My best friend and I went on the carnival(fascination). We had a ball. I just loved the spa. The food, entertainment and the staff were just great. We attended the Captain's party. What a great time. I have been on 2 cruises with carnival.
Really disappointed with the customer satisfaction of this cruise line or lack there of. Paid for 12 people to cruise with them...
wrote to the CEO about a satisfaction issue and he had a guest relations person contact me to let me know they could not provide me with anything except a "too bad for you" response. They couldn't offer me a single drink credit, a voucher for my next cruise......... nothing.
If this was a real service organization I would not have to be on a review site warning people to take their chances when using this company. Instead, I would be telling my friends and family what a great experience I had after emailing and writing to the CEO. If you decide to use this cruise line and you have any issue with service don't expect to have anyone care. Not using this cruise line again. At a time when the cruise line industry is getting such bad press you would think that the executives of Royal Caribbean might care a little more about the customer.
Just returned from this cruise and could not be happier about the ship or the port, We both had a great time on the ship and in port. the prices were steep in port for souvenirs and food but the cost for transportation around the island was very reasonable(12 dollars all day for the ferry and the bus). The ship was very well maintained and the staff were more than helpful. I would recommend this cruise to everybody.
We arrived at the port where we were shuffled into what looks like an endless line of people checking in. My advice is, if you have the opportunity to stay at an RCCI recommended hotel the night before, do so. You can check in at the hotel and avoid this mess. We waited in line for about an hour to get on the ship.
When you walk on the ship you will be impressed. The Centrum area is beautiful, glass and lights from the 4th deck to the 10th deck. From here you will be directed to the elevators to go to your respective floors. When you get off the elevator there will be two attendants to give you your keys to your cabin. From here, just drop your stuff off and head to the Windjammer for the luncheon buffet. I found the food at the Windjammer to be fine. You have to keep in mind that this is a buffet and it is as good as buffet food can get. Breakfast at the Windjammer is the same everyday; they always have two kinds of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage,French toast or pancakes, grits, cereal, omelets, fresh fruit and breads. You can get eggs to order here and toast if you go to the bar at the back center of the dining area. We did not notice this until halfway through the cruise.
After you refuel, it is a good time to explore or get ready for your lifeboat drill (depending on what time you arrive on ship). We were lucky, we received our luggage right away and used this time to unpack. We had a category K interior stateroom on the 7th deck. Some of you may feel a room with a port hole or veranda is a must, but we hardly ever spent any time in our room and found the extra money spent on the exterior rooms would have been wasted. The room was small, but large enough for the two of us. There is plenty of storage, drawer and closet space. After the lifeboat drill, get yourself a cocktail and get ready to sail out of Miami!
Make sure you fill out the shore excursion request form in your cabin as soon as possible so you can get the excursions you are interested in. You put the form in a box by the shore excursion desk and receive your tickets in your room the very first night. Each day you will receive a newsletter called the Compass. This will tell you the dress for dinner each evening, activities on the ship, tours in ports, what time each restaurant/bar is open until.
The My Fair Lady Dining room is beautiful. We were on the lower level in a small room right off the entrance. At first I wasn't too pleased, but after hearing the noise from the main dining area, we realized it was actually pleasant. Our waiter was Joe Fernandes from India and his assistant, Aldrin, was from India also. Joe was an excellent waiter. He took very good care of our table. It was so nice to have someone take your lobster tail out of the shell for you or cut the duck off the bone for you! If you get Joe, you will not be disappointed. His personality matched his service. He was very enjoyable and entertaining. A few nights your waitstaff will sing and dance for you so bring your cameras! Aldrin, the assistant waiter was very nice and entertaining too, some of you might be lucky enough to have him as your waiter, as he was promoted to waiter at the end of our cruise.
The food in the main dining room was very good. I can say no one at our table was ever disappointed in any meal we ate. Each night had a theme and you are offered a choice of either a pasta, seafood, red meat, chicken or vegetarian dish. The meals are just enough, not too small or too much. Some nights at our table we would all order a different dessert and pass them around the table so we could try everything. We were lucky, our tablemates were very nice.
Next would be what to do at night. There are 9 different bars on board. Each with their own special ambiences. The Schooner bar had an excellent piano player and was a great place to relax and sit back and enjoy the music. The Carousel lounge was where the house band, Private Stock, played. Here you could dance or just sit back and relax in the comfortable, tiered seating. I can't tell you about the Fascinating Rhythm Lounge, as there was never anything going on at night here. This is where they held the art auctions every day. The Champagne Terrace had a wonderful trio play here and the atmosphere was relaxing. You could sit here and look all the way up the Centrum area, which is beautiful. There were also bars located by the two pools, the Casino and the Orpheum Theater. The last is the Viking Crown Lounge. They play disco music at night but during the day it is quiet and beautiful place to take in the views. Just beware, the drinking age is 18 on the ship and the 18 year olds do drink a lot and act like any other 18 year old would when drinking.
The Orpheum Theater is where you see all your headliner shows. The shows would include the comedians, the jugglers, the singers and Wave Revue dancers and singers. We enjoyed all the entertainment. Each night was something different. Make sure you don't miss seeing the Not-So-Newlywed Game. This was very funny! Other activities aboard the ship are the toga party, horse racing (lots of fun), dance lessons, shipshape spa, art auctions, shuffleboard, ping pong, putting greens and of course there is Bingo Richie! He is the assistant cruise director and he is very funny! Ken Rush was the cruise director and he does an excellent job at it. He captures your attention and gets involved with many of the activities himself. There is so much to do that you can't do everything.
The pool areas are nice. We spent most of our time at the Solarium pool as this is where the little kids didn't hang out. Getting chairs on the deck areas was never a problem. There are plenty to go around. The only days that were tough were the at sea days. There were chairs but you would have to look for them. The best area is on the 10th deck, not many people running around and there was always a good breeze. Ports of Call: Key West, Florida - This was a fun little town. There is plenty to keep you busy during the time you are here. We went to Margaritaville, Sloppy Joe's and did some shopping. Everything is on Duvall Street. There is a Trolley and Conch Train Tour to take you around town. You definitely could use more time here then they give you. We docked right at the pier. We did not have to tender in here. There were shuttles from the pier to downtown and back so you don't have to worry about the walk.
