Western Caribbean Cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas
10/22/09 to 10/26/09
Ports of Call: Key West, Florida; Cozumel Mexico
This cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas was a company awards event for employees that hit quota for the year. We refer to it as the annual President’s Club trip. This was the first time we had done a cruise rather than going to a land based resort for President’s Club. I was excited that many of my coworkers would get to experience cruising for the first time. I hadn’t planned on doing a review for this short cruise; but since we enjoyed the cruise so much, I wanted to be able to remember it by doing this review.
We arrived at the terminal at about 11:30 AM and began the check-in process around 11:45 AM. Everything went very quickly until we got to the gangway to get on the ship. Apparently there were a lot of TA's and day visitors who had to be individually checked at the entrance to the ship. There was a very long line on the enclosed gangway and it was moving very slowly. It probably seemed slower than it actually was due to it being very hot in that un-air conditioned area. We were on the Enchantment by Noon.
Access to the cabin areas was blocked off and could not be accessed until 1:00 PM, so we went up to the Windjammer Buffet for lunch. By the time we finished lunch, the cabin areas were open and we were able to go to our stateroom. Within minutes of our getting into the cabin, our luggage arrived. This was the fastest luggage delivery we had ever experienced in our many cruises. This was starting out to be a good cruise.
Sail away at Port Everglades is always enjoyable. It is a lovely area and the Coast Guard boats were speeding around the Enchantment adding to the enjoyment of all.
We have been on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships and just loved them. This was our first experience on a Vision Class. With it being an older and smaller ship, I wasn’t expecting Enchantment to be as impressive as the newer ones. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Enchantment was a very nice ship.
Pool area and sun decks - The pool area is quite large and nicely laid out to provide areas for lounge chairs in the sun and shade.
Rock Climbing Wall and Bungee/Trampolines -
Solarium - The retractable roof of the Solarium was opened for most of the cruise after we left port
My Fair Lady Main Dining Room -
Chops Grille -
Solarium Café - This is where pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs served most of the day
Boleros Lounge -
Schooner Bar -
Champagne Bar -
Spotlight Lounge -
Viking Crown Lounge -
Pool Bars -
Starboard Side Pool Bar Forward Pool Bar
Day Spa and Fitness Center -
Palladium Theater - This lovely theater is on both decks five and six
Casino Royale -
Guest Relations/Explorations Desk -
Art Auction Gallery -
Photo Gallery -
RC Online -
Shopping Area -
Around the ship:
We were very fortunate to be able to upgrade to a Junior Suite from our Balcony Cabin for a very small amount a week before the cruise. The normal Balcony cabin is a nice size at 190 sq. ft; but the 245 sq. ft in the Junior Suite really made a big difference. It was very comfortable and we really enjoyed it. We were in cabin 8650 and had an absolutely wonderful Stateroom Attendant, Michelle. She was one of the friendliest and most helpful attendants we have ever had. I still can’t believe that we forgot to take a photo of her. This cabin had lots of storage space. The only problem we had was that the bed was too hard; but Michelle fixed that by getting us an egg crate mattress topper. It was also nice to have a bathtub in the bathroom.
One thing we found helpful was that the tops of the two foot stools lifted off and could be used to store dirty clothes. The only complaint about the cabin was the old small CRT TV. We didn’t watch it much, but if we had wanted to or had kids that wanted to watch, it could be a problem. But this was the only minor issue. The veranda was also quite a nice size, although it should have had lounge chairs since there was room enough. We loved the cabin.
The My Fair Lady Dining Room and Windjammer Buffet both had very good food. What we had was presented well and was tasty. Our group had six tables, and different waiters. Two of the tables consistently had very slow service. Half of our group had eaten their main course before some were served their appetizers. Since this happened every night there was definitely a problem with one specific waiter.
One new addition that we really enjoyed was the salad bar in the main dining room for lunch. In addition to ordering off of the menu, we could walk over to a huge salad bar where you could pick out ingredients and the staff would mix them and chop them up, and then put them in a large salad bowl for you. The selection of ingredients was really great and they really piled it on. The shrimp they added to my salad were especially good. Since we like to eat in the main dining room for lunch when we can, it was disappointing that the standard menu did not seem to change. For a four day cruise, this probably wasn’t that big of a deal, especially with the salad bar; but it could be a problem on a full week cruise.
For this short cruise, they had comedian Al Katz, magician Chad Chesmark and two production shows. We didn’t see the comedian the first night; but I saw his late night show on the last night and he was quite funny. The magician was more entertaining as a comedian than a magician. His tricks were mostly cards and slight of hand; which he did very well. But his personality and wit were his long suit. The production shows were good. The singers in particular were very talented.
The musicians in the lounges and centrum were also quite good, but since we were with such a large group, we spent more time talking to them than listening to performers. The Quest Game Show was hilarious as always. It was held in the Spotlight Lounge with a standing room only crowd. With this being a relatively young group of cruisers, there were lots of participants. It is amazing what people will do to win a cheap souvenir hat.
