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Tapi

Can RCI deliver the "WOW" even on a short Bahamas cruise aboard an older ship?

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When I realized that I had to redeem some credit card points before they expired, I pulled the trigger on a short Bahamas cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. I must admit that I wasn't too thrilled about this cruise. Based on previous experience with these short itineraries, I was expecting an older, run down ship, and several, less than well behaved, fellow passengers. Also, the thought of visiting Nassau for the 20th time didn't excite me much. I figured that as long as I didn't witness a racially motivated fist fight as on my last short cruise out of Port Canaveral a few years back, It would be OK.

 

We traveled in the middle of the summer, during the 4th of July week which meant high prices. In fact, the cost of this 4 night cruise to the Bahamas was almost as much as our 7 night cruise to Alaska on Holland America the previous year! However, thanks to the credit card points, past guest savings certificates, and onboard credit, I was able to reduce the total cost of this cruise to about $78pp(before taxes and tips). For that amount, I was more than willing to give it a chance.

 

We drove to Orlando on Saturday for a pre-cruise visit to Legoland Florida. We statyed at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. Wonderful, full service resort with golf course, spa, several restaurants, and 4 pools, including a family pool, a lap pool, an adults only pool, and a toddler pool.

 

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This resort caters heavily to large groups and conventions, and since we were there over the weekend, this 1,500 room resort felt peacefully deserted. This was a blessing in disguise after spending our days playing tourist at the amusement parks, the Downtown Disney area, and the outlet malls, all which were claustrophobically packed.

 

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While we were in Orlando, we learned that a tropical depression was churning off the coast of Florida and was expected to strengthen and be in our path the following day. I prepared myself mentally for an itinerary change and most likely for the cancellation of our stop at Coco Cay.

 

We drove to Port Canaveral on Monday under partial sun and partial rain, and arrived at the port around noon. We decided to park right at the cruise terminal, even though the cost would be $75 (compared to about $35 if we parked at a remote parking facility). We were very satisfied with our decision. We dropped our bags and leisurely parked, literally 50 ft from the entrance to the terminal! Money VERY well spent!

 

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Even though the ship was full, we walked into an almost empty terminal. We breezed through the security checkpoint and were then directed to the Platinum line. There was not a single person in front of us. We checked in at the speed of sound, and within a few short minutes, we boarded the ship!

 

I wasn't expecting much, fully knowing that we were traveling on an older ship, relegated to short Bahamas itineraries. All I can say is WOW! From the moment we boarded, I realized that the experience would be considerably different than our previous short Bahamas cruise. The ship is 17 years old, but it is in impeccable condition. It's a beautiful ship, tastefully decorated, with very few signs of wear, and definitely not showing her age. In addition to the sedated decor (typical of Royal ships) the impressive design with generous amount of floor to ceiling glass walls throughout the ship caught my attention almost right away.

 

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We are a family of 4 (parents, a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter). Instead of getting one cabin for 4, we selected 2 oceanview connecting cabins. The price difference was minimal (roughly $40pp). This proved to be one of the best cruise related decisions I've ever made. We doubled our space, had 2 bathrooms, and turned one room into the fun area,with toys, snacks, and a DVD player connected to the TV to watch the arsenal of kids movies that we brought with us. The other room was the quiet zone. The connecting door remained open during the entire cruise, except when one of the parents wanted to take a nap while the other parent supervised the kids.

 

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As mentioned before, we knew that a hurricane was brewing not too far from us. Before we departed, I checked the forecast for the Berry Islands (where Coco Cay is located) and they were calling for 30-40 knot winds, 20 ft waves, and heavy rain. It was pretty obvious we were not going there, but the Cruise Director kept hyping our visit, talking about the fabulous day ahead of us, and encouraging people to get their shore excursions booked. :confused: It was no surprise when we woke up the next morning in heavy rain, lightning, strong winds, and choppy seas and the Captain made the announcement at our scheduled arrival time that we were not going to Coco Cay and were on our way to Nassau instead.

