Embarkation Day - 1 (Wednesday)
I didn't have enough vacation hours to take off the whole day, so I worked until 3. My boyfriend met me at work and drove me to the airport. I wish he had come along with us, but in the beginning it was only supposed to be me and my niece (a nice aunt/niece trip). Then my mom wanted to come, but ended up asking my sister and bil to go instead as a vacation for them. Anyways, I didn't want my niece to feel as if I wasn't going to spend any time with her, so I just left it at that and promised my bf we will go on a 7 night cruise in Feb. ;)
I used Spirit Airlines for the first time. The flight was direct from DC to FLL and it was cheap! (as long as you avoided the extra charges for premium seats, drinks, etc) I'd heard some negative things about this airline, but it wasn't too bad. I would use them again if I just needed to get from Point A to Point B and it was cheap. They didn't charge me for my suitcase being 1.5 lbs over, thank goodness. The coolest thing is that we got to see the space shuttle from the plane as it went up!!
My bil got us free rooms at the Courtyard by Marriott at Dania Beach (next to the Bass Pro Shop) by using his Marriott Rewards points (his cruise was also free through his rewards points). My family met me at the airport as they had already arrived earlier in the day, and we took the free shuttle to the hotel. My sister had signed us up for the 11 AM hotel to port shuttle the next morning.
The night was relatively uneventful. All the girls showed off the clothes we had brought to wear to dinner. :) Then we ordered some dinner to be delivered to the hotel and ate. I took a shower and was dead asleep by 10:30.
Embarkation Day (Thursday)
I woke up way too early, I guess my body thought I had to go to work! ;) Went back to bed for awhile, and then I got up to shower. put on my bathing suit, some clothes, and made sure I had all I needed in my carry on. Everyone else got ready, and we skipped breakfast because I assured them they would have enough to eat at the Windjammer in a few short hours.
We went to hotel computer area, finished up our various games on Facebook that required some action (yes, we're dorks) and then boarded the hotel shuttle at 11AM. We were at the port in no time, and dropped off our luggage to the porters, gave them a little tip, and headed to the line. The lines to check-in weren't bad at all and were separated by what deck you were on. My niece and I went to ours and we were finished before my sis and bil checked-in. We all took the customary pre-boarding picture and headed on up to board the ship! We were onboard by noon - I remember seeing the clock on the pool deck say 12 as we walked over to the Windjammer. I purchased my customary Pina Colada on the way inside. I always have a Pina Colada with my first lunch! ;)
The Windjammer wasn't very crowded yet. we were able to find a table without any difficulty. For you Honey Stung Chicken lovers out there, they did have it! Also, it was different than I'd ever had it. The HSC I've always had is more like fried chicken strips, all white meat. The ones on the Enchantment were more like chicken pieces (breast fillets, dark meat portions, etc) but breaded in the honey crumbs or whatever it is they use. It was very good!! Not dry at all. Everyone filled themselves up, and then we moved out to the pool area until our rooms were ready.
My niece chose to get the soda package, so my sis took care of that as we hung out by the pool. The water felt really nice, since the sun was so hot! It wasn't long before it was 1:30 and our rooms were ready. We walked down to our rooms (me and my niece were in 4073 and my sis and bil were in 3084) and my niece's and my luggage was already there! Sweet! We went ahead and unpacked before the muster drill. More than enough space for all of our things. Suitcases fit nicely under the beds. We never saw our room attendant... in fact, this was one of my issues I had on this cruise. I don't even know who the person was! My coupon book and C&A gift were dropped off by different people, so I have no idea. We also didn't have any ice (or the bucket!) this day. I just felt the service was crappy compared to what I've experienced in the past. And since I didn't even know who the attendant was, I couldn't search for him or her in the hallway.
Headed up to muster, then back to the room to drop off the vests. Then we met up with the rest of the family and headed up to the upper pool deck for Sail Away. My sister took a ton of pictures and I just relaxed on a lounge chair, extremely happy to be away from my job for a few days.
We went to the Welcome show. It wasn't bad. I thought the comedian was a little dry, but everyone else seemed to like him. My niece wasn't very interested in going to the Teen Activities (she was worried no one would like her), but we convinced her to go to the meet and mingle event which happened to be the same time as our MDR time - 8:30. We told her if she didn't like it, then to just come back down to the MDR and eat with us. She never showed, so we thought she was having fun.
