Fine array of activities offered in kids' and teens' programs
For-fee group babysitting offered for kids ages 6 months to 3 years
Busy casino with bar where smoking is allowed (con for some)
Older ship that’s showing some wear and tear
Lacking the theme park-style attractions of the fleet's newer ships
Just two specialty restaurants; no Asian or Italian dining venues
No sports court (just a jogging track), and small fitness center
Buffet can get crowded, and room service costs a fee
The 2,440-passenger Enchantment of the Seas isn't flashy, but it offers an affordable, reliably fun classic cruise experience. The ship was built in 1997 and is showing its age -- you'll see worn balcony railings, chipped paint, rust spots, and other cosmetic blemishes. The food, entertainment, and activities are dependable, if a bit limited -- there are only two specialty restaurants, for example, and no real big-ticket attractions beyond a small rock-climbing wall and bungee trampoline. (Those seeking theme park-style attractions should consider larger and pricier ships in Royal Caribbean's Quantum class or Oasis class.) Interior Staterooms are snug (if about average for the industry), and showers are tight. Features include three pools -- including an adult-only option in a covered Solarium -- a small gym, spa with relaxation room, and kids' and teens' clubs.
What's Included (and What's Not)
Cruise fares include all the items that are now standard among mass-market lines, with several additional activities and items available to pay as you go. Prices cover nightly entertainment, a nice variety of food in the main dining room and at the buffet, and the kids' programs (though group babysitting for ages 6 months to 3 years incurs a fee). The ship also features a rock-climbing wall and Jump Zone attraction that are free to use when they are open.
Cruisers on Enchantment of the Seas pay extra for excursions, meals at either of the ship’s two specialty restaurants (Chops Grille and Chef’s Table -- $35 per person and $85 per person for dinner, respectively), spa treatments, alcoholic drinks and sodas (see info on drinks packages in the drinks section), Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and premium coffees.
To stay connected, Enchantment of the Seas offers two tiers for its internet packages. The Surf program allows you to surf the web, share photos on social media, and read email. The Surf and Stream package features high-speed Wi-Fi with full streaming capabilities, so you can watch Netflix or use Skype. The Surf program starts at $12.99 per day for one device, if purchased onboard for every day of the cruise, or $19.99 per day per device for a single-day pass. Prices go down slightly per device for cruisers who purchase a package the covers multiple devices at once (it's $9.99 per device, per day if you buy a plan for four devices for the duration of the cruise). The Surf and Stream package is $17.99 per day, per device for a single device, and also has options for multiple devices. Note that you get a big discount when you purchase before your cruise. If you purchase a package for a single device, you can still switch between devices if you log out, but you can only use one device at a time.
Gratuities are $13.50 per passenger per day for Junior Suites and below, and $16.50 per person per day for those in suites. This money goes to staffers who wait on you at dinner and those who take care of your cabin. You can adjust your gratuities by visiting guest services on the ship at any time.
Offering affordable cruises (typically with shortish itineraries), Enchantment of the Seas is filled with a mix of travelers of all ages, including first-time cruisers, families, and honeymooners. There's also a diverse blend of nationalities; more than 30 countries were represented on our four-day sailing to the Bahamas and Key West. The cruise director hailed from Brazil, and during the Welcome Aboard show, gave information in three languages: English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The daily activities program focuses on music, ranging from salsa lessons, to DJ mixes, to music trivia, to dance parties, to the live music performances in the main theater and lounges. On our sailing, we met passengers committed to having a great time, such as a couple from Wisconsin who jumped into the “Finish the Lyric” music contest held in the ship’s atrium area, Centrum. They were honeymooners and first-time cruisers and picked Enchantment for its itinerary and price. And they weren't the only ones celebrating. Everywhere there seemed to be plenty of cruisers commemorating festive occasions such as weddings and birthdays. We heard wait staff sing “Happy Birthday” at four tables within 30 minutes during one of our dinners in the main dining room. The convivial atmosphere was never obnoxious, and many cruisers were quick to make new friends. Dress is cruise casual, and the ship holds a formal night that encourages passengers to get decked out.