We had the normal activities around the pool, including dancing, belly flop contest, sexy legs contest and Hula Hoop contest. The standout of these contests was a young girl that was able to Hula Hoop with ten hoops. Quite impressive.
The food carving demo is always a popular activity.
Ports of Call
Since we had been to Cozumel many times on land vacations and cruises, we didn’t plan to do much there; but we had only been to Key West once before. So we were looking forward to exploring there some more.
Key West, Florida
Carol had lots of shopping planned for this souvenir paradise. I wanted to go check out places I hadn’t seen the only other time we visited Key West eleven years ago. We were quite surprised at the increased amount of buildings that had been constructed. There isn’t a lot of empty space left near the piers.
The most impressive building close to the pier is the Key West Museum of Art and History that is in the Old Customs House building. The large red brick building stands out when looking at the town from the ship and even more so when walking past it. There are many interesting and strange statues on the grounds.
The largest and one of the newest is “Whispering Close”. It is a massive statue that appears to be a reproduction from Gone with the Wind.
From there we headed down to Duval Street to find a store that a friend of ours had asked us to go by to buy him a unique type of T-shirt. We passed St. Paul’s Church before finding the shop.
After we bought the Lime Dyed T-shirt, Carol continued her shopping and I headed out for more sightseeing. Walking around Key West is enjoyable and most interesting. The architecture is unique and pretty, and the stores can be most unusual.
The one place that we saw only from the outside on our previous trip to Key West was the Ernest Hemingway Home. It is set on a lovely large lot and has the first swimming pool built in Key West. The home is not air conditioned, but it does have lots of open windows with free standing fans moving the air around. The home itself isn’t that special, but the knick knacks, pictures and memorabilia all over the house are interesting.
There are around 60 cats that live on the grounds. Most of them are special in that they have extra toes and are referred to as Hemingway Home Cats.
I was also interested in seeing the Truman Little White House, but the Key West map was a bit confusing due to residential construction that had changed and closed down some streets. After walking around aimlessly trying to locate it, I came across the USS Mohawk World War II Coast Guard ship. It was a strange looking ship and is the first in what they are hoping will be several ships for the Key West Maritime Museum.
After walking many more blocks and running into dead end streets, I finally found the Truman Little White House. President Truman used this home as a winter White House. It has also been used by other presidents for meetings and weekend retreats. I didn’t tour the house, since we will be back in Key West in December on another cruise; and I want to visit it with Carol.
On the way back to town, I stopped at the Mel Fisher Museum. The part that I visited was mostly a very expensive store selling jewelry made from the coins Mel Fisher found on the Spanish Galleon Atocha. The museum part is supposed to be more interesting; but I didn’t have time to go through it.
After leaving the museum I headed to the ship. Carol had called me to see if I was on my way back, so I was able to get her to wave at me from our balcony.
After lunch, I went up to deck ten for sail-a-way. It was fun to be able to see the places I had just been walking by from a different perspective.
It had been a short visit, but a nice one due to it being a lovely sunny day and meeting up with lots of our friends on the cruise.
Since we had been to Cozumel many times, we hadn’t planned any excursions there. Most of our group rented scooters for $35 for the full day. After talking with them later, I wish I had gone to. It sounded like a nice way to spend an afternoon in Cozumel. We were docked at the International Pier, which had been badly damaged from Hurricane Wilma the last time we were there.; which had forced us to tender from the Freedom of the Seas. This time, the Carnival Fantasy and Ecstasy were docked near to us
I chose to go into town to do some minor shopping. The cab ride was $7 per person from the International Pier. Walking along the waterfront is nice in that the water is so pretty as well as there are interesting statues and activities going on. Of course the store employees are trying to coax all the tourists into their stores, which gets old quickly.
I wanted to go to a restaurant called Pancho’s Back Yard for lunch. We had heard good things about this Mexican restaurant on one of our previous visits, but hadn’t gotten to go. I should have missed it again, since it wasn’t that good. I have previously found that Mexican food in Mexico just isn’t as good as Tex Mex food in the USA. This experience again confirmed this opinion.
Once again we had a beautiful sunny day for our visit to Cozumel. The cruise on the Enchantment just prior to ours had rain and rough seas for the whole cruise. We had been most fortunate to not experience any of that.
The Enchantment had left from Terminal 25 but was going to return to Terminal 18; which is the new terminal to be used for the new Oasis of the Seas. We were the first ship to use this terminal. This and 4 other Enchantment visits would be used as trial runs in preparation for the world's largest cruise ship. The terminal was enormous and it was nice to use a brand new clean facility. However, it did mean that we had to take a free shuttle van back to the parking garage next to Terminal 25. Surprisingly, the shuttle process went very smoothly. The whole disembarkation process went very quickly.
I was pleasantly surprised with this four-day cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas. She is nice ship for a short cruise. The larger and newer RCCL ships have many advantages for a longer cruise and would certainly be my preference; but we had a great time as did the other people in our large group.
Below is a link to the Shutterfly albums with other photos from the vacations:
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