This was another great cruise, but it ought to be said we have never had a bad one. The itinerary was good, the ship was in good shape, the weather was beautiful and the food was plentiful, fresh and well-prepared - for the most part*. We spent three days on the Big Island prior to flying to Honolulu for the cruise. Embarkation seemed a bit awkward - more so than others we have experienced, but not too bad.
A note here regarding photos, while it seemed prices have dropped a bit which is a good thing, it also was apparent to us the photographers did not take the time to pose the photos so none of our pictures turned out good enough for us to want to purchase. Every photo they took was done in such a rush and it was obvious in the finished product. The one time we stood for a formal set of shots, the photographer - against our advice - posed us in ways we knew would not be 'natural' looking, and so we didn't like those either. Photographers, if you are reading this, spend a minute or two more with your subjects, give them general guidelines of what you are trying to achieve, listen to what they want, and you will sell more photos.
Now, I have already said good things about the food*, but it didn't appear at first that we were going to be happy with the Windjammer. The first day, we arrived about 3 or 3:30 p.m. and went to have lunch there, but found the food to be dry, flavorless and in short supply. This was our experience for both of our first two meals there - that we arrived between lunch and dinner time and that we found the food less than satisfactory. We were pleasantly surprised to find a huge improvement with subsequent meals. We decided our initial experience had been due to our bad timing.
We have found overall, since our first cruise 10 years ago, the experience has gone downhill somewhat. We have cruised six different cruise lines and see this as pretty consistent across the industry. That is not to say it was bad, just not what it was when we started cruising. We also see that if anything, prices have gone down in that time, so what has been lost in quality has been made up for in price, allowing more of us to cruise more often...
The crew on Rhapsody was wonderful. Every crew member we encountered was very helpful and friendly and willing to give excellent service. This is not one of the areas I was referring to in the preceding paragraph. Our cabin and the whole ship was kept spotless and beautiful - thank you Putra. The Captain was very available and we encountered him several times during our cruise.
I was concerned about the sea days - five towards the end of the cruise, but there were several Explorer Academy offerings - lectures and craft classes, cooking and demos, so we found there was plenty to do each day. On the last few days, the weather turned quite chilly and the solarium was the place to be. We did find a few chair hogs there who thought they needed to save their chairs for hours while they were off doing other things, but even that seemed to be kept to a minimum.
We had the main seating for dinner and sat at a table for ten. We enjoy this part of cruising - meeting and getting to know new people, however, an oval table for ten is too many in my opinion. One of the couples only showed up twice for dinner, leaving an awkward spacing, with whoever was seated at the end being left out. It was much too noisy for easy flow of conversation in this arrangement. The food, again was good, but lobster was served only once, there were only two formal nights and we saw an obvious lack of beef entrees. I was surprised to find pizza (wild mushrooms and goat cheese) and calzone offered. There were a lot more vegetarian offerings. Service was excellent - thank you, Antonio and Olena!