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CruisinCrow

Monarch of the Seas Review with Pictures

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We were on the September 28 cruise on Monarch. I wrote up a travel journal for my family but thought some people here might enjoy it to. So here goes:

Farewell to Monarch

 

This was our third cruise on Monarch of the Seas and it will be our last because she is leaving the Royal Caribbean fleet in a few months. Built in 1991, Monarch was one of the biggest cruise ships at the time but now she’s looking pretty small and tired. And after three cruises on the same ship, I’m definitely looking forward to checking out Monarch’s replacement, Enchantment of the Seas, next year. On the other hand, Ron and I never get tired of weekend trips to the Bahamas. So when Ron heard that there was a company offering an all-inclusive (open bar) package, he signed us up.

 

We’d decided to leave our car with Park N Cruise instead of parking at Port Canaveral since it would only cost $25 instead of $60. The Park N Cruise lot was easy to find but once we got there, it seemed to take forever for them to fill up the shuttle. We watched in amazement as the shuttle driver loaded huge suitcase after huge suitcase into the van. I whispered to Ron, “How many cruises are these guys taking?” Seriously people, it’s only a 3-day trip! :-)

 

But FINALLY we were at the port and flew through security and check-in. We were issued our Sea Pass cards and heard that wonderful “PONG” sound as the crew scanned our cards. We were on the ship! By then it was 12:30 and I was starving so we joined the chaos at the Windjammer buffet for lunch.

 

At 1 o’clock, the staterooms were ready so we made our way down to our cabin on Deck Two, also known as the bowels of the ship or the “Poop Deck”. Ron always jokes that people down there have to help row. But actually Deck Two is not a bad location. It’s nice and quiet. The main disadvantage is that it is 9 floors away from the pool deck so you pretty much have to take the elevator. And the elevators stop at EVERY SINGLE FLOOR.

 

But anyway, when we got to the cabin, our keys wouldn’t open the door! Back up two floors to Guest Services where they issued us new Sea Pass cards. We’d booked a Guarantee cabin so I asked if maybe we had gotten moved to a different room. They said, “No, you are still in 2128.” 2128! I thought we were in 2028! Well, that explained why the door wouldn’t open. DOH!

 

Back at the cabin (the right one this time), we unpacked and looked through the goody bag we’d gotten from the Open Bar Cruises group. It had a couple of captain’s hats and invitations for various parties throughout the weekend. We put on our hats and headed up to the pool deck to join the fun. There were a lot of other people wearing captain’s hats so it was easy to spot who was in the group. I was happy to find out that mojitos were included in the drink package – with Bacardi too, not just house rum. Ron stuck with his usual Miller Lite.

 

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Yes, I know that's not a mojito. That was my second drink. :-)

 

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At sail away time, we went up to the bow to watch the ship leave port and head out into the blue. We could see the Cape Canaveral lighthouse in the distance. Two dolphins swam under the bow of the ship. Cool! Sail away is my favorite part of cruising. Even though Ron and I prefer all-inclusive resorts, there’s something special about a ship setting out to sea that you just can’t get at a hotel.

 

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After the sail away, we cleaned up for dinner. We had My Time Dining, which meant that we could eat at any time instead being assigned to the traditional early or late seating. When we checked in with the host, he told us that we should have made reservations because if we just showed up, we might have to wait for the table. We politely said OK, then ignored him. The whole point of My Time Dining is that you can be flexible and eat when you get hungry. Reservations defeat the whole purpose! At any rate, we never did have to wait for a table, and after the first night the host didn’t say anything more than a friendly “welcome back”. We were seated at a table for four with another couple. I was disappointed because I really prefer tables for two. It’s hard for me to enjoy my meal when I have to concentrate on making small talk with strangers. But the couple was very nice. They were scuba divers so we talked about diving and fishing.

 

Next it was on to the casino for some Black Jack. There weren’t any $6 tables so we settled in at a $10 table with an awesome dealer named Marijana - pronounced Mary Anna, not Marijuana. :-) It was a great table and everyone was winning and happy. I ended up winning $180! Ron didn’t even count up his winnings but he had a huge stack of chips. Eventually, I had a feeling that the luck was going to turn and just then a new dealer showed up to take over so it seemed like a good time to leave. The smoke was starting to get to me anyway. I really wish Royal Caribbean would have non-smoking casinos like Celebrity.

 

We went up to Sorrentos, the pizza shop on Deck 12, for some fresh air and chocolate chip cookies and then headed to bed.

