My husband (Stanthefireman)and I took a 12 night Royal Caribbean Cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas on February 28 to March 12, 2011. We left out of Baltimore MD and traveled to the Eastern Caribbean ports of Labadee, Samana, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Martin, and Tortola.
We arrived at the Comfort Inn in Baltimore on February 27. The hotel was fine for the night and we were able to leave our car at the hotel for the duration of our trip. The shuttle service in the morning was a nightmare for many people. The hotel seems to go out of its way to inconvenience their guests. They begin taking names for the shuttle at 9:00 a.m. sharp; however they request that you check out before they will put your name on the list. The shuttle service does not begin until 10:00 a.m., so everyone is checking out before 9:00, waiting in the lobby of the hotel with their luggage for the 2 week cruise, until they can give their name at 9:00 sharp. Then they are again waiting in the lobby with all their luggage until their name is called for the shuttle, which for some took hours. Why can't we be given a time to arrive in the lobby and stay in our rooms until then. We could check out at that time.
People are standing outside to avoid the chaos inside and they have no outside announcement. If you are outside and miss your name, you will go to the end of the list. That almost happened to us.
We were one of the fortunate ones and only had to wait for about 3 shuttles. We were at the cruise terminal at 11:00. At that time there was no line and we proceeded right to the check in counter. At that precise moment the computers went down. After a short wait, they decided to do our check in by hand. We proceeded to sit and wait to be allowed to board. We got on the ship at 1:00 p.m. The line of people behind us was incredible. We later found out that some people did not get on the ship until 3:00-3:30. It was amazing that we only left port 20 minutes late.
Our luggage arrived very early and we explored the ship.
I do not think the ship looked old as many reviews I read had stated. There was a lot of work being done while we were cruising, which was a little annoying at times but nothing to be upset about.
Our room, number 3544 was fine, and our room steward, Andra was excellent. Everytime we left our room, he greeted us and wished us a wonderful day. Our toilet worked the entire trip, but many other people had problems. One couple at our dinner table had to call for service on a daily basis. Another couple, on deck 2 was near a utility room and got no sleep the entire trip. I wish I could remember the room number to warn future cruisers. The smell throughout the ship's cabin decks was disgusting at times, apparently due to all the toilet problems.
The food was not the best and not the worse I had on other cruises.
Breakfast in Windjammer was always very good. The omelets were great and there were only a few days we had difficulty finding a table. The fresh squeezed orange juice was delicious but silly me didn't realize they would ask for my sea pass card to pay for it.
We didn't get to Windjammer for lunch much, but right after lunch it was open for tea time. The food was just about the same all week and not that good.
We were on the Celebrity Summit last June and tea time was the best part of the day.
We only ate at the Solarium twice which just offered pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs. The pizza was about the worse pizza we ever had on a ship.
We had the late dinner seating at 8:00 and were at table 99. Olga (Marisol) was our waiter and Jamie was our assistant waiter. They gave us fantastic service and were a lot of fun. Olga and my husband teased each other all week. Jamie and I did the Macarana together. The dinners were very good and of course, you can eat as much as you want, (as our table mate Ken can attest to.) The variety was always adequate. The only complaint about the dining room was that my husband's birthday was the 1st full sea day and they didn't sing to him. (We informed RC before we left for the cruise.) I asked him if he wanted me to say something and he said no. The second day, they came out with a dessert, singing. They got the day mixed up.
The entertainment in the Orpheum Theater was very good. The second show with the Royal Caribbean dancers was much better than the first. The comedians and magician were very good. The show the final night with many of the headliners throughout the week, was excellent.
70's night in the Centrum was great and I was hoping for a lot more of that type of music during the cruise. My husband and I are in our 50's and I feel the music for our age group was inadequate. We went to the Viking lounge one night and the music was for the much younger crowd. The music in the Centrum and throughout the ship always seemed like it catered to the much older crowd. I understand there were many older people on this cruise but when RC sees the response to 70's night, they have to see that many people would love a night of Beatles or 80's music. This I hope, they will try to improve on, since there is a good chance I will be on this cruise again.
The Casino Royale was fun. My husband did pretty well at craps and I found a machine or two I could win on.
The Solarium was fantastic. The first full day at sea was too cold to be outside so this area was a wonderful place to spend the day. We spent a lot of time in the hot tub and the lounge chairs in there are great. There is a wonderful spot in the back of the spa for relaxation, overlooking the back of the ship.
