Enchantment of the Seas

Key West and Cozumel cruise, May 2006

 

Lee was going to be turning 40 this year. I am a strong believer that milestone birthdays need to be celebrated in a big way. Originally, I thought I might take Lee to Las Vegas for his birthday. He had mentioned several times that he wanted to see the Celine Dion show at Caesar’s Palace. I did some checking, and since the tickets for that show did not go on sale until a few months before, it became quite problematic to plan. If I booked the flight and hotel, there might not be tickets for the show. If I bought the show tickets ahead of time, I might not get a good priced flight or hotel room. We had just returned from our cruise on Constellation, which was a lot of fun. We are officially addicted to cruising. So for his birthday, why not take a cruise? I did some research and found a four-day cruise on Enchantment of the Seas, out of Fort Lauderdale. The dates were perfect for his birthday. I thought this might be an appropriate way to celebrate Lee’s 40th birthday.
We were at a party in late January, and ran into a couple guys that I had met a few times before. One of the guys had just turned 40 the previous spring and told a great story about how his partner had surprised him with a trip to London and a two-week cruise on the Queen Mary. He had no idea what was planned, it wasn’t until they pulled into the port in Northampton that he even realized what was going on. Lee listened to this story with great interest and told me at the end “I’m turning 40 this year too, you know”! “Yeah, yeah”, I thought to myself, “you’ll get a cruise, but don’t think it’s two weeks on the Queen Mary”!
Lee is the concierge in our relationship, it was very intimidating to book travel without consulting him. He always knows the best fares, the best cabins, the best hotel deals. I had to make all the arrangements myself and I was worried about doing something wrong. Of course, I had previously done all my own travel arrangements for years without a problem, but it was still worrisome. I booked the cruise through iCruise.com. The timing was great since US Airways was having a seat sale at that point in time as well. Finding a reasonable hotel for the night before the cruise proved more difficult as most places in Fort Lauderdale were quite expensive for that time period. I booked a hotel online, but ended up canceling it after reading some appalling reviews of it on TripAdvisor. I was not having much luck on Priceline, but I eventually bid successfully and got the Days Inn in Hollywood near the airport. We have a friend who works with Lee and I arranged for her to ask his boss about taking a couple of days off before our long weekend in May.
It was very difficult to keep this trip a secret from Lee. He is by nature a very curious person. I had to hide my Visa statements that had cruise charges on them, just in case he could come across them in my office. I had to always make sure the clear the cache on my computer just in case he would end up seeing a cached page with cruise information on it. I had extended an invitation to some friends to come along, but I had to make sure that they kept everything secret. On several occasions, Lee made overtures about going somewhere on the long weekend of his birthday, which I had to get his mind of off. I knew I would not be able to surprise him with the cruise at the last minute, he told me that one of his favorite parts of travel was the planning and research. I figured I had to give it to him so he’d have enough time to investigate the ship, excursions and so forth. Lee was taking night classes to finish his degree, if I told him about the cruise too early, he’d spend all his time browsing the Internet for cruise stuff instead of studying. I was booked to fly to Venezuela on a business trip the day after his last exam, around 3 weeks before the cruise. I thought this might be a good time to tell him about his gift since the cruise could also serve as a reward for finishing the school term. We had joked on several occasions that if he got straight As in his schoolwork, I would treat him to a trans-border trip. He thought I was talking about a shopping trip to Syracuse or something like that.
I had been searching eBay for a Royal Caribbean water mouse that Lee had seen at the Meet and Mingle on our Navigator cruise. One eventually came up for auction, but I got outbid at the last possible second. I did find other Royal Caribbean paraphernalia, including a cool carry-on/toiletries tote and a ticket wallet with the RCCL logo. I put the cruise documents in the wallet and put the wallet in the carry-on tote. After Lee’s last exam, I picked him up at school and we went for coffee. I was leaving the next day for Caracas, so I told him that I had a little something for. When he saw the tote, he thought that was the present. He liked the tote bag, but he must have thought it was a strange gift. He didn’t realize there was something in the tote. Finally he opened it up, found the wallet, but he thought that I had put fake documents in it to show what it was for. (He can be a bit of a nugget sometimes!) He finally figured it out and for one of the only times that I have seen, Lee was speechless. His mind was reeling since we were now just a few weeks away from the trip, and all the arrangements had been made, including flights and hotel. (We have since found out that he did get straight As, he’s such an overachiever!)
