20 Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas Holiday Cruise Reviews

Will this was my second time on the The Rhapsody and 4th time with RCCL and I must say that I was VERY disappointed. RCCL to save on cost have changed a few things around and I feel not for the better. Basically they were more like a P ... Read More
Will this was my second time on the The Rhapsody and 4th time with RCCL and I must say that I was VERY disappointed. RCCL to save on cost have changed a few things around and I feel not for the better. Basically they were more like a P & O / Carnival cruise than a RCCL cruise so yes they have gone down a notch. Now not that I drink alot but the thing I found disappointing on the Carnival Spirit was the way they had Nip pourers and they even had measuring jugs for Wine - whereas, the RCCL line did not. To my surprise they have introduced this now (apparently within the las 3 mths) as a cost saving messure as told to me by the Bar Staff. Also one of the highlights use to be the singing of the Reastaurant staff near the end of the cruise - this has also been cut out. On RCCL they have a Fundraiser called "Save our Seas" T-Shirts and they sell them for $10 and you do a 1km walk with the Captain and his cruise. Well this was the first RCCL cruise that this did not happen as I supposed we were not good enough to walk with Captain Gustav.....The last time I was on The Rhapsody was April 2013 and this time the so called "Broadway" showa were exactly the same and the other supporting shows were mediocre as best - Very Disappointing indeed. The saving grace as always id the Main Restaurant and Dinner each night was enjoyable. I am hoping that RCCL will pick up their standards otherwise, I will have to find a new Cruise Line to travel. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 12 night cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu, Isle of Pines and Noumea on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Staff were very attentive, particularly in the main dining room. Food was excellent. Several bars to choose ... Read More
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 12 night cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu, Isle of Pines and Noumea on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Staff were very attentive, particularly in the main dining room. Food was excellent. Several bars to choose from. Entertainment was very good. Cruise Director Graham Seymour is fabulous. Our Junior Suite was very comfortable with good storage and a Balcony. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
I have read many times on CC that cruising over Christmas is on many cruiser;s bucket list so I thought I'd do a review specifically about being on board for Christmas. We boarded the Rhapsody on the 19th December, She is a beautiful ... Read More
I have read many times on CC that cruising over Christmas is on many cruiser;s bucket list so I thought I'd do a review specifically about being on board for Christmas. We boarded the Rhapsody on the 19th December, She is a beautiful cruise vessel and looks even more beautiful with her Christmas decorations up. (I believe they go up late Nov) There is large glittering Christmas tree in the Centrum, pots of red Poinsetta spread around the balconies on each level of the Centrum. There was a buffet display of Gingerbread in the Windjammer (Buffet Restaurant) and on Deck 4 or 5. Both looked absolutely gorgeous and were very tempting but sadly we were not allowed to eat. It was there for display and photo purposes only. The entry to our Deck has a small Christmas decoration on the wall. I put up two lovely cardboard decorations on our cabin door which got lots of favourable comments. Several others put up small red stockings on their cabin door but majority of people on our deck did not decorate their cabin door. Being a Christmas cruise, my fellow passengers were smiling, relaxed and happy. Everyone said hello in the lifts which was very nice. Christmas Eve was a port day and we were in beautiful Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. On disembarking our tender, we were met by a crew member dressed as Santa and you could have a professional photo ($16.95 AUD) taken with him on the beach. He was there until about 3.30pm. My teen had this done and it was her favourite photo of the cruise. Most of the Christmas activites seemed to occur on Christmas Eve. Our Cruise Compass came with a blank RCCL christmas card and a candy cane. Many of the guests were Christmas gear - hats, t-shirts and illuminated decorations! The movie of the day was "A Muffet Christmas Carol" (!) 8,00pm we had Christmas Concert in the Centrum with the Royal Carribean Singers. 2 male and 2 female leads from the Production Shows, dressed in formal wear, sang on the steps of the Centrum. This was excellent. Headliner Show was Patrick McMahon singing Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash. this was not "Christmassy" so I did not go but my teen did and she loved it - even though she did not get "the old people jokes" between songs - her words. 10.00pm Christmas Champagne in the Centrum Free glass of red, white or green "coloured" champagne in the Centrum followed by the Cruise Director at 10.25 reading "Twas the Night before Christmas" Very nice. 10.30pm Christmas Carolling with RC Officers, Crew and Production singers. We were all given song books. Officers, crew, and Production singers in long gold gowns on the steps of the Centrum All guests joined in singing the carols Loved this. Followed by a spectacular aerial performance in the Centrum to Michael Buble music. Loved this! Midnight Mass was held in the theatre. There also appeared to be face painting in the centrum as many of the young kids were "rudolph" etc. CHRISTMAS DAY Was a sea day. Staff in Windjammer welcomed us all wearing Santa hats (this may have happened on Christmas eve as well but I can't remember. "Santa" was in the Centrum from 9am-11.30am. Handing out a free RCCL gift to each child. He sat on the traditional red chair and you could get a professional photo if you wished. Teen gifts were RCCL towel or drink bottle for boys. Scrapbooking/cardmarking for girls. Your child was ticketed off a list - so no double dipping! Rest of the day was very quiet. Teens a bit disappointed. But if you were cruising in a big family group I am sure you would have a lovely day. The "Mens Belly Flop" was re-scheduled to Christmas Day and the teens enjoyed this and it attracted a big crowd but this would not be normally held on Christmas Day. Christmas Movie was "A Christmas Story" - bit dated to say the least. In the MDR for dinner, we had Christmas crackers on the table (one per guest) and some Christmas items on the menu. Food and service excellent as always. Production Show was "Ballroom Fever" - again not Christmassy but again my teen loved it. At 7.30pm The Big Band played Christmas music. This did not attract much of an audience. Boxing Day - sea day - no cricket - teen disappointed. 27th Dec - we were "near" Australian coastline so Boxing Day test on room tv and pool tv - teen delighted. This Christmas Cruise was my first cruise. I loved it. it was a full ship but it never felt crowded. Always could a find a deck chair or seat. Buffet ran smoothly. Never crowded or too busy. Calm seas and beautiful weather There were kids on board but you didn,t see them until Christmas Day (they must have spent most of their time in kids clubs). My teens were disappointed by Christmas on board but they loved the cruise overall and want to cruise again - soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the ... Read More
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the first few days but then the sun came out and it was all so perfect. We had a cabin right at the pointy end of the ship on Deck 2 - we actually loved being able to really feel like we were on a boat (think crashing waves, portholes, lots of motion from the ocean and being able to feel like the anchor was coming down right through the centre of our cabin!), even though I got seasick the first night, some free Bonine from Guest Services fixed that immediately. The staff are beyond excellent - Abdul we love you and wish you could've come home with us! The place is sparkling clean all the time, everywhere without exception. The food in the buffet was fabulous; the food in the Edelweiss dining room was beyond excellent; Chops Grille was outstanding (OMG the creme brulee on fire was to die for) and the Chef's Table was like we'd died and gone to heaven! The snorkelling at the Isle of Pines was amazing - definitely go to the left of the sacred rock - forget about the right hand side. Snorkelling at Mystery Island was awesome - walk to the far side of the island and head right towards the tip - reefs right up to the beach - awesome. Lifou snorkelling was absolutely amazing - walk straight up the hill above the little marketplace then turn left at the T intersection until you get to the empty carpark area and then aim diagonally downhill to find a whole bunch of locals set up selling chips and soft drinks, plus hiring out snorkelling gear, and a new set of steps down to the most incredible reefs I have seen (better than Australia sorry guys!). Port Vila was awesome - we opted to get a taxi to the Holiday Inn (sounds daggy - is the most amazing resort ever love love love) and spent the day swimming, going to the Spa and chilling out. Noumea was great for shoe shopping and Lemon Bay is awesome. Forget the excursions just buy a $10 Hop on Hop off bus ticket and go everywhere all day. Great cafes opposite Lemon Bay too. Entertainment was first class every night; the movies were great; the casino was crap unless you like Blackjack and Slots (we don't), the Solarium Pool area was fabulous when it was raining with the big glass roof overhead and even more fabulous with the roof completely open and the perfect blue sky above! What more can I say - we are booking our next Cruise already! Royal Caribbean get our vote every time. Cost us about $2500 for 11 days plus we only spent $350 between two of us on drinks and gifts which is pretty good even though we had several cocktails every day! Drinks start at about $5 for beer, $6.75 for Torched Cherry Cocktails and wine for about $7 a glass - cheap! If you want to feel like you're Royalty then do a cruise with RCL - the staff were unbelievable. We loved every minute. Happy to answer questions if you have specifics. Happy Cruisin'! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I had a dream Cruise in June 2012 on MSC Divina! Just amazing! For Christmas holidays we decided on a Family holiday, it could be the last as our children are now 20 and 18. We chose Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas, a ... Read More
My husband and I had a dream Cruise in June 2012 on MSC Divina! Just amazing! For Christmas holidays we decided on a Family holiday, it could be the last as our children are now 20 and 18. We chose Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas, a 10 night (5 stop) cruise from Sydney back to Sydney. Never Again! We chose this Ship as we were led to believe that it had had a major refurb ?May 2012. Some of the Public areas had been freshened up but the cabins were VERY tired! We had a Cabin with a Balcony on level 7. It really needed a freshen up! There were patches on the ceiling where the paint had peeled off! We were shocked to hear that other levels below didn't have a fridge in their rooms and had to use ice buckets! Sadly due to Cyclone Freda our Itinerary had to change so we only had 4 stops and an extra day at sea! Missed Noumea altogether! The meals were disappointing in the main restaurant. Several were inedible! Meals in the speciality restaurants were fantastic (but you pay extra for this!) Drinks are all extra, apart from cordial type drinks and normal tea or coffee. Excursions are expensive and short! My highlight was dinner at Chefs Table! A fantastic evening of delicious food! Wine matched and 5 courses plus Champagne to start. New Year's Eve was well done and the tables in the main restaurant were nicely decorated and party hats provided. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South ... Read More
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South Pacific, my wife is partly disabled and can't walk for long distances and needs to use a wheelchair as well as being large, so a standard stateroom is too small for her so we booked disabled stateroom 2102 on deck 2. THE STATEROOM This was a category F, lower class stateroom on Deck 2 with a window. We really liked it, it was large at 254 square feet, about 20 square feet smaller than a junior suite but without a balcony. It had plenty of room for a wheelchair and walking room around everything, features a queen bed ( 2 singles joined together which felt more like a king size bed ), ample room but the mattress was a little too firm for our liking and the pillows felt like we were sleeping on rocks, hence we had stiff necks in the morning and sore backs but for what its worth, any bed outside of your home will never be like your sweet home bed. The bathroom was very spacious featuring a large disabled shower, with a shower chair that folded down on the wall as well as a free standing shower chair, flexible and fully adjustable shower head and outstanding water pressure and temperature control, I only wish our home shower was this good. We had a fridge in our room but we had to request that at the time of booking so I could store my insulin as I am diabetic, lower class staterooms on Rhapsody do not come with fridges but they give you a minibar featuring the coca cola range and spring water WITHOUT A FRIDGE in low class, I think that's ridiculous without a fridge as standard, I mean who wants to drink warm coke! We had a Samsung 24 inch flat t.v panel in the room which was part of the ships refurb which was excellent, first cruise we did on Rhapsody we had this old 12 inch boxy Sony trinitron old school crt television which you could hardly see a thing on, the new T.Vs are a definite improvement and the channel line up was better featuring several channels plugging Royal Caribbean programming and propaganda as well as an action movie channel, Turner Classic Movies TCM, a news channel, ESPN sports, Australia Network,a channel featuring American CBS network programming which included Hawaii Five O, Cartoon Network, another movie channel and a few useless french channels, the movie channels ran in a loop replaying the same line up of movies each day, on this cruise a few Christmas themed. The channel line up and variety could be improved,but then you are meant to be out of your cabin a lot. Our stateroom attendant, "I made", a native Philipian was excellent, he could not help us enough and at times my wife was sick with back and muscle problems and stayed in the cabin, he always checked on her while I was out and