Enchantment of the Seas has good flow from one end to the other, with no real confusing corridors or dead ends to deal with. One caveat, though: You do have to walk through the corridor for passenger cabins on Deck 4 when moving from the front of the ship toward the R Bar and Centrum atrium area. Passengers will likely learn their way around quickly, and might be lucky enough to only encounter wait times at elevators during the ship’s typical busy times (such as embarking and disembarking). We didn't have to deal with lines at the buffet, but breakfast in particular might get busy depending on the sailing.
Royal Caribbean is known for its focus on adventure and thrilling amenities, especially with its new mega-ships. Enchantment of the Seas, though, is one of the line's oldest ships and will disappoint cruisers looking for wow factor. The ship has a couple simple attractions: a small rock-climbing wall and a Jump Zone bungee trampoline. It's part of the line's Vision class, and was built in 1997; its last major refurbishment was in 2005, though it received maintenance in a late 2012 dry dock and will have another dry dock at the end of 2017. Grandeur of the Seas is its sister ship and the most similar option in the fleet.
In addition to lacking big-ticket features, Enchantment of the Seas also has a limited choice of dining venues. But overall, the ship is like a comfortable pair of shoes. It's definitely a bit scuffed, but it provides a reliably fun experience.
Functional but dated rooms and small entry-level cabins
The standard cabins on Enchantment of the Seas are comfy enough but not fancy. They are decorated in shades of green and brown, and have basic light wood furnishings and cream-colored walls. All have desks, flat-screen TVs, and lots of drawer and closet space. Bottled water and snacks are available for sale, and mini-fridges can be found in all but the Interior and Large Interior Cabins. One minor inconvenience is that there is no master light switch, so you have to turn on lights in each section of the cabin. The rooms have U.S. and European plugs but no USB outlets.
Bathrooms have small sinks, a set of tiny shelves, and tube-shaped showers with curtains. You'll find just two bars of soap and a dispenser labeled as a 2-in-1 shampoo in the shower (we think it's a shampoo/body gel combo). Either way, you might want to pack your own toiletries if you are at all picky, and no moisturizer or conditioner is provided. Our shower was a tight fit.
We could easily hear conversations in the room next door but not much hallway noise. The ship's age is revealed in some noticeable wear and tear throughout. In our Balcony Cabin, the balcony railings were rough with barely a trace of shiny varnish remaining.
The Interior Cabins are a snug 136 square feet, which is about as small as cabins get on the seas (outside of the ships that offer cabins for solo travelers). The other main categories are Oceanview, Balcony, and Suite (each with a number of subcategories). Many rooms have additional Pullman-style beds or sofa beds. The Superior Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony fits up to five, as does the Accessible Large Ocean View Stateroom, whereas most other cabin types fit four. Note that cabins in the Oceanview and Suite categories have shower/tub combos rather than just showers, and top-tier suites have separate tubs and showers. The top cabin is the Royal Suite (sleeping eight), with 1,087 square feet of interior space, a 161 square-foot balcony, a baby grand piano, and a whirlpool tub. Connecting cabins are available, and there are accessible cabins available in all categories.
A well-run buffet but limited specialty dining options
Enchantment of the Seas has one main dining room: the two-level My Fair Lady. It’s a pretty room, with panoramic window views at the aft of the ship, rich browns and saffron yellows, a shiny chandelier, and a large statue of Eliza Doolittle, the "fair lady" herself. Diners can choose early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) seating, or My Time Dining, which allows you to show up any time between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and join a table with others (or you can ask for a table for two if you want a private experience). The main dining room also serves seated lunches and breakfasts.
Menus follow a nightly theme, such as Mojo (with many dishes featuring Caribbean sauces and marinades) and Pimiento (where menu items highlighted chili peppers). We enjoyed a juicy pork chop for one dinner, and passengers could always choose from seafood and vegetarian selections. There's also always a lineup of classics available every night -- think roast chicken, fish, and N.Y. strip steak with baked potato and broccoli. Desserts were excellent, especially the chocolate bar (a moist cake) and the everyday chocolate cake with fudge icing.
