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Review: Rhapsody of the Seas


Travelling with Mobility Scooter

  • By SilverTraveller Shirley_3

    1 review

  • Feb 2013
  • Husband
  • Special occasion
  • Balcony

152 people found this review helpful

I would like to give feedback about my and my husband s cruise experience with Royal Caribbean Cruise line on board Rhapsody of the Seas.

Edelweiss Restaurant:
Food was disappointing compared to other cruise ships we have been on. Also lack of atmosphere on second sitting, there were lots of empty or half empty tables, because either the ship was not full or people go to My Dining or other restaurants., so for instance, if you are on a table of 11 people, which we were, two of the 11 never showed up after the first day and then the others either sometimes went elsewhere to dine sometimes, so it was a bit lonely with gaps on the table. Whereas on other ships you have a full table and get to know people.

We felt let us have a meal and get this over with, as with empty seats each side of you, conversation is a bit limited! Also food was so disappointing.

Also we bought a wine package and on the table displayed outside restaurant when we bought package there were bottles of red, white and rose. We were told that although the rose bottles were not on the actual printed form, the rose bottles were in the display and we were told you can choose a rose. We could choose each night which type of wine we wanted.

One night we did chose a rose and that was fine, but a few nights later we were told no way could we have a bottle of rose, and although i explained the above, the head wine waiter would not let us have a bottle of rose.

The entertainment was very disappointing. The shows in the Broadway Theatre were ok, nothing to rave about. We thought if there had been singers, dancers, musical type shows that would have been better. The cabaret we saw was ok, but we ve been to Warners and Pontins holiday camps that had superior entertainment to what we had on the ship. We have also been on other cruise ships who used their own dancers, and also Warners and Pontins camps used their own dancers and it was so far better that entertainment in the Broadway Theatre on ship.

Shows in Centrum:
We couldn’t believe that several shows were held here. We realise that there were trapeze acts, but apart from that there were other shows, ie 70s Theme Night, and Rock N Roll 50 and 60s show. To be honest unless you got there REALLY early on Deck Level 5, to get a seat set around the circular Centrum, you stood no chance. Most people had to stand, whilst the two other theatres on the ship were lying empty. We couldn’t believe it.

To see the Centrum shows, there are three levels, but again, it was a bun fight if u could get seat, and if you got a seat further back you still didn’t see ANYTHING, since people stood round behind the first seats set around the Centrum, then there was walkway, then other tables and chairs but if you sat there – due to people standing, which they did all the time, you couldn’t see a thing. Also people stood round dance floor.

If shows had been held in the SHALL WE DANCE LOUNGE or BROADWAY theatre EVERYONE could have seen the show in comfort without having to stand up and be uncomfortable for ages.

As I’ve just mentioned, if you couldn’t get a seat, it was a long time to stand and many guests were unable to stand, including my husband who has balance difficulties and uses a mobility scooter.

It would have been much easier and a more sensible option for guests, not to have to fight for a view of the entertainment.

I know some entertainment must take place here ie “trapeze”, but when there are two perfectly good theatres, with more seating, it is laughable that Royal Caribbean guests are FORCED to stand. If there is a need for a small dance floor in the Broadway theatre, then some seats could be taken out to create a small dance floor, then this would be ideal solution.

We were very disappointed in the shows, as previously mentioned. Thought ships entertainment staff seemed very amateurish, with two of the men who were helping demonstrate the dancing, i honestly thought they were ordinary crew members, and maybe they were, they looked more like waiters as they looked so awkward.

Again we think Rhapsody’s entertainment shows were not even on par with a Pontins Holiday camp from the 1960s. Also very disappointed at having to stand in the Centrum (as mentioned husband disabled) also there were quite a few elderly people who cannot stand and there just isnt enough seating round the Centrum for them.

Guests are paying good money to come on board they should not have to think lets go back to the cabin as we cant get a seat for a show.

We have been on cheaper cruises with first time straight from stage school young entertainment staff, who so impressed us by their genuine interest and coming round to talk and to ask you to dance, and bond with you, so much more than Ricky and Patrick, the entertainment people, who seemed just to love themselves, and although they worked hard, the whole entertainment package needs to be reviewed in our opinion.

Quizzes in bar:
If you want to take part in Quiz starting at 8pm in Schooner Bar it is difficult to get there in time if you go to the second sitting Broadway Show, as Ricky keeps chatting at the end of the show, and doesn’t like it if guests start leaving the theatre. It doesn’t allow time for guests to get to the start of the quiz, especially if they have mobility problems, (my husband used his mobility scooter on board) but it takes time to negotiate around everyone and change decks using lifts etc.

The ship is nicely furnished but the whole entertainment package was SO DISAPPOINTING.

