Saturday was a great day to wake up early. Why, you ask? Because we were in the car driving to Tampa, Florida to board Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the seas for a holiday cruise to the Western Caribbean. We will be visiting ports in Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.
We have been on several cruises over the years this time of year and have always found the experience uplifting and a lovely way to get into the holiday spirit. Actually, in 1996 Randy and I got engaged on a holiday cruise with Randy’s family on the Majesty of the seas. Last year we were on the Navigator of the seas and had a great time with friends. This year we are traveling alone but looking forward to meeting new friends.
The first thing I wanted to do when we boarded was make our way to the Centrum to see if the ship had been decorated for the holidays. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large, decorated Christmas tree in the Centrum and the railings on the next few upper decks were decorated with garland and red and gold decorations.
And, next to the Loyalty Ambassador’s desk was a sweet display including a tree, reindeer, snowmen, small animals, Santa and an angel all made of folded towels. I loved it!!
We walked around just a bit before going to our cabin stopping at the Windjammer for a bit of lunch, then the Solarium pool, the concierge lounge, diamond lounge and the theater.
This trip we are staying in a junior suite. I am always interested in seeing the differences in the cabins because they are always just a little different. The first thing Randy noticed was the wooden floor in the entrance to the cabin. There was plenty of storage, a couch, two small hassocks, a coffee table, and two stuffed chairs in the sitting area. The room was spacious; well- appointed and had plenty of storage. And, what I loved the most, a large bathtub in the bathroom.
We spent a little time resting before preparing for the evening. We made our way up to the concierge lounge for cocktails. I told Randy we were not in a hurry as our dinner time was not until 6:30pm so we settled in and watched as the ship made its way out to open waters.
The port is very commercial so we passed many oil tanks as we slowly cruised down the channel. Looking at oil tanks usually is pretty boring but not these. Many of the tanks had lovely paintings of sea life and birds. I thought that was very nice.
As we enjoyed our cocktails I noticed that the sun was slowly drifting towards the horizon. I excused myself and, with camera in hand, made my way to the bow of the ship to see if I could capture the sunset.
Two very nice gentlemen standing at the railing moved aside so I could take a few pictures. The sunset was amazing!
We finally made our way to the dining room and were surprised to see that our tablemates were already preparing for their main course. I took out my room key and realized that I read the time incorrectly. We were supposed to be at the table at 5:30pm. We all had a laugh and our servers hastily took our orders and we caught up to the others at the table in short order. We decided to order a fruit appetizer and salad.
After dinner we returned to the cabin to change clothes and were surprised to see a covered plate waiting for us. We lifted the lid and found four delicious looking cookies. We did not have dessert this evening so this was a welcome treat indeed.
Only one event on the Cruise Compass caught my eye but it would not take place until 10pm so we spent some time unpacking and changing clothes. The event that caught my eye was a tree lighting ceremony. The Centrum was full to capacity but we were able to find a space along the railing overlooking the Centrum on deck 6 and waited. We were so excited when we learned that there would be caroling preceding the tree lighting ceremony.
We sang, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Feliz Navidad. As we sang more and more people stopped along the railings to take part. It was wonderful. It was time for the tree lighting so I ran down to the Centrum level so I could catch the moment the lights started to sparkle on the tree.
As soon as I snapped the picture, I ran back up to get Randy and then down to the Centrum floor to have our picture take in front of the tree. As we stood there I could not help but think, “What a great way to start our holiday cruise”. It was lovely, just lovely.
Tomorrow is a day at sea as we make our way to our first port-of-call Roatan, Honduras.