Pre-cruise: We flew in the day before. I bid $55 on a 3-star hotel in FLL and ended up with the Embassy Suites. It's a beautiful hotel and close to a grocery store. The hotel has a free shuttle service, but the wait list was very long. We hailed a cab about 10:30 and headed over to Port Everglades. It was probably less than a 20-minute cab ride away.
Terminal Confusion: We were there so early that the porters couldn't help us with our luggage. They were all busy with the group disembarking before us. There was no one to direct us where to go, and we definitely needed the help, this being our first cruise. We hauled all of our stuff toward the terminal. We hooked up with another couple on the same cruise as us and we pooled our luggage together. The men stayed with the bags until the porters took charge of them.
About 11:30 an RCCL rep came along and checked our docs and directed us to the X-ray machines. After a "welcome aboard" picture, the official handing over of the credit card number and the SeaPass picture, we were ON THE SHIP! The whole process from X-ray to ship was less than 20 minutes.
Our Cabin: Enchantment staffers greeted us on the gangplank saying our cabins were probably not ready so don't even go there. just go to the pool or to a bar. TIP #1: Bring shorts/bathing suit in a carry-on so you can change into it. It can take a while for your luggage to arrive. We ended up sitting by the pool in long pants.
We had #8036, port side. There was soooo much space! Medicine type cabinet shelves on either side of the mirror in the bathroom and on either side of the mirror over the desk/vanity area. There were drawers all over the cabin, including the closet.
On our balcony was a chair, a table and a lounge type chair. There was plenty of room to replace the chair with another lounger if you wanted.
Our steward was "Perfecto." He kept us with plenty of fresh towels, ice and whatever else we wanted.
We were taking this cruise during the height of the Norwalk Virus scare. It was comforting to see crews steam cleaning decks of the ship and disinfecting handrails and doorknobs constantly.
Restaurants: We ate lunch once and breakfast just about everyday at the Windjammer. I thought it was really good for buffet food. We only ate dinner there one evening. The food was great. the view even better if you can get a table along the windows.
We had a table for 10 in the My Fair Lady dining room. We sat directly under the piano in the center of the room. Our waiter "Wally " and assistant waiter "Lucy" were wonderful. Both had the patience of Job dealing with our somewhat picky tablemates.
Food was good every night we ate there. not great, but really good. The soups each night were my favorites. and of course dessert.
Spa: On our first sea day, I had a seaweed wrap and massage. fiance had massage and facial. TIP #2: Take the spa tour the on embarkation day. They have specials you can only get for taking the tour. While we both enjoyed our spa services immensely, we both ended up feeling a little seasick. Crewmembers told us it was unusually rough seas that day. Keep an eye on the Cruise Compasses delivered to the cabin each evening. They always had some kind of spa special running.
Ports & Excursions: Puerto Rico: Our least favorite port. We're both from South Texas and PR made us feel like we were in a Mexican border town. We took the Bacardi tour. I would NOT recommend this. It was just some free samples, a little ride on a tram and a look at a museum.
St. Maarten: We never left the Dutch side. regrettably. We did find a great deal on a David Yurman ring for my sister. We also enjoyed having a frozen drink at Every'ting's Cool. TIP #3: Don't book a ship's excursion for this. You can do it on your own. We were able to rent two lounge chairs and an umbrella for $10. Food was reasonably priced and though we didn't eat it, smelled delicious.
St. Thomas: by far, this was our favorite port. We'd love to go back some day. We booked the catamaran sail/snorkel on the ship. A group of about 10 of us climbed aboard a monstrous catamaran and sailed out to "Buck Island" to snorkel. The water was beautiful, the fish plentiful. The catamaran crew catered to our every need, even babysitting my fiance who doesn't swim. I definitely recommend this excursion. The 45 minute sail to and from the island is worth it just in itself.
Nassau: We walked around Front Street with the touristy shops and then grabbed a cab for $4 per person and went over to Atlantis. You can't get too far without a special bracelet, but we got to see plenty of the place. The weather was very overcast, so we didn't even try to walk down to the beach, but I'm told you can get to the beach outside Atlantis.
TIP #4: Learn the customs requirements on alcohol BEFORE you cruise.
There are rules about how much you can bring back from the Caribbean. And you can bring back more, if you buy a certain amount of it in St. Thomas. We didn't learn about this until after we'd already bought rum in Puerto Rico.
Entertainment: I must confess, we saw very little of the entertainment on the ship. The piano player/singer in the Schooner Bar was wonderful. It was a nice place to get a quiet drink and hors d'oeuvres. There was a comedian/juggler who was amazing and we enjoyed playing the "Battle of the Sexes" and "Theme Song Trivia" games before dinner. The pool side band played reggae/calypso music every day, keeping us entertained.
Overall Impressions: I really didn't think we'd love cruising as much as we did. We're kind of "all inclusive resort" people. But we realized there's not another vacation out there where you can unpack once and see so many different places. I think Enchantment of the Seas is a perfect size ship for first timers. Not too big, but yet big enough to remind you you're on a mini city at sea.
I could see where teens could get a little bored though. There's no inline skating, rockwall or such. but the few older kids we saw on board seemed quite content in the game room or at the pool. The younger ones in the Adventure Ocean program seemed to be having a blast.
And I don't know if it was the time of year. or the fact this ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, but the passengers definitely skewed toward an older crowd. And not everyone we met was really all that friendly. I think Texans might be a little jaded though when it comes to that kind of thing. The older, experienced passengers didn't have time for first timers who suddenly realized they were on the wrong deck, or had questions about which direction the Viking Crown lounge was. And I saw two older women just about get into a fist fight over a deck chair! (And there were PLENTY of others. they both just wanted the ones right by the pool!)
But none of these experiences marred the wonderful time we had on Enchantment of the Seas. I can say we will cruise again.