This was my second cruise; my husband's first. We're in our 40s, celebrating 10 years of marriage. We chose this particular cruise because it offered 2 days at sea, which I had found to be very restful on my first cruise. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day before our cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown. Our room was nice and there is a hot breakfast included. It's about a 10-minute walk from Las Olas Blvd., where we had a *wonderful* dinner at Las Olas Cafe in their charming courtyard.
We got to Port Everglades at 12:30 pm and gave our bags to the porters, who were quick and polite. We did not have to wait at all to get our Sea Passes, and only a few minutes for the "Welcome Aboard" photo. We went quickly through security and had our security photo taken, then headed onboard ship. The greeter was a bit over the top. :-) We then headed for the Windjammer Cafe for lunch, stopping to buy a couple of bottles of wine and to sign up for the wine-tasting. My husband bought a soda sticker, which he ended up not using much. Unless you drink *a lot* of soda, it's not worth it. Lunch was quite good - a nice selection of hot and cold foods, with a great salad selection (a regular salad bar, seafood salad, Waldorf salad, etc.). The service was very good, with waiters stopping by to ask if we wanted more tea, to remove dishes, etc. After lunch, we toured the ship then headed to our cabin, which was ready for us. It was larger than the interior cabin I had on the Sovereign of the Seas, with lots of storage space. I had brought an over-the-door shoe bag (necessary on the SOTS) to store our toiletries in, but we would have had plenty of room for our stuff without it. The room was very clean and pretty, with a small safe. Muster drill was at 4:30 and that went smoothly. We then headed to the top deck for a great view when we sailed at 5:00. After about 30 minutes, we headed to the Solarium for a snack (good pizza and great fries!) and to watch the sun set over Miami.
We then returned to our cabin to get ready for the pre-dinner show, which was a comedian. He (Don somebody) was quite good, though he clearly thought we weren't a very enthusiastic audience!
We had 11 people at our table at the second seating, all very pleasant. The only difficulty was that 2 of the people were from Panama and spoke only a little English, and none of us spoke much Spanish. We did a lot of pointing and miming, and also relied on our assistant waiter Jimmy, from Nicaragua, to translate. I think that guest information forms should include languages spoken so that people can be seated with others who speak their language. The Panamanian women were very patient with us! Our waiter Mehmet was from Turkey and he and Jimmy were both great - professional, friendly, helpful with food selection. My husband asked for mint tea after dinner and from then on, Jimmy was ready with the tea each night. The food was excellent overall, considering the mass quantities prepared, and was presented nicely. The coffee was barely OK - I put a lot of cream & sugar in, but the coffee purists would hate it! The coffee you buy at Seattle Express is very good, however. After dinner we walked up to the observatory and did some star-gazing - absolutely beautiful to see all those stars!
The next day was a day at sea. We slept in, then walked briskly around the sun deck for about 20 minutes. After that, it was breakfast in the Windjammer - yummy made-to-order omelets, fresh melon, surprisingly good grits, and tons of other food choices. My husband thought the apple juice was very good; I thought the OJ was just OK! We're not "pool" people, so we whiled away the morning reading and lounging in deck chairs on various decks. We ate lunch in the main dining room, which I highly recommend. It is open seating, and we were seated with a nice family and a couple. There is a standard menu with daily specials, but what is really great is the "Tutti Pasta" - a pasta station where "dueling chefs" (one is from northern Italy and the other from southern Italy) prepare made-to-order pasta. There are many choices, such as baby shrimp, chicken, basil, onions, peppers, etc. There are 3 sauces - tomato, white wine and pesto - and 2 pastas (bowtie and linguini the first time, penne and spaghetti the second). I had the house salad, but the Cobb looked much better, with chunks of avocado. For dessert we had the coconut creme brulee, which is not to be missed!! The service was pleasant and efficient, though the waiter teased me and told me that they were out of the creme brulee, since he had heard me say how much I wanted it.
After lunch we checked out the swing dance class in the Carousel Lounge, but it was already pretty crowded, so we left. At 3:00 we went to the dining room for the wine-tasting, which was very enjoyable. There were various cheeses, breads and grapes at a self-serve table, then we were escorted to a table. We sampled 3 whites, a white Zinfandel, 3 reds and Champagne. If you know much about wine, this will be too basic for you, but we enjoyed it and felt like we learned some things about wine. We later watched another sunset in the Solarium, which has a beautiful tiled pool, 2 hot tubs, bar and snack bar. There is a retractable roof as well.