I was particularly excited about cruising on the Enchantment of the Seas. This ship had gone into dry dock the year before, where the ship was cut in half and a new section had been added. The ship was getting great reviews after the renovations. I was curious to see how this new section would integrate with the old ship. I looked at a lot of pictures on the Internet of the Enchantment and it looked great. The room I had booked was an interior room in the new section of the ship. There was also a new restaurant added, a new bar, and a new pool section. We had previously wondered if an interior cabin would be claustrophobic. Being a four-night cruise, I thought this would be a great way to see if we could survive in an inside room. The fact that it was the cheapest type of room is purely a coincidence! Our cruise would leave Fort Lauderdale on Thursday evening, and cruise to Key West, to Cozumel with a sea day before arriving back in Fort Lauderdale on Monday morning.
Our flight from Ottawa to Philadelphia was scheduled for 5:30pm on Wednesday. I picked Lee up at home around 2:30pm, and our friend Shelly drove us to the airport. My U.S. work Visa was due to be renewed and I had no idea if U.S. Customs would want to process the paperwork on this trip. When Lee and I crossed the border into the U.S. on our way to a wedding in Boston, the Border Agent told me that they would have to process the paperwork at the airport on my next trip to the U.S. If they wanted to process everything now, I’d need to have extra time after check-in. We arrived at the airport early, just in case. The Customs agent told he that I needed to get the paperwork processed on my next business trip to the U.S. So, now we had several hours to waste in the airport. The flight ended up being delayed by 45 minutes in Ottawa. Our ample connection time in Philadelphia was dwindling. When we arrived late into Philadelphia, we boogied to get to the other terminal to catch the connection. Visions of lost luggage were running through our heads. On our last cruise, our luggage was misplaced and didn’t get our last bag until a couple of hours before the ship left Puerto Rico. The plane we were going to be getting on was delayed in getting to Philadelphia, so we ended up having tons of time. Hopefully, that meant extra time for our luggage to be transferred as well. The boarding area for this flight was just packed with people. We had read on the Cruise Critic message boards that some people had purchased upgrades to Business Class at the counter. Lee walked up to the counter and sure enough, there were two Business Class seats available for $100 upgrade each. Considering how full this flight was, it was $100 well spent. There was no meal service on the flight, but lots of snacks and drinks. While we were waiting for the rest of the place to board, I chatted with the lady sitting next to me and we exchanged horror stories about work travel. She noticed that I was waving to Lee across the plane and she offered to move seats so we could sit together. Nice lady! After a late boarding, we then got stuck in a queue in 20th position to take off; our flight didn’t leave Philadelphia until almost 9:35pm. That put our arrival into Fort Lauderdale after midnight. In Fort Lauderdale, our bags took quite a long time to come onto the baggage carousel. I would imagine that at that time of night there must not be very many baggage handlers working. Instead of an alarm that rings when the baggage carousel was starting up, they had this weird-ass calliope music. You’d think it was the circus coming to town, but it was just our luggage. We breathed a sigh of relief when we saw our luggage coming down the chute.
Lee had booked a car so we’d have transportation the next morning to do some shopping; luckily the rental car plaza is open 24 hours a day. It took a while to check in for the car at the Alamo counter, strange considering that Lee had completed all the check-in paperwork online beforehand. Lee had booked a compact size car for the day for $25. This was a great deal since a taxi to and from the hotel and port would have cost more than that. Alamo is also one of the only car rental places within Fort Lauderdale airport with a free shuttle to the cruise port. When we got to the lot to pick out our compact car, there were no compacts available. Lee went back in to get an attendant; the guy pulled a compact car out of a parking area for us. The car was totally wedged into a small spot; the attendant told Lee that he could move it out of the spot himself. Not likely! The car was a new Chevy Cobalt. It was a small car, but it had a HUGE trunk. There were a few minor scratches on the car. We asked the guy at the exit to mark them on the contract so we wouldn’t be held responsible for them. He said, “we don’t charge for scratches”. Lee had to insist, the last thing we wanted was to have to argue with them when we brought the car back.
The Days Inn Hollywood was close to the airport; it only took a few minutes to get there. The room on Priceline was $70-odd dollars, and included a buffet breakfast. The room was decent, the décor of the room was a bit dated, but it was clean and well maintained. The mattresses on the beds were brutal however. When you on sat on them, you hit the wood of the box spring below. We were only going to be in the room for a few hours, so it more than fit the bill.

Embarkation day
The weather on Thursday was beautiful. We woke up around 8am, showered and went down for breakfast. The buffet was well stocked with cereals, oatmeal, breads, toaster waffles and pancakes, and such. They were also these totally scary looking egg things; they reminded me of a shiny yellow rubber disc. Nasty! I saw a woman pour herself a bowl of cereal. She then opened up a bunch of flavoured liquid Coffee-Mate containers and poured THOSE on her cereal instead of milk. Now THAT’S nasty!
