Jewel of the Seas Reviews

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28 User Reviews of Jewel of the Seas Cruise Ship

Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 11, 2005

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Jewel of the Seas by Rich Ollari Western Caribbean December 11, 2005 How Royal Caribbean Cheated Me

I’m upset; in fact I’m downright mad at Royal Caribbean.  Our group had a 5 night cruise booked leaving Port Everglades on October 24, 2005.  This date just happened to coincide with the arrival of Hurricane Wilma.  Of course, it’s no fault of Royal Caribbean that the storm arrived; it’s what they did to us after that I believe is just bad business.  We were forced to cancel and rebook our cruise on Saturday, October 22 with promise that a credit would be provided for a cruise of equal or greater value.  Royal Caribbean had not yet cancelled the cruise, however they did warn of the likelihood of a cancelled cruise or possibly shortened itineraries.

Being excite about our upcoming travel and undaunted by the weather we rebooked on another cruise for December.  On Monday morning, October 24th the cruise was officially canceled by RC and a 25% additional credit was offered to passengers.  We promptly contacted Royal Caribbean and were told the program was not available to us! How can this be?  We

are being penalized because we understood the impending storm and the travel related issues it would cause.  We have tried to get satisfaction with Royal Caribbean regarding this matter however they are unwilling to discuss this with me, the customer, or to offer any satisfaction.   In fact, I’ve been treated somewhat rudely by RC staff.  Can it be that RC has gotten a bit too big for their britches?  I will NOT travel with Royal Caribbean again – I suggest you strongly consider other cruise lines – lines that care about the customer.       
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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: October 12, 2005

Ship: A+ BEAUTIFUL! – 3 acres of glass. Food: B Good Chops: A++ Kristina, Oscar and the whole team are phenomenal - and the food is too Windjammer: B It is what it is – a buffet. Seaview Café: A+ The fish & chips come out looking like Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks but believe me they are not!!! I’ve never had such fresh fish, we had them 3 times. Cruise Director Karen Maybury: C We prefer CDs that are natural, not trying too hard. Bartenders: Champagne Bar – Freddie, he remembers your name and what you like to drink. Shanti & Me-Hai (sp?) at the Schooner Bar were a riot. Dining Room Waiters: C Our waiter wasn’t that good. He didn’t even ask any of us what our names were. When we asked what he suggested his response was “it’s all good”. On the nights he wasn’t busy he was good. He did tell us that when he goes back to get our dinners if they aren’t ALL ready he has to go deliver a room service order, then come back to deliver our meals to the table. Entertainment: A Lee

Reed – Piano Melodies – GREAT piano player, very shy. A Caribbean Force – Poolside band A Rosario Strings - wonderful B Vortex Disco – DJ would play the same 10 songs until you came up with requests C Piano Bar – Barry from Boston – Plays the piano well, screams instead of singing.

