Length: 915 ft
Passengers (all berths): 2,435
Best For People Who Want
Plenty of windows for ocean view inthe public rooms and dining room.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Balcony cabins; mega-ship sports facilities, huge casinos.Onboard Experience
The fifth of what are now called the Vision-class ships, also including Legend, Splendour, Enchantment, Grandeur, and Vision of the Seas. These ships are all nearly identical with many things in common, the only difference being that each iteration gets a little bigger and carries more passengers. The all have the distinctive Royal Caribbean "Centrum", seven decks high on these ships, atop of which one finds the Viking Crown Lounge. The decor is light and contemporary, and mostly in good shape because the Royal Caribbean keeps it that way, though it isn't unusual to see some wear and tear in pockets.Decor
All of the ships of the class have public rooms full of large expanses of glass to let in glorious sunshine and sea views. She was hailed in her day as a large ship that still preserved the sense of being at sea. Today, she's an older ship, and actually considered small, but still elegant and classy enough to attract a younger clientele looking for sea escapes and action at night.Public Rooms
You'll find the Champagne Terrace at the bottom of the the Centrum, where live palm trees and a string embellish the ambiance of brass, marble & glass. This is also the shopping area, where three large duty-free stores offer plenty of browse time. There are light woods and marble set fountains throughout the ship, which along with the live foliage and open expanses of outside windows, give the entire ship a feeling of aliveness.
High atop the Centrum, on deck 11, is the ever popular Viking Crown Lounge, perfect for watching the scenery go by (a near 360 degree field of vision near the very top of the ship) in Alaska or the Panama Canal. It is also the place to be at night when it becomes the ship's late-night disco. There's more dancing in the evening in the Anchor's Aweigh Lounge, albeit at a less frenetic pace, while another popular bar is the nautically-inclined Schooner's. Vegas-style floor shows are presented in the That's Entertainment Theatre with generally good sight lines from all seats. And as if all that is not enough, Casino Royale has all the table games and slots a non-professional gambler could ever need.
There is a library as well as The Crown and Anchor Study, with computer assisted visual aids to show the ship's position and more information from the bridge. Nearby is a card room and conference center.Cuisine
Breakfast in the Windjammer Lido cafe includes cooked to order omelets, or scrambled eggs at the buffet, but fried eggs are not available. Lunch in the Lido is equally pleasing albeit a simple selection. Mosre interesting is the afternoon tea bread pudding or cobbler along with sandwiches, cakes, cookies and ice cream. Overall, passenger satisfaction ratings for the dining room meals are good, as well as for the Windjammer buffets for lunch and and afternoon teas. The option for a late night snack seems to vary on anightly basis.Restaurants
The two-story restaurant, amidships, with great views, features a raised platform for pianist or small ensemble. While large enough to handle a thousand people per seating, tables are far enough apart to preclude a feeling of crowdedness. The Windjammer, forward end of Deck 9, also has floor-to-ceiling windows.Service
It's obvious that the multinational staff and crew enjoy watching their passengers enjoy themselves. They're uniformly cheerful, knowledgeable, and eager to help. The wait staff in every restaurant is noticeably solicitous and conscientious.
Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser's desk is notably responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must have to do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.Tipping
Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.Entertainment
Royal Caribbean is one of the few cruise lines to offer "name" performers, and comedians. Lounge performers are also seasoned and polished.Cabins
Rhapsody's cabins are cleverly designed to make them feel larger than they actually are; even the smallest feature a small sitting area, and there's a lot more storage space than you'd have any right to expect. Inside cabins start at a tiny 135 sq.ft up to 172 sq.ft. while Oceanview staterooms measure 154 sq. ft.. Family Ocean View Staterooms (237 sq.ft.) can accommodate up to six people. Standard amenities include TV with pay-per-view movies, CNN, safe, lighted vanity, individual temperature control, hair dryer; bathrooms have showers and medicine cabinets; minibars and tubs are found in the highest category stateroom.
