Enchantment of the Seas to New England 8/12/10 to 8/21/10 from Baltimore
Embarkation: It was not bad. As we pulled into the lot, they directed us to the drop-off area (our friend was dropping us off). You'll save 10 minutes by having the RCI tags on your checked luggage. But tags were available for those who forgot. The kind gentlemen helped us unload them into the luggage carrier. It was a quick process.
We began processing in the inside the Baltimore Seaport and it was reasonable. The processing time was roughly 20 minutes. We were then seated in a section and the wait was maybe 30 minutes. We were on the ship by noon. As an Enchantment comedian remarked during the cruise, why is it that they choose at this terrible time to take your picture?
I asked the lady at the desk and she said the peak time was usually about 1pm.
The Ship This was our second "vision class" ship (the other being Rhapsody) and they were very similar. It helps to know the ship layout before you get on the ship. The Centrum is impressive. We were on the upper level of My Fair Lady (the MDR). And although less crowded, you felt detached from the main level. But it was nice getting window seats. The Orpheum is the main theater. We took the backstage tour and learned a lot - maybe a little too much! We learned that Enchantment keeps the same onboard shows for several years. But the tour was impressive. The Windjammer was crowded and I heard stories of people getting rude in saving/taking tables.
We enjoyed the fitness center (even though one time the power went out to half the room while I was on the treadmill) and the rock climbing wall. We didn't contribute to the casino or the shops onboard. In general, the ship is in good shape. I had a beer while in the hot tub on the main deck. It was so relaxing!
The senior crew was very visible throughout the ship. The captain made several announcements each day.
Our Cabin We're of the school of "Your cabin is the place to sleep so don't spend a lot of money here." So we booked the Class M Inside Cabin. It was 2045. There were a few strange noises during the night but nothing terrible. Winston did a good job as our stateroom attendant. My only complaint was that I had all our paperwork we collected in a plastic bag and he mistook it for trash. No worries. It had pull-down 3rd and 4th beds. The only problem this caused was my DW and I had to sleep in separate beds. But considering my DD was also in the room, this wasn't a big deal. We requested and refrigerator and put it under the desk (we had the chair removed). There was ample storage space - even enough to stash the suitcases under the beds.
The Dining We were on the waiting list for My-Time-Dining. We inquired upon boarding the ship and we got in! It worked out - the schedule was flexible. Our staff was amazing (Anthony and his assistant Lieu in the MDR and Peter in the Windjammer). But we didn't develop the relationships with other passengers as we had on our previous cruisers. We asked to be seated with other people. And the one time we did, the conversation was directed to politics and it was awkward for all.
The food in the MDR was great! We are a difficult family to please because we have two pseudo-vegetarians and a steak lover. But all were very pleased with the food choices. We talked about Chops but never tried it.
I loved the Windjammer for the views and the breakfasts. DW said the coffee onboard was great (unlike our cruise last year). I didn't really enjoy the lunch choices here so we didn't even try dinner! But I did have my share of soft serve ice cream cones!!
Entertainment This was very mixed. First, let me tell you what we loved: 1. Three of the four onboard singers were great (Jenel, Clinton and Maddie). 2. I enjoyed the dancers but I don't feel knowledgeable enough to give a critical evaluation. 3. The group Rhythm Shakedown was very good. They played most nights in the Bolaros lounge. 4. The 70s night in the Centrum was fantastic. Grab a seat as close to the edge as possible because people will stand in front of you! I think the best seats will be on deck 5 center. Move the furniture! 5. Jimmy Rhodes is an excellent cruise director. He is a really nice guy and he was very comfortable on stage. My only complaint about him (other than #1 below) was that he could have used the TV morning programs to inform the passengers of programs. Our previous cruise director Keith had a morning program (like a news program) that was informative and fun.
OK, here's what we thought was lacking: 1. There was no Quest on this 9-night cruise! Ugh! 2. The piano player in the Schooner Bar was just really bad. This area was usually empty. 3. The "headliners" were just OK. I enjoyed them but I've seen Poconos entertainment that was of the same quality.
The other programs were good - bingo, trivia, improv, the Love and Marriage game, dance classes, and karaoke. Our DD (16 years old) enjoyed the teen programs
Portland Maine was our first stop. We didn't have a booked excursion but we found the Portland discovery tour just a couple of blocks from the port. It was a just the 90 minute land trolley and a good overview of the city. I'm usually not a huge fan of these tours but this one was ok. The guide was good. I would have liked the tour at Shipyard Brewing Company but they were sold out. We had Lobster and Fish & Chips at Portland Lobster Company. We settled for a self-guided beer tasting at a local bar.
Bar Harbor Maine was a favorite of so many of us on the ship. The tendering process was a little rough. We had tickets to the first tender off the ship. The crafts are stable enough and reminded me of a large version of the Walt Disney World Star Wars ride. The water was a little rough and we had to wait at the wharf for the whale watching boat. Our operator had trouble docking. It took 25 minutes. I quickly made our way to Acadia Bike. The bike rental was only $22 for the day. And the adventure began. I toured the Carriage Roads and completed the Witch Hole Pond, Eagle Lake, and Jordan Pond Loops. It was the highlight of the entire trip!
I met my DW and DD at 2pm and went on a kayak trip with Coastal Kayaking (affiliated with Acadia Bike) for a 3.5 mile kayak tour. It was a lot of fun. I hated to leave this amazing place!
Saint John New Brunswick was our next stop. DD wanted to stay on the ship this day (she had cold symptoms). We walked about 3 blocks from the pier to Avis and rented a car. We traveled to Saint Martin and saw the sea caves and the Fundy Trail. I'm glad we did it but everyone needs to do some homework to know what they are seeing (some narration would have been helpful). Also, Canadian roads signs gave me problems and the GPS wanted a street address of the destination so we stopped three times for directions during our trip. The folks behind us on the gangplank to board the ship paid $50 per hour for a tourguide and his vehicle. They claimed that they "saw it all." We saw almost as much (for a lot less) but missed the narration.
Halifax Nova Scotia is a great city for the history lover! The Harbor Walk is a free but informative walk from the pier to the information center. We passed on the heavily pushed trolley and opted for the free FRED bus. You need something to travel up the steep hills of Halifax! But know that FRED is provided by the local merchants and not a narrated tour. We got off at Citadel. They fire the cannon at noon and all the talks were very informative. In the afternoon, I toured the Maritime Museum.
Boston Massachusetts was our last stop. The first piece of advice is to pass on the shuttle if you are not traveling alone. We caught a cab at 8:15 AM on a work day and spent $12.60 (before tip) to Faneuil Hall. In the evening 3:30 pm rush, it was exactly the same amount back to the Black Falcon cruise terminal.
The next piece of advice was not to skimp on the tour! Again, we opted not to do the trolley or duck tour because we prefer the walking tours. We took the free NPS tour and we got what we paid for. The guide was knowledgeable but the group was far too big to enjoy (or even hear over the traffic noise). The better tour was Yee Olde Boston Tour. If you are looking for something more than just facts and dates, this is the tour for you! It started in Boston Common.
If you want variety in lunch and don't want a sit-down restaurant, there is no better place than Quincy Market.
We opted again for express checkout. I got up at 5 am to see us pull into the Baltimore harbor and pass Fort McHenry. Winston was already on the job distrusting final bills (his day started at 5am). The Windjammer was open at 6 am and who knows when they prepared the food! We were off the ship by 7:30 am!