This was our first cruise on Royal Carribean. It was our first repositioning cruise. Some reviews indicate that cruises when cruising a "new" ship (Jewel of the Seas entered service in May 2004) one might encounter service deficiencies. That was not the case here.
The boarding process was excellent. Even though we had booked a modest, ocean view cabin, we were processed aboard with no delay. They were boarding by deck and had ample personnel and computers to handle the crowd. Our luggage arrived promptly and in good order.
The cabin was well laid out, had sufficient room, and the bath was excellent. Larger than those in similar cabins if my memory serves. Since the ship was new everything was in good shape. My wife and I were impressed with the constant crew work that kept the ship spotless. The ship itself is very tasteful. The decor is easy to be in. The artwork is high quality. The layout of the ship is easy to get used to. There are many exercise and recreational opportunities including a waterslide and the trademark rock climbing wall.
The food in the main dining room was a real strong point. The menu was varied, the presentation excellent, the quality and quantity very good and best of all it lacked that institutional quality that sometimes occurs when thousands of meals are being prepared. The optional dining in the Portofino Room was simply superb, well worth the $20 additional charge per person. The buffet dining, while not as inspired as the main dining room, was well above average.
Other services on shipboard, guest relations, bar service etc. that we used were all excellent. The entertainment on board was superior It was varied and professional. The music throughout the ship was very good although a bit louder than my taste. The trio in the Centrum was delightful and we very much enjoyed hearing them. The Centrum elevators were crowded and the waits sometime excessive. For a new ship, of this sized (2000+ passengers) I would have thought at least two more elevators at the stern would have been in order. A total of eight elevators (the five in the Centrum were small glass enclosures) really isn't quite enough.
We used only one shore excursion, to Paris. It departed on time, returned on time and was exactly as advertised. I felt the cost of the shore excursions was a bit on the high side, but that was not the reason we struck out on our own in Plymouth, Cork and Portland, Maine. We simply had agendas that the shore excursions did not match. The sole weakness on this cruise, and it was obvious, was the inability to re-board people promptly who were returning from shore. This was due to poor planning, security issues, and issues dealing with handicapped passengers. This was the sole area that my wife, I and many passengers felt needed immediate attention.
The ship handled some moderate seas in the North Atlantic very well. It was smooth and vibration free. The debarkation process mirrored the boarding process. It went very smoothly our transfer to the airport was flawless. This was a very enjoyable cruise on a very nice ship.