Day 1 Wednesday October 12, 2005 Departing Boston Cool drizzle 55° We arrived at the Black Falcon Pier at 11:05 a.m. Checked in with our Sea Pass, got our picture taken for our Sea Pass card, walked through Security. I even turned to the security guard and asked him if it was ok for us to board. He said “hurry and I won’t tell anyone”. I laughed, turned red and walked right on the Jewel of the Seas by @11:15 a.m. The fastest boarding we’ve ever had. It was fantastic not having to take a plane the first day of our cruise. We found our room (8598) dropped off our carry-on then off to explore the ship. She is beautiful, same class as the Brilliance. Luggage arrived @ 1:15 (WOW!). Attended the mandatory life boat drill at 4:30, our Muster station was at the Schooner Bar. Thankfully, our Muster station wasn’t required to go outside. We went back to our room to change for dinner, we had early and for some unknown reason our dinner times were 5:30 and 7:45 instead of the norm of 6:30 & 8:30. I had met our tablemates on-line at, we decided to link our dining reservation so we could sit at the same table. Even though we hadn’t met face to face it was nice to sit with people we felt we already knew. After dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard Show and then to the Schooner Bar. We met a lot of nice people and the bartenders Shanti and Me-Hei (sp?) were great, they worked very well together. Day 2 Thursday October 13, 2005 At Sea WOW!!! We woke up to VERY rough seas. As my husband was shaving all he said was uh-oh. So we went to the purser’s desk for Dramamine and they gave us each a green apple. They explained that we needed to put something in our stomach with not a lot of moisture. We went back to sleep for a few hours and woke up feeling fine. I only took 2 pictures of the waves. Security had locked the doors to the outside decks and hung signs not to go out because it was too dangerous. We figured about 95% of the ship were in their cabins. We went to the Windjammer for lunch, there were only a few people eating lunch. It was quite a challenge to get our lunch and get to a chair before the ship would dip and your plate would land on the floor. Tonight was Captain’s night. We went to the Captain’s cocktail party then to dinner; there were a lot of empty tables. Marty Allen and his wife were real troopers they put on a great show considering how rocky the ocean was. We then went to the Schooner bar for the piano bar entertainment. Day 3 Friday October 14, 2005 King’s Wharf, Bermuda 82° Arrived at the Navy Dock Yard at 12 Noon (instead of 8:00 a.m.), first people off the ship was at 1:30 p.m. We bought the 2-day transportation pass. Hopped on the ferry to Hamilton, walked up one side of Front Street and down the other, took the ferry back to the ship in time for dinner at 5:30. After dinner we went to the Frog & Onion Pub for a drink, it was too quiet there so we went back to the Schooner bar and listed to a young man Lee Read (looked about 15 yrs. Old – very cute!) play the piano – he was fantastic! He played the piano vs. beating it. We didn’t go to the show Dima Belinski but we heard he was great. Day 4 Saturday October 15, 2005 King’s Wharf, Bermuda 82° 11th Wedding Anniversary. Had breakfast at the Windjammer – WOW where did all these people come from! Glad everybody was feeling better. We decided to just go off the ship and take a taxi tour. We went on a 3-hour island tour. Bermuda is beautiful; too bad our taxi driver didn’t have much of a personality. We came back to the ship had lunch went to the pool for a little while. We had reservations at Chops for our anniversary so we went back to the room and noticed we weren’t moving yet. The ship was waiting for 3 people (young girl, Mom and Grandma) Grandma couldn’t walk that fast so one of the Bermudians on the dock to watch the ship depart got in his car & picked her up and drove her back to the ship. We all applauded from our balconies. We went to the Champagne Bar before dinner, Freddie was great. Chops was perfect as usual. Oscar and his whole team were fantastic. They brought out an anniversary cake and everybody sang to us. It was wonderful. We were so stuffed we gave our cake to the bar staff at the Schooner Bar (Shanti, Eva and Me-Hai). We missed the show but we heard it was great, it was the Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers “West End to Broadway”. We hit the disco until 2:30 a.m. Day 5 Sunday October 16, 2005 At Sea 85° We sat by the pool all day. MrSully entered the Blackjack tournament, he lasted 3 hands, he was dealt a 14, 15 and a 16. Attended The Quest – what a hoot! Day 6 Monday October 17, 2005 St. Maartin 85° Our favorite! Took a cab to Orient Bay Beach, walked to the clothing optional section, got 2 chairs at the Tiki-Hut. The waves were awesome, bigger than the last time we were here. Unfortunately, with the waves/storms come the seaweed and the turtle eggs. I could only go in the water twice, the third time I just couldn’t get past the seaweed YUK! As our chairs were coming into the shade we started to get bitten so we left. Not really sure what bit us but my legs had a lot of red bumps. Back to the ship in time for another dinner at Chops. After dinner we went to the Champagne Bar and chatted with Freddie. Freddie is great, he remembers your name and order from the first time he meets you, he would even have it ready for you when you sat down. Day 7 Tuesday October 18, 2005 San Juan 85° San Juan has improved over the last 5 years. We walked around, went shopping, and bought a couple of t-shirts and a silver bracelet for our daughter. We were back on the ship by 10:30 a.m. We sat by the pool the rest of the day, loved those drinks in the fresh pineapple YUM. As we were leaving we had a few showers and the Explorer of the Seas pulled into the berth next to us. We loved that ship too. Day 8 Wednesday October 19, 2005 Labadee 97° We have been to Labadee a few times, so we decided to stay on the ship. Good Choice! 97° people said it felt like 120 on the island. We sat by the pool. Due to the short stay at Labadee they had the BBQ on the pool deck from 1:00 – 3:00 instead of on the island. They started setting up at 9:30 a.m. and about 1:15 the grills were lit. They set up several stations to get food which would have been very organized except you had to go to one station for your plate and utensils, another station for ribs, another station for chicken, another for burger and hot dogs and yet another station for side dishes. So by the time you sat down everything was cold. None of the stations were labeled so it was very chaotic. The ribs were awesome, we tried to go back for more but the line was too long. We went to the show “Tango Buenos Aires” it was good, we left after 20 minutes. We stopped by the Champagne Bar to see Freddie, Schooner Bar, then to the Vortex Disco until 2:30 a.m. Day 9 Thursday October 20, 2005 At Sea 88° We sat by the pool for a couple of hours; decided we wanted to see what else was going on around the ship, puttered around the ship. We went back to the pool just in time to see the horse races. The owners race was won by #1 Johnny Damon. Played mini-golf, worked out in the gym. Tonight’s show was Paul Boland “Man of 1,000 Voices”; he was very good, very funny. Being 70’s disco night, we chose to stay at the Champagne Bar until we went to the disco around midnight. Neither one of us wanted to hear the “Tribute to ABBA” or the “Village People”, we had enough of that the first time around. Closed the disco at 4:00 a.m. Day 10 Friday October 21, 2005 At Sea 60° The daily planner stated the temperature would be about 60°, with the wind chill it was more like 40°. We knew it would be a chilly day so we puttered around the ship, bought 3 photos, played Jackpot Bingo – didn’t win L, went to trivia. We had dinner at Chops for the last night. Went to the Schooner Bar for a couple of drinks, said good-bye to the people we met. Declined going to the disco – too much to do tomorrow. Day 11 Saturday October 22, 2005 Debarkation, Boston 60° We chose to carry our luggage off the ship ourselves. Finished packing, went to the Windjammer for breakfast, called the pursers desk to find out what deck we should be on, they said we debark from Deck 5. It took a ½ hour to get an elevator that we could get on, got to Deck 5, waited ½ hour and we were off and waiting for our ride by 8:15, home by 9:15 a.m. We had a GREAT time. This cruise tied with our favorite past cruise (Explorer of the Seas). We have loved all of our cruises and for us there is no such thing as a bad cruise. We thoroughly enjoy our vacations; life is what you make of it and how you choose to react to certain situations, especially situations you have no control over.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 29, 2005