 

While I fully understand that ports are routinely missed due to weather, I was mildly irritated that the crew wasn't more forthcoming about the situation, which they had knowledge of before we even departed Port Canaveral. It really didn't bother us that much though (my wife was actually thrilled about the extra time at sea).

 

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Nassau was Nassau. We did our tried and true pilgrimage to Paradise Island on the ferry boat, spent some time there, and then went downtown for a bit of window shopping. We were back on the ship around 3pm even though the ship remained docked until midnight.

 

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The last sea day was just relaxing, and we were blessed with good weather. The kids went to Adventure Ocean, the wife got a massage, we participated in the Walk for Wishes, and even went to the Orpheum Theater to watch Wreck it Ralph with the kids.

 

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Debarkation the next morning was just as easy as embarkation. We walked out of our cabins at 8:30am and we were sitting in our car, driving away at 8:55am. No lines to get off the ship, no waits for elevators, bags were waiting for us at baggage claim, no lines at customs. Wonderfully done! My wife did go up to grab some coffee at 7:00am when self debarkation was still in effect, and she told me that the scene was completely different. Mobs of people with their luggage, rushing to get off the ship, long lines, and chaos. Amazing the effect that waiting a bit can have on the overall debarkation experience.

 

In summary, this was a WONDERFUL little vacation, and I would not hesitate to sail on the Enchantment of the Seas again. The experience truly exceeded my expectations, and in fact, the experience was better than on longer sailing aboard newer and larger ships that we've taken.

 

Here's a list of the things that made this cruise so wonderful:

 

  • We were met by our cabin stewards, who quickly welcomed us and provided us with their business cards. A small but thoughtful touch.
     
  • The strict smoking policy. Thank you Royal Caribbean! We weren't bothered by cigarette smell during the entire cruise, and the ship's interiors smell (in the most part) fresh and clean (instead of like stale cigarettes as on previous cruises we've taken with less stringent smoke rules)
     
  • Junior cruiser curfew. There were many families with kids onboard our sailing, but Royal enforces a curfew at night for cruisers under the age of 17, which prohibits kids from running around unsupervised late into the night. But even without the curfew, fellow passengers were polite, courteous, and a pleasure.
     
  • Platinum benefits for ALL family members. I was very happy to learn that all of my family members would automatically receive Platinum status because of my status. That is something that has always bothered me from another cruise line which I've frequently sailed on. They dont extend Platinum benefits to other family members, which excludes them from certain past guest events and benefits.
     
  • Chops Grille. It's a welcome alternative to have a specialty restaurant on a ship sailing on short itineraries. Having this option has easily become one of the highlights of my previous cruises.
     
  • Royal Babies and Tots program. Thank you Royal Caribbean for thinking of the youngest cruisers! Since I'm raising a young family (2 kids under the age of 5, both who started cruising at the age of 1), I appreciate this wonderful program for kids as young as 6 months. Other cruise lines programs for passengers under 2 SEVERELY lag behind what Royal Caribbean offers. Both of my kids loved attending Royal Babies & Tots as well as Adventure Ocean.
     
  • Electronic signage throughout the ship - They made getting around the ship, and finding out what to do or where to go a total breeze.

 

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  • Healthy alternatives. This sailing seemed to attract a younger, more health conscious, active, and physically fit crowd. A crowd which appreciates healthier cuisine, as well as more physically demanding activities. It was a welcome change to have such a variety of health conscious food, both at the Park Cafe in the ship's Solarium, as well as in the Windjammer Marketplace. Not what the "burgers and fries" or "pizza" crowd may be looking for, but definitely appreciated by many others. It was also nice to have an expanded list of early morning activities, as well as a rock climbing wall, a jump zone, and a 1/4 mile long jogging track around deck 10.
     
  • The 70's Party at the Centrum - These are always a lot of fun, and people of all ages really get into it.

