The 8/22/09 Enchantment sailing was our 6th RCI cruise (Freedom in 2006 being our most recent RCI cruise, which was also our last cruise), 17th cruise overall.
Leaving NY to FLL Saturday 8/22: We left from LGA on Delta flight 1501, scheduled to depart at 7:10am. Did online check in Friday, printed our boarding passes, and paid for two large suitcases at $15 a piece (had to be under 50LBS each...Delta has since raised their price to $20 per piece). Quickest airport check in ever...total of 15 minuets from curbside check in, going through Security Check In, and finally waiting in the departure area. We had to had to sit on the runway for about 30 minutes for Delta to file a new flight plan due to storms along the northeast coast...still got in to FLL about 10:30am
FLL Airport and Port Everglades:
At FLL, just a 5-10 minute wait for our luggage to to come out, go outside to the Taxi Stand with no wait what so ever, and get a ride to the port, was about $18 including tip, which we paid for by Credit Card. Maybe 15 minutes max from the FLL airport. Have to show ID to security at the gate, even the taxi driver.
Arrived at the terminal around 11:10, last on line to be able to walk into the air conditioned terminal without having to wait on line outside in the heat and humidity (albeit under a covered walkway). Do note: you will be dropped off where the porters are and then have a slight walk to the terminal entrance.
Terminal Security check in was pretty quick, we just became Platinum Members, so we were able to have priority check in at a designated area, just a walk up to the counter with no lines what so ever, check-in, get your Sea Pass cards, with our 13 year old's card already stamped with the Coke emblem (pre-paid...well worth it, she had at least a dozen Shirley Temples and 6 cokes during our cruise) and head upstairs to board...yep, we bypassed the boarding picture opportunity.
Here is where we hit a slight snag...hundreds or day visitors had priority boarding over everyone else...slight wait behind them, then the sea pass picture stations (all 3 of them) broke down, had to be rebooted, but then smile for the camera...and we're finally on board at 11:30...in all, just 20 minutes since we arrived at the terminal
Windjammer welcome aboard lunch was good...especially the Tuna, roasted pork, and salad bar choices...Honey stung chicken was just ok, some pieces juicy, some dried out. Since we were aboard early, no lines, no wait, had a choice of seats where ever we wanted to sit (window view starboard side which was facing the ocean and a cool little private beach -vs- port side with views of the port)
Cabins are not ready till 1pm...no problem...pack your swim gear and sun tan lotion in your carry on and go for a dip...pools and hot tubs were completely empty...however the Solarium pool was closed for almost much of the cruise for 'safety reasons'??? Bummer...had to buy me a bucket of beer to get over that...LOL
Lifeboat drill, didn't have to wear life jackets which were left in our cabin for the duration of the cruise. Started at 4:30...too many stragglers showing up till 4:40 made this longer than it had to be. Departed right on time though at 5pm...not as scenic as leaving out of Miami, but still some 'Kodak' moments watching from our port side balcony when leaving, being escorted out by the Harbor Patrol who would speed up, pass the ship, and speed back towards the stern, and repeat this over till we were out to sea, Had nice views of Ft. Lauderdale Beach. We did a post cruise stay at Bahia Mar Yacht Club and what a great view standing in the surf and watching the Enchantment materialize from a backdrop view of the beach, palms, and hotels, of those lucky 8/27 paxs departing at 5pm...our daughter wanted to be back on the Enchantment right then.
Ok, its 1pm, they opened the doors to the cabin passage ways: into our balcony cabin we go, #7142, port side, aft...nice and clean, fairly spacious, with the butt grabbing shower curtain, old style 13 inch CRT tv (way too many shows and commercials in Spanish), plenty of closet space, 3 RCI robes, 3 Platinum coupon books (never used them), and a Coke soda cup for our daughter. Claude was our attendant, man never slept, omni-present, always saw him...only issue we had was getting our ice bucket full, otherwise, he was spot on, cabin always spotless, towel animals galore, and Claude greeting us with a smile and a 'hello' by name, when ever he saw us.
Food and Dining:
-MDR: Good to excellent, only had one bad entree at our table # 128 f(seating for 10) for our 8:30 seating...some fish dish, battered tappia I believe it was (no problem, ordered a nice pasta dish)...otherwise, all tasty and hot, unlimited lobster tails the last night, the black Angus steak that was available every night, was great. Great table mates, two young ladies from Washington DC and a family of 5 from Manchester England (20 year old daughter, 18 and 14 year old sons)....never a dull dinner conversation.