Superior Oceanview with private balcony are 195 sq. feet plus a 41 sq.ft. balcony. The five categories of suites include the Junior Suite (241 sq. ft. 64 sq.ft. balcony) and the Royal Family Suite, accommodating up to eight people, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (463 sq. ft., balcony 55 sq. ft.).Fitness/Spa
The gym's awfully small for a ship this size. The main pool on Sun Deck is adjacent to the Solarium, a stunning glass- enclosed second pool with whirlpools and comfortable lounge chairs. In the "ShipShape" fitness center, you'll find a spa operated by Steiner's of London (they of the notoriously pushy staff). A rock-climbing wall has also been added to Vision.Children's Facilities
In addition to separate play areas for kids aged three to 12, there is also a teen lounge that converts to a disco, making Vision an excellent choice for families with children of many different vintages. The "Adventure Ocean" youth program has age-specific facilities and programs supervised by youth counselors for Aquanauts (age 3-5, must be toilet trained), Explorers (age 6-8), Voyagers (age 9-11), Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens (age 15-17). The program runs year-round in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Parents can leave their children at Adventure Ocean while they take shore excursions. For this purpose, the facilities open 30 minutes ahead of morning shore excursion departures. Otherwise, organized activities are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee. Teen centers are now open past 2 a.m. Teens will find their own private coffee house and disco.
A new program for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years, in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price, offers 45-minute playgroups for children accompanied by an adult, involving storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games. Aqua Babies are six months to 18 months old while Aqua Tots are 18 months to three years old.
Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.Attire
There are two formal nights per cruise. Maybe it's this ship's particularly festive reputation that induced most men to don tuxedos for formal nights, even though a dark suit would work fine. In general, though, this ship offers so much to do that you're likely to see fellow passengers dressed every which way.
Having been on Legend and Radiance of the Seas I was expecting more. The service was generally outstanding. The decor was, shall we say subdued. The cabins were small compared to other lines.
It apparently had a refurbishment last year but the cabins mustn't have seen that refurb.
The cabin steward was rarely seen and didn't make himself known until day 3.
The dining room staff were outstanding but the food was variable from quite good to not very good.
Radiance the previous year was excellent by comparison. The portions varied hugely - e.g. starters were sometimes as large as main/entrees and vice versa. Some menu items were not able to be delivered towards the end of the cruise because, according to staff, some food items had run out. The Windjammer buffet food was very mediocre.
The cruise Director - Luke - was excellent and the entertainers were very good also.
The cabin TV programming was appalling. A few incorrect public announcements made custom clearance and disembarkation slow and frustrating. Overall it was far from the best cruise ever taken.
Royal Caribbean did not disclose the previous cruise had Norovirus on the Rhapsody of the Seas.. I left on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 and by Monday I was violently ill with Norovirus.
The crew continued to clean and disinfect, no one was allowed to carry their own buffet plates, the lines were very, very long as a crew member had to go with each passenger thru the buffet line.
My roommate and I nearly choked to death when we walked into our hallway trying to get to our stateroom and were overcome with a cloud of disinfectant. The cabin steward was wearing a mask! No mask for us!
We were told that we may carry our own plates if there were no more cases of Norovirus. Imagaine a cruise with that hanging over the atmosphere?
We had sailed Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas from Vancouver to Alaska in the spring of 1997. However we were truly looking forward to heading south and choose a Vancouver to Honolulu itinerary. The Vision Class, Rhapsody, like her sister's and cousins, is a beautiful ship. We over-nighted in Vancouver at the Waterfront Center Hotel, directly across from the Canada Place pier where the Rhapsody docks. It's a wonderful feeling waking up and seeing the ship directly across the street from twelve stories above street level, and that certainly added to the excitement, if that is possible.
On embarkation morning the bellman took our luggage directly to the pier. We got together with the CruiseMates we had met the previous night and arrived at the pier about 11:45 a.m, when the embarkation process began. The RCI staff went through the line checking documents and responding to questions prior to your arrival at the embarkation desk. However, the entire process was delayed by a computer glitch due to new computer software. Regardless, we were aboard withing an hour.
One change from the previous RCI check-in is the processing of credit cards for the "SuperCharge Cards." This replaces the old system of standing in line again to activate the "Super Charge" once onboard.
In waiting for embarkation,we were surprised by the broad range of age groups on this sailing. The norm is "more days, more years." This axiom didn't hold true for this cruise. The average age aboard this eleven day cruise, was similar to what one would encounter in the Caribbean- in the 45 or 50 plus range. This may have been impacted by a large group of 500 passengers, all in the auto parts business.
Also of note on this particular sailing was a large number of first time cruisers. I was very surprised because of the length of the cruise, and the somewhat exotic itinerary.
