First time cruising to the South Pacific Islands…and Rhapsody lived up to it's wonderful standard.
10 November 2013
This was the sixth cruise for my wife, Carolyn, and me…and our third on the beautiful Rhapsody of the Seas. On this occasion we travelled with our daughter and son-in-law and this was their first cruise experience. To a certain degree we were able to prime them as to what they might expect…and thereby hopefully alleviate any unwanted surprises!
Whilst managing to dodge the rain showers the four of us arrived at the OPT about 12:20 pm. By the time our bags were booked through and we passed through the check-in and customs lines we boarded about 1:25 pm and were able to go straight to our staterooms.
The two previous occasions we cruised on Rhapsody were both before the $54M make-over it received back in March 2012, so understandably we were very interested to see what changes had taken place.
So how did we find the Rhapsody, post make-over? The most notable changes we saw on the aging lady (I often refer to her as being like a comfortable old shoe!) were:
1. The Centrum opened up to accommodate the aerial entertainment…which incidentally was really spectacular!
2. The inclusion of the new specialty restaurants, ‘Izumi Asian-fusion’ (above the Viking Crown Lounge) and ‘Giovanni’s Table’ and ‘Chops Grille’ near the Schooner Bar and Shall We Dance Lounge.
3. The switch over of the complimentary pizza and burger food outlet in the Solarium to the new Park Café…a great move!
4. Disappointingly, the removal of the beautiful library and games room to accommodate more cabins. The library is now comprised of a few shelves on the wall near the Photo Gallery!
5. The change from the old CRT TV's to the new 24" Flat Screens in the staterooms (a great improvement!).
Note: Whilst Rhapsody is now 16 years old, she is still a beautiful ship. She may not quite measure up to the latest mammoths of the 21st century, but make no mistake, Rhapsody offers more tasteful bling than many other cruise ships sailing in Australian waters.
As we’ve found previously the quality of the evening entertainment in the theatre was of a very high standard…always subjective, I know, but this was supported by the almost capacity audience in attendance each night throughout the cruise. Top marks RCI!!
Food quality and presentation in the MDR and Windjammer Buffet remained high throughout the cruise and the wait staff in the MDR were wonderful. We had such a fun time at our table that we will all remember it for a long time to come! As far as the food was concerned, I gained 5kg over the cruise!!!! I can't believe it!!!! Now I’m having to put in a lot of work to get back to where I should be!!!
As expected, the crew and officers were very friendly and always on hand to talk to you and offer advice. This ship has a happy crew, and that of course leads to happy guests!! I know, there will always be someone you can’t please, but we at least did not see a lot of grumbling! The only time that comes to mind was the tendering process on the first occasion, but this seemed to sort itself out, and appears to be a common cruise ship problem!
The destination ports were as expected, as both Carolyn and I have had experience in the Islands from times past. She grew up on an Island and I have travelled and worked in the region, so you could say we were prepared for them, although most of these ports were new to us. Suffice to say, if you enjoy beautiful scenery, snorkelling, swimming, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and/or shopping for souvenirs, you will certainly enjoy visiting the South Pacific Islands!
The ship’s Master was Captain Rob Hempstead, a very personable captain, and he saw to it that we all had a great cruise. It really must have been good because while we were on board we booked another cruise on Rapsody for March next year! This one takes us to the same area but half the ports will be different. The cruise sails on Carolyn's birthday, so what more incentive did I need?! As I have always said, "I don't care where we are going, just let me onto that ship!"!!
"Life is too short not to cruise!"