Cozumel, Mexico - The water here is crystal clear turquoise blue. You can see right to the bottom. Here we rented a scooter and headed to Chankanaub Park (not on the ship's tour list). This is the best place for inexperienced snorkelers to go. Here there is plenty of snorkeling area, a beach with beach chairs, showers, lockers and a nature garden to wander through. This area is well worth the $7.00 they charge to get in. Of course make sure you save time for downtown Cozumel. The shopping here is cheap. Mexican Blankets for $4.00! Here we docked right at the pier.
Ochos Rios, Jamaica - Here we were lucky and got to dock at the nice pier. I was told by someone at the shore excursion desk that they usually dock at the James Bond Pier which an industrial pier with fencing around. There was a big tanker docked there when we arrived. I don't know why they don't dock at the nice pier all the time. It is right near a public beach, which you can use for $1.50. We went to the beach and then downtown for some shopping. Everyone wants to braid your hair. If you want some bargains, don't go the shopping plazas. Head to the crafters markets where you can barter and as long as you say no and keep walking, no one will bother you.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman - This island was beautiful. Very expensive though! Here you have to tender off the ship to the dock, a very short ride. Here we took the Atlantis Submarine tour. This takes you to the bottom of the sea where you see such beautiful amazing sights. From here we took a cab to Seven-Mile Beach. You can just walk on the beach plop yourself anywhere as long as you do not try to use the hotel chairs. This is the softest beach sand you have ever felt. We did some snorkeling here also.
We would definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again. We are even thinking of sailing the Enchantment on the Eastern Caribbean route next time. You would never know there were 2,400 passengers and 700 crewmembers aboard. Everything is so smoothly run and planned that you don't notice. As for the vibration, it depends where you are. The lower decks felt it more than the upper decks. It wasn't annoying at all. As for you honeymooners, we felt for us, it was the ultimate honeymoon. They even have a special honeymooners party where you get free champagne served with chocolate covered strawberries! Walks on the upper decks at night are very romantic! We made sure we did this every night (especially to walk off dinner too)! You can't miss with a honeymoon cruise.
Overall our impression of the Enchantment of the Seas is beautiful. The service, the atmosphere and the little extras made the cruise very enjoyable. This was the best vacation I have ever taken. The staff and crew made the vacation an enjoyable experience.
Enchantment Of The Seas -- Sail Date August 28th, 2008
Cruise Theme -- Avoid Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna
Introduction My wife, Joanne and I booked this cruise about two weeks before sailing. We had a Junior Suite on deck eight, cabin number 8644. We are Diamond Crown & Anchor members that earns you all kinds of extra benefits. More on that later. The scheduled stops were supposed to be Key West and Cozumel. Prior to departing for Ft. Lauderdale from Atlanta, all you had to do was watch a weather report, which tracked Hurricane Gustav and you knew this cruise was going elsewhere. If we headed to Cozumel as scheduled, it would have involved sailing through the category three hurricane, TWICE! Not recommended.
Thursday -- Departure Ft. Lauderdale Our 10 a.m. flight from Atlanta was in Ft. Lauderdale by noon. A short cab ride to the pier, a very quick check-in and we rolled our two pieces of luggage into our cabin at 1 p.m. At the check-in desk on the pier, we learned (happily) that the cruise would visit Key West and Nassau. This was our first cruise on a "Vision"class ship. The Enchantment of the Seas was launched in 1997 and had a passenger capacity of 2,446. Signs at the Guest Relations desk, said no cabin upgrades were available indicating the ship was full. A couple of years ago, the Enchantment was sawed in half and they inserted an extra 73 feet of cabins and stuff. Hence the pool area is huge and there are fewer laps now for you runners to do a mile. This is a beautiful ship. It's very similar to the Radiance class and we've sailed the Radiance of the Seas three times now.
When we booked our cruise on-line, we also made reservations for Chops steakhouse for our departure dinner. We had a wonderful dining experience, with excellent food, service and ambiance. The captain entertained two junior officers at the table next to us. It is worth the extra $25 per person for a wonderful dining experience. Over the next couple of days we talked to a number of fellow cruisers who wanted to dine in Chops but were unable to get a reservation and were put on waiting lists. You may want to book on-line early to make sure you get a table when you sail for the day and time you want.
Friday -- Key West Great weather and no hurricane…yet. We've been to Key West before and really like the port. For the first time we took the Conch Train tour of the city. We bought tickets ashore ($29 each) and had a great two-hour tour of the city. It really gives you a wonderful flavor of the history of Key West. I recommend it. We later had a nice lunch on Duval Street at a place called "Death By Cheeseburger" or something close to that. My wife and I can't remember the real name, but you will know it when you see it.
We sailed at 4 p.m. and headed North versus South into the hurricane. Dinner in the My Fair Lady dining room was wonderful. We were on the deck 4 level of this two level facility. The food, tablemates and service were excellent.
Saturday -- Nassau We pulled into Nassau at 10:30 a.m. There was one open berth at the pier complex to accommodate the Enchantment. The captain had been on the ship's P.A. system to tell us that you just don't say "You know…I don't want to sail through a hurricane, 120 mph winds and 75 foot seas to Cozumel today, instead, let's go to Nassau!" It takes a room full of logistic experts back at the RCI home office in Miami to analyze the weather and the optimal dispersal of the whole company's fleet of cruise ships whose destinations may be affected by the storm. I suspect it takes more than a few phone calls and some "baksheesh" to get your ship into a safe port while you are competing with half a dozen other cruise lines with the same agenda. We have been to both Cozumel and Nassau several times each and were delighted to spend the day in Nassau. The skies were sunny.
