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4-Night Monarch Review (really long)


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OK, here’s the long review from the 4-Night Monarch, 5-1-06 sailing:

Embarkation: I thought there might be some problems at the dock, because it was the day for the “Day without Immigrants” boycott and march. Since we dock at the Port of LA, I expected to see some demonstrations. Nope; nothing. We arrived early (about 11AM) and waited very comfortably in the private departure lounge (for Platinum/Diamond/suites). They had coffe/tea and an array of goodies (the chocolate-covered strawberries were wonderful and a harbinger of things to come).

Day 1: We were the first board, at about 12:30PM. I’d been on this cruise last December, but this was DH’s first time on the Monarch and my parents’ first ever cruise. In fact, I picked this for them because my Mom has problems with motion sickness and this itinerary ports every day. Although the Monarch is older (inaugural in 1991), she is still a beautiful ship and they were very impressed with the Centrum. We went up to the Windjammer for lunch and, by the time we were finished, our rooms were ready. DH and I had a JS and my parents were in a OS on Deck 9. Disaster seems to follow my Mom and the first problem arose, when we entered their cabin. Apparently, the prior guest was a heavy smoker. In a room with no openings to the outside, the smoke smell was horrific! :eek: OMG!!! This was the first of many times I was thankful for the advice I have received from my CC family! I immediately called Housekeeping and requested that they bring in one of those “smoke-sucker” machines, and escorted my parents to our balcony cabin. I would have asked for a new cabin, but I knew the sailing was full and wanted to see how well the machine would work, first. When I went down to check on the room, about 1 ½ hours later, it was much, much better. I met their cabin attendant, Oscar, working diligently on the surfaces. I told him it was my parents’ first cruise and asked him to take good care of them (while slipping him a $20). I had nothing but wonderful reports about Oscar, from my parents. I am sure that they would have received the same attention, without the extra, but I wanted him to know how much I appreciated his attention.

We did Muster (aka “Life Jacket Drill”) at 4:30PM. It was fairly efficient and seemed to be over about the time some of our fellow-Musterers started complaining. Afterwards, DH and I met Lisa and Barbie (with her DH and DS), whom I’d met on the Roll Call Board, at the Schooner Bar on Deck 5. It’s a great place to do a Meet & Mingle (which are not done, officially, for sailings shorter than 7-Nights), as you can gather, grab a DOD (drink of the day) and head up to the Pool Deck for the SailAway Party.

We ate at the early dinner and had great tablemates! Our waiter was Yulia, from the Ukraine, and our assistant waiter was Ricardo, from the PI (Table 112 in Claudes). They were very friendly and efficient, and we really enjoyed them. Dinner was Italian. For those of you who are used to dining rooms on the larger ships, you’ll be surprised that the Monarch has 2 separate dining rooms: Vincents on Deck 3 and Claudes on Deck 4. There are several window tables that are tucked behind the waiter stations. It’s nice to look out the windows, but you miss much of the “shows” in the dining room. I’ve been on the Monarch, twice, and both times I was in these tucked-away tables (Yikes! Maybe someone told on me!). Anyway, if possible, assuming that you don’t prefer a window table, you might want to specifically ask for a table in the raised center portion, when you book. I don’t know if your TA can accommodate you, but I’m going to try, next time.

The show was the RCI Singers and Dancers fare. It was called “Fast Forward,” and was the usual fare. I was pleased to see that Marc Walker was back on the ship. He was supposed to be the CD in December, but was rushed to the Radiance to replace Matt Sole, who departed mid-contract. Marc is from the UK and very funny.

Day 2: San Diego. DH and my Dad were up early to do the Midway tour (not booked through the ship). The cruise ship pier is right in-between the Midway and the Star of India (the ship from Master & Commander), so it’s great if you’re a military ship person. Unfortunately, they discovered that the Midway does not open until 10AM. So, they had time to kill before being able to board. Mom and I had breakfast in Vincent’s (the dining room on Deck 3) and took the free shuttle to Seaport Village. Having grown up in Southern CA, and been to all the ports many times before, we did not take any excursions. Mostly, we used the time to relax. Everyone was back on the ship by 1PM for lunch in the Windjammer. The food was fine. I ate mostly salads, although there was some saffron rice that was excellent!

