First some information:
Weather : It was perfect throughout. Rained a little when we first got to Cozumel which served to move us up in the Taxi line. Rainy and gray at the beginning of the Sea Day, but either it cleared up on its own, or they changed course to get to a nicer spot..not sure which.
Pictures: All taken with a Nikon L4 CoolPix. On the port days, the port name (next to the Day) will be a link to the pictures taken there.
There are links to the pictures and scans throughout. If you just want to find them without reading, Finasteride other drugs in same class .
Here are a couple of scans that really have no specific place to go: General useful information
Note : The itinerary we followed on this cruise was the reverse of the one originally scheduled due to electrical issues. We actually liked this way better because it gave us the Sea Day at the end to relax on. Other people I spoke to also preferred this version.
SUNDAY Fort Lauderdale
Flew from Dulles in Washington, DC into Fort Lauderdale on Jet Blue the day before our sail date. Great flight, great seats. Arrived on time. Got bags.
We were staying at the Birch Patio Hotel which I only mention out of order because it has no shuttle service to either the airport or the ships. As we were renting a car anyway, this did not affect us. Anyway, we headed to the Rental Car Center in the airport which is where all the rental agencies have their desks. As I am a Gold Plus member, all I need to do is look up my name on a chart and head for where my car is parked. Found it and it was a Prius.
I've never even been in a hybrid car so I was game. Pulled the key out of the ignition to open the trunk with rather than figure out how to pop it from the inside. This was the first indication that this was going to be interesting. After we opened the trunk with the remote, we noticed the key. It was a hunk of back plastic. Well, this could be a lot longer, but after 10-15 minutes of first trying to start the car and then trying to get it to actually move once it was started, I tucked my tail between my legs and gave up. Went got a Grand Marquis which I knew how to deal with.
Found the hotel. Despite no information to really be found on it. the Birch Patio was a perfectly acceptable, clean and reasonably comfortable establishment a block away from the beach in a perfectly safe although somewhat lonely-at-night looking area. It cost about half-2/3s the price of the chain hotels. It was fine, but the next time I would probably prefer the slightly more luxuriousness of a Hampton or Comfort Inn type place.
Wandered to the beach and walked down a mile or so to a restauranty area and had a wonderful lunch at Sloppy Joes on the upstairs patio that overlooks the beach. Food was really good. Drinks were tasty but overpriced. We had a really good time watching birds land on the unoccupied tables and steal Sweet-n-Low packets.
Walked back up to the hotel, got the car and went to try to find places that I kind of remembered from when I lived there 30 years ago. Pretty much the best part of this was tormenting the NeverLost device that came with the car. I swear that little computerized voice was positively testy by the time we got back.
We slept well and set our alarms so we could try to get to back the airport with the rental so we could catch the free shuttle to the port.
Got to the airport at around 9:45. Found out that the shuttles would not start taking people to the port until at least 11. We walked back into the airport to find a cab. Saw the RCCL rep who was waiting for arrivals and she said that the odds were that the taxi would not be allowed to drop us off at the port this early. So back we went to wait on the shuttle. At 11:10, we clambered aboard and were at the Enchantment by 11:30 after dropping pax off at the Crown Princess first. The shuttle leaves off at the luggage drop-off where we get and fill out baggage tags and wave bye-bye to our suitcases.
We used the Diamond/Suite line which allowed us to bypass that first photo op. Check in was a breeze. Handed in the setsail forms and she swiped the CC and we were on our way. Even if we had not used the special line, it was early enough that lines were minimal. Note, though, there were signs that they were not allowing boarding until 11:30 so getting there any earlier would have involved a lot of hurry up and wait. But, as we had arrived at 11:35 we were able to walk straight onto the ship. And, the very first thing I saw was a man playing the piano in the Centrum It was Alvin from the Explorer. I took it as a good omen that the very first thing that happened onboard the ship was meeting someone I know.
Went down to the Centrum to get Coke stickers and check it out in general. They were having a Scavenger Hunt. Basically this was a piece of paper with 15 or so questions that required you to go to the various displays set up by the different departments/stores, after which you dropped it in a box and someone would win something spectacular (not). We made our Chops reservation at this time with the Chops rep that was right there. Took all of two minutes to have a confirmed reservation. (We made it for after Cozumel on the theory that if we stayed all the way til all aboard, we'd miss our early seating dinner. We didn't, but that's something else.) Paid for our Coke packages (the only thing to haunt us randomly through the cruise) and tried to check room no go.
