We flew in to Houston from Colorado and had transfers with Galveston Limo Service to Galveston. They recommended a 15% tip which is high. We arrived around 2pm and it took us less than 1 hour to go through the embarkation process which is much better than expected.
Because the crew is international, we did have difficulty understanding some of the staff members. Our waiter and steward were excellent, and we were lucky to get them. We tipped them extra for their great service and because they were truly nice people. The rest of the staff wasn't as friendly as I thought they would be. The food in the Monet Dining Room was excellent, and we all had the opportunity to eat foods we normally wouldn't eat. Our sons loved having as many entrees and desserts as they wanted! We enjoyed the nightly entertainment in the lounge which included a juggling act and a ventriloquist. We listened to karaoke a couple of nights. We quickly found out the same people liked to be picked from the audience for various activities, and we did get bored seeing the same guests on stage. Lines were never long for the buffets although our ship was full. Ralph Valente the cruise director is very funny and entertaining.
We took our two teenaged sons, 16 and 13 and they were bored. Granted they weren't feeling well because they had colds, but we thought they would love the social activities. First day at sea, we were little restless but gradually learned to relax and kick back with some drinks. We had great weather throughout the trip. We did the Canopy Tour in Jamaica with the ziplines, and that was fun. We loved Grand Cayman and rode the Allura Catamaran to the sandbars to swim with the Stingrays. That was the highlight of our trip. In Cozumel, we didn't book an excursion and based on reviews on this site, went to Paradise Beach which is "free" with the beach chairs and umbrella. Drinks and food were expected to be ordered and that was an easy task. It cost $10 for all day water activities and our sons snorkeled, kayaked and played on the water trampolines. Parasailing was extra and the kids thought it was boring. It cost $90 for both which is cheaper than any excursion offered.
Getting off the ship was confusing. People with early flights were to be in the lounge by 6:45 and of course anyone wanting to leave early including the people who drove showed up causing a massive traffic jam. It only took us 1/2 hour to get off the ship which surprised us. We were in the Houston airport by 9am and our flight didn't leave until 2pm. Next time, we will sleep in a little and have a leisurely breakfast. We took our own bags down without any problems.
It was a great experience and we had a lot of fun. We probably won't cruise anytime soon because it is expensive, and we won't take the kids next time.