DH and I like Trivia, so we played “TV Tune Trivia” in the afternoon. We played with another couple, Dave & Donna, and were adequate, but didn’t make the play-offs between two 30-something couples. The prize was the famous RCI key chain and the lovely pleather RCI luggage tags.

DH and I were chatting with Trudy Julius, the Guest Relations Manager, when Captain Hakan Lindegren walked up. For all you single ladies, he’s fairly young (42), very cute (that blond Swedish thing), and single! Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until August, as this was his last cruise before a 3-month vacation.

Day 2 is Formal Night. Just a warning, for those of you who are sticklers about Formal Night attire. This is a cruise comprised of mostly Californians. We tend to be a bit less formal. Normally, DH wears a tux on formal night. However, since my Dad doesn’t own a tux, DH wore a suit. As did all the gentlemen at our table. I saw a small handful of tuxes. The women were a bit more fancy, but that’s our “thing” anyway. However, the other nights were casual dress and we saw jeans and shorts in the dining room. Big deal. It didn’t ruin my cruise. A friend had sent us champagne, which was waiting in our cabin when we boarded. We brought the champagne to dinner and shared it with the table. BTW, no corkage was charged. There is no lobster, on this ship, although there was lobster bisque. I had the escargot and, despite the grief I received from my DH and Mom, it was very tasty (so long as you didn’t look at it :eek: ).

The Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception was from 7 – 8PM, in the Sound of Music Theater. The guests had the option of meeting the Captain or not. Guess what I chose? Remember? He’s cute!!! ;)

The evening show was Bobby Arvon, the guy who sung the “Happy Days” theme song. In addition to some ‘50’s era songs, he did excellent impressions of Frank Sinatra and others. He was a big hit. We met him, and his wife, Judy, at the Platinum & Diamond Party. Very nice people.

As I mentioned, in my short review, we were VIP-listed. Every night there was a little gift for us. This night we found chocolate-covered strawberries and another bottle of champagne! Love the chocolate-covered strawberries!

DH and I went to Boleros at 10:45PM to see Dueling Pianos. I’d been to this show in December and was anxious to share it with DH, on this cruise. The performers change pretty regularly and I was a bit disappointed in the performers (Jeff and Rhianon ?) on this cruise. I mentioned, in my short review, that they reminded me of the parody of lounge singers on Saturday Night Live. Since the Love & Marriage Show conflicted with Dueling Pianos, for a half-hour or so, they mostly played slower songs, while waiting for the crowds to appear. Maybe they were better, as the songs became more lively, but we didn’t wait that long.

I heard that the Love & Marriage Game Show was a scream, but never managed to catch it on TV. DH and I played slots in the casino. DH donated money, but I hit a 500-quarter win, on my first $20 play, and cashed out. For the first time, I can say that I came out ahead in the casino. :D

OK... You're going to have to wait for Days 3 and 4. ... As they say in TV Land: To be continued ...

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OMG, no one has read this yet???

 

OK, here's Part 2:

 

Day 3: Catalina. You have to tender to Catalina. There were 2 tenders: a large on and a slightly smaller one. Since the tenders didn’t leave until they were full, and because the tenders don’t have the stabilizers that are on the ship, the waiting was a bit bumpy. Fortunately, we didn’t have problems with the motion, but I know of at least 1 person who did. The ride to the Island is quick, though. We were going to rent a golf cart, but DH wanted to get a haircut and we heard several people complaining about how cold it was, driving around the Island in an open vehicle. So we opted to walk up Crescent Avenue and shop. Since ours was the only ship there, Avalon wasn’t too crowded. In December, I took the Avalon and Botanical Gardens tour. The weather in Catalina was nice, but the tender was a bit chilly. Typical of the Southern California coastline, the weather is usually overcast with a slight chill in the air. I wore short sleeves and capris, with my new pink Crocs, purchased in San Diego, and I was comfortable. We were back on board in time for a late snack and Afternoon Trivia, with Flo from Romania.

