We boarded the Rhapsody of the Sea in Tampa, Florida for a seven night cruise on December 24, 2016.
We have cruised before at Christmas, but it’s been several years since our last Christmas cruise. During that cruise, the ship was over run by kids making us stay away from cruising during the holidays. This cruise was completely different making it a much more enjoyable time.
Our boarding process went quickly, as we are Platinum members. Our line was much shorter line then the other line. It would have taken twice as long without having Platinum status. From the time we were dropped off to actually getting on the ship, it was less than thirty minutes, arriving on board around 11:30. The ship was beautifully decked out for Christmas.
Since we could not go to our cabin until 1:30, we immediately went to the Windjammer for lunch. It was not very crowded and we had no problems getting a seat. This was a typical buffet set up with mediocre food. Neither one of us cared for the buffet and usually ate somewhere else unless it was our only choice during the week on the cruise.
Since it was still to early to go to our cabin, we toured the ship. This is a great time to take pictures and get familiar with the layout of the ship.
We just started going to the gym back in September, to get J ready for knee surgery. We were really good about going every day, even though it meant getting up early before we arrived in port. There is very limited equipment on board, but enough to get a workout in. It was fun to watch people come to the gym on sea days when they never workout at home.
We got a a lot of use out of the SPA area during our week. After our workout we would head to the sauna and steam room before taking a shower. In order to get a locker, you need to leave your sea pass with the attendant at the desk at the SPA.
After changing I would head to the sauna and the steam room to relax. I would usually be the only person there. What a great way to spend some time to unwind.
After the sauna, I jumped in the shower, which was located right outside of the sauna. There was a dispenser with shower gel and shampoo, so no need to worry about bringing anything except your clothes as there are plenty of towels to use.
The shower was really nice. It is twice the size of the one in the cabin. There was plenty of light to see and space to move around without worrying about the shower curtain grabbing your butt.
There was also a really large shower with multiple shower heads but no shower gel or shampoo available if you wanted even more room.
TIP: Use the shower at the spa which is much larger than the one in the cabins.
After getting dressed, I would meet J at the Park Café, located right outside the SPA for breakfast.
We would always get an English muffin with egg and ham along with some fruit. By eating at the Café, it kept us from over eating. It was a very relaxed atmosphere for breakfast compared to the Windjammer which was packed with people fighting for a table.
Inside Cabin 3519, Deck 3
On this cruise we booked an inside cabin. We got a great deal during the Going Going Gone sale back in October 2016, about two months before the cruise departure. We paid $1546.86 for two for our inside cabin. Where can I go for a week, including transportation, food and entertainment during Christmas for that price? After the sale the price went up to that much for one person in the cabin. A balcony would have cost me even more. I missed having the balcony but it was not an issue as we were never in the room.
We had the beds pushed together and there was plenty of room to move around. We had the best sleep with the room being so dark and no noise from the hallway.
Every night our cabin stewardess would leave us a cute towel animal.
I hated the shower in the cabin. After taking a shower in this small space, we ended up taking our showers at the gym, which was more enjoyable than fighting the shower curtain. This made cleaning our room much easier for the attendant.
Solarium Pool is a no kids pool, but how about Royal Caribbean take it a step further and be a kids free zone. This is where we would go on sea days to relax, but parents brought their kids and the pool attendant said they could be in there but not in the pool. What good is a quiet zone if I am listening to a screaming kid behind us near the windows while I am trying to read.
On sea days forget about getting a spot by the Main Pool unless you went out early and left a towel on the chair. Even though it said no saving chairs, I watched a lady bring beach towels and lay a towel on six chairs, saving them for her family and then proceeded to leave. An hour later no one still had come to use the chairs. It is really sad that Royal Caribbean does not enforce the thirty minute rule. If you don’t use the chair after thirty minutes, the pool attendant is supposed to remove the items, but that never happened. The picture below is taken on the day we boarded. On sea days all the chairs are filled. When it got really crowded we would go to the other pool for the rest of the day.
Christmas at Sea
Royal Caribbean did a great job having Christmas for the kids. Santa handed out gifts on Christmas morning to all the children on board. The kids were able to paint Christmas cookies to eat and sang Christmas carols. It was a very festive atmosphere onboard.
We are not Casino people and only walked through to get to where we wanted to go, so I cannot comment how well the slots paid out. It was never that busy when we went by.
There was a mixture of comedian, shows and musical performers in the Melodies Theater every night which we attended. We had no problems getting seats, which has not always been the case on other cruise lines.
My Time Dining Edelweiss Restaurant
We had My Time Dining and found out by accident before the cruise that you now need to make a reservation for My Time Dining Edelweiss Restaurant. I thought the idea was you could go any time you want but not anymore. They had a number to call to make reservations, but I heard complaints where they could not get through. There seemed to be a lot of confusion as people had to stand in line and wait to get in. There were two lines, one for reservations and one without. This line was extremely long every time we walked by.
We noticed several major cut backs by the cruise line during our week. Since it has been awhile since I have been on Royal Caribbean, this was a big change.
On sea days the Windjammer did not open until 7:30 and the Edelweiss Restaurant and Park Café did not open until 8. There were a couple of Danish (did not look very appealing to me and was not replenished very often) from 6:30-7:30 outside the Windjammer.
I would stop by and get ice from the machine to fill up my water bottle before I went to work out. Some days they had ice and other days they did not. During our cruise, ice was scarce in the Windjammer and I don’t know the reason why. They had ice in a plastic container but not from the dispenser. On port days the Windjammer would open at 6:30.
They now close the Windjammer from 11-11:30 to prepare for lunch and from 3:30 to 6:00 to prepare for dinner. Dinner in the Windjammer was from 6-9 p.m. Previously on our cruises, it would stay open and they would just change the food out.
There would be snacks from 3:30-6:30 at the Park Café and late night snacks from 9:30-12:30.
The following cruise compass was from a sea day where you can see the times.
We went to Chops Grill our first night, then our second night, we went to the Chefs Table. We were totally spoiled from all the good food. We did not make it to the Edelweiss Restaurant until the third night and that was when we saw for ourselves how down hill Royal Caribbean dining was. There was slim pickings as far as we were concerned. We ended up only eating in this restaurant twice. Here is a copy of the menu from the second formal night. There is a premium section where you can order for an additional charge. Save your money and go to the Specialty Restaurants. They have a better selection.
The last formal night they were pushing a deal to see the kitchen gallery followed by Champagne Brunch for $30. This tour used to be free, minus the Champagne. I guess if you can get enough to drink it might be worth it, but we are not big Champagne drinkers and did not attend.