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Just off Sovereign - Former Monarch Sailors (long)


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Just of the Sovereign yesterday. Overall, it was wonderful as is expected by us from RCI. This was our 8th RCI cruise, first on the Sovereign. Other cruises were on Mariner (twice), Vision (once), and Monarch (five times). The closes we can compare to is the Monarch, as they are both 3 day cruises. There were two of us in our party. We recently moved from the LA area to South Florida. We are a couple in our late 40's.

Overall impressions:

The ship itself shows its age more than Monarch or Vision - but did have newer looking carpets and our room had the new bedding. Service was as good or better than any other RCI cruise we've done. The passengers were very different than the Los Angeles-based cruises. There was much more complaining and after talking to various crew members, much less tipping. Average age of the crowd was an estimated 10 years older than the 3-day Monarch cruises we've been on. I did miss the day at sea, as this cruise stopped in Nassau and Coco Cay. I can’t comment about the entertainment, as we don’t normally go.

Embarkation Day:

Arrived at Port Canveral about noon. We were onboard within 15 minutes, and had our luggage in the room by 1:15pm. That was impressive!! Port Canaveral is very easy to deal with - parking is 12/day payable on entrance. First stop was the dining room to confirm we had as requested, a table for 2. We didn’t. Spoke with the Maitre’ D, and were immediately moved to a table for 2 at the window. Nice. He refused to accept anything for moving us. We went to the Windjammer on arrival. Windjammer was not too crowded, and was pretty much what we're used to from the other ships. We finished lunch at went to check out our room. We had OS 1510. We've stayed in this same room on Monarch 3 times, and Vision once (the Vision is similar in layout, but not exactly the same). The room is 426 square feet, with a 125 square foot balcony. The balcony was different than Monarch in that it was added on at the last refurb - you can see from the outside where the windows/porthole were. The balcony is open above. There was one lounge chair, a small table, and a regular chair. We noticed the other OS's had an additional regular chair. There was more than enough storage - 14 drawers, 3 cabinets, plus a walk-in closet with safe. This cabin is at the very end of a hallway with no traffic outside - great location, just behind the bridge. We talked with the bridge crew every day from our balcony. As you walk in the cabin, the closet is to the left, and the bath is to the right. The bath had no cabinets for storage, and a curtain on the tub/shower. There was a bit of a funky odor from the floor drain (not the toilet) on day one, but it went away after the first use of the shower. Next, as you walk through is the bed area to the right, and cabinets, mirrors, makeup area to the left. I thought the new bedding was great. I got the best night's sleep I've had in months the first night. Past the bed area, was a living area with bar/fridge/cabinets on the left, a table and two chairs, and a sofa/sleeper on the right. Muster drill went quickly, but you could not hear any of the announcements over people talking. After muster we returned to our cabin to watch sailaway. We met our room steward, Clifford, from St. Vincent. Clifford was definitely in the top three of the stewards we've had on RCI. We spent a lot of time talking with him as he was such a good person. We tend to tip well (an extra 20 dollars or so is not a big deal to us and it is a HUGE deal to them), and we experimented with pre-tipping on this cruise. We pre-tipped the room steward, dining room barman, but not the wait-staff for a comparison. I must say that anyone we tipped over and above seemed extremely surprised - I gathered that doesn't happen often after speaking with them. It turns out the pre-tipping experiment was not conclusive. We got excellent service all around. We did, howeverWe ate in the dining room for dinner, and our waiter was Constancio (Stan the Man) from India, assisted by Anthony. Our head-waiter, whose name I don’t remember, we didn’t see very much. She seemed to have a lot of difficulty talking to people. Our barman was great – since we have a table for two, we tend to finish early and always want the Loving Cup for dessert. He made sure he didn’t miss us, and would come over to check our dinner progress during the evening. After dinner we did some shopping and hit the casino. One more note to make….during the evening, the Captain announced that we would be late getting into Nassau the following morning. We had booked (on our own) a snorkeling excursion with Stuart Coves. I went to the excursion desk to inquire about how late we’d be, and if they knew about alternate transportation there. Even though we didn’t book through the ship, Mark at Explorations said he would call the operator and find out what our options were – and to see him in the morning. Apparently sailing was quite rough during the evening; I slept right through it – but heard a lot of people complaining. I don’t know what they expected – the Captain to turn down the wave/wind dial or something???

Day 2 – Nassau

We ended up being even later than expected, and were not able to make our excursion. Mark had called the operator and had made alternate plans, until we were further delayed. They had to cancel several ship-sponsored excursions, but were quick to refund and make other arrangement for people. So, we went to the straw market, took a buggy ride, and went back to the ship. We did not have to be back on the ship until 1am; and the dining room ended up being fairly empty for formal night. I didn’t notice a single tux; most men who dressed up wore dark suits. Went to the casino again and then turned in. They still weren’t sure we would make Coco Cay the next day. Around 5pm, the Majesty pulled in to port, much to the surprise of the locals, as they had had to skip Coco Cay for the winds.

Day 3 – Coco Cay

We arrived at Coco Cay in the morning. Had breakfast in the Windjammer. My wife had left her Splenda stash in the room, and asked one of the staff if he could find some. Kadir immediately ran off and found some. He then talked to us a bit, and we saw him several times later in the cruise; each time he greeted us like life-long friends. This is oen of the reasons why we do RCI. We waited about an hour after the first tender to hopefully avoid the lines, but that didn’t work out very well. There was a line that went from Deck 1 to Deck 3; and people were not very pleasant. We really wanted to rent the Hobie Cat there and go sailing for awhile, but they said it was too windy to let the boats out. So, we walked the nature trail to the end of the island and back. It was only 11am by then and we didn’t want to wait around until 12 for lunch, so we took an empty tender back to the ship. Had lunch in the Windjammer again, standard Windjammer fare. We ended up making this our “Day at Sea”, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the balcony. Dinner in the dining room again. It was pretty empty that night, too. It was the singing waiters night, so we stayed for that. Afterwards, Constancio gave us both a huge hug when we left – seemed to be the only table that got that particular attention. Before dinner we had played somewhat of a practical joke on our steward. I took a sweatshirt, stuffed it with pillows, added rolled up towels for arms and legs, a pillow and sunglasses and hat for the head, and sat it on the toilet, complete with pants rolled down and shoes sticking out; then left for dinner. Clifford was waiting for us to return, and just couldn’t stop laughing. Said he had a heart attack when he thought he walked in on someone going. Told us we’d made his day. We packed, set out our bags, and hit the casino for one last loss.

Debarkation Day

Woke up as the ship was pulling into Port Canaveral. They had told all the Diamond/Platinum people to gather in the dining room at 7:15. Just before they started making announcements for self-carry at about 7:30, we were escorted off the ship. We were the second family through customs/immigration, and were in our car by 7:50. Most painless one yet.

Will we do it again? You bet.

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So glad you at least got to Coco Cay, we were on the Majesty sailing that you saw docked in Nassau at 5.00pm, we went to Coco Cay, but it was to rough for the tenders, so got to Nassau a day early. Still had a great time though

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