I am back from the Rhapsody of the Seas, sailed Oct 9 thru Oct 17. We had 6 in our group, 2 are 80ish, 3 are 50ish and 1 is 30 something. Here goes.
Day One, Sunday -- Got to the ship at 4 PM. Absolutely no lines, we were the only ones (and last) boarding. If we had been 30 minutes later, gee, I don’t want to think about it. The reason for the tardiness: We drove from Dallas, starting at 8:30 am. Loaded an enormous amount of luggage in and ON the van. Remember, 3 ladies and their shoes!! Made great time till we got halfway to Houston. Rumble noise coming from top of van. Look out back window. Two bags bouncing down the freeway. No other car hit them. Stop van and retrieve suitcases. My "stash" of sodas are unscathed. Can’t say the same for the bags. Throw remnants of bags inside van and tighten remaining top bags. Continue driving (slower now) because, the planned "tinkle" stop is only one mile further. BAD decision. Rumble from roof. Look out back. One more bag bouncing down highway. Large Mac truck with an attitude goes out of his way to hit the bag. I see the bag explode. Stop van to retrieve bag. Very little to retrieve. Shoes come out fair, but covered with hand lotion. Bag is dead, left on side of road. Worst thing, all of Mom’s medications were inside. All I could find were the plastic bottle caps. When the critters find and eat those pills, there will be more road kill. Drive on to tinkle stop. Repack bags on top. Tinkle. Continue on to north Houston. Rumble from side of van. Louder. Extreme crunching sound. Stop. Left rear tire has lost its tread. It tore off the van’s rear quarter panel and half the bumper. Install stupid doughnut spare. It is now 2 pm. Drive the last 60 miles on a wing and a prayer. Much praying. Cellphone pharmacy in Galveston for replacement meds. Cellphone friend in Galveston to pick up replacement meds. Driver dropped 5 of us at dock and goes to get meds and park the car with friend. He returns at 4 pm. Prayers answered. Will buy new tire when we return next Sunday.
I had Sail Pass only, no other boarding documents (other than ID and B Certs). Give luggage to porter (sans one bag, of course). Go thru X-ray and Scanner. My Mom and I with pacemakers, and our friend in wheel chair, pass around. I get a hand pat. Feels good. Go through again, they throw me out. Go to counter. Show docs and get SeaPass card. Board ship. 10 minutes in terminal. World record. On board in time for Mustard Drill. Fellow Mustard pax ask why I look like poo poo. Tell them. A few "aw, poor guy" but mostly laughter. I’m not amused. An adult beverage of choice calms me down.
We notice that our Seapass says main seating (6 pm). We had reserved late (8:30). Go see maitre d'. Can’t find him but do find a head waiter. With a bow and a smile, he has us changed to late seating in less than 2 minutes. I have sailed Rhapsody before, and I knew that any problem I had would be handled with courtesy and professionalism. We are hungry but don’t want to miss Sail Away party on the top deck. Forego food for now and dance the undocking ritual. Band good. Fluids, tasty. Dancing the "white guy, bite lower lip" dance. Many stares and chuckling. Don’t care. I’m in a good mood, now.
Go to state room. Cat L. Three of us. How small was it? Not enough room inside to change my mind. This was a last minute booking (screwed by Carnival, but that’s another story) and that’s all that was available. No big deal. I only spend 2 hours a night in there, anyway. Just remembered, HUNGRY. Go to Solarium for burger and fries. Yes, folks! The fries are worth the trip. Tour ship with parents till supper. Now, before you get fancy with me, I’m from Texas, and dinner is at noon! Supper is when the sun goes down. Deal with it! I have been reading several threads concerning the upkeep of the Rhapsody. The carpets in the room hallways are quite splotchy in shades of new and old, due to replacing sections at a time. However, they are extremely clean. The rest of the ship is absolutely spotless. The public men’s rooms are clean as a whistle. Ladies rooms? My friends say they were good, too. I wasn’t about to go find out for myself. Remember, most of the lady passengers are from Texas, also. They don’t take kindly to dirty old men invading their privacy. Everything in Texas is bigger, including a woman’s scorn.
Welcome Aboard show in the main showroom at 7 pm. Dan Whitney (Dan the party man) is Cruise Director. He gets a thumbs up. He is a bit corny, but he shows genuine enthusiasm for his guests. He has about 6 assistant cruise directors who handle all the ships activities and they seem to always be available to help the pax. Singers and dancers are great. I am not a "showtime" type of guy, but I know talent when I see it. Kevin Jordan is the comedian and is very funny. Do not sit in the front rows if you want anonymity.
