Left Seattle on the Rhapsody of the Seas on June 28th, 2013 on a beautiful, warm, non-raining day. Cruising to Alaska was an amazing voyage and I will definitely repeat sometime again. My only regret was that we could not spend more time in Alaska, but that was what you got on a 7 day round trip to Seattle. I wish I had booked a 7-day one way cruise, but this was awesome!
I've been on about 6 other cruises on 4 different cruise lines and overall had a great experience, but there were a few "speed bumps". I was impressed with the cleanliness of the ship and the friendliness of the employees, both on shore and on the ship. My first speed bump which set the tone off wrong was with Royal Caribbeans wine policy. I carefully read every piece of literature on the subject, and I knew that I was allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine on board, as long as they were 750ml or smaller, and they would be subject to a $25 corkage fee if consumed in a public place. So, in Seattle I went out of my way to locate 2 better than average bottles of wine, and placed them in a bag that I was going to hand carry on-board the Rhapsody. We pulled up to the dock in a taxi to begin the embarkation process and we were quickly greeted by people eager to take our luggage. They took our bags but I decided to keep the wine in our carry on to protect against breakage. We went through the security checkpoint and the x-ray operator told me that I had to take my bag over to a Royal Caribbean (RC) employee to have the alcohol checked. I gladly complied because I knew that I read ALL of the policies and I was not breaking any rules. The RC employee disagreed and said that I had to check my wine. I told him that I read all of the policies and nowhere did it say that wine must be checked. He would not budge so I asked for a supervisor but he told me there was none and I had to go to guest services. Upon arriving at guest services, they said there was nothing they could do, but nobody could produce the policy in writing that said you could not carry on the wine. I realize this is small potatoes but it was the point since I could have walked right by the "alcohol checker" and he never would have known any different. The "funny" thing to me was at the end of the cruise when they return any alcohol you bought on the ship, they advise you to "make sure it is put in your carry on". Ha!
Once onboard we made it to our room, 8515, which was a perfect choice. We chose this room specifically because it didn't have windows or a balcony considering the sun set at 11pm and rose just before 4am. Sleeping was not going to be a problem for us! Another plus was that we were very close to the steps that led us to the pool and Windjammer cafe only one deck above. I would choose this cabin again if I was going. Plus, our cabin steward was amazing and I don't think I've ever had better service. It could be that we were clustered in with all of the suites, so perhaps he is the best of the best, but it showed.
The journey to Alaska was beautiful and we enjoyed sitting in the solarium and watching the snow capped mountains drift by. In Juneau, we took a helicopter to a glacier (once in a lifetime moment for sure!) and then went up the Mt Roberts tramway. Very beautiful indeed, especially if you take the 2 mile hike at the top. Skagway was even more beautiful. We took the White Pass railway to the top, then later in the day we took the ocean raft adventure which is basically a 2 hour ride on the same type of boat used by the Navy seals. It explore the fjord and allows you to get up close to Eagles, seals and many waterfalls. It was a blast and I would recommend!
With all of the ups it was time for a few more speed bumps however. For the most part the dining room service was just ok, and I found it difficult to get anyone's' attention. If you wanted drinks it was near impossible so I recommend just buying a bottle of wine and letting them keep it for you. That way they bring you the bottle each night until you finish it. Generally we sat at the same table where the service was ok, but one night we had reservations (my time dining) at 9pm since we didn't leave port until 8:30pm, and I've never felt more rushed. They were clearly just trying to get us out of the dining room so the food came before the appetizers were done, then dessert was quickly ushered out and coffee was not even offered. Also that night we were never even asked for drinks.
Our last speed bump came on our final day at sea. We had a 12pm couples massage appt and were really looking forward to it. We got up late, had a relaxing breakfast, and went back to our cabin at 11:15 to freshen up. At 11:30, my wife received a frantic phone call from the spa saying that we were late and that our appointment was at 11:15 and we had to report immediately if we wanted the massage. I pulled out my booking receipt and my pre-cruise planner doc and both said 12pm. Upon arriving the girl said that the system "just puts you in where ever it can" and then told us that 2 days before she left us a message. We did get our massages which were great but for that price I don't want to be stressed out beforehand or bullied into rushing. Upon returning to our cabin the "message" light on our phone was not lit, but later that night it came on and the message said our appointment was at 11:30. I'm not sure what was going on here but something was strange.
All in all I couldn't recommend this experience more, even though we had some issues. It truly was an amazing vacation, and I just wish the wine and massage episodes hadn't reared their ugly heads.