View Full Version : Rhapsody of the Seas

happy daze john in oz
13th November 2008, 05:34 AM
Well guys I am back after my trip with Royal Caribbean lines on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Bit of a culture shock in many ways, so much has changed since our days. Ships of this sort are now just floating five star first class hotels, to the extent that they even carry a hotel manager as well as human resources manager. I know many of you will have been on a cruise with some other companies so I can only comment on this ship and the company that owns it.

Our cabin, now known as state rooms, had a queen size bed. There would have been times in our day when a queen size bunk would have been in order, but no outward evidence of any of those lovely people on this one. First morning at sea I lay there waiting for the 'wakey, wakey rise and shine' but all I got from the young Philipno stewardess was a very polite, 'good morning sir'. No rattle of beer crates, and all the ship is carpeted so I missed out on early morning scrub outs as well.

The majority of crew have two berth cabins, some singles, on deck one, a mess room and galley, as well as a longe where drinks can be purchased. The days of the 'Pig and Whistle' are long gone. Amomg the crew were about 35 married couples with both members of the crew. Senior officers are up on deck 7.
There are more people wearing gold braid than you could poke a stick at.
The first officer, British, 28 years old and first officer/safety a 23 year old female. Chief steward female with 3 second stewards, male, bars manager female. I wll post on the gallery a sheet with some figures about the ship and others in the fleet. Most of the ordinary crew are on six month contracts with between one and two months leave at the end of each contract and the average wage is about U.S.$500 per month. As the company is registered in Nassau they pay no tax.
For those of you who worked on the Queen's, U.C.L. or P&O would be aware of the quality of first class then, well it is still here only about 10 times better.
Eating, an occupation that takes up much of the day, goes on from 6a.m. to 11p.m. then on a couple of nights there was an on deck late night buffet. I never realised night sea air could shrink clothes so much.

Two main eating areas, dinning room on decks 5 and 6 used by most bloods for dinner only. Here the service is first class fine dinnig style, a blast from the past of all those great first class liners of our day. But no rush as dinner is in two 2.5 hour sittings, four course meal. The days of head high held trays with ten or more plates are gone, now the wingers have trolleys. Each winger has about 18 bloods each sitting with an assistant winger between two stations to help, and nine head waiters. The dinning room also operates a self service breakfast and lunch service. The other restaurant is full self service seating710 with alfresco seating available as well. Here there is so much food and choice it is hard to know where to start. Food styles are dependent on where the ship is sailing and the nationality of the majority of bloods.
Watching some eat reminded me of my days as a tourist winger on the Cape run, but no Maltabella. For some eating has become an olympic event, higher, wider,..... I am sure some of the bloods were using front end loaders to fill their plates.
Every time you go for seconds, or in some cases thirds, forths, fiths, you are required by ships rules to take a fresh knife and fork which are rolled up in a linen serviette. As a result the steam queens are kept busy 24/7 laundering up to 12,000 per day as well as 2,000 pool towels, bed linen and towels which were changed every day at four per blood. There are 2,000 sun loungers.

Entertainment is non stop from 8a.m. to 3a.m. when the disco closes. There is a casino on board and a magnificent theatre which puts on two shows per night as well as other events during the day.
Bars, of which there are plenty, open from 9a.m. so a beer with breakfast is possible. Being a cashless society it is easy to over spend. All prices are in U.S $ and some are a bit high, but there were some good offers. 5 to 6 in the evening round the pool two for one pints of draught beer at $7.50 for the two. Mixed drinks, Myers Rum and coke, Gordons Gin and Tonic etc at $6.25 but great value as they only get 8, yes eight nips from a bottle!!!!!!!!!! Then in the theatre two for one cocktails before the show at $7.0 for two.
Wine by the case is the cheapest way to go, ten nights, pre pay for ten bottles and save 40% on the individual bottle price. That is fine until night six comes along and you need a second case. Taking alcohol aboard is strictly forbidden and security so tight you cannot even smuggle it aboard. So you have to pay their prices.