THE SHIP The Rhapsody's Centrum is a great spot to walk onboard. Windows to the sea are everywhere, and the warm earth tones in the interior areas direct your eyes to the blue skies, blue seas and panoramic views. This makes for a memorable first impression.
Having sailed the ship two years before, we were struck byt how good she looked in "most" areas, with some cabins being the exception. It appeared that much of the furniture in the public areas had recently been recovered. In a conversation with Hotel Manager, Bob Tavadia we found that it was simply a matter of effective and ongoing maintenance.
Some of our CruiseMates were rookie cruisers; some very much veterancruise addicts, but new to RCI. Everyone new to the Vision Class ships was most impressed with their look and layout. We were in a Category D cabin with a private balcony. The cabin, while not overly spacious, had great storage space and is so well designed that it feels more larger than cabins on other ships that boast more square footage. As this was a long cruise, we had seriously over-packed, yet everything found a place, out of our way.
The cabin's sitting area is equipped with a full size sofa, and a coffee table. Having a place to sit and relax inside the cabin is a nice bonus compared to, Princess's equivalent cabins, which offer only a tub chair, or Celebrity with "sofas" that are much more like loveseats. Yet, these comparable cabins are actually larger. In the tradition of RCI, the showers are miniscule. However, I must be too accustomed to cruising, because they're starting to seem spacious. Our showe had a mind of its own. It shifted from hot to cold a number of times during a typical shower. What a shame there's no video of me jumping in and out!
The cabins are equipped with all the normal amenities with the exception of hair dryers, so if you use one, bring your own. The verandahs are pleasant but small, and not all that private, and have two arm chairs and a small side table. What impressed me most was the sliding glass door to the verandah, as opposed to a door that opens in or out. These don't take up valuable room inside the cabin, or on the verandah.
The Edelweiss Dining Room is, in my view, one of RCI's prettiest, with a particularly relaxing ambiance. Our CruiseMates group was seated at three tables towards the rear of the main floor. I would have preferred round tables to the rectangular ones we had, for easier conversation rather. We decided ond simply switching our seating arrangements each evening to allow everyone to converse with different folks nightly. Of course, this bunch was loud enoughto make ourselves heard!
ENTERTAINMENT With entertainment normally one of RCI's strengths I was looking forward to very good acts. The first night's "Welcome Aboard" was without a doubt one of the worst I've ever seen at sea. The cruise director specifically mentioned that they keep announcements to a minimum. As the cruise unfolded we noticed that this couldn't have been farther from the truth.I would have never given these announcements another though if he hadn't made such a point of mentioning them. They announced bingo, art auctions, horse races, and when anyone on the ship ate, or so it seemed.
My choice of shows on this cruise was definitely off. I attended the bad shows and then skipped the next night,hearing afterward how good they were.
Combining my opinions of the shows I saw with those I heard about from CruiseMates, I would have to say the showroom entertainment was generally below the quality we've come to expect from RCI.
FOOD The dining room cuisine overall was good to very good. The Windjammer buffet was pretty typical buffet-not very exciting, yet not bad. Mornings featured a made-to-order omelet station; lunche offered a carving station for roast beef, pork and similar items. The breakfast buffet menu wasrelatively basic and stagnant all week, alternating pancakes and French Toast from one day to the next. Except for variations in the potato preparation, the morning buffet menu did not change.
I had a mediocre NY steak twice during the cruise but everything else I in the dining room was very good-even other beef dishes. At our table, aside from everyone's individual entrees, the waiter brought plates of the daily pasta for all of us to share, and it was very tasty.
Don't be shy about sending back things you don't care for, or ordering another portion of the dishes you liked. The waiters want you to enjoy meals rather than leave the table complaining. If you do, in a way, it's as much your fault as the chef's.
Royal Caribbean can still lay claim to the worst pizza at sea. It seems a shame that no ones attention has been directed to improving this area. I'm sure some people couldn't care less about pizza on a ship. But, after so many elaborate meals, some good old junk food can be pretty appealing.
The Solarium Cafe also featured good hamburgers, decent hot dogs and wonderful curly French fries.
The room service menu is not exciting, but fairly substantial for snacks.During meal times you may order off of the full dining room menufor service to your cabin.
