My partner and I sailed on a 5-day Western Caribbean cruise on Enchantment of the Seas Nov 1, 2008 visiting Grand Cayman and Cozumel with two wonderful sea days. We called this our "Vote and Run Cruise" because we live in South Florida, Florida was a major swing state and we wanted to get away from the final push of the election (It was a great idea!!!) I'm in my 40's and partner is in early 50's.
We have cruised many times; our favorite cruise lines are Holland America and Royal Caribbean. We had a bad cruise on Princess and would not sail with them again. We enjoy the overall vacation that Royal Caribbean provides. We love Holland America because cabin comfort, food and service are superior, but they struggle with entertainment.
We have been spoiled somewhat by being able to go on Radiance of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas. They were doing rotating 6 and 8 night Caribbean cruises out of our home port of Ft. Lauderdale, but they have been located to longer cruises. We got the new BIG Independence of the Seas and will be getting the Oasis of the Seas next year. We are just not interested in traveling on ships that large, plus they are priced high. Our favorite ship has been the Radiance of the Seas which we sailed on twice. She is EXCEPTIONAL and other ships pale in comparison.
Embarkation: As always, Port Everglades does a great job. We got there are about 11:10 and were on the ship at 11:30. Very easy. Royal Caribbean does a great job.
We set our expectations low and knew not to except the Radiance of the Seas. In many ways, we were pleasantly surprised on Enchantment of the Seas. The food and service in the "My Fair Lady" Dining Room were extremely good; very comparable to Radiance and better than Jewel of the Seas. Our great server Russell "Crowe" as he called himself, Clayton as Assistant Waiter and Kirat our head waiter all did an exceptional job. We felt extremely welcomed and well taken care of.
We had expected the ship to look dated and in some ways it did, but other areas were impressive. The ship was very clean, they were constantly working to keep her pretty and overall she was very nice. There was a bit too much peach furniture in the Centrum and shiny white tile and bright lights that made the room look dated, but it was still pleasant. We found the dining room and the Orpheum Show Lounge to be very classic and beautiful. Carpets in both of these rooms looked brand new.
The ship has a huge main pool deck that is very nice, but it was too loud and party-filled for us. We wanted to relax and not too interested in the pool side activities since we have seen them so many times in the past. On the day of embarkation, the main pool area was playing recorded pop music that was at a great volume and we would have liked more of that. The pool band was good, but extremely loud. On more than one occasion we had to move from our comfortable spots because loud, sloppy drunks sat next to us. We also struggled outdoors with smokers smoking on the non-smoking side of the ship. We didn't let it spoil our fun. We understand people have different needs from a vacation and it was just minor inconvenience. The ship has a lot of deck chairs so it was never a problem to relocate.
The Solarium: The Solarium was a pretty room, but nothing like the BEAUTIFUL Solariums on Radiance and Jewel of the Seas. We did swim in the solarium pool every day. The water was chilly. Not sure if pool does not have a heater or if it was not working. Solarium pools on Radiance and Jewel were very warm and lovely. The tiger head fountains that are supposed to spray water into the pool from each side were also broken. Again, we didn't let it get to us too much, but I hope they will fix these issues. They did a good job of keeping kids out of this Adults Only pool.
Cabin: We had an inside cabin on deck 2, but it was quiet and a great mid-ship location. Our tablemates at dinner complained about their cabin being too small, but we found ours to be fine. It was smaller than on Radiance class ships, but not by that much and it was laid out well. It had a tiny TV and an ugly salmon colored toilet seat that bothered me, but the beds were comfortable and there was plenty of storage in both the closets and numerous drawers. Our cabin steward was a let down. He didn't introduce himself on the first day as they always have in the past. Since we couldn't find him, we left him a note of what we needed and he didn't do it. He also removed our used pool towels from our first day swim and did not replace them. My partner tracked him down the next morning to get us our extra pillow, replacement pool towels and to make sure he put ice in our cabin. It was just the luck of the draw. There were many very nice cabin stewards on our deck. Our's did a sufficient job cleaning and did a better job after the first day. We generally tip a good cabin steward extra. This one put no effort into getting additional tip.
We were also impressed with the minimal roll and engine vibration throughout the ship: a very smooth sailing vessel.