As we exited the ship around 11:00 a.m. you slip your sea pass card into the scanner to log you off the ship and walk down the ramp to the pier. We hit the bottom of the ramp and looked left (East) towards the foot of the pier and about a mile away was a wall of brown water descending from the black clouds above. This wall was racing towards us like a freight train at full throttle. There was no "on" ramp set up yet to re-board the ship. Running at full speed, we knew the storm would hit us before we could make it to the building ashore. There are several 20'x60' shelters on the pier. The shelters had roofs but no sides of any kind. One shelter held dozens of phone booths and was full of people. Another had no phones and no people so we ran to that and went to the far end opposite the direction the approaching storm. Fellow passengers followed our lead and in no time we had lots of company.
When the storm hit, there were suddenly 50 mph winds and rain blasting sideways at fire hose velocity. Our position at the far end of the shelter and the fellow passengers windward of us kept us perfectly dry. Five minutes later, the storm was past us, the skies were blue and sunny and we continued into town avoiding the evaporating rain puddles. Every hour on the hour for the next three or four hours we received two inches of rain in five minutes with the accompanying high winds. These were the very outer bands of Hurricane Gustav that was passing the Western end of Cuba hundreds of miles away as it headed for the Gulf of Mexico. To have such violent weather so far from the central eye says Royal Caribbean made a good call on our modified itinerary. Hurricane Gustav was Southwest of us and Hurricane Hanna was a couple of days out, Southeast of us.
Sunday -- Sea Day The weather was perfect and the Enchantment spent the day doing seven-knot lazy doughnuts in the ocean South of Grand Bahama Island. Carlos, another Piña Colada por favor. Ft. Lauderdale was just a few hours steaming west.
The Ship The Enchantment of the Seas was built in 1997 and is similar to the newer Radiance Class of ships. There is an atrium with a group playing each evening, filling all of the vertical spaces with wonderful music. Our favorite groups were the George's String Trio and The Evergreen Trio. The My Fair Lady dining room is a two-story affair. We ate there twice, but made sure we gave our waiter and staff full gratuities. One night we ate at the excellent Chops and another night had hors d'oeuvres in the Concierge Lounge followed by more munchies and cocktails at a Crown and Anchor member reception. After all that we didn't need dinner.
We booked this cruise two weeks prior to sailing without much concern for the itinerary. We didn't attend the big acts in the Orpheum Theater and can't comment. However, the group, Surfside, up on the pool deck, set a fine Caribbean party mood and the other musical groups we like have been noted.
To me, it seems the larger the ship; the more space there is despite the expanded passenger load. This ship was totally booked, but at no time did it feel crowded. Despite walking all around the ship, four days is not enough time to get to know her.
Our Cabin Our Junior Suite cabin was probably three feet wider than a standard balcony cabin. It doesn't sound like much, but it gives you a huge living space. We had a three-person sofa plus two club chairs and two foot stools plus a glass topped coffee table. The balcony had two comfy chairs with a table in between. The bathroom had a full bathtub versus a stand-up shower and was larger than what you get with the usual cabin with balcony. We have grown spoiled to cabins with balconies I'm afraid. There was a huge amount of storage with a big closet, plenty of shelves and drawers.
Diamond Crown & Anchor Status Dude. Put on your his and her fluffy bathrobes, and eat your chocolate covered strawberries. Diamond status is pretty corrupt.
When you check in, you receive a second Sea Pass type card that gets you into the Concierge Lounge on deck eight. In the morning, this lounge spreads out a fruit, pastry, juice and coffee buffet. In the evening, hot and cold hors d'oeurves plus an open bar with a wonderful ocean view and the attention of Julian brings you back. Your attendant, Julian, by the way, could be the double for Denzel Washington. Ladies take note.
There was a Diamond member luncheon get together that we forgot to attend on day four of the cruise. As Diamond members on this cruise, there were three days of food and drinks to schedule. One night was a Crown & Anchor member reception. Joanne and I had settled into a table at the back of the lounge and just enjoyed the cocktails, food and music. One of the ships officers asked to join us and we of course asked him to sit down. He really wanted to know why we kept returning to Royal Caribbean. This was not a rhetorical question but a RCI officer doing some marketing research. We talked for about ten minutes and he seemed genuinely attentive to our responses. The bottom line is Royal Caribbean works very hard to make sure repeat customers keep repeating. I've got to say they do a very good job. To paraphrase Arnold, we'll be back.
We also had chocolate covered strawberries left in our cabin one day and his and hers baseball caps left by the cabin elves on another. When we first got to our cabin there were two Diamond Member coupon books. The coupons got you things like a 20% Spa credit, a complimentary cocktail, water or soda, a free photo, casino credits, internet credits, 10% off in the gift shop, and much, much more.
There was a special line for Diamond members when boarding in Ft. Lauderdale, however at the time we arrived at the pier, 12:30, there was no wait for anybody. At the end of the cruise, we were issued white luggage tags. This was the first group of color-coded passengers to be called to disembark.
How To Get A Free Cruise AND Make Money No I didn't hit it big at BINGO or in the casino. Here's how you do it. I have a small business and charge 20 to 30 thousand dollars each month on American Express. If you are signed up with their Membership Rewards program, you earn a point for every dollar charged, so my points build up quickly. I purchased the cruise with my AmEx card and was told when the statement comes, call them and they would convert my Membership Rewards points to dollars and pay the cruise charge. O.K. so we get a free cruise.
Next we own 100 shares of Royal Caribbean. Let them know that and provide RCI your stock and cruise info and on a 4 day cruises, they credit your account with $50. (On a longer cruise, the credit is $100.
Next, we had points built up on our Royal Caribbean Visa card and converted them for another $250 credit to our Sea Pass account. Lastly we had signed up for an excursion in Cozumel when we booked the cruise and so there was another $196 credit to our account due to the cancellation. After four days of bar tabs at the pool, wine at dinner and browsing the shops aboard we had to go to the customer service desk on our last day and collect $265 of unspent cash in our account. They would not credit it back to the credit card we provided at check-in to cover our Sea Pass charges.
Summary What a great four days. We are really low maintenance cruisers. We are not gourmands, entertainment snobs nor passengers that expect to have their butts constantly kissed. Give me a chair on the pool deck in the shade where I can listen to the band du jour playing "The Electric Slide" while I read my book and I'm good! Carlos, another Piña Colada.
