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Kimberly Harding

Age: 27

Occupation:International Equity Sales

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Enchantment of the Seas

Sailing Date: August 30th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


This was definitely a cruise like no other!! We were on the 8/30/04 sailing of the Enchantment of the Seas; however, thanks to Hurricane Frances, we got 2 extra days at sea!! Traveling on the cruise was myself (27), my husband (29), and my brother (26). We booked the cruise directly through RCL online, back in early January because we wanted a shorter cruise that took us to Belize. This was my 10th cruise overall and 7th on RCL.

Day one – Arrival in Ft. Lauderdale

We took an early American Airlines flight out of LaGuardia and arrived at Ft. Lauderdale airport a little after 11 AM. I booked the Embassy Suites online directly through Hilton.com and got a pre-paid rate of $99. This was the third time that we have stayed at the hotel. We liked it, but noticed that it needed a little refurbishing. There was some wear & tear that you could see in some areas of the hotel, rooms, and the pool. However, for $99 the rate included a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier the next morning, made to order breakfast for everyone and a cocktail reception. The suite was made up of two rooms. One part was the bedroom with a TV, sink, and the bathroom with another sink & shower and the other room had a small kitchen sink, fridge, table & chairs, another TV, a chair and a large couch that pulled out into a bed. The pool area was nice, but some of the tiles were broken and the gate to the pool was broken. However, we still spent the afternoon at the pool in the sun and then had dinner at Outback Steakhouse across the street. We stopped in the Publix across the street to pick up some bottled water for the trip. Then we watched the MTV music awards that night before bed.

Day Two – Embarkation

We awoke to see the Enchantment at the pier from our room. We had a small balcony and were in the back of the hotel and could see her perfectly!!! We had breakfast downstairs and then packed everything up to head over to the pier. The hotel gave us the first time slot for the shuttle to the pier. We were in the lobby of the hotel to check out at 10:45 AM and at 11 AM the shuttle took us over to the pier. Because we are Platinum Crown & Anchor members and in a Junior Suite, we got to go to a separate check-in reception area and skip the whole line downstairs. We didn’t get to the take the traditional pre-boarding picture; we saw that downstairs as we took the pictures to validated our Sea Pass cards. But, by 11:15 AM, we were on the ship ready to start our cruise!! It was the quickest that we had ever boarded! Everyone else that was not a Platinum or Diamond member or in a suite, had to wait until 12 Noon to board the ship. We were handed a letter that stated our staterooms would not be ready until 1:00PM, but we were invited to enjoy other areas of the ship. We went straight to the Schooner Bar to check out our favorite place and then the Solarium. We walked around the ship until 12 Noon when lunch was severed in the Windjammer. There were a lot of people in there because there was really no place else to go since you could not go to your staterooms yet. We visited the wine steward and ordered wine for dinner that night. Then it was finally 1PM and we went to check out our cabin!!!

We were booked in Junior Suite Cabin 8550. It was identical to the cabin we had on the Legend in May. There was a king size bed, a full size couch that pulled out into a bed, 2 chairs, a coffee table, desk / vanity area, small TV, safe, and a big closet that had a small dresser in it. The bathroom was gorgeous with tiling all over. (Our bathroom on the Legend was the basic pink bathroom that was very rusted.) The bathroom looked brand new except for the stopper in the sink that was completely rusted and the shower curtain stunk of mildew, otherwise it looked really nice! We had a large balcony with 1 lounge chair and 2 smaller chairs and a table. This cruise I really got a lot of use out of the balcony.

After checking out the cabin, we headed down to the dining room to meet the Maitre’d. My husband is severally lactose intolerant, so we have to let RCL know ahead of time about his dietary needs and then reconfirm them when we board. They did not have any notification of his dietary needs, so I gave them copies of the e-mails and faxes that had been sent to RCL. They took note of his dietary needs and said that our head waiter would come visit us the first night at dinner. We also changed our seating arrangements, as we asked for a table for 3 because DH hates explaining his dietary problems to strangers. We were accommodated quickly as they saw in the faxes, that I had previously requested it. We were moved to table for 4, for just the 3 of us.

