My husband and I chose this cruise based on port and itinerary and were not disappointed. It was our first vacation without children in 15 years. Port of Baltimore was very nice. Parking is adjacent, and is located just off RT 95. In our case we took a taxi from Fell’s Point where we stayed with relatives and the driver had no clue where the port was—45 min later we arrived—and we were not the only one with cab trouble. It was a 15 min trip, as we found out when we traveled after the cruise. They directed us to a place to drop off luggage and then it was a short walk to the terminal.
Embarkation: Very smooth, we got there a little after 11:00 and were onboard before 12. You have to complete a waiver form about illness, and then get in line. The line moved quickly, and then there were seats to wait in until called to board. There were plenty of staff on hand to make sure everyone knew where to go. Although we were told our rooms would be ready around 1:00, we went back twice and it was closer to 2:00--which was fine if they had told us that up front. When one of our bags did not arrive by 8 pm, I thought about what was in the bag--I had thrown in some bottled water and a bottle of shampoo and told my husband it probably got pulled for suspected alcohol. My husband was sent to the first floor and sure enough it was marked alcohol. He had to show the the sealed water bottles and shampoo. (We should have carried it on board.)
Service: Excellent service and everyone was friendly. Our room steward called us by name,and even made sure the snorkel we threw in the trash was supposed to be there. Dining staff made sure we were happy with our food and willingly returned steaks to be cooked more and brought extra food. Both the head waiter and assistant waiter presented tricks, which were quite entertaining.
Dining: We had early seating with table for 8 and everyone came for dinner except one night, which I think says a lot for the experience. Food was good and plentiful. We especially enjoyed the cold soups and the variety of breads. When I wasn't sure which entree, the waiter brought me a small bowl of the pasta for an appetizer. We ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room when we could—as we enjoyed meeting different people, and it kept us from overeating at the Windjammer Buffet. Besides the menus, for breakfast the dining room had a fruit and cereal bar, and for lunch a salad bar with staff to prepare your salad with whatever ingredients you want. Then they chop it and mix it for you. It was delicious. We also ate at the smaller lunch buffet in the Solarium—we didn’t realize they had more than just hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, but they had salads, potatoes, and a smaller selection of desserts as well. The dining room is closed at lunch time on port days, and adjusts breakfast dining hours as needed because of early port arrivals. They do have frozen yogurt on the pool deck, but it is only available for limited times (we had been used to it being there all the time on Carnival)
Entertainment: The entertainment was the best we have experienced (three previous cruises, none with RCI). There was quite a variety as well, and the theater was full every night for the main show. You need to get there early to get a seat, so I started taking a book wih me. The seats are very comfortable.
Activities: I did not get to as many activities as I would have liked. The timing just did not work out with mealtimes, or broke up pool time. However, we enjoyed karaoke, Captain Q&A, towel folding demonstration and movies.
Day Spa and Fitness Area: Did not use spa, and only used fitness area to do some hand weights and stability ball a few days. I generally just walked the jogging track (4 laps to a mile) early in the morning, and watched the sunrise as I had my coffee. The ship is supporting the Make a Wish foundation and had a mile walk for a $10 donation. We received a nice t shirt as well.
Overall Ship: The size of the Enchantment was perfect for us—small enough that we could quickly get from one end to the other, and yet large enough to have many choices of activities. I had printed off deck plans for the common areas, and there are maps in elevator areas to help you get oriented. While there were some worn areas on the ship, it was clean and well-kept. The decor was beautiful.
Disembarkation: Very smooth. Many chose express, but we didn’t want to struggle with carrying our own luggage. We were lucky to get an early zone for getting off the ship, and it was less than 30 minutes from when they said they were ready for us to when we got to the pick up area outside the terminal. We did not have anything to declare at customs, which I think helped. All 4 pieces of our luggage were together. The only problem I saw was the parking lot exit was not clearly marked at the pick up area and there was already at 9:30 a line of cars arriving in the port. My brother in law just bypassed the line and followed a taxi out.
We did have some rough seas one evening, but even so it was a very relaxing experience--having the two days at sea after the ports gave us time to unwind and really relax. Day 8 I was really tired I think from the 4 straight port days and maybe the rough night, but then I had the last day to really enjoy the ship. We spent most of the time in the Solarium when not eating or checking out activities or in port. I would cruise on the Enchantment again, especially on another itinerary.
Port 3 Samana Disappointing due to the rain. We took the Cave Mangrove Exploration excursion to Los Haitises National Park—it was really good, but threatening clouds and on and off rain distracted us—as we had also paid to go to Cayo Levantado Beach. The unsheltered boat ride to the park was in open water for about 30 minutes, so we were pretty exposed to the weather. There were rain coats provided, but they did not help keep our beach bags dry. The rain made some of the trails into the caves slippery. When we finished with the first part of the tour we were taken (in the rain) past the Enchantment to the island and were told we could get another tender back to the ship. Many just got right on another tender back to the ship (these tenders were also all open with no protection from the rain). We tried to walk around the island but could not really find a place to dry off or to put down our wet backpacks, so we headed back and caught a tender back to the ship. The ATV excursion got caught on the other side of a flooding river and we were delayed in leaving the port until they returned—it involved over 100 people. Those who got to the beach in the morning before the rain enjoyed the Cayo Levantado. (Rating 3 but it was hard to tease out the effects of the weather)
Port 4 Labadee: Beautiful island, beautiful day, beautiful weather—although it did not look like it initially. We took the Snorkeling Safari and it was great. The coral reef was shallow enough that you could see everything clearly. In fact, it was a little too shallow in places, so you really need to stay with the guide, who was super. He took our cameras down to take pictures of some of the fish that were hiding. We returned to the ship, changed, ate in the Windjammer to enjoy the A/C and then ate dessert at the beach buffet. We also enjoyed some beach time before returning to the ship. We did not enjoy shopping because those trying to sell things were more aggressive than I like. I could not even get to the bathroom without being asked to buy things. (Rating 5)