Weekend Getaway: Enchantment of the Seas

Well, we made it to the port and I breathed a huge sigh of relief!  Luggage taken by attendants, carry-on in hand, time to get through security.

If you have never taken a cruise before, security is very much like the airport security.  You have to present a government issued photo identification, passports preferred, and your cruise information.  You have to put your carry-on luggage through an X-ray machine and walk through the metal detectors.  You have to check in with cruise terminal personnel who will again verify all of your information, take your photo, and give you your cruise identification cards.  These cards act as your identification to get on and off the ship, cabin entry card, your ship money, and casino points card.  A.K.A. a cruise credit card.


People rate airports so I have to give my two cents on the cruise terminal.  The second cruise I was on was out of Miami back in 2006.  At the time, I wasn’t impressed with their cruise terminal at all.  I felt rushed, no direction, people wall to wall, and I felt it was tiny.  When we took a cruise out of Barcelona, I was impressed.  Spacious, open, very well light, people directing you, everything was clean, and bathrooms were around every corner, which is good if you have to wait to board.  I have to say I was equally impressed by Port Canaveral’s newer cruise port terminal.   Very much like Barcelona’s cruise terminal and there were personnel everywhere to answer questions and direct you.  Total time from when we entered the doors of the terminal to the time we stepped foot on the ship was 15 minutes.  Very quick!


So after we received our cruise cards we were able to board the ship.  If the ship is not ready for you to board, then you wait in the waiting area and they will call you by group numbers.  I understand that everyone is excited for their cruise so checking in early can cause back-ups but the down side is you may have to wait to board.  If you haven’t checked in online a few days before departure, then you will have to fill out paperwork.  To fill out paperwork you must get there earlier than 90 to 120 minutes before departure or you may not be able to board.  Lucky for us they were ready for us to board immediately.





Before you even get on the ship there are still a few more things you can do.  Get professional pictures taken, buy beverage packages, make reservations at the specialty restaurants, get security bands for your kids, and get more information on the Royal Caribbean brand.  We opted for the pictures as you don’t have to pay for them unless you like them.


Our first steps onto the ship lead us to the grand atrium area.  You see people sitting in chairs with their luggage that they didn’t give to the attendants, and the bar is already full.  We decided to start walking around the ship to become more familiar with where things were located.  Being a travel consultant I wanted to get some good pictures of the ship without too many people in them.  For an almost 20 year old ship, I was surprised how nicely kept it was.  I didn’t see too much wear and tear considering they do three night Bahama cruises back to back. The ship had plenty of lounges, bars, elevators, huge main dining room with upper level seating, two cafes for additional dining options, a specialty restaurant, a very spacious casino, large theater, spa, fitness center, rock wall climb, trampoline jumps, and several pools and Jacuzzis including an adult only pool and children’s splash area.  There was way more than enough to keep us occupied on a three night cruise.


In the customer service area they had their cruise planner (daily printed schedule of activities) which highlights what will be going on during the day.  Since we really aren’t pool people and we couldn’t get into our cabin until 1:30pm, we opted to do another activity, planning our shopping in Nassau.  They had a shopping concierge on the ship who gave tips as to what to buy in Nassau and where to buy it.  It was a very interesting lecture and we were able to set up our shopping game plan within that timeframe.  I highly recommend reading the cruise planner daily.  They have some interesting activities from basketball games, to charity events, Bingo, lectures, art auctions, wine and liquor tastings, dancing, and show times.


I must say I was so happy with the amount of activities that they offered that we almost forget that we could finally get into our cabin.  For a three night cruise I, personally, didn’t think that we needed a balcony.  I also didn’t want to be at the bottom of the boat.  There are a few select rooms on the upper decks called the Panoramic Ocean view.  They cost slightly more than just an ocean view but you get a floor to ceiling window.  I had seen these rooms on a ship inspection that I had done a few years ago and have wanted to stay in one since.  I do have to say that I was disappointed with how dirty the cabin was.  There were crumbs all over the carpet, the bathroom shower was grimy, the sink clogged, the toilet was not clean but we won’t get descriptive about that, and the window had an oil film on the outside of it.  The only thing that was clean was the bed.  A phone call to housekeeping and most of the stuff was cleaned up very quickly.


After our Bingo Loss we are onto to Nassau!


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Weekend Getaway to the Bahamas.