about and always ready to help us. THE SHIP AND ACTIVITIES On this cruise the ship was packed to cpacity, 2260 passengers, it could get rather crowded in the Centrum, the central area of the ship which starts on Deck 4 and is 6 stories high and is the main activity hive of the ship for music and demonstrations on cooking etc. I found there was excessive art auctions on this cruise occupying the Centrum during the day, where really you wanted to sit in quiet and relax, I found the auctions annoying, there were other areas of the ship such as one of the dance lounges where this activity could be tucked away out of sight, for the record most of the auctions I heard were passed in and nobody bought the art. The Centrum was one of the main areas that was refurbished and was very nice, featuring colour changing lighting and an area above were trapeze artists from the crew perform, on this cruise they performed 3 times briefly but you really did not see that much of them. At night the Centrum was a hive of activity with dance contests and live music/singers and it was very crowded, impossible to get a seat there most nights so we went back to our cabin to relax. On the pool deck, Deck 9 another refurb was the giant movie screen above the main pool, they only played one movie on it the whole cruise at night "Finding Nemo" and the rest of the time they played tropical and ocean scenery in a continuous loop day and night. THE NEW SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS - THE THINGS THAT DON'T COME FREE Rhapsody had 3 new restaurants aboard her, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, and Chops Grill. We were fortunate enough to dine one night ( it was our 4th wedding anniversary ) at Giovanni's Table, a 50 seat Italian Tuscan style restaurant that costs $20 USD EXTRA PER HEAD TO DINE THERE. We found this well worth it, not only was the food excellent, there was mountains of it, we dined on a 5 course meal and our stomachs were bursting at the seams well before the finish of it. We recommend Giovanni's Table, its worth the extra you pay for it, its food is well above the standard of the main dining room and the buffet and we advise pre-booking this before you board the ship to get a seat as it only serves lunch and dinner ( the menu's are different for lunch and dinner ) and can only hold 50 people at a time, its located on Deck 6 at the back of the Schooner Bar. THE ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT We found apart from the new carpet, the 1200 seat Broadway Melodies theatre on 2 levels on Decks 5 and 6 at the front of the ship had not really changed that much, as for the shows, they had several guest entertainers, the second night we had a U.S artist buy the name of Bruce Parker who sang tributes to the great crooners such as Frank Sinatra and songs from the 50's and 60's mixed in with a bit of comedy, he was really good and has worked with famous artists such as Michael Jackson on background vocals etc., that was a good show. Then there were the standard Royal Carribean dancers and singing troupe with their headliner shows which had not changed from our previous cruise, with themes such as country and western and 50's rock and roll, they were good but when you have seen it all before it can get a little tedious. Overall there was a mix of other activities during the day aimed at the older age group 30 to 60 such as scrap booking and jewellery making which my wife did, trivia contests, bingo which at $32 for 4 games was too expensive to play, belly dancing, those pain in the butt art auctions etc. I am 48 year old man and got bored on the ship and started hanging out in the casino too much but fortunately my wins mostly balanced my losses and I only ended up loosing $100 for a 10 day cruise which was not bad but the casino can be very costly and my advice is stay out and find something better to do if you can. THE FOOD Well its American style food cooked in the American Way, I had my mother-in-law with us on this cruise and she complained she did not like any of the food, the woman is a very fussy eater and whined when the meat was rare and underdone and I could have pushed her over the side as she whined too much, the food is okay, it will never win any Michelin Stars and get bagged by Gordon Ramsay but this is a middle of the range cruise line and your not paying for paying to eat top class food in a top class restaurant, its suites most peoples tastes, the Windjammer buffet can wear you down thin with the food range some nights and the fine dining in the Edelweiss Restaurant, although being better quality food, it serves a la carte small size portions that leave you wanting for more at the end but if you were still hungry after eating at fine dining, you could always go to the buffet or get room service and have a Bistro Burger which was a pretty okay hamburger that was bought to your room free of charge,its part of the complimentary food that comes in your package. As for drinks, we strongly recommend you pre-purchase the unlimited soda package before you board the ship, the packages come out about 2 months before your cruise date and can be paid online at Royal Carribean and added to your cruise. The Soda Package for our 10 day cruise was $72 USD a head but it gave you unlimited soft drink from the Coca Cola range of beverages, it was money saver for those hot tropical days when you got really thirsty. The alcoholic drinks, the cocktails ranged from about USD $7.50 to about $12 plus they automatically add a 15% gratuity or tip on each alcoholic drink you buy, this also applies to soft drink if you don't buy the soda package. Wine is very expensive on this ship with the cheapest glass at USD $13 and bottles are from about USD $50 to $295. Beer is reasonably priced, a 330 ml Corona Extra costs $5.50 usd and a 750 ml Foster's oil can costs $8, a huge beer that you can share between 2 people. OVERALL CRUISE RATING AND EXPERIENCE We did enjoy this cruise but found it a little crowded at times but as it was a peak season Christmas cruise we expected this may be the case, some things were repeats of our last cruise including part of the cruise destination itinerary, it was a good cruise but after 10 days we were a little weary of it and we need to change to another ship/cruise line and itinerary. Rhapsody is a good ship, most people will find little to complain about, the crew must be the friendliest on the seas, they perform their jobs with enthusiasm and it appeared to us they like working on this ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son ... Read More
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son and me with HAL to the Rugby World Cup in NZ 2011). We had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. This review is long as I've tried to cover off items that I was interested in pre-cruise and I wanted to put something back for all the helpful reviews I read in organising the cruise. If you are only interested in some aspects check out the headings below. All ship board prices shown below are in $A and incl the obligatory 15% gratuity which is 'embedded' in the list price. Embarkation We live 30 mins or so drive from OPT so I drove in at 8am and dropped luggage off at the baggage handling service - very easy and efficient. This meant we could avoid booking 2 taxis and so caught the train in for boarding at @11. Whilst our tickets suggested boarding from 12, there was no issue with doing so early. The check in and immigration process took about 30 mins. Security queried our 4 bottles of wine/champagne but were fine when I explained we had 2 cabins. Incidentally, we had no problems discretely drinking these during sail away and by the pool during the cruise, and even managed to conjure a couple of champagne glasses from the bar. We were in the Windjammer for lunch by 12 or so. Park Cafe in the Solarium did not open until 1.30 and the MDR was not open for lunch (it is only open for lunch on sea days, 12 -- 1.30). We thought the food variety and quality was very good. No, it's not the buffet at the Bangkok Peninsula Hotel, but for a family holiday, met and exceeded any reasonable expectations. The WJ was busy but seating was not a problem. Everyone was well satisfied and the kids gave the free soft serve machine a heavy work out. There is also tasty free lemonade, sugar free fruit drinks and ice tea available from machines all over the WJ and in Park Cafe. We were given access to our rooms by about 1pm and bags were delivered to our rooms by 2pm or so. Heading out of Sydney Harbour and the Heads is an experience not to be missed. It can get a bit chilly on deck once the sun goes down, so grab a warm top as well as your camera and champagne. Cabins When we cruised last year, my son was seasick for the first 24 hours. This time I made sure we were down low and in the centre of the boat. We booked two interior cabins on level 2, one with drop down additional bedding that is lowered/raised by the attendant each day. The cost differential to get a window cabin was around $500 per person and balcony around $1000 pp. For 5 people, that adds up to quite a few Mojitos, plus we had experienced interior cabins on the RWC trip and found that we slept wonderfully without daylight streaming in at 6 am. We also spent little time in the cabins other than sleeping. Cabin size was fine for 2 adults and the kids were happy in theirs. Plenty of hanging space - take extra hangers - though not a lot of luggage storage. That said, we only found the space under the beds on the day we disembarked! We had 2 suitcases per cabin, one of which fits inside the other, so we only had to navigate around one on the side of the bed. The bed itself was very comfortable. The bathroom was small but more than adequate. We took advice from a previous poster and hung a clear shoe carrier on the back of the bathroom door. This was invaluable for storing and accessing the various minutiae of daily existence, esp with three kids asking where to find the 'X' several times a day. Toiletries are limited to soap and industrial strength shampoo so you might want to take your own. There was a kettle and teabags, but no coffee satchels. Hot choc sachets were ubiquitous in the WJ so the kids regularly took these back to the rooms to make up. One small surprise was no bar fridge in the cabin. Not much of an issue, but it meant we had to source ice for our wine / champagne through our wonderful and ever helpful cabin attendant, Igusti. Mini bar was virtually non existent - a few cans of soft drink and some snack box items. The new flat screen TV worked fine and had cruise info and room service menu (no printed copy provided) on rotation. There were a number of cable channels, but we don't go on hols to watch tele so I can't tell you much about the quality of programming. There was also a bow camera channel so you could see what the weather was like before venturing out and/ or leave it on at night if you want "natural" light in the morning. Personally, I like the dark for a rare opportunity to sleep in! It is handy though to have a phone or a watch with a back light so you can tell what time it is. Note that sockets are adjacent two flat pin US variety and two round pin European ones. Take converters and a power board. There is a hairdryer provided and towels are changed seemingly every time you use them. There are no self-serve laundries, though rates for getting individual items washed and pressed or dry cleaned were reasonable ($9 for a suit compared to $19 at my local cleaner in Sydney). We were twice offered a $15 bag wash for underwear, socks, t-shirts and shorts, the first on day 4 and again, not so helpfully, on the second last day. The bag is a good size but the turn-around time is 36 hrs or so and our gear came back pretty scrunched up. No drama for your jocks but not so good for t-shirts. Restaurants As indicated above, we thought the WJ was very good, at least for breakfast and an occasional quick lunch. We generally ate breakfast here and the omelettes were great, though you do need to line up for 5 mins or so. My wife and I like our coffee and thought that the house brew was generally fine, certainly no worse than I've had in many US diners, and widely available 24 hrs. One tip for those who want specialty (Starbucks) coffee is to buy it at the bar in the Solarium. It has the same offerings as Latte-tudes but without the 30 min queue, at least earlier on in the cruse before others discover it. We ate dinner in the MDR on all bar one night when we went to Giovanni's Table. We had My Time Dining, which is not quite as flexible as it sounds, at least on a full ship. We ended up sticking to the 7.45 booking time allotted when we checked in on line several months before the cruise. We did look to change it on board, but getting an alternative time after 6 and before 7.45 was not possible. You could turn up any time without a booking, but this could mean a wait of 20+ mins. 7.45 turned out to be quite convenient as we could enjoy a sundown drink by the pool, have time for shower/change, catch the first 45 mins of the 7pm early show - typically ran until 8pm - and then be finished dinner in time for most of the later evening activities. We thought the MDR food was also very good and did not have any issues with food quality or quantity. It may not be a Terry Durack 3 Hat candidate, but think solid neighbourhood restaurant. There was good variety and healthy choices aplenty. And you're getting a linen table cloth, friendly service - our waiters Antonio and Eric were superb and nothing was too much trouble -, time with the family, no shopping, preparation or cleaning up. My wife in particular thinks it's pretty hard to beat. The one suggested improvement we have for the MDR is that the no. of drinks waiters is increased or the coordination with food waiters is enhanced. We found that our food order would be taken promptly, but that we would often wait for 15-20 mins for a drinks waiter. I had a wine package, which was always served pronto by our food waiter, but my wife and children were after "bar" drinks, which was everything other than wine, even non-alcoholic beverages. Given that the food is included but drinks are extra, hence profit for RCCL, this seemed an unlikely outcome, but proved the case for several nights until we developed a rapport with one of the few bar waiters (helped along by a few judicious tips). Formal nights - 2, 4 (for NY eve) and 7- were respected for the most part, with suits worn by the majority of us blokes. It was great to see the number of young guys in particular making the effort and looking sharp in slim cut suits and narrow ties. No-one would say anything if you didn't dress well, but I can only imagine you would feel like the proverbial pig at the Bar Mitzvah if you weren't. Giovanni's Table ($20 pp cover charge for dinner) was a mixed experience. The food when it finally arrived was mostly excellent (the crab