My family went on our first cruise during Thanksgiving week 2006. My husband and I are in our late 30's, and the kids are an 11 year old boy, an 8 year old girl and a 4 year old girl. We have always taken an annual family vacation and (among other trips) have been to Disney World twice, to Pigeon Forge (Dollywood), and to Panama City Beach, Florida. The cruise was by far everyone's favorite vacation!!
Embarkation was a breeze. We live just north of Houston so we drove into Galveston the day of the cruise instead of staying in a hotel the night before. We arrived in Galveston around 12:15. My husband dropped us off at the cruise terminal so he could park the car. There were plenty of porters available to help with the luggage. My husband was gone approximately 15 minutes before joining us. As soon as he got back, we are able to check in and board the ship immediately. No lines. At 1:00, the cabins were open so we dropped off our carry on luggage and went to eat in the buffet. The muster drill was later that afternoon, and it was quick and easy. We left port on schedule and took some pictures during the Sail Away Party. The cool thing is that you can see all the way across Galveston Island on the ship. We'd been to Galveston many times, but this was new view for us.
We had two cabins since there are five of us. Our cabins were oceanview (3068 and 3070) and there was a connecting door, which we left open. The kids stayed in one room, and we stayed in the other. The connecting door was locked when we first arrived, but the cabin steward immediately opened it for us. There was plenty of room for everything.
My husband worked out in the fitness center and said it was nice. He also jogged daily around the upper deck. We didn't discover the saunas until our last day at sea. Don't miss out on them because they were truly relaxing.
I cannot say enough about how pleased we were with the kids' program for our daughters. Our 8 year old loved and constantly begged us to take her there. Our 4 year old had great fun every time she went. There were around 600 kids on the ship since it was Thanksgiving week, but the program never seemed crowded, and the counselors really knew the kids. It was great for my husband and me to know that the girls were having a great time while he and I were able to enjoy some adults only time. Our 11 year old wasn't as crazy about the kids' program, but he did try it out and had fun on a scavenger hunt. He was able to meet a friend his age on the cruise so he did have someone to hang out with.
We ate dinner every night in the dining room as a family. We were a little worried about how our girls would behave (especially the little one), but they were well behaved, and the dining staff was very friendly and remembered what the kids liked. We went to the Captain's party before the first formal night (free champagne) and had our picture taken with the captain. Since we were sailing on Thanksgiving week, we had a special Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday night that was really delicious. Friday night was lobster night, and our waiter brought as much as we wanted.
We ate breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer Cafe, and the food was nothing spectacular, but we enjoyed it.
The shows we went too were very fun (the magician was hilarious), and the service was outstanding.
Key West was cold and not very fun, but we found a little bar where a guy sang any song you requested from a long list. It was a fun place to hang out. We swam with the stingrays and did the turtle farm tour through Captain Marvin's in the Caymans, and I would definitely recommend booking with them. At Cozumel, we just hung out at the beach all day and enjoyed it tremendously.
The overall cruise was excellent. We can't wait to go again!