This was my second cruise, the first one was for my 1st anniversary 12 years ago, and now this one with my husband and the kids (ages 10 & 8). I was a bit reluctant at first with the thought of being confined to a small space with the kids for a week, boy was I ever wrong!
We arrived in New Orleans a couple days early to have a pre-vacation and see the city which was a great start to the vacation. By far our favorite activity was the WWII museum which is a must-see for anyone in New Orleans. Also a couple trips to Cafe du Monde for beignets, and walks throughout the parks were a lot of fun.
The boarding process in New Orleans went pretty smooth, lots of lines but that was expected. As soon as we got on the ship we headed to the Windjammer for lunch and then spent time exploring around. The kids were especially delighted to see the basketball/soccer court, ping pong tables, billiards, shuffle board and the pools. We spent much time playing ping pong throughout the week.
The biggest surprise to my husband and I was the Ocean Adventure kids program, it was excellent!! On the first day at sea we signed the kids up for the program, and enabled them to be self-signers so that they could come and go without my husband and I needing to be there. We dropped them off for the morning session on day 2 and weren't too sure how they'd like it. We came back a few hours later before the morning session was set to end and the first response was "Why are you here? We want to stay!" The Ocean Adventure staff was great, they were so good with the kids and had new activities and fun games for them everyday. They even had late night sessions from 10:00PM-2:00AM for gagaball tournaments, etc. (my kids loved this!). They went to the late night sessions until 11 or 12 almost every night. The last night sessions cost an additional $7/hour per child, but well worth the money to get some quality adult time to enjoy our wine and drinks. Our cruise was during Spring Break so there were lots of other kids to play with, both my kids had lots of playmates and made lots of new friends.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 10, the couch folded out into a bed for the kids to sleep on at night. It was a bit cramped at night once the bed was put out, but we were able to manage. Having the balcony was great and added a nice bit of extra living space. We had no problem storing our clothes and belongings in the room, plenty of closet and drawer space. We did take advantage of the $30/bag laundry special on day 4(?), which got us through the week.
We were scheduled for 8:00 seating in the main dining room, and had a 10 seater table to ourselves. It was actually quite nice to be able to dine alone and not have forced conversations with others. We thoroughly enjoyed the wait staff and the food. The portions can be quite small, but we regularly ordered multiple appetizers and desserts.
The afternoon and late night dining options are very limited. I was disappointed in the lack of selection and the limited hours. As part of the free beverages they had flavored water which was very tasty (and a good rum mixer), but it is only served during the Park Cafe hours, and even then they would run out at times. I started getting extras during the day and storing them in the cabin for later. I did pack my own reusable water bottle for my time on the cruise, this worked out perfectly. I just wish I had brought more than one. My kids both had the soda drink package which was a complete waste, I think they only had one or two sodas the entire cruise. They had the free juice or water most of the time. To get the soda you have to go to a bar to get it, it is not self serve. My husband and I would get a bottle of wine for dinner and that worked out well, and much less expensive then the daily drink package.
The pool areas were always very crowded, but it didn't spoil any of our fun.
Now for the ports of call:
Key West - This was a nice stop, it's great that it's still US so do you feel safer. We walked to the Butterfly Museum which was a fun place and very cool to see the butterflies and flamingos. The flamingos were in mating season and we got to see the full mating call and dance, pretty neat. We then went to the Hemingway House, which was very cool and filled with lots of interesting history. Then the kids were begging to get back to the ship for the kids club, so we dropped them off and then my husband and I headed back to Sloppy Joe's bar for a few afternoon drinks, good times!
Nassau, Bahamas - I was less-impressed with this stop. We walked to Fort Charlotte, which was a long walk and a bit tiring for the kids. Fort Charlotte is interesting and only $1 entrance fee, so definitely worth a visit. We then went to the Pirates Museum, which was a interesting, but a bit touristy and overpriced, but still worth the visit. On the way back to the ship we ran across a Greek restaurant (Athena cafe) and stopped in for some Sky juice and appetizers, this was one of the best meals on our vacation, absolutely delicious!
Coco Cay - This was our favorite stop. The island is beautiful and the water crystal blue. The kids and I did the ocean play activities, this was so much fun! The kids had the all-day water slide pass, which they loved. We definitely good our money's worth. It was nice that the food was all inclusive and no need to buy or bring anything along.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 10 #1574, the couch folded out into a bed for the kids to sleep on at night. It was a bit cramped at night once the bed was put out, but we were able to manage. Having the balcony was great and added a nice bit of extra living space. We had no problem storing our clothes and belongings in the room, plenty of closet and drawer space.
You get an hour time slot to play on the inflatables in the ocean. The water is deep, so everyone is required to wear a life vest.
So much fun for both kids and adults! The equipment was showing it's age in some areas, but other than that it was great.View All 56 Aqua Park Reviews