This was my third cruise (1-RCL, 1-Celebrity) and my husband's first. We were also celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary on this cruise.
Embarkation- arrived in Ft Lauderdale about 12:30pm from Baltimore. Were on the ship by 2:00pm. We both were initially awestruck! RCCL has done alot since I last cruised them in 1990. The Enchantment is a beautiful ship! We had a balcony cabin, 7570, on this cruise and it was well worth the extra $. We enjoyed relaxing on the balcony and watching the sunset. We even had room service one evening and enjoyed our dinner on the balcony.
Food: We thought the food was good. Some entrees were better than others. Generally, we were pleased with everything we ordered. Our dinner mates were 2 other couples, one from Chicago and one from Miami. We enjoyed having dinner with them; it made for a very pleasurable dining experience.
Our stops were Key West and Cozumel. Did some sightseeing at Key West on our own. Walked to Hemingway's House and did a walking tour. Also browsed the shops. We were in Cozumel for our anniversary. We took a taxi to "San Francisco" beachto rent jet skis. I had never done this before, but my husband had. That was a blast! We also did some shopping there. The day at sea was somewhat crowded around the pool area. We did find chaise loungers eventually, but it took some searching.
Entertainment: We thought the entertainment was great! The BeatleManics were excellent! Matt Baker was our cruise director and he was phenonomenal! Very lively and colorful always, he kept the crowd laughing!
All in all, this is a terrific short cruise. We both loved the ship and the service we received. My husband and I are already planning our next cruise!
I took my two boys ages 7 and 11 on their 3rd cruise and my 9th. We went the first week school was out here in Florida and went to Key West, Cozumel and Belize City with a day at sea over the 5 night cruise. I hope I don't bore you with the length. This is best read by referencing the photos I posted in the gallery last week.
Embarkation- We arrived in Port Everglades after staying the night at my sisters in Coral Gables. We were in the parking garage by 11 AM and found ourselves waiting in the large area with quite a few hundred other early birds. As I looked around the room I saw a roped off section just for Platinum and Diamond Crown and Anchor members so we went there and had a seat. There were about 20-30 people here. We were waiting for them to still clear the ship from the previous cruisers. We proceeded to sit on the steps and wait. I had told my kids we would be the first ones on the ship. Well, actually they told us to goahead and go on upstairs after a few minutes. We were the very first ones onboard. The rest of the cruise I kept annoying my kids by asking, "Who were the first people on the ship?" They would reply, "We were, Dad". We got our sea passes and since we had filled out the info online, it took all of 2 minutes for us to go up the gangway and into the ship. We were onboard by 11:30. We couldn't get to our cabin right away so we went to the Windjammer for some lunch. I had my first beer at the pool bar at precisely 11:45 AM. We arrived wearing our flip flops, swim suits and were ready to be the first ones in the pool.
The ship- What can I say? The ship was beautiful and well laid out. I think the solarium is underused. I actually prefer the wide open pool decks of the Sovereign class. There was only one pool bar but it was always easy to get a drink. The Sovereign had two and the mast bar one deck up. Although there was a bar in the solarium, it was not always open and there was nobody there most of the time. The ship is well maintained and easy to find your way around.
Day 1- The first day was spent playing in the pool, the obligatory muster drill, exploring the ship and trying to scope out the single babes. The sail away party was great fun as always and we went down at 5:30 to get ready for dinner. Traveling with the kids, I opted for the main seating. This is good with kids since you are done by 7 PM or so and they want to go straight to the "kids room". I think it is too early for dinner myself as I would prefer to hang around the pool longer and usually don't eat this early but it seemed the better choice. The first night I drank at least 12 beers and still didn't get lucky. That came later in the cruise.
Our Cabin- As they say in real estate, location, location, location. Now if my budget allowed, it would be nice of course to have a balcony suite. But as a single dad with two kids I had to be realistic. We took an inside cabin on deck 8. This is the highest passenger deck and we were directly under the main pool. We were one door forward of the centrum on the starboard side. This was a great location right near the Crown and Anchor study and in the middle of the ship. As soon as we got into the cabin, I tipped the cabin steward $20 and told him I would give him the rest at the end of the week. I had brought a case of Budweiser (see photo album), 6 bottles of tonic water, 12 bottles of water and some limes. I bought a bottle of Vodka in the shop onboard and took it to my cabin to mix with the tonic and lime. I had also two soft coolers that he kept full of ice for my beer and the waters. They started to leak as the ice melted so I kept them in the shower or on the floor in the bathroom. The cabin had plenty of storage although as three guys, we lived out of our suitcases. I hung up the stuff that needed to be and the rest left in the suitcase until we wore it. I kept a laundry bag in the closet for dirty clothes. There were two singles on the floor I had Noell make into a queen and the kids each had their own bunk bed that came down from the ceiling. We did have towel animals every night to the delight of the kids.
Food- I have seen entire reviews dedicated to food. I eat to live not live to eat. Food is not a hobby. Suffice it to say the food was great, there was plenty of it and we had no complaints. I don't like to eat too much because it takes up room in my stomach reserved for beer. We had prime rib, filet mignon, lobster and shrimp, escargot and it was all good. We ate in the dining room every night for dinner and usually in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. The service was great and they brought my little guy a small birthday cake and sang happy birthday to him as he turned 7 on this trip.
Day 2 Key West- We arrived in Key West early and I went to the fitness center for a workout. I had a good workout and then ran a couple miles around the top deck of the ship. This was the last time I set foot in there the rest of the cruise. The facilities were very nice but I prefer the bar. We only had until 2 PM in Key West so we just walked around near the pier, the kids bought a few trinkets and we went back to the ship. I had been there before several times. The kids wanted to go back to the kids' room so I found myself a strategic location by the pool near the water and the bar and proceeded to work on my tan and a bucket of Coronas. I shared another bucket with a single mom I met and her teenage daughter. This was also the day of the famous belly flop competition. I entered and although I have great form and got a lot of air, was not fat enough to be considered the champion. I got another Royal Caribbean hat out of the deal and sat back down. (See photo gallery).
Cruise director- I had never really paid much attention to this before but had heard so much about Matt Baker that I had to see for myself. I introduced myself and as we are both big Austin Powers fan, we hit it off and become buds and hung out. He does a great Austin and I think he really believes he is Austin powers. The shows were fantastic, the quest game a lot of fun as I was captured on the "Cruise in Review" dancing in my Sponge Bob boxers and several other times. It was worth the $30 to get the DVD. My son was in it dressed up like a pirate taking over the ship.
Day 3 Cozumel- I haven't been to Cozumel since 1990 on my ill-fated honeymoon. We had planned to go to Chankanaab Park for the day but got side tracked by a guy handing out flyers to Paradise Beach. The kids wanted to go there since they had an iceberg and a water trampoline as well as kayaks, floats, chairs, umbrellas and a nice bar, showers and restrooms. It seems several of these beaches have popped up and cater to the cruise passengers. It was all free except the Dos XX's (see photo gallery). The cab ride was $12 each way. We bought more trinkets, some Mexican blankets and headed back to the ship. There were 3 Carnival ships, the Celebrity Century, us and one of the Disney ships there that day.
