We live in Ft. Lauderdale, so it's a quick trip to the port. As usual, RCI does a teriffic job with check-in and we were on the ship in about 15 minutes. Headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. Everything was fine and there was a good selection, but the Windjammer at breakfast and lunch is just mediocore for us. Except for Radiance of the Seas which has an incredilbe Windjammer, our buffet experiences on RCI have just been ok. Radiance of the Seas is the only RCI ship that can properly cook fish. Stick with the other options if you can.
Like Radiance of the Seas, Enchantment is a very happy, welcoming ship. The crew really go out of their way to make you feel welcomed and service rivals Celebrity in many ways. The ship was in better condition this year than we sailed her last year. She is still a lovely ship despite being 12 years old and has the absolute best pool deck of any ship we have sailed on. It is so spacious and the streching of the ship done in 2005 really adds a lot of extra space and architectural interest. We had a good cruise last year, but felt the lighting was too bright in places, especially the Centrum. They have changed the bulbs to more efficient ones and now the lighting is at a very nice level and does a better job showcasing the ship.
This was our first RCI trip in which the retractable roof was open in the Solarium. It was so nice. We had exceptional weather on this cruise; not too hot, too cool or too windy. The Solarium is a very comfortable space but is the one area of the ship that could use some updating. Way too many plastic plants that should have been changed ages ago. We like the main pool deck at quieter times with just recorded music playing, but it gets too loud for us when the band plays and the activities are going on. We tend to go back and forth. We absolutely love that this ship has a full wrapping teak exterior promenade deck. In my opinion, all ships should have them. We love to spend time there listening to the relaxing sound of the ship cutting through the ocean. We found chairs on the back facing the ship's wake on a few occassions and that was really a great spot.
Unlike Holland America and Celebrity where we feel really comfortable, we feel much more entertained on Royal Caribbean ships. Holland America has the best beds and the best buffet and is most nautical, but it's entertainment is almost non-existent. Celebrity's Production Shows were not good, but at least they had good musicians in other venues that lasted well into the night. We LOVE the Production Shows on Enchantment. Staging, singers, dancers and full orchestra were all exceptional. Last year on Enchantment the shows were great, but used a click track instead of the orchestra. The shows are still similar but they have been re-tooled to utilize the full orchestra and it provides an added dimension that other cruise lines cannot compete with. Bravo! By the way, we think the Orpheum theatre is the perfect size and is a beautiful room with a gorgeous hand-sewn curtain. It is the prettiest we have seen.
We also love the My Fair Lady Dining Room. We went for lunch on both sea days (it's closed for lunch on port days). We got off to a bumpy start by having awful tablemates. It was a blessing in disguise because we switched to My Time Dining with a table for two at 8:45 and it was WONDERFUL! The staff went out of their way to please. They work hard here and it is a bit more hectic, but the food was always served HOT and perfectly cooked. The only other ship we have had hot food on was Celebrity Century. We were not able to get the same server, but we had three exceptional servers, Monna Lissa from Phillipines, Anthony and Vivek from India and Veronica from Romania was our assistant each night. We also found our server from last year's cruise. He remembered our faces but not our names and he came by to visit with us each night. He was really excited because he was going home and getting to spend Christmas with his family for the first time in a long while. Each night our server from the previous night came by to chat and they remembered our names and made us feel extra welcome. Not at all what we expected from pre-paid gratuities and My Time Dining. They really went out of their way and we had to get additional envelopes to give them all additional tips. We got sick of formal nights a long time ago, but there is no problem not wearing a suit to dinner. We looked nice is dress slacks and dress shirt and had no problems. We looked a whole lot better than many of the people at dinner on Formal night. We have decided we never want to pack a jacket on a cruise again. Who wants to wear work clothes on a cruise? Some would argue that we are cheapening the experience by not following protocol, but we dress well enough to fit in just fine. One tip I learned several cruises ago is to ask for a plate of vegetables if you like them as entrees come with very little. They bring out beautiful plates of fresh veggies. We were very impressed that they were hot and perfectly cooked and varied. Dessert selection was fine but so much that we had to have it. We avoided desserts on this cruise. Our last cruise on Celebrity Century the desserts were impossible to resist and I gained eight pounds!
We had an inside cabin on deck 2 very near mid-ship elevators. Cabin was quiet and beds were comfortable. Enchantment still has squared off beds unlike the newer ships with the curved mattresses. We slept very well. We still do not understand why they use the curved mattresses on the newer ships. If you are anywhere close to tall it is hard to get both legs comfortable. We wish they would have beds like on Enchantment on all RCI ships. Though the cabin is smaller than on Radiance class ships, it is laid out very well with lots of storage. We actually think it has better closets and drawer space. Cabins have a tiny TV, but we only turn it on to have music playing while getting ready for dinner. To make up for the tiny TV, new movies are available at no cost unlike the approximately $12 they charge to watch an in-cabin movie on their other ships. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, for example, had not been released yet on DVD but was available in every language.
As stated before, weather was perfect. It was the first time ever that I did not sweat in Grand Cayman. It was dry, sunny and about 82 degrees. We took a public bus for $2.50 each way to Sea Grape Beach and had a wonderful time. The sand and water here are spectacular. I had lots of fun swimming and playing in the water.
Cozumel was also a nice day. We went to Paradise Beach which is a very clean, nice beach resort. Beaches in Cozumel cannot compete at all with Grand Cayman, but we have a good time here. For $10 each, you get a wristband that allows you to use floats, kayaks, and several water toys (two big, fun slides) water trampolines and an iceberg rock climbing wall. The float alone is the worth the $10 in my opinion. We are not sun lovers so we love that there is a nice selection of loungers in the shade as well as the sun. We get sun playing in the water and like to come back to the shade afterwards. Chairs and Umbrellas are free with consumption. They have nice selection of food and drink. There water is purified, but if you still worry they have GingerAle in a can. They have nice shows and changing rooms and are constantly keeping them clean.
All in all, this was a wonderful cruise. As residents of Ft. Lauderdale, we are very sad to see her go. They took Radiance away from us to make room for Independence of the Seas and now Enchantment is going away so they can fill the new Oasis. After a winter sailing from Panama, she is going into dry dock and then heading to Baltimore for year round service. If you can easily access Baltimore by car or train, I highly recommend this ship. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the newer ships, but she provides an excellent vacation. The ship almost never feels crowded.
We were docked between Celebrity Equinox and Oasis of the Seas when we returned. Equinox was BEAUTIFUL while Oasis was just an ugly behemoth, in our opinion. We never thought we would do a larger ship, but we are headed on the Liberty of the Seas in May 2010 and hopefully on the Celebrity Equinox in 2011. It's amazing how seeing the Oasis made us reconsider going on Liberty of the Seas. Liberty is huge but proportioned correctly. It will be an adventure. For exterior promenade lovers like us, Oasis does not have one. They have a narrow jogging track and that's it. Not for us, plus it is so expensive.
So long beautiful Enchantment and I hope you thrive and continue to provide excellent vacation value to those in the Northeast for many years to come. Great Value and Outstanding Officers and Crew. What a lovely trip!