PRE-CRUISE--Got a room at the Mariott Marina via priceline for only $74.00! Be sure to ask for a tower room overlooking the port. Went to the cruisemates party at 7:00 to meet other cruisemates that were cruising and some that came to the get together just to meet everyone. It was fun for all. Got to meet Kuki and his wife, Geela, Karl and Karen, Vacation Queen and Boo, and their friends, and Onemantax and his wife. This was my husband Tom and mine's 6th cruise, and are in our mid 40's. We have cruised RC 3 times, and Carnival 3 times, all in the past 2 years.

EMBARKMENT--Mariott Marina has a free shuttle to the port. We did not sign up for it as usually you have to wait for it. While waiting in the cab line, the shuttle comes along, filled up and left, and we were waiting, lol. Then, our cab comes, so we get to the port just behind the shuttle, and pay $10.00, and it is only about 10:30AM. They started to board the ship at 11:00, and we were on by 11:20. They had

the hallway doors closed off, and we were not allowed to our cabins until 1:00PM. So we headed up to the Windjammer for some lunch. They began serving at noon. There were many people there, but with many serving stations, not a line. There were 2 salads and fruits, 2 hot foods, a sandwich and soups, and 2 dessert stations. After lunch, we went to our cabin to drop off our carry ons and went to explore the ship. We went to the top deck and walked around looking at all the ships in port. We were docked next to the QM2. Very large ship, but it reminded me of the Titanic. Very formal looking, with black bottom and white top with a red smokestack. Went back to the cabin to find our luggage had all arrived, so I unpacked.

OUR CABIN--We were in 9519, interior, forward cabin. The cabins are spacious with a small couch (seats 2) and the closet had plenty of hangers, and shelves down the middle for storage. There are 6 drawers in the vanity/desk for storage, but are rather small. You can store your suitcases under the bed. I also called housekeeping to ask for 2 of the terry robes to use for the week. Then we were off to the lifejacket drill, which is mandatory. You have to check in, and cannot leave until everyone on board has checked in.

THE SHIP--The ship is just beautiful. There are many painting throughout. The Solarium is done in Asian theme full of statutes and plants. This area became one of my favorite, as it is covered and the weather was a bit chilly on our sea days. The atrium is I believe, 9 stories high, and is just beautiful.

LEAVING PORT--Time to leave at 5:00, and Kuki had invited us down to his aft cabin, so we went to join them. The winds had died down, and it had cleared up, and we were off to a good start.

DINNER--We had originally booked late seating, and since most of the cruisemates had early, we changed ours to early. No problem. We sat at a table of 6. Unfortunately, one of our cruisemates had to leave the ship from San Juan, so Kuki invited us to sit with them for dinner the remaining evenings. The dress code was as follows, 1-casual, 2-formal, 3-smart casual, 4-50's & 60's, 5-casual/caribbean, 6-casual/country & western, 7-formal, and 8-casual. The dinners IMO, were very tasty. Some of the entrees we had were prime rib, filet mignon, lobster, turkey dinner. We went to Chops one night with the cruisemates, there were 13 of us, a table of 6 and 7. The food was exceptionally good, and the service was excellent. Our first experience at the alternative dining, and well worth the $20. charge pp.

We ate breakfast and lunch in the windjammer every day. At breakfast, they have the fresh egg station, with eggs cooked to order. Lots of fresh fruit, rolls, bacon, pancakes, waffles, menu seemed the same every day. We usually went between 7:30 and 8:00 and never encountered lines.

Lunch was very similar every day and the food was very tasty. Afternoon snacks served from 3:00 to 5:00. The seaview cafe is also tasty, with limited hours, but fresh to order sandwiches, nachos, onion rings, desserts and milkshakes (which you had to pay for). The solarium also had snacks and sandwiches, fresh fruits and fresh made to order crepes, the strawberry were very delicious.

Night 3 was the Chocolate buffet, with the largest chocolate covered strawberries I have ever seen. Get there early, as the good things get picked over, and they run out of some things. Night 5 was a poolside area midnight caribbean buffet. Lots of great food to choose from, tacos and nachos and dessert for me!

Night 7 was the Grand Gala buffet in the dining room. IMO, this was just ok, not as fancy as I had expected, and no chocolate covered strawberries!