 

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  • The Big Screen - OK. I normally HATE the big screen, to the point of avoiding the main pool area during the entire cruise. I find it to be intrusive and a detractor of my enjoyment, and usually the ridiculously loud volume while playing Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber or 50 Cent is not fun. However, they got it right on the Enchantment! I actually enjoyed being on the pool deck. The screen was on, showing the FIFA World Cup games but with NO audio. You could still watch, while enjoying some relative quiet. And when they were showing a movie or some other show with audio, it was at a good, enjoyable level. The movie schedule was also well thought out, as they would not be showing them during peak hours, when most people out on the pool deck want to enjoy the sun, and not be blasted from a big screen.
     
  • The Kids spray park: More praise to Royal for thinking about the youngest cruisers that are too small to go in the pool! While on other cruise lines they just say tough luck, stay away, I'm grateful that this is not the case on Royal.

 

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Edited by Tapi

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  • Ben and Jerry's and Cafe Latte-tudes. After all the health conscious activities, its good to indulge in a little guilty pleasure, and what better way to do so than with a scoop of ice cream from Ben and Jerry's, or a Starbuck's coffee drink?
     
  • The Solarium - Wonderful place to get away from the busy and active main pool area. Quiet, nice pool and hot tubs, glass, retractable roof, with nice, soft, background light music, and the Park Cafe with nice made to order salads,freshly griilled paninis, and other light fare, just a few feet away.

 

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  • Music bands by the pool - It's been a while since I've seen a Caribbean music band on a cruise ship, and I honestly thought that I didnt care for them anymore. But it was a nice change to see a band playing by the pool in the afternoons. It truly added to the overall ambiance of the cruise.
     
  • Number of pool loungers: Middle of the summer, 4th of July week, full ship. You'd expect all pool loungers to be filled and the chair hogs to be out in full swing. We never had a problem finding loungers, even right by the pool. Either we were lucky, or the Enchantment had the right number of loungers to accomodate the number of passengers onboard.

 

 

So what sucked about the cruise?

 

  • Service at the main dining room - We went to the My Fair Lady Dining Room several times during the cruise, both for lunch and dinner. It was dissapointing that the service was consistently slow and disorganized. Even with different waiters, the experience kept repeating itself. Waiters looked overworked, as they rushed from table to table, several times not even able to return a "hello". I've received warmer, more personal service at IHOP.

 

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  • Main theater entertaining - OK, maybe I was spoiled with the entertainment on our last Royal cruise aboard the Allure. While I knew that things on the Enchantment would be more toned down, I was at least expecting for some of the superb main theater entertainment on the Allure to trickle over to the Enchantment. It didn't. It was the same type of campy and amateurish shows causing a lot of dissapointment on other cruise line boards. With that said, there was one performance which exceeded any talent that I've ever seen at sea, and that was the lead singer's rendition of Whitney Houston's "I will always love you". It gave me goose bumps and earned her a roaring, standing ovation from the audience.
     
  • Movie selection on the big screen - Only 3 movies playing over and over and over duirng the entire cruise. I can recite the dialogue for the "Muppets Most Wanted" movie from memory now!
     
  • Attendance for the Walk for Wishes - This is not Royal Caribbean's fault, unless you blame them for not advertising this event more, but the turnout was horrendous. On a ship with a capacity of over 2,000 passengers, you'd expect more than 9 people to contribute to this cause. We've done Walk for the Cure and Groove for St. Jude before, both which have always been well attended and raised money measured in the thousands per sailing, so this turnout was surprising and a bit saddening.

That's it! Once again, a truly wonderful little cruise that exceeded our expectations, and all the positives far outweighed the nevatives. I will truly consider the Enchantment again next time that I need a quick getaway, from a fairly close to home port. Royal Caribbean truly delivers the WOW, even on a short cruise to the Bahamas.

Edited by Tapi

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Your comment about the Walk for Wishes being poorly attended is something that I have noticed on several ships. Every cruise we take we always head up and purchase a couple of shirts.

 

At some attendance is average and at others it is downright disappointing.

