|Age:||56||Cruise Line:||Royal Caribbean|
|Number of Cruises:||19||Cruise Ship:||Enchantment of the Seas|
|Overall Rating:||Date Sailed:||02/27/2012|
|Embarkation:||Baltimore, MD||Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
February 29, 2012 – Day at Sea
I'm up in time for sunrise (after only five hours of sleep). However, I have to go on deck because we are headed more or less toward the sun and I have a rear facing balcony. The sunrise is not that good because while there are some nice clouds overhead, there is also a line of clouds on the horizon, which means the sun will be higher in the sky when it rises. This means more light which means faded colors. I get a few good pictures.
Since I'm here at the front of the ship, as is the Windjammer, I decide to grab breakfast which I take back to the cabin to enjoy on my balcony. It is supposed to get to be 80 today, so I guess the fun will start for those that like to lie out by or in the pool.
There is a welcome back party at 7:15pm and I have my C&A appointment at 5:30pm, so I guess my early evening time is full. So my plan is to shower, go to guest services to verify the amount of my OBC, check out the stores to give the room steward time to do his thing and to see if they put anything new out that I might want. Then I don't know what.
Well, first I go to Guest Services. I get a print out of my account, but the credit is still not showing. Then I go to the store, nothing new inside, but out in the hall there is a nice jacket that will fit me. The one in the store is white, too small and $50. The one in the hall is black, fits and is $90. I'll consider it later. Next I go to the photo shop and purchase a couple of photographs from last night (one at a 50% discount via the coupon) and a picture of the ship.
When I return to my cabin I realize I made a big mistake. Talk about best laid plans. I put the card upside down, so that “do not disturb” was up. As a result my room has not been cleaned. Well, nothing I can do about that. I turn the card right side up and go inside. I upload my morning pictures and I hear a knock on the door. I apologize to the room steward, grab my computer and go to the Internet Cafe to continue this.
Then back down to Guest Services to turn in my form to have the gratuities charged to my room (I always do this so that I don't have to bring so much cash).
I am working in the Centrum on this and choosing which photographs to upload when suddenly I hear the captain giving his noon time announcement. Unfortunately the speaker is not very good and I can barely understand half of what he is saying. I have no idea where the morning went. The last five hours seems more like three. I guess time flies when you are having fun and not trying to connect to the Internet, which is exactly what I am going to do once I go back to the cabin and get my other battery. The last thing I want is for the battery to run out of juice while I'm trying to upload things on the Internet. It is slow enough without adding problems of my own.
Well, I managed to get six more photographs uploaded to Photobucket. I also managed to answer a few questions and start my fourth post. Then the connection went down. I couldn’t even log off. I went to guest relations and I could hear someone else explaining the same problem I was going to tell them about. So, there is a special website we can log into to see how many minutes we used, and sure enough while I could not do anything, including log off, the timer kept running and I had no time left.
Maryna Maksimuk helped me get running yesterday and gave me $20 credit today. I felt was fair and told her so. There have been three people who have really stood out so far, my room steward, my waiter and Maryna. But I have only one wow reward card. I may end up giving that to my waiter (Antonio) and finding some way to make sure Frederick Carpio (my room steward) and Maryna both get some credit. After all, this is only day three of a twelve day cruise.
I realize there are all sorts of issues providing Internet service to a moving ship at sea, and I don’t blame Royal Caribbean for the problems. But the cost is high (anywhere from 30 to 65˘ per minute, depending on how you buy your minutes), the speed is so slow that dial-up would be considered an upgrade and this is frustrating. I’m on vacation. If I want to be frustrated I’ll go back to work and get paid for it (I like my job, but it is frustrating at times).
At any rate, it is time for a new plan. I’m going to make sure today’s post survived (when the Internet comes back up – it is still down) and if not, recreate it. Then tomorrow I post today’s comments without pictures, and that will be it for the rest of the cruise. I’ll continue to write my review each day and will post my full review with full sized pictures when I get home. That is how I normally do it. It is quick, easy, much less expensive and far less frustrating.
