Rhapsody of the Seas Tour – Overview
My Rhapsody of the Seas Tour happened just after a multi-million dollar refit in 2012. The results are impressive. There is no evidence that this ship is 15 years old. Surprisingly, Royal Caribbean’s trademark commitment to adventure cruising is almost non existent. The only exception is the rock climbing wall at the rear of the ship. There’s also no evidence of a family focus in the decor or venues. The Rhapsody of the Seas is a premium design, suited to couples of all ages who aren’t traveling with children.
Rhapsody of the Seas Tour – Upgrades
The 2012 upgrades to the Rhapsody of the Seas include an outdoor movie screen and a new multi-story Centrum with daily aerial entertainment. Wifi has been extended so it’s available everywhere on the ship and flat screen TVs are now standard in all staterooms. The stern of the ship was redesigned with a baffle to reduce the influence of wave motion.
Royal Caribbean is upgrading other ships in its fleet too. The entire fleet is being upgraded in response to the success of the Oasis of the Seas & Allure of the Seas. All ships in the fleet will have been refinished by 2013.
Rhapsody of the Seas Tour – Specialty Dining Upgrades
Royal Caribbean has shifted their emphasis to specialty dining. This is fully implemented on the Rhapsody of the Seas. The trend to increase menu options also means more additional fee for specialty restaurants. Specialty venues include:
Giovanni’s – a shift by Royal Caribbean to traditional Italian dining, which replaces the Portofino restaurant name. A manual prosciutto slicer in the restaurant let’s guests see their meal being freshly prepared.
Chef’s Table – a popular 3 hour + dinner with multiple courses and multiple wine parings. Some preparation occurs in the dining room and guests can participate and learn the secrets of top chefs.
Chops Grille – a popular open grill, where guests can see their steaks being prepared.
Izumi – Asian cuisine with a cover charge and a nominal fee for a la carte items.
The trend toward additional fees for specialties is also apparent elsewhere. While self serve ice cream cones and coffees are available for free, Royal Caribbean has partnered with Ben & Jerry’s and with Starbucks to provide those products for a fee.
Rhapsody of the Seas Tour – Centrum
The redesigned Centrum is an impressive improvement to the multi-story open-air center of the ship. The elegant, modern staircase, tile floor and bar are all new. I think that Royal Caribbean should have also gone with the Princess strategy of placing the specialty coffee on this floor. Adding the irresistible scents of fresh baked goods would completely solidify the Centrum as the focal point of the ship.
Rhapsody of the Seas Tour – Windjammer Buffet
One of the other highlights of the Rhapsody of the Seas Tour is the Windjammer Cafe. It’s really a buffet. The floor to ceiling windows at the bow of the ship provide excellent views in all directions. It’s a great place to dine and scan the horizon for whales on Alaska voyages. The food dishes are available at the center of the cafe in concentric stations.. So, you can easily find what you want. The layout creates a thoroughly pleasurable sensation of abundance.
Rhapsody – Shall We Dance
One of the surprises was the size of the dance floor at Shall We Dance. The Rhapsody of the Seas is one of the largest dance floors on the seas and many cruisers choose it for this feature.
Rhapsody – Pools
The retractable roof on the aft pool makes a great area to enjoy a poolside setting. This is an ideal feature for the early Alaska season. The main pool area houses the outdoor movie screen, as well as several whirlpools with permanent umbrella type shade over them. This is probably a good idea, but it does distract from the open-air atmosphere of the main pool.
My tour of the Rhapsody of the Seas certainly changed my perspective on the guest profile for Royal Caribbean . This ship is very similar in design to Princess ships and is very suitable for couples of all ages. The Rhapsody currently cruises Alaska in the summer and Australia in the winter.