Enchantment of the Seas
by Austin Kearney
August 28, 2008
Enchantment Of The Seas -- Sail Date August 28th, 2008
Cruise Theme -- Avoid Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna
Thursday -- Departure Ft. Lauderdale
When we booked our cruise on-line, we also made reservations for Chops steakhouse for our departure dinner. We had a wonderful dining experience, with excellent food, service and ambiance. The captain entertained two junior officers at the table next to us. It is worth the extra $25 per person for a wonderful dining experience. Over the next couple of days we talked to a number of fellow cruisers who wanted to dine in Chops but were unable to get a reservation and were put on waiting lists. You may want to book on-line early to make sure you get a table when you sail for the day and time you want.
Friday -- Key West
We sailed at 4 p.m. and headed North versus South into the hurricane. Dinner in the My Fair Lady dining room was wonderful. We were on the deck 4 level of this two level facility. The food, tablemates and service were excellent.
Saturday -- Nassau
As we exited the ship around 11:00 a.m. you slip your sea pass card into the scanner to log you off the ship and walk down the ramp to the pier. We hit the bottom of the ramp and looked left (East) towards the foot of the pier and about a mile away was a wall of brown water descending from the black clouds above. This wall was racing towards us like a freight train at full throttle. There was no "on" ramp set up yet to re-board the ship. Running at full speed, we knew the storm would hit us before we could make it to the building ashore. There are several 20'x60' shelters on the pier. The shelters had roofs but no sides of any kind. One shelter held dozens of phone booths and was full of people. Another had no phones and no people so we ran to that and went to the far end opposite the direction the approaching storm. Fellow passengers followed our lead and in no time we had lots of company.
When the storm hit, there were suddenly 50 mph winds and rain blasting sideways at fire hose velocity. Our position at the far end of the shelter and the fellow passengers windward of us kept us perfectly dry. Five minutes later, the storm was past us, the skies were blue and sunny and we continued into town avoiding the evaporating rain puddles. Every hour on the hour for the next three or four hours we received two inches of rain in five minutes with the accompanying high winds. These were the very outer bands of Hurricane Gustav that was passing the Western end of Cuba hundreds of miles away as it headed for the Gulf of Mexico. To have such violent weather so far from the central eye says Royal Caribbean made a good call on our modified itinerary. Hurricane Gustav was Southwest of us and Hurricane Hanna was a couple of days out, Southeast of us.
Sunday -- Sea Day
We booked this cruise two weeks prior to sailing without much concern for the itinerary. We didn't attend the big acts in the Orpheum Theater and can't comment. However, the group, Surfside, up on the pool deck, set a fine Caribbean party mood and the other musical groups we like have been noted.
To me, it seems the larger the ship; the more space there is despite the expanded passenger load. This ship was totally booked, but at no time did it feel crowded. Despite walking all around the ship, four days is not enough time to get to know her.
Diamond Crown & Anchor Status
When you check in, you receive a second Sea Pass type card that gets you into the Concierge Lounge on deck eight. In the morning, this lounge spreads out a fruit, pastry, juice and coffee buffet. In the evening, hot and cold hors d'oeurves plus an open bar with a wonderful ocean view and the attention of Julian brings you back. Your attendant, Julian, by the way, could be the double for Denzel Washington. Ladies take note.
There was a Diamond member luncheon get together that we forgot to attend on day four of the cruise. As Diamond members on this cruise, there were three days of food and drinks to schedule. One night was a Crown & Anchor member reception. Joanne and I had settled into a table at the back of the lounge and just enjoyed the cocktails, food and music. One of the ships officers asked to join us and we of course asked him to sit down. He really wanted to know why we kept returning to Royal Caribbean. This was not a rhetorical question but a RCI officer doing some marketing research. We talked for about ten minutes and he seemed genuinely attentive to our responses. The bottom line is Royal Caribbean works very hard to make sure repeat customers keep repeating. I've got to say they do a very good job. To paraphrase Arnold, we'll be back.
We also had chocolate covered strawberries left in our cabin one day and his and hers baseball caps left by the cabin elves on another. When we first got to our cabin there were two Diamond Member coupon books. The coupons got you things like a 20% Spa credit, a complimentary cocktail, water or soda, a free photo, casino credits, internet credits, 10% off in the gift shop, and much, much more.
There was a special line for Diamond members when boarding in Ft. Lauderdale, however at the time we arrived at the pier, 12:30, there was no wait for anybody. At the end of the cruise, we were issued white luggage tags. This was the first group of color-coded passengers to be called to disembark.
How To Get A Free Cruise AND Make Money
Next we own 100 shares of Royal Caribbean. Let them know that and provide RCI your stock and cruise info and on a 4 day cruises, they credit your account with $50. (On a longer cruise, the credit is $100.
Next, we had points built up on our Royal Caribbean Visa card and converted them for another $250 credit to our Sea Pass account. Lastly we had signed up for an excursion in Cozumel when we booked the cruise and so there was another $196 credit to our account due to the cancellation. After four days of bar tabs at the pool, wine at dinner and browsing the shops aboard we had to go to the customer service desk on our last day and collect $265 of unspent cash in our account. They would not credit it back to the credit card we provided at check-in to cover our Sea Pass charges.
If you are on the fence about booking a cruise on the Enchantment, drop me a note. I'll convince you to go and I may possibly join you. If you've followed me this far, drop me a note and critique my review. I really do these reviews to connect with fellow cruisers such as yourself and make a journal of my travels. I look forward to hearing from you.