Well, since writing the above I note a lot of interest in JS cabins. Since I am in one I'll attempt to upload six more photos and post them with my final post (that being today's review). Whatever happens that will be that. I'll check for questions later, but posting to the Internet has lost its fun factor.
The travel channel has turned into the forward cam view channel. So now I don’t even know where we are. Since I am not driving I guess it is not real important that I don’t know where we are, but still it would be nice to have the information channel and the forward view channel be separate channels. This morning I noticed that we were also almost half way to Tortola. Noon today would be the halfway point, so I guess we are on schedule. Therefore, after my hot dog and ice cream lunch I’m heading to the pool to cool off.
Well, I said I wanted to cool off in the pool, but I was not counting on the water being as cold as it was. The Travel Channel said the pool water was 84 degrees. I would say the pools are closer to 72 degrees and the hot tubs might be 84 degrees. So, I went into the hot tub. There is quite a strong wind blowing across the pool deck. The wind is strong enough that when the water is forced up by the bubbles in the hot tub the wind catches it and blows into the face of anyone sitting downwind.
Soon I'll head over to the C&A lounge for my appointment and then later will be time for the welcome back party.
I purchased a future cruise certificate at the C&A lounge and then bought a couple of shirts at the store. I returned the cabin and the lack of sleep clearly is catching up with me. I half doze off until 7pm when it is time to get ready for the welcome back party. I'm so tired I forget my camera.
The captain's speech and the loyalty ambassador's speech end early and I decide to head out to dinner. The captain was standing there and nobody was talking to him, so I decided to talk to him. I told him when I was gold I had a gold SeaPass card, when I was platinum I had a gray SeaPass card. Now I'm emerald and my SeaPass card is not green (I showed it to him – it is silver). He was caught completely by surprise. Then he pulled out his card which was green (the room stewards have the same card – it gets them into the cabins they service). We had a good laugh. I thanked him and went back to the cabin and retrieved by travel camera.
When I tried to take a picture in the MDR the travel camera didn't work. Apparently I have one bad battery (I brought six rechargeable batteries and the camera requires two at a time). I start to review all the little things that have gone wrong:
1) United pushed back the departure time of my flight causing me to arrive at night.
2) The problems with the ship meant I need to pay for Internet access at the hotel which is expensive. However, to be fair it allowed me to download Open Office which is allowing me to type this without worrying about how often I access the word processor.
3) The ship's engine problems result in a modified itinerary. Admittedly I like the modified itinerary better (plus an OBC to boot).
4) My broken watch band.
5) When I sign up for Internet access the computer changes my choice from the 250 minute plan to the 100 minute plan. Again this ends up being beneficial as I am so frustrated with the slow Internet access that I don't want to go much beyond 120 minutes (about half the time I originally was going to sign up for).
6) I put the make up the room card in upside down, so my cabin is not made while I am out.
7) The many problems with the Internet access.
8) Having a table all by myself (though I must admit, my waiter and head waiter are both making sure I am having a good time – which I am).
9) Forgetting my camera at the welcome back party – which would not have matters because of …
10) The bad battery.
11) The wacky ship information channel. I really do pay a lot of attention to the information on that channel. If I want to see what the forward view is, I'll walk there myself.
12) Having to use IE instead of Firefox.
13) The light in the bathroom takes too long to come on.
14) Forgetting to register Word before leaving home.
15) When I was packing I accidentally packed a Carnival shirt.
All minor to be sure, all taken care of (in one way or another) and none having a negative affect on my cruise. But still, what is next (it better not rain in St. Maarten)? And of course there are a lot of positives:
1) I'm having a great time.
2) I met some very nice people.
3) The crew is one of the most helpful I have ever had the pleasure to sail with.
4) I like the modified itinerary better.
5) $300 OBC.
Though lesser in number, the positives easily outweigh the negatives. At any rate I order the chicken for dinner and my waiter says it is very good. He is right, it was very good. We also talked about the empty chairs. I asked if others had been assigned to the table – yes. My waiter wondered what happened to them. I said I did hear a big splash. That got a laugh out of my waiter.
