celebrating 45 years of "meh"

Enchantment of the Seas – Day 3

(rabbit rabbit!)

Originally published October 19th on the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards.

Wednesday, October 18

I woke up on my own at 7:10 which is me still waking up for work, but VERY late for work. We go up to breakfast as usual – I have a pancake, bacon, fruit, and a chocolate covered banana. Mom gets potatoes, bacon, fruit, and a gluten free roll. We have coffee and mimosas because WHY NOT? Captain Toni was in the Windjammer too! He may have just had fruit, which is good because he’s a sea guy and we don’t want him to get scurvy. (Oh, the things I remember from grade school…)

Deck 9 – Pool Deck.

We had our second cup of coffee out on deck 9 and watched our approach to Coco Cay. I’m stupidly excited for this day, because I love the beach. At 9:30 we decided to get moving. From our room on deck 3 we could see the tenders glide back and forth outside, as well as the supplies being loaded onto another craft. I teased mom that the shipping list for that boat was “20 Limbo sticks, 15 volleyballs, 30 hula hoops, and one gluten free roll.”

We boarded the tender which looked remarkably unsafe but we rolled with it. We’re seated on the top level and the breeze and view can’t be beat.

On the unsafe-seeming tender which was pretty darn safe after all.

We didn’t bring any of our gigantic water haul with us to Coco Cay because the message hammered home was DO NOT BRING ANYTHING OFF OF THE BOAT WITH YOU. On the tender there we saw people with coffee cups and bottles of water. Remember the old cartoons where the main character slowly turned into a lollipop with a “SUCKER” label on it? Me.

We landed at the docks and man, it took my breath away. I know this is a completely manufactured environment but it rang all of my bells for “perfect island beach!” All of the buildings are brightly colored and clearly named. The dock construction was going on, but the noise was easily ignored. We had the Coco Cay photos taken because we are cruise noobs. I rented the 2 loungers/sunshade back when we booked the cruise. South Beach is a LONG way away and we were thankful for the tram that took us there. There were three rows of chairs/sunshades there and once you turn in voucher to the employee, they are first come, first served. We ended up in the second row, which is what we get for being lazy. We also got fancy VIP bracelets.

I was a little happy.

Immediately we waded into the water. It was warm yet refreshing and what’s better, I could see my feet! Don’t get me wrong — I love my home state of NJ and I grew up at those beaches but the surf is rough and constantly kicking up sand so you can’t see the bottom. Walking into the Atlantic from the Jersey shore is akin to a trust fall. On Coco Cay, not only could I see my feet but there were teeny fish darting around! The water was shallow and although I walked pretty far, it never came up above my knees. Is this a result of Hurricane Irma?

We settled into our chairs, toasty and thankful. And then … the people in front of us left! After getting the OK from the attendant, we moved into the front row, and we were even more thankful. As I said, I grew up going to the Jersey shore. Which can be very crowded, especially in the shore towns with boardwalks. There were no distractions at South Beach — no amusements behind you, no airplanes towing banners, no Jersey shore scents like pizza or Drakkar Noir. It was beautiful and everything I needed it to be.

My view from the Coco Cay loungers

Lunch is served from 11:30-1:30. I was expecting hot dogs and hamburgers. I was not expecting gyros, curry, ribs, and a roast suckling pig, severed head prominiently displayed on the carving board. I have the heart of a vegetarian but the appetite of someone who makes steak/moo jokes. Mom went to the grill, gave her room number and recived a gluten free roll for her buger. This place is seriously approaching Santa Claus level of service. She had a burger, fries, and fruit. I had a hot dog (classy broad), macaroni and cheese, fruit, lemon cake. We shared a picnic table from a family from Minnesota. I’m one of those people who will write on the internet all day long but who is awkward around new people in real life. But everyone here is so nice that even I’m finding it easy. (Mom can make friends with anyone but apparently not Mario.)

A well-traveled bear.

(Other OllieBear adventures: Atlanta, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas.)

After lunch we poked around the straw market, took some of our own photos, and then found 2 empty beach chairs under an umbrella. Plop. At 3 we reluctantly took the vaguely unsafe looking tender back to the ship.

