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Live Blog: Enchantment of the Seas 10/16-10/20


kimberussell
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As a thanks for all of the information you unwittingly gave me over the last few months while I skulked in the corners of this site, here is my live blog from the Enchantment of the Seas - October 16-20.

This is my first RCI cruise, so you won't be reading about any Crown & Anchor, Diamond, Platinum, or Adamantium perks. No special parties, free drinks, exclusive rooms full of puppies, etc. We don't have a suite. Or even a balcony!  Just a large ocean-view room. But that's okay, we really don't know what we're missing. 

Travelers
Me: 45, cruised with Disney 13 years ago. Lover of sunshine and palm trees.
Mom: Old enough to be my mom, lover of sunshine and palm trees, first time cruiser.

Mom and I usually travel to Virginia Beach for a week every summer. But this year she had an accident that resulted in surgery and hobbled her summer plans. She's 3+ months post-op and getting around well. She's using a cane on this trip. We're still taking it slow, though, mostly because I'm lazy. Mom eats gluten-free, I eat gluten-full. We take turns worrying about things. We get along swimmingly.

I skipped the drink package because I can't keep that kind of pace for the entire cruise. Mom did, however, order bottled water to be delivered to the room.

Our plans:

Monday: Fly PHL to FLL, take shuttle to port, lie on deck with an alcoholic beverage.

Tuesday: Nassau. No excursions planned. Lie on deck with an alcoholic beverage.

Wednesday: Coco Cay. Rented 2 loungers & sunshade. Lie on beach with a bottle of water ... and an alcoholic beverage. 

Thursday: Key West. Conch Train hop on/hop off tour. Wander the town with a bottle of water ... and an alcoholic beverage. Eat a slice of Key Lime Pie.

Friday: Get dumped off of the ship, shuttle to FLL, FLL -> MCO -> PHL.

Mom has requested we eat from time to time and do things like "casino" and "shows" and "bingo." So demanding!

I will update this as close to 'live" as I can get, considering I don't want to be tied to my tablet the entire time. On with the show!

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Monday: Woke at 4:30, picked up mom at 4:47 to head to the airport. The rain was falling at a steady clip.

Things I hate:
>  Driving in the rain.
>  Driving to the airport.
>  Driving over the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Unfortunately, sometimes we must do things we hate in order to get what we want. 

We arrived at the airport without incident at 5:15 for a 6:55 flight. The gas indicator bonged when we were almost there - I'll deal with that Friday. Parked in Economy, took the shuttle to the terminal and was greeted by the longest security line I've ever seen in my years of travelling out of PHL. My gut shook. It snaked out of security, down the hall, around the corner, and down toward the parking lot entrance.  "Always fly the night before!" the Greek Chorus of message board people said in my head. The line moved at a decent clip and at about halfway, we were pulled to the front of the line because of Mom's cane. We got through (no taking off jackets, shoes, or removing the baggies of liquid from the bags!) but we literally walked up to the terminal and into the A line and onto the plane.  SWA flight to FLL took off without incident. Coffee was great!

WE flew to FLL and took Miami Port Express to the terminal. The line was long, but well worth it. They were selling lanyards at the terminal for the SeaPass cards (7.00 for regular ones and 9.99 for sports team branded ones) but we had some freebies from a meeting I attended so we skipped. We had the boarding pictres taken because we are cruise noobs.

Gah, what a pretty boat. Totally gorgeous! We stood in the Centrum for a while, overwhelmed. Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed with people and some typically crappy tourist behavior, like taking over tables with suitcases and camping there until the cabins opened. Boo!  Mom found the gluten-free corner and was very pleased with the offerings. I had a hot dog and fries because I'm a classy broad. The rooms opened at 1pm and we love our room! It's perfect for two people who don't hate each other. We have a large ocean view cabin, deck 3, beds separated.

Next we toured the spa and entered the drawing.  The spa is lovely and smelled great. Sat in the solarium and was kicked out to go to the muster drill.  The spa drawing was at 4:10 and you had to be present to win. We ... didn't win. 

Sail-away party! We found some chairs on deck 10 and bid adios to Miami with the help of a Bahama Mama. We had zero problems with feeling movement or seasickness. Zero. It's beautiful.

Our dinner seating is at 6pm and we arrived at MDR to encounter a GIANT line. It went quickly, though, and one of the waitstaff escorted us to our table. It was a six-top and ... full. Hm.  Turns out there was a party of 4 adults who were split between 2 tables and rather than go and get that fixed, they decided that nobody would notice if they took our seats. We were willing to switch to the other table, but then one of them copped a HUGE attitude with the maitre'd and you know what? Nah. I want my table. You all are wrong so you can move. All four stalked off to another table and we had a great time chatting with the two who remained. 

DINNER WAS GREAT. You know, I was nervous about MDR because I read things but the food was great. I had a good Caesar salad, the strip steak and a warm chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert. All of the gluten free food was clearly notated on the menu and Mom had no problem at all. She also had the steak, cooked to super well done as she requested. (I prefer a bit of moo left in it.) Her dessert was a gluten free blueberry and peach cobbler, which was great. It was all great! IT'S ALL GREAT! Mom got a sneak peek at tomorrow's menu. The waitstaff is phenomenal.

We went to the casino after dinner because I am weak. I ended up $5 up. Then we went to bingo in Boleros. It was $33 to play for a jackpot of $300. For that $33 you get 36 electronic cards (on a tablet - they keep track of the numbers themselves!) and 3 paper cards for us olds who like dabbing things. Buy 2 packages and you got the third for free, which we did. And then they had a free raffle for the remaining tablets and I won one of those. AND WE STILL LOST!! There were 2 winners who split the jackpot. But the hosts where hysterical and we had an expensive good time. By then were were completely feeling the long day. We stood outside and experienced the ocean at night (spoiler: dark) before going back to our room, where I fell into my tiny bed. It's a little firmer than what I'm used to but it really didn't matter. 

