Monarch Of The Seas
This pair sure ain't spring chickens, but they are a bargain, sailing inexpensive 3- and 4-night cruises on the U.S. East and West Coasts.
Typical Per Diems: $55-$165
Majesty sails the Bahamas from Miami (year-round).
Monarch sails the Bahamas from Port Canaveral (year-round).
Along with their predecessor Sovereign of the Seas (which now sails for Spain's Pullmantar Cruises), Monarch and Majesty of the Seas were once among the largest cruise ships in the world, but today they're literally less than half the size of their largest fleetmates. A decade and a half of hard use has given them their share of bumps and bruises, and even though recent makeovers have hammered out some of the dents and updated their look, expect well-worn and comfortable rather than sophisticated.
Standard staterooms are very snug at only 120 square feet, bathrooms are similarly cramped, and closet space is limited -- but then, how much space do you need on the kind of short itineraries these ships offer? More than 100 cabins have upper and lower berths to accommodate four, albeit very tightly. Overall, cabin decor is spartan and uninspired, with pastel fabrics and blond woods, and like other ships of their generation, relatively few have balconies. All cabins have TVs and safes. Soundproofing in these cabins isn't the greatest; in some you can hear every word your neighbors say.
Four to six cabins on each ship can accommodate wheelchair users.
Each ship has a pair of one-story dining rooms, plus a large indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant on Deck 11 serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Monarch's buffet also has an Asian option (for an extra charge), and Majesty's has multiple self-service islands with regional dishes from Asia, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the U.S., and elsewhere, plus a cooked-to-order pasta station, a carving station, a deli, and a soup-and-salad bar. You can also nosh at a dedicated pizzeria or grab a specialty coffee or a Ben & Jerry's ice cream from the Latté-tudes coffee shop. Majesty also features a '50s-style Johnny Rockets diner serving burgers and shakes (with a $4.95 cover charge).
A dramatic five-story atrium is the focal point of each ship, separating the public areas (which are mostly clustered in the stern) from the cabins forward, an arrangement that minimizes bleed-through noise and also gives the impression that these ships are smaller than they are. Shops, the ship's salon, the Internet center, the library, several information desks, and a champagne bar are all clustered around the atrium at various levels. Elsewhere, you'll find a sprawling casino, a cinema, the popular Schooner piano bar, and (as on all pre-Voyager RCI ships) the Viking Crown Lounge, perched on the topmost deck some 150 feet above sea level and with amazing panoramic views. It's a great place for a pre-dinner drink and after-dinner dancing. Down on Decks 5 and 7, the two-story main show lounge is roomy and well planned, with lots of cocktail-table-and-chair clusters for two and a huge stage.
As part of their makeovers in recent years, both ships have been fitted with a Boleros Latin Lounge, featuring Latin music, a dueling-piano-players act, and drinks from Brazil, Cuba, and Central America. The ships' children's centers were also expanded and three teens-only hangouts added: the Living Room coffee bar, a disco called Fuel, and a private outdoor Sun Deck with a dance floor.
Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities
The deck layout and two good-size swimming pools seem plenty spacious when they're empty, but the number of passengers who typically sail these short itineraries almost guarantees that they'll fill up, becoming a wall-to-wall carpet of people. That said, there are many patches of more isolated deck space all over each ship, from the quiet slices on the tiered aft decks to two levels of far-forward deck space.
The Sports Deck, up high in the stern, has Ping-Pong tables and a basketball court. The half-moon-shaped gym on Deck 10 is fairly spacious, with a wall of windows facing aft. Treadmills, stationary bikes, step machines, and free weights line the perimeter of the room, facing the sea, and the inner part of the room serves as the aerobics space. A smallish spa is adjacent.
Both ships sport Royal Caribbean's signature rock-climbing walls.