Good but not Rhapsodic: Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review by gellesgen
Overall Member Rating
Good but not Rhapsodic
Destination: Australia & New Zealand
Embarkation: Sydney (Australia)
The food on this ship, as an example, is excellent in variety and quality.
Cruises are the best value for money in the tourism industry, and paying more does not necessarily bring improvements. As one commentator said, "We booked a "Superior Interior Cabin" on deck 8. We were kept awake a couple of nights due to the late night parties on the pool deck, the band was directly above our cabin so if you like to retire early it may pay to avoid cabins in this area." (See comment on noise further on).
People in the 'Inferior' interior rooms are often happier with their quieter cabins, which lack wet and windy balconies and hot streaming sunlight. They use the money they thereby save to buy shore excursions and indulgences on board.
Some comments were about lack of space, but by modern cruise standards this is More not a big ship and does well with the space it has. I would prefer to sail in a vessel that looks and behaves like a ship than in the floating citadels which are too big to enter many ports, and require a long hike to get from one venue to another.
I have travelled on the Rhapsody three times and notice that after its refurbishment it has lost some of its pleasant 'ambience'. Ambience is hard to pin down, but the ship seems more commercially orientated and the micro-management of spin doctors is evident; even the captain seems constrained from mentioning the name of a competitor cruise line. Two examples: The touch screens giving directions (an excellent improvement) will, when you tap on 'Dining', lead you to the extra-cost specialty dining rooms. Where is the main dining room and Windjammer? At the top of the screen is another button to tap for them. Cunning but offensive, as is the suggestion that these locations offer 'complimentary' dining. Nope. It was paid for. Let's hope the long wait for courses in the MDR was not another ploy to re-direct trade.
Secondly, one of the few quiet spots, the library, has gone (the space more profitably used) and this leads to another issue. Passengers' enjoyment of a voyage can be increased at no extra cost to the cruise line by the exercise of some common sense. This should be good news to them if it improves profits and 'ambience' at the same time. I refer to the issue of noise. I know on previous cruises this issue has been mentioned by others on their guest feedback forms, but apparently to no avail.
Even during dining times there would be sudden blasts of over-amplified music to introduce some event. Once, we couldn't hear a word the waiter was saying while 'funiculi funicula' was being belted out. Around the pool and centrum the entertainment staff seemed to think louder was better, or more 'fun'. The majority of guests are mature beings who don't want their hearing damaged, so they retreat elsewhere. The decibel rating, which would be illegal in many countries, also does live performers no favours. In Hobart, the noise from the ship could be heard two blocks away. Is such frenetic bedlam likely to encourage repeat bookings, or is it undermining the aims of the Crown and Anchor loyalty program? If this form of pollution is common to all ships, perhaps Rhapsody could ensure full bookings by offering music and entertainment at sensible volumes.
Good attention is paid to cleanliness and washing of hands. Dispensers of antibacterial hand wash are at restaurant doorways for those who forgot, or attendants offer it.
However, RCI should advise the crew that this can be offered but NOT demanded, for two reasons. First, passengers know whether they have washed their hands or not so don't treat them like children and demand a second ablution. Second, they may be aware of the dangers of antibacterials such as triclosan, and use soap instead. This antibacterial agent is suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption), liver damage, weakened immune system, and birth defects (inter alia). The European Union classifies triclosan as very toxic to aquatic organisms, noting that it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on such antibacterial consumer products. RCI are proud of their environmental record, so hopefully they are aware of the chemical formulations they use, and if safe, they should inform their guests. Otherwise re-think their procedures.
There is a minor but definite communication problem on the ship. English is nominally the language spoken, but that doesn't mean it is fully comprehended. For example, if you go to the Guest Services desk and ask why there is conflicting information on the daily news sheet, namely a statement that there are no shuttle buses at the next pier, followed by a description of how to get on one (and there was one), you will get a parroted statement that there is no shuttle bus, as though you are too stupid to understand the message, whereas it is they who haven't grasped the meaning of your inquiry. This is not to say the cabin and dining staff are to be faulted. They are keen to help, pleasant and professional.
Overall, the cruise was an enjoyable experience and I would consider another one on the same ship, but the factor that makes or ruins a great cruise holiday is above all the weather. Pick the season carefully. And take your earplugs. Less
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