Background: Previous cruises on HAL, NCL, Princess and (ancient history) Costa and Sun Lines. First cruise on RCCL. Preferred cabin: Aft Suite, but on this cruise, chose a starboard Owners Suite due to great deal and timing of the voyage. (Birthday)
New Terminal: Departing on 10/26, we were the first passengers to embark on a cruise from the new terminal 18. The terminal is being prepped for Oasis' arrival in November. It's a lovely facility with tons of space, but oddly enough, only 1 lady's room tucked in the far rear corner. When there are 5000 passengers flowing through for boarding, this may be a problem. Possibly because it was the 'shake down cruise' for the terminal, the lady's room didn't appear to be attended and was rapidly becoming messy, even at the early boarding time.
Boarding process: WOW! Arrived around 10:45 and flew through the whole checkin process. Upon boarding, there were RCCL reps at the entry, but they weren't really greeting guests and provided no directions. On previous cruises the welcoming staff typically provide a map or layout of the ship as folks are boarding and since this was my first time on the Enchantment, I could have used it. BUT there, were nicely detailed models of the ship on each floor at the elevators and that helped. Followed the flow of others and headed for the pool deck. Enjoyed my first boat drink by 12 and chatted with folks until the rooms were ready at 1.
Room: Another WOW! The Owners Suite is nicely laid out with more storage that a family of four could use! The cabin looked and smelled fresh with a lovely large bathroom, the bed area to the right, closets and desk area to the left. Past that was the 'L'-shaped sofa and off to the right a dining table with comfy barrel style chairs. Along the right wall was the entertainment center, bar area (complete with small fridge). Both the living and bedroom areas have televisions (tube style), but there was an interesting quirk. Because of the mirrors over the desk, when you turned on the bedroom set with the remote, the living room set on the opposite wall also came on. If you turned off the living room TV and later used the remote to turn off the bedroom TV, the living room television would come on. Neville, the WONDERFUL steward, showed me how to point the remote into the mirror over the bed to turn the TV on and off without also impacting the living room set.
Balcony: Very nice sized with two loungers with a table between them and two chairs with a larger table between them. I spent many hours enjoying the ocean sliding by.
Suite perks: This is where I noticed the main difference between RCCL and HAL/Princess/NCL. On the plus side: the room was large with areas for lounging, lunching, and sleeping. The bathroom featured both a glass shower and a nice sized whirlpool tub. Nicest touch was access to the concierge lounge. While I never visited during the evening happy hour, I did make liberal use of the coffee machine for multiple lattes during the day/evening, and a place to enjoy a quiet continental breakfast each day. Missing perks (compared to the other lines) included a welcome bottle of wine/champagne, flowers and a beach towel to use. There was one bottle of Evian water provided. NOT a make or break, but just a little less 'special' than some of the other lines. Also missed having wireless internet in the suite. There were hotspots around the central atrium, but not in the cabin areas.
Steward: Neville was wonderful! I never had to ask for ice - it was always there. He left towel animals every night along with a dish with two chocolates. There are folks who pooh-pooh the towel animals - I enjoy the giggle they always provide me. He was always pleasant and helpful with a big smile and a greeting when I saw him in the passageways. The room was always nicely touched up with plenty of towels as needed.
Dining: Each meal was enjoyable and the food tasty. I enjoyed several meals in the Windjammer and found the selection to be very nice, hot or cold as appropriate, salads varied and fresh. Desserts were just the right size and I always found something appealing to end the meal. What I miss the most now that I'm home: the breads! The rolls and breads were wonderful! I didn't do breakfast (except croissants and fruit in the concierge lounge) so can't comment on eggs, pancakes, etc.
I enjoyed lunch a couple of times in the main dining room, but was a little discouraged by the unchanging lunch menu. I had My Time Dining and was seated by myself on some visits, and at larger tables on others. Both were pleasant. The food was consistently tasty - again - hot or cold as appropriate. The servers were all timely, professional, and outgoing. Michelle stands out along with her partner JoeFred (I hope I got that close to right.) Yummo Award: Prime rib - enjoyed it both the first and last nights. Nicely portioned and prepared.
Chops: Very nice experience.
Entertainment: I usually don't attend shows, but changed my pattern for this cruise. I enjoyed both of the production shows and the Beatles tribute band, Revolution. The theater is a nice size, but does fill up relatively early - particularly in the center section. Didn't see a lot of 'seat saving', though. The balcony was really warm (hot!) in the center section, but cooler along the sides. Main floor was more comfortable. If you want to get a good seat, plan on being in the theater 20-30 minutes before the show starts. The servers offering beverages are plentiful, but not pushy.
Spa services: For the first ever, used none of the services. I usually get one or two massages, but was put off by the price of the hot stone massage (my favorite). It was listed at $195 with others being in the $129-$139 range. I would have booked a deep tissue or shiatsu but the attitude of the one person I talked with on boarding day was 'these are the fleet wide prices - take it or leave it." I didn't get that welcoming, come relax with us vibe, so decided to just pass this time.
Casino: Had a lovely evening playing roulette - went up by 100%, but when I went back down to my original stake, pocketed it and went home.
Overall ship: Nicely laid out and easy to navigate (excuse the pun!). Didn't spend much time poolside so no comment on number or availability of chairs. The Centrum offers live entertainment throughout the day and evening. SO nice to walk by and hear a violin soloist or piano, or guitar playing. Really enjoyed the 'Village People'/disco evening - everyone seemed to be really into it!
Itinerary: Loved Key West - took the Conch Train tour then just wandered on my own. Wish we'd had longer at this port. Cozumel - it's Cozumel. Probably should have booked a beach excursion, but just wanted to enjoy wandering at my own pace. Belize - LOVE the Wet Lizard and was glad to have the opportunity to go back. Shrimp ceviche and margaritas - that's the life!
On board activities: Only tried one and decided to skip other 'opportunities'. I've always wanted to learn to scrapbook since it's so popular. The "adult scrapbooking' activity was essentially a kindergarten activity. Were provided a piece of construction paper, some cut out shapes and pointed to tubs of glue sticks and pens. The person 'leading' the activity indicated that she probably couldn't answer questions and spent most of the time chatting with another crew member.
Overall: Everyone was helpful and pleasant - even the ladies straightening the chairs in the Internet cafe late in the evening. Wish there were more proactive information provided (port maps/guides) in the Compass, map of the ship, etc. I know that many of the passengers are returning RCCL/Enchantment travelers, but there are also many first time cruisers who sometimes seemed lost. One of the couples I had dinner with didn't even know about the main dining room until the 3rd night!
Rated slightly lower on the "value for price' section of the evaluation only because I think that other lines provide more suite perks than did RCCL. I'm not a snob, I just work really hard 50 weeks of the year and look forward to the total 'pampering' experience that typically comes with the full suite category.
High rating: Service, staff friendliness/helpfulness, entertainment, food, size of ship.