For casual buffet dining, the Windjammer is smartly organized with separate stations for breads, salads, and desserts. Other items also get their own stations, like Mediterranean specialties and grilled items such as burgers, hot dogs, and fries at lunchtime. For breakfast, these same islands are used for separate areas for breads, fresh fruits, hot items like pancakes and waffles, and a section for beans, hard-boiled eggs, salmon, potatoes, sausage, bacon, and scrambled eggs. The stations are interspersed throughout the Windjammer to keep lines small and allow people to quickly move right to the food they are seeking.
Two omelet stations are set up for breakfast. Lines were never long for omelets and cooked-to-order eggs -- but they moved very slowly. At dinnertime, foods are organized under a theme, like Mexican Night with tacos and quesadillas, or Asian flavors, with rice, beef kofta, and Indian dishes. The buffet also offers sushi each night. The buffet food was arguably on par with offerings at the main dining room, and we saw large numbers of people eating dinner in Windjammer.
Park Cafe in the Solarium is a nice spot to grab a snack or lighter meal. It offers pressed sandwiches, cookies, pre-made salads, and a salad bar; pizza is reliably available, including late at night, when passengers will also typically find burgers and hot dogs. For breakfast here, expect parfaits, eggs Benedict, and fresh fruits.
The ship’s coffee shop Café Latte-tudes sells Starbucks coffee and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It also has available free light bites like small roast beef or ham and cheese sandwiches and a selection of sweet treats like chocolate cake, parfaits, and cookies. You can also get ice cream at a self-serve machine in the Lido Deck area.
The Chef's Table is an upscale specialty dining experience set in a dedicated room, featuring a five-course meal with wine pairings and explanation of each course from a chef. Chops Grille, the only other specialty restaurant, is a steakhouse; note that dry-aged steaks come with a surcharge beyond the $35 per person fee. Chops is also open for lunch for $19 per person.
Room service for anything but continental breakfast comes with a $7.95 service charge (unlike Carnival, where several items are free). We tried the dinner menu, which offers salads, a bacon cheeseburger, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and comfort foods like chicken wings and tenders. Alas, the food we received was missing some of its key elements: The wings had no buffalo sauce and our Greek salad lacked feta.
Three pool bars, plus a handful of indoor lounges where activities take place
The ship features eight bars and lounges. The Lido Deck is served by the Pool Bar and Oasis, while Solarium Bar covers the adult-only indoors swimming pool. Schooner Bar, Viking Crown Lounge, Boleros, and R Bar (in the ship's Centrum hub) are the popular hangouts indoors. While some of the bars have a distinct theme (Boleros is a Latin lounge and Schooner Bar is nautical), passengers are not typically drawn to these venues for any type of specific beverage or entertainment. Rather, many cruisers follow the ship's daily program from lounge to lounge to play trivia or bingo, listen to live music, or take part in dance lessons while enjoying their drinks.
The casino has a small bar with four TVs; it serves as the ship's sports bar, and on our sailing it got packed one night as fans clamored to watch the NBA Finals game between the Warriors and Cavaliers.
Apart from tap water, iced tea, lemonade, basic coffee, hot chocolate packets, and milk, beverages incur an extra fee. Passengers can save on a la carte prices by purchasing a beverage package. The Deluxe Beverage Package ($55 per person per day), Refreshment Package ($26 per person per day), and Classic Soda Package ($8.50 per person per day). The Deluxe Beverage Package includes all drinks up to a $12 value. The Refreshment Package is for coffees, sodas, bottled water, and juices. In the soda package, sodas are served by the glass -- or you can have your souvenir tumbler (included when you buy a soda package) refilled -- at the bars. You can also serve yourself at Coca-Cola Freestyle machines located at Cafe Latte-tudes and in the Windjammer. Note that drinks packages cannot be shared, but unlike Carnival, not all adults in a stateroom need to purchase an alcoholic drinks package if one adult does.
Cruisers are not allowed to bring any beverages onboard with the exception of two 750-ml bottles of wine per stateroom on embarkation day. (Drink those bottles in your cabin; otherwise you’ll incur a $15 corkage fee per bottle.) Any other wine or liquor bought in ports along the voyage will be stored by the ship and delivered to the stateroom on the last day of the sailing.