Wildlife seen on Coco Cay without even trying because who has time for a nature walk when there is tanning to do?:
> small fish
> large fish
> tiny crabs
> chickens (live)
> iguanas
> sea gulls
> pig (head of, deceased, roasted)

We dumped off things in our room and went to Windjammer for coffee. Annnnnnnnnnnd ended up with a plate of nachos with queso. I’m going to be wearing tents to work next week. We hoovered down the nachos and took our coffees out to the pool deck. We watched the belly flop competition which was a lot of fun.

Time for an important decision: today’s bingo was going to be a 3-game session, and they were giving away a free cruise. However, the entry price for the regular one-game session was $33 so I was figuring that the price for that big session would be around $100. $100 for a huge chance to lose. And the deck was so nice and we wanted to watch as we sailed away from Coco Cay. And thus, the bingo addiction was broken. I saw our photos from formal night and I kid you not, the one of of me alone on the stairs is one of the best photos I’ve taken. We’re not going to spend the $199 for the package, so we have some hard decisions to make.

We showered all of the beach funk off before dinner. I have given up trying to keep the water within the boundary of the shower, and just wipe the bathroom floor down when I’m done. The shower curtain has boundary issues and likely works for a notable Hollywood producer because it touches me without consent.

Our tablemates from night 1 were back and we had a great time chatting about our various excurisons. Ajay was phenomenal again (any WWE fans out there? just me? ok.) I had a caprese salad, garlic tiger shrimp, and key lime pie. I’ve had a glass of Wolf Blass Merlot each night, too. Mom had a salad, tiger shrimp (prepared without gluten) and they made her a sugar free, gluten free chocolate mousse for dessert.

The boat started rocking during dinner. Not enough to make us sick, but it was the first time I felt it the whole trip. It would continue to rock throughout the night, stopping right before morning.

I cashed in my chips from Monday night at Casino Royale’s craps table at a $25-0 exchange rate. Boo, hiss. Gambling is horrible. Don’t be like me. On a whim we went to the karaoke event in the Spotlight lounge. I watched 15 super-courageous people bring the house down. We were going to go to bed then but … there was a 70s party about to bust out in the Centrum. It was quite fun and was well received. But … I’m 45 and these were songs from when I was a kid. I have to wonder if they could maybe do a 70s night and then an 80s/90s night to try and shake off the “cruising is for old people” myth.

These ladies KILLED IT at karaoke. “Sweet Sixties” – if this was a competition you’d have won the record contract!

But then I went to bed right after that so maybe I’m old too! 😉

Day 3: A+++

Enchantment of the Seas – Day 2

Originally published October 18th on the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards.

Tuesday, October 17

I woke up with a start at 6:30am because I was going to be late for work, which of course I was not. I peeked out the window and saw tiny glimmering lights in the distance. “Self,” I said. “It’s time to go see the sunrise.” With Mom as my willing accomplice, we put on some appropriate duds and headed up to deck 9. There were clouds on the horizon so we didn’t get the full effect, but it was lovely nonetheless. As we approached Nassau, I saw a castle up ahead that turned out to be the Atlantis resort. Well, since we were awake, may as well have breakfast. And that’s how we ended up in the Windjammer at 7:15am. I had eggs, bacon, a grilled tomato (good!), and a chocolate covered banana. Mom hit up the gluten free area and ended up with eggs, potatoes, and fruit. We had mimosas because WHY NOT??

Because why not?

We had no excursions planned because I wanted us to take it easy. But how could we skip the opportunity to set foot in Nassau? After breakfast we left the ship (had the gangway photo taken because we are cruise noobs) and headed to shop. We are tourists so we stuck to the touristy area. I won’t lie, being loudly solicited for hair braiding and taxis as soon as we left the pier was a bit of culture shock, but whatever. Everyone was nice, just loud. We shopped on Bay Street. I picked up some gifts for coworkers (spoiler: magnets), Mom bought some gifts for friends (spoiler: more magnets), and something for my nephew (not magnets. He’s 3 1/2.) at Del Sol. I bought color changing nail polish that is a gorgeous pink in sunlight and a jaundiced yellow when I’m not in sunlight. I spend my days in a cubicle, so in retrospect that was not the best choice.

