We're just off a 3 night cruise to Ensenada and had a wonderful time!
We live locally so drove to port and had no problems with embarkation. They were serving lunch in the Windjammer Cafe starting at 11:30 am. Our cabins, obstructed view on deck 8, were ready by 1pm.
We were a party of 10 friends, all adult couples, on board to relax, have fun, and participate in a Murder Mystery! The Murder Mystery was hilarious and we had a blast. We had events every evening and three events on Sunday, plus we were visited by the actors each night at dinner and received more clues there. We also had a mysterious phone call and notes tucked under our cabin door. It was totally entertaining!
Our cabins were fine. No problems. They are small, but the beds are quite comfortable.
The Monarch is of course showing a bit of age in the carpets especially, but it's really not a big deal at all and overall she's a lovely ship.
The food was very hit and miss. Moreso than the other lines I have sailed on (Princess and Carnival). The hits were great, the misses were real misses (a hard brownie, and hard spinach dip come to mind). BUT we found PLENTY of tasty things to eat and couldn't have stuffed anything more into our very satisfied bellies. If you don't care for what your ordered, try again. The staff is eager to please.
Which brings me to the crew. They were probably the friendliest I've ever encountered. A true highlight. I enjoy every cruise for the opportunity to meet people from so many different places on the crew, and they are usually happy to tell you about "home" if asked. I consider the crew of the Monarch a gem. Especially our maitre'd...a young lady from Hungary. She was delightful.
In Ensenada I took an idea from an earlier review...we hired a tour company, Jatay Tours, to provide us a driver and van. They drove us about 45 minutes along the coastal toll road to a town called "Puerto Nuevo" for their famous fried lobster lunch. Awesome! We were taken to a restaurant called "Puerto Nuevo II" and had lobster, rice, beans, homemade tortillas and salsa. We were given little margaritas on the house. The waiters did riddles and were very entertaining. Wandering mariachis came in and sang for us. There were some booths selling tourist trinkets on the street and we visited one or two. But when we started to get the more aggressive sales approach our driver kept the "salespeople" at bay and we decided it was time to head back to the ship. It was a great day.
Disembarkation was fine. We waited until about 8:45 to start the process, hoping some of the chaos of earlier disembarkation had passed. We still waited in lines to exit the ship, get into customs, and get through customs...but no big deal.
We all agreed this little weekend getaway was relaxing, fun, and a terrific vacation.