ravioli and veal tenderloin were stand outs, the desserts a fizzer) but it took a looooong time - 55 mins for the appetizers and then over 30 mins for each subsequent course. We also discovered a flaw in the wine package system (see more below). Most of the wines on the list are only available from the MDR cellar, so if you order from a specialty restaurant, it will take a while (30 mins for us) to be retrieved. The compounding food and drink delays left us a bit fractious, but the staff ultimately handled it all well and comped us a lunch for later in the cruise. We didn't try Chops Grill, Izumi or the Captain's Table. Park Cafe in the adults only Solarium pool area - kids could order food so long as they didn't enter the pool - was a family favourite. The roast beef rolls were as yummy as others have described, and the other pre-made sandwiches and focaccia were really good. There were also salads, cookies, cakes and packets of potato chips. At breakfast it offered bacon and egg muffins, granola/fruit/yoghurt cups and other pre-packaged breakfast fare. PC was the only option open on mid-afternoon returns from port days, and would get busy. Staff were always efficient, if a little disinterested, and we never waited more than @ 5 mins. It was open until 10am for breakfast, 11.30 - 6 for 'lunch' and then 11.30pm - 1am for late night snacks - pizza and the like. Latte-tudes had a range of Starbucks coffees and free cookies and other baked items. No coffee purchase is required for these free items as the teen contingent quickly discovered. There was a perpetual 10+ min queue at Latte-tudes and only one barista on duty. This turned us off buying coffee there on a number of occasions. As with the shortage of Bar waiters in the MDR, this was illogical staffing for a high profit margin part of the business and RCCL should re-assess this. Ben & Jerry's is adjacent to Latte-tudes. We never saw anyone buying from there, which I think reflected the extremely limited range and poor placement. As a father, I was very pleased that the decision had been made to locate a pay-as-you-go ice cream shop in the dark recesses of deck 6, but I have no doubt that business would have increased 10-fold if it was located in the pool area, where 95% of kids spent most of their waking hours, and stocked with a decent selection. Drinks Ah, few things seem to excite the passions of some cruisers more than drink prices. But seriously, how many hotels have you been to that will sell you a bottle of Peroni for $5.50 incl gratuity at a pool side bar? Frozen margaritas at $7.25 - make sure you ask for a "House Margarita" as the default is a $10.50 premium one and this happened on several occasions so you need to be very clear when ordering - and Daiquiris for $8.50 are also very competitive. Draft Becks/Stella was $6.95 for 500ml. G&T was $6.25. Very good virgin cocktails were $4.50. Cans of soft drink were $2.50. Prices are the same in all bars throughout the ship, though availability of certain items varied (eg, draft beer was only available in the Pool Bar and Schooner Bar) Wolf Blass Wine could be had for $10 per 500ml carafe in the WJ. I can't comment on the quality as we purchased the "Diamond" 5 bottle wine package for $205. At $41 a bottle this may seem a bit steep, but it included a NZ Pinot I quite like that is on the main wine list for $61 and that retails in Sydney for @$25, so a reasonable mark up to $41 imho. Many others in the package were less than $41 on the main list, so it pays to do your homework. Ultimately we saved a few $, but I'm not sure we would order it again as there were limited decent selections - most of the reds were mass produced US options. The main list is much larger and has some reasonably priced Italian and other offerings that we would have liked to try but having pre purchased the package felt constrained not to. Note that there was no Aust/NZ wine package offered as I understand there was on some previous ROS cruises. I asked a number of ROS staff and no one seemed to know why. Gratuities As we opted for My Time Dining, we were required to pre-pay gratuities, which ran to around $120 per head. Whilst we do not have a tipping culture in Australia, I had no issue with paying them on the Rhapsody. The room attendants/waiters/bar staff and others we came across on the cruise were, almost without exception, incredibly friendly, helpful, hard-working and above all, patient. They typically sign on for 8 month contracts during which they don't see their families, work 10-12 hours per day with ZERO days off (on disembarkation/embarkation days, our room attendant started work at 4.30am and would not finish until well into the evening), get paid an extremely modest salary and manage to keep smiling throughout. The staff do rely on gratuities to support families left behind in the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa, Eastern Europe etc, but this is not charity, it is a well-earned reward for going the extra mile that makes the difference between you having a great or poor cruise experience. In addition to pre-paying gratuities and the built in 15% for bar orders, we tipped our room attendant and waiters in cash at the end of the cruise and left additional tips for good bar service throughout. For those who object that tips are used to make up for low cruise wages, you are probably correct. But if the wage structure was higher, this would be directly reflected in your cruise price. And I have no doubt that being incentivised by tips is the primary reason service on board is as good as it is. Entertainment Perhaps we were lucky, but for the most part we thought the staged entertainment was pretty good. The comedian, Simon Palomares (ex-Acropolis Now), is one of the funniest I have ever seen. "Celine Dion" was also talented, if not really my cup of tea. The 'house' dancers and singers were also reasonably good, though variable. My daughter rarely missed a show and even when not great, it was a pleasant enough 45 mins of pre-dinner entertainment. There was also a Rock n Roll show in the Centrum. This was good but suffered from the venue, as once the show was under way many people wanted, and were encouraged to, dance, but dancing room was very limited. There was also a dance night on the pool deck - the perfect venue with abundant room, but far too much staff direction, trying to 'lead' a large contingent of enthusiastic would be party goers in complicated 'line' dance step routines. After 45 mins or so it ended abruptly leaving many people frustrated. A note to the Cruise Director - just supply good music, a bar serving drinks and a dance floor - people on holidays will go for it. If staff must be involved to show people how to have fun on a dance floor, then at least let the party continue once the 'show' is over. Afternoon movies were shown first couple of sea days and were also very good. They were repeated several times on the pool screen at night. The pool deck was potentially a great night time venue for both movies and other entertainment that was not utilised enough. The Quest adult's team event on penultimate night was a lot of fun. Participation is mandatory with everyone required to join a team. But from there the shy hung back a bit and the extroverts did most of the heavy lifting. It is amazing what a bit of team affiliation will do to inhibitions (women in particular -- the reaction to the Cruise Director's request to "show me a thong" was extraordinary). Do try and get actively involved as it is a lot of fun and no one is put on the spot to 'perform'. One event not to miss is the Captain's informal Q&A. If you didn't know that the ship's anchor weighs 10 tonnes, that RCCL spends $550m on fuel annually or that Australian cruises provision for double the amount of beer ordered on the US counterparts, then here is the place to find out. NY Eve The formal dinner was nothing special food wise, but the night got better from there. There was a mass balloon drop in the Centrum and staff handed out champagne to guests. A quick dash up to the pool deck followed where Sydney fireworks were shown on the large outdoor screen. This was also the only night on the cruise when there was an outdoor party that was just allowed to run. People loved it. The deck was full of revellers dancing until well into the early hours. I imagine that bar sales were stellar - more profit for RCCL. Everyone we spoke to afterwards commented on what a fantastic night it was and how it should be a regular feature, at least when the weather is good. There was a designated nightclub, the Viking Lounge, on Deck 11, but the music was frequently overwrought doof doof and the dance floor empty. There is a real missed opportunity here. Teenagers Our 11 and 12 year olds -- both tall and mature so for all practical purposes teenagers - went to the Teens club on day 1 and, apart from us making family dinner in the MDR compulsory each night, we barely saw them again throughout the cruise. The club activities are listed on a Teens 'flyer' available from the teen centre and Guest Services each day, and appear on paper to be impressively structured. In practice, they were a bit loosely organised, so that often the teen centre became more just a place to hang out with the group of 20 or so fellow teenagers who had also made it home. Given organizing teenagers can be harder than herding cats, this was understandable and they had a fantastic time. A couple of points for parents to note. First, whilst the teens are supposedly separated into 12-14 and 15-17 categories, this did not happen in practice and so the 'group' was aged from 11-17 (being the youngest of three, our 11 yr old is well socialised for her age and there was no way she was going to be 'stuck' with the 9-11 yr group). We were OK with this given our two kids were in there together and are comparatively sensible, but I might have been concerned if I had an 11 or 12 yr old daughter going by herself. Second, the activities run very late. Some of the parties in the teen centre started at 11.30pm and did not finish until 1.30am or so -- the u18s midnight curfew does not apply if involved in teen centre activities. Again, we were OK with this given the two were together and were sharing a cabin with our older daughter, so we were always able to keep tabs on 'check-in' time, but it could put some people off. Our 18 yr old did not have such a positive experience. Whilst there were 18-20yr meet n' mingle activities organised, she did not participate, a big mistake in our view, and tended to hang out with us or take herself off to the shows and other activities. There were a reasonable no. of 18-20 yr olds on the cruise and with a bit of effort to meet others I think that cruising with that age group would be fine. Fitness ROS has a well-equipped Gym on Level 10 that we used regularly without any crowding issues. There are six or so treadmills, four stationary cycles, a cable-weights machine with pull-up bar, free weights, assorted other weight machines and steppers. Hand towels are provided without charge and there is a water fountain. There are spin and boot camp classes available at a price which we didn't use or see. Deck 10 also houses a 400m jogging/walking track and the rock climbing wall. We used the track for running every second day at around 9am and again never experienced crowding issues. It can be quite a challenge running into the inevitable headwind towards the bow of the ship, but you fly down the sternward leg! The rock climbing wall is a bit of fun, but according to my kids, not very challenging compared to the average rock climbing centre in Sydney. You sign up for a time and sign a waiver for kinds to climb. The system seems to work pretty well and we never saw crowds. One disappointment on ROS was the absence of a basketball court. We had used this extensively on the RWC cruise and perhaps foolishly assumed this was standard, so brought with us on ROS a basketball and plastic cricket bat/tennis ball which we did not use at all. Medical We had cause to use the medical centre late one night when our eldest daughter suddenly developed laboured breathing -- cause unknown but perhaps be dust or mould spores. Located on Level 1, the centre is apparently very well equipped to deal with just about any situation and there are 2 doctors and 4 nurses employed to staff it. As it was a late night call out, which was quickly answered, the visit ended up costing $111 for the consultation plus $54 for an athsma puffer. Ironically, our youngest daughter suffers from very occasional athsma and we have puffers at home, but had not brought one along. Oh well, that's what travel insurance is for. There did seem to be quite a few particularly elderly people on board, who suffered a broken limb at some point - wrists and arms being the most common. Even though we had smooth seas for the most part, a ship is an inherently unstable and shifting platform requiring constant rebalancing at times and I guess accidents are inevitable. I would think twice though about taking anyone on a cruise who was at all frail unless they were confined to a wheel chair. Ports/anchorages Isle of Pines was first stop. Tenders seemed to work well, with early bird first-come first-served until 9am, tickets 9 - 11 and then free boarding back and forward all day. At all tender stops we waited until after 11 to avoid queuing. Snorkelling on the reef was wonderful (take your own gear though as hire options were very ordinary and sales price on the ship was expensive). Ultimately though you can only snorkel for so long and after a 30 min walk there was not a lot else to do and so we were back on board by 3 or so for a relaxing lunch in Park Cafe. Pt Vila was next stop and our first port, where we tied up to a wharf rather than anchor offshore and take tenders in. This was very efficient. We walked straight off the boat, out of the port and haggled a $120 price for a 4 hr tour with a local driver, Gavin. His van when we reached it had me a bit worried - bald tires, not a straight panel to be seen and when asked about AC, Gavin deadpanned "sometimes we just lets (sic) the fresh air come in". Despite a shaky start he was a lovely bloke - very laid back and happy to chat about life in Vanuatu. He took us to Cascade Falls, Hideaway island beach, the coffee 'factory', and we stopped at a village where he knew some people and they kindly showed us around and told us about village life. Suffice to say my kids were not all that keen on swapping. We also went duty free shopping. Fung Kwei seems to be the largest and cheapest - eg, 1L Gordon's Gin and Smirnoff Vodka were $12 each. It is also located right next to an open air Bar on the bay that sells delightfully cold draught Tusker, the very quaffable local beer. On the way back to the ship Gavin stopped at a Kava 'bar' to satisfy my wife's curiosity as to taste and affect. She concluded quickly that the latter did not compensate for