Windjammer Marketplace: Enchantment did a mediocre job on this area as did the Jewel. Radiance really excels with this area. They use the exact same items, but Radiance makes sure they are hot, moist and fresh. Enchantment and Jewel both let items sit too long and presentation was not up to par. It had lots of choices and we certainly did not go hungry, but I try to eat healthier in this area and it's hard to do when fish is lukewarm and dry. I don't eat eggs, but partner was disappointed with reconstituted scrambled eggs; Radiance had real, fresh eggs. Partner gets up earlier than me and went to dining room for breakfast after first day and had real eggs. I just ate cereal, yogurt and fruit. Generally I'm very tempted by the bacon, hashbrowns and pastries, but they didn't look very good so I was able to be good.
Chops Grille: We dined here on night three and it was good, but a step below the WONDERFUL experiences we have had with Chops on Radiance and Jewel. On previous cruises, the steak had bold, robust aged flavor like a high end steak house. On Enchantment our steaks were fine, but no better than what I can make from the grocery store. I think they may have changed their beef supplier to cut costs. I had Dungeness Crab and Shrimp cake, Chops Grille Salad, T-bone steak, family stye creamed spinach and spiced corn with snow peas. Partner had New York Strip, salad, and we both had dessert. Partner disappointed with the blue cheese dressing that had little to no blue cheese in it. I had the Croissant Bread Pudding with ice cream on top of this wonderful almond brittle, and partner had mochachino cheese brulee with is really a coffee flavored cheesecake. Both were very good. They also had the best creamed spinach of the three RCI ships we have been on. Surprisingly, we had a top sirloin in the dining room the following night that had better flavor and was more tender than our steaks in Chops. We love to be able to hear the ocean, so we spent lots of time reading and walking on the promenade deck 5. We had a very nice time together out there. We had very nice weather,and comfortable temperatures the entire trip. We were shocked to come home and see that a Hurricane was forming south of Grand Cayman as we had a beautiful day there.
Ports of call: We have been to both before and enjoy them. The tendering process at Grand Cayman is long. Unless you have an early shore excursion, it's best to wait till about 10:00 to get a tender ticket and there is very little wait. We liked that they used the larger tenders from the island instead of the ones from the ship as they accommodate so many more people and don't feel claustrophobic and hot like the one's on the ship. We walked two blocks to the Bus Stop beside the library and took a bus (van) for $2.50 each to Sea Grape Beach which is beautiful. Bus service is cheap and reliable on Grand Cayman and I highly recommend it to anyone on a tight budget. We spent $10.00 total for the day. Sea Grape Beach had shaded pavilions with picnic tables and we spent a lot of time swimming in the beautiful water here. The sand is also absolutely perfect, soft, powdery and white. Very few rocks on the ocean floor here so exceptional place to swim and enjoy the ocean.
Cozumel: We took a taxi to Paradise Beach. Lovely spot. Chairs and umbrellas are no charge as long as you order food and drink from them. They had fountain sodas in a cup with ice, but we ordered cold ginger ale in a can; a tip for those concerned about getting sick on the island. For $10 each, you can buy a pass to use their water activities. They have kayaks and floats (which we used), water trampolines and a rock climbing iceberg (which was too hard..required more upper body strength than I have). Kids did great on it, but only the strong fit adults seemed to make it to the top. We really loved the water temperature, beautiful sunny day and the floats. Bathrooms, showers and changing areas were very CLEAN. Highly recommend this spot. Be sure to enter the water from directly in front of the entrance as it is smooth. Further down the beach there are lots of rocks in the water and several people hurt their feet.
Production Shows: We were happy to have two Production Shows on this ship; "Can't Stop the Rock" and "Stage and Screen". The crew of 4 singers and 8 dancers were the best we have seen on any ship. Top notch!!!
Election: We avoided the TV until election night. We started watching about 10:30 p.m. and were happy the election was called at 11:00 p.m. We can happily say we were having a lovely time on Enchantment of the Seas when Barack Obama was elected President. We went to sleep very happy. It was WONDERFUL to be away from all the election coverage on Nov. 1, 2, 3, and 4 and too not see any more commercials!
Dining Room; A+ Producution Shows A+ Cabin: B+ Cabin Steward C Windjammer Marketplace: B- Overall cruise experience: A- Ship size and Space Ratio: A
While not as beautiful as Radiance class ships, we were very happy that Enchantment never felt overly crowded, and it had a focus outward towards the sea which we love. We will be sailing her again in May 2009. Just not interested in huge inward-focused ships!