Delta Points’ First Royal Caribbean Cruise – Enchantment of the Seas
My friend Delta Points called several weeks ago and asked me if $200 and something was a good price for a junior suite. I said, heck yeah, and the rest is history. Here is his review of one of my favorite ships, Enchantment of the Seas. (Note: A ship can carry a boat, but not the other way around. More on that later.)
No, that is not the ship I was on, above is the Quantum of the Seas that my friend MJ was on for the better part of two weeks. What I was on was the Enchantment of the Seas, an older Vision-class ship (but maybe small enough to be called a boat compared to Quantum – inside joke between MJ & me btw). (MJ says – experienced cruisers know better than refer to a 70,000+ grt vessel as a boat. 🙂 )
It has been a while since I have taken a cruise after my less that stellar Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) experience. But it had not soured me on cruising in general, just NCL. So when a very good price popped up for a Jr. Suite for the two of us for under $700 all in (after $40 credit back from TopCashBack) I jumped on it. Booking via Orbitz was fine and they were helpful with the one cabin change I requested from the side of the boat, err ship, to the back. I love aft balcony rooms!
I flew down the day before on Delta, stayed overnight at the SPG Sheraton MCO airport location and took a shuttle that picked us up at the hotel. Thankfully Lisa was paying attention as the driver tossed out our bags at the 1st stop, the Disney ship, and I jumped out and put them back in the cargo trailer. Next time I will take the shuttle service MJ recommended (TraveLynx). We also decided on the Ultimate Drink package that cost almost as much as the cruise itself (well not really but still a bunch). I’m just not sure if I would do it again. The perk was you could order just about anything and even if your drink just got hot in the sun you could dump it and get a new one. Or, if after dinner, you wanted an espresso or cognac there was no hesitation to enjoy one. I think I did end up paying a bit more than if I had just paid per drink. On to our Jr. Suite cabin.
The room was great. For a cruise ship it was nice sized and open as you can see.
Nice TV, space to get ready and sofa to lounge on. My biggest complaint would be the bed. I LOVE, I mean LOVE, Westin Heavenly beds that are soft. This thing was a rock. By day two I was in real pain. They need to replace these things soon! (Note from MJ: if you find the bed to be a little firm ask your stateroom attendant if they have an “egg crate” topper available. Maybe I should’ve told my friend Delta Points about that? Oops.)
The real star was our balcony. I mean look at this thing. We had two deck chairs, a table with two regular chairs, and room to move about. We really never needed to go anywhere when the sun was on us. Very nice. I really always want some kind of balcony when I get on a ship.
We departed on time (or even a little early) and enjoyed the slow cruise to Bahamas. When I say slow, I mean slow. This ship does the same itinerary Port Canaveral – Bahamas – Private Island & back both as a 3 day and our 4 day. So you really “putter” the first day at sea.
Having said that the sea was like glass for all 4 days. I have never seen the sea this calm. I mean waves must have been 1-2″ (inches not feet). Remarkable. The Disney ship seemed in a hurry and left us in her wake right away (bye Mickey).
Day two, sea day, was time to check out our little boat (yeah yeah ship). MJ had told me this was one of the prettiest ships in the RCI fleet. It was really neat. I did not get in the pools or hot tubs but everyone seemed to enjoy them a lot!
We did get to work and test out some fruity drinks from our package and sit in the sun. No wind, slow cruise, and clear blue skies.
Perfect. I quickly found out Patron margaritas were too strong for me as I had one and then took a nap. Then again, what a way to spend a day. I woke up for lunch and we tested the Park Cafe also recommend by MJ.
The food was very good. MUCH better than the buffet. Plus, we could get it to go and take it to our balcony to enjoy (along with another set of fruity drinks). Then another nap (it was a hard day let me tell ya)! I cannot tell you how nice it was to unwind this way.
Time to get ready for dinner. MJ told us we have to try the only specially restaurant on the ship CHOPS the first night. So we made a reservation and went to check it out.
Now I have to tell you, the photos that are up next, are from two nights at CHOPS. Why, well things did not go so well the first night. I mean, for a $30 each upcharge over the cost of the cruise, I would hope for something special. It was special, but not in a good way.
The waiter was not good. Started by telling us the 20% discount we got would be good as his tip (but tip was already included). Then Lisa got the wrong steak. Then a second round of wrong steaks showed up. Then I found out my steak had been under a heat lamp while they finally fixed Lisa’s order. Gee thanks – $30 for a heat lamp dried out steak. They offered to redo it but I was done at this point and just wanted to eat.
