Review Pullmantur Monarch Transatlantic May 2017

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Bogota, Colombia
160 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
HI to everyone,

I will start this out by saying that I am frustrated that CC does not have the Pullmantur Monarch on its automatic cruise review page so this will have to be done by hand. There is very little out there on the web as far as reviews of this cruise line.

Pullmantur. Monarch May 11, Cartagena to LIsbon
Room 1578, Junior suite
Second cruise on this ship in the last five years

I will go through things step by step but I want to start with the fact that this cruise line is probably the best value for the money on the open seas, but you must go in with your eyes open. It is a 3.5 to 4 star ship that is a little older. It is a Spanish owned company, that serves the Latin American and Spanish market. It is a primarily Spanish speaking cruise. The entertainment will be in Spanish, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the voices or dance. Almost all crew can speak a minimum of three languages and if you ever have a problem you can get it resolved, just have a little patience.

The boarding process has always been a problem for Pullmantur and I am not sure why. It is chaotic and somewhat frustrating but you can work your way through it. First have your printed off confirmation in hand, filled out, and signed. In Cartagena where I boarded, you must then go to the line, one for foreigners the other for Colombians, to have your passport checked and to pay the exit fee. They will stamp the passport, but this is not immigration, that will come later. For those in Junior Suites or above, you will then need to find a Pullmantur employee to direct you to the area where you will be shown to immigration without having to wait in the line. For everyone else, just get in the immigration line. After immigration and security, you will be given your room key and they will collect your passport. You can then take a shuttle or walk to the ship.

On my first cruise on the Monarch, I was a little surprised at how small the rooms where, but it had everything you needed. On this trip I was in a Junior Suite with balcony and it was a very nice surprise to see the size of the room. The room was in very good shape and appeared to be recently remodeled. The bathroom was a nice size with full tub. The balcony was really large, but be prepared that there was an overhang of about two meters from the pool deck above. Only mild complaint, the satellite connection for TV stations did not work the whole trip, but I was on vacation who had time for TV, the movie channels worked.

As part of purchasing a Junior Suite you are given free access to the Waves Yacht Club which is a lounge area on deck twelve above the buffet area. It had great views, very nice seating and was a quiet place to get away. There were appetizers through out the day, as well as a bar. The Waves Club program had just gone through a major revamp and there was some confusion on the part of the staff as well as the passengers for the first few days. While it is an all inclusive cruise, if you wanted to upgrade the brands of liquor you could pay a small fee. Free wi fi was included for all those with in the club. The outside deck area within the Waves Yacht Club was reserved for those that had purchased the Royal Suites.

The nightly shows are not my thing so I can't tell you much other than they are primarily in Spanish, but some of the singing is in English. The bands all sing in Spanish and be ready for some latin beats. I have to say watching the crowds sing along was just as fun as the preformance. There is also a lot of dancing. If you don't know how to Salsa there are lessons by the pool every afternoon.

Food, on our first trip we did not eat in the formal dining room. This trip I ate there nearly every night. There is breakfast in the formal dining room everyday, but it is a buffet style just like upstairs. I always ate lunch in the buffet and it was always good. Unlike many other cruises you do need to watch the time for meals. Breakfast is from 7:30 to 10:30 or 11 and then things close down until lunch about an hour later. The lunch buffet is closed at about 3:30 but there is a place upstairs where you can get pizza until dinner time. The dinner seatings are late by American standards. 7:15 and 9:30 while in the Carribean, later when in Europe. I never had a bad meal and I had a different main course every night.

Bars, each one has its own atmosphere and you will find something you like. Remember the alcohol is free. However, I have never seen so much coffee being ordered on a ship before. The disco opens up at 11 pm and goes until 3:30 am and there is a wide variety of pop/latin music. There were several nights where there parties out by the pool that started around 11pm with the bands playing and everyone dancing. Going back to the free alcohol thing. I never, in 15 days, saw one person drunk or out of control even with the liquor being free.

The gym has everything you need even if you need to be a little creative for certain exercises. There is a small sauna in the mens and the women changing room. The spa was excellent and very well priced for a cruise ship. Internet was average, better to find a place in port to chat and up and download. The tour packages looked like they were well priced as well, but I never used them, just got off the boat and walked or took a cab.

Disembarkation, simple.

