We drove down to New Orleans the day before our cruise. We were travelling as a family of five: Me, my husband, and our three daughters, ages 8, 11, and 11. The morning of the cruise, we made our way to the dock at around 11:30 am. There we dropped off our luggage with the porters and parked the car. There was a short line at the xray stations, and then a longer line to register and check in. Both lines moved fairly quickly. After checking in, there were boarding pictures and then another long line to the gangway. This line didn't move as fast. By 12:30 we were on the ship. We went down to Riviera deck to drop off our carryon luggage in our room. We were surprised at the size of the room. I was expecting it to be smaller than it was. After we dropped off our things we headed up to the Lido deck to sit and relax for a while. Around 3:00, we went back to our cabin to get our life vests and then went to our station for the muster drill, which wasn't bad at all and was very quick. Then, we took our life jackets back down to the room and our luggage was waiting for us in the hall, so we unpacked. We all headed back up to the Lido deck to watch the ship take off. There was no sail away party or anything, which was kind of disappointing. I don't think most people even noticed when we started moving. The children jumped in the pool and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon swimming and sliding down the waterslide, while my husband and I enjoyed drinks at a table on the deck within view of the pool.
Dining: We ate the buffet on the Lido deck every day for breakfast and lunch. The food was average buffet quality, but we enjoyed the atmosphere on the Lido deck, and the bar stewards constantly came around to take your drink orders. Also, the buffet was convenient with the kids, because they could go and fix their plates any time without us having to all pack up to go and eat. We didn't have to make them get out of the pool to eat, and everyone could go grab some food whenever they got hungry. For dinner, we all ate at the formal dining room every night. The service there was wonderful, and the food was absolutely the best we have ever had. Even the kids didn't want to miss dinner in the dining room!
Entertainment: We went to two shows. The first one was a comedian, and it was pretty funny. The kids enjoyed it as well. The second show was a magician followed by another comedian. The comedian was okay, and we were really impressed with the magician. Only my husband and I attended the second one, but it would have been fine for the kids as well. We didn't go to any of the adults only comedy shows. The games on the Lido deck every day were also very entertaining. It's funny what some people would do for a ship on a stick! We also enjoyed the Newlywed game. My husband and I played in the casino a little. We only lost $100.00, so we did pretty good for the amount of time we played.
Camp Carnival: The kids were not very interested in going to Camp Carnival. Finally, on the third night of our cruise, I made them go. We left them there for a couple of hours, and when we went to pick them up, they didn't want to leave. They went the next night after dinner as well. The only complaint I had was that the activities scheduled never took place. I guess it was because there were not that many kids on board, but I was disappointed that the late night parties and scheduled games were cancelled. The kids still enjoyed going, so it was not too big a deal.
Ports of Call: Costa Maya: We chose to visit the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, and it was very interesting. The bus ride was comfortable and we got to see the homes and the school. It must be a very poor area, because the homes were shabby and run down. The ruins tour was fun and the ruins are beautiful. We were very happy with the tour, but I think once you've seen them there is really no need to go again. Next time in Costa Maya I would like to go to the beach in Majahaul. Cozumel: This was the best day of the whole trip. We took a taxi to Paradise Beach. It was the best. We bought the arm bands for the kids, and they kept themselves busy climbing the iceberg and playing on the water trampolines. My husband and I both enjoyed one hour massages in tents on the beach. It was great! The waiters brought a steady supply of drinks to us on the lounge chairs, and when we ordered lunch, the food was delicious. The water was a nice temperature, and the weather was great. Also, the beach and the water was very beautiful. I wish I were still there!
Debarkation: We packed our luggage and left it out in the hall the night before, as instructed. That morning, we packed the rest of our things in our carryons and waited in our cabin until around 8:00 am. Then, we headed up to the Lido deck to wait for our call. The lines were not too bad, but gathering our luggage was a mess. It was all mixed up and we had to search the whole area for our bags. Also, there was a lot of chaos with so many people. After we found all of our bags, the rest of the process was a breeze. The long line moved very quickly, and we were in the car and on our way home by 9:30 am.
As a whole, we had an absolute blast on our first cruise. We decided before we even got off the ship that we will cruise again at the end of summer - maybe without the kids this time! I think from now on, cruising is the way we will go. Now, I'm off to plan our next cruise...