Hang on folks, this is going to be long. Still doing some edits on the later days, will add that as I get them done. Day -2 Left the house around 7:15am and went to pick up my parents. Got to their house and left around 7:45, getting to the airport (Toronto Pearson) around 8:15am. Dropped everyone off and took the minivan to the park and fly valet, was back at the terminal 10 minutes later. My wife and dad had already dropped off the checked luggage so it was time to go through security. We all have Nexus/Global Entry so the process took about 20 minutes total. Probably would have been faster except that my dad's replacement knees got him wanded. T3 US area is undergoing renovations so it's kind of a disaster once you exit customs and the duty free. We were in the side wing so had to walk the length of the area to get to the food. Got Starbucks since Freshii is kind of a rip off and didn't feel like eating at the McEwan place. My brother and his kids met up with us at the gate, at which point our kids started getting a little hyper. Westjet flight was uneventful, which is how I like my flights. It was really cold though so I was glad I wore jeans and my hoodie. Which I basically wore so that I had something to wear should we decide to go skating on board at some point. Got the rental car (Budget. I have Fastbreak so it was literally pick up the rental agreement, find the car and go. Awesome.), and went to the hotel (Hyatt Place Convention Center, booked through valuetrips.com). Very nice room - 2 double beds, a large l-shaped sofa with a divider between beds and sofa. You could probably sleep 6 people in the room with no issues, except for the people that get the pullout bed in the sofa. There is a $7/day parking fee, but that's on the website so I knew about it in advance. What I didn’t know was that the aforementioned website includes the parking fee, but the hotel supervisor noticed this and took it off when I checked out. Anyway, dropped our bags, changed to shorts and headed to Sawgrass Mills. Had our traditional Cheesecake Factory meal (wife and kids insist on it when we go to the US) and did some buying of stuff. Came home and slept. Or in my case, wrote this post, then slept. Day -1 More rain. Had breakfast downstairs, and again more shopping at DSW and (again) Sawgrass Mills, hitting the half of the mall we missed the previous day. After getting to the hotel and dropping our stuff off, went for dinner at Rustic Inn crab house with my parents and my brother's family. Word of warning - this place seems expensive, but they serve a LOT of food and any non-crab entree is basically a family-sized entree. The kids meals resemble a Disney parks adult entree. I don't eat crab or lobster, but the rest of the family said it was good. In the end, we actually had a small party tray of pasta to bring back to my other brother, who had arrived from his LAX flight. After we got back to the hotel, we went to Total Wine to get some, well, wine to bring aboard. I also bought a bottle of Shiner Bock, since a) it's my favourite beer, and b) I can't get a beer for $1.79 on the ship. After we got back to the hotel, packed most of our stuff and went to sleep. Day 0… well I guess there isn’t one. Day 0 should really be embarkation day, but the cruise lines don’t treat it as such, so let’s go straight to… Day 1 - Embarkation day! My experience with Hyatt House/Place is that the weekend breakfasts aren't as good as the weekday ones, and today was no different. Not bad, mind you, just more basic. My brother and I went to Dollar Tree to get some beach toys for the kids. Problem - no sand buckets, but the great thing about dollar stores is that you can find items to improvise. So while a trick or treat bucket wasn't ideal, it would do in a pinch. We also bought some magnetic whiteboards for use on the doors. At this point, we had a dilemma. We have 13 people but only 12 seats across two cars. Not wanting to pay for the shuttle to the terminal, we decided that I'd drive my wife, kids and dad over, while my brother drove everyone else save my little brother over. We'd drop people and bags at the terminal, I'd pick my brother back up at the hotel, we'd drop the rentals at the airport, and get a taxi back to the ship. I had everyone packed in the car and left around 10:40. Slight traffic at the terminal, but was done and back at the hotel around 11:15 after topping up the fuel. Picked up my little brother, we returned the car and were waiting for my brother to arrive by 11:35. At this point my wife messaged me and let me know that her four had checked in and were eating at the WJ. My brother meanwhile, left the hotel around 11:10. When HE got to the terminal it was packed, and it took him 45 minutes just to drop off everyone and the bags. By the time he met up with us at the rental return it was around 12:45. So went over to the taxi stand and when we got to the terminal, there was no wait to drop us off. So lesson learned - if you can't get to the terminal early, you might as well wait a bit for the craziness to die down. Security lines were kind of long, but it was at most a 10 minute wait. All three of us had 2 bottles of wine, and the only question we got was whether we were all in the same room. So people looking to take more than the allowed 2 bottles take note - if you go through security separately and at different times, you can probably take more wine in. At this point, it was after 1, so we simply went up to our rooms. Luggage wasn't there, so I went up to WJ for a quick bite, then went to Chops to switch my First Night Done Right reservation over to them. This is where something weird happened, as the system showed that I'd cancelled my FNDR, but Royal IQ clearly showed that I still had it (we were assigned to Jamie's. We didn't want it since there's a Jamie's in Toronto, plus we go to the UK about every other year so in theory, we can go whenever we want to. In theory.). Full credit to Anthony, the Chops host, as he managed to overcome whatever glitch had