This was Lee’s first trip to Fort Lauderdale. I had spent a week on holidays here over 10 years ago. I had enjoyed the city then, Lee was quite impressed with how nice, clean and easily navigable it was. We drove to the Target to buy some water and soft drinks and well as sunscreen and a few other sundries. I also wanted to price a camera that I was looking at, so we also popped into a Walmart to do some comparison shopping. We drove back to the airport to drop off the car and catch the shuttle to the port. We arrived back at the airport around 11:30am or so. The shuttle driver had just left on his break, but the attendant at the rental plaza called someone to come and take us to the port. We could see the tip of the smoke stack of Enchantment sticking up behind the port building from where we were standing at the rental car plaza. I must admit, Fort Lauderdale airport has outstanding customer service. The shuttle busses to the rental car plaza are frequent, the drivers were helpful and there was a sign that said that tipping was not required. We tipped anyway; our bags were heavy!
Enchantment was the only ship in port today, so traffic getting into the terminal building was quite light. We left our bags with the porter, and went into the terminal building. There were no lineups and we got to check in immediately. There were maybe 20 agents checking people in, it all went very smoothly and quickly. We got our embarkation picture taken and proceeded on board. We got onto the ship at 12:55 pm. New rules allow Canadians to keep their passports with them; other nationalities must surrender their passport at upon check-in. We dropped our bags off in our room and headed toward the Windjammer for lunch. On the way, we stopped at Chops Grille to make dinner reservations and at the spa to book Lee a just-in-case massage appointment. Appointments are always in short supply, and he could always cancel later on if he decided he didn’t want to go. Spa prices are out of control, we could go the best spa in Ottawa for much less that the services on the ship. Chops had already been booked out for large groups on two of the four nights of the cruise. We were a little disappointed; we only had the first and second night to choose from. Our original plan was to go on the sea day on the third day. We booked for the evening of the Cozumel stop on day two.  We are not fans of the Windjammer buffet, but it was okay for lunch. The selections were quite varied, and the food was better than most buffets we had tried. After lunch we started our whirlwind ship tour. We ran all around the ship taking pictures before the public areas became too busy. I was quite impressed at how nice and clean the ship was. The public areas were all tastefully decorated. The Centrum does look a bit dated because of all the white marble and brass, but everywhere else in the ship is very contemporary looking. There are no visible demarcations to indicate where the new section was added. It seemed seamless to move from the old section to the new. I was a bit worried considering that Enchantment was considered a small ship. No problem there, it had all the facilities you would expect. We saw several wedding parties on the ship getting their pictures taken, including some hottie stretched across the grand piano in the Centrum and another one getting her pictures taken on the staircase in the dining room.
The muster drill was called for 4:30pm. There was not the usually bellyaching and complaining from people that you usually hear during the drill. Maybe people had the Princess ship fire on their minds and realized that maybe it was a good idea to know where to go in an emergency. The crew took the drill very seriously, several people tried to take their life jackets off before the captain released us, they were immediately reprimanded by the crew. We were still in our room when the alarm sounded, the cabin attendant were checking rooms and putting Evacuated signs on the doors of empty rooms. After the drill, we dropped of our life jackets in the room and went up for the sail-away.
Fort Lauderdale is a very industrial looking port. It did not take us long to leave the port area and hit the high seas. We were chatting to a pleasant lady standing next to us on the deck. A couple minutes later, her female partner joined her. We’ve been on the ship for only a few hours and we are already running into other Friends of Dorothy. We had our first cocktail of the cruise in the Schooner Bar then went back to our room to change for dinner. Three of our four bags had arrived. My bag, which had the majority of my clothes and toiletries in it, had not been delivered to our room yet. Luckily, we learned our lesson on our last cruise, and I had packed some clothes in Lee’s bag.