Day 1: A++ 
 

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1 hour ago, kimberussell said:

Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed

I see what you did there! :10_wink:

1 hour ago, kimberussell said:

The rooms opened at 1pm and we love our room! It's perfect for two people who don't hate each other.

:4_joy::4_joy::4_joy:

Really liking this live blog. Totally appeals to my sense of humor!

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19 hours ago, kimberussell said:

Monday: Woke at 4:30, picked up mom at 4:47 to head to the airport. The rain was falling at a steady clip.

Things I hate:
>  Driving in the rain.
>  Driving to the airport.
>  Driving over the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Unfortunately, sometimes we must do things we hate in order to get what we want. 

We arrived at the airport without incident at 5:15 for a 6:55 flight. The gas indicator bonged when we were almost there - I'll deal with that Friday. Parked in Economy, took the shuttle to the terminal and was greeted by the longest security line I've ever seen in my years of travelling out of PHL. My gut shook. It snaked out of security, down the hall, around the corner, and down toward the parking lot entrance.  "Always fly the night before!" the Greek Chorus of message board people said in my head. The line moved at a decent clip and at about halfway, we were pulled to the front of the line because of Mom's cane. We got through (no taking off jackets, shoes, or removing the baggies of liquid from the bags!) but we literally walked up to the terminal and into the A line and onto the plane.  SWA flight to FLL took off without incident. Coffee was great!

WE flew to FLL and took Miami Port Express to the terminal. The line was long, but well worth it. They were selling lanyards at the terminal for the SeaPass cards (7.00 for regular ones and 9.99 for sports team branded ones) but we had some freebies from a meeting I attended so we skipped. We had the boarding pictres taken because we are cruise noobs.

Gah, what a pretty boat. Totally gorgeous! We stood in the Centrum for a while, overwhelmed. Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed with people and some typically crappy tourist behavior, like taking over tables with suitcases and camping there until the cabins opened. Boo!  Mom found the gluten-free corner and was very pleased with the offerings. I had a hot dog and fries because I'm a classy broad. The rooms opened at 1pm and we love our room! It's perfect for two people who don't hate each other. We have a large ocean view cabin, deck 3, beds separated.

Next we toured the spa and entered the drawing.  The spa is lovely and smelled great. Sat in the solarium and was kicked out to go to the muster drill.  The spa drawing was at 4:10 and you had to be present to win. We ... didn't win. 

Sail-away party! We found some chairs on deck 10 and bid adios to Miami with the help of a Bahama Mama. We had zero problems with feeling movement or seasickness. Zero. It's beautiful.

Our dinner seating is at 6pm and we arrived at MDR to encounter a GIANT line. It went quickly, though, and one of the waitstaff escorted us to our table. It was a six-top and ... full. Hm.  Turns out there was a party of 4 adults who were split between 2 tables and rather than go and get that fixed, they decided that nobody would notice if they took our seats. We were willing to switch to the other table, but then one of them copped a HUGE attitude with the maitre'd and you know what? Nah. I want my table. You all are wrong so you can move. All four stalked off to another table and we had a great time chatting with the two who remained. 

DINNER WAS GREAT. You know, I was nervous about MDR because I read things but the food was great. I had a good Caesar salad, the strip steak and a warm chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert. All of the gluten free food was clearly notated on the menu and Mom had no problem at all. She also had the steak, cooked to super well done as she requested. (I prefer a bit of moo left in it.) Her dessert was a gluten free blueberry and peach cobbler, which was great. It was all great! IT'S ALL GREAT! Mom got a sneak peek at tomorrow's menu. The waitstaff is phenomenal.

We went to the casino after dinner because I am weak. I ended up $5 up. Then we went to bingo in Boleros. It was $33 to play for a jackpot of $300. For that $33 you get 36 electronic cards (on a tablet - they keep track of the numbers themselves!) and 3 paper cards for us olds who like dabbing things. Buy 2 packages and you got the third for free, which we did. And then they had a free raffle for the remaining tablets and I won one of those. AND WE STILL LOST!! There were 2 winners who split the jackpot. But the hosts where hysterical and we had an expensive good time. By then were were completely feeling the long day. We stood outside and experienced the ocean at night (spoiler: dark) before going back to our room, where I fell into my tiny bed. It's a little firmer than what I'm used to but it really didn't matter. 

Day 1: A++ 
 

Your whit and sense of humor, are certainly at home here!

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Thank you all for the kind words! I'm glad you're enjoying it. We are having a blast. 

Day 2: I woke up with a start at 6:30am because I was going to be late for work, which of course I was not. I peeked out the window and saw tiny glimmering lights in the distance. "Self," I said. "It's time to go see the sunrise." With Mom as my willing accomplice, we put on some appropriate duds and headed up to deck 9. There were clouds on the horizon so we didn't get the full effect, but it was lovely nonetheless. As we approached Nassau, I saw a castle up ahead that turned out to be the Atlantis resort.  Well, since we were awake, may as well have breakfast. And that's how we ended up in the Windjammer at 7:15am. I had eggs, bacon, a grilled tomato (good!), and a chocolate covered banana. Mom hit up the gluten free area and ended up with eggs, potatoes, and fruit. We had mimosas because WHY NOT??

We had no excursions planned because I wanted us to take it easy. But how could we skip the opportunity to set foot in Nassau? After breakfast we left the ship (had the gangway photo taken because we are cruise noobs) and headed to shop. We are tourists so we stuck to the touristy area. I won't lie, being loudly solicited for hair braiding and taxis as soon as we left the pier was a bit of culture shock, but whatever. Everyone was nice, just loud. We shopped on Bay Street. I picked up some gifts for coworkers (spoiler: magnets), Mom bought some gifts for friends (spoiler: more magnets), and something for my nephew (not magnets. He's 3 1/2.) at Del Sol. I bought color changing nail polish that is a gorgeous pink in sunlight and a jaundiced yellow when I'm not in sunlight. I spend my days in a cubicle, so in retrospect that was not the best choice.

