My husband and I and our two boys (5 and 3 YO) took the 4-day cruise on Monarch as a getaway trip.
Monarch has been beautifully refurbished and has nice additions such as a premium coffee bar, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, rock climbing wall, and Jade restaurant. The public rooms, hallways, dining room and our stateroom all looked very good. The children's area, Adventure Ocean, is wonderful with computers, video arcade, ball pit and slides for the younger ones, and all the crayola drawing and craft materials.
We had an inside quad stateroom which was small. Almost no drawer space and a small closet. The upper berths fold up agains the wall during the daytime which was a plus. We had to keep our stuff pretty well organized. It worked out fine for the length of this cruise.
Service was good, we liked our waiter, a woman from Romania, she was very friendly. Our cabin steward was very good as well. We had a problem in that our carpet was wet, I thought because it had been cleaned. Then in the morning when I took a shower, I discovered the bathroom drains were clogged causing the bathroom to flood and spill out onto the carpet. I called maintenance but also let our cabin steward know. He made sure maintenance came to fix the problem and took care of getting the carpet dried out.
Food in the dining room was spotty, some good, some ok and steaks were usually bad (tough). Food in the Windjammer buffet and in Jade was generally better and the desserts were very, very good (Opera cake, yum). Entertainment was also pretty good, a good comic and another juggler/magic guy. Didn't like the production shows much.
The Adventure Ocean staff were wonderful, and because this was a mid-week cruise during school session, there weren't a lot of kids on board. In fact, the ship had mostly older people and families with young children (8 and under).
Weather was cloudy and windy on Catalina island, a storm was coming. We did get a little sun. The tenders were wonderful with ramps that made them accessible to all. We had fun strolling around Catalina and we bought water and a few things at the drug store that we had forgotten to pack.
It rained in Ensenada in the morning. We went on the La Boufadora tour that we booked locally. I love shopping the stalls out there, great prices on jewlry and purses and such. When we got back to town we had lunch and shopped some more then went back to the ship.
We had a bit of rough sailing on the way back to LA but it was the last night and we were ready to turn in after we had packed.
A wonderful getaway. Bargain prices in January. Really liked the ship. The food is better on higher priced/newer ships, still we found plenty to enjoy. The gym and spa were also very nice.