Cruise Review Rhapsody of the Seas Dec 2010
Cabin # 2625
Embarkation went very fast and smooth. I arrived at Circular Quay early and watched the previous cruise passengers disembarking. I was able to drop my bag off at 10.15am and went for a walk. I started the boarding process around 11am - very fast and efficient, no queuing. Buffet was available in the Windjammer. No champagne and orange juice was offered as we boarded as with other lines I've sailed with.
I had been allocated 8.30pm dining and wanted to change that, nothing was available for the early sitting but I was able to change for My Time Dining once I was on board the ship. My Time Dining wasn't true My Time as they only gave me a couple of times to choose from and I was seated at the same table each night - so really only an extension of normal dining but with slightly different seating times as you weren't able to simply walk in when you're hungry. The food choice and service in the Edelweiss Restaurant I found to be very good. Looked after well by friendly staff, especially our waitress Josephine and assistant Wen. Very helpful and efficient - amazing how they remember everyone's name. Most passengers tended to get very dressed up for the formal nights.
I ate a few times in the Windjammer Cafe and found the food to be varied and adequate. Wait staff very friendly. You can get eggs and omelettes made to order at the Egg Harbour (breakfast time) - never found the queue too long for this service. The Windjammer is at the front of the ship and is all glass - I think this would be a great ship to do an Alaskan cruise on.
On sea days along with the menu in the dining room they also have a great salad bar. On sea days there was normally a buffet around the pool area at lunchtime. Also a couple of nights there was a midnight buffet. The Solarium Cafe was open for hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas, chips etc. Self serve ice-cream machines in the pool area - these were worked overtime on hot days. There was definitely no shortage of food. The free coffee was terrible but always available along with various teas, iced waters and juices. On the first day you can purchase a soda package - think it was something like 4.90 per day for kids and 6.90 per day for adults. There is also a cafe on board where you can purchase cappuccinos, lattes etc. Also available for purchase Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
I had an inside room on deck two at the rear of the ship. Originally I was concerned about the position of my cabin but felt very little ship movement in this cabin. It was the smallest cabin I have experienced but with heaps of storage space, tho the suitcases couldn't fit under the bed. The bathroom was small ....smallest shower I have ever experienced. A cake of soap was supplied but none of the normal body lotions, shampoo's, conditioners that are normally in the bathroom - this must be cost cutting. Our cabin steward Sonny was very efficient at making up our room whether we were gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Always a towel animal on the bed in the evening. I thought this ship maintained a very high level of cleanliness in all areas.
We had a full sailing and perfect warm weather. There were a lot of children on board as it was school holidays. There were many, many deckchairs and there was never a problem finding a vacant chair. I didn't attend many of the activities on board as nothing really appealed to me. I did go to the jewellery making class and found that enjoyable. Attended the scrapbooking class but they wanted payment for doing that - have found that free on previous cruise lines. There were lots of lounges and areas where you could sit quietly if you didn't want to be around the pool.
The theatre venue for the evening shows was one of the best I've experienced. I found some performances were good, some not worth staying for in my opinion.
On this cruise we visited Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Noumea and Lifou Island. Getting on and off the ship at the different spots was easy and fast. Rhapsody doesn't supply snorkelling gear and a limited number are available for rent on the islands. Would strongly recommend bringing your own goggles and snorkels. You are not allowed to take any fruit or food from the ship onto the islands. There are a number of reasonably priced tours available from the Tourist Office in Noumea. Also wi fi is available from the cafe next to the Tourist Office.
Rhapsody has the Centrum in the centre of the ship (an atrium about 5 decks high). This area is great for live music and dancing. And you can enjoy this from many levels.
A lot of vibration on this ship - especially in the dining room and on some of the deck chairs, never experienced this level of vibration on a ship before. Wasn't everywhere but in certain spots - no idea of the cause.
Disembarkation back at Sydney went smoothly. They want you off as fast as possible of course. Bags have to be left outside room between 7pm and 11pm the night before disembarking - you do not have the choice of walking off with your own bags.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise. Loved the itinerary except Noumea. Wasn't the greatest cruise ship I've been on but for the price can't complain at all. Would I go again - yes.