Day 4 Belize City- My 11 year old wanted to stay on the ship in the kids' room so I took the little guy and got a tender to Belize City. We didn't bother with any excursion. We just walked around the shopping area and got a nice hand carved wooden shark and let him get his mom a souvenir that was made in India. There was a nice little water front Tiki bar so we stopped for a beer and a soda and then caught a tender back. This was a smaller one that went very fast. We were got in a huge downpour that left some of us soaked but it was great fun. I spent the rest of the day lounging around the pool and the kids would not leave the kids' room.
Day 5 at sea- the last day was spent at sea. These are my favorite days. Everyone is at the pool having a great time. There was not really a problem I could see as far as reserving chairs. Yes, they filled up around the pool. I came out early and got my usual spot near the bar in the first row of chairs.
Fellow passengers- I met a lot of great people. The highlight was a group of 42 single girls from Central Florida who were a lot of fun and definitely there to party (see photo gallery). I had a lot of fun in the disco and since the kids were in the kids' room until 1 AM (by their choice) I had the cabin to myself in the evenings for entertaining. The Schooner bar is always a good place for after dinner drinks and piano music. The guy there was a riot. He was Phillipino but every time someone came into the room, he said, "Where are you from?" they would say Ohio and he would say, "Ohio? I am from Ohio". There were only about 200 kids onboard in the Adventure Ocean. One of the counselors told me there would be twice as many the next week. There was a girl from Hungary there that remembered us from the Sovereign of the Seas last year. They were all terrific and the kids had a wonderful time. This is one of the reasons I cruise. Royal Caribbean has a great program and a great staff.
In closing- This was a beautiful ship, a great itinerary, great fellow cruisers, the weather was great, I came back with a good tan and good memories, the kids had a great time and I can't think of one thing to complain about. I am already making plans for next May and debating between the Mariner and the Explorer. I am also considering this ship again on the alternate itinerary of Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman with two days at seas. You can email me if you have any questions.
Dave the Wave email@example.com
We sailed on the Enchantment of the Seas from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation went very smooth,half an hour in total from when we left the bus untill we went in the cabin.
Food The food both in the My Fair Lady Dining Room,The Windjammer,and the Solarium was exemplary,out of this world!
Entertainment. The headliner show each night in the Orpheum Theatre was magnificint.It ranged from comedians to jugglers to rock n' roll shows.The Carousel lounge offered Jazz music nightly (not my taste but very good from what i heard)From 6pm till midnight there was a band playing slow Whitney Housten and similar numers in the Atrium.
Cabins. What you would expect,fair in size,well furnished and clean.
Ittinery: Sun:pt Everglades Mon:Key West Tue:Cozumel Wed:Costa Maya Thu:at Sea Fri:Grand Caymen Sat:At sea Sun:Pt Everglades
Ideally located 1 mile fom Fort Lauderdale Airport right in the downtown area of Fort Lauderdale.A Spectacular port to sail from.
A lovley quiet town.Nice to walk around and visit shops.
A DUMP,a dirty place overran by potty little mexicans that drag u in every shop.I think the 1 Mexican followed me for a mile in appering in different shopswith the same item that i had no interest in. If you want to get off,walk fast and DONT Eat
A 4 mile pier to nothing.A secluded beach bay in the middle of the jungle.Lovley beach.Small sopping complex with 10 shops a bar and a pool.4 hours drive to nearest city(Can-cun)If u take an excursion be prepared to pay a lot and travel a lot in Swealtering heat
Little England A nice home-from-home place to visit.Dont take the excursions wait till your on land and take the island tour for only $15 pp.Same stops at same time.We niterally followed the Royal Carribean bust,the only difference was that they paid $40pp.
Overall Experiance 9/10
A great cruise to a grat place on a great boat.
Summary: Had an excellent cruise experience on the Enchantment of the Seas. Our five night itinerary included: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman and two days at sea. The service was attentive without being overbearing, the food was excellent and the entertainment good. Shore excursions arranged through the ship were great (with one funny story below).
Getting Ready to Go
First of all pack your bags, and then get rid of at least half of it!!! You need far less clothing than you think. If you wish to lock your luggage, invest in the combination locks that the TSA inspectors at the airport can open with a key if they need to make an inspection. Patience is a definite virtue, security procedures have slowed the boarding at the airports and no amount of moaning and griping will make it any easier. Get there early and chill!!
Our travel to Ft Lauderdale was smooth. Living near Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, we flew out through there on a non-stop on Spirit Airlines. While Spirit is low cost and no frills, it was more than adequate for our needs and halfthe price of cruise provided air. We flew down the day before and stayed the night at the Embassy Suites. I highly recommend it, not only for good accommodations, but also for the excellent full breakfast served which is included with the room price. The hotel is located close to Port Everglades and the airport and they will pick you up and drop you off at both locations. The hotel is also located close to shopping for those last-second forgotten items with a liquor store, supermarket and 24 hour drug store across the street. There are numerous dining options within a block or two of the hotel.
We parted the curtains on our 11th floor room which faced Port Everglades and were treated to the awesome sight of 4 cruise ships in port. In addition to the Enchantment, the Celebrity Century, the Holland-America Zuiderdam, and the Caribbean Princess, which made the others seem small, were all in port. Sunrise was quite a sight over these ships, especially with scattered thunderstorms in the area.
We were scheduled for an 11:15 am hotel shuttle to Port Everglades. After a small amount of chaos and confusion we got underway at 11:30 am. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:45 am, dropped our luggage with the porter and were fully checked in by noon. Our staterooms were not available until 1 pm so we went on up to the Windjammer for lunch. At 1 pm we headed for our stateroom.
Our state room number was 4071, an inside near the center of the ship. It was small but livable with a miniscule bathroom that was fodder all week for the comedian. The roses I ordered for my wife were waiting for us along with our life vests and instructions for the upcoming lifeboat drill. Our room steward introduced himself immediately and arranged for a mini-refrigerator for the room to store my insulin. He earned his tip and more through attentive service during the cruise. Breakfast in Bed was a challenge but we managed.
The Enchantment is large, but not so large as to take days to learn to navigate. The atrium in the center of the ship, called the Centrum, reaches from deck 4 to deck 10 and is the focal point of the ship. Once you related the main points of interest to the Centrum, navigation was a breeze. The Enchantment is well maintained, with maintenance work ongoing even during the cruise to keep the ship attractive. The ship has abundant facilities including two pools, 6 whirlpools, a large fitness center, a two deck tall dining room and theater; a small casino and shopping area. The 11th deck is the signature Viking Crown Lounge which serves as a disco at night. Numerous lounges provide varied entertainment at night and room for art auctions and bingo during the day.