 

You hit the nail right on the head though that it is up to the ship to promote this. On our Jewel cruise a little over a year ago the turnout was outstanding. When we arrived there were probably 50 people in line and even when we left there were still that many. The staff there took pride in what they were doing and it was promoted at every opportunity. Such a small amount of effort can make such a huge difference for this great program.

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Thanks for sharing your experience on the Enchantment! I haven't been on this class ship and am looking forward to boarding in October.

 

 

Traci

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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Attendance for the Walk for Wishes - This is not Royal Caribbean's fault, unless you blame them for not advertising this event more, but the turnout was horrendous. On a ship with a capacity of over 2,000 passengers, you'd expect more than 9 people to contribute to this cause. We've done Walk for the Cure and Groove for St. Jude before, both which have always been well attended and raised money measured in the thousands per sailing, so this turnout was surprising and a bit saddening.

 

 

Your comment about the Walk for Wishes being poorly attended is something that I have noticed on several ships. Every cruise we take we always head up and purchase a couple of shirts.

 

At some attendance is average and at others it is downright disappointing.

 

You hit the nail right on the head though that it is up to the ship to promote this. On our Jewel cruise a little over a year ago the turnout was outstanding. When we arrived there were probably 50 people in line and even when we left there were still that many. The staff there took pride in what they were doing and it was promoted at every opportunity. Such a small amount of effort can make such a huge difference for this great program.

 

I was blown away on the Grandeur last week when Paul, our cruise director, announced the final "take" of week-long fundraising for The Make A Wish Foundation, which included auctioning off some special activities plus the T-shirt and Walk for Wishes.

 

The Grandeur is one of the smallest ships in the fleet, with a passenger capacity of just over 2,000.

 

Most of the passenger demographic is driving distance to Baltimore.

 

Paul announced that we raised over $10,000 on our cruise.

 

:eek: :)

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Great review and pictures, as usual! Having just been on EN back in May, I agree with nearly all of your observations, especially about the MDR staff seeming overworked. I felt bad for our waitress back in May, she was very nice but had no time to stop and converse with us.

 

I also liked your comments on that one celebrity show. I first saw it Monarch, and yes, her Whitney Houston is spot on. I recall mentioning her in a review a few years ago for the same reason. It's good to hear that she's still got it, I never make the shows on the short cruises anymore.

Edited by DarthGrady

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Thanks for your review! (When I saw your avatar- I thought, oh, no, where's the black lab? But you've still got him in your signature whew! He's so cute;))

 

Glad to hear your short cheap cruise was a success! Probably a day at lego land cost more than the cruise! I have to agree with just about all your hits and misses! Except, we had a very hardworking team in MTD, and they really hustled to make our sinners seamless!

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Probably a day at Legoland cost more than the cruise!!

 

 

You got that right! Between parking, admission, meals and a few things we purchased, it definitely cost quite a bit.

 

Still, Legoland is much more gentle on your pocket than Disney or Universal!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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Nice review. We sailed on the EN roughly 14 years ago. We just booked it in Aug to break up our Disney stay . I was worried that the ship would have an older feel. We did the MJ this past April and the outside of the ship looked like a " rust bucket". The room we stayed in on that sailing was worn down too. Anyhow we tend to like the smaller ships, though we will be going on the Quantum for sure. Your review has me really looking forward to setting sail. I pray we have great weather and we don't miss Coco Cay. As we have been to Nassau about 30x.

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Sailed the EOTS several years ago on a girls' getaway.

I loved the ship! My favorite part of the entire cruise was time spent in the Solarium -- quiet, relaxing and kid-free.

Thanks for the review!

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I also liked your comments on that one celebrity show. I first saw it Monarch, and yes, her Whitney Houston is spot on. I recall mentioning her in a review a few years ago for the same reason. It's good to hear that she's still got it, I never make the shows on the short cruises anymore.

 

We were on the Monarch when Whitney Houston died, and she sang "I Will Always Love You" the next evening, trying so very hard to not break down during the song. Probably the most memorable performance in all of my cruises.

