We boarded the Enchantment of the Seas for a 12 day Southern Caribbean Cruise at the Port of Baltimore. We like this port. It is 3.5 hours from our home and very easy to find. We arrived at 11:50 am and handed our luggage to the porters. The security screening and check-in took a ½ hour. By 12:20pm we were headed to the Windjammer for lunch. It was crowded, but we found a seat quickly. Make sure to try the Honey Tung Chicken—an Enchantment of the Seas (ENOS) specialty.
The staterooms were ready by 1:30pm. We were bargain hunting this cruise, so we booked 3015, an inside stateroom near the front of the ship. (We have sailed in inside, ocean view, balcony, and junior suite cabins in the past-- We balance the benefits of each category with the additional cost to see what is the best for each cruise.) This was the smallest cabin we have ever had at 140 sq ft. There was plenty of space for our clothes and our suitcases fit under the bed for storage. It was a place to sleep and we spent very little time there. Our cabin steward, Lyndon Jackson, provided excellent service.
The first three days were "sea days." The weather was sunny and in the high 70's, but it was too windy to sit poolside. We tried it for a time, until the wind picked up my full beach bag and blew it across the deck. The ship rocked some. We used the heated pool in the solarium (adults only) and watched 3 first run movies on the big screen in the 2-story theater. (The Artist, Tower Heist, War Horse) There was a family friendly matinee each afternoon and a show at 9:30pm. By the time the late movie ended the dancing was just getting warmed up in Boleros and the Viking Crown lounge. The DJ, Conrad, kept a nice mix of dance music going.
We selected the 8pm late seating for dinner. It is usually at 8:30pm—we were happy for the time change. We find early seating is too rushed on port days. Another big plus is that it is much less crowded and you get better/faster service. Our waiter, Manny Kimhoko, was excellent. Food in the main dining room was good—but, not spectacular. The chicken and fish dishes were better than the beef (generally tough). There were 3 formal nights. (1 too many)
We ate at the Windjammer buffet for most breakfasts and lunches. It was very crowded and difficult to find a seat. The food was average. On previous cruises we found eating in the MDR was often a tedious process for these two meals. We were pleasantly surprised that the service on this cruise was better. The ENOS advertises their 30-minute "Brasserie 30" service. It was the correct mix of a relaxed lunch atmosphere with faster service. We ate all three meals in the MDR the last two days at sea. We were sorry we had not done so sooner.
The only show we attended was the late night comedian, Steve Shaffer. He was excellent. Our dinner tablemates had good things to say about the other shows and raved about the "Tenors." Although this is our 11th cruise we attended our first "Quest." It was great fun and we will go again. I attended the first scrapbook session—but, the second session was scheduled for the middle of a port day and I missed it. Usually these are held on sea days to help pass the time.
There were six ports of call:
Tortola: 8am-5pm—This was the only port we had not visited before. The ENOS arrived early and we exited the ship by 8:15. We walked to the ferry dock and caught the 9AM Speedy's Ferry (30 minutes) to Virgin Gorda to visit the Baths (not to be missed). This was one of the highlights of the cruise and very easy to do on our own at half the cost of the ship's excursion. We took the 12:40PM ferry back. (the same time as the ship's excursion) We felt the 3:30 ferry was taking a chance.
Antigua: 8am-5pm —We had visited Antigua before and did not want to take the standard island tour. We found a couple from Great Britain that felt the same way. We shared a cab and set off for the more rural, northwest section of the island. We visited an old sugar plantation (ruins and a restored windmill), an old Anglican church, and Devil's Bridge (a natural formation).
St Martin: 8am-5pm —After 2 busy days we were ready for a beach day. We spent the day at Dawn Beach. It is on the border between the French and Dutch side. It was a nice beach, but, we are not fans of the excessive seaweed in St. Maartin.
St Thomas: 8am-5pm —This was the only shore excursion we purchased aboard ship. (STL1-Destination St. John: Coastal Cruise of National Park Beaches, 6.5 hrs) It was $40/person and left from the cruise dock. It included the ferry ride to St. John (45 min), a cruise around the northern part of the island, 3.5 hrs of free time on St John, and a rum punch on the ferry ride back. They even came around with refills. ? This was a bargain.
San Juan, Puerto Rico: 7am-1pm—Hundreds of cruisers disembarked between 7-8am, but, none of the businesses opened before 10 am. We took a city tour to pass the time and walked around the old city. We felt this port (with this schedule) was a waste of time.
Labadee, Haiti: 8am-3pm—We have always liked the relaxed atmosphere of Labadee. Unfortunately, there was another ship in port with us. The lunch buffet line and the security line to get back on the ship were so long it took away from the whole experience. In the past we walked to the far beach (soft sand) but, we did not like walking through the aggressive vendors. So, we stopped at the main beach area. It lacked vendors, but, there were large pieces of rock and coral along the shoreline. (bring water shoes) We did not swim.
We carried our own luggage off the ship in Baltimore and were through customs by 7:45am. We had an excellent cruise experience and will book the Enchantment of the Seas again sometime.