the former. One thing to note is that petrol in Vanuatu is very expensive (around $1.70 a litre) and so none of the guides seem keen on going any further distance than absolutely necessary. Everything we saw in our 4 hrs was within 10k of the wharf. If you are keen on heading further than this -- apparently there are some beautiful spots further around the Island -- be very specific when negotiating. Due to a cyclone in the area we were unable to stop at Noumea, but the captain organised alternate stops in Luganville and Champagne Bay. The former is barely worth getting off the boat for and, due to many passengers and far fewer vans of any size, groups in particular were subject to some major price gouging. Champagne Bay by comparison was breathtaking and the highlight of our stops. There was little to do but snorkel off the stunningly beautiful beach (the reef at far end is best), go on a short van tour to Blue Lagoon ($10 per head -- we didn't go but others said it was worth seeing), eat lobster under the trees ($20 for half) and drink cold bottles of Tusker ($5 each). Yet everyone loved it and we were sorry to have to leave. Disembarkation Arrival back into Sydney Harbour at 6am was bittersweet. It is a beautiful location, but knowing that the party was over made it hard to truly enjoy. We were given an 8.50am disembarkation for which bags had to be in the hall by 11pm the night before - if you want to carry your own bag off you leave at 7am - so had plenty of time for one last leisurely breakfast in the WJ. The disembarkation process itself was very smooth with no delays encountered. There is no Immigration checking passports, though there are Customs officers, and so you essentially just walk straight out, into the lift or escalator and down to street level. Summary Despite the several areas highlighted for possible improvement, I think the RCCL people do a great job keeping 2200 people with different personalities and preferences happy most of the time. If there is better value for the family holiday $ I've yet to find it. Our trip cost about the same as renting a decent Sydney beach house for the equivalent peak season period. Considering that on ROS you get international transport to various destinations, only unpack and pack once, 10 nights comfortable accommodation, entertainment on tap, 30+ good meals each plus snacks, your room cleaned, bed made, sheets and towels replaced, friendly efficient service, sunshine, a pool, a gym, jogging track, rock climbing wall, self-serve ice cream, free child minding, a relaxed wife and happy kids, it'll do me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My wife and I have just returned from an 11 night cruise to Nth Queensland on the Rhapsody. Embarkation was acceptable except check in line was long and those people who could not get shelter from awning had to stand in rain. First ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from an 11 night cruise to Nth Queensland on the Rhapsody. Embarkation was acceptable except check in line was long and those people who could not get shelter from awning had to stand in rain. First impressions were good, the public areas were tastefully decorated and beautiful artworks around the ship gave the ship a good vibe. Stateroom was acceptable but were showing signs of age and wear. Rooms are apparently being updated in dry dock in March 2012.Anyway it was only a place to sleep and shower to us, no big deal. Windjammers was good, food always fresh and plentiful. You would be hard to please if you couldn't find something to satisfy. We met many new friends whilst sharing a table here. We dined in the main dining room most nights and found the food of great standard. Thank you Linda for introducing us to the great idea of having dishes of interesting unordered main course meals on our table of 9 being placed in the middle of our table for us all to tryEntertainment was fantastic. Thank you to Anthony Michael in the Schooner Bar for a fantastic repertoire of songs. Great musician and vocalist and a great venue to finish off the evening. Great to get to know you. The main theatre shows were entertaining and varied. To our room attendant Danial Tomagla, thank you so much your service was first class. Cruise director Anna Bass did a great job and was always approachable and jovial. The seventies night you did was a real hoot. Our favourite daytime place was the adults only inside pool area. Relaxing music and a great snack bar for all day grazing. All in all great cruise, great ship, great food and entertainment. Will we cruise with RCI again, you bet we are already planning for 2012 Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
It was my pleasure to take my daughter on a small 3 day cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas on November 3rd 2011, leaving from Sydney. May I say first off the check in process was quick and easy and boarding the ship was fast.. I had ... Read More
It was my pleasure to take my daughter on a small 3 day cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas on November 3rd 2011, leaving from Sydney. May I say first off the check in process was quick and easy and boarding the ship was fast.. I had studied the ship layout, so knew roughly where our cabin was, but other passengers I spoke to said there was nobody around to guide you to your cabin once on board. Our cabin was nice, and smelt clean. My only one complaint with the cabin was the bed, as they are normally a double bed, once separated tend to lean into the middle, and I felt I was struggling not to fall onto the floor with the lean of the mattress. Both my daughter and myself found the bed to be hard and uncomfortable. No fridge in the room was another let down, there was cans of Coke and water on the dressing table, but with no fridge or ice, who would want hot drinks. !! Every day we would vacate our room about 8.00am and leave the notice on the door for the cabin to be made up, often returning at 11.00am to find the room still untouched. I was also disappointed there was no chocolate on the pillow or bed turned down, as is customery on other ships. The shops on board were good, but obviously did not expect people to buy alcohol, and so had to close the shop just after lunch on the first day to restock,the following day there were cues of people waiting and once again they ran out and closed, this also happened on the last day, but they stayed open with not much stock. I did feel sorry for people just wanting normal deli type stuff, chips, aspro, toothpaste etc. as this was in the bottle shop, and once the shop closed you could not buy any. The shop was closed more than it was open. Food on board was average, started off good on the first day, and just declined after that. We found the drink waiter at our table did not want to come to our table if we did not buy bottles of wine or lots of drinks. So he missed out. The coffee in the coffee shop was fantastic, but the cue to line up and buy it was not so good, often only one person was serving and making coffee. Bingo was a joke, they only sold tickets about 1hr before the Bingo, and the cue for that went 1/2 way down the ship, at $22.00 for the cheapest ticket, and once you brought that the lounge was full, and seating hard to find. We found the shows on board Poor, and put it down to only 3 days cruising, but if it is normally like that, shame on you Rhapsody,, P&O put on fantastic shows for their 3 day sampler cruise. We found there could of been more organized things for people to do,ie. wine tasting, etc. We did go to the Martini making class, and thoroughly enjoyed that. Also the towel folding class was good, my daughter is busy making them at home for her children now. Overall we did enjoy ourselves, the cocktails on board were great, and bar staff helpful. Anna the cruise director was very nice, and funny, and Captain Stein was often seen about with his family, which was a nice touch. Out of 10 I would give it a 7, nice ship but not as fun as P&O. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My wife and myself stated our holiday on 13/11/2011 by flying from Albury to Sydney to embark at Circular Quay. The embarkation was done without any fuss and thanks must go to the assistants who were on hand at Circular Quay. We found our ... Read More
My wife and myself stated our holiday on 13/11/2011 by flying from Albury to Sydney to embark at Circular Quay. The embarkation was done without any fuss and thanks must go to the assistants who were on hand at Circular Quay. We found our cabin (4317) which we were surprised to see didn't have a fridge. It was small (very small shower area)The bathrooms on Princess are larger and they do have fridges in all cabins. The Cabin steward (Jason) was a real pleasure and kept our room in top condition. His towel animals were a treat. Also our thanks must go to Din Din our drink waiter who kept our glasses full and was always respectful of our privacy. The ship was showing some signs of wear but was kept clean at all times. The food was OK but seemed to be much the same at all meals. The live shows were second rate and many passengers passed the same comments. The on deck games were also not of the standard set by Princess Cruises. On Princess the bridge pointed out any things that were going on around the ship (whales etc.)but this didn't happen on "Rhapsody". We were disappointed at being left at a remote area of Brisbane and charged for buses to ferry us into the city. This is not the fault of Royal Caribbean as the Gateway Bridge did not allow enough clearance for Rhapsody to get under. All in all a very good cruise but if I had to vote I would vote Princess 9/10 and Royal Caribbean 7/10 Gerald and Noline Yarrawonga Victoria Australia Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted ... Read More
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Rhapsody of the Seas sitting at her mooring in beautiful Sydney harbour emcompassed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to first walk to the opposite side of Sydney Cove and take pictures of ROTS as she looked so amazingly clean and sparkling white. There were workers in a dinghy giving the side her paint work a bit of a spruce and window cleaners suspended by ropes freshening up some of the glasswork. (I had wondered if RCI wouldn't put much effort into this cruise overall as it was only a 3 dayer, but I find this was totally unjustified.) We got some great photos, then it was on to embarkation. Looking up the side of Rhapsody as we got up close and personal with her was just breathtaking. Embarkation went pretty smoothly, it took approximately 1 hour from dropping off our bags at the luggage site to boarding the ship. This was a little longer than I expected but the time went quickly as staff directed passengers and held you in conversation while those in front were registered. We went straight to our cabin to see the view from our balcony, which we had some luck with as we had been offered the disabilities cabin. 7032 is nearly twice as big as surrounding balcony cabins and so is its balcony and ensuite. We were on the port side and so there was a great view of the Opera House, we opened the champagne and ate the choc covered strawberries we had ordered while watching the ferries going in and out of the Quay. What a great start! Alex, our steward kept our room spotless during our stay, there wasn't a time we came back to the room and it wasn't clean and freshened. He was extremely friendly, greeted us by name and was always happy to stop for a chat and to help out immediately when we needed something. Maybe it didn't hurt that we gave him a tip when we first met him, during the cruise and at the end. Make them happy and I think they will make your trip amazing. When we pulled out of the mooring at 10pm we went to the stern to watch Rhapsody back in towards the Harbour Bridge then we went forward and just absorbed the wonder of passing the city at night with all the lights and reflections bouncing off the water. The buzz in the atmosphere was electric and there was a band playing and some people dancing around the pool area. Later we went back to our cabin and watched the pilot jump back onto his boat and head back into shore. Leaving Sydney and coming back in on the final morning were highlights for us. Now for the cruise itself. I enjoyed the food in the main dinning room immensely. Some of it was very, very good and some a bit average but even the average meals were cooked well and tasty. Windjammers buffet had just about everything to suit all appetites, from diet to full on fatty, fried foods, I couldn't see how anyone could complain about the food on ROTS unless you just made the wrong choices. Windjammers at breakfast time could be a bit difficult to find a seat. RCI had sat 10 of us together for our dinner seating in the MDR and it was obvious they had taken time to organize similar ages and experience of cruising as most of those at the table were first time cruises. Excellent work! We all got on very well. Also, we had oringinally been assigned the 8:30pm seating and had requested the 6:30pm seating on our booking paperwork, we got it! Our waitress was so obliging, she remembered all our names and always had a smile on her face, her personality was just right, not over the top or pushy nor forgetful or unaccommodating. The activities were just a little bit limited for us. We don't play Bingo and don't bother much with lying around the pool as we have a pool at home but we did enjoy the trivia and the dance lessons. We went to the casino on 2 nights just for a few minutes mostly to pass some time. We had organised to meet some people through the Cruise Critic boards for a pre-dinner cocktail on the first night and enjoyed this so much that we all met each night at a different bar at 4:30, this was so much fun, made some good friends. I also realised that if we were on a cruise that was stopping at ports then the need to find activities all day long wouldn't be as necessary. Anna our cruise director certainly had the right personality for her job, very perky. I enjoyed the shows, and was quite surprised by the dancing especially on the first night, I taught dancing for many years and was aware of the complexity of the choreography and also amazed by the balance needed by the dancers on a rocking ship, even if it was ever so slight. The male dancer with the long hair, have I seen him before? He looked like a guy in the jazz class in the movie "Centre Stage". Maybe. A couple of great things happened that RCI didn't organise, on our first morning we watched Dolphins with their babies swimming below our balcony, and later in the day when we were up on the pool deck a Fighter plane from Williamstown army base did several fly overs of the ship and put on a bit of an acrobatic show for us, the sky was clear and sunny and the loud sound of the fighter was exciting as it buzzed us. You couldn't have planned a better day! We set our alarm to wake at 5:15am on the last morning and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and a beautiful view of our ship slipping in through North and South Heads. MAGIC! Disembarkation was a dream, I don't think it could have been managed better. It took all of 10 minutes to the leave the ship and start our trip home. Our bags were waiting for us and very easy to find. Would we go again on another cruise after this one?? Hmmm let me think.... I've already booked 2 more and have at least another planned. Royal Carribean have created 2 more cruise fanatics, well done! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