Food in the My Fair Lady Dining Room on decks 4 and 5 was excellent and served attentively. The head waiter visited each table to ensure that we were well served and even took the shell off of our lobsters and removed the shells from our shrimp. (Note: the rumor on the RCCL board that lobster was no longer served on cruises of less than 7 days was not true as of this sailing.) The waiter and his assistant were very attentive and made sure we were well served. The waiter shows were timed after serving dessert and coffee so that they would minimize disruptions to service. The menu generally had four main selections, one vegetarian, and an equal number of alternatives. Low-fat entrees were marked with the heart-healthy logo. Excellent sugar-free desserts were available.
The Windjammer Buffet on deck 9, adjacent to the pool offered standard buffet fare which I would characterize as equal to a casino buffet. We mostly ate lunch there and appreciated the salad bar offerings and the specialty sandwich bar.
We did not sample the burgers and fries at the Solarium on Deck 9 but the kids seemed very pleased with them. The pizza was frozen thin crust but not bad.
There were quite a few children but we rarely saw them. The kids program entertained them morning, noon and night. We only saw them in the Windjammer for an afternoon ice cream break and when the "pirates" invaded the theater for a skit before the show.
Formal night was the second night after the first at-sea day. Almost everyone dressed up, however only about 25% of the males opted for tuxes. Pictures were taken against a variety of backgrounds so you could make a choice in the photo area.
Shows in the theater were at 7 pm for the late dinner seating and 9 pm for the main dinner seating. Featured comedian was Carl Strong, who had a great time with the stateroom bathrooms and describing two ladies coming on board in Jamaica after missing the ship and having to be taken to the ship by launch. The other featured performers were On the Edge, a comedy juggling team and Kelly McDonald, another comedian. The production shows "Cant Stop the Rock" and "Stage to Screen" were quite entertaining. We liked to relax with the drink of the day while watching the show.
Other evening entertainment options stretched into the wee hours including dancing, a variety of music from the oldies to dancing up in the Viking Crown Lounge. Different "game shows" were available to liven up the night the funniest being "The Quest".
At the pool they had the obligatory belly flop contest which I had to withdraw from after surveying the competition. At 6 feet tall and 240 pounds I was too small. I was barred from the Mr. Sexy Legs contest by my wife who did not want all those women knocking on the cabin door all night.
Television in the cabin has a variety of channels including CNN, ESPN International, Bloomberg, the ship's family channel, shopping and excursion channels, information and live cameras from the bridge and movie channels showing fairly recent movies in several languages.
Both of the excursions we took, booked through RCCL, were very good. In Ocho Rios we opted for the Dolphin Touch Experience and Duns River Falls. It was fun and entertaining, although the return to the bus parking lot from Duns River Falls was a little unnerving to my wife with very persistent vendors pursuing us down the hill. One told me I "looked just like a Jamaican." I looked at my arm and then at him with a "yeah right!!!" look, he laughed and said "No problem mon, two more days you look just like us!"
Our excursion in Grand Cayman was with the Cockatoo Catamaran to Stingray City. After a leisurely sail to the sandbar we swam with the rays and fed them, an awesome experience. Our guides Jacques and Evan, from South Africa, were funny and informative. Upon showing us where the life preservers were stowed, Jacques said, "If you see us grab one of these and jump overboard it's probably a good idea if you do the same."
A funny note from Ocho Rios: Our tablemates from England took the Bob Marley tour, being fans of his music. Their account was absolutely hilarious. Advertised as a historical tour, its main purpose was to smoke ganja at his gravesite. I was surprised that RCCL sanctions such a tour.
An excellent first cruise experience for me, I am hooked!
I just returned from a cruise to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman on The Enchantment OTS (5 night). This is my 9th cruise, second with Royal Caribbean.
Embarkation: What can I say? 2 minutes. Breeze. Airplane to cabin maybe one hour, tops. No stopping. No standing in line. No wait anywhere. We boarded the ship about 5 minutes before they opened up the cabins. I believe it was about 1 PM. (Not sure because our plane was delayed over an hour, so I kind of lost track of time.)
The service on this ship was the best I've ever seen. Every single crew member I encountered smiled and acted as if they were glad we were on their ship. I have never cruised before, where I didn't come across at least one sour face and bad attitude. I have now! The dining room staff was just awesome! Ayjay, our head waiter, always just somehow knew if there was one little thing that needed to be done. He was all over the place working and making sure all guests were not just satisfied, but HAPPY.
The food was very good. The Windjammer wasreally good. The best casual dining I have ever seen. My husband and I usually have all our meals in the dining room, but we always check out the buffets also, just in case. We ended up eating breakfast and lunch several times in the Windjammer and were very pleased. No long lines, a wide variety of foods and drinks available, freindly and efficient service, on and on. At breakfast every day they had an egg bar (it seems to me that the other RCCI ship we sailed (Majesty) didn't have this and Norwegian only had it on at sea days). The snack bar in the Solarium was fine. You will not go hungry on this ship. When the Windjammer stopped serving lunch, they started serving snacks!!!!! Good ones, too.
The Gala buffet (in the dining room)is not to be missed. Even if you can't stuff one more bite in your mouth, you should go to take pictures. They open it up an hour ahead of time for pictures only. They really go all out for this. They had another midnight buffet on a different night on the pool deck, but it wasn't nearly the production as the Gala Buffet.
The cabin (O/V deck 2)was roomy and clean. TONS of space to put your clothes. I had the three of us unpacked and then discovered another three drawers. I could not fill them. And I over pack. My motto is "I would rather have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."
Overall, very nice cruise. Royal Caribbean is my favorite. I have also cruised Norwegian, Holland America (also very nice), Carnival. We have two short cruises booked and are getting ready to book an 8 day...all on RCCI.
E-mail if you have questions
We sailed the Enchantment Sept 11, 2003 for a 4 day cruise to Key West and Cozumel. This was our 7th cruise, 5 with RCCL. I sailed the sister ship, the Grandeur, in 1997. This is by far the nicest short cruise offered. The ship was in great condition and was cleaned constantly during the cruise.
Embarkation was swift, no lines. We arrived at 12:15 and were on the ship 15 minutes later, having registered online. The Windjammer was open for lunch and the pool chairs were filling up. One new addition to the Windjammer was a station for wraps and specialty sandwiches. They also make omelets for breakfast at this area. They had Egg Beaters available, too. My only complaint was that they did not put salsa out for eggs; it was brought upon request, though.
We booked an inside cabin, which is always fine for us as we never stay in it. It was small, but adequate and clean. Carl was our steward and his cheerful smile and great service were appreciated. There was a hairdryer and a safe in the room. It works on one card only- this canbe a problem if you separate and your mate has the credit card!
