Myself (39), DH 44, DS 12, DS 6 We arrived at port after 9 nights at PO/WDW where we had a truly wonderful time. Originally when we booked our trip, we found that renting a car for our entire trip and paying rental fees and parking it at terminal during cruise was only going to cost $12 more than transfers. That was our original plan before reading these boards and learning of AVIS. GREAT TIP. Things couldn't have worked better, and it saved us a lot of money. It truly is close and convenient and the shuttles continually run back and forth. One thing I recommend (which I wanted to do, but DH didn't...so we are guilty)...is the shuttles could shuttle and process people quicker if the driver was the only one shuttled and dropped off, or returned to pick up the family. We were able to check in at PO, saving us from having to check in at terminal. I know there has been some discussion on boards as to whether that is possible w/7 day cruise. It was for us. Worked without a hitch. We boarded about 12/12:15, we were relatively close to the front of the line. Tstorms began, so that shut our plans for eating at Topsiders and the boys swimming. We ate lunch and finished about 12:45, we were going to walk around the ship, but CM encouraged us to check out stateroom, we did and it was ready. We have cruised several times before on other cruiselines, and were really pleased with the size and set up of the staterooms. Had a category 6, loved the verandah!!!! I was content several afternoons on the verandah with my feet up reading a book. Also a great place to sit early in the AM while the rest of the family was sleeping. We skipped Palo's. We went back and forth and just didn't want to hassle with the rush, etc. We did pick out shore excursions and I was in 4 th line about 1:30 to drop off the form. When they brought the box out at 2 pm, there must have been over 100 people in line. Excursions - we did the under 2 flags in St. Maarten. I would have been fine just renting a cab for a quick tour of our own, but DH felt more secure taking a tour. Wish we had skipped it and done the other way. For the afternoon we did the Golden Eagle Catamaran. I was a bit concerned from some things I had read here about how rough it can be. It was really rough the first 30 minutes, DS 12 sat up front, we were in the back. Later, DS 6 and I went up front, and we were all up front for the ride back. It was great. Quite a few people got sea sick....so if you're prone to motion sickness, skip this. But if you like adventure, this is for you. The crew was absolutely fantastic. I can't say enough about how helpful they were to everyone, polite and professional. One of the crew members used to be a server on the Magic. He said the contracts run from 4 -6 months, generally 6 months. It's all tips. He said Disney 'pays' them $1000/mo, then deducts $950/mo room and board. They have to work 18 hours per day. When we returned from St. Maarten we knew we weren't going to make dinner, so we rushed downtown really quick to see if we could catch the Guavaberry store and Del Sol. Missed them both, but there were a few shops open. When people saw us and others shopping, they opened a few other shops again! In St. Thomas we went downtown by ourselves in the morning. It was really hot, and I wasn't overly impressed with the shopping, although they did have Del Sol there. In the afternoon we did the 5 Star Snorkel tour. The ship ride was much calmer, but the crew was not nearly as friendly or helpful. Also, we had to wait on the boat for 30 minutes while they had Monarch of the Seas passengers join us. There was also some concern (a long story), that they were not watching and kids were getting rum punch instead of fruit punch to drink afterwards. Snorkeling in St. Maarten was great, but Trunk Bay was by far much more beautiful. This trip made us decide our next vacation was going to be to the Virgin Islands. We also snorkeled at CC, both in the morning and afternoon. I agree with prior posts, by the afternoon the sand is so kicked up it's hard to see. A word of advice on snorkeling. It's an incredible adventure for anyone, including kids. But unless your kids are true fish, don't anticipate they'll take to snorkeling right away. If you want to snorkel, buy your kids a mask and snorkel at your local sporting store and let them practice at home and in the pool. I saw people on both excursions and at CC who didn't really get to enjoy the experience because their kids were hesitant and couldn't get the hang of snorkeling. P.S. We had a dilemma right before we left when we learned CC only permits parasailers over age 8 and our DSs wanted to do this. We didn't know if we could fit parasailing into our schedule with snorkeling on the islands. We resolved this by parasailing at the Contemporary at WDW! The rest of my report is in part 2 (final).