This was our first cruise. We booked the Rhapsody of the Seas due to it being highly recommended by friends.
I cruised with my DD16 & DS14. My son has experienced motion sickness in the past so we were recommended to go down low and in the mid-ships. We had an interior stateroom on Deck 2 (cabin 2071). We were happy with this cabin. We had 2 single beds and a pullman bed. The room was small but had heaps of storage and the beds were super comfortable. I quite liked being on Deck 2. The lifts were frequent and fast, there was never a problem getting anywhere,
The Rhapsody is a beautiful cruise vessel. Modern and spacious and very clean. Plenty of deck chairs everywhere. I loved the open top deck with its walking/running track.
Serenity pool was my home away from home. Available for over 16 years only. Lots of comfy lounge chairs. Nice pool. Nice food in the Park Cafe. Spent alot of time here.
Fellow passengers made this cruise for me. Everyone was happy, relaxed and friendly. Must have been the Christmas Spirit! Everyone was nicely dressed (no bogans here) and average age IMO was 40-50s.
Even though it was Christmas it never seemed crowded. Hardly saw any kids either. they must have been in the kids clubs. The only time I saw a lot of kids was on Christmas morning when they all came out of the woodwork to meet Santa who was handing out the RCCL Christmas gifts in the Centrum.
We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer. Being Christmas, there was a lovely display of gingerbread houses etc on one of the buffet tables. The Windjammer was very clean, good service, plenty of choice. I thought the quality of the food was ok but not great (think RSL food).
Teen son LOVED the free ice-cream machine outside the Windjammer. Open 11am-9pm!
Dinner was in the Edelweiss (My Time Dining). Excellent food and service. Could not fault.
Entertainment: My DD loved the production shows and went to every one. I personally thought they were a bit lame. Felt like I was at the local RSL club and not designed for the age of the passengers on board.
For example we had a Country song & dance night, a Ballroom dance night, Sam McCool (comedian) not very funny.
The aerial performers in the Centrum were spectacular though.
Movies: Were shown at 1pm and were an odd selection and not new releases at all - The Getway, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D, Apollo 13,Easy A and a black & white movie on Christmas Day.
Noumea - we did the Amedee Island day tour (ship excursion). It was very expensive (teens were classed as adults) but well worth it for us first timers. We had beautiful weather. Our excursion was 2 hrs shorter than normal due to late arrival in Noumea but that suited us fine. 5 1/2 hrs was perfect length of time. Snorkelling was lovely for us first timers. Water was crystal clear. Buffet lunch and red wine was yummy. Dance show a bit touristy. Teens loved the glass bottom boat tour. DD climbed the lighthouse and got great photos. Small souvenir shop opened in the late afternoon. We posted some postcards from here.
Lifou - very windy. We did Jinek Bay ($15 entry each). Big swell. Needed to be a confident swimmer on the day we were there. DS snorkelled for 45mins and loved it.
Champagne Bay: Everything you have heard about this place is true. Gorgeous. Tropical blue water and white sand. We did the outrigger canoe ride ($5pp) and the teens loved it. DD loved all the markets (there were heaps) we bought our souvenirs and gifts here (they accept AUD in small notes) Nice snorkelling at the end of the beach. The water temp was lovely. We spent ages in the water here. Many kids and their mums got their hair braided here. "Santa" was on the beach for Rhapsody photos.
Christmas eve is when the Christmas events were on and we enjoyed them.
ROS singers in Centrum singing Christmas songs
Cruise Director reading night before Christmas
Free champers for guests in the Centrum followed by carol singing with songbooks for guests - everyone joined in.
Christmas Day, Santa arrived and gave out gifts to the kids in the Centrum and you could have you photo taken too. Otherwise a quiet day.
We had two events occur whilst on board. One was a medical evacuation. Both were handled expertly by the Captain and we were kept informed at all times and they did not impact on our cruise at all (apart from a 2hrs delay into Noumea (but we were scheduled to be there all day anyway).
Seasickness: Being a first timer, this was a concern for me prior. I took Avomine and they worked a treat. Only time I felt a twinge was the night after the first incident and the Captain was "speeding" to make up lost time. I felt a little queasy for 20mins just before bed but was then fine. Second, was on the tender at Lifou. It was very windy and we took a little while to get alongside the Rhapsody and we bounced around a fair bit.
My DS who gets carsick never felt sick at all for the duration of the cruise.
Weather: Perfect for me. Not hot and humid as I expected. Plenty of sunshine and calm seas.
Service: Efficient and friendly. Could not fault.
Overall, had a fantastic cruise. Would do it again at the same time of year in a heartbeat.