We were back on the ship in time for lunch at the Windjammer, which was very empty today. Mom had a bunless hamburger, some fries and fruit. I had Caribbean curry chicken with coconut and cranberries, some mashed potatoes, a dollop of penne alfredo, a giant piece of sourdough bread, a slice of peach pie and a plop of bread pudding. As you can tell, I've taken to the concept of a cruise buffet like a duck to water.

Speaking of water.... Mom told me to order bottled water for the room. I idly picked the 12-pack of 1-liter bottles but I'm an idiot who has no idea how much a liter actually is. We have a LOT of water here for just two people. Caveat emptor when buying water.

Next up: POOL TIME. I suited up and headed to deck 9 while Mom chilled in the cabin for a bit. It was ridiculously hot, and even the drink of the day (Portside Punch) failed to cool me off. The movie playing was the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which I have serious and angry feelings about. Mom came up to join me and we (along with 2 liters of water) moved to the Solarium which was quite a piece of paradise. 

Back to the room to shower. (I read someone on these boards who said there is no soap in the cabins. We have bar soap and some sort of squirty soap in the shower.) Tonight is formal night. Dinner is at 6 and skipping bingo is not an option, so we suited up in our LBDs and were the most fancy-pants ladies at the 5pm bingo session. Those who brought receipts from the previous day's bingo session received even more cards and I really have a problem. I won another free tablet full of cards before the game began and I got down to waiting for one number and ... STILL LOST. Bah.

Formal night dress code: Don't sweat it. Some people were in super fancy duds, some people were in nice-casual duds like us, and some people were in MDR in shorts and tees. I wore a black dress, silver heels, and a black and white Kate Spade scarf as a pashmina. I concluded that I spent far too much time worrying about how to dress.

Off to MDR for dinner. Our friends from last night had a sunset cruise excursion, and the other ladies never returned so Mom and I had the table to ourselves. Mom had another amazing gluten-free night: shrimp cocktail, chicken breast au jus, and coconut rice pudding.  I had a chilled banana rum soup as an appetizer. You could have just put a fancy umbrella and a straw in it and handed it to me as I sunned on the deck today. For dinner I had pan-fried corvina (a white fish I never heard of before) and dessert was a chocolate mousse-like bar. Our server is Ajay and he is the best.

Mom: "I don't know how I'm going to go back to tossing chicken tenders in the oven."
Me: "I think I'm buzzed from this soup."

After dinner (and numerous formal night photos because we are cruise noobs) we settled into the R bar for the captain's reception. I spied that Super Mario guy at a "reserved" table and because of Michael Poole's live blog from this past weekend, I knew who he was. I enjoyed the reception, especially that each officer had their own walk-on music like baseball players. Mario was called up and given a bottle of wine because he has 7009 nights logged on Royal Caribbean ships. This is Mario's last time on the Enchantment -- he's moving to the Freedom. I tried to get Mom to hook up with him to see if we could glom some points from him (or at the very least that bottle of wine), but she was not willing to take one for the team. Whatever, Mom. I drowned my sorrow in a Captain's special peach champagne drink because the soup buzz was wearing off.

Music this evening was from Mood Icons, a 3-man cover band with a repertoire of American sing-along songs. Friends in Low Places! Margaritaville! Wonderful Tonight! Sweet Little Sixteen!

We asked Guest Services about the food at Coco Cay tomorrow and was sent back to talk to the head waiter at MDR. He's going to make sure Mom has a gluten-free bun at the lunch area. Everyone is so nice and accomodating. We hit the stores on deck 6 and I bought a non-magnet gift for my nephew. There's a Roxy sundress I'm lusting over but it's $64.50 and ... nah. I'll by myself something to wear in Key West.

After going from deck 3 to 4 to 6 to 5 to 4 to 6 again, my feet were howling. Back down to 3 to change shoes, and then we called it a night shortly after. We are docked in Nassau until midnight so I won't get to see us leave. That's a bummer. I don't know why we're here so long - we are the last cruise ship in port. There was a snail towel sculpture waiting for us in the room. I like it here. :)

Day 2: A++

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I'm so loving this .... As I read this, I just can't stop smiling.  

15 hours ago, kimberussell said:

 

After going from deck 3 to 4 to 6 to 5 to 4 to 6 again, my feet were howling. Back down to 3 to change shoes, and then we called it a night shortly after. We are docked in Nassau until midnight so I won't get to see us leave. That's a bummer. I don't know why we're here so long - we are the last cruise ship in port. There was a snail towel sculpture waiting for us in the room. I like it here. :)

Day 2: A++

This made me laugh out loud though ... I've done many a strides up and down though stairs.

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Again, thank you for the kind response! Mom and I are having a superb time and note-taking has taken a backseat. But now the bags are packed and outside (sob!) so I have a little time to flesh out the notes.

Day 3: I woke up on my own at 7:10 which is me still waking up for work, but VERY late for work. We go up to breakfast as usual - I have a pancake, bacon, fruit, and a chocolate covered banana. Mom gets potatoes, bacon, fruit, and a gluten free roll. We have coffee and mimosas because WHY NOT?  Chef Toni was in the Windjammer too! He may have just had fruit, which is good because he's a sea guy and we don't want him to get scurvy. (Oh, the things I remember from grade school...)

We had our second cup of coffee out on deck 9 and watched our approach to Coco Cay. I'm stupidly excited for this day, because I love the beach. At 9:30 we decided to get moving. From our room on deck 3 we could see the tenders glide back and forth outside, as well as the supplies being loaded onto another craft. I teased mom that the shipping list for that boat was "20 Limbo sticks, 15 volleyballs, 30 hula hoops, and one gluten free roll."  

We boarded the tender which looked remarkably unsafe but we rolled with it. We're seated on the top level and the breeze and view can't be beat. 