The ship is beautiful with it's earth tones, brass trim, marble atrium and interesting artwork. We never felt the infamous "vibration" that we've read about. It's the crew and staff that made this cruise so special. We had the pleasure of seeing Matt Baker for the second time; this time he is the Cruise Director. This job is well suited for this musically talented man who also does magic tricks and dances well. His personality is contagious- he clearly enjoys this position and is as good or better than any I've seen. He made the Quest game an absolute riot (which we WON, by the way!) He does a crazy Austin Powers without having to change his accent.
The food was good, some things were very good. Service in the dining room was excellent. We had waiter Erdum Ertugrul and assistant Norbert Kiss (pronounced "Keesh") as an assistant. They were both excellent! Norbert had the most beautiful smile and huge dimples- he even enjoyed singing and the parade! I hope to see him as a head waiter in the future. We had 4 friendly tablemates which made for a pleasant dining experience.
Entertainment was so-so to excellent, depending on the venue. Our favorites were the Serenade Trio who played in the Atrium. Jean Pierre, Vincent and Steve are French Canadians who are great musicians, showmen and really super guys. We had the pleasure of talking to them often. (Thanks guys for letting me sit in at the piano! ) The group we were with really enjoyed that. We also liked the Tango Connection- mellower music, very pretty. Moses and the Highbrows provided selections in the Carousel Lounge, and provided a great set for "Under the Stars" dancing.
We saw all of the entertainers at the clubs and saw almost all of the shows and really enjoyed the RCCL production of "Can't Stop the Rock", a tribute to movie music. One dancer, a tall blonde Australian named James was so awesome it was hard to take your eyes off of him. I met him in the gym and he was very nice as well. One production "The Beatle Maniacs" was quite entertaining. Fun to hear them, they had an authentic sound instrumentally and vocally. We missed the "Love and Marriage" game, but caught it on TV later. The Quest game was wild. 22 teams of 6. We were "adopted" on the first day of the cruise by a fun group from Alexandria, and they had my husband working for them. They already had bras in hand, plus makeup, etc. Serious players, but my husband found the first set of false teeth which boosted our score. We won a RCCL hat, which I wore daily. If you are easily offended, don't attend. There was a bit of flashing going on and some women showed tattoos that were meant to not be viewed in public.
We do not enjoy smoky casinos, so I can't comment on that or the Bingo. Pool games were crazy, again, thanks to Matt. The gym was okay- a bit too hot. One day they had music just blasting, the other two days there was no music, no TVs, pretty hard to do aerobic activities. There were 10 treadmills, several were loose and making noise. There were 2 Lifestyle elliptical trainers, 6 bikes- only one with straps and a couple stairsteppers. Only 5 or 6 Cybex machines, one rack of free weights. A pretty small area and a bit cramped. The rock climbing wall has been installed outside of the workout room and seemed to be a huge hit. The internet cafe always had empty terminals, but using AOL was frustratingly slow and expensive.
In Key West, we returned to Fast Buck Freddie's. This store has a selection of Tommy Bahama and other tropical clothing, as well as nice home furnishings, children's items, etc. After shopping, we strolled down to the famous Rick's bar for some shirts and stayed for a drink and some fun live music. Everyone on this island wears a smile, I swear!
Cozumel is a favorite stop for us. We returned to beautiful Chankanaab Park to snorkel in crystal clear, calm waters and enjoy the company of beautiful fish. I had a refreshing one mile swim before having a yummy snack and returning to the ship to shower. Why did we shower? After that we returned to Carlos and Charlie's for the drunkfest. A lot of laughing, people-watching and dance, dance dance! We were soaking wet! Saw many of our new friends from the ship and had a ball.
Our sea day was relaxing and fun- strolling on the deck, watching pool games, ice carving, etc. and saying sad good-byes to the great people we had met. There was a diverse group on this ship- mainly late 20's to 60 with a few extremes. There were few teenagers( who had been quite rowdy on past cruises.)
We had blue tags (the second group) and were off the ship at about 10. We sailed through customs and luggage area in 10 minutes. Best yet.
We feel that RCCL fits our personalities. We've been a bit disappointed on past short cruises, as they just didn't seem up to par. This one greatly exceeded our expectations and I would recommend it to anyone. If anyone wants more information feel free to write me at LLindaC@aol.com
We just returned from a 7-day cruise on the RCI Enchantment of the Seas and wanted to post our review of the trip and itinerary. For general information, this was our eighth cruise so we are by no means experts, but we have cruised enough to be able to make general comparisons based on our personal experiences. Prior cruises have been on the Carnival Inspiration - Southern Caribbean, HAL Veendam - West Caribbean, HAL Veendam - Alaska Inside Passage, Sea Princess - West Caribbean, RCI Radiance of the Seas - Pacific Coast, Celebrity Millennium - East Caribbean and Sun Princess - Mexican Riviera.
As usual, we flew in a day early and spent the night at the Renaissance by Marriott on 17th Street near the port. We were traveling with friends from Houston and this was their first cruise. We booked the cruise through Pat, our travel agent at Cruisestar.com. We booked our own air. The hotel offered a shuttle from the airport, so it was very convenient to stay at the Renaissance. We've stayed at the Embassy Suites and AmeriSuites. I would definitely rate the Renaissance above both in terms of quality,but it's hard to beat the free breakfast at Embassy. Our friend's son works for Marriott, so we got a deal that was just to good to turn down. They gave us a room facing north towards the port and we were able to see the Golden Princess which leaves on Saturday and then again the Grand on Sunday morning. Its great being able to look out your room and see these cruise ships. We walked out over the causeway bridge and took pictures of the ships and then had a quick dinner. There are plenty of places to eat along this 17th Street corridor and even some grocery stores to buy water or soft drinks for the cruise. We always try and fly in the day before, as it is such a relaxing way to start the cruise. Honestly, its one of my favorite parts of the cruise experience.
Sunday morning, we took a hotel shuttle over to the port terminal. We got there about 11:30 a.m. Bags were dropped off to the porters and then on to check-in. The entire check-in process took 15-20 minutes and we were on the ship. No waiting; no standing in line. We had completed our registration on-line at the RCI website, so all we had to do was give a credit card imprint and pick up our Sea-Pass cruise ID cards. Once on board we dropped our carry-on in the room and headed to explore the ship. I enjoy getting as many pictures of the ship as possible before the crowds arrive. We start at the top and work our way down. Of course, once we arrived at the Windjammer, we couldn't resist our first bite at the food line. I love these first moments on the ship. Everything's new and exciting and you begin to meet the nicest people. We could tell from the start it would be a great cruise.
