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Age: 45

Occupation:business owner

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Monarch of the Seas

Sailing Date: 2009-06-23

Itinerary: Nassau and CocoCay

My husband and I are workaholics who discovered and fell in love with cruising a few years ago. We've cruised about 6 times and this past June was our first Royal Caribbean Cruise on the Monarch of the Seas, five days out of Port Canaveral. Previous cruises include Princess and Carnival in the fall and winter months, so this was also our first cruise in the summer. We appreciate what each line has to offer and we enjoy both large and smaller ships.

My husband and I both agree that the food on Royal Caribbean was excellent. At dinner, I enjoyed whatever the chef recommended, and was always more than pleased. Although we will never starve on any cruise, the food on Princess seemed somewhat bland but still adequate. Royal definitely prepared their food with flavor and were not afraid of spicing things up. I don't really care for the pizza offered when the buffet or dining rooms aren't open, but it did ok in a pinch! We also wished the ice cream machine was available throughout the cruise, instead of being open at different times of the day. There was also one machine only, so lines were long. But, I should temper this with the fact that it can certainly help us watch our calories a little better! Although my husband's attitude was, "I should be able to eat whenever I want to on vacation!" I think our first cruises with Princess spoiled him with their Anytime Dining offering which we both really love.

Our stateroom on Royal was small but ok. I had read about this in reviews before cruising with RCCL, so I wasn't surprised and also warned my husband. However, he had a back ache that lasted the entire cruise and since it vanished when getting off the ship, he wonders if it was the bed in our cabin. We have stayed in balcony rooms, oceanview rooms, and inside cabins. I think, for the value, an oceanview is great. One can sleep forever in the darkness of an inside cabin, but with the other rooms, the light of day can help you get up!

Royal definitely has a lot to offer young people. I have said I wish I had discovered cruising while in my 20's, as I'd have a lot more energy to do all that cruises offer. We enjoyed watching the rock climbers and the Sexy Legs contest and were very happy to see that RCCL offers activities for ages 18 - 20. Our son decided not to come on our Royal cruise, because there was no group for people his age to gather and meet on Princess and Carnival. I wish I had known about this for him, since he turned 18 and couldn't go with the younger group anymore he was quite lost on the last cruise and stayed in the cabin most of the time, although he says he still enjoyed himself. The midnight buffet was fun and since we sailed out of Nassau at 11:30 pm, there were a lot of people out and enjoying the feel of our departure.

We always enjoy sightseeing on our own at ports and recommend having a beer at some of the local shops, rather than at Senor Frogs, for instance in Nassau. Just too much money for a beer! We also LOVED Royal's Island CocoCay and can't say enough about it. Colorful and we loved the trail walking around the island. It wasn't long until we could walk into our own private beaches and feel like we were rock stars on vacation. Fish swimming around us and even a stingray floating by...very romantic. And in June, the water was so warm, even warmer than where most of the people were further up closer to the ship. I would say that in the very hot weather and walking, I was taken by surprise and found myself close to heat stroke! Even though the trail was supposedly a mile and I thought I had read all materials available for cruisers, I was a bit put out about not taking drinking water along. There was absolutely no one around and my husband was torn between getting help for me and staying by my side. There were these Tram stops which implied that someone would ride along to offer rides, but there were none out the entire time I was in distress. Finally, after almost giving out (and worrying about breaking out in chills for Heaven's sake) a man drove by and brought back some ice water (he was working a construction site closer to the populated beach so I knew we were getting back to civilization). This was the most in peril I'd ever been on a cruise, and was really taken aback. There were all kinds of employees and staff driving these little vehicles all over the main section, but there was no one at all further into the remoter trail section of the island and I sure could have used a lift or a drink of water! But I am prepared to get back to the trail with water in tow, a floppy sunhat on, and I'll get back my dignity soon enough. But in closing, I must say that as someone who is an avid walker, I loved the terrain and can't wait to see CocoCay again.

We also must add that we've never met a friendlier staff on any cruise. Everyone we passed said hello and so many were so friendly and helpful. I can't say enough about the Monarch of the Seas staff. And our M"TRD, Sandeep was the absolute best, along with our head waiter and assistant waiter. You all are so impressive and we greatly appreciated all their efforts the entire cruise.

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