Our family including 17 and 20 yr old daughter's just returned from our first cruise. The experience was well beyond our expecations and we are anxiously trying to plan our next endeavour.
The Enchantment of the Seas certainly lives up to her name. The boat itself is beautiful with all amenities that we needed and more. Although it carries 2400 passengers, the only place you would really know this was by the pool area on at sea days. The rest of the time you could move about freely as you pleased. The cabins were well designed with lots of storage space, the bathroom was kind of a joke since it was difficult for us gals to shave our legs unless we stood outside the shower stall with our legs inside (Men you don't have to worry about this one)! We survived with four in a room although we dressed for dinner in stages two at a time. Food was fabulous, as much as you want, whatever you want. Our daughters, though older, are very fussy. Not to fond of the finer things in life, just plain chicken and mash potato typegirls.
The waiter accommodated their every request each nite as if they had their own menu. Shows were entertaining, especially the comedian Ed Racine and of course the Not so Newlywed Game is a must. Service is first rate in all aspects. We would definitely travel RCI again without a second thought. Only room for improvement is as follows:
Embarkation, lines too long and slow moving Second Seating Dinner, changed Dinner show to 7PM for us three times, this kind of defeated the purpose as to why we requested second seating. WE are slow movers and wanted time after shore excursions to get ready for the evening. We struggled to make these shows. Also, evenings that shows did start at 10:30, it was a challenge to finish our meal in time as the food seems to take longer to receive. Needs better coordination.
Since we are Aliens to the US (Canadians) we had to clear US customs twice on board. The first time we had to do this interfered with the evening show, second time was on the day we had to disembark and leave our room by 8:00 am. Clearance was from 7-745 and the Customs folks did not show up until 7:30, we wasted time that we could have spent having breakfast and had to rush back and vacate our room. Again not well planned. Other than that, it was a fabulous time had by all, looking foward to our next cruise...... we are hooked!!
Overview: This was the third cruise for my wife and I, having sailed on The Crown Princess (Feb. 1999) and the Regal Princess (Feb. 2000) Both were 10 day cruises to the Mexican Riviera. These are sister ships with space ratios of 44. We enjoyed most aspects of what Princess had to offer, but realized that a good comparison could only be accomplished with experience aboard other lines. A Florida travel agent gave us a good offer for a balcony suite aboard The Enchantment - an offer too good to pass up so we jumped at it. Both The Regal and Crown have standard in/out room size of 190 sq. feet. We had tried the inside and outside/window but had never booked with a veranda. Our Enchantment suite would be on Deck 8, Bridge Deck, with a size of 245 sq. feet. What's more, the price per day would be similar to an outside window cabin aboard Princess.... but would the service and facilities be as good? Only one way to find out.... take the plunge and try RCI.
Getting There: My wife and I are both letter carriers from Portland,Oregon. We had to work 2/17, (the day before departure.) No way out of it. We would have liked to depart a few days early, stayed in Ft. Lauderdale.... get over any jet lag, and be ready for the cruise. Our only option was to try and make the best of it. We managed to get off early, get home and do all the last minute packing. The flight was red eye on Delta Airlines from Portland to Atlanta on a Boeing 767. Then Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale on an L 1011. All went well... no delays and we managed to doze throughout the flights.
Embarkation: We did not book our flight through RCI and had to take a taxi to the port facilities... no big deal, it's about five minutes from the airport, but the taxi driver was concerned that it was too early and that the port authorities would not allow entrance during the disembarkation from the previous cruise. No problem - the guards waived us through to the front of the terminal. By then it was 9:00 am. We entered the building on the south side and sat with about twenty other people in an undersized waiting area. Note: RCI representatives were not present in the front of the terminal. My wife went out front to have a cigarette... she ended up directing new arrivals to the waiting area. They were lost and disoriented. The waiting area is at the south end of the terminal building.
We waited from 9:00 am until 11:45 am. The barrier was opened and we proceeded to a short line of waiting passengers. RCI has a number system of some sort.... you take your number and go to the respective line - this was not used on our early embarkation. The process was quick and smooth. The attendant helping us seemed too secretarial and unfriendly. It might have had something to do with my dropping our paperwork onto her keyboard and making a mess of things. My apology and explanation of a red eye flight and lack of sleep did not bring a smile to her face... oh well, not on board yet. Done and off to the picture line. RCI does not use picture ID as does Princess. These were the standard photos which they try to sell during the cruise. RCI uses a credit card, (called supercharge.) This will purchase anything aboard ship, acts as your key to the stateroom and will open your personal room safe.
Finally, up an enclosed, inclined walkway similar to what you'd find at an airport terminal. It was steep enough to be a problem to the older passengers. To the top... and then.... aboard the ship - king's X ! ! We had made it and were aboard The Enchantment of the Seas ! One enters mid ship at The Atrium - similar to The Crown and Regal but more modernistic, bright and colorful.
We had the entire ship to ourselves for a number of hours. Did our customary exploring. Nice to finally be on a ship with a complete promenade deck.
Quarters: I did my homework and had studied the deck plans on the internet. We declined an escort to our room and took a mid ship elevator to deck 8, Bridge Deck. Note: Enchantment has elevators and stairwells mid ship and forward... none to aft. At muster station drill I had a group of people follow me aft, thinking that I knew what I was doing. They followed me around to the other side of our deck and forward to the lifts mid ship. Herd mentality, I suppose.
The suite was everything we had envisioned.... 245 sq. feet with a fold out couch and two matching chairs, ample storage space and a veranda large enough for two chairs, a table and one deck chair. The retainer was of green tinted glass. The bathroom was adequate with a bathtub. Note: RCI does not furnish a hair dryer. Don't forget to bring one along. Our suite was aft and to starboard. Note: when taking the Eastern Caribbean cruise to St. Martin and St. Thomas, it is best to book on the port side - much better view of your destinations.
We met our steward and I tipped him - yes, I tipped him at the beginning of the cruise. This was a new technique I learned from my friends Tom and Mary Milano. The staff aboard ship enjoys attention and recognition. I tipped him $50 in a envelope with a note stating that this was a down payment on what I knew would be exceptional service. I also asked him if, at the end of the cruise, we might be allowed to stay in our suite until our color code was announced. He said no problem, and while other passengers had to wait in public areas, we sat in our cabin and watched TV. On the last night of the cruise I tipped him another $20.
Cuisine: My Fair Lady - Formal Dining, Decks 4 and 5 aft - The service was excellent. The food was, well, okay.... and just okay. It was well prepared and served warm but lacked anything which one could call 'special'. With Princess we had a much greater selection with appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, (every night,) and desserts. With RCI we had appetizers, one salad with no selection, the main entree and dessert.... that's it! The area is spacious with a main floor and surrounding balcony. As with our cabin steward, I tipped our waiter $50 on the first night with a similar note. I asked him to suggest entrees if my selections were for items that he knew to be sub standard. He said no problem. The next night I tipped the asst. waiter $30 with a similar note. The last night of dining I again tipped the waiter and his assistant - $20 and $10, respectively. The headwaiter received $10, (for what I don't know.) He would come around and chat with a gracious smile... he separated our crustaceans from their shells on several occasions... no flambe on this cruise.
We booked second sitting, thinking that this would give us ample time to prepare for dinner after shore excursions. Problem is, on days in port, the second sitting has an early entertainment show, starting at 7:00 PM, instead of 10:30 PM. It makes for a rush to refresh and dress with little time to observe the departure from a port.
My wife, Pat, suffered seasickness on days one and two. She was unable to attend dinner. The seas were 15 feet with gale force side winds of 40 mph. The sky was overcast and with the howling wind, it was almost comical to watch the sun worshipers in their deck chairs, grasping their clothes and towels as they flapped wildly in the air. The UV rays went through the overcast and severely burned many passengers.
Windjammer Cafe - Buffet, deck 9, forward - This seemed an unusual set up... having the buffet so far forward. Aboard The Crown and Regal Princess the casino is in this location . Rough seas can be felt most severely in this area. So here we had hordes of people trying to balance food trays with beverages in a pitching sea. I must say that I never had to wait in line and there were always open tables with a fantastic view of the surroundings. Again, the food was just okay and nothing to write home about. We saw much more fruit on Princess... tons of fruit. It was actually hard to find fruit on the Enchantment. They really, really need to work on this.
Burger/Pizza Bar - Dogs and burgers and pizza slices, deck 9 aft. Located at the port side adjacent to the solarium pool. Ample seating. Beverage machine.