We didn't bring any of our gigantic water haul with us to Coco Cay because the message hammered home was DO NOT BRING ANYTHING OFF OF THE BOAT WITH YOU. On the tender there we saw people with coffee cups and bottles of water. Remember the old cartoons where the main character slowly turned into a lollipop with a "SUCKER" label on it? Me. 

We landed at the docks and man, it took my breath away. I know this is a completely manufactured environment but it rang all of my bells for "perfect island beach!" All of the buildings are brightly colored and clearly named. The dock construction was going on, but the noise was easily ignored. We had the Coco Cay photos taken because we are cruise noobs. I rented the 2 loungers/sunshade back when we booked the cruise. South Beach is a LONG way away and we were thankful for the tram that took us there. There were three rows of chairs/sunshades there and once you turn in voucher to the employee, they are first come, first served. We ended up in the second row, which is what we get for being lazy. We also got fancy VIP bracelets.

Immediately we waded into the water. It was warm yet refreshing and what's better, I could see my feet! Don't get me wrong -- I love my home state of NJ and I grew up at those beaches but the surf is rough and constantly kicking up sand so you can't see the bottom. Walking into the Atlantic from the Jersey shore is akin to a trust fall. On Coco Cay, not only could I see my feet but there were teeny fish darting around! The water was shallow and although I walked pretty far, it never came up above my knees. Is this a result of Hurricane Irma? 

We settled into our chairs, toasty and thankful. And then ... the people in front of us left! After getting the OK from the attendant, we moved into the front row, and we were even more thankful. As I said, I grew up going to the Jersey shore. Which can be very crowded, especially in the shore towns with boardwalks. There were no distractions at South Beach -- no amusements behind you, no airplanes towing banners, no Jersey shore scents like pizza or Drakkar Noir.  It was beautiful and everything I needed it to be. 

Lunch is served from 11:30-1:30. I was expecting hot dogs and hamburgers. I was not expecting gyros, curry, ribs, and a roast suckling pig, severed head prominiently displayed on the carving board. I have the heart of a vegetarian but the appetite of someone who makes steak/moo jokes. Mom went to the grill, gave her room number and recived a gluten free roll for her buger. This place is seriously approaching Santa Claus level of service. She had a burger, fries, and fruit. I had a hot dog (classy broad), macaroni and cheese, fruit, lemon cake. We shared a picnic table from a family from Minnesota. I'm one of those people who will write on the internet all day long but who is awkward around new people in real life. But everyone here is so nice that even I'm finding it easy. (Mom can make friends with anyone but apparently not Mario.)

After lunch we poked around the straw market, took some of our own photos, and then found 2 empty beach chairs under an umbrella. Plop. At 3 we reluctantly took the vaguely unsafe looking tender back to the ship.

Wildlife seen on Coco Cay without even trying because who has time for a nature walk when there is tanning to do?:
> small fish
> large fish
> tiny crabs
> chickens (live)
> iguanas
> sea gulls
> pig (head of, deceased, roasted)

We dumped off things in our room and went to Windjammer for coffee. Annnnnnnnnnnd ended up with a plate of nachos with queso. I'm going to be wearing tents to work next week.  We hoovered down the nachos and took our coffees out to the pool deck. We watched the belly flop competition which was a lot of fun.

Time for an important decision: today's bingo was going to be a 3-game session, and they were giving away a free cruise. However, the entry price for the regular one-game session was $33 so I was figuring that the price for that big session would be around $100. $100 for a huge chance to lose. And the deck was so nice and we wanted to watch as we sailed away from Coco Cay. And thus, the bingo addiction was broken. I saw our photos from formal night and I kid you not, the one of of me alone on the stairs is one of the best photos I've taken. We're not going to spend the $199 for the package, so we have some hard decisions to make.

We showered all of the beach funk off before dinner. I have given up trying to keep the water within the boundary of the shower, and just wipe the bathroom floor down when I'm done. The shower curtain has boundary issues and likely works for a notable Hollywood producer because it touches me without consent.

Our tablemates from night 1 were back and we had a great time chatting about our various excurisons. Ajay was phenomenal again (any WWE fans out there? just me? ok.)  I had a caprese salad, garlic tiger shrimp, and key lime pie. I've had a glass of Wolf Blass Merlot each night, too. Mom had a salad, tiger shrimp (prepared without gluten) and they made her a sugar free, gluten free chocolate mousse for dessert. 

The boat started rocking during dinner. Not enough to make us sick, but it was the first time I felt it the whole trip. It would continue to rock throughout the night, stopping right before morning.

I cashed in my chips from Monday night at Casino Royale's craps table at a $25-0 exchange rate. Boo, hiss. Gambling is horrible. Don't be like me. On a whim we went to the karaoke event in the Spotlight lounge. I watched 15 super-courageous people bring the house down. We were going to go to bed then but ... there was a 70s party about to bust out in the Centrum. It was quite fun and was well received. But ... I'm 45 and these were songs from when I was a kid. I have to wonder if they could maybe do a 70s night and then an 80s/90s night to try and shake off the "cruising is for old people" myth. 

But then I went to bed right after that so maybe I'm old too! ;)

Day 3: A+++
 

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30 minutes ago, kimberussell said:

have to wonder if they could maybe do a 70s night and then an 80s/90s night to try and shake off the "cruising is for old people" myth

First of all , what a wonderful blog, enjoying every post 

Regarding  the 80/90  parties , they actually started to do it, in my cruise they had both 70s party and 80 party. 

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9 hours ago, kimberussell said:

We showered all of the beach funk off before dinner. I have given up trying to keep the water within the boundary of the shower, and just wipe the bathroom floor down when I'm done. The shower curtain has boundary issues and likely works for a notable Hollywood producer because it touches me without consent.

 

OMG!!!!!   That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time .... YIKES!!!!

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Haha...do you guys comp me trips if I work for this blog? ;)

***

(apologies to Captain Toni for calling him Chef Toni yesterday.)


