Drive to a Holiday Cruise - What's not to like?: Enchantment of the Seas Cruise Review by do_not_spindle

Enchantment of the Seas 5
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Drive to a Holiday Cruise - What's not to like?

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: Baltimore
This was our 2nd RCL cruise (same ship - Enchantment pre-stretching and our kids were MUCH younger) and 1st time to Bahamas. Also 1st time from Baltimore and driving to/from the cruise.

Embarkation: Easiest ever. Highway access is very good, reasonable process to unload bags (get the luggage tags ahead of time and pre-tag your bags). Check in was a bit slow but not terribly so. Bags arrived quickly and we had plenty of time to grab lunch in Windjammer. Liked getting the muster drill done in port (no wind).

Cabin: We had adjoining interior cabins on Deck 3 under the Centrum area. Sure is a lot more room without 4 people in 1 cabin! Arrangement made it very easy to coordinate activities with our now adult-age kids. Warning - could hear the activities in the Centrum, especially if a band was playing. They usually quit around 11PM, so not a problem unless you go to bed early/are a light sleeper. I occasionally could hear furniture (?) being moved as well. More Otherwise a convenient location for us and we'd prefer to spend $ elsewhere than a "better" cabin. Cabin service was excellent. Our cabin attendant left amusing towel creatures for us each night - including a rabbit, an elephant, and a monkey.

Meals: A highpoint of the trip. Bento (waiter) and Edward (asst) were excellent. Absolutely no problems with special requests or changes or extra helpings, and Bento provided excellent suggestions and was a mind-reader on our dessert preferences. I think out of 4x7 dinners, we had exactly 2 items (a soup and a main course) not to our liking and they were quickly substituted with something better. Breakfasts and lunches were good, although service in the My Fair Lady dinning at those times was sometimes slow. Only grabbed a few snacks in Windjammer. Kids used it more often and liked it. We did not use "Chops" and ate all our dinners in the main dinning room (2nd seating). Drinks were generally well-made and not exorbitantly priced. People who used the wine service said they liked it. I was pleased that the bartenders at the lounges with dancing never gave us a hard time when we just ordered ice water.

There were 2 formal nights. I just bring a blazer and tie now, but some people were in tuxes and there were many well-dressed ladies. You can rent a tux on board - I didn't check prices but it's an option if you want to pack lighter.

Shows: I am not a big show person; my wife is and liked most of them. 2 comics - 1st was OK at best, 2nd was very good. Juggler was funny, magician was AMAZING. One of the Osmond brothers was in a mid-cruise show - he seemed to be lip syncing and harmonizing on many of the songs and I never liked the group anyway.

Dancing: We are big dancers and took advantage of as many opportunities as we could find. Viva band was fun, especially when we had them mostly to ourselves in Spotlight or Boleros. We would have preferred more opportunities for dancing in Spotlight, but it's used for Bingo and other activities, too. A number of times, we were in the Centrum area and just found an open space or moved some chairs out of the way to make a dance space - the bands were playing dance music, but the dance areas were in use for photos and such. The 70s party was a hoot, and the dancing under the stars party on the main pool deck was fun. For club music, the Viking lounge on deck 11 is decent and was usually not very crowded when we were there. DJs played a good selection, and they had a class on "how to DJ" on an at sea day after Coco Key.

Programs: We usually split up for different programs and activities. Decent selection, although I thought there was an emphasis on ways to help us spend money. Wife & I went to the dance lessons - 2 by members of the production show dancers, and several more by a dance instructor (Anita) on board for the cruise. Anita was excellent and even though she was concentrating on basics for the many novice dancers, we learned a few things to improve our own dancing. We were very pleased RCL had a Hanukkah program each evening, complete with latkes. Thank you, RCL! Other than renting snorkeling gear, we didn't use any of the shore excursions (we did run into the shopping excursion in Nassau and they seemed to be having a very good time).

Photos: I have trouble posing well, but we managed to get a good shot from one of the formal receptions and by combining 2 of the Nassau photos (they will photo-shop someone from one shot to another). They also reprinted at no additional charge a photo that was damaged in spite of it being the end of the cruise.