In the My Fair Lady dining room (what kind of name is that?), we were seated at a table for eight, near a large window. Lee and I are both shy with new people, so I booked a larger table size to force us to be social with strangers. Our tablemates were lovely; there was a family of four from Florida (Ann, George, Shannon and Megan), and two younger women from Michigan (Robin and Emily). They were delightful company; we shared great conversation and many laughs. As a bonus for booking with iCruise, they give you a bottle of wine for each dinner while on board. To our dismay, they give us white zinfandel, or as we call it, liquid cotton candy. I asked the waiter if we could exchange it for something else of equal value. He said he’d have to check. He came back and told us that the cellar attendant would not exchange it. We had the same problem on Navigator, so I asked if I could speak to the attendant directly. The guy came over and sure enough he did not want to say no to our faces, so we got to exchange it for a red wine. Our waiter was Putu from Singapore. Our assistant waiter was somewhat shy and he didn’t say much, but he was very efficient. A few days into the cruise, Lee mentioned he didn’t even realize we had an assistant waiter the guy was so quiet. Dinner tonight was a Vidalia Onion Tart (kind of like a quiche), Caesar salad, and a great baked cod. It had a pesto-like sauce on it. It was very good. For desert, I had a white chocolate fondue, which was a mousse-like concoction. The food was good and very hot.
We checked back in our room for my bag and it had still not arrived. There was only one show this evening, a comedian. I enjoyed his performance; Lee found it a bit dull. After the show, my bag had still not turned up, so we went to Guest Services to file a claim. Manuel at Guest Services was very professional in the way he handled things. He gave me a toiletries kit and a t-shirt to use in the mean time and he alerted housekeeping to initiate a search for the bag. Embarkation pictures had been posted in the Photo Gallery, so we spent some time trying to find our picture. The shops were open so we browsed to see what was available on board. The Latin bar Boleros was hopping, so we stopped by to have a drink. The bars on this ship were all well used; most public areas on the ship had good crowds in them. The band in Boleros was phenomenal, they played Latin music and there were lots of people up dancing. We had some great drinks. The Cyclone Margarita was delicious, as were the Batidas. I have never had one before; I tried the pineapple and banana flavours. In the Schooner Bar, there was a guy at a piano playing typical lounge music, and there was a rock band playing in the Spotlight lounge. In the Centrum, there was a family act called the Evergreen Trio playing. All the music on the ship seemed to be geared towards people in their 40s. There was a lot of ‘80s pop playing on the pool deck. But really, how much Phil Collins can we really stand? We also stopped by the Viking Crown lounge on the top deck. This lounge had a great view of the pool deck. They played some great classic dance music. We danced a bit in the Viking Crown but it was getting late by then. On the way back to the room, we noticed people lined up in the Solarium. There is a small snack bar, the Solarium Café, which was serving pizza, burgers and other snacks. I don’t like eating before bed, but we stopped by anyway and had a wee bite to eat. It was getting close the midnight, so we thought we’d hit the sack.
I was amazed at how dark our room was. When the lights were turned off, the room was pitch black. There was no difference between having your eyes closed or open. I love a dark room, so I was happy. It was a bit hard finding the toilet at night though. Our room was immediately below Boleros, so we could hear the band music, but it did not keep up awake, both of us were out like a light once our heads hit the pillow.
Both Lee and I commented on how much we like Enchantment so far. We were both wondering beforehand what a smaller ship would feel like, and we were both very satisfied with the facilities and the service we had received so far. We lovingly referred to the ship as Channie for the rest of the journey.

Key West, Florida
When we woke up the next morning, the room was just as dark as when we went to bed. Lee had to check his watch to see what time it actually was. While Lee was showering, I tried to call my credit card company to initiate a claim for my missing bag. If the bag was not found, Key West would be my only opportunity to replace some of the things I needed for the rest of the cruise, you know, little things like shoes and clothing. I couldn’t get a connection on my cell phone, so I decided just to call from a pay phone on land. We went into the dining room for breakfast and were seated with an older couple from Florida and a young couple from Dallas.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Key West. It was quite out of character for us, but we had no plans for Key West. I wanted to stroll around, but beyond that, we had no idea of what we should do in port. We returned to the room around 9:30am, and a minute later, there was a knock on the door. Housekeeping had found my bag. YAY! Manuel from Guest Services had already called that morning to see if my bag had shown up, so we called him back and told him we had it. I think he was more relieved than I was that my bag had shown up! I sent my shirts out to be pressed before we left to check out Key West.
We got off the ship around 9:45am and took a stroll around town. Key West was bigger than I had been led to believe, so Lee suggested we take the Conch Tour train. It was expensive ($25) but was a great way to see the entire town. I really liked what I saw; I would have no hesitation to spend a few days there at some point in the future. There are roosters everywhere in town; there is a law that prevents people from harassing them. The houses in Key West are beautiful; there are a lot of very nicely restored homes. Our port stop in Key West was rather short, we thought we had better get back on board. We got back in time for the end of lunch in the dining room; I had my favorite orange chicken and an appetizer of calamari. They changed the orange chicken from last time I had it, now it is grilled chicken instead of deep-fried. It was as tasty as before, now less fat. We left Key West on time at 2:30pm. By this time, the pool deck was quite busy. There were no chairs left in the sun, but there were a lot of chairs in the shade. So, I moved a couple chairs to a sunny spot and settled in. Within a minute of so, people realized what I had done and the spot where we were sitting filled up with chairs.
