PRE-CRUISE This was our first cruise experience, and it was a good one. We booked an inside cabin on deck #3. (A-deck) RCI numbers the decks on the ship starting with #1 being the deck you catch a tender from. B-deck is #2, A-deck #3, etc. We received our cruise documents 25 days before sailing. Air/Sea package worked well for us. One change of planes en route to Miami, with the same on the way back. RCI rep met us at the arrival gate.
TRAVEL DAY RCI put us up a day early for free at the Miami Airport Hilton and Towers. This is a very nice hotel, with a great view. The hotel is surrounded by water, with a nice peninsula to walk on. I saw a manatee swimming in the water that evening. I received a letter at check-in telling me where to go in the morning to check-in with RCI. This is where you will show ID, birth certificates, etc., and receive your SuperCharge cards. These cards also serve as your boarding ID. Buses came to take us to port at 12:30-1:00pm. Buses were late and some impatient people just took cabs to the port.
EMBARKATION The driver gave us a quick tour of Miami on the way to the port. I think he was fishing for tips, but it was nice. As we neared the port, I got my first glimpse of the Enchantment. We were stunned. It was so big and beautiful. We got off the bus and went directly up the gangway, and had our picture taken. This was a very smooth procedure. After boarding, we took our carry-on to the cabin, and went to activate our SuperCharge cards in the Fascinating Rhythm Lounge. We checked out the other common areas before the ship was completely full of people.
THE SHIP Enchantment is truly a big and beautiful ship. It is so big, you seldom notice there are so many people on board with you. There are always quiet spaces to be found. The Orpheum Theater is outstanding in design. We never had a problem finding seats, even when we were late to the shows. Chairs have lighted drink holders, and some have tables.The Carousel Lounge is open, with the rear sections raised up for good views of the stage area. Dancing, bingo, and various games and briefings are held there.The pool area has plenty of chairs, with some in the sun, and some in the shade. After the first couple of days, it is much easier to find chairs in the sun because most people tend to over do it, and get sunburned. It was funny to see all the red faces at dinner on day two! The pools are saltwater and warm. They close at 7 pm each night and are drained. The pool was not open at all on Sunday. The Solarium area has a nice pool and hot tubs. The sliding roof was open during the day. The Solarium Cafe served good burgers, fries, dogs, and pizza. The Casino Royal is a typical casino. I pulled a few slot handles, with no luck at all. Plenty of machines and tables to keep gamblers occupied.The Schooner Bar is a nice place for a quiet evening. There is a wonderful piano player singing songs in there each night. People were gathering around the piano and joining in on the songs.The Centrum is truly amazing! You have to see it to believe it. There is ballroom type dancing there in the evenings. Riding up the glass elevators is really nice.My Fair Lady dining room is big and majestic. It spans two levels and has great views of the ocean during the day. Windjammer Cafe is a nice spot to eat as well. Buffet is on different islands, and is a busy place. The entrance and exit is right through the buffet area, which makes for some congestion.The Viking Crown Lounge is a really nice area. The only problem is that it is the disco tech at night. It is a very loud area, and has an extremely young crowd. The drinking age is 18 while at sea, and this is their hangout. I couldn't stand it in there after a little while. A nice spot during the day though.The Observation deck could use some improvement. It is usually too windy to spend much time up here at night to watch the sky. The lighting interferes with your night vision so it is hard to see anything but the brightest heavenly objects. Being an amateur astronomer, this was disappointing to me. There are some star charts up there which is nice. In one word...windy!Shipshape center has plenty for the athletically motivated. Boutiques of the Centrum has some really nice things. They sell some high dollar items, as well as gifts and liquors. T-shirts sell as low as 3 for $15, and Absolut Vodka was only $6.99 per bottle! Rum prices were in line with that on the islands. There is not a huge selection onboard, but certainly enough to satisfy most everyone. The Photo Gallery is where you will find all your pictures hanging. They snap pictures of you on formal nights, during dinner, and coming and going to ports. Formal portraits are $19.95 for 8x10s and smaller ones were $9.95 or less. Cruise Memories video is $25, staring you!Bars are plentiful onboard. My favorite was the pool bar for drinks during the outdoor parties and sail away parties. A steel drum band plays tunes there.
SERVICES Drink servers are all over and will come by often. In fact, too often!I can see this being annoying to non drinkers. There is always a "drink of the day" which costs $5.95 in a souvenir glass, or $2.95 in a regular glass. They are served in different style glasses each day. Import beer is $3.50, or should I say $4.03 with the always added 15% gratuity. One word of advice: read each receipt before you sign them. Sometimes they mistakenly add an extra drink or bring you the wrong card back. They take your SuperCharge card from you each time you order a drink. You sign for the charge when they bring you the drink. Budget minded cruisers are best off bringing mixers or getting them at ports and buying the liquor onboard, mixing drinks in your room and carrying them where ever you want. Less convenient but you will save on the bar tab. The "drink of the day" is usually good. Some are the best I've ever had. My dining room waiter was Rui from Portugal. He was top notch. He provided me the best service I have ever received. The waiters perform on certain nights, so you will want to bring your camera to dinner. I had second seating, and was very happy with it. Dinner was at 8:30pm and took between 1½ - 2 hours each night. Rui always made sure we were very happy each day. My cabin attendant was OK. He cleaned the room twice a day, and did an excellent job. My only problem was "ice shortage" because I mixed drinks with ice during the day. Room service will bring you ice, but it would have been more convenient if he had left an extra ice bucket.I did not see him much throughout the cruise, but could always tell he had been there.The Solarium staff needs to be a little more attentive on busing tables. There are always dishes and dirty tables all over, and it's hard to find a clean place to sit. I noticed a bird living in the Solarium, was eating from the table tops. It was cute, but very unhealthy.
