Royal Caribbean International - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Enchantment of the Seas
by Rob J
Western Caribbean
September 21, 2006

We are a (fairly) young couple (me 40, my wife 38). We live in Overland Park, KS and are the proud parents of 17-month old twin girls. Between the two of us we have been fortunate to have cruised several times. Cruise lines we have experienced either individually or as a couple include: Windjammer ("Flying Cloud"); Carnival ("Imagination"); Princess ("Sapphire Princess") and RCI ("Rhapsody of the Seas", "Voyager of the Seas").

About the Review:
There have been several reviews posted that have done a very good job of detailing the Enchantment of the Seas' cabins, her public areas and onboard amenities. Rather than duplicate previously written information this will be a high-level review of our cruise experience aboard the ship along with shore-based activities during the cruise.

We flew Midwest Airlines nonstop from Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale arriving on time at 1:10pm. FLL is an easy airport to navigate and we had our bags collected and accounted for within 20 minutes of exiting the aircraft. We had not purchased transfers to the ship through RCI and instead opted for the 10 minute cab ride to Port Everglades and Pier 25. Cost for the fare was $16 (excluding tip).

We arrived at the pier at approximately 1:45pm. We were immediately greeted by the porters who tagged our bags for transfer to the ship. As most travelers know tipping baggage handlers is customary if not expected. While there are signs posted on the main terminal building stating that the porters are salaried - and tipping is not necessary it was our experience that the porters are not shy in asking for "a little something to help the poor". So make sure you have some $1 bills in your pocket when embarking and debarking the ship.

We had booked our cruise directly online through Royal Caribbean's web site and also had taken advantage of online check-in prior to the cruise (aka "Set Sail Pass"). I highly recommend doing this as it greatly speeds the embarkation process. We entered the terminal - completed final processing - received our Sea Pass card (room key/charge card combo) and were onboard the Enchantment in about 10 minutes.

Because this was a relatively short cruise (4 days) we decided to book the least expensive cabin available. We purchased a category N cabin and were assigned #2075 (port side). While my wife had previous experience with an inside cabin (on Carnival) I had always enjoyed either an ocean view or balcony cabin on previous cruises. Prior to the cruise I wasn't sure how I would react to having an inside cabin. As it turns out for me having no natural light is secondary to having space.

While our cabin was located on deck 2 and in the "bowels" of the ship it was part of the new section that was added to Enchantment when she was stretched in 2005. A plus was that we enjoyed circular shower doors as opposed to the "stick to your body" shower curtains that I understand are still employed in the original cabins on the ship. And while the cabin was cozy from a space perspective - the cabin itself was organized efficiently and we found we had enough room for our clothes and storing our luggage. But fair warning: if you book this class of cabin and you and your cabin mate aren't already "intimate" you will be after your cruise!

We had breakfast in the Windjammer Marketplace each day of the cruise. We also had lunch in the Windjammer on the days we were not ashore. While we found the food to be plentiful and certainly kept warm our overall grade was a B-. The variety was minimal and the flavors somewhat mediocre. But we know from previous cruises that expectations regarding buffet food aboard a large cruise ship should be kept at a reasonable level.

I am also sorry to report our overall disappointment with the dinners served in the My Fair Lady dining room. Using my previous experience aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas and the Voyager of the Seas I observed a considerable decrease in both the quality and variety of offerings for the evening meal. Not to say that the food was unacceptable it was not. In fact 2 of the 4 dinners I would rate as good/very good (the lamb chops being very good). However, it just seemed that overall the dinners have dropped a few notches in quality, options and appeal when compared to our previous cruise experiences with RCI.

I am happy to report that service aboard the Enchantment of the Seas was outstanding in all areas that we experienced. We received exceptional service from our cabin attendant Juralyn (Philipines); our waiter Edwin (India) and Asst. Waiter Appolanario (Philipines). The bar staff were all attentive and efficient as were the staff at the Explorations! and Guest Relations desks. Kudos to RCI for continuing to emphasize customer service it really shows onboard for the guests.

We attended the Welcome Aboard show featuring the comedy of Greg Otto. Pretty funny guy. His late night "Adults Only" comedy was good, too. Although even comedians that are marginally funny seem to be hysterical after you enjoy a few cocktails!

Paul Rutter was our Cruise Director and did a good job overall. However the member of the entertainment staff that most stood out in my mind was Joey Jack (or Jacks, or Jacques). This guy led a variety of entertainment activities making them more interesting with his dry sense of humor (read: satirical) and timely delivery. Very funny guy.

Other noteworthy entertainment we enjoyed included karaoke in the Spotlight Lounge (MC'd by Joey) and an appearance by the "almost" Village People during the 70's disco party in the Viking Crown Lounge. Of course no cruise aboard an RCI ship is complete without witnessing the game "Quest" billed as the "wildest 30 minutes on the high seas" (and I believe it). We also enjoyed the Bon Voyage show featuring the magic/comedy of Levent.

Activity poolside included the obligatory belly-flop contest (kicked up a notch with the addition of a diving platform to maximize the "pain" portion of the contest). Conspicuously missing however was the horse racing that I had come to expect on RCI cruises during the day(s) at sea. Not sure if that has been removed from all cruises or just those with shorter-length itineraries.

