Upon checking in, was swift and orderly. I was 10th overall. It was pretty quick if you do online check in. We were greeted promptly and throughout. ALL the staff use your first name immediately and were pleasant.
Boarding was quick, as was the staterooms as predicted, no delays.
This was my 3rd cruise, and my husbands 2nd. This was also the smallest ship I have cruised on, as was my husbands. I booked the cruise thinking the customer service would be of low quality, I was pleasantly surprised throughout the cruise.
Since I have cruised Freedom and Voyager, I came into this cruise knowing it was a smaller ship than I have cruised before and frankly, I won't go smaller than Voyager of the Seas with Rccl. The motion was a little too much for me, however I would like to express, that this is and was shortly after hurricane Isaac, a tropical storm in the Gulf and Hurricane Leslie having a large part of choppiness to the sea, not RCCL fault and I understand that. Can't control everything. This is by no means the staff or captain's fault. It happens.
We weren't pushed towards cocktails upon boarding, not even once, the only time we had someone trying to push a cocktail was when we were looking for one, namely a bar. NOT once were we approached, lack of customer service? I would like to say absolutely not, if you want a drink, you know where to go.
The previous or outstanding review is rather......shall I say reminiscent of days gone by. The ship is 21 years old, and frankly, after a newly built ship, this ship can't compete with the newer ships that are being released. Does your child look the same 21 years later? Does your home look the same after 20 plus years? Expecting something that is "new" just isn't going to happen on Monarch, but even after 20 plus years, how RCCL has kept her up in those years should speak for itself. She's not a dirty ship, while we were cruising they had replaced the carpet in the entire lounge of the Schooner Bar. (this bar is huge!) The staff is constantly cleaning, painting, varnishing, etc, the ship, as from I have witnessed on all of the RCCL fleet.
The "mighty has not fallen" just aged, as we all do. But the ship still has her own charm as she should. She is still very beautiful and accommodates everyone.
The value of the cruise is outstanding, as is the staff on board. They were more approachable than previous cruises I have taken. I'm still amazed that some directors or assistant directors of activities remembered who I was, even disembarking the ship. That is huge......over 2000 and one staff member would remember your name. (Chris, assistant of activities, hats off, and I'm a quiet one!)
Dining experience was okay, however I do want to make this one side note, feeding over 2000 people, 3 times a day, will take its toll. I had a very pleasant experience. Kelly Ann, our Waiter, was very accommodating, pleasant, and informative of upcoming menu, breakfast, port, etc, she was awesome.
The food was average, I wasn't expecting five star food, with the fact that the ship is serving more people than any restaurant you visit on a "spectacular" day, yeah the staff does well to do their very best. The choices are geared to please everyone, you want to expect the fine cuisine, I suggest port restaurants, this is a ship, they don't catch live fish for you to consume that night, that would be insane to rush past customs....the windjammer, they sometimes have the same thing the dining room has, the food is still good either in the dining rooms or windjammer. The only thing that comes to mind is "mmmm spongy" was the banana nut parfait. Not a good choice, but that was MY preference and choice.
Explorations, the staff had been very knowledgeable and patient as we chose. We chose the cabana in Coco Cay, fabulous! Philip had done very well in suggesting. Asking staff is a great idea since they have been to ports more often that probably you have, so ASK!!!
Overall the cruise was what we were expecting, I didn't expect "oasis" but I did expect the same if not better customer service I had received on previous trips. I love it as did my husband. I purposely did not include the excursions we took as that is a personal preference. We had great customer service, it was outstanding and would push anyone in marketing or retail to take this cruise to show them what it takes to give customers the experience they'd expect. This is also taking in the account that Monarch is being retired very soon, but the quality is still there. I was happy, the price does not reflect the attitude of it being an older ship and people, staff and myself, love the fact that it will be a fabulous cruising ship for all to enjoy in the future. Well done!
I am not a RCCL employee and live in MN. This was wonderful and would go again, but on a bigger ship, my choice only since I haven't done any thing smaller than Voyager before....however I was in fact expecting it.