Monarch of the Seas
April 17, 2006
The children in our group (4 to 11) really enjoyed the Monarch of the Sea. It was Spring Break week (4/17/06 -4/21/06) and there were so many families with kids on board (about 700 kids). My girls, who have cruised before, said they like the pool on the Monarch. The kids also seemed to enjoy the attention from our waitress Armie at dinner time. We ate in the dining room with the kids all four nights and every night she was so patient. She took the kids' orders one by one. Sometime they want something not on the menu and that was fine too. She was able to give them whatever they want to eat. When they don't like what they order, she was very willing to bring them another dish that they like. The kids missed Armie a lot.
The adults in our groups 30's, 40's, and 70's also enjoyed this cruise. We thought the food and service was excellent. For breakfast and lunch we usually ate in the Windjammer Café. (We could go to the dining room but with so many kids we preferred buffet style.) There were plenty of choices. I liked the spicy dishes section. For drinks, there were ice tea, lemonade, juice, milk, coffee, and tea (in the buffet and also dining room). Sodas and alcohol are extras as on all cruises. We didn't buy the soda package since it did not seem necessary. We did buy a bottle of wine every night for dinner. For dinner, there were also many choices. There were some new dishes every night. If you like steak and salmon, they were on the menu every night. There was no lobster though, even on formal night (second night).
I thought the Ocean Adventure program was great. Their free service is available 8am to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm every day. The 3-5, 6-8, and 9-11 group are all on deck 9. Every night you can get a schedule for the next day on deck 9 or at the guest relation desk. The kids seemed enjoy the club activities.
We didn't book any excursion in San Diego and Catalina as we want to spend more time on the ship. In San Diego, we followed the recommendation of another cruiser and walked to the naval museum. I believe it was $12 or $15 for adults. They offered an audio narrated tour of the inside of the ship and on the flight deck. Little girls didn't care much for this, but the men in our group enjoyed it. The flight deck was nice. There were lots of cool war time airplanes. There was a free shuttle to shopping places but we didn't care for that. We went back to the ship to eat lunch and enjoyed the ship activities. In Catalina, we strolled along the waterfront and enjoyed ice cream. Afterward we let the kids play in the sand for a while then went back on the ship for lunch. There are several tours you can book on the island. We've been on the Avalon tour on our last visit, which was nice. After lunch on the ship, the kids went swimming then rock climbing. The view of Catalina from the rock climbing wall was absolutely beautiful!
In Ensenada, we were advised by our friend not to take La Buffadora tour but we ended up taking this tour anyway ‘cause there seemed to be no nice place to go near the port. There was a bus that charged $3 per person to take us to town, but when they took us to an area that didn't look very nice, and the guide recommended La Buffadora tour which was $15. It was a long drive to get there. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and offered interesting facts. Once there, we walked through a flea market to a cliff that looks down to the blow hole. We didn't see any water shooting up in the air like in the picture though—just mist. I enjoyed it any how. Then we shopped and met back at the bus at 1pm to go to the buffet lunch that was included. The Mexican buffet they offered was a big disappointment since we've been eating fancy food on the cruise ship. Even my 6yr-old said she'd rather wait until we get back to the ship to eat. But we had to wait ‘til 3:30 for the bus to bring us back to the ship. Back on the ship we found people were partying and enjoying BBQ by the pool. We were sorry we've been away so long.
Overall, it was a good cruise—great food, great service, great kids programs. I enjoyed it and my kids want to go again on the same ship so they can see Armie the waitress again. Oh, by the way, you should come to the port at around 11:30am because they let you board the ship at noon. The line is shorter if you come early. You can have lunch on the ship then go to the pool. Carry-on your swim suit.