STAFF Our cruise director was on his first Enchantment cruise as well. He was Kyle Dodson. He was very entertaining. Assistant Cruise Director was Kara Callahan. She was fun all day and night. She was MC at bingo and all other entertaining events.. I saw her much more than Kyle. They were the two stand out staff personnel I came across.The Captain was Per Arne Kjonso from Norway. He is a very witty and funny man.
ENTERTAINMENT I found the entertainment to be outstanding. I was really impressed with the ships show band "Johnny Danger." They entertain somewhere onboard each night with a different theme like Rock ‘n' roll, 50's & 60's, Country, etc. The Wave Revue Singers and Dancers are very good. Our celebrity entertainers were Finis Henderson and Barry Williams. You might remember Barry from the sitcom "The Brady Bunch", as he played the part of Greg Brady. He has a nice singing act. Two comedians, Tommy Blaze and Steve Shaffer were very funny. There are theme nights on this ship. Country Western night, 50's night, Toga party, or masquerade party. My favorite was Toga Night. You can wear your costumes, togas, or 50's wear to dinner on those nights. (casual nights) We wore togas to dinner and the show, and then went to a toga party on the deck. It was great dancing to the tunes in the open, night air. The midnight buffet was also served outdoors that night. The Cruise Compass bulletin will specify the dress for the evening.
FOOD: The food was outstanding. I was able to try things I had never tried before. My favorite were the seafood dishes. (salmon) Each night has a different theme in the dining room. ( International night, Caribbean night, Italian night, etc.) The head waiter seems to be making something "table side" each night, or flaming some type of dessert. I never missed dinner in the dining room.Excellent food, with excellent service. Breakfast is open seating. You sit with other diners, but not at your assigned table. Lunch is served by your waiter at your assigned table. Shorts are OK for wear at breakfast and lunch in the dining room, but not dinnerThe Windjammer Cafe serves buffet style food. I found it perfectly fine, but I am not a buffet lover. Some good things there, some bad. The "made to order" omelets are great for breakfast. Midnight buffets were pretty good as well. The best one is the Gala Buffet. Bring your camera because you will not believe your eyes. This was served in the My Fair Lady dining room.
THE DREADED VIBRATION QUESTION! The question has always been about some sort of vibration on Enchantment. Here is the answer:YES, there is noticeable vibration. Enough to shake the water in your glasses. It was very noticeable to me, especially when trying to read something. I don't know if this is normal because it was my first cruise. After the first day you kind of adjust to it and it doesn't bother you. Sometimes, it would stop for about 30 seconds and start up again. The only time it quit was when you were in port. I had heard rumor onboard that Enchantment was going in soon for some type of repair. My best guess would be that this is abnormal for a large ship. I would not even consider this as negative when booking a cruise.
Key West: Great shopping, great pub crawling, and overall a fun place. We went to Margaritaville for some Suds, conch chowder, Buffett music and souvenirs. My only gripe here is the ship doesn't stay at this port long enough! So much to see, so little time. You need to get a tender ticket if you are not going on an excursion here. Tendering is slow here.
Cozumel: I didn't see much of the land here. I chose the SCUBA tour, and saw Cozumel from below. We made 2 dives with Sand Dollar Sports. The reefs and aquatic life here are truly amazing. You must dive or snorkel at this island!
There is very good shopping here as well. Mexican blankets for $5 (US).
Jamaica: Ship docked at James Bond Pier, which is a taxi ride to shopping and beaches. We took the Sundancer Cruise to Dunn's River Falls. It was a fun, short ride there. My wife was getting her hair braided within 5 minutes of boarding. If you have hair of any kind, you will be approached by hair braiders everywhere you go. We climbed the falls, which were beautiful and fun. You can buy pictures or video of yourself climbing the falls. We also went parasailing, which can be done right at the pier. Cost was $45 each, for a 10 minute flight. It was really fun seeing everything from about 500 ft.Taxi drivers hassle you the minute you step off the ship. They were actually fighting over us! We took a cab for shopping at Taj Mahal.($2 each) Absent was bargaining like I had heard. We walked a couple blocks from there to the beach. One person was smoking marijuana in the street. The beach was public ($2) and very nice. Not crowded like the hotel beaches next to it. To avoid the cab experience, we hired a glass bottom boat to take us back to the ship. ($12 for the 4 of us) We didn't feel very comfortable in Jamaica. Some people here have "milking tourists of their money" down to a science. Beautiful place to see though, just be aware. Don't let this scare you into staying on board the ship. Jamaica is a beautiful place with much to offer.
Grand Cayman: Tendering here is quick and easy, with no tickets needed. I booked a tour with Capt. Crosby Watersports for snorkeling at Stingray City. Trip was great, Capt. Crosby is wonderful! This was much better than the "cattle boats" from the ship tours. Swimming with the stingrays was something not to be missed. Cayman is beautiful, and very safe. Seven mile beach is the most beautiful I have seen.(shell collectors delight!) Shopping is walking distance from the tender terminals.
Miami: Took Miami Highlights tour. Very nice bus tour of the city, with one 20 minute stop at Planet Hollywood. Tour ends at the airport.
DEBARKATION Luggage was easy to find, but hard to drag to airport check in. Long, unorganized lines at check in. All in all, it was smooth, but hard to know where to go when you get your bags.
~Watching the sunset each night
~Strolling the promenade deck in the evening
~Watching the ship enter & leave ports
~The great service in the dining room
~The food and entertainment
~Toga! Toga! Toga!
FINAL THOUGHTS I will not hesitate to make my next cruise with Royal Caribbean. Enchantment is big and beautiful. The staff was really good at what they do. Take the time to meet new people, and sample new things. Time seems to just fly by. Our overall cruise experience was OUTSTANDING!