We took the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas a Vision Class Ship out of Norfolk, VA's Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center on June 3, 2010 for 9 days. I've heard other people complain about the parking downtown so we had a friend drop is off so we didn't have a problem with it. The worst part for us was making the turn into the Cruise Terminal; the City of Norfolk really needs to work on that. The best suggestion I can offer is to make a loop and coming straight into the terminal rather than attempting to make the turn from downtown or from I-264. We had to wait for about 15 minutes to make the turn but other than that it was very painless and the remainder of the embarkment process and the return disembarkment went very smoothly. Kudos to the Norfolk Port as it quiet lovely, I don't understand why there are not more cruises out of this Port, it seems as though it is a quite a waste to let the terminal be idle. Many of you may know that the Enchantment of the Seas underwent a major refurbishment in 2005; there was an addition of 73 foot to the midsection to lengthen the ship. Although the Enchantment was originally launched in 1997, I'd say that the renovations made her much fresher and contemporary. Enchantment's renovation is said to be the most complicated ever undertaken by a cruise line. Considering that it is the biggest cruise ship ever to be lengthened. The ship was actually sliced down the middle, and then a newly built midsection was slotted in between the two halves. As a result of the stretching, there was room for new facilities, from a fabulous new pool area to an alternative gourmet restaurant and a Latin-themed nightclub.
The ship also received an extensive refurbishment that, though not comprehensive, refreshed the ambience. It's got one of the most beautiful sun decks/pool decks at sea, not only is it spacious, with plenty of room for everybody, but it also possesses unique features, such as a multi-colored splash pool, the Oasis bar with sea view stools and the elegant if slightly futuristic-looking suspension bridges that sway over the area. They also added a Jump Zone, it's a bungee trampolines and a Rock Climbing Wall. I did not try either of them out however. I did watch a competition but with the Wall being on the very back of the ship it wasn't much room to gather and watch.
Instead of a standard buffet, there's a food court-like venue, Windjammer Marketplace with stations that include Mediterranean fare, salads, a rotisserie, desserts and more. The ship gained an alternative restaurant, Chops Grille not to mention other noshing "boutiques" like Seattle's Best Coffee and Ben & Jerry's. We enjoyed the Coffee bar but found out almost too late that the cookies and pastries were free when you got your coffee there. While on the subject of coffee, the absolute worse coffee is served in the Windjammer. I chose to eat in the dining room instead or just had room service for breakfast instead. The itinerary from Norfolk was to San Juan, Puerto, St Thomas, VI, Samana, Dominion Republic and Labadee, Haiti. We didn't get off the ship in the ports except in St Thomas because we have seen the islands many times and wanted just to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Although we did check out the excursion offerings and they were a number to choose from we opted for a self directed excursion in St Thomas by just taking a taxi to Sapphire Beach. The beach was incredibly beautiful and the snorkeling was awesome. I would definitely go there again and would recommend it to others for some awesome snorkeling, that being said, don't expect much once you get to the beach, there is little "customer service" available but they do have sodas. I personally really enjoy room service for breakfast so you don't have to face the day before coffee! So a special treat is for me was the breakfast room service menu. There is still a full hot menu with eggs, bacon, sausage and the coffee from the dining room is much better. Many of the other cruise lines have gone to a "continental" menu for room service breakfast menu so kudos Royal Caribbean for that. The Windjammer Market place was the buffet area, you could have breakfast, lunch and dinner there if you wanted but the food was average. The seating was awful, so you had to get up early if you wanted to get a seat for breakfast or eat an early lunch unless you wanted to take your food elsewhere to eat it. Overall I found in the dining room the food to be average as well however the chicken, pork tenderloin and lamb were very quite good as were their desserts. However, the steaks were hardly ever cooked right and they were fatty. I guess they are no longer serving the "better" cuts of meat in the dining room so folks will be inclined to go to the Chops Grille for steak. I was very disappointed in the lobster night because the lobster wasn't cooked quite enough, so they tried to fix it by "deep fat frying it" which resulted in horrible lobster. I will give them an "E" for effort because they tried to fix the problem. There were areas on the ship that were untouched during the renovation such as the decks surrounding the Centrum, the Internet Cafe, the area around Ben & Jerry's, Seattle's Best and the Casino so they appeared a little worn. I am quite sure that the refurbishment did not include the bedding, because they are the hardest mattresses I ever laid on but of course, it has been 5 years since the refurbishment. I would definitely recommend that Royal Caribbean take some lessons from Carnival on their bedding choices because I have never been disappointed with my bed on a Carnival ship.
We made the mistake of selecting cabin 3761 so please do not make that mistake or the surrounding cabins, they are under the kitchen and it sounds like you are under the bowling alley. Really Royal Caribbean should convert those cabins to storage because they are unfit for anyone to sleep in due to the noise level. Due to the noise level, we requested a room change and it was handled quickly and the young lady that helped was very understanding and quite competent. I was quite surprised to find that there were no printed deck plans available once you were onboard to put in your pocket. So I went and asked for a copy of one and I was given an overview of the desks and the public areas. Our most favorite area had to be the Adult Solarium. We took advantage of it almost the entire time onboard, especially on port days when we chose to stay onboard. There was ample seating but you did have to get there early on sea days and the sliding roof and windows made it a great environment just to relax in. They had 2 whirlpools and an adequate pool area; they also had a grill area with burgers, hotdogs, pizza, fries, cookies and fruit in the area during specific hours. They also had ice tea and lemonade to drink there so you didn’t have to over to the Windjammer if you wanted a bite to eat. We thought the entertainment was a little stale and it seems that the cruise line needs to take it up a notch to keep it fresh. I heard all the jokes before and the shows seem to be just a repeat of the ones I have seen on other ships but the Karaoke was fun. They had a Solo Guitarist in the Centrum area and a Family Trio which were extremely good and folks just hung out there to hear them play. The art showing were the traditional affair for Park West and I personally enjoy looking at nice pieces of art but that being said, I don’t go onboard to buy art. I certainly would not recommend that anyone buy art based on what they are told onboard without thoroughly checking out everything. The Enchantment is a lovely ship but they just need to improve on their food and bedding. Also, Royal Caribbean just improved their Crown and Anchor program so we did go ahead and reserve our next cruise but this time it will be on a newer Freedom Class ships, the Freedom of the Seas. If you are a frequent cruiser I definitely would recommend that you take advantage of their future cruise credit program and get an onboard credit when you book with a minimum deposit. Overall I wouldn’t consider it an enchanting experience but average, we give high points to the beauty of the ship, the itinerary, and the service staff was extraordinary. There are several reviews of the Enchantment online and I really like this one, http://cruisediva.com/Enchant_of_the_Seas_new1.htm