Maria and James Posman
Age: 31 to 40
Occupation:Director of Operations
Number of Cruises: 3 to 5
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Enchantment of the Seas
Sailing Date: November 5th, 2000
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
I have read many reviews and postings on RTC about Port Everglades area hotels. The general consensus was Amerisuites but unfortunately, I waited too long to book. I did get 3 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express on the 17th street causeway right around the corner from Pier 18. No complaints. Rooms were clean and the Complimentary breakfast was good. Price was also good. We got the CAA (AAA equivalent) for $85. The Vancouver couple flew into Ft. Lauderdale and the hotel had a complimentary shuttle which picked them up. The other 2 couples flew in via Miami. I booked these flights months ago and given our arrival time of 10:15 pm, was debating for quite some time if we should head up to Lauderdale that evening or the following morning. I spoke to various shuttle companies and the cost to shuttle us up would have been US $70. We opted to rent a station wagon (need the space for all that baggage of 2 couples) from Hertz. Once again, we got a CAA rate of US $38, which was 1/2 the cost of the shuttle. Having the car also allowed us to drive around the Ft.Lauderdale strip Sunday morning and head over to Publix and Eckerd to pick up some soft drinks, water and waterproof cameras. Get those cameras before you board as the ship charges more. We headed over to the ship at 11:30am Sunday, dropped off all the baggage, and then I brought the car back to Hertz which was only 3 mins. away. Hertz also has a complimentary shuttle back to the ship. The entire process took maybe 15 mins. In all, we saved at least 1/2 the cost renting the car as opposed to paying for a shuttle!
My wife and I sailed the Grandeur 2 yrs.ago out of Miami and new how beneficial it was to arrive at the port early in order to beat the rush of the airline arrivals. Miami was smooth and took about 15 mins. in all. Unfortunately, the process at Lauderdale needs some work. We walked in the terminal doors at about 11:55am and were given numbers...ours was #2. Were told to take a seat and fill out additional documents they handed to us. As for the documents we received weeks in advance, we had already had these completed. They called our number about 20mins. later and we were brought into another room (about 150 people in all). We sat in other seats while cruise staff came around to make sure all our documents were filled out. We were able to see the next check-in area through some doors. This is where you pass through the radar detectors then go to the checkin counters. There was nobody in there yet they did not allow us in until all 150 people had their papers checked. This resulted in 150 flooding in at the same time. They should have allowed people in as their documents were verified. Nevertheless, we made it to check-in. We gave our documents in and they immediately validated our Supercharge card. This was a big advantage over the Grandeur which validated your card only once boarded. Once we cleared this area, we were cleared to board. Just before getting on the ship...........PHOTO's. Another line. I do not mind the photo's but they should separate the waiting line from those getting the photo's done. We were 6 in our group. The picture was great apart from the 2 other heads right behind us and therefore in the picture. Needless to say, we opted not to buy the picture. All in all, from walking into the terminal until walking on board, approximately 45mins. Double that of the Grandeur 2 yrs ago. I would hate to see the line when all the cruise/air passengers arrived.
As I stated earlier, we were upgraded to CAT D mid-ships. The 3 couples were side by side on Deck 7....7096, 7098, 7100 - port side. We noticed a foul smell on our deck which turned out to be the regular "in port smell". I remember this from the Grandeur. Once we left port, it was gone. The stateroom was very nice. There were a few stains on the carpeting but apart from this, excellent. I brought along some extra hangers but left them in my suitcase as there were plenty. Beds were very comfortable. Bathroom was small but very functional and well laid out. Air conditioning worked extremely well. Television had very good selection of Channels. Drawer space was abundant and we never needed the 3 drawers in the closet. We had our soft drinks and water with us and immediately loaded the fridge. The fridge did not seem to cool down anything. We asked our room steward to look at it. He said the fridge was working and it would take time as they were very low energy output. By the next morning, everything was nice and cold. I had told our group to tip the people taking our baggage at check in. I am always afraid that if they are not tipped, they will put your bags on the last crate going on the ship. Sure enough, our bags were outside our stateroom by 2:30 pm. So, the moral of this is TIP THE BAGGAGE HANDLER. Once we dropped off our hand baggage, we headed up to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch, buffet style. Here, the 3 couples would finalize our shore excursions. I told everybody to go over it the week before. We had all picked our excursions over lunch, filled out the form and dropped it in the drop-off box by 4:00pm. Since it works on a first come first serve basis, do not delay! Our shore excursion tickets were printed up and delivered to our stateroom that night after supper. We all got what we wanted. The rest of the afternoon was used to tour the ship. At 4:30pm, mandatory lifeboat drill. This took about 20 mins. in all. Then, back up to deck 10 for the departing party at 5:30pm. It still amazes me how these 74,000 ton vessels can back out, stop, spin around 120 degrees on a dime, then pull out. All without the help of tugboats!
