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Monarch 2/9/09 4 night review


kittymom65

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I normally don't take so long to post my reviews, but getting back to the real world has been especially tough this time...

It is a work in progress, I will post more tomorrow night.

FYI, this was our 5th RCI cruise, so we are now finally platinum:D

DH is 32, I am 30. I have a very hectic, high stress job which demands lots of my time, so when I cruise, I like to do nothing at all, which I think you will see by reading our review.

I am very happy to say that even though my laptop made the trip with us, the only time it came out of the bag was on our sea day, and that was only to watch a movie, something that has not happened on my last 3 cruises.

I will try to answer any questions.

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2/8/09 Sunday (Pre-cruise)

We got up at a ridiculously early time, packed the last minute things, and pulled out of our driveway at 5:20 am. Traffic was extremely light, we made excellent time, and pulled into the Courtyard Marriott Cocoa Beach at 3:00. We normally stay at the Country Inn & Suites at the port, but the Courtyard was cheaper at $99, and we get the Marriott Rewards points. Hotel was pretty nice, about one block walk to the beach, a lovely pool area, even though it was too cool for swimming.

After checking in, we drove back to port for late lunch/early dinner at Grills. I have said before, and don’t care to say again: Hands down, the best yellowfin tuna I have ever eaten. Great pre-cruise atmosphere, too.

We headed back to the hotel, and went to bed early, since our day began so early.

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2/9/09 Monday (Port Canaveral)

We ate at the breakfast buffet at the hotel, and wished we had gone to IHOP or Denny’s, the food there would have been much better for the money we paid.

We left the hotel for the drive over to the port at about 10:45. We dropped off the luggage, went around and parked ($15 per day), went through security and check in, got in line to board, had pictures and security pictures made, and were sitting at the Windjammer at 11:40.

Cabins were ready at 1:00, so we went down to out little cubby hole, 8044 starboard. Seriously, for the price of this cruise, there was no room for complaint, we received a Georgia resident discount, and only paid $159 each for the Category I stateroom. There are the ones with the lifeboat views—but ours was not bad at all, you could see under the lifeboat very well. At the time we booked, the fuel surcharge was still in effect, and since we were paid in full when they removed it, we received our $80 as onboard credit—WooHoo lots of drinks for us!

Our luggage arrived about 1:30, so I unpacked and put away as much as I could in the space provided. We went to the spa and did the spa tour, which was interesting. We went back down to deck 5, where they were giving away samples of the drink of the day, sushi, coffee, ice cream, etc. Muster was at 4:00, and our station was inside on Deck 7 at Bolero’s, which was nice.

The weather today was very nice, sunny and low 70s. We went to the Viking Crown Lounge, my favorite place on the ship, for sailaway and some foo foo drinks. We prefer second seating, which is at 8:30, so we ended up going back to our cabin for a nap before dinner—this (napping) would become a recurring theme all week.

We were seated in the dining room on Deck 4 (Claudes) at table 456, which is an 8 top in the middle of the dining room. We had a couple from Jacksonville, and a couple from Vancouver, BC, and 2 empty seats—all were great tablemates! The food on this cruise was the best that we have had on any, we were quite impressed. On this night, there is a ceaser salad in the middle of the table for all to share. I had the Mahi Mahi, which was fabulous, one of the best things I ate on the ship. My DH had the New York Strip, and said he really enjoyed it as well. I think I had shrimp cocktail also, and I know I had the Brownie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Not sure what else DH had, but I know he had a big dish of vanilla ice cream, as he did every night of the cruise.

There was one show for all guests, at 7:00, a comedian. We skipped it (Nap time was priority), our tablemates said we didn’t miss anything.

After dinner, we were off to the casino for a few minutes, and then off to bed.

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2/8/09 Sunday (Pre-cruise)

We got up at a ridiculously early time, packed the last minute things, and pulled out of our driveway at 5:20 am. Traffic was extremely light, we made excellent time, and pulled into the Courtyard Marriott Cocoa Beach at 3:00. We normally stay at the Country Inn & Suites at the port, but the Courtyard was cheaper at $99, and we get the Marriott Rewards points. Hotel was pretty nice, about one block walk to the beach, a lovely pool area, even though it was too cool for swimming.

After checking in, we drove back to port for late lunch/early dinner at Grills. I have said before, and don’t care to say again: Hands down, the best yellowfin tuna I have ever eaten. Great pre-cruise atmosphere, too.

We headed back to the hotel, and went to bed early, since our day began so early.

 

Keep it coming neighbor!!:)

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2/10/09 Tuesday (CocoCay)

We made it!!!! This puts our success rate of making it to CocoCay at 75% (missed it on Mariner in 07). The wind was really blowing, though, making little white caps in the water. DH and I did breakfast at the Windjammer (we no longer eat breakfast in the dining room—I do NOT eat eggs, and cannot have them on my plate or touching other food I do eat, and the statement “no eggs, please” confuses waiter and kitchen staff beyond belief).

