This is my review of the Enchantment of the Seas Columbia and Dutch Caribbean cruise:
Prior to departure we spent two days in Panama City taking in the sites and the Panama Canal. We had a private tour which was fantastic! If you ever find yourself in Panama, the canal is a must; we spent several hours there watching the ships; truly fascinating!
Now, onto the cruise; we boarded the ship in Colon, Panama on Sunday, March 14, 2010. The check-in was well organized and went very quickly. The departure time was not until 7:00 pm which allowed people to trickle in throughout the day and although it was booked to capacity, the ship never seemed too crowded. One thing to note is that this was a Spanish speaking cruise. RCCL made a point of calling us after we booked to ensure that we knew this (which we did). Spanish speaking cruise in this case simply meant that all announcements and shows were done in Spanish first; they also did the announcements and shows, etc. in English. Neither my wife nor I speak Spanish (my wife has a basic knowledge of the language) but had no issues and the crew and most passengers were very accommodating (and friendly).
On Monday morning we arrived in Cartagena, Columbia. We decided to take the Beach Break and Shopping Excursion - *what a mistake*. Do not take this tour! The beach in Cartagena is ok at best and you will be harassed non-stop for your time there. The beach is public and there are peddlers/vendors selling massages, ice cream, water, etc. that will NEVER leave you alone! There en tire group on this excursion decided to ask our guide to leave the beach and return back to the ship cutting the tour short by about two hours. What a horror show! The entire group decided to complain and Royal Caribbean refunded $5.45 to each participant for the horrible experience. The $5 refund was quite insulting (in my opinion). ?
Interestingly, this ship had two embarkation/debarkation points; one in Colon, Panama and the other in Cartagena, Columbia. You would not know it though as the embarkation/debarkation was well done.
On a positive note, the transportation provided and our guide (Benny), were top notch. We should have taken the City Tour as others on the ship had a great day in Cartagena on this tour.
On Tuesday the ship docked in Santa Marta, Columbia. Our excursion this day was also a beach break. Again the transportation and guide were excellent. This time the beach was controlled access with only a few vendors who would leave you alone once you said "no gracias" (for the most part). I suppose it doesn't hurt that we had an armed guard with us on the beach.....
This time I think we chose the right excursion here as we heard others complaining that the City tour was not very good.
Next stop Aruba! Wednesday morning we arrived in Aruba, what a beautiful place! Here we took the half day Jeep Safari and had an excellent time. We did a bit of off-roading, saw all the sites and even had an hour at a fantastic beach.
Thursday we arrived in Curacoa, Dutch Caribbean. Another absolutely stunning place. Our excursion here got cancelled due to lack of participation so we took a City Tour from one of the many friendly services on the pier. The tour was $15 per person and included a two hour tour of the City and ended up at the beach where you could stay if you wanted. Needless to say, we stayed! The late departure times on this cruise (sometimes 10:00 pm) allowed for us to really enjoy our day off the boat.
Friday was Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. Another stunning island! They have some of the best beaches, snorkeling and diving of anywhere in the world. We opted for the beach where you could rent snorkeling equipment (only available on the water-taxi for a cost of $5 as sales on the beach are illegal).
Saturday was our "at-sea" day. Chairs on deck were ample and the day was relaxing and lots of fun. The Officers versus Guests pool volleyball tournament was hilarious!
The shipped docked in Colon, Panama at 6:00 am on Sunday. Debarkation was smooth and well organized.
All in all, it was a great cruise with excellent bang-for the buck!
Room 3011 has a large pole at the foot of the bed on the left side as you enter the cabin.