This was a Southern Caribbean cruise with a large group of folks from Cruise Critic, many we had sailed with in 2009.
We arrived at the port around 11am and the parking lot at the port was backed up for some reason; it was an hour before we were even able to park. Other than that embarkation went smoothly. We had an oceanview cabin on deck four, right behind the Champagne Bar. Not the world’s biggest cabin, but the space was adequate and the two of us were comfortable. Like on the Grandeur, there must be some plumbing issues as, at times, a sewer smell was evident in the corridors. The staff does something though, because it would be smelling sweet later on the same day. Just be aware.
Having sailed on the Grandeur, Enchantment’s layout was familiar. Some cabins, an expanded pool deck, and Bolero’s were new, but it still a Vision class ship with all that beautiful glass for great views of the sea. The drawbacks are that with My Time Dining gaining in popularity and the additional cabins added with the expansion, getting a seat in the theater after early dining becomes a challenge. Go early and be prepared to wait there for the show to start. Perhaps RCCL will consider adding some seats come the next drydock.
The Meet & Mingle party was the largest yet on Enchantment and was hosted by the CD John Blair and his wife, Katrina. The door prizes were especially nice. They even had one of the staff photographers pose us all for a picture. The only down side was that it was during fairly rough seas (really noticeable up in the Viking Crown) and some of us were a bit green.
The food was a topic on this cruise. I’ve always described the Windjammer as a mid-level Vegas buffet, and it still falls in that category. Two evenings we went to Chops Grill with another couple. Chops is an upscale steakhouse like you might find in most cities. Nicely done and worth the money.
That brings us to the main dining room. The service was good, typical of Royal Caribbean, but the food, which I admit is subjective, was hit or miss. We were told that the chefs were adapting to a new menu. One night the Beef Stroganoff was served with pickles and beets in it. I’ve read several recipes for this dish, but the pickles and beets were unique, and not in a good way. Some dishes had fallen to what I would call “conference food”, while others like the lamb shank, were right on. I think the line is due for some improvements in the food. Maybe the “new menu” thing is a sign of changes, but I haven’t seen any great improvement yet.
There were a lot of activities on this cruise; trivia games, pool games, contests. I applaud the return of enrichment lectures and the Win, Lose, or Draw games. If someone felt bored, they just weren’t paying attention. The cruise director, John Blair assembled a great staff that did a fine job of keeping folks engaged. The headliner shows that we saw were very good. Gary Muledeer in particular is a very funny and talented man.
Our itinerary was Labadee, Samana, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and British Tortolla. The boat tour in Labadee was a good deal and lots of fun. We stayed on the ship for Samana as the port is not that developed and has really aggressive vendors. We took a city tour in San Juan that really showed you the whole city and included a tour of the San Christobal Fort. We just shopped and ate lunch in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortolla.
Our disembarkation was extremely smooth. We elected to carry our own bags as we brought only one 29 inch wheeled bag each. They call for the self disembarkers first, so we just walked off the gangway, handed over our customs form and got into our car and headed home. Would we do it again? Oh, yes! In fact we booked a cruise much like this for next March soon after we got home. Baltimore is just an hour’s drive and it is great having the Enchantment there.