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Dawn Smith

Age: 37

Occupation:Secretary

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Enchantment of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 30th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Since this is my 3rd cruise, I feel I kind of know what to look for and what to expect so here’s my experience on this cruise I just came back from yesterday.

My first cruise was on Norwegian Cruise Line and now I’ve had two cruises on Royal Caribbean. The arrangements for this cruise were a mess. My friends and I were suppose to be taking our cruise at the end of September but due to all the hurricanes, we were forced to delay the trip because of flights canceling to Florida and so that we could get our money’s worth for all of our days. We experienced confrontation with very nasty and mean customer service people at Royal Caribbean in trying to get the money straight we paid and get the refunds we were due, to the fact that we were sailing at another time, had we been able to make it in September. They were not pleasant at all from the beginning of the conversation to the end.

We didn’t make our air arrangements through the cruise. So, on Saturday morning once we got off the plane in Florida and got our luggage, we jumped right in a cab and paid the $8.00 to get to the port. I liked this much better than last year. Last year we went with a group and had to wait at least an hour for the bus to come pick us up from the airport to take us to the port. That was my vow to never travel with a group again. Two of my friends got their transfers through Royal Caribbean. They had to wait for more people to board the bus at the airport. So it took them longer to get to the port.

Well, the porters were waiting for us, got our luggage out of the cab and after we paid them a tip, ($1.00 dollar per suitcase) our luggage was off, not to be seen anymore until it reached our cabin room.

Checking in was a piece of cake. If you are going on a cruise, get their early. We arrived around 12 noon even though they say don’t arrive until 2pm. There were no lines to check in and no crowds. Have all your info ready because you have to show it a few times. After they check you in, pass you through security, and give you your on board SeaPass card, they rush you through a group picture and then you board the ship.

The buffet in the Windjammer Café is already open, however we went check out our room first. Here’s some advice, try to book a room as close to the center of the ship as possible. The further you are away from the center, the more you feel the ship rock. I went with 3 other girlfriends of mine. I had a cabin with two single beds and a window with one of my friends and my other two friends had two single beds in an inside cabin. I enjoyed the window and we realized that my cabin had more room in it than the inside did. My bathroom was bigger also.

After we checked out our rooms we went to eat. Don’t expect the food to be like in a 5 star restaurant. Remember, they are cooking for a whole lot of folks on the entire ship. But the food was good, prepared well, seasoned slightly and presented in a clean environment. After we ate, our luggage was in our room.

This ship was much bigger than the others I have been on in the past, and had two separate swimming pools. I like the water, however I also like to participate in the shows and see the activities they have on board on the sea days. I was a little disappointed that this cruise didn’t have as many activities to do during the days while we were at sea than the other cruises I had been on.

Make sure you check your drink bills that you sign for. We ordered one drink at one bar on the ship and later that evening we ordered the same drink at a different bar. They charged us an extra $2.00 for the same drink. We caught it and made the waiter correct the bill. So watch what you sign for.

Before you sail off, they make you do a mandatory life vest drill. It takes a painless 15 minutes or so to grab your life vest, go to your designated life station and stand there while they make sure all the rooms are accounted for. If you don’t show up, they do call your cabin number out looking for you. Once that’s over with, you can take your vest back to your room and get on with your day.

We had a late seating for dinner (8:30pm) and ate dinner in the dining room every night. We liked the late seating because we didn’t feel rushed to get to dinner early. We felt that cut our day short. Our table mate family was teriffic. There were a family from Canada and were a lot of fun. The last day, we took pictures with everyone and the wait staff. The wait staff was great. They sang and performed a few nights.

So the ship left Saturday evening at 5pm, we sailed all day on Sunday and arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica on Monday morning.

The ship docked about 8am that morning. Our room steward was a really nice guy, Anvil, from Jamaica. The night before we asked him if he was going to town and he explained that if he can get all his rooms cleaned early then he will be able to go. If not, then he has to wait until everyone is out of their rooms before he can go. If they aren’t out, he can’t go. So we told him we would be out so he could do ours early. He was very appreciative of that.

OK here’s the short version of Jamaica. Only chose the cabs with the red license plates. They will take you where you need to go. We paid up front, they took us shopping, came back to get us and took us to the beach. Go to Mahogny Beach. It was great. Then they came back to get us and took us back to the ship. The guy was on time. Shopping at the market was a bit nerve wracking. The locals harass you to buy from them. A couple of them argued over us to purchase stuff from each other. Just tell them no and keep walking if you aren’t interested. You can always talk the price down. Make sure you do. On the way back to the ship, we saw Anvil, our room steward. He was able to see his family and was on his way back to the ship. I was glad.

This is very important. When you are shopping at one of those outside markets where they have the huts and they fight over you, do not use your credit card or debit card. Only use cash. We were advised that they write down your number and use it.

The next day (Tuesday) the ship docked at Labadee, Haiti. We were suppose to go to Grand Cayman, but it got hit by the hurricanes. Labadee was a private beach and Royal Caribbean provided the food, drinks and music. You can use your SeaPass card for the drinks. Pay cash to the locals selling the island things. There are locals there that have a market where you can buy pictures and island things. They harass you just like in Jamaica. You can talk the price down with them also. My friend bought a picture for $40 dollars. The Haitian lady selling the picture asked for $180 bucks originally. She was able to talk the lady down to $40 dollars. We just told them we don’t have it. I bought a statue. The Haitian guy wanted $35 bucks for it, I waved a $20 dollar bill at him, he took it, put my statue in a bag and gave it to me. You can talk them down.

The last day back was a sea day (Wednesday). There still were not a lot of activities to do. There was fun stuff going on by the pool so we basically got in the water, had drinks and watched the games. One of my friends likes the casino so she went there but didn’t really win.

The ship gives you different color tags to place on your luggage the night before. It depends on what time your flight leaves how early you leave the ship the next morning. You have to place your luggage outside your room door by midnight the night before and at midnight is when they start collecting everything. They are on time. What we did was, after dinner, we went back to our rooms, packed up everything and changed clothes into what we were going to wear for the flight home. We packed everything except our toiletries and pajamas. It was less stuff for us to carry off the ship. We purchased liquor in Jamaica so we had to carry that off too.

Here’s some advice. I packed a small bag with wheels on it in my suitcase because I knew I would be buying stuff to take home. So on my trip home, my clothes went into my big suitcase that I put outside my door the night before and I was able to put the liquor, my toiletries, and my pajamas in the smaller one with the wheels on it to carry off the ship myself. Instead of carrying all that heavy liquor in the cardboard boxes that they pack it in and it hurts your hands, stick it in the one you keep and wheel it off the ship. If you forget, the ship has bags that you can buy for about $30 dollars with wheels on it. One of my friends bought one and she put her stuff in it for going home.

The departure on Thursday morning was a mad house. You can eat in the Windjammer Café buffet for breakfast until 9am. After that they are basically shutting down because we found out they only have 2 hours to stop breakfast and be ready by 11am for the next group of people coming on.

We waited until our color was called and got off the ship. Our luggage was in this huge room in sections by color. However, not only are you searching for your luggage within your section, there are people that have found their luggage that are standing in the way trying to get through customs. Everyone is all right there together with no place to go. It was a mess. The people that found their luggage and are waiting in this extremely long line to get out pass customs were trying to get out of the way but had no place to go. Here’s my advice. If you have a lot of luggage and stuff, get a porter. He will come pick it up for you, navigate you through all the folks and take you to a totally different line that has less confusion and less hassle. That’s what we did.

Once again, the cab was right there, we paid the porter for taking our stuff to the cab and off we went back to the airport.

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