Completely relaxing, luxurious, even! My husband and I took our teens (17 & 19) and their two friends (same ages) and had a relaxing, carefree vacation that we can't wait to repeat! Two paragraphs follow that you may want to skip... the rest is about the excursions, etc.
This boat is the PERFECT vacation for families with older teens! We simply told them they had to have dinner with us, otherwise, they were free to do as they pleased.
NOT SUCH A GREAT IDEA FOR TWEENS, HOWEVER!!!!
Ship personnel is screened for criminal history convicted sex offenders are not hired, obviously.
GUESTS ARE NOT SCREENED. If you can pay for the cruise, you can go on the cruise whether you've been convicted of child molestation or not. Too many parents of tweens (ages 9-12) treated the boat as if it was grandma's house, and it was perfectly safe for their children to dash down corridors of the 1000+ rooms unsupervised. Frankly, this just isn't safe. These kids could have been pulled into a cabin and assaulted before the parents even realized the child had been gone for too long. There is a big difference between, say, ages 9-12 and ages 17-10. As in, at least these older teens are adult-sized and therefore a tad less vulnerable. Even so, we had our girls stick to the buddy system. The younger ones are at serious risk simply because the parents won't require the kids to particpate in the ship's provided, supervised activities and allow them to run unsupervised throughout the ship.
These unsupervised children WERE annoying (and some apparently were even drunk...yes, 10 year olds) but the safety factor is a HUGE concern. Some of the children complied when asked to be quiet by other guests, other kids challenged them with "You can't make me." These children tied up the elevators, bumped into other passengers, and generally behaved like children whose parents can't be inconvenienced enough to make them mind.
I highly recommend parents put their kids in the supervised programs, and for older teens have them stick to the buddy system for safety's sake.
Whew. Got that off my chest.
That said our family & guests LOVED this vacation!
The older ones tried their hands at the casino... I laughed that on the second night, when the boys each won more than they'd brought, they jumped up from the tables and declared they were done!!!
The 17 year olds enjoyed the special spa session just for them (only $50) and loved that they got a gift toward the end of the cruise just for attending that night.
On shore: Jamaica bought wristbands for HotSpot buses, which we took to Margaritaville first. (The bus driver implied we had to get off at each stop and wait for the next bus, which was weird and not true.) BUT The teens loved Margaritaville's water trampoline & water slide. We also loved the beach again, the driver was a little weird in that he didn't take us to the designated beach, but one closer in, which was clearly marked $3 per person, although since we'd asked if it was $5, he charged us five. When questioned, he said that the sign was only intended for locals. Ummm. Ok. Water was great!
Grand Cayman WOW!!! We shopped for an hour or so (didn't even go into Diamonds International, Trip Advisor had too many poor reviews) then went on the Kelly Tour of Turtle farm, Hell and Stingray city. The turtle farm was cool the kids LOVED holding the turtles!!! Hell was a waste of time, but Kelly's bus driver had let us know that if we didn't linger in hell, he'd take us briefly to a beach. Which he did. Anyone who gets Kurt for a driver gets a wonderful time!!! The small stretch of beach was gorgeous, although we only had time to stay for about 5-10 mins. Off to the Stingray sandbar. WOW.Definitely one of the highlights of the trip, even if no stingrays had been there. Loved being on a sandbar, miles from the land, able to stand in shallow-ish water and enjoy it!!! Line to get back onto the ship was long-ish, but we were relaxed and happy.
Cozumel ok, the shipboard Shopper (Moria???) was a big help here. When we told her we needed directions to a small restaurant we'd been to before (it had a small beach entrance where we could snorkel) she gave us great directions. But she ALSO told us about a tiny beach that was rarely used, between the port and downtown. After shopping and eating, we spent the day there, snorkeling. AHHHHH!!! For this alone, we're booking another cruise in February!!!!
Formal evenings these were "dress up" nights, and our teens willingly complied. Honestly, they wore suits & dresses, but not formals or semi formals. They fit right in I didn't see very many formals, at all.
Pictures these were my big expenditure. I bought lots of formally posed pictures as well as quite a few taken in the dining room.
Spa DEFINITELY go to the first day's spa drawing. You spend about 30 mins listening to their pitch, but you can then book a deal that is PHENOMENAL!!! I got a milk wrap, a ginger lime scrub AND a full body massage for something like #130!!!!! WOW!!! Of course, I then spent about $100 in product and $25 in tip. BUT the price of the treatments was an incredible deal.
Hottubs while they weren't very hot, they were sometimes empty! Which was nice.
Dining room I loved their flexibility. First of all, there were always vegetarian options and since two of our party are vegetarians, this was convenient. BUT even better they didn't bat an eye if you ordered three individual appetizers, and no entree. Since the appetizers were much lighter, this is a nice option. Food was excellent, warm chocolate melting cake is available from the dining room hostess.
On Ship Stores I thought the fine jewelry was seriously SERIOUSLY over priced as were the pretzel chips. However, I did find a swimsuit cover up (dress style) that was very reasonable ($20) as well as a few gifts that were likewise well priced.
Service always polite! Although the bar staff didn't know much about the drink mixing contest, it turned out that the event personnel were the ones hosting that. Waiters were fun and polite. Room stewards were a luxury I still miss!!!!
Don't Miss: The piano bar, the marriage game, the debarkation speech!
We had a great time, and while we'll probably book our next big vacation at a resort in Cozumel, we'll definitely plan several 5 day getaways with this cruise line again!!!