CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Enchantment of the Seas Western Caribbean January 30, 2000

Travel to and from was somewhat hectic to say the least. RCCL booked us on American Airlines. When we arrived at the airport we found our flight had been canceled. Fortunately we were transferred to a Northwest flight but did not reach the pier until about 45 minutes before sailing. After going through the check-in procedure we arrived in our cabin just in time for the lifeboat drill.

Check-in was a breeze and we spent all of about 2 minutes at the counter and we were on our way. The Enchantment is a copy of her sister ship Rhapsody of the Seas, which we sailed on last year. We knew exactly where to go to our cabin but were directed by a friendly staff member upon boarding.

We completed our shore excursion request form immediately following the drill and received all of requested excursions. The San San Yacht cruise Ocho Rios was a 12:30 PM departure rather than the 8:30 AM as requested, but this was not a problem.

We booked an outside room on Deck 2, preferring the natural sunlight coming into the room but not wanting to pay the higher prices related to top deck cabins. Our room was adequate with lots of storage space. Nothing to rave about but better than some I've had. I have no complaints about the room. Our cabin attendant, Rosalinda, from the Philippines, was always smiling and johnny-on-the-spot. We had few requests of her other than beach towels every day and lots of water. Both were delivered in a timely fashion.

The My Fair Lady dining room is beautiful with excellent food. There are always a variety of main dishes to hopefully suit everyone's taste. I particularly enjoyed their cold fruit soups, the filet minion, and the duck. We talked with a couple who were on their second week of a Eastern/Western back-to-back cruise. They advised the menu did not change over the 2 week period. In other words, Monday's menu on the Eastern route was also Monday's menu on the Western route, so they went through each menu twice during the 2 weeks. Our waiter, Gabor from Hungary, was a little stiff but did a very nice job. He loosened up some on the nights when the staff entertained us. Our assistant waiter, Oana, from Rumania, was much more friendly and always helpful. We sure can't complain about their attentiveness.

Preferring to eat in the dining room, we had little experience in the Windjammer cafe. We only ate there twice but the food was excellent and about as good a buffet food as you'll get. We found this also to be true on the Rhapsody, which also calls their buffet restaurant, "The Windjammer."

Coming back late from tours required us to have a burger in the Solarium burger bar in the afternoon a couple days. This restaurant has hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and pizza. The pizza was good but the burgers had little taste, but they filled the void until our late dinner seating.

Not being much of a drinker (I had only 3 alcoholic drinks all week), we don't frequent the bars. We did meet some friends in the Schooner Bar, a relatively quiet piano bar, for drinks. At one point we could have ordered.

The Orpheum Theater is where all the big shows are done. Entertainment is very taste related so what pleases one may not please another so you can take this with a grain of salt. We thought the Wave Revue programs were long on glitz but short on real entertainment. Most of the entertainment was mediocre with some real bright spots though. Mr. Glen Smith, a piano player/singer/comedian was riot, and although I did not go, a Beatle impersonator band was talked about as being excellent.

The pools were crowded as usual. The Solarium pool is inside but has a retractable roof, should the weather turn bad. Since we had great weather, 77-78 degrees every day, the roof was usually open.

Being big snorkeling fans, we booked this activity at each port.

In Key West we snorkeled a reef which was interesting, but not inspiring. However, we did see our first shark, a small Nurse Shark, and some small barracuda.

In Cozumel we opted for the Xcaret ecological park where we snorkeled through 2 underground rivers. Each was quite different from the other and both were fun and interesting. The rivers are punctuated with enough openings to the above ground that sufficient light penetrates for good snorkeling. However, in some parts you have to keep your head above water due to the intense darkness. You can see the cave walls but that's about all. These stretches are few and usually short. The deep cracks in the rock underground were fantastic. You seem to be completely safe here and can't get yourself into trouble because you are required to wear full life preservers while snorkeling. These prevent anyone from diving down into these massive cracks and not coming up. The excursion was billed at 7.5 hours but you really got about 5.5 hours in the park, which is not enough. There are many other things to see and do here, even if you never enter the water. For those interested, you can even arrange to swim with dolphins.

We booked a Sting Ray City tour off the Internet with Captain Crosby Watersports in Grand Cayman. This was interesting to say the least, since Capt. Crosby is real laid back. This tour wasn't necessarily cheaper but there were only 17 people on the boat, rather than 90, as in Key West. We first spent about an hour snorkeling for conch, and someone apparently found some since Capt. Crosby marinated it a had it available raw to eat. I passed. Next we snorkeled with the stingrays for another hour. They are remarkably friendly and enjoy being fed. I found they take the food better if you dive down about 6 feet to them though. Their skin is not slimy like a fish, but rather smooth and bumpy. They don't mind being touched in the least. You should experience this if at all possible. My wife is the world's biggest wimp and she loved it. These animals are not frightening in any way. Go for it.

In Ocho Rios, Jamaica we first went to a local shopping center by cab. We had friends who walked with two young girls, aged 12 and 14. They regretted that decision because of the harassment they received, much of it directed at the girls. Our trip, meanwhile, was pretty much a waste of our time. I doubt we'll bother to go into the town again. Another couple we knew went to the old market area, but left as soon as they could. They also thought they had not made a wise decision and were very uncomfortable during their short stay. After our brief encounter with the town, we took the San San Yacht cruise. This excursion is a little pricey at $63 each but probably worth it. We climbed Dunn's River Falls then went snorkeling for about an hour on a reef. The snorkeling was not inspiring since there were few fish and almost none over about 5" long. However, it was nice to be in the water and see the reef anyway.

On the various bulletin boards many people have complained about how pushy the cruise lines have become about attending art auctions, shopping on board, and the incessant photos. I found the photographers would not take your picture if you simply said no. There were not any announcements about attending the art auctions, other than in the daily newsletter, the Compass. I have attended art auctions and purchased some art in the past but don't feel anyone was pushy about it. Had I not stumbled across the auction, I would never had known it was going on. Likewise, I don't recall any announcements to push people into the shops other than one or two stating when specials buys were available. A friend was particularly pleased about the announcement because he feels he made a good buy on a watch.

I don't gamble my money away because I believe this is a losing proposition to start with. I'd rather spend it than give it away for nothing. My wife, on the other hand, likes to play the quarter slots. On her first machine she managed to win $45 but by the end of the cruise, that and a little more were gone.

Yes there is vibration on the ship and it is noticeable, but not frightening. It sounds and feels like a prop cavitating. It appears to be something not completely repaired from the breakdown the ship had some time ago. Since the ship seems to work fine, they are probably holding out for a dry dock period to fix it.

Disembarkation was the fastest I've had on any ship. I had a late flight but was still off by 9AM. As usual the airline screwed things up by over booking, lost luggage, another cancelled flight, and eventual late arrival. If we could eliminate the airlines, this would have been a perfect vacation.

All in all, this is a beautiful, clean, well maintained ship that is a credit to the industry. If you've sailed on the Rhapsody of the Seas, you've sailed on the Enchantment as well, and vice versa. I would not hesitate to sail on this ship again.

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