If you are on the fence about booking a cruise on the Enchantment, drop me a note. I'll convince you to go and I may possibly join you. If you've followed me this far, drop me a note and critique my review. I really do these reviews to connect with fellow cruisers such as yourself and make a journal of my travels. I look forward to hearing from you.
A little background; we have been on 9 cruises and this was our second with Royal Caribbean. We love cruising and really feel that a "just okay" cruise is still better than a day on land.
This was just a brief get-away four day cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas to Key West and Cozumel on October 4th and was "just okay". We have sailed the Western Caribbean many times and will leave discussion of ports, excursions, etc. to others.
We sailed from Port Everglades. Check-in was prompt and efficient. Our cabin on deck three was clean and the usual tight quarters, but quite livable for a few days.
There were a couple of things that made us feel that Royal Caribbean or the Enchantment of the Seas was less than a quality experience.
1. The public rooms were always too warm. Even my wife who's always cold agreed. The casino, dining rooms etc were not comfortable. I think this ship has an Engineer that's always cold. Turn down the temp a bit. The cabin temperature which we controlled was just fine.
2. The room attendant talked a good game but therewas no follow through. We requested extra ice be provided each day and she certainly understood as she would mention it each time we passed in the hall. After the second day she forgot it each succeeding day.
3. The food in the Windjammer was a real disappointment. The breakfast was the usual selection scrambled eggs, bacon that was tasteless, the French toast limp and colorless. I'm aware that pancakes and French toast don't hold very well, but these items weren't made with care before they died on the steam table. The Executive Chef of this ship obviously never tasted sausage gravy. Tasteless gruel. The dining area staff that work the Windjammer were excellent; refilling drinks, clearing tables and helping people that needed it to their tables. There was an attentive manager that never stopped checking things, clearing tables and directing his staff.
4. The Windjammer lunches weren't much better; always a broad selection including salads, but the entrees were uninspired. Always three or four hot items but not once did we have something that was so good you go for seconds or tell a table mate you have to try something. Cold cuts were available each day but the selection was right out of Oscar Meyer; nothing special. Lunch was like having very good school food. Somehow we expect a little more. Other cruise lines do better.
5. We had the late seating. This is the first cruise we've ever been on that they did not take you to your table the first night. A clever innovation in that it prevents lines that always develop on the first night, however there was little to no guidance as to where to find your table. BTW table 99 is way in the back!
6. The food in the My Fair Lady dining room was good. We don't really expect exceptional, and it wasn't. The service was prompt and efficient with a very good assistant waiter (Table 99) The main server was okay…..we didn't (at our table for 8, all people we knew) take dessert the first night and she took it for granted desert wasn't wanted the succeeding nights unless she was asked. Not the usual kind of "do anything for you kind of attitude."
7. Food is available at the Solarium Pool in the late evening; we went there about 1 AM to find three chafing dishes with Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Pizza. Nothing looked fresh or appetizing. There was someone manning a window but didn't appear to be a cook but more of an attendant. Others talked with him but it didn't seem he understood them very well. He never moved from his window. The style and manner of this late night food area can't be what Royal Caribbean wants.
We enjoyed ourselves (a day of cruising beats a day at work) but think that either RC or the Enchantment are not really up to the standards of other cruise lines.
d her crew high marks. While we would like to see RCI improve the quality of the food onboard – it should be commended for its focus on delivering excellent customer service. From a value perspective – I think it is tough to beat a cruise vacation and based upon my experience with RCI as a whole – I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Enchantment of the Seas or this itinerary.
We are a (fairly) young couple (me 40, my wife 38). We live in Overland Park, KS and are the proud parents of 17-month old twin girls. Between the two of us – we have been fortunate to have cruised several times. Cruise lines we have experienced either individually or as a couple include: Windjammer ("Flying Cloud"); Carnival ("Imagination"); Princess ("Sapphire Princess") and RCI ("Rhapsody of the Seas", "Voyager of the Seas").
About the Review: There have been several reviews posted that have done a very good job of detailing the Enchantment of the Seas' cabins, her public areas and onboard amenities. Rather than duplicate previously written information – this will be a high-level review of our cruise experience aboard the ship – along with shore-based activities during the cruise.
Embarkation: We flew Midwest Airlines nonstop from Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale – arriving on time at 1:10pm. FLL is an easy airport to navigate and we had our bags collected and accounted for within 20 minutes of exiting the aircraft. We had not purchased transfers to the ship through RCI and instead opted for the 10 minute cab ride to Port Evergladesand Pier 25. Cost for the fare was $16 (excluding tip).
We arrived at the pier at approximately 1:45pm. We were immediately greeted by the porters who tagged our bags for transfer to the ship. As most travelers know – tipping baggage handlers is customary – if not expected. While there are signs posted on the main terminal building stating that the porters are salaried - and tipping is not necessary – it was our experience that the porters are not shy in asking for "a little something to help the poor". So make sure you have some $1 bills in your pocket when embarking and debarking the ship.
We had booked our cruise directly online through Royal Caribbean's web site – and also had taken advantage of online check-in prior to the cruise (aka "Set Sail Pass"). I highly recommend doing this as it greatly speeds the embarkation process. We entered the terminal - completed final processing - received our Sea Pass card (room key/charge card combo) and were onboard the Enchantment in about 10 minutes.
Cabin: Because this was a relatively short cruise (4 days) – we decided to book the least expensive cabin available. We purchased a category N cabin and were assigned #2075 (port side). While my wife had previous experience with an inside cabin (on Carnival) – I had always enjoyed either an ocean view or balcony cabin on previous cruises. Prior to the cruise – I wasn't sure how I would react to having an inside cabin. As it turns out for me – having no natural light is secondary to having space.
