About US - we are early 6O'S and recently retired (teacher, nurse). We are active and enjoy reading, golf, gardening, and sailing our boat in the summer on the Great Lakes. We have done 16 cruises on several different lines to Europe, Caribbean, and Bermuda. We select a cruise based on itinerary and look at it as a way to unpack once and visit several different places without worrying about where to eat our meals. We do a lot of research on CC and Trip Advisor before we cruise and tend do our own thing when ashore. We do not expect to be pampered by a ship's crew, but just receive courteous service. My wife has always wanted to see Hawaii, so this was her retirement trip. We also added on a cruise to Alaska the week prior on HAL Volendam (separate review).
Pre-Cruise - we saved a lot of money by flying to Seattle instead of Vancouver. Money saved was used for 2 nights in Seattle and AMTRAK tickets to Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver about noon the day prior to our Alaska cruise and after returning from that, we had 2 more days in Vancouver before this Hawaii cruise. We stayed at Coast Coal Harbor Hotel. It is less than a year old, about 4 blocks from Canada Place, and I recommend it. We toured various sections of Vancouver by using public transportation and walking. It is one of the prettiest cities that I have seen, but somewhat expensive (12% sales tax). Embarkation was the worst I had ever experienced, I think because there were 2 ships there and one of them had arrived late, so they were late in getting people off, which really congested the terminal. The week before it only took us 15 minutes to get aboard. It is a beautiful port to sail from, as we left from Canada Place terminal and were surrounded by large buildings. Very nice.
Ship - The Rhapsody of the Seas is a good size ship. Small enough to easily get around, but large enough to enable you to find your own space. We had any time dining, which we enjoyed. Sometimes we had a table for 2 and other evenings we shared with other couples. We ate dinner in the dining room the first 5 nights, but then seemed to gravitate towards the Lido. THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION, but I usually looked at the menu and said "I guess I could have that" rather than being wowed by the choices. We like to actually see the food in the buffet and try small bits of several dishes. Of course we had just done a 7 day cruise. The crew was very efficient and the Captain was great. We could find him strolling through the ship and stopping to visit with passengers. He even took walks on the deck on some days at sunset and sometimes passengers walked with him. We used the gym 4 times.
Entertainment- I have done a lot of cruises and am not usually big on the shows, but after the first evening, I decided to see them all. The singers and dancers were very good, and the guest performers were also very good, except one gentleman who I feel should have retired several years ago. The pool entertainment was also very good.
The Cruise - we like re-positioning cruises. It is like really going somewhere. You can see different cities on each end and stop at ports on the way. I think crews also enjoy them as it is a chance to get out of the same place they have been for 4 or 5 months. We were worried about 5 sea days in a row, bu they were relaxing and seemed to fly by. Also, we left Vancouver and the first sea day was cool, but then it gets warmer each day as you approach Hawaii, and the last 2 were pool days as temps were about 80.
Ports - I will give it in the port section at the end of the review. We did our own thing and it all worked out well.
Almost Perfect - I only say almost because nothing is perfect. We both agreed this was one of the best of the 16 we have done. The weather was great and the skies clear. The night transit between Hilo and Kona allowed us to "sit" off of the shore and watch red hot lava flow into the sea for almost an hour. Truly a site to see. We enjoyed talking with people from many different countries. Some people stayed on the ship and continued to Australia, but we had been on the road for 28 days, so decided to save that for another time. We had a great time and I recommend this cruise.