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Finally got to our cabin at 1:15. We passed Henry on the way. There seemed to be a mix of Henrys and the new interlopers. The corner aft JS 7166 is everything it's cracked up to be all the usual JS amenities (although, naturally, slightly smaller than on the newer, bigger ships) and a freakishly huge balcony. We had two lounge chairs, two beach chairs, a small round table and a bigger square table and still plenty of room. I am an aft convertee.
Okay, so this is where I will bring up noise. Now, mind you, I never heard any of it, largely because I don't go to bed until after all the venues are pretty much shut down. But, the Deck 7 afts are right above the Spotlight Lounge where they held, among other things, the Karaoke Superstar semi-finals. A fellow CC member who was a couple doors down from me (and is still on the second part of her B2B, lucky thing) reported hearing a lot from below here until midnight when things pretty much stopped down there. My sister who went in before midnight one night said she heard some thumpety bass stuff. Tablemates who were under the Windjammer reported hearing a lot of scraping, but they reported it and I understand that it got better. So, there is noise bleed-through in places and if you are sensitive to sounds, you might want to keep that in mind.
Explored the mid-level public areas some. I really like this ship probably better even than the Voyager-class ships. I love all the glass and it has a cozy feel. There were a couple things I missed (the Helipad being my own personal getaway spot at 2am), but they were physically impossible for this ship to have. The crew was genuinely friendly throughout the trip. There was pretty much live entertainment everywhere at any given time.
We headed to the Champagne bar, leis in hand, for our unofficial M&M at 3 where only Meg and we turned up. We chit-chatted, watched the bar-tenders practice their drink juggling routines and had a generally pleasant half hour. (Note: the Champagne Bar on Enchantment does NOT have the Champagne Card sadness.) As we were leaving another couple swung by and recognized the leis. But that was pretty much it.
Went to the Port Shopping talk where the extremely personable Carlo Lombard made his pitch (we did wind up buying two copies of the Savvy Traveler coupon books) and had a good time with his performance art whenever they would shut down his mic so they could make announcements for the upcoming muster drill.
Muster Drill was painless. There are twelve muster stations all on Deck 5. It was not particularly hot, people joked and bumped..the usual stuff. Done in like 10 minutes. We went back to the cabin along with 400 of our closest, orange-clad friends and watched sail-away from the balcony .
Our luggage had arrived, so while my sister unpacked, I went to check out the concierge suite and its concierge Julian. I let him know my situation that I was with a new cruiser and that I probably wouldn't be there so much. He told me, in a really weird way, that if she was really in my cabin that she could come there too. Cool or was it?
Back to room and then headed for dinner. We were at a table for 8 with perhaps the most convivial bunch of people ever. A great intro to cruise dining for a first-timer. There were Pam & Tom, Sue & Patrice, and George & Barbara. We had a blast with them for the entire week. Our waiter Debanjan (from India) was pleasant and efficient. I don't know our Assistant Waiter's name I think he was new to this whole thing and I don't think he spoke or understood much English. We had a wonderful barstaffer who made sure I got my shooter fix even the day when I missed dinner due to Chops. About half of us had the Prime Rib, which was nice. My sister got both the grilled chicken and the Caesar Salad and made herself a Chicken Caesar Salad, which she really enjoyed.
Got to the Bon Voyage show about 15 minutes late. This was the only show with a single performance for both seatings so it was the only one where there were seating issues. However, we found my sister an aisle seat on the second level and I sat on the steps next to her. We caught the tail end of the production number and then got our first intro to the absolutely wonderful CD, Marc Walker. John Wing, the comedian for the cruise, did a ten-fifteen minute or so routine which was very funny at the time but not hugely memorable afterwards. He had a midnight show later in the week that I did not get to. All during this show, I played stair rail for the adorable Olivia. Olivia was about two and was there with her father and her somewhat older brother. Due to the layout of the steps, they were sitting slightly farther back than I was, so she spent the time practicing her step-climbing abilities and using me for balance this tickled me no end for some reason probably because my baby is a college sophomore
Afterwards, we went to the WJ and grabbed a little bit of dessert and just sat and enjoyed the outside darkness and peacefulness of the near-empty facility. Wento to the Casino where we sat at the Video Blackjack table. I played a couple hands and then headed to Bingo. Deirdre stayed behind and stayed there til midnight or so.
