8 Colon (Cristobal) Family Cruise Reviews

I have not been on a cruise in 20 years so this was a trip of a lifetime for my multigenerational family. We did spend one night in Equador, at the Hotel Colon, prior to our last flight to the islands. It took 1.5 days of travel to get ... Read More
I have not been on a cruise in 20 years so this was a trip of a lifetime for my multigenerational family. We did spend one night in Equador, at the Hotel Colon, prior to our last flight to the islands. It took 1.5 days of travel to get there with lunch and an excursion to an island scheduled for the same day. Unfortunately, 25 of us lost our luggage via American airlines errors, and the sweet people of Lindblad/ Nat. Geo took us to a town to buy some clothing. I mention this because we have a story about not finding much available in Mucho Grande Pantaloons size. The Ecuadorians are a much smaller people than Americans. A size 12 to 14 is a mucho grande. The hotel manager did everything he could to supply us with essentials including laundry for our paultry supplies. They were such gracious people. Although the ship may be small compared to the super cruise liners it was comfortable and charming. We became a small family of explorers. My grandaughters and I had a two room cabin that was nicely size (300.) My daughter and SIL had a much smaller room for 2 (206) Gifts were left in the bathroom for us to use during the trip including a reusable water bottle, loofah etc. Of course the chocolates left on our bed were a nice treat left after beds were set for nite time. There were multiple shore excursions and choice of visits to see the local economy or a school. We chose to visit the school. I wish I had known enough to bring some old children s book and or supplies to the school since anything brought into the country has a high tax rate. Most of the children were learning English as a second language. We were pleased with the food. There were no rich sauces but an array of fresh local vegetables and fruits. All the fish was great and simply cooked. Chicken and fish was also served. Breakfast was a standard buffet. A soup was served with lunch and dinner. We had educational activities several times a day, all were very good and well received. There were special activities for the children including going our on a Zodiac and "learning" how to drive one. Being 70, I thought I'd have trouble getting in and out of the Zodiacs but they are professionals and knew how to assist all of us. They planned an assortments of high and low physical activities every outing. My family learned to snorkel and loved it. I would recommend purchasing an underwater camera. Natural Geographic hooked me up with a photographer who made a recommendation for us. The photos are great memories. Short wet suits were provided since the water can be quite cool due to the Humbolt current from Antarctica. We viewed an assortment of islands, islets and rocks with different flora and fauna. They high points were the wild giant tortoises, penguins and blue footed boobies. Disembarkation was without incident. Getting home was difficult and took 3 days due to American Airlines fouling up. The lovely people from Lindblad and National Geographic stayed with us, getting information, rooms and meals for us. They were wonderful. I can recommend this cruise for those that want adventure, safe travel, well educated multilingual staff and naturalists and wonderful memories. This is not for those that want glamour, dancing, and eating heavy french food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We had a very nice cruise which was both exciting seeing all the new ports and experiencing the Latin American culture and also relaxing as for us there wasn't a lot to do on the ship so there was no guilt in going to bed early! We ... Read More
We had a very nice cruise which was both exciting seeing all the new ports and experiencing the Latin American culture and also relaxing as for us there wasn't a lot to do on the ship so there was no guilt in going to bed early! We stayed the night before the cruise in the Country Inn and Suites Panama Canal and then hired Rudy's Private tours to show us the sites of Panama (both pre and post cruise). We toured Panama City, Fort of Portobello, Gatun Locks, an Embera Indian Village, and Gatun Lake. Stayed the night before departure (Tocumen Airport) at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Both hotels were very good and the views from our balconies of first the Panama Canal and then the rainforest/Lake were spectacular. This was our first RCL cruise and we knew it was going to be Spanish first/English second but our high school daughter is learning Spanish and wanted the cultural immersion and we love experiencing new things. There was no problem with ship communication and the staff all spoke English. The only time I felt "left out" was during the entertainment and playing Bingo. We went to see the Argentinian Gaucho (cowboy) and he was great except most of his stories were in Spanish and the crowd including my daughter were laughing there heads off but sadly no translation but my daughter said he was very funny. Obviously! There wasn't a lot to do at night compared to other cruises I have been on but we decided that that wasn't a bad thing as after long port days, dinner and we went to three of the shows it was good to just go to bed. Our Junior Suite was terrific. Very nice with a large aft balcony. First time and I loved it! Ship was clean, newly renovated just smaller than ships I had been on in the past. Easy to get around and staff was very friendly, food was good. We liked the variety in the Windjammer. The negatives came from the Spa. the first sea day both my daughter and I had treatments and they were fine, however we each did another treatment and they were both awful. My massage was terrible and then she tried to overcharge me and my daughter was supposed to have a 75 minute hot stones and she arrived back in the room only one hour later so obviously they cut her visit short but still charged 75 minutes. She said she didn't talk much at the end to the spa lady as she was trying to sell her massage oils and she told them she had to talk to me. So I'm assuming that even though you pay for 75 minute massage 15 minutes of that is their sells pitch. Ports were great: Cartagena we did a private tour with Dora De Zubiria. Beautiful city and Dora really worked with my daughter on her Spanish. Bonaire my daughter and husband went scuba diving and I went on Woodwind snorkeling cruise. Aruba we took a taxi and went to Eagle Beach (MVC resort) and renting chairs along with jet sking and then tubing. For the tubing they picked us up and took us up to Palm Beach. I enjoyed the boat ride just going up the coast. In Curacao we went to the Dive Bus so they could again scuba and I snorkeled off the shore. Very nice people and water clarity was great. It was a very good cruise and loved all our sights, the ship was nice and we came home rested.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Coming from Western Canada, the airfare to Panama was about the same as Miami or Puerto Rico but the cruise was better priced than the others so we chose this cruise. We rented a car at the Airport in Panama City and stayed overnight at ... Read More
Coming from Western Canada, the airfare to Panama was about the same as Miami or Puerto Rico but the cruise was better priced than the others so we chose this cruise. We rented a car at the Airport in Panama City and stayed overnight at the Mariott Metromall. We were lucky enough to buy a toll card from the attendant at Thrifty. The drive to the hotel and the drive out of the City was a challenge. The roads are poorly marked and the maps lack detail. It was nice to have the flexibility of a rental car to stop where you want. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Miraflores for 2 days at the end of the cruise. We have previously cruised on the Carnival Valor and were expecting a step up ith RCI. We found that the Carnival Valor had better food choices that are included with the price, better on ship activities (eg. basketball and mini golf) and the room was slightly larger. Eventhough the ship had a recent reno, it is showing its' age. It lacks much of the extras that they have on their other ships. Eventhough the RCI website indicates they have added Coca Cola Freestyle machines to all their fleet , the Vision of the Seas does not have it. (Apparently because it is not based in the USA). You still get the basic RCI ship and service but no extras - thus the name of the review RCI LITE. Our room was at the back of the second level on the starboard side. We called it the sewage section because of the heavy smell of sewage when you walked down the hall. Given its location you expect engine noice but this was more than expected. As mentioned in other reviews, the majority of passengers on this cruise are Spanish speaking. We enjoy the Spanish culture and this was one of the highlights of the cruise. Our favorite ports were Cartagena because of the old City and Curacao for the architecture. We went scuba diving on Aruba and Bonaire and prefered Bonaire because of the amount of sea life and the history behind the salt ponds near the diving area.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
THE BACGROUND After 3 cruises in 2008 and 2009 I had decided to stop to cruise because I felt a gradual lack of quality . But as I was in Brazil and profiting of direct connections with Panamá I decided to try another cruise. The ... Read More