Daytime activities:
There could have been more indoor type activities put on, especially during days at sea when we had some bad weather. The film Forest Gump was shown on the big screen by the pool two days running, (1st and 2nd Day) I couldn’t believe it. One day when it was bad weather and we had day at sea, staff announced that there would be a film put on in Broadway theatre, but they only told us by loudspeaker 5 MINUTES before film due to start.

Again if you have to change (ie we were in indoor swim pool) then there is absolutely NO CHANCE of changing, negotiating lifts to change decks etc etc. What is the matter with the organisation on board ship. You could see from the beginning of the day that weather was rubbish, but no one was organising activities very well.

Indoor activities could be easily arranged on wet days you would think. When the crew realised we were in for a couple of wet days at sea, and they knew and the Captain announced it, so the following possible events could have been easily arranged.

Scrabble, whist drive, “HOY”, extra quizzes, competitions, ie Name That Tune, Giant Jenga, “Learn to Sing “ choir, entertainers could coach people to learn a song (they do this at Warners England,it is a new event) and quite sociable.

Ship could give out quiz sheets and crosswords everyday to do in day time on your own.

Ship could run art workshops, doing watercolours and sketching, could even make small charge to buy equipment for workshops.

The Captain gave a talk, but it would have been interesting to have say 4four crewmembers/entertainments team on stage giving talk on their lives with questions and answers and even a back stage tour of the dressing rooms and props and costumes, or tour of ship seeing parts not normally accessible ie The Bridge.

Think the only Tours of the Bridge tours were ones you had to pay for.

Not everyone wants to do boring “Napkin folding” which was on offer on a wet day.

Think Royal Caribbean should review all their entertainment on board, as the daytime activities were boring. Especially when it was so wet you couldn’t sit on deck and it would have been so easy to put on a film and give people sufficient notice.

The daytime activities did seem to increase on the day we went to Brisbane, which was so ludicrous since most people got off the ship to do trips.! Also day activities increased on the LAST day at sea!

On this day they gave us five minute warning that a film was going to be shown in the Broadway theatre.

It was a nice day by then, and showing a film in the theatre is good, but why didn’t they do this from Day 1 – since trying to listen to a film from the open air pool is too distracting, and you cannot hear properly.

I went looking for the ships library and found out that there used to be a lovely room, but they have used this room as part of the alternative My Dining restaurant, so now there is just two tired looking bookcases with so very boring books in, why not have a library! Also why not have a board games room with games to borrow, and also do puzzles, a comfortable room where you can sit etc.

The “Library” consists of “old, tired books”, in a couple of bookcases. Apparently there used to be a good library, that has now been used for the alternative dining rooms?

Laundry facilties – there aren’t any, you have to pay for service, but there used to be a laundry.

There is NO complimentary shampoo or conditioner or shower gel, just cheap soap on wall.

As mentioned before, choice of food is not very good, although staff excellent. I found the Edelweiss Restaurant experience very disappointing.

Ships excursions:
I was so looking forward to doing ships excursions and i had been e mailing Royal Caribbean in Miami for two months prior to our sailing, to ask questions on which trips were suitable and also i booked this holiday with Co-Op travel and they were trying to help me in booking excursions.

My husband has a mobility scooter, which folds down, is compact, comes apart, back wheels come off, battery and seat lift off, it folds down less than 19 inches high, and is compact. I gave all dimensions to Miami office, because there were certain excursions we wanted to go on and we were trying to find out if it was do able.

We pre booked the following excursions.

Port Stephens, Nelson Bay and Bay of Dolphins trip:
This trip is classed as “easy access”. The coach driver put our scooter in coach no problems. This boat trip we were told WE COULD take scooter on board boat. When we arrived for boat trip the Captain said we couldn’t take scooter on boat trip, but was happy to tie scooter up to the quay, which he did so we could go on excursion. Had it been a rainy day i don’t know what would have happened as you cant leave these scooters out in rain due to their electrics. But this trip was fine (as it wasn’t raining)and we returned to find my husband s scooter still tied up to quay.

Kuranda, Skyrail and Jungle Train:
This was the one excursion WE REALLY wanted to do. As explained we have been trying to work out if it was doing for 2 months BEFORE cruise.

We were told NO Way can you take scooter on the SKYRAIL (cable car), but we took scooter with us and driver put it on coach, and our first stop was the Jungle Train. The station actually has a lift from Platform to street, so in theory you could take mobility scooter with you, but in fact there was no need, since our coach driver met us at the end of the train journey and got scooter from coach and free wheeled it down to meet the train (since he couldn’t park close to Station, and it would have been an uphill walk for my husband. So that was fine since my husband just got off train and got on mobility scooter and went to coach, where it was put in luggage compartment, then driver DROVE to KURANDA village,(about a one mile drive).

