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budaman

Just another Rhapsody review 4/24-5/01, 2005

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Sunday, April 24, 2005.....10:30AM

Our cruise vacation officially begins as we pull out of our driveway in Buda,TX...Destination-Galveston and The Rhapsody of the Seas. The drive down was uneventual, without even 1 stop...an example of how excited everyone was to be finally going. My niece spurred us forward at every juncture by playing a CD of Lust for Life. talk about getting some cruisers fired up! We were anticipating this cruise so much, the Rhapsody was going to have a hard time living up to our expectations.

We arrived at the EZCruise lot around 2:15 and after the enthusiastic attendants loaded our bags into the shuttle, we were wisked away to Cruise Terminal #2. Our first close glimpse of the Rhapsody took our breath away. Simply awesome.....appears to be in a completely different league than the Elation, which was docked right ahead of her. Going through check-in was a breeze and we were on board by 2:40. Not wanting to miss our precruise M&M meeting in the Viking Lounge, we stashed our stuff in the cabin and headed to the top of the Centrum. it was great to finally meet and put faces to the personalities we had grown to know over the last 2 months. After some good natured ribbing and story telling we busted out to catch a bite at the Windjammer before Muster. In summary, in less than 2 hrs on the Rhapsody, we had a few drinks, met a lot of new friends, stuffed our faces and learned how to get off a sinking ship, and we hadn't even left the dock yet! This is going to be one heck of a week!!

After Muster, which even though we were in 3 seperate cabins on 3 different decks, they organize by section from top to bottom, we were all assigned to the same boat, (If one of us went down, we all were going), our gang of 6 met in our cabin, JS8576. We popped the cork on some bubbly in anticipation of Sailaway! At 5PM, with the blast of the ships horn?, we were away....People waving wildly from the dock, from the ships railings, balconies...everywhere.After a quick jaunt topside for the festivities there, we settled back into our cabins to unpack and get ready for dinner. We had the late seating(8:30) and table 35. We found out after waitng on Deck 4 for a short time, that even # tables are on 4 and odd on Deck 5. One thing about late dining and daylight savings time, we stayed at the pools so late that we never seemed to get back in time to get dressed and make the shows(7PM) before dinner. I'm not going to go into specific details about menus and venues since both are subjective, but I went in kindof expecting the Windjammer to not be much better than a school cafeteria and the Dining Room to be just a tad above a good TV Dinner. I am pleased to report my fears were unfounded and found both locations to have quality, well diversified offerings. My only complaint in the Windjammer is to have smaller plates :p and 1 word of advice. Look around the room before filling up your plate, there's stuff everywhere!

One thing I would like to go into detail, is to recognize 3 gentleman who made this cruise such a rewarding experience.

First, our cabin Steward, Laurent. The first couple of days he was like the invisible man, but everthing was always done. It's like a sixth sense he had. after a couple of days, I started to try & trick him and finally met him. He was a marvelous young man with impecable manners.

Second & third were our Waiter, Binnie and his assistant, Lyndon. These two gentleman were probably the foremost reason we came away with such a rewarding experience. They went out of their ways to make us happy and comfortable. If we wanted 2 appetizers,done. desserts fixed differntly than on the menu,done. They always palced a napkin in our lap, after the first night, remembered who had coffee after dinner and even cream users. Every evening, Binnie would let us know what was the best thing on the menu and what might not be the best. They remembered our names, even though we constantly moved around the table and he gave us a heads up on what to expect the next day either at Sea or in Port. If the other Waiters and Assistants are half as good as Binnie & Lyndon, it's no wonder the Rhapsody has the reputation it has. Day 1 is quickly coming to an end and the excitement and alchohol are taking its tool.

This review would be 30 pgs long if I went through everthing I wrote down so I'll have to hit the highlight of each remaining day and list some info that might be helpful to future Rhapsody cruisers.

 

Day 2: Sea Day

Daytime activities: Latin Dance Classes, sngls mix & mingle, Majority Rules Game Show.

Our official M&M was at 12:30 and it was good to meet up with the gang again. Best thing about the M&M is not the party, it's running into all these people you now know throughout the week and exchanging experiences and support!

 

Capts gala: Capt. Teo Strazicic...had trouble figuring out his accent all week, very nice man, highly confident, funny and on his 3rd sailing with Rhapsody.

 

Dinner: 1st Formal Night....Beef Tenderloin Filet Yummie!

 

Broadway Melodies: Kenny James.. Star Search Vocal Grand Champ

 

Our activities included a 2mile walk on the Deck 10 track (10 laps) and lounging around the Solarium and of course, EATING.

 

Day 3: Half Sea/Half Port

The day started with the anticipation of our first port of call...Key West.