THE BACGROUND After 3 cruises in 2008 and 2009 I had decided to stop to cruise because I felt a gradual lack of quality . But as I was in Brazil and profiting of direct connections with Panamá I decided to try another cruise. The reservation was made through a travel agent without problems. However whwn I intend to reserve a dinner in Chops Grill and some excursions I was surprised with a refusal of my credit card. After some days of negative trials I contacted with RCI in Sao Paulo that said to me that there was a problem in site and they were in Brazil only at 6 months ago!! and they don't solve the problem. THE EMBARKATION I had bought a private transfer in net wich went to Radisson Hotel Decapolis where bI stayed about 10.30 a.m.. We arrive to Colon about 11.50 and we were in ship 10 minutes later- THE SHIP and CABIN As the cabin was only accessible at 13.00 we walk in the ship to know it. It is a good ship but in our opinion inferior to tha Voyageur Class or Brillance of The Seas. Some signals of age are easily visible and the sip has no luxury ambiances as other competitors.But in any case is sufficiently confortable and pleasant. The cabin was a Junior Suite in Deck 8. The impression of the cabin is the same of the ship. Something tired but peaant and confortable with a good balcon but a ridiculous small TV. THE SERVICE The first thing we made on board was to book a dinner in Chopps Grill and 2 land excursions and to ask My Time Dinner. All these things that in Brazil were not solved in the ship were solved in 5 minutes. In all aspects Main Restaurant, Chops Grill, Bars the service was superb. THE FOOD After 2 cruises with MSC I was thinking that to eat well on board was something lost and bellonging to past. I was wrong. In Enchantement of the Seas the food was superb in quality and variety . In Cops Grill we eat meat as good as we eat in good Buenos Aires Grill, and the service and kimdness of staf very good. THE PORTS OF CALL The first port was Cartagena. For 80 dollars we got a taxi driver that show us during 4 hours the more important things of this interesting town, for us one of the best stops of all cruise. The day after we stopped in Santa Marta and we went with an excursion bought on board. The town with the exception of the Museum has not a big interest and the excursion has its high point with the visit to the place where Simon Bolivar passed his last days. In Aruba another excursion not very good. The interior of Aruba has very little to see and we went to see a church without any glamour and a lighthouse without a minimum enchantement. Curação was in our opinion another jewel ot the ports we went on our own and we believe that we did better than to go with an excursion. It is very easy to view the town walking, and we had time to go to the wonderful restaurant area to lunch a delicious fish. Bonaire is very good for diving and snorkelong. THE SPECTACLES In general the quality of spectacles was good in Las Vegas style. THE END The desenbarkation was very smooth and according to the forecasted hours. CONCLUSION A good crise in a good tired ship but still charming and with a great staff. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
It is a pleasure to recommend this cruise and highlight the fact it has been one of the best short breaks we've ever had as a family. Food: good variety and high quality. Being a vegetarian family, we thought we'd be limited by ... Read More
It is a pleasure to recommend this cruise and highlight the fact it has been one of the best short breaks we've ever had as a family. Food: good variety and high quality. Being a vegetarian family, we thought we'd be limited by the options, but to our pleasant surprise, during the seven-day cruise, there was a carefully prepared menu including fresh vegetables and salads, fresh made soups, variety of pastries, fruits and desserts. For those guests of meat and fish, there was also a good variety. Restaurants, Windjammer (informal) and My Fair Lady (casual in most cases and with a couple of formal dinners), have a pleasant decor and offer a friendly atmosphere. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not included, except lemonade and iced tea which are complimentary. The waitresses are the best, thanks to each one of you! Cabins: we booked an interior family cabin, the cheapest of the boat, with a queen and a bunk bed for our child of 05 years. The cabins are impeccable. Currently, to minimize the risks of influenza and other viruses, the cabins are receiving cleaning services in the morning and afternoon. Bed linen and towels are of best quality. External areas: Although the swimming pools are small for the size of the boat, in general the facilities are nice, clean and safe. Service: on average 80% of employees onboard for the maintenance and restaurant areas is Hindu or Filipino, with a unique vocation of service and willingness to help unconditionally. The wages of these workers are minimal and their income at the end of the month is determined by the tips. Although