This was a "girl's outing" for us. There were four women in their 30's and 40's. We had a wonderful time. We flew to LAX in the morning and were on the Monarch by 1pm. Getting on the ship was a breeze, and our cabins were ready right away. Luggage was delivered within an hour. We had booked separately, so one cabin was on deck two with a porthole and the other on deck five, inside cabin. Yeas they were small, but very comfortable. The beds were extremely comfortable. Cabins were smaller than on my Princess cruise, but we weren't in them much.
We had the second dinner seating in Vincent's. The food was generally very good with a few exceptions, (the duck on the second night was very dry, and the scampi on the first night a little mushy). We really enjoyed the soups, appetizers and the steaks were excellent. Favorite meal was fresh cod in a saffron cream sauce. Comparable to a four star restaurant. The buffet food on this ship is much better than most. Also, they do an afternoon snack in the Jade restaurant that is wonderful.
Only F&B problem had to do with cocktails. I noticed that multiple times I was charged for an upgraded glass of wine, when I only ordered house wine. I brought this to the attention of the guest relations desk and was told it would be taken care of. Upgraded costs were still on my bill at the end and on the final night I was overcharged $3.00 on a drink. I am now sure that this is a common practice with many of the cocktail servers and it is very unethical. Watch your bills very carefully, even if you are drinking and don't want to pay close attention.
San Diego was a little boring. We didn't go to Sea World or the zoo. just walked around the Gaslamp District. Recommend booking some excursion for this stop, as it really wasn't very exciting.
Catalina Island was loads of fun. We were too late to book the eco-raft trip, but rented a golf cart instead and saw the whole island. Lots of fun running around and had lunch in town.
Ensenada was a typical border type town, but we had a blast at Papa's and Beers. We also took a bus to the blowhole, which was cool. The shops by the blowhole are difficult to shop at, due to the aggressiveness of the shop owners. they almost tackle you on the street to get you in their shops. They even offer free shots of tequila to get you in. We took advantage of one shot, but I felt that the pushiness made me buy less. Found a nice ring for my son in a silver shop.
Disembarkation was very efficient. Whole trip was great, but I think these trips are really about the friends and family you make the trip with. The Monarch is not as nice as the Princess ship I had been on, but had much more entertainment. They really do need to pull up the carpeting around their pool area and resurface this area. It stinks badly of mildew and urine.