 

 

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to be continued...

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We didn’t arrive in Nassau until noon, so we spent the morning hanging out around the pool, watching the usual activities like ice carving, cocktail-making classes and the Sexiest Man competition. As the ship pulled into Nassau Harbor, Ron got a big smile on his face and said, “Honey, we’re home!” There were two ships already in port, Carnival Imagination and our honeymoon ship, Carnival Fantasy. Hard to believe it has been 21 years of marriage and cruising.

 

 

 

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Our plan was to spend the afternoon at the Sheraton on Cable Beach. For $25, they offered a day pass with full use of their pools, beach and water sports. We hopped on the #10 bus and were soon on our way. As we got close to Cable Beach, we were amazed by the changes since our last visit. The Wyndham/Sheraton/Crystal Palace complex had been bought out and was being replaced by a new resort called Baha Mar. It was going to be huge! The Wyndham and Crystal Palace were already closed and several new towers were going up. Sheraton was still open but would be closed later for remodeling. I wondered if the people in Nassau thought the new resort was a good thing or not. I knew from the Nassau cruise boards that they hated Atlantis because it had put so many smaller establishments out of business. But maybe now that the economy was so bad, it was different. The people we talked to said they were happy for the jobs the resort would provide.

 

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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Ron and I checked in at the front desk, then found lounge chairs on the beach and chilled. Ron took a nap but the water was calling me so I got a float from the water sports shack and floated around in the blue water. Ahhhh, now that’s what I call vacation! While I floated, I saw someone paddling around on a paddle board. I wanted to try that! My sister says it’s almost impossible to fall off the board so maybe even a klutz like me could do it. The water sports guy pulled a board down to the water for me and gave me minimal instructions. “Rotate your arms!” What? Oh, he meant switch the oar from hand to hand. Got it. Off I went. Probably a little more instruction would have been good but I managed not to run over any swimmers and finally figured out how to steer and turn. It was a lot of fun!

 

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Conch fritters:

 

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We got back to the ship around 6, just in time to enjoy a mojito and to watch the sun set over Nassau. That night we had a table for two at dinner. The restaurant was pretty empty. There were probably a lot of people still in town since we didn’t set sail until midnight. It was formal night but not that many people were dressed formally. We did see some cocktail dresses and suits but also a lot of “nicer” dresses and Dockers. We’d opted for the second option. The dinner was pretty good but I was disappointed that they didn’t have escargot. Apparently there’s been some kind of escargot shortage this year due to the flooding in Indonesia. The escargot has been temporarily replaced by scallops with garlic and butter served in the same escargot dish. I knew from reading Cruise Critic that the scallops were small so I ordered two plates. They were pretty good but they weren’t escargot. :-( The bittersweet chocolate soufflé with espresso custard for dessert almost made up for it.

 

Back to the casino for a little more Black Jack. I quickly lost my daily gambling allowance but Ron once again walked away with a big stack of chips. Then we joined the sail away party on the pool deck for a dance or two and went on the bed.

 

Sunset over Nassau:

 

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next stop, Coco Cay.....

Edited by CruisinCrow

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I had to laugh at the "we're home" comment upon entering Nassau bay. We used to say that a lot too...but now I rarely end up going to Nassau. I am jealous you live in Florida. I would be taking a weekend cruise every couple months if I were anywhere close to the port.

 

I'm also jealous over finding an "open bar cruise". That would be convenient!

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Keep it coming! Sailing on her soon for a b2b and this is just want I needed! Oh the excitement!

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How long was the bus ride to the Sheraton? That sounds like a great deal, but after my trip to Nassau last month, I'm afraid to put my kids in a vehicle there. I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

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How long was the bus ride to the Sheraton? That sounds like a great deal, but after my trip to Nassau last month, I'm afraid to put my kids in a vehicle there. I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

The bus ride to the Cable Beach area runs 10-15 minutes from downtown Nassau. Cost is $1.25 per person, each way.

 

Bob

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The bus ride to the Cable Beach area runs 10-15 minutes from downtown Nassau. Cost is $1.25 per person, each way.

 

Bob

 

Thanks!

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Thanks, all! I'll finish up with Coco Cay tomorrow. That was our favorite day. Stay tuned. :)

 

Reney, we are lucky to live near the ports. Sometimes cruising is the cheapest option since we don't have to pay for airfare. Now if only we had more vacation time.... The open-bar thing was pretty cool. Probably works better for shorter cruises though.

