Embarkation: Arrived at 1230pretty easy. I wouldn't go much earlier than this because of the mess of people getting off the boats. Buffet and pool area is open. You can also go to your roombut there is no luggage for awhile. Especially if you have kids-have them wear their suits, get chairs and drinks and hang out by the pool upon embarking. Grab a table and eat out there as well. Sail away party is worth watching!
At Sea Days: If you have kids, you are probably stuck by the pool. If you can, go to upper levelsplenty of quiet places to lay in the sun. Pool area is pretty noisy of course. Our group liked to grab a few chairs, as well as a table nearby so we could have food, shade and sun. No need to get up early...just be patient and chairs open up. Kids loved the pools, couldn't keep them out of them. We had planned on the Kids Club for our 6, 8,9 and 10 year olds. However, it was not a good experience none of them wanted to return. They did meet a couple of friends and met up with those kids at various times. Despite the reviews, I had planned on making Kids Club work-my kids and there cousins are not "difficult," but the 7-12 program was really lacking. Plus, I noticed that these kids that were in Kids Club were often running around the ship unsupervised asking strangers questions to fill out a game sheet. Sooo- what's the point?? We quickly got over the Kids Club disappointment and our kids swam, played tennis, ping-pong, mini-golf, arcade and relaxed. At night, our kids gathered in one room and either watched a movie or played the xbox that we brought. I think that the 3-6 year old program was better for the preschool kids. Not sure about the adult activities, as we were not interested in most of it-but it seemed like there was stuff to do if you wanted to do it. We did participate a little bit in the "Baseball Greats" stuff.
Cayo: Loved this beach! Got the girls hair braided, rented sea kayak (only $15 for 2 hours!) and found a quiet spot just below the grassy area. My husband and 13 year old parasailed and loved it. Shop here-it is better than the other ports in my opinion. Chairs are free and a worker will get them for you if you ask.
St. Maartin: Clean port. We just walked around and shopped. Then we got some chairs and an umbrella and played on the beach. Water taxi is $6 round tripor you can walk. This beach has TONS of sea shells.
Antigua: We did the Pirate Ship excursion. Very fun! Open bar (free), rope swing, plank, snorkel, dancing, beach time and swimming. We had just enough time for this excursion and then had to be back on the boat. This port time was really short.
Nassau: You must have an excursion at this port! We snorkeled. Nassau is dirty, crowded and NOT the place just to walk around. Snorkeling was OK, the water was real choppy.
Dining and Shows: We had 2nd seating with a show before dinner. All the shows were very good of course everyone will prefer some over others. Good variety-don't miss the orchestra night. Dinner does take a couple of hours. We didn't minddinner was more of an event for us. The kids were finealthough they skipped a couple of times but they generally preferred to be in the dining room. We had fun with the head waiter- Sergiohe is entertaining and very good. We also purchased the wine package. Food was generally very good. Order italian as much as possible. Ordering American food on this cruise is a bit like getting a hamburger at a mexican food place-it can be good, but you take your chances.... Embrace European dining you can have cheese for breakfast and dessert! Buffets were fine. Pizza was really good it is served from 5pm-9pm.
Other: Spa is really nice! Steam rooms, workout room and sauna are free and should be taken advantage of. Alcohol is reasonably priced. Order wine package in dining room and take wine back to your room. You can get beer buckets for $10 or $12. Teen Disco is iffy. My 13 year old went, but we supervised a few times or only let her stay for an hour or so. If your teen is likely to "test boundaries," they will get in trouble here. Magnifico Buffet on Thursday night is amazing! If I would have know, I would have had this be my dinner. Each night there were midnight offerings of some sort. Shaker Lounge is where most of the night life is-as well as the casino.
Service is good-but not pushy! This is a laid back cruise. If you need something, you will need to ask. The staff is not intending on being a constant source of entertainment. There are only morning and evening announcements. Read your daily and spend your cruise how you prefer.....I found it to be different than Carnival both are good-just different from one another.