Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Enchantment of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 30th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My girlfriend and I decided it was time for a vacation, a small getaway so to speak. I had no idea that this "small getaway" would turn into one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.
To put this in perspective for you, I live in the middle of nowhere (Kansas) and have taken very few vacations in my life. I have never really “seen” the ocean before, let alone ever dipped a toe in it. I had absolutely no expectations coming on board this incredible ship except that I wanted to have a good time. I had a WONDERFUL time!
I have read many negative reviews on cruise ships. The only people that have a legitimate complaint are those who have suffered through an engine failure or some other event that cuts their cruise short or diverts them to a different itinerary. Quite honestly, I don’t understand all the other people who complain. Vacations are supposed to be fun, but I guess if you don’t enjoy room service, activities galore, swimming, dancing, being treated like royalty and eating some of the best food in the world then you are probably going to complain. It is important to remember when reading reviews that people who have had a bad experience (so they say) will be quick to tell anyone that will listen/read about it. And a lot of times, those bad experiences will be amplified to make it so others won’t want to have the same experience. There were 1800 people on the Enchantment of the Seas; I will guarantee that you will hear from the people that are upset far before you will here from those that had a wonderful experience. We had a wonderful experience and I am writing to tell you about it. Remember, a cruise is about “cruising” and experiencing the different ports of call and what they offer. Cruising is not about sitting in your stateroom because you found something not to your liking. The ships are huge and I guarantee you can find something to your liking somewhere onboard and away from the upsetting things.
Now, with that being said…….
The embarkation process was incredibly smooth and quick. The Royal Caribbean packet said the ship didn’t start boarding until 2:00. So what did we do? We arrived at Port Everglades around 12:45, checked our luggage curb-side, and went straight into the boarding process. Once inside we found there were no lines and we went straight through security and up to the check-in desk to set up our account. Once done at the desk, we were on our way to the ship. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. We were on the ship and exploring by 1:00. The only thing about boarding early is you can’t go to your room until after they open up those sections of the ship, which is usually around 3:00 pm. Your luggage will find you around 5:00, leaving plenty of time for those with early seating to get changed and ready to dine in My Fair lady.
One great thing about taking the cruise on April 30th was that the Ft. Lauderdale Air show was there that weekend. My girlfriend Corey and I were able to sit in the Windjammer Café eating lunch or lounge on the deck and see most of the Air Show. We were treated to acrobatic flyers, bombers, fighter jets, the Air Force Thunderbirds, and many more.
We set sail around 5:30 and headed out to sea past a Navy Aircraft Carrier and Destroyer. Being that I had never really seen the ocean before, both were fascinating to see.
The ship itself is a complete work of art and at times is breathtaking to look at. The formal dining room is impressive to say the least. The wait staff is incredible and is always right on top of everything making sure you have all you need to eat. Don’t be shy, go ahead and order 3 of everything if you want. The food is excellent and there is plenty of it!
After a fun day at sea, we stopped in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The weather was great, blue sky and around 85 degrees. We booked our own excursion rather than use the ship excursions. Our excursion cost a lot less than the ship excursions and we got a lot more. We did Dunn’s River falls, tubing, and got a great drive through the country side with stops for some wonderful pictures and history lessons. If interested you can book a tour with the same tour guide we had. We were the only ones on the tour bus! Check out www.phil-lafayette-tours.com and let him know Brian and Corey from Kansas sent you.
Jamaica was the only part of the entire trip that I was a “little” disappointed in. I had forgotten that Jamaica is a 3rd world country and is poverty stricken. You can easily forget this by simply looking at the pier where around 40 million dollars of improvements have been made in an effort to beautify the place. Once outside of the pier area you will see a lot of poverty. Poor people in the street, wild dogs everywhere, people bathing in the river……. take Jamaica for what it is and have a great time.
