Itinerary: Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Martinique, Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten
In celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary
After spending the night at Bradley International Inn, we took a 7:31 AM flight from Bradley Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico. A representative from Royal Caribbean International greeted us and took us to a bus that brought us to the RCI terminal. About an hour after arriving at the terminal, registration began. Despite the large number of passengers, everything was very well organized and it didn’t take long for us to board the ship where we were directed to our cabin.
For larger view, click on picture
We had an outside cabin with a porthole (#2576). As expected, the cabin was small (15.9’ by 7.7’) but there was sufficient room to put our clothes and we stored suitcases under the bed. There was a bucket of ice and an assortment of soda on the dresser (a can of soda cost $2.59). There was also a copy of the Cruise Compass listing the activity schedule for that day, a paper with pictures and information about the ships officers, including Captain Tore Myhra of Norway, and a description of shore excursions. We signed up for island tours for each island.
We met our cabin steward, Ed Quinn. He cleaned our room and replaced bathroom towels twice a day, during breakfast and dinner. During breakfast he made the bed and during dinner he turned down the bed, left 2 chocolates on the pillow and the Cruise Compass containing the activity schedule for the next day.
We had a buffet lunch in the Windjammer Café, then explored the ship and spent some time by the pools. Upon returning to our cabin we found that our luggage had been delivered and we unpacked. Then we joined a tour of the Monarch and learned that all public rooms were aft and cabins toward the bow of the ship.
We had the first seating for dinner (6:00 PM) in the Flower Drum Song Dining Room and met out waiter, Justin Lowe of Suffolk, England and our assistant waiter Erdem Ertugrul, of Turkey. Both gave excellent service. We subsequently learned that this was Erdem’s first week. We were at Table 109, which sat 8 but did not meet our tablemates until the next day because they arrived late. The 5-course dinner menu changed each night and it was often hard to make a choice. And the food was always very good. The first night we each had a shrimp cocktail appetizer, cream of broccoli soup, Boston lettuce bella vista salad and Crabmeat Cannelloni Neptune and Black Forest Cake.
We walked around the Promenade Deck, then attended the Welcome Aboard Presentation by our Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin in the Sound of Music Lounge. He not only gave good information about the cruise, but was also very humorous. He served as Emcee at subsequent shows.
At 10:00 PM we participated in the compulsory life boat drill, then went to the Pool Deck to watch the Monarch sail away from San Juan while the Rhythm Section band played music by the pool.
When we awoke we were already at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. There was a large selection to choose from for breakfast, including fresh fruits, Danish pastries, doughnuts, croissants, brioche, muffins, sweet rolls, bagels, toast, pancakes (banana, buttermilk, blueberry), French toast, cereals, omelets, eggs (Benedict, boiled, fried, basted, poached, scrambled), broiled Scottish kippers, smoked salmon, bacon, ham, pork sausages, grilled turkey sausages, corned beef hash, grits, and hash brown potatoes.
After breakfast we browsed through the shops by the pier and bought a few souvenirs then returned to the ship for a swim. Open-seating lunch in the Brigadoon Dining Room offered a 5 course meal but this time we just had appetizer and a light main course.
We took the 4-hour St. John Island Tour. After taking the ferry across Pillsbury Sound to Cruz Bay we rode on an open-air bus where we met Pat and Steve Aynes from Michigan. The drive was very scenic and the guide provided a lot of interesting information. We stopped at Annaberg ruins, the last working plantation on St. John and made brief photo stops and many scenic locations before returning to the ferry and our ship.
Tonight’s dinner theme was French and dress was formal (tux and gown). We met our table mates who we would dine with for the rest of the cruise, Phyllis and John, Marilyn and Chuck, and Roselle and Bill. Our head waiter, Pascal, did Peach Flambé by our table. After dinner Justin brought us a cake and he and other waiters sang Happy Anniversary. We didn’t have our camera with us so Bill took our picture and said he will send it to us.
The show was "Rain", a tribute to the Beatles.
We decided to try Windjammer Café for buffet breakfast and liked it so much we continued to have breakfast here for the rest of the cruise. On several occasions we saw the captain here and on the last day he served us coffee.