gratuities are at guests' discretion, be generous when giving your tip at the end of the cruise, the team that makes your experience onboard the Enchantment of the Seas unforgettable, deserves it. Entertainment: A fun and entertaining musical billboard has been professionally developed with a talented international cast. The tango music show deserves special mention, the show that we had to witness was the height of the famous international productions. The kids' activity centre is well managed and an exciting and entertaining variety of activities is offered. Children are involved on a daily basis in an educational and stimulating variety of activities. Our son looked forward to his daily timetable at the activity centre. Itinerary: In Cartagena and Santa Marta taxis are expensive. If no language barrier, in the case of Cartagena, not worth booking a guide. You can order a taxi to take you to the entrance of the colonial city and walk the entire historical site by yourself; it is safe, clean and fun. In most of the cases, the guides who offer their services at the port have no vehicle. Most guides outsources a taxi that drives them to the entrance of the colonial city and then make the guided walk with you. For your safety, check the official rates for taxis with port authorities. Colombia deserves our respect for their focus on making their guests feel at home. Like any tourist city in the world, Cartagena and Santa Marta require some level of arousal, but the consistent and continuous presence of the police force allows that trips like ours can be described as a unique and enjoyable experience. It is a lesson for the rest of our countries in Central and South America. Bravo Colombia! This is a good example to follow by the region. Aruba: In Oranjestad upon arrival, facing the harbour, there is a station of organized and clean public transport buses with low rates that cover a good portion of the main attractions of the island. If you want a quiet day without much activity on the beach, we highly recommend visiting Palm Beach with green and warm waters, public toilets and access to restaurants. Curacao: In our case we took the short stay to visit the Marine Aquarium, which is located 20 minutes from Willemstad. It is a valuable experience for families with children. Just at the entrance of the aquarium there is a small beach, with a beautiful and healthy coral reef where if you bring your own snorkelling equipment, you can have a special time. There is a minibus station, public transport, in the centre of Willemstad, where you can take a unit that will take you to the Aquarium. From the port of arrival to the public station is about 15 minutes, walking distance. Bonaire: From the entire itinerary, Kralendijk is the destination where the cruise spends fewer hours, so it is important to efficiently plan your visits to the island. Again, if you prefer to spend only few hours in the tranquillity of the beach, we recommend Eden Beach, a small resort located just 20 minutes from the port. Admission is free. This beach offers a beautiful reef. The waters are deep and if you have children, it is important constant supervision of parents. The local tourism authority has staff ready to arrange public transport at reasonable prices from and to the port of embarkation of the cruise. Kudos for The Enchantment of the Seas, its service team and each of one of the destinations included in its itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Background - My wife and I are RCI diamond members and this was our first cruise as diamond members. We are in our mid-forties with two boys' ages 5 and 11. We normally take two cruises per year. This was the first time that we flew ... Read More
Background - My wife and I are RCI diamond members and this was our first cruise as diamond members. We are in our mid-forties with two boys' ages 5 and 11. We normally take two cruises per year. This was the first time that we flew to a cruise with the kids and it was also our first repositioning cruise. RCI is our favorite line. We also like Cunard. This was our 16th cruise and 8th on RCI. We booked this cruise only 3 weeks before embarkation as RCI had discounted it dramatically. It was an 8-day cruise leaving from Colon, Panama and ending in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We stopped in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Cartagena, Colombia, Santa Marta, Colombia, and Oranjestad, Aruba. We had only been to Aruba before, so most of the ports were new to us. This was a great and memorable trip. We met many great people and made some friends.   