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May 18, 2012 / rafinmd

Day 1, Thursday, May 17, Embark Enchantment of the Seas

I left home about 6:45. My first bus was right on. There are 3 and I took the middle one (instead of last a year ago) and it was less crowded. The second bus was very uncrowded but had 4 of my fellow cruisers on board. I stopped at a McDonalds near the pier for a morning coffee and internet.

I dropped my bag off at the pier at 10, returned to Fort Avenue, and took the bus to Fort McHenry. There is a new visitor center, but it was also the season for school field trips and this is a primary location for that, maing it quite crowded and very noisy. I arrived back at the port about 1:30 for a not so smooth embarkation. I suspect the people at the terminal are contractors rather than RCI employees but they did not impress me. They were insistent that I had to show a passport to get through security while there are several other options, including the NEXUS card I used to register. I must have spent close to a half hour at security while they went to ever higher levels of supervision, even at one point asking for a birth certificate. At some time while this was going on I pulled out my laptop and put it away several times, and in all the shuffle of stuff while I was waiting, when I finally got through security my set sail pass was missing in action. That did not really hinder the process much, I was found in the manifest and the checkin guy just gave me a new cruise contract to sign. He knew the NEXUS card was valid but it was the first time he had seen one, and he was very apologetic about the minimal delay while he found out exactly how to process it. I was on board about 2:15 for a late lunch in the WJ.

The muster drill was at 3:30. It was done on the Promenade deck and life jackets were not required. One thing that seemed a bit different was that most of the safety announcements were made by the Cruise Director with only a brief message by the Captain. My luggage had not yet been delivered. As I left for the drill I could see it in the crew stairway and it was there when I returned from the drill, so I picked up my video camera and went off to the Cruise Critic sailaway get-together at the Oasis Bar. I stayed on deck as we backed out of the slip, passed Fort McHenry, the liberty ship John Brown, the hospital ship USNS Comfort, and headed out under the Francis Scott Key bridge.

My cabin steward came by and introduced himself. The room had been made up as a Queen Bed and I asked him to reconfigure it as twins so I could get close to the window. It was done when I returned from dinner. We passed under the William Preston Lane bridge about 5:45, just before dinner. I am at a 5-top; we had a lady from Indiana, a couple who lives less than 10 miles from me and one empty seat for the evening. My waiters are Glenn and Praschant and Head Waiter Ice. The welcome aboard show was at 7:45 with an introduction to the activities staff and a short segment by comedian Kivi Rogers.

As today’s parting shot, I am not really a devotee of RCI and my experience with them is relatively limited. The crew of Enchantment seems to have a reputation as one of the best in the fleet. There was a surprise tonight as my waiter from last year stopped by my table and welcomed me back. I don’t have the experience to verify the claims of Enchantment’s crew being at the top but my limited experience does support it. Enchantment will be replaced in Baltimore in about a year by the Grandeur. I will not miss Enchantment’s crowded theater but I think I will miss this crew.

Roy

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