There was no pre-dinner show, as there was the Captain's reception, which we did not attend. It was also the Captain's Gala in the dining room, which meant formal attire. We all looked gorgeous at our table. :-) I ordered the lobster tail, while my husband got the veal parmesan (only OK). He tasted my lobster and agreed that it was delicious. We didn't go to the after-dinner show, which was a song-and-dance show, but instead listened to a wonderful trio in the centrum.
The next day we ate a quick breakfast in the Windjammer while watching the ship dock in Ocho Rios. There was only a short line at the gangway, then we were off the ship. We met our tour guide (Trevor Hudlin - he's great!) in the parking lot at 8:45 and were off for a fun-filled day in his air-conditioned van. We climbed Dunn's River Falls, which is beautiful and a bit more challenging than we expected. The guides are very helpful and willing to take pictures with our waterproof camera. We tipped them at the end of the climb. There is a videographer along for the climb, as well as someone taking still shots (and at one point, an RCL photographer). We ordered a DVD ($40) at the end of our climb, and it was delivered to the purser's desk later in the day. At the Falls, there are lockers (we left our things with Trevor), restrooms, a snack bar and various vendors. The vendors are very bold and eager to make a sale. Do not stop to shake hands or you will find yourself with a bracelet or necklace ("free" because they intend to sell you something much more expensive) on you, and do not let them put anything in your hands that you are not willing to buy. Bartering is expected, and we bought an ironwood bowl w/lid and 2 little figurines for $60, though the vendor's first price quote was $120. We met Trevor in the parking lot and headed to the White River for some tubing. Along the way, he pointed out various plants and told us some of the history of Jamaica. "Rambo" was our tubing guide, and the tubing was very relaxing after the climb up the Falls. We stopped at a grassy area about halfway down the river, where there are drinks for sale (soda & beer) and clean restrooms. While there, Rambo told us about various plants, which was fascinating. We tipped Rambo at the end of the trip (about 1 1/2 hours). There is a small building with a guestbook to sign and a few souvenirs (no pressure whatsoever to buy). Trevor then drove us to the Wassi Art Pottery Factory, where we had a brief tour (free, but we tipped the employee who took us around). I highly recommend the factory! In the store there is a mixture of "touristy" pottery pieces, but most of real works of art, and all signed by the artist (there are 3 potters who make the pieces and 16 artists who paint them). We bought a water pitcher and the sales clerk took us to meet the artist, who willingly posed for a photograph. We then had a late lunch at the jerk center - jerk pork and festivals, which are slightly sweet, deep-fried rolls. The fries and festivals were delicious, as was the Red Stripe beer, but the pork was just OK (a bit fatty/gristly for our tastes) After lunch Trevor took us to Soni's Plaza to buy some souvenirs. There is a mixture of souvenir shops and jewelry stores (which we didn't go in). The employees were very helpful and the store buildings were freshly painted. We then headed back to the ship to rest awhile before dinner. We did get a little snack in the Windjammer, where we had a nice view as we sailed away from Jamaica.
We didn't go to the pre-dinner show - I think it was another musical one - but found our favorite trio and had a drink. Dinner was great, as usual, with a Caribbean theme. The Blue Mountain coffee creme brulee was incredible! We went to the "Love and Marriage" show afterwards. I admire the brave couples who provided such hilarious entertainment for the rest of us!
