This was the first cruise for my whole family (myself, husband, MIL, and 2 children ages 10 and 8). We flew into IAH and took Galveston Shuttle which was a large SUV to the port. It was a nice vehicle but the driver never said a word to us.
Once we arrived it looked confusing and people were everywhere, so we just grabbed our luggage and went to the nearest porter to drop it off. I don't think the people standing around realized you could do it, but I wasn't going to stand around in the heat (we're from Seattle and were already melting!) And even though our check in time was still an hour away, they let us go right in. People were standing around waiting, but if you went up to ask, they let you in. We got checked in fairly quickly. Total time from curb to ship was maybe 30 minutes.
We were very impressed with the ship. It was beautiful. The one thing we also were impressed with is that all the staff were so nice to everyone.
The food was good most of the time. We would have breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer (if not in port) and dinner in the Sapphire main dining room. Loved the chilled soup appetizers for dinner. Our servers for table 615- Rodrigo and Virgel were awesome! They would do brain teasers with the kids and brought them extra food-making sure they didn't go hungry!
We loved playing mini golf, getting some great deals shopping on the last day at sea, and the Ice Dancing show.
Views from the Cosmopolitan Club on deck 14 are spectacular and don't miss going out on the peek-a-boo bridge (out of the Solarium on deck 11) and seeing the "bridge" where they drive the ship!
We had a few complaints. One was the elevators. Too bad they didn't have any mid-ship, especially since my MIL who is 70 had a hard time getting around the ship sometimes. They only have them in forward and aft and there just isn't enough especially after shows, embarkation and around meal times. The elevators are slow and sometimes would just by-pass the floors. They are also hot and stuffy. And not that it's the cruise lines' fault, but some people were just so rude they would shove their way in front of you to get on the elevators before you could get to it (again, trying to get to an elevator with my 70 year old MIL)
The bathrooms on Deck 11 by the restaurants smelled really bad. I don't think they ever changed the diaper pails in the women's restroom. It was bad all week long!
And one thing that really annoyed us was on the last day we ordered room service for breakfast to be delivered between 0630 and 0700 since we had to disembark early for a shore excursion to the Houston Space Center- well at 0645 we get a call from room service saying that they don't deliver room service on the last day. It would of been nice to be told that ahead of time, like when we ordered! Or better yet, we shouldn't of been able to order at all! (We ordered on the tv) So we had to scramble to finish getting ready for the day and get something to eat before getting to our meeting place. Again as a first time cruiser, we didn't know this kind of info!
Although the pools are small it didn't feel too crowded-probably because there wasn't too many kids on the ship, and the weather was quite windy our last two sea days. In fact the pools were closed the last sea day. Which brings me to the entertainment on the ship. We utilized the library. The games were ok and would be better if pieces weren't missing or mixed with other games. Also, young people would come in there and be loud and the tables were always messy. Too bad they don't have a "librarian" to help control some of that.
Other than that I was kinda disappointed because I thought they had jewelry making and cooking classes and scrapbooking classes? I never saw any of that...
As far as the ports go we loved Cozumel- went to Chankanaab for the dolphin encounter. definitely worth the money. We just wish we could of stayed there longer!
Grand Cayman was ok. We didn't have any excursions. We took a taxi to Hell. They let us stay for 20 minutes but with that we barely had time to look at the rock formation, go into 1 of the stores and the post office. There is about 5 stores there and I was disappointed I didn't have time to go to the others. The taxi then took us to 7 Mile Beach. He tried to take us to a beach where we would of had to pay, even after we had agreed on our price and location, so be careful. Once we got to the beach we had a relaxing afternoon swimming and playing.
Falmouth Jamaica was very hot. We also didn't do any excursions there. We walked around the port which was set up nicely. We didn't run into any pushy vendors (they were more pushy in Cozumel) and ended up with a lot of nice souvenirs. The only thing besides the heat I didn't like was Margaritaville- horribly way overpriced!
Overall a wonderful first cruise experience as we didn't let the few bad things ruin all the many great things!
We had an inside stateroom. It was port side aft-far from the elevators, which was the only bad thing about the room. Since we were first time cruisers we didn't know what to expect other than pictures or what people have told us (that they are the size of closets!) Honestly we were impressed with the room. Much bigger than expected and our stewards kept the room cleaned everyday.