We went down to the tender about 10:30, and this seemed to be rush hour, as the line was snaked around and up to the 3rd deck. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before boarding the tender, and were over to the island in less than 10 minutes after the tender was fully loaded.

I love CocoCay. It truly meets most of my imaginary descriptions of paradise. The only other place that ranks higher is Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI. We walked off to the left to find a chair and a palm tree for shade. I made my nest on my blue lounge chair, greased up with the SPF 45, made a pillow with my towel, got out my Ipod to listen to the best beach music mix ever (Buffett, Marley, Chesney, and a few others), beckoned to the bartender for the first Cocoloco of the day, and I was happy. Around 12:30, the beach barbecue called to us, so we had some lunch, and decided it was time to go say hi to the fishes.

We brought our own snorkel equipment, we just needed to rent vests ($6 each). The ocean floor at CocoCay is covered in coral and rocks, and the water is very shallow, so it is kind of difficult making your way out to snorkel. Once you get out there, the snorkeling is pretty good. We saw several fish, but nothing but fish. Snorkeling was a bit difficult, with the wind blowing small waves over us the whole time, but as always, it was worth it. The weather was beautiful, mid 70s temp and partly cloudy. The water was cool when you first stepped in, but got warmer as you got into the deeper water.

We stayed out about 2 hours, got another Cocoloco on the way back to the tender, headed to the cabin for a shower, and a nap. A longer nap than we originally had planned…..We woke up around 6:00, and headed up to the hot tub. This is my favorite time of day to go, as most people have gone in already, either for dinner or to get ready for dinner.

Around 7:15 or so, we headed down to get ready for formal night. DH and I usually go all out for formal night, but for the shorter cruise, he just wore a black suit and I wore a black cocktail dress. We fit in very well with the crowd this way, there were a few tuxedos and evening gowns, but not many. It looked like most people made an effort to dress up a little bit.

I had for dinner the same meal that I have had every first formal night on every cruise I have been on: shrimp cocktail, ceaser salad, filet of beef, and strawberry cheesecake—it’s tradition, and it’s a good one. There was one exception, however: After having a lengthy discussion with tablemates the night before about our love of all things garlicky, I was coerced into trying the escargot for the first time. It will not be the last time, those little buggers are really good! DH had the lobster bisque, which he said wasn’t the best he’d ever had, ceaser salad, and the salmon filet, and the vanilla ice cream.

There was a show after dinner with the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”after dinner, which we attended. It was pretty good, one of the singers really caught my attention, I think they said her name was Lucy, she was excellent, heads above the other singers.

After the show, it was off to the casino, then off to bed.

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2/11/09 Thursday (Nassau)

This was our 3rd time in Nassau, and we had not made any plans for the day. Therefore, we were in no rush to get off the ship. There were only 2 ships in that day, the Monarch and Norwegian Sky, so the town was not as crowded as it has been when we were in the past. We slept in a bit, went up to the Windjammer for breakfast, then went out onto the pool deck to look at the town and take some pictures.

We walked off the ship around 11:00. Since we could not decide what to do, we ended up going on a van tour with one of the guides on the pier. He was a very good guide, highly educated, and was lots of fun to spend the afternoon with. He took us all over New Providence island showing us all of the landmarks and several neighborhoods. We stopped for a few minutes at Cable Beach (I think on our next trip to Nassau, we will spend the day here) and Queen’s Staircase, and also a local market, where we bought bananas that had been picked from the tree the day before. He then took us over to Atlantis for a walk thru of the lobby and the aquarium and grounds that you can see for free, and a few minutes in the casino, before taking us back to the pier. We paid him 25 each, and feel that we got more than our money’s worth. We walked down to the straw market for a quick walk thru, then walked back up by the shops on Bay Street. We went back to the ship around 3:30, ordered lunch from room service, and took our afternoon nap. We went up to the hot tubs and pool for a while, and watched the sunset. The weather was, again, beautiful, around 80 and partly cloudy.

We skipped the show, a comedian, that was at 7:00 for second seating. Dinner was good, but probably the weakest of the trip. DH and I both had the Vidalia onion tart, which was fabulous, the best yet, and the prime rib, which was just okay. I had a soup, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was a very spicy tomato with tortilla strips in it—very good, and DH had his ceaser salad. I had savarin for dessert, and it was good. DH had his vanilla ice cream.

Win a cruise bingo was at 8:15, so we skipped it since our dinner time was 8:30. The Love & Marriage show was at 10:30. It was, as usual, hilarious. The newlywed couple were really cute, and they ended up being the funniest, even though the couple married longest (53 years) won.

