My family ( 2 adults 30 + , 7 year old & 10 year old) had a great time on our recent Monarch of the Seas' cruise. We were not sure what to expect as this was our first Royal Caribbean Cruise, we knew it was going to be an older ship and truthfully we were not thrilled with the ports. We had to be in Las Vegas for a family wedding and wanted to spend some time doing something fun as a family. We love to cruise and had not been on a west coast cruise, we only had 5 days so the Monarch was the perfect choice. We ended up having a great time!
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. This was a nice hotel, I got a very good rate and was even upgraded to a suite. We drove ourselves to the port so did not use their shuttle services. Parking was good in an underground parking lot.
I love waking up in the hotel room on cruise morning and looking outside the window and seeing the ship in port. I was not disappointed this morning, upon waking up I could see the Monarch from our window. After picking up some last minute supplies we arrived at the cruise port at 11:15 am, embarkation was a breeze took less then 5 minutes and then we went to wait in the waiting area they had just start calling people onto the boat. We were called around 12:15pm and were on the ship by 12:30pm. We had lunch in the buffet, there was a good selection of food and we were able to get a table in the main area. Our room was ready about 1:30 pm, it was very small. I thought I was prepared for how small it was going to be but it was even smaller then I had expected and there was no storage space, so pack light!! It was really hard with 4 people and I would not suggest an inside cabin for families with children older then mine. After unpacking we went up to the pool deck and enjoyed the sun. Soon it was time to return to our cabin for the Muster drill. We had the early dinner seating so after the Muster it was back to the cabin to change for dinner then off to dinner. We had a table for 4 along the back wall, we met our waiter Wayan from Indonesia and James from Jamaica. They were both great, Wayan immediate remember all our names, and learned our kids favorites. Dinner was good, I had the risotto for an appetizer and it was really good!! After dinner we went to the show and then took the kids to the kids club.
DAY TWO - San Diego
After a delicious breakfast in the dinning room we got off the ship just after 9:00am and took a taxi to the San Diego Zoo, we were at the zoo by 9:15 am. We had a great tour of the Zoo and arrive back at the ship about 2:30 pm. We had a snack in the buffet, dropped the kids off at the kids club, and I went up to the deck to read before getting ready for formal night. Dinner again was good, I had the Escargot, Prime Rib and Souffle.
Day Three- Catalina Island
What a beautiful Island!! I had no idea what to expect and boy was I pleasantly surprised. After breakfast this morning we packed our beach gear and went down to tender to the island. We had to wait about 15 min for our tender at about 10:00 am. We got off the tender and walked all the way down to the Beach Club on the far end of the Island. It did not have a very good beach and we ended up walking back to the sandy beach we saw as we were getting off the tender. The kids enjoyed the beach for a couple of hours, we took the 2:00 tender back to ship. We had a late lunch at the buffet and then took the kids to the kids club while we went to the shop talk and then the art auction. Dinner was good but i can't remember what we had
Day 4 - Ensenada
We debated getting off the ship here, but we had some shopping we wanted to do so we decided to leave the kids in the kids club and headed out to Ensenada. We did very well shopping in Ensenada, of course we had very specific things we were looking for. I wanted to get a Nativity scene for my sister similar to one my parent had gotten 20 years ago ( I found it in a small store down an alley.) I also wanted an Australian Opal bracelet to go with a pendant I bought in Bahamas last year, Dh wanted a day of the dead figurine. We went to a store recommended by the cruise ship the Bazaar Casa Rameriz, I usually avoid the recommended store but this one was really nice. It had beautiful jewelry downstairs including my bracelet and upstairs it had a lot of very artistic pieces. We ended up with a painting of a Conquistador angel painted on an old shutter, it was such a unique piece and my husband fell in love with it. We also got the bracelet, a necklace for my sister, a Mexican Santa Xmas ornament and the day of the dead figurine. The manager gave us a good price on everything. I also got vanilla in a local corner store, there is a certain brand I will only buy and they were the only store that we saw carrying that brand. We were only off the ship for 2 hours, we took the shuttle in and out of town did our shopping and got back to the ship. We treated the rest of the day like a sea day and enjoyed the reduced number of people on board. Diner again was good- I had the Mahi mahi. Tonight we spent the evening packing and finished up with Mojitos in Bolero's.
This morning we got up and had breakfast in the dinning room, our luggage tags were yellowed and we had been told that we would be called before 8:30 am. We were called at 8:25 am. Customs was very backed up at that time and we stood in line for some time before being allowed off the ship. Once off the ship we were able to proceed to the shorter non-American line ( I am Canadian) it still took an hour to get through Customs, find out luggage and proceed to our car in the parking lot.
All and all a great cruise!!