Thursday night a great pool side party from 11p.m. to 1a.m. with the West Indian band playing and a great buffet. Docked in Villa next morning and one of the bloods was taken off in a body bag, always something going on.
Got to shake hands with the captain which was a bit of a trauma as the last time I got that close to one he was logging me three days pay, something about a bottle of Cape Brandy and a pair of frilly knickers if I recall.

Every night the executive chef, a Brit, did the rounds of the dinning room. On our first night I got talking to him and told him of my back ground. From then on every night he would sit with us for ten minutes to compare times . As a result a number of bloods asked me why I was complaining so much to the chef, but when I told them the reason they soon turned a bit green. There are galley tours, but first buy must buy a company cook book at $29.95 but not for me, I got a personal private tour. The galleys of today are so different from those of our day, very compact, more like some hotel galleys, but they turn out the equivalent of 10,000 meals per day.

Crew numbers of 760 are made up of about 12 engine, 25 deck, 10 maintainance crew, 50 utility who do all the cleaning mainly at night, 139 galley from executive chef to K.P. Including 18 bakery/pastry who only work nights. 20 casino, 12 shop attendents, 89 entertainers including cruise manager and staff, 8 photographers, 60 bar staff, 10 child care, the balance is mainly catering including all the gold braid, wingers, assitant wingers, stateroom attendants, who have 20 staterooms each. Catering staff are now food and beverage attendants, or accomodation attendants.

Most of the crew were Philipino with a large number of West Indians, and many from Europe , China, Canada,U.S.A. It was a very happy ship and we all had a ball, in fact we may have had two or more.

Included in the price of our fare was a section for gratuities, but that is not enough for the company. On the last night each blood recieves 4 envelopes in their cabin, one for the waiter, one for the assistant, one for the head waiter and one for the stateroom attendant. With this is a list of suggested tips to pay each. The total came to the same sum as that which I had paid with the ticket. But not wishing to appear mean I left each a tip in the envelopes, ' be good to your mother, and but shares in Royal Caribbean'.

We have often said that the ships of today have no resemblance of ships as we knew them and that is correct, they appear more like floating appartment blocks, though once on board they can still be recognised as we knew them. However they do not take kindly to rough weather, and some have been built only for calm seas. On our last day we hit a bit of weather, 35 knot wind across the port bow and 3to 4 meter waves, nothing startling. But she was all over the place like a mad womans knickers. Bloods were asked not to go on deck, a request I ignored, and on each and every corner sick bags were available. During the whole voyage there had been no one talking on a mobile, but that morning there were plenty talking to 'huey' on the paper bag. Due to the build of the ship there is so much open areas that there is nothing to absorb the engine vibrations so she shakes like a mad womans dentures aft of amidships.

Well we finally got back to dry land where my credit card was rushed to the emergency department and put on the critical list, it will require a number of substantial cash transfusions to keep it alive I have been informed.

To those of you who have not taken a cruise I would say, if you can then do it. It is the only way you will ever get back to sea and this time you will enjoy it all.

Geoff Anderson
13th November 2008, 06:22 AM
Hi JOHN. WELCOME back mate . Glad you enjoyed your cruise, cor what a write up you gave. you must have been taking notes all the time. But i still prefer the old days, when a ship was a ship and not a floating hotel.
best wishes geoff:D

happy daze john in oz
13th November 2008, 08:36 AM
G'day Taff mate, have to agree on that one but things are always on the move. One point I forgot was to mention wages. Average catering wage is about U.S.$ 500 per month and as the ship is registered in Nassau they pay no tax.:eek:

Doc Vernon
13th November 2008, 09:07 AM
Hi John,
Well back so soon mate,haha! thought you would have stayed away for much longer! Only kidding!
Great writeup you have given us there John,and i thank you for all that info,its good to know what goes on aboard these new Cruise Ships!
Very glad that you and Terri enjoyed your trip,and as i read it mate you would do it again!
I will have to think on that one now,as it does sound very inviting!
Actually looked at the same Cruise that you did and see that you can get a cheaper fare,but then not the same sort of accomadation!
Anyway mate glad to have you back here with us,and now you will have to put up (or shut up haha!) with us all here and also on the Virtual Ship,which by the way seems to be dying a slow death!:eek:
We will have to jazz it up,and you can bring the Maltabela along for starters! haha:D

13th November 2008, 09:24 AM
:)Hi John! Welcome Back. Thanks for telling us about your cruise.I've been tempted to take one.but don't think I'm quite ready-I know that it could never invoke that sense of magic again(not that I served on pass.ships!),but even so sailing on what seems to be a 'plastic''top-heavy,floating Motel doesn't appeal.The only attraction would be the warm sunshine and the exotic port or two I hadn't yet visited!
I also feel a bit uncomfortable not being 'up there'.not knowing what's going on.
Years ago I sailed overnight from Hook of Holland to Harwich on a Sealink ferry(St George).It was quite a rough crossing ,all the doors onto the outside were closed off-and it felt really scary to be a passenger and not knowing what was happening that night.(Needless to say quite a few of us passengers comforted ourselves with a few duty-frees!

Incidentally I found Filipino crewmen to be top-notch.Hard-working,loyal and very pleasant.Good overtime rates etc. accounted for them serving 12-14 months.Excellent wages compared with lowly Filipino wages shoreside.Most of them were able to build their houses when ashore on leave-most of their pay was sent home to help their families-and they always paid off in Hong Kong with packing cases full of goodies for their large extended families in the Phillipines .I have a lot of time for them.


happy daze john in oz
13th November 2008, 09:25 AM
ref post #4

Hi there Vernon, yes there are cheaper berths, all inboard and a bit dim, not to my liking as I prefer to wake up to see the sea and sun. Balcony berths are dearer but no bigger nad what would you want to spend your time on the balcony for when there is so much to do on board. Already planing the next trip. Think I may have to bring some of the female crew from her onto the virtual ship, might stir things up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:eek:

13th November 2008, 10:32 AM
Hi John, Welcome home and many thanks for your account/log it made me LOL we are thinking of a Cruise next year and your account has convinced me to press on and do it.
Some of my mates have been and all have had a great time but “it will never take the place of the real thing” we are looking at Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas to Scandinavia and Russia next spring out of Harwich.
All the best Steve R770014 South Derbyshire

happy daze john in oz
13th November 2008, 11:09 AM
ref post #7

Steve, it will never replace the real thing we knew but the experience is well worth it. It is different, but then agin so much has changed in the past 40 years. Royal Caribbean has I think now set the standard for crusing and are very professional at what they do. Go for it, I know you will not regret it.:)

alf corbyn
13th November 2008, 12:07 PM
g'day john and welcome back. a very good write up and an enjoyable read.
the virtual ship i very slow as some of the crew keep on going backwards. we reached genoa and then we were suddenly back near gib. i can't wait to get to port said but i think we have lost our way. the navigator?? seems to be relying on GPS instead of his brass thingy. cheers. alf:D:D

Dennis McGuckin
13th November 2008, 05:13 PM
Nice write up John.
My impression was much like yours. Didn't really feel like I was at sea, as she hardly moved.
Also didn't recognize any of the old ports we visited in the Caribbean. Mind you I had the 'ball and chain' with me so didn't go to the old favorite areas!
Will think of you when I see the Rhapsody of the Seas. She spends the summer months out of Vancouver on the Alaska run.

happy daze john in oz
14th November 2008, 05:23 AM
ref post #10

G'day Den, many of the crew had done the Alaska run last year and said it was the best of all the cruises she does. Am now thinking that maybe we should think about it as it sounds so good. The executive sous chef was from Vancover but is resident in Jamacia for tax purposes. :)

happy daze john in oz
14th November 2008, 05:24 AM
ref post #7

G;day Steve, same ship we went on, if you want any info on the best accomodation give me a yell.:eek:

Ian Warren
14th November 2008, 07:32 AM

I would really recommend doing a cruise to Alaska, as the scenery and wildlife is amazing.

