We sailed overnight on the ferry from the Hook of Holland, by Rotterdam, and it was less expensive and stressful than commuting from central Europe by car.
We will definitely cruise again with the kids, because there is so much to do to keep them happy - plus, we can sight see and have fun!The kids area was open 30 minutes before the first shore excursion of the day and closed 30 minutes after the return of the last excursion. We left our younger kids on the ship in 3 ports, because they really enjoyed the kids area and were "bored" with sight seeing(plus the younger ones won't remember much). Our younger kids begged to go back to Ocean Adventure, during dinner every night. This was great for us, because the grown-ups can go have "dates" ;) My middle school daughter did meet a few kids and had fun in the teen zone, but did not feel comfortable there all the time, when the older teenagers were there. She ended up hanging out with friends playing ping pong, etc..., more often than the teen zone.
We had outstanding service. I have read many complaints about the food, and we found there to be a good selection. The dinner menus changed every night in the many dining room, but the breakfast and lunch menus were almost always the same every day. In the Windjammer cafe, there are several items that are similar but they do have a few main dishes that change every day. We found the food to be better in the main dining room for breakfast, and usually dinner. But lunch was better in the Windjammer or Seaview cafes. It is disappointing that there is not as much seafood and no lobster, as compared to our first cruise, 15 years ago. We also do feel the food quality was better on our first cruise. But let me tell you this: I will not complain too much about food, when I don't have to cook, do dishes, or cut up children's food for nearly two weeks! The real world of food is oh so harsh, for a mother with small children!
The one thing I will complain about is the price for spa services. It was not worth the quality of services rendered. I have had much better facials and pedicures for less than what was charged on the ship. The hot stone massage was very nice, but too pricey. It is so nice to be able to go to a spa on a relaxing cruise, but it left you wanting so much more!
We were in a family suite on the 8th floor, front of the ship. It was a long walk from the center of the ship, but worth it for the quietness!
The entertainment was good, but not great. The first comedian was hilarious, but it was downhill after that, as far as comedians go. The Las Vegas Extreme show was amusing.
Bottom line: you can usually get cheaper transportation in every port than what the ship tells you. There seems to be a hop on/off bus or ferry in every city that you can do on your own, but some cities are pricier than others. Pack layered clothes, as you will have some warm/sunny days and some cold/rainy days. Bring a raincoat, even in July and August. I would consider smuggling a suitcase full of bottled water for your port days - water is very expensive! Regardless of what the ship tells you, we found merchants/transportation accepted euros in every port, and sometimes US dollars. Most places will give you back the change you desire, but some will give change back in the kroner equivalent. So, don't worry about getting the local currency in every port. There are many "safe" stores to use credit cards.
We had a wonderful time, overall! The biggest gem for us was meeting our dinner table mates - they were really fun! Our biggest recommendation is to try something new on the ship, whether it be dance lessons or poker lessons, and talk to complete strangers!