A different kind of cruise on Royal Caribbean. What made this cruise different was the Brazilian staff who were able to involve an international clientele in shipboard activities as in no other cruise I have been on (about 40 in all on RCCL).
We embarked in Santos, Brazil and the boarding process was utter chaos with two other ships disembarking and intermingling with the newly arriving passengers. It was difficult just finding where RCCL was doing their check in, but once having found it, the process was typical and smooth.
On board, the Rhapsody is similar to the other Vision Class ships, small if you are used to cruising the new ships, but in nice condition. The staterooms are typical for RCCL; we had 8038, a JS category, and it was fine with ample space throughout. The balcony was useful with the beautiful landscapes that a trip through Tierra del Fuego offers. The dining room was double tiered with the downstairs being for the classic early and late seating customers, the upstairs is reserved for the anytime dining folks. The staff in the dining room has a larger percentage of Brazilian waiters and assistants, which is a mixed blessing. On one hand, they tend to be more personable than those we have observed on previous RCCL cruises, but their quality of service struggles to attain accepted standards. Water glasses usually went dry unless we asked for refills; some dinners' length extended into the entertainment shows.The food in the main dining room was good to very good; the desserts were generally excellent. The only specialty restaurant we used was Giovanni's which was excellent.
The entertainment was uniformly outstanding with great variety. The Italian tenor and Brazilian female soloist were great. All production shows were resplendent with very good singers and dancers. The orchestra accompanied the headliners and was phenomenal. The only canned music was for the production shows.
We did a bridge tour which was really worthwhile particularly because they take you to a side bridge which is outdoors on this class ship. Overall, this was very informative.
Port visits were typical for a Cape Horn trek, except that because it started in Brazil rather than in Buenos Aires, no visit was made to Punta del Este or Puerto Montt. Also, the visist to Buenos Aires was cut short with a 6 pm departure. So much for a bife de lomo dinner there!
The shore excursions seemed priced too steeply particularly considering the strength of the US dollar in South America.
What set this cruise apart is the Brazilian staff which has no similarity throughout RCCL. They set up activities that are truly fun, be it the many varieties of trivia or the themed nights which included the 70 Disco night and Carnival. The ship was rocking for these and other venues that made it special and fun to just be aboard. RCCL should try to replicate this elsewhere particularly on the Oasis Class and Quantum class where occasionally I wondered who the cruise director was after I left the ship.
There were many more plusses than minuses on this unique cruise. In this instance smaller was better-our last two were Allure and Anthem.
Fun just walking around.
Great weather and fun day.
Nice walking tour on our own.
I conducted a tour for friends around town. Cabs were inexpensive.
Not a good setup for embarcation.