If you go to Juneau I would 100% suggest you book a whaling trip with Captain Larry, as it is the best excursion I have ever done on any of the cruises I have been on. He has a relatively small and very fast boat, and always seems to find the Orcas, and we spent much of the day following 2 family pods. Judging by the feedback from passengers who had gone on a trip organised by the cruise line our experience was infinitely better.

His web site is www.orcaenterprises.com and I would suggest that you contact him as soon as you have booked your cruise.



Dennis McGuckin
14th November 2008, 03:50 PM
ref post #11

Morning John,
A few of my mates have done the Alaska trip. They all loved it. The wife keeps after me to go, but we lived in Prince Rupert for years, so really have seen much of that area.
If you decide on it, spend some extra time on the Island, its worth it. You will find a berth here mate.

happy daze john in oz
15th November 2008, 06:09 AM
G'day Den and Pensennis, thanks for thta bit of info, will certainly keep it in mind as I am keen on trying thata run having heard so much about it.:)

2nd March 2009, 01:04 AM
Hi John: I am a former "blood" who travelled many times on the Cunard ships including the old Queen Mary.

I enjoyed reading your review of the Rhapsody of the Seas. My husband and I have taken a few cruises lately with Royal Caribbean and we have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. I noticed your comment about having paid for your gratuities in with the price of the cruise and that you were issued envelopes on the last night of the cruise. Along with the envelopes, there should have been sheets of vouchers (one for each of the four crew members mentioned). The vouchers, for which you paid in advance, are given to the crew members in the envelopes provided. I just thought I would let you know that this is their system of paying out the grats for which you have already paid.

By the way, do take the Alaska cruise -- it is superb. Happy sailing :)

Cheers, Marion

happy daze john in oz
2nd March 2009, 04:55 AM
[ ref post #16

G'day Marion, thanks for that bit of advice, I will kep it in mind as I will sail with R.C. again. Intend to get to the Alaska cruise as soon as I can, had so many great reviews about it. :)

Dennis McGuckin
2nd March 2009, 04:56 PM
G'day Marion, thanks for that bit of advice, I will kep it in mind as I will sail with R.C. again. Intend to get to the Alaska cruise as soon as I can, had so many great reviews about it. :) John if you do the cruise, dont forget my offer.

happy daze john in oz
3rd March 2009, 05:52 AM
John if you do the cruise, dont forget my offer.

Thanks DEn.

Albert Bishop
5th March 2009, 08:28 PM
Glad you enjoyed the trip John, and I agree with David. In the Caribean some of the Islands are starting to look more like the third world, May not sound as glam, but a Medi cruise is a better bet now. Cheers From the ever sundrenched North east, Albi

happy daze john in oz
6th March 2009, 04:41 AM
Thanks Albi, have heard thta from a few now, how the world has changed. How is Shields thses days, spent quite a bit of my very young life up there as weall as Sunderland, Bolden and Newcastle.:eek:

Albert Bishop
6th March 2009, 03:09 PM
Morning John, Shields is still going strong, but like all ports these days, Yuppi flats and fancy resturants replacing what we had. One or two of the old pubs still hanging on, but their days may be numbered. Still I guess nothing is forever (Not even us) Cheers , Albi. Still sunny though,

David Williams
6th March 2009, 10:08 PM
Hi John.
Nice to have you back,glad you enjoyed yourself.
After reading your "Saga",Im in two minds about
going on a cruise,the wife wants to go,we shall see.
Ive been told that there are still Passenger/Cargo
boats on regular runs that do cruises.At my age a
long haul for me is about four hours max in a plane,
Canary Islands,Turkey,Bulgaria and anywhere
in between.My middle daughter cruised on the
Navigator of the Seas a couple of years ago,and
she still drools over it.Take a couple of days off to
get over your holiday,then back onto the computer
Okay.Will speak to you soon.

