CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Monarch of the Seas by Jim Mexico July 7, 2003

Overall Experience: Excellent

Ship: Very nice refurbishing job.

Transportation: RCI charges $38 round trip from LAX to San Pedro (port). Not bad for a single person but pricey for a family of four. RCI could do better in this area. We took a cab for $40 plus tip each way.

Embarkation: Smooth, on board by 11:30 A.M.

Cabin: We had two doubles on Deck A Category H. Cabins were small but the beds were comfortable. With a cruise this short, who spends much time there anyway.

Service: Service was excellent in the main dining area; our waiter was the best we've ever had. Our cabin steward was also very good. Service in the lounges was good also.

Food: The food was only fair. We ate breakfast and dinner in one (Claude's) of the two main dining rooms. Breakfast was very good but some of the dinners were just OK. Our tablemates for dinner made for very enjoyable evenings.

Entertainment: Entertainment in the main show lounge was excellent. The first night there was a good comedian and a very entertaining juggler/comedian. The second and fourth nights were productions by the Monarch singers and dancers. They were far superior to those on other cruise ships. The third night was a female entertainer who did impersonations of male and female entertainers. She was quite talented. Other types of entertainment were also good, such as the Love and Marriage Game, Late Night Adult Comedy (it was very tame), and Dance Party. The casino was nice, but because of all the good entertainment, we spent little time there.

Itinerary: The itinerary of Los Angeles, San Diego, Catalina Island, and Ensenada was excellent.

Los Angeles: We spent four days pre cruise touring Los Angeles on our own. The one tour we did take was the Warner Brothers V.I.P. Studio tour at a cost of $32. It was well worth the money. There are other studio tours but this one is considered the best.

In San Diego we took the Old Town Trolley. We purchased tickets online directly from the tour company for $21.60 (10% savings). The trolley had eight stops and there were off and on privileges at each stop. The tour guides were excellent, I would highly recommend it. Stop #6 was the World Famous San Diego Zoo. We spent five hours there and wished we had more time, it was wonderful. Next time in San Diego, we'll spend more time at Balboa Park.

In Catalina, we purchased a combination tour from Discovery Tours right at the dock for $29. The first tour was the two hour Skyline Tour. It went from the city of Avalon to the Airport-in-the-Sky and back. The tour and the tour guide were excellent and the scenery was wonderful. The second tour was the Seal Rocks Cruise. This was a 50 minute cruise to and from Seal Rocks to see California sea lions, it was good. Our tablemates raved about the Casino Tour; we'll try that next time in Catalina. We spent the remainder of the time shopping and browsing in Avalon. Avalon looks very Mediterranean, simply beautiful.

Final stop was Ensenada. We took a tour of the wine country arranged by RCI for $27. This was the best shore excursion purchased directly from a cruise line that we have ever had. We boarded a bus and traveled about 45 minutes to wine country northeast of Ensenada. Our first stop was the Domecq winery. After a very interesting tour, we went to the wine tasting room and sampled a dozen different wines. We were also provided with bread and cheese to cleanse our palettes. Our second stop was just across the road at the L.A. Cetto winery. Again, we toured the winery and then made our way to the wine tasting room for more wine, cheese, and bread. The owner of the winery even had his own bull fighting ring. The wineries were immaculate, the grounds were manicured, and the views of the vineyards were magnificent. Our tour guide was exceptional; he not only was knowledgeable but very passionate about his country.

Disembarkation: Fast for some (our tablemates were off the ship by 8:00) and slow for others (we weren't off until 10:00). The delay was not due to RCI but to increased security measures.

In all, we had a wonderful cruise experience.

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