Royal Caribbean InternationalEnchantment the Seas ReviewWestern CaribbeanKen Wilson
Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Enchantment of the Seas
Sailing Date: December 19th, 2005
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Royal Caribbean International
Enchantment of the Seas Cruise Review
My wife and I decided to take a pre-Christmas cruise
and with the help of our travel agent, selected the Enchantment of the Seas. We
had cruised before on an RCI ship (Rhapsody) and had enjoyed that so doing
another RCI cruise was not a hard decision.
We have friends that live in Boca Raton, FL so we flew in a few days early to visit with them and then headed to Port of Everglades on 12/19. We arrived at pier 25 around 12:30 PM and check-in was very quick. You are forced to turn your bags over to "porters" (hands out for tips) but other than that, it was smooth. Since I had already submitted our information online for the SeaPass cards, we just went right up to counter, showed proper documentation, and onto the ship we went. Signs were up saying our cabins wouldn't be ready until 1:00 PM so we headed up to the Windjammer cafe for a nice pre-cruise buffet. Let me stop here and say that for those that prefer a buffet atmosphere as opposed to the regular dining room (Fair Lady Dining Room), the Windjammer is more than adequate. There are large salad and bread bars and the main entree tables were quite numerous, well stocked, and provided all sorts of choices from American to Mediterranean to Mexican, etc. Standard fare for beverages - note that you'll have to pay for sodas at the nearby pool bar unless you get the Soda package (which is $6.00 per day - bargain if you drink a lot of sodas). We ended up eating at the Windjammer a few times but primarily for either breakfast or lunch as the dining room was so much better than the Windjammer.
We were able to check into our cabin, a balcony stateroom on deck seven, just a bit after 1:00 PM. We were very pleasantly surprised at the space in this cabin - bed for two, couch, nice sitting desk, bathroom that was very adequate with a suitable sized shower, and of course a balcony large enough for two chairs and a dining table. After this cruise, we will probably never get a non-balcony cabin again. There were several hours during the cruise that we retired to our cabin to just read on our own private "deck" and look out over the ocean.
I ate that evening as every night in the Fair Lady dining room. We had the late seating (8:30 PM) and as expected, all service staff was very attentive. My wife was not feeling up to dinner the first night and when I mentioned this to our head waiter (A.J.), he promptly bundled up a TO GO bag with a nice chicken salad for me to take back to the cabin for her. Formal night was our second night (the Key West day). Each evening was a very nice dining experience with excellent food from the appetizers to the available desserts. My advise - if you eat most of your meals in the Windjammer, you are really missing out on the best food of the cruise by far!
Our first port of call was Key West. My wife and I had never been to this part of Florida so it was an interesting stop for us, if for nothing else than to explore the town a bit. We didn't do an excursion here as it was an easy walk from the pier we docked at into town. We visited many shops and considered renting a motor scooter (which several of our cruise-mates did do) but ended up just walking around the town. Complaint about this port stop was that we arrived at 7:00 AM and departed at 2:00 PM - didn't get a chance to experience the famous Key West night life which was a disappointment to say the least!
The next day's port of call was Cozumel. My wife and I have been to the Mexican island several times so we opted for our own day at sea. After breakfast in the Windjammer, we staked out a couple of recliners on the walkway overlooking the pool and relaxed while the tendering process to Cozumel began. Hurricane Beta (I think) wiped out the piers in Cozumel so tendering has now become necessary. Anyway, the water became too choppy for safe tendering so all tenders to the island were cancelled. Cozumel as a port was cancelled and everyone now had an extra day at sea. The problem was that there were not that many activities planned for this "extra" day at sea so the pool area became extremely crowded. Being ones that were already camped out, my wife and I had an all day view of the mad scramble for deck chairs and space. The inconsiderate chair saver people were in abundance and the pool attendants seemed to give up with the mad scramble for chairs. I have to say that on the real day at sea (scheduled for our last day of the cruise) I did not witness this nearly as much as there were many activities designed to keep people spread out over the ship.
Belize was the next port of call and although a tendered port, the seas cooperated and everyone made it to shore. We opted for the Aerial Trek/Cave Tubing combo trip which turned out to be a blast. Zipping through trees in the jungle on cables was really fun and the cave tubing was as advertised - very unique. I would recommend either or both of these activities. Belize is still an impoverished nation and this was evident in our bus ride to the planned activities. The port was not that impressive although there were shops available for shopping for those so inclined.
The last day, as mentioned, was a planned day at sea. The morning was windy but sunny however as the day wore on, the wind picked up and the clouds won out over the sun. Most people cleared off the pool deck- the Solarium was a big hit on this day as it was enclosed. I still noticed chair savers - people would leave towels on chairs and then be gone for over an hour. Very inconsiderate. I watched four chairs underneath us (we were on the overlooking deck again) with four towels that were never occupied for over two hours! Again, the pool attendants did not seem to notice this even though some people still had some problems finding chairs.
The entertainment on the ship was average (but included, of course). The best show we saw was the comedy juggling act - Team Root beer. Very funny and skillful at the same time. The genuine comedian on board, Rich Gannon (I think) was also very funny.
We did use the fitness center a few times but it seemed to be a bit too small for this size ship with a constant wait for machines. I jogged around the deck on the track but after 45 minutes, I gave up as the monotony of "round and round" got to me.
Advice - if you drink sodas, pay for the soda package. Well worth the money. If you like wine, there is a wine package that will save money (better for larger groups however). My wife doesn't drink wine so I just bought a bottle of nice Chianti at dinner and they kept what I didn't finish for the next evenings. Very convenient. Check out the Schooner Bar - great martini specials in the early evening and a very nice secluded bar. There is also a nice champagne bar in the Centrum area. On formal night there are different picture stations set up on decks 4 and 5 with different backgrounds being taken - steps in the Centrum, backdrops of the ship, Titanic steps, etc. Get one or all. Don't be cheap - tip your waiters and especially your cabin steward. They all deserve it - I was disappointed to see people skip out on the last night in the dining room just so they wouldn't have to tip the waiters. We made a point of giving a pre-tip to our cabin steward and he was very attentive for the whole cruise, leaving nice towel animals all over our cabin during the week. We used the prepaid gratuity service, which was can be charged right to your SeaPass card. Saves counting our bills for your tips and you are given a nice voucher to pass on to each of the service personnel you tip. If you need cash, go to the casino cashier. They will give you cash off your SeaPass card and it is free (no ATM fees). Take a carry-on because you'll need to put all your bags out the last night by midnight - you'll need the carry-on for a change of clothes etc. If you have taken a previous RCI cruise, even if it was several years ago, sign up prior to your cruise for the Crown & Anchor club. As members, you will be invited to a previous cruisers reception with free champagne and a nice band as well as receiving coupon books to use on the cruise. We also received nice tote bags as members of the club. Best advice - try to relax. You can't do everything even though there is a lot to do.
Overall - a nice cruise and cruise ship despite some of our weather problems. The ship itself is large but not nearly too large to explore and enjoy on a 5 day cruise.