Dave Williams(R583900)

Geoff Anderson
6th March 2009, 11:40 PM
Hi All.
I have often thought about a cruise, but as the wife gets sea sick in the swimming pool. How stable are these cruise ships/ block of flats ?.I was thinking about going with my bro and wife. sailing in the Caribbean. I would also have to think about flight times, and wether it would be easier for us to meet them there, flying via the states. Rather than the long haul NZ / UK 24hr flight. then having a what ? 6 hr flight to the cruise ship.

best wishes geoff,:D

happy daze john in oz
7th March 2009, 05:18 AM
Taffy and Daishop my advice to you is lay back and enjoy the voyage. Her indoors was not one bit keen on the idea of a cruise and i almost had to press gang her into going. Second night out she asks why we never did this before, going again in August.
As for seasickness, there is not much chance as most of the cruise ships stick to calm waters, but there are many seasick pills about that work well. Many of the travel agents who do the bookings also arrange conecting flights, so there is no hanging around. There are a number fo cargo companies who take up to 12 passengers but some of the tripos can be a bit long and some of the places visit are not always the best ports.
But you can make a booking with just a deposit and then have up to 4 months to pay the balanced, plenty of time to think about it. Go fot it fellas.:eek:

happy daze john in oz
7th March 2009, 05:20 AM
ref post #22

G'day Albi, sounds as if Shields has gone the way of many such ports. Often wonder what my G.G.F. and G.G.G.F. would make of it all now, they spent their lives working on the Wearside shipyards.:eek:

4th May 2009, 05:46 PM
Nice one John, those ships are really big!;)

I was invited onto the, "Sovereign of the Seas", for the naming ceremony at Miami in '92, an old mate of mine was the Engineer Vice President, had a great time, a super bun-fight just after Noon, Champers everywhere, I did manage to get myself and my boss back to our hotel in one piece. The most interesting gadget they had on board was the glass and bottle crusher, magic gear, it stops the propellers being damaged as the broken glasses and bottles are dumped. :)

16th March 2010, 12:12 AM
I have just joined this site, therefore only just read your write up on your cruise. It was certainly a most excellent effort I thoroughly enjoyed it. You managed to bring out all the facts and figures that I managed to compare to my erstwhile days as a Winger on RMS Andes. Thanks very much.

Neville Roberts
16th March 2010, 01:13 PM
I have done a couple of criuses,and have found that the service is great and the food too but it is a far cry from the old first class days with only 6 bloods too take care of and a lot of silver service and table side work , boneing of dover sole, shelling lobsters and carving meats , cooking deserts,I have a pic on the site of a table of mine on the Empress of Canada where we are about too serve a course of turtle soup , I am in the background with the soup tureen. those were the days :D:D

happy daze john in oz
17th March 2010, 05:57 AM
Neville mate, don't tell me you had to bone and cook the turtle at the table! But I must agree with you it is not the same though I have found the food and saloon service to be well up there with some of the best liners. But they are now only floating hotels, but it is the only way I can get back on the sea, go to a foreign port and still search out the odd local bar. Do not bother now with all the supervised tours in the land of the 'waving palms' Backshees as alf would sat.

Neville Roberts
17th March 2010, 03:10 PM
I remember going too Charlotte Amali in St Thomas and it hasen,t changed in 50 years it still looked the same as when we were doing the cruises out of New York in the 60,s a new destination was the cayman islands , were I found an old girl friend of mine from liverpool married too a rich islander politico, small world eh.,she said that she got the urge too travel from me telling her tales of far away places, so she became a air hostess for about 15 years or so :cool:

Captain Kong
16th December 2010, 05:22 PM
HJere is a report of a cruise vessel in `bad weather` off Egypt.
The Captain forgot that at slow speed the Stabilizers did not work.