Afterwards, we went up to the Schooner Bar to meet our Cruise Critic friends, Sedfar & Kayak. Sedfar recognized us right away, and we spent a lot of time with them throughout our journey! However, we never met up with Kayak . Before we knew it, it was 4:30 and time for the muster drill. We got our life vests and headed out to muster station 7. They called every single cabin and we were sweating in the heat in humid with all those people packed together on deck! We returned to our cabin to see that it had already been turned down for the night. And because we were sharing the cabin with my brother, the couch had been pulled out and turned down, leaving no where to sit. We then headed up to the pool deck for the sail away party and then changed for dinner before the “Welcome Aboard” show. It was a mix of all the shows that they would be doing during the week, hosted by our cruise director Dan Whitney.

We had second seating dinner, but sometimes we felt it was a little too late for us. Especially because at the end of the cruise, the shows were before dinner and there was not much to do after dinner. We were seated at table 252 right next to the window. We had the best head waiter that we have ever had, Sean Borthwick from India. He was always checking on DH to make sure that he could eat what he was given and even personally made special deserts for him every night. Our waiter was Florindo from Portugal and our assistant waiter was Angel from Trinidad & Tobago. We think that it was the assistant waiters first week on the ship because he didn’t exactly know what to do and sometimes just disappeared. The assistant waiter to the table next to us would sometimes fill our water glasses because he was no where to be found!!! Our waiter was great and very friendly and accommodating! The first nights dinner was casual and I had seafood ravioli. After dinner we headed up to the Viking Crown lounge for the 70’s night and had fun watching the ABBA tribute and the Village people perform!

Day Three – Key West, Florida

This was our third visit to Key West and we did the Old Conch Train tour of the town. It was an hour long tour and we saw the most southern point in the continental US (we have been to the most southern point in the US in Kona, Hawaii!!!) and Hemmingway’s house, and the Little White House. It was a nice tour, but after while, it just looked like the same place after the next! After the tour we bought a few souvenirs at the shops and visited the Key West Aloe Store and the Key West Lime Shoppe. We then headed back to the ship because it was so hot and humid out that we were practically soaked!

We had lunch in the dining room and the ship departed at 2PM. They kept paging a couple over the PA system and we ended up leaving them behind because they never came back to the ship in time. They supposedly met up with us in Mexico! There was Bingo in the afternoon and we played movie tuna trivia. It was also formal night and the captain’s reception was held in the carousel lounge. They had any type of drink that you asked for along with Hors D'Oeuvre’s. The captain announced some of his staff and told us a little about the ship. There were lot of people there, but it was not packed. Someone asked Captain Per about the hurricane, but he said that it was too early to tell. Afterwards, we had dinner in the dining room. Everyone was dressed up. The attire varied from sundresses to gowns and tuxes to dress shirts and ties. After dinner, we hung out in the Schooner Bar with our cruise critic friends. **We turned our clocks one hour back before bed. This was the first time we have ever had to do that on a Western Caribbean Cruise.**

Day Four – Cozumel, Mexico

This was our fourth visit to Cozumel. There were 6 ships in total in port that day, 3 Carnival, Disney, Century and us. So the streets were really packed. I booked the Royal Dolphins Swim online through dolphindiscovery.com. ( really recommend that you book ahead of time as the tours sell out quickly. We booked our tour in January and it was sold out by May.)

After w quick breakfast in the Windjammer, we took a 10 minute taxi ride to Chankanaab National Park ($10) and paid the $12 a person fee to enter the park. We checked in for the dolphin swim and watched the dolphins in the holding area and checked out the gift shop. Then it was time for our swim. They showed us a short video on what to do and what not to do with the dolphins. We walked over to the platforms and got into the water and they brought over 2 dolphins for us to kiss, shake hands, touch and hold. Then they brought us into the center of the water for us to swim with them. However, it was mating season and they were not cooperating with us too well. The trainers ended up bringing over 4 more dolphins for us to finally get to swim with. We got to hold their fins and they pulled us in the water and we laid flat on the water and they came underneath us and pushed our feet, pushing us up and out of the water. It was an experience of a lifetime!!!

