August 21-28, 2005
Following is my personal review of this past week sailing aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas from Galveston. I have tried to cover all the things I would find helpful in planning a cruise aboard this ship. I hope it will help you to get ready for your cruise! Bon Voyage!
Port of Galveston info: Easy for drop off and pick up. Less crowded around 2:00pm drop off. Buffet lunch on board runs until 3:45pm.
Parking lot D was also a good option for the other family traveling with us. The cost was $70 for a week uncovered and $80 to park under a shade canopy. You pay in advance in cash. (I am sure they have learned that you might not have the $$ when you return!)
For disembarkation, they no longer make you go to the lounge in the morning for U. S. Citizens. Non- U. S. still had to report in the morning. They now take care of customs in the baggage area after you pick up your bags, you proceed to the customs booth just like the airports and they check your documents and take your customs form and then you exit the building. There is also a separate line for non- U.S. for exiting the baggage area, so make sure you are in the right line.
Aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas:
Cabins: This ship was very clean and in great shape. On this cruise I had an inside cabin, which I have not had in a long time. There was plenty of storage with drawers, closets and shelves. They provide a hair dryer and there is a set your own combination safe in the room at no charge. They also provide soap and mystery shampoo in a dispenser in the shower. After that you are on your own...... I always bring my own sundries so I never pay much attention these items. Although the last time I sailed on Carnival I did really enjoy the basket of sample sizes that put in each room and wish Royal Caribbean would catch on to this idea. I also bring a good sampling from my own medicine cabinet like Tylenol, IB, floss, cough drops, eye drops, etc. Better to be prepared!
Another word on the cabins, after 39 cruises, I have learned to bring my own pillow from home and on the last few cruises I have started to bring my own blanket. I know this may sound crazy, but I pick up one of those fleece or micro fiber throw type blankets that fits perfectly on the twin beds on the ship and is so soft and comfortable to lie on or under. I asked my cabin steward on the first day to take away the bed spread and not to return it all week and just to make up the bed with my blanket on top. (You know my Jamaican cabin steward said " No Problem Mon") I also asked him to take away the bar set up that takes up counter space on the desk and to take away the robes that take up space in the closet. (No worries Mon!) LOL
Also, another tip that I learned from reading the boards was to ask them to replace the blanket that is between the sheets on the bed. They usually put a scratchy type heavier blanket between and you can ask them to replace it with the softer velour type and they readily will. I asked for this on both of my last cruises on Grandeur and now on Rhapsody and they immediately knew what I was talking about and replaced it.
The cabin also has a desk, chair, a small couch and a television that showed movies, news, sports, sitcoms, and the in house channel that showed the talks, talents shows, game shows etc and the view from the bridge channel that showed you what the weather was like outside with music in the background.
Also, I was traveling with a diabetic and we were able to request a refrigerator for her insulin and they also provided a sharps container for needles both at no additional charge.
Food: The food in both the dining room and at the buffet was good and plentiful. They always had a selection of sugar-free desserts, which was great for my diabetic Mom. They do have a Ben and Jerry's and a Seattle's Best coffee area on this ship. There was a small charge for these places but I tried them both and they were very good. The coffee however was scalding hot....so be sure to ask them to tone it down a bit if you don't like it so hot! If you are a past passenger and you give your Crown and Anchor numbers when you make your reservations to your Travel Agent to give to Royal Caribbean you should receive a coupon booklet in your room that will have coupons for these places as well as the casino, internet cafe, photos, gift shop etc.
A word about the Internet cafe, it was .50 cents a minute and is charged to your sign and sail card. The Internet cafe we found in the square in Cozumel was $1.00 for an entire hour!!!!! Also, it was .50 a minute to call the U. S. from Cozumel instead of $7.99 a minute from the ship!
Entertainment: I am not much of a show person, so I cannot tell you about the big shows. I did however enjoy the piano bar, the Centrum music, and the poolside music. I also laughed my head off at " The Quest!" I also had fun in the casino playing roulette. Although, I do not play the slots, the people at our table won frequently on them and one of the ladies even won $1600 and they took her picture!