I went to Bingo where I had my first meeting with the wonderful Rachel, the Activities Director and the fabulous Fabio , a member of the Cruise Director's Staff. This was a quick single game with a guaranteed $500 pot. I bought a single 6-square ticket and used my Bingo Dog (more about that later!!!) from Explorer for a free three-strip. I won:
Between coming and going to the Spotlight where the Bingo was and a couple times earlier, I passed through the Schooner Lounge 5-6 times and never saw a piano player. (Found out the next night that this was because of the Play-offs. There is no Sports Bar on the Enchantment but there is a big TV in the Schooner. I thought they were watching it because there was no piano, not that there was no piano because of the game. boo hiss.) Took my winnings slip down to the Purser's Desk to have it applied to our Sea Pass account. Went back to the casino to check in on sister. She was fine. I wandered the decks for a while looking for a helipad equivalent (outdoors, darkness, few people, wind, sea) and found no place that wasn't lit. This really bothered me until I realized that I was looking for this place some 1-2 hours earlier than I usually do and quite possibly the outdoor lights would be turned off after most of the activities were over. Went down to the room balcony, which was dark and lovely, but not the same.
I thought about going to the pool and even changed into my suit, but then Dee turned up and we highlighted our next day's Compasses and put out a room service tag for breakfast. Since tomorrow was an early morning, we went to bed (this has never necessarily stopped me before, but again, no piano player in the Schooner). Crashed to the gentle rocking of the ship.
Another sidenote. Apparently, there was movement on this ship. My sister commented on it a few times and if I really stopped and concentrated, I could feel it. I, however, am one of those people who neither notices nor is affected by the movement. She was also very headachy, but she was determined to bull it through. All she had ever thought about seasickness is that you get nauseous which she wasn't. But, she decided what the heck and she bought Bonine at the ship's store on Tuesday night and took it right away and her trip became much happier. She still noticed the movement, but it didn't bother her. But, other people commented on the movement at times not ever really rough (well once, but about that later), but noticeable .to them.
We had asked for Room Service delivery to be between 7:30 and 8, because, really, trying to go into Key West before 8:30 til 9 seemed pointless. I woke up at 7 in a panic because I honestly couldn't remember if I had put the cabin number on the form. Called room service and explained, she took down my info (what we ordered and all) and said she'd check. She called back about 10 minutes later to find out what time we had asked for delivery. Not 2 minutes later, the door knocked and there was our food with the original form with the room number in my very own handwriting. We ate on the balcony which was nice, although I do prefer the WJ for breakfast which is where we ate the rest of the week. While on the deck, I watched the Carnival Valor dock at the further away pier. We got done and headed out of the room just in time to meet breakfast #2 arrive. We thanked them and tipped them and sent them back. At this point they announced the availability of the gangway into Key West, so off we went..
Key West is not particularly a morning town, so we just strolled down Duval Street on the way to the Southernmost Point for a photo op. This is where we first found out that Key West has free roaming chickens. If you like chickens and chicken pictures, click here . Because we had bought the Savvy Traveler book the previous day, we had coupons for all sorts of free No Purchase Required stuff (we had lots of coupons for Purchase Required too, but what fun is that?) By the time we got to the end of Duval Street, things were opening up, including the Butterfly Conservatory which had a couple of free coupons available. We decided to actually go in. It was lovely. 1500 free-flying butterflies in a 6000 square foot greenhouse. Whether it was worth the $10 admission, I don't know, but it was a lovely way to kill some time.
We walked back towards the port area and took some pictures and enjoyed the morning. Stopped at other stores that had free stuff. Sometimes be bought something anyway, mostly not. Before we reboarded, we stopped at a stand in Mallory Square and bought some fried calamari and clams. The chickens really wanted some but we won in the end. It was a really nice way to spend a morning.