When we first saw the fly/cruise deal with Air New Zealand and the Rhapsody of the Seas on the internet we thought there must be a catch ! glad we booked when we did as there was no catch, price even (N.Z.$3250.00 each )included ... Read More
When we first saw the fly/cruise deal with Air New Zealand and the Rhapsody of the Seas on the internet we thought there must be a catch ! glad we booked when we did as there was no catch, price even (N.Z.$3250.00 each )included gratuities. We first flew to Hawaii for 7 nights in the Ohana West hotel, not a 5 star hotel but very nice, it is only a short walk to Waikiki beach, you could also board one of many free trams that stop right outside the front of the hotel, after 7 nights exploring Honolulu we boarded the beautiful Rhapsody of the seas, our boarding experience was quite smooth but I understand others had a 3 hour wait. This being our second cruise we knew to head straight up to the Windjammer restaurant for lunch and as for the rest of the cruise there was an abundance of food the selection was fabulous, the other main restaurant The Edelweiss is just stunningly beautiful, everything about this ship is graceful everywhere there are curves, sweeping gracious lines, the centrum with the incredible art piece rising through 5 stories just magnificent, back to the restaurant the service was 5 star the food 5 star the choice 5 star, thanks Cleo and Ireal for looking after us so well. I hired a Tuxedo on board, very pleased I did as the formal nights were very special, even the cabin attendants wore bow ties on formal nights. Our ports of call were Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora in Tahiti, all very beautiful, would have to say though the shore excursions were half the price on shore than what we paid on the ship, and the snorkeling was not that great, after Tahiti we cruised back to Auckland New Zealand 14 nights altogether on this magnificent ship, would go on it again tomorrow if we could. Must mention we found as did others that the web sight was hard to navigate and it proved impossible to hire the tuxedo on line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We decided to try a different cruise line , for our 30th anniversary celebration, and we were certainly pleased we did. Overall, Royal Caribbean is definitely a step up in standards and Rhapsody of the Seas, and her crew, is an impressive ... Read More
We decided to try a different cruise line , for our 30th anniversary celebration, and we were certainly pleased we did. Overall, Royal Caribbean is definitely a step up in standards and Rhapsody of the Seas, and her crew, is an impressive ship to sail on. We decided to travel to Sydney the day before departure. We stayed at Amora Jamison because of it's close proximity to Circular Quay and the overseas cruise terminal. Unfortunately, it rained that morning so a cab was required, but on a clear day it would be an easy walk even with luggage.Check-in was super quick, maybe we had missed the crowd, as we were on board by 3pm and ready to explore. Had all our luggage by 4pm, unpacked ready for lifeboat drill at 5pm and then a slightly rainy sailaway through Sydney Harbour. The ship definitely has a wow factor and a classy feel to it & not that difficult to navigate once you find your sea legs.The crew on this ship are extra friendly, courteous & helpful....nothing seems to be too much trouble. Our head waiter (Cleo) in the restaurant was super patient with our dining group...bringing alternatives if diners were not sure about their order, extra desserts etc etc.The food in general on this cruise was wonderful...lots of choices & beautifully cooked in every instance. We ate our evening meals in the restaurant, and most of our lunches & breakfasts in Windjammer Cafe. It was sometimes hard to get seating, but the quality was always of a high standard.If there was any complaint about the buffet, more dessert choices could have been offered but you certainly never went hungry!! There are also many opportunities to purchase extra food or beverages....Ben & Jerry's icecream, coffee shop, fresh orange juice at breakfast, hot chocolate (with or without an extra nip) on deck.There were also a number of special food displays...chocolate & ice carvings, gingerbread & christmas arrays, cooking & towel folding demonstrations with lots of guest involvement.Entertainment & activities on this ship were probably my only complaint. The quality of the on board dancers/singers was unfortunately lower than others we've seen, as were the guest entertainers (impersonator, comedian, musicians). The scheduling of activities was often poor, with things clashing with late or early sittings. At times it did feel like they wanted you to sit in bars & order drinks rather than be entertained. The planner for the day looked quite full but a lot of these were spa related rather than true activities... on the positive side, you never had to look too far for a cosy place to sit & relax or read/play cards etc...lots of public areas to enjoy. Another nice touch was the New Zealand cultural dancers that were brought on board to entertain the guests on some evenings in the Atrium...great if you had been unable to attend a shore tour. We booked most of our tours through the cruise line, even though they were definitely more expensive than if you purchased them privately. On our last cruise we had had a number of late or missed port arrivals, so we were a little wary this time around. Two of our ports were scenic cruising, Milford, Dusky & Doubtful Sounds and White Island Volcano. We were blessed with great weather(though cold & a little windy) on both these days.By the time we reached Dunedin we were glad to put our feet on terra firma! We had visited the South Island before, so did a little exploring on our own at this port, and also in Christchurch. In Wellington we used the hop-on-off bus system and looked at the major sights at our own pace.The next port was Napier where we had booked the Waka/war canoe tour. Well worth the money as you got to be fully involved paddling the boat plus heard a lot of cultural info ( hard work at times but lots of fun!). We also managed to fit in a bus trip out to Hawkes Bay & Cape Kidnapper & through the city itself. In Tauranga we decided to hire a car & drive into Rotorua. This was easy to do, as there were rental car companies on the dock waiting for guests to disembark. This proved to be a perfect choice for us as you didn't need to be back on board til 7pm. We got to visit the Buried Village, the Blue Lakes, the thermal park & the Sky Gondola plus see a little of the countryside. Auckland was another day at our own pace...luckily as the weather was not too good for sightseeing.Bay of Islands had been the port we were waiting for...we booked a jetboat ride through the hole-in-the-rock & would thoroughly recommend it. We also fitted in a bus trip out to the Karakara historic railway which we booked on site in the town. New Zealand is definitely a country where you feel confident making your own travel arrangements which gives significant savings compared to the cruise line on-shore tours - as there were no arrival hiccups, we probably should have taken the risk & waited until we arrived in each port. There were no problems with what we did book - just more expensive.Disembarkation went smoothly.. we were towards the bottom of the list but still not too long a wait until the holiday was just a lovely memory! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We have just returned from our 9 night cruise to the South Pacific and thought we would provide some feedback. Overall our experience aboard Rhapsody was very positive and we would be happy to sail on this ship again in the future. ... Read More
We have just returned from our 9 night cruise to the South Pacific and thought we would provide some feedback. Overall our experience aboard Rhapsody was very positive and we would be happy to sail on this ship again in the future. Our initial boarding was a bit stressful. We were advised to board at 12.30pm.....however it would appear that judging by the queues, everybody else was trying to board at that time swell. In Hindsight I would avoid this peak time and come a little later...the Windjammer was open for lunch until 3.30pm so you could still grab a bite the eat then. Having said that the staff checking you in were sensitive to our family with a toddler who was getting very overtired and distressed and processed us very quickly. Departure from the ship on the final day was so quick and easy though! Fantastic! Once on board we were able to go straight to our rooms were our bags had already been delivered...very fast. We had two interconnecting rooms for our family of five and found this set up worked very well. The rooms were very clean and nicely presented. We bought along our own portable DVD player for our toddler, but the TV did have some kids programs showing as well which came in handy for some rest time. We ate breakfast and lunch predominately in the Windjammer which we found was pretty good. Most evenings we ate in the Main dining room, which was lovely. The staff really go out of their way to give you a great dining experience...not happy with your meal selection...no problem they get you another. We travelled with extended familyand kids...at all times I felt it was a family friendly Friendly staff. The ports of Isle of Pines and Lilfou Island were our favorites with good snorkeling. We would definitely take our own snorkeling gear next trip as it was sometimes difficult to get gear on the Islands. I would also recommend everyone invest in long sleeve rash tops to protect from sunburn....I can't tell you how many sunburnt people were wandering sound the ship after visiting the first Port of Isles of Pine. Once you are badly sunburnt it makes the rest of the holiday less enjoyable! X-Mas was lovely on the boat! There was a lovely big tree in the Centrum, Santa gave out presents and there was caroling. There was lots for the kids to do, the little once loved the face painting. We didn't really use the kids club so can't give any feedback there. Overall found the ship to be very friendly and relaxed. Can't think of anything else, but if anyone has any questions happy to answer them! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I travelled with hubby, 16 year old daughter and 86 year old mother on the Rhapsody's Xmas cruise from Sydney. We had a ball and this style of holiday is certainly value for money. Embarkation was easy, we got there at about 3pm ... Read More
I travelled with hubby, 16 year old daughter and 86 year old mother on the Rhapsody's Xmas cruise from Sydney. We had a ball and this style of holiday is certainly value for money. Embarkation was easy, we got there at about 3pm and it took about 20 mins to board. Our bags reached our rooms before we did. We had 2 outside rooms, they weren't huge but fine for 2 of us and there is lots of storage space. We have cruised twice before and this ship is the best so far. The staff are great, very helpful and friendly. The service and food in the main dining room is excellent and we really enjoyed the salad bar there for lunch on sea days. I had my birthday on board and the white chocolate cake that my mother organised for us that night was just superb. Nothing was too much trouble. We enjoyed some of the activities, particularly the trivia and the 'Feel like a Millionaire' game was very funny. Katie, the games manager, has an excellent sense of fun. Entertainment was excellent, particularly the headliners. Also felt that the variety of entertainment was good, with singers, musician, juggler, illusionist. The Rhapsody of the Seas band was excellent. Only thing I felt was of lower quality were a couple of the bands that played in the various lounges. A couple were very good, but others were quite bad - I can sing better. And sometimes they were way too loud for background music. Still there was a good variety of entertainment and I guess it cant all be excellent. Xmas Eve carols in the Centrum was a bit of a fizzer. Lovely big song book is handed around, but the carols only initially went for 20 minutes. We had to yell and beg to get more. The limiting factor seemed to be that the band didnt know many of the songs. It was good, but needed to go much longer. Give them their due, the played on for about another 15 minutes when we asked. Xmas was interesting. Obviously very American as it is an American ship - the menu was not what we Aussies would be used to, or expecting. Would have loved some plum pudding. But hey, we go on holidays to do things differently so this was fine really. The ship is big, clean and well maintained. The staff are great and the experience was fantastic. Will definately cruise with Royal Carribean again. We stayed in Sydney for a couple of days after the cruise and saw the Sun Princess arrive - very small and old looking in comparison. For the price, this was a great holiday and it is so nice to step on board and be treated so well. Looking forward to my next one. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
1. Check In: Very smooth, I live in Sydney, so i dropped in when ship was leaving for previous cruise, and got luggage tags, immigration form & health form. We (our group was 13 pax) got at the terminal around 11.30 am and the luggage ... Read More