I am excited to report that I recently took a 3-night Bahamas cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas.  This was my first Royal Caribbean experience.  Why did I choose Royal to take my cruise?  My client’s suggestion.  Even though it is my job to give my clients my suggestions on travel and travel suppliers, I also listen to my client’s and get their feedback of which suppliers they like.  Royal has been consistently reviewed by my client’s as a great experience and highly recommended.  When something comes highly recommended you tend to what to try it.


I took my husband with on this familiarization trip and we decided to leave a night early.  Our ship didn’t require us to embark until Friday so we thought it would be fun to go down Thursday night and maybe get dinner at Downtown Disney.  Unfortunately for us, there were thunderstorms up and down the east coast which made for a very bumpy plane ride.  It is also hard to walk around Downtown Disney when it is raining so we opted to eat near the hotel.  I normally don’t say this when in Orlando but the rain actually ended up being a good thing because even though our hotel had shuttles to the Disney theme parks, it did not have one to take us to Downtown Disney.  Yes, Downtown Disney is part of the Walt Disney World Resort and even though this hotel was a Disney partnered hotel, they just didn’t offer a shuttle there.  We found a Giordano’s Chicago Pizzeria in the shopping plaza right next to the hotel.  We ate at the original one in Chicago and we loved their pizza.  Their pizza was also great in Orlando!

After a great night’s sleep, we woke up to beautiful weather.  Since we stayed in Orlando for the night we needed a way to get to Port Canaveral so I decided to book us a private transfer through Viator.  I really like this company because they offer transfers, tours, long weekend getaways, etc. all over the world and the pricing isn’t too expensive.  We ended up having Mear’s motocoach company which is Disney’s go to motorcoach company.  Our driver was on time and the car they chose for us was a Lincoln SUV.  The car was clean, spacious, very high end amenities, comfortable, and didn’t smell.  Our driver was great!  He was from Venezuela and talked with us the whole way to the cruise port which was about an hour drive.


Now, it has been 15 years since I took a cruise out of Port Canaveral.  I had no idea what to expect.  Once we came over the bridge and got our first glimpse of several ships, excitement rushed over me and then panic.  There were three cruise ships that we saw:  Disney Dream, Carnival, and what I believed to be MSC but we couldn’t read the name.  No Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas!  Now Royal has their signature blue anchor on their ship’s stacks.  No fourth ship and no blue anchor, time to panic!  We had the right day, we were there five hours before the ship was supposed to leave dock, but where is it?  Our driver took us to the Carnival cruise line terminal.  He pops the trunk and gets ready to let us out figuring that the ship had to be close by.  Well, when 3000 plus people are trying to get on one ship, you can image how hectic it is with everyone trying to get their luggage onto carts, and unpacking their cars.  This is where I take after my mother, but I demanded that he ask where the Royal Caribbean ship was.  He asked one of the luggage attendants about Royal Caribbean and the guy told him no this is Carnival.  The driver asked again where the Royal Caribbean ship is located, the luggage guy said at the new port just down the road.  Feeling relieved, the driver got back into the car and look confused.  We started off to the new port and within a few minutes we could see a single ship off in the distance.  Hope!  Blue anchor on the stacks, Enchantment of the Seas on the bow, and people unloading their luggage. Whew, we made it!


Now with all of my travels, one thing that I have learned is to listen to my instincts.  If you feel like something is wrong then something is wrong!  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and demand answers if you have too.  When I don’t listen to my instincts I have lost a whole large box of souvenirs, almost didn’t eat for 9 hours, and slept on a mattress that was about 100 years old.  We learn from our mistakes so I wasn’t about to make the mistake of being left at a port where I didn’t see our ship.


It was nice that our driver admitted that he didn’t know this was here and apologized, but I was still a little upset feeling like he was just going to leave us a the Carnival Cruise line terminal.  There would have been no way for us to walk to the Royal Caribbean terminal as it was about one mile away.  Even though the driver had learned something new that day, I would highly recommend this company as they showed up on time, did get us there on time, and the car was clean and didn’t smell.


Now, we did pay for the transfer up front but tip is not included in the pricing.  For a transfer service I typically recommend 10% to 15% of the net rate, taxes not included.  Since the driver had a nice clean car that didn’t smell, was personable, got us to the correct terminal, and took out our luggage for us, I felt that 15% was well earned.



We Made It!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!