Spa: I did not partake in any spa treatments, they are pretty high priced and not my cup of tea....however, I did enjoy the rather large sauna in the ladies locker room and it is free! I did not use the gym, but I did enjoy the open air walking and jogging track on the top deck of the ship. Be sure to bring sneakers for walking and if you want to climb the rock wall they require you to have socks with either sandals or sneakers . It is a good workout walking against the wind! They also have a sheltered promenade deck for walking and strolling that was great for enjoying the sunsets and we saw a pod of wild dolphins swimming and jumping off the side of the wake during sunset on two different days from the promenade deck. Awesome!
Ports of call: On our sailing we went to Ocho Rios, Jamaica .....they usually go to Montego Bay, Jamaica or Key West every other week, so you may not go to Ocho Rios on this ship. There were 5 of us traveling together, so we decided to get a van cab and driver for $20 per person for the day. He took us to through the Fern Gully area, and stopped to show us all the plants and fruits that are grown in Jamaica, then up to a scenic spot to get a great picture of the ship in the harbor. Then since it was getting late he took us to an area of the Dunn's River falls where you can see the falls for free if you are not going to climb them and do not want to pay the entrance fee to the park of $15 per person. Then he dropped us off at an area called Magnolia Beach to swim for an hour and then picked us up to take us back to the ship. We had a very full day and even stopped at Burger King for lunch and had an hour for shopping too. Be sure to negotiate in advance if you are going to go off with a driver.
Grand Cayman: This is a tendering port, so if you are not a shore tour, I recommend you take your time, have some breakfast, and get ready to go into port. By the time you have done all this and it is around 10am, you will no longer need tender tickets to go ashore. We decided to spend a few hours at the beach. I have been to Cayman before and friends recommended that we try the "Sea Grape " area of 7-mile beach. It was about a $4.00 ride per person in a shared van taxi each way. It leaves right from the dock area and takes about 10 minutes. There are three stops on the 7 mile beach, the first is Royal Palms...which is where I think I went last time, the second is "the beach club" and the third is Sea Grape. Sea Grape was a VERY nice area. It was very clean and had a restaurant, bar, nice restrooms, chair, umbrella, and float rentals, and a deck area in the sand. They were also offering banana boat rides and parasailing for a charge. The water was very clear and nice and warm. I would go back anytime! The shopping by the pier is expensive and the Hard Rock Cafe was a mob scene since it is the only familiar name in the shopping area.
Cozumel: Coz, is one of my favorite ports and I have been there many times. We spent the day shopping and had lunch in the square at one of our favorite restaurants "Casa Dennis". The shopping in Cozumel is by far the best and most plentiful on this itinerary. There are markets to bargain and there are jewelry and perfume shops or more upscale shopping. We did not go to the beach on this trip but I would recommend Mr. Sanchos beach or Chanukanaab state park for snorkeling. I have also taken the Fury catamaran trip and it is a wonderful day excursion that includes snorkeling and a day at the beach.
I will end with a few helpful hints of things to bring on your cruise to make it more enjoyable. Some of these are from years of experience and some are new ones I have learned from reading in other reviews.
Bring a travel clock that lights up! There are no clocks in the room!
A pen or a few pens! It seems you are always looking for a pen to fill out a form or write a note to your traveling companions or your steward.
A white kitchen garbage bag to hang in the closet over a hanger to put your dirty clothes in. At the end of the cruise you can just toss it into the suitcase!
A multi hanger to put over one of the hooks to make more hook space. Post it notes to leave notes for your cabin steward. A highlighter to mark the activities you want to do on the daily schedule.
As I mentioned earlier, a pillow and blanket from home.
Walkie-talkies! These work great to find each other on the ship!
Camera, extra batteries, binoculars, air freshener or matches for the bathroom, a rain poncho or wind breaker incase it rains. Water shoes for the beaches or climbing the falls in Jamaica. Be sure to bring a great tote bag to take in the ports to hold your beach gear, money, camera and your shopping purchases.
Go to the bank at home and get lots of singles, fives and smaller bills for tipping, cabs and bargaining in the markets in port. If you forget to do this, you can get change in the casino onboard much faster than the Pursers desk.
Feel free to email me at C2Cmarci@yahoo.com if you have any cruise questions or would like help setting up you next cruise.
Wishing you smooth seas.