Entertainment: The Orpheum Showroom, decks 5 & 6. A beautiful theatre; well laid out. Spacious and inviting. The shows were professional and well rehearsed. My wife liked the dancers aboard Princess more... they seemed more energetic and vital. This RCI dance troupe was well choreographed but used much more extremity gestures verses full body movement... as if they were saving their energies for something else. The Coasters offered entertainment on night 5 with such songs as Charlie Brown, Yakity Yak, etc. A juggler, comedians and the like.
Sun Deck, deck 9, forward from the main pool. Customary Caribbean sounds by a group called Mega 4. Not quite our style but well appreciated by many passengers.
Casino Royale, deck 5, mid ship. Numerous slot machines. Ample gaming tables. Roulette. Craps. Caribbean Poker. Black jack minimum is $5, one table only. The rest are $10. Smoking area.
Bars / Lounges: The Schooner Bar, deck 6. We spent many hours here, meeting new people and chatting with the Jamaican bartenders. One entire side of the bar is glass, giving a great view. Relaxing piano music. Chips and dips from 5:30 PM.
The Carousel Lounge, deck 6, aft. Live music and bar, bingo and The Captain's Party. We went here for the bingo one day. We tried to go to the Captain's Party but were both too seasick to make it through the reception line. Went back to our suite and ordered room service.
The Viking Crown Lounge, deck 11, mid ship. It offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the ocean. It is an observatory during the day and a disco at night. We checked it out on day one but never went back. I swear, it looks like a big UFO parked on top of the ship. Our little joke was how RCI rented that space to the aliens for human abductions.
Pool Areas: Main pool, Sun Deck, deck 9. Open to all ages. Dual hot tubs. Crowded with deck chairs and sun worshippers. Note: RCI seems to have the same deck chair problem we experienced on Princess: people reserving chairs with their towels and personal affects early in the morning and returning hours later to sun bath. RCI had numerous signs around the deck - no reserving of deck chairs. This went unheeded by the guests. This is surely a problem on most cruise lines and I don't know if there is a good solution to the problem... perhaps more staff to confiscate the left items and take them to a massive lost and found... then you would have guests lodging complaints that they were only gone ten minutes to get their coppertone from the cabin. I don't know... sunbathing seems to be a hassle while at sea.
The Solarium Pool, Sun Deck, deck 9, aft. As Tom Milano put it, 'If someone led you blindfolded into the Solarium pool area and then removed the blindfold, you very well might think you were in a Roman Garden in ancient times.' Limited to ages 16 and older. Dual hot tubs and shower stalls. The glassed roof slides open.
Excursions: Note: Make sure to book your excursions as soon as you get on board. With Princess you can book ahead of time; well before the cruise date. Not so with RCI. Their excursions are numerous, varied and well organized but as with the two excursions we took, they can fill up rather quickly and you are left with second and third options.
Saint Maartin: We opted to do our own thing - shop in Philipsburg and find a beach by taxi. The shopping was fun and we found some good deals. The natives were friendly and spoke fluent English. This southern half of the island is governed by the Dutch and has an Amsterdam flavor to it... sort of anything goes and very laid back. After shopping we went back to the ship, (parked with four others at the new dock,) refreshed and took a taxi to Dawn Beach. Dawn Beach is smaller but closer than Orient Beach. We had problems getting a taxi back. We took one vehicle which turned out not to be a taxi at all.... just a local trying to make a few extra dollars. He dropped us short of the new dock facility so as not to get in trouble with the port authority.
St. Thomas: We took the Atlantis submarine excursion. Cost was appx. $75 PP and well worth it. This is real sub - electric driven. You dive as deep as 85 feet. The water is clear and the bottom sand is white... plenty of light and visibility. We saw numerous reef sharks, barracuda, lobster, yellow fin jacks, sea turtles; you name it. The dive lasts appx. one hour but seems longer. I filmed with a camcorder and found that I couldn't put it down. Well narrated. The shopping in St. Thomas was not what I expected. Seemed like every other store was for jewelry. This is U.S. territory with post offices, zip codes and many regulations which I don't think you would find on St. Maartin nor The Bahamas.
Nassau: Sting Ray City - swimming with the rays. Like the Atlantis Sub, this excursion filled up quickly. Make sure to get in reservations right away. Cost is appx. $50 PP. We took a boat out to Blue Lagoon Island. The facility had a bar, souvenir building, and ample bathrooms. Plenty of snorkels and masks. No foot fins allowed. At first I thought we would just be viewing the rays.... then I managed to touch one, then another and another. The staff handed out portions of squid as food and the rays responded very well - eating right out of our hands. Pat and I were the last to leave the lagoon. We took an underwater camera and got some great shots of these beautiful creatures. There are appx. 15 rays within the enclosure, along with numerous schools of small fish. Idea: bring pressure cans of cheese whiz - the fish will gather to feed on it. We shopped downtown but found it limiting. Absolutely no kahlua to be found. Again, many jewelry stores and your usual gift shops.
Ft. Lauderdale: We stayed an extra day at The Embassy Suites on 17th Street. At the end of this review I will add that experience. We had some problems with the staff but I'm sure that much of it was due to being accustomed to the pampering one receives on a cruise. Not so in a land based hotel.
Itinerary: Enchantment of the Seas offers seven day cruises from Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, leaving on Sundays. She alternates between eastern and western excursions.
And Finally: There is a youth center. Many, many children on board. Most were behaved but children will be children. On one occasion, we entered an elevator to find a group of teen-age girls. They asked us where we wanted to go and pushed the buttons for others. They were bored and were trying to amuse themselves.
I must mention that this is a cruise originating on the east coast. We are western folk and use to manners and hospitality. We found many of our fellow passengers to be rude and without any sort of etiquette.
Would we sail on RCI again? Yes, the price is right and, other than the food, the cruise was a marvelous experience. To read about our experiences at The Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale, scroll down below my signature. Happy sailing, H. Michael Ball
The Stay at Embassy Suites and a Minor Fiasco at the Airport: Staying at Embassy Suites was a real letdown after being pampered on the cruise ship. The facility was beautiful and our suite was spacious, (almost like being in a barn after staying in the ship suite,) but the staff seemed unfriendly and apathetic. Is this normal behavior on the East Coast? I don't know.
Upon arrival I wanted a cup of coffee. We noticed a coffee station in the atrium but the attendant bluntly told me that it was closed. She turned away from me and began mumbling as if perturbed by my inquiry. I went to the room to make my own..... all that was there was decaf. We ended up at their bar and had two mochas at $3.50 a pop! I later called the desk and requested regular coffee - housekeeping sent me four more bags of decaf! At this point I developed an attitude and poured out my frustration to the poor receptionist at the front desk. They sent us free room service of coffee and what seemed like a weeks supply of coffee and condiments for the room. Fact is, I shouldn't have had to go through that experience.... not at $200 per night.
We ate at The Outback Steakhouse which was next door..... best meal of the entire vacation - shrimp, lobster, steaks; in a friendly and efficient atmosphere.
Next day we planned for lunch in the embassy atrium restaurant. We stood and waited to be seated... and waited..... and waited.... finally, a waitress called us over while she bussed at the buffet line..... told us to just have a seat.. hmmm..... So we sit down and the first thing we notice is that Pat's table spoon is filthy... geeeeze, forget it, let's check out and eat at the airport.
Get to the airport at about 12:30 pm to find that Delta had canceled our flight due to mechanical problems on the L-1011. Arranged a flight on American which didn't leave until 7:50 pm. Delta gave us a $12 voucher for the restaurant.... their way of saying 'we're sorry'. Needless to say, we had hours and hours of sitting at the airport... reading and people watching. The AA planes were old and small, (727's,) but they do have more leg room - just like they preach on their TV adds.
Our flight to Ft Lauderdale passed uneventfully and before we knew it we were in sunny Florida where summer has obviously been hiding this year. We had made our own air and hotel arrangements so it was off to find a taxi to take us to the Mariott. A short hop, skip and a jump from the airport to the Mariott Marina and my vacation was truly beginning. Hot, Muggy, Summer Heat, just what I was looking for after spending the entire summer dealing with rain and sometimes temperatures that sunk down into the 50's.
Embarkation was without question the smoothest and fastest we have experienced. We left the Mariott at about 11:45 AM and were at the pier by noon with our bags checked in and we were holding #1 boarding tickets. Signs posted all about were telling us that boarding would begin at 1PM so we settled in, anxiously waiting for the hour to pass. Our friends Linda and Bruce arrived shortly after we did and were given #2 boarding tickets. No sooner than we had said our hellos they were calling for all passengers holding #1 tickets toproceed to the embarkation area. The time was 12:15PM. Within 15 minutes we were on board the Enchantment of the Seas searching for our cabin. I sort of missed the personal touch of having a member of the staff escort us to our cabin, but we found it without a map and didn't even have to ask for directions.