(On the excursion paperwork, it actually says the guests MUST BE ABLE TO WALK a mile, but in fact there is no need). The coach driver drives guests from station to Kuranda Village and there we had use of the scooter so my husband could get about easily. The excursion Just WOULD NOT have time if everyone had to walk from station to village which is about a mile, but the coaches drive there. It seems ALL coaches do this, drive from station to Kuranda Village. You only have about an hour s free time in the village anyway, so there is no way that guests would be asked to walk from Station to Village, but R.C. staff seem unaware of this.

So for future R.C. guests Kuranda Village is accessible by wheelchair or scooter no problems.

After Kuranda Village it was time to board the Skyrail (cable car). This was the one thing we wanted to do. We were told by Royal Caribbean, NO WAY could we take scooter on cable car.

Well we didn’t, but when we were waiting to board cable car, my husband took his stick, they can stop the cable car for disabled people, and i found out they DO ALLOW mobility scooters on their cable car.

SkyRail has ramps to use to go on boardwalk trail into rainforest, disabled toilets etc. There are staff members to slow down cable car if someone has disabilities, and showed us the slopes rather than steps down.

There are three times you can get out of cable car. You take first cable car then get out for say ten minutes to go on boardwalk in rain forest for views, there seems to be toilets at each stop. I spoke to a member of staff and explained that i had been trying to find out information from RC staff in Miami and on board ship about feasibility of doing this particular excursion.

The cable car ride goes from Kuranda to Barron Falls, then you take another cable car to Red Peak, then you get out and then take cable car to Cairns, sign actually says “Caravonica”. But the staff explain all of this, and at each landing stage it is possible to get out and do “rainforest walk”.

Since I have spent two months sending e mails to RC staff in Miami you can imagine how disappointed we were with lack of knowledge and mis information given to us. Also i have been so stressed out over these trips i felt like cancelling because everything i wanted to do i was told it wasn’t do able.

Skyrail also have free ranger talks and walks at certain times of day just to keep you in the picture, also there is an Interactive Rainforest Interpretation centre you can visit between Cabl e car rides.

After the second cable car you then take the cable car signposted to “Cairns”, and this is where the coach met us. So with coach drivers, (which it seems is standard practice), they drop guests off at the Jungle train station to go to Kuranda, meet guests at Kuranda Station, then driver to Kuranda village, then drive to cable car so guests can get on, then meet passengers at the end of the cable car ride to board coach to return to cruise ship.

This whole trip is fine for people with limited mobility problems, the only thing i would point out is the jungle trains does have high steps, but once you are on, you are sitting down for the journey, although they do stop for photos and you can get off at the water falls, but you don’t have to, and train recommences the journey to Kuranda.

Shore Excursions on board Rhapsody did kindly reserve front seats on coaches on all excursions which was a great help.

I just wanted the above information to be passed on for future people with mobility problems, i did give the manager of Shore Excursions on Rhapsody quite a few notes i had made for future guests who wished to take mobility scooters, also Shore Excursions and R.C. in Miaimi should liaise more with each other about accessibility for disabled people on these trips.

Due to the fact we had no scooter with us, the lovely board walk areas available to sightsee the rainforest were not accessible to us, since my husband couldn’t walk far without his scooter. If we had had the scooter, it would have been lovely for him to drive round the board walk area and we had to change cable car, that is what u do en route.  The views are lovely from the cable car and it is a good experience, but it would have been so much easier if Royal Caribbean staff (in Miami and on board the Rhapsody) were aware this is DO-ABLE.  As it is I had to leave  my husband on his own, while i had look at board walk area, had a short walk,and took a few photos but it isnt the same as he couldn’t come with me as not able to walk that far.

The cable car staff are so disabled friendly and not only do they stop the cable car, they bring disabled guests to the front of the queue.

It is So Easy to take scooter on coaches.  Scooter can actually be lifted (without handlebars being folded down) and lifted intact. It folds down to a compact 19 inches high, it is that compactible.

Green Island Discovery:
We were told we couldn’t take scooter on this trip, and we knew it was a fair walk from Rhapsody to board Catamaran to Green Island. Luckily the manager on board Rhapsody arranged for us to go by car to board the Catamaran, since it would have been too far for my husband to walk and we were told we couldn’t take scooter.

I managed to request an 11 30 am slot  on the glass bottom boat for when we arrived at Green Island, the idea being to go straight on the glass bottomed boat, as you have to walk along a very long jetty to get on Green Island, then we would have had to come back , retracing our steps, to get on the glass bottom boat.