Overall, Pullmantur is really an incredible value for what you pay. Just have your expectations in check when you book. This is a 3.5 or 4 star older ship but has been well maintained. It is primarily Spanish speaking but if you are openminded and a little adventurous, you can have a great time.
28 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Dear LBFlex,
Thanks for your good review of the recent Monarch TA . We continue cruising with Monarch from Lisbon to Rostock after that TA trip . Guess what ? The menu of the TA cruise is better than the Northern Europe one . For every dinner on the TA trip, passengers are given 2 menu, one is called "standard " and the other one is from "chef recommended" . The standard menu is the same for every night but the "chef recommended" is different for each night .We can choose some from the standard and/or from the chef recommended menu.
We eat lunch in the buffet restaurant and each day is served with different carving meat, from roast beef, rack of lamb to grilled salmon , turkey, chicken ...and so on. The cold cut station have a lot of good cheese, ham, salami, prosecutor (spelling!!!) . We enjoyed every lunch on the Monarch and highly graded the chef as one of the best in cruise industry .
For drinks, we saw some guys got drunk at the elevator each night and we help some of them to get into the elevator (Deck 2 and 3) and guide them to their cabins . Beers are 2$ if you don 't like Tecate (free) . If you accept "house wine" then it is free . The Gran whiskey is free but other brand will cost you 2$ or 3$. Soda can , soft drinks in can cost 2$ but soft drinks from the bar is free . Almost all the bars serve coffee, however the bar on Deck 5 which is next to casino opens early (7:00 AM) and serve some of the best espresso and cappuccino on the ship . There is a special coffee drink called "Bambon" that contains condensed milk at the bottom, espresso coffee in the middle, and milk foaming on top .

We agreed with you about the good deals with Pullmantur /Monarch on the TA cruise . We make a rough estimate of how much it costs for coffee in the morning, a few drinks (beers or mixed drinks) , 3 meals per day, and a nice cabin for guests and we do not know how this company can survive with such a good deal .

We will do it again next year with the Zenith ship ,embarking from Santo Domingo .
Happy cruising, Folks.
15 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
We were on the Lisbon to Rostock cruise and absolutely loved it. The difference in pricing between an ocean view or suite, whether it is a Junior Suite, Grand Suite, Deluxe Suite or the one Royal Suite, is marginal compared to any other cruise line/brand.

There are not many Grand or Deluxe Suites on the Monarch, and they do sell out quickly we learned. We opted for a Grand Suite which included the newly launched Black Waves amenities. The actual Waves Club space is bright, peaceful and large, offering multiple sofas and chairs. It has it's own bar and sideboards with different hot and cold food items throughout the day/night. The new Black Waves program for Grand, Deluxe or the Royal suite includes the upgraded beverage program, access to the Waves Club lounge and also access to the deck outside with Balinese loungers, tables/chairs etc. Junior Suites get Waves White amenities, which includes access to the oasis of the Waves Club. For both Black and White there are multiple other amenities included. There is not a mainstream cruise brand who can touch this wide range of amenities the Black and White program offers. Or indeed the value of all drinks included for any cabin category. The huge Waves Club space makes Holland's Neptune Lounge pale in comparison, for instance. We loved the entire Spanish vibe throughout the ship. I have read reviews that complain about the lack of English, we did not find this to be true. Every crew member or officer spoke multiple languages, English included. The menu at dinner each night granted was not as large, or as "American" as menus offered as Princess, Holland or Celebrity, but every course, at every meal we had was lovely. We were very happy with every dinner we had. As this cruise was so port intensive, we did not eat many lunches on board, but we did enjoy the breakfast selection, lunch items and canapes which varied daily in the Waves Club. With Pullmantur's pricing so low for any category of cabin, with all drinks included and interesting itineraries, we feel they offer hands-down the best value in the cruise market. The reviews we have read elsewhere, with the exception of the one above, more often than not do not have a lot of good to say about Pullmantur. We can't fathom why, it was a most wonderful experience for us and others in our large group. In closing, we just booked our second Pullmantur Monarch cruise for 2018 based on the outstanding experience we had in May/June.
San Pedro, Belize
896 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We are taking our third cruise on Pullmantur, Second on the Monarch.
7 nights departing October 20, 2017 on
Such a great deal if you go with an open mind.
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______"But WHY's the rum gone?!"
Jack: "What are you doing? You burned all the food, the shade, the rum."
Elizabeth: "Yes, the rum is gone."
Jack: "Why is the rum gone?"