Our cabin was an Outside cabin on Deck 3. The size of the cabin was adequate but I must say storage space was abundant. There was a desk with a mirror, shelves on either side of the mirror enclosed within mirrored doors. On one side of the desk were three large drawers, three smaller ones on the other side of the desk and a small flat drawer in the middle. Three shelves (one taken up by the safe) enclosed by a door above the TV, were to the right of the desk. Of course there were the obligatory night tables with two very small drawers in each. Inside the closet were three additional rather small drawers, but it was extra storage space nevertheless. When I had finally unpacked all of our things, there were actually drawers to spare. We had a couch, more like a loveseat, a small table and a chair for the desk. And still some space to move around. As long as we didn't plan on any involved maneuvering, we were gonna be fine.
I must say however, this was my first cruise without the benefit of a balcony and I sure did miss that feature. It's tough going backwards once you've had a balcony cabin.
Meals aboard Enchantment were generally good and made even better by a great waiter who truly catered to our every whim. Steaks were served as we ordered them, and other than on Caribbean nite, I always found at least one entree to my liking. I was however not impressed with most of the soup offerings and in my humble opinion; the deserts left much to be desired.
Breakfast and lunch onboard the Enchantment was unimaginative and ranged from fair to good depending on the day. Breakfast each day was scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, a different choice of potatoes each day and either pancakes or French Toast. There was fruit, cold cereal, bread, croissants and rolls, juice and coffee or tea. Omelets were also freshly made to order. Lunch each day consisted of rice, a meat dish, a fish dish, and quite bland vegetables. Each day there was a meat choice being carved. In most instances the hot food in the Windjammer was luke warm to cold.
The Entertainment, specifically the Las Vegas type production numbers were the best I have ever seen on a ship. The Sweet Dreams Revue brought the audience to their feet in a standing ovation. Why even Harry stayed awake thru the entire show and stood to show his appreciation at the end.
The magic act of LaRaf on Day Four was one of the highlights of this cruise for me, since I was chosen to be the volunteer from the audience to assist the magicians. I always believed that the people chosen were a plant in the audience, but I guess not. It was truly fun and perhaps I will entertain the idea of being a magician's assistant if I ever decide on a career change. For the rest of the cruise I was known to most of the main seating passengers as "The Magic Lady".
I missed both the juggler, who I heard was just so-so and the singer, who people said was terrific. The Newlywed, Not So Newlywed Game was as usual quite a hoot. I am truly glad I didn't get picked for that game as playing that with Harry would be like committing suicide.
The other highlight of the cruise was Novel Quest, which always amazes me. Some of the things people will do to win a T-shirt is truly crazy. Did I mention that our team won, just goes to show you what maniacal nuts we really are.
I can't report on the Casino since I really don't play cards, don't understand Craps or Roulette and my big nite at the Casino is playing quarter slot machines to the tune of never more than $20 at any one time. The Casino was however always very crowded and at times I couldn't even find a slot machine to put my quarters in.
We found the Staff onboard the Enchantment to be friendly and always willing to do whatever it takes to make the passengers happy. We were greeted each day by smiling faces wherever we went. Our Cabin Steward made pretty little things with the pillows and anything else he could find in the room and kept our little space neat and clean during the week. As I stated before our waiter was excellent and our assistant waiter after a little prompting did finally get the Iced Tea to the correct people at the table each nite. We rarely saw our Head Waiter, but when he did make an appearance he was friendly and helpful.
Our CD Kyle Dodson was very professional and quite good as an MC at all the shows, but was hardly ever visible out and about the ship. I personally prefer a CD that is accessible to the passengers and participates in the activities and other than in a professional way I rarely ever saw him around.
Our Captain, Per Arne Kjonso seemed quite personable and kept us all very well informed about everything that was going on with the ship. He even advised us that we would be passing thru the Bermuda Triangle and could rest assured that we would be saved if anything happened since our ship passed Coast Guard Safety Inspection while we were docked in St. Thomas. We didn't get a chance to meet the Captain personally but I am sure I would have enjoyed his company had we gotten that chance.
I don't believe I heard many Negatives during our cruise, most certainly not from me. The one thing I did notice however was the number of passengers in shorts (even gym shorts) and T-shirts in the dining room at nite for dinner. I do not understand why the ship posts a dress code for dinner and then fails to enforce it. I for one like getting dressed for dinner and it creates an atmosphere I personally like when all my fellow passengers are abiding by the rules of the dress code. I sometimes wonder if these same people would attempt to go into a fancy restaurant that requires Shirt and Tie dressed in jeans or shorts. And I am sure they would be denied admittance if they did. Why not on a ship?
I have to mention how much I enjoyed sitting in the Centrum each nite before and after dinner watching the people go by. This is in my opinion one of the best places aboard the Royal Caribbean Vision Class ships.
Overall, we had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat.
The flight arrangements made through RCCL with Continental Airlines were quite acceptable. However, the embarkation procedures in Fort Lauderdale left much to be desired. From the buzz in the pier holding area, we were told that this was only the second time that this pier had been used and that the personnel working here were former Celebrity employees who were now part of the combined Celebrity/Royal Caribbean Family.
We got off of the bus from the airport to find a large room full of people sitting around not knowing what to do. There were a few employees "checking papers" and handing out the Bahamas immigration forms and debarkation surveys. After what seemed like an eternity, our papers were checked, found to be filled out correctly, and we got into a line which wound around the room. At the next door, we were escorted to rows of chairs. There we sat for another 30 minutes or so before our row was called. From there, we finally got into a line where our papers were once again gone over and our on-board credit card/room key/boarding pass was issued. We were then clear to getonto the ship. It had taken us 2 1/2 hours to get to this point! We wound our way onto the ship- needless to say, our welcome aboard photo showed three very tired people.
Once on board, it was like a new day had dawned. The ship was beautiful and the crew delightful. Our adjoining cabins were well-appointed and despite initial appearances, the storage space was quite adequate. Our cabin steward was a very nice lady who quickly figured out that one member of our party preferred to sleep quite late and never disturbed him. She also made the most creative pillow displays and turned our night clothes into imaginative shapes.
The My Fair Lady Dining Room was beautiful. The engine noise is most noticable there but was not annoying. The menu was varied, and our waiter and assistant waiter were able to give suggestions so that there was never a bad meal served to our table. We also ate in the Windjammer Cafe for some breakfasts and lunches which serves cafeteria style. The staff was quite attentive. The food was well attended to so that hot food was hot and fresh. A beverage cart circulated around so that you didn't have to get up for that second cup of coffee.
The entertainment selections were varied from musical reviews to magic to comedy. The Orpheum Theater is large enough with comfortable seating. There are only a few bad seats. For those who prefer a quieter section, avoid the upper level where the honeymooners seemed to congregate.
The lounges, bars, and public areas were all quite spacious. Music was played in most areas for all tastes. There are also quiet spaces such as the Library and Card Room.
The pools were nice but as usual there are never enough deck chairs. People are asked not to save chairs, but we discovered that some folks were out there as early as 9 am saving seats. If you are persistent, eventually someone tires of laying in the sun and chairs do open up.
The casino seemed to be layed out oddly and was rather noisy. None of us gambled, but the folks that we met at shows said that the casino was not paying out much. Not that that kept anyone out of there. Bingo was also very popular, but we did not play.
The ship has an area for computer usage. We sent a postcard and an email. You are charged for the time used while on the computer. The postcard was an additional charge, but my friends at work got a big kick out of the card with my picture on it. I would use the services again.
There were several medical mishaps on the ship while we were aboard so we got to see the speed at which the medical staff moves. Within what seemed like a minute from the overhead broadcast alert, the stretcher with doctor and nurse in tow were present and the patient was attended to. The hostess was called to be with the family, and the patient was handled very professionally so that the emergency only caused a minor amount of disturbance in the dining room.
This trip was an Eastern Caribbean trip with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau. The shore excursions were typical of those available on most lines. As one of our group had physical limitations, we did all of the sightseeing tours on each island. Those for St. Maarten and St. Thomas were very good. Unfortunately, Nassau really did not have much on there tour. For those who desire to shop, this trip is definitely for you. We did a small amount of shopping, but had decided prior to arrival exactly where we were going. Quite a few of the shops duplicated from island to island.
To keep us all oriented during the trip, the carpets in the elevators had the day of the week woven into them. We were all sad when carpet read "Saturday" because we new that our trip was near the end. Despite our embarkation difficulties, we would all highly recommend this ship and the line. We hope that the staff works out the embarkation situation soon.