After dinner I head over to photography to look for the formal night photographs. There are fewer photographs than I am used to seeing and thus I find all my pictures very quickly. I buy two. Then I head back to the cabin to finish this and then I'll try the Intent again. I actually have access in the cabin. The connection is not as good as it is at the Internet Cafe, but it does work. Then after that I’m going to catch up on the sleep I missed last night. So until next month – good night.
Oh wait, the travel channel is showing information again. As of 10:48pm we have sailed 906 miles from Baltimore and have 516 miles to go. With 32 hours until the scheduled arrival in Tortola, the ship will have to average a little over 16 knots to make it on time, so we should be okay.
March 1, 2012 – Day at Sea
OMG – I uploaded six photographs and posted in only 12 minutes last night. Perhaps the access is faster at night when no one else is using the computers. At any rate – good morning!
I didn't wake up until 8am. Sure was nice to get caught up on my beauty sleep. Dolphin Tale was on TV. It was a very good movie. Finally around 10am I go to breakfast. Good thing today is a sea day. I've been at sea for 2 ˝ consecutive days going down to Acapulco, so this will be the longest time I've spent at sea, three full days plus an extra sixteen hours (eight on each side of the three days). It has been very relaxing, other than when I'm trying to upload photographs to the Internet via the ship.
I head out to breakfast, making sure to put the please make up my room card right side up. Then I check for questions on the Internet. There are a few. I've got time, so I decide to do the necessary research. I had to get creative and sneaky (translation – don't try this at home). I went to the spa and the MDR and asked the questions that were posted. Then I went back online to provide the answers.
After that I went to guest relations to get a printout of my onboard account. Finally, confirmation of my OBC, it is $300. When I get back to my cabin confirmation of my Chops reservation is waiting for me. I told my waiter last night that I would be at Chops tonight. Soon there is a call from the shore excursion desk. My Antigua Stingray Swim has been moved back two hours. Okay by me. I will not have to be one of the early people off the ship.
The captain made his noon time announcement. We have traveled 1152 miles (I compute that as and average of 17.2 knots) since leaving Baltimore and we have 272 miles (I compute that as needing to average 14.3 knots) more to go to reach our first port (or starboard – depends on which side of the ship the dock is on). We are expecting moderate seas (7 to 9 feet). The air temperature is 77 degrees and the sea temperature is 79 degrees. And, we are only a little over three miles from land (though that land is covered by over three miles of saltwater).
It is turning out to be a really nice day. So I'm going back on deck, take a few pictures, grab a quick lunch then perhaps try out the pool again. So, until later.
Well today the pool water was perfect. For some reason the rear pool is warmer than the forward pool. Too bad there aren't more kids on the cruise. The water is really sloshing around inside the pools and I know the kids would love it. Though there are a few kids around the pool deck, there were never more than two in the pool during the time I was in the pool. I would guess there are about 50 kids on the cruise, most of who seem to be enjoying the kids program. After a nice dip in the pool I spend a few minutes in the hot tub talking to one of the other passengers from Canada. Then back to the cabin to relax and get ready for Chops.
Chops was good. Was it better than the MDR – yes. Was it $30 better – not in my opinion. Still, it and the buffet are the only other options, and I eat breakfast and lunch in the buffet, so Chops offers a nice change of pace.
After dinner I take my camera up to the pool deck for some night time photographs. Then it is back to the cabin to update this, upload my photos and check for more questions on the Internet. After that it is time for bed, as tomorrow I have an 8am sightseeing tour.
So good night for now.
March 2, 2012 – Tortola, B.V.I.
Well, after a full three plus days at see we finally found dry land. Well, it was a little wet around the edges, but the middle was dry. I had a power breakfast – one banana. While putting my computer away I discovered I packed a mouse. While typing I can't help but accidentally touch the touch pad mouse which causes all sorts of strange things to happen – none of them good. Fortunately I can turn off the touch pad mouse on this computer and use the hand held mouse.
My tour was at 8:00am. We were supposed to meet on the pier at 7:45am. We docked on time, which meant there was no way I could be on the pier at 7:45am. So I was suck with the group that likes to get off first. This is the first time I've had to join the first group. After all the pushing and shoving and scratching and biting I made it off the ship. I’m glad I will not have to be one of the first off the ship for the rest of the cruise.
