This was our 19th cruise and 14th with the Royal Caribbean family. This is our 3rd time on the Enchantment in the past 12 months. Since we live in Pamana now, we have been on her doing the round trip cruises out of Colon, Panama that last two trips.
This time, we couldn't pass up the $299 offer and were upgraded to an Outside cabin. We flew into Ft Lauderdale from Panama City via American the day before the cruise. We flew with another couple that our friends. Once we arrived in Miami and claimed our bags, we then went to the bus terminal. There we found the machine inside the terminal where you can buy Tri-Rail tickets. We purchased one way tickets for about $3.70 each to the Ft. Lauderdale airport station. It accepts cash or credit cards. You can only do one ticket at a time. If you pay with a $20, the change is in the new $1 coins. Just an FYI.
We ended up waiting 10 minutes for the bus (Route 133). There is a Tri-Rail sign out side by the curb to show you where the bus will stop. The drive is about 10 minutes to the Tri-Rail station. Once there, the train was waiting. We walked on board. There is room for your pull luggage when you enter. A Tri-Rail staff member directed us where to put it. We kept our personal bags with us. It took about 35 minutes to get to the Ft. Lauderdale stop.
From there, there is a bus that will take you to the Ft Lauderdale Airport and you can catch a shuttle bus to the hotels. We were tired and ready to get to the hotel so we took a cab from the station. There are many there. After tip it was $26 to the Embassy Suite on 17th St by the pier.
Over all the experience using Tri-Rail to go between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale was excellent. We would do it again. Just make sure you know the timing between bus departures and train departures. We had a 10 minute wait and walked right on the train. You could wait 40 minutes for the bus then have a 45 minute wait for the train.
We stayed over night at the Embassy Suite on 17th Street. We have stayed here before. We love the location because there are so many restaurant and shops close by. Plus you are close to the pier. We ate at Bravo Restaurant which is on the other side of the street as you go towards the water way. It was very good and we enjoyed the nice dinner.
In the morning we had an excellent hot breakfast at the Embassy Suite. They have a shuttle that takes you to the pier that you book with guest services. It was $14. A little high but convenient. We came down when we were ready and we were off to the pier. We arrived at 11 a.m. The RCL porters took our bags pointed us to the terminal and off we went.
We walked right in. Being Diamond with RCL, the staff directed us to the express checkin lines. We walked right up and were checked in within 5 minutes. For standard check in, there wasn't much of a wait at all.
We were on board by 11:20 and up to the buffet for lunch we went. Lunch was already ready and we saw several of our friends that were already on board.
RCL does not allow you to your rooms until 1 p.m. They seal off the room halls with the fire doors. Right at 1, we headed to our room and put our bags in the room.
Our rooms was fine. No issues with it. The ship was in good shape and looked even better since we had seen her in March of 2009. One note, they were doing a lot of work on her. To my knowledge that is normal on repositioning cruises. They were doing a lot of rail work (sanding and re-finishing) on the decks and in cabins. They were laying new carpet in the halls and common areas. Many rooms were receiving work as well. This is one of their only chances to have a ship that is about 50% full.
The Enchantment will be going to dry dock at the end of April after it finishes the season in Colon, Panama and returns to Ft. Lauderdale.
Personally, I found most of the ships public areas to be in very good condition especially with the age of the Enchantment. We really love the ship and the added space of stretching it 90' in 2005 really gives it a big ship feel.
We really love the Centrum area. It is beautiful and they had wonderful music each evening. We were able to hear this because the Diamond area was on deck 4 in the Champagne Terrace. This was an excellent area to sit and socialize with other Diamond members before and after dinner. In fact, there were several of the Diamond Plus people that we knew that came down several nights from the Concierge Club to be with us.
Based on our cruises we don't do the shows and we don't do most of the activities. We enjoy lounging around and reading through out the day. We do walk the ship for exercise and we enjoy the dinning part of cruising.
This was the Repositioning cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Colon, Panama. We had 3 sea days and it stopped in Ocho Rio, Jamaica; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Cartagena, Colombia; and Santa Marta, Colombia.
We love Caragena. We have been to Santa Marta, Puerto Limon and Ocho so many times that we treat them all as sea days and we just stayed on the ship and had our pick of lounge chairs.
We chose the early traditional dinning which we enjoy. We were at a table for 8 and we were all friends that live in Panama now. Our waiter was excellent. He knew what we wanted and liked after the first day. He worked his butt off to make it a great experience. The dinning room food was first rate and the lobster on lobster night was some of the best I ever had. In fact, I had 3 of them.... All cooked to perfection. Hot and tender.... HMMMMM.... The great thing on cruising is if you don't like something, they will try it again or get you something totally different.
Lunches were in the Windjammer Cafe. They had a good selection every day and the old hamburger, hot dog and pizza stand by was there as well. Sea days you could do lunch in the dinning room but we never did.
Breakfast is our least favorite on RCL. We like Celebrity better. The choice are fine but they are simple, uninspired and the same every day. You can get cooked to order omelets and eggs which were tasty. Nothing wrong with breakfast, just nothing to jump up and down about.
Disembarkation was fast and efficient for us because we were Panama residents. Unfortunately, RCL kept most peoples passports and on the last sea day it was a huge fiasco getting them back. We were lucky that they did not collect ours. Upon leaving the ship, the Panama customs set up was very bad. They did not have enough people and it was very slow. You can't blame RCL for this. It was a Panama problem. Unfortunately this kind of thing is not uncommon in Panama.
I know that other than the Tri-Rail info this might not have provided you the best review. This is probably my favorite ship. I love its style and charm. It fits my personality perfectly. It is showing some age and like all cruises it isn't perfect. Still it beats sitting at home or work in the winter.... :)
If you want a fun, different experience, I truly believe you would find the round trip, 7 night cruise out of Colon a lot of fun. The itinerary is excellent and it is fun because most things are in Spanish (the staff and things are in English). It isn't your everyday Caribbean Cruise....
The cabin was a standard size cabin for ships at the time it was built. For us there was plenty of room. The bed was comfortable. There was plenty of closet space and hangers. The bathroom is the normal small cruise ship with the shower curtain making love to you during the shower.
The carpet and other hardware were new for the most part. The bathroom color is outdated. Only complaint is that they take up valuable counter space with their soda, water, and snack mini-bar selections. I'd rather not have them and have the free space.
The room was quiet and very convenient being close to the stairs but off the beaten path. I would book this again in a heart beat...