Enchantment Excels With Art, Use of Space

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Associate cruise editor Laura Dennis sailed aboard the Enchantment of the Seas during a fall foliage itinerary through New England and Canada. Her report follows: ABOARD THE ENCHANTMENT - I took a whirlwind overnight tour of this ship when it was introduced to the European travel trade in July. I traveled to Southampton, England, and caught the splendor of a brand new vessel. I inspected cabins with plenty of storage space and suites with marble bathtubs and inviting verandas, had drinks in the solarium and enjoyed escargot at dinner in the My Fair Lady dining room. I attended a trade show, and after an overnight, said farewell to the Enchantment - a brief, quick tour that seemed like many an agent fam trip. But this time, it was only until fall before I hooked up with the vessel again for a foliage itinerary through New England and Canada. On this cruise, I had more than enough time to explore the ship, discover new areas and see how the latest Vision-class vessel measured up to its siblings. The 1,950-passenger Enchantment is the identical twin of the Grandeur of the Seas, which made its debut last December. According to the ship's hotel manager Tony O'Prey, the Enchantment distinguishes itself from the Grandeur with its original artwork and India-themed solarium. The woodwork and general decor on the Enchantment are lighter than on its twin. O'Prey said the use of softer colors in the cabins, coupled with more storage space, has generated a lot of positive feedback from guests. For me, the clever storage space was one of the ship's strongest selling points. Jean, a friend, and I stayed in a larger oceanview stateroom, listed as category F. Jean is an avid cruise vacationer, but the words "pack light" are not part of her traveling vocabulary. Efficient use of space is how one passenger characterized the rooms on the Enchantment. Everything had a function: mirrors on the side of the desk opened to offer shelf space; the chair in our room had a hidden drawer, and the beds were high enough that we could fit our suitcases underneath. We were delighted to find a medicine cabinet in our bathroom, shelves in the shower and storage space under our bathroom sink. There were more drawers in the closet, desk and nightstands. Even though we were pleased with our storage space and the warm and inviting atmosphere created by the use of pastels and lighter wood, we did manage to not loiter in the cabin. There was much more to see and do. During the day, the library, card room and solarium were the most popular areas to seek refuge for an afternoon nap, a game of cards, a place to read or a quick snack. Many of the guests marveled at the decor of the solarium and could be found swimming in its indoor pool or relaxing on a lounge chair. Filled with sunlight, the room and the adjoining spa were designed to "bring Indian mythology" alive, according to the line. To evoke that image, the solarium's artwork includes glass sculptures, a three-panel mosaic, bronze wall reliefs, paintings and an antique plate. The enclosed pool area, with its white columns and cornflower-blue tiles, was an ideal spot to unwind. Even amid the splashing, talking and laughing, I could stretch out on a chair and gaze out the windows, losing myself in the scenery and sunlight. At night, most of the passengers could be found at the Orpheum Theater, the Casino Royale and the Schooner Bar listening to live music. The public areas that were lures for us included the library with its roomy leather couches, current best-sellers and a life-sized sculpture of a man reclining in a chair. Although officials apparently debated about whether to fill a chair space with the bronze body rather than a passenger's body, guests undoubtedly will enjoy doing a double take to figure out who is sitting in the chair when they grab a book or accidentally bump into "him." We also were drawn to the Viking Crown Lounge, which provided panoramic views and the Fanta-Seas Teen Center. At the teen center, Jean and I could not resist the challenges that the center's foosball machine offered. Following our foosball competition, we usually headed to the Viking Crown Lounge, the Enchantment's nightclub. The lounge did not draw much of a crowd during our trip, but that will likely change when the ship switches to its Caribbean schedule. The Caribbean itinerary is expected to draw a younger clientele than the New England voyage, where the average age was between 60 and 70. O'Prey said changes on tap for the Caribbean include the addition of a steel pan band and more outdoor activities to take advantage of the warmer climate. In the dining room, a Caribbean night featuring local specialties will be added to the menu. Based on our cruise experience, the food on the Enchantment is one area that could be improved. Food reviews from the passengers were mixed. Some said the only problem was that there was too much. It seemed a problem anyone could solve. But if cruise dining should be exceptional, a little more attention was needed. For example, the pizza, served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., was not crispy, was topped with what tasted like American cheese and had no flavor. When I commented on my dissatisfaction with it to another passenger, though, she said "Well, you are from the New York area." However, I've spent enough time in greasy spoons to know that I am not a food snob who thinks everything from New York is the best. At dinner the vegetables were a little salty and overcooked, but simple entrees, such as Maine lobster, prime rib and steak, were good. At dinner one night, we had an unplanned opportunity to see how the ship's staff and officers handle a crisis with aplomb. A small fire broke out near the incinerator area. Our captain announced to the passengers what had happened and how it was going to be resolved. There was some smoke, and it was contained easily. Our waiter calmly explained what the procedures were if an emergency situation occurred. The captain made another announcement a short while later advising us that the matter was resolved, and we should put any fears to rest. Not to worry, and we didn't. Entertainment on board the Enchantment generated positive feedback from the passengers. Many people I spoke to enjoyed the shows at the Orpheum such as comedian David Brenner's act, a rock 'n roll revue and a daytime enrichment program. The latter program was a folkloric show that featured highland dancers and Scottish music. With the popularity of shows such as "Riverdance," the program seemed like a natural way to introduce passengers to one of Nova Scotia's cultural traditions. Also on the culture front, the ship boasts a $4 million art collection. On their way to the cafe or casino, guests will find works of art that were chosen to "complement the ship's overall theme of festivals and celebrations from around the world." There are paintings, sculptures, photographs and a stained-glass piece called "Festival!" For active travelers, like Jean, the ship offered a daily lineup of workouts, including stretch aerobics, a walk-a-thon, gutbusters and a sunrise stretch. I took the nonactive travel approach and decided to go to the movies, attend seminars and demonstrations and explore the ship.

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