Excursions and Activities Ashore:
There were two ports of call on this cruise: Key West and Cozumel. We did not participate in any cruise-sponsored shore excursions in Key West. Rather, my wife and I took a walking tour of the area near the pier stopping at places recommended by friends who had previously visited Key West. Notable places we visited included the original Kino sandal factory/store and Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" store/restaurant (for the obligatory Margaritaville Key West t-shirt). We also enjoyed a frozen drink at The Flying Monkey (an outdoor bar located on Duval Street). I had a friend recommend lunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Company (on Greene Street near the marina) so we stopped there and enjoyed the Callaloo & Artichoke Dip and a basket of conch fritters. We followed lunch with a stop at the famous Blonde Giraffe for a piece of key lime pie on a stick that was dipped in chocolate and frozen. Wow! The calorie meter was spinning like crazy at this point but if you like key lime pie it is worth the extra pound or two!

Although the temperature and humidity in Key West were approaching unbearable even at 7:30am I managed to coax myself out of the air-conditioned ship for a morning run. For those of you who are interested it is approximately 1.5 miles from Pier B (where the Enchantment docks) to the Southernmost Point marker (at the end of Whitehead Street). Thus a roundtrip to the marker (via Duval Street and Whitehead Street) is approx. 3 miles. If you want to add another mile or so you can run around Mallory Square and a few other places. I took this opportunity to "scout" places to visit before the hoard of cruise passengers descended onto shore.

When we arrived in Cozumel there were two other Carnival ships in port. However, Enchantment was the only one that had access to the International Pier. For those of you who recall Hurricane Wilma passed directly over Cozumel in October 2005. The devastation is still very apparent in the fact that 1 of the 2 international piers was completely destroyed and the remaining pier (where the ship docked) was heavily damaged and is still under repair. But the lingering damage is evident all along the coast as well and you can see where locals are working hard to repair structures and replace sand on the beaches that was lost to the storm.

Fortunately my favorite local restaurant Ernesto's still survives albeit after a complete rebuild following the hurricane. I have been enjoying the authentic fajitas served at Ernesto's since 1994 when I began coming to Cozumel for scuba diving and it has now become my wife's favorite place to eat when we are on the island. If you are looking to sample authentic Mexican cooking I highly recommend Ernesto's. The restaurant is just a short walk from the pier (towards town) on the ocean side of the highway.

Following lunch I returned to the ship to gather my dive gear and meet the others on the pier for our 2-tank dive in the afternoon. RCI contracts its scuba excursion (cost was $80 US) with Sand Dollar Water Sports. Sand Dollar did a very good job of organizing the group (there were 8 divers total from the ship) and getting us onboard the dive boat. Emmanuel was our dive master and Jonathan was the official videographer (in the event you wanted to purchase a DVD of your dive). We enjoyed two nice dives that afternoon; the first being a wall dive at Santa Rosa and the second a shallow drift dive at Paradise Reef.

As an FYI for those thinking about diving while in Cozumel - another well known dive operator "Dive with Martin" was located on the pier and was also offering a 2-tank dive that afternoon for $70 US.

On our last evening aboard the ship Juralyn (our cabin attendant) left a copy of the final day's Cruise Compass that included departing information and a customs declaration form. We also received four color-coded and numbered luggage tags indicating the group with which we would be debarking. Since our flight back to Kansas City wasn't before 12:00pm we did not indicate to the Customer Relations desk that we needed to be included in priority debarking. Consequently we were placed in group "Blue 2" - which was the second-to-last group scheduled to depart the ship.

Both the Windjammer and the dining room served breakfast from 6:30 8:30am the morning of departure. The Schooner Bar was open from 7:30 9:00am and the Pool Bar open from 8:00am 9:00am for those wanting to purchase one last cocktail or as the case with my wife a Diet Coke to enjoy with breakfast. As we had done the entire cruise we made our way to the Windjammer for breakfast. Available was the usual fare and although it was crowded with passengers there was seating available without a wait. We completed breakfast around 8:30 and spent the remainder of our time onboard relaxing at a table by the pool. Around 10:30am our group was called and we debarked from the ship.

Once off the ship there was a brief wait before we were allowed into the terminal to collect our luggage. It was here that I experienced the only "hiccup" of the cruise. Because FAA regulations at this time did not permit liquids to be carried onboard the aircraft - I had packed 2 bottles of Kahlua and 1 bottle of premium tequila that we had purchased duty-free in Cozumel. The 2 bottles of Kahlua were packed snuggly into my rolling duffle bag well cushioned by my clothes. The bottle of tequila was packed into my not-so-well cushioned dive bag along with all my scuba gear. During the luggage transfer process the tequila suffered a terrible fate as the bottle was broken when my dive bag was apparently thrown onto the concrete floor of the cruise terminal. Despite the fact that I had placed all of the bottles in a 6mm thick ziplock bag (as a precaution for this very event) the bag did not contain the spilled tequila. Consequently I arrived to discover that my entire dive bag (and its contents) had been soaked with Sammy Hagar's "Cabo Wabo" tequila. Bummer!

So the lesson here CARRY your duty free liquor off of the ship THEN pack it (snug and secure I might add) into your suitcase.

Overall we give the Enchantment of the Seas and her crew high marks. While we would like to see RCI improve the quality of the food onboard it should be commended for its focus on delivering excellent customer service. From a value perspective I think it is tough to beat a cruise vacation and based upon my experience with RCI as a whole I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Enchantment of the Seas or this itinerary.