One thing I love about Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is the size of their fleet. With more than twenty ships currently in operation, and more being built, there’s a Royal option for everyone! While I wouldn’t consider myself a “seasoned cruiser” yet, it is something I enjoy and look forward to doing more of in the future.
This past Fall, we found out that my husband had a week off work right before our anniversary. I had been talking to him about a cruise for a while, so we looked to see what was available and, somewhat last-minute (4 weeks out, to be exact), booked it! Because we had specific dates we had to stay within and would have to drive to the port, our best option was a 4 night Bahamas cruise on RCCL’s Enchantment of the Seas. While the Enchantment is an older, smaller ship compared to much of Royal’s fleet, I can tell you that the ship was absolutely fine! I personally prefer to sail on larger ships, however, my husband, who is not as much of a “people person” as I am, loved that the ship was smaller and therefore had less people. While the ship is older (launched in 1996), it has been renovated and kept up well.
When we arrived at Port Canaveral, we handed off our already-tagged luggage to the porters and took our carry-ons (including all documents) into the building with us. The check-in process we very smooth. I had already uploaded our photos and done online check-in on RCCL’s “Cruise Planner” so all there was to do was verify documents and send us on our way! Once we boarded, we headed straight for the Windjammer Café, Royal Caribbean’s buffet restaurant, for lunch. By the time we had finished our lunch, an announcement came on that our rooms were ready. We wanted to explore the ship, so we headed to the room to drop our carry-ons and rest a moment before heading back out.
While we would have preferred a Balcony stateroom, since we booked last minute, all that was left was Ocean View (Lesson: book early, folks!). The room was cozy, as are most cruise ship rooms, but plenty for the two of us. We explored the ship, attended the Muster Drill (safety drill everyone is required to attend on ALL cruises, no matter how many times you’ve cruised), and then it was time to sail away! Because it was a bit rainy, the “Sail Away Party” was moved into the atrium. We watched for a few minutes (music, dancing, etc) and then headed out to the now-empty deck to watch the ship pull away from its dock. It was sprinkling a little, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
The rest of the evening was full of music, a Broadway-style show in the theater, and our first dinner on the ship. When you cruise, you typically had the same wait staff each night for the length of your cruise. Our waiters were awesome!
The second day, we woke up to sunny CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. We spent the morning enjoying the beach, and then had a BBQ-style lunch on the island (included with your cruise fare).
If you’re planning a cruise that includes a visit to CocoCay after May 2019, your experience could be very different than ours, as Royal Caribbean is currently finishing up a renovation/addition to the island. The “Perfect Day at CocoCay” and will include a water park, splash pad, over water bungalows, and more!
Because our goal for this cruise was to relax and rest, we didn’t plan any excursions or “extras,” but spent our time laying by the pool, reading in the room while watching the blue water, walking around the deck in the breeze, and of course eating. We enjoyed the Solarium (adults-only area) and its café for an afternoon snack before dinner, and loved sitting in the shade to enjoy that snack and some soft-serve ice cream (all you care to enjoy!). Because it was a smaller ship and during the school year, there really were not very many children on board, which helped the pool area be a little less rowdy.
After those four days, I can honestly say I felt totally relaxed and rested, but not necessarily ready to leave the ship to head home! It was a wonderful time, and my only complaint is that it didn’t last longer! I’ve been on 2 Bahamas cruises now, and honestly would go back. Not because of visiting Nassau- I stayed on the ship the second time- but because I love having those few days to relax, enjoy the private islands of the various cruise lines, and exploring the ships. The gourmet food doesn’t hurt either!
If you’re new to cruising, or just don’t have the time or money to spend on a 7 night cruise, I definitely recommend a 4 night, or even 3 if that’s what you can swing. Royal Caribbean offers 3 and 4 night Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral (Orlando area) year-round. They typically rotate, so that 3 night sailing run from Friday-Monday, and 4 night sailings run from Monday-Friday.
Sometimes, throughout the year, the various ships will move around to be based in different ports.
I’m excited to say that, beginning in May, the 3 and 4 night Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will be on the Mariner of the Seas! Why is this exciting? Well, I’m glad you asked! The Mariner is the first ship I ever went on when I was in high school. It is a good bit larger and newer than the Enchantment, but not so large that its overwhelming. The Mariner has many activities and amenities that the Enchantment does not have, such as water slides, larger kids and teen clubs, and an ice skating rink. It also just went through a renovation, which RCCL is adding to several of their ships, called “Royal Amplified.” This renovation added things like laser tag, an escape room, and several new bars and specialty restaurants. The Mariner of the Seas is definitely a ship worth checking out!
For more information, or to book your Royal Caribbean cruise adventure, contact your Coasters & Castles Travel Vacation Specialist today!
Kara Brown is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. She has been to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, on a Disney Cruise as well as Royal Caribbean. Based in Tennessee, Kara can help you plan an amazing vacation! firstname.lastname@example.org