ENTERTAINMENT-- Night 1-Jewel Expo-a review of the entertainment for the week Night 2-Judy Kolba a comedian w/songs. At first, I thought she wasn't very good, but she livened it up and was quite a hoot overall. Night 3-Magic of Drew Thomas-excellent show. I am still amazed at how they cut up the lady and wheel her apart and put her back together again. The "lady" is Drew's new wife, after 2 yrs. of working together. Night 4-West End to Broadway-nice show. Night 5-John Christie-can't remember much about this show Night 6-had to change shows as the seas were very rough, so Kelly Montuth, a comedian did his show a day early. He was a real riot. Very entertaining. Night 7-City of Dreams-the RC singers and dancers preformed an excellent show. Well worth the wait. Night 8-the Gizmo Guys, jugglers and comedians. Very good and they choose Tom out of the audience to go up on stage to participate. They blindfolded him, had him hold a straw with his teeth, and proceeded to juggle bowling pins back and forth in front of him trying to knock the straw out of him mouth!

TIME CHANGE-This is the first cruise we changed our clocks. The first night at sea, we moved our clocks ahead by 1 hour to be on island time in San Juan. We then moved the clocks back after visiting St. Thomas so we got back our hour the second day at sea to catch up on the much needed sleep.

THE QUEST-The wildest "adult game" at sea. This should be rated "R". It's like a scavenger hunt and it is hilarious. Be sure to not miss this. The cruisemates group were the winners and we all got t-shirts!

PORTS OF CALL San Juan--coming into port is an excellent view of the old fort and if you haven't toured it, it is very interesting. We had done that last time, so we just got off the ship and walked around old san juan, and they have public phones that you can make a call for 50cents for 2 minutes back to the states. Nice to check in at home, or call your friends at work to harass them.

St. Maarten--Our first time here, we hired a taxi driver for the day, and he drove us around the island and showed us many photo opps, stopped in Marigot to do a little " straw market" shopping, got good buys on beach towels and a beach bag. Then we went to Orient beach, and stayed for about 2 1/2 hours. The driver was back at our arranged time, and he took us back to town, where we then paid him the $80. and tipped him $10. He was very informative and the day was very interesting. We then did some shopping in town, and I found a slide for my omega necklace which is an X of diamonds one way, and emeralds the other. I have been looking for one since our first cruise, when I didn't get it in Aruba. I also picked up a small omega bracelet.

St. John's Antigua--first time here and booked a tour called Eli's eco tour. Got picked up at 10:00 AM at the dock on Eli's 52ft. boat for 6 hours of sightseeing of the North sound area, stop @bird island and hiked up to overlook the atlantic on one side and the caribbean on the other. Had a lunch of barbque chicken, tossed salad, pasta salad, plantains and banana bread. Also, lots of drinks of passion fruitjuice, pop, water and rum punch on the way home. Then, we went over to snorkel and see "hell's gate" which is a natural bridge of coral rock formation with a cave to walk through. This tour was the highlight of our cruise and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Eli was born on the island, and grew up there, and is very knowledgeable.

St. Thomas--2nd time here and had been to Meagans bay, so we were going to go over to St. Johns on our own for the day, and we were really disappointed in the weather. Waters were very choppy and the ship canceled their excursions to St. Johns, so we decided to just walk into town for some shopping and sightseeing. Rained for about 1/2 hour while there, and became very overcast, so no more sunshine. Went back to the ship to relax for the afternoon. Did buy a "parma" designer purse at the straw market.

Nassau, the Bahamas--2nd visit here, so we got off the ship, shopped a little at the straw market, and got a very tiny LV purse at the straw market along with some of the necklaces and anklets. Another day of clouds and overcast.

The 2 days at sea--very rough waters, the first night, I actually got seasick, woke up at 3AM, and was very nauseated. Put on the sea bands, but too late. After I got some food in my stomach, about 9AM, took some myclezine, which the pursers desk was handing out like candy, lol. I continued to take these while at sea days, and I experienced no side effects. The air was chilly, and it was cold to lay on deck, so we spend lots of time by the solarium pool, reading and relaxing.

Debarking--since we were staying one night post cruise, we stayed on until the end. Called off about 9:45AM, and went to get our luggage. Outside the cruise terminal, was poorly organized. We waited for over an hour just to get a taxi to the Amerisuites, which I had gotten on Hotwire at a decent price. Once there, we see they had a shuttle that would have been free from the port. We did know they had the shuttle to the airport, but never saw it at the port. Now we know for next time.

OVERALL--The ship is a real beauty. We will not cruise again during the months of january and february in the eastern caribbean. Too many sea swells and a bit rough ride for my liking. I would definitely cruise the Jewel again and highly recommend it.