Pre-Cruise - RCI did not offer any pre-cruise hotels or excursions, so we were on our own. We flew into Panama City, Panama the day before the cruise on Continental Airlines. We had a direct flight from Newark, NJ, which was nice. Unfortunately, Continental's service was very disappointing. This was a 5+ hour flight with no audio or visual entertainment. We had bought a portable DVD player before the cruise and it came in very handy. We only got a hot sandwich for dinner and one beverage. Continental Airlines still charges for bags from the 2nd checked bag per person on flights to Central and South America except for Brazil. We made sure we only had one checked bag per person to avoid the $25.00 extra bag charge per person. The plane was full and it was also very warm. Not a pleasant flight. We landed in Panama City at 9:30pm local time and made it through the airport in good time. We paid $35.00 for a cab ride from the airport to the hotel. We stayed at the Veneto a Wyndam Grand Hotel in downtown Panama City. The hotel was very nice, but the casino attracted many call girls that the hotel seemed to allow. The room was nice and the beds were comfortable. We paid $139.00 for the one night. The next morning we had a great breakfast at the hotel and walked a little. The area around the hotel is dirty and smelly like any big city. We did not take a tour of the Panama Canal and opted for the transfer to Colon directly. We used a tour company called My Friend Mario. They were very cheap ($20pp) and provided reliable air conditioned transportation. We met some nice folks from other hotels in the tour bus and we arrived in Colon about 90 minutes later. Colon is awful. It is very poor and fairly unsafe for tourists in certain parts of the city. The cruise lines call at Colon since it is so close to the Gatun Locks. We boarded the ship relatively fast since we had priority embarkation as diamond members.   Ship - The Enchantment of the Seas is 12 years old and went through a major renovation in 2005. The ship is showing some wear on the hull and on the balcony railings, but is in good condition. It is scheduled for a 10-day yard period later this year. The public rooms were nicely appointed and used natural light very well. RCI has well designed ships and this one was easy to navigate and ship maps are easily found in the elevator and stairway areas. Some elevators did not work properly and were continually being fixed. This presented a problem on embarkation day, but not after. There was some odor in some of the bathrooms, but not bad. The bathrooms were clean, so I attribute the odor to some plumbing issues that need correction.   Accommodations - We had a balcony stateroom on deck 7. It was very nice. It was 190 square feet with a 36 square foot balcony. We had a queen size bed and a sofa bed that slept two. It also had a pull-down bed, so the room actually slept five. The storage space was plentiful and the closet was pretty big. The bathroom was small and the shower was very tight. Overall, the stateroom met our needs and was comfortable.   Dining - We had the main seating in the My Fair Lady dining room. RCI paired us with another married couple a little younger than us who also had a six year old daughter. The kids had fun eating together, which helped us enjoy our food. The food on RCI is usually good, but not great. This cruise was no different. Our waiter, Raj, was great. He made our time at dinner very enjoyable and we usually took 90 to 100 minutes to eat as the kids and adults talked and the time just slipped by. Raj also had some magic tricks that also kept the kids entertained. It was a lot of fun. RCI does need to do something about the lobster. It was again very bland and tasteless. The either need to get some better quality lobster or spice it a little better. The Indian food, which was the vegetarian option every night, was very good and spicy. Just as it should be. I enjoyed that on three of the eight nights. We also ate breakfast at the main dining room as the Windjammer Marketplace was very crowded. We enjoyed the breakfast food and did not seem to be rushed. We usually ate about 9:30am each morning. We used the Windjammer at lunch and the food was good, but it was a bit crowded. We also ate lunch once at the barbeque at the pool. It was also good, but again very crowded. We did not go to Chops Grille on this trip.   Adventure Ocean (kids club) - This was terrific. We could not get our five year old out of there. He wanted to spend all day there. The staff was very friendly and enjoyed kids very much. They had activities that were fun and educational. The kids learned about cooking one afternoon and made chef's hats. There were science experiments like making alien slime. They also had a kid's talent show on the last day of the cruise, which was a lot of fun. Overall, I would highly recommend this program. The kids are split by age group and the activities are age appropriate.   