While our cabin was located on deck 2 and in the "bowels" of the ship – it was part of the new section that was added to Enchantment when she was stretched in 2005. A plus was that we enjoyed circular shower doors as opposed to the "stick to your body" shower curtains that I understand are still employed in the original cabins on the ship. And while the cabin was cozy from a space perspective - the cabin itself was organized efficiently and we found we had enough room for our clothes and storing our luggage. But fair warning: if you book this class of cabin – and you and your cabin mate aren't already "intimate" – you will be after your cruise!
Dining: We had breakfast in the Windjammer Marketplace each day of the cruise. We also had lunch in the Windjammer on the days we were not ashore. While we found the food to be plentiful and certainly kept warm – our overall grade was a B-. The variety was minimal and the flavors somewhat mediocre. But we know from previous cruises that expectations regarding buffet food aboard a large cruise ship should be kept at a reasonable level.
I am also sorry to report our overall disappointment with the dinners served in the My Fair Lady dining room. Using my previous experience aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas and the Voyager of the Seas – I observed a considerable decrease in both the quality and variety of offerings for the evening meal. Not to say that the food was unacceptable – it was not. In fact 2 of the 4 dinners I would rate as good/very good (the lamb chops being very good). However, it just seemed that overall – the dinners have dropped a few notches in quality, options and appeal when compared to our previous cruise experiences with RCI.
Service: I am happy to report that service aboard the Enchantment of the Seas was outstanding in all areas that we experienced. We received exceptional service from our cabin attendant Juralyn (Philipines); our waiter Edwin (India) and Asst. Waiter Appolanario (Philipines). The bar staff were all attentive and efficient – as were the staff at the Explorations! and Guest Relations desks. Kudos to RCI for continuing to emphasize customer service – it really shows onboard for the guests.
Entertainment: We attended the Welcome Aboard show featuring the comedy of Greg Otto. Pretty funny guy. His late night "Adults Only" comedy was good, too. Although – even comedians that are marginally funny seem to be hysterical after you enjoy a few cocktails!
Paul Rutter was our Cruise Director and did a good job overall. However – the member of the entertainment staff that most stood out in my mind was Joey Jack (or Jacks, or Jacques). This guy led a variety of entertainment activities – making them more interesting with his dry sense of humor (read: satirical) and timely delivery. Very funny guy.
Other noteworthy entertainment we enjoyed included karaoke in the Spotlight Lounge (MC'd by Joey) and an appearance by the "almost" Village People during the 70's disco party in the Viking Crown Lounge. Of course – no cruise aboard an RCI ship is complete without witnessing the game "Quest" – billed as the "wildest 30 minutes on the high seas" (and I believe it). We also enjoyed the Bon Voyage show featuring the magic/comedy of Levent.
Activity poolside included the obligatory belly-flop contest (kicked up a notch with the addition of a diving platform to maximize the "pain" portion of the contest). Conspicuously missing however was the horse racing that I had come to expect on RCI cruises during the day(s) at sea. Not sure if that has been removed from all cruises or just those with shorter-length itineraries.
Excursions and Activities Ashore: There were two ports of call on this cruise: Key West and Cozumel. We did not participate in any cruise-sponsored shore excursions in Key West. Rather, my wife and I took a walking tour of the area near the pier – stopping at places recommended by friends who had previously visited Key West. Notable places we visited included the original Kino sandal factory/store and Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" store/restaurant (for the obligatory Margaritaville Key West t-shirt). We also enjoyed a frozen drink at The Flying Monkey (an outdoor bar located on Duval Street). I had a friend recommend lunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Company (on Greene Street near the marina) – so we stopped there and enjoyed the Callaloo & Artichoke Dip and a basket of conch fritters. We followed lunch with a stop at the famous Blonde Giraffe for a piece of key lime pie on a stick that was dipped in chocolate and frozen. Wow! The calorie meter was spinning like crazy at this point – but if you like key lime pie – it is worth the extra pound or two!
Although the temperature and humidity in Key West were approaching unbearable even at 7:30am – I managed to coax myself out of the air-conditioned ship for a morning run. For those of you who are interested – it is approximately 1.5 miles from Pier B (where the Enchantment docks) to the Southernmost Point marker (at the end of Whitehead Street). Thus a roundtrip to the marker (via Duval Street and Whitehead Street) is approx. 3 miles. If you want to add another mile or so – you can run around Mallory Square and a few other places. I took this opportunity to "scout" places to visit before the hoard of cruise passengers descended onto shore.
When we arrived in Cozumel – there were two other Carnival ships in port. However, Enchantment was the only one that had access to the International Pier. For those of you who recall – Hurricane Wilma passed directly over Cozumel in October 2005. The devastation is still very apparent in the fact that 1 of the 2 international piers was completely destroyed and the remaining pier (where the ship docked) was heavily damaged and is still under repair. But the lingering damage is evident all along the coast as well – and you can see where locals are working hard to repair structures and replace sand on the beaches that was lost to the storm.
Fortunately – my favorite local restaurant Ernesto's still survives – albeit after a complete rebuild following the hurricane. I have been enjoying the authentic fajitas served at Ernesto's since 1994 when I began coming to Cozumel for scuba diving – and it has now become my wife's favorite place to eat when we are on the island. If you are looking to sample authentic Mexican cooking – I highly recommend Ernesto's. The restaurant is just a short walk from the pier (towards town) on the ocean side of the highway.
Following lunch – I returned to the ship to gather my dive gear and meet the others on the pier for our 2-tank dive in the afternoon. RCI contracts its scuba excursion (cost was $80 US) with Sand Dollar Water Sports. Sand Dollar did a very good job of organizing the group (there were 8 divers total from the ship) and getting us onboard the dive boat. Emmanuel was our dive master and Jonathan was the official videographer (in the event you wanted to purchase a DVD of your dive). We enjoyed two nice dives that afternoon; the first being a wall dive at Santa Rosa and the second a shallow drift dive at Paradise Reef.
As an FYI for those thinking about diving while in Cozumel - another well known dive operator "Dive with Martin" was located on the pier and was also offering a 2-tank dive that afternoon for $70 US.