The muster drill started at 4:30 pm and fortunately we were on the shady side of the ship. Departure was scheduled for 5:00 pm and we joined the line of other ships leaving the port. Great views of the other ships leaving are available up on deck. We left snow on the ground in Tulsa, Oklahoma so the warm weather of Fort Lauderdale was a welcome relief. The Ship:
The Enchantment has been around for several years now and it is my opinion that the ship is beginning to show a bit of its age, mainly up on deck. The interior of the ship seemed very clean and there was an obvious effort by maintenance to keep her in good shape. We also noticed crew wiping down stair rails and door handles constantly throughout the cruise. RCI is making an effort to stop any bacteria problems on their ships. The exterior of the ship is showing some age, particularly in the fading of colors. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate to cruise this ship again. She's in great shape, with great facilities. Probably my biggest complaint in terms of facilities would be that all the deck chairs are the common plastic strip lounge chairs and those on the promenade deck (Deck 5) do not recline. I miss the padded lounge chairs found on HAL.
The public areas, including lounges, atrium area, Orpheum Theatre, and Carousel Lounge are in great shape. The "My Fair Lady" dining area is also beautiful. There are several shops but nothing extraordinary here. Throughout the ship are scattered alcoves, reading areas, lounges and bars that are very inviting. There is a very nice card room and an internet area. The internet works well and is reasonably fast, but a bit expensive. (Best option here is to hit the internet cafes in port.) The casino is fairly large and it never seemed real crowded. Hard to move about occasionally, but otherwise very nice. We're not big gamers but people seemed to enjoy it.
We booked an Inside Cabin Guarantee and were given 2585 right next to our friends in 2587 on Deck 2. We had originally booked a specific room higher up on the ship, but when prices began to tumble we re-booked the guarantee. Thanks to RCI for being willing to re-book even after we had already paid full fare and received our cruise documents. This alone, ensures I will be a repeat customer. We knew the risk when we booked the guarantee, but the price was unbelievable and we got lucky with rooms next to each other and in the middle of the ship. Even though we were on one of the lower decks, we loved the location. Especially when coming back from exhausting days on the islands. It was only one deck up to our rooms. We've had a mini-suite (1), balcony cabin (1), and outside cabins (2), but prefer an inside cabin for cost and convenience. We actually sleep better in an inside cabin and since we spend so little time in there, we probably will keep booking them. This was probably the smallest inside cabin we've had, but there was plenty of storage, a nice bathroom and room-safe. The safe requires a credit card rather than a numeric code, which is a bit of inconvenience. Why require a credit card when it is exactly the kind of item you would want locked up in the safe. We prefer the numeric keypad like the safes on Princess. There is only one electrical outlet in the room and also one in the bathroom. The hairdryer is not in the bathroom, but at the small desk in the cabin and my wife said it wasn't much of a hair dryer. Soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided. Excellent storage space everywhere. Our cabin steward was friendly and did a good job, but he did not seem as warm as prior cabin stewards. I was very disappointed that he did not turn down the room on the first night of the cruise. I know this is no big deal, but we enjoy coming back to the room at night finding it all turn downed. This is the first time we've seen this service cut out on the first night. I don't know if he was assigned to luggage duty or he just didn't want to do it. I didn't hear from any other cruisers on this and would be curious if it was only our steward or the entire ship.
We felt like the on-board entertainment was good. The Enchantment has two theaters, the Orpheum Theater and the Carousel Lounge. Our Cruise Director was Ken Rush and he did a great job. He left the ship after our cruise for some months off, so I don't know when he will be back with RCI. The first night out, we had a comedian, Jimmy Carroll. He was fine, but not a showstopper. Day 2 the entertainer was an impressionist/singer Fred Travelena. He was very good. Day 3 - RCI Singers and Dancers presented Sweet Dreams, Day 4 - Zoltan, the magician. He was your typical magician and we enjoyed the show. Day 5 - RCI entertainers presented Flashback. Day 6 - singer Glenn Smith, probably the best show of the cruise and Day 7 - juggler Billy Prudhomme. He was fair. The RCI entertainers were very good. We were especially impressed with the singers. Strong voices. We've seen better productions, but we enjoyed these very much. A nice surprise on this ship was that on the second sea day, they offered a tour of the stage facilities and we got to meet several of the cast, including production support people. They demonstrated some of the special effects of the shows and gave us a tour back stage. This was interesting and the first time we've seen it offered on a cruise. Tours of the galley were not offered on this ship. I'm guessing they've terminated this practice on most ships although we were able to do it on the Sun Princess last September.
We ate all of our breakfast and lunch meals in the Windjammer or at the grill, so I can't tell you about breakfast and lunch in the dining room. We enjoyed the Windjammer and even ate two of our evening meals there because we were late getting back on ship and only wanted to go to one formal night. Food in the Windjammer is excellent in my opinion. I'm sure most wouldn't classify it as fine dining, but then again, I would take a good cheeseburger over steak and pizza over lobster any day. At breakfast they served scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and various breakfast potatoes. There is also a cereal bar, lots of fruit and yogurt, an omelet bar out front and also, pancakes, waffles and French toast with strawberries or blueberries. It was pretty much the same breakfast fare every morning, but we thought it was the best breakfast food we've seen on a ship. At lunch they served several meat dishes, salad bar, breads, etc. Sandwiches are made forward where the breakfast omelets are made. Desserts are served where the pancakes are served at breakfast. We thought this food was only fair. Decent pizza, burgers and hotdogs are available out by the pool grill. For dinner, we were scheduled for the Main Seating and asked for a large table. However, the other couple assigned to our table never showed up. I'm guessing they cancelled their cruise. Food in the dining room was good to excellent. We didn't feel it measured up to the food on Princess or Celebrity, but it was good nonetheless. The real strength in the dining room was their service. We had a great waiter, Antonio from Portugal and a wonderful assistant waiter, Julieta from the Philippines. They were simply the best we've ever had. Friendly, helpful and very efficient. In fact, as I observed the dining room, I would say this is the best-managed staff we have ever seen. All seem to enjoy their work. Lot's of smiles and plenty of help. My wife asked once for strawberries and Antonio brought them to her every night. We all enjoyed the crab cakes on the third night of the cruise and they brought them again for us on the last night of the cruise, even though they weren't on the menu. Food was plentiful, warm and presented well. Desserts were weak, but the cold soups were great. You know your service was great when you wish you could bring them home with your. RCI offers drink cards on their ships, but we thought they were overpriced. We don't drink alcohol, but paid $20 for a soda card on a 10-day Princess cruise. A 7-day soda card on this cruise was $35.00. We thought that was steep.
My wife took a couple of the Pilates exercise classes and was pleased with the workout. I enjoyed my massage treatment. A bit expensive, but she did a great job and there was no hard sale or pushing products. I appreciated that. After using the spa facilities on the RCI Radiance of the Seas and the Celebrity Millennium, these facilities looked a little second rate. Treatment rooms were nice but very small. There is a sauna and steam room in the men's changing room and the area was never crowded. The steam never really warmed up enough but I enjoyed it nonetheless. They also have lockers, towels and showers in the changing area. I usually prefer early mornings in the whirlpool on a top deck, but on the Enchantment these pools are inset so they do not get as much of the cool morning air. The Solarium area is nice with two warm whirlpools and a cool salt-water pool. This area is covered in the morning and evening but the glass ceiling is pulled back during the day. This is a nice relaxing area, but you'll need to come early. RCI has a problem with chair savers. I noticed many chairs with towels and books after 8:30 am that would sit otherwise empty for hours.
