Here is some quick advice I have given in the past to first timers:
Bring lots of sun protection: Hats,Sunscreen,Sunglasses,etc
Bring lots of $1 bills for tips and maybe in casino
Avoid using the phone in your room onboard the ship to call home; it's ultra-expensive: about $7 to $10 per minute! (not hour!); maybe only in emergency.
Avoid drinking the soft drinks and bottled water they leave in your room onboard the ship (not cheap either: around $4 for a 32oz bottled water, around $1.50 for a 12oz soda can)
If your ship will have a self-serve laundry mat, and you plan to use it, bring a few rolls of Quarters. Don't bring rolls of coins for the slots in the casino; they have dollar bill acceptors; lots of coin rolls will get heavy.
Some cruise ships have hair dryers. However, you may still want to bring your own. Those cruise ship hair dryers tend to be small and wimpy.
There will be plenty of food everywhere and all you can eat, so pace yourself and control your appetite.
Alcoholic drinks will not be free, so drink in moderation at the bars to avoid sticker shock when you cruise bill arives. Soft drinks are not free either. But you can purchase a soda fountain card which enables you to get all the soda you want through out your cruise (those cards sell for around $35; maybe less for the kids). Other non-alcohol beverages are free (Water, Tea, OJ, Fruit Juices).
Don't miss the featured shows after dinner.
Don't miss the midnight Chocolate Buffet; Aka: Midnight Dessert Lover's Buffet; Aka: Midnight Buffet Gala. [/list]
That cruise line which has the "mouse" as you said, is really good. And it is not just for kids! Grown ups have there private places on the ship and so do the kids. I have yet to go on one of their cruises but I'll need to save my money. It is about double the price of a comparable Carnival or RC cruises out of Port Canaveral. But I hear it is well worth it (on par with the best premium cruise line).
Perhaps Carnival or RC would be best suited for you if you want to leave out of Galveston or Mobile.
That's all I can think of right now. Have a great time on your first cruise!
Anyway, I just thought of a few more important things:
Bring some comfortable walking shoes; these cruise ships tend to be huge, especially newer ones. And that's just starters to all the walking you will do at your port of call.
Bring a multistrip electrical outlet (like what your computer has). On my cruises in the past, I discover there is only one place to plug something in and I mean one place (electrical outlets usually have two places; one on top of the other). So you will need a multistrip outlet if you have allot of electrical/electronic things to plug-in and not just your heated hair curlers.
So that's all for now. Maybe more to come. Take care and have a great time on your first cruise!
Would we be better off to wait until hurricane season is over to have a better choice?
I always cruise in November. The prices seeem to be lowest during that month. And, Hurricane Season is usually finished by then. Also, the Caribbean is still nice and warm and perfect for swimming in November.
If you plan to leave out of Galveston, New Orleans, (or Mobile?), your intinerary will most likely be Western Caribbean. My favorite Western Caribbean destination is Cozumel, Mexico, but other people's opinions differ.