The weather was perfect for sitting by the pool and listening to the calypso band. Lee wanted to try the bungee trampoline; there was no line up even though everyone was on board. He thought it was fun, but not as exciting as he imagined it to be. It was getting a bit windy by then, they mentioned that they might have to close the bungee trampoline for the day. Lee returned to the room for a nap, I went to the Relaxation Room to relax. This room is on the back of the ship through the spa, and is open to adults only. They have comfortable lounge chairs with floor to ceiling windows that allow you to look out the back of the ship. They have pling-pling music playing. It is very quiet and relaxing.
Tonight was formal night, so we got dressed with enough time to stop by the Champagne Terrace for a drink and get our pictures taken. The Champagne Terrace is section of the Centrum, they serve all kinds of champagne-based cocktails. I had a Bellini, Lee had a Kir Royale. They served some yummy little canapés with the drinks. Before stopping for a drink though, we stopped by the shops so Lee could spritz with a new cologne. It’s a good way to try new ones! There were only four of us at dinner tonight. We found out later that the family did not bring dress clothes with them, so they felt out of place at formal night. We had brought a bottle of champagne to share to help celebrate their daughter’s and Lee’s birthday, but they missed out. They did not charge us the corkage fee for the champagne. Dinner tonight was shrimp cocktail (ho-hum), lobster bisque (outstanding!), filet of beef and Grand Marnier soufflé (ho-hum as well).
The Captain’s Reception was going on, so we went up to the Spotlight lounge to check it out. There were offering free champagne, rum punch, gin and tonics or fruit juice. The rum punch was very good. We got our picture taken with the captain, but we didn’t hang around very long. The sun was setting and it was spectacular, so we went outside to take some pictures. It was a beautiful evening; we hung around the Promenade deck for quite a while. There was a Carnival ship sailing along side us.
The production show this evening was called Stage to Screen and featured songs from musicals made into movies. It included music from West Side Story, Sweet Charity, Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray and Chicago. The show was phenomenal, the singers and dancers were outstanding and the sound and lighting were perfect. We enjoyed the show so much we went back for the second show as well.
Carly, the cruise directory was the hostess for the show. She was very nice and animated. The activities staff on this ship was great, there was always something interesting going on, and they were always enthusiastic and smiley. Their energy was very contagious, most events were very well attended and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The Chef’s Gala buffet was also held this evening. When we left the theater after the second show, the buffet was open for viewing and picture taking. It was going to be another 45 minutes before the buffet was open for actual eating, so we didn’t hang around. We did stop for a snack in the Solarium, and hit the sack around 12:30am. The clocks had to be set back an hour since we were going to be crossing into another time zone on our way to Cozumel.

Cozumel, Mexico
We would not be arriving in Cozumel until 10am today, so we did not get up early. We woke up after 9am, had a quick breakfast in the dining room and went up on deck to watch the ship dock in Cozumel. Cozumel is in bad shape! Approaching the island, there is no greenery anywhere. They have had no rain since the hurricane; any trees that survived the winds were now all dry and brown. The piers were also destroyed in the hurricane. It is amazing to me that the waves could be so strong to destroy a concrete pier. A new pier has been rebuilt outside of town, but only one ship can dock at a time. Royal Caribbean had provided financial assistance to get the dock repaired, so we were the only ship that was able to dock. There were two Carnival ships tendered off-shore in the distance.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Cozumel, around 90F. Once again, we had no plans for what we were going to do while in port. Lee went up to the excursion desk to see what excursions were available. He booked us on a Segway tour. We had tried Segways in Miami and it was totally fun, even though Lee fell off and dented a minivan with his ass (he insists it was an SUV, though I don’t see how that makes a difference). We got off the ship and met our group leader. He was quite funny and chatty. Our group walked from the pier to the tour operator’s office a few blocks away. We sat through a safety video, and then we got on the Segways for our training session. The training was much more comprehensive than what we were given in Miami. We even learned how to go up and down inclines, something that Lee would have found useful in Miami. It might even have prevented the awful mini-van incident. The tour company’s office was below a strip club. While we were practicing, we could hear the music from the strip club (some of it was x-rated rap music), and some of the girls were on the balcony watching us. I waved, they seemed nice. Our actual tour on the Segways was pretty short. We rode on the sidewalk for a ways, then onto a side road. We were heading towards a beach area, where we were going to be able to do some snorkeling. The road went along a beach, well, more like where a beach used to be. All of the sand on the beach was washed away in the