Did another 2 miles on deck, hard going into wind & easy down wind and then a little food and some sun...such a tough life...and then, POOF, there's Key West.

3PM and were at the dock. Out of our group, 1 planned a dive excursion, and one planned the Pub Crawl. The rest of us had no plan what so ever! Ended up at Mel Fishers Museum where we ogled all the riches recovered from the Atocha(the single largest treasure find ever) and while there decided I needed a new Pirate flag to hang with my Texas flag before we got deep into the Caribbean. After the Museum we hit a few shops on the way to Margaritaville where we had, of course, a margarita and a Cheeseburger in Paradise. I know that sounds corny & touristy, but what the hay! After eating, my son broke off to do the Pub Crawl and we headed for Mallory Square. We missed the sunset, so my wife got a Henna Tattoo and some Key Lime Pie instead. After a little more browsing(there must be a bylaw in Key West that states for every bar, you have to have one souvenier shop) we headed back to the ship to watch the goings on from our balcony since it overlooked the pier and downtown. After everone was on board at 11:30, the party on the pool deck started. The band was cranking,the drinks flowing and the grills grilling. Our entire group ran into each other on deck and everyone had had a great time. My nieces dive went well and she was able to meet a group that would dive with us in Cayman and my son enjoyed the Pub Crawl as did many others since they had to split into 2 groups of 23.

 

Daytime activities: Ice Sculpting at the pool and the Men's Sexy Leg contest.

 

Broadway Melodies: Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers

 

Dinner: Casual with open seating

 

Day 4:Sea Day

Seas were a little rough overnight but had calmed somewhat by morning. Light walk before breakfast and cooked to order omelet in the Windjammer. I start thinking I've been eating too much, but that thought quickly fades as the plate seems to fill itself. Lots of time around the Main Pool today with the Belly Flop Contest and Horseraces going on. Even made it to the show tonight... Husband & wifemagic team, The Haines. They were very good and enlisted a lot of audience participation. Afterwards went to dinner and then it was time............THE QUEST!! Apparently, it's an unwritten law that it cannot be spoken about. All I can say is it's amazing what otherwise sane,responsible levelheaded adults will do in the heat of competion. It is not to be missed and I certainly hope that no photos out there surface!

 

Day 5: Grand Cayman

Woke early to get breakfast before meeting for our excursion...Diving with Red Sail Sports. Already in the Harbor was the Carnival Victory and the Mariner and Holiday Dream followed us in. The Carnival Conquest arrived mid morning. The Port report showed the Star Princess, but she never showed. I was anxious to dive Grand Cayman to put away a personal gremlin from a previous dive there and to also not get my head shaved, which was what I put up if I chickened out. During one of the dives, the Cayman curse reared its ugly head & I injured my foot, but was able to complete both dives. In between dives a quick moving shower moved across and drenched the harbor. After the dive, went back to the ship to change, but by that time, my foot had swelled to the point I couldn't comfortably walk. so I stayed aboard while everyone else went shopping. It was crowded and hot in Georgetown, but everyone came back with what they went after....Rum,Cigars,Rum Cakes and more Rum!

One word, the tendering was very easy, we were the only ship using the new dock and with the combination of the Port Tenders and the Rhapsody's boats, it went quickly and smoothly.

 

As we departed Grand Cayman, we were shadowed by the Mariner and the Conquest which were both also bound for Cozumel.

 

Broadway Theater: RC Singers & Dancers

 

Dinner: 2nd Formal Night... LOBSTER FEST...they brought them as long as you could eat them!

 

Nightly Entertainment:Love & Marriage game and the Midnight Chocolate Buffet.

 

Starting to realize how short the week is getting.

 

Day 6: Cozumel

 

Arrived at the Intl. Pier at 9AM..ahead of the Mariner which left GC an hour before us. The Rhapsody is a speedster! Some confusion with the Harbor or Customs officials and cannot get off the boat. They finally get things cleared up about 45 minutes later and start letting people off. We had a private dive charter set up here with Dive w/Martin. There facilities were right at the pier so in no time we were off in our 27' fast boat(passing all the large, slow dive boats) to our first site Santa Rosa Reef. I had forgotten how beautifull Cozumel is below the surface. I was pleased that it had not been destroyed by the 14 years of development since being here last. Too bad that most cruise passangers never get to experience one of the best features of the Caribbean islands. For our safety break, we pulled into a small beach to walk around & use the facilities. While looking in the souvenier shop, noticed the shirts all said Nachi Cocum. Several of our M&M buddies were spending the day here so I went in search. Found them having a wonderful time. We grabbed a couple of Modelo's to drink after the second dive and headed to Tormentos Reef. Our Divemaster, Miguel and Capt., Jose, were both excellent guides & hosts. On the way back to the pier, those beers sure tasted good. Miguel had recommended a seafood place of the main strip called El Capi Naviganti which I believe was @ 10 Del Sur. so after going aboard and changing we grabbed a cab and headed there. The food was as represented and plentiful. 5 of us ate ,drank and was merry for under $70.