Do not miss sit down lunch, the salad bar is fantastic! The ships's officers will come down from the bridge to partake...so filling, we had a hard time finishing our lunch entrees...(1st sea day, try the tuna and chicken sesame ka-bob with oriental sauce). Breakfast was also very good....get a plate of fresh cut strawberries with cream
We liked it for both breakfast, lunch, and a quick dinner (snack)...tough to find a seat at times but the choices were plentiful, the soups and salads good, entrees hot and tasty, never had a disappointing meal here...sometimes they had BBQ selections poolside. Did have issues with the ice and water machines being empty and not working. There are no dedicated oriental, pizza (have to go to the solarium), or deli stations available but still a wide range of food that changed every day.
Overall...disappointing! After 10:30, you can only get pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries, at the Solarium. However, they do have one 'Midnight Buffet" with nice food and ice carvings with a very good selection of food and desserts at 11:30 one night
Good, fast, and hot when delivered. There is a menu in the cabin but we would ask for what ever we desired...and they delivered.
Just ok, we skipped their 'production' Broadway and Movie musical shows, saw the Welcome Aboard show (one seating only at 7:45pm), comedy show (7pm Day 3), and the magic show (7pm Day 5)...not bad...would love to get a recording of Rick Corso's Ship Life song. The finale of the Magic show was cool. Rico was a good Cruise Director, funny, always around, and personable to talk to and get a picture with...can you say Village People...wink-wink! Never had a problem finding a seat, always left about 5 minutes prior to show time, from our cabin. Do note: the ship holds about 2500 paxs, so with splitting into two shows, the theatre only holds 900 to accommodate 1250 potential paxs.
Very nice Captain's Party (7:30 Day 2) with free drinks and 'finger food' Had two repeater parties, one Crown and Anchor (7:45 Day 3, Spotlight lounge deck six) and one for Platinum and above members (11am Day 5, Last Sea Day, Viking Crown Lounge at 11am) with breakfast snacks, fruits, and dessert treats. Chocolate covered Strawberries, caviar, and champagne made our morning!
Built in 1997, re-furbished and lengthen by 73 feet, adding about 10-12,000 tons, in 2005...overall in good shape. Other than the Solarium pool being closed almost for much of the cruise...everything was well maintained. Still have the darn chair savers, so it can be hard to get a chair near the pool on sea days, none the less up on deck 10 (because of the chair savers on deck 9...hmm, must be a pet peeve) but a chair or two can always be found someplace...sometimes you have to go all the way aft or forward. Promenade deck did indeed have chairs...this was a great, cool, private place to relax. Just a Ok shopping area, very pricey as expected, though they did have occasional sales and some free wine and liquor tasting. Bingo was way over priced. $5 drink specials of of the day were available, good stiff, tall drinks of bourbon...see Patsy at the Oasis Bar. Nice dual bridges over the pool deck, a small kids zone swimming area, and two glass lookouts with views down to the sea, were added in 2005
3rd time here, we went it alone. It was HOT!. We got off the tender (no wait to board, quick ride in), crossed the street to the 'shadey' side to take advantage of the stores A/C, and walked to the right to Eden Rock...now called Paradise Beach or something or other...got some cold drinks, and then went over to their walkway through the coral, down to the sea, and resurrected all the cool colorful fish to the surface, with some Corn Flakes. You can snorkel here and they do rent gear.
We meant to take the bus ($2.50 per person) to 7 mile beach, but got a taxi driver to take the 3 of us there for $9 with no wait. Went to Royal Palms, no entry fee but they do charge $6 per chair and $6 for a umbrella (which we didn't do, lucked out and got the lone picnic table under a tree in the shade for the day) and relaxed for two hours, getting some local beer on draft, local rum on ice, and conch fritters.
Would have been a perfect day except for the ride back in a taxi (van) where the driver filled it up to the max, having a woman sit on a 1 foot high stole, in order to fill up the van (12 paxs) with sub standard A/C...it had to be about 110 degrees for the 10 minute ride back to the port..I'm not cheap...but 'NO TIP FOR YOU'. My wife and daughter did some shopping while I caught the tender in....a cool (scary for our daughter) moment watching two funnel clouds develop over the island...dip down to the interior, and suck back up into the clouds...no heavy wind or rain but some intense lightening!
