My family and I went on a cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas last week. I'm a male in my 20s, and I went with my grandma in her 80s and my uncle in his 40s, for reference.
MONDAY 3/5 (Leaving Miami):
Getting on the boat was a breeze, especially because my grandma has been on enough cruises to qualify for gold status (the word on the card, not the actual gold-colored card), so we got to skip the longest lines. I remembered it taking much longer the last time I went on a RCI cruise (Liberty of the Seas in 2008), so that was a pleasant surprise. One annoying thing when we got on board- we had pre-paid for different beverage packages (they were nice enough to let my uncle get the deluxe beverage package with only making me and my grandma get the refreshment package even though we were all 21+) that all came with the Coke freestyle cups. But, they already had those in our room, which we couldn't yet access. Since Windjammer's machines are cup-sensitive, we were unable to get soda at the first lunch even though we had paid for it, but that isn't the biggest deal in the world. A touch I really liked was that they provided mini-buffets by the pool deck as we were getting ready to leave Miami. As it was a beautiful day, a lot of people were on the pool deck watching us leave, but we were able to get a table. Dinner was really nice. We chose the 6 PM seating and were paired with three other small groups of people. My family all went for the prime rib, which we really enjoyed. I will touch on this more later, but our wait staff gave us really good service too. We elected not to go to the evening show, instead walking around the boat. Also, we spent a couple hours watching the entertainment in the Centrum, which was pretty good (except when a drunk guy broke a glass on the dance floor). When my grandma went back to the room, my uncle and I continued to explore the ship. Even though the shuffleboard courts theoretically close at 9, there was nothing stopping us from playing and no one waiting, so we played several games (I eeked out the win too). A nice way to start the trip.
TUESDAY 3/6 (Nassau):
On Tuesday, we were in Nassau. Breakfast in the Windjammer was decent enough everyday (I certainly didn't need that chocolate covered cheesecake at breakfast though). Since we could do more for less money using a third-party excursion service, we had booked a Nassau tour through Viator with a company called Tyrone Wilson's Shore Excursions. Our guide, Kevin, knew everything to know about Nassau and even seemed to know everybody. While we did make five stops, one of the real highlights was getting to hear him talk about the Bahamas. My personal favorite stop was the Queen's Staircase, both for the history and for the views as we descended. My uncle and grandma also really enjoyed the rum distillery. I don't drink, so it wasn't the stop I was looking forward to most, but it was still very interesting to see and learn about the industry. The only real disappointing stop was the chocolate factory because they only gave you a tiny crumb as a sample (whereas all the other sampling stops were far more generous) and ridiculously overcharged for any additional chocolate you wanted to purchase. I had been there before (as a hotel guest), but we also had about 30 minutes to explore the Atlantis resort. Our guide also drove us through some poorer areas of Nassau, so we got to see the various ways people live there. We also asked him for a lunch recommendation, and he recommended us some place called Bahamian Cookin' (or something like that) a couple blocks inland in downtown that was excellent. We later went to this zoo and gardens that was somewhat disappointing, at least relative to the excellent tour Kevin had given us earlier in the day.
We got back on the boat in time to get ready for dinner, which was formal night. Unfortunately, we were the only ones at our table who were able to get there. We again went for the beef, all getting the tenderloin. Since the dining room wasn't very full, they must have had a bunch of extra food, so we were offered seconds, which we happily accepted. I think there might have even been thirds. Additionally, the service was far better than I could have ever expected. Our waiter remembered that I had a Diet Coke the night before and had one there for me as soon as I sat down, without my even having to ask. When they realized how much we seemed to all like beef, they sent promoters from Chops Grille to offer us a discount for the next night, which we seriously considered, but decided against (largely because my uncle would have wanted lobster, which wasn't included with the base surcharge). After dinner, we split up, all having different things we wanted to do. My uncle had wanted to enter the poker tournament in the casino (by the way, the casino has tutorials of the different table games 30 minutes before opening every night, which I enjoyed, even if I wasn't really planning to play). Assuming full capacity, the winner from Tuesday was set to play Wednesday's winner on Thursday for a free cruise on the Allure of the Seas. I walked around with him for a while, but went back to the room to get out of my suit. My grandma went to the music show that night, which we allowed her to do alone since neither of us wanted to go. While my uncle was playing poker, I met up with my grandma after the show and we went to the Love and Marriage Game Show. That gameshow actually has importance in our family because, on our cruise 10 years ago, my grandmother and my late grandfather were the long-married couple on the show (they came in last). When they were trying to find couples, my grandma told that story, which was a nice moment for all of us. The show (in my biased opinion) didn't live up to the one ten years ago, but that could just be me. We still had a good time. Afterwards, I met back up with my uncle, who had unfortunately only come in third in the poker tournament, and we went back up to the pool deck because I had read in reviews that there was a big party with a poolside buffet when leaving Nassau. That was only partially accurate, as they only had food inside the Solarium, but there was music from the boat's DJ. It was a bit more of a party scene than I would have liked because there was a group of close to 500 spring breakers just from one school on a ship of only 2500, but we enjoyed it still. After that ended, we did briefly go to the Viking Crown Lounge, but that was a little too wild for me, as it was pretty much only the spring breakers (I'm about that age myself, but I am not really that wild). Some of them were enjoyable to talk to individually, but they were crazy as a group (my uncle actually described them as entertainment). We got some late night food from the Solarium (my uncle had the idea of putting pizza inside a burger, which he said was excellent) and went back to the room.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7 (Not CocoCay):