1. Check In: Very smooth, I live in Sydney, so i dropped in when ship was leaving for previous cruise, and got luggage tags, immigration form & health form. We (our group was 13 pax) got at the terminal around 11.30 am and the luggage handler took our bags and we proceed to the "actual" check in it took us probably 20 minutes to get inside the ship, very easy and well organised. It would be great for Royal Caribbean to provide luggage tags with set sail pass docs (to speed up the process for those who can't get the tags before the day) 2.Once inside we went to the restaurant to have lunch (we were advised that rooms would be ready by 1.00 pm) so we had lunch and about 1.00pm went to our rooms that were ready, bags were delivered soon after (around 3pm) so I was able to unpack before sailing away (last time I unpack during sailing and got a bit sea sick, so it was perfect to have bags before sailing time). 3. Rooms were on the small side,but with lots of storage, I don't regret choosing this category, didn't spend much time in it, as the social areas are so nice, not packed and many venues to hang around. 4. Service: OMG the staff are FANTASTIC nothing is too much and they are always ready to go an extra mile to serve you. 5. Entertainment: I would prefer to have more variety, it was always the same band @ pool level, with same music, so it was a bit boring, they would play for 2-3 hours per day and they would put the radio/cd/etc for the remainder of the day, I spend most of my time @ pool level and would love to have more music. The speakers needs maintenance as the sound quality was very poor. 6. 2nd sitting at dinner (8.30pm): it was perfect for us the only let down was that we would miss some activities/shows/games because it was during our dinner time. But Octavian and Carin (waiter & assistant) were WONDERFUL so no regrets here because they made our evenings very special. They had 3 night with music yes they sang for us. We went every single night to dinner it was our get together (as I barely saw my teens during the cruise), shame on some people that didn't showed up on last night to not pay the grats. Restaurant was empty, and we could see the disappointment on the waiters faces. So don't do this its very SAD. 7. Teens: We had 4 (13,13,15 & 18) had they enjoyed it??? nop.. just kidding! They are already asking when are we going again. Do I need to say anything else? And they are the type that keep saying "i'm bored" We barely saw them apart from dinner time, as we have made them come other ways I would probably just see them at check out. 8. Shops: We need to buy some pads for my daughter and none were left (just tampons) so make sure you take all you need, because you may not find it onboard. Now shopping was good, alcohol, jewellery, souvenirs were all nice and cheap, so be prepared to spend some money there. 9. Photos: we took a lot with our cameras but also bought the package for their photos, one of the photographers was very nice (the blond one) the others couldn't care less, (sorry can't remember his name) they would take one shot and not care if you had your mouth full with the food, or if the person next to you were your other half or not. 10. Check out: very smooth again, we choose to get out 9.30 (being the last ones to leave) and our bags were out there waiting for us, no confusion or anything. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Cruise Review Rhapsody of the Seas Dec 2010 Cabin # 2625 Embarkation went very fast and smooth. I arrived at Circular Quay early and watched the previous cruise passengers disembarking. I was able to drop my bag off at ... Read More
Cruise Review Rhapsody of the Seas Dec 2010 Cabin # 2625 Embarkation went very fast and smooth. I arrived at Circular Quay early and watched the previous cruise passengers disembarking. I was able to drop my bag off at 10.15am and went for a walk. I started the boarding process around 11am - very fast and efficient, no queuing. Buffet was available in the Windjammer. No champagne and orange juice was offered as we boarded as with other lines I've sailed with. I had been allocated 8.30pm dining and wanted to change that, nothing was available for the early sitting but I was able to change for My Time Dining once I was on board the ship. My Time Dining wasn't true My Time as they only gave me a couple of times to choose from and I was seated at the same table each night - so really only an extension of normal dining but with slightly different seating times as you weren't able to simply walk in when you're hungry. The food choice and service in the Edelweiss Restaurant I found to be very good. Looked after well by friendly staff, especially our waitress Josephine and assistant Wen. Very helpful and efficient - amazing how they remember everyone's name. Most passengers tended to get very dressed up for the formal nights. I ate a few times in the Windjammer Cafe and found the food to be varied and adequate. Wait staff very friendly. You can get eggs and omelettes made to order at the Egg Harbour (breakfast time) - never found the queue too long for this service. The Windjammer is at the front of the ship and is all glass - I think this would be a great ship to do an Alaskan cruise on. On sea days along with the menu in the dining room they also have a great salad bar. On sea days there was normally a buffet around the pool area at lunchtime. Also a couple of nights there was a midnight buffet. The Solarium Cafe was open for hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas, chips etc. Self serve ice-cream machines in the pool area - these were worked overtime on hot days. There was definitely no shortage of food. The free coffee was terrible but always available along with various teas, iced waters and juices. On the first day you can purchase a soda package - think it was something like 4.90 per day for kids and 6.90 per day for adults. There is also a cafe on board where you can purchase cappuccinos, lattes etc. Also available for purchase Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I had an inside room on deck two at the rear of the ship. Originally I was concerned about the position of my cabin but felt very little ship movement in this cabin. It was the smallest cabin I have experienced but with heaps of storage space, tho the suitcases couldn't fit under the bed. The bathroom was small ....smallest shower I have ever experienced. A cake of soap was supplied but none of the normal body lotions, shampoo's, conditioners that are normally in the bathroom - this must be cost cutting. Our cabin steward Sonny was very efficient at making up our room whether we were gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Always a towel animal on the bed in the evening. I thought this ship maintained a very high level of cleanliness in all areas. We had a full sailing and perfect warm weather. There were a lot of children on board as it was school holidays. There were many, many deckchairs and there was never a problem finding a vacant chair. I didn't attend many of the activities on board as nothing really appealed to me. I did go to the jewellery making class and found that enjoyable. Attended the scrapbooking class but they wanted payment for doing that - have found that free on previous cruise lines. There were lots of lounges and areas where you could sit quietly if you didn't want to be around the pool. The theatre venue for the evening shows was one of the best I've experienced. I found some performances were good, some not worth staying for in my opinion. On this cruise we visited Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Noumea and Lifou Island. Getting on and off the ship at the different spots was easy and fast. Rhapsody doesn't supply snorkelling gear and a limited number are available for rent on the islands. Would strongly recommend bringing your own goggles and snorkels. You are not allowed to take any fruit or food from the ship onto the islands. There are a number of reasonably priced tours available from the Tourist Office in Noumea. Also wi fi is available from the cafe next to the Tourist Office. Rhapsody has the Centrum in the centre of the ship (an atrium about 5 decks high). This area is great for live music and dancing. And you can enjoy this from many levels. A lot of vibration on this ship - especially in the dining room and on some of the deck chairs, never experienced this level of vibration on a ship before. Wasn't everywhere but in certain spots - no idea of the cause. Disembarkation back at Sydney went smoothly. They want you off as fast as possible of course. Bags have to be left outside room between 7pm and 11pm the night before disembarking - you do not have the choice of walking off with your own bags. All in all it was a wonderful cruise. Loved the itinerary except Noumea. Wasn't the greatest cruise ship I've been on but for the price can't complain at all. Would I go again - yes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Cruise Sail Date: 21/12/2009: Check-in/Embarkation: We arrived at the Sydney International Cruise terminal at 13.15hrs. People and luggage everywhere, we spotted several porters and managed to easily find one with cruise luggage tags. We ... Read More
Cruise Sail Date: 21/12/2009: Check-in/Embarkation: We arrived at the Sydney International Cruise terminal at 13.15hrs. People and luggage everywhere, we spotted several porters and managed to easily find one with cruise luggage tags. We completed these and attached them to our cases. We then transported our own cases to the waiting van to be loaded onto the ship. No big deal, quicker to take your own than wait for a porter. Proceeded through security check of documents, travelled the escalator to the ships security, hand luggage scanned and through to Customs. Once through Customs waited in line to check-in with the ships ground staff. Given our sea pass card and signed all credit card documents for onboard charging. Now board the ship. Very quick and painless, onboard within 30 minutes. Now 14.00hrs and we enter one of the ships elevators to find our cabin deck 7, very easy to find. Upon entering the hallway a clear smell of bodies could be detected. At 14.10 we went to take lunch in the cafe on deck 9, the food was fresh and well presented. Plenty of choice and the selections were numerous; the ship was catering for every taste and palate. Cabin: We were met with the same smell in the cabin. I hate that, the smell of old body odour. The cabin itself was clean and the bathroom immaculate in everyway. That could not be faulted. A quick look around we found the balconies to be small compared to previous ships. The furniture in the cabin is now looking tired after 12 years in service with the wooden edges being bare wood and the varnish/lacquer now missing in places. Apart from the smell and edges of the wooden furniture the cabin was acceptable for a ship of 12 years old. The smell was pointed out to the cabin steward who arranged for the carpet to be cleaned on the 3rd day. This helped but the smell remained as the pillows and bedding covers also had the old body smell in them. We found ample clothes hangers and ample space for all of our clothes. A kettle and tea are provided in the staterooms. A fridge in stocked with water and soft drinks at an extra charge. The TV was old and needs an upgrade but did work. 3 days in and the toilet vacuum system has so far failed on our deck 3 times, once everyday so far. Not a good sign of good maintenance. This is now fixed and was no more trouble. The Cabin Steward: Alfredo a young man from the Philippines, we have to say was, dedicated to this job. He worked over and above any other steward that we have encountered in our 15 years of cruising. Working past his cruise shift time to ensure that his cabins and his corridor were the best kept on this ship. Nothing was too much trouble for this individual. The Dining Room: Edelweiss. Unlike the cabin, the dining room does have a 100% vibration issue. First night we were on 198, but this table has a severe problem and after the first evening we were allocated table 164, this too vibrates but was less so. Some ships vibrate and this is one of those ships. We were shown to various tables throughout the dining room. Most vibrated, only a few located near to the entrance did not vibrate. Or should I say, cause the chairs to vibrate in which you sit. If you are susceptible to vibration and if this would spoil your vacation, please choose another ship as to dine in the dining room it is almost impossible to be allocated a table that will not vibrate to some degree. The ships officers and crew are aware of this problem and do try and pacify you but, they have an impossible task, they cannot find you a position that will not cause you some vibration at all. The food and service: Whilst it is not outstanding, it is edible and is of a moderate standard. If you are accustomed to UK P&O , Holland & American or Cunard, this food is not in the same class. The level and speed of service in the dining room has lost its edge, 2 waiters now have to cover 24-30 persons per sitting including serving the wine. This will cause some tables to be served more slowly in all sections. This did not affect our table as we were prepared to be the very last table to leave the restaurant as was indeed the case most evenings although, we were one of the first to arrive and place our orders. Meals are served platted, including all vegetables. Christmas day the tables were no different to any other, no crackers, no hat, and no trimmings, absolutely nothing different apart from the fresh flower has now disappeared from the table dressing. The menu cards were pre printed on cheap tacky flimsy paper. Everyone ordered the best they could from a very poor selection being offered. The food too was nothing special. Everyone settled on the Turkey, some plates arrived with an assortment of vegetables and others with just mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy, which was in such short supply it was difficult to eat the turkey. Mashed potatoes not roast, the stuffing was abysmal and cold. The plates were all cold. The food the worst so far. Indeed, for us, it was the poorest quality, smallest quantity and worst service of any cruise we have been on over the past 15 years for a Christmas day dinner. It seems that the size of the portions and even the plates have been affected by the economic climate that has engulfed the world. Everything was less, less service, less food, less selection. It was as if they were trying to feed every passenger for $2 a meal, very poor, very poor indeed. The plum pudding was formed with the help of an ice-cream scoop and baked on a tray, no individual puddings, only small dollops. A very disappointing Christmas meal. The Entertainment & Cruise Director: On our 17 night cruise, we were treated to just 3 production shows in total and this is common on a 14 night cruise with RCI. Even the officers and crew in other departments say that the dancers and singers have it too easy on this ship. They party, party, party and work just 1 night a week so we were informed by officers of this ship. The Cruise Director has a voice which you either listen too intently or just switch off. It's a shriek and goes through you, is she doing a great job, no, could she do better, yes much. If you are thinking Broadway type/style shows, then this is not the ship for you. The productions are poor quality compared to other cruise lines and just do not compare. The "shall we dance lounge" is not used frequently in the evenings for additional entertainment, yet is very large and could be utilized far better. On the occasions when it was, the karaoke night and the singers 45 minute show, the place was packed to the rafters. In the schooner bar, the vibration was very bad in some