Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Royal Caribbean International
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

Plenty of windows for ocean view in the public rooms and dining room.Read More

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Balcony cabins; mega-ship sports facilities, huge casinos.

Onboard Experience

The fifth of what are now called the Vision-class ships, also including Legend, Splendour, Enchantment, Grandeur, and Vision of the Seas. These ships are all nearly identical with many things in common, the only difference being that each iteration gets a little bigger and carries more passengers. The all have the distinctive Royal Caribbean “Centrum”, seven decks high on these ships, atop of which one finds the Viking Crown Lounge. The decor is light and contemporary, and mostly in good shape because the Royal Caribbean keeps it that way, though it isn’t unusual to see some wear and tear in pockets.

Decor

All of the ships of the class have public rooms full of large expanses of glass to let in glorious sunshine and sea views. She was hailed in her day as a large ship that still preserved the sense of being at sea. Today, she’s an older ship, and actually considered small, but still elegant and classy enough to attract a younger clientele looking for sea escapes and action at night.

Public Rooms

You’ll find the Champagne Terrace at the bottom of the the Centrum, where live palm trees and a string embellish the ambiance of brass, marble & glass. This is also the shopping area, where three large duty-free stores offer plenty of browse time. There are light woods and marble set fountains throughout the ship, which along with the live foliage and open expanses of outside windows, give the entire ship a feeling of aliveness.

High atop the Centrum, on deck 11, is the ever popular Viking Crown Lounge, perfect for watching the scenery go by (a near 360 degree field of vision near the very top of the ship) in Alaska or the Panama Canal. It is also the place to be at night when it becomes the ship’s late-night disco. There’s more dancing in the evening in the Anchor’s Aweigh Lounge, albeit at a less frenetic pace, while another popular bar is the nautically-inclined Schooner’s. Vegas-style floor shows are presented in the That’s Entertainment Theatre with generally good sight lines from all seats. And as if all that is not enough, Casino Royale has all the table games and slots a non-professional gambler could ever need.

There is a library as well as The Crown and Anchor Study, with computer assisted visual aids to show the ship’s position and more information from the bridge. Nearby is a card room and conference center.

Cuisine

Breakfast in the Windjammer Lido cafe includes cooked to order omelets, or scrambled eggs at the buffet, but fried eggs are not available. Lunch in the Lido is equally pleasing albeit a simple selection. More interesting is the afternoon tea bread pudding or cobbler along with sandwiches, cakes, cookies and ice cream. Overall, passenger satisfaction ratings for the dining room meals are good, as well as for the Windjammer buffets for lunch and and afternoon teas. The option for a late night snack seems to vary on a nightly basis.

Restaurants

The two-story restaurant, amidships, with great views, features a raised platform for pianist or small ensemble. While large enough to handle a thousand people per seating, tables are far enough apart to preclude a feeling of crowdedness. The Windjammer, forward end of Deck 9, also has floor-to-ceiling windows.

Entertainment

Royal Caribbean is one of the few cruise lines to offer “name” performers, and comedians. Lounge performers are also seasoned and polished.

Fitness/Spa

The gym’s awfully small for a ship this size. The main pool on Sun Deck is adjacent to the Solarium, a stunning glass-enclosed second pool with whirlpools and comfortable lounge chairs. In the “ShipShape” fitness center, you’ll find a spa operated by Steiner’s of London (they of the notoriously pushy staff). A rock-climbing wall has also been added to Vision.

Children’s Facilities

In addition to separate play areas for kids aged three to 12, there is also a teen lounge that converts to a disco, making Vision an excellent choice for families with children of many different vintages. The “Adventure Ocean” youth program has age-specific facilities and programs supervised by youth counselors for Aquanauts (age 3-5, must be toilet trained), Explorers (age 6-8), Voyagers (age 9-11), Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens (age 15-17). The program runs year-round in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Parents can leave their children at Adventure Ocean while they take shore excursions. For this purpose, the facilities open 30 minutes ahead of morning shore excursion departures. Otherwise, organized activities are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee. Teen centers are now open past 2 a.m. Teens will find their own private coffee house and disco.

A new program for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years, in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price, offers 45-minute playgroups for children accompanied by an adult, involving storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games. Aqua Babies are six months to 18 months old while Aqua Tots are 18 months to three years old.

Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.

Attire

There are two formal nights per cruise. Maybe it’s this ship’s particularly festive reputation that induced most men to don tuxedos for formal nights, even though a dark suit would work fine. In general, though, this ship offers so much to do that you’re likely to see fellow passengers dressed every which way.

Service

It’s obvious that the multinational staff and crew enjoy watching their passengers enjoy themselves. They’re uniformly cheerful, knowledgeable, and eager to help. The wait staff in every restaurant is noticeably solicitous and conscientious.

Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser’s desk is notably responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must have to do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.

Tipping

Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents’ discretion.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Cabins

Rhapsody’s cabins are cleverly designed to make them feel larger than they actually are; even the smallest feature a small sitting area, and there’s a lot more storage space than you’d have any right to expect. Inside cabins start at a tiny 135 sq.ft up to 172 sq.ft. while Oceanview staterooms measure 154 sq. ft.. Family Ocean View Staterooms (237 sq.ft.) can accommodate up to six people. Standard amenities include TV with pay-per-view movies, CNN, safe, lighted vanity, individual temperature control, hair dryer; bathrooms have showers and medicine cabinets; minibars and tubs are found in the highest category stateroom.