Our favorite port! Docked and locked...walked right off the ship, ignored the RCI photographers and local hawkers, and grabbed at cab to Chakanaab ($10) and Dolphin Discovery for a Royal Swim program for our daughter...the highlight of the cruise for her. Paid $5 for my wife to join her on their docks while I took video and pictures from a boardwalk about 50-60 yards away...what a great experience for all! There were just 4 girls, including herself in the group...she got a dolphin meet and great, flipper hand shake, kiss, held onto the fins of two dolphins for a body surf, and then had the two dolphins give her a 'push'...they swim up from behind you...catch your feet, pick you up, and support you on their bodies, and then push you through the sea, its so stable that you're able to stand upright with your legs straddled on both dolphins who are under water and pose with your left hand on your head and your right hand on your hip...KODAK MOMENT!
There is a great pool with fountains, snorkeling and swimming beaches (surf is a little rough), hair braiding (we paid $20), restaurants, natural aquarium, Mayan ruins, and a little jungle to walk through. We had plans to go to Mr Sanchos, but there was so much to see and do here...we never left the park. Had a nice lunch of nachos and quesadias, with some local white tequila and beer that was ruined by our waiter padding the bill by $10 US with a guacamole dip that we never ordered. I had him reprice this correctly in front of me with a calculator and a menu..going over everything we really ordered and doing it in US dollars, not pesos...he was so embarrassed he didn't want a tip. Our balcony neighbor appeared to have enjoyed Senior Frogs a little too much at the pier, maybe said something bad to the wrong people, and he said he got a little roughed up by 5-6 locals, walking back to the ship, and had to be 'rescued' by Pier security, who told him he had to much, and it would be in his best interest to just get back on board asap. As a F.Y.I. - we've never had this kind of issue from any of our multiple cruises to Cozumel.
Claude our cabin attendant said we could stay in the cabin till 9am and gave us the last colored tag to get off (10am). Platinum members got green #1 tags to depart at 8:15, wait in the MDR...we kinda did a little of both...went to the MDR for breakfast at 8:15, then left at 9am...departure was a little long...took 45 minutes...maybe we missed the expedited Platinum departure privileges...there were lines to get off the ship, wait in the terminal, show id, get the luggage (very easy to find), and then finally wait on a long crowded line, that thinned down into 4 lines, and end up waiting for a custom agent who was processing 1 group for every 3-4 groups her co-workers were doing....bad luck of the draw.
No wait what so ever for a cab ride to our post cruise hotel stay at Bahia Mar Yacht Club.
Post Cruise Stay; One night at Bahia Mar Yacht Club, had a Ocean View Room in the tower, floor 12, for $114 a night (booked this directly the the hotel's local Florida Reservation number end of June). Got to the hotel at 10am and our room #1203 was ready. Clean room with two double beds, small fridge, coffee machine, and step out balcony with great views of Ft. Lauderdale Beach. Changed into our swim gear and went to the poo for awhile, then walked over highway A1A via the hotel's private walkway to the beach, and enjoyed the ocean (water was almost as calm and clear as 7 mile Beach in Grand Cayman, many more palms here) They have one full service restaurant, pool grill and Bar, and a deli on property...fairly expensive as to be expected, with the Wave Pool Grill never honoring their advertised availabilty of food times or 'Appetizer Happy Hour food specials...no worries, other resturaunts available within walking distance (The Swings, Bubba Gump Shrimp to name a few) The property has a real cool little bamboo jungle and fish pond, leading to their docks, yachts and water taxi...very nice quiet secluded areas. They have 4 free internet stations plus another dedicated PC for airline online check in, within their lobby (Seems more people were spending time on Facebook than checking for flight delays caused by 'Danny' then we were). Did online check in and printed out our boarding passes. We soaked up all the Florida sunshine we could: checked out at 12 noon, had the Bell Captain hold all our luggage, and visited the pool and ocean multiple times, grab lunch on the strip, and then rinse off at the pool shower, claim our luggage, and change from our swim gear to shorts and tees, and get ready to fly home. Leaving FLL back to NY on Friday 8/28 Thanks to being able to check our Delta flight #1803 status, originally scheduled to depart at 6:35, we found it was delayed to 7:15pm. Left at 5:30pm for quick cab ride to FLL, even in rush hour traffic at this time, no worries. Again a quick curbside check in and wait for our flight to come in from LGA which was about 10 minutes late. While we were boarding, the Captain came on and said; Hurry it up folks, stow your carry ons because if we don't leave within 10 minutes, we won't get out due to 'Danny' and a incoming storm front....I've never seen fellow paxs go and stow so quick...we made it out! Overall, a great cruise vacation with RCI...onto the Oasis next! Read Less