Travel to and from was somewhat hectic to say the least. RCCL booked us on American Airlines. When we arrived at the airport we found our flight had been canceled. Fortunately we were transferred to a Northwest flight but did not reach the pier until about 45 minutes before sailing. After going through the check-in procedure we arrived in our cabin just in time for the lifeboat drill.
Check-in was a breeze and we spent all of about 2 minutes at the counter and we were on our way. The Enchantment is a copy of her sister ship Rhapsody of the Seas, which we sailed on last year. We knew exactly where to go to our cabin but were directed by a friendly staff member upon boarding.
We completed our shore excursion request form immediately following the drill and received all of requested excursions. The San San Yacht cruise Ocho Rios was a 12:30 PM departure rather than the 8:30 AM as requested, but this was not a problem.
We booked an outside room on Deck 2, preferring the natural sunlight coming into the room but not wanting to pay thehigher prices related to top deck cabins. Our room was adequate with lots of storage space. Nothing to rave about but better than some I've had. I have no complaints about the room. Our cabin attendant, Rosalinda, from the Philippines, was always smiling and johnny-on-the-spot. We had few requests of her other than beach towels every day and lots of water. Both were delivered in a timely fashion.
The My Fair Lady dining room is beautiful with excellent food. There are always a variety of main dishes to hopefully suit everyone's taste. I particularly enjoyed their cold fruit soups, the filet minion, and the duck. We talked with a couple who were on their second week of a Eastern/Western back-to-back cruise. They advised the menu did not change over the 2 week period. In other words, Monday's menu on the Eastern route was also Monday's menu on the Western route, so they went through each menu twice during the 2 weeks. Our waiter, Gabor from Hungary, was a little stiff but did a very nice job. He loosened up some on the nights when the staff entertained us. Our assistant waiter, Oana, from Rumania, was much more friendly and always helpful. We sure can't complain about their attentiveness.
Preferring to eat in the dining room, we had little experience in the Windjammer cafe. We only ate there twice but the food was excellent and about as good a buffet food as you'll get. We found this also to be true on the Rhapsody, which also calls their buffet restaurant, "The Windjammer."
Coming back late from tours required us to have a burger in the Solarium burger bar in the afternoon a couple days. This restaurant has hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and pizza. The pizza was good but the burgers had little taste, but they filled the void until our late dinner seating.
Not being much of a drinker (I had only 3 alcoholic drinks all week), we don't frequent the bars. We did meet some friends in the Schooner Bar, a relatively quiet piano bar, for drinks. At one point we could have ordered.
The Orpheum Theater is where all the big shows are done. Entertainment is very taste related so what pleases one may not please another so you can take this with a grain of salt. We thought the Wave Revue programs were long on glitz but short on real entertainment. Most of the entertainment was mediocre with some real bright spots though. Mr. Glen Smith, a piano player/singer/comedian was riot, and although I did not go, a Beatle impersonator band was talked about as being excellent.
The pools were crowded as usual. The Solarium pool is inside but has a retractable roof, should the weather turn bad. Since we had great weather, 77-78 degrees every day, the roof was usually open.
Being big snorkeling fans, we booked this activity at each port.
In Key West we snorkeled a reef which was interesting, but not inspiring. However, we did see our first shark, a small Nurse Shark, and some small barracuda.
In Cozumel we opted for the Xcaret ecological park where we snorkeled through 2 underground rivers. Each was quite different from the other and both were fun and interesting. The rivers are punctuated with enough openings to the above ground that sufficient light penetrates for good snorkeling. However, in some parts you have to keep your head above water due to the intense darkness. You can see the cave walls but that's about all. These stretches are few and usually short. The deep cracks in the rock underground were fantastic. You seem to be completely safe here and can't get yourself into trouble because you are required to wear full life preservers while snorkeling. These prevent anyone from diving down into these massive cracks and not coming up. The excursion was billed at 7.5 hours but you really got about 5.5 hours in the park, which is not enough. There are many other things to see and do here, even if you never enter the water. For those interested, you can even arrange to swim with dolphins.
We booked a Sting Ray City tour off the Internet with Captain Crosby Watersports in Grand Cayman. This was interesting to say the least, since Capt. Crosby is real laid back. This tour wasn't necessarily cheaper but there were only 17 people on the boat, rather than 90, as in Key West. We first spent about an hour snorkeling for conch, and someone apparently found some since Capt. Crosby marinated it a had it available raw to eat. I passed. Next we snorkeled with the stingrays for another hour. They are remarkably friendly and enjoy being fed. I found they take the food better if you dive down about 6 feet to them though. Their skin is not slimy like a fish, but rather smooth and bumpy. They don't mind being touched in the least. You should experience this if at all possible. My wife is the world's biggest wimp and she loved it. These animals are not frightening in any way. Go for it.
In Ocho Rios, Jamaica we first went to a local shopping center by cab. We had friends who walked with two young girls, aged 12 and 14. They regretted that decision because of the harassment they received, much of it directed at the girls. Our trip, meanwhile, was pretty much a waste of our time. I doubt we'll bother to go into the town again. Another couple we knew went to the old market area, but left as soon as they could. They also thought they had not made a wise decision and were very uncomfortable during their short stay. After our brief encounter with the town, we took the San San Yacht cruise. This excursion is a little pricey at $63 each but probably worth it. We climbed Dunn's River Falls then went snorkeling for about an hour on a reef. The snorkeling was not inspiring since there were few fish and almost none over about 5" long. However, it was nice to be in the water and see the reef anyway.
On the various bulletin boards many people have complained about how pushy the cruise lines have become about attending art auctions, shopping on board, and the incessant photos. I found the photographers would not take your picture if you simply said no. There were not any announcements about attending the art auctions, other than in the daily newsletter, the Compass. I have attended art auctions and purchased some art in the past but don't feel anyone was pushy about it. Had I not stumbled across the auction, I would never had known it was going on. Likewise, I don't recall any announcements to push people into the shops other than one or two stating when specials buys were available. A friend was particularly pleased about the announcement because he feels he made a good buy on a watch.
I don't gamble my money away because I believe this is a losing proposition to start with. I'd rather spend it than give it away for nothing. My wife, on the other hand, likes to play the quarter slots. On her first machine she managed to win $45 but by the end of the cruise, that and a little more were gone.
Yes there is vibration on the ship and it is noticeable, but not frightening. It sounds and feels like a prop cavitating. It appears to be something not completely repaired from the breakdown the ship had some time ago. Since the ship seems to work fine, they are probably holding out for a dry dock period to fix it.
Disembarkation was the fastest I've had on any ship. I had a late flight but was still off by 9AM. As usual the airline screwed things up by over booking, lost luggage, another cancelled flight, and eventual late arrival. If we could eliminate the airlines, this would have been a perfect vacation.
All in all, this is a beautiful, clean, well maintained ship that is a credit to the industry. If you've sailed on the Rhapsody of the Seas, you've sailed on the Enchantment as well, and vice versa. I would not hesitate to sail on this ship again.
This is one cruise that I would repeat in a Chicago minute. The ship is gorgeous, cabins roomy, food sometimes excellent and service superb. Here are a few details...
Prior to embarkation: Cruise docs arrived about three weeks before sail date. They included baggage tags, immigration and customs forms, and a booklet describing the various excursions that would be available. We had made our own flight arrangements again and paid $78.00 over what the RCI's fly/sail program would have been. The best part about this is that we were able to choose our own departure times (no long layovers) and not have to fly to unusual airports (like Atlanta to Chicago to Miami).
Embarkation: Thirty minutes from airport to cabin. No long lines.
Cabin: We were originally assigned 3018, on deck 3 (A-deck), forward & port. When the docs arrived we found we had been moved to 3578, starboard, amidships...not really an upgrade, but more centrally located, which means a shorter distance to get places, and less rock 'n' rollin' at sea. The two twin beds were up against the walls with two small night stands and double window in between, but could bepushed together for a double. A small drapery set off the sleeping area, but was just for effect, as it did not pull across for privacy. The love seat and coffee table made a nice sitting area, and the mirror (cabinet doors on either side were also mirrored for three-way effect), dressing table, 2 closets and 11 drawers were very generous. There was also a large mirror beside one bed, and a full-length mirror in the sitting area. Valuables were stored in the card-operated safe, and luggage stored under the beds. The bathroom was large enough for two and had plenty of space for personal accessories in a cabinet with 3-way mirrors. The shower head was fully adjustable for height (great for kids) and direction, and could also be hand-held. The volume on the PA system was adjustable or could be turned off, and there were lots of TV stations with different subject matter. Air conditioning was more than adequate and easily controllable. Even though we were below the main floor of the Centrum, we could hear nothing from upstairs, hall or adjacent cabins.
