Joined: 03/14/2011
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MrMorganOBrien's Past Cruises

Mariner of the Seas

April 2011 - Mariner of the Seas to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

p We recently returned from our...

p We recently returned from our 14 day cruise on the Mariner through the Holy Land itinerary. We were very pleased with our experience and have already recommended it to friends. Since it was only our second time as passengers on a cruise, we don#39;t have much to compare it to, however! p Definite plusses go to the amount and variety of activities onboard. There were days when we were looking at the Cruise Compass and asking ourselves, How are we going to get to everything we want to see?!?. I swear, we were wishing for one of those time-turner things that Hermione had in Harry Potterimg alt=laugh height=20 src= title=laugh width=20 /We especially had fun at the Name That Tune type of quiz activities, the nightly participation game-shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Weakest Link, and thought the production shows were very well done, (albeit perhaps somewhat outdated). The ice show is something special to see, being that it is on a cruise ship, but here is a word of warning: get there VERY, VERY early! We arrived 25 minutes before the start of the show and there were already people LITERALLY fighting for seats. Rediculous! Get there early and have everyone together because saving a row of seats when people are crying and pushing each other is not cool or fun. That is not a complaint about the ship, that is a complaint about the way people act when they are on vacation. p The weather was always a bit too cool for us to get in the pool or hottubs, but the pool deck was nice, especially the adults only area. If I had to complain about one aspect of the pool deck, I would have to say that at times the music in the main area was SO loud that it was almost painful, (and I am under 40... no offense). One day, it was impossible to sit there and read or have a conversation, but the (quiet) adult pool area was full, so we gave up and went to one of the lounges. p I had heard others complaining about the quality of the food, but it was pretty much what we expected. We do a lot of cooking at home and are kind of spoiled that way, so we found the food on the ship to be just average. There was nothing we thought was BAD, but there was a lot of nothing special. There certainly is a ton of variety, however, and only the pickiest of picky eaters would go hungry on the ship! We enjoyed our afternoon visits to the Promenade Cafe for coffee and cake/cookies. The midnight buffet was also awesome. We tried Portofino#39;s, which we also really enjoyed. The upcharge is $20, and what you get is a very nice, secluded, romantic atmosphere in a small restaurant type setting, great food, and AMAZING deserts. Soft drinks and wine are extra. We ordered 3 different desserts after dinner and literally ate until we were uncomfortable. Can definitely recommend it for a special occasion or a romantic encounter. Here#39;s a tip: pick a dinner time before sunset in order to get that extra romantic atmosphere as the sun is setting over the oceanimg alt=yes height=20 src= title=yes width=20 / p We also tried Johnny Rockets (on my Birthday) and enjoyed it. The upcharge is $4.95 and you get all you can eat fries, onion rings, burgers, and desserts. Soft drinks and milk shakes are extra. The food was like a normal Johnny Rockets, and it is a fun atmosphere with sing-a-longs, dancing waiters, and audience participation. I would recommend it as a fun way to break up the monotony of getting dressed up for the main dining room every night or pigging out at the buffet, especially with kids and especially if one of them has a birthday! p Our cabin was adequate and we were happy there was an actual shower door and not an annoying curtain like we had on RCI#39;s Mariner. We found the decor to be a little outdated, but that is really just being picky. I am curious as to when the rooms will be updated with flat-screen tv#39;s and more modern looking furniture? p i won#39;t go into the ports and excursions now, but can only recommend doing as much research as you can about the historic ports of call, and if you are going to Israel for the first time: BOOK A TOUR AND DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ON YOUR OWN! We ended up saving a lot of money and seeing a lot more than people on the RCI excursions by booking with a private tour company and splitting the cost 7 ways. We used and can recommend them! Really, there is so much important and impressive stuff to see in Israel that it is really worth paying for some kind of tour or guide. p

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Monarch of the Seas

October 2010 - Monarch of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas

This was our first cruise,...