The best part of the cruise was being welcomed into the cruisemates family with open arms. I would especially like to thank Kuki and his wife Geela for all their enjoyable cruise stories. It was a pleasure to cruise with them, and also, chat host, Mary Lou and her husband Gary, of which we only live about an hour away from, and our new friends Steve and Jill from Washington (the expert in the Quest game), and Karl and Karen from Florida, which I enjoyed talking about cruising and shopping. Since we are all cruiseaholics, we never ran out of things to talk about. I look forward to my next cruise with the cruisemates family and meeting more of you!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 2, 2005

I've been on six cruises,nordic empress,golden princess,grand princess,veendam,zaandam,and now the jewel of the seas.Here it is in a nut shell,food was average,ie;why did they put a garlic flavored butter pesto on the lobster tails??salt and butter are suffcient,only one per plate,any way over all the food was average thru out the week everywhere I ate{exception when they had two roasted whole pigs at a midnight buffet,very nice,the only other buffet was beat,and they made you wait an hour so people could take pictures...

service was excellent,room was nice,ship rocked rolled first two days as we sailed full speed towards puerto rico,plenty of elevators ,yet they are small in size yet fast,my son won a jackpot playing video poker,I dont drink but was told by more than afew in my group that drinks were weak,not tasty,your allowed to bring soda and bottled water on board I did and always do,I asked a young girl maybe 20,who had been on the adventurer,which one she prefered she said the adventure,more to do,bigger,still a good time,great cruise good ports,only one comedian,and magician,never crowded in the theater year im booked on the carnival liberty.

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Eastern Canada
Publication Date: October 14, 2006

Packed wine for cruise!!!

Just recently got back from a wonderful cruise....FYI...we packed 6 bottles of wine bubblewrapped in our suitcase & it was still there when we unpacked...We bought 2 glasses of wine in day 1 and then reused them with our wine & took them into the dining room with us...saved us lots of $$$ plus we didn't care for their limited wine list...Moral of the story don't be scarred off by RCL's no alcohol policy.... Happy Cruising....J.S.

(ed. note: John, the Royal Caribbean Security Gurads are at your back door!)

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 22, 2006

We arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Saturday, the day before the cruise. We stayed 1 night pre at the Marriot Harbor Beach Resort. We used poit's for this, but the cost for 1 night is about $399.00. This hotel (really a resort) is amazing! Great beach, pool area, restaurant's, room's etc.... We took a cab from the airport ($17.00) and from the hotel to the port ($15.00). Each ride was about 15 minute's. There is nothing really to walk to from this resort, but you would not want to leave. Also, the inlet is right there for the port. So at night you see all the ship's leave, and early in the AM, you see them coming in. It is highly recommended.

We got to the pier at about 10:45am. Waited in a small line for about 15 minute's until they began boarding, then right on. We were on the ship by 11:15.

Ship was in GREAT shape. This was or 6th cruise, all with RCCL and LOVE this class. The ship was clean and staff was VERY curtious and friendly. The CD Simeon Baker was basically non existant. Not a big

deal, but not reall outgoing. Captian James MacDonald was only hear from once or twice, but was very friendly.

Port's were OK. Key West was nice to walk aroud, with lot's of shop's. Cozumel is our favorite, but was hit hard by Wilma. They are really trying to get it back together, and are doing a great job. Costa Maya was small, I would not want to go back there, not much to do. Grand Caymen was nice, we went to 7 mile beach, it was really nice but DONT do the excursion through the ship. It takes to to a tiny hotel with a limited and crowded beach. just get a taxi and go to one of the public open area's. Just ask the driver, they will take you.

We had Cabin 1104 Aft. It was great as we always get aft cabin's. I did have a concern that it was under the windjammer, but we had NO noice issue's.

All in all, it was a nice cruise. Port's were OK, ship was GREAT. Ft. Lauderdale port was small and a little dirty, but OK.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: September 22, 2005

Jewel of the Seas, 5* for sure. This was our 6th cruise within the last 3 years, and an excellent one for sure! (we've sailed: RCI: Enchantment of the Seas, Celebrity: Millennium and Century, Princess: Grand Princess & Star Princess) The Jewel is a beautiful ship, and the staff/crew members were great. I am from N.H., so leaving out of Boston was a plus!

We arrived at the Black Falcon Terminal around 11:30am and were in our cabin by Noon. The cabin was a comfortable size (we had a 3 seat sofa which gave us plenty of room) Traveling this time of year (Sept 22 - Oct 2) you take your chances with weather, and it did cause a change to our Itinerary. We tried to dock at Bermuda but the Bermuda port authorities couldn't give us the ok due to high seas. Instead we headed to St. Maarten, then San Juan, and the captain added St. Thomas (a plus for us) for missing Bermuda. Even better news came at St Thomas, we were told that we could sail back to Bermuda and stay one day, and that was loverly!)


weather was very good to us during these 10 days and we were very grateful for that!

We also enjoyed dinners at Chops a(5 star) and Portofinos (5 star). Both places were fantastic, and the service was top notch! We were fortunate to get tables by the window which made this a truly romantic and beautiful evening(s)!!

The food on the Jewel was excellent! I'd give the main dining room a 4*, the windjammer buffet a 5*, and the seaview cafe a 5* too, with plenty of items to choose from. Entertainment: 4 out of 8 nights that we attended the shows were great. The other 4 evenings were ok.

