Enchantment Of The Seas
December 7-14, 1997
Cruise Review
 

    The Enchantment Of The Seas is a brand new ship and is in her inaugural season, she was christened on July 12, 1997, her maiden voyage began on July 13, and she set out on her transatlantic delivery sailing on September 6, 1997. She has 11 passenger decks, is 916 feet long, gross tonnage is 74,000, she holds 2,446 passengers, and has a crew of 760. The Enchantment alternates between a Western and Eastern Caribbean itinerary. We decided to book a Western itinerary since we had already visited the islands on the Eastern itinerary when we cruised on the Monarch last year. I found a wonderful cruise only travel agent through the Internet.  We had planned on a family cruise within the next couple of years, I came across some great breakthrough rates on the mailing list I was on and we ended up booking a little earlier than we planned.  We chose an outside "D" category stateroom with a balcony, we booked room 7642 and my parents and Eva (sister) booked  room 7640.
 

Pre-Cruise:

    We arrived in Miami a day early, as RCI put us up in the Biscayne Bay Marriott.  Our flight arrangements had us arriving in Fort Lauderdale, we arrived at 2:30 pm Saturday December 6.  The RCI representative's were waiting for us at the gate, they assisted us in claiming our luggage and took us to a shuttle which took us to the hotel.  We were all settled into our rooms with a view of the port by 4:00.  We spent the rest of the evening at South Beach and the Bayside Mall.  Miami was having a cold front so it was cool that evening.
 

Embarkation: 

    Sunday morning we were able to check in right at the hotel and avoid standing in line at the port.  It turned out we would still have to get in line at the port since my Dad's boarding pass was not there.  Our luggage was picked up about 10:30am and we were shuttled over to the port at 12:00.  Fortunately the RCI representative had called ahead and my Dad's boarding pass was ready and waiting, we did not have to stand in line.  The obligatory photo was taken of us as we boarded the ship.  We were escorted to our cabins on deck 7 (the Commodore deck).  It was much larger than the inside cabin we had on the Monarch.  There was plenty of drawer and closet space including shelves behind the vanity mirrors. Our luggage fit perfectly under the beds, except for the E-Z cart which fit into the closet. The bathroom was a decent size with shelves behind the mirror, although the shower was quite small. There was a safe in the cabinet above the television, we used the magnetic strip on the boarding pass to lock/unlock it, later when we actually read the instructions it stated that you should use a credit card. We had a small refrigerator in the cabinet below the television set. My favorite was the balcony, I was already looking forward to sitting out there eating breakfast or having a drink!

    We were starved so we headed straight for the Windjammer Cafe for lunch.  The food was okay, there didn't seem to be as many selections as there had been on the Monarch.  After lunch we dropped off our shore excursion forms and explored the ship.  It was very beautiful with plenty of  brass and wood, the Solarium had lots of marble and a snack bar with pizza.  It was similar to the Monarch in many ways but yet so different.  I can't even begin to compare as they are both beautiful ships.

    Our luggage arrived early so we unpacked to get it out of the way.  The compulsory muster session was held at 4:30 and was pretty smooth.  We headed up to the pool deck for the Bon Voyage party and took pictures as we left Miami to the music of the Calypso Band.  It was another cool day so the pool deck emptied out quickly but we stayed and viewed the sights as dawn was beginning to set in.  When we returned to our room we met our cabin steward, his name was Ricardo and he was from the island of Trinidad.  He was very nice and a little shy.

    We had requested the second seating so our dinner was at 8:30.  There was a show prior to dinner in the Orpheum Theater featuring a comedian named Ed Regine and juggler named Thien Fu , so we got ready early.  The Orpheum Theater was very nice, I don't think there was a bad seat in the house.  This is the first time we saw our Cruise Director, Ken Rush.  He was an excellent cruise director and very entertaining.  We really enjoyed Thein Fu, he was not only a juggler but a comedian as well.  The My Fair Lady dining room was also very nice, it is two-story with a sweeping wooden staircase in the middle.  We were seated at table number 53 on the second story next the window.  It was a table for six and it was just the five of us, we later learned that the sixth person missed the ship in Miami.  Our waiter, Emmanuel Charles from France, was great.  We we also very pleased with our assistant waiter, Unal from Turkey, he didn't understand English very well but he was very charming.  The food was very good and much better than the Windjammer.  Tonight we skipped the midnight buffet and turned in early..
 

