Enchantment of the Seas is a bit of an anomaly. Most ships are new, old or at least uniformly updated, but this one can't make up its mind. Following a 2005 refurb -- in which the ship was sliced and diced and sewn back together with the addition of a 73-foot-long midsection -- parts of the vessel sparkle like new, while others show a bit of wear.
Although the exterior of the ship is slightly faded, the midsection (both inside and outside) still looks relatively new, offering a larger pool deck, funky suspension bridges, the Boleros Latin lounge, Ben & Jerry's, a Champagne bar and the ritzy Centrum atrium, complete with glass-enclosed elevators.
Cabins are comfortable and fairly modern, but a few of the hallways show their age with scuffed walls and dented stateroom doors, some of which looked as though they had been hit with rocks ... or cannonballs.
Although the ship was full during my sailing from Baltimore to Bermuda, it never felt crowded -- not even at mealtimes. I was also surprised by the number of young adults onboard, as well as the zealous nightlife. However, those who chose to steer clear of more rowdy pursuits had plenty of options, as well; everything from trivia to Bingo was offered, and the Solarium provided a relaxing escape for lounging.
Overall, food onboard was decent, and service was efficient and friendly. Royal Caribbean's stellar youth programs kept children busy, so the hallways and pool areas weren't overrun with kids. And, although chair hogs were out in full force during my sailing, I never wanted for a sun lounger by the pool. I was, however, disappointed by the closure of the sports deck for much of the sailing, due to windy conditions that rendered the jogging track, rock-climbing wall and bungee trampoline unsafe for passengers.
For a quick bite and lots of variety, the Windjammer Marketplace on Deck 9 is a good bet. It's set up in stations, so you can grab everything from carved meats and cheeses to pizza and dessert. It's open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch on embarkation day, 6:30 to 7 a.m. daily for continental breakfast, 7 to 11 a.m. for casual breakfast, noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6:30 to 9 p.m. for casual dinner. Beginning at 3 p.m. each day, an afternoon tea is also offered there. During busy times, it may be difficult to find tables. I was disappointed (and awfully hungry) on embarkation day when the Windjammer closed at 3 p.m. and nothing else (not even room service) was available until dinner in the main dining room at 6 p.m.
For more formal dining, check out the My Fair Lady dining room on Decks 4 and 5. It's open daily from either 7 or 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast and most days from noon to 1:30 p.m. for lunch (at which time, it's converted into a restaurant called Brasserie 30, which serves excellent shells with pesto sauce). Dining times for the set-seating option are 6 p.m. for the first seating and 8:30 p.m. for the second. Passengers can also opt for anytime dining, which allows them to avoid set tablemates and eat whenever they choose between 6 and 9:30 p.m.
Some menu items like fish and steak are always available, as is at least one vegetarian option. Each menu also has a section for healthy options and Chops Grille offerings. Some of the more interesting and/or tasty dishes I tried were watermelon gazpacho with celery, a Vidalia onion tart, filet of Atlantic salmon, peach soup and cheese gnocchi. Great desserts included coconut layer cake (although the portion was a bit small) and chocolate brownie sandwiches. On the last night of our sailing, the waiters got together for a parade around the dining room.
Enchantment's alternative dining venue is Chops Grille on Deck 6. It's open 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and carries a fee of $25 per person for menu options that include filet mignon and seafood.
Burgers, pizza and fries are the order of the day at the Solarium Bistro, inside the adults-only Solarium on Deck 9; kids are allowed to get food at the Bistro but can't stay in the Solarium to eat. Times vary, based on the ship's itinerary, so check your daily Cruise Compass planner. Late-night snacks are offered there nightly until 2 a.m.
Good luck trying to resist the smell of freshly baked waffle cones as you stroll past Ben & Jerry's on Deck 6. It's open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. It's also the site of Cafe Latte-tudes, which serves coffee drinks for an extra charge and pastries for free. I caved and bought a cone and some sort of frou-frou mocha drink that was quite tasty.
Another option is room service, which is available 24 hours a day. Be aware that a $3.95 fee will apply to all orders placed between midnight and 5 a.m. Continental breakfast items, salads and sandwiches, fruit and desserts are offered, among other menu items.
Staterooms onboard are decorated in shades of white, gold and teal and feature strange, faux-suede wall panels. All feature twin beds that can convert to queens.
Inside cabins on Enchantment of the Seas now come in three types, thanks to the ship's 2005 elongation: Family Interior Staterooms, new since the refurb and offering more space for passengers with children (260 square feet); Large Interior Staterooms (145 square feet); and Interior Staterooms (137 square feet). Rooms with windows include Family Oceanview Staterooms (293 square feet) and Large Oceanview Staterooms (152 square feet). All inside and outside standard cabins offer a sitting area, a vanity and a private bathroom. Many -- including the family cabins -- feature Pullman beds for extra guests.