hurricane. It was now just rock and coral. Lee and I did not want to go snorkeling, we wanted to go take a look at the retail area of Cozumel. They gave us a voucher for a taxi back to town. The shopping was a bit disappointing; there were lots of jewelry stores, but not much else. The few places that had other duty-free goods did not have particularly good prices. Many of the building along the waterfront in the town of Cozumel were destroyed, some have been rebuilt, but others are still standing in shambles. This includes the original cruise port building. You used to be able to get off the ship right in the town, now it is a US $6 cab ride to the cruise ship port. We had a lunch at a great place on the main street called Las Palmeras. We had a seat along the open windows at street level. We both had beer and tacos that were delicious. The crowd in the restaurant was quite rowdy. There was a table with a family of about 8 or 10 people. They were screaming and yelling and taking pictures and drinking like crazy. They were quite loud and obnoxious, especially after all their tequila shooters. An older couple sat down between the rowdy table and us. After a few minutes, the older man turned to the table and told them to shut up. The rowdies send over a tequila shooter and started talking to the guy. Within 10 minutes, the old guy was at the rowdy table drinking tequila shots with the family like they were long lost buddies. His wife was looking pretty ticked off as they were supposed to be going shopping. There were many musicians walking the streets stopping at our open window wanting to play for us, we kept shooing them away. It was about 2:30pm by now, and we had seen all we wanted to of Cozumel. There was a taxi stand close by, so we walked over to catch a taxi back to the ship. The taxi stand was right next to Senor Frog’s, a popular drinking spot. You could see people drinking and partying on like it was New Year’s Eve. Right outside the bar at the taxi stand was a gaggle of young girls, with one of them barfing into the bushes, while the others held her hair back.
The ship was nice and quiet when we got back on, We would not be leaving Cozumel until 8pm that night, so we had the pool deck pretty well to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. Lee’s birthday dinner in Chops Grille was tonight, so we got dressed early and went to the Schooner Bar for the martini special that was advertised in the Cruise Compass. The bartender was kind of clued out, and had us totally confused as to what was actually on special. My cosmopolitan using house brand liquor cost something like $5.25 on special. It was a great cosmo. Lee had some blue thing.
When we booked the table at Chops Grille, we told them it was for a birthday celebration, so we got a great table. It was a round booth, with our seats facing out into the room. We could see everything going on in the place. Our servers were Pilar (from Croatia, I believe) and Ovidu (from Chile). They were both very pleasant and interesting to talk to. Pilar had recommended a wine called GSM from Rosemont an Australian Grenache/Shiraz/ Mourvedre mix (I had never even heard of Mourvedre before). It had recently dropped in price on their wine list from $80 to $50, he said it was a quite good. We really enjoyed it. For dinner I had the crab and shrimp cake, the lobster bisque (not as good as the one in the dining room the night before, but still quite good) and a small filet mignon with peppercorn sauce. The side dishes are served family style, we had mashed potatoes, and asparagus and Lee had mushrooms. I absolutely loved the caramel brioche bread pudding at Chops on Navigator. They recently revamped the menu and it was no longer available. It was replaced with a croissant bread pudding. I tried it, it was okay, but did not have the buttery caramel goodness of the old dessert. New additions on the menu include a few seafood dishes, a stuffed chicken breast and pork tenderloin. The $20 cover charge was more than worth it for the meal. It was a delightful evening out, and Lee seem to really enjoy his birthday dinner.
When we got back to out room after dinner, our Crown and Anchor gifts were in our room. The gift was a beach tote…a really small beach tote. Lee’s referred to it as Barbie’s Dream Tote. You could maybe fit a couple of magazines in it, a towel would never fit. When a tote bag is that small, it can look downright purse-like. Thanks for the gift, but I don’t think we will have much use for it. Maybe that is why I had seen so many of them for sale on eBay.
Formal night pictures had been posted in the photo gallery, so we stopped by to check them out. There were a few good shots. We also stopped into the liquor store to buy a couple of bottles to bring home. We bought two one liter bottles of Bailey’s for US $33.95, the cheapest we had seen in any duty free stores in any of the ports or airports. The pool deck had been cleared of chairs for their poolside dance party this evening. They had a buffet setup as well. It was quite windy out. We stopped in the Viking Crown lounge and grabbed a seat by the window. It was fun watching the kitchen staff trying to tie down all of the buffet equipment and table clothes to keep them from blowing away in the wind. After dinner, Lee was slowing down. I tried to keep him awake, so we could participate in the dance. Lee had perked up by now, but once we sat down in the lounge, it was my turn to lose steam, and we eventually had to cry uncle shortly before the dance started at 11pm. We both passed out from exhaustion after another fun and active day.