 

The Platinum/Diamond Welcome-Back Party was in the Viking Crown Lounge. It’s something to see, as it gives a 360 degree view (sort of like the Space Needle only it doesn’t revolve … you have to walk it). I recommend going up there (it’s on Deck 14 and can be reached by the aft elevators), but do it earlier in the day. After 9PM, it becomes a cigar lounge and can be pretty stinky, unless you like that sort of smell. :eek: Since we just became Platinum, this was our first Platinum/Diamond Party. Pretty swanky. Good eats and free booze. You can’t beat that. Too bad it was just before dinner. Since there was a great sushi tray, I decided to make it my “early” early dinner, and just have a starter course at the real dinner. Since our tablemates were there, it was sort like early, early dinner for all of us. Danney League is generally touted as the best Loyalty Ambassador in the fleet. For good reason. He’s just a delight! The Party was very nicely done and we all felt special.

 

A quick note on the elevators. The Centrum elevators only go between Deck 3 and Deck 7. The main elevators were all working (hooray), but there’s some sort of trick to them as they can go speeding by your floor, without stopping. There was usually a wait, but never more than 5 minutes. However, the secret (shhh, don’t tell anyone) is the aft elevators. Even though 1 of the 3 was down, for our cruise, I never waited more than a minute for one. They are the best way to get around having to walk through the smoky casino/smoky Schooner Bar, to get to the theater, as the open just in front of the theater.

 

The show opened with the Royal Caribbean Village People. This is not to be missed, if only for the outfit Marc wears! He really knows how to shake his booty! The comedian was Kevin Jordan, who was a scream! His bit on the toilets had me laughing every time I flushed, for the rest of the cruise!

 

After the show, we went up to the Circuit, where they played Quest. A group called Luna was playing, when we arrived. They were pretty good and some some requests at the end. The bad thing about that is that the club is fairly small and the lights were down for Luna. So, those people coming in for Quest had to hunt around for a seat, in the dark. On the December cruise, the Circuit was empty when we came in and so we were able to get seats up front. As I mentioned, in the short review, Quest was done by Marc Walker and was the tamest Quest I’ve seen. However, the “finale” is pretty much the same as the other Quests. I did like that Marc didn’t call for the “same old things,” so it was more difficult to be “prepared.” People who arrive at Quest with a satchel full of bras and such really take away the fun.

 

Probably the oddest thing he called for was “someone dressed like a baby.” There’s a story there: Throughout the cruise, there was a man (40’s??) wearing a baby bonnet, puffed-sleeved short baby dress, white tights or white ruffled bobby sox, black patent leather shoes and ruffled panties. The story was: he lost a bet on the Super Bowl and had to either do this or pay $4K. I get that he probably doesn’t know anyone on the ship, but he’s prominently shown on the Cruise in Review video and, certainly, on the majority of people’s photographs from the cruise. Honestly, you’d think he could have borrowed the $4K, if necessary. There was a rumor that he did this last year, too … so maybe it’s just his “thing.” Whatever. He seemed like a nice-enough fellow. Not surprisingly, he got the full 10 points on “bring me your team number and someone dressed like a baby.”

 

After Quest was the Midnight Buffet. This is done in the Centrum and the only entrance is from Deck 4. As in December, the line was long. Really long. Like, up the stairs to Deck 5 long. But it moved pretty quickly. Lisa, Barbie and I just stood at the base of the stairs and waited until the end of the line reached us. There was plenty of food, when we arrived. OMG!!! Truly, there was plenty of food. Actually, since I usually eat at the late seating, I’m usually too full to enjoy the Midnight Buffet. See, there’s a good reason to eat early (of course, I’d been eating since the Welcome Back Party …).

 

Day 4: Ensenada. This was a day to relax. DH and my Dad never left the ship. Mom and I walked to “The Barn” (a red small shopping mall at the pier) and mostly talked to people we’d met on the ship. We were back on board in time for Afternoon Trivia. Our Trivia person was Monica from Wisconsin. She told us that she was one of only 27 American staff members on the ship. She taught us how to be “cheeseheads.” “Shoor, ya betcha,” is the first lesson. You’ll have to get her to teach you the rest, when you go.

 

Trivia was quite exciting. One of the questions was: How long does it take light from the sun to reach the Earth. DH, and I’m not lying about this, pulls out a napkin and starts doing calculations with long division! :eek: And, he was right! No, I’m not going to give you the answer. Get out your napkin and figure it out yourself. :rolleyes: Of course, we won! Our prize: lovely RCI medals, to wear around our necks. There’s a story about the couple who won the TV Tune Trivia, but I don’t want to gloat … any more.

