We live in Baltimore, so on our first cruise we chose to leave from Baltimore. When I first booked my cruise, I didn't really care where we went; I just wanted to take a cruise out of Baltimore, and the one chosen was Bermuda, purely for the time fram (before school started here in Baltimore). After booking my cruise, I joined Cruise Critic and started learning and researching what everyone had to say about both the Enchantment and a also Bermuda. It was mind boggling; good reviews, negative reviews, mixed reviews, etc., and since I had never been on a cruise or a ship before, I had made notes, comparisons, etc. I am one to research a lot before a big vacation/adventure. I also am on Facebook, and searched for friends in Bermuda, to get a local's perspective/suggestions, on what to see and do while in Bermuda. That turned out to be the best thing I did, as I have now become personal friends with my Facebook friend in Bermuda. Anyway -- here is what I/we experienced:
Check in at the Baltimore Port -- we got to the Port at 10:30, like the experienced cruisers say to do. No lines, very easy check in, pleasant staff to greet us, and no problems whatsoever. I felt comfortable sitting in the waiting area with the many other folks waiting to board the Enchantment. Free cookies and coffee were offered. I listened to some of the conversastions about Bermuda and/or the ship to learn what I could. Like everyone had told me, we boarded the ship around 11:00/11:15. We had no carry on bags, just my purse that held medicines, id., passports, etc.
Speaking of passsports -- one of my major major questions, was "do we need passports to go to Bermuda?" I had asked sooo many people, and got soo many answers (yes, no, birth certificate and drivers license are fine, etc.). When I checked in, I asked the customer service rep, and she clarified this for me. A passport is needed when flying, but I would have been fine with just my raised certificate of birth, and my drivers license. Had I known that, I would not have spent the $400 for my family to get the passports, but now that we have them, I realize it was definitely easier and faster than had we used teh birth certificates and drivers licenses.
As for the Enchantment -- I must say it is a very nice ship, but since I had never been on any other ship, I had nothing but pictures of other ships to compare it to. My husband and I (both 50) admit that we were both expecting more from the Enchantment that what it was. We are glad that we took our first cruise on the smaller ship, because now we only have bigger and more exciting things to look forward to on our next cruise. We both agreed that even though we liked the Enchantment, we want to go on larger ships the next time(s) because they have more to offer. We were never "bored" per se', but I/we found the entertainment to be a big cheesy (never stayed for a whole show, left after about half hour each time we tried), didn't feel that the ship had enough to offer for our taste. We enjoyed the pools, but that was about it. We liked the bars but since we're not "drinkers", we weren't in one place very long. We liked and enjoyed the musical entertainment (bands in the areas). I am easily entertained and amused, and am not at all prudish - but the entertainment in the big theatre was quite tacky in my opinion.
Main Dining Room - We ate dinner in the My Fair Lady dining room two nights, and after the second, we all agreed to eat in the buffet "Windjammer" from then on. We didn't find much that we liked on the MDR menu, except chicken and caesar salad, but always had tons of food we liked in the Windjammer Buffet. We chose not to eat at Chops, because we were on a budget. We are breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Windjammer, and appreciated that we could take our plates outside on the deck and ate a table outside as we cruised along.
We did not purchase the drinks/water/soda packages because we brought our own case of bottled water, and I packed two of the 8-pack minicans of Coke and Sprite in our suitcases, as well as our favorite juices, and mini plastic wine bottles. They all fit in our suitcases, and we requested a little refrigerator in our room, which was promptly delivered about an hour after request, and kept our drinks cold in our room. I ordered one of the drinks of the day every day we were on the ship, and really liked all of them. I liked the specialty drinks, even though they were all $7-10 each.
Speaking of money/budget. We put $90 cash on our account when we first boarded the ship, and after 6 days and 5 nights, I spent abut $50-$60 on my drinks, each of us ordered a soda one time, and I bought a couple of the ships pictures, and and the every end of our trip, I received $4.00 back from the ship. Yaaay for me! We didn't do any shopping on the ship's stores (didn't go on the cruise to shop), and my two teenage girls didn't like the teen arcade games.
My two teenage girls unfortunately, chose not to participate in any of the teen room activities (I think they either felt they were "too cool" or that the organized events were for nerds, whatever...don't really know, but they didn't want to do any of the events). The teens spent their time in the pool, jacuzzi and in their rooms. They climbed the rockwall once, but had done that many times at other places, so it wasn't a big deal.
I found that there are a lot of folks who come on the ships mainly to drink alcohol -- from 8:00 a.m. till the weee hours. there were plenty of people who had obviouly had too much to drink, no matter where we went. I can handle to two drinks, but after that, I get sleepy or nausious, so I'm not a "drinker".
Our Room attendant was Martin, and he was wonderful. I specifically asked for the towel animals to be on our bed every day of the cruise (they typically do it every other day), and sure enough, martin knew when we left our rooms and surprised us each time with a new towel animal (he was handsomly compensated by us, both becuase of the service, and also because he kept an eye on my two teenage girls, who were in a room across from hubby and me).
Bermuda was fantastic - the bus system is easy. Horeseshoe Bay was amaaazing; even better than the pictures I had seen. We went to Crystal Caves, and were very imprressed. then, my friend who lives in Bermuda, met us, and drove us around the Island, which took a whole hour and 15 minutes. She was most kind and showed us soooo many things/places that other tourists don't see. We had dinner at the Dockyard Bonefish Grill, and found it to be good.
I had heard some folks mention the foul odor on the Enchantment. I never smelled anything unpleasant. We were on the 2nd deck in the "stretch" area. We had an oceanview stateroom, and my two girls had an inside stateroom across from us. No issues with the toilets, no foul odors, or anything. We were very pleased with that. By the way -- the beds were sooooo extremely comfortable! We layed around a lot more than we thought we would, due to the lack of entertainment/things to do, but also because the beds were the most comfortable beds we've bee in a trip.
To sum up my review...I would not pay the price I paid to go on the Enchantment again, but if I were to get it for perhaps $400 per person, I would, but it wouldn't be for the cruise - it would be for the destination.
Coming back into Baltimore was a breeze. I had neglected to say, until this point, that besides my 15-year old daughter, we brought her 14-year old girlfriend with us. I had the required letter of authorization notarized, with every detail in it, and absolutely no one on the cruise, customs, or port, asked to see any kind of letter at all. just her passport.I don't know who would normally have asked to see the letter since no one asked me/us, but it didn't happen.
If anyone has any questions for me, you can email me at: email@example.com. I relied on many many people and their reviews to make my trip enjoyabe, and I hope I can do the same for someone else.