There have been many comments posted and here are mine. No complaints! We had dinner every night in the main dining room. Appetizers contained at least 5 choices, then there was salad (only 1 offered) and then 5 main courses to choose from. Desserts also had various choices. Each night the menu changed based on what "theme" it was that evening so you had a different menu each night. Theme's included Italian, French, Caribbean, International and Captain's Gala. We did try 2 breakfast's in the main dining room but I must say I did prefer Windjammer. I cannot comment on lunch as I ate either in Windjammer or Solarium. As has been written, Windjammer is buffet style. If you are happy with the standard breakfast's like eggs, omelets, sausage, bacon, pancakes and french toast, cereal, fruits, fish, hashbrowns, grits, hot cereal, fish and coldcuts, yogurt, danishes, croissants....go to the Windjammer. Only go to the dining room for items not offered in Windjammer. Here is my explanation. When I ordered these same items in the dining room and when it finally made it to me, they were lukewarm at best. In the main diningroom, you would have to wait for it to be cooked, then properly placed on a plate, then covered, then left on a tray until all orders filled, then delivered to the table, then served. In Windjammer, by the time I selected my food and sat down at the table, my food was still hot. For this reason, I suggest you stay in Windjammer. Also to note, you get to sleep in later. Overall, selection was very good. As for dinner, there were some evenings I could not decide between 2 items, either in the appetizer or main course section, so my waiter brought both. Do not feel shy about doing this. There were many people sampling more than 1 item. For example, there was 1 evening I had both Scampi and Filet Mignon. Nothing like a well prepared Surf n' Turf! Also to note, bring your VCR cameras to dinner. Waiters put on various shows. For the Western Itinerary, formal nights are Monday and Friday and semi-formal is Wednesday. A final suggestion I have for dinner is to purchase the Wine and Dine program. This is where you commit to buying 7 bottles of wine in advance. Price is US $125 including tip. Whatever you do not finish will be corked and served the following evening. You must however keep an eye on the Wine Steward. OUrs was always refilling our glasses even though we still had our glass half full. They were clearly trying to empty the bottle so they it could not be corked for another evening. Leave some room for the SHOOTERS which are served with dessert. Delicious and what names they come up with...Beam me up Scotty, Slippery Nipple, Brain Hemorrage, French Kiss and Italian Stalion - just to name a few. The big midnight buffet where you take pictures only for the first hour is Friday. Finally, I often visited the Solarium Café for a little snack around 5:30 pm as we were late seating for dinner. Loved their hotdogs and cheeseburgers, not to mention those great fries. As for the pizza, mediocre.
Overall, whatever we saw we enjoyed. Unfortunately, as well as you may try to plan your evening, you cannot see everything. But, what we did see I will rate on a scale of 1 - 10, with 1 being WASTE OF TIME and 10 being MUST SEE.
Main Productions shows (Mon. & Thurs.): Sweet Dreams and Flashback....Both a 10.
Welcome Aboard Show (Sun) with comedian Bruce Gold....9
Celebrity Showtime (Tues.) with comedian Gary Mule Deer....8, and acrobatic family The Ashtons....7.
Enchantment Spectacular (Wed) with Magic and Grand Illusionists LaRaf....8
Flashback Revue (Thur. in addition to main show): Jeff the comedic juggler...8
Headliner Show Time (Fri): Singer Greg Bonham....we missed this as we wanted to see the Gala Buffet.
Late Night Comedy (Fri) Midnight Show: Bruce Gold....7, his opening act was funnier.
Not So Newly Wed Game (Thurs): Not to be missed - a definite...10. Cruise Director asked wife what her husbands favourite condiment was. She answered pepper. When husband came out, he answered...Trojans! Everybody was on the floor.
Enchantment Farewell Show (Sat): Cruisestaff....9
Many Many more things to see and do which we saw in the recap video they try to sell you. All looked great. These include: western night, 70's disco, bellyflop contest, best legs (men) contest, ice carvings, art auctions, and so on and so on. Many in our group participated daily in the shipshape centre for aerobic workouts. They all said it was great!
Attention Bingo lovers...the Snowball Jackpot was won at US $8700.