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Thanks so much! I enjoy reading your responses I'm other threads, as they are very knowledgeable and practical, and I do like reading your reviews as well! We booked this cruise to not only give Royal Caribbean a second chance, as we were on the enchantment 2 cruises before drydock when it still looked old and ugly, it was during hurricane sandy, and we missed CocoCay as well, but in addition to those reasons, my friend wanted to try cruising, as I'm always raving about it. I figured this would be a perfect first cruise, 4 days, Bahamas, nice ship.

 

It looks beautiful and I'm excited for August 2015! Thanks so much for sharing!

 

 

Future cruises:

 

•Carnival Glory- 11/22/14- Eastern Caribbean

•Enchantment of the Seas- 08/10/15- Bahamas

 

Past Cruises:

 

•Carnival Pride- 11/20/10- Bahamas

•Carnival Pride- 11/21/11- Bahamas

•Enchantment of the Seas- 11/17/12- Bahamas

•Carnival Glory- 08/10/13- Canada

•Carnival Glory- 11/24/14- Western Caribbean

•Carnival Freedom- 04/13/14- Western Caribbean

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Nice pics. I haven't ever cruised yet but soon will. How did you take so many pictures with no one in them? I always thought these kinds of photos would be filled with passengers on the ship and am surprised to see so many shots of the decor without random people in them.

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How did you take so many pictures with no one in them? I always thought these kinds of photos would be filled with passengers on the ship and am surprised to see so many shots of the decor without random people in them.

 

Thanks! Early in the morning on a sea day :D

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My favorite part of the entire cruise was time spent in the Solarium -- quiet, relaxing and kid-free.

 

One thing that I was very impressed with was how quickly the staff enforced the rules and informed a family with small children that the pool at the Solarium was adults only.

 

We'd dropped our kids at Adventure Ocean/Royal Babies earlier that evening, and we went to the Solarium after dinner, just to relax. A few minutes later, a family of about 10, including 5-6 children of various ages walked in, talking loudly. The adults sat down and the kids jumped in the pool, doing cannonballs, laughing and splashing, while the parents yelled from the loungers at them in an attempt to curve their behavior. The ironic thing is that the parents were sitting right next to the sign that says adults only. :confused:

 

My wife and I looked at each other, wondering if this family knew the Solarium rules, but within seconds, 2 staff members approached the family, and in a very respectful way informed them about the rules. The parents instructed the kids to get out of the water but they didn't move from their spots. For a while, it seemed like they were going to stay, but they grabbed their belongings and left. The whole situation was diffused in 5 minutes.

 

I was grateful, and very impressed with the way that the staff handled the situation, specially since on so many other cruises, staff members look away and not enforce rules when they see kids where they are not supposed to be.

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Another excellent review, Tapi. Despite her age and no longer being a signature RCI ship, I love Enchantment. I think it's a beautiful ship and you did a great job capturing that. It just goes to show how well RCI takes care of their ships....all of them.

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We were on Enchantment in March and then again in June. I really enjoyed the ship. I too, noticed that the wait staff was spread way too thin. The room stewards also had to scurry around as they also have had extra cabins added to their work load.

I called room service for lunch one day and called back a half hour later to see where our food was. At that point we were number 22 in line, so they're also spread thin.

IMHO, too much cost cutting is beginning to effect the experience. Would I cruise Enchantment again? Of course, she is a beautiful ship and you can tell the crew on onboard, even though they are overworked, love this ship.

I wish the people involved in some of the cost cutting had an "Undercover Boss" type of experience as well as an "Undercover Cruiser" type experience. Maybe if they had to hunt for a pen to fill out forms or had to use the mystery soap on the bathroom wall (no cheating and bringing your own) they would see what differences cost cutting makes. Bringing back some of the "little things" (including the plastic shopping bag for wet bathing suits), would make Enchantment even more enchanting than it is now (as well as more staff in the dining room, etc).

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I read this review because of the mention of photos thinking it was a current write-up...until I came to the bit about the FIFA WC on the pool screen. It is from last year!

 

Anyway, nice write up and great pictures.

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