My last few cruises on RCI have been less than satisfactory, but the Rhapsody was outstanding. I believe a ship experience reflects the Captain and in our case Captain Rob was one of the best I've sailed with. His dry humor made his noon reports a high point (ocean depth is 20,000 feet...and 3 inches). He was around the ship often, participated in things such as the cake making (although he built a ship not an airplane as instructed). The crew was always trying to help passengers, no request was ignored. Finally, there were Loyalty Ambassadors that did more than sell next cruises. The C&A events made me feel valued. The cruise director Graham Seymour and his staff did a great job with providing choices, especially on the long 5 day sea crossing. Entertainers were all good, except for one comedian who fell flat. Enjoyed the late release movies shown in the theater. Don't like the shows in the centrum, the layout makes it possible for only a few people (those who are obnoxious & pushy to get to the rail) to actually see much. The casino, although not as generous as I'd like, was kept non smoking so you could really enjoy playing.
Embark in Honolulu was easy, although it had been delayed a few hours for Coast Guard, which we were notified of. Shore excursions through the ship were handled well, except for the Luau on Maui, which is a tender port. There was mass confusion as to which buses to get on and the luau itself was not worth the very high cost. Would recommend a private vendor instead. When hundreds of people came back to the ship at the same time there was some waiting for a tender (they had put on one extra tender but that was still not enough). One excursion was cancelled by the vendor and I was notified well in advance and my sea pass account was credited. This cruise added 3 days from last time I did it. The day in Kauai was too short to see & do all, will just have to come back. Full day in Victoria, if you've done the Gardens suggest a stop in downtown at Miniature World.
My dining experience varied. I was with a group of 10 friends at a large table in the main dining room for early seating. The first 2 nights the service was incredibly slow, appetizers had not been served after an hour and were then cold. One person at our table called over the head waiter and threw a hissy fit. After that they changed the process so they would take our orders for appetizers and main courses at the same time and reduced the time between courses. We later learned the dining room crew was short at least 50 staff, no idea why, but we saw the head waiters all serving meals and clearing. Our service shifted over to outstanding, the head waiter started asking us what items we'd like to have served the next night and he would bring us "off menu" entrees - one night it was lasagna, several nights he brought us platters of appetizers and for dessert brought out large bowls of blueberries & strawberries to go with vanilla ice cream. Preferred drinks and special requests were remembered by the waiters, who were always trying hard. I was the only one at the table who doesn't like seafood or heavy sauces, so I ate in the Windjammer a few nights and was well pleased with the selection, presentation, and service. Without asking, a crew member would help me carry my plate to a table (never had a problem finding a table). I ordered room service a few times and was pleased with the promptness, accuracy of the order and the waiter. Be careful if you order bacon, I asked for one order, thinking a few slices, got about a pound.
When we left Hilo the plan was to sail by the volcanco to see lava flow. Captain Rob stayed in the area for an extra hour, but there just was no lava flow, you could barely see a red glow from the caldera. I was glad I had seen a spectacular sight of lava back in 2009. We had a very smooth sailing overall, although coming across a few days were wet & cold.
The debark in Vancouver was smoothest I've ever been thru there. We filled out forms ahead of time so we didn't actually talk to customs. Luggage was in proper area, free carts available, followed signs to taxis, staff there were directing lines. I was off the ship at 8:30AM, in a cab by 8:50AM. Amazing.
This was one of my favorite cruises on RCI so far, thanks to one of the best ship crews. The Rhapsody is a great size ship and very attractive. Be sure to allow a few days before in Honolulu and stay a day or two in Vancouver. With all of the ship reassignments not sure what ship will be doing this route, hate to see the Rhapsody leave.