We're a family of 4 that cruised for the first time on the Breeze in August to the Southern Caribbean. Our kids are 10 and 8, we're 47 and 45.
We flew into FLL the night before our trip and then shuttled it to the Comfort Suites Minola Airport North in Miami. It was a great stay - we had a suite and we were very comfortable. We enjoyed a quick (but crowded) free breakfast at the hotel and then hopped on the free shuttle to the Port of Miami.
We were given VIP checkin and the waiting area at the port was quiet and comfortable. Once they announced we could embark, it was less than 15 minutes for us to be on the Lido Deck eating a Guy's Burger, which I"ll talk about later.
We were in room 7266, which had the two twin beds set up as a king, the foldout couch and the dropdown ceiling bed. The room was clean, well maintained and surprisingly, held all of our stuff (we overpacked!). We didn't spend much time in the room, but our steward was very responsive and we were very comfortable. I was worried about spending 8 days with the 4 of us crammed in a small room. My husband is 6'5 and we're a tall family generally, but we got along great and didn't feel cramped or claustrophobic. Having the really nice balcony helped a ton, too. We enjoyed having the outdoor space to watch the world go by.
FOOD: we really enjoyed nearly all of the food on the ship. Guy's Burger, Tandoor and Cucina del Capitano deserve special shout-outs. We're pretty big foodies and even the food in Sapphire (we had a 6 p.m. seating time) we found to be of very good quality most nights. There were a few misses here and there, but that's to be expected.
ACTIVITIES: the ship is very large and very busy. The Lido Deck was packed - to the point that we stayed away most of the time. Fortunately, there are plenty of other fun but quieter spaces to hang on the ship, and I appreciate that Carnival gave some thought to that. The staff is great about policing the Serenity Deck and not allowing kids. We also enjoyed the Red Frog Pub as a getaway when the kids were at the water park or at Camp Carnival. And of course, we dropped a little bit of money in the casino. I enjoyed their decent selection of slot machines and my husband played table games; however, not having a blackjack table with a shoe was a real drawback for him.
The ship had some technical difficulties in the theater early in the cruise and had to punt and bring in some new entertainment and not do the stage productions. They did a good job with this - they found some family-friendly comedians, magicians and jugglers and we all had a great time. Hasbro the Game Show is not to be missed - the kids love it.
KIDS: Speaking of kids, our kids adored the water park most of all. They spent most of their time there - so much so that we didn't need to take advantage of Camp Carnival (which is also fabulous) to the extent we expected. They also enjoyed the 4D theater (well worth the all access pass at $15), the Sky Course and all of the kid-friendly food options on board.
PORTS: Our favorite port was the Dominican Republic. We did a Soana Island excursion with Pro Excursions that was unforgettable. Their staff is amazing, knowledgeable, kind and fun. The excursion is not to be missed - the beach is staggeringly beautiful and our kids loved seeing starfish and getting to snorkel.
Aruba was our second favorite port. We hang out at Palm Beach all day and took advantage of some of the water sports available there. Our daughter felt sick the day we ported in Curacao so we did not get to do much there. Grand Turk was a fun day; mainly just cruise people on the island. We stayed away from Margaritaville and walked 1/2 mile down to the Governor Beach with Jack's Shack and Topher the Dog. Our kids LOVED it there.
I've written four blog posts complete with TONS of pictures of our trip that I'll link to below. They cover food, excursions and ports, kids activities and grownup activities.
Disclosure: as a blogger, my stay was sponsored by Carnival. I was very wary to go on the trip, but I can honestly say that we were converted to fans of cruising after this trip and had very little to complain about. We would definitely cruise again.
Kids Activities: http://www.kludgymom.com/carnival-breeze-reviews-3/
Adult Activities: http://www.kludgymom.com/carnival-breeze-reviews-2/
Palm Beach is great. Busier than many beaches, but we did not find it TOO busy and we hate crowds. Lots of nice water sports to choose from, and easy to get to by Aruba bus (cheap and quick - our family rode for under $10 total one way).
Grand Turk is a little touristy for us, so we decided to skip Margaritaville where it was too packed with throngs of people. We headed down 1/2 mile to Governor Beach. We played with Topher the Dog, rented some snorkel gear and paid for our kids to jump on the water trampolines. It was a very inexpensive, relaxing and fun day.
I can say enough about the Saona Island excursion through Pro Excursions. It was flawless and unforgettable. We took a speedboat through some mangroves, snorkeled, visited the private beach on Saona with a Dominican lunch included, and then stopped at a natural pool covered in starfish on the way back. Best family experience we have ever had.