We were back on the ship in time for lunch at the Windjammer, which was very empty today. Mom had a bunless hamburger, some fries and fruit. I had Caribbean curry chicken with coconut and cranberries, some mashed potatoes, a dollop of penne alfredo, a giant piece of sourdough bread, a slice of peach pie and a plop of bread pudding. As you can tell, I’ve taken to the concept of a cruise buffet like a duck to water.

Speaking of water…. Mom told me to order bottled water for the room. I idly picked the 12-pack of 1-liter bottles but I’m an idiot who has no idea how much a liter actually is. We have a LOT of water here for just two people. Caveat emptor when buying water.

Stupid neighbor in Nassau taunting me with its gorgeous Disneyness.

Next up: POOL TIME. I suited up and headed to deck 9 while Mom chilled in the cabin for a bit. It was ridiculously hot, and even the drink of the day (Portside Punch) failed to cool me off. The movie playing was the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which I have serious and angry feelings about. Mom came up to join me and we (along with 2 liters of water) moved to the Solarium which was quite a piece of paradise.

Back to the room to shower. (I read someone on the fan boards who said there is no soap in the cabins. We have bar soap and some sort of squirty soap in the shower.) Tonight is formal night. Dinner is at 6 and skipping bingo is not an option, so we suited up in our LBDs and were the most fancy-pants ladies at the 5pm bingo session. Those who brought receipts from the previous day’s bingo session received even more cards and I really have a problem. I won another free tablet full of cards before the game began and I got down to waiting for one number and … STILL LOST. Bah.

Fancypants bingo. We lost.

Formal night dress code: Don’t sweat it. Some people were in super fancy duds, some people were in nice-casual duds like us, and some people were in MDR in shorts and tees. I wore a black dress, silver heels, and a black and white Kate Spade scarf as a pashmina. I concluded that I spent far too much time worrying about how to dress.

Off to MDR for dinner. Our friends from last night had a sunset cruise excursion, and the other ladies never returned so Mom and I had the table to ourselves. Mom had another amazing gluten-free night: shrimp cocktail, chicken breast au jus, and coconut rice pudding. I had a chilled banana rum soup as an appetizer. You could have just put a fancy umbrella and a straw in it and handed it to me as I sunned on the deck today. For dinner I had pan-fried corvina (a white fish I never heard of before) and dessert was a chocolate mousse-like bar. Our server is Ajay and he is the best.

Formal Mom!

Mom: “I don’t know how I’m going to go back to tossing chicken tenders in the oven.”
Me: “I think I’m buzzed from this soup.”

After dinner (and numerous formal night photos because we are cruise noobs) we settled into the R bar for the captain’s reception. I spied that Super Mario guy at a “reserved” table and because of Michael Poole’s live blog from this past weekend, I knew who he was.

(“Super” Mario is a guy who has logged over 7,009 nights on Royal Caribbean ships. He runs his own business from the ship’s pool deck thanks to the magic of the Internet!)

I enjoyed the reception, especially that each officer had their own walk-on music like baseball players. Mario was called up and given a bottle of wine because he has 7009 nights logged on Royal Caribbean ships. This is Mario’s last time on the Enchantment — he’s moving to the Freedom. I tried to get Mom to hook up with him to see if we could glom some points from him (or at the very least that bottle of wine), but she was not willing to take one for the team. Whatever, Mom. I drowned my sorrow in a Captain’s special peach champagne drink because the soup buzz was wearing off.

Music this evening was from Mood Icons, a 3-man cover band with a repertoire of American sing-along songs. Friends in Low Places! Margaritaville! Wonderful Tonight! Sweet Little Sixteen!

We asked Guest Services about the food at Coco Cay tomorrow and was sent back to talk to the head waiter at MDR. He’s going to make sure Mom has a gluten-free bun at the lunch area. Everyone is so nice and accomodating. We hit the stores on deck 6 and I bought a non-magnet gift for my nephew. There’s a Roxy sundress I’m lusting over but it’s $64.50 and … nah. I’ll by myself something to wear in Key West.

After going from deck 3 to 4 to 6 to 5 to 4 to 6 again, my feet were howling. Back down to 3 to change shoes, and then we called it a night shortly after. We are docked in Nassau until midnight so I won’t get to see us leave. That’s a bummer. I don’t know why we’re here so long – we are the last cruise ship in port. There was a snail towel sculpture waiting for us in the room. I like it here. 🙂

Day 2: A++

Enchantment of the Seas – Day 1

Originally published October 17th on the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards

Monday, October 16.

