My inlaws decided they wanted to take a family vacation. Our travel group consisted of my inlaws, my family (husband, me, and DS12, DD9, DS6) and my brother in law's family (BIL, travel agent SIL, DS10 and DD7.) MIL and BIL's family have cruised more than once. My family had never cruised, and would have never planned a cruise on our own.
Embarkation was not too fun. It was fairly simple, but lines were looooong. My daughter had to go to the restroom, and she was stuck waiting until we had finished with the very long screening line. Then there was a line to check in and get our cards, and then onto the ship.
We headed straight to the pool to hit the flow rider. We stopped to get wristbands showing we had signed waivers and were the right height. We also signed up for private lessons later in the cruise. The two older boys waited in a fairly long line while the little ones hit the pool.
We enjoyed the pools and didn't find them to be too crazy, though they were always busy. My only complaint was that the water is either six inches deep or over my kids' heads. There were a couple of spots I could stand, but none where a mid sized kid could, and most of the pools are 5'6" deep. I am tall enough to stand there on tiptoes, but a shorter parent would have a harder time if she was trying to keep kids within reach. I would have brought arm floaties for my six year old had I known, but we still did lots of swimming.
The main dining room was hectic the first night, and then calmed down. We ate there every night except one, when our flow rider lesson conflicted. The food was great, our server Keti was wonderful, and I vastly preferred this to the Windjammer. After dinner, we signed the kids up for Kids' Club, but did not drop them off. That was chaotic. Too many parents, not enough staff.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the main dining room, which we did three days. I again really preferred this to the Windjammer. For a group of 11, it was nicer to wait a few minutes to be seated, and get a table together, then search out tables at the Windjammer and be split up. I found the service better, and found it more relaxing, even though it is basically just a buffet too. (We did order made to order omelette a two of the days.).
We hit the climbing wall. It was pretty crowded and lines were long, but the kids enjoyed it, especially my too short for the Flowrider 6yo. Then we hit the pool. The line for the frozen yogurt machine was so long this day! It was never more than a couple of people long the rest of the trip. We had lunch at the Windjammer, dinner in the MDR, kids went to kids club for a bit, and then ordered room service for a before bed snack. That was one of my kids' favorite parts... Hot chocolate, fruit, and cookies before bed. Cheese plate and spinach dip for my SIL and I while we enjoyed a glass of wine in the balcony. (We carried wine on. Love that you can do that.)
The next day was Belize. Tendering was awful! We got in line half an hour before announced tendering time, but waited well over an hour before we got on, and we were the second tender boat for the "regular" line. The RCI excursions didn't have to wait in line and got put on boats before they started letting us on. That was frustrating. Don't say tenders start at 9:45 if that is only for RCI excursions. Luckily the kids had their iPods.
Tendering back was fine, and provided a great photo op of the ship. We headed to the Windjammer for a quick dinner before our Flowrider lessons. There were six of us plus two girls. That was fine, but in retrospect, we would have paid for the whole hour ourselves. ($60 a person, eight people max or $480 for as many in your party.) This was so fun. My husband and I wouldn't have done this if we hadn't paid for private lessons. Because it was night, we didn't have much of am audience, and our instructors Ilija and Ben were great. We needed that extra attention! It was one of the highlights of the trip.
The next day was Cozumel. We went to Chankanaab and loved it. Back for dinner in the MDR. We told Keti we wanted to hit the 7:45 comedian/juggler, and she was very quick. We even had dessert! We got to the show with plenty of time. Our older boys came, while the younger ones went to the kids club. The kids and adults loved the show-- the juggler was amazing and so funny!
Our last sea day had rough seas! Our Shrek breakfast was interrupted with a quick trip back to the room for Dramamine. I took Bonine the whole trip and was fine. We then hit the rock climbing was with short to no lines. It was great-- the kids took multiple turns. They also mini golfed and swam. The girls saw the ice skating show. I guess my expectations were low, because it really surprised me how well done it was. Lots of talent! We had lunch at Sorrento's. The food was pretty good. The kids did the cupcake decorating lesson, which they really enjoyed. Dinner in the MDR, followed by packing and the kids spent some time at the arcade. We planned to see Quest, but opted for bed.
Disembarking was much quicker than embarking. No issues and off the ship with ease.