Day 4: I woke up on my own at 7am, which is good because we had to clear immigration at 9:30. It would have been 11:15 based on our muster station, but since we had an 11am excursion, we got to leave earlier. We got dressed and headed to our beloved windjammer for breakfast. Mom got her usual gluten free grub, I got "fruit" (chocolate covered bananas), some sweet bread with berries in it and sugar on top, a grilled tomato (good and I think something I can do at home), carved ham (apologies to yesterday's pig) and coffee. And mimosas, of course. After that we took our second cups of coffee to the pool area to watch us dock at Key West.   We went to MDR at 9:30, and were trooped up the stairs, across the ship to the theater, and down those stairs. Our group was puzzled, but compliant.  The very nice agent looked at our documents and cleared us to leave the ship. (background music: Neil Diamond's "America")

I chose the Conch Train Tour for our excursion because it was hop-on, hop-off and that was an easy way to get Mom around town. Plus, it looks like a cute little train! What I didn't realize (I probably should have researched it more instead of gazing lovingly at port webcams) was that there is a 50 minute tour ride between Stop A and Stop B, AND that Stop B was only a few blocks away from Stop A. We were driven right by the Southernmost point buoy without the opportunity to hop off. We hopped off at B and decided to walk down Duval Street in the 85+ degree weather to the Southernmost point buoy and then walk back to Train stop C to continue on. YES my mother is still walking slowly with a cane, NO I didn't think this out, and YES I stink at map skills.

My first stop was at a shack that claimed to have Best Conch Fritters. I had a 3-piece and I can verify that they are the best conch fritters I ever had. We meandered down Duval Street into and out of shops. Sloppy Joe's was full, so I mugged at the Duval Street webcam instead. My productivity is going to improve 100% once I get back to work because my second monitor will no longer have 5 webcam feeds running on it all day long. We saw the oldest (still-standing) house in Key West. I squeed at the Margaritaville restaurant but we didn't eat there because I was full of chocolate covered bananas and conch fritters. Instead, I bought a shirt with a parrot and "it's 5:00 somewhere - Key West" on it because I excel at being a tourist.  After about an hour of walking, I brought up Google Maps and had my expectations reset as to how quickly we'd get to the buoy. It was literally closer to go back to Stop B and ride down to Stop C. We turned around and walked back, hopped back on the train and rode to Stop C at Truman and Duval Streets, which was still a good 5 blocks away from the buoy. GOTTA GET THAT PICTURE!

Wouldn't you know, that the buoy was repainted yesterday (Wednesday) because of the damage it sustained from Hurricane Irma? The colors are painted onto it but the words haven't been redone yet. So we had our picture taken in front of the plain buoy.  I smiled for the webcam and considered the walk back to Truman/Duval. And then we saw him. Like an angel sent from above to save my mother from her daughter's bad decisions...a young man with a pedicab. It was very hot, and I ran out of my liter bottle of water.

He took us back to Mallory Square and it was a gorgeous, breezy ride. Just amazing. We tipped him well. We bought touristy things at the open-air shops (more non-magnet souvenirs for the nephew and a wooden Key West sign for me, and I don't know where I'm going to put this thing) there and called our trip to Key West good. I didn't have an alcoholic beverage or a slice of pie, but I loved the artsy, beachy, slightly drunken vibe there. I'd like to spend 3-4 days there in the future, drinking at sticky bars and listening to music. I'd have rather been docked at Key West until midnight instead of Nassau.

If I had to do it again (I hope I get the chance to do this again!) I would take the Trolley tour instead of the Conch Train because the trolley tour had more stops around town. 

My clothes were stuck to me, so I tossed on the sundress I wore on the first day because it's the coolest non-swimsuit item I brought. We missed Windjammer lunch but Windjammer afternoon snack time is just about the same thing. I had a hot dog and a fruit crumble drowned in chocolate sauce and then we returned to our solarium lounge chairs.  I wonder how much it would cost to renovate my living room into a mini Solarium?

We went to the photo shop to make our tough decisions about photos. It wasn't open yet so genius me used the kiosk. I ordered the digital 4-photo package, put in my stateroom, prepared to slice 20 photos down to 4 and ... it thanked me for my order.  Uh. When do I choose the photos? I guess I'll find out after dinner.

Bingo was starting up it the Centrum. I smugly prepared to walk by until my Bingo Boo JP announced that the jackpot was $300 and it was only a $25 package instead of $33. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. We bought 2 packages, got the third one for free, and lost AGAIN. Bingo is gambling. Don't be like me. By then it was 5:45. Mom went to get a sweater and I watched us pull away from Key West. Sadly. Wistfully. Lip-quiveringly. 

Our tablemates didn't come to MDR that night, so again we had the table to ourselves. I had French Onion soup which was oh my goodness so good. I could have had 3 more bowls and skipped everything else. Instead I had a turkey dinner and carrot cake. Mom had shrimp cocktail, Angus beef sliders without the buns, and a gluten free sugar free chocolate cappuccino mousse. Ajay and Jesus (assistant waiter) wished us well and said they'd miss us. We were THIS CLOSE to breaking down into ugly cries but pulled it together.

After dinner we went back to the cabin to pack. Sadly. Wistfully. We were almost done when I saw that it was 8pm. Parade of Flags! We need to see this! We dropped everything and fled back to the Centrum.

I thought this would be the hokiest event EVER. It really looked like it would be. I rolled my eyes as my GenX people do. Whatever. Let's watch this. You know what's coming, right? Because you've all seen this before.

It. Was. So. Fun. We really enjoyed the dancing interludes and the love and pride the crew has for the countries they are from. (USA's dance was to Cotton Eyed Joe which, okay fine.) When the Cruise Director Michelle said if the over 800 crew members from over 50-some countries can work together and be a family, so could we all, I got a little choked up. Let's all be nice to each other. We all want food, love, warmth - that should be more than enough to overlook whether or not I voted for that candidate or that the lady over there wears a headscarf or that other weird person thinks chocolate covered bananas are awful. I'm glad we took the time to see it and still feel guilty for mocking it prematurely.

