September 2014 - Enchantment of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas
Summary: Enchantment of the Seas is an older boat in fairly good condition. It always seemed crowded. Cabins were small, service was uneven, and the food in both the dining room and steakhouse was great. The beverage plans were a nice option, the Coke dispensing machines were great, and having Ben and Jerry’s and Starbucks aboard was cool. Embarkation and disembarkation were effortless and well managed. Nassau is Nassau, after so many trips, but Cocoa Cay was delightful. Overall, this was a nice trip and we would consider doing it again.
Embarkation was extremely easy. We arrived around 2:00 pm, and were ushered to an empty queue to check in due to our new “Emerald” status of which we were unaware. We were literally on the boat within 15 minutes of arriving at the terminal. The RCCL staff at the terminal seemed pleasant and efficient.
We stopped by our cabin to drop off our carry-on luggage. The one positive thing I have to say about the cabin is that the air conditioning was awesome. While this cruise was an absolute bargain, I feel like we got what we paid for in terms of accommodation. Despite the “Emerald” status, we were placed on deck two in the smallest stateroom I have occupied on a modern cruise ship. To get into bed, and this is not an exaggeration, I either had to straddle the edge of the desk to get to the foot or so of space beside the bed, or I would have to crawl up from the foot of the bed. The bathroom bordered on unworkable. I’m a big guy (6’3”, 225) and found the micro-shower difficult. My wife, who is about half my size, expressed similar complaints. The cabin was spotless, however, and our steward Dennis was excellent. After a day or so I really didn’t notice the sewage smell anymore that seems to be prevalent on the lower decks of many ships. My wife continued to mention it.
The lifeboat drill was brutal. I understand the necessity, of course, but this seemed unusually long. It was a hot and humid day. The experience was enhanced by the vents above us blowing hot air downward. It was pretty miserable. After the drill, my wife bought me the beer/wine/soda beverage package so that I would stop complaining. The package is a bargain. Unlimited Coke products and a souvenir sipper cup come with the deal. The soda machines are located on Deck 6 at the atrium and in the Windjammer.
The layout of the ship is not as straightforward as the newer RCCL ships. We always seemed to be going up or down to get from one end of the ship to the other. I’m a frequent cruiser and generally orient myself fairly quickly. For some reason on this boat that didn’t happen.
The food throughout the cruise was very good. We made a reservation for the steakhouse “Chops” on the night we were in Nassau. The dining room food was plentiful and good. Our waiter Salvio was fantastic. The steakhouse was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had on a short cruise. The service there was amazing and I tipped well. I was allowed to try multiple appetizers until I found one I liked. The steaks were amazing. Another interesting point is that Chops’ steaks and lobster are offered for an additional fee in the main dining room. The Windjammer was the nicest display for a dinner buffet I have ever seen. Alfredo, the chef and manager, took the time to show us around and explain the layout. He impressed us, especially when we complimented his operation and he gave the credit to his staff. Room service was slow and mediocre. The Park Café, once you find it, is a great spot for snacks, salads, soup, etc. It is located at the rear of the solarium.
Service everywhere on the ship was uneven. Certain bars we frequented offered decent service as we tipped and certain bartenders recognized us. Otherwise, bars were crowded and it seemed like we were always waiting. Also, pay attention to operating hours. The second any venue is supposed to close, it does, whether you’re waiting in line or not. The crew on this ship didn’t seem happy. The ship seemed to be noticeably understaffed. At one point I tripped in the solarium and dropped a tray of nachos. I reported it immediately and was met with disinterest. “Somebody will take care of it”. I wiped the bulk of the mess up with a pool towel.
Nassau is Nassau. We visited the straw market, ate fried conch, and bought a knock-off Coach wallet. Cocoa Cay was really nice. Norwegian Cruise Lines has bought the next island over. The Cay itself is small and very walkable. It too seemed crowded. The buffet was okay (hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, etc.). We didn’t rush off the ship early, so the condiments were gone by the time we ate. The water was beautiful and the facilities were nice. The tender ride was packed and hot.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We waited in the cabin as long as we could, then took the elevator to the Promenade, walked out ahead of the gangway, and walked right off. Again, within 15 minutes of leaving the ship, we had our luggage and were in our car.
Generally when we take short weekend cruises we go with Carnival. Our status is greater with them and they afford us certain courtesies (like never sticking us in an inside cabin in the bottom of the ship). It’s obviously hard not to make comparisons. Carnival is more of a party crowd and the Sensation looks tired. Carnival offers significantly larger standard cabins. In contrast, the Enchantment is a nicer ship physically, but seems to have more passenger restrictions. I think the Enchantment has the better food and the steakhouse dining option. The Enchantment hosts a quieter crowd. Carnival has the happier employees that always remember your name and are willing to go the distance. While I wouldn’t necessarily NOT take this cruise again, I would probably opt for Carnival.