After we showered and changed, we headed back into town ($16 taxi ride) to Pancho’s Backyard. We always go here when we are in Cozumel. They have the best authentic Mexican Food and great prices. We had fishbowl margarita’s and tortillas with guacamole and fresh pico de gallo!!! It was great! Then we did a little souvenir shopping in Los Cinco Sols and headed off to Carlos and Charlie’s for drinks and lunch!

Afterwards, we went back to the ship and got ready for the Crown and Anchor Party. There were over 300 C&A members onboard and they had drinks of choice and Hors D'Oeuvre’s. The hotel manager talked about the ship more and the C&A program and all the places that RCL sails. He too was asked about the Hurricane, but he said that was not his area of expertise! Dinner tonight was Smart Casual and people were dressed anywhere’s from sundress, to gowns, to Capri’s and suits to dress shirt & khaki’s. They also served shrimp scampi with lobster tail for dinner and you could have as many as you wanted. The table next to us was having a contest to see who could eat the most lobster tails and one guy ate 7 of them!!! We visited the Schooner Bar after dinner again (the bar staff knew us by name at that point!) and then headed off to bed as we had to get up early for our Belize tour!

Day Five – Belize City, Belize
This was our first time visiting Belize and the reason for booking this specific cruise. We booked the barrier reef snorkel tour through RCL. So after a quick breakfast in the windjammer, we had to meet in the Carousel Lounge at 7:45 AM. They gave us stickers to match up what tour we were on. There were 109 people on our tour and we were lead down to deck 1 to the tender station to load the boat that was taking us on the snorkel excursion. The crew was very nice and mostly made up of people who used to live in the states. They took us on a 35 minute ride to a tiny island and they just let us off the ship to snorkel. There were wooden platforms that we were supposed to stay to the right of, but people didn’t. The tour was supposed to be for experience snorkelers, but a majority had never snorkeled before and was hyperventilating. The water was very shallow and people were swimming all over the place and we were almost pushed into the coral several times. So we decided to turn around and swim back. We did see some fish and large shells, but because the water was so shallow and so many people were in the water, a lot of sand was kicked up making it hard to see well. They then took us back to the tourist pier at the end of the tour and a lot of people were upset because the tour was supposed to bring us back to the ship, not the pier. We walked around the pier at the shopping village for not more then 20 minutes. There was not much there to buy except beach bags and shot glasses. I did see that the pharmacy prices were much lower then in Mexico. We got on the ferry and headed back to the ship.

** Two notes on Belize….1. The ship anchors 2 ½ miles off the coast of Belize City because the water is so shallow. You do not use the ships tenders; the city of Belize has tender service to and from the ships. They are anything from huge ferries that take 45 minutes to go one way or small yachts that have you back on the ship in 15 minutes, so make sure you leave enough time to get onto the shore. 2. RCL highly advises you, that if you go into Belize City, that you are on a tour. They city is so poor and once you leave the shopping area at the pier, there are armed guards watching on the other side. It is the poorest country that I have ever seen on any of my cruises.

After we got back on the ship, we had lunch at the Windjammer and then I headed off to the Solarium, this where the adventure really begins!!! I was in the hot tub when 4 other people joined me. They were taking about there day when one of them mentioned that we were going to be on the ship till Monday. I was like, excuse me, did you say Monday???!!! They told me that an RCL crew member operating the tender station earlier in the morning told them that the port in Ft Lauderdale was closing because of the hurricane and that we would not be able to return until at least Monday morning. I was like “WOW!” I went back to the cabin and told my brother the news and we called my father to see what the report was on the hurricane since we had no US television on the ship, we had no idea what was going on. My father said that he had been waiting for us to call and told us that the hurricane was going to hit late Saturday night and that they were closing all the ports and the airports from Miami to Jacksonville. They had already canceled the Sovereign & Majesty’s weekend sailing and cut the previous cruise short by 1 day, to go back out to sea during the storm. I then went down to the pursar’s desk for something and there was a woman paying to get off the ship because she had to be home by Sunday. I over heard her say that it was $300 to get off the ship early and her flight home from Belize City was $600! Wow….I hope that what it was that she had to be home for really important!!!