Video: Royal Caribbean's Captain Wright Talks Brilliance

(Updated 10 a.m. EST) -- The nearly 2,060 Brilliance of the Seas passengers who endured a horrifying early morning in the Mediterranean won't be paying a dime for the experience.

"The captain announced a full refund for all guests as a result of the 'unfortunate incident' of two days ago," posted Cruise Critic member Lifelong Cruiser on Monday. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez confirmed the statement, and an official release from the line acknowledged that passengers and crew had been through a "frightening experience."

The line had initially doled out $200 in onboard credit ($400 for those in suites) -- a level of compensation that had angered many and resulted in "at least one guest letter circulating that criticized the 'nominal' amount," noted Lifelong Cruiser.

On Sunday morning, Brilliance ran into rough weather en route to Alexandria, Egypt. In the early a.m. hours, large waves and heavy winds caused the ship to list several times, injuring about 60 passengers, sending beds sliding across cabins, shattering glass elevators and leaving the dining room and other public areas strewn with damaged furniture. According to a Royal Caribbean statement, aesthetic damage to the ship's interior has caused the closure of three public venues -- the beauty salon, video arcade and disco -- for the remainder of the sailing. The statement also noted that the most serious of the injuries were fractures suffered by two passengers.

Despite the dangerous lists, Royal Caribbean said that there has been no impact to Brilliance's operating systems or engines, and it continues to be fully seaworthy. The ship arrived in its next port of call, Malta, at roughly 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday. It will overnight in Malta and then head for Barcelona, Spain, where it will conclude the voyage on Friday as originally scheduled.

According to the line, repairs are underway, and subsequent cruises will not be impacted. The next cruise is set to depart on December 17.

Cruise Critic members on the ill-fated voyage have been chronicling the ordeal on the message boards.

"Bed surfing, what an experience," posted Cruise Critic member sochie. Member Lifelong Cruiser was also in his cabin when the ship listed. "The closet door in our balcony cabin ripped from its hinges and flew across the room," he wrote. "The king bed slid across the cabin as if on wheels ... The bed ended up perpendicular to where it started ... My wife narrowly missed being hit by the airborne closet door, which weighs 50+ pounds."

"[The] Gym is in shambles -- ellipticals looked like monkey bars; spin bikes everywhere," wrote dirtgirl after surveying the scene on Sunday.

Member jimbo5544, whose son and daughter-in-law are celebrating their honeymoon onboard, posted additional details. "They said all computers had smashed in Internet cafe and Grand piano smashed into wall. Much broken glass all over ship."

Others are wondering how such a harrowing event could have taken place. "The captain admitted in his first address within 30 minutes of the incident that a 'mistake' had been made by slowing down in harbor traffic, causing the stabilizers to disengage," posted Lifelong Cruiser. "[He] described the incident as a 'mistake' more than once."

"The speed for that part of the voyage is a slow-speed leg," said Martinez, when asked about the captain's comments. "When the ship encountered the severe weather, it caused the ship to slow down even more. As you may know, the stabilizers are not engaged at slow speeds."

16th December 2010, 08:11 PM
I would not have thought that in harbor traffic any vessel would have stabilisers engaged. Off course you never know with passenger ships?
Seems a lack of stability rather than a stabiliser problem.


happy daze john in oz
17th December 2010, 04:18 AM
Sailed on a number of liners with stabalisers but only recall them being used deep sea and no where near the coast or a port. In really bad weather they often have been pulled in.

18th December 2010, 12:00 AM
I am amazed that stabilisers were used in Harbour traffic and at low speed they are worse than useless

Pete Smith
14th May 2011, 08:04 PM
Hi John, great post. I did the QM2 couple of years ago and they did allow us our own wine, also on the Holland American Alaska cruise. Pete Smith