Day 1

Security was chaotic but we managed to get through pretty quickly. Something to note if you have a child in a different room, (our daughter was booked in my brothers room) the adults of that room have to be checked in first before you can proceed. We had to wait a few extra minutes because, although my daughter was with us, we couldn’t get her sea pass card because my brother was behind us in line.

Each person gets a Seapass card. Seapass cards are your room key cards and ID cards. You’ll scan them each time you leave the ship and each time you get back on. You’ll also scan them if you order something that’s not included in your price ie: alcoholic drinks etc. Very helpful to have these on a lanyard which is not provided.

After getting on the ship the main promenade was crowded but they had restaurants open to get food for everybody. Sorrento’s is a pizza place open for lunch until 2:00 am and was delicious! Sometimes there was a line but it went pretty quickly. Shortly after getting onto the ship I went up to deck 14 to register our kids in the Adventure Ocean which is the child watch. It was very straight forward and rather quick. We were glad to get it done at the beginning.

Rooms were open at 1 o’clock so we took a nap and let the kids watch TV. The rooms had fairly decent storage for their size. Per others recommendations we brought an over the door shoe holder to hold random items : shoes, sunscreen, hair products etc. Also, because all of the walls of the cabins are metal we brought heavy duty metal hooks. They were so helpful to hang up sweaters, swimsuits, and sea pass cards.
Everyone is required to go to a Muster at 4:00 to watch a short emergency video. Following the Muster, everybody went up on the deck to watch the ship push off. After that our bags were in our room so we unpacked before dinner.

We were disappointed because all of our tables for the family were not together so we were all scattered around the different decks and dining rooms. Dinner in the dining hall is delicious. It was a 3 course meal consisting of a starter, entree and dessert. You could pick one of each or multiple if you couldn’t decide. Our desserts took a very long time to come out and tables around us had already eaten and left. We were told they were short staffed due to the holiday season.

After dinner we took the kids to adventure ocean. For 3 year olds they give you a phone so they’re able to contact you if needed. They had fun games and activities planned for the kids. We walked around and explored the ship until it was time to pick them up then we went to bed. The sofa couch was already turned out when we arrived.

Day 2- At Sea

I got up a 6 and went to the gym. It wasn’t very crowded but parts of it did smell like smoke. They had a good selection of cardio and weight machines but the free weight area was pretty small. They had a few cable machines, a smith machine and dumbells. We went to breakfast at the windjammer at 8:30 and got right in but we couldn’t find a table for everyone together. By 9:00 people were having to wait to get in to eat. The food was fine, there were plenty of options.
After breakfast we went swimming. It was so windy it made it almost too chilly to swim. The hot tubs were VERY full, but they are large and there were several of them so it wasn’t too bad..
We went to the parade at 12:30 and it was awesome! The kids and adults all really enjoyed it. We went back up to the windjammer for lunch. Not a lot of options for picky children. Our kids mostly ate Mac and cheese when it was available.
After lunch we did some more exploring. I climbed the rock wall which was fun but I had to wait in line for about 30 minutes.
This was our first formal night so we took the kids back to adventure ocean so we could shower and get ready without boring the kids. We picked them up before dinner and met everyone outside the dining hall to take pictures. There was a photographer there taking pictures of families and groups on the grand staircase. We got a great picture out of it.

After dinner the kids all changed into matching pj’s and we went to our first show “Frozen in Time” which was an ice skating show. I love that the shows (aside from Cats) are less than an hour. It was perfect for all the kids. The show was fun. Get to the shows early to get good seats! They open up all the shows to those without reservations 10 minutes before the start.

Day 3-Labadee Haiti

Christmas day! We arrived in Haiti around 8:00. We still went to breakfast around 8:30 and then disembarked around 9:30. It was beautiful! The water was so blue and the sand was so soft. Nobody in our group booked excursions at this port so we could spend time together on the beach. There was a short ferry ride to the beaches which were free as were the beach chairs. It was a little crowded but not enough that we couldn’t enjoyed ourselves. Also, there wasn’t very much beach for the kids to play on. When we arrived there was only about 7-8 feet of beach (between the chairs and the water) but by the time we left there was about 10-15 feet.
The buffet was good and there was plenty of seating. There was a tram that took you back to the pier to load back onto the ship.
We decided to put the kids in adventure ocean for dinner. They loved eating with their teachers and friends and we loved a kid free dining experience!
After dinner went to the Oasis of Dreams Aqua Show which was incredible! Lots of seating but again, get there early.
We picked up the kids from adventure ocean, they played one round of mini golf and we went to bed.

Day 4-Falmouth Jamaica

We arrived in Jamaica around 10. Plenty of time to wake up and eat breakfast at the Windjammer. We disembarked and walked around, explored and shopped for souvenirs before getting back on the ship for lunch. We decided to take advantage of a less populated pool. The weather was amazing and the pool was so much fun. Spencer wanted to try the flow rider so we went to stand in line while my parents watched the kids. After standing in line for almost an hour and when Spencer was almost to the front of the line we found out he needed to sign a waiver and get a wristband before riding. We went to sign the waiver but they said we couldn’t because they were about to close for private lessons. That was aggravating! Sign your waivers for everything (zip line, flow rider) on the first day just to get it out of the way.
We took kids back to adventure ocean for dinner an enjoyed eating in the dining room again. We picked up the kids after dinner and went to the Headliner show starring Ronn Lucas. It was very entertaining. Our 7 year old loved it, but it was a little lost on the 3 and 5 year old.