After Jamaica, we stopped at George Town, Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is part of Britain and is much cleaner and nicer than Jamaica. Other than being hit by a hurricane in September of 04’ and still cleaning up from that, Grand Cayman is very nice. The ship does not dock at a pier and you have to take tender boats from the ship to the dock. This process is not as bad as some say. Figure out what time you need to be on shore and get moving. Everyone told us that passengers that did not book excursions through the ship would be the last off. We did not find this to be true as we booked an excursion through a local and we got on one of the first tenders leaving. We simply walked down to deck 1, went through security, and boarded a tender. Nobody asked any questions and we got to where we needed to be with plenty of time to spare.
Grand Cayman is one of the top places in the world to scuba dive and snorkel so if you don’t take advantage of that opportunity you will really miss out. We booked through www.captainmarvins.com and got 2 snorkel stops and stingray city. Snorkeling was AWESOME! We saw fish and corals you could never see anywhere else as well as 2 very hungry and large moray eels. Great underwater picture opportunities so take your water proof cameras. After snorkeling, we went to stingray city where you jump in the water and the stingrays come right up to you. This is an experience not to miss!!! These creatures are like puppy dogs. They come right up to you and eat right from your hand. You can touch, pet, hold and swim with them. These are not small stingrays either - they are large creatures. The stingrays are intimidating at first, but you soon realize they want to be your friend. After the 4 hour excursion you are pretty much spent so head back to the ship and enjoy lunch or dinner.
Both stops hold different experiences. Take each port of call in and happily add them to your list of places you have been and experienced.
There is never a lack of anything to do on the ship. It ranges from BINGO to the ever popular scavenger hunt Quest which is not to be missed. There are plenty of good shows to take in plus gambling if that’s your bag. There is an adult’s only pool that is enclosed and has a retractable roof to let in the fresh air during the day. This part of the ship (The Solarium) is never crowded and hardly anyone was ever swimming. There is an art auction where you can buy some incredible works of art for very cheap prices. There is plenty of night life as well as buffets and night time snacks to satisfy everyone. Matt, the Cruise Director, is hysterical and simply one of the most talented individuals you will come across. His energy level will tire you out by just watching him – 100mph all the time. Do yourself a favor, take part in some of the activities or at least watch them. You will miss out on part of the cruise experience if you don’t become a “joiner.”
There where 1800 passengers on our cruise and only 80 of them were children. We booked with an inside cabin guarantee and when we got our paper work we had been placed on deck 7 which was more than up to our standards. The stateroom, though small, is very comfortable and was far better than some hotels we have stayed in. Absolutely no complaints! Our stateroom attendant went above and beyond what was asked of him everyday. He was a true joy to meet and interact with.
You meet so many wonderful and unique individuals on the cruise. You feel like you become a part of their family as well as them becoming part of yours. When it is time to leave it does become a little sad, you hate to leave your little Royal Caribbean family and you wonder if you will ever meet that diverse a group of people again in your life. The answer is yes, because you will probably be hooked on cruising for life.
The disembarkation process went very quickly. You are given colored tags by what time you have to catch a flight home and you leave the ship by color. Your luggage is in an open area waiting for you to pick up. You do have to do a little looking for your bags, but all things considered it is a very effective process. Once our color was called it probably took 15 minutes to get through customs and to our luggage. Not bad at all. Our flight left the airport at 11:30; we were at the airport, checked in, through security by 9:15. Now that is service.
I can not say enough good things about Royal Caribbean, the staff, and the ship. The next time anyone sails on it, it will be 73 feet longer and grander than ever. The ship is currently in Holland being cut in half and elongated. We will definitely cruise this ship again just to see what RC has done to it. We have scheduled another cruise on Carnival Glory for September (due to the fact I am addicted to cruising) and are going into it with the expectations we have gained from Royal Caribbean. All I can say is that Carnival better be on top of its game!
I could easily write for ever on this cruise and yes, there were a few things that I found to be annoying, but were due to the ship getting ready to go to dry dock to be cut in half which is very understandable. All things said and done, I give RC, the Enchantment of the Seas, and the cruise overall 10 out of a possible 5 stars!!!! You can’t go wrong! Happy cruising.
Brian & Corey