The production shows are consistently good on Enchantment of the Seas. The Orpheum main theater seats 870, with green and gold cushioned chairs that are slightly reclined. It's a comfortable and attractive venue with good sight lines throughout its two levels, and the performers make efficient use of a smallish stage with limited space for props to deliver fun music-driven performances.
On our sailing, "Stage to Screen" offered a tribute to Broadway musicals. The ship's singers and dancers performed popular movie musical numbers from All That Jazz, Chicago, and Little Shop of Horrors to a full house. The cast also did another tribute-style show called "Can't Stop the Rock." The entertainment program also included a Welcome Aboard Show, a comedian offering late-night adult shows, and Las Vegas entertainer Tony Tillman, a high-energy singer and dancer, who had the audience laughing and joining in on songs.
Each night, the ship’s Centrum is the place to be to enjoy music and dancing activities like a Latin Fiesta, 70s Disco Street Party, and Dancing Under the Stars Pool Party. The program does well to incorporate the theme of the party into other events throughout the day, with warm-up salsa dance classes or trivia events highlighting disco music.
Other activities covered typical cruise entertainment. Cruisers on Enchantment of the Seas turned up and had a good time at the Love and Marriage Game Show, Battle of the Sexes, trivia competitions, and adult scavenger hunt.
Shoppers should wait to the end of the cruise to find the best deals. The stores roll out merchandise in the Shops of Centrum (a nice promenade area with good flow on Deck 6) and give up to 75 percent off items like watches, diamonds, jewelry, and clothing. Brands available onboard include Tag Heuer and Tissot (for watches), Royal Caribbean logo items, Tortuga Rum Cake Co., and Solera perfumes and cosmetics.
The ship's Casino Royale is large and was extremely busy during our cruise. Players kept the blackjack and craps tables busy, and many others worked the rows of slots. It was a natural gathering area after dinner for those who like to gamble. Smokers also use the casino as it’s the lone indoor space where smoking is allowed, although the casino has a nonsmoking section, too.
Relaxing uncrowded spaces indoors or out to take a dip, watch a movie, or savor the sunshine.
Enchantment of the Seas features three pools, two outdoors on the Lido Deck (Deck 9) and one in the covered Solarium. One of the pools on the Lido Deck is split by a railing that segregates a 1-foot-deep kids' pool from the 5-foot-deep regular area. There is also a small kiddy splash zone with a decorative sprinkler water feature that looks like a small silver dome covered with coral, blue, gray, and yellow rocks. The main swimming pools have two attached hot tubs that fit four comfortably, but you might be able to squeeze in six adults. The hot tubs have attractive sun canopies over them, with curved chrome posts and white stretched canvas. The overall decor of the Lido Deck stands out because of its modern look, with features like curved bridges and steel arches painted white looming above from Deck 10.
A good amount of sun loungers ring the pool deck. There were always plenty of available seats on our cruise because we were in ports each day, and most cruisers were off the ship at least part of the day. We chatted with a few passengers who found the pools refreshing and uncrowded, although they also thought the hot tubs were a little too cool.
The Lido Deck is the location for a Royal Caribbean favorite -- the International Bellyflop Championship -- which is one of the ship's best-attended events and one of its most boisterous. Passengers hang in the pools and hot tubs, and parents watch children in the nearby kids' areas. Ping-pong tables and bean bag toss areas are located on the pool deck (a ping-pong tournament is another popular draw). You also can find shuffleboard on Deck 10. You’ll see people lazily playing these games throughout the day as a fun diversion, with drinks in hand.
The Solarium, also on Deck 9 but separated from the outdoor pools by an elevator bank, is the place to be to escape the heat. The covered area is air conditioned, and the scene is typically far more serene than at the the two outdoor pools. It's a good spot to read or play a game of cards in between quick dips into the lightly used pool and hot tubs. The Solarium is closer to the spa, while the outdoor pools are closer to the buffet.
The ship lacks newer Royal Caribbean favorites like an ice skating rink or the FlowRider surfing and boogie boarding simulator. But it offers a rock climbing wall (Deck 10 aft) and is one of the few ships with the bungee Jump Zone trampoline area. At the front of the ship on Deck 10, four platforms allow passengers to strap into harnesses attached to stretched-out bungee lines and get catapulted into the sky. You get cool views while airborne, but the experience will tire you out (and probably bore you) in a few minutes as you jump and jump and jump on the trampoline -- flips are not allowed.
