Overall Rating: Good
|Destination:||Caribbean - Western|
|# of Nights:||3-4 Nights|
|Overall Value:||Very Good|
First off, let me begin by mentioning that this was our ninth cruise yet first cruise on Royal Caribbean. This booking was done 6 weeks prior to the cruise date and we got a great price but no OBC's or the like. It was scheduled and annotated on our cruise documents that there was supposed to be a celebration for our 23rd anniversary on May 3rd. Nothing happened. Don't know if they forgot but it wasn't a nice 1st time "Welcome Aboard" for new RCCL cruisers for them to forget or overlook this. We requested a table for 4 and were placed at a table for 8. I do know that the majority of the time you never get the table you request and can discuss this with the head waiter on embarkation day but we decided not to. The other 6 passengers that were supposed to be sitting with us NEVER came to the main seating so we were always sitting alone. A wonderful group of passengers sitting at a table of 8 invited us to sit with them on the last night of the cruise and I wish we had been seated with them in the first place.
Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation we have ever done. Maybe it had to do with timing but we were at the port at 11:25am and were on-board at 11:35am!!! 10 minutes to board, that's exceptional. No number system like Carnival uses. Just walked in to the terminal, right to an available check-in window and right to the ship! The other thing I appreciated was RCCL does not FORCE people to take an embarkation photo like Carnival does. They have the photo station off to the side before you reach the gangway and you can decide if you want the photo or not.
The Ship: The ship is very clean but lacks upkeep. I know the Jewel is 9 years old and sails 365 days a year but there are areas that they can maintain a bit better with some white marine paint and by replacing some of the banner flags that fly when in port. Some of the flags were ripped and tattered and some banners were missing completely. Lots of rust dots on the outside of the ship. The Jewel is scheduled for dry dock in 2016 so they have 3 years to go. I will give kudos to the Jewel on one respect, we had some bad weather on the way to Cozumel and this ship handled the waves like a limousine!! A very, VERY smooth sailing ship. Smoothest we have been on.
The Cabin: We only cruise balcony cabins now and found this cabin (7022) to be a bit smaller then we have experienced in the past with balcony cabins on other lines. The extended balcony made up for it with 2 chairs, a small table and a lounge chair. As mentioned above, there were some visible rust spots on the balcony that can be addressed. NOTE: If you get a balcony, make sure the cabin door is completely closed before opening the sliding glass door to the balcony. Our cabin door had to be pushed hard to get it to close securely. If your cabin door is not closed and you open the balcony door, it will create a wind tunnel so strong it will blow any loose papers in the cabin around like a hurricane. The safe we had stopped accepting our code and maintenance had to come up to reset it. One of the closet doors broke from the hinge and the maintenance guy had to remove it and said it would be replaced for the next scheduled cruise because they had to fabricate a repair for it. There was obvious wear and tear of the cabin. Nothing major but over the next 3 years before dry dock, it will get worse if they don't correct it. The shower is very small. I'm not a big guy but you can barely bend over to wash your legs and feet without banging your head on the shower door. The beds are very comfortable and I slept the whole night through. Something I can't do at home!!
The Food: We weren't really impressed. There were a few items that were tasty but nothing that "wow'd" me. There was one formal night which was the Captain's Gala Dinner. We are used to a special menu (with things like lobster and prime rib) on the Captain's Gala dinner night when on other ships. We got all dressed up in our Sunday best and the menu was basic. No lobster or prime rib (unless you wanted to pay an extra $29 for the lobster) . I was told by a fellow Crazies member that is a past RCCL cruiser and was on-board with us that RCCL doesn't do that on 4 night cruises. Sorry, but then why have a Formal night? The passengers in the dining room were dressed better than the staff! We didn't see any reason to have to get dressed up. I ordered the strip steak on formal night and it was over cooked and tough. My wife got the Turkey and said it was good and I should order that. But when you have steak in mind, Turkey don't get it!!!
The Staff: This was hit and miss as on any line we have sailed. And I do not give much attention to this portion of the cruise because I know how hard these folks work. Some were better than others and I'm good with that.
The Port Of Call - Cozumel: Because of the short duration of this cruise there was only one port we visited. We have been to Cozumel many times and this time, we found a place called "Paradise Beach". This is a MUST for those that like beach days. It has a pool (the only heated one in Cozumel), a nice beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas and loads of inflatable pool toys for the kids. Entrance to the beach facility is $2.00 USD. That's TWO bucks!! Most worth it!! They just ask that you spend at least $10 in food and/or beverages to enjoy the beach. I met the managers of Paradise Beach for the Live CHAT I did from there for the Crazies site. They were most accommodating.
Disembarking: RCCL uses a number system to disembark and we were off the ship about 15 minutes before we were supposed to go to the Coral Lounge to gather and wait so that was good. Make sure that if you are checking out your bags, that when you get them in the terminal you use a porter. They will bypass the long line and take you directly through customs and out of the terminal. Very much worth the extra tip.
Would I sail RCCL again? Yes, were actually booked on the Brilliance for November 2013. Would I sail on the Jewel again? Maybe after dry dock. Please feel free to send me a private message through the CruiseCrazies site if you have any questions about my review or about the Jewel of the Seas.