Lots to do on this ship, miniture golf, basketball, pool tables, (the game room on this ship is remarkable!) We'd gladly sail the Jewel again. Bon Voyage!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 12, 2005

My wife Lynn and I, along with our niece and her husband, recently completed an eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard RCI's stunning Jewel of the Seas. This was our second cruise (both with RCI).


Jewel of the Seas is a gracious, large, beautiful, captivating, well laid-out ship. With 2,000+ cruisers aboard –- not that you would know it – I had the impression that time was well spent by the design crew in making this a masterpiece in roominess and comfort. Jewel is well-decorated, with eye-pleasing tones throughout the ship. Navigating around the ship was a breeze. Kudos to Royal Caribbean for providing a theme-designed interior and exterior. Every public room was tastefully done and absolutely stunning. We particularly enjoyed the Solarium Spa, Safari Room, and the Schooner Bar.


We tremendously enjoyed our balcony stateroom, mid-ship on level 10, room 1056. The room was always done up to perfection by the attendant. It was clean, large enough, and very comfortable, with plenty of storage space. Our cabin was next to the elevators -- our choice, and a very wise choice. There was absolutely no noise, and we had the convenience of being

very close to the elevators. Being at this level has its perks; we were close to the Windjammer Café, the pool area, and outdoor activities -- just go up one flight of stairs and you are there. There was some pitching and rolling, but it was limited. Maybe because we cruised before it didn't make us seasick; in fact, it was comforting to fall asleep with this subtle movement.


Overall, the service was superb -- performed professionally with a smile, with two exceptions: The pool bar service and room service were very disappointing. The two pool bars seemed understaffed and consistently provided low-quality drinks. When we wanted good, properly-mixed drinks, we headed to the Schooner Bar or the Solarium Bar; service there was top-notch. Room service was a joke. We are not big users of this service so it really did not matter, but for those who are, it could be a problem.


We attended every show in the Coral Theatre. It's sad to say, but we felt only four presentations (50%) were very entertaining; the other four were of very low quality. We highly recommend all performances by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers (three in total), and a very strong performance by the group 'Spectrum' -- a tribute to Motown. The Denise Canby Trio and the Rosario Strings entertained in the Centrum lobby; not our style, but judging by the attendance every night this was a real hit. The poolside band, Kool Vibes, was not very good. The other resident band, House Party, was also mediocre. You could always find a group of cruisers up in the Vortex Disco shaking their bones to the tunes of DJ Johnny. When not on the dance floor, they were sipping refreshments at the rotating bar, a very neat feature.


There was always plenty to do: bingo, cooking lessons, wine tasting, art auctions, cinema, pool activities, rock climbing wall, golf mini-putt, shuffleboard, etc. The best part: We were not belted by noisy loudspeaker announcements that drive you up a wall. The announcements you did hear were important; usually it was Captain MacDonald giving data on the ship's course, the weather, winds and destinations.


All the rooms, including the washrooms, were spectacular, functional, and well serviced. Our favorites were the Safari Room, the Schooner Bar, Solarium and Tides Dining Room. All the rooms were very pretty and well decorated. The bank of elevators faced the sea, a wonderful idea with a great view.


We had late seating, but preferred the early seating as we had the first cruise. We ate all of our dinners in the dining room, where the menu had great variety, but the food was low on taste. We believe that all waiters will suggest a recommended choice; if not, ask the waiter for his/her suggestion and take it.

The Windjammer Café is a buffet-style option for casual dining and all breakfast and lunch servings. The room's design has improved efficiency and eliminated line-ups for food. There are islands scattered around, each with their specialty, giving you great variety and choice. But we thought the quality of the food was mediocre. The décor and vastness of the Windjammer is a real improvement and a hit with the cruisers. The quaint, smaller Seaview Café offers sandwiches and fried/greasy food – hamburgers, onion rings, etc. This is a good alternative when your taste buds itch for fast-food fare. Overall, the food was of good variety, but standard quality. We hope that RCI improves this.


We believe that RCI offers the best value for your money and possibly the best vacation on earth, and does it with style and service. Although you cannot please every cruiser's desire or expectations, an RCI ship -- especially the newer ships -- should meet most of your expectations. We are preparing to sail again in 2007 on their newest ship, the Ultra Voyager series -- either Freedom of the Seas or one that is not named yet.


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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 15, 2005

The Ship is beautiful. Guest Relations personnel were too few and not pleasant--always a line to wait in for any problem or concern. Food quality was uneven and unpredictable, as was the food service.

Arrival and departure times from ports were not predictable. Many other inconsistencies and problems making this cruise not pleasant.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: November 6, 2004

My husband David and I recently returned from our long-awaited two-week vacation, which included an 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on RCI's newest ship, Jewel OTS. This ship is the 4th vessel in the Radiance-class of the fleet, and this sailing marked the inauguration of her winter Caribbean sailings. She went into service last spring, doing European/Baltic itineraries, then crossed the Atlantic to do a series of fall sailings out of Boston before repositioning to Ft. Lauderdale for the winter. This was our 4th cruise, and we only ever sailed with RCI. It just seems like a good fit for us. David and I spent a week in Florida prior to sailing. There is nothing like getting on a ship when you're already in super-relaxed vacation mode. We flew directly from BWI to Ft. Lauderdale on 10/31, spent four days with friends in Lake Worth, then two days in Ft. Lauderdale, including a quick run down to South Beach for a fun evening at Mango's on Ocean Drive. Someone on this ng recommended that to us three years ago and we've been back a few times since.

