by Mary Ann Rizzo
This is a brief review of my quick getaway to
join good friends for a one-week cruise to celebrate two birthdays –
the husband’s and mine. I
have never been at sea for my birthday,
so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped. Since the ship sails round-trip San Pedro, I flew in
and out of LAX on America West.
Rhapsody of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s
“Vision Class” ships... she made her maiden voyage in 1997.
She’s 78,491 grt, 915 feet long and her passenger capacity is
2,435. Having inspected
two of her sisterships in Miami – Enchantment of the Seas and
Grandeur of the Seas – it wasn’t difficult to remember
Rhapsody’s general deck plan when I boarded.
True to the descriptions ascribed to these ships by many
people, she has an aura of light and airiness throughout.
She’s quite a beautiful ship, with lovely music-themed décor.
Names such as the Broadway Melodies Theater (her showroom),
Edelweiss Dining Room carry out that theme.
The Broadway Melodies Theater has excellent sight
lines, and I would judge the most comfortable seating of any ship I’ve sailed on in 51 years!
That covers a multitude of ships!!!
The Edelweiss Dining Room is bi-level, and I was favorably
impressed by the fact that tables are not crowded one next to the
other. Soundproofing is
such that there is relatively little noise, even at full capacity.
Serving stations are plentiful and strategically placed
throughout the room.
Her Centrum, I feel, exemplifies the bright feeling
of the ship. A
well-stocked library and a card room surround the Centrum to starboard
and port on Deck 7; the Crown & Anchor Study and the Explorer’s
Club (now serving as an Internet Café) do the same on Deck 8.
When music is played on the lowest deck of the Centrum (Deck 4)
near the Champagne Bar, it is most pleasant to either sit in a
comfortable chair or stand and listen for a while on one of the other
There are several bars and lounges, the most notable
of which I found to be the Schooner Bar with nautical motif and deep,
comfy leather chairs and sofas, and the Viking Crown Lounge.
The latter is pretty (I wasn’t there when it converted to a
disco at night), but we found one, major drawback that dissuaded us
from using it. The reek of
cigarettes (and cigars?) from its smoking area seemed to permeate the
entire room, making it quite unappealing for that one reason. L
There are the shops – ranging from logo wear,
perfumes, clothing, and jewelry to sundries and duty-free liquor.
The Casino Royale, with the usual table games and various slot
and video poker machines, was rather small for the size of the ship if
you’re really into gambling. I, on the other hand, found it quite refreshing!
The fitness center and spa are located aft on Decks 8
and 9. The covered
and white-tiled pool area is beautiful, named The Solarium, and
has an Egyptian motif. It
is also here that one can order pizza or freshly grilled hamburgers,
hot dogs, etc.
I occupied a Category C “Superior Ocean View
Suite” on Deck 8. At 241
sq. ft. for the cabin and 64 sq. ft. for the balcony, it was spacious
and very well designed. I stopped
counting drawers and cabinets at 17 – I know there were more!
There was a queen size bed (also convertible to two twins),
sitting area with sofa bed, refrigerator (beverages not comped), large
bathroom with tub/shower, vanity area, closed circuit TV, radio,
telephone, more-than-ample closet space, safe, and spacious balcony.
I could find only 3 faults:
the bed was little more than an upgraded cot with rather thin
mattress, so that it was not very comfortable;
although the cabin was immaculate, it was badly in need of
“sprucing up” (as was the whole ship) – the upholstery and
carpeting were spotted and frayed in places throughout the entire
ship; the balcony was
wonderful, but had no privacy at all – the partitions were only
partial and it was quite easy to look into neighboring balconies and
My cabin Steward, Reggie, was excellent.
He kept my accommodations immaculately clean, and I never
returned to my cabin without it having been made up already.
The pillow and towel sculptures were really amusing.
Friends had my cabin decorated for my birthday, but I must
admit to one puzzle. Among
much appreciated gifts that I received was a bottle of Asti Spumante
(my favorite) from my dog, Pucci. To this day, I have no idea who actually sent it!!
Now, I realize Pucci doesn’t know he’s a dog, but he
isn’t capable of arranging that. Or is
Service and food in the dining room were excellent.
I know there has been some discussion about the quality of RCI
food, but I honestly could not fault anything in the dining
room. Our Steward,
Assistant Steward and Table Captain were most efficient and very
friendly. What was
lacking, however, was a variety in the buffet served in the Windjammer
Café for breakfast and lunch. That
was quite meager compared with other cruise lines.
We dined one evening in the Windjammer (tables were set
nicely with linen tablecloths, and lighting was subdued) and that
wasn’t bad at all.
Our sailing was full.
To our surprise, there were quite a few children on board –
from tiny tots to teens. Some
were well behaved; others were... well, the type who better
belonged at home. We soon
remembered and realized that more and more school systems have
year-round classes, which explains why so many children were not in
Embarkation and debarkation were remarkably
efficient, particularly with the numbers of passengers involved.
Rhapsody arrived late due to fog on our day of departure, so we
were delayed about 1-1/2 to 2 hours embarking.
“Crowd control” on the pier was quite good.
Once boarding began, it was only a matter of minutes before I
was on the ship and being escorted to my cabin by a crewmember.
Although I was dreading the thought of 2400+ passengers
disembarking, it could not have been better.
We were alongside the pier shortly after 7:00am, passengers
began disembarking around 8:20, and I was on my way to the airport by
9:30. In fact, I was able
to catch a flight 4 hours earlier than the one originally booked!
Kudos to Royal Caribbean! Far
better on this cruise than some other lines at San Pedro.
Since I really was on board to relax for a week, I
hadn’t planned on taking any shore excursions, but one of my friends
and I decided to go on the luxury catamaran, Kaleidoscope, in
Cabo San Lucas. Ostensibly,
it was to spot whales and other sea life in the Sea of Cortez,
however, it was too windy and the ocean had too many whitecaps to be
able to see any whales. But
the ‘cat’ was gorgeous, the scenery was lovely, and it was a
delightfully refreshing afternoon with Margaritas, soft drinks and
tortillas with salsa served to us on deck as we lazed in the sun with
the fresh breeze blowing in our faces and hair.
I highly recommend this tour for anyone going to Cabo.
Kaleidoscope was hand-built by her owner-skipper in
Riverside, California (for those not immediately familiar with
California, Riverside is inland—almost at the edge of the desert).
She was then trucked in seven segments to San Diego, where
final assembly and fitting-out took place.
Although I didn’t see them, she has 9 luxurious, private
cabins and 11 heads. What
a beauty!!! The other
“beauty” was seeing Crystal Symphony at anchor near us in Cabo.
My heartstrings were tugging!
Our other two ports of call were Mazatlan and Puerto
Vallarta. Quite frankly, I
was too lazy to go into town in either port.
I souvenir-shopped near the pier in Mazatlan, and only spent a
short time ashore in Puerto Vallarta. The vendors in the latter port were far too pushy, whereas I
found the locals quite friendly in Mazatlan.
The weather throughout the week was generally
excellent, but as we were heading north again, we encountered heavy swells from
a severe storm that hit California while we were
away. Although the
pitching was quite noticeable at times, it didn’t bother me at all.
And it did not delay our arrival in San Pedro.
All in all, it was a pleasant respite for a week.
Caribbean - Cruise Reviews
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