We just got back from our cruise on the Monarch of the Seas (3-5-06 through 3-10-06). I cruised with my mother and sister and a great time was had by all. It was the first cruise for my mother and sister, my 5th cruise, the second time with Royal Carribean. I booked this cruise through the Cruise Compete feature on this site in November 2005. This is the second cruise I've booked using Cruise Compete and have been very happy with that service. I booked an ocean view (porthole) cabin for the three of us on deck two. Total cruise cost was $778.00 with an on-board credit of $40.00. When we arrived we didn't have the credit and I called the travel agent. She sent me a check for the $40.00.
We flew in the day before and spent the night at the Westin LAX. Very nice hotel. It was very clean and comfortable and had several restaurants nearby. I would definitely stay there again if in Los Angeles.
We arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m.. We were checking in and on board having lunch by noon. We did the self debark as we had an early flight out of LAX. It went very smoothly. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport by 7:30 a.m
We had the early seating (5:30 p.m) in Claude's. I found we prefer the early seating. We tried the late seating once and didn't like it. The service from our waitstaff was excellent. On my last Royal Carribean cruise the food was ok and I was prepared for this again as a lot of recent reviews complain about the food. Well I was pleasantly surprised as the food was excellent. There was only one thing I had that I didn't like and it wasn't the fault of the chef, I just didn't like it.
We ate breakfast several times in the dining room and again the service and food were great. We also had breakfast in the Windjammer (buffet). Anything you could imagine for breakfast was on the buffet and it was also good. The only thing I find on every buffet (not just Royal Carribean) is to avoid the scrambled eggs as they are always cold.
We had lunch in the Windjammer every day. Again everything was excellent.
I didn't try the Jade Room as I don't like sushi. We also didn't try Ben & Jerry's or Lattitudes as there was such a variety of things on the ship to eat and drink I couldn't see paying extra for these things.
As I mentioned earlier in this review I booked an oceanview (porthole) cabin on deck 2. After having cruised with Carnival the last few times I found it to be very small. Luckily, my mom, sister and I all get along great. I certainly wouldn't have tried to put more than three in the room. It was very tight. If I were cruising with four people I would definitely get two cabins. The room itself was showing signs of disrepair. There were gouges in the walls, mold in the grout in the bathroom, worn carpet, and burn marks on the counter in the bathroom. I also didn't like that there wasn't any storage in the bathroom. When we first arrived on the ship and went to our room there was a distinct odor of urine in the hall. We didn't notice any smell in our room. The odor dissipated over the course of the cruise but never fully went away. This was the only place I noticed any odor.
We all enjoyed the entertainment on the ship. We were on the four day cruise and there were two Las Vegas style shows (the first night and the last night) and two comedians. The shows were great and we liked all the comedians. The Quest game and the Love and Marriage game were exceptionally funny. We also liked the Dueling Pianos in the Boleros Lounge. We did play Bingo once and played the slot machines in the Casino each night. While we didn't win big we did win enough to keep playing throughout the four days without being in the hole more than a few dollars.
This is an older ship and I found it to be in good repair, clean and comfortable. Everywhere I went there was someone cleaning something. I didn't see any stained carpet or disrepair in the public areas. I know the Monarch was in drydock in January and my guess is that the public areas were spruced up. The carpeting in the Windjammer looked new.
This was my first cruise on the Pacific and I found it to be a little less smooth than the Carribean. It wasn't rough but I did feel the movement a little more.
While we had good weather, it wasn't hot. Average was about 65º. Make sure you pack a light weight jacket. It was nice for us as we're from the east cost and it was about 15° the day we left but if you're going with the idea that that it's really warm in March, it wasn't. We didn't use the pool at all, although there were kids in it and they didn't seem to mind.
I didn't use either of these so I really can't comment on them, other than to say that I thought the prices in the Spa were on the high side. On the last two days they did run some specials. If you want to use the Spa I would recommend waiting until then to do it.
Ensenada was the best port for shopping and bargaining. I didn't do any shopping in Los Angeles or San Diego. Catalina Island had some cute shops but there were no bargains.
We did the tour of the USS Midway which I highly recommend. Its only one pier down from the ship's pier and easily walkable. It doesn't open until 10:00 am so don't get there too early. It was $15 ($10 for seniors) admission. It took us about three hours to go through it completely. I found it very interesting. It is a self-guided tour so you can do it at your own pace. There are areas where there are volunteers to give more information. When we toured the control tower, the navigation room and the bridge our tour guide actually had served on the Midway and we found him very interesting and informative.
We walked over to the Casino and toured it and their museum, both of which were very interesting and information. The Casino is beautiful. The cost for the combined ticket was $15. After touring the Casino and museum we poked around town, checked out the shops and had an ice cream. We then did the Glass Bottom Boat tour. It was $11 and lasted for about half an hour. We did see several different kinds of fish.
We did the Wineries tour through the ship which I highly recommend. It was $29/pp and we toured two wineries. Its about 45 minutes inland so I wouldn't do it on my own. The first winery was L.A. Cetto and the second was Domecq. We tasted about five different wines at each. L.A. Cetto also makes their own olive oil, brandy and tequila. Domecq makes brandy in addition to the wine. I came home with three bottles of wine and a bottle of olive oil. After the tour we went back to the ship and had lunch before going into Ensenda to shop. This is where we did most of our shopping. You can bargain here and get some great buys on silver and leather.
If there are any other questions or other information you would like to get about the ship or my experience, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. Put in the subject line Monarch of the Seas so that I don't accidentally delete it.
Overall we all had a great time and felt this cruise was a great value for the money. This was our first mother/daughter trip and we're already planning for next year.