Cruising into the New Year

The summer after we were married we took our first cruise for our full honeymoon. The travel agency recommended Royal Caribbean and we were so impressed that we've stuck with them for all of our cruising since then. Ever since that first cruise we've wanted to do another cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, but it has been doing the Mediterranean most summers so we've not been able to find another cruise that fit our needs. When I realized that this year would line up for our really long Christmas vacation I started to look for a cruise that would line up and Rhapsody was available. I was so excited that I didn't even notice that there was a cruise from Baltimore on Grandeur that would also have fit in our schedule and significantly reduced our drive time. It worked out though because Rhapsody was going to 3 ports we hadn't visited before while Grandeur would have been all repeat destinations. This trip we visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Belize City in Belize and Roatan in Honduras.
Boarding our  first trip on Rhapsody compared to this trip.

The drive to Tampa took a little longer than we anticipated because we decided to go through Orlando and visit Bob Ross' grave. If we hadn't taken that side trip traffic wouldn't have been bad at all. Once we were in Florida I decided I 
really wanted to see an Orange Grove operation, but it started to rain while we were driving there and traffic delayed us that we arrived a few minutes after they 
would have stopped tours even if there were no rain. We did get to see the sorting process and the grove of trees. I was amazed at the simplicity of the sorting. There were also samples of the various fruits they grow and some really tasty ice cream. We got a locally made coconut spread and a jam to bring home.

Tasty ice cream!

In the 1980s both of us had watched some wrestling and were Hulk Hogan fans so we visited his surf shop once we got to Tampa then we tried to go to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, however the wait time was far higher than we were 
interested in after two long days of driving so we got the glass and found dinner elsewhere.

Elvis' piano at the Hard Rock

Rhapsody has undergone a revitalization project since our Alaska cruise so it was nice to see all of the changes. There were some things we liked a lot about the changes and others that we thought we liked more before, but overall we were 
quite happy to be back on our honeymoon ship. One night Shawn looked up our 
room number on an old picture and we walked around our floor to see what looked familiar-the artwork on the wall is the same as it was in 2011, but I wouldn't have thought about that if we hadn't taken that little walk.
We had previously cruised over Thanksgiving twice so I was really looking forward to the Christmas decorations. This was the first time we've been onboard when the gingerbread village was on display, although Shawn tells me a lot of the ships do this and our previous holiday cruises were just too early for it.

For New Year’s Eve they decorated the tables in the main dining room and offered special tables around the centrum for the big balloon drop and party.

Many of the cruise activities are geared towards a different audience than us, however, as always we enjoyed the live music and I even participated in an East Coast Swing class in spite of some rougher waters. Several mornings they also offered a morning stretch class, which I really enjoyed. It was refreshing to spend some time relaxing on the promenade deck and swimming as well. We both got more exercise while traveling, so hopefully we can continue the trend at home!
On New Year's Eve we had our Crown and Anchor event immediately following dinner and then they had live music from the Orchestra for an hour before the ball drop in one of the smaller lounges. I've always heard that whatever you are doing on the first day of the new year you should expect to do all year-I guess that means we will be seeing a lot of new destinations this year and I can't wait!
While cruising we always look forward to the towel animals the state room attendant makes. I forgot to make a note of the attendant's name this time but he was so creative in using my sunglasses each day as a prop. When we came back to the room each night we couldn't wait to see what he'd come up with!

Sadly all good things must come to in and and on the 4th we arrived back to Florida and headed for home. Through the next couple days I’ll write about our ports.


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