Old but still lively
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE SHIP:
Monarch is RCL's workhorse for Port Canaveral, doing twice a week mini-cruises to the Bahama. Built 20 years ago, it has been refurbished but still shows its age with tiny cabins, lack of balconies and awkward theater layout. However, the food was good to excellent, the stop at Coco Cay was a lot of fun, and service generally was excellent (with 1 glaring exception noted below.) Price for an oceanview cabin for a 4-day cruise was about $300 per person, including gratuities. I considered it a good but not outstanding value. Drinks were pricey ($6 a beer; $9 a mixed drink) with no significant discounts offered. This cruise was arranged by a relative, and was OK, but I wouldn't consider it a first choice.
WOULD YOU CRUISE THIS SHIP AGAIN:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR STATEROOM:
The oceanview cabin with twin beds was quite small, about 9 by 12, with only one sitting chair (a desk chair) but it was adequate. Main faults -- small 17-inch TV with bad color, lack of a room safe, and a defective light switch. No ice bucket filled automatically. Sparse water flow in the faucets. Beds were firm and comfortable, and closet and drawer storage was good. I found it odd the information materials in the desk gave no details about the ship -- length, capacity, crew, etc.
HOW WERE THE PUBLIC SPACES:
One advantage of an older ship is that it's not exhausting to trek from one end of the ship to the other. The ship's public rooms still are beautiful and spotless, although the decor doesn't have the glitz and bold colors of a Carnival ship. The theater has visibility-impairing posts, somewhat cramped seating and is sub-par by today's standards. Elevators functioned well. The indoor-outdoor carpeting covering most of the pool deck may have been good from a safety point of view, but looked and felt tacky. I liked how the prow of the ship was quiet and uncrowded.
TELL US ABOUT THE SERVICES:
Services in general were very good to excellent, especially in the cabin. One problem we encountered on the final night was the placement of two strangers at our table of four. Our two relatives had canceled their cruise at the last minute, and we understood the dining room needed to maximize seating. However, we felt the dining room manager should have consulted us beforehand, or moved us to a two-seat table. The strangers were rude and refused to change chairs so we could eat side-by-side, so we left and grabbed a bite at the pizza bar. Regarding entertainment, the song and dance reviews were excellent, the comedian was OK, and we skipped the magic show. Pool games were fun. One special treat was a free tour of the galley and a Q&A session with the head chef. From a GLBT perspective, the word "gay" was nowhere to be seen or heard. Some of the social staff were obviously "family" and had gay-friendly patter, but the lack of GLBT-specific social activities felt like a snub.
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