Went to the WJ and grabbed a bite to eat. Deirdre went to the cabin and I headed to the art auction for the free champagne. and then we went to the pool for awhile. Deirdre laid in the sun and I hit the hot tub. I left her roasting in the sun and I headed to Bingo. It was a regular 5 game session which much more my usual speed, I did not win. I decided not to play either of the two remaining sessions. Our plan to meet for 2for 1 Margaritas didn't happen.
Went back to the room where Deirdre and I dolled ourselves up for that evening's Formal Night. Then we went to the Concierge Room to get a drink and meet our tablemates before heading to dinner. This was the first time that we had gone since Julian said it was okay for her to come the night before. We got our drinks and joined our friends, but in the meantime, Julian had said something to my sister that caused her, by implication (nothing overt), to feel unwelcome there. So, after that evening we only went there one other time. Everybody looked very spiffy. Didn't particularly notice anyone dressed down, but then I don't really look for that either. Deirdre had the Sea Bass and I had the Roast Duck. She said hers was good, I know mine was yummy. I bought a bottle of wine to drink over the next couple of nights, and I bought a shooter after.
After dinner we went to the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception. Had a glass of champagne and a Coco Loco. Listened to all the wonderful accents welcoming us to the ship. First time meeting the incredibly accessible Captain of the Enchantment. I ran into him 4-5 times over the next few days and chatted with him each time he even initiated it once.
Then came the first of two production shows . Stage to Screen . Nice set design, choreography, extremely talented performers, good arrangements on the music. They did (in no particular order) let's see Sweet Charity, Little Shop of Horrors (really nice Audrey 2 puppets), Chicago, Hairspray I don't think the last one was West Side Story I thought that was in the second show but, West Side Story irked me, so maybe it was (they didn't seem to have the rights to the actual songs except one, so they kind of hinted at the music).
Afterwards, Deirdre took our shot glasses back to the room and then headed to the Casino, I think. I decided to check out the Majority Rules Gameshow . I wound up walking over with Marc and chatted with him for a bit about this and that really nice guy. Hosted by Marc with assistance from Rachel and Fabio, this event was a lot of fun .sort of the Family Feud popular answer format with as many teams as wanted to form up. I hung around for the second installment of Karaoke Superstar in the Spotlight Lounge, was hosted by Patrick from the Cruise Director's Staff. It was a surprising amount of fun and they had one genuinely talented young woman a Montrealer who sang a brilliant song in French.
After it was over, I passed through the Schooner Lounge and noticed that there was actually someone at the piano. I hung around to see if he was any good He was, so I took my customary place Schooner Bar place in the second piano seat to the player's right. A place I occupied for the remaining nights mostly. Patrice Doucet was terrific. A French Canadian, he sang with a neat little accent. He also used a synthesizer to augment the piano. Because he had a somewhat different background, we heard U2, REM and the Stones mixed in with the more traditional Piano Bar songs. Every night was fun, but as is the case, things took a while to build up so that by the final night, the joint was rocking, but the first night (remember the play-off game?) was kind of slow. There were already some established regulars including a real cute older couple who were just so obviously still in love with each other When he shut down, I chatted with him for a few and then headed back to the cabin.
This was probably our least favorite port day. We got up, had breakfast in the WJ and headed off the ship pretty much at 10:30. Our plan was to go to Paradise Beach in the morning/early afternoon and then go into downtown Cozumel to wander and get our free coupon-y stuff. While we were waiting for a taxi, it started to rain pretty decently which discouraged a lot of people from traveling. Knowing perfectly well that it wouldn't left, we boarded our cab and after a ten minute drive, we were at PB..
As just two lone women, we didn't get a lot of info about what to do when we got there (about 5 minutes later a van pulled up and expelled 11-12 people and worker bees came running from all directions to let them know what was what). We did a lot of double-backing before we figured out just what was going on I won't go into all that..it was just irritating. The lockers are by the bathrooms/changing rooms but the keys ($4 for the day) you have to get from the desk after giving them a $20 deposit. We stowed our stuff, got a $9 wristband which would allow us to use their snorkel stuff which also required a deposit or I.D. to use (and whatever other toys we wanted) and staked out a couple of chairs near the pier where the good snorkeling was. Ummmm it was pretty mediocre even for beach snorkeling, but it was nice paddling about in the water. Afterwards, we got a couple of drinks (good enough) and chicken quesadillas (fine) and nachos (really good).