We finished packing, put the bags out, and went back to the photo store. Turns out that the digital package is a computer program that allows me to pick 4 photos to download once I go home. Perfect. The best hard decision is a postponed one. After that good news we went to the Spotlight Lounge to watch another round of karaoke. I collected my final drink of the day, the Citrus Cooler. We had 14 fantastic performances and one guy who drank too much and wanted attention. I will listen to people sing off key all night as long as they're trying in earnest. But when Drunky McLookAtMe tries to be cute, I'm done. On the positive side, there was a young German couple who sang "Stumbling In" ("Our love is alive, and so we begin...") perfectly and got a standing ovation. When we went back to our cabin, they were rebroadcasting the Parade of Flags on the RCI channel so we watched it again. Mom told me this was the best vacation she ever had and thanked me for planning it and I cried because I'm a giant baby. 

It was a great end to a long day and a beautiful cruise.

Day 4: A++


Day 5 - the Saddening: 

Since our departure time was slated for 9:10am, I set my alarm for 7. We were awake before that though, because at 2am I realized I packed my keys into the big suitcase that I left out last night and what if the bag doesn't make it to Philadelphia and my keys aren't there and how will I get home and I don't want to call my husband and say the keys are lost and .. and ... and... That kind of put a damper on my sleep quality for the rest of the night.   At 6:30 Mom and I sat in the dark in our cabin as we glided by Miami's pink and blue lights and docked for the last time of our cruise. SIGH. 

Mom went up to the Windjammer to get a table (good plan, it was crowded) and I went to pick up my photo DVD and get boarding passes printed out.

When I got up to the Windjammer it was bedlam. As God is my witness it was like nobody was going to EVER eat again. People were running and grabbing and stacking plates high with food. It's a freaking hashbrown, people - they sell them at McDonald's. Get a grip. Of course with all of the chaos, people were spilling things left and right and the floor was dive-bar-level sticky. Mom had her usual gluten-free grub. Two truths and a lie: To fit in I had 3 pieces of that sweet bread, 5 pieces of chocolate covered banana and did a keg stand at the orange juice dispenser. 

After that we walked the pool deck one last time. We went to the Spotlight Lounge at 9:00 and at 9:10 we were processed off of the ship and into the terminal. Something happened with Customs and we waited an extra 30 minutes before being able to get downstairs to the baggage carousels. I found the bags without a problem, and we got into the other line to be cleared by the Customs agent. Which made us late for the shuttle from the port to Ft. Lauderdale airport, but gave me time to feel through my bag and find my keys. All of the fruit that people collected during the morning's breakfastpocolypse ended up abandoned.

The ground transportation area of the terminal was loud and crowded and chaotic. We ended up on the 10:30 Miami Port Express shuttle.  Major props to them, because they kept in touch with me though all the delays. The FLL -> MCO -> PHL flights went without a hitch, and on the flight I typed out Day 4's blog post and scrolled through pictures. Sadly. Wistfully.

Got back to PHL, found our bags, shoved onto the Economy Parking shuttle, got to the car (oh crap I only have 1/8 tank gas left thanks Past Kim for leaving me this mess), stopped at the nearest gas station (Wawa, and this Jersey girl DOES pump gas when she has to), headed back to Jersey, dropped off Mom, went home. And here I am, filled up on husband hugs and on the sofa with two happy, snoring spaniels in my lap.  The suitcase needs to be unpacked but I am tan and happy and sleepy and ... sober.

Day 5: B-. Points off for being told we had to get off of the ship.

****

THANK YOU for all the compliments.  This was a fun exercise to help me remember and document this amazing trip. And also it's my thank you gift back to this community. I have a rough list of of takeaways that I'll come back and post in a few days.

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28 minutes ago, kimberussell said:

Haha...do you guys comp me trips if I work for this blog? ;)

***

(apologies to Captain Toni for calling him Chef Toni yesterday.)


Day 4: I woke up on my own at 7am, which is good because we had to clear immigration at 9:30. It would have been 11:15 based on our muster station, but since we had an 11am excursion, we got to leave earlier. We got dressed and headed to our beloved windjammer for breakfast. Mom got her usual gluten free grub, I got "fruit" (chocolate covered bananas), some sweet bread with berries in it and sugar on top, a grilled tomato (good and I think something I can do at home), carved ham (apologies to yesterday's pig) and coffee. And mimosas, of course. After that we took our second cups of coffee to the pool area to watch us dock at Key West.   We went to MDR at 9:30, and were trooped up the stairs, across the ship to the theater, and down those stairs. Our group was puzzled, but compliant.  The very nice agent looked at our documents and cleared us to leave the ship. (background music: Neil Diamond's "America")

I chose the Conch Train Tour for our excursion because it was hop-on, hop-off and that was an easy way to get Mom around town. Plus, it looks like a cute little train! What I didn't realize (I probably should have researched it more instead of gazing lovingly at port webcams) was that there is a 50 minute tour ride between Stop A and Stop B, AND that Stop B was only a few blocks away from Stop A. We were driven right by the Southernmost point buoy without the opportunity to hop off. We hopped off at B and decided to walk down Duval Street in the 85+ degree weather to the Southernmost point buoy and then walk back to Train stop C to continue on. YES my mother is still walking slowly with a cane, NO I didn't think this out, and YES I stink at map skills.