This was our first cruise, so I don't have anything to compare it to, (although I have toured other cruise ships. Just never been a passenger). We booked the package through the "Way More Than A Cruise" website and got a great price for a combi cruise / Universal Studios Vacation. There was a major scare upon arriving because there was no RCCL rep. at the baggage claim to take us to the bus. We went frantically looking for someone as we were a bit late and luckily happened to run into a guy with a RCCl folder who would not stop to answer our questions. He told us to "walk and talk", which we did at a very fast pace with our baggage. Even though we had a reservation and voucher, he referred to us as "walk-ons", which leads me to believe they somehow lost our reservation. What would have happened if we hadn't gone looking for them? We would have missed the cruise. He was not very accommodating, would not stop for even a second to let me get something out of my bag, and just kept walking faster and faster no matter how far behind we got. As he referred us to our bus driver, he IMMEDIATELY reminded us that he should be tipped. Ya, right!?! That was the only bad experience, and has nothing to do with the ship itself. On to the good stuff. The Monarch is actually much bigger than it appears in pictures. It's classic old design without rows of external balconies makes it appear small, but it is still quite a large ship in comparison to many other. I guess it is the oldest in the RCCL fleet, and although it was missing many of the bells and whistles that newer ships have, it didn't really seem "tired" to me. More like a well maintained old limousine. If you have been to Vegas, compare the design and feeling on the Monarch with the Flamingo or Harrah's, (and less like Bellagio or T.I.). Our cabin and all public rooms were impeccably clean. Cabin. Our cabin was small, and did feel cramped when both of us were trying to get ready, (and I am a shorter than average guy who doesn't need a lot of space). Good thing there is so much to do on the ship that you really are never in your room! I was a little suprised that the cabins are still equipped with old-style televisions and not flat screens. These TVs take up more space, are heavier, and are more prone to shattering into pieces should high-seas cause them to fall! I don't get it. Not a big deal, but somewhat puzzling. Overall, adequate, clean cabin, but cramped, even for shorties. Food. We thought the food was average. The other people at our table were very impressed, but since we live in a large European city with access to tons of really great restaurants, I guess we are kind of hard to please! If your idea of a great night out is dinner at "TGI Fridays" or "Cracker Barrel", then you will probably be pleasantly surprised by the food on the Monarch. (And please don't get me wrong because I LOVE TGI Fridays! I just mean in comparison.). For the price that we paid, it was definitely adequate, and there were memorable delights in the main dining room as well as the buffet, including for me: a picky Vegetarian. We also really enjoyed the occaisional late night pizza or ice-cream snack from Sorento's. We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants, so can't report on that. Pools. The pool deck was awesome and never felt too crowded, even on our sea-day. Just as a reminder, the pools are filled with salt water out of the ocean, so don't be surprised! It was always so warm on our cruise, (in October), that I couldn't imagine getting into one of the hot tubs, but they were very popular. Be sure to catch the belly flop contest. Very entertaining! Shows. Really exceptional. These kids are on the ship for 6 months at a time, working basically every day, and doing the same few shows in rotation every night, and they still gave their all like it was their opening night. They did an outstanding job and I can only recommend going to see one of the musical shows if you enjoy live music and dancing. There were also a guest comedian and a juggler, who were both entertaining, but we preferred the musical shows. Entertainment. Already mentioned the great shows. Being our first cruise, I was worried that it was going to be "boring" hanging out on the ship at night and on the sea-days. WRONG! There is so much going on, and it was all really fun. We played Name That Tune twice (Rock and 80's), Bingo once and won $222, spent time in the casino (no luck), participated in "Quest" which is hilarious. I recommend getting there early to get good seats, especially if you want to play! The belly flop contest was highly entertaining, and we also caught the Culinary Showcase and the Cocktail Mixing show on the pooldeck. Drinks. We had some beers, some wine with dinner, and some cocktails at the pool and during the evening. The "standard" wines with dinner are so-so, and overpriced at that. The cocktails were great, although WARNING: the cocktails waiters were constantly trying to up-sell us. I understand, they work for tips and the tips are automatically calculated into the price of the drink, so they actively try to get you to buy the most expensive version of whatever you order. For instance, on the first day, I ordered 2 margaritas and got two Patron margaritas for almost $3 a piece more than the "basic" margarita. That left me feeling tricked and angry. RCCL should really address this. If the margarita listed in the menu says $5.50, (or whatever it was), then the waiters should not be allowed to bring you something that costs more unless you specifically ASK for it. Right? I'm assuming this is so on every ship and not just the Monarch. Overall, we really had a great time on the Monarch and think it is a great ship for first-time cruisers because it has everything you want, but just enough that you don't feel like you're missing out on something. I've posted some video links down below so you can see more of the ship and what we experienced first hand.

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MrMorganOBrien was the FIRST member to check in for the roll call for Oct 25, 2010 cruise on Monarch of the Seas!

MrMorganOBrien shared a quick tip for Monarch of the Seas - Old, but not "tired". Like a

MrMorganOBrien added Apr 5, 2011 cruise on Mariner of the Seas to their profile.

MrMorganOBrien reviewed their Europe - Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Mariner of the Seas and gave it 4 stars - <p>
We recently returned from our...

MrMorganOBrien reviewed their Caribbean - Bahamas cruise on Monarch of the Seas and gave it 3 stars - This was our first cruise,...

MrMorganOBrien added Oct 25, 2010 cruise on Monarch of the Seas to their profile.