I signed up for a tour of the island with several stops for pictures and a stop at a resort on the beach. The first thing I did was go to the Internet Cafe, which is only $5 for fifteen minutes (which is one third to one half of the ship's price). The Internet speed was okay, but the computer, it was slooooow! In fact it was so slow that instead of an hourglass to show that the computer was working, there was a calendar. I would have through it was a 486 except it was running Windows XP. Then after picking up some shirts for me, a shot glass for a friend and coffee for my sister and brother-in-law, I rented a lounge chair for $5.00 and just relaxed. I choose this tour for the photo opportunities and thus took my good camera (not my travel camera) with me. As a result I had no plans to go anywhere near the saltwater. Besides, tomorrow I'll be swimming in it, along with a few stingrays.
Speaking of which, the pools on the ship are not saltwater. I though only Freedom class and up had freshwater pools, but this ship's pool was not saltwater.
At any rate the tour returned at lunch time, so I headed to the buffet. There I found two officers having lunch. So I asked about the engine. The ship uses several combustion engines to turn generators which power the ship. Each screw (the propellers on a ship are called screws) is turned by one electric propulsion motor. One motor is working fine and the other motor is able to reach full RPM, but not full torque. Thus the engine cannot push the ship at full speed.
Has the engine been repaired yet – no. Is there an estimate on when it will be repaired – no. The parts they need have to be manufactured. Then they can finish the repairs. The two men I spoke to spoke with had a Norwegian accent, so I am sure they knew what they were taking about. Actually, I believe I was talking to the Staff Captain and one of the other bridge officers, so I am very confident that this information is accurate.
After lunch I'm back here updating this. Then I'll go on the Internet with the information about the engines, and then off to the pool. It is turning into a very nice day, which means sunny, very warm and humid. I'll return when the pool starts to fill up with people returning from their tours.
A correction on the pools, the rear pool is heated and is freshwater. The forward pool (the kid's pool) is not heated and is saltwater. The rear pool is actually too warm now and the forward pool is just right. However, I didn't bring my goggles with me to the pool, so I had to limit my time in the saltwater.
The captain made an announcement shortly before 5:30pm. He said everyone was on board early and so he was getting ready to leave. We have 177 miles to go to our next port which only requires a speed of around 13 knots. We were schedule to leave at 6pm. By 6pm we had backed out, turned around, and we were moving forward toward our next port. Of course during the short time we were backing up my rear facing balcony became a forward facing balcony.
Now, while I wait for the sun to set (we are currently moving directly away from the sun, so I guess we are headed east toward Antigua) I am bringing my spreadsheet up to date, so that I'll have all the information I need for the custom's form in a little over one week. Plus it is a good way to keep track of how much I am spending and make sure my onboard account is correct. Unfortunately the sun set behind an island. But I brought my spreadsheet up to date.
I only brought enough clothing for ten days. I bought some shirts (both on land and onboard) but other things need to be cleaned. Got my wash & fold bag today and filled with most of my dirty laundry. As long as in comes back in less than three days I'll be good for the rest of the trip. And I get a slight discount from the coupon book.
I guess I was more tired than I thought. After dinner I returned to the cabin, turned on the computer, got distracted and went to sleep. Dinner was good as usual and I slept well.
March 3, 2012 – Antigua
Well, I'm up in time to see us approaching Antigua. No good sunrise photos, but there is a beautiful rainbow behind the ship. I'm ready to take a picture just as some lady walking by sees the rainbow. She stops right in front of me, with my camera in hand, and says do you see that? Yes. She is smiling and I'm not. She seems puzzled. So, if you are that lady and wondering why I was not smiling – it is because you are blocking my shot!
Just as we dock the captain gets on the PA system and announces what a beautiful day we are in for. Five minutes later it starts to sprinkle. As is typical for the tropics, it lasts only a few minutes and the rest of the day was very nice indeed.
