This was our third cruise on RC, and we have previously cruised on Monarch of the Seas. I was expecting the Enchantment to be nice and bigger, as it was an upgrade from our previous ships. My husband and I (ages 29 and 32) were cruising alone as a belated anniversary trip. We recently moved to Tampa Bay from North Carolina, so this also may have colored my experience between cruises...
We began our trip by utilizing the Park N Ride service. We paid in advance, and had a great experience with them, at 7.95/ night verusus what the cruise terminal charges. The bus took us straight to the terminal to check in. My only complaint was that the bus driver waited on additional passengers who decided to take extended bathroom breaks (when the bus was already FULL and capable of leaving), but I understand the man works on tips and wanted to accommodate all he could.
The Gold Member check in was great. We breezed right through our line, and were on the boat in minutes. Overall, from parking to check in, the process took less than an hour. I think it is great the RC has separate lanes for Gold members, Platinum, etc. This really makes the process smoother for returning cruisers.
Once on board, we signed up for the Premium Beverage Package. This was easy to do, there were tables all around the terminal as we entered, and it took just seconds. So, do not worry if you fail to do this upfront, it is easy to do on board. I would also advise that unless you are a heavy drinker or one looking to party nonstop, I would pass on this. Once one has doled out 330.00 for two people to drink, there seems to be alot of pressure to get your money's worth, and it really isnt worth it. There alot of drink specials for 5-7 each, making it cheaper just to buy each drink individually, unless you have very expensive taste. The Coke cups given out were nice though. As far as our experience using the package, it was seamless for the most part, though there are some rules they dont mention and some choose to follow and some dont. For example, only one drink per 15 minutes, which makes perfect sense, but if someone is not aware of this and orders a shot, technically they can be told no if they order anything else within 15 minutes. Additionally, you cannot order one drink until the other is completely finished. Of course there are bartenders who stick with this and some who dont. The other issue we had is that wine is covered up to 12$ per glass. DH ordered one at dinner that was 12.00 and Candice, the dinner server, refused to honor this and stated it was only $10.00 per glass (only truch of liquor). We later confirmed she was incorrect.
Staterooms are as I remember on RC- SMALL. We had an interior room, and it had barely enough space to stand and dress, and the bathroom smelled like a dirty toilet the whole time. This never improved. The two showers I tried to take the duration of the cruise were ice cold. No hot water. Which is why I only tried twice then gave up.
Dinner in the formal My Fair Lady dining was not as good as I recalled. I would have expected more variety than what was offered. I tried the Prime Rib the first evening, and it was subpar. The appetizer list was so short that I got ceasar salad every evening. The desert list was not overly great either, I had the chocolate cake and it was dry and bitter.DH ordered an advertised shrimp appetizer, but was told they decided not to make it, and brought him snails instead. Overall first dinnder was not great.
Day 1 was the family comedy show- now, if you are pretty conservative or defensive about what your teenage and younger kids hear, then skip this. It IS funny, but not sure I would go "family" friendly. Overall I enjoyed the show, though I would not have wanted to bring my younger children.
Day 2 is when we discovered that apparently, cruising is the new way for 15 year old hispanic girls to celebrate Quinceañera. It should also be mentioned that these girls apparently come from a culture that accepts 13-15 year old girls wearing thong and brazilian cut bikinis. More than one american woman and I locked eyes, and shook our heads. I would never let my daughter out this way. On top of the bare buns, they sing and chant. A lot. And are herded around by twentysomething year old guys and their "guide"... makes perfect sense... To their credit, the girls on my cabin floor were fine, and thankfully RC has an adults only pool, so that shortened my contact with them on day 2.
Day 2 is all about Nassau. The ship arrives there around noon. We did breakfast in the formal dining room, and it was actually terrible. It was the only morning we ate there.
