Hi. I've been reading this site for the last couple of days. You guys are so great. I've already learned so much. DH and I just decided to take a cruise this year. It'll be our first. We're hoping to schedule for Oct 2004. (He's a police officer and can't plan vacation too far in advance) We were thinking that we should do DL this year and save the cruise for later when we could save up. But, we finally decided to just do what we really wanted to. We haven't had a vacation in 6 years, before our kids were born. Both boys, the oldest will be 5 that month and the youngest 3 the month before. DH and I met in the Coast Guard, so we both love the ocean and being aboard a ship. The nice thing will be the luxury of being a passanger rather than crew. My questions: What are the advantages of the Eastern vs Western 7-day cruise? Which would you recommend? We were thinking the Oct2 special itenerary Eastern because that would put my oldest's 5th birthday onboard. Is the verandah really worth the price? My husband smokes and thinks we need the verandah, but I'm cheap. Is there anything we can do over the next 6 months to make our children more likely to participate in the kids programs (and give us some time off)? What are your absolutely can't miss activities? How about your "could live without" activities? Should we bother with the REAS for this first cruise or wait until next time? What is the best method of transportation from the airport to the port? How on earth do I contain my excitement for 6 whole months?