Ship facilities: The ship is gorgeous...It's kind of a pleasant mix of contemporary and classic. I was particularly impressed with the Centrum. Here you can enjoy cocktails, a little casual dancing, figure out where you are (you can see all the levels to see what's going on where). There are little sitting areas tucked away on every level, most with a gorgeous ocean view.
Sun Deck: There were deck chairs in the sun almost everywhere, but not necessarily when I wanted one. The Solarium pool was a quiet place, more for lounging, enjoying the spa, eating (hamburgers and pizza were served there) and visiting. The main pool (with a retractable roof) was more for sunworshippers and pool activities. Here you could enjoy Ken Rush emcee-ing a bellyflop contest, race-horse auction, daily interviews and the like. There were also quite a few tables in the shade near the rail to just relax, or enjoy a meal from the adjacent Windjammer Cafe. The only thing I missed here is the open railing. This portion of the deck is glassed-in (although the windows do open) and you can't hear the sound of the waves.
Dining Room : The My Fair Lady Dining Room is a beautiful two-level room with a marvelous grand staircase. There is a nice variety of seating arrangements, happily arranged so that the service areas are not in the middle of a traffic pattern (that always bothered me). The breakfast menu was basically the same each day; the lunch menu varied. For dinner, a variety of appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and desserts were available. The food was very good and the service was excellent. We were fortunate to have Sergio from Portugal as our waiter. Sergio, his assistant, the wine steward and headwaiter Downtown Brown were extremely personable and efficient, and did not hesitate to satisfy a special request or two.
Windjammer Cafe: The view over the bow was outstanding in this more casual dining area. Meals were served buffet-style, but not like a cafeteria. It was served from a group of small free-standing tables, one table for each course. The food presentation was nice, but the only exits were through the doorways where the trays were handed out, and it was a bit congested.
Buffets: Gone are the traditional nightly Midnight Buffets we have enjoyed on other lines. They have been partly replaced by hot hors d'oeuvres which I heard about, but never saw. There were actually three buffets on this seven day cruise...in addition to the Captain's Gala Buffet (which was also open early for photo-ops only), there was also a Galley Buffet in the main dining room and a Millennium Party Buffet poolside. These other two were not very well publicized, and we missed them. As a second-seating gal I really can't enjoy another meal so soon, anyway. The other nights there were Midnight Delights in the Champagne Terrace and Casino Royale.
Lounges: One gem we did not discover until the end is The Viking Crown Lounge. A huge multi-purpose entertainment area with the most gorgeous panoramic views all around. We were up there at night when it's a disco, and missed the wonderful view. Try to go during the daytime for this marvelous experience.
Orpheum Theater: This is a huge two-level showroom with excellent views everywhere. We had second seating dinner and had plenty of time to get good seats for the main show. Overall, the entertainment was varied and professional.
Centrum Boutiques: There were several shops, for clothing and souvenirs, jewelry and pricey gift items, perfumes & cosmetics. Special sales were run each day, and toward the end of the cruise, there were plenty of moderately priced items for those last-minute purchases.
Casino Royale: Lots of slots and tables, but only one craps table. The high-rollers seemed to monopolize this table, but I managed to break in a couple of times. The room is configured such that you must navigate the whole room to get through it (and maybe stop at a table or machine along the way...clever), and this is the only way to get from the main floor of the Orpheum Theater to the Centrum.
Spa: In this two-level high-tech fitness center you can work out, enjoy a facial, massage or mudbath, or glamorize yourself in the full-service salon.
Excursions: There were 37 shore excursion options on the list, as well as St. John transfers and equipment rentals for CocoCay, but some of them went very fast. Prices ranged from $12 to $135 per person. Towels for all beach and water sports excursions are delivered to your cabin the prior night. Be sure to check them back in. American currency is welcome everywhere. Take small bills and change.
ATM: Located in the Centrum, it accepts MC, VISA, AMEX, HONOR, PLUS and CIRRUS cards. No need to worry about extra cash for excursions or tips.
Most enjoyable feature: Two consecutive days at sea (and one more later on).
Ship Activities: Each evening we received an extensive "Compass" listing all planned activities, meals, movies, etc. for the following day. They've changed the format, and now include a smaller version with just the activities, times and location listed. This folds up to the size of your SuperCharge Card and is more easily carried around. With three days at sea, there was plenty to do. In addition to volleyball, ping-pong, water games, golf and Friends of Bill W. meetings, the highlights were:
Monday: Tour & Travel Talk, Piano Melodies, Mr. Sexy Legs Contest, Wine Appreciation, Line Dance Class, Shopping Talk, Dance Music, Cash Prize Bingo.
Tuesday: Step Aerobics, Art Auction, Blackjack Tournament, Cash Prize Bingo, Horse Racing, Slot Tournament, Jewelry Seminar, Country Western.
Wednesday: Tour Ashore, Sidewalk Sale, Cash Prize Bingo, Not-So-Newlywed Game, Dance Music, Millennium Masquerade Party.
Thursday: Cash Prize Bingo, Honeymooner's Party, Social Dancing, Novel Quest, Sailaway Party, Rock 'n' Roll Reunion.
Friday: Cash Prize Bingo, Art Auction, Slot Tournament, Horse Racing Derby, Ice Carving Demo, Final Jackpot Bingo, Celebrity Show Time, The Liar's Club, Karaoke, Gala Buffet.
Saturday: Activities Ashore, Social Dancing, Jam Session, Farewell Disco Party, Final Art Auction, Guest Talent Show.
Movies on TV: Shown at various times, day and night, were: Message in a Bottle, Simon Birch, The Truman Show, Mighty Joe Young, Dance With Me, The Horse Whisperer, Star Trek; Insurrection, Firelight, Lethal Weapon 4, At First Sight, A Bug's Life, Enemy of the State, Beloved, Six Days Seven Nights, My Favorite Martian, Out of Sight, Mark of Zorro, and children's programming.
Staff: Our Cruise Director, Ken Rush, was available, energetic, versatile and personable. He's very talented and I think he will move up professionally before long.
Our cabin steward kept the cabin clean and stocked and stayed out of our way. Room service (we only ordered the breakfast) requests were delivered by another attendant (we tipped him daily).
Our waiter, Sergio from Portugal, was MAHVELOUS. He was professional and reserved the first day as he was trying to figure us out. When he became used to our joking around (I am always the target) he became much more relaxed. He absolutely made the dining experience the very best ever.
Passengers: Average age looked to be about 35-40. The ship was completely booked. I know there were children aboard, but we didn't run into too many. The kids we did see were well-behaved.
Motion: I really missed it. The stabilizers made the entire trip so smooth and comfortable, it almost felt as if the ship were not moving. There was a slight motion and a little humming that was just enough to rock you to sleep at night.
Disembarkation: The very well organized colored tag system moves passengers in shifts to avoid crowding. Those with early flights go first.
Day One--Departing Miami: When we arrived in Miami, we took a quick cab ride to the Port of Miami ($18.00 maximum per trip, by ordinance), checked in (passports, tickets, signed the charge card) and 10 minutes later boarded. We made a short stop at a table in the companionway to pick up our room keycards and SuperCharge cards, and went unescorted to find our cabin. Thirty minutes from airport to cabin, MAX.
Since our luggage had not yet arrived, we eagerly pored over the flyers and magazines and went out to explore the ship, then headed up to the Windjammer for our first taste of the Enchantment. The very first entree I found was an old favorite--poached salmon with dill sauce, served by a very charming man in a crisp white suit who may have been the Windjammer maitre d'. When I went back for seconds the man reacted as if I had paid him a personal compliment. Very nice for a first impression. We took a table at the bow with a remarkable view. The whole place is bright and airy and not at all crowded. Tables are cleared efficiently, and the waitstaff is courteous.
We found our friends, scoped out what was to be our favorite meeting place, and went back to the cabin to get our vests for the Muster Drill. It only took about 20 minutes for the crew to round up the stragglers. We missed the Sailaway Party (never even felt us leave the dock) while we were at the Enchantment Tonight show (pre-dinner for second-seating guests) where we met Ken Rush (Cruise Director), and were entertained by Mario D'Andrea and the Wave Revue Singers and Dancers.
We met our 6 friends in the My Fair Lady Dining Room and found our table for 8 to be very comfortably located on the main floor and out of the main traffic pattern. Sergio, our waiter, was very professional as he explained how the selections for the evening were prepared. We ordered a non-alcoholic wine with dinner, and the wine steward served it as if it were a fine selection from his own cellar. We skipped the Welcome Aboard Dance Party and tried our luck at the Casino Royale.