Pool Area - This was expanded by 50% during the lengthening of the ship in 2005. There is now plenty of room to swim. All of the pools are salt water. The whirlpools are fresh water. There are two main pools with four whirlpools and a kid's splash area. There are also plenty of deck chairs and we never struggled to find one, even on crowded sea days. The adult-only solarium is beautiful. When the kids were at Adventure Ocean we used the solarium. It has one pool and two whirlpools. The adult-only policy was enforced on our cruise. RCI also enforced the policy of no kids with swim diapers allowed in the pools. This did upset some parents, but it is a CDC (Center for Disease Control) requirement.   Ports - I won't spend much time on the ports. It is best to hire your own tour at the pier as they are cheap and plentiful. We got a 3 ½ hour city tour in Cartagena for $30.00 total. It was really good. The ship was charging $35.00 per person for the same tour. We also really enjoyed the ship tour in Santa Marta to the Irotama Resort. It was expensive, but it included 5 ½ hours at a high end resort with lunch and a drink included. It was a good value. The food was excellent and the pool and beach areas were fantastic. Beware of the vendors on the beach. In Colombia the beaches are public, so the resort cannot restrict the vendors once you make it onto the beach.   Service - The service was impeccable. Everyone was very friendly and performed wonderfully. We have always received very good service when cruising with RCI, but this was one of the best service experiences we ever had. Our stateroom attendant, Jasmine, was wonderful. We always had clean linens and she always had a smile when we saw her, which was usually two to three times per day. Our waiter, Raj, assistant waiter, and head waiter were great and really took care of us. Royal also rolled out the red carpet for the diamond members. We had three member parties, plus we had free drinks in the concierge lounge every night from 5 to 8pm. I have never scored as many free drinks on a cruise before. It was great. We also got to have brunch with the Hotel Director, Michael Rasmussen, at the member brunch on the 7th day. He is a really nice guy and gave us an insight to some of the member changes that RCI is implementing on 9/1/09. We did tell him that we missed the chocolates on the pillows at bed time and he explained to us that 80% of those chocolates were thrown away as people did not eat them, so they were cut-out to save on costs. My wife suggested that RCI give people an optional package they can buy to get the chocolates on the pillows for $1 per day. We will see what happens.   Debarkation - I will only say this. We carried our own bags off at 7:15am as we had a 10am flight home from Ft. Lauderdale. We were off of the ship, through customs and at the airport by 7:35am. Unbelievable!! Well done RCI!!   Overall - A fantastic cruise. One of the best we have taken. RCI should be proud of the wonderful crew on the Enchantment of the Seas. The cruise was truly enchanting. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We are a family of 4. 12 and 15 yr. old kids. Travel quite a bit to odd places, not your typical 5 star all-inclusive resort style family. We also speak "enough" Spanish to get by. Not fluently, but enough. Would highly ... Read More
We are a family of 4. 12 and 15 yr. old kids. Travel quite a bit to odd places, not your typical 5 star all-inclusive resort style family. We also speak "enough" Spanish to get by. Not fluently, but enough. Would highly recommend knowing at least your basics. Gracias and Por favor and perdon go a long way. We got great Continental Air tickets from Detroit to Panama for $258.00 a piece. Arrived into Panama and took a taxi to the Country inn and Suite Panama Canal for the first night. Taxis will try and get you every time, just say, "Oh, muy karo" (very expensive) and then they'll come down. The going rate from the airport to anywhere in the city is $35.oo. I believe Royal Caribbean will transfer you from the airport all the way up the canal for a good fee. We opted to go a week ahead of time and play around in Panama. It was wonderful. When it came time for us to head up to Colon to take the cruise we went to the city bus terminal and caught the express bus to Colon. (1 1/2 hr.) $2.50 per person. Ask them to drop you off at the Puerto de Cruises. Not port of Colon, we made that mistake. If the bus driver doesn't get you all the way there, don't ask questions, just hail a taxi and pay them the $5.00 and GO. Colon is a horrible town. Of the 3 weeks we spent on this trip in and around Panama, nothing came close to Colon, terrible. If you are only going for the cruise and don't like the adventure of seeing the sights and doing things on your own AND are wearing lots of gold jewelry DO THE ROYAL CARIBBEAN TRANSFERS. They'll door to door you. Now, keep this following information in mind regarding my review: Our ship was only half full! They never gave us a capacity number but the dining rooms were 3/4 empty