Mrs. Geek says:
Port of Baltimore: Great! Easy in, easy baggage handover, easy checkin. Terminal staff all friendly and helpful. Too bad Celebrity is leaving Baltimore. More lines should take advantage of the excellent facility, and the market potential.
We had been on Enchantment just last September, so we knew we would enjoy the ship. Good size, tasteful decor, and much more.
Passenger ages on this cruise were the most varied we've seen in a long time. Many middle-agers and seniors, but also some children, some young couples, some singles of all ages.
RCI provided plenty of activities for sea days. I particularly like the Jump Zone. It's free, and it's so much fun.
Food in the dining room was excellent, and the service was, as well. Windjammer was quite acceptable, with the most variety at lunch, and always a yummy selection of scones, bread puddings, and sweets, as well as taco fixings, at afternoon tea/snack. And good sushi in the evening.
The major disappointment for us was the lack of music in Bolero's Latin Lounge. It is advertised (including on Cruise Critic!) as a hot spot for Latin dancing. It isn't, not even for one theme night. If any music was playing, it was the party band or the Caribbean band. Fortunately, the excellent DJ Alex in the Viking Crown Lounge was very good at playing requests -- so, at 11pm each night, we got some merengue music.
The other possible dance venue - Spotlight Lounge - has a dance floor, but was used mostly for Bingo and similar activities.
One evening show - HainesMagic - was outstanding. The two production shows, with the ship's singers and dancers, were excellent. When we saw the same shows in September, we were disappointed. This time, with a new cast, they were really exciting.
Labadee: The site is beautiful, clean, and comfortable. RCI has done a great job there. Beaches are nice, and the extra activities (zip line, coaster, etc.) look like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the vendors were so pushy that we didn't even want to look at anything.
Samana, DR: Just walked around the town. A very talented group of dancers and musicians performing at the pier as we left the tender, which was nice.
St. Thomas: Took our only excursion, to Coral World and semi-submersible. I would definitely recommend both of these. Saw hundreds of fish, sharks, coral, rays, as well as iguanas, birds, tortoises. An outstanding facility.
San Juan: We like to take the water's edge walk from the ship to the base of El Morro. This time we walked through Old Town, along with hundreds of locals doing their Christmas shopping and other Saturday morning activities. Fun.
St. Maarten: One of our favorite beaches, and it has gotten better every time we've been there. Beautiful, clean, no seaweed in the water. Offers of beach chairs/beers/souvenirs, but no pressure at all. And an easy 15-minute walk from the ship.
Tortola: Nothing special, but the sailaway is spectacular. To be on deck while going through the passage and out to sea is one of the most magical hours in a cruise. And this time we were treated to the most awe-inspiring sunset ever.
Three sea days coming back. I used some of the time to look at the artwork in the hallways of decks 2, 3, and 4. Excellent. Definitely worth a look.
For the most part, passengers were friendly, upbeat, and accommodating to others. My few complaints are for those who ignored the dining room dress code, and those who showed up for 8:30 seating at 9:10. Shape up, people!
All in all, it was even better than I expected. Twelve nights felt just right.
Mr. Geek says:
One of the nice things about repeating a ship so soon is to be remembered by the staff we met on the earlier cruise. In the dining room we were remembered and greeted by our friend from Macedonia, Miraslav, an excellent assistant waiter.
Alex, the DJ in Viking Crown, after we requested a Merengue, remembered us and played our music every night.
I am still disappointed in the degradation in the quality of the food in Windjammer. From excellent on Grandeur (18 months ago)to just acceptable now.
Our second seating dining room food was above average, and the table service from Mario and Rolly was excellent.
Our stateroom, tended by Francine and her crew, was kept to the highest standards. It was very comfortable, and well thought-out in the layout and storage spaces. Excellent shower!
The Enchantment, even in rough seas, is a very stable platform. A very good sea-keeper.
When we were on Empress three years ago, we discovered Bolero's, which had one of the best bands afloat - a Latin group called MusicClave. They really lit up the place. Now RCI's interpretation of Bolero's is a "Sweet Caroline (doo doo doo)" band, which we avoided.
I can't imagine a ship larger than Enchantment visiting Labadee. With 2000 guests, we covered all the beach area. I prefer the private islands, a benefit of which is a lack of pushy vendors.
My wife made this cruise an excellent experience. Now, if RCI would bring MusicClave back to Bolero's, and Belgian waffles back to the Windjammer, we'd probably sail on her several times a year.
PS, RCI, please don't put the whipped cream in the container that held onions. And Captain Rob still refuses to answer the question about his passengers' production of copious amounts of methane. Has he no conscience about global warming?? Disclaimer: Mrs. Geek bears no responsibility for Mr. Geek's comments.
PS from Mrs. Geek: a cruise hint. If your purse or wallet has a magnetic clasp, it can disable your key card. Guest Relations will replace it, but to avoid that inconvenience, carry a bag without a magnet.