 

FloridaMama, 15 minutes sounds about right for the bus ride. I thought the day pass was well worth it and a really nice way to spend an afternoon.

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After the sail away, we cleaned up for dinner. We had My Time Dining, which meant that we could eat at any time instead being assigned to the traditional early or late seating. When we checked in with the host, he told us that we should have made reservations because if we just showed up, we might have to wait for the table. We politely said OK, then ignored him. The whole point of My Time Dining is that you can be flexible and eat when you get hungry. Reservations defeat the whole purpose! At any rate, we never did have to wait for a table, and after the first night the host didn’t say anything more than a friendly “welcome back”.

 

 

I was on the Monarch a month ago and did MTD. The host was my biggest complaint of the cruise. He was so rude the first night, insisting we needed reservations and even went as far as to give me a printed letter explaining how to make a reservation. Seriously? I know how to make a reservation, I just don't want one! The second night he asked us again but thankfully didn't issue me another letter. And the third night he left it alone.

 

The whole point of MTD is to be able to eat whenever you feel like eating. A reservation defeats the entire purpose!

 

Great review so far!

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I was on the Monarch a month ago and did MTD. The host was my biggest complaint of the cruise. He was so rude the first night, insisting we needed reservations and even went as far as to give me a printed letter explaining how to make a reservation. Seriously? I know how to make a reservation, I just don't want one! The second night he asked us again but thankfully didn't issue me another letter. And the third night he left it alone.

 

Wow, he actually gave you a letter? That's ridiculous. I understand that if I don't make a reservation and I show up at a busy time, I might have to wait a few minutes for a table. I'm happy with that. This is our 4th time doing MTD but the first time I felt like I was getting a lecture.

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I was on the Monarch back in Sept 2011 on a 4 day Bahamas cruise. DW and I had a large suitcase each as the cruise was the last leg of our 2 weeks stay in Orlando. And we were heading to the airport after debarkation. This could be one reason why people have large suitcases with them even for a short cruise.

 

We did MTD and made online reservations prior to boarding. Had the same table for 2 throughout the whole cruise and the same waiter.

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Where did you find this open bar offer?

The latest open bar cruises were offered by a local pub crawl group. Can't post the name here, but a Google search would probably find it.

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Thank you so much for your review, I'm really loving it. Though I am disappointed to hear about the escargot :(.

 

So far you trip sounds great!

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We are on next Friday and can't wait. Nice review and looking foward to the Coco Cay day review!

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Enjoying the review and pics. :)

 

Monarch was my favorite of the Sovereign class ships.

I really don't like Monarch. I actually turned down the offer of a cruise on Monarch in September and sailed Carnival instead (what a crazy mistake . . . )

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Awesome so far, can't wait to read more. My husband and I also enjoy all inclusive resorts. We love cruising more, but when in ports we try to find resorts that offer day passes. We will have to look into the Sheraton next time we are in Nassau. Looking forward to reading more!

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Where did you find this open bar offer?

 

I don't remember where my husband heard about it, but if you google open bar cruise you'll find the website. Looks like they have upcoming cruises on Monarch in February and March and on Oasis in April.

 

I don't know if I could handle a longer cruise. My husband wanted to "get his money's worth" but even he had had enough beer at the end of 3 days. :) I think you have to forget about getting your money's worth and just enjoy having some drinks without the big Sea Pass bill at the end.

 

When we got our Sea Pass cards, there was a sticker on them that said "HI" (house inclusive). It seemed to cover most things, except for some wines.

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Thank you so much for your review, I'm really loving it. Though I am disappointed to hear about the escargot :(.

 

So far you trip sounds great!

 

Maybe the escargot will be back by your cruise. I've got my fingers crossed for you!

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AWESOME REVIEW!!! For the Sheraton, did you make reservations in advantaced? or did you just showed up there? very interested in doing the same thing you did.:)

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AWESOME REVIEW!!! For the Sheraton, did you make reservations in advantaced? or did you just showed up there? very interested in doing the same thing you did.:)

 

Me too! Sounds like fun!

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Loved this review I can not wait till the 19th so we can be on our way to the bahamas, I so wish they would offer a open bar deal on this go round, but oh well i'm just ready to go!!!!:D

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We love the Monarch and her crew. We will miss her when she is gone, even though we also like Enchantment. Monarch's crew is great and we heard a large number of them would move to Enchantment. We would love to schedule one more cruise on Monarch before she is gone but we have something going on most every weekend through the end of the year. Enjoying your review. I think it is time to look at the calendar again and see if we can work something out!