 

After Trivia, my parents, DH and I, and a man and his 2 sons, met Trudy Julius at the elevators on Deck 10, for a private tour of the bridge by Captain Hakan (we’re buddies, so I get to call him by his first name ;) ). It turns out that the bridge is right down the hall from us, on Deck 10. I talked about the tour, in my short review, so I’ll direct you to that. Again, DH came to the rescue. He’s pretty knowledgeable and asked intelligent questions, as well as “what are you going to do during your 3-month vacation?” (Answer: He’s going home to Sweden and play some tennis.) I was surprised that we were allowed to take pictures, but had brought my camera … just in case. Captain Hakan is a very nice man and was very gracious. I hope you’ll all have this opportunity, in a future cruise.

 

After dinner, we mostly shopped (50% Off Logo Sale) and played a game called “Where the heck are the pictures of us?” on Deck 3. The production show, “Star Struck,” doesn’t merit comment. My Dad and DH weren’t feeling well, so they skipped it. If my Mom hadn’t wanted to go, I would have skipped it, too. However, I’d just seen it in December, so it was more because of the repetition, than the quality.

 

We were tired, and still had to pack, so we didn’t go to the “Adult Late Night Comedy with Kevin Jordan,” although I would have like to have gone.

 

Disembarkation: We had white tags, so our color was called just as we were finishing breakfast, in Vincents. Usually, there are 2 lines: One for those with Passports, and one for those with birth certificates. The Passport line was closed (although you didn’t know that until you walked all the way up to the front), so it was a longer wait than we usually have. However, even with that, the entire wait was not much longer than 5 minutes. The Port Authorities were very efficient. We drove from my parents’ home in Newport Beach, so Dad got the car and we were on our way by 8:30AM. Easy, easy, easy!!!

 

OK, for those of you who are still reading this, thanks. I’ve said it before, but thanks to all my CC friends, whose advice and information helped to make this cruise (and all future cruises) easy and carefree. I have special words for Trudy Julius, the Guest Relations Manager. She is such a sweetie. She made us feel like special friends, from the very first meeting. In fact, she greeted me with a hug, as if we’d been friends for years. I hope to fulfill that, in the coming years. Also, Danney League was generous with his time and advice. He booked us on a 12-Night Med, for next year. I know the cabin will be perfect, because he chose it. If you are able to said with Captain Hakan Lindegren, don’t miss the Captain’s Welcome Party. He’s very personable … love his accent … and gracious!

 

Without a doubt, this was the best cruise DH and I have taken! Without a doubt, being VIP-listed was very much a part of what made it special, but the crew and staff members seemed to go out of their way to make you feel special. There is no question that we’ll book this cruise again (and again) in the future. I cannot recommend it enough. Have a wonderful week and happy sailing! ~ Lorna

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GREAT review, Lorna. Thanks for taking the time and energy to post the "full" version. And now I know about "the guy" that you all were talking about!

 

I have heard that Trudy Julius is a real gem from Rick. I'm glad that you agree. :)

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Thanks Carol. I found that it was easier to write the review in Word and then cut and paste. I've had too many blank screens, after a long post. I would have lost my mind, if that happened here.

 

BTW, in reading back, in the second-to-the-last paragraph, I say, "If you are able to said with Captain Hakan Lindegren .... " Obviously, I meant "sail". I guess spell check doesn't help when the word is wrong, but spelled correctly! :rolleyes:

 

PS, Carol: Look at all those cruises you have coming up! You've just got to find time to do a Monarch cruise. Let me know. We'll get Rick to join us, too. Speaking of Rick, I hope he and Bobbie are having a fabulous time on their B2B Transatlantic/Baltic on the Jewel!

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PS, Carol: Look at all those cruises you have coming up! You've just got to find time to do a Monarch cruise. Let me know. We'll get Rick to join us, too. Speaking of Rick, I hope he and Bobbie are having a fabulous time on their B2B Transatlantic/Baltic on the Jewel!

That's absolutely in my thoughts - for me, it would have to be the full B2B, though, to make it worth flying cross country!
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OK! How much more excited can I get?? Great review and can't wait till we sail her in September! Question--was the buffet on Day 3 (Midnight) a chocolate buffet or regular buffet?? From what you said sounds like it was a regular buffet (regular food--not just chocolate)

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GREAT review, Lorna!! I had such a wonderful time... I went back to work tonight and now have several coworkers wanting to do a group Monarch trip! I can't tell you how ready I am to get back aboard the ship, 4 nights simply wasn't long enough!