Supper time, late seating, 8:30, table for 6, 2 nd floor, in back next to kitchen entrance. Surprising how little noise the staff made when entering/exiting the kitchen. Very nice area. Waiter is Fidel, from Philippines. Very pleasant, excellent English. I had the prime rib and baked salmon. Notice, two entree’s. Waiter begins by telling us "Please order what you like. If you do not like it, I will bring you something else!" I ordered like this…"I would like the prime rib, but I won’t like it, so bring me the baked salmon, also." Every night after that, Fidel would ask, " what would you NOT like, tonight?" Prime rib was fork tender, and the salmon was smooth, yet spicy. Yummy! They make their own bread and you have choice of butter or margarine. Come on, this is vacation where fat and calories are left at home. Do you really think I will use the margarine? Chocolate Creme Brulee for dessert. Remember when you were a kid, and you sniffed your mother’s chocolate baking powder. That is how chocolaty this tasted.
Casino time. Play Blackjack. Go outside and throw money over rail into Gulf. Quicker that way. Dealers and waitstaff are worth losing money to. I know these people work 16 hours a day and are living in a room the size of my shower, yet they are always in a good mood. How do they do it?
Day 2, Monday at sea toward Key West -- Breakfast in Dining Room 8:30 am. Open seating. Meet cruise virgin couple from Arizona. Their eyes are as big as saucers. He says, "sure beats McDonalds!!" Says he has never been to a Golden Corral. No wonder they are impressed. I wish I could have seen him eating his first Lobster tail. Anyway, we had Eggs benedict, French toast, coffee that will remove rust. Fantastic. Jacuzzi time in the Solarium 10 am. Warm bubbly water with no kids. Now folks, before you flame me, I like kids. I just don’t wanna bathe with them. There were plenty of them at the main pool and Jacuzzis. They looked like they were having a blast and they didn’t wanna share their pool with the idiotic adults. That’s fair. My pool, their pool.
Lunch time in the Dining Room, 12:30. Open seating. Met Diamond status couple who have cruised a gazillion times. They agree, food is as good or maybe better than previous cruises. We had baked fish (well, something that swims) and minute steak po-boy. All good. The iced tea is the best I have had in my entire life. Hold it up to the light in the window. Cannot see through it. Wow! Sherbet for dessert. Very nice tri-flavored combo of raspberry, orange, and mint.
A little walking on deck 10 (top) to ward off the effects of the evil butter. Found ourselves at the rock climbing wall. On a dare, I climb. Folks, I am 58 with a pacemaker/defibrillator. I don’t take dares, lightly. I make it to the top and ring the bell. What a rush. I return the dare to my 30 something friend. She makes it half way up. Starts over and makes it halfway up again. In Texas, 2 halves make a whole. I give her full credit for climbing the wall. Casino time. Throw money over side of ship, again. There are some very wealthy crabs in the Gulf of Mexico. Screw casino, try bingo. Braaaaack. Wrong move. Throw more money in ocean.
This is formal night. Captains party first. Captain introduces heads of all departments and makes the necessary nice comments about Texans. 2100 passengers, 1920 are Texans. We could take over this ship and make it another state. He’d better be nice. The reason to go to this shindig is not to meet the Captain. It is to drink the free booze. Let’s not kid ourselves, booze on this ship is expensive and anytime you can drink someone else’s liquor, it’s a NO BRAINER. Supper at 8:30. Tenderloin and several helpings of shrimp. Flourless Chocolate Cake. Need I say more? I do believe, I would kill anyone attempting to take the FCC away from me. Disco time at the Viking Lounge. That’s the very top of the ship. During the day, it is the most peaceful and quiet spot on the ship. At night, holy mackerel!! I just thought I would go with 30 something to keep her company. I wound up on the dance floor and in the conga line. I’m too old for this $&*#. Leave Disco and go to casino where it is quiet. This time, got some of their money, Nya..Nya..Nya. 2am, bedtime for bozo.
