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Royal Caribbean InternationalMonarch the Seas ReviewBaja, MexicoJ. Price

Age: 46

Occupation:investor

Number of Cruises: 25

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Monarch of the Seas

Sailing Date: April 10th, 2006

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Royal Caribbean International
Monarch of the Seas Cruise Review
Baja, Mexico

J. Price

We were on Monarch of the Seas 4/10 – 4/14 ; spring break 2006. We had four adults and three kids amongst us and booked three cabins. ( 3004, 3006 and 3008 ). Our friends also booked and had four cabins for four adults and five kids amongst them. The kids are all teens 14 – 17 years of age this trip. I have cruised at least two dozen times in 14 years, both with and without kids joining us. We paid rack rate for this trip six months before departure.

Normally you hear “the good. the bad and the ugly “… Sadly, I choose to relate the ugly , the bad, then the good – as that is exactly how it affected us on our cruise…

THE UGLY :
Royal Caribbean is very dishonest about the cabins. I began looking at cruises in September 2005 for April 2006. I booked three cabins directly with the cruise line in October 2005. I was very clear I did not want inside cabins, porthole cabins or obstructed window views. I was told we had reserved three cabins with windows, all with unobstructed views. The other party we traveled with was also told that all three cabins had windows with unobstructed views when she called R C to make her payments. We got on board and we had portholes in all three cabins 3004, 3006 & 3008! To add insult to injury, the portholes are all very deep and long due to these cabins being at the front of the boat ( 3-4 feet long – like looking through a long metal tube) . Try to get light in through an 18” tunnel that is four feet deep – useless ! So – we had very limited light and no view at all.

As soon as we got on board and saw what we had in these cabins I immediately went to guest relations to discuss this. This was on Monday. The ship was full and we could not be moved. I asked for an onboard credit equal to the inside cabin price quoted me versus the price we paid : this totaled $487 for the three cabins. I wrote out a note about my concerns. Desk staff advised we would be contacted by the onboard hotel director, J. Lynch. I called Monday evening and he was still not available. No one contacted me Monday. I got a call Tuesday from Trudy in guest relations at 10:00 a.m. as I was just about to depart the ship in port. She said we had to deal with corporate in Florida. So I get back on ship and call Florida at 3 pm Tuesday. I hold 28 minutes while the corporate representative in Florida talks to others and then she comes back on and tells me to deal with the guest relations on the ship, “ as corporate can do nothing to help me while I am onboard”. She says corporate in Florida will send an email to the ship advising I have contacted the Florida office. I ask her to copy me on the email and she says she can not, per corporate. So she finally agrees to leave a voice message at my office when the email has been sent.

No message at my office by 6 p.m. weds so I go back to guest relations onboard. No one at onboard guest relations to help me again, so I again write a note again requesting the onboard credit for the cabins not being as booked. Never hear back from anyone onboard or from Florida. On Wednesday morning and evening I again go to guest relations and never was anyone able to assist me. On Thursday I gave up, as we were getting off Friday morning and I was tired of spending my vacation trying to resolve this. In the interim days I have met five other travelers with the same challenge; all advise they were told they had windows and all got portholes. I WILL follow up with corporate now that we are back. BUT – be aware that this appears to be intentional FRAUD BY DECEPTION. I have the names, dates and times of all three people I spoke to at corporate as we booked and paid for our cabins, as well as the same info for all the Royal Caribbean staff our friends spoke to when we booked in October : ALL representatives who ALL told us we all had cabins with windows and not portholes. Today corporate tells me that none of these people now work for Royal Caribbean ??? Know that their website never says if you have a window or porthole; they call them all “oceanview”. Know that their website lets you look up your specific cabin number, and you will see a cabin with a nice large bright window. They say on the cabin specific page that the photo is qualified by “ Stateroom images are representative only” – but never do you think that means you get no window…. AND when you see the picture with the full size, light and bright window and try to print it out, the photo will NOT print out ; you get a big black square on your print out. Royal Caribbean does everything they can to disguise anything in writing that says anything about windows or portholes, both on their website, as well as their confirmation documents… They are very sly in the manner by which they do all this, but you do not have any reason to question it until you are a victim of this ploy. I truly think this is an intentional deception after talking to so many other families who also were told they had windows. FYI : There are NO window cabins on deck three. Also – any “forward in the boat” rooms are much smaller in square footage than the rooms we saw mid-ship on deck three with their doors open. In 3008 the two beds together as a queen filled up the entire floor space except a small space in front of the desk and bath area.