Cabins also include small TV's, each with 28 channels like CNN, Spanish channels, and various movie and music channels. There was plenty of closet and drawer space, but in my oceanview cabin, the clicking together of the unused hangers woke me up at night on several occasions until I removed them from the bar in the closet. There were also two end tables, a glass coffee table, a couch, a desk chair, reading lamps, two 230-volt European plugs, two 120-volt U.S. plugs and a surplus of mirrors. Safes can be found in the vanity cupboards. Various snacks, soda and bottled water are stacked on top of the vanity -- something that seems a bit strange since space is at a premium -- and are available for purchase, but beware of their high cost.
Superior Oceanview Staterooms offer their own balconies. Each clocks in at between 190 and 195 square feet with a 36- to 41-square-foot balcony. Each balcony has two chairs and a small table. Mini-bars are also available.
Bathrooms are standard with shower-only options and clingy shower curtains, removable shower heads and shampoo/body wash dispensers. The only other toiletries offered are bars of soap for hand washing. Decor is fairly plain with cream and peach tones.
Suites on Enchantment offer the most variety with five different categories. Junior Suites are 248 square feet with 62-square-foot balconies. Sofa beds sleep additional passengers. Grand Suites, which are 349 square feet and have 107-square-foot balconies, offer separate living areas. Royal Family Suites, 487 square feet with 58-square-foot balconies, feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living areas with sofa beds. Owner's Suites are the next step up, offering 511 square feet of space with 107 square-foot balconies. Finally, the ship's Royal Suites offer the same amenities as the other suites, plus private, in-cabin hot tubs and baby grand pianos.
All suites have bathrooms that include bathtubs. Additionally, passengers booked in suites (excluding Junior Suites) receive priority check-in, access to the Concierge Club onboard lounge, priority pool deck and theater seating, bathrobes, luggage valet service and complimentary pressing service on formal night.
The ship offers 20 accessible cabins.
The ship's glitzy 10-deck glass-walled Centrum is an open atrium where there are live performances, dancing and two see-through elevators. Decked out in shades of tan, gold, teal and peach, the Centrum is convenient for orienting yourself while searching for other venues like the guest relations and shore excursions desks on Deck 5.
On Deck 6, just past the atrium, you'll find the art and photo galleries, where you can purchase paintings and individual photos or sign up for a photo package. DVD's are also available for purchase. Just be forewarned that this is all very expensive, with a family photo package costing nearly $110. If you're in the mood for some shopping, head to the Shops Onboard, which sell toiletries, clothing, duty-free alcohol, jewelry, perfume and a variety of other items.
For quiet retreats, the Crown and Anchor Study (open to qualifying members of Royal Caribbean's past passenger program) and the library straddle the Centrum on Deck 7. You'll find the study on the port side and the library on the starboard, the latter featuring comfy brown-leather chairs, a decent selection of books, board games, and daily trivia and puzzles like Sudoku.
On the starboard side of the Centrum on Deck 8 is the Concierge Club Lounge, which is available only to suite-holders and top-level past passengers. Or, if you're looking to stay connected while at sea, you can get your social media fix at Royal Caribbean Online, the Internet cafe on Deck 8 on the port side of the atrium. There, you'll find 16 stations with Internet-ready desktop computers. Or, you can bring a laptop and use the ship's Wi-Fi, which is available in most public areas (but not in cabins). You'll need to use your keycard to sign up before you can log on, and the charges will go right to your onboard account. You can pay by the minute, but you'll get a much better price if you purchase one of five prepaid packages, which range in price from $35 for 60 minutes to $150 for 500 minutes.
For a quiet place to people-watch while enjoying some ice cream or coffee, there's a small area with chairs and tables across from Cafe Latte-tudes and Ben & Jerry's on Deck 6, just forward from the atrium.
It seemed like it was barely used on my sailing, but there is also a conference center available on Deck 6, sandwiched between Chops Grille and the Schooner Bar.
Although self-service laundry facilities are not provided, there are laundry and dry-cleaning services available onboard, for which you'll pay per article of clothing.
Casual clothing is the norm during the day throughout the ship, but no shorts or flip-flops are allowed in the dining room, and men's shirts must have sleeves (no tank tops). Dinner attire is generally resort or country-club casual, with most men wearing khakis and collared shirts and women wearing sundresses or blouses with dress pants or skirts. There is one formal night on each cruise, during which most women wear party dresses or gowns, while men opt for suits or slacks with collared shirts and blazers. Occasionally, men also wear tuxedos.
Enchantment boasts several onboard bars, including the Champagne Bar, a tiny area near the atrium on Deck 4. It offers a prime, ground-level view of any live performances that take place in the atrium throughout the cruise, and it has a nice selection of wine. The Schooner Bar, Deck 6, starboard, is decorated with dark woods and a laid-back nautical theme, and a pool bar on Deck 9 means you don't have to go far from your deck chair to snag a bucket of beer.
Lounges also abound on this ship. On the only night I ventured into the Spotlight Lounge, a disco on Deck 6, it was dead. I found Boleros, a Latin-themed lounge, bar and dance venue on Deck 5, to be a bit flashier as well as centrally located. Best of all was the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 11, aft. It offered a D.J. and a clubby atmosphere that was both fun and easygoing.