Superior Oceanview with private balcony are 195 sq. feet plus a 41 sq.ft. balcony. The five categories of suites include the Junior Suite (241 sq. ft. 64 sq.ft. balcony) and the Royal Family Suite, accommodating up to eight people, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (463 sq. ft., balcony 55 sq. ft.).

Ship Overview

The fourth of Royal Caribbean’s Vision-class ships, Rhapsody of the Seas launched in 1997. In addition to new staterooms and a family suite being added, upgrades to the ship in 2012 included an outdoor movie screen poolside, the casual Park Café, Asian, Italian, and steak-house specialty restaurants, digital signage, lounges for elite past passengers, and a new nursery.

The first Royal Caribbean ships to offer balconies in a number of categories, these Vision-class vessels, named for sister ship Vision of the Seas, have acres of glass skylights that allow sunlight to flood in and windows that offer wide sea vistas. The soaring central atrium at the heart of each ship is anchored by a chic bar that fills with music after dark and is the ideal spot for watching the daring aerial performances overhead.

Big, bigger, biggest! Royal Caribbean has the largest modern mega cruise liners in the world, as well as some of the most innovative technology on its newest ships, from robot bartenders to the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. Its fleet of 25 and counting are all-around favorites of passengers—arguably the most multigenerational (and Millennial) crowd at sea—who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Each ship in the fleet has action-packed activities such as surfing pools, rock-climbing walls, and on the newest ships, skydiving simulators, and 10-story slides.

Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

  • 11 passenger decks
  • 2 specialty restaurants (3 on Grandeur and Rhapsody)
  • dining room
  • buffet
  • ice cream parlor
  • pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi
  • safe
  • refrigerator (some)
  • DVD (some)
  • 2 pools (1 indoor)
  • fitness classes
  • gym
  • hot tubs
  • sauna
  • spa
  • steam room
  • 6 bars
  • casino
  • dance club
  • library
  • show room
  • video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry-cleaning
  • laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
Open, light-filled public areas offer sea views from almost every angle
Each vessel now offers numerous dining options, both free and for a fee
Daring aerialists offer a new wow-factor high above the central atrium
Some lounges serve as a thoroughfare and suffer from continuous traffic flow
Except for premium suites, accommodations lean toward the small side
There are no self-service laundry rooms

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Suites
Amenities
Accessibility

Cabins are airy and comfortable, but the smaller categories are a tight squeeze for more than two adults. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage.

All full suites and family suites have private balconies and a small minibar; full suites also include concierge service. Royal suites have a living room; wet bar; separate dining area; entertainment center with TV, stereo, and DVD player; separate bedroom; bathroom (twin sinks, whirlpool tub, separate steam shower, bidet); and separate powder room. Owner’s suites have a separate living area; minibar; entertainment center with TV, stereo, and DVD player; dinette area; and one bathroom (twin sinks, bathtub, separate shower, bidet). Grand suites have similar amenities on a smaller scale.

A vanity-desk, a TV, a safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical Vision-class features in all categories. Bathrooms have shampoo and bath gel.

On Legend and Splendour, 17 cabins are wheelchair accessible; on Grandeur,Vision, and Rhapsody, 14 cabins are wheelchair accessible.

Food & Drink

Food

The two-deck formal dining room serves evening meals in two assigned seatings or an open seating; breakfast and lunch in the dining room are always open seating. Windjammer, the casual Lido buffet, serves three meals a day, including a laid-back dinner. As was the norm when these ships were built, dining selections onboard are pretty basic; however, specialty-dining options have been added. All ships now have restaurants serving Asian cuisine and a steak house, while Rhapsody and Grandeur also have Italian restaurants. Depending on the ship, Park Café or Solarium Café serves light fare and snacks in the solarium. Splendour also has Boardwalk Doghouse serving custom hot dogs. A coffee bar and ice cream bar offer specialty coffees and frozen treats for an additional fee. Room service is available 24 hours a day; however, there is a delivery charge after midnight.

Entertainment

Enjoy a Broadway-style production show, performances by guest entertainers, or a movie on the outdoor screen overlooking the pool, but don’t forget to look high above the central atrium for dazzling aerial performances. You’ll find lounges with music for listening and dancing when the entertainment staff ramps up the fun with themed parties. The Viking Crown Lounge is a great spot for late-night dancing or a nightcap.

Spa & Fitness

The full-service spa operated by Steiner Leisure offers an extensive treatment menu including facials, teeth whitening, body wraps and scrubs, massages, and acupuncture. Spa rituals also include treatments designed especially for men and teens. Although there is no thermal suite, complimentary saunas and steam rooms are in men’s and women’s changing rooms.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
1997
Number of Cabins
1,020
Passenger Capacity
1,800(2,076 max)
Crew Members
765
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.35
Gross Tons
69130–78491
Width
106 feet
Length
915
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/539–6000 or 800/327–6700

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