I was pretty excited about my first cruise aboard the Enchantment of the Seas. I spent the night before the cruise in Baltimore, and explored Baltimore and Washington DC - fun!
However, the cruise itself was a real disappointment. It was my first cruise so perhaps my expectations were too high. The couches, chairs, and carpeting all looked worn and tired, and overall the ship was shabby. Nice art on the walls but that didn't make up for the 70's gold curtains in the stateroom or the old look of most of the common areas.
The staff were excellent - truly kind and helpful. The crew were fun and the captain, "Captain Gus" set the right tone for passengers, a mix of humour and leadership. I was surprised that the ship's navigation crew and department heads seemed to be largely caucasian and that the room and service staff were largely people of colour. I hope that Royal Caribbean has looked at this and are working to more inclusiveness in various positions on the ship.
The four ports were not good, in my opinion. The first, San Juan, was just not a great place to see. St. Thomas was a big money-grab - I took a tour of the "Best of St. Thomas + Shopping" which was basically a chance to be carted around to tourist shops around the island. The inhabitants of this tropical paradise have obviously killed off most of the local wildlife - we did see a few parrots, all in dirty cages. The tour guide constantly reminded us that the local economy depended on tourist dollars... and then drove us to yet another tacky tourist shop filled with overpriced trinkets. I think $9.99 is a bit much for a plastic luggage tag stamped with "St Thomas".
The third port, Samana - why did we even bother stopping? The place was scary.
As for Labadee, the Royal Caribbean island in Haiti - again, I don't know why we stopped. It looked amazing from the ship, but on closer inspection the beach was covered with garbage, both in the sand and in the water. The locals said that the garbage was coming from "the river", but seriously who cares where it comes from, no one wanted to swim in the water after seeing how much garbage was on shore.
We left Labadee earlier than planned to avoid a tropical storm and ensure we arrived back in Baltimore on time.
The food in the "My Fair Lady" dining room was very good, and the buffet in the Windjammer was also pretty good, with lots of variety.
I did feel like the whole cruise was a big opportunity for upselling - I was constantly pulling out my pass card to pay for freshly squeezed orange juice, yoga class, tea from the Seattle's Best Coffee shop, etc.
The spa was nice but again there was a constant heavy sell to buy products after each service. I had pre-paid for four different treatments but after being hassled to buy, buy buy - I cancelled the last two so I could relax from the selling of the staff.
The solarium and pool deck were okay, but again looked kinda tired, some of the chair cushions looked dirty and had leftover food, drink and/or skin dander. Covering up the cushions with towels worked well.
The only place that was felt truly clean was the stateroom. The attendant was excellent, and as funny as it sounds the consistent, kind service from the stateroom attendant was probably the highlight of my trip.
As a non-smoker, I found it difficult to cope with so much smoking, on part of the pool deck, in the casino, and in the crown and anchor lounge. I asked other passengers about the balcony staterooms and universally, people said that the only reason they booked the balcony rooms was so that they could smoke. Although this isn't allowed according to the rules, I guess people smoke anyway and just throw their cigarette and cigar butts out into the water. Nice.
I thought we might see some wildlife during the trip - dolphins, seals, or even fish - but given all of the refuse being dumped into the water by the cruise ship and then the appalling lack of care of the shoreline at the four ports we stopped at, I guess the wildlife know to stay far away.
This was a complete disappointment. I may try a cruise again, but I'll go with a different cruise line.