Monday:

    Key West, Florida was our first stop and we had to tender in. We brought a tray down to our cabin from the Windjammer.  This was my first opportunity to eat out on the balcony, how nice it was!  It was another cool day in Florida and many people weren't going into town as they kept changing the announcements to include more tender tickets, they finally announced that tender tickets were no longer required. There was another ship docked at the main pier so I assume that is the reason for us docking so far out, it was a long ride. We went ashore about 9:30 and walked around the shops close to the pier.  Our niece lives in Key West so we surprised her with a call, we were happy to find that her sister was visiting.  They met us at the aquarium and took us to Duval Street, which was the main street with the Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, etc.  We spent a nice afternoon with them and headed back to the ship about 2:00 as we were sailing at 3:00pm today.

    We had lunch in the dining room since there were better selections than at the Windjammer.  After our food had time to digest we worked out in the ShipShape center.  Tonight was formal night and there was the Captains Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party in the Carousel Lounge prior to dinner.  We met Captain Arnolf Remo and had our picture taken.  Dinner was a French menu and very good, Emmanuel taught us how to say thank you in French, "Merci".  The waiters sang "O' Solo Mio" prior to serving dessert.  Tonight's show was an impersonator named "Scott Record", he was very good and imitated several well known singers.  Tonight's midnight buffet was in the Galley, we went but I didn't eat anything since I was still stuffed from dinner.
 

Tuesday:

    We weren't scheduled to arrive in Cozumel, Mexico until noon so we had an early workout at the ShipShape center and then brought a tray down to our cabin from the Windjammer.  As we were having breakfast out on the balcony we passed by Cancun and soon after stopped off to let off those that had signed up for tours in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.  Again I must say it was wonderful having a balcony!  As it turned out we arrived in Cozumel early, we were there by 11:00am.  We rented a Jeep for about $65 and drove to a couple of beaches, we spent the afternoon at Playa San Francisco and Playa Palancar.  Got several bites from bugs in the sand, I heard they were sand fleas.  Later we headed back to San Miguel and did some shopping and then went to "Carlos and Charlies".  This was quite an experience, we had a yard long Margarita and danced and watched others get crazy! There was another ship docked near the downtown area, I think it was Celebrity. We returned the Jeep and re-boarded the ship about 7:00pm as we were in Cozumel until 8:00pm.

    Dinner was Italian, my favorite!  The waiter's brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday to T.J. (his Birthday was on the 2nd).  Unal also taught us how to say thank you in his language (Turkish) but I won't even attempt to spell it.   Tonight's show was "The Not So Newlywed Game", this was a blast!  The midnight buffet was on the pool deck and it was also toga night so there was a toga party going on.  We didn't stay long as it was quite windy up on the pool deck.
 

Wednesday:

    This was the first of our two days at sea.  We slept a little late and had breakfast in the dining room.  By the time we went up to the pool at about 10:00, which I thought was fairly early, most of the chairs were taken.  We finally found an empty spot on the upper deck close to the railing and moved some chairs over so we could hear the Calypso band.  It was a sunny day but there was still quite a bit of wind up there.  We braved it out and hung out for the better part of the afternoon, I finally ordered a "Love Connection" which I hadn't done on the Monarch and wished I had, very good!  Had lunch at the Windjammer and I must point out again that there was not much of a selection, the selections seemed to be the same every day.  We watched some of the pool games and then went to work out at the ShipShape center.  We took a tray of snacks from the Windjammer down to our cabin and drank Tecate (purchased in Cozumel) on the balcony.