We then went to play bingo and there was an announcement made, however, the cruise director’s staff never mentioned what the announcement was. Afterwards, we found out that it was Captain Per announcing that because of Hurricane Frances, that all the ports were closed and the airports were closing, and that we would be spending a few extra days with him at sea. I was really shocked that they never cut into Bingo or announced it afterwards. (This was my only complaint of the whole cruise, the lack of communication). By then there was a line at the pursers desk of people yelling that they had to get of the ship for one reason or another.

Anyways, we got ready for dinner and had a drink at the Viking Crown Lounge. Win a cruise Bingo was in-between dinner seatings, but there was hardly anyone there. (They were probably still inline at the pursers complaining!!!) Dinner was casual and it was 50’s & 60’s night. The Quest game was after dinner and it was played a little different then we had seen other versions played. It was really funny watching everyone! **We turned our clocks forward one hour**

Day Six – First Sea Day
We slept in late and had a light breakfast at the Windjammer. We played trivia, bingo, and I had a massage. There were not enough platinum and diamond members onboard to have a platinum & diamond C&A party, so everyone was sent a bottle of wine thanking us for sailing with RCL again! Dinner was causal. We still had no idea when we were getting home.

Day Seven – Second Sea Day

We were awoken by “Captain Per on the Air” as he would say. He told us that we were between Cuba and the Keys and we would be sitting out the storm there until we could get back into Port Everglades. He advised us not to sell our beds, that he didn’t know how much longer we would be at sea for! The cruise director’s staff did their best to put activities together for us. They added a passenger talent show, line dancing classes and more trivia. The drink special of the day was a hurricane!!! There was a country Hoe Down after dinner. Later on in the day the Captain brought the ship seven miles off the keys so we were close enough to get cell phone signals to use our cell phones to call home to make new travel arrangements. The bars were pretty packed at night! The dining room staff created special menus for our extra days at sea and were very accommodating.

Day Eight – Third Sea Day
Welcome to day 7 of our 5 day cruise!!!! The water was really rough and it was nasty outside. Pouring on and off at times and there were 20-25 ft swells. The crew had to tie down all of the deck chairs because they were flying off the sides of the ship into the water. Eventually then ended up locking all of the doors on decks 9& 10 to the pool deck and most of the doors on deck 5 because the wind and rain was so bad that it was coming into the ship and people could not walk outside!!! The swells were so high at some points that they were coming over onto deck 5. Most people must have been in their cabins because the ship was really empty. They showed the movie “Cold Mountain” in the afternoon in the theater.

The ship started to run out of some things like lemons, cherries, cocktail napkins, peanuts, skim milk, and lactose free milk. But nothing major, there was still plenty to eat.

The dinner show was a special game they put together called The Liar’s Club game show. They had 5 people dressed up into a character. The characters were a Southern hillbilly, preacher, yoga instructor, Latin lover and a genius. People in the audience grouped together to form teams. They gave a word and each person on the panel had to say what they thought the definition was. Then everyone would show their number as to who they agreed with. And the team who got the most correct, won. It was funny! Dinner was casual. After dinner, most people went back to their cabins to pack.

Day Nine – Disembarkation, Finally!!!
We got up early so we could finish packing our carry-on’s. It was still dark, but from our balcony we could see Princess’ Caribbean Princess already docked when we entered the channel. We then had had breakfast in the main dinning room while we were docking. We saw Celebrity’s Century docked as well. Then we saw RCL’s Sovereign of the Seas dock as well. Turns out there were six ships docked in total. They didn’t start calling tags until after 9AM. We had early disembarkation because we were in a suite and Platinum C&A members. It was about 10 AM when we were called and we got off the ship and collected our luggage. We got a taxi right away and went to the airport.