When I was 75% done the waiter unhelpfully would not take NO for an answer and plopped down a new steak in front of me. I was REALLY done at this point and just pushed it away. I could not WAIT to get up and leave. The manager came over and asked what had happened. I wanted to just save it for the blog, but at last told him. He was great and I am happy I did. He comped that night and begged us to come back. We did, got another waiter, Renaldo who was amazing, and the service was beyond perfect. I was even offered the $19 upcharge T-bone at no extra charge over the cover. I have to say Lisa’s 9 oz filet mignon was the best of all I tasted. Either way, THEY MADE IT RIGHT. I was truly impressed and this event sold me on RCI for many years to come. Impressive. (PS – The mushroom soup is to DIE for and a must have)!
We ended night one on the deck watching Monday Night Football on the big screen by the pool. It was a bit cold and I wish I had found the Viking lounge upstairs to watch inside through the glass (more on that later).
Day two we arrived early in Bahamas. I had no interest in getting off the boat and we spent most of the day reading and lounging and napping in the adults only area called the Solarium. It was perfect – few people and restful. Much needed.
Before dinner two at CHOPS I already talked about, we found the Viking lounge. This is a NICE private area no one seems to know about. The view of the ship is amazing. I love this place. There are also two other private lounges for RCI frequent floaters like MJ (we did not get in as this was our first RCI cruise). This is where I should have come to watch football. No sound, but warm is better.
Day 3 we woke up with our end of the boat staring right at the NCL private island (they are taunting me I see).
The RCI one was nice. We were on one of the first tenders out and found a spot on the far side of the island where no one was. Quiet, a bar close by, and sunshine. It was perfect for many hours until a large group of college kids showed up. By then I had all the sun I needed and it was back to the boat for lunch as warmed up BBQ on the island (buffet food) did not sound all that great. The funny thing is we had the same food on the ship buffet. It was disappointing. In fact just about all of the RCI buffet food was disappointing and should be avoided I found.
Time to at last test out the main dining room. I had e-mailed RCI and asked for a table just for the two of us. The first email MJ recommend bounced back to me. The next one I found was ignored. We were seated with two other couples who were very nice and kind, but we had wanted it to be just us so a bit disappointing.
What you see above is a mix of the last two nights dinners. I don’t know how simple it is to tell from photos, but the food was just OK. Not bad (nothing like the buffet) but not great either. I will say NCL food is MILES better than RCI’s in the non-specialty restaurants. This seems to this rookie cruiser to be one area RCI needs to step up its game.
I also have to say I do not like the group dining idea and set times. I like going wherever, whenever and just us two when I feel like it. I have no need to develop a “bond” with my servers even though they were good and nice to us the two nights we were there. These folks do work hard but service at a larger table is never as good, IMO, as just a table for two. (MJ notes: I forgot to tell Rene about My Time Dining)
I will say our room steward, Artanna was just about perfect. We could not leave the room for more than a minute and by the time we got back he had cleaned something or replaced towels or made up towel animals and yet we never ever “caught” him in our room (how did he do that). We gave him a nice extra tip on top of the built in tips you must pay when you depart. VERY impressive.
At last it was time to go. Our ordered shuttle was there (outsourced) and I really was sad to have to get off the boat (ship). Overall the experience was good and I like many things RCI does – service being truly tops.
Some final thoughts. I could not join the RCI loyalty program until I had completed my first cruise. Then, when I did, it would not let me. I could not get RCI on twitter to help other than provide a number for me to call. I think cruise lines in general need to work on their rewards programs. They just don’t seem to get it. Time will tell how I like RCI as I rise up the elite levels with them. Also on cabin choice. I never want to “not” have a balcony. When there is a crush of folks on the main decks, your private area is so nice to get away to. Plus, when you are at any kind of suite level cabin check in and boarding is SO much fast. We walked past a line of 50+ and it must have saved us 30 minutes in line. Lastly, if you can, go all carry on. It is so much simpler both on and off the ship.
Bottom line I am so happy to be back on the water. I look forward to my next RCI cruise but may just have to test the waters with some other lines before I turn back to RCI for another ride! – Rene
Thanks Rene for such a great review! I love Enchantment of the Seas, and think the ship is a real upgrade in the 3/4 night short cruise market for Royal Caribbean. After an aft balcony cabin, you may have a hard time with anything else!!! Thanks again for taking the time to prepare a review and share it here!