Day Two--At Sea: Our coffee, sweet rolls and croissants were delivered promptly as ordered the prior evening (I forgot about the tip, but he didn't seem to mind), allowing us to casually prepare for breakfast in the main dining room. After my usual Lox & Bagels, bananas & cream, we window-shopped at the Centrum Boutiques and met our friends at our special spot on the Sun Deck. We skipped the Tour & Travel talk because we knew it would be re-run on television. Jim was stuck at the Ping Pong tournament and missed his chance to win the "Mr. Sexy Legs" contest. His little bird-legs would certainly have taken that prize!
After lunch in the main dining room, we skipped the Art Auction and signed up for the next day's Slot Tournament (pay $20 and you get 5 minutes to rack up as many dollars as you can). We missed Line Dancing and more pool games. We came in to the Snowball Jackpot Bingo game too late, and they wouldn't sell us cards (we've always been able to buy just one card for the coverall if we were late). "Show me the money" Richie was a little juvenile in the way he called the numbers, and it grew rather irritating as the week progressed. (Nothing personal, Richie...we did like you elsewhere). I don't know if it was the fresh sea air or the constant activity, but every day about 4:00 we got really sleepy and retired to the cabin.
We skipped the formal portraits and the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party (been there, done that) and took our time getting ready for the first formal "Welcome Aboard" dinner, a French theme. Sergio was a little less formal, having committed to memory who drinks what, who gets a plain iceberg lettuce salad (Jim needs to get out more) and who takes her sweet time ordering (me) and then orders two. He just about had us figured out. We lingered over dessert (also two) and missed the Battle of the Sexes :( but headed to the Orpheum Theater for the Sweetdreams Revue. We entered just before the curtain went up, but got wonderful seats. Actually, there are millions of seats and no bad sight-lines. We hung around the casino for awhile and went back to catch the late show, starring the comedian Rick Corso (funny guy).
Day Three--At Sea: Another steaming pot of coffee & pastries was delivered precisely on time. I remembered to leave a dollar handy for a tip this time. After another splendid breakfast in the main dining room, we opted to skip the blackjack tournament and art auction, and hung around the Sun Deck waiting for Diamond Bingo. This made us miss the Country Line Dancing, but finished in time for the Horse Racing and Auction by the pool. This is something Jim really likes to do every year. In the past, the horses were auctioned off reasonably, but these went for over $600 each, mostly because people pooled their money to buy them. These horses didn't race that day...the owners decorated them and carried them around everywhere all week until the race on Friday. Jim had brought his own crepe paper decorations, balloons and stuff, and we have a rule about packing...if you pack it, you use it. Well, since there was no horse to decorate... I'll tell you later.
We had lunch in the main dining room again, then hung around for the Slot Tournament. The tournament was rather boring because there were about 12 shifts of players and someone got a lot of money really early, and no one wanted to stand around and watch, unless it wasn't your turn yet. What really bugged me is that waiting for my turn, for which I had already played, made me miss the Gem & Jewelry Seminar, which I always attend. Oh well... We tried to win the Cash Prize Bingo (again) and when that failed, we went below for a nap.
Dinner dress was Smart-Casual for the Italian Dinner, and we were welcomed by a smiling Sergio who held my chair and put my napkin in my lap (I had almost forgotten how nice those little touches can be). Sergio began to pick up our playful dinner moods. He planned to take my order last, so I would have more time to make up my mind. We lingered again over dessert and missed Majority Rules, but made it to song-and-dance man Tony Tillman's headliner show...an OK show, not great. We skipped the Country Line Dance Jamboree and went to the casino. I couldn't get close enough to the craps table, so I lost interest and went to bed.
Day Four--St. Martin: After breakfast we tendered in to Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten (Dutch side) where we caught up with our friends, picked out a few things to buy on the way back, stopped for a quick sandwich at a beachside cafe (Everyt'ing Cool?), and walked over to meet our tour group for the St. Maarten Snorkeling Adventure ($37 pp for a 3-hour trip). During the short ride out to the snorkeling site we were handed equipment and had a short talk about what we were about to do. We were in the beginners' group because we have a fraidy-cat in the family, and I thought he'd need me. Our guide was very helpful, teaching how to use the equipment, explaining the different things we were seeing down there, even picking up a starfish and letting us hold it... he was really good. We tired after about 30-45 minutes and went back aboard, had some punch and got some sun on the upper deck. It was not one of the most exciting trips we've taken, and we probably won't do it again. All coral looks the same after awhile. A storm surprised us on the way back to port, and it was pouring by the time we docked. The bad part was that we were unable to go back up the street to buy the stuff we had seen. Really great stuff, too. Oh well, another day, another port, another shopping area. We tendered back to the ship, and--yes, fell asleep.
We missed the Sail-Away party but went to the pre-dinner Spotlight Cabaret starring the Magic & Grand Illusions of LaRaf. We sat directly behind a structure that was part of an illusion, and I swear... I have no idea how it's done. Dress for the Caribbean Dinner was casual, and so was Sergio. He was really getting to know us by then. Our friends were giving me a hard time about the way I ordered my food, and Sergio just joined right in! We got great seats for the Not-So-Newlywed Game (which we usually try out for) but the little thing you had to do to qualify was so embarrassing we chickened out. We had fun watching, though.
Day Five--St. John/St. Thomas: Rather than getting up early to catch the view of St. John as we dropped off some passengers, we opted to wait until the coffee came, then proceeded with breakfast as usual. We docked in Charlotte Amalie, near Havensight Mall instead of downtown, as in the past. We walked a short distance to the tram up to Paradise Point and rode up to the top. Here we enjoyed a breathtaking view of St. Thomas harbor. There were a few shops on two levels, and a snack shop. There's a lady with some trained (?) tropical birds up there. Take my advice and don't try to take a picture...she demands $10 each. Her little demonstration lasted about 5 minutes and her attitude was rather nasty. We found the ugliest wood carving we've ever seen and had to have it. It's name was Wild Man but we call him Magumbo. It looks like some kind of tribal warrior or something. We walked through Havensight Mall some and found a few trinkets, then ran out of time. I hurried back to the ship in time for Cash Prize Bingo (the pot was getting bigger as I grew more frustrated).
The "America the Beautiful" dinner was casual that night (a relief for those of us with nasty sunburns) and Sergio was even more fun. The main show was the Wave Revue Production of Flashback (a fun look at the 50s-90s), with guest star Rick Corso. We skipped the Rock 'n' Roll Party and went to bed.
Day Six--At Sea: Our last full day at sea started off in the usual manner (why can't I get this service at home?). We joined our friends in the Schooner Bar for Team Trivia, which we lost, but had a great time anyway. Then Jackpot Snowball Bingo got another $58 for nothin'. My girlfriend and I found chaises by the pool and got an hour or so of sun, then had lunch (I think we got food from the Windjammer that day), then watched the Enchantment Derby. It wasn't nearly as much fun as if we had owned a horse. Our friends watched the ice carving demonstration, and we...you know...took a nap.
The Captain's Gala Dinner was formal, service was a riot ! After everyone was seated, the guys left, went upstairs, and made their "Grand Entrance" down the grand staircase, wearing some of the horse decorations that we didn't use at the Enchantment Derby. Remember the rule? If you pack it, you wear it. Our friends were still teasing me about my orders, and now Sergio was really having fun. This time he ignored me, pretended I wasn't there, walked right by leaving me with my mouth agape, wondering if I was gonna starve! He came back later, said "just kidding" and took my order. We laughed and laughed. He was such a relief from those rigid formal snooty waiters. That would have been a giant yawn. After the Headliner Show (singer Marlise and Comedian/Impressionist Paul Boland) we were too tired (and too full) to try the Gala Buffet. I heard it was beautiful and tasty, but who could eat?
Day Seven--CocoCay: Coffee and croissants, lox and bagels...blah, blah, blah. After breakfast we tendered in to CocoCay, which is one of RCI's private islands. Here's where we had the most fun. CocoCay is a lovely little private island where there is a small local shopping area and lots of little private and public places to relax in (the water was gorgeous). If you want a mat to float on, you need to reserve it way ahead of time (wish we had). The supply is limited, and this is a popular activity. You can relax in a hammock or play volleyball, or whatever. We had a very nice bar-b-que lunch served buffet-style outdoors near covered wooden picnic tables (watch out for the birds...they're hungry and aggressive !). We wandered around for awhile and went over to the WaveRunner shack for our reservations ($85 per couple, 1-hour tour). This is SO FUN ! We watched a safety instruction video for 10 minutes and had 50 minutes in the water (two to a vehicle), following the guide around deserted islands and coves and went out to buzz the Enchantment! From now on we're going to see which islands have these for rent, and plan the cruise around them! We sat around in the shade, had a few virgin RumRunners and made our way back to the tender dock.