Around 2, we decided it was time to go downtown. Bleh. It was like being chum in a shark tank. Every store with the exception of the DI watch store at the Forum Shops was aggressively obnoxiously pushy when you approached. I don't like it at stores at home and I sure as heck don't like it on my vacation.We crossed the street and walked along the water side of the main drag for a bit before we took a cab back to the pier. We wandered through the shops there a bit and while they too were pushy, it was much more friendly, flirty pushy a whole different atmosphere. Picked up a couple of souvenirs and then back on the ship.
This was a disappointing enough day, that we decided that we wanted to do an actual planned excursion the next day in Belize. We picked up a copy of Excursions and picked the Tropical ref Snorkel and Sun beach Break. While Deirdre did stuff with her laptop and camera, I went to the concierge lounge to take advantage of the Concierge setting up tours as the Tour desk was not going to open for another hour or so. I was one of three people (including a set of our tablemates) doing this. Julian came back about 30 minutes later tickets in hand for all of us.
This was the night that we were going to Chops at 8:30, so Deirdre went to the second seating performance of the Four Tops. I went to the Repeat Cruiser Reception in the Spotlight Lounge. Another opportunity to talk to the Captain. On the way out, I mentioned to Rachel that I was heading for Chops and she said to get the lamb it was to die for.
Chops is a very formal steakhouse all dark wood and red naugahide. The food was excellent (we really need to eat lamb more in the US) and the service superb, but I prefer the ambience and variety of Portofino's.. I did find out from the waiter there that they have stopped serving flourless chocolate cake on all but the longer cruises. And, given how labor intensive eit is, I guess I can understand that. Oh, and the baked potatoes there? The size of a fairly large Chihuahua.
From there we went back around the corner to the Spotlight where the Quest happened. If you've seen the Quest, you know what happened next. If not, there's no really good way to convey what goes on. I am, however, on the cruise DVD squirming along the floor in my very own interpretation of the Worm. Afterwards we went up to the pool deck to check out the buffet and ice sculptures that were set up for the Dancing Under the Stars Party . Deirdre stayed behind to watch and I headed for the Schooner.
Breakfast in the Windjammer. Boy, I really do miss my oatmeal and bacon breakfast.
We were picked up from Enchantment at 9. Took about 20 minutes to get to the beach. Both the snorkelers and the straight beach people were mixed on the boat. When we got there, they divided the snorkelers into two groups and took the first half out right away. The rest of us went out into the beach area. It was beautiful. Looked a lot like Labadee without the straw market and 3000 other people.
There is a barbecue area where they had chicken, red beans and rice...and....something else for $10US. There was a covered large bar area where you could get all kinds of drinks (non-alcoholic (coke, diet coke (coca cola light), bottled water, like that) were $2). We got these really yummy pina coladas...big glasses...for $8. They will cut you down a coconut and add a bunch of rum to the natural coconut milk for $5. There were bags of chips for a buck..I think they had some other munchy stuff but we didn't take advantage of it. There're lots of tables up in the bar.
The beach is a somewhat coarse white sand beach. The water is gorgeous. The sand goes into the water about a foot and then there is some rockiness for about 18" before the sand resumes again. About 6 feet out, it starts sloping deeper quicker...which made for interesting water volleyball. There were beach chairs all over the place..there was a lot of shade to be had. My sister wanted sun and I wanted shade and there were several places to had where that was possible for us to be right next to each other.
Around 11:15, the snorkelers came back and the second group went out. We went to the smaller faster waterboat and they distributed masks, snorkels, fins and vests to those who needed it. We zinged out to the middle of nowhere where about 3 other boats were already sitting. They divided us up into three groups...the beginners were one and then the rest of arbitrarily. Each group had a guide. Into the water we went. It was wonderful. It was fun. The guide would point out stuff underwater. About 25 minutes into the snorkeling, one of my group started to feel nauseous and headed back to the boat. Pretty much all the rest of the group bailed then too. This left me and the guide. He pointed out another one of our groups across a sea of red-vested snorkelers from another boat. So we cut across the group (that was interesting) and joined the other batch for the last little while. (Note to Grand Cayman snorkelers: While being being beautiful and cool and a really neat experience and seeing lots of stuff, I do not think it was quite as gorgeous as GC was...just a heads up).. After another 15 minutes or so we went back to the boat and headed back to the beach.