My son had gone off on his own because he had arranged the Dune Buggy/Snorkle excursion which he enjoyed very much.

After eating we walked back towards the waterfront checking out shops and looking for Carlos& Charlies. Finally finding it, it was a bit of a dissapointment from its previous incarnation. The price of progress. Just wasn't that funky,little dive where anything goes like it was in the 80's. Course, I guess we aren't either :p

Back on the ship by 5:30 and it's time to head toward home. really wanting time to slow down!

 

Dining: Casual....C&W Theme

 

Broadway: Knudson Brothers

 

Day 7: Last Sea Day

 

Capt. Teo announces that it's going to be clear & hot for our last full day. After lounging around the pool and doing some shopping in the ships stores, we run into a weird fog/haze so we head back to the Solarium and enjoy a little more fresh air before they close the roof.Time is running out.............

 

Dinner: Casual

 

Broadway: Hill Brothers, RC Singers & Dancers

 

Got a little rough that last night....the Rhapsody wasn't going to let go easily!

 

Sunday Morning, May 1, 2005

 

One last trip to the Windjammer before we have to leave.

 

Debarkation was relatively painless. We were able to get pink tags for all three groups and wer scheduled for 9:15. Called us at 9. We were through Customs and at EZCruise by 10:15 and on the highway by 10:30.

Now for some housecleaning:

 

Take:extension cord,down pillows,music and a sense of adventure.

Leave:sour puss attitude, prejudice and pre conceived ideas on cruising.

 

Valet laundry: shirts $3 shorts$2.50 Pants & skirts $3.50

Dry Clean: Suit $7 Evening Gown $8

 

Pictures: all Formal Nights and several casual nights. Photographers were never pushy and photos are on display till the end of cruise. There is no discount for waiting.

 

Nightlife:Yes! The other 4 members of are party are late 20's & early 30's and were out many nights till 2 & beyond.

 

Pools: Saltwater and the main pool and hot tub have an H/C lift.

 

Pool Band:Pandigenous

 

Kids: Adventure Ocean, Aqua Babies & Aqua Tots.

 

Shopping: Several times during week they would have sales, but Sat. had the biggest markdowns. The liquer store seems well stocked with most common non premium labels being in the 2 fer$20 range.

 

I think thats pretty much it except, to speak for my entire family....Thank you Capt. Teo and the Crew of Rhapsody of the Seas and of course Royal Caribbean for letting us share this marvelous week with new friends on this fantastic Lady of the Seas!

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What a great review! Sounds like the Rhapsody is as wonderful now as it's been for our previous trips! We'll be leaving on her in about 10 days, and I can't wait! :D

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What an awesome review!! Thank you!! Very well written and sounds like you had a great time. We (Hubby and I) are taking our very first cruise on the Rhapsody next January and I am already wishing we would have scheduled it MUCH sooner, especially after the great reviews I have been reading lately!!

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Mysticul...we were originally booked to cruise on the Jan. 8, 2006 Rhapsody cruise but had to change due to my wifes son joining the Army Reserve and having to report for duty this month.

 

You will not be disappointed in the Rhapsody! Also, join the M&M if you haven't already. All it will do is heighten your experience.

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Fabulous review! I could feel your great time with every word. I can hardly wait for my turn in less than 2 months!

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Sassy... not only do you get to cruise on the Rhapsody, you drive a Mazda...Zoom,Zoom,Zoom!:)

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Sassy... not only do you get to cruise on the Rhapsody, you drive a Mazda...Zoom,Zoom,Zoom!:)

 

...and not just one Mazda....TWO Mazdas!!! :D

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We own one, but I get to choose between about 300 different ones each day also!:p

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There isn't much I can add to Budaman's review as I had the pleasure of being on board with him and his great family. But here go's anyway:

 

EMBARKATION: Excellent as I timed it. From stepping foot off our shuttle at 12:45pm to setting foot inside the Rhapsody was a GRAND TOTAL of 14 minutes!!! Yep not a typo only 14 minutes. Plenty of pierside porters to handle your large baggage. The longest wait was to have our boarding photo's taken, and you can bypass this if you desire. But they are done very nicely with a neat Caribbean background and make a great cruise souveneir!!

