This was our first cruise and all the family was very excited especially when we arrived at Circular Quay in Sydney and saw the size of the boat. Our friends were already on board and we could see them waving at us from the top. Now travelling with three boys is never easy but the Rhapsody of the Sea made it a most memorable tip.
Check in was simple after loading our bags into the trucks we were onboard within half an hour.
The ship on entering had the feel of a five star hotel. The staff was very welcoming. All was clean and looked inviting.
We had two cabins with a connecting door to allow for the five of us. These were very clean and felt roomy that may be because we had the two. The bathroom was as expected small and compact but certainly big enough for the next two weeks. Behind the mirror storage was a bonus. The bed was very comfortable. Our room and bed was always neat and tidy thanks to our wonderful stateroom attendant who just seemed to know when we were leaving and coming back. He also kept the kids very entertained with his night time towel animals. Nothing was a problem if they wanted a turtle that night, they got a turtle.
Our dining room experience was great. With our waiter,assistant waiter and head waiter all trying their hardest to please we chose to dine in the Restaurant every night. They even performed magic tricks for us. Our 8 year old had a childrens menu which was adapted to his tastes. The older boys were encouraged to try different things that they normally would not have. If they did not like what they ordered it was changed for something else. All the food was to a high standard. The lunchtime salad bar in the Restaurant was a very refreshing lunchtime meal. We also dined in the Windjammer for breakfast and sometimes lunch. This was somewhat crowded but with seats available outside at the pool there was always a place to sit. We never went hungry with food available to suit everyones taste. They even had several buffets available late at night just in case you felt like eating again.
Kids club was the place to be for the 8 yr old. He enjoyed going to see the staff at every opportunity. The theme nights eg pirate and halloween were a big hit. He also enjoyed the opportunity to dine with friends on several nights. Teen club with the 2am curfew was enjoyed by the 13 and 14 yr old. They loved having their own retreat to go to with activities to join into. The soda package was also a great option as they could get drinks from anywhere on the ship without having to find us.
Entertainment was always provided in various bars and the evening shows were not to be missed.
Our ports were a highlight. We did not do any organized tours but arranged our own transport once we had docked. We had no trouble hiring a local to take us around for the day to the sights that we wished to visit. We learnt a lot about the local life doing it this way.
We were surprised however at the drink prices. We thought that due to duty free pricing that they may have been available at a lower cost. Mind you it made the cocktail of the day look good. Bingo I also found to not even be an option at US $31 for 4 games.
I also felt it took the cruise director and activities staff a little time to warm up on the cruise. By the end of the cruise they looked like they were starting to enjoy themselves a bit more but at the beginning I felt like they were just there because they had to be. There were a great array of activities for you to join into if that was what you were looking for. Ping pong, rock climbing and shuffleboard were always available. The cocktail seminar was also an added bonus being hosted by the pool deck waiters.
Check out was very well organized. Instructions were clear. It took our family 25 minutes to be off the boat and onto Sydney streets.
All in all our first cruise was very pleasant we were travelling with great friends and met lots of new ones. My only regret was that I had to get of the boat and come back to reality. So well done to the Rhapsody of the Seas you have convinced me that cruising is the only way to travel.