There were a lot of great things on this cruise – the food, the ports, the friendliness of other cruisers, and the service. There were a couple of things that were somewhat annoying – the constant photography during the first 2 days, our room being a meat locker, and the crowds in the pool during the day.
Sunday – Our gang of four (me, DH, my mom and dad) arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport before 3 PM. We booked our air and hotel independently. We retrieved our bags and called the Hampton Inn where we booked a room. Included in the price was complimentary transportation from the airport to the hotel and the next morning to Port Everglades.
Monday – At 10:45 AM, our van picked us up. We made arrangements for them to pick us up at the port to take us to the airport on Saturday. We arrived, tagged our luggage, breezed through security. The line to get our SeaPass took a few minutes and it was fairly warm in the terminal. The last thing to do was get our picture taken. By noon, we were onboard, eating in the Windjammer café. There wasn’t a seat in the café (already a number of people on board!), so we sat outside (which was pretty hot without a breeze). We walked around the ship, trying to figure out where everything was. I would have a time finding my way around on the larger ships. The Enchantment looked pretty good for an older ship. The only problem we noticed during our cruise was the pools were too small for a ship with 2,300 cruisers. They were packed during the hot afternoons and on the sea day.
We checked into our cabins in the late afternoon and watched a rainstorm hit. We completed our muster drill (short drill, but the heat wasn’t pleasant). DH & I went to the Viking Crown Lounge (the highest bar on the ship with a great view) and had a before dinner drink. I discovered the Drinks of the Day were really the best deal, at $5 a drink. Alcohol is pretty expensive on the ship. Dinner was good, the service great, the ship photographers annoying. I had the prime rib, which was okay, but not fantastic. The Vidalia Onion Tart as an appetizer was awesome. Dessert didn’t stand out, can’t recall what I had. Our waiter, Raj, and the assistant waiter (can’t recall his name, dang it) did an excellent job the entire cruise. From what I saw, all of the waiters gave fantastic service. DH & I meandered about the boat and went to the Solarium hot tub while mom & dad went to the show. Tuesday – We woke up pretty early to get a good start on our Key West day. Ate at the breakfast buffet in the café (was good, lots of variety), then walked off the ship and was assaulted by a pirate for a picture. Mom & dad decided not to join us on our journey to the southernmost point (a good 1 ¼ miles, coupled with hot weather is not appealing to some), so they went on the Conch train to see the town. We took our touristy pictures, walked back up Duval Street and had a beer at Sloppy Joes. We bought a few souvenirs, then headed back to the boat. We ate lunch at the main dining room, which was excellent. I had the chicken and wild mushroom pasta. Everyone said that the salad was the best, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for a salad. We had very good company at our table. We cleaned up for formal night. The gang of four had a pre-dinner drink in the Viking Crown, where there was no one. I had the roasted duck and lobster bisque which were fantastic. Dessert again was a bit lackluster. Mom really wanted formal pictures taken, so we did. They headed to the show, DH & I walked around the boat and headed to the Solarium again. I think this is when I noticed the room being the temperature of a meat locker. Adjusted the thermostat, nothing happened. The A/C was constant – never once kicked off. Just had to snuggle closer to DH for warmth.
Wednesday – We ate breakfast at the café, then packed our backpack with fresh towels and bathing suits for a day at Paradise Beach. We walked off the ship around 11 AM and got our picture taken with a sailor and a parrot. Walked through the Cozumel port area with people trying desperately to get your attention to buy their wares. Ran into mom & dad who decided to go back to the ship and lounge in the pool when no one was in it. We got in a short line for taxis and discovered a couple in front of us was headed to Paradise Beach too. We split the cab fare ($15 a cab) and headed to the beach. It was excellent. Free entrance, cold beer, good nachos, warm surf, great view, comfy chair and umbrella. We started a conversation with a couple from Manchester, England. We split a cab back to the ship with them. We would see them several more times during the cruise. When getting back on the ship, a storm was quickly approaching. We cleaned up and watched from our room some stragglers getting back on the ship. The rain hit, and the plank had to be moved because of the wind, I’m guessing. These folks were pretty angry at being denied boarding. Now, from the looks of things, I’m also guessing that quite a few of these folks had been partaking in the fine Cozumel drink. We felt a hard rock, much more than usual. DH & I both assumed it was the wind. The squall went away, and the soaked revelers were allowed on the ship. The captain (whose Norwegian accent was thick, so couldn’t understand 90% of what he said) came on the intercom and told us they were assessing some damage around the water line. What? Coming up to dinner, a couple was talking about a ship hitting us. We asked, and yes, one of the Carnival ships also in port had smacked into us, causing a dent in the Carnival ship, but we appeared to be okay. Wow! Excitement on the high seas!
