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Review:  Rhapsody of the Seas - Impressions of the Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining

Review: Rhapsody of the Seas - Impressions of the Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 01/14/2019 17:13:42
Trip Date 12/22/2018  

Destinations | Cruises | Review of Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas | Review of Venice to Rome Cruise | Review of Transatlantic Cruise | Royal Caribbean | RCI



Our recent back-to-back cruises on Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas marked our 31st and 32nd cruises together. For those of you who don't know a lot about us as cruise ship passengers, we are a cruise lines worst nightmare! We are not loyal to any one cruise line and we typically choose inside, ocean view or highly discounted cabins. We don't sail with children, we are happy with the included dining options, and we don't drink much, don't gamble and don't shop much. We usually explore ports on our own or with private tour guides. We are not spa or beach club or salon patrons ... you get the point - we use a cruise ship mainly for transportation to get from one place to another. It's almost surprising that cruise lines will even sell us a cabin!

Although there are positives and negatives about every cruise ship, cruise line and cruise itinerary, our goal is to always make the best of every opportunity that we have to cruise. Truth be told, we've enjoyed every cruise on which we've been lucky enough to travel. Of the four cruise lines on which we have traveled together (Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean), our tenure with Royal Caribbean is the shortest. Our first cruise on the line was less than two years ago!

After 21 days aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas, we had a good opportunity to experience much of what the ship offers. If your cruising habits are in any way similar to ours, this post will give you an idea of what cruising on the ship mainly for transportation is like. (Note that the few negative comments are intended not to dissuade anyone from sailing on the Rhapsody, but as an attempt to provide a balanced review for anyone trying to decide whether or not the ship is for them. Personally, other than to those who are miserable on older or smaller ships, if the itinerary and price were right, I would certainly recommend the Rhapsody.)


Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas - The Ship

The Rhapsody of the Seas is not new but, considering its age (21 years), it has been well cared for. Rumors about Royal Caribbean's sale of the ship were constant from the time that we booked our cruises. Although future sailings are still being sold, during our sailing we began hearing that a buyer had been found. Only time will tell if the ship soon leaves the Royal Caribbean fleet.



By the end of our 21 days aboard, we were pretty comfortable with finding our way around - always taking the stairs to go up or down. (Since we often overeat on cruises, we successfully avoided the elevators to get some exercise as one way to counteract the calories we were taking in.) I have to admit, however, that even though the ship is among the smallest in the fleet, we did rely on the various maps early in our journey.


Rhapsody of the Seas Map and Interactive Screens

Rhapsody of the Seas Map and Interactive Screens

Beginning at the top of the ship, our impressions of the public venues that we experienced can be found below.

Deck 11 (Viking Crown Lounge)

Admittedly we did not spend hardly any time in the Viking Crown Lounge. In fact, we never stepped foot inside until our final sea day. The main reason we visited the lounge was that we heard positive comments from so many passengers about the venue. I sure wish we would have checked the lounge out sooner as it seemed to be a great place to relax with a friend or a book ... and with a great view of the pool deck and outdoor screen.


View from Viking Crown Lounge on Rhapsody of the Seas

View from Viking Crown Lounge on Rhapsody of the Seas

Deck 10 (Running Track, Rock Climbing Wall)

We were regulars on the Running Track - at least on sea day mornings during our transatlantic cruise. Scott and I, along with a few others, joined Sandra of the ship's Activities Staff to Walk a Mile (or more). With all that walking, I guess we can say that we "walked across the Atlantic"! Between walkers and runners, the track (which required four loops for a mile) got a good amount of use.



The few times that we walked by the Rock Climbing Wall it was closed due to high winds or not timing our visit during the limited operating hours. I'm not sure that we really would have attempted to scale the wall, but it would have been fun to watch some others do so.


Rhapsody of the Seas Rock Climbing Wall

Rhapsody of the Seas Rock Climbing Wall

Deck 9 (Main Pool, Solarium)

While we never swam in the pools, we did make good use (almost daily) of the outdoor whirlpools. The temperature was warm (as compared to other cruise ship hot tubs which always tend to be set cooler than on land) and all four tubs had bubbles. We enjoyed meeting and visiting with fellow passengers, watching the Chive TV videos on the outdoor screen and listening to the Poolside Party Music.

The employees at the Towel Station, located between the main pool and Solarium, were diligent with the scanning of key cards when passengers either checked out or returned towels. It was interesting, however, that guests returning from shore to the ship were given towels after a rain shower, yet no cards were scanned. While I understand the desire to eliminate theft, similar inconsistencies on other Royal Caribbean ships makes me wonder whether the check-out step is really necessary. (After all, many of the towels are quite worn any way!)


