Jan - that's awesome that you guys could do what you enjoyed and still have a great cruise and make the best of it, despite the kids. We are a little different in that we do not want to spend time in our cabin, balcony or not (actually some days we don't even see the cabin until late afternoon when we are getting ready for the evening). Don't forget we live in sunny hot Florida so the balcony is certainly not a huge attraction for us. We also are not interested in room service - we like to experience most of the different restaurant offerings onboard during the duration of our cruise. So consequently being out and about on the ship all day we have a good chance of being in contact with the kids. One thing we absolutely have in common though, is going to "off the beaten path" places while in port ..... that is what we always do ..... escape the crowds and touristy areas. Aaaah, talking about off the beaten path places brings many of them around the world to memory and makes me want to get out on the ocean again!!!!