We took our first cruise and my wife and I have five children, ages 2 - 14. We took a plane from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale, which is an adventure in itself! We had no idea what to expect, so we arrived the day before and spend the night. We used JIFFY JEFF for transport from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel the next morning to the Port, and from the Port, to the airport on our last day. They were EXCEPTIONAL. We arrived and went through customer and security. We really didn't know what to expect. I should also mention that we brought portable radios to keep in touch with one another as our older kids (10, 12, and 14) wanted to roam and swim and go their clubs and such. I will say it RAINED every day of our trip. Oh well. LOL.
We got on board around 12pm and sat down in the main dining room for a small embarkation lunch of chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and salad. It was a very disorganized - people just sit wherever, and I had to ask 5 different staff to find silverware and cups. We checked into our balcony rooms (we have to get two because of our family size). The rooms were great. The housekeepers the whole week were awesome. No complaints. Very nice for what we expected. A little cramped, but trust me, you're not really spending anytime in the rooms. Once we unpacked, I was actually hungry again, so we started exploring the ship together and found Guy's Burger joint, which was AWESOME.
One of the first things we tried to do was get the little ones (2 and 3 year old) into their "club" on the 12th floor. There is only one elevator line that goes up there at the front of the ship, so it's a little hard to find and we hiked the stairs up the by the pool on the Lido deck to get there. The line was over TWO HOURS LONG to register the kids, even though we did pre registration. We had a reservation at the 555 Steakhouse that evening, but it was way too fancy for our little ones - but it was AMAZING - BOOK THE STEAKHOUSE - worth it.