Day 3, Tuesday in Key West Well, actually we didn’t get to KW until 4 pm. Spend morning in jacuzzi and lunch in the Dining Room. You may ask, "didn’t you ever go to the Windjammer?" Answer, yes. I went there for snacks and enormous quantities of chocolate yogurt soft serve ice cream. The chocolate ice cream cone is my very favorite snack. The Windjammer food is plenty good food. I just like to sit at a quiet table with fresh linen and have a waiter cater to my every whim. Yes, I am spoiled for the Edelweiss dining room. Deal with it! Got off ship and rented a 6 person electric car and drove around Key West. It rained for about a half hour and cooled everything down quite nicely. Here is where I get very critical. At 4:30 all the museums and attractions close. Many of the shops close at 5 and 5:30. There is nothing left to do except shop for trinkets (nice word for crap) and get drunk. I am a MAN, and I DON’T SHOP!! The Bar Scene (getting drunk) is not my bag. For those folks who like these two options, then Key West is for them and they will have loads of fun. In my opinion, we could bypass Key West and sail in a circle for 3 days and I’d have plenty of fun on the ship. I recommend the electric car for anyone who is not physically active. A very leisurely way to self tour the town. I, later, met a gent on the ship who had gone on a fishing excursion. He gave it a big 5 thumbs up. I asked what he had caught. He said, "nothing, thank God". Must have been a really fun boat. Back on ship with time to clean up for evening showtime and then supper at 8:30. I don’t remember what I had. Take that is a good review. I would certainly remember if I ate something that was not great.
Casino time again. Ha, ha. Got them again. They are going to have to turn the ship around and dredge the ocean where I threw the money overboard. Midnight, SailAway party and midnight buffet on the top deck. Lotsa celebration. Lotsa music. Lotsa people who have over imbibed and are not through, yet. One girl told me she was going to set a new world’s record for a single person’s bar tab. She was so drunk, even I looked good to her!
Day 4. Wednesday. Another day at Sea toward Grand Cayman Yada, yada, yada. Same stuff I did on the last sea day. If that sounds boring, I don’t mean to give that impression. The whole point of cruising is to relax and enjoy doing nothing. Sunshine, conversation, snacking, adult beverages of choice, you get the idea. Showtime featuring Dave and Chucky. A very funny guy who has his hand up the butt of an even funnier duck. DO NOT MISS this show. Supper in the Dining Room. Same old crap. You know I’m kidding. The food seems to get better every night. But, it is causing my pants to shrink. Quest game in the aft Lounge. Folks, this is for the young and young at heart. For us old guys, take a seat in the back and stay out of their way. It is definitely a hoot, and a high point of the ship’s festivities. This is another DO NOT MISS event.
Day 5. Thursday. Grand Cayman Breakfast in the Dining Room. More eggs, bacon, sausage, rust remover, and butter. This stuff would kill me dead, on dry land. I actually like my coffee strong, but geez wizz! We tender into Georgetown. I go two blocks to Blue Iguana to beg Avis driver to take me to airport. See, I’m stupid and didn’t make a reservation. He smiles and says, "no problem, mon". I’ve heard this crap before. For those of you getting a Cico Avis ride from Blue Iguana to the Avis office, use a blindfold and tighten your seatbelt. If you don’t like the blindfold idea, carry some toilet paper and clean undies. You are gonna need them. This is the driver from Hell. On the plus side, it only took a few minutes to drive 5 miles in logjam traffic. Kinda like driving through downtown Dallas on Monday morning in less than a minute. I gave the Cico Avis lady a sad puppy dog look and fell on my knees to beg for a car. "No problem". Got a giant Ford Suburban in less than 5 minutes and was on my way back to town to pick up our group of 6. Took ME a half hour to get back. Picked up group. Go to Rum Point. Stop at grocery store to pick up snacks. I took lessons from the Avis driver. Picture this: Big bad Texan, driving this HUGE car on the wrong (left) side of the road. Yeah, baby. Get in MY way! Rum Point is just as it had been described. Beautiful beach, shade trees, warm water, lotsa fishies to look at. Ever swim in an aquarium? Spend a few hours there, and drive back the same way. "Oh, mon. Here comes that Texan again!!" Turn the car in and take another ride with Hell Boy back to the dock. Tender back to ship at 3:15 pm (last tender). Gee, this day went quickly. Back in time for nice cleanup to go to Showtime. Tonight was singers and dancers celebrating Rock and Roll from Broadway. I said that this really isn’t my "thing", but by golly, I really enjoyed the show. These kids are WAY good. This is the other formal night. Before supper we went to the Crown and Anchor (repeat cruiser) party. The Royal Caribbean Rep told us how wonderful it would be if we applied for their Credit Card. Are you kidding? My Visa Card is already hocked to the limit paying for this trip. Do you really think I’m a good credit risk!! Again, this is not the reason to go. FREE BOOZE AGAIN. Need I say more? Oh, yes! Lotsa Horse Dovers including very good caviar. Supper in the Dining Room, 8:30. Lobster night. Yes, I had more than one. I’m not gonna tell how many. Royal Caribbean reads these threads and they will send me a bill ! Love and Marriage game show in the main theater. Go and enjoy. Under no circumstances should you volunteer to go on stage. You will be very, very sorry. They are filming this event to sell to your friends to take home with them. Casino time. Very much enjoyed the company of the dealers, but no one came out the obvious winner. Bedtime…DARN.
