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This was my 17th Monarch cruise in a little less than 13 years...she was my first Royal Caribbean ship and this was number 62 with that company. I will admit that she is not the fanciest ship afloat, nor the largest - and the cabins are SMALL. What draws me back is her crew, warm and friendly and welcoming. For me, they have become family and I am treated like family each and every time.
As a diamond plus member, embarkation is easy. I was almost the first person in the line ( Joey came on right after me ). We were quickly processed and went to the diamond-platinum lounge ( coffee, tea, juice, cookies and petit fours ) to await our priority boarding call. We were on the ship quickly and greeted with a warm hug in the atrium of the Monarch by Danney League, the loyalty ambassador and friendly greetings from a few of the folks at Guest Relations.
Our next stop was at the Windjammer - not too crowded when we got there so we didn't have to do the long circle to find a place to get into the line...and it wasn't hard to find a table....of course, we also had Werner Zurcher, the Food and Beverage Manager join us - not that I haven't always had excellent service but Werner's presence makes it even more so!
We were allowed into our cabins at 1PM. I was in 3608 - great location midships, near the elevator, with a small porthole, not a real window ( need deck four for that ). It was fine - and my spectacular dozen roses, my requested diamond plus amenity were there, along with a bottle of Chateneuf du Pape ( a gift from my friend, Wilson Philip, the Indian cellar master.
I had an excellent cabin steward, the room was always spotless, ice replenished, wine glasses changed every time I drank out of them, and he loved crazie.
I rarely spent time in the room. Was mainly at Boleros Bar with Charlie Dean and Michael, two Filipino bartenders who are just the best in the world and who I have known for years. I was so pleased to have Joey meet them ( he knew Charlie from previously ). There was an incredible group from Argentina singing in Boleros - Carina was the singer and she had three young musicians - late in the evening - great Latin dance music and, earlier, there were big band tunes. Late night, I'd usually go to the disco - not to dance - god forbid, the music was LOUD - but to see my friend, Indian DJ,
Terry Fernandes and his beautiful girlfriend, Nicole. They always tease me that I'm the "American crew mother" of half the folks on the ship.
I usually ended up back in my room about 2AM but, once I stayed at Guest Relations till 4AM, chatting with the nicest young man from Macedonia. I tell you, the Monach has the most terrific employees, from housekeeping on up the ranks!
I only saw one of the shows - one put on by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. It was nice - not outstanding, though.
The food, as always, in the dining room was very good. No lobster - goodness, I don't see how one could expect that from a four day cruise that basically costs about $400/person. The prime rib was excellent and so was the lamb shank. I missed the escargot because it wasn't offered on the hotel director's menu ( boo hoo ). We dined once with him and the F & B manager and, another night, the F & B manager had a table with Joey, Claire and I. We were very indulged, to say the least.
The afternoon, in Ensenada, I was invited, by my Indian crew friends to a local Chinese restaurant where they are allowed to comandeer the kitchen and prepare Indian food. There were about twenty of us and ten of them cooked - we had four different dishes - shrimp, pork, fish, and lamb in wonderful sauces, with rice - quite spicy - washed down with Dos Equis. I tried to pay my share but, of course, no one would hear of it.
There is no question - in terms of beauty, the Radiance class ships, with all their glass and glitz, outshine the little Monarch in terms of beauty and modern styling - but in terms of old fashioned hospitality and warmth, this lady reigns supreme, in my opinion.