A smallish gym but a spacious, attractive spa with a full menu of treatments
The fitness area, Shipshape Center, is small compared with the facilities on newer cruise ships. This makes for tight quarters during the busy mornings when most passengers are trying to work out. Passengers who worked out at the busy times with us had to make adjustments on the fly to adapt their series of exercises because of space constraints. There is no dedicated cardio studio, and spin classes and other group sessions take place on an open floor near the entrance to the gym. The small free weight area offers dumbbells that go up to 70 pounds (the 65 pound weights were missing on our cruise) and three weight benches that passengers often must wait to use or share with others. The cardio equipment wraps around the area with views out the back of the ship on Deck 10. Some of the resistance-training machines are tightly packed in around the treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. There are no rowing machines or stair-steppers.
Fitness classes include free morning abs and stretch classes and for-fee classes like spin and yoga, as well as personal training. The gym is virtually inaccessible to people with mobility issues. It must be entered through the spa on Deck 9, and gym-goers must climb a staircase. You can also enter from the outside Deck 10 area through either of two doors that also require you to step over a high threshold (about 14 inches) to enter the fitness center.
The running track on Deck 10 is best used in the mornings before the ship’s climbing wall opens. Because of an ongoing maintenance update to the ship's emissions systems, the course has been routed all the way to the back of the ship and through gates that are closed when people are climbing. Otherwise, you can run almost-complete circuits -- changing directions back and forth on the track.
The spa offers six treatment rooms and two large massage rooms. The treatment menu includes options like Swedish massages, couples massages, and bathing rituals. Other services include barbering for men, hair and nails, waxing, acupuncture, and facials. The main spa area has hardwood floors and pleasant wood finishes throughout, and the treatment rooms have large windows to allow in natural light. Passengers who book a treatment can use the spa’s relaxation room for the entire day; it's a space with wide-open scenic window views, comfortable seats, and a refreshment station with fruit-flavored waters. The spa offers free seminars daily and a slew of packages and promotions designed to entice you to book a treatment or series of treatments.
Free kids' club and teens' club, plus for-fee group sitting for babies and tots
Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean program covers six separate age groups: Royal Babies and Tots (6 months to 3 years), Aquanauts (3 to 5), Explorers (6 to 8), Voyagers (9 to 11), and two groups for teens (12 to 14 and 15 to 17). The Royal Babies and Tots nursery program incurs a fee, and the facility is open until midnight. The nursery also offers "open free play" time for parents to spend time with their little ones at the facility. There is a free toy lending program, and the nursery uses programming and toys designed by Fisher Price and Crayola.
For the other age groups, staffers run age-appropriate games and activities like relay races, crafts, and dance-offs for the younger kids, who can be dropped off at the Adventure Ocean facility when it opens each morning (usually 8 a.m.). Because of the small facility, activities for Explorers and Voyagers are combined on Enchantment of the Seas. On our sailing, there were few teens and tweens, so those two age groups were also combined. Teens have their own hangout room, Fuel, where they can come and go as they please. No food or drink is allowed in Fuel, which hosts parties every night.
The ship has an arcade (an hour of free play is offered to the kids on the first day), and kids can also enjoy rock climbing, the Jump Zone, scavenger hunts, ping-pong tournaments, video competitions, and other activities like scrapbooking.
Cruisers 17 and younger are subject to a ship curfew of 1 a.m. In-room babysitting (8 p.m. to 2 a.m.) is available for a fee, and parents also can have their kids participate in the late-night party zone in Adventure Ocean from 10 p.m. to 2 .am. (for a fee).
Adventure Dining allows kids 3 to 11 to eat pizza and french fries with the Adventure Ocean staff at Windjammer Cafe. Also, My Time Family Dining lets kids start dinner with their parents in My Fair Lady, but the little ones will finish within 40 minutes and staffers will swing by to pick them up and take them to Adventure Ocean to play while grownups finish a more relaxed dinner. Sign up is required for Adventure Dining and My Time Family Dining.
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