This was my 5th cruise and the second leg of our Back2Back. The first leg was an 11 night Southern Caribbean on the Explorer. I will add a few comparisons throughout the review. All our previous cruise have been on The Explorer.
We met up with our 2 daughters (14 & 16), my mother and grandmother in NJ after disembarking the Explorer on Feb 17 and drove to Baltimore. Royal Caribbean put my husband and I up at the Hilton Hotel as part of the B2B package. The Grandmas and girls stayed at the Elkridge, MD Best Western. Both hotels were very nice and I would highly recommend them. The Best Western offers a Park & Cruise package with up to 14 days free parking, transfers to/from the cruise port and a continental breakfast.
Embarkation was smooth and rather quick. Our only upset was having to carry the case of water we had tagged to be delivered to our room. In Cape Liberty, we would have been able to check the water with our luggage. Next time we will just put the water in a bag and send it on though. Live and learn.
Shortly before we were due to sail Captain Gus informed us that there was a problem with one of the two propulsion motors and that we would be delayed. Repairs were attempted and we were cleared by the Coast Guard to sail the following day, Sunday Feb 18. Test were preformed once we got out into the Chesapeake but the issue persisted. We were reassured that though we would not be able to go as fast, the ship was okay sailing with only one working prop motor.
The Capt. announced that we would miss Key West and gave an OBC of $200 per interior/exterior cabin and $300 per balcony/suite cabin. Later it was announced that we would also miss Coco Cay and that we were being reimbursed for the base cruise fare paid. Really? Wow an almost free cruise... I'll take it. Yes, we were disappointed that we would miss 2 of the 4 ports and that the hours were changed for our stop to Nassau causing us to have to cancel our Stuart's Cove Shark Snorkel, but Royal went above and beyond with the offered compensation.
We did have one night of slightly rough weather. One drawer on the desk kept rolling out and slamming back in. Not a big deal. We certainly did NOT fear for our lives as some people apparently did
The Enchantment staff also went above and beyond. Everyone from Ana at the Starbucks, to Nitesh & Lavi, the photographers, to our stateroom attendant, Frederick and our Waitstaff, George, Errol and Wilson did whatever they could to make this cruise special despite the disappointments.
notes and comparisons:
The hot tubs were barely warm (maybe because it was vacation week and there were over 600 kids???) Even the Solarium ones weren't hot. Same temp as the pools.
The coffee was horrible! Had to buy at Starbucks to get a decent coffee. Explorer was not much better (Promenade Cafe was ok). Very disappointing for us coffee addicts.
The Tutti Salad Bar was better run, had more selection and flowed better on the Explorer.
The WindJammer Buffet food was by far the best we've had but the space is too small for the amount of people using it.
The Main Dining Room food was okay but nothing special.
The My Time Dining was much better than we have had on the Explorer. We were actually at the same table with the same waitstaff every night which was very nice. The guys treated us like royalty and I will miss hearing Wilson say "My pleasure" every time we thanked him :)
The cabin was small but clean and the furniture was in good shape. We had a 20" flat screen TV (kids and Grandma's had old TVs in cabins 8671 & 3618) The bathroom had a nice tub but only a small area of non-slip surface and I fell pretty bad getting in the first night. Please be careful!
The was no light out on the balcony. I love to sit out and read at night before bed while my husband watches TV in bed. I had to leave the cabin lights on and drag the chair up to the balcony door to have enough light.
We purchased the mycruisephotos.com package online before the cruise at $169.95. What a great deal! On board it was $249! It was nice to be able to take as many photos as we wanted with no worries about how much it would cost us at the end of the cruise. (Our 1st cruise we spent about $600)
No interactive TV to keep tabs on your SeaPass account. This make it tough to keep tabs on your spending (and the kids spending).
We loved the Centrum area compared to the Promenade on the Explorer. The 70's party rocked!
This was the first time we have attended the Welcome Back Party and the Top Tier Event. Royal really needs to step it up in this area. Boring! The CruiseCritic party was ok but with Katrina, with that big personality, running the show I thought she could have done a bit more to break the ice and get everyone mingling.
All in all we had a wonderful cruise. Not exactly what we anticipated but accept the things you cannot change and use your OBC to get a massage!!!