There are not many reviews from families with children so I have tried to cover this aspect well. This is a very long review as a result!
First of all, let me say that we found this to be a very family friendly ship! We traveled with my daughter who is 11 years old and my son who is 9 years old. There were only 22 kids on board, half of whom were age 7 or under. There were 7 kids (including mine) in the 8 - 12 year old range and at least one 14 year old. We didn't see any teens older than 14 other than a few young people who looked to be in their early twenties. This is typical of a transatlantic cruise in April as it is a longer cruise and many parents don't want to take their kids out of school. I am told that on the Caribean cruises and during school breaks, there are hundreds of kids. We actually prefer a cruise with fewer kids and my kids had a blast. I wonder if they had a better time than they would have if there had been many more kids? They certainly got a ton of one on one attention from the kids club staff and also were well known by the ship staff. They got a lot of special one on one attention from the restaurant staff, during the shows (eg. getting called up on stage), etc. I will get more into the kids club and activities later in my review.
Embarkation was pretty straightforward and uneventful. We arrived at around 11:30 AM and waited in a line-up which moved fairly quickly. I believe we were on board within a half hour or 45 mins of arrival.
The ship is beautiful! Everything is new, sparkling clean and spacious. After sailing on this ship, I don't think we can sail on any other as it will feel like a step down. This is really a luxury cruise where everything is top notch. We loved every moment of it including the sea days (we had 6 of them in a row) and port days. The ships activities were extensive, highly varied and plentiful. We could not do everything we wanted to as there was so much - trivia contests, daily game shows, art classes, sports (e.g. bocce ball, golf putting, Wii sports), tastings (e.g. martinis, wine, whisky, beer), daily lectures from speakers (at the fitness club, one from the White House, a former professional basketball player), daily exercise activities, karaoke, different theme parties. This list goes on an on really. You could NOT be bored on this ship. Oh... and there is a library that has quite a few books - not super extensive selection but I'm sure everyone could find something there. My daughter also participating in the art classes which were $20.00 each. This was slightly on the expensive side but she really really enjoyed the classes. Sign up on the first day as soon as they open though as the classes fill up super quick.
Our cabin was located not far from the Hideaway on Deck 7 which is exactly what it's name suggests. A great comfy cozy place to get away from it all. We loved being close to this as my husband didn't have to go far in the morning to grab a coffee when he woke up. Incidentally, I don't drink coffee but hear it was not very good. I guess they want you to go to the specialty coffee shop - Cafe Bacio - which was very good. My kids enjoyed the Hideaway - especially my 9 year old son who is an early riser. He would wake up at 6AM and head down there to sit in one of the private cubbies and play with his I-Pod or read a book until the rest of us awoke. Our cabin was aesthetically very nice - everything looks new and it felt spacious enough for the four of us. My son slept on the sofa which converted into a bed and my daughter slept on a bed which pulled out of the ceiling (kind of like bunk beds). This was a wonderful set up as the kids would hop into bed at night when they got tired and could both watch tv from their beds. There were plenty of current and age appropriate movies for them to watch and after a few days, we realized that we were comfortable with them staying in the room alone at night. So we would leave them to watch movies and/or read until they fell asleep while my husband and I went out to participate in the evening ship activities and/or have a drink. We also brought two bottles of wine with us to drink in the room. The suitcase was held back during embarkation and we were asked to go down to Deck 2 to open the suitcase and pull out the bottles. The staff said they needed to check it to ensure it wasn't some other liquid. There was no problem to bring this wine on board. The bathroom was great - lots of storage space and a good size shower with good water pressure. Our only issue with the cabin was the storage space for clothing. For a family of four traveling for 13 days, it was insufficient. I did not like the over the bed storage - a bit impractical and had to ask for additional hangers in the closet. I was very selective and careful about what I packed but still it was tough to find room for all our clothes. If you are four in a room - you will really need to be minimalist in your packing. For two people, the storage would be sufficient. The room stewards were outstanding. My husband and I wondered how they could possibly always be available to meet our every need whether a cork screw, ice, picking up our room service request 10 mins after we had put it on the door (at 1:30 AM), etc. I don't think they get much sleep. The lovely towel animals they made were a real hit with the kids. I cannot say enough good things about our room stewards - Albano and cannot remember the name of the other but wish I could. He was amazing too and was responsible for the towel animals. We definitely left them some extra tip.