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2/12/09 Thursday (At Sea)

I love sea days. They are one of the best things about cruising, and you haven’t had the full cruise experience if you don’t have a sea day on your cruise. We slept late, barely made it to the Windjammer for breakfast. Of course, by then, all chairs by the pool were taken. We found some up on deck 13 (above the Windjammer). We really liked that location as it was away from all of the noise at the pool, but still close enough that we knew what was going on down there.

After a few hours, I needed to get out of the sun, and we went back to the cabin and watched a movie on my laptop, and ordered lunch from room service. I went ahead and did most of the packing. We went to the shops and bought some liquor to bring home, looked at our pictures in the photo gallery, went for a drink at the Viking Crown Lounge, then back to the hot tub for to watch the sunset on another beautiful day (sunny, around 80).

Afterwards, we went to the farewell show, at 7:00 for second seating. It, again, featured the singers and dancers, but I enjoyed it much more than the first one. They really do a good job given the limited space they have.

Dinner was the Venetian Feast, which is my favorite menu since I am a lover of garlic. I had the caprese salad, scallop risotto (wonderful stuff), garlic soup, tiger shrimp, and warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. I don’t remember what DH had, but he enjoyed his dinner very much, as well. We handed out tips to our waiters, said a sad goodbye to our tablemates, and went to our cabin to change into something more suitable for the after dinner activities; namely, The Quest.

The Quest was one of the funniest that I have seen, there were some very active participants, and one group of cheaters who came prepared. Our team did not place in the top 3, but had a great time anyway.

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2/13/09 Friday (Orlando)

We exchanged the luggage tags that our steward left us for ones with a later time. This way, we did not have to get up so very early, and we had time to eat breakfast. Our color was light blue 2, and was scheduled to be called at 8:15. We were to wait in the theater on deck 5.

This was our first experience with the new disembarkation system, and I thought it worked wonderfully. It was very organized, everyone lined up the way they were supposed to, and the line flowed steadily. We were off the ship, thru customs, picked up luggage, loaded the car, and on Hwy 528 towards Orlando by 8:50.

We did a bit of shopping in Orlando, visiting several of the stores at the 2 wonderful outlet malls, and doing our part for the Central Florida economy.

I cashed in my Marriott points, and booked us a room at the J.W. Marriott for Friday night. This was my first visit to this hotel, which is adjacent to the Ritz Carlton. This is not the type hotel we normally stay at, I prefer to save money on hotels and spend it elsewhere (shopping or dining), and I was thoroughly impressed, overwhelmed, and felt out of place. I got over that in a hurry, and I think I could grow accustomed to this type of hotel. It was a beautiful property, and the pool and it’s lazy river were just unbelievable.

We decided to celebrate Valentine’s and our anniversary a bit early, by going to a nice restaurant for dinner (like we hadn’t ate enough all week). We went to Emeril’s Thcoup Chop, which is at the Royal Polynesian Resort at Universal Studios. It was a lovely dining area with open kitchen. We both had yellowfin tuna with grilled shrimp. It was very good, but twice the price of Grills at Port Canaveral, and not as good as their tuna.

After dinner, we went back to our lovely hotel, and went swimming in the heated pool and floated around the lazy river, before relaxing in the hot tub, and then heading off to the amazingly soft bed.

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2/14/09 Saturday (Savannah)

We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, and then hit I4 east towards Daytona Beach. We drove into Daytona (traffic was very light, considering that it was race week) and out to A1A. We drove up that wonderfully beautiful stretch of road north to St. Augustine. We parked and walked around the town for a little over an hour, before hitting I95 back north. We stopped in Savannah, and stayed the night at the Marriott on the Savannah River, at the end of River Street. We walked down River Street and had a great pizza at Spanky’s, and went back to the hotel to enjoy the last night of our vacation.

2/15/09 Sunday (Going Home)

We, again, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, and dawdled along River Street for awhile before starting the journey home. We had an uneventful drive and arrived home to some ticked off kitties, who were glad to see mom & dad.

In Summary:

No complaints here! We had a great, relaxing vacation.

Yes, it was only a 4 night cruise, and we were thinking at the time of booking that we should just wait on the Freedom and go later in the year. I am very glad we did not. We extended the trip ourselves, and still had a week long vacation, and the price we paid for the cruise could not be beat.

We did miss some of the things we had gotten accustomed to on the Mariner, the promenade and the solarium (and it’s kid free pool and hot tub) mostly.

The Monarch is in great shape. I honestly think that she had the friendliest crew we have met on a ship, and also think it was the best food.

I would not hesitate one second to book the Monarch again, and again, and again.

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Glad y'all had a great trip. I like the way you broke up the drive home. The A1A route is relatively unknown to tourists. It's a nice drive. And who doesn't love Savannah? :D I'd like to go next month for St. Patricks Day. I've heard it's great.

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