While at breakfast, even though it was partly sunny outside, we heard an announcement from the captain that the weather would not allow us to go to CocoCay as planned because the seas were too rough and a cold front was approaching from the west. Royal Caribbean did do a good job of adding more events, such as ping pong tournaments, trivia contests, and game shows to try to let us still have a good time. But, as the weather was still pretty nice, we grabbed seats at the pool and hung out there (but unfortunately they weren't opening the main pool until 11). Before lunch, we went to play Family Feud, one of the added activities, which was fun. Lunch in the Windjammer was likely the same thing they were going to serve on the island, but it was good, and we rushed out of lunch to play sports trivia, which was harder than we expected (or, more accurately, a lot of the questions were from sports we didn't follow as closely as the Big Four American sports). By the time we finished with trivia, the bad weather had arrived, so we mostly had to stay inside. I did use the Solarium pool in this time (and found out that I'm actually 7 feet tall if that is really 5'6" deep). At dinner, to our surprise, again nobody else showed up, so we yet again got fed like royalty. My grandma was finally tired of beef and got a lasagna, while my uncle and I had multiple beef short ribs. If you are ever on this cruise, you must get the warm chocolate cookie with ice cream. I made the mistake of not getting it, but had a bite of my uncle's one, and it was easily the best dessert I had. But, since the dining room wasn't full, I was then able to order one anyway. After dinner, my grandma is a big North Carolina fan and wanted to watch their game, so we went to the casino, where the only sports bar is on the ship. We tried our luck with the penny slots before the game, and I wasted $5 in about 15 minutes and decided I had had enough. My grandma and uncle were up for a little while, but they lost theirs too. My uncle decided to give the poker a second go, but again finished in a tantalizingly close third, good for nothing. The casino sports bar was also crowded with some of the students on spring break, which really wasn't too bad. The only annoying part is that smoking is allowed in the casino, so you could intermittently smell smoke. I do wish they had a smoke-free place to watch sports other than your stateroom on board (and I know newer RCI ships do). After the game, my uncle and I caught the second half of the adult comedy show, which we definitely enjoyed. We took advantage of the midnight buffet in the Park Cafe before calling it a night.
THURSDAY, MARCH 8 (Key West):
This was my fourth cruise, but I had never been on one that reentered the US before returning to the embarkation port, so I had never been through the "you must wake up at a certain time to go through customs" thing before. It was pretty early in the morning, so we just rolled straight out of bed to do that and ate and got ready for the day afterwards. We did the hop-on, hop-off bus tour in Key West that morning. When we first got on, our guide, Louis, was excellent, so we rode around most of the way before getting off at the location of the Southernmost Point and the butterfly house, which we enjoyed (even if my grandma inadvertently took a butterfly out on her shirt and had to get an employee to return it to its habitat). We ate lunch at Sloppy Joe's, where they actually invented the Sloppy Joe and went around both on the bus and on our own to see a few more landmarks before returning to the boat. It was a sunny, but not hot, day, which made it perfect for exploring the island.
The previous night we had considered seeing if we could take them up on their Chops Grille offer and even got to the point of asking them if it would still be good for Thursday, which they said it would. However, we really liked our waiters in the main dining room and were offered a discount on getting the Chops food in the main dining room, which we did. My grandma and I got the Chops filet, which was excellent, while my uncle got their lobster, which he seemed to enjoy. My uncle and I got the lamb shank as well since it still wasn't full (we weren't totally alone, as one of the other three groups did come that night). After that, we wanted to watch basketball again, so we went back to the casino. Before going to the casino, we checked out the Centrum entertainment and I somehow got drafted into doing some dance in front of everybody without even being told what I was doing. At least I didn't drop the woman from the activities staff when she jumped! Duke and North Carolina were playing in back to back games and my family is split between those two schools (I'm actually a fan of a different school, but I was rooting for both that night, and both won). Again, the college spring breakers were at the casino bar, but some were into the games since they were mostly from North Carolina themselves (I actually live in Tennessee, but my family is from NC). Once they had both won, it was about 11:30, so The Quest was already well into progress, but my uncle and I decided to go anyway. While I don't mind humor that isn't PG-rated, The Quest went too far for our tastes, so we left after about 10 minutes, went back to the room and called it a trip.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9 (Returning to Miami):
I had breakfast with my grandma, but, after breakfast, my flight to Tennessee was much later than theirs to North Carolina, so I stayed on the boat when they left. I decided to simply carry my bags off, so I went a little before when my number would have been called, but the line was already crazy. It likely took me well over an hour to get off the boat, but there was nothing we had to wait for after getting off since we had been through customs in Key West the day before. I had reserved a $30 shuttle to FLL, but that had taken me so long and I didn't know where to go that I found an third-party shuttle to the airport for only $20 that I took. In the future, I would just do that from the beginning. I got to the airport in plenty of time, but my grandma and uncle actually missed their flight out of Miami to get home.
-I really liked the refreshment package, but I probably could have lived with just the classic soda package if I had been paying for that part myself (my grandma was gracious enough to pay for most of the cruise for all of us).
-The food was of excellent quality, and there was virtually always somewhere you could go. The late night food was actually really good too.
-This was a relatively small RCI ship, but everything was running well and the crew did a great job.
-We had fun plans for CocoCay (the Aqua Park and walking the nature trails), so I was disappointed it got cancelled, but it was handled well.
-I didn't see what they gained from roping off the pools at night. I wouldn't have minded taking a night swim, but that was impossible. Also, the Solarium may technically be a retractable roof, but it was always closed, even though three of the four days had perfect weather.
-They do need to have a place to watch sports that isn't smoky. I don't think it would be a big deal to put a couple TVs at one of the bars, possibly the Schooner Bar.
-We did a bunch of the game shows and trivia and really enjoyed all of that.
All in all, my complaints are minor, and I had a really good time and would go back on the Enchantment of the Seas. But, from seeing the pictures of the very newest ships, I think I want to try one of them the next time I go on a cruise.