Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Review by SquintyKat
- Sail Date: December 2018
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
The bad omens began even before departure as poor weather at Tampa (storms/tornadoes) and high seas in the Gulf, diverted our embarkation to Port Canaveral, across the state. While no blame to RCI for sending the ship to a safer port, having to take a bus from the Tampa terminal thru heavy Orlando traffic (which added 30min to the usual 2hr drive) was not a great way to start our cruise. The late embarkation also delayed the arrival of our bags to the cabin to after dinner, well one of them. I found my bag in the holding spot for our deck and took it myself back to our cabin.
We had a windowed cabin on Deck 3 aft, that proved to be the LOUDEST cabin we have ever had to endure in 10+ previous cruises on RCI and other lines. The cabin happened to be under the kitchen area of the main dinning room (Edelweiss), across the hall from a crew access doorway, just above the engines/props, and who knows what else. The noises including from items dropping/banging, rolling carts, mysterious bangs/rumblings, and the engines reversing during docking (the ship must sail like a pig as dockings appeared to take an extended effort from the port pilots). Fortunately I had packed ear plugs (crying babies on flights and a snoring partner) that were the only way we were able to get ANY sleep as the noises would start very early in the morning (b'fast preps in the dinning room) and not end until late at night.
While our cabin steward (Hector!) was amazing, we were rather disappointed with the rest of the services from the Expedition Desk (passing wrong info, see below) to the Buffet attendants (one simply placed a dropped set on tongs onto the buffet that had fallen to the deck). The "adults only" (16+) area of the Solarium was not enforced, making it one of the loudest areas of the ship and there may have been a shortage of deck hands as the deck areas around the pool and especially the jogging path on Deck 11 were not cleared of the water from an overnight rain making the areas very slippery.
I generally do not fault the shipping line for any hiccups/problems with any excursions as they are handled by sub-contractors (send the blame/praise directly to the tour company) but I do fault the Excursion Deck for the mix-up with our tour to the Barrier Reef in Belize. Our tour tickets had conflicting information as to where to pick up the tour (one line said at the pier (after being tendered in)) while a separate line indicated the tour would be picked up at the ship). A visit to the Excursion desk the night before indicated that we were to be picked up at the pier (several others also were told the same thing). But after waiting at the tiny pier area that is Belize in the hot, still air (shade rare and a premium) a RCI rep tried to calm the getting angry masses (first explaining that the gathering time was NOT the time the tour started but a 15min buffer (rather excessive)) as the tour boat failed to materialize on time. The the rep unable to get ahold of the operator and eventually granted guests the opportunity to bail (and get a refund) as the wait extended to nearly 45min (AFTER that 15min pre-start gathering) which did reduce the numbers once the boat finally arrived. It was then that we found out that the tour boat had expected to load us at the ship and after being told we were all waiting at the pier, made the nearly 20min ride to come get us. While the rest of the excursion went off without a hitch (despite rain storms in the area), our visit was cut short in order to get back to the Rhapsody before departure.
The dining options were generally ok, getting hot food hot (vs warm) was a challenge at times, even in the dining area, but the Chef's Table experience was amazing and highly recommend it.
This was my second cruise on an RCI ship and I continue to have major issues with the lack of information readily available to guests, which continues to amaze me. From the lack of a handy little map of the ship, to no current weather info on the in-ship TV channel, minimal info on the tours (not until onboard reading the very short blurbs on the excursions did we realize there was a 90min drive each way to one tour), and surprisingly sparse activity information on the daily sheet made for a frustrating time onboard due to missed opportunities for partaking in some of those events.
It was nice to get away for the holidays, but next time, it will be with another cruise line, and on a newer ship.
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