Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review by etw: Awesome Scenery and the cruise was good too!
Overall Member Rating
Awesome Scenery and the cruise was good too!
My hubby and I just returned from the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise from Aug 13-20. I wanted to share our transportation choices since they were by far the cheapest and were easy to use. We arrived in Seattle the day before and chose a nice cheap downtown hotel (sixth ave. inn - great!). It was within 15 minutes walking to Pikes Place and the Space Needle. Walking around is easy and pretty much every downtown hotel is convenient. We took the light rail from the airport into downtown and then walked 4-5 blocks to our hotel. We were fine with 3 rolling bags. It's a bit of a walk through the airport garage to get to the light rail station but you stay covered if there was rain. The light rail was $2.50 a person so it couldn't be beat and took 45 minutes to get to downtown. There are shuttles which would be quicker if you need that but we were in no hurry since we had the entire afternoon to explore Seattle. We then reserved the Shuttle Express shuttle for $9 per person to take us to the More
pier the next day at 12:30. We got to the pier at 1:15 (had to pick up other people) and were on the boat by 2:00. Super easy, had no wait to put our luggage through the x-ray while Holland had a long ling for that and then another long line to check in. The check in line moved quickly and Royal had a lot of employees checking people in and it was a very smooth and painless process. From the pier back to the airport we reserved with Seattle Express for $12 per person and since we again were in no rush to get to the airport, this was a good choice. Royal's shuttle was $26 per person but there were a few buses and so if you're in more of a rush to catch a plane that would be better. Shuttle Express was $18 per person but we were very happy with Seattle Express.
First, I don't think we could have had better weather - no rain , no fog and sun in every port! Since we had such great weather, my review is probably a little biased because cruising to Alaska is all about the scenery! My husband and I are in our late 20s so we knew we would be surrounded by 'old' people but we really were there to explore a beautiful state and enjoy the our surroundings. There was probably around 15-20 couples less than 30 years old so we didn't do much socializing. We were placed at a table with a mother and son and the son was going into med school so he was around our age and a family of 4 with 2 teenage boys. We aren't super outgoing anyway, but had some great dinners talking with our fellow diners.
This was my 2nd cruise to Alaska and my husband's 1st cruise period. I read the older reviews saying the ship is old and dated and it is around 13 years old, but everything was very clean and nice in my opinion. I assume all cruise ships have 'tacky' dEcor in some capacity so the age of the ship didn't bother me. It was big enough for us and had enough areas that you could easily find somewhere to sit and enjoy the scenery. We chose to save our money and went with an inside cabin on the 7th deck, towards the front of the boat. Apparently our hall lead to the officer quarters so there were numerous times we saw the captain and ship director in the hallway. We were above the theater and thought this might be a problem but since we stayed up past 10 every night anyway, we never were bothered by noise/music from the theater. I don't think we missed anything by not having a balcony since we basically just slept and showered in our room. There are so many areas to sit in (inside) that you can stay warm and look out. Maybe it would have been nice for privacy and such to have a balcony but we were glad we were able to use the saved money on excursions instead.
The food for us was very good. There was one night where we both had misses on our dinners but it wasn't like it was inedible and we just got 2 desserts to make up for it! Granted we are still young, but we've done quite a bit of traveling and eaten some really great meals and overall the Rhapsody chefs came through. The appetizers and bread were our favorites though since that's not something we usually get when we go out to eat. I absolutely love escargot and told our waiter and he brought me two! I knew we could ask for seconds or thirds but he was great to do it without me asking. Some nights we would share a third entrEe and most nights we would share a third appetizer. The desserts are small enough that you don't feel too guilty about having it after a great meal but if you really like dessert just be sure to ask for seconds.
The one thing we did pretty much stay away from was alcohol. Where ever you go, there will be someone there to ask you if you would like something to drink. We would just politely say no, or get water and they wouldn't keep bugging us. We didn't get the soft drink package either but did order 2 bottles of wine for dinner and it was nice that you could save it and take it with you or have them save it for the next night. Our 2 bottles lasted us the week but we're not heavy drinkers by any means. The beer is expensive so my husband was disappointed they didn't offer a 'beer package' but he didn't mind going a week without his usual beer with dinner. It was just an expensive that we didn't want to have. Some people go crazy and the fruity drinks did look good but we stayed away.
The entertainment was quite good and the comedians were really funny. We missed one show the first night but caught all the rest. We also liked how there were afternoon movies and one evening movie. We don't get to the movie theater often so that was a nice treat and that time we did order a drink. The Marriage and Family game show was hilarious. We didn't feel like 'auditioning' for the young married couple since you had to do a short skit and the audience cheered for the best but it was fun to watch. Another activity not to miss is the "Quest". It's for adults only and just a fun game of sorts with lots of people.
As far as onboard activities, that was one area where I had the most disappointment. Maybe because we were in the minority age group but I just didn't feel like there was anything of interest for us during our days at sea. We went to one lecture but the guy wasn't very interesting and it was like being back in college. We did participate in the speed rock wall climbing which was fun because it was mostly people our age. I was really hoping they would have a tour of the kitchen but that wasn't offered. There were several 'family friendly' events but those didn't apply to us. And it seemed like anything that we would have liked to do was on the days we were in port and already had excursions planned.
Overall I would recommend a cruise on Rhapsody. We knew going into it that we would be surrounded by older people and there wouldn't be a ton of activities geared towards us but we also knew that we were going to Alaska and it would be beautiful. We are very active so hiking in Skagway and Kayaking in Juneau were real highlights for us. Every trip can't be perfect so just take the good with the bad and enjoy what Alaska has to offer! Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We were in a 2 person kayak so there really isn't a big risk of tipping into the 'warm' 34 degree water. Make sure you get the rubber 'skirt' for the kayak opening so the frigged water doesn't splash into your lap. We were blessed to have 75 degree sunny weather so I was fine in capris and a t-shirt until we got up closer to the kayak. It was pretty windy on the lake so I just had a windbreaker with me. If it's not perfect weather like us - take layers and a rain jacket if it's going to rain. I don't know how enjoyable it would have been in rain but thankfully we didn't have to find out.
It was about 2 miles to get to the glacier but the lake is pretty small and you can see the glacier the entire time so we weren't afraid of getting lost. It really was a great excursion and you can't beat paddling next to icebergs and getting within 100 yards of the huge glacier. I highly recommend it! Our tablemates went whale watching and had a great time if you're more interested in seeing wildlife. You'll just have to deal with the other 20 boats out whale watching in the same spot. The town of Juneau was nice and friendly and if it's a clear day, the tram takes you up to a great view.
There was a big ‘guided’ hike group that got off with us but we went ahead of them and it felt like we had the trail to ourselves. The guided hike was well over $100 so that just wasn’t worth it to us, plus we’re experienced hikers and felt confident making it to the glacier.
The hike to the river is easy and well maintained. There were lots of wild blueberries along the way too. We packed some snacks and fruit for lunch since we were dropped off at 9:15 and caught the train back at 3:30. It was 3-4 miles to the glacier and then we hiked another 1 mile on top of the glacier. It gets really rocky and steep at the glacier so the guided hikers never made it onto the glacier, just to it whereas, we were able to climb on it and take lots of pictures. We had plenty of time to enjoy lunch by the glacier and take our time on the way back before the train picked us up. Skagway itself was a little corny. Every other store is a jewelry store. I wasn’t aware that people traveled to Alaska just to buy diamonds but every store has at least 4 employees and they have to be paid somehow! We seriously saw about 20 jewelry stores in the 4 blocks of downtown. We weren’t in Alaska to shop so we just walked and people watched after our hike.
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