I sailed from San Pedro on Mon. May 17, on the Monarch. Everything exceeded my expectations. The port has improved quite a bit since Jan. 2003. It had a nice roomy feel. There were a number of first time cruisers on the ship, and my hat is off to RCCL for putting service first on this cruise. The service in the Dining Room was very good, as the attention to detail was excellent. Glasses were constantly being filled, and whatever was needed was taken care of immediately.
The Monarch has been recently refurbished, I understand, and they did a great job of retro-fitting and modernizing. The entertainment was very good, and the crowd participation was better than on most cruises I've been on. Accolades to RCCL for bringing on "The Dueling Pianos" with Mike and Amy. They were the most personable act and everyone had a lot of fun. In addition, the talent at the Karaoke was exceptional. A number of us thought they were plants by RCCL, but they were just very talented people. I generally like longer itineraries, but if you want to try a short one, to see if you like cruising, I strongly recommend this one to Catalina, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.
My only complaint is, RCCL has got to figure a way to get people up to the Crown Viking Room. Beautiful views, but no one went up there. I was just on the Radiance of the Seas in early May, and the Crown Viking was like a morgue, due to lack of use. Hopefully, the Entertainment and Activities people will come up with something to make it more exciting. All in all, it was a great fun trip, that I would strongly recommend.