This was our first cruise, chosen because Royal Caribbean have a good reputation for family-friendly ships and because it fitted specific date requirements. We are a family of four (children aged 9 and 7). We live in Hampshire so found it very easy and quick to arrive at the dock in Southampton, which was well signposted. Embarkation was easy, although we had to queue at check-in for 10 minutes or so. We went straight to the Windjammer for lunch with our hand luggage, and then out onto deck.
We had interconnecting promenade cabins on deck 6, which were perfect, apart from a very high level of "white noise" at night, it sounded as though there was a dishwasher running close by. Our stateroom attendant Bruce was very friendly and helpful. The children loved the towel animals and we enjoyed going to the demonstration of how to make them on the last day. We settled in quickly and found it very easy to get our bearings around the ship as the signage at the elevators was very clear.
Food - we had breakfast in the Windjammer every day and lunch there when we weren't in port, we were very impressed with the selection of food, friendliness of staff and lack of queues even at busy times. Evening meals were taken in the Mozart room on My Time, we didn't pre-book for the first day and would have had to wait 45 mins for a table so used the WJ that evening, but otherwise no problems. We also used the WJ for the 2nd and 3rd formal evenings to avoid having to dress up. The waiting staff in the Mozart were helpful, friendly and attentive, we had the same team every time. One of my few grumbles was the children's menu - the same every night and limited to much lower quality food than the adults menu, the children ended up eating off the adults menu instead quite often. We also ate in Portofino once and were impressed by the quality of the food.
Leisure - the children LOVED Adventure Ocean and spent as much time as they could in there. During the day they towards the end of the cruise they tired of the pool and mini golf and would have liked a few more things to do. We noticed the pool attendants on Deck 11 trying unsuccessfully to police the reserved sunlounger situation, I'm not sure how they are supposed to enforce the 30 min rule to be honest. In the evenings we went to about 4 of the shows, including the ice one, and they were all good. We also took part in the quiz at 8 in the Schooner bar most nights which was good fun. Did not use the spa, gym, ice-rink or inline skating. We also liked exploring the quieter decks - deck 4, helipad, peek-a-boo bridge. If we didn't go to the theatre, most evenings found us in the Blue Moon bar, with fabulous views.
Port visits (all with children).
Gibraltar - did the Upper Rock Walking Tour, which was excellent, visiting St Michael's Cave and the wartime tunnels (lovely to be underground in such hot weather).
Cannes - we went 15 mins early to get tender tickets and were off on the third tender of the day with no problems, although it was mayhem getting the tickets. We took the open air street train and explored by ourselves before returning on the tender mid afternoon, again, very little waiting and no problems.
Rome - we took the Glories of Gladiators tour, which was really enjoyable and interesting, we also enjoyed an afternoon exploring by ourselves.
Pisa - we took the early Pisa on your own tour, which was perfect, it was a very hot day, so good to be back on board by lunchtime.
Genoa - we just got off and walked, we walked to the old port area (maybe a mile) and generally pottered and explored.
Malaga - took a short tour to a viewpoint above the city and back around the town before having time to explore on our own. Beautiful city, would like to go back one day.
Lisbon - took the Lisbon city tour, which encompassed the old town, a bus ride north to a park with great views, a visit to the waterfront to the Tower of Belem and a church before returning to ship. The most hair raising moment of the entire cruise was passing under the suspension bridge with all of 2.5m (according to the Captain's Q&A session) clearance.
One more thing - my daughter cut her head open whilst on deck (bent down to pick something up, stood up and caught it on a rail), we checked the Cruise Compass and found that the medical room was open so went straight there. She was seen and treated immediately by the nurse and doctor, which was very reassuring.
Disembarkation was very easy, we set our alarms for 6.15 (having put our bags out the night before), had breakfast, went to our rendezvous point at 7.15 and were directed straight off the ship, bags were immediately available and we were on the road by 7.30.
All in all it was a great holiday. I had been quite worried that I wasn't going to enjoy it (we normally go camping!) but it was great and we will do it again one day. Took me three days back on land to stop feeling drunk from the motion though!