After lots of pictures I head to the Windjammer for breakfast. There is no one in the omelet line but I've had plenty of eggs, so I opt for French toast and waffles. There is a lady in front of me trying to get some French toast. However, she keeps pulling her had away as though the French toast is going to bite her. Finally she makes some mention of the heat lamps.
I don't say anything, mostly because I don't want to be rude, but also because this is entertaining. She kept reaching for the French toast that is in the back of the pan. Finally she is fast enough to get her French toast is now it is my turn. I go for the French toast that is in the front of the pan. My hand never gets under the heat lamp. I get my French toast in only one try. I must confess, I sometimes wonder how some of these people manage to earn enough to afford to cruise. Same with flying, is there anyone who can afford to fly that does not understand how to operate a seat belt?
Well, the little bit of rain we had does manage to get most things wet. However, as half my balcony is covered, I am able to enjoy my breakfast on the balcony.
So now it is time to get ready for my stingray excursion. I was here in 2008 and did this same tour. It is almost as good as Stingray City in Grand Cayman plus they provide more food than the tour operators in Stingray City do. And now my run of little things going wrong pops up again. I have two water wallets. A small one for the ship, when all I need is my room key (I use it to keep the receipts dry – the room key can get wet with no problems) and a bigger water wallet for off the ship, when I have to carry my room key, photo ID, credit cards and money. Well, the bigger water wallet did not survive the trip. The hinge is broken. Why do they have to make these plastic things out of plastic?
I know the store on the ship is closed, but considering how long we are going to be in Antigua, I am wondering if it will open tonight as I'll need a water wallet for tomorrow. Sure enough the store is closed all day today and tomorrow (we are in St. Maarten until after midnight also). Okay, I'll make due with the small water wallet today and go into town after the tour to get a water wallet.
I notice that there are about ten or so small kids on the tour. I've been to Stingray City three times and this one once before. The name and the strange shape along with the warning about the tail don't sit well with small children. Even my then nine year old nephew was not willing to get in the water with the stingrays in 2007 in Stingray City, even though his mother was having a great time. Well, the same thing happened here. It didn't matter if Mom or Dad was holding them, one look at those funny shaped things with the long tail swimming in the water and the last place any of those kids wanted to be was in the water, and they were not shy about making that clearly understood. Meanwhile all the adults thought this was great, as did I.
Back to the ship and I shower off the saltwater and change into some clothing for shopping. Everywhere I look I see water wallets for sale, except in Antigua. Finally I find one and it does not seem well constructed. I even find one that is broken. However, my options are limited, so I buy the best looking one I can find.
This shopping trip did produce one good thing, I found an Internet Cafe offering free Wi-Fi. Well, actually it is a bar and while the Wi-Fi is free, you have to buy a drink ($3.50 for a can of Coke). Since I have been unable to remotely connect on the ship, and since I cannot upload pictures from the ship's computers, this turns out to be a really great deal. Fortunately I have two batteries, one of which is almost double the capacity of the standard battery. I'm able to do everything I wanted at the Internet Bar.
Back to the ship for dinner, which I finish really early, giving me time to go back outside and take night time photographs of the ship, which I cannot upload to the Internet because the bar is closed and I still cannot remotely connect via the ship's Internet. However, upon my return to the cabin I see my laundry has been returned. 24 hour service - can’t complain about that.
The magician is supposed to be something else, so I decide to catch the 9:45pm show. He is good, but magic is magic. Sawing a woman in half is sawing a woman in half, using a sword instead of a saw doesn't really change anything. He only did about half a dozen routines because he spent a lot of time telling us what great people we are. Was he good? Yes, but as I said, magic is magic. Are you more impressed that a colorful bird can fly versus an all black bird? Once you have seen a bird fly, you've seen a bird fly. It doesn't matter that is comes in a different looking package, even if the colorful bird is more impressive.
So now its 11pm and I've either been in the sun a lot or I'm really embarrassed when looking at myself in the mirror. So I'm off to bed. See you tomorrow.