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Ok, here's the final chapter...

Day 3 - Coco Cay

 

The next morning I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I pulled on some clothes and slipped out of the cabin with my camera. We were headed west so I walked to the stern where the sun was just starting to rise over the ship’s wake. There were only a few other people around, quietly sharing the moment. It was so peaceful.

 

 

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When the sun was fully up, I went back to the cabin to wake Ron up. We had signed up for the 9:30 Jet Ski excursion so we needed to be on a tender by 8:30. We had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer, packed up the beach bag and got on the next tender to the island.

 

There were 3 other couples on our Jet Ski tour, but Ron and I were the only ones who had booked individual Jet Skis. All the other women were riding with their husbands. We had a 10-minute briefing on how to operate the Jet Skis and then our guide assigned us our positions in the group. Since Ron and I had our own skis and therefore had the least weight, we would be in positions 1 and 2. Hmmmm….. I was really hoping to be closer to the back since I didn’t think I wanted to go fast. I’d only been on a Jet Ski once before and only for about 2 minutes before I’d tipped it over and it wouldn’t restart. Our guide told us that he would go first and the assistant guide would tell us when we should each follow. He said that the water could get very shallow so be sure to stay in his wake. Then he took off and Ron took off after him. It was my turn next but as much as I tried to keep up, they were soon far, far ahead of me. I looked behind me but there was no one behind either! I was kind of scared! I’d expected us all to stay close together but now I couldn’t even see Ron’s wake to follow it. I just hung on to the handle bars and kept driving straight out, hoping I didn’t hit bottom. The water was so clear that I couldn’t tell how deep it was. Finally, I saw the guide coming back for me. Whew!

 

Eventually the whole group caught up and the guides shuffled our positions around so that the fastest would be in the front and the slowest in the back. I got moved to the #3 spot, to my relief. We rode out from Coco Cay towards Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, stopping at a couple of points along the way for the guide to tell us about the islands. In one spot there were huge starfish on the bottom. We also saw the lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay, the second oldest lighthouse in the Bahamas. I started to relax a bit and enjoyed the spectacularly clear, blue water. It was gorgeous. On the last leg of the tour, the guide encouraged us to take our skis as fast as they would go, so I did, bouncing over the waves and trying not to fly off the seat. What an adrenaline rush!

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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After a barbecue lunch (ribs, burgers, salad and macaroni and cheese), Ron and I relaxed on some lounge chairs near the water sports area. Just as I was dozing off for a nice catnap, there was a big commotion of seagulls. Even though there are signs all over saying “Don’t Feed the Birds”, someone had brought their lunch back to their lounge chair and left their half-empty plate on the chair. The birds were flying all over and fighting over the food. The bonehead (I mean, the inconsiderate individual) who’d brought the plate just said, “I didn’t think they’d eat ribs.” So much for my nap.

 

Seriously...Don't!

 

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Oh well, I was ready for some snorkeling anyway. The main snorkeling sites were marked with buoys. Ron and I swam out to the first buoy where there were some sunken cannons. The water was a little silty but it was still a pretty cool site. We saw several different kinds of fish, including a grouper. Further out by the lifeguard stand was the sunken airplane. When we got near, we were surrounded by hundreds of yellow tail snapper and schools of grunt. It was amazing – like swimming in a fish bowl! I had on my reflecting anti-glare mask and the yellow tails were curious about seeing their reflection. If I stayed still, they would swim right up to my face and stare. A couple of them even bumped right into my mask. It was really funny.

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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It was a long swim back to shore so when we got to our lounge chairs, Ron was ready for some liquid refreshment. But all the bars were closed! I couldn’t believe it - it was already 3:30! It had been such a perfect day and I wasn’t ready for it to be over yet. But we packed up our stuff and headed to the tender station. On the ride back to the ship, someone got everyone on the top deck of the tender doing the wave.

 

Coco Cay:

 

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On the tender:

 

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That night we were sleepy and didn’t feel like giving our winnings back to the casino or going to the Quest show. We’d had a fun day with a lot of sun, some good exercise, and (in Ron’s case) a little too much beer. So after a quiet dinner, we went back to the cabin to fill out our departure paperwork and fall asleep to the swaying of the ship. We were on our way home.

 

Farewell, Monarch! Welcome, Enchantment!

Edited by CruisinCrow

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