First, we stayed at the Sharaton Hotel because my husband gets a a nice discount for Starwood hotels. Overall, the Sheraton was nice, this was our first time staying at this hotel, but be aware that parking is not free and unless you want to park in a public area for $16, then you are forced to valet for over $30. We are originally from New Orleans until the hurricane so we know all the decent places to eat and not fall into the tourist trap of the French Quarter. We left for the pier at 11am and was greeted with a pleasant worker to take our bags, the was a smooth transaction even though we did not have our luggage tags on yet, the guy didn't even act like it bothered him. The longest line was waiting to get into the parking garage because everyone had to wait for the trolley to pass. Other than that, it was smooth sailing. We were on the ship by 12:30 enjoying lunch and the complimentary wine! This ship was decorated for Christmas, as we expected since we would be cruising on Christmas day.
The first two days were Fun Sea days, where we enjoyed doing various activities after waking up around 11am. We hardly ever get to sleep that late and so we didn't bring our kids we took advantage, plus partied most nights so we needed the sleep! We did go to an Art show to enjoy complimentary wine, receive free art, and hopefully win some art (we did not win). Although we liked it and saw some interesting pieces, the art show was over 3 hours! Just way to long for our attention span. lol During these fun days we also went to a "class" on how to pick the best tequila since we were stopping in Cozumel and the worker also described the difference between the aged look and how its brewed. Very interesting! We also played some onboard trivia games, they were extremely hard and alot of the questions were geared towards the older generation, like 50's and 60's, not saying that's old, just older than us.
Our cabin steward was phenomenal! He always greeted us by name and our room seemed to be cleaned every time we went in there. Every crew member we encountered was pleasant and never once saw a rude worker, even though they spend so much time on these ships away from their family. It was interesting to get to know some of them since they were from other countries.
We ate dinner every night in the dining area, the food was great. Service was ok, our waitress was fairly new and sometimes messed up orders and her helper hardley ever helped her so I kinda blame him, he should have been helping. We lucked out and got a small seating with only one other couple who ended up being veteran cruisers, they taught us some of the ropes and we ended up hanging out with them for the rest of the week.
Oh yeah, as far as kids on the ship, there were plenty, for the most part we didn't notice and people seem to keep their children in check; however, there is always the occasional few pre-teens or teenagers who were unattended and acting like idiots. I ended up yelling at a few for knocking on peoples doors and running.