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This trip was on RCCL, Monarch of the Seas, 2/1-2/4/08, Friday-Monday for the weekend.
We booked this trip about three weeks before the departure date. We live only 45 minutes from the port and it's very easy for us to just drive down there, no airline reservations, and jump on the ship. There were four of us, two inside cabins were booked. We have traveled on Royal Caribbean before, but never on the Monarch of the Seas. We usually take a Carnival ship when we do a quickie weekend vacation.
We booked this by calling RCCL by phone. We haven't done this before with RCCL...we usually book by using a cruise travel agent, and we won't book by phone again. My husband's name is Raymond, but when he called to book, the RCCL travel agent called him by his nickname of 'Ray'. Unfortunately, when the cruise documents arrived (which did arrive very quickly after we booked), the name on the documents was listed as 'Ray', rather than his legal name of Raymond. That's the first thing I had to call about and change, so his name matched that on his passport.
We had given the agent our Crown & Anchor numbers, and instead of writing all four of the numbers down, he showed my husband's number correctly, my number applied to my son, and my daughter-in-law and myself with no numbers at all. That was also straightened out with a phone call. As it turns out, there was a meet and greet with the Captain during the cruise, but nothing special pertaining to the Crown & Anchor members anyway.
We had booked a room for myself and my husband, and my son and his wife. When the docs came, it showed my husband and son in one cabin, my daughter-in-law and myself in another. We left that as is, figuring we could change that when we got on to the ship, however, filling out the avdance paperwork was a bit more difficult since we were using two different credit cards.
Getting to the ship and on to the ship was a breeze. We arrived just about 1:30pm, left our suitcases at the curb and walked on to the ship with our carry-ons. We went directly to Guest Services as soon as we got on the shp, and changed the cabins and straightened out the charge cards. We then headed to our cabins.
My key to the door fit and opened the door, my husband's did not. My son's key fit their room, my daughter-in-law's did not. It took three trips down to guest services to get that straightened out. We were told if it didn't work after the last time they re-issued the keys, a staff member would accompany us up to the cabin and change the locks. That seemed extreme to me, since two of the keys did work, but the keys worked on the third try.
We headed to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was good and plentiful, although we compared it to the Carnival buffets, and it was not as big. Also, the stations were close together, and there were no clear lines...difficult to figure out which direction the lines were going. Some of the passengers were a bit annoyed by that.
After lunch we explored the ship until time for muster.
Muster was way too long...it took about a half hour, and the man who was directing it for our group had a very deep accent and was hard to understand. There were people talking and laughing and nothing was said to them by the crew. I finally turned around to a woman and asked her to be quiet so I could hear what the man had to say. We waited for quite some time until finally the bell was rung, but my husband and I both felt that the drill was incomplete. In case of emergency, I would doubt most of the passengers would have known what to do.
We had asked for a large table for late dining, and we were ushered to a table for four. As it turns out, we enjoyed being together with our kids very much, and Cornelio and Joks, at table 490, both from the Phillipines, took very good care of us. We enjoyed our dining experience very much. The food was delicious.
We went to see the comedian the first night in the Sound of Music theater, Kivi Rogers, and he was very good. After that we went up to the Circuit lounge and listened to karaoke for awhile. We alsways enjoy a good laugh at karaoke, but would have preferred a screen with the words so everyone could join in singing.
On Saturday we were in Ensenada, and we've been there many times before, so we booked no excursions. We took the bus in to the city from the ship and it costs $3.00 round trip per person. We found out immediately it was the beginning of the Mexican holiday of 'Carnivale'. There was a street fair going on, lots of food, games, and items for sale. We've never been to Mexico for a holiday before, and it was a lot of fun.
Sunday: When we had booked the cruise, we realized it was SuperBowl weekend. The RCCL agent who booked this for us never said it was billed as 'The Super Bowl Cruise', but there were many people wearing t-shirts during the cruise with that logo on it, and in speaking with the cruise staff, we found out that that was exactly what it was. We were hoping to catch some of the game on the tv's in the bars, but we had taken a look at the bars ahead of time and the tv's were very small. Turns out that the staff set up three large movie theater size screens in the Sound of Music Theater, then instead of anyone having to go back and forth to the Windjammer Cafe, they brought tables in and we had a gourmet buffet set up right in the theater. I have to say that being in that theater for the game was the highlight of the trip for us. It was almost like being at the game, except better with the wonderful food offered. They really did that up right.
Monday morning we woke up early because they want everyone out of their cabins by 8:00am. We had breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe, went back to the room and finished putting our things together and then made our way to deck 4. We had a little bit of a line, waiting to get off the ship, but we had Express disembarkation because we had kept our suitcases with us overnight and took them off ourselves. Most people on board were from Los Angeles and did the same thing. The lines at Customs were long, but we were directed to the line for non-citizens because our daughter-in-law is a Canadian, and the line went quickly.
The Super Bowl party made this trip for us. While we enjoyed this weekend very much, we would prefer to cruise on Carnival for a weekend cruise. There were not a lot of extra activities to do on the Monarch that we were interested in. The cabins on Monarch were very small, compared to those on Carnival, and the food, while very good, did not have as much of a selection.
In summary, the cruise was a lot of fun, but we probably won't be taking the Monarch again soon.