and you could find a pool chair anytime, anywhere. No line at buffets nor to get off the ship at ports. We had many conversations with the ship workers (because their second language is English not Spanish so they LOVE Americans) and they informed us that the bookings have been dwindling and so far they have not lowered the fares. At some point they will began lowering fares and the workers were very worried about that. The city of Colon is ranked #1 for crime in all of Latin America. When they lower the prices they will get infiltrated with the residents of Colon. Sadly, I would not want to be on that cruise. If you're considering this cruise, wait till the last minute to see if that happens. I personally would not go if it did. So, the RCI cruise port ran to perfection for us. We boarded at about 3:00 for the 7:30 sailing. Probably took us 20 minutes from being dropped off at the cruise terminal to stepping on the ship. Very friendly RCI agents. Onboard lots of greeters to answer questions and point you to your rooms. Bought kids soda packages for $32.00 for all week. Found rooms on lowest floor (2nd) large window, 154 sq. ft. ($459.00 p.p. two rooms) Room felt larger than our last 190 sq.ft. balcony room on Celebrity because it had a great layout. As far as the cruise stops. We, unlike most cruisers, never do the ship excursions. We do our own and must say that we were sitting ducks in both the Cartagena and Santa Marta ports. The "free" shuttle RCI boasts about only takes you from the boat to the building where you are swarmed by nice, blood thirsty taxi drivers. One wanted to charge us $80.00 just to drive us to the old town in Cartagena. Sadly, we ended up seeing the old dirty parts and returned to the ship. Ended up watching all the activities happening in the shipping port from the pool deck of the ship. Amazing. Best advise would be for you to wait awhile to get off the ship, when the taxis are willing to lower their prices. Or, if you've got the guts, walk out of the port where you can get a normal taxi that won't gouge ya. Didn't do much in Santa Marta. Didn't go near the water, because the beach bathroom appeared (and smelled) to run right into the ocean. No thanks. Aruba, walked across the street jumped on the public bus for $1.30 headed to Palm Beach near the RIU hotel. Played on the beach and dove with Roberto's Divers for an expensive but neat one tank dive on the Antilla. (they were by far the cheapest we found) $250.00 for 4 persons including all equipment. Curacao, we walked around the very busy city, got over charged for coke because they see us white folks coming. Took a city bus way west to the Sunset Waters Dive resort and did a $10.00 per tank shore dive. Decent dive, lots of dead coral though. Gear rental expensive. We had to find a local to drive us from the bus stop to the Sunset Waters Resort, too far to walk. There was lots to see and do in the cruise port of Curacao. Don't need a taxi just take a right when you get off the ship and keep walking. Bonaire, loved it. Take your snorkel gear and jump in the water absolutely anywhere. Safe, walkable, lovely island. So, I would highly recommend this cruise for an American family for a great taste of a different culture. Everything is in Spanish with some English interpreted after. Cruise staff loves English speakers, they don't speak Spanish. Your fellow cruisers will be Panamanians, Costa Ricans, Columbians and they are so kind and friendly. Many speak English. My kids made many friends and exchanged e-mails. They danced in the kids club till 2:00am. Lots of tiny bathing suits but no one topless. AND, do me a favor, tip! Tipping is not high in the Latin culture (according to a Panamanian and the ship staff) and the dining room was empty on the last night of the cruise when the tipping envelopes were supposed to have been paid to your staff. The casino and bars were also a ghost town for the entire cruise. We only met a couple of Americans, if you include the big bellied one that blew the competition out of the water when he entered the belly flop competition! Leave it to an American. Loved it all but still wouldn't trade it in for the good ole USA....... yet. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
If you have the opportunity to take a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Central or South America ... take it. My wife and I were on the January 10, 2009 Enchantment of the Seas cruise from Colon, Panama to Cartagena and Santa Marta, ... Read More