We're probably not the best to offer opinions on ports because we tend to avoid the ship excursions and do mostly things on our own.
San Juan: We were here last February and pretty much did the same thing. We walked up to El Moro and then back down to the Cathedral and into Old Town for shopping and picture taking. We love San Juan. The ships docks right near Old Town so it's easy to get to many places without a catching a cab or booking an excursion. El Moro is beautiful and worth the walk. Be sure and be up on deck for the cruise into the harbor. You get some great views. I was able to take some very nice pictures in the evening at the harbor.
St. Maarten/St. Martin: This may take a while - We hadn't been back to St. Maarten since 1997 and we were anxious to see more of the island. So this time we rented a jeep so that we could drive around the entire island. We did not make a reservation, but when you walk off the pier there is a car rental area with several kiosks and individuals offering cars. We got a quote of $45 from one of the individuals but being the cautious person that I am, I went to see what kind of deal I could get at Hertz. They said their jeep rate was $120, but they would give it to me for $60. I felt the extra $15 was worth it for the piece of mind dealing with Hertz. I am a Hertz Gold Club member and rent from them a lot in the States. They gave us a nice 2003 automatic jeep, took the top off and showed me where the jack and spare were. Off we went. We drove first to Dawn Beach. We had been there before, but it was a bit windy. So on we drove to Orient Beach. Because we had rented a car we beat most of the traffic there and were able to choose our chairs and umbrellas. We had a great spot. I think two chairs and an umbrella cost $15, plus that gives you the use of their restrooms and changing rooms. We felt it was well worth it. Bear in mind, this beach is on the French side and there is some nudity here. Still it is a beautiful beach and the water was perfect.
After a couple of hours at Orient, we hit the road to explore the French side of the island. We should have suspected we were in for trouble when we came across another jeep with a flat. We stopped to help but they told us that the wheels had lug locks and the rental agency hadn't given them a key. They had to wait until the rental agency came to change the tire. They had already been waiting over an hour. When I asked which agency they rented from, they said Hertz. I should have known then that we were in trouble. That's right, 30 minutes down the road we heard a loud bang and sure enough, one of our tires had blown out. We were in the middle of nowhere, but fortunately a friendly local came by with a cell phone and called Hertz for us. They said it would be 5 - 10 minutes. About 45 minutes later the local came by again and was surprised we were still there. So were we. He called Hertz again and only after telling them that we would abandon the vehicle did they agree to come right away. In the meantime, the first jeep drove by and stopped to share a bit with our misery. They had waited well over an hour and a half. Over thirty minutes later the Hertz service rep showed up. They put a new tire on and I insisted that we would not leave until he gave me the lug key. I didn't want to be stuck again. He resisted but finally relented. So off we went. I knew we had lost almost two hours of our day, but felt fairly confident that Hertz would make up for it. I imagined that they would offer to discount the rental a little more because they sent us off without the ability to change our tire. We dropped our wives off in Phillipsburg and my friend and I went to turn the in jeep. We were running short on time and didn't want to get stuck in traffic. Then came the shock. Not only did this Hertz franchisee not want to give me an additional discount, but also he insisted on charging me an additional $135 for the tire. (A new tire, which blew out by the way on the inside wall of the tire.) I won't belabor the point here, but suffice it to say that we had some useless discussion, including a futile discussion with the office manager and since I had already signed the charge slip, he put the charge through. Obviously, I've taken this up with Amex and Hertz. The International Hertz customer relations desk was very sympathetic and could not believe what happened. Amex has stopped the charge and I'm confident we will get this worked out. I like Hertz and will continue to rent from them. I will not however rent again from the Hertz franchisee in St. Maarten. If this had happened to me after renting from an individual, I could understand it, but I did not expect to get shaken down by a Hertz franchisee.
Regardless of our difficulty with the jeep rental, we would rent again and truly enjoyed our tour of this island. We stopped at a French bakery in Marigot and would have liked to spend more time there. This is a beautiful island and we are very grateful for the help of a friendly local.
St. Thomas: We did what we always do in St. Thomas. We took a cab to Red Hook and the ferry to St. John. Then a cab ride to Trunk Bay. We love this beach. Bear in mind that the St. Johns cab drivers do not leave until they have a full load. Sometimes you have to work them pretty hard to get them to leave and not wait for another fare. After a few hours at the beach it was back to Cruz Bay for the ferry into Charlotte Amalie. My recollection is the cab to Red Hook was $8. This was a posted fare. The ferry to St. John was $3. The cab to Trunk was $4 and the ferry to Charlotte Amalie was $7. The entrance fee into Trunk Bay was $5. They have changing rooms, restrooms and showers. At Charlotte Amalie our wives were able to shop. There is a great David Yurman shop here. Prices seemed reasonable.
Nassau: We did our own walking tour here. We walked through town and up to Queen Victoria's Steps. This is a beautiful place and up at the top there is an old fort from which you can get great views of Nassau and Paradise Island. After shopping in town, we took a cab over to Atlantis. This was our first time on-site and I must say it is very impressive. They had security at every door leading out to their facilities and without a guest wristband, nobody got through those doors. We walked around the shops, casino and marina. Don't miss the marina here. There were some beautiful yachts. We walked from the Marina to the water taxi for the ride back to the ship. This was a convenient and different way to get back and you get a little tour description on the ride back.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We waited out on the promenade deck until our color was called. It was an easy walk off the ship and after locating our luggage we stepped out and caught a cab back to the airport. I think all will agree that the worst part of cruising is the air travel, and we were prepared for the worst. Fortunately, we were able to check-in at American using their self-serve kiosks. Since we had taken the taxi we missed most of the busload crowd and the lines moved very fast. From the time the taxi dropped us off, if was less than fifteen minutes and we had checked our bags and received our boarding passes. What a relief. Then it was simply waiting for our flight. It has never been this easy. We were grateful.
This was a wonderful trip. The weather was warm, some days a little too warm. We never encountered rough seas. In fact, on our first sea day we were in the Atlantic and it was smooth as glass; no whitecaps at all. The ports were nice, the beaches beautiful and the ocean water perfect. All in all, this was an enjoyable trip.