Debarkation: On our last evening aboard the ship – Juralyn (our cabin attendant) left a copy of the final day's Cruise Compass that included departing information and a customs declaration form. We also received four color-coded and numbered luggage tags indicating the group with which we would be debarking. Since our flight back to Kansas City wasn't before 12:00pm – we did not indicate to the Customer Relations desk that we needed to be included in priority debarking. Consequently we were placed in group "Blue 2" - which was the second-to-last group scheduled to depart the ship.
Both the Windjammer and the dining room served breakfast from 6:30 – 8:30am the morning of departure. The Schooner Bar was open from 7:30 – 9:00am and the Pool Bar open from 8:00am – 9:00am for those wanting to purchase one last cocktail or as the case with my wife – a Diet Coke to enjoy with breakfast. As we had done the entire cruise – we made our way to the Windjammer for breakfast. Available was the usual fare – and although it was crowded with passengers – there was seating available without a wait. We completed breakfast around 8:30 and spent the remainder of our time onboard relaxing at a table by the pool. Around 10:30am – our group was called and we debarked from the ship.
Once off the ship – there was a brief wait before we were allowed into the terminal to collect our luggage. It was here that I experienced the only "hiccup" of the cruise. Because FAA regulations at this time did not permit liquids to be carried onboard the aircraft - I had packed 2 bottles of Kahlua and 1 bottle of premium tequila that we had purchased duty-free in Cozumel. The 2 bottles of Kahlua were packed snuggly into my rolling duffle bag – well cushioned by my clothes. The bottle of tequila was packed into my not-so-well cushioned dive bag – along with all my scuba gear. During the luggage transfer process – the tequila suffered a terrible fate as the bottle was broken when my dive bag was apparently thrown onto the concrete floor of the cruise terminal. Despite the fact that I had placed all of the bottles in a 6mm thick ziplock bag (as a precaution for this very event) – the bag did not contain the spilled tequila. Consequently – I arrived to discover that my entire dive bag (and its contents) had been soaked with Sammy Hagar's "Cabo Wabo" tequila. Bummer!
So the lesson here – CARRY your duty free liquor off of the ship – THEN pack it (snug and secure I might add) into your suitcase.
Conclusion: Overall – we give the Enchantment of the Seas and her crew high marks. While we would like to see RCI improve the quality of the food onboard – it should be commended for its focus on delivering excellent customer service. From a value perspective – I think it is tough to beat a cruise vacation and based upon my experience with RCI as a whole – I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Enchantment of the Seas or this itinerary.
My cruise history, 11th and 6th with RCCL. I first have to say that the Enchantment OTS was one of my favorite ships that I have sailed on with RCCL. Only one that I enjoyed more was the Voyager.
Check-in at the pier was a breeze! Within 30 mins. we were walking up the gangway to the ship. First impression upon entering the centrum was the use of glass giving it much natural light. Furnishings in the public areas gave a light and airy feeling.
We had a balcony stateroom on deck-8 it was well appointed, and our cabin steward Francisco was great! He attended to all our requests in a timely and professional mannor. This was my first cruise sailing as a Platinum member and Francisco recognized that immediately!
Our late dining time 8:30 was confirmed and also the table for 2 as I had requested in My Fair Lady dining room. Food was good and prepared as ordered. I had read reviews that food on this ship was not up to par, however I don't have any complaints. Only comment is the fact that RCCL does not change the menuitems much. There were several repeats on the menu from previous cruises.
There was a invitation only reception one afternoon for Platinum and Diamond members only. This was held in the Viking Crown lounge. We did attend and were greeted by the Crown & Anchor ambassador. Had comp drinks and snacks for approx one hour.
Overall we had a very enjoyable cruise. Weather was perfect! I won't go into the ports of call all I will say is we did everything we planned. Had a great time on a great ship!
Day 1: Fort Lauderdale: A mall, a mojito, and a dozen "OH MY GOD's"
I'll get to the cruise don't worry, just wanted to give a complete report of the trip. Our flight was supposed to leave Columbus, Ohio at 6:10 but very soon after we woke up thunder storms rolled in and saw one of the most spectacular lightning shows on the way to the airport. Once at the airport, we were told many different times that while the plane was still listed as being "on time", there was a good chance that it would be delayed because of weather. At 6:00 the storms rolled out and soon after, so did our plane. Plane flight was uneventful and a few hors later we were flying into Ft. Lauderdale. One thing I noticed while flying in was that there were still a lot of blue taps covering up damage from the hurricanes last year. Could really see this from the air as it looked like a lot of structures still had damage. I was told later that it would be over a year until contractors will be able to get tomany of the residential houses.
Baggage pick-up went smooth and we were off to the Riverside Hotel. We spent a lot of time researching different hotels for our pre and post cruise stays. We finally narrowed it down to two. The Riverside Hotel and The Pillars at New River Sound. Both are great hotels for different reasons. The reviews of the Riverside on-line have been mixed at best. One of the factors seems to be whether or not you stay in a room in the old section or if you stay in the tower section which is newer. Knowing this we made sure we booked a room in the newer section. We requested a tower room w/ a balcony. We were both very impressed with the room. Very spacious and well decorated. They gave us a room on the top floor (12th floor) with the balcony facing the water way. We arrived at 11:00 and our room was ready. The hotel is right on Las Olas Blvd. Great location to shop and to people watch. After settling in our room we decided to find someplace to eat lunch.
Walking down Las Olas we quickly found that there is no shortage of restaurants and sidewalk cafes. We settled on eating at a little Italian Bistro called Louie Louie. Nice little place where can choose to either sit inside or outside. Still getting used the change of temperature form Columbus, Ohio to Florida, we chose to sit inside. Food was good. I just had a pizza as they had several articles on the wall as you walked in that mentioned they had been voted best pizza in the city for several different years. It was good. Thin crust but not crispy which was a little odd. The sauce was also a little different. Not bad but just different. Might be a good place to go for people who want to get that pizza fix before they cruise. My wife had some kind of pasta dish. It was good as well.