March 4, 2012 – St. Maarten
We are headed west toward St. Maarten and since I have an aft facing balcony, I can catch the sunrise from my balcony. Its 6am and sunrise is supposed to be around 6:30am. However, someone forgot to tell the sun. No matter, there are clouds on the horizon and that pretty much ruins the sunrise anyway. So I throw on some clothing and head over to the ship's Internet Cafe (I still cannot remotely connect) and update what I can. Then up to deck ten to get pictures of us approaching St. Maarten. I spoke to someone else who is also having trouble remotely connecting to the Internet. Then I grab breakfast (no cheap entertainment this morning) and then go back to the cabin to eat breakfast on my balcony, upload my pictures, back everything up and work on this.
What is it with St. Maarten, Orient Beach and rain? Another rain storm on a day that I want to go to Orient Beach? At least I can finish breakfast on my balcony. Then the captain comes on the PA system and says it will be windy, there may be a few more sprinkles but it should be a nice day. My plan is to head over to Orient Beach around noon and return around 5:00pm (the time we were originally scheduled to leave. That will leave me six hours to make it back to the ship (three hours if I want dinner).
But first I'll head into the port to see if I can get what I want in one of the local stores. Also, it will give my room steward time to clean the room (if I get the card in the slot with the right side up). And if I find an Internet Cafe great. Otherwise I'll just continue to swear at the ship's Internet and kiss my cable modem when I get home.
I did find an Internet Cafe and was able to upload a few pictures and update the Internet. Then back to the cabin to change into my bathing suit, and then it is off to Orient Beach. It doesn't look like rain.
But first there is a cruise ship coming in. I can tell from the yellow funnel that it is a Costa ship – the Costa Luminosa. I get several pictures, and then I head over to the taxi stand. It is $18 for one person to go to Orient Beach. It is also $18 for two ($9.00 each). It is just me, and I'm ready to pay the $18 when five or six Italians show up also wanting to go to Orients Beach. Wow, my fare just went from $18 to $6. I’ll have to send a thank you note to Costa.
The taxi dropped us off between the clothing optional beach and the top optional beach. For anyone interested, there aren’t any twenty somethings running around nude. On the other side I noticed about half the people where topless.
Orient Beach was nothing like I expected. Perhaps because of all the wind it was not showing its true beauty. The waves churned up the sand. I found some friendly fish, but the more pictures I took the harder it is to see the fish because of the sand. To kill some time I rented a Wave Runner for half an hour ($60). It was only my third time on a Wave Runner I just went up and down and got a feel for riding a Wave Runner. However, soon I got in between the wrong yellow buoys. I was about a quarter mile from where I should have been. Well, I didn’t hit anyone or anything, so no harm no foul. Originally I planned to go back around 5:30pm. However, I decided to join the Italians and go back at 3:30pm (which again cut my fare from $18 to $6).
Before heading back to the cabin for a freshwater shower I stopped at the Internet Cafe and asked how long they would be open. I was told they would be open until 5pm. So I came back at 4:30pm with computer in hand and they were closed and all locked up. Okay, back to the ship to see if I can connect to the Internet via the ship’s Internet service. Negative. So I went to Guest Relations to see if they could help. They confirmed all my setting were set correctly and suggested I try again later or I could try to use the computers on deck eight. Yes, the computers on deck eight work, but I can’t upload pictures from the ship’s computers. So I decide to drown my sorrows in a chocolate milkshake at the Ben & Jerry’s on the ship.
Back at the cabin I get a call that my tour on San Juan has been canceled do to lack of participation. So there is another $96 credit to my onboard account (it was the only tour I was interested in).
Now I can see that the Costa ship is getting ready to leave, so I grab my camera and head to deck ten. I get some good pictures of the ship leaving and then head back to cabin to work on this. My timing is pretty good, as dinner is in twenty minutes. Nothing exciting in the Orpheum Theater tonight, some musical comedy, perhaps Rosanne Barr will sing the national anthem again, that was pretty funny, all though I’m not sure you could call that music.
After dinner I’ll probably come back to the cabin and either rest, play my favorite computer game, sit out on the balcony, get on the Internet for a few minutes, watch something on TV or fall asleep. Of course it is possible I’ll do more than one of those things.