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This was my first voyage on Rhapsody of the Seas and my first on Royal Caribbean. As someone who has sailed fairly extensively on Holland America Lines (HAL), this is my point of comparison. The positive aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas on this transatlantic crossing to Barcelona were the friendly, competent level of service and the food. The lunch buffet choices and quality were actually better than HAL. Kudos to the chef who creates such wonderful curries and other Indian food. The dinners in the dining room fell a wee bit short of HAL, but not by much; they were completely fine. The shore excursions on the Canary Islands were reasonable and had excellent guides and venues. Check-in was quick and easy in Tampa. The several lectures presented by a doctor speaker on medical/health history were top drawer. The negative aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas compared to Holland America are significant. First, the entertainment. Certainly, entertainment is a matter of personal taste, but for us a kid in a backwards ball cap doing wheelies on a BMX bike is not for us. Neither were the magician, the (rather embarrassingly talentless) guests’ talent show, and so on. As for music, I missed the classical music and the jazz I’ve experienced on HAL. (Yes, there’s a violinist and electrical guitarist playing modern movie themes and pop hits, but their playing, no matter how good, didn’t appeal to classical or jazz fans). Second, the noise. Almost everywhere you go on the ship, it’s noisy, either from the entertainment in the central atrium, or the top outdoor-pool deck, or the ubiquitous PA system, which is constantly playing Muzak-type noise. This was heard even in the hallways on the cabin levels. What’s wrong with allowing some quiet spaces without Muzak? Third, the amenities. Yes, I do like smaller ships, but certain amenities were lacking compared to HAL. No free New York Times online or in hard copy, no real library, no indoor movie theatre, no quiet indoor lounges, etc. We met some nice people on board, and enjoyed the voyage a lot. However, the hard-to-define characteristic of ambience – the vibe – was not as good on this voyage for the most part compared to HAL. I’d say that the HAL ambience is more relaxed and also more elevated. We’ll stick with HAL in future, when possible.

Pros and Cons: A Comparison

Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review by Grigory

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Trip Details
This was my first voyage on Rhapsody of the Seas and my first on Royal Caribbean. As someone who has sailed fairly extensively on Holland America Lines (HAL), this is my point of comparison.

The positive aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas on this transatlantic crossing to Barcelona were the friendly, competent level of service and the food. The lunch buffet choices and quality were actually better than HAL. Kudos to the chef who creates such wonderful curries and other Indian food. The dinners in the dining room fell a wee bit short of HAL, but not by much; they were completely fine. The shore excursions on the Canary Islands were reasonable and had excellent guides and venues. Check-in was quick and easy in Tampa. The several lectures presented by a doctor speaker on medical/health history were top drawer.

The negative aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas compared to Holland America are significant. First, the entertainment. Certainly, entertainment is a matter of personal taste, but for us a kid in a backwards ball cap doing wheelies on a BMX bike is not for us. Neither were the magician, the (rather embarrassingly talentless) guests’ talent show, and so on. As for music, I missed the classical music and the jazz I’ve experienced on HAL. (Yes, there’s a violinist and electrical guitarist playing modern movie themes and pop hits, but their playing, no matter how good, didn’t appeal to classical or jazz fans).

Second, the noise. Almost everywhere you go on the ship, it’s noisy, either from the entertainment in the central atrium, or the top outdoor-pool deck, or the ubiquitous PA system, which is constantly playing Muzak-type noise. This was heard even in the hallways on the cabin levels. What’s wrong with allowing some quiet spaces without Muzak?

Third, the amenities. Yes, I do like smaller ships, but certain amenities were lacking compared to HAL. No free New York Times online or in hard copy, no real library, no indoor movie theatre, no quiet indoor lounges, etc.

We met some nice people on board, and enjoyed the voyage a lot. However, the hard-to-define characteristic of ambience – the vibe – was not as good on this voyage for the most part compared to HAL. I’d say that the HAL ambience is more relaxed and also more elevated. We’ll stick with HAL in future, when possible.
Grigory’s Full Rating Summary
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