As we disembarked from the ship, the line going into Nassau was not too bad. It only took a few minutes to get off. Unfortunately, we were immediately mobbed by cab drivers, tour guides, and people trying to sell us a timeshare in Cocoa Beeach when we arrive back home (my DH actually got sucked into trying this and we did go check it out- side note, they DO give you your money back and the bonuses they promise you for going to check it out, it isnt a scam, just a sales pitch). Now, my husband and I do NOT book excursions thru the cruiselines, as they are outrageous. The previous issues are the downfall of doing it this way. We often cab it to Cable Beach or Atlantis. However, it was very dreary this day, so we went to the Straw Market... which is quite an experience. Men and Women of all ages beg you to buy their merchandise, the same merchandise that every person in the building is selling. We did bargain for alot of cool trinkets to bring home. And I did find the "black market row" of Gucci, Louis, Coach, etc. They are pretty convincing counterfeits! Just be warned, if you go this way, hang on to your possessions, and do not stop for every "sad" case you see. Overall, Nassau is just rather dirty, and the people will walk right up on you and try to hussle you, the tourist with the money.
Night two was the Captains Dinner. Again, not impressive food options. I actually went with the Linguine this time and it was great. This was one of the staple items they served nightly.DH got the "Featured Dish" was was touted as being "just like" Chilean Sea Bass... but not the sea bass, which has been served in past years. DH barely touched his plate, so it was not very good. He selected scallops as the appetizer, and it was identical to the snail appetizer for the day prior, nothing but a tray of butter and grease.
The comedy act was a juggler, who was mildly amusing but not that great. The Love and Marriage Game Show was following that act, and it was actually very funny... not for the easily offended though. There were very few photo booths set up for formal pics, in the past there have been multiple spots, we found one. And 22.50 for ONE picture???? CRAZY.
Day 3 was CocoCay... and I was sorely disappointed in the whole event. We were corralled into a huge line to board the smaller boat to tender us in, then forced to wait 30 minutes for every seat to fill to leave. A poor elderly woman in a wheelchair was literally strapped to the front of the deck of the boat to ride all the way there. I was rather concerned about this. Once docked, we looked around the island. For those of you who remember having fun sailing around the area on a Catameran, this is a thing of the past. They do not allow sailing and do not bring out the boats any more. The water was dirty and murky- I lay out on prettier beaches with clearer water every Saturday. And OF COURSE, bare 13-15 year old butts were chanting everywhere. We got about 1/2 an hour of sun before the rain hit. We were one of the first ones back on the boat, because we saw what was coming. Apparently few others did. We were forced to sit on the boat for 45 minutes in the rain while they waited for EVERY single person who had a change of heart to make it back. And poor Grandma in the wheelchair was strapped to the deck in the rain and forced to wait there, cold and shivering, while 150 15 year olds climbed back on. It was awful.
Back on the boat, we grabbed yet another cold buffet lunch of hot dogs, burgers, etc from the Windjammer. My personal opinion was that Park Cafe sucked worse. They had few options, and the ones they did have were not good.
For dinner, we skipped the whole main dining thing and took a late dinner in at the Windjammer. We arrived at 830, apparently they close at 9, and are darn rude about it. They will literally pull the dishes out from in front of you, regardless of how much food is left. I have been told the crew gets all of that food at the end of the night, so maybe they just want as much as possible to take, I dont know. The evening comedian is the same guy from night one. This time he improvs alot of it- and IS an adult show this time. Do NOT take your kids unless you are VERY relaxed about what they hear. This show is about 45 minutes long, and is pretty funny.
Day 4- Disembarkment day... They serve breakfast, but again, dont be too close to cut off, or you will have dishes snatched from your hands! Our zone was one of the first called after guests who carried off their bags so we were out quickly. It only took 36 minutes from line up at customs to the arrival back at park n ride. That went very smoothly, and PNR had our car pulled out and waiting up front upon arrival back at the parking lot. I cant say enough about them, and I would use them again any time.
We did check out the Cocoa Beach Resort, since DH had given them 20.00 and said we would come look around. They did refund us the deposit and gave us the vouchers for the free stay and 2 for one cruise and 75.00 cash, but it was after sitting through a high pressure sales pitch after 4 days at sea. Dont subject yourself, or just say no right away and cut to the chase!
Anyway, next time I think we will try Allure or Oasis. Perhaps 32 year old me just has developed higher standards than the 27 year old me who cruised this RC line last, or perhaps Monarch really WAS better than this boat. Either way, I think we will move up in class next time, and see the better islands and have more amenities. But if you are young, a beginner cruiser, and dont live on the Gulf Coast, then this is a great value for what you get.