 

ONBOARD: We were on baord the ROS 5 years ago and I was amazed that it still looks excellent, no sign of 8 years worth of wear. Carpeting is lovely, decor is fantastic, public areas beautiful (our favorite is the Moonlight Bay Lounge). The cabins do show slight wear basically from luggage hitting corners etc..trust me nothing to be alarmed about.

 

CREW: Absolutely fantastic, friendly, and accomodating. I can't say enough about the service. Like Mike said our cabin attendant Billy for the most part was invisible but left our cabin spotless twice a day!!! As for the restaurant staff, on a scale from 1 to 10 they get a 20!!!! Fast service, great food, courteous. We were served by Amelia and her assistant was Fernando.

 

POOLS: Excellent especially the Solarium Pool, great burgers and pizza served all day long. This is the pool with the retractable canopy should it decide to get a litttle chilly. We never saw any lounge chair hogging at either pool. Always plenty of chairs available at any time of day or night.

 

OTHER STUFF: Dont miss the Caribbean sailaway party from Key West at midnight..a great buffet and great music!! Really sets you in the mood if you aren't already there?? The GALA buffet is absolutely a magnificant work of art, please go see it even if you dont eat, bring your camera as the first pass is just for looking and picture taking!!! The line moved quickly and IMO well worth the few minutes of waiting.

 

NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE:

 

Sunday: Welcome aboard show with RCCL singers and Dancers.

Monday: Vocalist Kenny James( a winner from star search)

Tuesday: Mardi Gras du Monde a musical journey of mardi gras around the world.

Wednesday: Haines Magic Show

Thursday: Rock on Broadway with RCCL singers and dancers

Friday: Knudsen Brothers singers..Very good

Saturday: Farewell show with the Hill Brothers comedy Juggling act.

 

Hope this somewhat will give all you future Rhapsody cruisers an insight to how great the Rhapsody ship and crew is.

 

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Thanks for reading this review.

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Thanks for the input Ernie! and all you 24'thers please fill in the gaps.

 

One thing I did forget which is a beni to all us Texans, Rhapsody stays on Texas time the whole cruise! You never have to change your watch. The rest of you outside CDST need to adjust.:D

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Thank you Budaman! You answered my two questions before I even asked. One was about the time observed aboard the ship and the other was if the aquatots program was onboard (we're taking our two year old). My family will be on the Rhapsaody in less than two weeks! Your review was wonderful to read and informative.:)

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One of the things I forgot to mention about time, the Port times listed in your itinerary, are the Ships time. The local time in port will be different in Key West, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. Cozumel will be the same as ship time. Key West & GC local time is 1 hr later and I believe Jamaica is too but I'm not certain. Remember, if you're scheduling your own excursions in leiu of the Rhapsody's excursion listings. They also stress this on board just in case you forget:D

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Just thought I would stop by and see if any upcoming Rhapsody cruisers had any questions. Plus bump the reviews back to the First Page!!

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Hubby was wanting to know if the Rhapsody had the self leveling pool tables?? He loves to play pool and thought these would be really cool - going Next January - only 253 days to go!!

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No pool tables, don't think they trust Texans with pointy end sticks:D those would be on the Jewel. Rhapsody does have some ping pong tables and shuffle board and of course the rock wall. This was our first cruise also, and we wanted to do all of those things, and danged if the week just went by too fast and we didn't do any of them! We never did see certain areas of the ship. There were several movies showing on the TV system that I wanted to see...Sideways, Spiderman2,The Incredibles, Mr.Baseball3000 and The Aviator and I missed all of them also!

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Thanks for the info Budaman!! I am so excited - I haved dreamed about taking a cruise since I was a little girl, and its finally coming true - and with the love of my life!!! I have no doubt we will have a GREAT time and it sounds like we did great by picking the Rhapsody for our first cruise!!

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Ok, this has been asked, I know, but I keep getting different answers. Is there a chocolate buffet on the Rhapsody or not? Thanks!

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Yes, there is and it will be on Thurs/Fri midnight after leaving Grand Cayman and the second Formal Night Dinner. We didn't make it,cause we were starting to count how much weight we had gained, but we heard it was simply awesome!!

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No, there was one but we ate it all:D Actually yes it is a section of the regular GALA Buffet. Don't miss the Texas Cow girl what a masterpiece. Not to mention the Cowboy with is duel holster belt..all chocolate. Enjoy!!!

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So that's where it all went! How did Bev like her first day back to work?Got a new program for the computer today, so I should get a photo album together by early next week. Don't think we'll get much done this weekend, being in Rockport with Brandi & Derek's wedding.

 

Mike

 

Ernie, did you see my note in Roll Call?

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Heck Mike she is still at work..talked to her once at lunch not a very happy camper:mad: . Yes I saw your note.. great minds come up with great ideas. Some of the emails are listed in the CC profile..check it out!!!

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