Royal Caribbean International - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Jewel of the Seas
by Ken T.
Eastern Canada
September 27, 2008

We repeated the same cruise twice on September 27 and October 4 because we had taken a similar one several years ago and missed several ports due to two hurricanes. This time we thought we would see all the ports even if we missed some on the first or second cruise. Fortunately all went well and we saw every port twice. We still had two hurricanes come through the general area where the cruise went, but they passed to the east when we were still in the west. The captain did a great job of keeping us informed about the weather and any problems that might be caused by the hurricanes.

We spent two days in Boston before the cruise. The weather was horrible. They expected 3 inches of rain in Boston the day before the cruise and we think is all fell on us as we tried to walk the Freedom Trail. After 3 hours and being soaked to the skin, we gave it up and returned to the hotel for a hot shower and an afternoon nap. That was the best idea we had all day.

Embarkation

The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and took a taxi to the ship. When we arrived, the place was in total confusion. Somebody said to go in one door to register, but they told us there that we had to take our bags down the street to another door. My wife stayed at the registration table while I took the two large suitcases about 200 yards down the street to another door. I had to fight my way through crowds of people getting off busses and out of taxis and they all seemed to be going the other way. I finally was able to get the bags checked and returned to the other building. The registration process went quickly as soon as the clerk was able to find out how to handle back-to-back cruises. She had never had back-to-back guests before and had to get help from her supervisor. Even the supervisor was a little unsure about handling the registration. A few minutes later, we were on our way through the security line and onto the ship. Since it was only about noon when we got on board, the cabins were not yet ready so we went up to the Lido restaurant and had lunch. After lunch, we went to the Solarium pool area and relaxed until a few minutes before 1 PM. Then we sneaked down to our cabin and checked it out.

Cabin

We had bought an outside cabin, but it was not as good as those that we have had in the past. RCCL is notorious for having small cabins and this was one of them. There was very little drawer space and very limited closet space. The bathroom had only one small area for storing our things and we were hardly able to get our stuff on the shelves. Fortunately, the safe was large enough to accommodate our valuables. We were happy to see there was a refrigerator. Not all RCCL ships seem to have them. The bed was against the window, requiring one to climb onto the bed to look outside. The cabin arrangement is just not as good as Carnival or Princess ships. The room attendant did an excellent job of caring for us and our cabin. She made up for the cabin deficiencies.

Food

The food was better than a previous cruise we took on this same ship. However they seemed to serve the good stuff (prime rib and lobster) on the same nights and on some other nights nothing seemed that interesting. The service in the dining room was very good and the waiters did everything they could to keep their guests happy.

I ordered a sandwich one evening when we stayed in the cabin and it was soggy and stale. I did not order anything more from room service on either cruise.

We prefer to take all our meals in the main dining room. Unfortunately, the dining room was not open for lunch on the days we were in port. It was only open on the two sea days. Service during breakfast and lunch was extremely slow, but the assistant waiters were very attentive while we waited for the food to arrive.

Entertainment

The production shows were very well done with some surprises that we had not seen on ships before. The comedians were also quite good. The magic show was OK.

Ports

We did not take any shore excursions. I had done some Internet research and found that free hop on/hop off busses were available in Bar Harbor and Halifax. In Portland, Maine the all day bus costs $5.00 per person, but it was well worth it. The drivers were very nice and provided some interesting facts about their city as we rolled along.

The Island Explorer bus that runs from Bar Harbor into Acadia National Park was wonderful. We were too early to catch the right bus and had to wait about 1/2 hour for the next one, but had a very nice chat with one of the drivers who was waiting to get a ride to the bus yard to get her vehicle. She gave us some good advice about how to best see the park. Her suggestion was to get off the bus at a certain point just inside the park and walk a coastal trail for about two miles. She said we would be able to flag down the next bus or wait at the next scheduled stop for a ride. We took her advice and had a wonderful walk along the trail. The views were superb.

The bus in Halifax is called Fred and starts its loop of the city very near the cruise ship dock. It hits all the highlights of the city on each loop. The Citadel on top of a downtown hill is well worth a visit. Halifax also has a boardwalk along the water's edge that starts near the cruise ship dock. The cruise ship dock has an abundance of vendors selling locally made items.

St. John has a shopping mall that runs through upper stories of various downtown buildings starting near the water and ending several blocks up the hill at a market selling fresh produce and ethnic food items. It is an interesting walk through the various buildings including the St. John city hall. An interesting museum is in the same building where the market starts near the water.

Portland has an excellent art museum that is about a mile from the pier. The bus stops close by or you can stroll through the shopping area on you way to the museum. The Victoria Mansion is also worth a visit and the bus also stops just outside this building. There are a number of fish restaurants along the water's edge and in the downtown area.

We had hoped to see some fall colors, but were again too early. Each time we go to the east coast, we go a little later in the season, but have not yet been able to see an abundance of colors. I guess later in October would have been a better time for this trip.

We had a long wait at the airport in Boston. Our flight was not until 6:30 PM and it was almost an hour late. We were off the ship by a little after 8 AM, so we were at the airport for 10 hours or more. Fortunately they had some comfortable rocking chairs near the window where we were able to sit and watch the planes come and go.