Background on us: My husband and I are Diamond level in the C & A society, and in our late 40's. We were traveling with my older sister who needed a cruise to get to the Platinum level.
My sister was in a Junior Suite, by herself, room 1588, and my DH and I had been upgraded to a Grand Suite from a Junior Suite, room 1038.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon, one day early, so that we could stretch our vacation a little. Flew into Orlando, (MCO,) from Atlanta, rented a car from Budget, and drove straight to Grills at the port, to watch the ships sail, and enjoy an excellent seafood dinner! After reading there is no lobster served in the MDR on the Monarch, we had to get our lobster fix at Grills, and it was wonderful! We will go there again, if ever at Port Canaveral in the future! BTW, you can get lobster on the ship, but you have to pay $24.00. It was listed as an option on one of the nights.
After we watched the ships sail, we went to the Comfort Inn and Suites in Cocoa Beach, where we had reserved a room through Hot wire. It wasn't the fanciest hotel, but it is right near the beach, and had a nice pool, and a bar on site. After we checked in, we went and got some things at the Winn Dixie, to drink that night, and then walked to the beach. We could see the Freedom OTS, just off shore, and since we had watched it sail a couple hours before that, we knew that it must have had to turn back for some reason. I checked cruise critic, and saw that someone posted it had to take a passenger back, that was sick. After a nice walk on the beach, we returned to the hotel, and stayed up late, having our precruise party.
The next morning, we had a lite bite to eat, and then dropped the rental car off, and took the Budget shuttle to the port. It was so quick and easy, and in a few minutes we were checked in, and seated in the priority waiting area, at the port. I guess we were there for about 15 minutes, before boarding began, so we were on the ship around 11:30. We had lunch in the Windjammer, got our drink of the day, and waited for our rooms to be ready.
At about 1:00PM, we went to deck 10, and then to check out our rooms. Both Suites were very big! The Grand suite had a huge balcony, and a very large living area. It was bigger than our hotel room, from the night before! This was our first suite, and after reading comments on the boards, I wasn't expecting such nice accommodations.
We ordered breakfast in our cabin every morning, from the dining room menu, and it was fairly quick to come, and always good. All three of us found the food to be very good in the main dining room, and pretty good in the windjammer. We liked the pizza a lot, and it makes me wonder why you read so many negative comments about RCI's food, on the boards!
We had early dining in Claude's Dining room, and our servers were Shetty and Florencio, and they worked wonderfully together! They really were the best servers that we have had in some time! We have been sailing with Princess in the last three years, and after coming back to RCI, I have to say, the service is outstanding on RCI! I love traditional dining again!
Our port stops were Coco Cay and Nassau. We brought our snorkels with us, but found the snorkeling a little disappointing. The sand was churned up, so it was hard to see many fish at Coco Cay. In Nassau we went to Junkanoo beach, and the water was crystal clear, but not many fish to see, unless you swam way out. We didn't, but we heard others say that they did see lots of fish, if you swam out beyond the buoys.
We enjoyed drinks on both beaches, and the warm temperature of the water and the air. We really got lucky with the weather this week!
As far as the entertainment, we thought that the live music on board was good, in our opinion. We didn't go to the shows, as they aren't our thing. We just prefer to wonder the ship, or sit on the balcony in the evenings. The deck party the night we were in Nassau, was fun, and upbeat.
Internet service on the ship, was so quick on the last day. I had expected to be sitting there for at least a half hour, but I got us checked in for our flights, on line, in about 5 minutes. We are Diamond members, so we had about an hour of online time between the two of us, and we only used 30 minutes of it, even after checking our e-mail on three accounts, plus checking in for our flight home, for all of us.
I want to say thank you to all the Monarch employees that we dealt with! You are outstanding employees, and we don't own stock in RCI, but maybe we should.
Four days went way too fast, and on Friday, we departed the ship around 8:45AM. It was a quick departure. We went to the waiting area for shuttles, and got the Enterprise car rental shuttle, after about a 20 minute wait. It went very smoothly, and we were at MCO, and all checked in for our return flight home, by about 10:30 AM.