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Picked this cruise by port of call (daughter recommended Cozumel for the Mantees) and also a great deal (Rhapsody of the Seas, out of Tampa). This was our first cruise, celebrating our 30th anniversary, so my wife did a lot of research on the vessel and what people said about it and the destinations. At first the reviews made us skeptical whether we had picked the right cruise but in the end we had a WONDERFUL time as everything went smoothly, our only complaint was the weather and of course that is beyond their control (70s and windy on some days). The embarkation went quickly as we were ushered to the first-class check-in since they were not busy. Since we only booked a month out we did not have passports BUT that was not a problem. The disembarkation was well organized and we used the cruise services for handling the luggage. We choose our time frame to leave and was assigned a certain location to wait and a time to leave. We were notified actually a little bit early at our waiting location on being able to leave and found our luggage waiting for us to pick up. The wait to clear customs was quick. Our in-laws also mentioned that Royal Caribbean procedure was much more organized that other cruise lines that they have traveled. Even though the ship was older and smaller than some of the newer vessels we found it clean and had character, not gaudy. We discovered just as we were told that after the Muster Drill everyone sort of finds their place on the vessel so it is not crowded as it seems when you first boarded the vessel. We found our cabin (ocean view) bigger than what we expected according to the reviews and pictures. Lots of storage and closet space (as first time cruisers we over packed) and didn't feel confined. One review said the shower was barely enough room to move but found it similar to a hotel bathtub. The bathroom does remind you of an RV setup. The dining room experience was FABULOUS as we made use of the main dining room every night so that we got to know our waiters (head, main and assistant). The service was exceptional every night as they offered suggestions along with timely service of drinks and food. Other comments said that they did find the waiters friendly or consistent and I wonder if My Time dining was used in which case you would not get the same waiter. The food we found to be amazing, prime rib, lobster, pasta, fish and etc. Only thing to be aware of is the menu changes daily so if you want something then make sure to order it. Some nights we have 4 appetizers with the main meal while other nights we had 1-2 appetizers with 2 main courses. We also found certain desserts as our favorites. We did not feel the need to use the specialty restaurants even though we were considering it due to some comments saying the food was like a buffet (I think this was more related to eating at the Windjammer). To us it seems we were pretty much getting the same food but on certain nights as the specialty restaurants except Iszumi as we did not see any sushi or such. We were worried about having the 8pm seating but found it less stressful as we did not have to rush to get ready for dinner after a day excursion and since the activities were arranged either as duplicates or at the transition time of 7:30 we did not feel we missed anything. (Actually we ran our self ragged at first trying to see the shows, movies, dancing or karaoke each night). Breakfast was at the Windjammer which was like a typical buffet along with made to order eggs and waffles however my favorite was smoked salmon, bagel, cream cheese, and capers. Staff came around to offer breads and drinks which was pleasant. Our cruise director and staff were excellent as they tried to make it seem to be New Year's Day everyday. Granted some shows and bands we liked better than others but there was a variety as we could see people start to find their niche, we spent a majority of our time with the karaoke crowd and watching those cruisers that danced. Since this was an older vessel do not look for water slides, surfing or other type of sporting activities except the pools and rock climbing. So teens could be bored since only other option was a game room with a dozen video games and ping-pong tables. We did hear other passengers comment on how well their children (younger than teens) really enjoyed the activities geared for them. The lifeguards made sure that pool time with children at the main pool was kept under control. We did a couple of excursions, booked ahead of time, for swimming with the Mantees at Cozumel and beach-time (unlimited food and drink) at Costa Maya which were truly enjoyed (had to deal with the waves at Cozumel but didn't ruin the activity). We stayed with arranged excursions since not knowing the areas and concern with safety. Other seasoned travelers did their own excursions that worked out well for them while another sort of newbie (2nd or 3rd time cruiser) ran into a tense situation on their own. As we stated before we had a wonderful time and this was our 2nd best vacation behind our stay as Disney World and as such we would consider doing this again. Sorry for the long dialog but wanted to be through from a first time cruiser perspective. We realized that you want to get out of a cruise is what you put into it and what you want it to be. This ship may not be for everyone just like a sports car verses an SUV but it fit our bill.

First Time Cruiser

Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review by Ralph.Myers

Trip Details
Picked this cruise by port of call (daughter recommended Cozumel for the Mantees) and also a great deal (Rhapsody of the Seas, out of Tampa). This was our first cruise, celebrating our 30th anniversary, so my wife did a lot of research on the vessel and what people said about it and the destinations.

At first the reviews made us skeptical whether we had picked the right cruise but in the end we had a WONDERFUL time as everything went smoothly, our only complaint was the weather and of course that is beyond their control (70s and windy on some days).