We thought this was a good idea going straight from catamaran to glass bottom boat, but you can imagine our dismay when we waited to board the 1130am boat to be told they had overbooked and we would have to come back at a later time!

In fact 11 of us couldn’t get on this 11.30 am boat and it was a bit devastating due to the fact they we were now going to have to do the jetty walk twice, with my husband not having a scooter.! Because R C said we couldn’t take one.

We managed to walk to end of jetty and walked to the resort and sat by pool in chairs as my husband was exhausted by then. I went off to walk the “boardwalk” which goes through the rain forest to  have a look round.

My husband on Green Island could only sit in lounger chair until i returned, then we walked back to the Jetty for the glass bottom boat trip. But all in all, not a very good experience, could have been done better, why was 11 30 am boat overbooked since they made such a fuss on this excursion saying you have to go to correct time etc for the glass bottom boat, and gave tickets out etc, and this caused us so much distress as instead of an easier day it was made even more difficult due to the fact that we had to walk the board walk twice. (four times in all).

It would have made such a difference if we could have taken the scooter to the island. My husband could have enjoyed driving round the boardwalk, all easily accessible by scooter or wheelchair and wouldn’t have got tired and stressed. We could have relaxed and enjoyed day more instead of wondering if my husband would be able to do the walk both ways (in fact 4 times) along the jetty.

There are steps down to the beach, but my husband can do steps, but we knew this, but we could have driven round the boardwalk, have had more time there, since it took a while for my  husband to walk the jetty four times and it would have been less stressful.

We had been offered use of a wheelchair on the island but i am not strong enough to push it, as have torn tendon in my shoulder and that is why we bought mobility scooter in first place to enhance my husband s quality of life.

Whilst we were waiting to board catamaran back to ship we noticed another catamaran moored next to the one we were going to board.  A couple (from Rhapsody of Seas) were boarding this with crews help, and wife had very similar mobility scooter to my husbands. They had booked this trip with a catamaran which sailed from adjacent  mooring to our Green Island Boat and this company did accept mobility scooters. So what a difference their day was to ours.

We spoke to the couple and the husband had booked direct with this company, (Green Island Reef Tours), it was a shame that RC staff on board Rhapsody did not have this information as it would have made our trip much more enjoyable if we could have done the same as this couple.

Could not R.C. in future book with this company (or advise passengers that if you book with this company you CAN take scooters to Green Island). The company in question was called GREEN ISLAND REEF TOURS, and they were disabled friendly, and are located  next to catamaran that RC use, and their  boat was very similar to one we were on, and i do not understand why our catamaran did not allow mobility scooters.

In this day and age everything on the day trips out is geared to wheelchairs, with no mention of mobility scooters. I thick RC should get up to date with facts and allow said scooters on their trips and actually try the trips out themselves with scooters to see what is do able.

I would like to thank Carena, Shore Excursions manager, for her time and care in organising a car to and from the catamaran from the ship to board catamaran to Green Island, and also for reserving us front coach seats on each trip, and also getting us a tender ticket to get off ship early as we had privately arranged a flight over barrier reef with relatives we met at Airlie Beach.

I think with Para Olympics last year, and we are supposed to be disabled friendly  then RC should review their excursion advice/booking and maybe change to Green Island Reef Tours or maybe inform disabled people that this company is located next to jetty where the RC guests board to go to Green Island.

I do find that unfortunately disabled people could be treated better  and excursions thought out better for people with limited walking ability.

Also I would like to praise our CABIN boy, he was brilliant, he moved our furniture to accommodate our mobility buggy and nothing was too much trouble for him.  As when we actually arrived at the cabin we couldn’t find any suitable space for the scooter in our cabin, but our cabin boy – by moving both bedside tables over to the patio door, made sufficient room for scooter to be stored.

I made these notes whilst on the ship, and spent a lot of time and trouble since i feel disabled people should NOT have to go through the stress we ve had to go through to try to organise trips on this cruise. 

In light of our experiences it would be a nice gesture if Royal Caribbean could recompense us in some way as everything we found was a bit of a battle and we nearly cancelled going on this cruise so many times, instead of feeling confident about this cruise i spent sleepless nights before we went worrying about how we were going to manage.  All through the cruise i felt i was having to battle to go on trips and totally lost confidence in what was do able.

It is bad enough is someone has walking impairment but things could so easily have been done without all this hassle. You would think it would be easy in this day and age to be able to book up trips we wanted to go on, as it was for us, supposedly a holiday of a lifetime.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • thorplands9
    over 7 years ago
    I cannot go on cruises because I am in a bariatric electric wheelchair , but I wish I could go on a lovely cruise. I would hate not being able to go ashore for sightseeing and shopping with my wife but I guess I have to carry on dreaming.