I had a few more hours to play last night and wanted to relate my experiences. Full disclosure: I ended up using a few more crowns to buy a pet and 3k gold, more for convenience than anything else. Also, I wanted to see how pets work!
I have to say, I like the way that pets work in Pirate 101 more than Wizard 101. In Wiz, they were a separate game entirely. In Pirate, they have a chance (in the case of my sky snake, 55%) of showing up in combat and fighting along side you. You cannot control their actions, but they will be in your favor. You're pet won't go rogue, as near as I can tell.
I got a chance to try out some more ship based combat. The only other MMO experience I have with ship based combat is Star Trek Online and, to a lesser extent, Puzzle Pirates. This version of it favours the STO model more than the Puzzle Pirates model, where you get into combat with another ship and have hot buttons to press to activate your abilities. Unlike STO, however, it doesn't seem to matter what position you are in. I think only range matters, but I'll have to look into this further. It's a good idea to have two possible victory conditions: sink the ship by cannoning it to death OR when it hits 50% health or so, you can board it and fight the crew. In this way, you have a few more strategic options inasmuch as fighting the crew takes a bit longer, but gives better rewards, but if you aren't strong enough to last through the fight, you can just sink the ship and move on to the next.
It's also nice that you have two separate xp gains for regular pirating and ship combat. More details on what the benefits are of each as I progress.
The quests so far have been decent to good, though not as varied as I would like. A lot of it is typical MMO fare (kill this many bad guys, kill these things to make them drop this stuff, collect this many nodes of that, etc. . .) but they do have some pretty decent voice acting, which makes it a bit more compelling somehow. We'll see if they can keep this varied enough to remain interesting.
All in all, still enjoying the game and look forward to seeing what else is in store!