On-board shopping: Good prices on liquor (you get it the last day of the cruise, so no in-cabin parties), and some unusual items not available stateside. We waited for sales later in the cruise on various items. Tortuga rum cakes were comparable to prices ashore in Nassau, so we purchased on board.

Ports: Port Canaveral was handy for getting last-minute items and some new beachwear at Ron Johns. AAA cabs has an exclusive for the port and charges about $5/person each way to Cocoa Beach. Worth it. Get the driver's card and you can call them for pick up at your convenience. We walked the beach a bit, returned for a late lunch in Windjammer.

1st time in Nassau - mostly shopped and walked around. I'm still not sure what kind of shopping Nassau is known for or specializes in. Lot's of watches - my son tried on a $24,0000 Rolex! There is a Tortuga Rum store next door to Burger King, their Vanilla Rum is very smooth. The Bacardi shop is closed. Straw market it good for hats and handbags - most of the other stuff looks like cheap souvenirs made in China. Note - their are clean public rest rooms in the Straw Market building. I was surprised how quiet Nassau gets at dark (also the relatively poor street lighting). Only activity we saw when we went briefly ashore after dinner was at the bars on the street facing the waterfront. The ship arrived "late" according to the original schedule - 1:30 vs noon. I heard this is really the new official time, which does reduce the daylight time available ashore this time of year.

Coco Key - this is the private island stop and mostly for water sports and a beach day. Water was a little on the cool side for snorkeling but we had a good time in the lagoon area. The rental equipment was decent and includes a real buoyancy vest, not a recycled life jacket. You can rent went suits, too, and I should have. Lunch is pretty basic - would be a disappointment if this was the typical food, but OK for the 1 day. Tenders run all day back and forth - so you don't wait long to get ashore or back and can go back and forth if you wish. It was also windy, so not a good day for kayaking. There is a small "straw market" which had a decent selection of hats if you still needed one and otherwise was more of the same stuff we saw in Nassau.

At Sea Days: the indoor spaces were busier on the 1st and last days, as we were further north and it's late December! Ship never felt overly crowded, even though we were full and had many families with children aboard. Enchantment had a great kids program when ours were younger; seemed to be still good. Gym was very crowded in the mornings - tough to get a treadmill or stationary bike. They had decent (Lemond) indoor cycles that were only for spin classes ($). My wife would have liked some aerobics classes in the gym or one of the lounges. Library has a limited selection of books, especially non-fiction. I saw many Kindles and iPads - so passengers are probably bringing their own libraries with them.

Disembarkation: We opted for the early round; still had enough time to get breakfast in the dinning room, leave cabin, and spent only a few minutes waiting before we could go ashore. We found our bags quickly and were in our car and on our way within 30 minutes of the departure announcement. Smoothest time ever.

Things I'd change: Fix the soft serve machine on the pool deck (seemed to be broken of off too often). I don't "get" paying for a Starbucks coffee on a cruise but that's probably me. Or a Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I'd have more locations than Windjammer and back of the Solarium area where you could get ice water and fill a water bottle. And did I mention we'd have liked more dance venues where we could take advantage of the excellent live performers?

General condition of the ship is good - some dings (cannonballs?) on the cabin doors but the ship is well-maintained. I could not readily spot differences between the stretched and pre-stretch areas. Service by the ship's staff was generally excellent and several went out of their way to make our cruise a special experience. Less

Published 12/28/11

Cabin review: M Inside Stateroom

Deck 3 cabin, interior, underneath Centrum area. Had pair with connecting door, very handy for checking on children old enough to be in their own cabin. Could hear activities in Centrum area, this would be a problem during party nights if you go to bed before 11PM and are a light sleeper. Assume for rooms further aft under My Fair Lady that some dinning room activity may be noticeable early if you prefer to sleep in. Storage space is more than adequate for 2 people.

Read All Inside Stateroom (M) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

"Downtown" is not terribly large and can be covered in a few hours. Shopping is so-so vs. some of the other Caribbean ports. Nassau seemed pretty dead after dark, I assume much more night life at Atlantis and Paradise Island.
Read 5046 Nassau Reviews

Take AAA cab ($5/person 1-way) to Ron Johns. not much else to do unless you want to visit Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, or maybe arrange for a 1/2-day fishing trip. Weather was a bit cool for a beach day.

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