Woke at 4:30, picked up mom at 4:47 to head to the airport. The rain was falling at a steady clip.

Things I hate:
> Driving in the rain.
> Driving to the airport.
> Driving over the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Unfortunately, sometimes we must do things we hate in order to get what we want.

We arrived at the airport without incident at 5:15 for a 6:55 flight. The gas indicator bonged when we were almost there – I’ll deal with that Friday. Parked in Economy, took the shuttle to the terminal and was greeted by the longest security line I’ve ever seen in my years of travelling out of PHL. My gut shook. It snaked out of security, down the hall, around the corner, and down toward the parking lot entrance. “Always fly the night before!” the Greek Chorus of message board people said in my head. The line moved at a decent clip and at about halfway, we were pulled to the front of the line because of Mom’s cane. (Mom’s had A SUMMER but is 90% back to normal!) We got through (no taking off jackets, shoes, or removing the baggies of liquid from the bags!) but we literally walked up to the terminal and into the A line and onto the plane. SWA flight to FLL took off without incident. Coffee was great!

We flew to FLL and took Miami Port Express to the terminal. The line was long, but well worth it. They were selling lanyards at the terminal for the SeaPass cards (7.00 for regular ones and 9.99 for sports team branded ones) but we had some freebies from the Pennsylvania Conference for Women so we skipped. We had the boarding pictures taken because we are cruise noobs.

Gah, what a pretty boat. Totally gorgeous! We stood in the Centrum for a while, overwhelmed. Then our stomachs took over and we went to the Windjammer which was jam packed with people and some typically crappy tourist behavior, like taking over tables with suitcases and camping there until the cabins opened. Boo! Mom found the gluten-free corner and was very pleased with the offerings. I had a hot dog and fries because I’m a classy broad.

I freaking LOVE FOOD,

The rooms opened at 1pm and we love our room! It’s perfect for two people who don’t hate each other. We have a large ocean view cabin, deck 3, beds separated.

Next we toured the spa and entered the drawing. The spa is lovely and smelled great. Sat in the solarium and was kicked out to go to the muster drill. The spa drawing was at 4:10 and you had to be present to win. We … didn’t win.

Sail-away party! We found some chairs on deck 10 and bid adios to Miami with the help of a Bahama Mama. We had zero problems with feeling movement or seasickness. Zero. It’s beautiful.

Adios, Miami!

Our dinner seating was at 6pm and we arrived at the My Fair Lady Dining room (MDR) to encounter a GIANT line. It went quickly, though, and one of the waitstaff escorted us to our table. It was a six-top and … full. Hm. Turns out there was a party of 4 adults who were split between 2 tables and rather than go and get that fixed, they decided that nobody would notice if they took our seats. We were willing to switch to the other table, but then one of them copped a HUGE attitude with the maitre’d and you know what? Nah. I want my table. You all are wrong so you can move. All four stalked off to another table and we had a great time chatting with the two who remained.

DINNER WAS GREAT. You know, I was nervous about MDR because I read things but the food was great. I had a good Caesar salad, the strip steak and a warm chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert. All of the gluten free food was clearly notated on the menu and Mom had no problem at all. She also had the steak, cooked to super well done as she requested. (I prefer a bit of moo left in it.) Her dessert was a gluten free blueberry and peach cobbler, which was great. It was all great! IT’S ALL GREAT! Mom got a sneak peek at tomorrow’s menu. The waitstaff is phenomenal.

We went to the casino after dinner because I am weak. I ended up $5 up. Then we went to bingo in Boleros. It was $33 to play for a jackpot of $300. For that $33 you get 36 electronic cards (on a tablet – they keep track of the numbers themselves!) and 3 paper cards for us olds who like dabbing things. Buy 2 packages and you got the third for free, which we did. And then they had a free raffle for the remaining tablets and I won one of those. AND WE STILL LOST!!

And. We. Still. Lost.

There were 2 winners who split the jackpot. But the hosts where hysterical and we had an expensive good time. By then were were completely feeling the long day. We stood outside and experienced the ocean at night (spoiler: dark) before going back to our room, where I fell into my tiny bed. It’s a little firmer than what I’m used to but it really didn’t matter.

Day 1: A++

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