After we ate we took a taxi to the Galleria Mall. The wife wanted to buy some capris for the trip. The mall was "OK". Kind of upscale but yet a little run down. I got the feeling that when the mall opened (I'm guess mid to late 80's) that it was a great place to shop but the empty retail spaces and lack of shoppers makes me believe this shopping center has lost some luster. I got a little impatient while she was shopping so I decided it was time to start drinking. Walked outside and decided to hit a place almost right next to the mall called The Blue Martini (I think that's what it was called). A member of the wait staff told me that the bar was open and to just have a seat. I sat. and sat. Then I sat some more. After 10 minutes I still did not see a bartender. Was starting to wonder where the other patrons sitting at the bar could have possibly gotten their drinks. Did they just materialize? Did they make them themselves? Were they the bartenders cleverly disguising themselves as patrons so to get out of their duties? Couldn't figure it out so I just left. Tine was running out and if the significant other had to wait as long for me as I had for a drink, the vacation would turn sour fairly quickly.
She had finished shopping and while we kind of wanted to go back to the hotel, the thought of spending another 20.00 in cab fare to get back to the hotel seemed like a waste since we just got there.
We decided to stop and have a couple drinks instead. Went directly next door to a place called the Capital Grille and ordered 2 white Russians made w/ Grey Goose Vodka which came to 18.00 (over 20.00 w/ tip)…so much for being frugal by not rushing off and paying for a taxi back to the hotel. That's OK though, not only did we have a couple of drinks but also ordered one of the biggest pieces of chocolates cake I have ever seen. Not sure if it was just that were hungry or what, but this was some damn tasty cake.
Took taxi back to the hotel and the wife wanted to take a nap. I figured this would be the best time for me to get my first mojito. Had heard a lot about them but still needed to hunt one down. Before I left, however, I decided to open the door of the balcony to let in the breeze. It's then that we heard it.
Someone below us had their balcony door open as well.
Someone below us was bumping uglies.
We sat out on the balcony and rated the waves of amorous sounds coming from below us. Quite fun actually. Wish we had a recorder and we could have played it back to them later.
After the show was over, I headed to the bar and she took a nap. Never had a mojoto and damn they are tasty. Thought they were good at the riverside Bar but had no idea how much better they would be on the ship. I had three sitting at the bar and had some breat conversation with an elderly woman who was in town for "a well know New York hair stylists funeral" . I guess she has a bit of money. Has a place in NYC as well and Fort Lauderdale and they kind of just go back and forth between them. Lot of interesting stories from her.
Ok,OK, this is getting too long so I'm going to try and wrap this up. The rest of the evening went fine. Stopped at a few places on Las Olas for drinks and went back to the hotel.
"Oh, God, Oh God, Ooooooh GOOOOOOD!"
This it what we heard through the walls for the next half hour. What the hell is in the air in Florida?
Day 2: Embarkment Ok, day 1 was way too long so I'm going to skip over all the B.S. and just get to the ship. Funny thing happened on the way through the port though. We saw a taxi that was pulled over by a police officer. I asked the cabbie if they get in trouble if they get a ticket. He mentioned that it is frowned upon because it affects the insurance rates but they don't really get into trouble. I thought that was the end of it. I was wrong. As we are waiting in line in port, the people in front of us get a call from their daughter. She was in the taxi that had gotten pulled over. Her taxi driver had gotten arrested and they were sending another taxi to drive her the rest of the way to the terminal. I'm guessing that is a little frowned upon as well. We arrived at the port about 11:30. We were herded into the holding pen and were quickly processed in.
The Ship My first thoughts were how elegant the ship was. Lots of glass and beautiful artwork. We picked up a welcome aboard drink. The drinks tasted kind of strange. Not like the ones you would get at the bar. I would advise people to stay away from these and just go to the bar for a drink. We then walked to chops to make reservations. Neither one of us are big on seafood so we had already decided to do Chops on whatever night lobster was being served in the main dining room. There was NO line at Chops and we made reservations for 7:00 on Tuesday which was the day at Georgetown. We then went to the Spa as we had hoped to get a couples massage. After seeing a price list, we quickly changed our mind as a couples massage was priced at 220.00. My wife settled for a facial for 100.00. Really not bad since it is only 20.00 more than she pays at home.
Next to the pool deck. The area was already filling up with kids. We kept walking and changed into our suites between the main pool area and the solarium. Noticed NO ONE was in the solarium pool so this is where we plopped down for a good hour or so with our feet dangling in the water, watching the people go by. It was like a little oasis. No children under the age of 16 are allowed so it was nice to be away from everything after a hectic couple of days.
Were able to get in our room at 2:00 (maybe 1:00…can't quite remember). The champagne and chocolate covered strawberries I had ordered were in the room when we arrived. We ate the strawberries and kept the champagne on ice to have it in the evening while we were sailing away.
Had dinner in the Main dining room. Really good food. Had Tuscan tomato soup as an appetizer. Really, really good. Then had crusted cod on mashed potatoes for the meal. Not big on seafood but this was very good. Both our head waiter and assistant waiter were from Romania. Seemed to get much more service from the assistant. Is this normal. His name is Silvio and was just a great guy. Whenever we saw him around the ship he always went the extra mile. We gave him the pre-paid tip at the end of the cruise as well as an extra 20.00 that I handed to him. Just a great guy.
Went back after dinner and cracked open the champagne. I took off the metal wrapping that help in the cork and as soon as I did the cork started to come of the top. Had to run out the open balcony door to let ‘er fly. Surprised at how far it flew. Hopefully a fish didn't try to eat it and choke to death.
OK…this is getting way too long and I'm getting tired of writing a bunch of fluff that nobody wants to read.High points of the trip:
Loved the Boleros Bar. Jerome, a bartender from the Philippines makes hella good mojito. Not only that, he has rhythm when he shakes them. He says he makes at least 100 a day and he has the guns to prove it. Great, crazy guy with some great stories to tell. I was sitting at the bar talking to a young kid (probably 18-20) and the kid was telling me how he smuggled some ganja on board that he bought on the island. Jerome must have overheard him and took some mint leaves and rolled himself a "J". If you there it would have been funny, trust me. I nicknamed him M&M (Mojito Man), and it actually caught on w/some of the other passengers. Great little bar that was never busy during the day but rocked the house at night.