The next day was our day in port at GeorgeTown, Grand Cayman. We ate a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer while waiting for the announcement that we could board a tender. Passengers doing RCL shore excursions go on the first tenders. We were in no hurry, as we didn't have much planned for the day. When we got to the gangway, we didn't have to wait at all to board the tender. We got to the dock at about 10:30 and headed to nearby Atlantis Adventures for a ride on the semi-sub. If you're not into snorkeling, this is a great alternative for seeing the incredible coral and sea life. The tour lasts about an hour, and we were in a comfortable air-conditioned boat with a water cooler and restroom. Our guide, Alice, was charming and knowledgeable. I took dozens of photos with my digital camera, and was pleased with the results when I downloaded the photos back at home. We then walked around the area close to the dock, doing a little shopping and looking for a place to eat. We ended up at the Craft Market cafe, where we ordered our food at a counter and then sat at the tables outside (most are under a roof, or in the shade of trees, which was great, because it was *hot*). My husband ordered conch fritters and I got fried shrimp, both of which were served with fries and macaroni salad (which was the best I've eaten). The food was good and plentiful, but expensive! After lunch we did some more shopping and dropped off some postcards at the post office. We then went to the rum cake factory and sampled all 7 (8?) scrumptious varieties. We bought just one cake to take home, due to space limitations. We went to the Grand Cayman National Museum, but it was closed due to damage from Hurricane Ivan (there was a tarp on the roof). It's supposed to open later this year, I believe. The gift shop was open, so we stopped in for a quick look. The employee is a former New Yorker and she told us a lot about the hurricane and its effect on the island. We had hoped to tour the butterfly farm, but couldn't find anyone to tell us where it was, so instead we went to the Paradise Bar & Grill for some delicious cold drinks and chips & guacamole. We relaxed at a table under a large umbrella and watched the snorkelers and the gorgeous teal blue water. The waiter was great and willingly took our picture. It was then a short walk back to the dock to catch our tender back to the ship. We drank some lemonade in the Windjammer as we sailed away from Grand Cayman before going to our cabin to change for dinner. The pre-dinner show was pretty good - "From Stage to Screen", with songs from "Chicago", "Little Shop of Horrors" and "West Side Story" - not Broadway quality, but also not Broadway prices! Another great dinner and then off to find our favorite trio (The Novi Trio) and relax with a drink before bed.
Our last day at sea started off nice and warm, so we walked around the deck before breakfast. The captain announced that we would be running into a cold front and storm as we got nearer to Florida, so we were glad to enjoy the sun while we could. We ate some more delicious pasta for lunch, with coconut creme brulée for dessert. At 3:00 we headed to the spa for our partner massage lesson, which we signed up for the first day of the cruise. There were 2 other couples taking the lesson. The spa masseuse was very pleasant and gave us women sarongs to change into for the massage. We all felt a bit uncomfortable since the sarongs only tied on (Velcro would've been nice!) and we kept adjusting our sarongs during the lesson to prevent overexposure! The masseuse rotated among the couples, showing each of us several massage techniques, first to the men and then to the women. The lesson fee ($55/couple) included the instruction sheets and a bottle of aromatic oil for us to take home. We all agreed that it was a great experience!
When we went out on deck afterwards, it had turned much cooler and was *extremely* windy, with dark gray skies and high waves/white caps on the water. We went to the Windjammer for an afternoon snack, where we heard the Captain announce that a small boat had been spotted starboard and that the ship was stopping to see if the passengers were in distress. We and many other passengers went out on deck to look, and watched the drama unfold. It turned out to be a small rowboat with 12 Cuban men aboard. They seemed to be relieved to see us, as the sea was so choppy. They were given medical attention, dry clothes and food. At dinner that night we felt the ship stop again, and found out that a Coast Guard cutter had picked up the refugees to take them to Guantanamo Bay. It was heartbreaking to learn that these men who risked their lives trying to reach freedom were returned to Cuba, to face who knows what.
We of course tipped all our waiters and stateroom attendants that last night. They work so hard, and are away from their families for 6 months at a time. After dinner we returned to our cabin to pack. Sleep did not come easily due to the rocking of the ship through most of the night.
When we awoke in port, the water was calm and the skies a beautiful blue. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer, then went to the Solarium to wait to disembark. It was not long before our luggage tag color was called and we joined a long line of people to leave the ship. The line moved fairly quickly and once inside the building, the RCL employees efficiently moved us through to the baggage claim area. The luggage was grouped by color and we easily found our suitcases. Customs was quick too - seemed to be a formality only - we handed the customs agent our form and she asked if we'd bought any liquor, cigars or cigarettes. We hadn't so she waved us on through. As soon as we left the building, we saw a taxi and headed to the airport for our flight home.
Enchantment favorites: watching sunsets in the Solarium, the many uncrowded places aboard ship (the library, the Promenade deck, the seating areas around the Centrum), star-gazing in the observatory, the smiling service from the waiters everywhere on the ship, the pasta and creme brulée!
Enchantment non-favorites: the photographers who came around to the table *every night* at dinner, interrupting our conversations; the (free) coffee; the frequent announcements by the cruise director urging us to buy things or play bingo, gamble, etc.
Summary:The Enchantment is a lovely ship and very well-maintained. It has lots of glass, so even inside you can see wonderful vistas. The service was uniformly good and most of the food was excellent. The cruise itinerary was excellent as well - we loved the restful days at sea. We hope to sail again with Royal Caribbean!