Sea Day
We woke up after 9am this morning, and lay in bed for a while. The dining room was going to be closing soon and I didn’t want to run in during the last five minutes but I did want to eat something. Instead I popped into the Windjammer and had a bowl of cereal. At 10am, the head chef and his staff were hosting a cooking demonstration in the Centrum, The chef prepared some marinated salmon and Creole shrimp and some of the sous-chefs prepared some decorations and centerpieces with fruit and vegetables. One of the pastry chefs did a demonstration of cake decorating using fondant frosting. The guy carving the fruit was described as somewhat of an artist; he could turn a melon or pineapple into a face in a couple of minutes. After the demonstration, we got to sample the shrimp and cake.
After the cooking demonstration, we went to the Orpheum Theater for Bingo. Bingo is pretty pricey on board, regular cards were $35 (5 games, each using 2 strips of 3 cards), or you could buy a pack with extra jackpot cards for $15 more. The prizes ranged from $200 per game to a couple of thousands for the jackpot. The jackpot had to be won within 50 numbers. If it was not won, there was going to be another Bingo session in the afternoon. The Crown and Anchor coupon book had a coupon for a free jackpot coupon, so we redeemed it. Lee won one game; unfortunately, he had to share the pot with four other winners. He ended up with US $79. To receive his winnings, we had to bring a prize voucher to Guest Services to get paid. The line up at Guest Services was crazy. All kinds of people were lined up to put their tips on their Sea Pass account. What most people didn’t realize though was that the deadline for doing this was the night before. People were really ticked off when they found out that they had stayed in line for some long, only to be told they were too late. I guess they didn’t read all the messages about this in the Cruise Compass, the room television system and tipping guideline flyers they had left in our rooms. I don’t know why they couldn’t process the tips on the Sea Pass account at this time; it seemed kind of silly. People in the line were getting downright ornery; one guy would leave the line to shoo away people who had would walk up to the counter without getting in line. Holy crabby! I was happy though; Lee shared his winning with me. He game me half. How sweet is HE!
At lunch in the dining room, we were seated with a couple. They kind of ignored us at first, but after a while they started talking to us. They were brother and sister, and lost track of their respective spouses. They were very nice. The sister owned a sex shop and she told us that she brought a bunch of paraphernalia to use at karaoke. She mentioned that we should make sure to catch her number that number at karaoke.
The activities staff hosted a Q&A session in the theater after lunch. A lot of people are curious about life on the ship and this was an opportunity to ask the staff members some questions about what working and living on a cruise ship was like. Both Lee and I were particularly curious about the entertainment on the ship, so we had questions for the dance and vocal captains. It was a very interesting session. Afterwards, the entertainers brought us on a backstage tour of the theater. The space available for sets, costume changes and technical equipment backstage is quite limited. The dance captain explained to us how the costumes are arranged for quick changes and some techniques they use to organize things so they can move from one number to the other quickly. After the tour, we hung around the theater talking to some of our tablemates and the vocal captain came out and chatted with us some more. She has been working for Royal Caribbean for four years and this was going to be her last contract. We asked her about relationships when you spend that much time away from home, she told us that she married someone who she had met on the ship who worked in the pursers office. Interestingly, her little sister now works on another Royal Caribbean ship singing.
While we were in the Q&A session, there was an announcement from the captain that we couldn’t really hear. Afterwards, someone told me that the captain said that the weather was going to be getting stormy on our current itinerary, so he was going to change course to get us back into sunshine. Sure enough, the afternoon on the pool deck was beautiful. The clouds were now gone and we had great sunshine. I spent a little time relaxing on deck and took advantage of the last afternoon onboard.
The Crown and Anchor coupon book included a coupon for $2.00 free slot machine credit when you played $10.00. Lee had redeemed the coupon earlier in the weekend; they just give you 8 quarters to play. You didn’t even have to play them if you didn’t want to. Lee had much more luck at the slot machines that I did, he probably won about $50 above what he had spent. The casino was always filled in the evenings. I don’t know if anyone was winning, but there was a lot of money being dropped.
