For the final segment of our Europe trip, we chose to travel on a cruise down through the Adriatic Sea and amazing Greece, which I talked about here. Our cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, and was a round trip cruise out of Venice. We departed exactly a week after the tragic incident with the MSC Opera, in which it was unable to stop while docking and ran into a tourist boat, causing minor injuries to a few passengers and major damage to the dock, boat, and even ship itself. When we booked the cruise, we were unaware that the ships actually utilize one of the major canals into the city, and with the issues the city is having with sinking and protecting its resources, can definitely empathize with the anger of citizens about the accident. We hope and pray that it can be resolved and the cruise terminal relocated to an area that does not cause damage to beautiful Venice and her canals. The Rhapsody of the Seas was docked right in front of the MSC Opera, and there were many protests that day behind the Opera about the incident from local residents. For safety, our departure was delayed from 5 pm to 830 PM that evening, and sadly we had to skip our first port at Kotor, Montenegro as a result. It did result in quite a magnificent sail away at sunset with some pretty spectacular views.
Cruising out of Venice in the evening was beautiful but it was sad to see the damage!
On the whole, I struggle with cruising as a form of “true” travel because you often are only in touristy areas and don’t see the depth of a place, as well as the environmental impact that huge boat loads of people can have both on a town itself as while as the nearby waters and reefs. That being said, what I do love about cruising is the ability to see places easily with family who struggle with mobility or changing hotels frequently (young kids and seniors), and most of all the international crew from all over the world that you get to know and connect with. The Rhapsody is a smaller ship compared to many of the huge floating resorts in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but it actually worked out well for a peaceful and easy cruise through Greece for us. The kids club was small but our five year old loved it and kept begging to return for crafts and activities – she even made a friend! Our son fell in love with the rock climbing wall on the back of the ship, and spent a lot of time there racing up to the top of the courses while being cheered on by Levi and his team. Both kids took instantly to our waiter, assistant waiter, and head waiter – from China, the Phillipines, and India, respectfully – and spent a lot of time laughing and playing with them throughout the week. They even cried when saying good bye and exchanged information! As a cruise that does not have as many kids as some of the other lines or itineraries, they got a bit spoiled by the crew everywhere who miss own families terribly and were lifted up by seeing little people onboard.
Between meeting friends from all over the world, doing kids club activities, the rock wall, and enjoying the activities, it was a great experience for the kids!
The food, service and activities were plentiful on the cruise and we had no complaints. Our kids quickly took to eating ice cream multiple times per day! We did feel that Princess Cruises are a bit more “upscale” and have a bit better food and drink quality, but also felt that RCCL was more laid back and family oriented in some regards. They are definitely trying to compete with Disney Cruise Line, and are a way to experience some of those We did in the end decide to do the drink package, because the prices of drinks had gone up quite a bit since our last cruise and it was painful to shell out $12-$15 a cocktail (which should be noted are quite juicy and limited to one shot per drink for a standard drink on the package) or for a glass of wine. We ended up booking excursions on our own that were kid centered, but they definitely had plenty of tours and options for a variety of price points. Our kids would love to try one of their larger ships in the future with more activities that go through the Caribbean, and I’m sure we will be trying one in the future!
Towel animals, pools, dressing up and goofing around all made for a blast around Rhapsody of the Seas!
I book many cruises for guests on Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess and other cruise lines, so drop me a line if you would like help planning your own! 🙂