Today is the start of an extremely anticipated cruise: a 7-night Greek & Adriatic cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas! Over the next week, I'll be visiting the ports of Mykonos, Chania, and Zakynthos (Greece), Kotor (Montenegro) and Split (Croatia).
I have wanted to visit Greece and the Adriatic for years, so I made sure to pick the most port-intensive itinerary I could find. While Rhapsody of the Seas may be one of Royal Caribbean's oldest and smallest ships, she is able to fit into many ports inaccessible by larger cruise ships.
My sister Lauren and brother Dominic are traveling with me on this cruise! Lauren came with me on my first ever Royal Caribbean cruise, and this is Dominic's first cruise. It's been three years since our last "sibling trip" to Italy, so we are happy to be back in Europe together this year!
I just finished a 7-night cruise on Anthem of the Seas last week (check out the live blog here). After two days in London full of touring the city and geeking out at the Harry Potter movie set, it was time to fly to Athens for my next cruise!
Arrival in Athens
We arrived to Athens on a flight from London yesterday afternoon. Upon arrival, we needed to get a Covid test at the Athens airport. Greece implemented strict testing protocols for cruises; telehealth tests are not accepted and your test must be taken just 1 day ahead of time. These protocols are much stricter than any others I've encountered so far, and flying to Greece not knowing if I would make it on the cruise or not was very stressful!
The Athens airport conveniently has a Covid testing site with results ready in 20 minutes. Each rapid antigen test costs €20. Luckily all tests were negative!
We stayed at an Airbnb in the Plaka neighborhood of Athens, which had plenty of amazing views of the Acropolis and nearby mountains. The neighborhood was touristy, but it was pleasant and walkable with plenty of shops and restaurants right outside the door.
Embarkation in Athens
We took a taxi from our Airbnb to the port, which took around 20 minutes with traffic. I mistakenly put directions to the "Port of Piraeus" and not the cruise terminal directly, so I had to get a second taxi to Cruise Terminal B. I used Uber to order the taxis, which seems to be the way Uber operates in Athens.
Upon arrival at the terminal, we dropped off our bags and went through the brief safety screening. When entering the waiting area, we were given a colored slip that would indicate when we could get on the ship. Arrival times were not being checked, and we waited around 15 minutes before our color was chosen.
This was followed by another room where our vaccine certificates and passports were checked again. It was the most thorough document check I've experienced yet, with the Greek authorities carefully checking our vaccination documents and dates.
After an additional 10 minutes or so, it was finally time to get onboard!
First impressions of Rhapsody of the Seas
By now I have a pretty good understanding of the layout of most Royal Caribbean ships, but because the Vision Class doesn't follow the newer Royal Caribbean design, I was a bit lost once onboard and had to keep checking the deck maps!
Our first stop was the Windjammer for a classic Royal Caribbean embarkation day buffet lunch. I was a bit surprised to not see any hand sanitizing enforcement (there are no hand washing stations on Rhapsody, just hand sanitizer).
We plan to eat at complimentary venues every day on this cruise and save our money for a nice lunch each day in port instead!
Staterooms were ready at 1:30PM. I am staying in an interior cabin on this cruise, and we had the bed separated into two twin beds which increased the living space and made the room feel more open. Because Rhapsody of the Seas is an older ship, I was nervous the stateroom would feel extremely old and outdated.
While the cabin may not feel as new as a ship like Harmony or Odyssey of the Seas, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of storage and space in the room. The cabin actually seems a bit more updated than staterooms I've had on some Voyager and Freedom Class ships.
I explored the ship for the rest of the afternoon. Vision Class ships do not have a Royal Promenade. Instead the ship has the Centrum as a main meeting point on the ship, a multi-story lobby which is home to venues like a cafe, the art gallery, Next Cruise, Guest Services, and more. I listened to a live violinist for a bit, which is definitely something I've never seen on Royal Caribbean before!
The Solarium is beautiful and decorated with hieroglyphics. Ancient Egyptian design is incorporated throughout the pool and spa areas on Rhapsody of the Seas. I also checked out the Vitality Spa & Fitness Center. The spa on Rhapsody seems huge considering the ship's size! It had the most beautiful relaxation room I've seen on any ship yet.
While in the fitness center, I unexpectedly met the Captain of Rhapsody of the Seas. I guess these things are bound to happen on a smaller ship!
We enjoyed dinner tonight in the Main Dining Room, otherwise known as the Edelweiss Dining Room on Rhapsody of the Seas.
I love the look of Rhapsody's dining room, a two-story room with a lighted art piece and piano in the middle. We have a nice table location with views of the entire dining room and windows.
I started my meal with the French onion soup, which is quickly becoming my favorite thing to eat onboard. It's delicious! For my main course I ordered the polenta and for dessert the warm chocolate hazelnut cake. Everything was prepared nicely and it was the perfect way to start our weeklong cruise.
Because we had missed sailaway, we took a post dinner walk along the Promenade deck to take in the views of Greece's stunning coastline. I didn't realize how mountainous the coast would be and it was gorgeous! The weather was also perfect, especially considering last week's chilly sea days on Anthem of the Seas.
There was live music and a headliner show scheduled for tonight, but my siblings and I decided to hang out on the pool deck instead for one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen at sea.
Tomorrow we are in our first port of call: Mykonos, Greece! Be sure to follow along on this week's live blog for Mediterranean cruise inspiration and tips.