For shows, Orpheum Theater is where you'll go. It hosts everything from free first-run movies to musical revues and comedic performances. This venue is a decent size and comprises space on Decks 5 and 6. On my sailing, I saw a phenomenal magic show and a mediocre revue of music from contemporary movies like "Men in Black" and "Charlie's Angels."
Loud, flashy Casino Royale is located on Deck 5 between Boleros Lounge and the Orpheum Theater. It features an interesting see-through floor near the entrance, lots of lights and crazy purple carpet, as well as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and poker.
For daytime fun, check out the main pool deck to participate in or just watch any number of silly contests, from belly-flopping to Ms. Biceps. Most enrichment on Enchantment consists of activities like dance classes in the disco and gaming lessons in the casino. These are free of charge. If you're looking for lectures and the like, this probably isn't the ship for you.
Royal Caribbean offers a number of shore excursions on port days through its "Explorations!" desk on Deck 5. Sightseeing tours and glass-bottom boat trips are very popular, as are beach excursions, but be aware that you may be able to access some beaches for free or for a much lower price if you just go on your own. I paid $58 for the Beach BBQ & Island Party excursion, and although the food was delicious and the entertainment was lively, I didn't think it was worth the cost.
Royal Caribbean is known for its outstanding children's facilities, and those on Enchantment are no exception. The Adventure Ocean children's program is divided into five groups that cater to children from ages 6 months to 11 years. Playgroups and baby gymnastics are set up throughout the cruise for Royal Babies (6 - 18 months), and offerings for Royal Tots (18 - 36 months) include Crayola Beginnings sessions and bedtime stories.
Aquanauts (ages 3 - 5) can mingle at pirate-, circus-, dinosaur- and superhero-themed festivities throughout each cruise and take part in other activities in the kid's center on Deck 10. For Explorers (ages 6 - 8), youth staffers offer science experiments (like building volcanoes), pizza parties and other fun pastimes for kids. Voyagers (ages 9 - 11) can participate in hula-hoop contests, face-painting and trivia.
Teens have their own space -- a club called FUEL, which has modern-style couches, a dance floor and TV's. On my sailing, there were so few teens onboard that they combined teen activities for ages 12 - 17, but on voyages where more teens are present, they're divided into two groups: 12 - 14 and 15 - 17.
In addition to Adventure Ocean's Nintendo Wii, youngsters will find a video arcade across the hall from Adventure Ocean on Deck 10. It's got air hockey, foosball and other classic games. A note to parents: The arcade isn't free, and credits for game play will be charged to your onboard account. Ping-Pong tables can also be found out on deck.
For parents looking to dine sans kids, Royal Caribbean offers a "Lunch & Play" option for children that includes a two-hour lunch and play time with food, movies, cartoons, karaoke and scavenger hunts. It comes with an extra fee of $7.95 per child. Another option for parents is the Late Night Party Zone, which will occupy younger cruisers from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at a cost of $6 per hour, per child. Baby-sitting is also available on a group or in-cabin basis between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and it's on a "first come, first served" basis. Rates for in-cabin sitters are about $19 per hour for up to three children in the same family (kids must be at least one year old).
All passengers younger than 18 have a curfew of 1 a.m., unless they're accompanied by a parent or participating in an organized, ship-sponsored youth activity.
The majority of the passenger base consists of Americans in their 50's, but there's a fair mix of younger adults, as well. (Note: This ship is great for families, but because school was in session, there were only about 150 children, ages 17 and younger, onboard during a recent sailing.)
Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.
|Fitness and Recreation|
Enchantment Day Spa, located on Deck 9, offers a serene environment for everything from pro-collagen marine facials ($145) to teeth-whitening ($149). Hair and nail services for men and women are also available.
Also on Deck 9 is the Solarium adults-only indoor pool, which features a retractable glass roof that can be opened in nice weather and closed when it rains. The space also includes two hot tubs. With its classy white pillars and tiled floors, it's a great place to escape the hectic vibe throughout the rest of the ship.
At the opposite end of Deck 9, you'll find the main pool, two hot tubs and a kids' splash pool (which, oddly, didn't seem to be open at all on my sailing). I was pleasantly surprised to be able to find a number of available sun loungers -- even on sea days. The sports pool is located midship and is flanked by two hot tubs. You'll also be able to take a walk on one of two futuristic-looking suspension bridges, which offer views over the pool deck.
For active pursuits, Deck 10 is the place to be. Forward, you'll find the Jump Zone, which features a bungee trampoline. Aft, you'll find the rock-climbing wall and fitness center, which includes free weights up to 90 pounds, a variety of exercise balls, nine Life Fitness treadmills, six elliptical machines, 10 reclining bikes, nine spin cycles and various weight machines. Classes are offered there -- some (like abs classes and stretching) are free, while others (like Pilates and cycling) carry a $12 fee. Shuffleboard courts and a jogging track can also be found on this deck. Just be warned that, if the weather is too windy, the sports deck and all of its amenities will be closed.
|Expert reviews are provided by CruiseCritic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.|