This is the third time I've cruised with RCI. My son (8) and I were enjoying a little vacation. I was a bit nervous about cruising on the Monarch of the Seas as I've previously been on the Freedom of the Seas and the Explorer of the Seas - both MUCH larger ships. In addition, reading the reviews of the Monarch, so many people seemed to have less than positive experiences. So I was armed with the worse but plesantly surprised with how wonderful everything was.
I have to agree with other posters - this is an older ship. It did not have the bells as whistles of its sisters in the fleet but we still had a terrific time. While we didn't have a mini-golf course or a surf machine, there was still plenty for both my son and I to do. While the 80's decor of brass and muted colors were prominent throughout the ship, it didn't bother me because it was very clean and well-kept. I did not encounter the "sewage smells" that other posters complained about. We were in an inside cabin on the third level - near the main dining room and the photo display areas. Very convenient and surprisingly quiet. The room was tiny. That's to be expected in an inside cabin but we spent very little time in there so it didn't bother us. A big shout-out to our cabin steward, Yossy. She was fabulous! Very attentive, warm and friendly. She kept our room clean and refreshed. She was AWESOME with towel animals (which my son LOVES) and she made sure we had a new critter nearly every night!
We never ate in the formal dining room. It just didn't fit our style. My son and I preferred the casualness of Windjammer. Terrific staff at lunch and dinner. We sat in the same area each night and got to know the wait staff. They were very accommodating and kind. The food was okay. The best entrees were the make-you-own stir frys each night - Asian, Italian, Greek. The buffet was your typical buffet you'd see at a Golden Corral - good, not fantastic. Their Indian selections were fabulous. Don't miss them! Dessert was average (but it didn't stop us from trying them all anyway!)
Enjoyed the pizza at Sorrento's very much. It made for a great afternoon snack. Wish there was more than one ice cream soft serve machine. We had a cone daily and there was always a line, not more than 3-5 people and it moved quickly but always a line.
CoCoCay is amazing. Best $20 spent for the giant inflatable slide. You can ride it all day. I think my son went up and down dozens of times. Money well spent! The aqua-park was also a hit with my son. But you need to have very good arm strength to get onto the inflatable. I spent more time bobbing in the water while my son was climbing and sliding. It was a reality check that I really am getting old!
Nassau was great. We didn't plan any excursions. Just went off the ship for some morning shopping. Don't forget to bargain at the Straw Market. We actually spent a good part of the day on the ship and enjoyed the pool and deck all to ourselves. Most of the passengers were off on excursions and it was delightful to have some peace and quiet!
Day 4 was an at-sea day and thank goodness we got our lounge chairs at 9:00am! It was a beautiful and sunny day and the deck was packed. If you arrived after 10, you couldn't get a chair. Good music, fun atmosphere. Great day in the sun. Only complaint, my son was dying to go in the hot tubs and they were always filled to the max with either college co-eds or other adults. So he had to enjoy his time in the pools instead.
Embarking and leaving the ships was mostly flawless. Didn't like the college spring-breakers who jumped the lines to cut in with their friends. They should have waited in the lines with the rest of us. Didn't say anything though b/c it wasn't worth the hassle. Even with a ton of college-aged kids on board, they were quite well behaved during the day. We didn't partake in the evening/night activities so can't determine if the stereo-typical "spring break" stereotype was true. During the day they were nice kids enjoying the sun and the hot tubs.
It was a wonderful vacation. Worth its price and we did get a bargain. I prefer a slightly larger ship but if were traveling to the Bahamas again on a 4-night vacation, I would sail with the Monarch of the Seas again!