seating areas whilst others were just a steady vibration if you just wanted a quiet drink then this is not the place. The piano man is good entertainment but the enjoyment is spoiled by this constant vibration. Ships Tours and Port Shuttle: Sorry to say, here again you will be badly let down. You will be overcharged and you will have no option but to pay. The ships shuttle was double what it should have been. The ship is charged by the NZ port authority or bus company NZ$6 per person for this service yet the ship charged $9US a doubling of the price. The tours are also very much overpriced. Example Dunedin train excursion US$175 per person, that's NZ$225. Booked direct not on a cruise ship day and the cost is only NZ$81. This extortion has been highlighted by the NZ and Australian Press, and was met with the tour ships spokesmen as, "cruise ship passengers expect to pay a premium for the ease of arrangements of these tours whilst onboard". That's just not true, all passengers have no option if they want to take a tour to pay these highly inflated prices to support the bottom line of these cruise ships. This is daylight robbery and everyone on a cruise should avoid at all costs from booking any tours through a cruise ship. This way, they will have no option if they wish to provide this service but to fall inline and reduce their charges. Extortion should be met with defiance and not complacency. Make your voices heard, write and tell the ship what you think, stand up for what is right, fair play for all. After all your cruise was not a gift to you, you paid good money for it, particularly on this cruise. Dress Code: Formal, Smart Casual and Casual are the three suggested attire's for respective nights. However on this ship the optimum word is suggested, which kind of spoils the night for those who do make an effort. On all formal nights not many ladies were in formal evening wear, most wore cocktail dresses at best and other just casual. Some were not ashamed to wear track suits or gym wear for both dinner and the evening's entertainment. Such a shame that some chose to be such slobs. On smart casual nights some men wore jackets and ties where others just wore a shirt (That's casual for you that cruise and cannot distinguish between casual and smart casual. Smart casual is with a jacket! ) Lower standards of dress from passengers result in lower standards of both supplied and quality of service from the ships crew. As is evident with the quality and quantity of food served in the evening dining room. Overall this ship has an extremely relaxed view on standard of dress and, compliance is not mandatory. One could turn up with you clothes in a plastic carrier bag and wear the same cloths all week; you would not feel out of place. Indeed some did, that's why the ship, in the accommodation corridors smelt of bodies. Unlike other cruise lines where the air is fresh and clean. Rhapsody is the three star cruise ship where other ships are in the main, high five stars that is associated with luxury cruising. This cruise reminded me of a package holiday 35 years ago, in the early days of foreign holidays for the masses in Europe. When the hotels would be 3 stars at best and the food very poor, is this where this cruise line sees itself in the cruise market, in that category of cheap and cheerful. Officer and Crew: Both officers and crew were extremely friendly and tried to be very helpful. The crew were probably a little familiar although not unduly so. I tested both officers and the crew's ability to resolve issues, both did very well. Neither could be said to have failed at any task or challenge. Rhapsody has a crew that will care about you and will endeavour to make your trip as pleasant as possibly within the confines of a ship that vibrates throughout, in every part of every public room. Only the forward cabins could be described as a normal ships cabin without severe vibration issues. Ships motion yes, but not the problem of excessive and continuous shake from the out of line props or worn bearings, causing such a shake. Conclusion: If you are an avid cruiser and have experienced quality, excellent and outstanding service from other cruise lines, then this will not appeal to you. If you are new to cruising and your expectations and not that high, then this could be for you. If you don't like to dress for dinner and won't feel out of place in gym wear for dinner then this too could be a cruise ship for you. This cruise cost us over $10,000 plus onboard account fees, decks 2, 3&4 were onboard for about $4,000 ($2,000pp). Value for money, you decide, would I return to this ship or this line....definitely not. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our fifth cruise and our first with Royal Caribbean. We had previously cruised with P & O and Carnival. Our last cruise was with Carnival in the Western Caribbean in October 2009. We wanted to try cruising from Australia again ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise and our first with Royal Caribbean. We had previously cruised with P & O and Carnival. Our last cruise was with Carnival in the Western Caribbean in October 2009. We wanted to try cruising from Australia again and were aware that the cruises leaving Australia didn't have all the bells and whistles that the newer ships in the US and Europe have been blessed with. We intentionally did not want to compare, we just wanted to have a lot of fun with our two kids. After all, we were looking to expand our horizons rather than restrict them! The embarkation process was very smooth and quick. We arrived at the port at Circular Quay at around 11.10am. We were sitting on the ship in the Windjammer by 11:45am. It was great. Very organised and smooth. We didn't have luggage tags to bring with us, but had learned from an earlier trip into the port that you go to the porters and they have them for you. We had booked an inside cabin for 4 people on deck four. I was very surprised to find out that we were required to all sleep in separate bunks. We had found on previous cruises that the two bottom beds could be pushed together to form a queen bed. We were disappointed to find that owing to RCI OH&S policy or some similar reason, the bottom bunks could not be combined. I think we should have been informed of this. This definitely was not our preference for 17 nights. The cruise was more expensive than most other cruises we had experienced, but we accepted that because it was a Christmas and New Year cruise, RCI may have extra costs to cover with regard to all the extra things they may choose to do. This was definitely not the case. On Christmas Eve, we experienced Christmas carol singing and a midnight mass. These were very enjoyable. However on Christmas Day they had very little on both for adults and for kids. Santa came at 9am to the kids. That was fun and the kids all got a gift. However due to bad weather and in my opinion lack of organisation there was nothing else on during the day. Kids programs were not running and the adult's pool was only allowing kids in it during 12-2pm and 4- 8pm. Actually at 2pm all kids were removed from the pool by security so adults could get in. The kids were told to go to the outside pool. It was a wet, cold and a little rough, not really an option unless you want to spend the rest of the holiday sick. The room stewards, restaurant staff and some of the drinks waiters were wonderful. They did their absolute best to provide you with everything you requested. However it appears that the restaurant staff, don't talk to the drinks staff and no one talks to the room stewards. We could not count the number of times we had to request used glasses be removed from our room as the room stewards were unable to differentiate between the purchased glasses and the normal glasses. Furthermore, it was very difficult at times to acquire a drink at dinner at our table - and the drink waiter was very surly! The service in Edelweiss was good however the options available for meals was extremely poor and the standard of cruise meals you would normally expect was just not there. We could have Filet Mignon every night but would have had to pay $14.95US for the privilege. No Lobster, Filet Mignon, Beef Wellington, Bomb Alaska and the list goes on. It appears that RCI have made cuts, however they have not dropped their prices. 2nd rate food for first rate cruise prices. On previous cruises, we were spoilt for choices in the restaurant. During this cruise, we were looking for excuses to experience the fine dining experience! We were located at the front of the ship and 2 of the lifts did not work for 14 days of the cruise. It was very difficult to get to the Windjammer unless you walked up five flights of stairs. As we are reasonably fit, we chose to take the stairs; unfortunately, some of our cruise companions were more elderly & less infirm & had no other option than to wait unreasonable lengths of time for THE lift (1 out of 3) to arrive! But for us the worst part of the cruise was the photographers. In the past 4 cruises we have been on, we have purchased every port photo. However it appears for the photographers on Rhapsody working was not really a priority. We exited off the ship in Christchurch at approximately 10.30am and there were no photographers. That evening I went and complained to Guest Services. To date I have had no response. The next day we were getting off in Picton. We exited the ship at approximately 9.15am and again it appears that they were a little busy to do the job, for which they are engaged. We generally buy most photos and get lots taken, however on this cruise it appeared to be amateur hour. We had photos taken of our children, where the cuffs on shirts were not right, labels on ties could be seen etc etc etc. On the past four cruises we have found the photographers knew exactly what they were doing and indicated that things needed to be fixed before the photograph was taken. On Christmas Night the photographers didn't go to all tables to have photos taken. Considering we were with our children we would have loved a family photo. Oh well, I suppose it was just not to be, but obviously RCI don't believe that photography is a good way to make money, because if they did they would need to make extensive changes to the way they operate. Instead of continually getting annoyed, we just started to laugh about the photographic "amateur hour". Incidentally, upon complaining about the photographic department to Guest Services, we also enquired as to how we can access our shipboard account within our room. We were advised that that option was not available upon "this ship", but they could provide it every 48 hours upon our request. We requested it, but guess what? It didn't happen!!! That being said, some parts and services of the ship were great. The Viking Crown Lounge is a great addition to this ship and other companies should consider something like this for themselves. The children's staff was great and our kids had a wonderful time and have made friends for life. We had children in the 9-11 and 12-14 age groups. In fact our eldest son on previous cruises had not enjoyed the children's facilities as much as he did on this cruise. The majority of the shows were for elderly people. We are a family group and in the end stopped going to the shows because of the poor quality of some of them. However that being said, we acknowledge that everyone's needs have to be catered for. It appears that RCI may be taking clients who travel from Australia for granted by providing second rate food. If RCI think this is the way that will help them get over any issues from the global credit crunch we think they are mistaken. In good conscience we cannot recommend RCI as the best cruise line I have ever sailed on. In fact we would recommend to everyone that they should look at Carnival Cruise Lines as we believe the service, food and entertainment they offer is excellent and it has nothing to do with the age of the ship. We believe it is extremely unlikely that we will cruise with RCI again anywhere in the world. There are better options with other cruise lines. For those first time cruisers, welcome to cruising; from those of us more experienced cruisers, please consider that cruising has so much more to offer!!! In our opinion, Rhapsody of the Seas simply went through the motions. That being said, we enjoyed our holiday (as a good or bad cruise is still cruising) and are looking forward to our next cruising experience. We may just be a little more selective ... Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Christmas/New Year in New Zealand with the teenage children Departed December 23 2008. Sydney - New Zealand - Sydney 14 nights Inside Large Staterooms - 4015 & 4017 2 adults with 2 teenagers (DD 15 & DS 13) ... Read More
