To start off, the cruise was excellent. I spent may months looking up info and videos about the cruise we took. My wife and I have 3 kids ages 5, 7, and 11. We flew out from California a day before and left a day after we arrived back in port. This enabled us to not be in such a hurry. Even hit Coco Beach the last day.
We took a hotel shuttle to the boat and boarded around 1130. We completed a pre boarding weeks prior so once we got our Key to the World cards we were able to board right away. The cabanas were open and we decided to have some lunch. Our rooms became available shortly after in which we were able to drop off our stuff and head up to the pools and the sail away party. Also the rumor is true about being able to bring your own alcohol on board. The hard part was to stay away from the fruity drinks and I failed to do so. Either way they were reasonably priced and at times had a 2 for the price of 1 special.
After the packing, flights, hotels, and boarding, it was quite relaxing to have the first 2 days at sea. We visited St. Maartens and chose not to do a disney excursion. Instead my wife, my 11 and I went zip lining on the french side while my parents took the younger 2 kids. It was fun but to do the extreme zip line, all parties had to be over the age of 18. The regular one was still fun. After we headed back to the beach, rented wave runners and hung out. When at the islands, some mornings are early and their are curfews to get back on the boat. So the at sea days are worth it.
The second island was St. Thomas. All of us did the champagne catamaran tour out to St. Johns were we got to snorkel with fish, turtles and sting rays. The crew were great and the time was relaxing. Champagne, beer, rum, cheese and crackers, fruit, and juices were avail on the way back to enjoy as the put up the sails. Though I wished we had more time out there, it was fantastic.
After another day at sea, we arrived at Disney's Castaway Cay (Pronounced Key). On here, the crew from the boat also works most of the island and bbqs up burgers, chicken, and hot dogs. Along with a lot of other foods. We decided to hit the beach and snorkel. Getting off early enough got us front row chairs. It seemed that their was enough for everyone though. Life guards were even posted out in the water in towers. Decent food, good weather and a little souvenir shopping. And here the wave phones worked. (the phones you get in your state rooms.)
Room: For a family of 5 the room worked out great. When out for dinner, our maid turned down the beds and during the day, she put them up. Room service was available 24hrs a day for free. Just need money to tip. We were on the 10th floor with a veranda. With the upper deck hanging over a lot more them the other decks, our veranda never got too sunny of hot. It seemed to be the perfect conditions. The cons I were say was we were just below the pool deck and occasionally heard people running. Not enough to make me change my mind down the road. Also when it was time to go up to the pool or to the cabanas for lunch, we didn't have to wait on a elevator. Instead we went up one flight of stairs. Mid ship is nice. Still felt the boat at times but was never bad.
Dining: This cruise is highly recommended. It was hard to come back. The dinner is rotational dining. There are 3 restaurants and you keep your servers throughout all of them. Our guys were great. They even cut our kids food for them. And when the menu didn't work for our kids, they made arrangements to get them what they wanted. And don't be afraid to ask for seconds. Even the lobster. On night is formal, another is semi formal, pirate night is pirate dress (go big, its fun) and the rest are cruise casual. Its fun to dress up for each.
Tipping: When a credit card is on account, it will be charged when your balance hits $500. Tips are generated through the cruise automatically. It came out to be $84 per person for all 7 days. There are people at the end of the cruise that head to guest services and complain about it. For the service we got, we added more in cash at the end in person. These tips are for the head waiter, the tables waiter, the assistant waiter and the maid. Once again well worth it. Also at breakfast and lunch its nice to leave a few bucks on the table.
Cash: I took a few thousand in cash for spending. Paid $500 into my tab to limit credit card charges. The disney excursions also gets charged to your account. On board besides you additional tips at the end and lunch and breakfast tips, no cash is needed. All expenses goes on your key to the world card. This includes, alcoholic drinks, drinks and snacks at the snack bar, and any purchases at their stores. Castaway Cay also uses nothing but the key to the world card also. Shopping on the other islands, cash or credit cards were needed. I still came back home with a grand and charged about $1500 to the credit card.
Entertainment: The shows were great. The ship also had movies at the pool and at their cinemas. Character appearances throughout the day and trivia and family games.
Kid areas: The oceaneer's club was great. They put low jack bracelets on the kids and you check them in and out. Very secure. Activities are planned throughout the day and its a lot more then just games. Some times when I went to pick them up, I wanted to stay myself. They feed them lunch and even dinner if you make plans at the palo or Remy. For my 11 yr old, he made his way to the edge. On board, he had some freedom to check himself in and out. We still made it a thing to meet for dinner and shows.
The crew on board always said hi if you made eye contact. They were continuously painting and cleaning. The ship was well kept and the staff was excellent. We definitely set the bar for cruises. Already planning our next one.