Finally, the Cruise Director was Paul Rutter. I give him a strong 9 along with his entire staff
PORTS AND EXCURSIONS
Since there are many items here, I will comment only on those excursions members of our group went on and again rate them on a 1 (bad) to 10(great) basis.
Key West - cute town. We all did the Old Town Trolley and Conch Train Tour.
Rating...9. Interesting and left time for shopping.
Cozumel - crazy cab drivers. Some did the Snorkeling Adventure, Rating....6 and others did the Tropical Safari Jeep Tour, Rating....5. My strongest recommendation, if you are a snorkeler and beach lover, is to go to Chaankanaab Park. This is state owned and therefore cannot be offered as an excursion. Beautiful, safe and clean. Rent equipment there for US $5. Entrance Fee of US $10 per person and cab fare is US $8 total each way, based on 4 in a cab. Every possible amenity is offered there.
Grand Cayman - EXPENSIVE! Some did the Stingray City Swim and Snorkel,
Rating....10+ and others did the Grand Cayman Snorkeling, Rating....9. The remainder of the day either shopping at pier or making your own way to 7 mile beach. Be prepared to pay tax and hotel entrance fee to access beach.
Jamaica - No Problem Mon! Some did the Dunn's Rivers Mountain Bike Tour,
Rating....8, and others did the Ocean Kayak and Dunn's River Falls,
Rating....9. Both tours ended or started with climbing the falls. NOTE: be prepared to pay more than what is listed on the excursion form. Be prepared to tip your excursion host as well as the guide who takes you up the falls. At the falls, there was somebody who videotaped our group then edited everything with music. He said the cost was US $30 for 25 min. tape and it would be delivered to our ship. I was hesitant, but did it. He gave me a receipt and sure enough, the tape was waiting for me at the Pursers Desk at 3:30 pm. Quite enjoyable to watch.
Jamaica Suggestions: for those of you interested in a quiet beach day, there is something separate you can do. My sister, who was on the Voyager the same week, spent her Jamaica day at the SANDALS Dunn's River Falls couples only resort. They charged US $50 per person and it included everything....food, all drinks and booze, beach toys, water- skiing, scuba (with certification presented)...everything. She loved it! Just hop in a cab and it is about a 10 min. drive. Call SANDALS before leaving and give them the names in your party and the date you will be there and they will have everything waiting for you. Remember, couples only and no kids. One last item on Jamaica is cabs. Take ONLY THOSE cabs with red plates and white numbering as these are government licensed and do not pay in advance for round trip. All fares are controlled and posted at the pier.
ON BOARD SHOPPING
All alcohol purchased will have 15% tip added automatically. For those interested in T-Shirts, wait until last day. They put everything out and all on sale.
Now for photo's. In all, we had 20 photo's taken of just my wife and I. These are taken at various times during the week and are developed and put up for display within hours. On our first cruise 5 yrs. ago, we started buying them as they were posted. Big Mistake!!!!! The trick here is to go look at them as they are posted. At the end of the week, put them all side by side then make your purchase decisions. They are quite expensive so be careful.. We purchased 3 small and 2 large pics. Price was US $70.
I also used the internet café. We set up a Yahoo e-mail address before we left so we were able to send and receive e-mail. There is also a webcam on these PC's that take a pic of you and then superimpose it on one of 3 cyber postcards. You type in a note then e-mail it off. Cost for the cyber postcard is US $4.95 plus air-time. All air-time (log-in time) is charged at US $0.50 per minute.
As for the day you return, all non-US citizens must clear immigration at about 6:45am. After this, you head off to breakfast in either the main dining room or in Windjammer. Following breakfast, you must insure you room is cleared out for 8:30am at the latest. As for your main baggage, these you have to leave outside your stateroom by midnight Saturday. By the time your eating breakfast, all baggage is already in the terminal. Coloured tags worked quite well. Here is a suggestion of something to do while you wait for your colour to be called for disembarkation. Head up to the 8th deck starboard (right) side and check-out all the suites, family suites (8518) as well as the Royal Suite (8500). If the guests have left, which they should have by this time, they are in the process of being cleaned and all doors will be open. Go have a peak!
Well, we are now back and the 2 other couples we went with are sold on cruising. Funny thing though, I threw my used towels on my bathroom floor Monday morning and they are still there!
As all past cruisers know, there is only one way to help get over the post-cruise blues....plan our next one!
My hats off to RCI for a week we all enjoyed!
If anybody has any other questions, feel free to e-mail me.