Deck 9 - Main Pool and Whirlpools on Disembarkation Day

Deck 9 - Main Pool and Whirlpools on Disembarkation Day

On prior Royal Caribbean cruises we were regulars in the Solarium "adults only" whirlpools. On the Rhapsody, however, we avoided them as they lacked the bubbles that lead to relaxation. (Prior to boarding, I had read complaints dating back several years on Cruise Critic about this same topic, so we were prepared. Although it seems that the lack of bubbles is by design, based on the number of negative comments heard on the ship and read online, maybe this should be reconsidered.)

Although we never played, we did notice that the ping pong tables were located in a great place as they were mostly shielded from the wind.



Deck 6 (Centrum Shops, Loyalty Desk, Photo Gallery, Schooner Bar, Shall we Dance Lounge)

Although we are not big shoppers, we did spend more time browsing in the Centrum Shops than typical for us when cruising. Between both cruises, we had $225.00 in onboard credit and we were trying to make a plan on how to best use it. The shops were pretty typical to other cruise ship shops that we have visited, and offered similar promotions on items such as watches, T-shirts, chains by the inch, etc. (We ended up with a nice watch for Scott, some earrings and a bracelet for me plus a couple of T-Shirts.)

On the second of our two cruises, we paid two visits to the Loyalty Desk - more on the reason for our visits in the section titled Crown and Anchor Society Benefits. The desk, situated between a seating area and the Photo Gallery, is in a rather awkward location. When there is a line of people waiting to see the Loyalty Ambassador (which there were during both of our visits), the line blocks the walking path for guests headed to look at photos.


Rhapsody of the Seas Loyalty Ambassador Desk

Rhapsody of the Seas Loyalty Ambassador Desk

Another place that we spent more time than usual was in the Photo Gallery. In our earlier cruising years, we sometimes purchased a photo or two, however after so many cruises together, we try to avoid nearly all photographs taken by ship photographers. On the second of our two cruises, however, Scott won a free photo during the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. We decided to have some photos taken on a couple of the formal nights - even though we didn't really bring along any formal clothing ... nor did I bring any makeup along. (That will teach me a packing lesson for the future!) As with many of the older ships, passengers search through the photos organized by day and time (with some also available for electronic viewing).


Our Rhapsody of the Seas Christmas Photo

Our Rhapsody of the Seas Christmas Photo

Other than walking through to get to the lounge located in the ship's aft, we spent limited time in the Schooner Bar. We paused several times during our walks to either stop and visit with fellow passengers or to listen to a trivia question or two. We also paused on a few occasions to hear the evening musical entertainment which rotated between an orchestral string duo and a pianist playing and singing in a piano bar atmosphere.

In addition to being the location for the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingles, the Shall We Dance Lounge was the home to evening karaoke. While the seating was comfortable, unfortunately the sound equipment in the lounge has seen (or heard) better days. For members of the audience, the background singing and music was much louder than the actual karaoke singers. Even the best of the singers complained about the equipment from their perspective as well.



Deck 5 (Broadway Melodies Theatre, Casino Royale, Guest Services)

Although we often entered the theater on deck 6, we always sat on the lower level to be a bit closer to the action. The two story Broadway Melodies Theatre is well designed with the vast majority of seats having unobstructed views. (The view from only a small number of seats are blocked by poles, but the good news is that those are only on the far sides of the theater.)


Rhapsody of the Seas Broadway Melodies Theatre

Rhapsody of the Seas Broadway Melodies Theatre

Our only gambling in Casino Royale was to redeem the Spin to Win tokens that we were rewarded as members of the Crown and Anchor Society. It was nearly unbearable for me to stay in the casino long enough for two spins on the first cruise due to the overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. Fortunately, several fans and air purifiers appeared at some point early in the second of our cruises which made a tremendous improvement. During our first cruise, we avoided walking through the casino to reach the theater, however that became no longer necessary.

As is common on many cruise ships, the 24 hour Guest Services desk was located on the balcony one floor above the Centrum. On a positive note, it was sometimes fun to watch the happenings below while standing in line at the service desk. We always find the location odd, however, as it can be difficult to have a conversation at the desk with the sounds from a loud event or music drifting in the air. (Or, maybe that is by design?)



Deck 4 (Next Cruise, Centrum)

Located just off of the Centrum was the Next Cruise sales office. We did stop by to take a look at the upcoming cruises primarily to get some future cruise ideas. We timed our very short visit with a team member so that it was during a time when there were no organized activities in the Centrum.

All decked out for the holidays with a menorah in the early part of our cruises and a lighted Christmas tree for the duration, the Centrum is where it's at on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Compared to the newer and larger ships, the main difference on the Rhapsody is that the Centrum is quite small - even for the reduced passenger load. Unfortunately the holiday decor negatively impacted the seating as the view from some of the chairs and sofas was blocked by the beautiful tree. (For those seated in chairs on the Centrum balcony viewing the goings on from above, garland also blocked their view.)