1. Cruising with friends is always a great experience. And based on the current pricing, I can't think of any better way to travel, especially to the Caribbean. 2. RCI did a great job. The Enchantment was nice and we wouldn't hesitate to cruise RCI or the Enchantment again. Food was good, entertainment good and service was great. 3. RCI is a bit more casual than Princess, Celebrity or HAL. We saw jeans in the dining room and many were not dressed up on Formal Night. We dressed up, but I much prefer the casual look and we remain casual on all other nights. Shorts were not allowed and individuals were directed to remove their hats. Even on formal nights you are comfortable in the theatre and other public area on the ship dressed casual. For me, this is a good thing. 4. We love the Caribbean. East is nice for beaches and shopping. West is fun for excursions and Mexico. Both sides are easy for doing your own thing and saving money from excursion fares. Cruise prices are so reasonable. 5. Things have greatly improved at Fort Lauderdale. Even the air travel was perfect.
1. Like Princess, RCI now has the practice of leaving two pool towels in your room and they are no longer provided on the deck. That means you have to remember to bring your towel up on deck and you're limited to one, unless you ask your room steward for more. Since I like at least two towels, and then maybe an extra for the spa facilities, I missed being able to grab fresh towels up on deck. They do have towels in the spa changing rooms, but those are not supposed to be taken out on deck. Not a big deal, but please bring back the pool towels on deck. Has everyone done away with these? 2. Spa prices are still way too high. 3. And of course, our experience with the St. Maarten Hertz office. I'm optimistic Hertz will make good on this, but it was unnecessary and cost us some valuable island time. Live and learn.
And finally, for what its worth, some comparisons (based on our own impressions): RCI is a great cruising value. Very friendly people on staff, beautiful ships and incredible service. Princess and Celebrity provide a better dining experience, but the service on RCI was much better. Friendlier and more efficient. Entertainment was better than what we've seen on Princess or Celebrity. In my opinion the friendliest people cruise HAL, Princess and RCI. Based on our experiences, I would still rate these lines: 1) HAL 2) Princess 3) RCI 4) Celebrity and 5) Carnival. Right now I am looking for a good value 10-day cruise in the Caribbean for next February. Maybe the HAL Rotterdam. . . .
I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Pre-cruise: We flew in the day before. I bid $55 on a 3-star hotel in FLL and ended up with the Embassy Suites. It's a beautiful hotel and close to a grocery store. The hotel has a free shuttle service, but the wait list was very long. We hailed a cab about 10:30 and headed over to Port Everglades. It was probably less than a 20-minute cab ride away.
Terminal Confusion: We were there so early that the porters couldn't help us with our luggage. They were all busy with the group disembarking before us. There was no one to direct us where to go, and we definitely needed the help, this being our first cruise. We hauled all of our stuff toward the terminal. We hooked up with another couple on the same cruise as us and we pooled our luggage together. The men stayed with the bags until the porters took charge of them.
About 11:30 an RCCL rep came along and checked our docs and directed us to the X-ray machines. After a "welcome aboard" picture, the official handing over of the credit card number and the SeaPass picture,we were ON THE SHIP! The whole process from X-ray to ship was less than 20 minutes.
Our Cabin: Enchantment staffers greeted us on the gangplank saying our cabins were probably not ready so don't even go there. just go to the pool or to a bar. TIP #1: Bring shorts/bathing suit in a carry-on so you can change into it. It can take a while for your luggage to arrive. We ended up sitting by the pool in long pants.
We had #8036, port side. There was soooo much space! Medicine type cabinet shelves on either side of the mirror in the bathroom and on either side of the mirror over the desk/vanity area. There were drawers all over the cabin, including the closet.
On our balcony was a chair, a table and a lounge type chair. There was plenty of room to replace the chair with another lounger if you wanted.
Our steward was "Perfecto." He kept us with plenty of fresh towels, ice and whatever else we wanted.
We were taking this cruise during the height of the Norwalk Virus scare. It was comforting to see crews steam cleaning decks of the ship and disinfecting handrails and doorknobs constantly.
Restaurants: We ate lunch once and breakfast just about everyday at the Windjammer. I thought it was really good for buffet food. We only ate dinner there one evening. The food was great. the view even better if you can get a table along the windows.
We had a table for 10 in the My Fair Lady dining room. We sat directly under the piano in the center of the room. Our waiter "Wally " and assistant waiter "Lucy" were wonderful. Both had the patience of Job dealing with our somewhat picky tablemates.
Food was good every night we ate there. not great, but really good. The soups each night were my favorites. and of course dessert.
Spa: On our first sea day, I had a seaweed wrap and massage. fiance had massage and facial. TIP #2: Take the spa tour the on embarkation day. They have specials you can only get for taking the tour. While we both enjoyed our spa services immensely, we both ended up feeling a little seasick. Crewmembers told us it was unusually rough seas that day. Keep an eye on the Cruise Compasses delivered to the cabin each evening. They always had some kind of spa special running.
Ports & Excursions: Puerto Rico: Our least favorite port. We're both from South Texas and PR made us feel like we were in a Mexican border town. We took the Bacardi tour. I would NOT recommend this. It was just some free samples, a little ride on a tram and a look at a museum.
St. Maarten: We never left the Dutch side. regrettably. We did find a great deal on a David Yurman ring for my sister. We also enjoyed having a frozen drink at Every'ting's Cool. TIP #3: Don't book a ship's excursion for this. You can do it on your own. We were able to rent two lounge chairs and an umbrella for $10. Food was reasonably priced and though we didn't eat it, smelled delicious.
St. Thomas: by far, this was our favorite port. We'd love to go back some day. We booked the catamaran sail/snorkel on the ship. A group of about 10 of us climbed aboard a monstrous catamaran and sailed out to "Buck Island" to snorkel. The water was beautiful, the fish plentiful. The catamaran crew catered to our every need, even babysitting my fiance who doesn't swim. I definitely recommend this excursion. The 45 minute sail to and from the island is worth it just in itself.
Nassau: We walked around Front Street with the touristy shops and then grabbed a cab for $4 per person and went over to Atlantis. You can't get too far without a special bracelet, but we got to see plenty of the place. The weather was very overcast, so we didn't even try to walk down to the beach, but I'm told you can get to the beach outside Atlantis.
TIP #4: Learn the customs requirements on alcohol BEFORE you cruise.
There are rules about how much you can bring back from the Caribbean. And you can bring back more, if you buy a certain amount of it in St. Thomas. We didn't learn about this until after we'd already bought rum in Puerto Rico.
Entertainment: I must confess, we saw very little of the entertainment on the ship. The piano player/singer in the Schooner Bar was wonderful. It was a nice place to get a quiet drink and hors d'oeuvres. There was a comedian/juggler who was amazing and we enjoyed playing the "Battle of the Sexes" and "Theme Song Trivia" games before dinner. The pool side band played reggae/calypso music every day, keeping us entertained.
Overall Impressions: I really didn't think we'd love cruising as much as we did. We're kind of "all inclusive resort" people. But we realized there's not another vacation out there where you can unpack once and see so many different places. I think Enchantment of the Seas is a perfect size ship for first timers. Not too big, but yet big enough to remind you you're on a mini city at sea.
