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Monarch of the Sea(s) - July 2004


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Note: I broke my ankle and am in a knee-length cast. I brought a rented wheelchair and crutches with me.


I just returned from a 3 day trip on Monarch of the Sea(s) (LA to Ensenada) and wanted to post my findings:


General Access: The pile of the carpet throughout the ship was pretty thick. I often had someone pushing me, but when I was alone, I got quite a workout. On the phone, NCCL advised that all decks are wheelchair accessible. Well, that's sort of true. Most of them are, some are not at all (ex: The highest deck above Deck 11 - only accessible by stairs). Several of the doorways had very high lips and I had to have a lot of assistance getting over them (this may be my lack of expertise with manuvering a wheelchair over a lip). At one point, 4 U.S. Customs officers lifted me and my chair over a doorway (they laughed and said not to ever say that U.S. Customs didn't do anything for me - ha). Due to the tough doorways, I ended up avoiding certain parts of the ship.


Rooms: We had a standard, outside stateroom on Deck 6 (as we had made the reservations prior to my accident). My wheelchair would not fit in the door with me in it, so I would have to get out and use my crutches to get into my room. I had to use my crutches to "swing up" into the bathroom (as it had a 4-5 inch step). The shower had a shower stool (my request), a grip bar and an adjustable/removable shower head.


WARNING: Deck 6 is below the Promenade Deck and below the dumba** running track. Though the cruise line posted signs advising guests not to run or power walk after 10:00 PM, guests could still run around all day (and at night). I kid you not that it sounded like an elephant running overhead. I am all for exercise, but not at the expense of other guests' relaxation and comfort. Be advised to avoid this floor if you plan to take any afternoon naps.


Public Restrooms: Unfortunately, Guest Relations on the ship could not tell me the location of all handicap accessible restrooms on the ship. Then they changed their mind and said that all public restrooms are handicap accessible. If that means there is a grip bar in the larger stall, then they are correct. If it means the doors are easy to open and a wheelchair can easily get into the restroom, then they are not correct. The only "true" handicap accessible stall is on Deck 4, across from Guest Relations. For 90% of the public restrooms, I had to park my chair outside and hop on one foot into the restroom. This would startle quite a few people and they gave me lots of room and let me go first. I would not advise everyone to try this.


Staff: Sadly, not many staff members offered any sort of assistance while on the ship. When we arrived at the dock, a NCCL employee took me aboard the ship and to my room. After that, not many staff members were very helpful. Thank goodness for my fellow passengers - they opened doors, held elevators, cleared crowds, brought me things and picked up items I dropped. When I went to the Windjammer Cafe (buffet), no staff member offered to carry my tray or help me with a beverage. I had several family members with me (thank goodness), but if I was truly alone, I would hate to think what would happen (or not happen). A positive side to this trip was that I didn't put on any weight, as someone had to bring me my food and I hated to ask for seconds.


The gift shop staff were very helpful. They brought me items, sales receipts, etc. so I didn't have to manuver around displays.


The dining room staff were the most outstanding. They allowed me to be seated first, helped me into a regular chair, stowed my wheelchair for me and I didn't have to ask for anything. And these weren't just our "regular" waiters and head waiters - any person we encountered working the dining room offered help.


The porter for our room was less than helpful. After introducing himself, he never returned to our room to see if I need anything else or needed help. He also had the nasty habit of moving my crutches from the door and putting them far inside the room when he cleaned. I began to resent his little towel animals. I would have preferred more attention, less monkeys and elephants. His tip reflected our lack of appreciation for his "service".


When leaving the ship, an NCCL employee took command of my chair and we were quickly escorted off the ship before hundreds of other people (a big perk!)


Pool: There was a chair lift to (I guess) drop people into the pool (ha). I didn't try using it as I didn't want to be the entertainment for the afternoon (ha).


Shows: The theatre and clubs were easy to access and had ample space and seating. I sat in various locations in the theatre and had no problem seeing the shows.


Casino: I could move my chair around the slot machines and craps tables pretty easily. I lost my money almost as easily.


Overall, I had a very good time (even if my tone belies that fact). I just wanted to post a few advisories for fellow travelers ...

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The porter for our room was less than helpful. After introducing himself, he never returned to our room to see if I need anything else or needed help. He also had the nasty habit of moving my crutches from the door and putting them far inside the room when he cleaned. I began to resent his little towel animals.



LOL. (glad you could keep your sense of humor). Well it sounds like you had a good time!


BTW, Monarch is a RCI ship not NCCL. I would also agree that it's not the most accessible choice -- older ship, recently redone, but still there are some access problems.



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Welcome to the Temp disabled. I'm glad you did enjoy yourself. Yes, other pax are very helpful. I have a suggestion for the next time you cruise if you have a problem with your legs again, rent a scooter. Scooters are easier to get around with on perment/temp bases. Even some of the Voyager Class ship have areas that are inaccessible and they are very modern. The Wedding Chapel comes to mind. They do have a chair lift but unless the key is available you can not go.


Some of the doors you mentions to the outside were built like that due to regs at the time. Heavy with lips was to keep water out during rough seas or tilting. Even on the new ships some doors are still like that on lower decks. Althought they have ramps on both sides you can get stuck sometimes.


When I board the ship I tell my Room Attendents that they are not allowed to move my canes or if they have to they must be returned to where the canes were so that I can handle things myself. I do not travel with anyone and am in a chair most times. (MS). I have never had a problem with this issue. Yes, it was your first time and you went in blind as well as injuried. Please, return the favour you were given and ask if a disabled person needs help with a door. This is always the hardest part for me.


I hope your leg is healing while and you recover completely. Book another cruise and enjoy it. Go on a newer ship and look for the things that were a problem for you before. Tell about it in your reviews as most reviews do not deal with disabled advice. Thank you in advance and thank you for your review here.

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Queenie2: Thanks for the correction on the cruise line - it was my first cruise and I haven't quite got the "cruise lingo" down yet (all I could remember was that smoking was allowed on the "port" side only as I had to advise several cigar smokers of that fact - blech!). I tried to research the ship before leaving and thought that my posting might be a bit of a "warning" for others. Am kind of hoping the cruise lines review this site periodically and make some adjustments (in your experience, have you noticed if they ever do that? Keep an eye on these forums?)


CaptData: Thanks also for your posting. I am not a patient person by nature, but my injury has definitely modified my attitude about a lot of things and opened my eyes to the access issues for the disabled. I use a wheelchair at the office and have pointed out several things to our facilities staff that are not acceptable. I will probably take another cruise some day, and I know I will have an "eye open" for access issues after this experience. Thanks for the advice!

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