Busy singles who suffer from "cruise withdrawal" between vacations can find the ideal quick fix on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. This ship's alternating four and five night sailings to the western Caribbean are perfect when time is limited. And on my recent cruise that took me to Key West and Cozumel, I was pleased to find many singles onboard.
We sailed from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on a Thursday, and the first thing I did after boarding was to see the maitre d' about dining room seating. (Tip: Always request second seating. You will find more singles, because families tend to dine early.) The maitre d' was most accommodating, and said he always goes over the passenger list and tries to seat together those who appear to be traveling by themselves. My table was for eight, with an age range from mid-30s to early 60s, and a 50/50 ratio of men and women.
The Singles Get-Together was held that first night at 11 p.m. up in the Viking Crown Lounge. While there were a lot of teenagers, there was also a goodly number in the same age group as our dining table. With everyone in outgoing moods, determined to have a great cruise, bonding was easy. While I saw a few who appeared to be on their way to becoming "couples," there was also a group who seemed more interested in just having fun together than finding romance.
Some of us got together for biking the next day in Key West, one of my favorite things to do in this beautiful port. We had to be back onboard by 1:30 p.m. but still had time for lunch at the famous Sloppy Joe's, where our server eagerly shared the history of the bar and grill that has been on the corner of Duval and Greene Streets since 1937, the time when Ernest Hemingway called Key West home.
To encourage singles to meet and mingle, the cruise staff of RCI's Enchantment of the Seas hosted another singles get-together at the pool bar as we set sail for Cozumel. It was formal night, and after the evening's entertainment, many of us once again congregated in the Viking Crown Lounge, which also served as the Disco. However, the room is large enough that we found our own quiet spot for chatting over drinks.
In Cozumel I joined other singles for an excursion to the Tulum Mayan Ruins, which made for a great day of fun together. That night there was dancing under the stars on the pool deck along with much camaraderie among our unofficial group.
I heard several singles comment about how nice it was to be traveling alone, but still be able to make friends for excursions and tours. I also overheard some making plans to cruise together in the future, sharing a cabin so they wouldn't have to pay a singles supplement. Speaking of that unpleasant subject, I should point out that RCI has no discounts for singles. If you want your own cabin, you have to pay twice the per-person double occupancy rate (sometimes varies with different sailings), which starts at $499 per person for an inside. About 150 square feet, it is a comfortable stateroom with good storage, TV, phone, safe, hairdryer, and complimentary toiletries.
RCI's Enchantment of the Seas, with 73,817 gross tons and a passenger capacity of 1,950, was launched in 1997. Its art collection is said to be worth more than a million dollars; the ship's focal point is the soaring, beautifully-decorated seven-deck atrium. There is an elegant champagne bar (another gathering spot for singles before dinner), good fitness and spa facilities, several bars and lounges for dancing, and a full casino. There are also nightly shows in the Enchantment's beautiful Orpheum Theater.
Service and cuisine met my expectations. The staff is energetic and exceptionally friendly to those traveling alone. There are breakfast and lunch buffets in addition to the dining room, and 24-hour room service from a limited menu.
I had a great time and so did my fellow "solo" cruisers. This "quick getaway" was a sure-fire cure for the cruise blues, and I heartily recommend Enchantment of the Seas for singles…as well as all others looking for a short trip in paradise.