We just returned from a 4-night Bahamas cruise on Enchantment, and as first time cruisers, we thought a shorter cruise on a smaller ship was a perfect introduction to cruising. With all of the bad/mixed, and good reviews, we went in with expectations set.
Embarkation was, as everyone else has mentioned, a total breeze. We used the off-site parking service, and were a bit too early to board. The pre boarding process was very orderly, and swift. Since we boarded fairly early, at 11:00, we decided to visit the Windjammer buffet, before the rest of the ship got on. Needless to say, this was a mistake, as it was an absolute madhouse, with a stampede of diners that acted like they had been starved to death. More on that later.
Ship - We thought the ship was in excellent shape, especially inside. The pool area could use a few paint touch ups.
The outside bar areas were very nice, but really needed to have more bartenders on duty. Several times, I found only one bartender, and quite a few patrons, which after going through the Sea card process, can mean a bit of a wait.
State Room – We had a large exterior cabin on the second deck, towards the front. Even with the front location, we barely felt the ship moving. The bathrooms are small and the showers are even smaller, The removable, adjustable height shower head helped. Water pressure in the sink and the shower was fine. There was no strange odor coming from the bathroom at all.
The room was nicely appointed, and kept immaculate by our cabin steward, Endra, who couldn’t have been nicer. He was great! It was nice coming back to the room after breakfast and dinner and seeing that the room was cleaned up, fresh towels and the next day’s Compass laid out for us on the bed with a great towel character. He was attentive and courteous and we tipped him extra because the gratuities that are allotted are not enough for the service that we received.
Coco Cay - We docked in Coco Cay where we were tendered and took a ferry over to the beach. Grandeur of the Seas was also there that day, which made it quite crowded. It was beautiful there….true Caribbean paradise! If you are looking for a relaxing, peaceful day, then walk all the way down the beach until you can’t go anymore and you will hit “Barefoot beach”. It was beautiful, immaculate and peaceful and the water was crystal clear with barely any shells in the water. The water was very for quite a way out, and the sand was like powder. Get there early to get an umbrella!!
If you’re looking for more excitement and crowds, then stay on the part of the beach closer to where the ferry lets you off. They had contests, music and dancing, and activities. The water is deeper there and better to swim in. This is where you can do your excursions that you pay for on the boat. The crew from the ship comes over and works on the island as it is owned and ran by Royal Caribbean. The BBQ was good with burgers, hot dogs, ribs, corn on the cob and BBQ chicken, fresh fruit, salads, and cookies. The crowd was huge, and the line moved very slowly. There is also not nearly enough table seating to accommodate such a large crowd. Most folks sat on their lounges to eat, which is quite awkward. We spent a beautiful day on this island and was the highlight of the trip, we would love to go back!!
Nassau – We honeymooned here about 30 years ago, and were interested to see any changes. It was a surprise to see the Queen’s Staircase now in the rear of the hospital parking lot. There really is no historical site seeing to speak of, unless you choose one of the excursions. Just shopping along a very crowded Bay Street. Atlantis is nothing but a tourist trap, unless you are a guest there. You need a tour bus, or the taxis drop you off in a completely different area and your spaces to visit are severely limited without buying their Discover Atlantis package. And for the money they charge, it's not worth it.
After a morning of site-seeing, and shopping, we decided to head back to the ship for lunch, and then walk over to Junkanoo beach, which is “free”. In the heat, it’s a long 30 minute walk. As soon as we stepped on the beach, we were accosted by chair vendors. If you don’t want to sit for hours in the sand, on a towel, you have no other choice. The woman wanted $20 for two well-worn chairs, but I got her down to $15, as it was only half-day. There are vendors selling food and drinks at very reasonable prices, and playing music way too loudly. The adjacent scenery leaves something to be desired, and the entrance to the water is total rocks and shells. I would recommend water shoes here. But, the water was clean, clear, and blue.
The Straw Market is basically dozens of vendors selling the exact same things, mostly t-shirts in very tight quarters. Expect to be hassled relentlessly if you even so much as breathe in the direction of their "unique" merchandise. But, they’re just trying to make a living……
Wind Jammer Buffet - The Windjammer is your typical cruise buffet - something for everyone, and lots of it. Usually there is quite a large crowd formed before they open up, and when they do it’s like a stampede of people that act like they have been starved, with no manners, or etiquette. It gets really crowded, really fast, and seating can be very limited. If they expanded the early hours, it might lessen the huge line, waiting to open. The food looks great, and is plentiful, but most of the hot items are barely warm. There are plenty of staff walking around clearing tables, there should also be at least one person walking around with ice water, and iced tea, so you don’t have to get up and stand in line for every refill.
Main Dining Room - I must've eaten in a different Main Dining Room than the negative reviewers, or maybe I just got lucky, but all the food we ordered was hot when it needed to be hot and cold when it needed to be cold. And everything I ordered was delicious. The service while not exceptional was very good. They go out of their way to let you know the MDR dress code, but there are still folks there in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Oh well…………….
My only issue was that we had 5:45 reservation, and the doors did not open until 6:00, so there was another huge line. We got up to the door and were told we were in the wrong line, for our table number, and we needed to be in the other huge line, so we went to the back of that line. We were seated around 6:10. They need signs on the first night, telling you which line to be in.
Entertainment – The main shows in the Orpheum theater, were nicely done, and the entertainers really gave it their all. Maybe the song and dance numbers weren’t main stream enough, as most people didn’t recognize what movie,or musical they were from, so the reception was luke warm.
Disembarkation was not so smooth. It probably took us just under an hour from when our number was called, to when we were off the ship with luggage in hand. The only hold up were the very slow customs agents, and waiting for the luggage carousel.
We thought the officers and crew did a great job, they were always professional, friendly and helpful, without exception. For the price we paid, and the small issues we encountered, this cruise was a very good value. We were very happy with like Royal Caribbean and will continue to cruise with them in the future, maybe on a larger boat. As with any vacation, cruises are what you make of them. If you go looking to nitpick, your experience will reflect as such. Set realistic expectations, and I think you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.