Day 6. Cozumel Shopping in the morning…YAWN. The vendors told me to take my cheap butt back to Texas. I think I spent a whole $2. I take that back, those were 2 for $1. Afternoon (3 pm), Dad and I grab a cab and go to Playa Uvas to snorkel. I’ve been there before and the people running it are unbelievably nice. Manager says they are closing in an hour, so, would we like a free guide to swim with us for an hour. Duh, yes! He would dive to the bottom and scurry out a barracuda, yellow spotted sting ray, and a flounder. Plenty of other fish along with beautiful coral formations. Cab rides..$20, Snorkel rental for 2…$26, tip for guide….$20, smile on my Dad’s 89 year old face….PRICELESS. Showtime was a singer comedian, Roger Behr. He was……well……OK. Perhaps a true show lover would give him many thumbs up. I’m not a show lover. Supper in the Dining Room. New York strip steak and mai mai. My spelling may be wrong but the steak was right. To Die For Chocolate Brownie for dessert. With ‘nilla ice cream to caress each bite. This, folks, is an experience. I now have a new Royal Caribbean favorite food.
Day 7. Sea day back to Galveston. Saturday. Breakfast in the Dining Room. If my doctor finds out how much bacon I have eaten this week….Oh, well. We can’t live forever! Casino time, 10 am. I am not really an early casino patron, except for last day at sea. I am a firm believer the slot machines are rigged to pay off on the first night and last day of the cruise. This was no exception. I hit small jackpots on several machines. Mom enjoys the nickel machines, and by golly, she hit a nice one, too. Afternoon, more Jacuzzi time in the Solarium. Many think that boiling in a large tub like a lobster is not very exciting. Well, for crying out loud, there is the scenery, too. Yeah, guys! You know what I’m talking about! I’m old, not dead. Supper in the Dining Room. More of this nasty food!! Please stop force feeding me! Burp! Go to room to pack..waaaaaa. To heck with it. I ain’t dragging this filthy stuff back to Dallas. My money, on the ocean floor, now has the company of my stinky shirts and filthy underwear (thanks to Avis Hell Driver). Back to casino for last fling before crawling back to bed. Ah ha, miss smarty pants blackjack dealer. I’ll show you which direction those chips should go. He he he!
Day 8, in Galveston. ARGH Breakfast in the Dining Room. Waiter opens the maple syrup and sets it next to my hot blueberry pancake. I say, "well, you guys have done everything else for me this week, aren’t you going to pour it for me?" He says, "No sir, and I don’t do windows, either! Deal with it!". LMAO. The honeymoon is definitely over. They have a very difficult time dragging 5 kicking and screaming people off the ship. Our wheelchaired friend gets a heavy shove from security and she rolls over our crying bodies on the gangway.
Other notes: There were several on-board activities I did not go to and I cannot rate them. It's not that I didn't wanna go to them, I just put activities in priority, and there were conflicts. For those of you who plan a Rhapsody cruise and Kevin Jordan is playing, he has a midnight adult comedy routine. My group was a bit hesitant to go, but we were pleasantly surprised by how clean he kept his act. Yes, he was very naughty, and darned funny. But he didn't use any language that would make a Baptist cringe. If you take a teenage boy in there, do not sit near the front. Kevin has a flashlight and will crucify the kid. Funny for everyone else, but I don’t think "our" 16 year old "picky" will ever be the same. Although I didn’t eat much in the Windjammer, I did go in for "pre-breakfast" before joining our party for the dining room breakfast. The waitstaff were plentiful and constantly walking by the table with extra coffee (rust remover) and juices. A lady at the next table looked at my plate and commented to me, "gosh, I didn’t see the cinnamon twirls." I didn’t notice any server at the time but a minute later the server showed up at her table with two of the cinnamon twirls. I think these kids have radar! Yes, these are more DO NOT MISS items. Don’t worry, they are in the dining room also. There are several hours a day that the Windjammer is closed for repair. Well, cleaning. But I think the way the passengers slobber over the food, it should be called repairs. During this time I thought I could "sneak" in and get my fix of chocolate ice cream. Easy to get it, but the lousy so-and-so’s turned off MY ice cream machines. They should install a machine outside the Windjammer, next to the 24 hour rust remover machine.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!