We were told that the Rhapsody of the Seas was overbooked as soon as we lined up at check-in. The 2 hour wait for customs and boarding was in snaking lines of people 200 metres long. We were travelling with 2 other families and there were 2 elderly people and 4 kids under 6 years old.
We were relieved to finally arrive at our cabin which was clean but dated. We found out that we were booked in permanently for the late dinner seating at a time when our younger kids would normally have been asleep. Unable to change the time, we tried to catch the nightly live show at the earlier session of 7pm rather than wait for the post dinner show at 10.45pm. We took our kids up to kids club but they would only open at 7pm at earliest. After the now usual lining up for 20 minutes, we consistently missed the first part of the live show and could never sit together with the other members of our family group as all the seats were taken by the time that we arrived.
Fortunately, the attentiveness and approachability of the main and assistant waiters at our tables was of the highest quality. The variety of our food varied from excellent (curries, duck) to mediocre (seafood)and often we would see the same or similar food being served at the buffet self-serve Windjammer cafe upstairs.
The first time that we picked up our kids from kids club (8 kids aged between 4 and 12) we found most of them had been sitting in a circle pleading to be taken out. This was a real shame as we had higher expectations of the kids club. When asked, the kids club attendants stated that they were over booked and understaffed. And that there were 600 kids on board, but that it would all improve after the renovations to the ship due in March 2012. I suspect that the renovations will provide a cosmetic improvement but the understaffing and overbooking are more systemic and procedural.
We tried to minimise our kids time in kids club, and took them to activities such as necklace making and scrapbooking, only to be faced with an unmotivated activities manager who was pretentious and unsympathetic, constantly reminding us that necklace making and scrapbooking were listed as adult activities and that the 2 older kids with us us should really refrain from participating.
The reputation of the Royal Caribbean ships is very good, however, this one failed to live up to its promise.