Our dream was to take our four children on a cruise since my husband have cruised before just he two of us and loved it. We chose Royal Caribbean because we took Carnival cruises before and it had a lot of young partiers we didn't want our children around.
Royal Caribbean was wonderful from the security check point till the time we returned home. Our children want to live on the ship!
It was a wonderful experience for our children but it kept us parents so busy trying to take our kids here and there that we got no relaxation at all. If you want to relax with hubby, forget it unless you want to pay more money to leave your kids all day with the kids program.
Typical day looked like this. Up and early to eat breakfast by 8pm. Kids programs opened at 9am and had to be picked up at 11 or 12 depending on the day. Lunch with the kids until they could be dropped off back at 2 pm. You could pay the money to keep them for lunch but being a large family on a budget, not possible. Pick kids up at 5pm to get ready for dinner at 6 pm (0ur dinner time choice). You could choose for the kids to be picked up at 6:40pm at dinner but the kids were never ready for that. The kids program opened back up at 7 and then you had to pick them up by 10pm or pay $7 an hour per kid till like 1 or 2 am.
Within this time schedule the kids wanted to rock climb, swim, ice skate, attend a show, do putt put, play basketball or ping pong. This was not offered in the kid program as they never left there rooms during the activities.
This type of schedule was quite hectic seeing that the rock climbing and ice skating were only offered at certain times. My husband and I never really got time to ourselves until midnight after the kids were in bed. The reason being is just when we dropped the kids off it seemed like it was time to pick them up again.
Our room was at the other end of the ship with all the activities and dinner. Our floor didn't go all the way through the other end of the ship so we were constantly taking the steps. No need to use the fitness room with all the walking and climbing we did.
Our teenager had a blast making knew friends and roaming the ship with them or hanging out in the teen lounge. She loved it so much she couldn't stop talking about it and wants to go back every month or less.
The food wasn't to die for. We were quite disappointed on the first day but each day the food seemed to get better. By the last night we were wanting more food. On departure morning we went to the dining room for breakfast and it was quite hectic and service wasnt that good. Its understandable when they are trying to get everyone served and out of there quickly. I ordered pancakes that had the edges hard as a rock. I think they were leftovers from the morning before and just reheated.
The staff there was incredible. Every one we came in contact with was just wonderful.
We went to Cozumel and did the snorkel tour and not through the ship which saved us a boat load of money! It was wonderful and safe and fun We took a taxi that only cost 16 bucks per way for all 6 of us. When we got to the pier it had shops and the people were so helpful even when they knew we had already booked with someone else. They went out of their way to point us in the right direction and who we needed to see. They were not pushy either. Of course they wanted you to come into their stores but not as bad as in the bahamas. We did go to a restroom and had to pay 50 cents a person to use. Later we went to a shop that let us use their restroom.
On the tour I got sick because I had not had lunch. They took me to a beach resort and let me go get some food. They went above and beyond for us. Even while in the water our tour guide kept letting us know if we needed anything. They were such servants and we fell in love with the people.
We had no need of eating at the specialty restaurants. My kids loved the buffet and the free frozen yogurt cones on the pool deck. Don't get me wrong, the johnny rockets was calling to me but seeing we had a whole crew, not worth the money. We decided to spend that money with the duty free shopping on the ship and in Cozumel.
Talk about shopping. Barter, barter, barter! My children did it and it impressed the locals. I gave my children $10 each and they knew what they wanted and bartered for the best deals. My 7 year old daughter bought a shirt for $3 because she wanted to buy this fan for $7 at another shop. Once owner told me she was impressed because the children in Mexico grab what they want and their parents get it for them instead of teaching them what we were teaching them. I guess she was listening to us when the kids were saying, I want this but I want this one more over here so maybe we can ask if they will take less so I can get them both and if not I'll have to choose what I really want.
This was a great lesson for the kids and get us great deals and respect because of it.
All in all it was a wonderful vacation and family experience. Just wish we had more time to spend to relax and money to put the kids in the all day program so we weren't running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off!
Royal Caribbean beats Carnival BIG time!!! We will go with Royal Caribbean again but this time if its with the kids it will be longer than a 5 day cruise.