Dinner was excellent. I had the scallop risotto, lamb shank with rosemary, and tiramisu. Our dinner entertainment was our waiters singing “O Sole Mio” (and it was noted that the waiters hail from 40 different countries, but none were from Italy). DH & I did our nightly walk around the boat, while the ‘rents went to the show.
Thursday – We woke up early to get one of the first tenders off the boat to Belize. We ordered room service, which turned out to be a wise idea. We were off at 8:45 AM. Belize has rainforest excursions or scuba diving, and that’s about it. We ported, and had a bit of trouble finding the pickup spot for cave-tubing.com. Found our tour and was off at 9:15 AM. Our tour guide, was very friendly, chatty and funny. We boarded a larger bus outside the city and headed to the rainforest. Sadly, there’s not much to see in Belize City. The place appeared extremely poor, dirty, and the place was flooded. Our tour guide informed us there were two seasons, dry and rainy. We were in the obviously in the rainy season. Our tour guide passed around some cashew wine for us to try. It was very different. :D We arrived at our site an hour later. We changed into our swimming suits and got a head lamp and tube. The tour guides took the tubes from the ladies and carried them to the river. Who said chivalry is dead? We walked through the jungle for about 40 minutes. By the time we got to the river, that cold water was heaven. We linked up in a chain and floated to the cave. Yes, there were bats. We floated for an hour or so down the river. We dried off, changed into our dry clothes, and ate at free lunch of stewed chicken, rice, and coleslaw. It was either pretty good, or I was starving. :D We bought Belizean beer and cashew wine while there. The Belikin beer sort of tastes like Red Stripe. We made it back to the ship in plenty of time (3 PM). Not sure if I ever want to go back to Belize, unless I take up scuba diving. We ate a snack in the Windjammer, then went to the room to take a nap. Dinner was again excellent. I had the beef and veal tortellacci, tilapia, and a three chocolate dessert. Our dinner entertainment was our waiters dancing. We decided to check out the Schooner bar (a piano bar), and we found our friends from Cozumel. They went to dinner, and we walked around the ship a bit before retiring.
Friday – This was a sea day, so we slept late, ate breakfast late. We found chairs in the shade by the pool area. We watched the belly flop contest, then ate a little lunch. Sometime during the pool volleyball tournament, I fell asleep. Vacation is hard. We went down to the cabin, filled out luggage tags and a customs form. For dinner, I opted for the wild mushrooms in puff pastry, scallops and ziti, and a varied chocolate dessert. All was really good. We went to the Schooner Bar, saw our Cozumel friends again. They went to a late dinner, but would be back. We decided to actually go see a show. I was entertained for a bit, but it was nothing special. I would have liked it more if I were a fan of musicals. Mom & dad said that the previous shows were excellent. We went down to our cabin and tagged our luggage, placed them outside the door for pickup. We went back to the bar and had a great time. We went to the next lounge over and danced a bit. We went back to the piano bar sing along with our new lot of friends.
Saturday – Our debarkation was pretty flawless. Went to the café to eat a quick breakfast, went back down to the cabin to finish packing our carry on, and began to the ship at 9:45 AM. The line looked to be long, but we were processed pretty quickly. We found our transportation we had arranged on the first day and was back at the airport by 10:30 AM. We milled around a bit, went through Security Theater, got on the plane at 1 PM. We were back at our house at 6 PM. Not bad at all. We had a fun time.