If you have the opportunity to take a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Central or South America ... take it. My wife and I were on the January 10, 2009 Enchantment of the Seas cruise from Colon, Panama to Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia and the Netherlands Antilles. When booking the cruise we weren't told that the ship's language for everything would be Spanish, or that two thousand of the twenty-two hundred passengers were going to be Spanish speaking Latin Americans. A few weeks after booking, Royal Caribbean did offer us the chance to cancel without penalty, but having made our air reservations, the offer could not be taken. Not that we would have. As a former bilingual educator, (I am not Hispanic), I speak reasonable Spanish and my wife has some facility with it. So off we went. I'm not Pollyanna. There were culture clashes and you have to be able to either tolerate or enjoy them. The talking, the obstructive milling around, the physical closeness and crew relations come to mind. Large numbers of people never stop talking. Loud and rapid, all at the same time and never seeming to stop: in the pool, on the pool deck, in the bars and the photo gallery, during dinner, on the elevators and during the shows. Why go to the theater if you're going to talk through the entertainment? At first you are angry. Then you get included. Just because you don't understand is no reason not to join in. No one's in a hurry. Six or seven members of a family may sit down in the stairway. Every thing is blocked, nobody moves, no one gets excited. Eventually you get to go on your way. The same at a buffet line where time must be taken to choose among ten different items. The line waits. At first my New York City blood boiled. But I learned to enjoy the expectation. After all, what could I do about it? Eat in the Dining Room, or breakfast at 8:00 am when only the 150 Americans are awake? Latin Americans don't have the same sense of personal space as English speakers. Conversations are held at close range, inches away. And ten people climbing into and out of (mostly into), a six person hot tub, does challenge our Anglo-Saxon sense of propriety. We enjoyed our neighbors to the south. Bathing suits come to mind. The pool deck was paved with acres of cream-colored breasts, and when everyone is aboard, the full extent of the fabric shortage in Latin America becomes obvious. But why make bathing suits out of dental floss? Go figure? The Colombians are the nicest people I have ever met. These are warm, friendly, intelligent people who naturally like Americans. The Colombians are confident, communicate easily and have great pride in the recent accomplishments of their nation. The Panamanians are somewhere up there with them. Two words will make friends with any Panamanian, "Mariano Rivera". They will include you in everything. On entering a Name That Tune contest we were teamed with two Colombians and a Panamanian. We would get the American music, and they the Latin. The whole crowd cheered us on. It was a great time that we could not have envisioned with any group of foreigners. Royal Caribbean deserves a lot of credit. From the beginning, the ship's rules were enforced. This is something the crew had to do from day one, or lose control of their ship. Unlike a recent experience with Princess, a cruise through the Panama Canal, there were no small children running unsupervised at all hours. There were no diapered infants in the hot tubs. No children in the adult pools. No disruptions of dinners by guests throwing objects in the dining room ... and smoking restrictions were enforced. Our Princess cruise's passenger list was about ten percent Mexican. Most of these were actually Mexican born "upper class" Europeans, (very different than the Colombians and Panamanians, who are beautiful people of every conceivable racial blend). When complaints were made by American passengers to the Princess crew, our motives were questioned and we were reprimanded. That is something that we bear in mind when planning vacations. Colombia was astonishing, not at all a nation of drug dealers and kidnappers. We found it safe, friendly and clean, (well, cleaner than other places) with beautiful mountains, beaches and coastlines. Cartagena's Gold Museum and Santa Marta's Ethnographic Museum, while not exactly the Met are worth the time. And you will hate yourself if you miss the Museum of the Inquisition in Cartagena. Visiting Aruba, the world's most up scale t-shirt island means a day on the ship. An empty ship! Curacao is much more interesting. Spend time in town and get back to the ship early. Bonaire, the last of the Dutch islands, rated number one by our friends for snorkeling. We spent much of the day at the Donkey Refuge. Take our some bread and a herd of donkeys will instantly show up and make you feel like a kid in the middle of a litter of puppies. The locals say it is what Aruba was twenty years ago. We chose to spend an extra day in Panama City. When there, get your self a good taxi driver and go through the Casco Viejo, the old city. It was worth every sweating foot step. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009

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