We had another hour before we were to go back to Enchantment, so we hit the chairs again. The sun had moved while we were gone, so pretty much all the chairs were rotated 90 degrees from when we had last seen them plastic photosynthesis. By this time, pretty much everyone was sunning most of the water play was done, although there were people sprawled on the Sea Islands in the water. At around 1:40, the boat came back to get us and most of the group piled into the main big boat some of us plopped into the smaller, faster Hammerhead snorkel boat . The big boat left and then just as we were beginning to do the same, we spotted a couple of Kayaks returning around the point of the beach. We waited for them to beach, collect their stuff and hotfoot it over. Then we left and we still got to Enchantment at the same time as the other boat. Golly, I loved the Hammerhead.
Left Deirdre in the cabin while I went to check out the Create and Take Craft Workshop. There I made a card that can only be equaled by someone else with as little creative talent as I do. But, yet, it is my own and makes me happy when I look at it. Then I went to the Coffee and chat with your Cruise Director's Staff at the WJ annex. There was Fabio and ultimately three other women there. It was a nice little time. Fabio has only been with RCCL for 4 and a half months and on Enchantment from Voyager for only a couple of weeks.
Then came dinner where Sue and Patrice decided they were going to cancel their reservation at Chops the following night so that we would all spend our final night together a definite aw moment. Mmmm. Dinner was my favorite this night Caprese Salad, Garlic Soup, Chicken Marsala and Gran Marnier Souffle. After dinner, Debanjan did some fork balancing tricks and a bad toothpick pun.
This was, followed by Turner Classic Movie Trivia which we did okay on definitely a case of D'oh, of course for a lot of the answers. Second production show followed Can't Stop the Rock a tribute to great movie music. Performances great, choreography good nice redress of set from previous show, but it was vaguely tedious..it didn't have a lot of cohesiveness or smooth flow felt like it needed to be edited a little more judiciously.
Deirdre went to watch the Big Band music in Bolero's and then wound up going to bed rather than following through in her plan of Watching Love & Marriage and the Karaoke Part 3. I went to (all together, now) the Schooner Bar. Finally, the place was starting to liven up and more people were coming to listen and sing along. Three women..one from Ireland, and two from Long Island plopped themselves around the other part of the piano and we shared the music convivially til the end. Bed at around 3 after reading a note apologizing for the earlier invitation that scheduled the Diamond Party for Saturday, but really it was Friday at 11:15 because we would obviously not be able to attend otherwise. The thing is there was noone I spoke to that ever got that first invitation.
A great way to end the week. After breakfast in the WJ, we went to check out the final Friday sales in the shops and the photo wall of shame. This caused me to miss the Diamond reception which I had not planned to go to and the simultaneous Cruise Staff coffee which I had oh well. Went to the TV Tune Trivia hosted by Marc which we failed miserably much to my horror. Marc, however, is a stern trivia taskmaster. no repeating or hints from him, nosirreebob. Deirdre stayed behind to watch the Salsa class and I have no idea where I went. for the next hour and a half at all.
The cruise director's staff was dropping like flies. We had already learned on Wednesday that Sugar this great big wonderful Brit had had to have a tooth pulled and was still swollen and in pain. When I turned up at A View From the Top, Marc was nowhere to be found and it was being hosted by Rachel. Afterwards he told me that he was feeling poorly and was hiding out so he could make it through the Farewell Show.
A View from the Top was fun. We had the Captain, the Hotel Director: John Rae, and Chief Engineer Bob. The questions ranged from the technical to the well-meaning but hysterical. What most amused me in listening to these men and talking to Fabio and my own experience is that we are all genuinely oblivious to the ship's movements and they were genuinely perplexed by questions about the ship's rocking the past couple of nights. I forbore to ask about the rumor that I had heard the previous night about hitting a whale during the night after Cozumel. It seemed unlikely.
I hung around for the backstage tour which theoretically immediately followed. Well, it did, but the tour was preceded by a question and answer period with some of the RC Singers and Dancers and the Production Manager some of which were interesting especially since my tech theatre kids have expressed interest in going to work shipboard after college. But, it was a largish audience which they broke into two groups of which I was in the second. We stayed in the theatre asking more questions of the charming Jared Scott.