entertainers, the second night we had a U.S artist buy the name of Bruce Parker who sang tributes to the great crooners such as Frank Sinatra and songs from the 50's and 60's mixed in with a bit of comedy, he was really good and has worked with famous artists such as Michael Jackson on background vocals etc., that was a good show.
Then there were the standard Royal Carribean dancers and singing troupe with their headliner shows which had not changed from our previous cruise, with themes such as country and western and 50's rock and roll, they were good but when you have seen it all before it can get a little tedious.
Overall there was a mix of other activities during the day aimed at the older age group 30 to 60 such as scrap booking and jewellery making which my wife did, trivia contests, bingo which at $32 for 4 games was too expensive to play, belly dancing, those pain in the butt art auctions etc.
I am 48 year old man and got bored on the ship and started hanging out in the casino too much but fortunately my wins mostly balanced my losses and I only ended up loosing $100 for a 10 day cruise which was not bad but the casino can be very costly and my advice is stay out and find something better to do if you can.
Well its American style food cooked in the American Way, I had my mother-in-law with us on this cruise and she complained she did not like any of the food, the woman is a very fussy eater and whined when the meat was rare and underdone and I could have pushed her over the side as she whined too much, the food is okay, it will never win any Michelin Stars and get bagged by Gordon Ramsay but this is a middle of the range cruise line and your not paying for paying to eat top class food in a top class restaurant, its suites most peoples tastes, the Windjammer buffet can wear you down thin with the food range some nights and the fine dining in the Edelweiss Restaurant, although being better quality food, it serves a la carte small size portions that leave you wanting for more at the end but if you were still hungry after eating at fine dining, you could always go to the buffet or get room service and have a Bistro Burger which was a pretty okay hamburger that was bought to your room free of charge,its part of the complimentary food that comes in your package.
As for drinks, we strongly recommend you pre-purchase the unlimited soda package before you board the ship, the packages come out about 2 months before your cruise date and can be paid online at Royal Carribean and added to your cruise.
The Soda Package for our 10 day cruise was $72 USD a head but it gave you unlimited soft drink from the Coca Cola range of beverages, it was money saver for those hot tropical days when you got really thirsty.
The alcoholic drinks, the cocktails ranged from about USD $7.50 to about $12 plus they automatically add a 15% gratuity or tip on each alcoholic drink you buy, this also applies to soft drink if you don't buy the soda package.
Wine is very expensive on this ship with the cheapest glass at USD $13 and bottles are from about USD $50 to $295.
Beer is reasonably priced, a 330 ml Corona Extra costs $5.50 usd and a 750 ml Foster's oil can costs $8, a huge beer that you can share between 2 people.
OVERALL CRUISE RATING AND EXPERIENCE
We did enjoy this cruise but found it a little crowded at times but as it was a peak season Christmas cruise we expected this may be the case, some things were repeats of our last cruise including part of the cruise destination itinerary, it was a good cruise but after 10 days we were a little weary of it and we need to change to another ship/cruise line and itinerary.
Rhapsody is a good ship, most people will find little to complain about, the crew must be the friendliest on the seas, they perform their jobs with enthusiasm and it appeared to us they like working on this ship