This was our first cruise. We have 4 kids S 15 yrs S 12yrs S 10 and D 5. Getting on and off the ship was quick. We had 2 junior suites connected. 6000 and 6002 deck 10. This was a perfect amount of room with spacious decks and views. Walk in closest and plenty of storage. I felt it was quiet every night except the night they had an evening deck party. I don't remember it being loud late into the night, I was still able to sleep through it. I thought the beds were very comfortable. Our state room attendant was pleasant however I didn't see her often. My room was cleaned nicely twice a day with a turn down of your bed at night.
The windjammer had pretty good food and variety and quite crowded at times. We did diner each and every night with our entire family. For us it was just good quality family time. Our head waiter and asst. waiter were very kind and warm. For us it was kinda sad to leave on the last day. I did find the food to be "good" but I am not going to say it was the best I have had. There's so many people with so many meals. I thought they did a great job with the service and how quick they brought stuff out.
My older son had a friend from home the same age. They ventured out each night after diner, they had a 1:00 curfew to meet each night. He rarely goes out, super responsible so I didn't have an issue with it at all. The two middle ones enjoyed the arcade, I had to limit the $$ on there sea pass cards. Sea pass cards required for everything. As for my 5 yr old. In all the years and trip we took the boys just were never interested in kids clubs or activities at the facilities. We never pushed it and usually wanted to spend our time with them anyway. However my daughter thoroughly enjoyed the "aquanauts" kids area, especially for ages 3-5. She was in a talent show and a pirate parade on the promenade, lots of smiles and parents with cameras.
Ship Photos were expensive. This info. is strictly about the photos if your interested. If you want to go all out and haven't had family photos in awhile I would go for $400 package and take any and every picture they offer, you can even do casual setting during the informal nights at your leisure. It sounds expensive but if you did this at a local photographer to me the price isn't that much different for what you get. You will however have to have photos made, but I believe they give you all photos they had taken. Again this is just a suggestion if a family is interested in family photographs. I am sharing this because this is one thing I would have done different. Honestly you wouldn't be disappointed if your looking for great family photos. When I first seen the offer I said NO WAY, but again if I could do one thing over I would change that. You are not committed by any means, I would still take lots of pictures and see what you want to do in the end.
We did NOT plan any excursions. I wanted to go into this with an open mind and see how things would run before I started ringing charges I would regret. I heard great things about Dunn Falls and that was one I was really interested in. However I found out it was a rather long drive there and back and with the 4 kids I don't think it was for us. Our first stop Haiti, beautiful beaches, but water shoes are a must. Even in the sandy areas there were little sharp sea urchin things that if you stepped on, your foot would be filled with little things that resembled little slivers. The 2 kids used there aqua park at $15 each and gives you 50min. use. But overall a great little place. Shopping is minimal and like you have read, very pushy. I enjoyed our day there.
Next stop Jamaica, great little shops and fun area. Again we just stayed local. Super happy as we had an up and close view of the arrival of Prince Harry, a true highlight of the trip. I read another similar review, his car stopped right in front of us and he was within arms reach. Enjoyed the shopping.
Grand Cayman, we jumped a shuttle to the 7 mile beach. This I wasn't overly thrilled with. Our trip over was short and sweet and about $40 round trip for all of us. Then there was a $2 fee to get into the designated area to use there facility. They said there are chairs, showers, a pool. Perfect for us since one of our kids prefer a pool over the beach. We got there to find each chair you wanted was $10, showers were available to wash off outside. The pool was for adults only. Big disappointment. However the beach was a bit crowded it was absolutely beautiful and we enjoying a couple hours in the plush soft sand and blue water.
Cozumel I am glad we didn't plan anything excursion on this day especially. We took a cab for a short ride to Chankanaab Park. $20 for adults and about $14 per kid. We also had a family that took the same cruise from our home town and we hooked up with them there. The day was great, chairs available but we were there at about 11 am. You have waiters that would bring food and drinks. Our friends brought snorkel equip. and everyone enjoyed the snorkeling. We didn't do anything with the dolphins or pool area. The area wasn't a smooth beach but the snorkeling was very fun. And they had a great game of volleyball going.
There were quite a bit of extra expenses so we really watched that. I had a hard time paying for extra things that weren't needed since you paid for so much already. Any extra was basically an upgrade. Cocktails, extra dining at other places etc. We went to the ice show and magic show that we all enjoyed. But crowded even with reservations.
I personally loved it and hope we can do it again.