Just returned Thursday from a 5 night Western Carribean cruise on RCI Enchantment of the Seas. I apologize in advance as this will probably just be rambling thoughts!
I was very impressed overall. Two things that struck me right from the start (in a positive way). It seems the pushy drink sales have stopped. Don't get me wrong, you can ALWAYS get a drink. But compared to 2 years ago on the Sovereign, it was like a night and day difference. None of the in your face drink sales people like back then. Also, the pressure to constantly have your pic' taken seems to have eased up too! Like the drinks, it's very readily available but rarely any of the almost forced photos like in the past. No more pirate running up to your dining room table which I always thought was about as tacky as you could get. Anyway, those were 2 nice differences I noticed but of course, your mileage may vary on other RCI ships. I think these might be 2 areas people were getting sick and tired of and RCI listened and made it stop much to their credit (if that's the case)
A few other observations regarding topics previously posted about....1. For those who's biggest highlight of the day was the mint on the pillow you will be disappointed, they aren't there anymore. 2. For those who need an entire pack of bacon to themselves you are in luck becuase there was no one there dishing it out or rationing how much you could get. 3. The spas have almost gotten completely over the top with their prices. However, we waited until we were in port in Cozumel and worked out a pretty fair deal for two really great massages. My advice is don't rush to book the spa when you get on as many people seem to think you have to do. At least on Enchantment, they really weren't that busy. They will start offering deals and discounts as the week goes on. 4. The much feared beach/pool towel system is nothing to fear! In fact, it is a great, convenient way to obtain these towels. They have a stand as you enter the pool area. Just tell them how many towels you want and let them scan your sea pass card. Keep them for however long you want then just take them back or exchange them for fresh ones at which time they will scan your card again. Very simple and easy system that keeps you from having to ask a cabin steward for these types of towels. It's less work for the staff and saves everyone money in the long run. Yes, you can also take these towels on your excursions.
Our first full day was at sea and for the first time ever on a cruise, I got sea sick. It was VERY rough that afternoon and almost half the people on board weren't doing well. We pretty much just had to lay down in the cabin a good part of the afternoon and let the dramamine do its thing. Saw alot of people using the patch behind the ear which they swore by. We were definitely rockin' there for a few hours.
Dining room staff was terrific and didn't miss a beat. Head waiter Errol from Jamaica, Assistant waiter Oscar from El Salvador were lots of fun and the female head waiter from Turkey (name escapes me) was the most attentive head waiter I've ever had. It was my pleasure to tip all of them very well for their hard work. We made a reservation for Chops but ended up cancelling it because we enjoyed the dining room so much. Our cabin steward Moses from St. Vincent was a super guy and we couldn't have asked for more. We always enjoy getting to know our cabin stewards as they all have interesting stories about their homes, families etc. I've also noticed by getting to know them and treating them as an equal I've never been charged for any beverage I've consumed in my cabin on this cruise or any other.
The windjammer was the windjammer...Food was good overall. Dining room food was all good to excellent. They did have lobster the last night. Lobster isn't my big favorite like most people but I liked it pretty well. One night they did a midnight buffet on the pool deck with music, dancing etc. They've really scaled back on the food during these but there is still plenty to eat. About the only bad thing that I ate all week was at the midnight buffet...some kind of potato wedges which were just cold and like rubber. Not sure what the deal was with that. There was no chocolate fountain/buffet which wasn't really a big deal to me either. The chocolate I've tasted at most of those in the past isn't anything to write home about.
All shows were good. Chad Chesmark (sp?) was the featured comedian/magician. He is the one with Kenny the skunk and I'm sure alot of you have seen him. He was also on the Sovereign 2 years ago. The other comedian, who's name escapes me was really good in both his welcome aboard show and later in the week during his "adult" show. We also really liked Paul Rutter the cruise director. I've found that a good cruise director makes a huge difference on the entire cruise.
Cozumel was fun. We took a taxi to Chankanaab Park which was very nice and relaxing..Thanks Donna for the suggestion! In the Caymans we did the stingray thing with some snorkeling thrown in. The stingrays were fun but once was enough.
Last random thought....Ft Lauderdale port is very easy both during embarking and disembarking especially if you have your paperwork printed off for them already which most people didn't bother to do. Still we were on and off the ship in almost no time. Spent the night before at the LaQuinta which wasn't bad and had shuttle service the port. Also they serve a complimentary breakfast.
As much as I enjoyed the Enchantment, it leaves me with a question for some of you who cruise exclusively and/or often with RCI. Do you ever get burned out on the same shows, menus etc? A side of me really wants to stick with RCI for future cruises but some of the activities like the Broadway/rock type show, love and marriage game and quest are very fun and entertaining but I think a third time experiencing them in the future would start to be a bit too much "been there, done that" type of feeling. I think I'm ready to graduate to at least a larger RCI ship...Is that the answer in most of your opinions because my only other option is probably to try Carnival which I kind of hate to do since the service on RCI has been so great...I'm just interested in any of your opinions.