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Carol, you are absolutely welcome to the fish. I actually stole them from a friend.

 

Karessamom: The Midnight Buffet was mostly a chocolate buffet, but there was a lot of fruit. There may have been food too, but really ... who wants food with all the great chocolate around??? I really liked the fruit fondue. The last thing before the dining room was the ice cream. There were bowls for the ice cream. Here's my recommendation: just before it is fresh fruit skewers and then the chocolate syrup. I took an ice cream bowl and filled it w/ the syrup. With that, I made chocolate fondue, using the fruit. Ummmm, yummy!!!

 

Mary (aka SingBill) for all the times you've been on the Monarch, this year, I'm sure you could give me some inside tips. ;)

 

Dude, yes, Skippy was the Bingo Boy (I don't go to Bingo, but he did the TV Tune Trivia for us and told us how much weight he gained since he started his contract :eek: ). BTW, I believe that his real name is Peter. I assume that Moe is on vacation; they work for 6 to 8 months and then take a 2-month vacation. I thought he did a good job, when I was on the Monarch last December. Maybe they'll give him a contract as a CD (as they seem to come and go). However, understanding that this is JMHO, I liked Marc "Bing Bong" Walker better.

 

Thanks for all your nice words. It was fun to do the review. Of course, there are a billion things I left off ... well not a billion - maybe a hundred. ;) However, some of the things are on the shorter review and others were on the Chit Chat thread for the Freedom (like the snotty Trivia couple). As it was, the review was almost as long as the cruise! I appreciate you taking the time to read through. Now it's your turn to "Get Out There!" ~ Lorna

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Dude, yes, Skippy was the Bingo Boy (I don't go to Bingo, but he did the TV Tune Trivia for us and told us how much weight he gained since he started his contract ). BTW, I believe that his real name is Peter.

 

And I have pictures of Skippy in a VERY REVEALING little outfit from the crew talent show that passengers NEVER get to see!!!:eek: :eek:

I'm hoping I can use them for blackmail to get a FREE cruise!:rolleyes:

So while I'd love to say they are available to the highest bidder....what I REALLY mean is they are available to the first person who can get me a balcony cabin on ANY cruise! LOL:D :p

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Lorna, Great review!!! Thanks for posting about our strange passanger, the "baby", you did better at telling his story than I could have done. BTW I am thinking of booking a cruise to Bermuda out of Cape Liberty, NJ at the end of June. For this one I wouldn't have to get on a plane, just a 2 1/2 hour trip down to the pier.

 

SakeDad, I enjoyed looking at your pictures of the Monarch before getting aboard. Looks like both you and your Mom had a great time.

 

Karessamom, the Midnight Buffet was lots of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Some little appetizers thown in but who wants that when there is more chocolate. :p

 

Don't know what you all arel doing this friday but the Today Show is going to be broadcasting from the Freedom. I will be glued to the t.v. counting down the 3 1/2 months until I sail on her.

 

Lisa

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Awesome review of the Monarch. It sounds almost exactly like what we do when we go. Since we are also native So-cals the monarch is a nice quick getaway mostly for relaxation. The ship is also good for fun group sailings. We did one back in Oct 03 and I think there were about 90 smething people with us. It was AWESOME and my fiancee and I are planning on having our weddnig onboard May 07. Once again you did a great job with your review.

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Thanks for such a comprehensive review! We are booked on the Monarch in July and will be traveling on RCCL for the first time since our very first cruise 12 years ago. I am happy to hear nothing but good things about Monarch.

 

Just counting the days!

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Great review!

 

Since the Monarch was in dry dock in January, how did she compare to your December trip? Was there any noticeable "sprucing up?" On my last Monarch trip the staterooms were in need of some refurbishment. Were there any other changes between your two Monarch voyages?

 

OMG! CHOCOLATE BUFFET!!! Is this a change from the Mexican midnight buffet? I hope so. Last summer the midnight buffet on the 3 day was Mexican food (not that we didn't eat any in Ensenada), but is was pretty average fare. I hope that the midight munchies are chocolate on my next 3 day!!!!

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