Monarch is still in pretty good shape to be 17 years old...a few worn spots in the carpet here and there, but overall good shape
As always, Royal's service standards are excellent. Our cabin was #5588, oceanview. The rooms are small, that was our main complaint. 122 sq ft. not even room for a couch, felt like we were cruising in a camper, but hey, for the price, it was great !
We only ate in the formal dining room one night, but service was great and the food presentation beautiful. The waiters sang to us that night. Two of our dinner meals were in the Windjammer cafe. Lots of choices, if you left there hungry it was your own fault. The final day, Ensenada, we ate at the poolside barbeque, it was fantastic! Don't miss this!
Production shows, we saw all but the first night, quite well done, the lead female singer, Rochelle, can really belt out a song...beautiful voice. Guest performer was a guy who did impressions and songs, reminded us of Danny Gans Las Vegas show.
Port cities: In San Diego, we caught the free shuttle bus to SeaPort Village to do some shopping and had lunch, then caught the shuttle back towards the ship, and had them drop us off in front of the Midway Aircraft Carrier. If you're in excellent condition, you could have walked to each of these easily. Not recommended though if you're carrying lots of souvenirs. The Midway, is at least two hours of your time, and LOTS of walking. $15.00 per person on your own, not sure what the fee was if booked thru the cruiseship. We then walkd back to the ship and were back onboard by 4 pm. Great day.
Catalina Island...we go here for weekend getaway's at least once per summer, so didn't plan port excursions here either...just got off the ship and found a place in the sand by the water. I will say to you, if you do plan an excursion, the bus ride that takes you to the back side of the island is way cool, although you have to be brave for the ride up over the mountain...it's a narrow mountain road, you hope you don't pass another vehicle coming the opposite direction
Ensenada was the last port stop, and we didn't even get off the boat. Unfortunately, this port does not look welcoming or attractive. I wish they had swapped this port out for Cabo San Lucas instead...but ahh well...can't have everything! This was our pool day, we just enjoyed the ship and poolside barbeque.
Overall, we had a very relaxing vacation. Saw seals and dolphins while cruising in and out of the ports, the weather was mostly overcast but we still mananged to come home a bit sunburned. The staff was effecient and friendly, the cruise director entertaining and kept things lively, and it was a great experience from start to finish! We're loyal to Royal