happened and booked us and the kids for 5:30. After that was resolved, went upstairs and got the kids signed up at Adventure Ocean. Got back to the room, and by this point it's time for the Muster Drill. Since it's raining (again) just about everyone is in the promenade (we should actually be on the Boardwalk) and with that many people, it's really warm. But after a bit the captain gives the all clear and we walk back up to the room. Since we have an early dinner we hang out on the balcony to watch the boat depart. Got changed and went to the Promenade to watch a King Julien history of dance dance routine of some sort. Then it was time for food! And Chops mostly didn't disappoint. Had the Wild Mushroom soup, black pepper bacon beef carpaccio (Livy ordered the carpaccio, took a bite and said she didn't want it. And thus I had to give up my pork belly) and 9oz filet. Carpaccio was fine, but I don't get a whole lot out of eating it. But I was taking one for the team, so it was what it was. Filet... this was probably the second best filet I've ever had (I still like Ruth's Chris better). Flavourful and juicy. After Chops, kids went to Adventure Ocean, and we did a stroll around the upper decks. It’s very nice at night. Picked the kids up around 9:30, and we basically crashed. Day 2 - At Sea First full day on board. Had breakfast at Johnny Rockets. As is normally the case with breakfast, nothing special about the food, but it was very pleasant outside (sunny with a nice breeze) which really is what you want when you eat there. I should note at this point that on this cruise, we were trying to avoid going to the Windjammer. Yes it's convenient to go there, but with other options available we thought it was worth trying other spots. Took the kids to Adventure Ocean. Hannah is in the 9-11 group and Livy is in 6-8 along with one of her cousins. With the kids gone, it was time to do some exploring. We did a couple of (walking) circuits of the track. Usually there's a couple of good spots to lounge around the track but we didn't see any here. This was followed by a stroll through the Promenade, Boardwalk, and Central Park. Then we went up to 15, walked the pool portion of the deck, and settled in on some Adirondack chairs (I think. There is a slight difference between Adirondack and Muskoka chair but I can't really distinguish the two. So I'm guessing here) near Mini-Bites and the soft serve machines. Stayed there until almost noon and went to pick up the kids. Had lunch in the MDR (American Icon on 3). Had fish and a custom salad. There is a chocolate fountain at the dessert table here, so if that's your thing (and it usually is with the kids) you can find one here during lunch. After lunch it was time to hit the pool deck, and specifically Splashaway Bay. And it was nuts - very hard to find spots in the pm, as you might imagine. We did find one lounger, and later found a few more as people started leaving. But a problem here was that it was very windy, so sitting around Splashaway was something of a challenge. Aside: I've read about people complaining about staff pushing drink packages etc. But apart from seeing bar staff wear t-shirts pushing the drink package, I was never asked about getting one. The caveat here is that I didn't buy a drink until late on Day 2, so ymmv here. Went to see 1887. The premise is kind of strange - something Jules Verne-esque is what I got out of it but the skaters were pretty good and the fx used for the show was impressive. The "featured" guest was a bubble guy. Dinner was formal night, and our first in the MDR. Since we had traditional dining, we were in American Icon on 3. Had duck terrine and barramundi. Really good. No photos though - we were saving that for formal night 2. After dinner, kids wanted to go back to Adventure Ocean (this would be a recurring theme) so we checked them in, went down to 5 to get coffee (promenade seems to be the only place to get paper cups, and you have took for them) and walked around deck 15 at night. Very nice out and interesting to see the deck at night. Btw, for those of you interested in the coffee situation, it is in fact brewed aboard the Harmony, and easily better than the swill they serve on board DCL Fantasy. It's still not great, but I'd rate it just above Dunkin/Coffee Time coffee. After picking up the kids and putting them to sleep, we went to the Schooner Bar for a drink. Piano player was pretty good. Funny bit where Air Supply was requested, and rejected as he couldn't do any of their songs, so did some Bryan Adams instead. Went with my brothers and sister-in-law to the game room, which was pretty noisy. Apparently the tweens and teens will come here to play cards and such (someone brought a D&D game aboard) before curfew. There was also a mah jong game going on, and it was the quietest one I’ve ever heard, even taking the general noise into account. We played Exploding Kittens (I brought it aboard) for about 90 minutes before calling it a night. But problems(!) arose as our neighbour sounded like he was talking on Skype, and rather loudly. And with a connecting door in our cabin it sounded like they right there in our room! And sadly, this wasn’t the first time this happened, as they were also quite loud the previous night, albeit not as late. I tried to knock on his door to ask him to keep it down, but got no response. Left with few options, I went down to Guest Services to ask for some help. And in short order, some security personnel came up to assess the situation (spoiler - they discovered they were rather loud and could hear them through the cabin door), and after repeated requests managed to have our neighbour open the door so they could explain the situation. On subsequent days, the neighbours did try to keep it down in the late evening, although they were as loud as normal in the early evening, which was fine - I was not expecting people to change their habits at the drop of a hat, and they were making an effort, so it’s all I could really ask for. Days 3-8 forthcoming!