Our first port was Labadee and what a beautiful port this is. You are docked right at the island. We rented 2 floating beach mats, (not needed) and purchased a ride on the Dragon coaster, (second person rides free), before we got off the ship. We were allowed to purchase other rides for $5.00 each on the island. It is a lot of fun, but go yourself. Do not ride with your maniac husband that is filming the entire ride instead or braking. Walking around the island is very easy but there is also a free shuttle to take you to different beaches. We sunbathed at Columbus Cove which is very nice. Make sure you make the walk to Dragon's Breath. It is fascinating.
In Samana, we decided at the last minute to take a whale watching and beach excursion. There is little shopping there and everyone recommended taking an excursion or stay on the ship. It was a fantastic excursion. We took a boat that held about 50 people to the whale watching waters. Some people were complaining about sitting 4 across and not being able to see, but once the whales showed up their attitudes changed. There was a mother and baby we were tracking. They came out of the water frequently but then the baby started twirling out of the water and the mother breached out of the water. It was one of the most amazing things we've ever seen. The tour guide said she had tears in her eyes and that we had one of the best tours ever. It was supposed to last 2 hours and we stayed 3. The beach was also beautiful and relaxing.
In San Juan, we went on the Bacardi Rum factory tour. We did this on our own which is very easy. Right down the street from the pier is a ferry that you take and then you need to take a taxi to the factory. The ferry was .50 per person per ride and the taxi was 3.00 per person each way. The tour is ok but the 2 drinks per person make it worthwhile.
We then toured El Castillo fort. The scenery is beautiful. I believe the cost is 3.00 per person but if you want to do both forts, it is 5.00 for both. Then we just walked around shopping and tried our luck in a casino in Old San Juan. When we were in San Juan a few years ago, the liquor stores in the terminal offered free samples of frozen rum drinks. We are very disappointed that this was discontinued. Maybe we just timed it wrong.
St Thomas is beautiful. We did a lot of shopping in downtown which is a very nice walk along the water, but it is a little bit of a distance away. My husband bought me a beautiful blue diamond ring at Princess Jewelers. Make sure you talk them down from the original price and shop at the recommend stores by Royal Caribbean. Our intention was to go to Sapphire Beach snorkeling but we ran out of time. We hired a taxi to take us to a nearby beach but we didn't stay long. I don't remember the name and it was nothing special. Taxi ride was around 6.00 per person each way.
We rented a jeep in St. Martin. Car rentals are a short walk from the ship. Total cost was $77.00. You drive on the right side of the street. We thought this would be a great way to see the island however traffic was insane. We drove to the French side but didn't stop to walk around Marigot. We drove to Orient Bay but the surf seemed too rough and the water was "milky," bad for snorkeling so we didn't stay. We just drove around for about 4 or 5 hours and then took the car back (gas was very expensive, about $5.50 /gal). We then walked to the Philipsburg boardwalk area. There is a beach along the walkway, many restaurants, and one street parallel is where all the shopping is. We went in the Quavaberry Emporium and sampled the excellent quavaberry frozen drink.
Our last port was Tortola. I had previously read that Brewers Bay was great for snorkeling. There are taxis everywhere right outside the ship. They would have charged us 12.00 per person but they got us 2 more people to go with us and charged 8.00 per person. The ride to the bay was wild. The streets are on very steep inclines and hills and very narrow. The taxi driver agreed to come back in 3 hours and did not charge us until the return trip. The beach was beautiful and even though the left side was rough surf for snorkeling, my husband said the distant right side was beautiful. He saw many schools of fish. It was definitely worth the taxi ride. There is a straw market right outside the ship, within a short walking distance.
The last 3 days were at sea and were wonderful and relaxing. There was an informative bridge question and answer talk by the captain and hotel manager one afternoon. There was also was a backstage tour which I really enjoyed, if you like that sort of thing. There were pool games which we didn't take part in. One night there was a pool deck party. We were moving so it was a little chilly and windy. We weren't hungry since we had the late night dinner seating. Anyone looking for a delicious frozen drink, try the BBC, Baileys, Banana Liquor and Coconut. We never had too difficult a time getting a lounge chair by the pool. My husband did the rock climbing wall however whenever we went to do the trampoline it was closed due to wind conditions or bad timing.
Overall, this was an excellent cruise. Being away for 2 weeks in the winter was the best part. As I said before, my only complaint would be not having enough music for the middle age generation. I would love to go hear a band after the show instead of going into the casino every night. Maybe that is Royal Caribbean's intention however, to have us lose our money all week.
Thanks Royal Caribbean for a vacation that will live in my memory forever.