Alas, our weekend was coming to an end; time to get some packing done. While I was up on the pool deck, Lee started packing his things. I returned to the room and started gathering things up as well. We had enjoyed our martini special in the Schooner Bar the other evening, so we went up to the Viking Crown lounge to have one before dinner tonight. We asked the waiter if they had the martini special. He said yes, so we ordered. When the bill came, not only were they full price, he had put them into souvenir glasses. That added even more to the price. I started to tell the guy that was not what we ordered, but Lee shushed me. He didn’t want to have to deal with confrontation. I was pretty ticked, the guy mumbled something about the special not being a discount on the drink, but more of a promotion to get people to come in.
Dinner tonight started with a marinated salmon appetizer. It was quite good, kind of like lox, but with more taste. I skipped the salad and had another appetizer, cheese and onion soup. My entrée was roast turkey with dressing and for desert, key lime pie. It was a very good meal, but the portions were a bit too big. I was stuffed by the end of the meal. We had two bottles of wine this evening, the one from the previous evening as well as the one from this evening. We had them exchange the bottles for a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red wine and we shared them with our tablemates.
We wanted to go to the closing night show, so we had to get our bags outside our room before it got too late. We finished up our packing, and then popped into Boleros for one last Batidas. The closing night show included a couple jugglers called Team Rootberry. They were quite funny and juggled all kinds of things, including machetes (they pulled someone a volunteer out of the audience for this one). They also juggled large sized beanbag chairs. I was pretty creeped out; one of the guys was a sword swallower. He swallowed a sword then juggled with the sword still in his throat. Freakin’ gross! Before swallowing the thing, he came into the audience and had me test that it wasn’t a trick sword. I don’t know what happened, but we missed the karaoke that went on in the Starlight lounge. We ran into Robin and Emily afterwards and they talked about our tablemate from lunch and how she sang the song I Will Survive using various vibrators as props. They said it was hilarious. The Quest was held in the Starlight lounge immediately after the karaoke. We got there too late to create a team, there were more than enough people embarrassing themselves during this game, and I don’t think we were really needed. People will really do anything to win a crappy plastic keychain. Casey, the activities manager was hosting the game, he had all kinds of people running up to him during the game waving things in his face. He must have gotten kicked in the nuts a few times when he asked for women dancing the can-can. The final quest involved the men getting stripped down to their underwear wearing a bra, high heels, lipstick and purse. Casey then had them parade around the theater to the Shania Twain song Man, I Feel Like a Woman. The guy we had lunch with that day was quite active in the game, I would have never figured him for the type to prance around in his undies with a purse and lipstick. You never can tell, can you?
It was getting late, so we went into the Viking Crown for our final cruise cocktail. The place was packed once again, and I noticed that security was out in full force, carding people who looked young. If you weren’t of age, you were escorted out. We were sad going back to our room at the end of the night. Our adventure was coming to an end.

Return home
We were up at around 7:15am so we could shower and get out stuff collected before having to be out of the room at 8am. We were given red tags, which were issued to people with flight between 11am and 2 pm. Lee was not feeling very well this morning. He managed to eat a bit in the dining room, which calmed his stomach. We had no idea what color groups were being called, so we basically got into a line and we were off the ship by 9:30am. Customs was a breeze and our bags were found very quickly. We jumped into a taxi and returned to the airport. The fare from the port was $16, which seems a lot considering how close they are to one another.
We were checked in quickly at the US Airways counter. There were no upgrades available on this flight, but the check-in attendant did move us to an exit aisle. This did give us more legroom for the flight home. Unfortunately for us, there is no Star Alliance lounge in Fort Lauderdale airport, so we had to hang around the terminal waiting since you can only pass through security an hour before your scheduled departure. We decided to have lunch at Chili’s in the airport since we wouldn’t get food on the plane and we weren’t to arrive in Philadelphia until later that afternoon. Our flight left Fort Lauderdale on time and we had plenty of time to catch our connection in Philadelphia. The guy sitting at the window of our row on the plane to Philadelphia was a strange little man. He spent much of the flight explaining the intricacies of handwriting analysis and how it is a good way to meet women. He said he wished he had learned how to analyze handwriting before marrying his ex-wife, he would have known better. We finally arrived back in Ottawa at 7:30pm on Monday night.
We realized from this adventure that a four-day cruise could be a quite satisfying experience. I thought we would feel rushed, but in actuality, we felt like we had been away for a week. We also now realize that we can be happy on a smaller ship. Enchantment is an older ship but the upgrades they completed last summer certainly bring it up to par with the other ships we have been on.

There is a full collection of pictures posted on Lee's SmugMug page. Feel free to check them out.
More cruises are in our future, we sail on Freedom of the Seas in September 2006, the Westerdam in January 2007 and Brilliance of the Seas in September 2007. Yahoo!!