Thought we'd try a cruise for our younger family of four (6 yo and infant). We joined our friends on the Disney Wonder for a 7 day cruise to Mexico. I won't go into the in and outs of cruising as experienced by a first time cruiser, but the bottom line for us on the last day was what we could have done for the same amount of money and time. We've done a number of all-inclusive and rental suites in the past and it is hard to compare those scenarios with this cruise and not think that we're being seriously gouged for no reason. yes, there's a level of service you get on the boat that you may not get from a resort (but most times we have), but as a family we don't need that. We don't need to dress up for every meal. We don't need fancy meals when we're with our kids and barely have the time or energy to enjoy them. We don't need to be spending $500+ on gratuities for services and drinks at the end of the week. And we certainly don't need the tight schedule required to go all the way south and back in 7 days while still hitting two ports. If you don't think your kids will stay in the kids club for mare than an hour a day, the 4 days at sea will be long, especially if the weather's even a little bit cold/windy. If you take the early seating for dinner the shows are too late for our young ones. The one time we let him stay up for the Toy Story show we payed for it the next day.
Our assumption, which was wrong, was that a Disney cruise would be geared towards the younger families. Fancy dinning, turndown service, expensive drinks and photo sessions are not what young families need to relax and have fun. Free babysitting, dinner entertainment/kid help, free 24hr healthy drink alternatives/snacks, mid-day shows while at sea, complimentary coffee that doesn't require loads of milk and sugar to be palatable, these are things a young family wants.
All in all we'll skip the family cruises in the future and stick to the single location vacation where we can take our time, keep a regular schedule, and spend money only where we want to.