In June 2009 I took my first cruise on Royal Caribbean's "Monarch of the Seas." This ship is one of the older boats in the RCCL fleet, entering into service in 1991. Though she has been refurbished in 2003, her age shows. This ship carries 2,744 passengers, when I sailed the ship was at full capacity but I couldn't tell, there is plenty of space. Currently the Monarch of the Seas is sailing on three and four night itineraries to the Bahamas out of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Cabin: If you are comparing RCCL cabins to Carnival, I felt that Carnival's cabins are a little larger in size. All your amenities are in the cabin and the room stewards make your stay unforgetting. Its a nice touch coming back into your room after dining to fine animals made out of towels, mints on your pillow or your bed made up after your afternoon nap. Cabin service has twice a day, late morning and turn down.
Food: I have had a mixed bag of dining experience with RCCL. On this particular ship the food was outstanding. We did the formal dining all nights and enjoyed our meal equally each night. The cuts of beef are amazing! We mostly ate our breakfast and lunches on the lido deck, the buffets offer a variety of international cuisine.
Entertainment: One thing you will not find on this ship is boredom. Rock climbing, deck parties, live bands, karaoke, a piano bar, Vegas style shows and night clubs are bound to keep you busy. There is an adults only comedian aboard so you may want to check your daily itinerary before taking the kids to the late show.
Public Areas: One of the public areas that stand out on the Sovereign class ships is the Viking Lounge. The lounge is located on Deck 14, a 360 degree open view and is the highest point of the ship. During the evening it doubles as a cigar bar, smoking is allowed on one side of the Viking Lounge but not the other. If you are on the deck, smoking is allowed on the starboard (right) side of the ship only.
Disembarkation: The saddest part of any cruise. There is a glimmer of light though. Unlike some cruise lines, RCCL doesnt rush you off the ship. You can actually take your time leaving the vessel on debarkation morning (at a reasonable time). Judge your time when leaving the ship. With over 2,000 people trying to leave the ship with one or two exit doors, it could be chaos, especially if you have an early flight or have to be at work.
For being almost 20 years old, I thought she was a great ship!
Doug Parker is the founder of Cruise Radio. He has been in the media industry for more than 10 years. His Web site, CruiseRadio.net, offers industry news, on demand interviews, video and travel tips. Cruise Radio is the worlds only independent cruise travel show.