Our first cruise experience was both a delight and stress; and we utterly loved our RC cruise overall.My wish is to enlighten those who prepare but hopefully can avoid the problem we encountered.
First; I thought I really prepared and read all our documents for boarding.They recommended passports so I called RC and spoke to 'Brian' who said cheerfully not to worry, we did not need passports until 2008.He made no mention that we DID need our BIRTH CERTIFICATES.Somehow I missed that in the literature, which I know is my fault, but there was a long list of passengers unable to board because they did not know they had to bring birth certificates.
Likewise, if you have a minor child and have remarried, also bring their birth certificate to prove you are the mother.Bring all documentation you have because it is horrible to drive back home in hopes of making it back to board the ship.Also, all certificates must be certified, no copies.It is much harder to board a ship than it is an airplane, this surprised me and nearly ruined all our plans.RC offers no credit or refund if you fail to bring correct documentation.Just a warning so you don't experience that awful feeling that all this planning and payment is for nothing...
Once on board, we found our first cruise experience to completely turn around for the better.We generally stay in Marriott's and four star hotels and timeshares, so I was worried about being at the mercy of RC.Would I feel claustrophobic on a ship; what about sitting with strangers in the dining room?Would people be smoking everywhere as I cannot stand cigarettes?
Yes, the stateroom was small, but very nice and comfortable.It was so very quiet and the view of the ocean out the fabulous window made it feel spacious.The bathroom was small but great.Our room steward was very kind and always attentive.I am super clean so I brought with me a type of Febreeze product because I do not like pillows that other people have slept on.My nose is super sensitive and when I go to hotels I actually carry cleaning products.
The ship was in great shape; all the brass was gleaming and the carpets were new, no stains as I have read.No fingerprints on glass and there were staff polishing everything all the time.The ship was not in bad shape at all, although this was our first cruise, I am very particular.
As for the food, I was really worried that my husband would not be happy; he is a steak house man and I serve him as best I can at home.For me, the dining room had everything I wanted (except high quality Chardonnay with the price I pay at home...wine was just alright) and my picky husband enjoyed the prime rib and lobster bisque.The first night they serve lamb which is not something anyone at our table wanted.
Another high point is that they paired us with a lovely couple to sit with every night about our age.We enjoyed going to the funny game shows and other shows with them before and after dinner.We met so many wonderful people on the ship it became one of our favorite things about being on the Monarch.Everyone was so friendly and enjoyable, I can't believe I worried about not going cruising without other couples.We had one couple we met up in the Viking lounge late at night and the men smoked vanilla cigars and we enjoyed great fellowship!
There is so much to do and so much to eat, we were very pleasantly surprised.Our parents cruise Celebrity and we were concerned that the Monarch of the Seas would be a let down after seeing all their videos of their cruises.
I have never felt so safe traveling, so I really enjoyed every second of our trip.This is an excellent experience for anyone, I can't believe I thought I wound not like it.We are now planning next year's trip for our whole extended family...
Thanks so much RCI!