Loved the piano player in the schooner bar. This place already had good atmosphere but you add one sarcastic piano player and in was a great place to hang out late at night. He played every night but one and form 8:00-8:45 and then again from 10:00 to 12:30. Great singer and played a lot of Billy Joel, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Elton John. Not sure how much he likes his job. Was sarcastic to people but I found it amusing. Not sure every one else did though. He definitely gets better as the night went a long or it may be that it just seemed that way people drank more and therefore participated.
The pools were good. We didn't really hang out there that much. Usually from like 8:30-11:00 A.M. We aren't sun worshipers or anything so the appeal wasn't really there. Tons of people saving chairs even though there are signs all over saying that you can't. Must have had a bunch of illiterates on board ;-) Did see one employee with tags with numbers (times) on them. He looked like he almost wanted to put them on some of the chairs but never actually saw him do it. Few different employees w/ "deck patrol" on their shirts, never really saw them do much though.
Chops was the best meal I have had in a long time. I told my wife we should have eaten there 2 or three times on the cruise. One of the best things about it was that it was so quiet compared to windjammer and My Fair Lady. The service was great as well and the food was incredible. I ordered a filet mignon, butter flied, medium well. It was huge (10 oz.) and perfectly done. Just a great restaurant and well worth the 20.00 we each paid.
Both port were good but I liked Jamaica much better that the Cayman Islands. I can understand why many people would agree with me but it's just a matter of preference. You see, when I go to another country, I actually want to feel like I am in another country. I want to be immersed in their culture. Jamaica was like that for me. I loved it. Beautiful country and while the people don't seem to have a lot, most of them seem to be happy. In a way I envy them because they don't really seem to care about material possessions. We spent 2/3 of the time at the Breezes resort which was about 20 miles from the port. Nice place. Many people (including a group of young teenage girls) we went with were a little surprised to see that part of the beach was nude. The only way you know (other than the obvious) that you were wandering onto the nude part was that there was a sign saying that photography was not allowed. We thought it was cool that as you walked out into the water on the beach you were almost immediately surrounded by a school of yellow and black striped fish. We went a got some bread from the buffet and took it out in the water. They were literally jumping out of the water trying to get the bread. We spent a lot of time feeding the fish. There was a lot of eating a drinking here as well. On the way back we convinced the driver of the bus to stop at a gas station to get some beer for the trip back. He got some good tips for that. When we got back we stopped at the village place w/all the shops to do some shopping. Those who haven't been there, this is right by the port. I bought a few red stripes and some jerk chicken at a little outside stand. Great stuff. There was a duck that kept coming around while I was eating and pestering me until I gave him some chicken to eat. Though this was a bit odd. Aren't ducks and chicken like cousins or something? We bought a couple of bottles of liquor at the duty free shop right by the port. They asked us if we wanted them to take it back to the ship and we just said we would do it. We figured when it went through the x-ray machine they would take it from us. Never happened. Our bags went right through the machine and we enjoyed the bottles the rest of the cruise.
Cayman Islands were "OK". Sting ray city was cool but with 5 ships in port, there were really just too many people at the sand bar. I would have enjoyed it much better if it were less crowded. Georgetown itself just seemed to be a bunch of shops. I'm really sure why every one likes is so much. If I didn't know any better I would have thought I was in southern Florida. We went to Senor Frogs to get a snack and a drink. Maybe it was just because it was still spring break but this place was off the hook crazy. All kinds of bikini clad girls dancing on the stage and table gyrating their goods like they were in heat or something. This was at noon. Would be interesting to go back at night and see what was going on. We each ordered nachos and a large margarita. Total cost: 63.00. The table next to us had 8 people and I think the guy paying the bill almost had a heart attack when he saw that there bill was almost 270.00. I don't think a lot of people read the part of the cruise compass for the day that mentioned the Cayman money is worth more than American money, there, you have to add 20% on to whatever the price is. Not only that, the restaurant automatically charges a 15% gratuity to all orders. Basically is you eat or drink at senor Frogs you need to realize that your meal will cost you 35% more than the price listed. Georgetown was OK. Could care less if I went back though.
Hmmmmm….not sure what else to mention. I'm sure there is a lot of stuff I forgot to mention…
Ooooh, I did want to mention that we stayed at the Pillars at New River Sound for our post cruise stay. This is such an awesome little hotel. I think they only have 20 room (2 are suites) and it is just a little oasis. There is a reason why this is ranked as the number one hotel in fort Lauderdale on tripadvisor.com. Probably the most comfortable beds I've ever slept on the they also had down pillows. The pool area is incredible with lush vegetation all around. They even have there own water taxi stop right by their pool. If a taxi is coming, you can press the button and a light flashed to let the taxi know you want to be picked up. It's about a block and a half from the beach as well so it is well within walking distance. We spent the evening at the local establishments at the Beach Place. Ate dinner at LuLu's Bait shack which has HUGE fishbowl drinks (19.95) and then spent some time at the Howl at the Moon piano bar which was OK but not nearly as good as the one that was here in Columbus. There was also a bar down by the beach called house of 100 tequilas. They actually had 103 different bottles. I asked what the most expensive kind was and she showed me a 140.00 bottle of tequila. A shot went for 12.50. She gave my wife and I a shot on the house (one shot between both of us to try). Very different. Had no taste till it hit your stomach. Then it felt like napalm.
Well, I guess that's all. Kind of a strange review/report but if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.
This ship cannot accomadate the number of passengers. One day I looked a 1/2 hour for a lounge chair. The buffet was crowded. The selection at the oriental section needs to be improved. The deli section is not wonderful, may I sugest made to order. Our sit down ding each night-the quality wasn't great and the selections need improvement.
I feel sorry for you if you have to tender to a port-what a nightmare. We had to tender twice and you would think it was their first time doing it, wasted alot of our time. I have gone on two other cruise lines that are both rated lower than this one (they shouldn't have been). My advise would be do not go by the ratings and read many reviews.