I could see where teens could get a little bored though. There's no inline skating, rockwall or such. but the few older kids we saw on board seemed quite content in the game room or at the pool. The younger ones in the Adventure Ocean program seemed to be having a blast.
And I don't know if it was the time of year. or the fact this ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, but the passengers definitely skewed toward an older crowd. And not everyone we met was really all that friendly. I think Texans might be a little jaded though when it comes to that kind of thing. The older, experienced passengers didn't have time for first timers who suddenly realized they were on the wrong deck, or had questions about which direction the Viking Crown lounge was. And I saw two older women just about get into a fist fight over a deck chair! (And there were PLENTY of others. they both just wanted the ones right by the pool!)
But none of these experiences marred the wonderful time we had on Enchantment of the Seas. I can say we will cruise again.
Just returned from 7 day cruise on the Enchantment. What a great time. Everything was just about perfect considering we were playing dodge hurricanes. Royal Caribbean did a great job going around the back way to the west. We did not get to stop in Cayman Islands which was disappointing but waves were too rough and we could not tender to the island. Compensation was an open bar for 1 hour on Wednesday. Of course like in any situation there are always the ones that take advantage but I think most people got plenty of free drinks. Everything else was perfect. The food was really good. Alot better than the Sovereign of the Seas. The service in the dining room was also great. No problems in the Windjammer either. We had a really good and personable waiter/Marijan and a really sweet Asst. Waiter/Elena. Had a Balcony Stateroom and it was really roomy and spacious for 2 people. Had plenty of storage space for all the clothes I thought I must have.
Shore excurions were OK. The only thing that you really get tired of is everywhere you go someone is asking(and they do ask) for a tip. After a while its gets a little tiring. But you know going in that tipping is not included. Even the cooks on Passion Island (one of the shore excursions)actually got on the boat back to the mainland and ask for a tip. Of course you don't have to give but.... All the shows were very good and the Cruise Director (Marc) did a great job. (He was always very upbeat and happy). In other reviews it was mentioned that the crew was not very friendly. I did not find this on this ship. Embarkment and Disembarkment was very very easy and security seemed very tight. You had to scan your card and they had a picture of you pop up on their screen. Yes, it took a little longer to get back on the boat but who was in a hurry. We were on vacation. Anyway, had a great trip and can't wait to go back. We are already planning another cruise and we will stick to RC.
My daughter and I sailed on the Enchantment of the Seas is Aug. 2002. It was our first cruise on the Enchantment but our 7th cruise with Royal Caribbean. You just can't beat their service and value for your vacation dollar.
Pre-cruise- We rented a car and drove down from Georgia the day before. A 7+ hour drive, due to heavy rainstorms and lots of traffic on I-95. It was my hope to stay in a hotel that would allow me to see the ships in port. We got a great rate online for the Marriott Marina. I had heard many good things about Embassy Suites, and it did look nice, but I was pleased that I chose Marriott. This hotel is located directly on the intercoastal waterway, the port was just beyond the bridge. I woke up early (around 6am) and sure enough, there they were. It was just beginning to get light and three ships (all lit up like Christmas trees) were easily visible from my balcony on the 9th floor as they sailed in from the Atlantic. I had called the hotel a few days before withmy request of a view of the port, and they were more than happy to comply.
Embarkation- Couldn't have been easier. We arrived at the terminal early and were directed to an area to sit and wait to be called. We noticed a sign that said that Crown & Anchor members (Platinum and Diamond level) would have priority boarding (how nice)! so we went to sit in that area. A RCCL rep came by checked our tickets, id, and the online embarkation forms that we filled out beforehand. He has just returned from his vacation on the Enchantment and couldn't say enough good things about it. After a short delay due to a metal detector malfunction we were checked in (the agent was thrilled with the online embarkation form) had our picture taken and were onboard walking around shortly after 11am.
The Ship- Absolutely beautiful. The Centrum is spectacular, all glass and sunlight. Very tastefully appointed. Our cabin was located on level 2, aft. No problems with noise or vibration. Snug but well laid out. Plenty of storage space. No problem even with two girls who brought enough clothes for a month. Hair dryer and safe provided.
Food & Dining Room Service_ My Fair Lady Dining Room is very impressive with dark wood and large windows. Wonderful service (as I have come to expect nothing less with RCCL). Our waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter went above the call of duty to make every meal a memorable one. I was particularly pleased that they requested no hats, tank tops and sleeveless T's at any time (although I presume this was directed primarily at the men, I wore a blouse over my halter tops during breakfast and lunch). And no shorts at night. They also requested that you wear a bathing suit cover-up even in the Windjammer cafe. If you want to dress that casually there are plenty of other dining options available to you. Food was excellent as always. Our waiter had no problem bringing 2nd entrees to anyone that requested it. If fact, I think he was rather surprised when I told him one lobster tail would be enough for me!
Entertainment- A nice mix of Broadway style production shows and singers, comedians, juggling acts, magicians and The Nelsons (yes, Ricky Nelson's twin sons) who would have made their daddy proud. Very impressed with cruise director Marc Walker. Very funny, energetic British fellow who seemed to be everywhere, all the time. Don't miss the "Village People" and "Shippendales" ladies! He also did a fabulous job with "Love & Marriage" (game similar to the "Newlywed Game") always a lot of laughs. Cruise director and staff seemed to be very proud of the Enchantment's reputation of being the friendliest ship in the fleet. I am inclined to agree.
Ports of Call- San Juan, St. Martin, St. Thomas and Nassau. Loved Old San Juan, enjoyed walking the narrow streets. Very friendly people, and courteous drivers. Easy walking distance from pier. Waking up to see St. Martin with it's mountains, turquoise water and white beaches was quite breathtaking. St. Thomas might have been even more beautiful. Great shopping in both St. Martin and St. Thomas. Wished I had bought my liquor in St. Thomas, your customs allowance in much greater on liquor bought there. Live and learn. Got a taxi and went to Sapphire beach in St. Thomas. About $8 per person. Beautiful beach and resort that welcomes cruise ship passengers. Bathroom, bar, restaurant, and any kind of water sport equipment available for a very reasonable charge. Went snorkeling right off the beach ($5 an hour for fins and mask) and saw as many fish as I've seen in the keys or the Bahamas. Spectacular!
Disembarkation- We really enjoyed our many extra perks of being Platinum Crown & Anchor members. We were given priority boarding, coupons, complimentary robes for our use onboard and two parites just for Crown and Anchor members. We were allowed to wait to disembark the ship in the Crown & Anchor study until our colored tags were called. Disembarkation seemed well organized and went smoothly.
Final thoughts- A wonderful cruise experience. Beautiful ship, enchanting ports of call, and a top notch staff that attends to your every want and need. Highly recommended.