7 days departing 2005 NCL Star Hawaii

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7 nights departing June 05, 2011 on
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7 nights departing June 28, 2015 on
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Yucatán (Puerto Progreso) , George Town (Grand Cayman), Belize City, Roatan (Honduras) Cozumel (Mexico)

7 nights departing December 3, 2016 on
Pullmantur's Monarch

7 Nights October 20, 2017 on
6 Posts
Joined Nov 2016
I have to agree with one of the previous reviewers about the fact that CC does not have review area for the Monarch! They really need to fix this.

At any rate we did the Pullmanter Monarch Cruise, 13 days Las Palomas Gran Canariato Panama.

I had read a number of discussion boards about thePullmanter experience, so my wife and I were prepared for the worse. This wasour 27th cruise but first with Pullmanter. First the check in. I hadread that it was quite slow, often hours. Well they were right. Typically, whenwe go a Princess cruise there are lines for general boarding and lines forelite, like myself, and so we typically check in and are on board within 30minutes of arrival. Not that it would have matter with Pullmanter as I have nostatus, but we were told by the line to be there between 11:30 and 1:30. We arrived at noon and were greeted with aline about a block and a half long. So, we got in line and waited 2 hours toget into the building where check in is. Once inside the took the bags that we had been dragging for the past 2hours and we waited another 30 minutes to get checked in. No matter, all those people ahead of us whohad already checked in were waiting across the street to get on board. Itwasn’t until about 2:45 that they opened the ship for access to us. One onboard we were informed that we couldn’t go to our rooms until 4pm. Again, whenI get on a Princess ship at 1pm, I am usually able to go right to my room.
One of the alarming things about this check-in, was thatwhile standing in this long line up against the check-in building, a militarytruck pulled up and 3 guys got out with Uzzie sub machine guns. I’ve not seenthe Spanish military before but they didn’t look all that official, in fact Istarted having thoughts of these guys being ISIS and we have no-where to run.They proceed to walk up and down the block and a half of passengers standingthere, looking very intently at us from about 20 yards. Had this been ISIS itwould have been a real slaughter fest. The whole scene was very unnerving! We got on board at 2:50pm and went to the buffet for something to eat.Afterwards we walked around the ship a bit and quickly found that she’s a tiredold lady. While some parts are still quite nice, most of the carpets are shotand in serious need of replacement. Upon entering our room it was very, veryhot and even turning the air all the way to the coldest side, it really didnothing. Even by 10pm it was still warm, but as the cruise went on it gotcolder and colder. By day 5 we had the setting almost to the warmest it wouldgo.
We have an interesting group of tourists on this ship, andto my surprise very many young (25-40 range). On Princess the average age isprobably 60 and I’m right there with them, so a bit out of place on this ship.There are some old folks, maybe 10%. As mentioned in other boards, this shipcaters to Spanish and I would guess 50% of the ship was that, with 20% or so beingGerman and another 20% English. The first night we were just walking out thedoor to go to dinner and go a phone call. It was guest services saying that wehad to go down to deck 2 and see the immigration officers because we had notcleared immigration. Well, excuse me but we were never told about needing toget our passports stamped, nor did I see and signs about it. We get to deck 2 and are told to go outsideto see the officers. We get out there,there are a few police, no immigration and about 30 people standing around. Iasked one of the waiting passengers what was going on and he said they roundedup the North Americans and were putting us on a bus to go to immigration. Thisall sounded very fishy to me, so I promptly turned around and went back upstairs to talk to someone in charge. After waiting in line at guest services Iwas assured it was routine and that I need to go. We went back downstairs and saw the busleaving. With that I said let them come get me, and went to dinner. Never heardanymore after that.
The first morning we awakened at 6:30 am with a thumpingthat sounded like a heard of elephants. It passed and about 3 min later weheard it again, and again, and then more started coming more rapidly. Turns outour room is on deck 6 and right above us is deck 7 which they use as a joggingtrack. The patter says the track is open at 9am, but this was clearly not9am. Later that day we went to guestservices and asked that they enforce the 9am rule. They stated that they had alot of other complaints and that something would be done about it. I have toadmit the next day it was better, they didn’t start thumping until 8:30am, butthis does go on all day, so if you’re room is on deck 6, don’t plan on spendingmuch time in it. By day 3 they were back at it, around 6:45am. Funny how peoplehave zero respect for anyone else. Rooms are quite small anyway so best to gofind other things to do during the day.
