I have my first cruise under my belt courtesy of Royal Carribean. The occasion was to celebrate our parents' 40th wedding anniversary. When my brother initially suggested the idea I really wasn't interested because it didn't make sense for the whole family to go. After all it wasn't our anniversary to celebrate. In speaking with Ma though you could tell she was excited about a "family trip." My brother made all the necessary arrangements. It was basically a 5 day 4 night cruise from Ft Lauderdale to Cozumel Mexico and back. The route took us through the Carribean Sea near the Yucatan and down to Cozumel.
After checkin the first thing we did was have lunch and of course pina coladas. Our rooms were decent size (picture a studio apartment), and we had a small deck with direct views of the sea. The first night we did a lot of exploring. Our ship, the Navigator of the Seas had a rock climbing wall, golf course, various bars, gym, pool, whirlpool, and restaurants among other things. From top to bottom it was 14 floors. The food itself was not terribly impressive in the restaurant though the service and restaurant interior were great. There was also the option of a buffet. Many of the chefs/cooks onboard are Indian so we learned that whenever possible grab the Indian food. It's worth noting that the staff is very international. There were over 1300 crew members looking after the 3300 or so guests. Amongst the crew there were large numbers of Filipinos, Indians, Romanians, and Peruvians among others (crew was from over 60 countries).
One amenity we took advantage of was the whirlpool which can easily fit 20 people. Also the gym and jogging track provided a foil to any exercise related excuses. I shocked my brother after indicating that tanning is not high on my priorities. That said, I did lay out for maybe a total of an hour or so. Truthfully I avoided laying out for fear of falling asleep and waking up burnt. One surprisingly fun activity is shuffleboard. I'd only seen it on the Love Boat. When you have a competitive group though it gets intense. Blood was likely drawn. I nearly broke a sweat.
With our parents we caught several shows Royal Carribean puts on including an impressive "ice dancin" program as well as stand-up comedian. Many of the crew members are also the stage talent. For example, the person explaning how to exit the ship in the event of an emergency was one of the ice skaters. Being family friendly and all, all of the shows were a little on the cheesy, Disney-esque side (though there are more adult themed shows later at night).
When we arrived in Cozumel we took a taxi to a nearby beach resort. The beach was very well-maintained. We sunned and several in our party played in the water. (Later on our Father did end up feeling itchy all over, and sunburnt - apparently this happens to many people visiting Cozumel). We actually spent roughly 4 hours there at the private beach. My prediction that our best meal would be in Mexico did not come true. There was a really terrible buffet at the resort- actually the worst Mexican I've had. The highlight was stopping at the coconut stand to have fresh coconut.
Overall we enjoyed the trip. Most imporantly, Ma and Baba enjoyed their anniversary. Ma hadn't smilled and laughed like that in years. The Royal Carribean staff were all generally very happy, and attentive people. I would definitely consider doing this trip again as long as it's no longer than 4 nights or so.