THE BAD :
1) They had a beautiful mid-night chocolate buffet. The adults walked through the line and when you get to the end the staff tries to steer you to your cabins to eat. We saw people in the dining room and basically had to force our way to go in. All the kids with us were further back in line, so I went and told them to meet us in dining room. They never showed up. When the kids got to end of line they were told they COULD NOT go into the dining room and were forced to go sit in the hallways to eat as we had their cabin cards with us !! They paid a full fare just like us and should have been able to eat in the dining room. Everyone was complaining about this – many adults we know were flat out told they had to eat in their cabin. Shame on Royal Caribbean !!

2) Bring shampoo and conditioner. They have these little dispenser machines in the shower that they refill with some horrid cheap stuff and we were all victims of tortured hair that looked like we did not clean it until we got on shore to buy our own.

3) In all the bars the music is way too loud for any conversation, except sometimes the 14th floor bar would be better. The library is open to the common areas and very noisy. The windjammer buffet area was sometimes very loud and other times was more muted – but you still had to raise your voice to talk… It is really hard to find a quiet area on the ship unless you are in your cabin.

4) In every one of the three elevator banks there were at least one or two elevator’s out of order the entire trip. It was very hard to get around the ship because once you get on an elevator ( or used the stairs ) it only takes you to select floors, so you have to get off and walk to another elevator or stair bank to get to other floors. No issue for us – we just used the stairs once we figured out how to get from floor to floor ; but we saw many, many elderly folks struggling to get about the ship and many who seemed just far too fragile to stand and wait five minutes for an elevator to arrive. Not great for a ship that was just dry-docked for repairs.

5) We had late seating dining at 8 p.m. We had to be back on ship by 4:30 p.m. after the day in port. If you got back on ship after 4 p.m. when the buffet closes and were hungry, your options for food were 12th floor for pizza by the slice and cookies or room service that took 45 – 60 minutes to arrive. You could not pre-order room service in the morning to arrive at a select time in the afternoon. There was no snacking food / peanuts in any of the bars. No other food anywhere on ship until 7 p.m. when the buffet & Jade sushi open. They really should offer a small salad bar selection, fruits and soups for the 4 – 7 p.m. period for those wishing a healthy snack and not pizza and cookies. Bring your own snacks on board if you want anything to eat after a long day off ship !!

6) We were told they charge you tax on the drinks and soda cards you buy in port (and the percentages seems to vary from bar to bar and drink to drink ???) and no tax at sea we were told. So when you get your final bill and see charges higher than on your receipts, that may be why ? Wonder if the taxes they collect ever get paid to anyone ?

THE GOOD :
The personal wait staff was all very good, particularly the bar tender we had in the dining room named Keith, who was absolutely outstanding. The public areas of the ship are in good to fair shape; showing wear and tear here and there; but much nicer than we experienced on the much, much pricier Celebrity Mercury in Sept. 2005 ( also owned by Royal Caribbean – their “better line “ ) The food was overall “good to very good”. Consistency in dinner items varied a lot from item to item. The appetizers were our favorite items overall. The warm soups were very good; especially the tomato and the ginger chicken noodle. the beef dinners ranged from bad ( daily beef offering ) to very good ( prime rib ). We were told there were 765 kids on board, and Royal Caribbean had plenty to keep them busy and we never ran into any rudeness or poor behavior on behalf of any of the kids. They have a set 1 a.m. kids curfew that we greatly appreciated. The bottom line is this : We thought we would try Celebrity and Royal Caribbean on a couple shorter cruises and see how we liked it, but based on our experience with the cabin and how they failed to handle it and the appearance that this deception is intentional - we will go back to Princess – that cruise line really understands what needs to be done to keep guests happy and they consistently do everything very well – and that earns them my business and dollars.

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