Wife and I took our very first cruise 19 years ago for our honeymoon and were immediately hooked. Sailed on RCI's Sovereign of the Seas and had a wonderful experience. Have been on several cruises since, but all with Carnival as the price difference always made it much more manageable to travel with our kids (2nd marriage for both so we have hers, mine and ours). Decided to surprise her for Mothers Day with a long overdue return to RCI for just the two of us. Booked the Enchantment of the Seas using their "buy one, get one half off" discount for an ocean view room and still spent more than our last Carnival cruise with one of the kids in a balcony room!
We sailed out of Galveston and embarkation was great. Didn't buy any quick entry items and still found ourselves onboard within 20 minutes of arrival at the terminal. Was offered a discount to eat at the onboard steak house "Chops Grill" while boarding. We had planned on visiting the steakhouse at least one night anyway, so we accepted the offer for the first night of sailing. More on that to come.
While boarding, I looked over the exterior of the ship and saw all the rust that other reviewers have mentioned. That didn't bother us because the inside of the ship looks great. After we ate at the Windjammer buffet, we explored the ship while we waited for the rooms to be ready. We found Chops Grill and spoke to the staff there about our dinner reservation for that evening. We wanted to make sure we had proper attire as our bags had not arrived yet. They offered us the full dining plan which would give us dinner at Chops for three nights, lunch at Chops on two days and then one dinner at the Chef's Table, which was even more exclusive and formal then Chops. My wife liked the idea of fine dining each night so we accepted.
Our room was ready around 1:00 so we went there to check it out. We always book mid-ship close to the elevators. We had an ocean view room with a full window. The room was great. They had plenty of storage, but the main dresser drawers needed to be cleaned out. There was hair inside along with leftover dust and debris from the previous guest. We told the room attendant and he quickly took care of it. The shower was small, but worked very well. Lots of water pressure and plenty of hot water. It didn't overflow into the rest of the bathroom either which has been a common problem with our past cruises. My only complaint about the room was the bed and pillows were rock hard, so I didn't sleep very well. I'm still feeling the effects of a sore lower back now, three days after leaving the ship.
We enjoyed a quiet afternoon onboard until it was time for dinner at Chops. We arrived and were seated promptly at 6:00. There were less then five tables occupied at the time so we expected quick, attentive service. Unfortunately, that's not at all what happened as we didn't leave until after 8:00. Our waitress "Lady" was poor. Very inattentive and we had long waits between each course. Also, the beef appetizer I ordered (I don't even remember what they call it) and both desserts (key lime and apple pie) were horrible. You wouldn't believe the apple pie came from a cruise ship kitchen. It looked and tasted like what I imagine they serve in prisons! Mrs. Smith makes a much better apple pie. The main courses were great, I had the filet and my wife had the lamb. We also found out that their limited menu is the exact same every day. We don't eat seafood, so we had a choice of the awful beef appetizer I couldn't stand or a ceasar salad with either filet, lamb or pork. We went straight to Guest Services to cancel the dining option plan. Compared to the Carnival steakhouse experience, this was plain awful and NOT worth the money even with a discount.
That experience pretty much set the tone for the rest of the cruise. We often found ourselves comparing everything with Carnival and to our utter disbelief, Carnival was coming out as good if not better almost every time. For example, the buffet area on RCI was very overcrowded. It's set up differently than Carnival and nobody seems to get the flow of which direction to go causing traffic jams and mass confusion. Also, they had only one ice cream station and half the times we visited it was either out of cones or out of vanilla. We also found the entertainment to be severely lacking. Carnival has a big stage show every night, but not RCI as we only had two in four nights. They did have Stephani Parker for one night doing a Whitney Houston tribute show, but we weren't interested in that There's also no comedy club, which is probably our favorite activity on Carnival. They did have two comedians for two nights in the large showroom, but you had only three 30 minute shows available and two of those were late night (11pm) only.
They touted their app A LOT. I had already downloaded it, but found that only about half the activities were even listed. If you wanted to know what was going on and when/where, you need to keep the daily compass with you because the app only has the highlights so we missed several things we would have wanted to do. The good thing is you can use their app even without the wifi. I don't buy the wifi plans based on past experience and just put our phones on airplane mode to check out until we're at port.
My wife visited their spa on two occasions for a massage and facial and loved it. We also enjoyed the main dining room. There was one glass of wine she was given that had turned, so she needed to replace it, but otherwise it was much better than Chops Grill and on par with Carnival.
Debarkation was terrible. We always use the self service option and carry our bags off. The wait to just get off the ship was worse than the wait to get thru customs. There were two lines to get off and the line they put us in only had one person scanning cards to exit the ship. The other line had two scanners. There was a second scanner for our line but nobody was manning it so we just had to wait and wait and wait. It took us 90 minutes from when we left our room until we got thru customs.
Overall we both graded this cruise around a 7 or 8. We enjoyed it despite missing some of our favorites from Carnival and the few problems as described above. We're planning on taking the whole family of 8 next year for our 20th anniversary (as well as our youngest's graduation from HS) and have no doubt that we'll be back on a Carnival ship.
Very good. Only complaint is bed and pillows were hard to sleep on.