Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Enchantment of the Seas
Sailing Date: February 2nd, 2002
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
We only returned from our cruise 3 days ago so I thought I would write this while it is fresh in my mind.
We had a VERY pleasant time on the Enchantment of the Seas for our second cruise. We thought the ship's condition was 2-3 steps up from the Carnival cruise we took 2 years ago. We took the cruise on the exact same week on Carnival and didn't have a lot of children on either cruise. The kids were kept busy on RCI and I didn't even notice they were around except for at dinner. The Solarium pool was a really nice place for adults to relax on the at sea days. The one hot tub wasn't working for a while, but I believe they got that fixed later on in the cruise. It's nice because those 2 hot tubs were open until midnight so you could go and soak after dinner. Don't expect to get much sun there though.. it's mainly for the non sun worshippers.
Our main reasons for taking this cruise was for GOOD FOOD, relaxation, and good snorkeling. We got 2 of the 3 so we thought overall, we succeeded. We thought the food was very tasty, but we aren't the sophisticated or picky eaters. We like well prepared dinners and we got that here. We thought the Windjammer was a definite improvement from the cafeteria style dining on the Carnival ship. There was plenty of variety and GREAT fruit! The melons and pineapple were delicious! Don't miss the Lobster Bisque served early on in the cruise at dinner. The lobster was great and I didn't even like it before this cruise.
Relaxing... that can definitely be accomplished on this cruise. The 2/3 days at sea were great for getting some reading done on the decks. We found 4 chairs every day if we were out by 11am, but you would have trouble if you went later than that.
We got to San Juan early so you may be able to do more than you think at that port. We did the Bacardi tour ON OUR OWN. Don't let the sales people at the pier talk you into anything... you can catch the ferry from pier 2 for $0.50 each way and a $2 taxi ride each way. It was a good free tour and you get 2 free tastings afterwards. We didn't care for the city much, but I don't think we really hit the 'Old' part so I can't say we saw the good parts. We were on the ship that night for dinner and didn't eat in San Juan.
The next port was St Maarten and we had a little time in the morning to do our own thing before we had an excursion planned for 1pm. We went to Dawn Beach which was a $6 cab ride from the pier (PER PERSON). If you wanted to go to Orient Beach it was ALSO $6, but it was a longer drive so we didn't understand their pricing structure. We thought that was quite steep for the ride. It got worse in St Thomas. Dawn Beach was nice, but nothing special and the snorkeling there wasn't very exciting. We didn't do that for long. The beach was also topless.. or some people took the liberty of making it this way. It doesn't bother me, but some people might not like it. The beach had a beverage/ light lunch place and you could rent snorkel gear there if you pleased. You could also rent an umbrella and a chair, but I didn't catch the price of that since we were mainly in the water trying to see some fish. In the afternoon we did the Shipwreck Cove snorkel tour and WOULD NOT recommend it to ANYONE! There really was no great shipwreck, only a small boat that had sunk and some pieces of junk on the bottom. The fish weren't exceptional there either. The men that ran the tour were entertaining after the snorkeling though and the more toxic rum punch you drank, the funnier they became. The punch was free flowing and we had our selves a drunken afternoon.
St Thomas was another one of the ports. We tried to do our own thing at this port and head over to St John as I had read on this site that St John was the prettier of the two islands. It is beautiful, but I don't know if I would have gone through the hassle if I would have known about it. It cost $8 per person to get to Red Hook and then $3 to ride the ferry to St John and then $4 for a taxi to Trunk Bay, where you had to pay $4 to get in because it's part of a national park. So that's $34 per person to get there, get in, and get back. We barely had enough money to get there and back so shopping or getting a cold one at a bar in St John was out of the question... We wished we had known about the steep taxi fares before we did that trip. It still beat the boat's excursion to St John though.. that was over $40. Before you go to Trunk Bay, check on the conditions. If it is windier than normal, don't go... we tried to snorkel here, but there was 0 visibility. We tried to do the snorkeling trail, but couldn't see a thing. The trail wasn't as long as I had imagined either, but it is close to shore so I am sure the little ones could do it. It consisted of 3 floating balls that marked where you were supposed to snorkel and they were fairly close together. There were a lot of rocks in the ocean near the beach too, especially in front of the main life guard stand. Trunk Bay wasn't a secluded beach either. There was hardly a place to put your stuff because of the many vacationers that were there. There seemed to be a lot of cruise passengers too since I saw a lot of Carnival towels and people from our trip. I was thinking there wouldn't be as many people as there were, but I was mistaken.
The Bahamas was another disappointment. We went through the overly touristy portion of the city where you could buy a song from a little girl or a flute from a little boy or the same baskets and jewelry/T-shirts from any operation in the market area. We aren't into the shopping and everything (unless in a Rolex store or something similar) seemed to be junk. We took the Swim with the Stingray Tour with the ship and they should have called it 'Swim with the Caged Stingray Tour'. There were about 15 sting rays, so they said and they were in a big netted off area where about 50 people crammed in one little area (near the stairs into the water) to see the captives. I got claustrophobic and kicked a few times. They didn't have fins for you so I felt like half a snorkeler. We didn't bring our fins since the brochure said equipment was provided.
You could feed them and touch them if you wanted. The snorkeling there wasn't very exciting either, but there was one white sting ray that was supposed to be very rare, but I never checked on that fact. I heard from a VERY good source that swimming with the stingrays in the Caymans is MUCH better and it's in the WIDE open.. no captives. Next time we would go to a beach or something else.
Pictures on the ship... I thought the candid pictures were tasteful.. if you didn't want the silly pictures you didn't have to do them. The backgrounds for the formal pictures were cheesy. One was a Titanic-like staircase that shouted "FAKE". The others were a boat background and a cheesy moon/star background. We didn't partake in any pictures mainly because of the fake looking backgrounds and the fact that our pictures were off center.
We did have one problem with our room. We were on the 2nd deck with an inside cabin and we had a bathroom that spit things up from the drain under the sink. This is why we think the bathroom smelled like sewage. We called about it once when the floor in the bathroom was flooded, but the smell never improved. That could have been better. We like the curtain to separate the dressing area from the bed. It made a 'lair' that was quite fun! We also liked that the bed was made to hold 2 (2 singles were pushed together and made as a king rather than 2 separate beds).
So in general, we enjoyed the food, service and the ship in general, but we would think 3 times before taking an excursion again.