My family and I just returned from our first cruise. The kids are 7 and 9. I was both impressed and under impressed. First, the service by the staff is excellent. This we the first time in my life that I haven't had to clean up dishes as they clean up so leaving dishes anywhere is okay. The dining room staff was wonderful as was our room steward. We all truly had the best vacation so far.
Just a few things I wasn't impressed by. The smoking seemed to be everywhere. As a child that lost both parents from issues that arose from their smoking, I despise being around it, and certainly don't want my kids around smoking. The areas on the deck near the pool always had smokers. We couldn't breathe when walking by. I was shocked that they allowed smoking on the floor of the lounge and casino. We walked through there to the comedy shows and again, the smoky smell inside was terrible. I'd love to be on a cruise with no smoking around.
Another negative, the pool was very small. I didn't check out the ship we'd be on but after investigating a week before we were leaving, I hated to see that newer ships had waterparks which my kids would've loved.
The food was good, we are way too much. The food inside the Paris restaurant was very mediocre though. They had a chocolate bar with cake and brownies that were disgusting and the lunch buffet in front of the Paris restaurant wasn't good. My husband said the shrimp had no taste and pork chops were over-cooked. The deli told my guard he couldn't have ham and turkey on the same sandwich, only the options offered could be picked, which I found odd, especially after waiting in the line. We had a hard time all having lunch together because of the lines outside and inside. The dining room food was enjoyed by all of us, no complaints. We chose the your time dining and only waited once for 5 minutes.
I think over all the biggest disappointment was not having amenities of newer ships. RC's newer ships have a rock climbing wall, surfing area, and huge pools. Having seen those commercials for years and going on my first cruise at 30, I expected all of those things, and was underwhelmed at the options on the Paradise. I can only handle sitting at the pool for 2-3 hours and got bored on sea days. We also sat for 3.5 hours to disembark. If you've ever sat at the same table with kids complaining for 3.5 hours, you'd know it's torturous. The comedy club was great, both the family shows and adult shows.