Christmas Decor in the Rhapsody of the Seas Centrum

Christmas Decor in the Rhapsody of the Seas Centrum

Stateroom Experience

The hallways which are home to staterooms on the Rhapsody of the Seas are adorned with a variety of framed items all related to the performing arts. Ranging from photos of individual singers and musical groups to posters from classic broadway performances and more, it was fun to pause as we walked through the corridors.



Although we reserved our back-to-back cruises several months apart, we luckily were able to stay in the same stateroom (3116) for all 21 days. Our Category 2N Oceanview Stateroom was on the port side toward the ship's aft.


Welcome to Stateroom 3116 on Rhapsody of the Seas

Welcome to Stateroom 3116 on Rhapsody of the Seas

Upon entering our room, there were two hooks on the right (behind the entry door when it was open) which were perfect for hanging our jackets. The bi-fold door hiding the closet was on the left. Half of the closet had a number of permanent hangers for longer apparel and the remaining half had two tiered hanging rods. The storage above the closet where life jackets are often located was very limited - there is no way they would fit on the top shelf in this closet so they were laying on the floor. Other than the shelf above, there was no shelving in the closet.


Entrance Hallway with Closet (inset) of Cabin 3116

Entrance Hallway with Closet (inset) of Cabin 3116

Across from the closet and just beyond the the two hooks was the bathroom door (which also had several hooks on the inside). Although the bathroom is not as nice as those on the newest of ships, it was actually in quite good condition and was completely functional. The shower had a plastic curtain (ugh!), but it did it's job and kept the water from flowing or spraying out of the shower. The toilet was next to the shower with shelves, the sink unit and mirrors on the opposite wall. The four open shelves plus one drawer were small, but had plenty of room for the two of us. There was a limited amount of storage below the small sink as well.


Bathroom in Stateroom 3116 on Rhapsody of the Seas

Bathroom in Stateroom 3116 on Rhapsody of the Seas

Occupying the remainder of the cabin was the bed with a two drawer night stand on each side. In addition to the mirrors in the bathroom and above the desk, there was a fairly large mirror on the left side of the bed and a full length mirror between the sofa and closet door.


Stateroom 3116 - Category 2N Oceanview Stateroom

Stateroom 3116 - Category 2N Oceanview Stateroom

Since we were traveling by train for a week before boarding the ship, we packed less than if our traveling was solely by cruise ship. With that in mind, we had plenty of room for all that we had with us, although we did use almost every drawer and shelf in the cabin. With a few more hangers, we would have even had plenty of room for the formal wear which didn't make it into our bags this time.



Dining Experience

We did not purchase drink packages nor specialty dining meals therefore we didn't experience the service or quality of food/drinks at any of these venues. I was actually hoping to dine at Chops Grill, however could never justify the cost. We were once offered a 25% discount off of the $39.99 plus gratuity regular price, and did consider a meal there. We finally decided, however, that the total cost for two was more than we would spend at most steak restaurants on land - and the additional cost was on top of the meal price already included in our cruise fare.

Following are our impressions from the restaurants at which we did dine during our three weeks aboard.

Deck 9 (Windjammer Cafe, Park Cafe)

The buffet style Windjammer Cafe was, if not the least crowded, at least one of the least crowded cruise ship restaurants of its kind at which we have dined in the recent past. Of the three daily meals, breakfast was the most crowded and on port days when many passengers were rushing to disembark at the same time, it was sometimes difficult to find an open table. Midday and evening dining, on the other hand, were never crowded at the times that we chose to dine.

Due to the combination of serving hours, ease and simplicity, we chose to eat breakfast every morning in the Windjammer. There was a combination of both made to order egg dishes plus serve yourself eggs, breakfast meats and sides, breads, fruits, international fare and more. Although there was a wide variety, I was a little disappointed that, for the most part, the breakfast menu did not change from day to day. I loved the smoothie shots available each morning, but wished there was variety in the flavors like on other Royal Caribbean ships.



While we didn't eat lunch on most days, we often paid a visit to the Windjammer in the final serving hour for cookies or a light snack (like the chocolate buffet that we stumbled upon one afternoon). We both love the afternoon and evening complimentary drink selection - especially the Vitality flavored water. (As I have commented on previous Royal Caribbean reviews, we do prefer to serve our own drinks rather than having pre-filled cups. On more times than I cared to count, I took a sip from a pre-filled cup of flavored water only to realize that the ice was mostly melted and the drink watered down.)


