Jewel of the Seas
January 7, 2007
I took my 30-year old and 15-year old daughters on the Jewel of the Seas for a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise. I had cruised once before on the Voyager, but this was my daughters' first time.
Boarding was extremely easy. From the minute you get to the port, everyone is friendly, accommodating and patient. I had read other reviews that indicated they boarded earlier than the stated boarding time, so I called RC to see if that was correct; however, they gave me the same boarding time as was printed on our itinerary. I think they do this because your room is not guaranteed to be ready if you board before the stated time. Our time was 2:00 but we boarded at 12:30 and some had said they were on as early as 11:00. Going early not only helps avoid the crowd, but it gives you that much more time on the ship!
The Ship was beautiful and very easy to get around on. I read other reviews that complained about the only elevators being centrally located, but we didn't find that to be an issue. The elevators can be very busy and you may find it quicker at times to take the stairs. The main pool and the Adult pool in the Solarium are salt water. The Solarium is beautiful. It contains many plants and comfortable lounge chairs and with morning and night sounds playing over the speakers, it makes a wonderful place to relax. You must be 16 or older to be in the Solarium. We went through the children's area looks like a lot of fun and we heard many passengers raving about the wonderful staff there. They have several computers available for email or surfing at 50 cents per minute; teenagers can use the computers in "The Fuel" (a club for teens only) for 25 cents per minute. The coffee bar was nice with prices similar to what we pay at home. I think my daughters would have enjoyed the shops on Voyager's Promenade more as there were more of them than on the Jewel. There is beautiful art work throughout the ship. We did not use the exercise facility but did use the jogging track which is okay in size (6 laps = 1 mile) but sometimes winds through deck chairs which is an inconvenience except for early morning.
The Stateroom was very comfortable. The king-size bed was very comfortable for my daughter and me there was a fold out couch or a bunk for my other daughter and the attendant said the bunk would be more comfortable plus give us more room in the cabin. Despite the 3 of us sharing this room with all our "junk" for 6 nights, we were all quite comfortable and our attendant did a great job taking care of our room. We had a balcony which gave us more room as well. I think a balcony room is worth the money not only does it make your room feel bigger, it's a wonderful place to relax in the evening, watch the sun rise in the morning, and watch the waves go by anytime. I watched dolphins racing alongside the ship on my first cruise!
Dining was excellent in every facility as was the service. Many reviews boasted the $20 charge was worth it for eating at Portofino's or Chops, and maybe it was but I felt The Tides had absolutely excellent cuisine. The Windjammer provided a great variety and all was very good. We had a burger and onion rings at the Sea View café and it was delicious!
The Shows were incredible! From comedians to Broadway shows to some dancers from Argentina that incorporated a lot of humor in their act they were awesome and I was impressed that Royal provided such high caliber shows. The show schedules are very accommodating as well, but if you have to miss one, they are shown later on your stateroom television. The theatre is quite spacious and with the schedules, everyone could find seating. All the shows were entertaining and appropriate for my youngest daughter as well.
Activities - The staff does a great job coming up with activities for all ages and interests. Everything from Bridge lessons to cooking demonstrations! I participated in the long-drive contest and my girls took some hip-hop dance lessons to name a few! All the day's activities are listed on your Cruise Compass you receive each night some of them are noted as "Ship Shape" activities which means if you participate, you get Ship Shape dollars that you can redeem for prizes at the end of the cruise. My youngest also received each night the activities planned for 15 to 17 year olds exclusively.
Excursions - I don't think Royal has a bad excursion. They have contracted with the best tours and their staffs can still make it fun even if the weather is bad! You can reserve an excursion on-line after making your reservations, you can book them through the excursion desk or you can, on some ships like the Jewel, book them on the TV in your room. Your excursion tickets are delivered to your room the night before and the process of getting to your excursion could not be easier. I would not do an excursion that was not through Royal I know you pay a little more, but it's so easy and the companies work really hard to keep Royal and their guests happy. Don't forget to bring a beach bag! Some of the excursions ask you to bring a towel (which you can take off the ship). I didn't find this information anywhere but asked if I could go on an excursion as an observer and not a participant (i.e. I wanted to watch my daughters swim with the dolphins, but I didn't want to swim with them). There are "Observation Only" tickets you can purchase from the excursion desk. For example, the dolphin excursion was $139, but my observation ticket was $38.
The Ports - If I had to do it over again, I probably would not choose these ports Cozumel and Costa Maya were the same and many of their excursions were similar. The ports were all pretty clean and well kept we could not dock in Cozumel I believe because of hurricane damage. If you can get ports where you are docked versus tendered it's much nicer because it's easier and quicker to just walk off the ship versus having to board a tender boat, although they did make that process very smooth as well. There is shopping at all ports we found it best in Grand Cayman although it was the most crowded. There is a person on the ship dedicated to helping you shop, although it's mostly for high price items such as diamonds we asked her if there was a Ron Jons in any of these ports and she had no clue. At all these ports, everything is available from shopping, to restaurants, bars, taxis, and excursions. In Grand Cayman, catch the bus to 7-mile beach for $2.50!
Disembarkation was almost as smooth as boarding although more crowded since everyone is leaving the ship at about the same time. Since we had a late flight out that day, we took advantage of an excursion in Ft. Lauderdale so we not only were escorted off the ship ahead of everyone, but the tour bus held our luggage all day and dropped us off at the airport so we didn't have to pay for a shuttle.
We had a great time -- feel free to email me with any questions and happy cruising!