I had the Vidalia Onion Tart (yum!), Mediterranean Quesadilla (it was ok), and Chocolate Cherry Cake (really dry). Our waiter was Jonathan and the Assistant Waiter was Jermaine. Our tablemates were from TX, and it wasn't until the last night that we discovered the wife/mother was also on CC and we had posted in the same roll call! (the roll call was not very active, so I had stopped checking it prior to the cruise) Too funny. Our dining service was REALLY slow, in my opinion. It took awhile to just get the menus, then to order, and then for the food to come out. It was nearly 10:45 by the time we left the MDR.
After dinner, we walked around the ship and casino and eventually caught up with my niece on the pool deck talking to another girl. Turns out she skipped the Meet and Mingle, but met another girl while walking around. My bil was still hungry, so we went to the Solarium and he got a burger and hot dog. He had ordered the shrimp ravioli, and there were seriously maybe 6 pieces of ravioli in his dish. I would be hungry, too! I told him to order more next time, but he seemed self-conscious about ordering more than one plate.
I wanted to hit the hot tub as did my sis and bil, so we went up. Unfortunately, only 1 hot tub was open and it was packed. I gave up, went to the Solarium to get a drink (and discovered the Fruit Punch.. omg! I've always just drank the lemonade and tea before, but this stuff is GOOD!) and went back to the room. My niece walked in 1 minute before her midnight curfew, then we watched tv (I think we watched Yes-Man approx 5 times on this cruise) and went to sleep.
Key West Day (Friday)
We wanted to get to KW earlier than later before the heat really got too bad, so we met up for breakfast at the WJ at 7:30. We got off the ship, and walked down to the Southernmost Point. It was starting to get really hot already. Took our pictures, then took Duval St all the way back and did some shopping. I ate some Key Lime Pie at the Blonde Giraffe - very good! My niece got hungry so we stopped at Island Dogs for her to eat (her biological father lives in KW so she visits there every year and she picked this place) and I got a nice cold beer. Her biological father met up with us before we got back on the ship. I was incredibly hot and sweaty at this point, and had some major tan lines from the tank top I was wearing - we went straight to the pool after changing when we got back on. Unfortunately, the heat really got to me and I developed a migraine and some nausea, so my niece and I headed to the room to take a quick nap/cool off. I grabbed some light food from the WJ and took it down with us. My sis and bil remained on the pool deck to get their perfect tan.
We just walked around the ship, played some slots in the Casino, and relaxed in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. I thought the ship was very nice - considering that I've been on the Mariner once, and Sovereign 3 times, it was a nice change to see something different. I thought the shops were in a really neat arrangement.
I ended up leaving a $5 tip and a note to our attendant to please leave another set of large towels in the bathroom and hoped that our service improved. At least we started getting ice. :p I did NOT pre-pay tips, and I couldn't help but to wonder after reading various threads on CC if maybe my service was impacted because I wasn't on that pre-paid tips list. That's pretty crappy if you ask me.
My C&A gift was dropped off during the afternoon, and it was a very nice zippered tote bag.
This was Formal Night, so we got ready a little early and got our pictures taken. I had the Caesar salad (yum!), Chilled Pear Soup (yum!), Linguine with Marinara (yum!), and my fave dessert... sugar free Coconut Cake! I ate one there, and took another slice back to the room. MDR service was again really slow, and our tablemates thought the same.
I hit the hot tub in the Solarium for a bit after dinner, and then went back to the room and watched tv with my niece and ate my coconut cake in bed. :)
Cozumel Day (Saturday)
I was very excited about our day in Mexico. I got up at 5:30 to see the sun rise, but it was too hazy/foggy. It was nice to walk around the pool decks without running into people, though. Ate some pastries and drank some tea with my sis, and then went back to the room to prepare for Cozumel and also to wake my niece up. My bil and I wanted to try the rock climbing wall, and it opened at 8 so we figured we should go as soon as it opened so no one could see us make a fool of ourselves. ;)
My bil made it up the wall in no time at all, it seemed! I was really nervous, but I did it. It is definitely harder than it looks, but I did make it to the top eventually and rang the bell! We ate at the WJ for breakfast, and by then it was time for us to get off in Cozumel.