Chocolate Buffet in Windjammer Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

Chocolate Buffet in Windjammer Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

Although we only ate dinner on deck nine on two evenings, we often headed upstairs for some flavored water (and maybe another dessert) before closing time. I noticed that there seemed to be some sort of "special" each evening ranging from fajitas to fish and chips and more. On the final night of the first of our back-to-back cruises, we dined with people who raved about the seafood buffet offered on the previous evening. After hearing this, we began inquiring about the date that it would be offered on our second cruise. About one week into the cruise, we learned that the date had finally been nailed down. (We have gotten accustomed to the table tents announcing the featured entree for the evening on one of the competitor cruise lines on which we have sailed more frequently.)


Seafood Buffet in Windjammer Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

Seafood Buffet in Windjammer Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

The servers who made rounds in the Windjammer with juice and coffee at breakfast and a variety of drinks and even soft serve ice cream and cookies at lunch were a nice added touch. Our biggest and only real disappointment with the Windjammer was the more limited hours as compared to other cruise lines on which we have sailed.



Although the menu at Park Cafe (located in the Solarium) was quite limited, other than room service it was the one and only location on the ship offering food, snacks and desserts both late at night as well as in between meals. While we didn't frequent the location, I did enjoy their roast beef sandwich with horseradish. When the Windjammer was closed, Park Cafe was our go to place for drinks - we just wish they offered flavored water. (It was fun to see if we happened to arrive during the time when they were offering individual serving bags of potato chips, too!)


Park Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

Park Cafe on Rhapsody of the Seas

Deck 6 (Cafe Latte-tudes)

In our quest to spend all of our onboard credit we did make a few visits to Cafe Latte-tudes. John Michael and Max, the two employees who were there during every one of our visits, were cheerful, helpful and had great personalities. We tried the Iced Caramel Frappe on our first visit (not our favorite drink) and switched to shakes made with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, also $4.50 plus gratuity each.


Menu at Cafe Latte-tudes on Rhapsody of the Seas

Menu at Cafe Latte-tudes on Rhapsody of the Seas

Decks 4 and 5 (Edelweiss Dining Room)

Just a week or so before leaving home, we realized that we had chosen early dining for one of our two cruises and My Time Dining for the other. A quick call to our travel agent was all that was needed to change our request to my time dining for both. While breakfast and lunch are served on Deck 4 of the Edelweiss Dining Room, passengers with My Time Dining are assigned to Deck 5 for dinner. (We actually only ate lunch in the main dining room twice, and my favorite menu item was the made to order salad bar.)



We find it difficult to make dining reservations on Royal Caribbean since the time for the evening show varies from day to day and is not announced until the evening prior. On the first of our two cruises, we planned our dinner time from day to day based on our evening plans. As we enjoy meeting and eating with others, we always asked for a Sharing Table and our request was accommodated on most evenings.

During our transatlantic cruise, however, sharing tables were very difficult to come by. Luckily we were invited to join a group of four with space at Table 23, a table for eight that they reserved for the entire cruise - the only down side was eating at 5:30 each evening. In reality, the timing time worked out well as Luis (our Waiter) and Manas (our Assistant Waiter) were excellent and strived to ensure that we could complete our meal in time to see any of the evening shows that we preferred. (Dining early also made it much easier to skip lunch, plus we enjoyed our companions!)


Dining Companions Clint, Joyce, Art, Jennifer, Scott, Stacy, Shirley & John

Dining Companions Clint, Joyce, Art, Jennifer, Scott, Stacy, Shirley & John

Although, in our opinion, the quality of food served on all cruise ships has declined through the years, we enjoyed our meals. I was most disappointed in the dessert offerings in the main dining room. Of the eight desserts listed on the dinner menus, only two changed from evening to evening. The remaining six desserts were offered nightly:

  • Apple Pie
  • Creme Brulee
  • Ice Cream (Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry)
  • Royal Cheesecake
  • Royal Chocolate Cake and
  • Fruit and Cheese Plate.
While I have experienced repetitive nightly dessert offerings on other cruises, however the number of repeat desserts was much lower (like two). After 19 days of seeing these same desserts on the menu, I was definitely wishing for some new menu items.



The Rest of the Rhapsody of the Seas Story

For part two of our review of the Rhapsody of the Seas, take a look at Review: Rhapsody of the Seas - Impressions of Activities, Events & Entertainment. In addition to our general comments, you'll also have access to the Cruise Compass for each day of both of our cruises.

Favorite Cruise Ships

Here are two questions for you:
  • Based on both the public venues and staterooms, what cruise ship is your favorite and why does it rank as your number one?
  • Based on all things dining (meal quality, selection, dining venues, restaurant staff, etc.), what cruise ship is at the top of your list, and why?




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Review:  Rhapsody of the Seas - Impressions of the Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining






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Created On 01/11/2019 14:25:33  
Updated On 04/01/2019 20:35:12
Scheduled On 01/12/2019 13:13:42
Posted On 01/14/2019 17:13:42
Last Editor Scott
Location  Cruise Terminal 1, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States
LinkId  RhapsodyOfSeasReviewPart1
StoryId  1547234733802





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