Embarkation -- This was very smooth. We drove from home, arriving at Port Canaveral around 12:45 pm. After parking the car in the garage we made the short walk to the terminal. After clearing security we proceeded upstairs. There was a line for check-in, but since we were in a mini-suite (classified as suite on our boarding document) we went in the priority line and were helped after a 30 second wait. We filled out the health form while she scanned the credit card and checked our passports. We were on the ship shortly after 1. There were several groups onboard. There was a separate table on the way to the ship for 1 of the groups. Apparently they had arranged open bar throughout the cruise for their group. They really seemed to take advantage of this, but the ship appeared ready to handle it as they set up additional bars to accommodate the extra demand. All of the groups appeared to have a good time and I never saw any negative impact for passengers who weren't in the groups.
Stateroom -- We were in a junior suite far aft on deck 10. The room was nice sized as was the balcony. The tub in the bathroom was a bit awkward (my head almost hit the ceiling and I'm 5'10"). The safe was small, but big enough for our valuables (no laptops or anything like that would fit). There was plenty of closet and storage space--much more than you would need for a 3 or 4 day cruise. We didn't have much interaction with our cabin steward, but the room was always kept nice and he always addressed us by name in the hall.
Food -- After getting settled we headed to Windjammer for lunch. It was a bit crowded, but the food was good. We sampled a little bit of quite a few things. We went back there for dinner which was very good. Many of the dining room options (Vidalia tart, etc.) were on the buffet. This seemed like a very popular option Friday night.
On Saturday we had breakfast and a late, light lunch in Windjammer. Breakfast was very crowded. The food for both meals was good. Saturday night we ate in the dining room (made a My Time reservation that morning for 8 pm). They had tried to push us to make a reservation upon embarkation, but we had no idea what time we would want. There was no issue making the reservation Saturday morning. The service was excellent and the food was very good! We both had the scallop appetizer. While I would have preferred the escargot, we both really enjoyed the scallops. I ordered the lobster bisque which was ok. For our entree we both had the beef filet. The beef was tasty & exactly how we liked it (medium rare) which I've always found it difficult to get in a large dining room. I had the chocolate souffle for desert which was good.
Sunday, we had breakfast and a light lunch in Windjammer. We got there a little earlier than Saturday and the crowds weren't as bad as Saturday. We did not do the bbq on CoCo Cay. For dinner, we ate at Jade. It took a little while to get our food, but the waiters and head waiter were very nice and apologized for the delay. DH had the spicy tuna roll appetizer and I had the salmon with caviar. Both were very good. We both had filet (I added the shrimp for the surf & turf) which was also very good. They did a great job explaining cooking the food on the hot rock. The meat was very tender and tasty. The sauces added some nice extra flavor. We were both too full for desert. The prices were reasonable for steak and seafood.
Ports -- We had both been to Nassau before several times so we just wandered around town a little and picked up a bag for DD at the Straw Market. The Monarch had the prime "parking place." We were right next to the terminal. There were 3 Carnival ships in and then the Allure of the Seas pulled in (they had missed their scheduled stop in Nassau due to searching for a missing person earlier in the week) so I'm sure town got pretty busy. We relaxed on the ship for the rest of the afternoon.
had been to CoCo Cay, but DH had not. We took a tender over about an hour and a half after they started running. The tender process went very smoothly and efficiently. We grabbed a couple of lounge chairs near the snorkel beach and relaxed. There was quite a long wait at that bar for beverages. After a while we wandered around the island to see everything. We decided that if we are there again we would go to one of the quiet beaches towards the back. It was very hot and dark clouds were starting to roll in so we headed back to the ship. They have a covered area to clear security before boarding the tenders which appeared to work well.
Activities -- We didn't do much. Our goal was just to relax. There were all of the usual activities (bingo, ice carving demonstration, karaoke, shows, etc.). We saw the young kids from the children's program out and about 2 nights with the counselors. They were having a great time (you could tell the counselors loved what they were doing). I had a spa treatment. The treatment itself was excellent. It's too bad they ruin the relaxation at the end with their sales pitch (tried to sell me $175 worth of lotion).
Disembarkation -- We went down to deck 4 at 7:30 am to wait for self disembarkation. By the time we got there it had already started so we joined the line. They had staff doing a great job of keeping it all organized. We were off the ship, cleared customs/immigration and were in our car by 8 am.
Overall Thoughts -- We had cruised primarily on Princess for the last 10 years (including our wedding on board), but had become disappointed in their service (not everyone, but many staff members), food and overall product. We were very happy with RCCL and the Monarch (I hadn't been on them in 7 years & my husband never was)! I was a little nervous since we were going on a short cruise on an older ship, both of which sometimes don't make for the best experience, but it was great! The staff really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. They were friendly--always saying hello, good morning, etc. The food was very good and better than we've found lately on Princess. Overall, it was a great experience and we can't wait to sail on Allure next year with DD!