    Before dinner we went to the Repeaters Cocktail party in the Carousel Lounge, Captain Remo gave us a brief history of RCI and answered questions from many passengers.  Tonight was Caribbean night featuring lobster, too bad I don't like seafood, everyone else enjoyed it!  The waiters came out dancing with a flaming dessert on their heads.  Tonight's show was a comedian and a ventriloquist, my parents and Eva went but T.J. and I decided to turn in early.

 
Thursday:

    We arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica about 8:00am.  This is the only place we signed up for a tour as we had been forewarned how dangerous this island was.  We had our obligatory breakfast on the balcony and decided to head into town since our tour wasn't until the afternoon.  This was not my favorite stop, it seemed like a poor area and there was plenty of security.  We were able to get a cab next to the ship in the enclosed gate area.  We went to the Taj Mahal shopping center which was also enclosed with bars, there was a couple of other cruise ships in Ocho Rios today and within an hour it was swarming with people and very hard to shop.  Not only were the people from the island pushy but they tried to sell us "smokes".  We hurried up with our shopping and got a cab ride back with a cab driver that was parked out on the street and had latched onto us from nearly the moment we arrived, I don't think he took his eyes off us while we shopped.  We were a little weary of him but we were running short on time and if we had caught a cab from inside the shopping center, they make you wait until the bus style cab is filled up.  We had quick lunch in the dining room.

    Our excursion was the Sundance Cruise to the Falls, we boarded the yacht right next to the ship and it was a short ride to the Dunn's River Falls.  On the way we had a glass of rum punch that was too strong.  At the falls we formed a line and climbed the falls holding hands, we stopped along the way for several photos.  We had come prepared, we were advised that we would need water shoes and a disposable waterproof camera, otherwise you have to rent some shoes there and have the tour guide carry your good camera along with several others around his neck.  This was a lot of fun, I hadn't quite know what to expect as I had heard from others that didn't really enjoy the falls because it was too crowded and the tour guides were rude, but for first-timers we all thought it was great.  On the ride back we had yet another glass of rum punch and our guide gave us some history and pointed out areas of interest as he had done so on the way over.  We arrived back at the ship about 4:30pm and promptly sailed at 5:00pm.  Jamaica was everything I had heard it would be: dirty, pushy, crowded, etc., however I did enjoy the falls.

    Had another Tecate and snack on the balcony.  Tonight was American night at dinner and the waiters sang patriotic songs.  This was also Rock N' Roll night so some people were dressed in fifties attire.  After dinner we went to the Fifties Quest in the Carousel Lounge.  This was a lot of fun, there was a scavenger hunt and it seemed several people had done this before as they were prepared (even to take off their bras and pants - you have to see it!), there was also hula hoop contests.   After the games Johnny Danger and his band played some Rock N' Roll and everyone danced up a storm.  No midnight buffet for us tonight.
 

Friday:

    The final stop on our itinerary was Georgetown, Grand Cayman.  We arrived at 8:00 as scheduled, it was also necessary to tender so we picked up our tender tickets early.  While we waited for them to call our number, we had breakfast on our balcony.  We were in town by about 9:00 and walked along the streets browsing the shops. There were four cruise ships in Grand Cayman (including the Enchantment) but it didn't seem as crowded and it certainly wasn't as claustrophobic as Ocho Rios. This was the most expensive island, there were a lot of exclusive shops.  We bought some of the famous Tortuga Rum Cake we had heard so much about, among other souvenirs and headed back for lunch in the dining room.  We took a cab to Seven Mile Beach and spent the afternoon walking along the beach.  We asked our driver to drop us off at the Holiday Inn as this was a central location and the provided free use of beach chairs and facilities.  We had heard that the traffic back towards the pier was heavy around 4:00 when we needed to head back so we started early.  We began walking along the street to try and catch a cab and never did, we ended up walking all the way back, it really wasn't that far, about three miles.  That was our exercise for the day!

