This was a great family vacation!! We travelled with a 3 and 5 year old.
We boarded the ship around 2 pm and had plenty of time to explore the ship. It took us maybe 30 minutes to get in and to the room. It is beautiful with a ton to do.
Our room ended up being outstanding. It was a junior suite (handicap room which we didn't need) that was 1 floor down from the Windjammer and kids pool and 2 floors down from the ocean adventure kids club. We used the stairs all the time the elevators can be slow.
This was our first cruise so we didn't know what to expect. I would strongly recommend this cruise to other families with young children at least 3 and potty trained. We spent the days with the kids playing miniature golf, ice skating, swimming, playing bingo, then the kids went to the Ocean adventure kids club for the evening (7-9 or 10) while my husband and I enjoyed some time to ourselves. You could have more time to yourself, but this was a family vacation so we wanted to have fun with the kids. Here is a summary of the ship and activities loved ice skating. There were several times to skate and we went everyday we could. It never seemed too crowded. loved miniature golf the course isn't anything special, but my son loves to play so we played at least once a day and it was open at all hours and we never had to wait. loved bingo but it was a bit pricey.
loved the kids pool area. My kids had a blast in the different pools in that area and the fountains. We didn't even go to any other pool area. The only negative is the lack of chairs. I just needed a place to put my stuff since I was in the pool with the kids and had a hard time finding 1 chair. I wish they had cubbies or someplace to just set our stuff.
Dining. Believe it or not we did not go to our assigned dining once. We ate at the Windjammer or Johnny Rockets or Sorrento's. The kids wouldn't want to sit there for over an hour and we didn't want to make them. We sat in the same area in the Windjammer all the time so we got to know the staff there and they were great. We always found something good to eat and it was quick and casual for the kids. They had great sushi every night which I love so I was happy. My husband and I did eat at Chops twice. It is excellent. If you like chocolate you have to get the chocolate mud pie best I've ever had!!!!
Shows the ice show was the best of the shows. We got there a little late and even though we had tickets could not find a seat so we had to stand but it was really good. The Musical I can't remember the name was good. the kids liked it because it had snow white, hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstock. the singing and dancing was so so. The comedian Johnny B was great. I think he was a guest performer, but he was very funny. We didn't go to the other shows.
Casino it was okay, but my husband and i go to Vegas every year and you just can't compare the 2. But it was nice and the dealers were very nice.
ocean Adventure the kids loved it. Never once said they didn't want to go. The employees were wonderful. I felt very comfortable leaving them there. They had electronic wrist bands put on as they entered, no one was allowed in the room except the employees and the kids and there was plenty of great activities planned. Every night had a different theme with crafts, songs, books and fun games. all the children seemed very well mannered when we dropped off or picked up and the kids met some friends that they played with at the pool or ice skating at other times. The Arcade is very nice also, but my son always wanted to go there and it cost a lot for each game. You may want to try to avoid that area until the last few days. There are so many free fun things to do that I didn't like spending money on video games.
Ports we learned you don't pick a cruise by the ports. We shopped a bit in St. Maarten and then went to the closest beach right by the port. It was okay, but you don't really experience St. Maarten. We missed San Juan because of a hurricane. I really wanted to go there since I teach Spanish but I'm sure it is the same shops and beach. labadee was the best. We went to the Aquapark in the morning and my 5 year old loved it but the 3 year old was a little too young. Then we spent the afternoon at the Ocean Adventure area (something splash pool)which the kids loved. We wish we knew that they could have gone there in the morning and my husband and I could go on a Excursion or something. We didn't sign up for anything thinking we didn't want the kids to miss the beach. They would have had a blast there all day.
that leads to my last comment. Since it was our first cruise we didn't know much. You get the schedule for the next day usually after dinner the night before. If you are trying to plan a night to go to Chops or to hire a babysitter for in the room it is hard to plan ahead of time since you don't know what the schedule will be. We didn't know the hours for the kids activities until we got on the ship. We may schedule the later dinner seating next time since the kids area opens at 7:00 and they can eat earlier and my husband and I can go to the sit down dinner if we want. Or we can go to the early show as a family. it was just hard to try to reserve anything when you didn't know what was offered until last minute.
In the end, we will definitely go on another cruise and will probably choose royal Caribbean again.