Once back on board, we showered, slept and met our friends at our special place. It still amazes me that we were able to get the same table every day! We didn't save it or anything, it was just there for us! The Farewell Dinner (International Cuisine) was casual, again. I was afraid to order. I just sat there, pouting. Sergio passed me by again, then surprised me with all the appetizers, two entrees and all the desserts. I guess I was just too much trouble with my "two of everything" orders. As waiters go, Sergio was the very best! He was professional (within reason), competent, articulate, funny and we all hated for this last dinner to end. If I am lucky enough to sail the Enchantment again, I will definitely request his service. After dinner, the Enchantment Farewell Show recapped the cruise for us in a funny and entertaining way.
Debarkation morning: After a full breakfast, we all very comfortably awaited our color call in the Schooner Bar. As long as everybody had vacated their cabins, the guys took themselves on an unauthorized tour of the pricey cabins (does this mean we might move up a cat or two next year?) After about 45 minutes, our color was called, we went into the luggage warehouse and found ours right away, grabbed a porter (be quick and aggressive about it) and a cab and were on our way to the airport inside of 10 minutes. I don't even remember if we passed through a customs area...it was that fast. The rest was easy.
It's really a shame it will be another year 'til the next one. I loved the ship, the cabin, the service...if I could, I would take this particular cruise again, maybe the Western Itinerary next time. The whole package was as close to perfect as you could get. My advice? Book it.
We were overwhelmed with the beauty and the elegance of this ship. Whoever designed this vessel should be given an award. Everything was done in such good taste, with many innovations we have not seen on any other ships, such as the daily changing of the carpeting in the elevators, reminding what day it is. Many little things like this that are to numerous to mention.
Cabin: The cabin was done in excellent taste, right down to the choice of material for the drapes and love seat. All the side cabinet doors by the desk area were mirrored on both sides of the doors as were the cabinet doors in the bathroom. It allows the women [and men[ to fully view the back of their heads. The workmanship of the cabinets and closet doors was superb. The cabin door was made of the heaviest material I have seen on any ship. You could of had a brass band playing in the hallway and you wouldn't hear them. The only fault we found with the cabin is that the shower was quite small and their wasn't a hair dryer. But therewas so many nice features that we soon overlooked this fact and made ourselves at home. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cabin boy Paul was also exceptional. He did everything that was required, then went out of his way to see if there was anything else he could do.
Food & Service: The food was much better than we anticipated. In fact it was excellent. [I am a retired and the former owner of an award winning restaurant on L.I., New York, which was noted for service.] Our waiter and bus-girl, wine steward and bar man, were everything dining room personnel should be. They were friendly & attentive to our every need without becoming overbearing. We couldn't be served any better in any top notch restaurant in the states. They did a superb job. The after dinner presentations by the dining room staff were received very well, a nice friendly touch.
The Windjammer Lunch Area: It is by far the most beautiful and most tastefully appointed lunch area we have seen. It is unfortunate that the management personnel have not gotten their act together. As you enter the dining room, they have a hot table with five items of the day. On three different occasions, early and late, they were out of three of the items. They weren't refilling as quickly as they should which resulted in long lines of upset passengers. But this is easily corrected and I am sure they will in the near future.
Entertainment: Ken Rush, the cruise director was outstanding, as was his staff. He won over the guests on the first night and had then in his corner for the rest of the cruise. His participation in many of the ship-board activities was the difference of them being totally delightful rather than boring. The entertainment in general was good except for the production show, which we thought was terrible. But we met many people that liked it. I guess its all a matter of perspective. It was a very modern upbeat production of today's music, which Mary & I can't stand. We are more of the old tradition that likes the big band days and that type music, so we don't fault them, it just wasn't our type music.
The Pool Areas: They have two pool areas. The large pool, surrounded by four Jacuzzi and the Solarium, with two Jacuzzi. We enjoyed the quiet reserved atmosphere of the Solarium area. It was very peaceful and relaxing.
Coco Cay: If we knew what we were in for, we would never have tendered to Coco Cay. by the time we arrived at Coco Cay and walked to the beach area, all we could see in the water was hundreds of people floating on mats. The beach area was over-crowded and not very appealing. There was kelp all over the bottom of the water by the beach. If we had to do it again, we would stay on board and enjoy the pool area.
The Captain of the Ship: I never expected to be writing about the captain, but it is a must. He was dynamic. Instead of the cruise director being the host of the Captains party, the Captain was the host of his own party. In a very personable way he told a short history of the Royal Caribbean line and then he told us about the new addition to their fleet, The Voyager of the Sea. It is not so much what he said as it was the way he said it that was so appealing. He said it with so much warmth and sincerity. He made a promise that he would personally see to it that we had a memorable cruise. He then went about the usual business of introducing the staff. But then at the end of the cruise he once again did something I had never seen done before. At the beginning of the farewell stage production he walked from the audience onto the stage and addressed the audience. Again in a most personable way, he thanked us for selecting Royal Caribbean and then summarized some of the things he had said at the opening party about the Voyager of the Seas, and other things he thought might interest us. The Royal Caribbean line not only has an outstanding Captain but also a person who is very well spoken, and is an articulate sales representative for Royal Caribbean. I am sure Royal Caribbean will have many new regular cruisers because of the of the way the captain conducted himself. [Im sorry, I can't recall his Swedish name.]
In Closing: I didn't expect to be this lengthy, but I do want to try and give you a good idea of what we experienced. We had a wonderful cruise. We have made a number of cruises with the Celebrity Cruise Line and have sailed on all their ships. Until this cruise we have always rated Celebrity as the best by far. Although we still think they are excellent, we think Royal Caribbean might be just a tad better because of the friendliness displayed by the entire crew.. They show their guests in so many ways and by the little things they do, that the number one thought in their mind is to make your cruise the absolute best that is possible, and that they do. That kind of attitude is going to afford them well in the future.
PRE-CRUISE This was our first cruise experience, and it was a good one. We booked an inside cabin on deck #3. (A-deck) RCI numbers the decks on the ship starting with #1 being the deck you catch a tender from. B-deck is #2, A-deck #3, etc. We received our cruise documents 25 days before sailing. Air/Sea package worked well for us. One change of planes en route to Miami, with the same on the way back. RCI rep met us at the arrival gate.
TRAVEL DAY RCI put us up a day early for free at the Miami Airport Hilton and Towers. This is a very nice hotel, with a great view. The hotel is surrounded by water, with a nice peninsula to walk on. I saw a manatee swimming in the water that evening. I received a letter at check-in telling me where to go in the morning to check-in with RCI. This is where you will show ID, birth certificates, etc., and receive your SuperCharge cards. These cards also serve as your boarding ID. Buses came to take us to port at 12:30-1:00pm. Buses were late and someimpatient people just took cabs to the port.
EMBARKATION The driver gave us a quick tour of Miami on the way to the port. I think he was fishing for tips, but it was nice. As we neared the port, I got my first glimpse of the Enchantment. We were stunned. It was so big and beautiful. We got off the bus and went directly up the gangway, and had our picture taken. This was a very smooth procedure. After boarding, we took our carry-on to the cabin, and went to activate our SuperCharge cards in the Fascinating Rhythm Lounge. We checked out the other common areas before the ship was completely full of people.
