Written by Todd Thrun.
I have always loved cruising, so when it was time to take our summer vacation, my son Scott and I came to the quick decision that a cruise was in order. We chose Royal Caribbean’s “Enchantment of the Seas”. Christened in 1997, this 74,000 ton beauty leaves Ft. Lauderdale and sails the Western Caribbean. The ship can accommodate 2446 passengers and is a bit smaller that the latest “mega-ships” of Royal Caribbean. When you first board the ship you are struck by the soaring seven-deck atrium. The entire ship is stunningly decorated with floors of living plants, soft leathers and muted wood tones. Over a million dollars was spent on Enchantment’s art collection that adorns every deck of the ship. As with all Royal Caribbean ships, the cruise staff was accessible, friendly, and energetic. The emphasis is on casual fun, and the ship exudes class without a feeling of stuffiness. Our standard cabin was surprisingly large, and had ample storage space. The most recognized public room on board was the signature Viking Crown Lounge that sits atop the Centrum, and is accessible by its glass elevators. The lounge has a fantastic panoramic view of the ocean, and is the “in” spot at night with lively music and dancing. The ship also has two other larger lounges, the Carousel and the Fascinating Rhythm, which host bingo, smaller shows, and many theme parties. Another favorite public room was the “Royal Caribbean Online” Internet Lounge, which offers real time access to the web 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fifty cents per minute. Additional public areas include a shopping arcade, with 3 large duty free stores, a well-stocked library with reading area, a card/game room, and conference facilities.
Dining on board was a treat. The service and cuisine exceeded our expectations. The food was hearty, good and plentiful. The main dining room was split into 2 deck levels, and offered beautiful views as you dined. The waiters never missed a beat, and catered to your every whim or request. If you preferred a more casual setting, you could have your meals in the Windjammer Café. We usually ate breakfast and lunch there in a buffet style setting. You could also order room service in your cabin 24 hours a day. The outside decks were always bustling with activity, however you still could find quiet, out of the way places to soak up the sun. We spent our days walking, playing shuffleboard, ping-pong, and miniature golf. There were always fun things planned around the pool, such as horse racing, belly flop contests, and ice carving. There was also nonstop music on deck by a fabulous reggae band. We loved our time on the ship, but really enjoyed our ports of call.
We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale and arrived into Key West the following morning. This was my second time there, but Scott’s first. Our first stop there was the Mel Fisher Museum. This museum highlights the career of treasure hunter Mel Fisher, who discovered the famous Spanish shipwreck, the Atochia. He recovered over 200 million dollars in gold, silver, and jewels, many which are on display. You can even touch and lift a real gold bar taken from the sunken ship! We then went to the “Little White House” where president Harry S. Truman spent much of his time. We spent the rest of the day shopping and exploring the town. The next day we arrived in Cozumel , Mexico. This island has long been a favorite of sun-seekers from around the world. After doing some souvenir shopping, we took a snorkeling tour of the underwater National Park. The water was crystal clear, and the bright coral and abundant marine life were astounding. Our next stop was just down the coast, Costa Maya. This is a very small town, and the ship really stops there to accommodate people who are interested in touring the Mayan ruins. After visiting the town, Scott and I decided to spend the rest of our day on board. Our next day was spent at sea, which gave us more time to enjoy all the shipboard activities. Our last stop was Grand Cayman. This British colony was the favorite stop for most people. The shopping is great, and there were many shore excursions that you could take advantage of. We enjoyed snorkeling so much in Cozumel that we decided to go again in Cayman. We took a tour that went to “Cheeseburger Reef” and then went on to visit a real shipwreck. That was the highlight of the tour as we explored the ship on the ocean’s floor. After one more full day at sea, we found ourselves pulling back in to the pier at Ft. Lauderdale. The time seemed to fly by so quickly. Needless to say, we had the time of our lives, and we can hardly wait until we set sail again.