Day 5- At Sea

We had to wake up early for the Character breakfast in the dining room. We had 3 characters from Shrek visit. They came out one by one, did a little dance and then visited each table for pictures. It was fun and the food was delicious. It wasn’t buffet but you could order as much as you wanted.
After this we got in line to register for ice skating. There were several different times but you had to register in the morning. The rink was very small and each time slot could only accommodate 30-40 people. We decided to play at the pool for a bit and then ice skate at 1:40. Ice skating was fun. They don’t have walkers for little ones and no tricks are allowed so it wasn’t very high energy but still enjoyable. They had skates small enough to fit my 3 year old and helmets are provided and required.
We ate dinner in the dining room and then took our kids to adventure ocean because we had an adults only comedy show booked. It was hilarious but there is not very much seating in Comedy Live so again, get there early!

Day 6 -Cozumel Mexico

We had an early excursion planned for Mexico so we had a continental breakfast brought to our room. There was no charge (for the continental) and you could choose how much of each item and a time you wanted it delivered (30 minute increments). Choose earlier rather than later. Ours came right at the end of our time slot. We chose the underwater sub excursion because it was suitable for all ages (there was a baby in our group). Below deck on the boat was lined with windows so you could see all the fish around. The kids though that was really neat. It was a very short excursion, overall I think about an hour and a half. But the kids and adults enjoyed it. We explored the town a little bit before heading back to the ship for lunch. We let the kids play in the pool for a bit. We had a very mellow evening, the kids played at Adventure Ocean and some of the adults played games in the Windjammer for a bit. The Card Room is actually very small and doesn’t accommodate for large groups, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to plan a game night.

Day 7 – At Sea

We were all kind of worn out this day so we took it pretty slow. We woke up late and ate breakfast around 10:00. Most of our group went to the water show (I can’t remember the name) but it was awesome! It was a comedy/water show that had a little bit of everything. We loved it so much, we went back to the second show after lunch because the kids wanted to watch it again. That afternoon they had some kind of festival on the 6th deck with all sorts of treats, cake, games etc. The kids had fun but it got a little crowded. That evening was my parents anniversary so we planned to have an adults only dinner with out group. The dining room was very accommodating and was able to sit all 12 of us together by joining tables. They sang to my parents for their anniversary and brought them a special dessert. It was very sweet! If you were checking bags for arrival you had to have your bags outside your door by 2 am.

Day 8 – Arrival back at Port

You were given a time to checkout depending on your room or you had the options of carrying your bags out and checking out early before the schedule started. Several in our party had to take advantage of this because of earlier flights at the airport. At the last minute before exiting the boat I remember I still needed to pay for our excursion so I ran back to guest services to check out. That went pretty quickly but I went too fast back to leave the ship and when they scanned my card, they said I had an alert to see guest services and wouldn’t let me out, despite me telling them I just came from there. I had to go back to guest services where they told me I was clear and should be able to leave but by that time my family was very far ahead of me and I was barely able to catch up before they went through customs (I had everyones passports!). Although I wasn’t there, my husband says picking up your bags was a long process. They had tables upon tables of bags on top and below and you simply had to search for your bags with no organization. All in all it wasn’t a horrible check out process, just long and arduous.

If you don’t read through our whole itinerary these are the biggest takeaways:

Bring a lanyard for your Seapass card. No need to get one that encases the card as you’ll be taking it in and out to get into your room. Just a simple lanyard and have the steward punch a hold in your card upon checkin.

If your family is large and you have children booked in another room, the adult of that room has to be checked in first before you can check in your child.

Get to everything early! Get to the shows at least 15-20 minutes early to get good seats or if you need a group of seats together, get to breakfast before 9:00 to avoid waiting in a line to get in.

Download the Cruise Planner app!! The app will not only show things you already have booked but it will show you anything and everything going on the ship and their locations. You can then add things to your own calendar so you don’t forget.

For ease of communication between our group, one adult from each family purchased a streaming plan and kept in touch with the GroupMe app. Some families use walkie-talkies. You will want some way of keeping in contact with everyone.

If you have children, register them for Adventure Ocean soon after getting on board. Perfect while waiting for rooms to open up and bags to arrive.

Bring things to help organize you room. Magnetic hooks to hang things on the wall (sweaters, sea pass cards, swimsuits), over the door shoe hanger for collecting random things (shoes, hair things, sunscreen).

There are several things you need to sign a waiver for including the zip-line and the Flowrider. If you plan to do any of them, sign your waiver for all the things you even think you might do at the beginning of the trip so you don’t waste time later.

Plan to wait in line for things such as the rock wall or Flowrider unless you get there right when they open.

There are several free options for breakfast and lunch including the dining room. Don’t feel like you have to eat those meals at the Windjammer. Take advantage of these meals in the dining room at least once during your trip (still all-you-can-eat).

Don’t be afraid to order more than one thing at dinner! There were days we couldn’t decide and ordered 3 desserts or 2 entrees.

If you purchase a digital photo package you can choose photos from different rooms! My sister ordered a 10 or 15 print digital package and we all chose our favorite family pictures, wrote the numbers down and chipped in for the price.

Pay your bill the night before you port so you don’t get delayed when trying to leave the ship. They will not let you leave if you have an amount due. Also, double check the items on your bill. I knew ours was wrong because we only purchased one excursion but somehow there was a cocktail on there that we never ordered.

Robin Liljenquist