April 1, 2003
Royal Caribbean, which has said for months it intends to give Monarch of the Seas, which is switching to a new homeport (Los Angeles) and itineraries (3- and 4-night Baja Mexico) in June, a West Coast-inspired renovation, is finally revealing the details. The refurbishment of the 2,350-passenger ship is pretty broad, including staterooms, dining areas and public lounges -- not to mention the addition of a rock climbing wall. Specifically? The ShipShape Spa will be expanded and relocated (to deck 9); highlights include a more contemporary look, additional cardio equipment, and a couples' treatment room. The Windjammer, the top-deck (and two-story) Lido-style buffet, gets some fresh new touches, including an Asian-fusion restaurant called Jade. There will also be a sushi bar and gourmet pizza station. Another new addition is a "sit-down coffee and ice-cream parlor." The specialty coffees Seattle's Best and the ice cream Ben & Jerry's and, yes, items consumed in this venue will be at a'la carte pricing. The ship's Adventure Ocean Youth Program will triple in size and feature everything from a video arcade to teen-only concepts like The Back Deck outdoor area, Club Cafe Internet Center and Living Room coffee bar. Other refurbishments will include updates to all staterooms -- new and upgraded bathrooms, carpets, linens, and artwork; general facelifts to the lobbies, elevators, landings, corridors and restrooms; and enhancements to the shopping areas and Pool Deck. Renovations on Monarch of the Seas begin in mid-April with (according to a release issued by Royal Caribbean), "limited, unobtrusive work being done while the ship is in service, followed by major demolition and rebuilding beginning mid-May" at a shipyard in the Bahamas. The rebuilding will be completed in transit as Monarch relocates to Los Angeles with a crew-only Panama Canal passage. The ship begins its Los Angeles-based sailings on June 6 and will adhere to a Friday and Monday 4- and 3-day departure schedule.