Western Caribbean Cruise 2005

Nick & I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas November 21-26, 2005. The cruise was a 5 night Western itinerary, ports of call included Key West, Cozumel, Belize. We splurged and decided to get a Jr. Suite balcony stateroom on deck 8. This was my 6th cruise, thus making me a Platinum cruiser with RCI. I learned 2 valuable things on this cruise. 1) don’t go on a holiday sailing!!!!! 2) less than 7 day cruises AREN’T the same as 7+ day cruises!

Let me explain a bit further. We sailed over Thanksgiving, a good idea at first glance. It was a packed cruise; I’ve never seen so many people on a cruise before! Many of these people were with their families and extended families so it seems fighting and emotional tempers were an issue . . . I saw so many unhappy people. This mood rubbed off on me and the ship employees. The employees all seemed annoyed, frustrated, and not very friendly. To top it off, there were hundreds of children (around 700 to be exact). Young children running all over the ship. Literally. I paid a lot of money for a jr. suite, but it was located midship on deck 8. Right under the pool deck, deck 9. All day and surprisingly all night I heard running feet pounding overhead. DON’T EVER GET A ROOM BELOW THE POOL DECK!

In regards to lesson #2- I’ve discovered that out of my last 6 cruises, the most enjoyable ones were the 7 day cruises. My 3 day cruise and my 5 day cruise were noticeably different. The mood, the food, the menu selection, the caliber of guests, the service, everything was better on my longer cruises. Don’t know why. 

PORTS OF CALL: High winds prevented us from docking in Key West. However, the skies cleared up and the 50 mph winds died down so we DID get to Cozumel and Belize. The skies were cloudless and the temps were in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s. We tendered at Cozumel and Belize. In Cozumel and Belize you must get a tender ticket if you’re not on an RCI tour. Those can be picked up at the Art Desk. All the RCI tours are boarded first, and then the tender numbers are called over the loudspeaker. They WILL check your ticket.

COZUMEL: WOW. What a difference a hurricane can make. This poor city was hit hard, but has bounced RIGHT back. Many shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions are open. We hired a taxi right outside the shopping pier. We decided to head to Paradise Beach ($12 cab ride)to enjoy the beautiful azure water and Mexican hospitality. We're all dressed up for formal nightThe lounge chairs and umbrellas are free of charge, but the water toys and ice berg cost $8 bucks pp for the day. Waiters are assigned to your lounge chairs and they are very prompt. I got a yard sized margarita for $12 and my husband got a bucket of 5 Mexican beers for $12. They have bathroom facilities in a trailer and a restaurant onsite. They only accept cash or travelers checks right now as their credit card machine is not yet online since the storm. Later in the day we went to Panchos Backyard to eat yummy quesadillas and fajitas and shopped at Los Cincos for vanilla extract and miscellaneous stocking stuffers.

BELIZE: We took RCI’S Aerial Trek and Cave tubing tour. It’s expensive, about 130 pp, but worth every dime!! It’s the best tour I’ve EVER been on! It combines 2 great excursions, zipline and tubing. They feed you chicken, rice & beans for lunch and offer coke and water. The bus ride to Jaguar Resort is 1 1/2 hours, but is fully narrated. I HIGHLY recommend it. I must admit I was hesitant about hanging high in the air from a mere cord. However, safety at Jaguar Park comes first and I felt very safe. Zipline platforms in BelizeThe zipline run consists of 7 platforms and the runs themselves are not terribly long. I high recommend this zipline for beginners and folks of all ages. The cave tubing portion of the day was a nice change of pace. Nick & I rented some aqua socks (tip: bring your own!) before following our guide through the rainforest. The hike lasted about 20 minutes. Then we followed the guide into the river at the entrance of the cave system. We were given headlamps to wear inside the cave since there is NO natural light. The experience was amazing. The current was quite strong and we did not need to paddle with our arms (except to steer away from the cave walls and rocks). Nick & I agree that this excursion was the best of ALL our past excursions.

FOOD: I found service to be slow and the menu not attractive. I went on the Splendour in October, so I was always comparing the food on this cruise to the food on that cruise. The food on the Splendour was AMAZING and the Enchantment disappointed me. I enjoyed the Apple & Squash soup, the Roasted Garlic Soup, the Chicken stuffed with brie and proscuitto, the Grand Marnier Souffle, and the Ham Thanksgiving dinner. That’s about it. Didn’t try the speciality restaurant Chops. We DEFINITELY will on our next cruise.

SHOWS: HORRIBLE! We wanted to walk out on the 1 we did attend. We watched the others in replay on the TV. The first night was comedian Tom TcTigue. His jokes weren’t funny and he rarely even got a sympathy laugh from the audience. I felt embarrassed for him. On day 4 the headliner was Billy Fellows, a comedian and vocal singer. He, too, wasn’t funny. He did some great impressions, but his songs, while original, weren’t even chuckle worthy. He did a video montage at the end about American pride and THAT WAS GOOD.

DRINKS OF THE DAY: They change daily and cost $4.25. The bon voyage on day 1 and the margarita on day 3 were excellent. Keep in mind drinks are expensive. A mere glass of house wine will cost 9 dollars.

EMBARKATION: Quick & Easy. We had a suite, so we jumped the line. Our luggage appeared about 1 1/2 hours later.

DISEMBARKATION: A MAD HOUSE!!! I counted 6 ships in port that day. We had Red luggage tags (for flight leaving btwn 12-3pm). We had to be out of our room at 8am. Our tags were called just after 10am. The taxi line was a mess and some guy just grabbed one of our suitcases after we told him we needed to go to the airport. He loaded it on a van with a group of others… so we asked him how much. He said 20 pp!! We said no way and he threw our bag out of the van cursing under his breath. We hailed a cab and made it to the airport for $15 total.

The ship was very nice, but too crowded. I didn’t get to enjoy the post stretched Enchantment as much as I would liked to since everything was so packed. The Centrum was packed every night with people waiting in line for photos or waiting to get in the dining room.

In conclusion, I was disappointed. If this cruise had not been a holiday sailing I’m sure it would have been much better!

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