I recently cruised on the repositioning cruise of the Enchantment from Baltimore to Orlando and had a really great time. I was a solo cruiser, although did have a buddy on the same cruise that I hung out with. I hope to provide a brief an honest review of my experience. (hope I don't bore you too much).
I flew overnight from the Los Angeles area to board the ship the next day. When I arrived early that Saturday morning I caught a super shuttle (look for discounts online they are there) for $20. The driver of the shuttle tried to pack (shove) all the luggage he could in that van and I had to keep an eye on him to make sure he did not damage my luggage (or others). When we arrived at the port he dropped us off at a shack outside the port in case you did not have tags. I had my tags and they were placed inside a nice holder that I purchased from Cruise Critic (I recommend getting them they look and work great!). He told me he could not drop me at the luggage area so I took off without tipping (I hate doing that but he deserved nothing, so that is what he got)
Dropped my bags off with the porter; no problem. I arrived about 10:30 am so the lines were not long. As a Diamond member I went to a line that allowed me to pretty much walk into the main check in area. Again, there was no long wait. I would say the entire check-in process took about 10 minutes. After checking in I left the terminal to try to get a "real" Maryland crab cake before I left the city. Some friends in the city took me to a place named the "Rusty Scupper" for a quick lunch. The food was GREAT and the service fantastic. (and it was free, my friends treated me, BONUS! Ok, ok, I picked up the tip leftover from the van ride)
After returning the terminal I boarded the ship and the cabin was available. I was in an outside cabin #3556. I usually travel in a balcony and I prefer being as high up and as far forward as possible because I am one of those that actually enjoy the rocking and rolling of the ship. The cabin was efficient and contained all I needed. I know some may complain about the size but I have been on the Monarch and even the Empress so I know what small can be and this was just fine.
This was my first sailing on the Enchantment and I understand that it has been stretched and recently refurbished. I see evidence of both and I can tell you that the ship looks great. There are areas where you can see signs of he rage but these are areas that I am sure that the crew continues to monitor and handle. I mean things like minor painting and so on. In fact during the voyage they were revarnishing the wood along the rails of the ship and minor touch-up painting was ongoing. In short, she looks wonderful.
I have heard that the crew on the Enchantment is one of the friendliest and I must agree. Everyone I encountered was really great, helpful, efficient etc. The CD, John Blair was great and his right hand man Katrina (lol) was great too. I thought the shows were mixed in quality, but I enjoyed them all. Some of the adult late night comedy was really adult. I am waaay ok with that but if you are going to go there just make it funny shock only goes so far. The Royal Singers and Dancers were adequate, however I have always been a little harsh on entertainment in that the performances can be a bit canned. I wish they would, especially after performing for many months together, throw away the playbook and show me what you really got. The talent was there, but perhaps they have directions from the HO to stick to the canned approach.
One bright spot was some of the headliners brought on board and The CD John Blair gave what I thought was a surprisingly great tribute to Neal Diamond. I was glad I had a chance to tell him that because there was some special moments in that show for me. (shout out to John if you read this and your right hand man too!)
Captain Gus in his daily announcement would offer his quotation of the day and I LOVED that! He seems approachable, knowledgeable and in charge. Leadership can be a tricky thing and this captain seems to have found that right balance as evidenced around the ship.
Look folks, if you want five star then no mass marketing cruise line will provide that level of service. With that said I thought the food was fine. There were many offerings. I was never satisfied. If I were to provide a percentage I would say that 85% of the food was great and the other 15% was ok but what can you do. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I was happy. They even had grits! Lol! The dining room service was fine and I had dinner in Chops one night and that was great as usual.
Before I wrap up allow me to share a couple of complaints and this is not really about the ship or RCI. I have read on CC about two things and I got to witness both. One are th chair hogs. I mean I would see people get up and 6AM to find the perfect chair and they even has special colored clips to attach towels so they could claim their property, I mean really people? They would claim the prize and then go back to their cabin for hours, really?!
The other is the good folks who snack while getting food in the Windjammer. Really?! These people would get some item put it on their plate and then snack away and they grab the tongs with those disease infested hands to gather the next item for their consumption, My goodness.these are the ones who either get sick or spread their special brand of "love" to others but you can't say anything, or at least I can't because I am sure that would be seen as a hostile act.. but if you are reading this, and you know who you are CUT IT OUT! Eat at the table!!!
My cabin steward (Danny) was great! He was cheerful and did a fantastic job. The thing I look for is the ability to gauge my schedule and take advantage of it. It took Danny a day and he was always on the spot to freshen up the cabin. I had a minor problem and he had it taken care of in a few hours. The server (Hansraj sorry if I spelled it wrong) in the MDR was personable and always provided great suggestions of what to try for dinner. The gentlemen in the Diamond Lounge were great and I visited them for my "medicine" each evening. They were great. Other servers were also great (Ivon, Candice and so on).
Ports of Call
All were good stops. I did the usual stuff island tours but the one that stood out for me was taking the city bus in St. Maarten (actually a van with a cardboard sign in the windshield) for $2 to the airport to watch the planes land. Simple stuff I know but I enjoyed it. We also stopped in Nassau because Coco Cay was unavailable and we had a medical emergency onboard. I was happy with the substitution.
Leaving the ship was a breeze. The bags were ready once I got off the ship. I picked up a rental car and spent a couple of days in Orlando prior to flying back to Los Angeles.
I have read that some have issues with the food, or the cabins, or the age of the ship or the entertainment and so on. In my opinion your vacation will really be what you make of it. I actually slept for the first couple of days and spent limited time doing the many many activities. But this is what I needed to do for me. However, whenever I did plug in I found that the crew, the ship and the people always provided a really pleasant atmosphere and an overall great experience.