We've just come off our Rhapsody cruise (22 Feb sailing) and we're suffering the post cruise blues but had such a blast I thought I'd write this review. I was traveling with my husband, 19 year old daughter and my mum (in her 70s).
First the negatives, though I really have to stress we looooved this cruise.
First things first, we were excited to be checking in at the Overseas Passenger Terminal right in the Rocks under the Sydney Harbour Bridge - Wow! As expected the location is unbeatable but the queue was horrendous - 200 metres outside the building - over an hour standing which was a little difficult for my mother with few opportunities to sit down. We arrived at 1pm but friends had arrived at 11am and it was even worse then. That being said all staff were very friendly and time passed quickly. It was a glorious sunny day - not sure how it would go if wet.
We chose this cruise at the last minute on a spur of the moment whim because it was so cheap we couldn't resist. The previous cruises we've done have all been in the Mediterranean so this was more about cruising and less about the destinations. Having vacationed in the Islands of Fiji we weren't expecting much from ports like Suva and Denerau so we weren't disappointed. If you want the white sand and clear water you won't get it there but the Isle of Pines and Lifou were truly gorgeous. Unfortunately coral has taken a thrashing so is no longer pristine and it's a shame that there wasn't more awareness of the importance of not standing on coral so it was largely dead. We witnessed quite a few fellow passengers doing that. There was still lots of marine life but nothing like what we've seen in less heavy traffic areas.
First impressions of the ship were as expected given that Rhapsody is going into dry-dock next month. RCCL maintain their ships well and public areas are gorgeous despite being a little dated. Our cabin was kept meticulously clean by our wonderful steward Grizelda though it was showing it's age. Having sailed on Splendour previously (also Vision class) we were momentarily dissappointed there was no putt putt on board but the extra activities and fantastic crew definately made up up and more.
The entertainment crew were the best yet. We were thrilled to see two familiar faces from our Splendour cruise: James and Kat were fantastic and kept us laughing all day and all night long. Two new faces were equally hilarious; Desmond and Tori. With an itinerary with lots of sea days we were kept entertained every minute. The gameshows were numerous and the awesome foursome ensured all that were willing participated with no holding back with sidesplitting results. We often had to choose between two or more really fun options. Bingo and trivia were always packed with lots of friendly competition. Shows weren't the best we've seen and to be honest with the exception of the mentalist and a couple of others nothing special but other activities more than made up for it. Cruise Director Casey's morning TV show on channel 14 was entertaining too. Being a smaller ship there was a great friendly atmosphere.
Food was of a very good standard and seemed to get better as we went. As a vegetarian the options were delicious and varied. We chose MTD for the first time (having always done main seating traditional dining in the past). We were happy to dine at a similar time each night and so were seated at the same great table with the same waiters. Ronnie was fantastic, ensured we had everything and more. He does a mean rendition of 'That's Amoure' and made a great cruise even more special. We loved having the freedom to change our dining time should we wish. It mean't we had a fabulous table for just the four of us which we appreciated. There was plenty of opportunity for socialising before and after and we had the opportunity to dine with fellow MTD passengers had we chosen too.
Rough seas meant quite a few people were debilitated with seasickness initially but all reports from other passengers were positive about how staff handled it. Sailing the Pacific during cyclone season is iffy so if you're in any doubt think about taking tablets before you cruise as preventing it is apparently alot easier than treating it. We did this and had no problems. Later some passengers came down with gastro but we were impressed with the extra measures that were taken to prevent spread and keep it under control.
Our nineteen year old daughter was travelling with us and she had a brilliant time too. In the past she's enjoyed meeting friends at the teen clubs but at 19 she was too old. Meeting friends her age wasn't an issue for her as she's naturally outgoing but did require a little extra effort on her part. On the 3rd or 4th day they put on an 18-21 year old meet and greet which she did go to but she'd already made friends by then. Could be good to request it as soon as you board if your older kids are a little shy. As always she made great new friends and though she's not a huge drinker it was definately worthwhile signing an alcohol waiver so she could enjoy wine at dinner and later if she wished.
All in all this was a fantastic cruise. The brilliant crew made this one of our best cruise experiences and any negatives faded into insignificance because of it. There were quiet spaces for those who preferred to read and lounge but for those willing there was never a dull moment. The Pacific wouldn't be my first choice as a cruise destination but for those who love the cruising experience itself Rhapsody is great and will be even better after her refit. We're already planning our next cruise and won't look beyond RCCL because it keeps delivering so much fun!