We arrived at Martinique at 12 Noon and took the 4 hours St. Pierre and Island Drive by bus. One of our stops was St. Pierre where much of the ruins from when Mt. Pelee erupted in 1902 could still be seen. We also stopped at the Church of Balata (a replica of the Sacred Heart Basilica in Paris) and a rain forest where there were trees as tall as ferns. I bought a small doll which had clothes made from banana leaves. The Rhythm Section again played as we watched the ship leave the port at 5:30.
Dinner theme was America The Beautiful and just before the dessert all the waiters, assistant waiters and head waiters (ours was Parcel) marched through the dining room and sang America the Beautiful. They were all dressed in red, white and blue.
The show was "Land of Make Believe" by The Wave Revue Singers and Dancers. This group works for RCI and did a very good job on a few shows.
We arrived in Barbados at 8:00 AM. In the morning we bought some souvenirs in the shops. In the afternoon we took the 3.5-hour Best of Barbados bus tour. We had an excellent British guide, Mary and the bus driver was named Sherlock. Our first stop was St. John’s church, which is on a cliff 800 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and offered a fantastic view. There were several plumeria trees, which must have been at least 30 feet tall. We then stopped at the Sunbury Plantation House, which is over 300 years old and has beautiful grounds. While there we were given a complimentary rum punch. Our final stop was the 50 acre Flower Forest which contained many tropical plants including hibiscus trees, heliconia, ginger, 5’ tall acalypha, anthurium, palm trees and many varieties of orchids.
Tonight’s dinner theme was Italian and the waiters sang O Solo Mio. The show was "Variety Showtime" with singer Terri Bryant (formerly of the Fifth Demensions), comedy impressionist Billy Fellows and the Wave Revue Singers and Dancers.
We took the 3-hour Antigua Island and Historical Tour by bus. We stopped at Nelson’s Dockyard when we received a complimentary rum punch and Shirley Heights, which provided a beautiful view.
The dinner theme was Caribbean. The show was "A Wave Revue Production Spectacular: Where’s the Party" starring juggler Frank Miles and featuring The Wave Review Singers and Dancers.
Because the port is too shallow, the Monarch had to drop anchor 1 mile off shore and we were taken by tenders (small boats) to shore where we did some shopping in the morning.
In the afternoon, we took the 3-hour St. Martin Island Tour. There are no border guards but only a sign indicating when you are crossing the border between the Dutch St. Maarten and the French St. Martin. The bus took us to the French capitol of Marigot where we browsed through a large flea market of local crafts and then stopped at a scenic lookout.
The dinner theme was Captain’s Gala Dinner with formal dress. The show was "Celebrity Showtime" starring The Aerial Artistry of the Ashton Family and comedian Tom Parks. That night was the gala buffet.
We spent some time by the pool and both got a slight sunburn. I attended the Debarkation Talk by Jeffrey. In addition to providing useful information regarding debarkation procedures, he was humorous, telling some of the questions asked by newly boarding passengers. "Does this elevator go to the front of the ship?" "Does this ship make its own electricity?" "Which side of the ship is the front?" In the afternoon Chris watched the "horse racing" while I attended Napkin Folding demonstration. We packed our luggage, which had to be outside our cabin by midnight.
Dinner theme was International and all the waiters marched through the dining room waving flags from many different countries while the band played national anthems. The show was the "Farewell Show" with Billy Fellows and the Monarch Cruise Staff and The Wave Revue Singers & Dancers and included the Cruise Staff singing "If I Were Not Upon the Sea."
We had breakfast in the Windjammer Café, then waited for our 9:30 AM departure time. Debarkation was very well organized. Each passenger had been given color-coded luggage tags and the luggage had been placed in the terminal based on tag color. We got our luggage and with the help of a porter, brought it to the customs inspector. We just had to hand the inspector the paper we had filled out the day before and were quickly passed through customs. The porter then brought the luggage to the American Airlines check-in line, where we checked-in and our luggage was placed in a truck to be transported to the airport. We next saw our luggage in Hartford.
We then took the New and Old San Juan City Tour. We first visited Fort San Cristobal, then stopped at Old San Juan for shopping. After a narrated tour through new San Juan, we were brought to the airport. Pat and Steve were also on this tour. We had lunch together at the airport, then exchanged addresses before going to different terminals. We had to wait a few hours before boarding our plane. There were many others waiting for the same flight who had also been on the Monarch. We arrived at Bradley Airport around 9:30 PM, called Bradley International Inn who picked us up, and the airport and brought us to our car.
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