Summary: Had an excellent cruise experience on the Enchantment of the Seas. Our five night itinerary included: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman and two days at sea. The service was attentive without being overbearing, the food was excellent and the entertainment good. Shore excursions arranged through the ship were great (with one funny story below).
Getting Ready to Go
First of all pack your bags, and then get rid of at least half of it!!! You need far less clothing than you think. If you wish to lock your luggage, invest in the combination locks that the TSA inspectors at the airport can open with a key if they need to make an inspection. Patience is a definite virtue, security procedures have slowed the boarding at the airports and no amount of moaning and griping will make it any easier. Get there early and chill!!
Our travel to Ft Lauderdale was smooth. Living near Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, we flew out through there on a non-stop on Spirit Airlines. While Spirit is low cost and no frills, it was more than adequate for our needs and half the price of cruise provided air. We flew down the day before and stayed the night at the Embassy Suites. I highly recommend it, not only for good accommodations, but also for the excellent full breakfast served which is included with the room price. The hotel is located close to Port Everglades and the airport and they will pick you up and drop you off at both locations. The hotel is also located close to shopping for those last-second forgotten items with a liquor store, supermarket and 24 hour drug store across the street. There are numerous dining options within a block or two of the hotel.
We parted the curtains on our 11th floor room which faced Port Everglades and were treated to the awesome sight of 4 cruise ships in port. In addition to the Enchantment, the Celebrity Century, the Holland-America Zuiderdam, and the Caribbean Princess, which made the others seem small, were all in port. Sunrise was quite a sight over these ships, especially with scattered thunderstorms in the area.
We were scheduled for an 11:15 am hotel shuttle to Port Everglades. After a small amount of chaos and confusion we got underway at 11:30 am. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:45 am, dropped our luggage with the porter and were fully checked in by noon. Our staterooms were not available until 1 pm so we went on up to the Windjammer for lunch. At 1 pm we headed for our stateroom.
Our state room number was 4071, an inside near the center of the ship. It was small but livable with a miniscule bathroom that was fodder all week for the comedian. The roses I ordered for my wife were waiting for us along with our life vests and instructions for the upcoming lifeboat drill. Our room steward introduced himself immediately and arranged for a mini-refrigerator for the room to store my insulin. He earned his tip and more through attentive service during the cruise. Breakfast in Bed was a challenge but we managed.
The Enchantment is large, but not so large as to take days to learn to navigate. The atrium in the center of the ship, called the Centrum, reaches from deck 4 to deck 10 and is the focal point of the ship. Once you related the main points of interest to the Centrum, navigation was a breeze. The Enchantment is well maintained, with maintenance work ongoing even during the cruise to keep the ship attractive. The ship has abundant facilities including two pools, 6 whirlpools, a large fitness center, a two deck tall dining room and theater; a small casino and shopping area. The 11th deck is the signature Viking Crown Lounge which serves as a disco at night. Numerous lounges provide varied entertainment at night and room for art auctions and bingo during the day.
Food in the My Fair Lady Dining Room on decks 4 and 5 was excellent and served attentively. The head waiter visited each table to ensure that we were well served and even took the shell off of our lobsters and removed the shells from our shrimp. (Note: the rumor on the RCCL board that lobster was no longer served on cruises of less than 7 days was not true as of this sailing.) The waiter and his assistant were very attentive and made sure we were well served. The waiter shows were timed after serving dessert and coffee so that they would minimize disruptions to service. The menu generally had four main selections, one vegetarian, and an equal number of alternatives. Low-fat entrees were marked with the heart-healthy logo. Excellent sugar-free desserts were available.
The Windjammer Buffet on deck 9, adjacent to the pool offered standard buffet fare which I would characterize as equal to a casino buffet. We mostly ate lunch there and appreciated the salad bar offerings and the specialty sandwich bar.
We did not sample the burgers and fries at the Solarium on Deck 9 but the kids seemed very pleased with them. The pizza was frozen thin crust but not bad.
There were quite a few children but we rarely saw them. The kids program entertained them morning, noon and night. We only saw them in the Windjammer for an afternoon ice cream break and when the "pirates" invaded the theater for a skit before the show.
Formal night was the second night after the first at-sea day. Almost everyone dressed up, however only about 25% of the males opted for tuxes. Pictures were taken against a variety of backgrounds so you could make a choice in the photo area.
Shows in the theater were at 7 pm for the late dinner seating and 9 pm for the main dinner seating. Featured comedian was Carl Strong, who had a great time with the stateroom bathrooms and describing two ladies coming on board in Jamaica after missing the ship and having to be taken to the ship by launch. The other featured performers were On the Edge, a comedy juggling team and Kelly McDonald, another comedian. The production shows "Cant Stop the Rock" and "Stage to Screen" were quite entertaining. We liked to relax with the drink of the day while watching the show.
Other evening entertainment options stretched into the wee hours including dancing, a variety of music from the oldies to dancing up in the Viking Crown Lounge. Different "game shows" were available to liven up the night the funniest being "The Quest".
At the pool they had the obligatory belly flop contest which I had to withdraw from after surveying the competition. At 6 feet tall and 240 pounds I was too small. I was barred from the Mr. Sexy Legs contest by my wife who did not want all those women knocking on the cabin door all night.
Television in the cabin has a variety of channels including CNN, ESPN International, Bloomberg, the ship's family channel, shopping and excursion channels, information and live cameras from the bridge and movie channels showing fairly recent movies in several languages.
Both of the excursions we took, booked through RCCL, were very good. In Ocho Rios we opted for the Dolphin Touch Experience and Duns River Falls. It was fun and entertaining, although the return to the bus parking lot from Duns River Falls was a little unnerving to my wife with very persistent vendors pursuing us down the hill. One told me I "looked just like a Jamaican." I looked at my arm and then at him with a "yeah right!!!" look, he laughed and said "No problem mon, two more days you look just like us!"
Our excursion in Grand Cayman was with the Cockatoo Catamaran to Stingray City. After a leisurely sail to the sandbar we swam with the rays and fed them, an awesome experience. Our guides Jacques and Evan, from South Africa, were funny and informative. Upon showing us where the life preservers were stowed, Jacques said, "If you see us grab one of these and jump overboard it's probably a good idea if you do the same."
A funny note from Ocho Rios: Our tablemates from England took the Bob Marley tour, being fans of his music. Their account was absolutely hilarious. Advertised as a historical tour, its main purpose was to smoke ganja at his gravesite. I was surprised that RCCL sanctions such a tour.
An excellent first cruise experience for me, I am hooked!