Well, let me start by stating that this was our first cruise. My parents have been encouraging to take a cruise vacation for years, particularly, they insisted, because we have young children. There was no shortage of activities and entertainment.
Now, we take vacations about twice a year (once with the children, then my husband and I each take a "girls only" or "boys only" mini-getaway). These vacations have always been land vacations, but I think my husband and I would definitely consider cruising again in the future.
The overall experience was excellent. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay and the room in that hotel (adequate), was almost the same size as our cabin on the ship...I guess it was preparing us (remember there were five of us in one room!) for tighter quarters! Now, we had a balcony in our cabin (deck 9), and I would recommend that anyone with young children who nap in the afternoon, get a cabin with a balcony. While the children napped (which was every day because they were exhausted from all the kids' activities), we could enjoy a snack and a glass of wine on the balcony and enjoy the breeze and the view (the balcony is glass so even when sitting, you can enjoy the view).
Now, in terms of the main dining room, the service was absolutely excellent. Our waiter, Nikolai, could NOT have performed any better. The family we met at our table cruise every year and even they insisted that he was the best waiter they'd ever had! The food was very good (not the best I've ever had, but hey, I knew that this was not a gourmet restaurant). But with the service of the wait staff, our overall dining room experience was excellent.
The kid's club was impressive. We have 3 kids aged 4, 6, 8 and before the cruise we had hoped to take advantage of an hour here and there without the kids....well, we had to force the kids OUT of the kid's club....they LOVED it. We have used kids' clubs at various Caribbean resorts, and this club tops them all. My husband and I even had dinner by ourselves twice! What a wonderful break.
The shore excursions we found to be expensive so we ventured off on our own. We did Coral World in St. Thomas. The cruise wanted $64 per person. We took a cab (for $8/adult and $5/child) plus the cab driver gave us a coupon for Coral World and we paid $15 admission to Coral World. So we paid $23/adult. Plus, you have in-out privileges and Coki beach is right next door to Coral World, so we went back-forth. The kids loved this excursion because they could see and touch sea-life, like starfish, sharks, etc. NOTE: bring sanitizer to the beach -- no soap in the beach washrooms, although there was some in Coral World washrooms.
The entertainment was well, entertaining! We enjoyed everything about our cruise. If I had the chance to change anything about the experience, it would be to take a 10-day cruise.
I think that Royal Caribbean does a nice job of catering to families with children (although we were definitely a lot younger than most other passengers). And all of the other passengers on the cruise were very friendly, and loved chatting with our girls!
See ya on a future cruise!