I went into the cruise with an open mind being a newbie but it did not take long to develop an opinion. Embarkation started with a massive line. It was unseasonably cold and I recognize not under anyone's control but standing outside freezing with 3 children was not fun. Eventually we made it inside to wait in, you guessed it, another line. Having done all the checkin online prior to arrival, the actual checkin process was easy. Once past that point getting onto the boat was no problem.
Let me get to the positives as I don't want to forget there were some of those. The entertainment was quite good. The skating show in particular was quite good and once you actually skate on the ice you realize the show was incredible (very soft, bumpy ice). The magician was fun for kids, and not bad for the adults. Once upon a time was a fun show, only marred by seniors snapping at us for the fact we dared to bring kids on a cruise.
The food was for the most part very good. We ate at the dining room for 4 meals and at the windjammer/jade for the other 3. The show timing made it very difficult to eat at the dining room. That being said we really enjoyed the variety and quality of the windjammer food for diner. I had one bad steak at the dining room, completely overdone.
Our stateroom attendant did a great job of trying to make a small room livable for the time we were there.
My oldest daughter loved her kids club and always wanted to go back. The middle daughter only wanted to go a few times, not sure if that is a reflection of the program or her personality.
We booked for 5 people and paid an extra $600 for the 5th and thought, wrongly, that they would provide a room with slight extra space, wrong. A very small room, made smaller by having a playpen in it. Just before the cruise we tried to upgrade to a suite but none were available, would have thought though that $600 would get you something.
There were lines for everything. Embarkation, elevators, seating in the windjammer, shows, ice cream, flowrider, rock climbing, minigolf, pizza shop, disembarkation/embarkation for shore excursions. The only thing there was no line for was seating in the dining room. With 3 children of our own and being there with a family that also had 3 kids the lines were unavoidable and maddening.
The casino was very smoky. Probably a good thing as who needs to lose money anyway?
The first port, Cococay, was a complete disappointment. Just a cash grab. The kids club was just a corral with not much apparent programing going on. Jetskis were only for going on group tours where you have to follow and not have fun.
Overall, we were thrilled to get off the boat and go home. If not for the fact we already have another cruise booked I don't think I would have ever cruised again. To be fair why might we have not enjoyed the cruise? We traveled with 3 children 7,4,and 1 years old which make any day challenging let alone one with a room the size of your bathroom at home. It was unseasonably cold, the low for the day we boarded was right at the freezing mark. The ship was sold-out, I think if you took 1000 people less on the trip it would help.
Hope this helps someone out there.