The Food – The vast amounts and variety of food in the buffet had to please any palate – Asian, burgers, pasta and all sorts of treats abounded in the different food stations. We ate there on embarkation and once when we returned from a port and found the main dining room closed. That time we tried the pizza, which neither of us cared for. We opted for plain old burgers and fries, which were both acceptable. In fact, the fries were very good.
The breakfast and lunches in the main dining room were good, but the quality of dinner varied, although the food was always edible. My worst meal was the one that I decided to choose what the server recommended rather than what I was originally drawn to. Of course, I could have ordered something else, but never felt the necessity to add yet another course to the already huge meals.
We had an assigned table at the second seating and sat with a couple and three siblings, whose company we enjoyed. We were lucky to have such pleasant dining companions. Our servers were very good and always aimed to please.
The Stateroom – We had been upgraded to a Superior Ocean View from an ocean view. Although this was a short cruise, we still enjoyed the extra space. The one odd thing about the room was that the desk chair had large arms that prevented it from being slid under the desk. It stuck out into the traffic path, but really was no big deal. It just seemed that somebody wasn’t thinking when they chose that style of chair.
The bed and linens were very comfortable and in good shape. The room came equipped with a refrigerator, which we only used to store milk for my tea.
The Public Areas – This ship is a smaller ship put still carries many passengers. We kept looking at the tonnage and the passenger capacity and compared it to the other ships. The reason seems to be that there are far fewer public spaces than on other ships. There are not many alternative restaurants at all. In fact Jade is the only alternative restaurant, which we never tried. The gym and spa areas are small. We never felt crowded on this ship, except the night of the chocolate buffet when people lined up for miles and screeched at every person coming off the elevator.
Although the ship is older, everything is well-maintained and clean. We did find a lack of rest rooms, especially on Deck 7, even though the conference room, Boleros and the upper level of the Sound of Music Lounge are on that deck.
The Entertainment The shows that we went to were good, but there was a real problem with seating. The first night, they only offered one seating of the show. What a mistake that was. We stood as did many others. The staircases became seating areas and people squeezed in wherever they could. The theatre is another poorly designed one, with poor viewing from much of the balcony. Sit on the main level or get some of the first row balcony seats, but be aware that even some of those have obstructed views.
Johnny O, the cruise director, ranks as one of my favorites. He is immensely talented and even plays with the musical groups onboard. His demeanor is that of a calm, yet enthusiastic person rather than of a carnival hawker.
I did not enjoy one of the lounge singers who played the piano well, but couldn’t sing at all. Some woman joined him in singing. At first I thought that it was karaoke. It definitely wasn’t.
The PortsMonarch of the Seas visits San Diego, Catalina Island and Ensenada. Although there were some jokes about cruising to San Diego, we found each port interesting enough to entertain us for the entire port call.
The Passenger Mix The shorter cruises have a reputation for their party atmospheres. There wasn’t any noticeable difference in the level of partying from longer cruises that we had been on. We met some very nice people on this ship, but we have never seen so many people who must have spent their money on the cruise rather than on the dentist. Each to his own.
Locals are bemoaning the fact that the Monarch will be moving to a new home port on the East Coast. It’s easy to understand that sentiment because this short getaway was definitely one worth repeating.