On 11/6, we arrived at Port

Everglades early, and we were on the ship by 11:20. The check-in process was easy and fast. We did our pre-boarding documentation online at home a few weeks prior to our departure. Our cabin was ready when we got there. We were in cabin 4061, Cat. N, inside, located right off the Centrum Lobby. I was a little worried that we would hear a lot of noise from the lobby, or from people walking by, but it was never a problem. We dropped off our carry-on bags and took the elevator to the top deck and took a self-guided tour from the top deck down. We were a little nosey and went into some of the larger suites that were open and checked out those spaces. The Royal Suite was incredible. Total luxury and so much space. Maybe one day we'll spring for a balcony cabin, but truthfully, we're of the school of thought that we only use our cabin to shower, change our clothes and sleep. I will say that our cabin was roomier than I thought it would be, and we had plenty of storage space. The closet was very large and well-designed. The bathroom, however, was remarkably small, which RCI is known for. We stowed our garment bag under the bed and gave our two suitcases to our cabin steward to store in a closet for the duration of the cruise. THE SHIP: There is so much to say about this ship I hardly know where to begin. First of all, the ship is very aptly named. Jewel-toned colors were prevalent throughout. The decor is stunning, with lots of warm and rich colors, beautiful and rich floor coverings, either in carpeting, inlaid woods or tiles. The artwork around the ship was incredible. Some of it was serious and elegant, and some of it was whimsical and charming. All of it was a feast for the eyes and very impressive. The Centrum soars 9 stories high and is a magnificent space. Each level has overlook areas where people gather. One of the most magnificent and impressive features is a bank of elevators overlooking the ocean. The most impressive of the public rooms are the Tides Dining room, the Coral Theater, and the Safari Club, which was the venue most used for activities and gatherings. This area also features two self-leveling pool tables,which I think must be a first on the high seas. The Schooner Bar, which is on all of RCI's ships (I think!) is always a popular gathering area. We had a full house on our sailing, and due to the comfortable size of this ship (90,090 GRT) we almost never felt crowded. The one exception to that statement, however, is the main pool area. Always crowded, especially on sea days. There is also a beautiful solarium pool area, which is adults only, except on rainy days when children are allowed with parental supervision, and there is also a very nice children's pool area located on another deck. There is the Ship-shape center and spa area, and for those sports-minded individuals, there is a rock climbing wall, miniature golf, and a sports court. FOOD/DINING: The Tides Dining room is a two-level space which is beautiful, warm and welcoming. We had second seating, which was 8:30. Our waiter, Nafiz, from Turkey, and assistant waiter, Alvaro, from Colombia, were professional and attentive. Early on, I felt Nafiz was a little stiff and cold, but I think he warmed up to us when he saw how easy and friendly we were. We were at a table for 6, which included one couple that we were traveling with, and another older couple from northern California. We all got along splendidly, and our dinner conversations were always fun and lively. We had all sailed previously with RCI, and we all thought that the quality of the food has vastly improved over the past few years. Each days' menus were interesting, varied and tempting. As is typical with RCI, each menu offered low-fat options, and there was always one low-fat and one sugar-free dessert offered. I, however, did not take advantage of those offerings, rather choosing to indulge in many scrumptious treats that I typically avoid. And I didn't regret it for a minute or feel any guilt. Without exception, the best treat of the entire week was the flourless chocolate cake. Absolutely to die for. If anyone has this recipe, please share!!!! The Windjammer Cafe was actually pretty good. We ate breakfast there a couple of mornings when we wanted to be off the ship early, and we also had a couple of nice lunches there. Again, I think the quality of food there has improved, considering it's buffet-style, cooking-for-the-masses type of food. There were several stations offering all sorts of options, including sliced-to-order meats. And the ever-present desserts bar. There was also a soft-serve ice cream machine, but I actually think it was frozen yogurt, which is fine with me. That made for a nice late afternoon snack. The Windjammer offered both inside and outside seating. There is a small cafe in the Solarium, which we used once. A pleasant addition to the eating venues is the Seaview Cafe, located behind the children's pool. This small cafe offers a limited but varied menu which was the perfect compromise between a large dining-room-meal and the Windjammer Cafe. We ate there a couple of times and enjoyed it very much. There is also Portafino's Italian restaurant and Chop's Grill. Both of these restaurants carry a $20 per person additional charge, and we would have gone there had the dining room food not been so good. I did speak with a couple who ate at Chop's and they said it was excellent. There were two formal nights on this cruise, and we saw more men wearing tuxedos (about 50%) than on previous cruises. We enjoy the formal nights and David does the tuxedo thing. I do one pair of black silk trouser with two different dressy tops to switch off. Makes packing a little easier. STAFF: The Cruise Director, Karen Maybury, is a lovely and charming British woman, but she lacked the dynamic personality that I like to see in a CD. My absolute favorite