My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Rhapsody of the Seas sitting at her mooring in beautiful Sydney harbour emcompassed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to first walk to the opposite side of Sydney Cove and take pictures of ROTS as she looked so amazingly clean and sparkling white. There were workers in a dinghy giving the side her paint work a bit of a spruce and window cleaners suspended by ropes freshening up some of the glasswork. (I had wondered if RCI wouldn't put much effort into this cruise overall as it was only a 3 dayer, but I find this was totally unjustified.) We got some great photos, then it was on to embarkation.
Looking up the side of Rhapsody as we got up close and personal with her was just breathtaking.
Embarkation went pretty smoothly, it took approximately 1 hour from dropping off our bags at the luggage site to boarding the ship. This was a little longer than I expected but the time went quickly as staff directed passengers and held you in conversation while those in front were registered.
We went straight to our cabin to see the view from our balcony, which we had some luck with as we had been offered the disabilities cabin. 7032 is nearly twice as big as surrounding balcony cabins and so is its balcony and ensuite. We were on the port side and so there was a great view of the Opera House, we opened the champagne and ate the choc covered strawberries we had ordered while watching the ferries going in and out of the Quay. What a great start! Alex, our steward kept our room spotless during our stay, there wasn't a time we came back to the room and it wasn't clean and freshened. He was extremely friendly, greeted us by name and was always happy to stop for a chat and to help out immediately when we needed something. Maybe it didn't hurt that we gave him a tip when we first met him, during the cruise and at the end. Make them happy and I think they will make your trip amazing.
When we pulled out of the mooring at 10pm we went to the stern to watch Rhapsody back in towards the Harbour Bridge then we went forward and just absorbed the wonder of passing the city at night with all the lights and reflections bouncing off the water. The buzz in the atmosphere was electric and there was a band playing and some people dancing around the pool area. Later we went back to our cabin and watched the pilot jump back onto his boat and head back into shore. Leaving Sydney and coming back in on the final morning were highlights for us.
Now for the cruise itself. I enjoyed the food in the main dinning room immensely. Some of it was very, very good and some a bit average but even the average meals were cooked well and tasty. Windjammers buffet had just about everything to suit all appetites, from diet to full on fatty, fried foods, I couldn't see how anyone could complain about the food on ROTS unless you just made the wrong choices. Windjammers at breakfast time could be a bit difficult to find a seat. RCI had sat 10 of us together for our dinner seating in the MDR and it was obvious they had taken time to organize similar ages and experience of cruising as most of those at the table were first time cruises. Excellent work! We all got on very well. Also, we had oringinally been assigned the 8:30pm seating and had requested the 6:30pm seating on our booking paperwork, we got it! Our waitress was so obliging, she remembered all our names and always had a smile on her face, her personality was just right, not over the top or pushy nor forgetful or unaccommodating.
The activities were just a little bit limited for us. We don't play Bingo and don't bother much with lying around the pool as we have a pool at home but we did enjoy the trivia and the dance lessons. We went to the casino on 2 nights just for a few minutes mostly to pass some time. We had organised to meet some people through the Cruise Critic boards for a pre-dinner cocktail on the first night and enjoyed this so much that we all met each night at a different bar at 4:30, this was so much fun, made some good friends. I also realised that if we were on a cruise that was stopping at ports then the need to find activities all day long wouldn't be as necessary. Anna our cruise director certainly had the right personality for her job, very perky.
I enjoyed the shows, and was quite surprised by the dancing especially on the first night, I taught dancing for many years and was aware of the complexity of the choreography and also amazed by the balance needed by the dancers on a rocking ship, even if it was ever so slight. The male dancer with the long hair, have I seen him before? He looked like a guy in the jazz class in the movie "Centre Stage". Maybe.
A couple of great things happened that RCI didn't organise, on our first morning we watched Dolphins with their babies swimming below our balcony, and later in the day when we were up on the pool deck a Fighter plane from Williamstown army base did several fly overs of the ship and put on a bit of an acrobatic show for us, the sky was clear and sunny and the loud sound of the fighter was exciting as it buzzed us. You couldn't have planned a better day!
We set our alarm to wake at 5:15am on the last morning and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and a beautiful view of our ship slipping in through North and South Heads. MAGIC!
Disembarkation was a dream, I don't think it could have been managed better. It took all of 10 minutes to the leave the ship and start our trip home. Our bags were waiting for us and very easy to find.
Would we go again on another cruise after this one?? Hmmm let me think....
I've already booked 2 more and have at least another planned. Royal Carribean have created 2 more cruise fanatics, well done!