The embarkation went quickly as we were ushered to the first-class check-in since they were not busy. Since we only booked a month out we did not have passports BUT that was not a problem. The disembarkation was well organized and we used the cruise services for handling the luggage. We choose our time frame to leave and was assigned a certain location to wait and a time to leave. We were notified actually a little bit early at our waiting location on being able to leave and found our luggage waiting for us to pick up. The wait to clear customs was quick. Our in-laws also mentioned that Royal Caribbean procedure was much more organized that other cruise lines that they have traveled.

Even though the ship was older and smaller than some of the newer vessels we found it clean and had character, not gaudy. We discovered just as we were told that after the Muster Drill everyone sort of finds their place on the vessel so it is not crowded as it seems when you first boarded the vessel.

We found our cabin (ocean view) bigger than what we expected according to the reviews and pictures. Lots of storage and closet space (as first time cruisers we over packed) and didn't feel confined. One review said the shower was barely enough room to move but found it similar to a hotel bathtub. The bathroom does remind you of an RV setup.

The dining room experience was FABULOUS as we made use of the main dining room every night so that we got to know our waiters (head, main and assistant). The service was exceptional every night as they offered suggestions along with timely service of drinks and food. Other comments said that they did find the waiters friendly or consistent and I wonder if My Time dining was used in which case you would not get the same waiter. The food we found to be amazing, prime rib, lobster, pasta, fish and etc. Only thing to be aware of is the menu changes daily so if you want something then make sure to order it. Some nights we have 4 appetizers with the main meal while other nights we had 1-2 appetizers with 2 main courses. We also found certain desserts as our favorites. We did not feel the need to use the specialty restaurants even though we were considering it due to some comments saying the food was like a buffet (I think this was more related to eating at the Windjammer). To us it seems we were pretty much getting the same food but on certain nights as the specialty restaurants except Iszumi as we did not see any sushi or such. We were worried about having the 8pm seating but found it less stressful as we did not have to rush to get ready for dinner after a day excursion and since the activities were arranged either as duplicates or at the transition time of 7:30 we did not feel we missed anything. (Actually we ran our self ragged at first trying to see the shows, movies, dancing or karaoke each night).

Breakfast was at the Windjammer which was like a typical buffet along with made to order eggs and waffles however my favorite was smoked salmon, bagel, cream cheese, and capers. Staff came around to offer breads and drinks which was pleasant.

Our cruise director and staff were excellent as they tried to make it seem to be New Year's Day everyday. Granted some shows and bands we liked better than others but there was a variety as we could see people start to find their niche, we spent a majority of our time with the karaoke crowd and watching those cruisers that danced.

Since this was an older vessel do not look for water slides, surfing or other type of sporting activities except the pools and rock climbing. So teens could be bored since only other option was a game room with a dozen video games and ping-pong tables. We did hear other passengers comment on how well their children (younger than teens) really enjoyed the activities geared for them. The lifeguards made sure that pool time with children at the main pool was kept under control.

We did a couple of excursions, booked ahead of time, for swimming with the Mantees at Cozumel and beach-time (unlimited food and drink) at Costa Maya which were truly enjoyed (had to deal with the waves at Cozumel but didn't ruin the activity). We stayed with arranged excursions since not knowing the areas and concern with safety. Other seasoned travelers did their own excursions that worked out well for them while another sort of newbie (2nd or 3rd time cruiser) ran into a tense situation on their own.

As we stated before we had a wonderful time and this was our 2nd best vacation behind our stay as Disney World and as such we would consider doing this again.

Sorry for the long dialog but wanted to be through from a first time cruiser perspective. We realized that you want to get out of a cruise is what you put into it and what you want it to be. This ship may not be for everyone just like a sports car verses an SUV but it fit our bill.
Ralph.Myers’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3152
See comments above
  Rhapsody of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Beach
    Included free food and drinks. Enjoyed the sunny weather and calm beach water, outer breakers help to keep water calm. Food was great and our server was attentive to our needs. We did get the occasional sales pitch from the locals but they were polite and not pushy even when they saw my wife buy something we were NOT suddenly surrounded by locals as mentioned by other cruiser comments.
    View All 337 Beach Reviews
  • Chankanaab National Park Tour
    Loved being with the 3 Mantees as we had them to ourselves as no one else was in our time group. The group before and after us had half a dozen people. Expect to be pressured about photos. We wanted to buy one as a couple but could only purchase as a complete package or each person separately. I think they would find more sales if they offered a group picture as a single picture option. We also took the time to snorkel at the park (not lots of fish), a first for us and loved it. Will do this again.
    View All 224 Chankanaab National Park Tour Reviews
  • Key West
    Walked around to see the town, realized it to be a bar town with shopping.
    View All 1,800 Key West Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Key West Cruise Port Review