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Adding Enchantment to the Seas

January 18, 1998|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

The 73,817-ton, 1,950-passenger Enchantment of the Seas, the most recent of Royal Caribbean International's six-ship Project Vision series, debuted in Europe last summer and began its Caribbean season in October.

Only one more ship is due in this series, the Vision of the Seas, which will make its inaugural cruise in Europe in May. The ship then will reposition to Canada and New England in September and arrive in the Caribbean in late October for a series of winter Panama Canal transits.

The Project Vision ships have attracted large numbers of Europeans to an American-style ship that caters to younger travelers looking for an affordable resort-type holiday. The vessels are glitzy and glamorous.

Each ship has a distinct personality, and the Enchantment of the Seas makes a stronger design statement than its predecessors. It is so bright and lively that it is reminiscent of RCI's competition, Carnival. The look is especially noticeable in the line's signature Viking Crown Lounge, a large nightclub high atop the ship's deck done in natural woods with royal blue and sharp lime-green furniture.

A teenager's area called Fantaseas is done in vivid shades with Tivoli lights and computer games, while the adjacent area called Club Ocean is for smaller kids, complete with an Adventure Ocean room "Decompression Chamber"--a long bright-colored tube to crawl and slide through.

One of the most appealing areas is the Asian-accented solarium and spa with a sliding glass roof over the pool. Spa devotees can indulge in sauna and steam treatments, canvas lounging chairs, a big beauty salon, a large glass-walled gym with treadmills, free weights and stationary bikes with race course software.

We'd suggest changing the name for the gaudy, buccaneer-themed Casino Royale to Pirates of the Royal Caribbean, since all it needs is a mechanical parrot or two to simulate the Disneyland attraction.

In keeping with the line's tradition of naming public rooms for Broadway musicals, the two-deck My Fair Lady dining room is filled with dark wood chairs with curved, carved backs and striped upholstery in mauve, lavender and purple. The room's mauve floral carpet is very Victorian, along with curved bay windows, patterned crystal and burgundy napery.

Buffet breakfasts and lunches are served in the large glass-walled Windjammer Cafe, with a large buffet area making up various food stations. Outside is a covered area with granite tables and wood tub chairs, an outdoor bar and huge sunbathing area. A marble outdoor dance floor and chrome sculptures are adjacent to the fair-sized pool and its four covered Jacuzzis on marble platforms.

Many cabins offer private verandas, and all follow a similar design with a seating area, twin beds that can be made into one queen-size bed, a combination desk and dresser, and bath with tub or shower. Enchantment of the Seas has 14 suites named for previous or present ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, five more elaborate ones named for artists, and one Royal Suite complete with self-playing baby grand piano.

Enchantment of the Seas offers alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries year-round from Miami every Sunday. The western itinerary visits Key West, Fla.; Playa del Carmen and Cozumel in Mexico, Ocho Rios and Georgetown, in Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. The eastern program calls in St. Maarten; St. John and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and a private Bahamian island called Coca Cay. Fares range from $1,199 to $4,499 per person, double occupancy.

To get a free color brochure about Enchantment of the Seas, see a travel agent or call (800) 327-6700.

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