We must have been the last ship to clear customs because the airport was mobbed with cruisers from all different ships. There were even passengers from ships that had docked in Miami already at the airport. We were luck though, because when our original flight was canceled, my father booked us on a new flight for late Monday afternoon. Some people were told that they would not be able to fly home until Tuesday or Wednesday because the flights were so booked. Our flight was a little rough with turbulence, but we made it home by around 8PM Monday night.

The Ship Review

Ship

The Enchantment of the Seas is a beautiful ship. The only places where we saw signs of wear & tear were on the balcony there was some rust and the stopper in the bathroom sink was rusted. Otherwise, the ship was immaculate and very well kept up. We really enjoyed the Solarium, and the public lounges were nice, especially the Schooner Bar and the Viking Crown Lounge.

Cabin

As I mentioned before, we booked a Category JS Junior Suite cabin 8550. It was well worth it for the extra space of having 3 people in the cabin. The cabin had a regular sized couch that pulled out into a bed, 2 chairs, 2 ottoman’s, a 13” Sony TV (not like the 20” one we had on the Legend ), a desk with 6 drawers, a full size closet, with a small 4 drawer dresser. The mattresses on the beds were awesome, but the pull out couch was horrible my brother said. The bathroom had a large tub in it and lots of room to get around in and was beautifully tiled. The balcony was the largest yet with 2 chairs, 1 lounge chairs and a table. Our cabin attendant was Sylvia. She was the worst cabin attendant we have ever had. We asked her the first day to remove the sodas & water; it was still there on day 8!!! Sometimes she would forget to give us the compass for the next day or she would remove our dirty pool towels and forget to give new ones. She also forgot to give us our C&A commemorative gift, which I had to go to the Loyalty Ambassador to get. I am not sure how many cabins she cleaned, but every time we saw her, she was just standing around in the hall area.

Dining Room and Food Service
We were seated at table 252 located on the deck 4 of the ship. We had a great window table and our waiter Florindo was good, along with his assistant Angel who was ok. They were very kind and friendly and got you anything you asked for.

The food on the Enchantment, in my opinion, was the best that we have ever experienced on any RCL ship. I am not saying that it is outstanding, but it surpasses all the other ships that we have been on. However, there were still some days there were 3 things that you wanted off the menu and other days there was nothing that stood out at all.

The windjammer food was the same as all the other ships, and had the same things that we have seen on other ships. The Solarium Snack Bar was good and still has the BEST French Fries!!! The menu gave you choices from hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. Sometimes there were more people getting food from there then the windjammer! Also, the menu for lunch and dinner was on a TV channel 24 hours a day. You could order anything on the menu for room service as long as it was during that time frame. I.e. Lunch was served from 12:00-2:00, so you could order anything off the lunch menu during that time frame to be delivered to you room.

Other Things to Mention
*The water the first couple of nights was so clam that you didn’t even realize that you were on a ship. It wasn’t until Friday when the waves really picked up and the water got rougher.

*Because we were only supposed to be on a five night cruise, if you pre-paid your gratuities, you only had to pay for the five nights. We felt this was wrong and ripped the waiters off of money that they would have gotten from the new passengers had we returned to Ft. Lauderdale as originally planned. So we gave them even more then the suggested 7 day amount for what they had to go through those extra days.

* On the Legend, they never opened the solarium glass roof; however, on the Enchantment, it was opened everyday that the weather allowed it. The Viking Crown lounge was laid out a little different so that the roof would go underneath the Viking Crown Lounge. Where as on the Legend, if they were to open the roof, it would have covered the miniature golf course.

* Because we were stuck out at sea due to Hurricane Frances, they compensated each person with 15 free minutes on the internet. However, like I said before, communicate was very poor and it was never announced. I only found out because I was down at the pursers desk and heard them mention it to someone else and I inquired about it then.

*The C&A commemorative gift was a really nice hanging toiletry kit with the RCL Logo and Enchantment of the Seas embroidered on it. They look really nice and I think they are better then all the fanny bags!!!

Overall
We chose this cruise for the price, the itinerary, and the good reviews that the Enchantment received. We really like Cozumel and I would like to go back to Belize to snorkel again. I would do this cruise again in the future because there is so much to do in Cozumel and Belize!

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions!

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