THE SHIP Enchantment is truly a big and beautiful ship. It is so big, you seldom notice there are so many people on board with you. There are always quiet spaces to be found. The Orpheum Theater is outstanding in design. We never had a problem finding seats, even when we were late to the shows. Chairs have lighted drink holders, and some have tables.The Carousel Lounge is open, with the rear sections raised up for good views of the stage area. Dancing, bingo, and various games and briefings are held there.The pool area has plenty of chairs, with some in the sun, and some in the shade. After the first couple of days, it is much easier to find chairs in the sun because most people tend to over do it, and get sunburned. It was funny to see all the red faces at dinner on day two! The pools are saltwater and warm. They close at 7 pm each night and are drained. The pool was not open at all on Sunday. The Solarium area has a nice pool and hot tubs. The sliding roof was open during the day. The Solarium Cafe served good burgers, fries, dogs, and pizza. The Casino Royal is a typical casino. I pulled a few slot handles, with no luck at all. Plenty of machines and tables to keep gamblers occupied.The Schooner Bar is a nice place for a quiet evening. There is a wonderful piano player singing songs in there each night. People were gathering around the piano and joining in on the songs.The Centrum is truly amazing! You have to see it to believe it. There is ballroom type dancing there in the evenings. Riding up the glass elevators is really nice.My Fair Lady dining room is big and majestic. It spans two levels and has great views of the ocean during the day. Windjammer Cafe is a nice spot to eat as well. Buffet is on different islands, and is a busy place. The entrance and exit is right through the buffet area, which makes for some congestion.The Viking Crown Lounge is a really nice area. The only problem is that it is the disco tech at night. It is a very loud area, and has an extremely young crowd. The drinking age is 18 while at sea, and this is their hangout. I couldn't stand it in there after a little while. A nice spot during the day though.The Observation deck could use some improvement. It is usually too windy to spend much time up here at night to watch the sky. The lighting interferes with your night vision so it is hard to see anything but the brightest heavenly objects. Being an amateur astronomer, this was disappointing to me. There are some star charts up there which is nice. In one word...windy!Shipshape center has plenty for the athletically motivated. Boutiques of the Centrum has some really nice things. They sell some high dollar items, as well as gifts and liquors. T-shirts sell as low as 3 for $15, and Absolut Vodka was only $6.99 per bottle! Rum prices were in line with that on the islands. There is not a huge selection onboard, but certainly enough to satisfy most everyone. The Photo Gallery is where you will find all your pictures hanging. They snap pictures of you on formal nights, during dinner, and coming and going to ports. Formal portraits are $19.95 for 8x10s and smaller ones were $9.95 or less. Cruise Memories video is $25, staring you!Bars are plentiful onboard. My favorite was the pool bar for drinks during the outdoor parties and sail away parties. A steel drum band plays tunes there.
SERVICES Drink servers are all over and will come by often. In fact, too often!I can see this being annoying to non drinkers. There is always a "drink of the day" which costs $5.95 in a souvenir glass, or $2.95 in a regular glass. They are served in different style glasses each day. Import beer is $3.50, or should I say $4.03 with the always added 15% gratuity. One word of advice: read each receipt before you sign them. Sometimes they mistakenly add an extra drink or bring you the wrong card back. They take your SuperCharge card from you each time you order a drink. You sign for the charge when they bring you the drink. Budget minded cruisers are best off bringing mixers or getting them at ports and buying the liquor onboard, mixing drinks in your room and carrying them where ever you want. Less convenient but you will save on the bar tab. The "drink of the day" is usually good. Some are the best I've ever had. My dining room waiter was Rui from Portugal. He was top notch. He provided me the best service I have ever received. The waiters perform on certain nights, so you will want to bring your camera to dinner. I had second seating, and was very happy with it. Dinner was at 8:30pm and took between 1½ - 2 hours each night. Rui always made sure we were very happy each day. My cabin attendant was OK. He cleaned the room twice a day, and did an excellent job. My only problem was "ice shortage" because I mixed drinks with ice during the day. Room service will bring you ice, but it would have been more convenient if he had left an extra ice bucket.I did not see him much throughout the cruise, but could always tell he had been there.The Solarium staff needs to be a little more attentive on busing tables. There are always dishes and dirty tables all over, and it's hard to find a clean place to sit. I noticed a bird living in the Solarium, was eating from the table tops. It was cute, but very unhealthy.
STAFF Our cruise director was on his first Enchantment cruise as well. He was Kyle Dodson. He was very entertaining. Assistant Cruise Director was Kara Callahan. She was fun all day and night. She was MC at bingo and all other entertaining events.. I saw her much more than Kyle. They were the two stand out staff personnel I came across.The Captain was Per Arne Kjonso from Norway. He is a very witty and funny man.
ENTERTAINMENT I found the entertainment to be outstanding. I was really impressed with the ships show band "Johnny Danger." They entertain somewhere onboard each night with a different theme like Rock ‘n' roll, 50's & 60's, Country, etc. The Wave Revue Singers and Dancers are very good. Our celebrity entertainers were Finis Henderson and Barry Williams. You might remember Barry from the sitcom "The Brady Bunch", as he played the part of Greg Brady. He has a nice singing act. Two comedians, Tommy Blaze and Steve Shaffer were very funny. There are theme nights on this ship. Country Western night, 50's night, Toga party, or masquerade party. My favorite was Toga Night. You can wear your costumes, togas, or 50's wear to dinner on those nights. (casual nights) We wore togas to dinner and the show, and then went to a toga party on the deck. It was great dancing to the tunes in the open, night air. The midnight buffet was also served outdoors that night. The Cruise Compass bulletin will specify the dress for the evening.
FOOD: The food was outstanding. I was able to try things I had never tried before. My favorite were the seafood dishes. (salmon) Each night has a different theme in the dining room. ( International night, Caribbean night, Italian night, etc.) The head waiter seems to be making something "table side" each night, or flaming some type of dessert. I never missed dinner in the dining room.Excellent food, with excellent service. Breakfast is open seating. You sit with other diners, but not at your assigned table. Lunch is served by your waiter at your assigned table. Shorts are OK for wear at breakfast and lunch in the dining room, but not dinnerThe Windjammer Cafe serves buffet style food. I found it perfectly fine, but I am not a buffet lover. Some good things there, some bad. The "made to order" omelets are great for breakfast. Midnight buffets were pretty good as well. The best one is the Gala Buffet. Bring your camera because you will not believe your eyes. This was served in the My Fair Lady dining room.
THE DREADED VIBRATION QUESTION! The question has always been about some sort of vibration on Enchantment. Here is the answer:YES, there is noticeable vibration. Enough to shake the water in your glasses. It was very noticeable to me, especially when trying to read something. I don't know if this is normal because it was my first cruise. After the first day you kind of adjust to it and it doesn't bother you. Sometimes, it would stop for about 30 seconds and start up again. The only time it quit was when you were in port. I had heard rumor onboard that Enchantment was going in soon for some type of repair. My best guess would be that this is abnormal for a large ship. I would not even consider this as negative when booking a cruise.
Key West: Great shopping, great pub crawling, and overall a fun place. We went to Margaritaville for some Suds, conch chowder, Buffett music and souvenirs. My only gripe here is the ship doesn't stay at this port long enough! So much to see, so little time. You need to get a tender ticket if you are not going on an excursion here. Tendering is slow here.
Cozumel: I didn't see much of the land here. I chose the SCUBA tour, and saw Cozumel from below. We made 2 dives with Sand Dollar Sports. The reefs and aquatic life here are truly amazing. You must dive or snorkel at this island!
There is very good shopping here as well. Mexican blankets for $5 (US).
Jamaica: Ship docked at James Bond Pier, which is a taxi ride to shopping and beaches. We took the Sundancer Cruise to Dunn's River Falls. It was a fun, short ride there. My wife was getting her hair braided within 5 minutes of boarding. If you have hair of any kind, you will be approached by hair braiders everywhere you go. We climbed the falls, which were beautiful and fun. You can buy pictures or video of yourself climbing the falls. We also went parasailing, which can be done right at the pier. Cost was $45 each, for a 10 minute flight. It was really fun seeing everything from about 500 ft.Taxi drivers hassle you the minute you step off the ship. They were actually fighting over us! We took a cab for shopping at Taj Mahal.($2 each) Absent was bargaining like I had heard. We walked a couple blocks from there to the beach. One person was smoking marijuana in the street. The beach was public ($2) and very nice. Not crowded like the hotel beaches next to it. To avoid the cab experience, we hired a glass bottom boat to take us back to the ship. ($12 for the 4 of us) We didn't feel very comfortable in Jamaica. Some people here have "milking tourists of their money" down to a science. Beautiful place to see though, just be aware. Don't let this scare you into staying on board the ship. Jamaica is a beautiful place with much to offer.
Grand Cayman: Tendering here is quick and easy, with no tickets needed. I booked a tour with Capt. Crosby Watersports for snorkeling at Stingray City. Trip was great, Capt. Crosby is wonderful! This was much better than the "cattle boats" from the ship tours. Swimming with the stingrays was something not to be missed. Cayman is beautiful, and very safe. Seven mile beach is the most beautiful I have seen.(shell collectors delight!) Shopping is walking distance from the tender terminals.
Miami: Took Miami Highlights tour. Very nice bus tour of the city, with one 20 minute stop at Planet Hollywood. Tour ends at the airport.
DEBARKATION Luggage was easy to find, but hard to drag to airport check in. Long, unorganized lines at check in. All in all, it was smooth, but hard to know where to go when you get your bags.
~Watching the sunset each night
~Strolling the promenade deck in the evening
~Watching the ship enter & leave ports
~The great service in the dining room
~The food and entertainment
~Toga! Toga! Toga!
FINAL THOUGHTS I will not hesitate to make my next cruise with Royal Caribbean. Enchantment is big and beautiful. The staff was really good at what they do. Take the time to meet new people, and sample new things. Time seems to just fly by. Our overall cruise experience was OUTSTANDING!