I had made reservations for us at Nachi Cocum (private beach resort area). We took a taxi over, and it was sooooooooo beautiful. Definitely the highlight of the trip. All you can eat and drink. And the drinks kept coming, no doubt!! We all went parasailing, rented some beach mats, and just really enjoyed ourselves. My sis wanted to go shopping, so we left around 2:45 to head back into the town area. It was very sad to leave (however, the sunburn 3 of us got from there served as an excellent reminder).
I think we were pretty tired by then, though and didn't do a ton of shopping (better for my wallet!). Picked up a few things, then decided to head to the ship and drop our stuff off before coming back out to the shops at the pier. My niece chose to stay onboard and shower, etc while we went back out. I ended up buying 2 rings for $100 at one of the shops, so I was happy. We said goodbye to Mexico and got back on the ship.
A massive headache got to me, and the thought of sitting in the MDR (and nothing on the menu had caught my eye) did not bode well with me. Plus, my sunburn was starting to get to me and I didn't feel like doing anything. So I relaxed in bed while my niece got ready for dinner (she wanted to impress the boys at dinner ;) The rest of the family went to dinner, and I eventually got dressed and went up to the WJ to get some food before they closed. I enjoyed it more than the MDR - it appeared to be almost identical to the MDR menu, but it was all you could eat. Plus, they had other options that caught my eye. The service was much better, too! I met a waiter named Elvis Jackson - he was so great that I complimented him on my comment card. I sat with some other guy who was sitting alone, and we bs'd for a bit, and then I headed back down to see if my family was back from dinner yet.
I think we watched Yes Man again this night.
Sea Day (Sunday)
Our last full day, and it was spent at sea. It was nice to sleep in a bit. We all met up for breakfast at - you guessed it, the WJ! The day seemed to past by too quickly. I ended up ahead on the slots in the Casino, so I quickly cashed out and left it at that. I was too sore (burned) from the sun to want to lay out around the pool, so I spent a lot of time inside the ship. I finally made it up to the Viking Crown Lounge, and wished I'd made it up there earlier. It was very nice. I bought a few gifts in the shops and picked up some cruise itin books from the Study. Gotta plan that next cruise, you know. ;) I filled out the Comment Card and dropped it off, then checked my sea pass charges (by far the cheapest I've ever spent on a cruise! I didn't even break the $100 mark) I'm pretty sure I took a nap at some point, as I'd taken a nap everyday. Part of being on vacation!
We went to the Farewell Show, which included Haines Magic. I thought some of the tricks were cheesy, but my family loved it all. I went back to finish packing my suitcase and met up with the family at the MDR. I had the Strawberry Bisque (yum) and Caesar Salad (yum), and some Rigatoni with Chorizo (pretty good). I had some Chocolate Cake and Vanilla ice cream for dessert (very good!). Oh, and a White Russian to top off my dinner. ;) Service was better this night and I'm sure it helped that they got their tips! :)
Everyone but my niece headed to the Quest right after dinner (while she finished her suitcase). Had a blast... got there a few mins too late so we watched instead of participating, but it was very funny. Everyone was pretty tired after it was over, so we went back to our rooms for the night.
I still never saw our attendant, so I ended up leaving the tip in the room for them to find on Monday.
Debarkation Day (Monday)
Oh, so sad... the last day! We woke up around 7ish and got ready. Left our rooms for the last time and headed to the WJ for one last breakfast. We were scheduled to get off at 10, but we entered our waiting area around 9 and were almost immediately called to get off. Very fast! Found our luggage (that was a chore - my niece's was missing so we had to hunt around the whole place before finally finding it on the opposite side of where it should have been) and then went through customs quickly. Caught a van shuttle to the hotel (warning: if you are looking for a regular taxi, look for the sign.. don't get caught at the "ground transportation" area like we did! it was $11 per person). I re-packed my luggage a little bit to redistribute the weight, and then caught the hotel shuttle back to the airport.
Flight was slightly delayed due to storms, but I slept while we waiting on the runway. Then it was back to DC. Although I was sad to leave, it was very nice to see my bf. (and my dog... I missed them both!)
In conclusion, the ship was very nice and I wouldn't mind sailing her again, although not the same itin (I could do without KW). The service was below what I've had in the past, but it wasn't so awful that I wouldn't go again. The food was average - some stuff was really good, other stuff wasn't. It seems like the food choices are the same I've had in the past, but prepared in different ways, so that was a nice touch.