Just returned from our first cruise on Pullmantur's Monarch, a cruise line out of Spain owned by Royal Caribbean. One might call them the "little sister" of Royal Caribbean since their fleet incudes the older, smaller ships passed down from the bigger cruise line. But what Pullmantur offers that other cruise lines don't is an ALL INCLUSIVE package for one low price that includes food, alcohol and other ship board activities. And another special feature offered only by this cruise line is the ability to board the ship at ANY of the ports of call that they stop at, creating an unusually diverse group of cruisers mixed together. Our trip left from the port of Colon, Panama and included stops at Cartagena, Columbia, Oranjestad, Aruba, La GuairÃ¡, Venezuela, and Willemstad, Curacao before returning to Panama. At each port while cruisers are enjoying shore excursions other passengers are embarking and disembarking, continually adding new passengers to the mix.
Despite the fact that the Monarch is an older, smaller ship we found it elegant, tastefully decorated with all the necessary bells and whistles needed. Along with plenty of food and booze for free there's a spa, gym, rock climbing wall, two pools, two hot tubs, teen club, dance clubs, casino, bars, nightly shows, internet cafÃ©, jogging track, basketball courts, ping pong and so much more.
Although the official language onboard is Spanish, all of the crew seemed to speak English well along with several other languages too. All announcements are made first in Spanish and second in English, so everything we needed to know was clearly stated. All documents and menus were also available in English as soon as the staff knew we weren't fluent in Spanish. But since we're US expats living in Panama we are learning Spanish and enjoyed being immersed in the language for a week, but knew we could revert to English whenever we got lost.
The crew was absolutely wonderful and always willing to bend over backwards to take care of our every need. My husband broke his toe on board and needed medical treatment and was immediately seen by the ship's doctors where he was given intravenous pain medication, had x-rays taken of his foot, and had all arrangements made for surgery in Cartagena, since that was our next stop. We returned to the ship before it left port and were able to continue with the rest of our vacation with the benefit of follow up medical care right on board.
Cleanliness was of the utmost importance onboard as hand sanitizer was everywhere. Each time we entered or exited an eating establishment we sanitized our hands. And at every port of call we had to sanitize when leaving and re-entering the ship, making us feel very safe that we wouldn't bring home some disease.
Overall we loved our cruise with Pullmantur and plan to travel with them again. Absolutely great value for the money, warm, welcoming crew members, great food and lots of good, tropical mixed drinks all of which created memories to last a lifetime.