    Had another snack from the Windjammer and then it was time to get ready for dinner, this was the second of our formal nights.  We posed for a couple of formal photos and then dinner was the Captain's Gala dinner.  Tonight's show was a singer by the name of Terri Bryant and El Gaucho, a comedian who did tricks with a sword, he was pretty funny.  The Gala Midnight Buffet was very eye appealing, we stood in line twice, first to take pictures and then to eat.  They had shrimp and all sorts of food and desserts, very good!
 

Saturday:

    Our final day at sea!  We slept a little late and headed straight for the pool, we learned to get there early and were there by about 9:00am.  Even this early there was not many pool chairs left, we did manage to find some on the second deck overlooking the pool, great spot.  We claimed our spot and took turns going to the Windjammer for a quick breakfast.  It was a clear sunny day, perfect weather!  We spent almost all day at the pool, even brought out a tray from the Windjammer for lunch.  We finally headed back to our rooms about 3:00.  We had planned on visiting the ShipShape center again but were a little tired from this entire trip so we just hung out in our room, you guessed it - on the balcony!

    Tonight was tip night, we had received our envelopes in our room earlier that day.  We were very happy with our service so we did give the recommended amount.  We probably would have tipped extra but we were in for a surprise, on all the brochures and on our previous cruise the recommended amount was $3.00 per person/per day for Waiter and Cabin Steward and $1.50 for Assistant Waiter.  They handed out new recommendations of $3.50 for Waiter and Cabin Steward and $2.00 for Assistant Waiter.  I had already budgeted and put aside for the original recommended amount including a little extra if we were happy with the service and of course I adjusted but didn't leave any extra.  This was the topic of the evening among many of the passengers, it seems everyone was surprised at this sudden change.  The theme for dinner was International night and again was not disappointing. Since this was our final night, our luggage had to be out in the hall by midnight.  When we returned to our cabin, we found a souvenir book of the Enchantment on our bed, I believe it is given out to all passengers for the ships inaugural season.  After dinner we packed up and turned in early since we anticipated the following day would be a long one.
 

Sunday:

    Our flight wasn't until 3:00 so we went to breakfast in the dining room since we would be one of the last set of passengers to disembark.  We said our goodbyes to Emmanuel and Unal, he would be headed home to Turkey for a vacation after six months at sea.  It worked out perfect, our color code was called soon after we finished  breakfast so we didn't have to spend much time waiting around.  As usual it was a little chaotic trying to find our luggage, fortunately we had placed red zip tags on ours to make it easier to spot and we found ours early.  It did take longer to find my parents and Eva's bags as they hadn't done the same.  Right when we found the shuttle headed to the Fort Lauderdale airport, it began raining.  We got pretty wet, which probably explains why I have a cold now.  We were at the airport by about noon so we had a long wait.  The trip home was pretty uneventful, everything went according to scheduled.  We arrived in Albuquerque at 6:40 as planned.
 

Final Comments:

    We had a wonderful time!  We did feel a vibration at times but got used to it and it didn't bother us.  The food in the dining room was very good, however we were a little disappointed with the Windjammer.  The entertainment was excellent, we enjoyed every show we attended.  The cruise staff was wonderful, Ken rush is an excellent cruise director and there were many activities round the clock.  We loved having a balcony, I don't think I could ever go back to an inside cabin. It was nice to sit out on the balcony early in the morning and see various islands we were passing, at night we were able to see the lights on the islands, it was a beautiful sight.   The movies shown were movies that are already on video whereas on the Monarch they were newer movies, but who spends that much time in their room to watch movies anyhow!  One comment about the phone, make sure you place it correctly on the cradle, often when we tried calling my parents room they wouldn't answer when we knew they were there and vice versa, because the phone was off the hook but looked like it was on correctly.  Did get a chance to speak by telephone to a gentleman by the name of Tom whom I met on rec.travel cruises, I wish we had met but time flew and we were all so busy.  We highly recommend the Enchantment to anyone planning a cruise! We all had such a great time that now we are trying to figure when we can go on another one, hopefully a longer one like the Legend of The Seas on a ten-day Panama Canal itinerary!

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