First-time cruisers here. Five of us on this trip. Me, DW, DD (13), DD (12), and DS (7). My quick points:
- Embarkation was smooth as silk. It was almost disorienting how quickly we went from standing outside the pier to starting our vacation aboard the Pearl. If your kids have an interest in doing the rock-climbing wall, Seattle is a good place to do it. Windy conditions often shut down any available windows at sea.
- Food was very good. The few times I had something at Garden Cafe (the main buffet) that I didn't like, I just went back and got something that I DID like. The Indigo Main Dining room was great for the two dinners we had there. Cagney's was a treat we all did together on my wife's birthday. Great steak, great service. The two lunches we had at Summer Palace were so-so. I definitely gained weight on this cruise!
- Plenty of fun things to do for kids while aboard. The kids were never bored, although the Splash Academy proved to be too "kiddie" for our 12yo, who went once and never went back again. Our DS(7) really enjoyed his 6-9 age group though. Entourage was so-so for our teen, but she had so much fun doing everything else, there were no complaints. All the kids enjoyed the comedian Bud Anderson and Second City's improv show in Spinnaker Lounge. The wife and I also had a good time at their adults-only shows. The "Best of Broadway" show was highly enjoyable for the entire family, too.
- Staff was excellent. Always willing to go the extra mile. Is the service in the restaurants a bit slow? Sure. But we were having too much fun to rush through a meal anyway. The longest we ever had to wait for a table was ~10 minutes for Indigo one night. I think we waited for < 5 minutes for Summer Palace for lunch one day, too.
- The absolute highlight of this cruise is Glacier Bay. Don't feel the need to be rude when trying to get pictures, folks! The ship took 4-5 (maybe more?) sloooooooow rotations in front of Margerie and you WILL get the shot you are wanting. My suggestion: Outside on either Deck 12 or 13, NOT behind the glass of Spinnaker (which is my favorite indoor space in the entire ship). Feel (and HEAR) the sound of the glaciers from deck.
- You WILL be cold at some point during this cruise. But who cares? A good windbreaker will be your best friend.