SERVICE & STAFF We encountered what I feel is quite standard for Royal Caribbean; a warm and friendly staff. Our cabin steward did a good job of keeping our Kuki little home clean, and decorating the roome using pillows to create different shapes and insignias. It wasn't quite up to the "towel animals" of Carnival, but nonetheless, cute.
Our dining room waiter was a true professional, and shared his pleasant personality with us, while doing a yeoman's job of delivering the goods.A few days into the cruise he realized that we would welcome his participation in the fun at the table, and joined right in. In Maui we found a shop that had tee shirts dyed in chocolate. One had a moose characture with the title Chocolate Moose on it. This seemd like an appropriate gift for our waiter Andre, so we gave it to him at dinner. He was thrilled. I believe that by the end of the cruise he was sorry to see us go.
The assistant waiter/bus boy was perhaps the worst we've ever had. He wasn't happy with his job and it showed. He should not have been there. I notedon my comment card that he should seek a career change.
Regardless of this we maintained a Kuki tradition. Every cruise, I bring tee shirts from Calgary for our dining room staff and present these on the last night. Both were very appreciative until I explained that it was in place of the customer gratuities. Both were very relieved when I reassured them that I was kidding.
The headwaiter in charge of our section was very personable. He stopped by for a chat nightly. However, when he was informed of the bus boy's shortcomings hedid nothing to remedy the situation. We were told they would reduce the number of the busboy's tables on the next cruise, but that did nothing to address our problems. I felt that if the headwaiter was aware that the job was not well done, it was his responsibility, even if he had to pitch in himself.
Tim Seaver was the Cruise Director on this sailing, a nice enough guy, but everyone seemed to agree that he didn't come across as very genuine. He admitted that people seemed to either love him or hate him.
While he was very pleasant when we encountered him, we didn't notice him about the ship much. To my view this limited his involvement with passengers.
I've had the pleasure of sailing with two of the best CDs in the business; RCI's Jamie Logan, who Tim tells me ihas left the business, and Carnival's John Heald, so it may be hard for other Cruise Director's to measure up in my eyes.
RANTS AND RAVES RCI's has given it's onboard daily activities report, Cruise Compass, a new and innovative twist. Along with the normal 4 page, 8 by 11, pamphlet, is an abbreviated carry around size. These are easy to carry, and serve as great bookmarks at the same time. It doesn't sound like much, but was very handy to keep up with events. Unfortunately someone continuously placed mis-infomation in the Compass. The other oddity with regard to these were the numerous and daily, typos and errors in grammar. Doesn't their word processor have spell check? It was daily entertainment to find the errors. We laughed out loud at the look on the head waiter's face when it was pointed out that on debarkation day the Compass stated the dining room would be open for breakfast from 6 AM to 8 PM. We told him we'd see him at 7PM for breakfast.
The Cruise Compass is a part of the Cruise Director's responsibilities, so that may have impacted my earlier evaluation of him.
Another area we found very confusing is the way they worded some of the "suggested dress." RCI has "Formal," "Smart Casual" and "Casual." I think most understand "Formal" and "Casual" but the "Smart Casual" seems to throw everyone off. I inquired as to the meaing of this classification. For men, they intended sports jackets, with no ties necessary.
On the first "Smart Casual" night, I bet my fellow CruiseMates that most people would be confused by this description and I was right. At least 75% of the passengers just took it to be another casual night. I really don't care what people are wearing, but the poor description of the attire they're trying to promote is to blame. A more apt term to describe the dress they're suggesting would seem to be semi formal (tie optional). I discussed this with Hotel Manager, Bob Tavadia, and while he understood our viewpoint of view, company research and opinion polls came up with this terminology.
Along this line; it's been my observation on my last three cruises, that attire on board all ships lately is heading more and more casual. On this particular cruise I cited quite a few people wearing blue jeans, jogging suits, and even shorts in the dining room.
I personally don't mind getting "gussied up" a couple of times on a cruise, and dressing reasonably well on the remaining nights. But, if the cruise lines are not going to enforce their suggested dress codes,they should stick with the two formal nights, with the balance remaining casual. It seems to be what the passengers are after.
Summary We found our RCI cruise experience to be very comfortable. Overall it was a terrific cruise. Theinteraction we had with fellow CruiseMates truly made it memorable. The group fun seemed to diminish any shortcomings we noticed on the part of the RCI.