Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Enchantment of the Seas
Sailing Date: June 30th, 2002
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The basics: I went with 17 people…the core being a family of four who then invited close friends to celebrate the parents’ 50th birthdays. So we had six couples in their 40s/50s, three single women (60ish, 37, and 23), single guy (20), the young daughter of one couple (7) and her grandma.
Day-by-day excursion notes and then the basics on the ship, etc.
Day #1 – we arrived at the ship around 2pm after flying down from Baltimore. Since this was the first cruise for many of us, we were amazed and having tons of fun as soon as we entered Customs. The whole process of luggage, Customs, and boarding took maybe 30 minutes! All very smooth. Once on board we settled in our staterooms (Deck 7) and hit the Schooner Bar (Deck 6) for the first of many times. Immediately began a week-long friendship with Alexis, our server in Schooner.
Day #2 – Key West. Four of us did the Nature Bike Tour at 9:30 (thankfully…later in day would’ve been too hot). I had been to Key West several times, so I wasn’t particularly anxious to walk Duvall Street or see Margaritaville or any of those typical things. Therefore, this was a great excursion for me. We were met on the pier, a short walk to a little bus, and then a short ride to the bike place. Basic old beach-bikes…about 15 of us riding along with Gary, our guide. We saw lots of back-roads stuff, learned a lot about the trees, plants, animals, and history. Stopped in a park where Gary cut up coconuts and some other local fruit (I forget the name). The tour was about 2 hours and we were dropped on Duvall Street around noon. We needed to be back on board by 2:30 so it was a quick day.
Day #3 – Cozumel. I highly recommend the catamaran, snorkel, beach party. While the snorkeling wasn’t gorgeous, the time on the catamaran (‘free’ beer and margaritas, dancing) and the time at the beach were excellent. Beach volleyball, more ‘free’ drinks, plenty of beach mats. (Food for sale) Afterwards, there was still time to take a cab into town and do some shopping. We had nachos and margaritas at Pancho’s Backyard, based on a recommendation at breakfast that morning. Bought a little jewelry and had to kindly turn down the invitations to shop that are extended every few feet along the way (okay, a nice way of saying that one is practically accosted every few feet!)
Day #4 – Costa Maya. Wow! A beautiful, yet-to-be-developed place. Again I highly recommend my excursion: the Jungle Beach Break (though I “broke” my toe while there so the name was just a bit too literal!) We took a 35 minute bus ride along newly-made streets (the dirt is just pushed to the side!) and arrived at Uvero Beach. Again, ‘free’ drinking (full bar this time!), food for sale, just one shop, plus a few booths with jewelry, Henna tattoos, etc. More beach volleyball (we’re an active group), plenty of beach chairs, you can rent Jet-skis. The beach and water are beyond gorgeous. We stayed until about 2:30, I think. It’s a bit fuzzy because the broken toe meant that I drank a few more rum punches to dull the pain!
Day #5 – at sea. Plenty to do (see below)
Day #6 – Grand Cayman. Some of our group regularly frequents the Caymans, so we had booked a snorkel/stingray trip on our own. Ironically, it was the only fiasco we had (lesson: while it may cost a little more, book through Royal Caribbean) Once the aforementioned trouble was sorted out, we had a great time before the all-too-close thunderstorm arrived while most of us were in the water. Gulp! But that didn’t happen until our third stop. We had great weather and a great time at Stingray City – it is an experience that’s once-in-a-lifetime. A little creepy at first!
Day #7 – at sea
Day #8 – It was sad to feel the docking at about 6am. We had a nice breakfast and the disembarking was no problem. We had a long day at the airport, but had we booked an earlier flight that wouldn’t have happened. It was 4th of July weekend so things were hopping!
The ship: Wow! Not too big but big enough to never feel crowded. I suppose if you wanted to get a chair right by the pool (especially on at At Sea day), you might have trouble. But we hung out on Deck 10 above the pool and, while we had to search them out, we were able to find chairs each time we wanted) I did miss parts of the ship, but what I saw and hung out in were comfortable – The Carousel Lounge, the Orpheum Theatre, Windjammer Café, the Internet area, the Card Room, the Library, the Casino, the Spa. The staterooms were great – one couple had a corner room on the back of deck 7 – the deck was LARGE! Our stateroom attendant, James, was the best! Always there to unlock the door when he saw you coming down the hall (usually with your hands full, so this little touch meant a lot). Happy to accommodate any request. I felt vibrations a few times when docking, and one morning between 4-6am it was really rocking! Otherwise, all was smooth. I could hear the bass/beat from the Carousel Lounge below me on the night I went to bed early and there was a party beneath me.
The food: Yes, it was everything I heard about cruising! Everywhere, all the time, and top-notch! Lobster-tail on my birthday (a nice coincidence). I did the formal breakfast once or twice, but usually we ate in Windjammer. Buffet style, tables overlooking the water. We had two adjacent tables at dinner (8:30 seating, which I found much more conducive to our schedule). The service was fantastic – they did little shows a few nights.
Attend the midnight buffet the night they do the big one in the Dining Room. We didn’t eat but the first half hour is just picture-taking and learning about the Chefs, etc. Amazing!
The entertainment: The dance troupe had just joined the ship the week before, so we got to see new shows. Wow! Two nights they did the show. Another night we had a hysterical comedian, another night juggling/balancing. I much preferred the Pre-dinner show because when it was at 11pm, I was exhausted and the theatre seats are really comfy (yes, I fell asleep!) I almost skipped the show a few times and each time I was really glad I didn’t. Beyond the main shows, we were entertained my Bingo every day (someone in our group won every day until the last day) I won $265 on the first day! A few people spent time in the Casino (came out even, I think) We attended some of the littler shows and some of the late-night theme parties.
The hospital: Well, I got my foot X-rayed the day after Costa Maya. Efficient, not as costly as I thought (and no, they won’t accept insurance cards. It, along with everything else, gets put on your Cruise Card, which you attach to a credit card!) My visit with three Xrays was $129.00. As they kept taking Xrays, I guesstimated is would be several hundred.
The service : I had to separate this category and just say that is was truly heart-warming to meet so many great people who were truly happy to make you happy! No surprise that there were only a handful (out of 720) American employees.
In Summary: It goes without saying that, overall, I had the best week of my life! I will definitely cruise again and I will go Royal Caribbean again (“if it ain’t broke…”) I heard that the eastern Caribbean trip tends to be a bit wavy-er, so I hesitate to go there but probably will brave it. I may try a different ship…yet I’d be perfectly content to spend more time on The Enchantment of the Seas.