Aside from the thumping all day long coming from deck 7 thecruise was pretty enjoyable. The food was decent, not quite as good as I’ve hadon Princess or NCL, but decent. Because our ship was only about half full theyonly offered early seating (7:30pm) which is what we wanted anyway. Iunderstand that had the ship been full there would have been a 9:30pm seatingas well. Dinner was the traditional sit down and get waited on type, but inthis same restaurant for breakfast and lunch it was buffet. I’m not used tothat because on Princess it’s a totally sit down and order breakfast and lunchin these dining rooms. Still, much nicer here than going up to the Panoramabuffet.
Internet was good in the wee hours when no-one was on (orvery few) and also on days in port when most people were off the ship. But mosttimes were EXTREMELY slow as can be expected with satellite service, hit a webpage and just watch it spin, and spin. I think just about every passengerbought an Internet package, and I think most, like me were upgrading to the$11.95 per day unlimited because it was so slow. That of course just made iteven more slower. I do a lot of work online as an instructor, things that wouldnormally take me 5 minutes were upwards of 45-50 minutes! Also, it seemed that on days in port theytook the system down for maintenance, and so that was more frustration.
On our 7th day we were told that we had to do thewhole muster drill again, same thing we did the first day out. We were told tobe at our stations at 10:30am. All thestations are outside on deck 7. A bunchof us were there at 10:30 and staff seemed confused, trying to put people inlines and keep us line up. A few more passengers came, then a few more, andstill more. By 11:20, now almost an hourof standing, passengers were still arriving, I supposed they were either chasedout of the pool or their rooms. Reallynot fair to the rest of us who ended up standing over an hour while we waitedfor everyone to show up. The whole thing was really ridiculous. Had it been a real emergency, we would be inserious trouble!
I loved the fact that with taxes and port charges we paidabout $485 each for a 13 day cruise, which included alcohol, which is anotherpoint of discussion. Upon arrival they really try to upsell you to a 13 topshelf booze package for $165 Euros. I politely said no and still got decent redand white wines all day long. Had a few rum and cokes and they used eitherCaptain Morgan or Bacardi so for me the $165 would not be worth it. Next day inthe bars, anything that they consider top shelf, like Bailey’s for example theysell for $2 a shot. Seems to me that’s abetter way to go. They add I think $12per day per person for tips, which is average. I tipped our waiters and cabinperson extra anyway.
Some folks on the cruise critic boards asked about Englishbeing spoken. My wife and I only speak English, maybe a touch of Spanish likeGracias, but that’s about it. We had absolutely no problem with language withany of the crew and even most Spanish and German speaking passengers couldspeak some English. The TV is mostly Spanish and I knew that going in so Ibrought a lot of movies on my laptop. The HDMI cable that I brought alongconnected my laptop to the TV and it worked very well. Other than that BBC wasthe channel we watched the most.
We disembarked 2 days early in Aruba. I had been in contactwith the Aruba immigration and customs authority via email months prior andthey said it was no problem, just get off the ship and come on over to theairport. So 3 days prior to Aruba I wentto guest services just to let them know I would be leaving early. They made apretty big deal out of it and asked to have our passports so that on arrival inAruba, the officials who come on board first thing would take care of it. So wegave them the passports and everything worked out fine. We got our passportsback the day we were leaving and found out that about 40 other people did thesame thing. Once we got all of our bags outside, it was easy getting a taxi tothe airport. I had heard nightmarestories about how long it takes to get thru Aruba and US officials at theairport, but from check-in until we got to our departure gate it only took anhour.

Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! For the price (under $500each for a 14 day cruise) and free booze, you can lose!
3,195 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Nice one glad you enjoyed it the muster drill sounds a joke why did you leave in Aruba? I did that in st Thomas I just walked off the ship nobody said a thing very dissapointed I missed it all for taxes back

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6 Posts
Joined Nov 2016
I had to be back in the States the next day after we left Aruba for another engagement so we couldn't stay on and go to Panama. I'm not sure what the real deal is with customs/immigration. I had written the Aruba authorities months prior and they said don't worry about it, just walk of the ship and go to the airport. When I let guest services know I was leaving early they were OK with it but said they needed our passports as an Aruba official comes on board early and stamps them. Sure enough, they did. I guess it's like when you go on a small private boat and island hop you have to check in and out with the local customs officials.