Twenty-Six People, 10 Cabins
This being my fourth cruise, I was put in charge of planning this trip to the Southern Caribbean. (My 8-year-old son and I had previously been on Carnival's Ecstasy, RCCL's Enchantment of the Seas, and the Grand Princess. My husband and daughter have sailed on three of the four cruises with us.) Our ports of call were:
Although I had not originally intended for this to be a family/friends reunion, that's how it turned out. I was accompanied by:
After all was said and done, we had 26 people whose ages ranged from 4 to 74. We occupied 10 cabins, 7 of which were on Main Deck. For many, this was a FIRST. All of us had a fantastic time, as there was something for everyone.
Arriving Early/Getting Situated
Most of us flew into San Juan on May 27, 2000, one day prior to the cruise. We all stayed at the Wyndham Old San Juan. This was a nice hotel, but we were there during the Regatta and the place was a mob scene; there were people everywhere. Usually, the ship docks right across the street from the Wyndham, however, due to the regatta, the ship docked about 5 miles away. Had I really understood the ramifications of staying at the Wyndham during the Regatta, I would have selected another hotel!
The next day we all loaded into taxis and went over to the port. We left the hotel at about 12:00 noon. When we got to the port, they had not yet started the embarkation process, so we had to wait outside until they began. We were on the ship by 1:00 p.m.
As noted in many reviews, once on board, there is really no one there that shows you to your cabin. You are however, pointed to the direction of the cabin. Yes, the cabins on the Monarch are small, but one gets used to them. For the first time, my husband and I had a cabin to ourselves without the kids; that was nice and made our journey a lot more peaceful. We put the four girls in the cabin next door to us and two of the boys shared a cabin with my youngest brother. My teenaged nephew shared a cabin with his grandfather and uncle. All in all, the cabin arrangements worked well.
Although I had asked that my family be seated together for dinner, we were somewhat separated. During dinner on the first night, I went to the Maitre d' and asked if our seating arrangements could be changed. We played musical chairs with two other families and my goal was accomplished. We had two tables for eight and one table for ten, one right behind the other. It was very nice to be able to gather as a family in the evenings. That night, the teens (Loretta and Glen, both aged 13) attended the teen get-together. From then on, we barely saw them. In fact, they did not arrive back to their cabins before 2:30am most mornings. The regular kids' program did not start till the second day. The five other kids in my group aged 8 a11 hung out together.
Ports of Call
Golfing & Fishing
My brother Al, who loves golfing, did many of the golf shore excursions. He and my brother Tony also did the fishing excursions. They were really unhappy about the fishing excursions and complained that no one caught anything. Since these excursions are very expensive, they did not feel as if they got their money's worth. But, my brother Tony went on a helicopter excursion in St. Thomas and said that he really enjoyed it.
The kids had the time of their lives. First and foremost, I lectured them about the behavior that I did and did not expect on the cruise. They were warned that if the rules were broken they would spend A LOT of time in their cabins doing nothing. We have really good kids, but I wanted to impress upon them the importance of being well behaved. As I said before, we barely saw the two teenagers. In fact, my young teenage cousin fell in love with a teenage boy from Dallas. Additionally, my little 11-year-old cousin fell in love with a girl that he met in the kids' program. Every night after dinner they would head over to the kids' program. I asked my son about the activities and he said that they did adventure science, played with goo, went on scavenger hunts, and threw the program director in the pool. On two nights I let my son and his cousin stay at the kids' program till 1:00 in the morning. They made a lot of friends and they are still emailing each other to reminisce about their trip.
We met as a family one last time in the April in Paris lounge and said our tearful good-byes. We were off the ship by 9:30am and at the airport by 10:30. Our flight did not leave till 1:45, so we found a seat and took a long nap.
The service on board was good. I'll especially remember Dr. Booz; he would visit our table every evening with those little after dinner drinks. He was really cute and made a big fuss over the ladies at the table.
We enjoyed this cruise immensely. A cruise is what you make of it -- the older folks in our group had a wonderful time donating their money to the casino. Actually, a few of them did win quite a bit. I never did make my donation. Sure everything was not always perfect, but no vacation is perfect. My sister-in-law and her mom have booked another cruise on Monarch of the Seas for next May. Also, in order to combat cruise depression, I have booked a cruise in December aboard the new Carnival Victory.
So far, I have sailed on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. I prefer Royal Caribbean. Carnival does seem to cater to the younger, partying crowd, and Princess seemed to cater to an older Caucasian crowd (we are African American). Royal Caribbean seems to cater to the most diverse group of people from all ages, races, ethnicities, and income brackets.
Beverley Sherman may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please