Although the weather was often cool, our children swam every day in the outdoor pool which was heated. (Canadian kids - what can I say). They would warm themselves in the hot tubs (there are four surrounding the pool) if they got cold but generally they seemed warm enough in the pool. There was a group of them similar in age who really connected and they would all end up at the pool at around 6PM every day when we returned from the ports. My husband and I (and the other parents) would often sit in the surrounding hot tubs with a drink while we supervised them. It was very relaxing and fun. The kids were not allowed in the indoor pool (solarium) as this was adult only but this was fine. Sometimes when it was quite cool outside, I would bring the kids into the solarium to dry themselves off after a swim (just for a couple of minutes). No one seemed to mind and the solarium pool is right next door to the outdoor pool.
The kids club.... This was a key part of our trip. Sometimes my 9 year old son would arrive there at opening time (9 AM) and he would be the only one in his age group there for the whole morning. Despite this, he headed up there every day. To me, this is a testament to how good the staff is. They kept the kids occupied with high quality interesting activities all day long. There were neat crafts, scavenger hunts, sports activities, a great talent show that all us parents went to watch, games like survivor, Wii, Rockband, Foosball etc. There is also an arcade (normally you pay for each game like in a regular arcade) but they had times when they brought the kids to play for free. My kids LOVED going to the Kids Club. It is on the top deck (15) and the facilties are great. We could not get my sports crazy active 9 year old boy (who does not much like crafts) out of there even to watch the shows at night. And he made tons of crafts!!! They were really neat crafts - not your run of the mill stuff. We had trouble convincing him to come to the show with us instead of kids club. My 11 year old daughter also loved the kids club and the staff. The staff were all wonderful - loved the kids and seemed to have endless patience and ideas for keeping them occupied. The regular hours were 9 to 11:45 AM and 2 PM to 4 or 5 PM (can't remember) and then after dinner (7 to 10 PM I believe). You could also sign them up to stay for dinner if you wanted and this was free except on port days when there was a small charge. There were also evening slumber parties available until 1 AM - again there was an extra charge for this. We did not use this option. I should also mention that because there weren't many kids, they grouped them in larger groups. There was a group of younger kids e.g. 3 - 6 or 7 years old and then they had another group of kids which my kids were a part of that ranged from 8 years old to 12. This worked really well in order to create a big enough group of kids. They all really connected.
The shows were really great. We weren't as keen on the broadway style shows but there were many other shows such as comedians, ventriloquists, magicians etc. all of whom were great! Also, there was always music playing all over the ship. The party band was awesome - playing music from all eras (including classic rock which my husband loved) and there was an acappella quartet whom I couldn't get enough of. They are called the Riptides.
The staff go to extreme lengths to satisfy your every whim. In fact, our hockey team was in the playoffs (Ottawa Senators) and we desperately wanted to see the game. We asked the front desk if there was any chance they would be able to get the game - not expecting much since we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sure enough we get a phone call to our room telling us they had arranged to stream the game in via Internet onto the large screen tv in the Sports Lounge (Michael's Club) and also in our room if we wanted to watch it there. They did this twice for us. We were so thrilled and so were all the other hockey fans who joined us in the lounge once word got out that the game would be broadcast.
The specialty restaurants were really great too. At first I didn't like the fact that you had to pay extra but I warmed up to the idea and would take advantage of specials which were always being offered e.g. 25% off and sometimes 2 for 1. The Lawn Club Grill was outstanding and Cuisine was a neat experience. Lawn Club Grill made special arrangement to accommodate my family and three other families with kids my children had connected with when I approached them last minute (like the night before) asking them for this big reservation to celebrate my daughter's birthday. They gave her tons of special attention, had a beautiful cake for her and even brought out the bocce balls so the kids could play on the lawn right outside the restaurant while the parents relaxed over a leisurely meal. I also went to the restaurant that serves crepes (forget the name) twice and it was outstanding as well. It is $5.00 and well worth it. Amazing food.
The food in the dining room is just average but honestly, it didn't matter. The service and the staff are so amazing. The OceanView Cafe was pretty good. Enough variety and food was good.
We did our own thing in the Ports so don't have much to comment on for that.
We had an amazing amazing time. So if you have children and are contemplating a transatlantic, I say go for it! It was a tremendous experience for all of us and the ship really caters to families.