My first stop was at a shack that claimed to have Best Conch Fritters. I had a 3-piece and I can verify that they are the best conch fritters I ever had. We meandered down Duval Street into and out of shops. Sloppy Joe's was full, so I mugged at the Duval Street webcam instead. My productivity is going to improve 100% once I get back to work because my second monitor will no longer have 5 webcam feeds running on it all day long. We saw the oldest (still-standing) house in Key West. I squeed at the Margaritaville restaurant but we didn't eat there because I was full of chocolate covered bananas and conch fritters. Instead, I bought a shirt with a parrot and "it's 5:00 somewhere - Key West" on it because I excel at being a tourist.  After about an hour of walking, I brought up Google Maps and had my expectations reset as to how quickly we'd get to the buoy. It was literally closer to go back to Stop B and ride down to Stop C. We turned around and walked back, hopped back on the train and rode to Stop C at Truman and Duval Streets, which was still a good 5 blocks away from the buoy. GOTTA GET THAT PICTURE!

Wouldn't you know, that the buoy was repainted yesterday (Wednesday) because of the damage it sustained from Hurricane Irma? The colors are painted onto it but the words haven't been redone yet. So we had our picture taken in front of the plain buoy.  I smiled for the webcam and considered the walk back to Truman/Duval. And then we saw him. Like an angel sent from above to save my mother from her daughter's bad decisions...a young man with a pedicab. It was very hot, and I ran out of my liter bottle of water.

He took us back to Mallory Square and it was a gorgeous, breezy ride. Just amazing. We tipped him well. We bought touristy things at the open-air shops (more non-magnet souvenirs for the nephew and a wooden Key West sign for me, and I don't know where I'm going to put this thing) there and called our trip to Key West good. I didn't have an alcoholic beverage or a slice of pie, but I loved the artsy, beachy, slightly drunken vibe there. I'd like to spend 3-4 days there in the future, drinking at sticky bars and listening to music. I'd have rather been docked at Key West until midnight instead of Nassau.

If I had to do it again (I hope I get the chance to do this again!) I would take the Trolley tour instead of the Conch Train because the trolley tour had more stops around town. 

My clothes were stuck to me, so I tossed on the sundress I wore on the first day because it's the coolest non-swimsuit item I brought. We missed Windjammer lunch but Windjammer afternoon snack time is just about the same thing. I had a hot dog and a fruit crumble drowned in chocolate sauce and then we returned to our solarium lounge chairs.  I wonder how much it would cost to renovate my living room into a mini Solarium?

We went to the photo shop to make our tough decisions about photos. It wasn't open yet so genius me used the kiosk. I ordered the digital 4-photo package, put in my stateroom, prepared to slice 20 photos down to 4 and ... it thanked me for my order.  Uh. When do I choose the photos? I guess I'll find out after dinner.

Bingo was starting up it the Centrum. I smugly prepared to walk by until my Bingo Boo JP announced that the jackpot was $300 and it was only a $25 package instead of $33. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. We bought 2 packages, got the third one for free, and lost AGAIN. Bingo is gambling. Don't be like me. By then it was 5:45. Mom went to get a sweater and I watched us pull away from Key West. Sadly. Wistfully. Lip-quiveringly. 

Our tablemates didn't come to MDR that night, so again we had the table to ourselves. I had French Onion soup which was oh my goodness so good. I could have had 3 more bowls and skipped everything else. Instead I had a turkey dinner and carrot cake. Mom had shrimp cocktail, Angus beef sliders without the buns, and a gluten free sugar free chocolate cappuccino mousse. Ajay and Jesus (assistant waiter) wished us well and said they'd miss us. We were THIS CLOSE to breaking down into ugly cries but pulled it together.

After dinner we went back to the cabin to pack. Sadly. Wistfully. We were almost done when I saw that it was 8pm. Parade of Flags! We need to see this! We dropped everything and fled back to the Centrum.

I thought this would be the hokiest event EVER. It really looked like it would be. I rolled my eyes as my GenX people do. Whatever. Let's watch this. You know what's coming, right? Because you've all seen this before.

It. Was. So. Fun. We really enjoyed the dancing interludes and the love and pride the crew has for the countries they are from. (USA's dance was to Cotton Eyed Joe which, okay fine.) When the Cruise Director Michelle said if the over 800 crew members from over 50-some countries can work together and be a family, so could we all, I got a little choked up. Let's all be nice to each other. We all want food, love, warmth - that should be more than enough to overlook whether or not I voted for that candidate or that the lady over there wears a headscarf or that other weird person thinks chocolate covered bananas are awful. I'm glad we took the time to see it and still feel guilty for mocking it prematurely.

We finished packing, put the bags out, and went back to the photo store. Turns out that the digital package is a computer program that allows me to pick 4 photos to download once I go home. Perfect. The best hard decision is a postponed one. After that good news we went to the Spotlight Lounge to watch another round of karaoke. I collected my final drink of the day, the Citrus Cooler. We had 14 fantastic performances and one guy who drank too much and wanted attention. I will listen to people sing off key all night as long as they're trying in earnest. But when Drunky McLookAtMe tries to be cute, I'm done. On the positive side, there was a young German couple who sang "Stumbling In" ("Our love is alive, and so we begin...") perfectly and got a standing ovation. When we went back to our cabin, they were rebroadcasting the Parade of Flags on the RCI channel so we watched it again. Mom told me this was the best vacation she ever had and thanked me for planning it and I cried because I'm a giant baby. 

It was a great end to a long day and a beautiful cruise.

Day 4: A++


Day 5 - the Saddening: 

Since our departure time was slated for 9:10am, I set my alarm for 7. We were awake before that though, because at 2am I realized I packed my keys into the big suitcase that I left out last night and what if the bag doesn't make it to Philadelphia and my keys aren't there and how will I get home and I don't want to call my husband and say the keys are lost and .. and ... and... That kind of put a damper on my sleep quality for the rest of the night.   At 6:30 Mom and I sat in the dark in our cabin as we glided by Miami's pink and blue lights and docked for the last time of our cruise. SIGH. 

Mom went up to the Windjammer to get a table (good plan, it was crowded) and I went to pick up my photo DVD and get boarding passes printed out.

