Rhapsody of the Seas 3/12 April 2013.
The wife is 64, I'm 65 and she was happier with our first cruise than me. No doubt a review written by her would be more positive.
Our choice of cruises was made after reading other people's reviews so I'm taking a significant amount of my time to write this review so others can benefit from our experience in turn.
1) Cabin steward and Edelweiss restaurant waiters were great. Happy and attentive.
2) Most all of the crew with the exception of those we encountered at the Park Cafe were very friendly and efficient.
3) Food was plentiful, available, varied and well presented. Some of it was very good.
4) Stateroom was clean with plenty of storage.
5) Ship was clean and well maintained - we had no breakdowns or safety issues. Maintenance appeared to be ongoing.
6) Some good activities (more about this later).
7) Izumi Japanese restaurant was good value for the money.
1) Forced gratuities. When you sign up with the travel agent you are enticed to prepay your gratuities with a promise of selectable dining times.
We elected to accept a fixed dining time of 6:00 PM so we could reward good service after it was delivered, not before.
Upon arrival we were informed that the new policy was to automatically deduct gratuities from our C-pass card daily. US$12.00 per day per person (total of US$216 per cabin of 2) plus 15% of purchases.
So we ended up losing both control of the gratuities and selectable dining times. I found this irritating enough to insure I will not use Royal Caribbean International (RCI) again.
2) Sewerage smell. Others have commented on this and I'm surprised that this should occur on a modern cruise liner.
3) Mini bar? Didn't exist unless you think a few warm bottles of water and a few warm cans of soda in a cabinet constitutes a "min-bar". Advertising hype only because who would pay to drink a warm coke?
4) No toiletries, paper, pen or coffee in stateroom - even the cheapest motel provides these amenities. Soap, in-shower shampoo(?) dispenser and tea bags only.
5) Entertainment was disappointing - some good, most mediocre, some of poor quality. The entertainment was mainly singing with a bit of dancing. A little more variety would have been nice.
6) While there were a few interesting activities, the few good ones were so well attended that there was not enough room (e.g. the dance floor was too crowded during dance lessons so you couldn't help stepping on others and getting stepped on).
7) The Edelweiss restaurant menu mostly promised more than it delivered. The scallops/pasta mains had so few tiny scallops that my wife found it necessary to comment on this and we had to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.
On the other hand the duck mains were both good and generous. You take your chances here.
8) Wi-fi was both expensive and slow at 18-25 kbit/sec, slower than dialup at US$0.65 per minute. Don't plan on surfing the internet at these speeds - emails only. You can get the rate down to $0.40 per minute if you buy a package of 250 minutes for US$100.
9) Could not get restaurant reservations at either Chops Grille steak house or Giovanni's Table Italian restaurant unless we were prepared to eat at 6:30 despite trying to make reservations two days ahead of time for 7:00 or later.
10) The large video screen at poolside had big non-working sections the entire 9 days.
11) Alcohol was on the expensive side. Some cheaper wines were available but only barely drinkable.
12) We ended up paying for fresh squeezed OJ at breakfast because the regular orange juice is so watered down.