Monarch Moves West

Royal Caribbean will bring the 2,350-passenger Monarch of the Seas to Los Angeles in June six months earlier than originally planned to run short Mexico itineraries.

By: Cheryl Woodruff

Royal Caribbean will bring the 2,350-passenger Monarch of the Seas to Los Angeles in June six months earlier than originally planned to run short Mexico itineraries.

The ship will begin its three-and four-day itineraries sailing from Los Angeles on June 2, 2003 through April 2004.

Monarch of the Seas, whose home port is Fort Lauderdale, will sail three-night itineraries to Ensenada departing Los Angeles on Fridays, and four-night trips departing on Mondays and stopping at Ensenada, San Diego and Catalina Island.

“Los Angeles has historically been a strong market for us,” said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Royal Caribbean International. “We’re excited to return next year, bigger and better, by offering cruises to Baja, Mexico, onboard Monarch of the Seas.” Royal Caribbean’s move aims to capitalize on the trend of short getaways that don’t involve air travel.

“The Monarch is a great ship for Westerners looking for a nice, short escape,” said Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Jaye Hilton.

Through May 2003, the 11-year-old Monarch of the Seas will continue sailing its four- and five-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale.

Stops on various itineraries include Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Georgetown, Grand Cayman.

I sailed on the 75,000-ton Monarch last spring on the five-day itinerary from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, Cozumel and Costa Maya the later port we had to skip because of bad weather.

While some cruisers on the ship said the Monarch is dated and showing its age compared to its younger sisters the Vision-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships I was charmed by its ’80s style (lots of chrome and neon) and the abundance of open spaces it is 880 feet long, 106 feet wide and has 14 passenger decks. Although the ship carried nearly 2,000 passengers, there were no long lines, and finding a quiet place to dine or sit was never a problem.

The centerpiece of the Monarch is a dramatic, glittering five-story atrium and a sweeping metallic staircase that curves all the way down to the ground floor.

Another highlight is on the top deck the glass-enclosed Viking Crown Lounge with its panoramic water views. I found the Crown to be a perfect place to retreat for perspective when the ship atmosphere became too hectic, and a stimulating, romantic spot for drinks before or after dinner.


There is no dearth of nighttime entertainment on the 880-foot Monarch. The facilities include two dining rooms and a casual cafe (see sidebar), two nightclub/theaters for adults offering nightly musical and variety shows, a dancing lounge and four lounges and bars of varying degrees of intimacy. In addition, a teen nightclub, a movie theater, a casino, a card room, a library, a photo gallery, a video game room and a 24-hour Internet alcove were teeming much of the time.

During the day when they’re not on shore excursions, guests have a multitude of choices for leisure activities: a full-service spa and fitness center, a shopping court with a variety of boutiques and souvenir shops, two outdoor pools with bars, two whirlpools, a beauty salon, a barber shop, a game deck area for pingpong and shuffleboard, a wrap-around promenade deck for walking and a jogging track.


The Monarch includes 1,177 staterooms 445 small inside cabins and 732 oceanview staterooms; 299 have third or fourth berths.

While some guests said their staterooms were cramped, I was happy with my oceanview room, which had a queen-size bed, a sofa, a refrigerator, a minibar, a vanity area and a balcony with lounge chairs that I enjoyed at all hours.

All staterooms have queen-size beds or twins that convert, private baths, telephones, interactive televisions, three-channel radios and individually controlled air-conditioning.

Happy Kids

One of the hallmarks of the Monarch and other Royal Caribbean ships is its elaborate and creative program for youngsters 3 to 17.

Specifically for children are: the Computer Lab, providing personal computer stations loaded with entertaining and educational software; Adventure Beach, an area including splash pools and a water slide dedicated to families; video arcades; movies for in-cabin viewing; children’s books in the library; Adventure Ocean Dining, allowing kids to eat dinner in the formal dining rooms with their youth staff and friends; and Adventure Ocean Potion Card, which allows children up to 18 to drink special nonalcoholic “mocktails.” Adventure Ocean, widely acknowledged as one of the best kids’ programs on the seas, offers special programs for each age group. There were 100 youngsters onboard the Monarch when we sailed from Fort Lauderdale. According to Kathleen Paramonczyk, the effervescent youth staff manager on the ship, during summers and Easter breaks, they usually have 400 to 600 kids to entertain. And they love it.

“Kids sometimes stay onboard at ports, because they have so much fun,” she said.

Paramonczyk said her biggest challenge is changing with the times, especially for the teenager programs, as they get bored so easily. “We really have to keep updating the programs to keep them interested.”

I witnessed raucous groups of teenagers during the day in various areas of the ship and one night when I peeked into the teen disco where they were dancing and cavorting. And I saw younger children periodically throughout the ship.

On formal night after dinner in one of the nightclubs, we encountered a couple with their parents and two dressed-up preschoolers, whom they carried onto the dance floor to dance a fast number. They later told us the cruise was the perfect trip to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

Children’s organized Adventure Ocean programs include:

Aquanauts for 3- to 5-year-olds, including finger painting, dressing up, building blocks, Playdough sculptures, music activities, dot dancing and games such as Bingo.

Explorers for 6- to 8-year-olds, features wacky painter caps, tattoo time, nutty nicknames, trash art, sports tournaments, relay races and autograph hunts. Voyagers for 9- to 11-year-olds features such activities as designing crazy T-shirts, pool parties, scavenger hunts, karaoke, disco dancing and a college night.

Navigators for 12- to 14-year-olds organizes sports tournaments, pool parties, scavenger hunts, karaoke, disco dancing and the challenge series. New Age Group for 15- to 17-year-olds features pool parties, basketball, a battle of the sexes, karaoke, a talent show, a formal dance and a survivor series.

Rates for the three- and four-night itineraries from Los Angeles start at $399, per person, double.

Rates for the four- and five-night Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale start at $489, per person, double.

Call 800-327-6700.

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