CD is Jeff Arpin and I tend to use him as a yardstick to measure other CDs by. Probably not fair, but that's what I do. Our cabin attendant, Raymond, was excellent and attentive, and left us the most pleasant towel animals in our cabin every evening. The one that cracked me completely up was the chicken hanging from the ceiling. Too funny for words. The entire crew was very attentive and helpful. ENTERTAINMENT: We were so impressed with the quality of the shows in the Coral Theater. Truly wonderful shows every evening--the best I can remember from all our cruises. Marty Allen was the featured entertainer. There were two revue-type shows featuring the RCI singers and dancers, both quite good. My favorite entertainment was the Denise Canby Trio, which played nightly in the Centrum Lobby. We listened to them every evening before dinner and after the shows. Denise is warm and charming, and she would go out of her way to talk with the passengers. We actually spent a good bit of time with her and she's a lovely young woman. She and David did a mean cha-cha on a few occasions. There were other entertainment venues on board, including at the piano bar in the Schooner Bar and other featured musical groups elsewhere on the ship. There were the typical theme evenings, such as Caribbean and 50's/60's Rock 'n Roll, which are always fun on a ship. The Caribbean evening included dancing under the stars with a pool-deck buffet late in the evening. PORTS: We visited San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Antigua, and Nassau. We've been to all of these ports previously, with the exception of Antigua. In SAN JUAN, we walked around Old San Juan and stopped at a cafe for drinks. We really didn't have that much time there, as we arrived at 2 p.m. and departed at 8 p.m. On previous trips there we toured the El Yunque Rain Forest and San Cristobal Fort. They are definitely worth seeing. In ST. MAARTEN, we took the water taxi ($5.00 for the whole day) over to the shopping district in Phillipsburg on the Dutch side. Did some shopping, water-taxied back to the ship to drop off our goodies and put our bathing suits on and water-taxied back to the beach. The one thing that really bothered us in St. Maarten which we didn't remember from our last time there was the hawkers in the street trying to get people into their shops. And the women on the beach trying to sell their goods--they were relentless. Even after we politely told them no thank you, they would still try to sell us stuff. We came within an inch of actually being rude. For a minute, I thought I was in Mexico, where that happened to us all the time. Actually, the highlight for us in St. Maarten was seeing the beautiful QM2, which was anchored in the harbor not far from our ship. She looks magnificent. In ST. THOMAS, we rented a jeep and drove it on to the Red Hook Ferry which took us over to St. John. We wanted to go to Trunk Bay, (thanks Tom K!) and it was worth the effort. What a beautiful beach, and what a beautiful island. Unfortunately, because it had rained there a lot recently, we were told that the snorkeling wouldn't be too good so we didn't even try. We did, however, love the beach and would recommend it to anyone going to St. Thomas. In ANTIGUA, we hired a taxi to take us to Hawksbill Resort, where we spent a lovely beach day (again, thanks Tom K!) This resort is actually an all-inclusive hotel, but the beach is open to anyone. We later found out that for $40 per person, we could have had an all-day pass to the hotel and all it offers. Antigua looked to us to be a very poor island, but we enjoyed it nevertheless. Everyone was very kind and welcoming. In NASSAU, we had another short day. We were there only from 12 noon until 6 p.m. It had been 10 years since we were there and we were very impressed with how well the island looked and how well it grew up. Bay Street was lovely and clean, and had lots of shopping opportunities, including the Straw Market. We were surprised and happy to see a Hard Rock Cafe again in Nassau (it reopened in 2000) and that gave us the opportunity to buy another Hard Rock Cafe shirt for David, who has amassed quite a collection from all over the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. After shopping, we opted to enjoy the ship while most people were in port. That's a nice experience, and I recommend it highly. We actually had two full sea days and two half sea days during our 8-night cruise. It was a nice balance of ship time and port time. While on the ship during those lovely sea days, David and I found ourselves spending most of that time on the Promenade deck, relaxing and reading in our lounge chairs. It's quiet and peaceful, and we prefer looking out on the ocean rather than a crowded pool area. And speaking of lounge chairs, I was very happy to see that RCI upgraded their chairs to very comfortable nylon canvas chairs, rather than the tubular plastic variety that we experienced on previous cruises. The debarkation process went easily and smoothly, and we found our luggage in the terminal very quickly. There were plenty of taxis waiting outside and we were at FLL within minutes. Our direct flight back to BWI wasn't until 2:45 p.m., so we did have quite a wait at the airport. I wouldn't, however, recommend anyone booking a flight much before noon, because you never know when there will be a delay with debarkation. That has the potential to be a little too stressful for me. This was a wonderful cruise experience and David and I loved it. Even though we'd been to most of these ports before, we enjoyed them all. Each time we go it's a new experience. And truthfully, the ship itself is the destination, more so than the ports. If anyone has any questions that I can answer, please don't hesitate to email me. Happy cruising! Karen Henelde Owings Mills, MD
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