We set sail on the Royal Caribbean ship Rhapsody of the Seas on Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 from the port of Galveston, Texas visiting Key West, Georgetown Grand Cayman's and Costa Maya, Mexico over a seven day span.
We chose to go from Galveston because we could drive down there easily and not have to go to troubles that traveling with oxygen entail. Needless to say airlines are not an oxygen friendly way to travel. So bright and early on the morning of October 29th we departed Cleburne for Galveston with a stop in Cuero, TX to visit some old friends from our days in New Hampshire. That was a welcome stop, a great deal of fun to see Karl and Freda again and then the final drive to a motel in Galveston. The fact that it took us about 7 1/2 hours to make a three to four hour drive gives some indication of our navigation skills. Luckily Royal Caribbean can afford to hire experienced people to get the ship around the Caribbean. After a restful night we got to the port about 12:30 p.m. and started boarding the ship about 1:00 p.m. No problems with security of anything else and we soon found our cabin on the fourth deck, just a short distance from both the boarding platform and the dining room. I was pleased to find my big oxygen tank already in the room and knew that everything was going to be okay.
The Rhapsody took to the open seas about 5:00 p.m. and is always the case we had out lifejacket drill shortly afterwards. That went okay and out station was one deck above, so not too far to walk. As usual some of our fellow passengers were grumbling about having to do such an exercise, but I though it no worse than those long airline dog and pony shows about seatbelts and oxygen masks.
Now back to the narrative after that slight diversion. The Rhapsody of the Seas is a beautiful ship. The atrium when you first enter the vessel is magnificent with a grand soaring sculpture dominating the entire atrium. Our room, just down the hall from the atrium, is what they call an "ocean view" cabin, with a very large picture window facing the water on the right (port or starboard?) side of the ship. The room is comfortable in size with the queen size bed taking up most of the space. There is a huge closet, storage spaces and drawers all over the place, so it didn't take us too long to get everything put away. Of course one of the first major actions you take when you go onboard a ship is read all the info they have laid out on the bed for you. All the fun things coming up, info on the first port of call (Key West) and instructions for the "mandatory" abandon ship drill. Two life preservers are already on the bed for you to don when the alarms go off.
Talk about herd instinct, the lifeboat drill brings out the best in everyone as we exceitedly chat our way to our assigned station on Deck 5. Everyone takes their places, the count comes out correct and the Captain thanks us for being such good little sailors. Those life jackets are an amazing contraption, manufactured in Sweden they include a little flashing light which is seawater activated, a whistle to get attention with and an uncomfortable fit which makes you realize that floating in the ocean with that thing holding you up is not going to be a greand experience.
So it's back to the cabin and get rid of the preserver then on to explore the ship and watch us sail out of the Port of Galveston past rusting oil drilling platforms, small boats, big boats and a very smoggy horizon. We race another large cargo ship so that we can be in front of the parade and Captain Tao and the pilot handle that job well. It takes about 45 minutes until we actually head out into open water and pick up speed heading in an easterly direction towards Key West at about 16 knots. By now it's getting closer to the first seating in the dining room and we proceed down the hall and across the Atrium to the lovely dining room. Our assigned table is very near the entrance and we join out table mates Tom and Lynn for the first time. It turns out they are from Burleson (just 15 miles from Cleburne) and we are to find that they are good travel companions and fun to be with in venues to come. I have just a few comments about the meals - the service was top notch with Dani and Alvin taking care of our every need and providing great conversation too, the food was excellent in my opinion (small town, non egalitarian, unsophisticated). The menu was varied with all kinds of choices and of course our waiters recommendation for the day. I went with him and on my own. Great soups, some of the freshest salads I ever eaten, and main courses which do not appear in my house at any time. Then they have to top that with some absolutely wonderful desserts. I can say without hesitation that we were never disappointed in a meal in the dining room.
More to come...just be patient please.
Ship picture stolen from the Royal Caribbean Website ( www.royalcaribbean.com )
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Roy R Giddens, Jr / This page was last updated on 12/07/14