When I got up to the Windjammer it was bedlam. As God is my witness it was like nobody was going to EVER eat again. People were running and grabbing and stacking plates high with food. It's a freaking hashbrown, people - they sell them at McDonald's. Get a grip. Of course with all of the chaos, people were spilling things left and right and the floor was dive-bar-level sticky. Mom had her usual gluten-free grub. Two truths and a lie: To fit in I had 3 pieces of that sweet bread, 5 pieces of chocolate covered banana and did a keg stand at the orange juice dispenser. 

After that we walked the pool deck one last time. We went to the Spotlight Lounge at 9:00 and at 9:10 we were processed off of the ship and into the terminal. Something happened with Customs and we waited an extra 30 minutes before being able to get downstairs to the baggage carousels. I found the bags without a problem, and we got into the other line to be cleared by the Customs agent. Which made us late for the shuttle from the port to Ft. Lauderdale airport, but gave me time to feel through my bag and find my keys. All of the fruit that people collected during the morning's breakfastpocolypse ended up abandoned.

The ground transportation area of the terminal was loud and crowded and chaotic. We ended up on the 10:30 Miami Port Express shuttle.  Major props to them, because they kept in touch with me though all the delays. The FLL -> MCO -> PHL flights went without a hitch, and on the flight I typed out Day 4's blog post and scrolled through pictures. Sadly. Wistfully.

Got back to PHL, found our bags, shoved onto the Economy Parking shuttle, got to the car (oh crap I only have 1/8 tank gas left thanks Past Kim for leaving me this mess), stopped at the nearest gas station (Wawa, and this Jersey girl DOES pump gas when she has to), headed back to Jersey, dropped off Mom, went home. And here I am, filled up on husband hugs and on the sofa with two happy, snoring spaniels in my lap.  The suitcase needs to be unpacked but I am tan and happy and sleepy and ... sober.

Day 5: B-. Points off for being told we had to get off of the ship.

****

THANK YOU for all the compliments.  This was a fun exercise to help me remember and document this amazing trip. And also it's my thank you gift back to this community. I have a rough list of of takeaways that I'll come back and post in a few days.

This was truly one of the funniest pieces of writing I have read in a long time. Kudos to you! I look forward to hearing about future adventures.

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I laughed,  I cried!   I think we need to chip in to send you on anther cruise.   You managed to find all the humor and fun of the cruise... and to be able to ignore the bad!   Start planning your next one...it gets you through that first week when you actually have to make your own meals lol.  Jane

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I can see it two weeks from now...

@kimberussell has gotten over the buzzkill of getting off the ship for the last time. She's finally back into her routine, and has some friends over for dinner Saturday. She serves them a new soup they've never had before, and all rave about it.

An hour later, as they're sitting and chatting, one of them comments, "I think I'm buzzed from this soup."

And @kimberussell smiles quietly to herself.

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Final Takeaways: 

Dress Code: I sweat this WAY too much. People were wearing swimsuits in Windjammer (I think as long as men wear shirts and women cover their bottoms it was allowed), shorts and polo shirts in MDR, and on formal night it looked like at least 1/3 of the MDR skipped it altogether. For formal night I was going to bring a fancy dress that I wore to a few weddings this year, but it wrinkles easily and I didn't want to fret about getting it pressed. Instead, I brought my trusty little black dress which is actually from Eastern Mountain Sports and is made of yoga pant material. Accessorized with a large scarf and bangin' shoes, it fit right in. The maxidresses I left home because I thought they would be seen as sloppy were just right for all of the other events.  As far as swimsuits go, I wore a 2-piece tankini and a strappy-cute one-piece and STILL felt like Hester Prynne at times. 

Room: A large Ocean View cabin is completely fine for 2 people. I didn't even open up the package of magnetic hooks - everything we brought fit in the closet and drawers without a problem. My only quibble was with the shower, because no matter how I tried I ended up wetting the floor. I didn't use the drybags for our phones because at Coco Cay our chairs were right near the waterline. We also had the concierge nearby so I never felt unsafe leaving my stuff there. 

Food and Drink: The drink package would have been a waste of money for me. Even with a mimosa, glass of wine, and drink of the day specials, I was under the daily amount, and with the new rules in place that make both roommates buy the drink package it would have been a HUGE waste. My favorite specialty drink: Coco Loco. Least favorite: Royal Lemonade. The food in Windjammer and MDR was fantastic and I don't feel like I missed out on anything by skipping Chops.

The cane: Everyone was very accommodating to Mom, pulling us to the front of lines, letting us take elevators for muster and immigration lines, etc. When elevators were crowded, our fellow passengers were kind enough to wait and let her on first. (I kept taking the stairs to work off the drinks and breads.) The kindness wasn't exclusive to RCI -- TSA agents, airport employees, immigration & customs agents all went out of their way to make her trip easier and I am ever thankful. 

Enchantment of the Seas: What a great ship! I think it was just the right size for us, and frankly the pictures I've seen of the larger ships are intimidating! Yes, she's showing a little wear, but no worse than any hotel would after a few years. Our dresser drawers were stiff, and the public restrooms have seen better days. We are definitely going to take another RCI cruise, but I don't know when it'll fit into my schedule. I already have a non-cruise vacation with my husband planned for next October, and I really need to visit my father (in FL, not a hardship) after the new year.

Familial status: Thanks to this cruise, I think I'm solidly the favorite child until my sister-in-law brings Mom's second grandchild into the world next year. It's good to be Queen!

Day1Sail.jpg

(Mom and me. I'm on the left.)

And one more time: Thank you for the encouragement and kind words. They will buoy me through this bout of post-cruise, mimosa-free depression. 

Edited by kimberussell
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...
On ‎10‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 3:16 PM, kimberussell said:

Totally gorgeous! We stood in the Centrum for a while, overwhelmed. Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed with people and some typically crappy tourist behavior, like taking over tables with suitcases and camping there until the cabins opened. Boo

This is why we reserved Chops for our cruise we took 2 weeks ago on Enchantment.

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