We just returned from a 4 day cruise on Monarch of the Seas. Ship leaves from Los Angeles and goes to San Diego, Catalina Island, and Ensenada Mexico. We were in an oceanview cabin #5588 and are a couple in our 40's.
What a breeze! We drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles the morning of departure. Got to the port about 11:45, and were in line for lunch at the Windjammer buffet by 12:30 -- that after taking time to buy a soda card too. Couldn't have been easier.
Everyone else says it, so we'll say it too -- the rooms are disappointingly small. We felt like we were cruising in a camper. There wasn't even room for a couch. Just the bed, a desk, closet, and small bathroom. But hey, the price is right, we weren't about to complain. Our cabin steward was attentive and kept the room in great shape always. We did enjoy the location of our room, just a few doors down the hall from the stairs and elevators. Close enough when you're tired of walking, but far enough away that we didn't hear crowd noise. Level five is also great because it's a center location, near Seattles Best coffee, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and all the shops around the centrum.
The ship's layout is easy to navigate. We liked that the top deck had two pools, which made room for everyone. We didn't miss a slide at all, they just take up space. The bartenders and servers around the pool deck were great. They were attentive and available, but not intrusive or overbearing.
We saw the shows in the Sound of Music Theater three times. The singers and dancers were very good, energetic, and the main female singer, Rochelle, could really knock out a song. Beautiful voice. There was also an impressionist/singer. I apologize for not recalling his name, but he was quite good. There was a passenger who got out of hand -- to the woman, if you read this -- you should be ashamed of your behavior -- and he handled her very well. She just couldn't take the hint to take a seat.
The musicians in the lounges and around the pool were all very good. We especially liked the guitarist that was in the atrium each evening.
Exceptional, as always. This is the one area where Royal never seems to disappoint. The stateroom staff, the dining room staff, the bartenders, everyone we came in contact with was polite, efficient, and made it a point to say hello and ask about our day. Great job crew!
San Diego: Instead of opting for a cruise excursion purchased onboard, we decided to just go on our own and explore what was close by. We caught the free shuttle right off the ship, which took us to Seaport Village for shopping and lunch. Great place for souvenir shopping and several dining choices. On the way back, we asked the shuttle driver to drop us in front of the Midway Aircraft Carrier. This is a self-guided audio tour, and takes about 2 hours if you do it completely. $15.00 per person. Be prepared to do LOTS of walking. The carrier can hold 60 aircraft inside, and has 4 different levels you can explore on the tour. Great experience that we'd recommend for all ages. We then walked back to the ship and were back on the boat by 4 pm.
Catalina Island: This is one of our favorite weekend getaways in California, so we didn't book any shore excursions here either. We have done most of them previously. I would recommend, for those brave of heart, the bus tour that takes you up to the airport, to the horse ranch, and over to the back side of the island. Brave of heart, because the road is narrow and winding up the side of the mountain. You will have your fingers crossed that you don't meet a vehicle coming the opposite direction on that winding road! We opted to find a comfy place in the sand, and watch the kids play in the water. Did a little shopping, and went back to the boat about 3pm. Careful here with the tender boats in and out of port. They only have one or two running at a time, and they wait til the boat is full before they return you to ship. You need to not be in a hurry to get to the island, or get back on the boat. Hey it's vacation, no worries, be happy.
Ensenada: We didn't even get off the boat. It's not attractive or appealing in our opinion. I know several people did go ashore but there is nothing right at the dock, other than a trinket souvenir shop and the port terminal, so your choices are to get on a tour bus or in a taxi to get into town. Nothing close and walkable from the ship. It would be the perfect cruise if they would swap out Cabo San Lucas as the third port city for this itinerary!
We only had one meal in the main dining room, but not because it was sub standard, it's because we were lazy cruisers this time around and didn't want to pack dress up clothes! The food was great the night we were there. Hubby had prime rib, I had pork medallions, we both had the peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert. It was great! We had several meals at the Windjammer, found it to always have plenty of choices, good presentation and taste. If you left there hungry it was your own fault. Our favorite meal was the barbecue around the pool deck the last day in Ensenada. It was fabulous! They had three different kinds of candy apples for dessert that night, and the kids onboard were in heaven!
We carried our own luggage off the ship, and were in line to go at 6:30 and thru customs and in our car by 7:30. Easy.
All in all, great fun for the price, great service from the crew as always with Royal, and we will most certainly sail with them again.