Christmas/New Year in New Zealand with the teenage children Departed December 23 2008. Sydney - New Zealand - Sydney 14 nights Inside Large Staterooms - 4015 & 4017 2 adults with 2 teenagers (DD 15 & DS 13) Rhapsody of the Seas delivered it all for our group. Friends asked afterwards, "What went wrong", and we were able to honestly say - "Nothing". Adults and teenagers all enjoyed different aspects, with lots for everyone to do. Here is a rambling, and hopefully accurate recollection of our time on board, and off it. Cruise Objective After years of hectic "family visit holidays", my main aim was to quickly forget what day/time it was, and to just be relaxed. This was achieved by day 4, where I had already forgotten which ports we would be calling at, let alone what I had planned to do in each port. Obviously cruising is for me. Itinerary We have always wanted to "holiday" in New Zealand - not just visit. This seemed to be an excellent selection, as we had a "taste" of each area of coastal New Zealand. To do it by car would have meant a rushed trip with no relaxation - or just doing a small segment of what NZ has to offer. Day 1 - 23 December 2008- Sydney. Embark 12 noon Arrived 11 AM. Long line already formed. Getting on board was a breeze, though a little bit daunting as we were dropped off at the terminal with lots of luggage. Next time we will organize luggage tags (from TA??) before we arrive-this was the only issue for us. Being in Sydney night 1 suited us Aussies as well as those from OS, as we could leisurely see the sights of this wonderful city without the normal rush. Berthed right next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, our dining table overlooked the Sydney Opera House, with a view similar to the expensive 5-star restaurants adjacent to the ship. Day 2 - 24 December 2008 Depart Sydney 6.30 PM Day spent shopping - and being based right in the heart of Sydney was a bonus. Very busy as the last shopping day before Christmas. Seemed the shoppers were mostly businessmen who had forgotten to buy their wife a Christmas present. Sailing through the heads of Sydney Harbour is a wonderful experience - it seems to possess a strong "Aussie-feeling". Similar I suppose to those from US seeing Statue of Liberty etc. Day 3 25 December 2008 - Cruising Food, more food, and then some more food. DS discovered the Solarium pizza bar was still open at midnight. Different from the normal Christmas atmosphere, but DW had managed to sneak on a few surprise presents so we had a crowded pressie exchange in the confines of 4015. All the children got to meet Santa, no matter what the age. Santa handed out gifts (RC merchandise), which was well received. Day 4 26 December 2008 - Cruising This was the day that I decided that I could not, or should not, do all the food options on a 14 day cruise and survive. Day 5 27-Dec Bay Of Islands, New Zealand Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM This was the only port on the trip where we were tendered. Easy disembarkation, well organized by the RCL staff. We were on Tender 1, and when we arrived on shore at wharf 10 minutes from Paihia, the "transit" bus had not arrived yet. This was our first experience of "New Zealand Time", which is even slower paced than "Aussie Time". No problems with this, we just sat back and looked at the scenery for 10 minutes. Some got a little irritated, but then ......... We had pre-booked a jet-boat ride (Exitor) to Hole in Rock at 12 noon via the internet, so we stopped in at the tourist information centre for a look-see. Others had booked other cruise options, such as Dolphin excursions. Our trip was great fun, and luckily for me the waves were not as extreme as some of the more adventurous had hoped for. The scenery was magnificent and the sun came out for a truly spectacular experience. Sorry for those in earlier and later trips where it was raining but that is why waterproof clothing is supplied!!! There was a helicopter service next door to the information centre, so we parted with NZ$240 for each of the children to go on a 20 minute ride to see the sights - which they loved. Great value tour as the helicopter is straight up and over the islands - no wasted time "getting there". Good to book as you arrive as we could see if the weather was fine enough for a good ride. Across the road from the centre was a local market which had locally produced handicrafts. Well priced, especially for those from US, who had a very positive exchange rate. If in Paihia, head up the main street to the "Burger bar/Restaurant" - friendly service, great burgers and lovely NZ wines. Rhapsody tendered to Paihia, a very small town, which is the "hub" of the tourism for Bay of Islands. We were told of a previous cruise not sure who) had tendered to the township of Russell, which is accessible by small ferry from Paihia. No one at Russell knew they were coming, so the small shop at Russell was over-run and sold out of food by 10.30 am. The tourism operators at Paihia, who could see the ship, and told to expect a couple of thousand people, were left wondering where everyone was. Rhapsody had obviously organized things better. Day 6 - 28 December 2008 - Auckland, New Zealand Arrive 7:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM We berthed in downtown Auckland and decided to just cruise the city sights. Could have done Lord of Ring Tour, vineyards etc but were looking for relaxation. This is when we visited the 328 meter Sky-Tower, where grown men weep from fear of heights and not the place for me to visit for relaxation. Was it the glass-floored elevator that worried me most, or the glass floored section of the 320m high viewing deck, or the cafe where one could enjoy a cup of coffee whilst viewing those who choose to jump off a perfectly safe structure with only a thin steel cable attached to them. Following that experience I needed a good lie down so we went back to Rhapsody about 3PM. Day 7 - 29-December 2008 - Tauranga, New Zealand Arrive 6:00 AM Depart 5:00 PM We pre-hired a car from a major company who offered full insurance. Other companies supplied cars dockside but we were not willing to take the risk with a large excess. We wanted to do our own thing and stop where we were having fun. We drove to Rotorua, which is an easy drive for those used to driving on the left, though roads twist and turn through the hills. We saw the thermal springs and mud-pools, along with a Maori cultural centre. We then experienced the "Zorb", which is a large (about 3 meter high ball), which you climb into along with a few buckets of fresh water, and then you are rolled down a big hill. Definitely one for the young ones, and it looked a similar experience to being in a front loading washing machine. Another adventure from the people who brought you bungee-jumping and jumping from seriously tall buildings. Day 8 - 30 December 2008 - Napier, New Zealand Arrive 11:00 AM - Depart 6:00 PM Napier is a wonderfully quaint town. It is known as the "art-deco" town - as it was wiped out in the 1930's by earthquake, and completely rebuilt with many of the major buildings, and houses done in this style. Great wine-tasting and architectural tours, though we chose to relax over shopping, coffee and wine-tasting at a local bar. (I loved the New Zealand coffee shops!) A big thanks to the tourism people from Napier - they really turned it on for the ship. From the free shuttle buses all day with very interesting commentary, to the farewell featuring vintage cars, jazz band and locals dressed in "1930's outfits. They obviously respect and appreciate the tourism dollars. Day 9 31 December 2008 - Wellington, New Zealand Arrive 9:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM It is known as "Windy Wellington" and it did not disappoint. Most walked from the docks into the city centre for a trip on the cable car, which featured spectacular views. This was followed by a visit to the NZ Museum, "Te Papa Tongarewa", which heavily features the Maori and Islander cultural heritage. A truly great interactive museum with admission by donation. Followed by a New Years Eve celebration on board - I have been told I had a good time. Day 10 - 01 Jan 2009 - Christchurch, New Zealand Arrived 7:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM First stop on the South Island, after a reasonable stable crossing. The ships shuttle is the way to go here as the port is about 20 minutes from the city centre. Quiet on New Years Day, but the major sights were still open. We went to the Antarctic Centre next to International Airport - which was very worthwhile. We booked in for the extra "Backstage Pass Tour" which was really interesting as we got up-close with the penguins. Then it was off to the city centre to look at the beautiful architecture, especially the Christchurch Cathedral - reminiscent of English cities. Missed the Gondola ride as DS & DD were busy checking MySpace and chatting to friends back home via internet. Day 11 - 02 January 2009 - Dunedin, New Zealand Arrive 7:00 AM Depart 6:00 PM Dunedin is another great port - another one of the NZ "mini-cities" towns that are very beautiful. We got a local bus (NZ$2.20) from Lyttleton Port, which dropped us at the Cadbury Chocolate Factory (Closed on that day!!!) We walked for 5 minutes to the tourism centre, and booked a tour of Lanarch Castle - well worth the effort. Scenery was breathtaking. Others raved about the Albatross Tour, Vintage Rail Tour, Gondola etc. Day 12 03 January 2009 - Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, New Zealand First Sound 8:00AM Depart Last Sound 5:30 PM Dusky Sound, which is only accessible by the sea, is unbelievably beautiful. I personally felt Doubtful was even more beautiful, and then it was off to Milford, which was the icing on the cake. Those who were on the cruise who had experienced Norwegian Fjords said they were as beautiful as anything they had seen. We were told that the Sound's are best when raining, due to the waterfalls. We experienced sunshine, rain, and hail - so we got to see all the variations. I did not know what to expect from the Sounds, as I was unsure how far we would be able to travel into each one. I was astounded by the way the Rhapsody slipped into each Sound, and easily navigated itself through, which was made possible by the extreme water depths within each Sound. For those who have been to Milford Sound via the "road option" - yes we easily made it past the large waterfall near Milford, did a quick "U-Turn" and headed out again. Unbelievable is the best word to describe that day. My 13 year old son even acknowledged the beauty of the area - and then he headed back to the teens club. Everyone I spoke to said it was best to finish on the Sounds, because after that, everything else seems a little ordinary. Day 13 - 04 January 2009 - Cruising Day 14 - 05-January 2009 - Cruising Day 15 - 06 January 2009 - Sydney, Australia Arrive 6:30 AM Off the boat, into the Hotel apartment, surfaced after completing 13 loads of washing to do some sightseeing. Food/Service I am on a 6 month diet following a wonderful time at the "manipulative" hands of Josephine, the world's most wonderful waiter. By day 2 she knew exactly our food preferences and was suggesting suitable dishes for each of us. I use the plural as she often delivered a second entrEe or main course, "Just in Case". Josephine was instrumental in making our cruise memorable. It is a rare day when DW suggests that we "top-up" the tips, but she did so on a few occasions for Josephine. Our children have even made comments re the poor service, compared to Josephine, we have received since the cruise. I made the mistake of telling another cruiser how good Josephine was. He was quite put out, and immediately rebutted with how his waiter was even better. Great RCL service was not just experienced on our table. Windjammer food was good quality - do not expect 5 star though. It has a reasonable variation considering we are on a ship with over 2,000 passengers. I loved the Omelette Bar for breakfast, where DW had her 2 fried eggs done just the way she likes them, and you could choose from selection of ingredients for your Omelette. Noticed on New Years Day the most popular one was "Omelette with everything Mate". Heard a few complaints re the very important and life threatening food issues - such as "I like my muffins toasted for longer - I complain every day and they will not listen to me" etc etc. I wonder what they would be like on a tour of an "exotic" country. Life is an adventure - live it. Lunch in the dining room on sea days featured the "Salad Bar". Great quality salads including prawns (shrimps), smoked salmon etc. Chef prepares them how you like them - very popular as a "light-option" whilst retaining quality ingredients. Diet suggestion - do not do the Caesar Salad every day and think you will lose weight. Our room service attendant (Akmed?) was very efficient and friendly. New to this position, he handled it extremely well, and even managed to put up with DD's & DS's instant daily mess in their cabin. Dining Table We had a great group of people on our table, ranging in age fro 13 to early 70's. Phil & Barry from Melbourne, who are known as Felix & Oscar, along with their lovely wives "Isles" and "Ginnie", Martin from Germany, Rob from Queensland made up the table along with DW, DD, DS and I. Interests and experiences were diverse, which made great conversations over the 14 nights. Their company made dinner and experience, not a chore. The children loved dining with us, and enjoyed the stories from the "oldies", mainly because they are made to feel welcome. Alcohol Prices. The big whine recently has been the alcohol prices, as they are in US dollars. RCL is not responsible for the Aussie $$$ crash against the $US. They also have done their menus months ago, and they are for all of their boats - therefore impossible to easily change. Therefore - all drinks on the menu are expensive when converted to Aussie Dollar. RCL have responded with many 2-for-1 offers , Beer offers and "Drinks of the Day". These are publicized on the Daily Compass and are great value. We purchased Rum based cocktails for US$8 for 2 drinks - very good value. Our dining companions had a daily timetable (Thanks to Felix)of which bar to be at to get the specials. A good way to save cash, and try some new drinks. Duty Free RCL were offering about 20% off list price - and easily beat the other duty free shops we looked at for alcohol. My DD saved money on perfume. Purchased large bottle of her favorite perfume for less than small bottle normally costs. We also saved money on a Guess handbag. These were apparently essential items that she "needed", so at least I saved some $$$. Things I would like to see to make this trip even better •More New Zealand wines and food. The area is known for its fantastic wines and food, at reasonable prices etc etc. Why not include more local wines and feature some NZ specialty food, even for just 1 night, or a NZ specialty dish each night. •Better Internet access. Currently, forget it. Use internet cafe's in New Zealand. NZ$1 for 15 minutes was normal pricing we saw. Everyone with a laptop, which we had, were trying to get Wi-Fi - and complaining of cost/speed. •Upgrade to Royal Suite. Well, you gotta hope! Things I learnt. •If you believe "It is all about ME", then maybe cruising is not for you. RCL have to take into consideration what the majority of passengers want. They have the experiences of the millions of passengers that have cruised with them. •Too much underwear is never enough. •No one should (but some might) complain if you wear the same outfit twice. •Do not leave your black dress-shoes at home. Brown deck-shoes look stupid with a suit. (I refuse to show anyone my formal "portraits" as I looked stupid! •Do not be amazed by the behavior of anyone. •Some people are never happy. •Some people are way too loud. •Hire a tux and shoes on the boat if you want to go formal - especially on a long cruise (3 formal nights). Saves packing tux, 3 shirts, formal shoes. •You need to sit back, let it flow, have fun, talk with those at your dinner table, say hi to people you have never met before and make the most of it. •A cruise is always better than being at work. •RCCL will always drop the price just after you pay final payment, or sell out if you decide to wait for cheap rates to come out. •DW and DD are always right, even when wrong (knew that before the cruise, but just had it clarified again) •And finally, Josephine is the best waitress in the world - no matter what anyone else thinks. That's it - I can thoroughly recommend this cruise, but then, there will be some that are unhappy - as there always is. I'm happy - but I'm back at work. DW has just emailed me an itinerary for April 2009 Galveston to England cruise - she must have had a good time too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Rhapsody of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.4
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 3.0 4.2

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