I love the Monarch. I've been on her 5x and doing a back to back on her in September. I like the Monarch for that intimacy of the smaller ship. She is in good shape for her age. A little bit of wear up on the Lido deck exposed to the elements, but inside the lounges look nice. I find the food very good and the service excellent. They will have great Mongolian BBQ up in the Windjammer one night during the cruise. My last time on the Monarch I even talked to the Windjammer Chef to find out what night the Mongolian would be. It's that good!
A nice spot for a cocktail before or after dinner is the Schooner bar or Viking Crown Lounge. If you want to go to any of the major shows then arrive about 1/2 hour early.