EMBARKATION The bus deposited us and our baggage just twenty
feet from the port door. Excellent! There was wheelchair assistance
from the entrance. We were grateful, because there is no elevator
and the ramp leading to the ship has an unusually steep incline.
The Crown & Anchor Society has priority check-in for its
Diamond and Platinum Members. It also greets all passengers with
freshly baked cookies and lemonade. All this welcome was nice after
the two hour long ride from London through the quaint English
country side. Between check-in and boarding, we were in our cabin
in less than thirty minutes.
SHIP When RCI conceived of the Radiance Class of ships, it truly
designed a modern, classically shaped liner with yacht like
overtones: 90,090 gross tonnage, GTV (Gas Turbine Vessel). The
first of this class was the Radiance of the Seas (2001), followed
by the Brilliance of the Seas (2002), the Serenade of the Seas
(2003) and finally the Jewel of the Seas (2004), which concludes
this class of ships. All were built at the Meyer Werft Yard,
Papenburg, Germany. Last year, RCI also concluded the building of
the larger Voyager class ships,
five in all (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of
the Seas), and recently it has announced the construction of two
Ultra Voyager class, soon to be the largest cruise ships in the
The Jewel is 902 ft. long, 106 ft. wide (Panamax). It has a 28
ft. draft and cruises at 24 knots. There are three acres of glass
windows, giving passengers continuous views of the seas. There are
nine elevators and twelve passenger decks with a maximum passenger
capacity of 2,501. This trip the ship was full to capacity with
passengers of all ages, from infants to elderly, and a crew of 859.
The total number of staterooms is 1055: 817 are ocean view of which
577 have balcony; 238 are interior. There are 19 wheelchair
accessible cabins distributed in various categories. All cabins
have interactive TV, telephone, hairdryer, computer jack,
refrigerator and 110/220 volts electrical outlets.
We were happy to sail again with Captain James MacDonald, Chief
Purser Francois Chevalier and Maitre D' Orlando Rosa. We felt like
we had returned home. The first night we saw a gorgeous sunset
while dining, with the sun, a huge red ball, slowly setting in the
west over the sea. Then, at 9:30pm from our balcony, we watched the
full moon rise, changing colors from orange, to gold, to white by
ten o'clock. The air was so clear the craters of the moon were
In other reviews, we have described the Jewel's sister ships in
detail and we refer you to our prior reviews for details. But each
ship has a specific identity which arises from her unique art work.
Many pieces are in the forward and Centrum staircases. Even though
we extensively use the elevators, we manage to visit the ship's
staircases, where we can view the interesting art work.
Deck 2 has some ocean view and interior staterooms, but mostly
non public areas. Look for interesting art pieces in the forward
stairs between decks 2 and 3, such as David Stuart Forbes' unique
"Luggage of Babel Part I" a work in neon, wood, metal, leather and
paper. In the Centrum stairs between deck 2 and 3 are Pascale
Riberolles' blown glass vases "Automne - Clairette" and Paul Cox'
photo collage "Tafelberg/Curacao."
Deck 3 has all ocean view and interior staterooms. In the
Centrum staircase between deck 3 and 4 are Lippa Dalen's
earthenware "Vase" and Ramon Enrich's acrylic painting
Deck 4 forward has the first level of the Coral Theatre, midship
are staterooms and toward aft is the Centrum, with the Guest
Relations Desk and Explorations Desk. This Centrum is beautiful
with a marble dance floor, bar and an eight deck tall atrium with
balconies on each deck. There is a water fall and orchids plus a
stunning sculpture by Nico Widerberg (Norway) entitled "Northern
Lights" made of aluminum, stainless steel and crystal. This
sculpture is lighted by an intricate system creating an awesome
effect recalling the Aurora Borealis. Here also is the portrait of
the Jewel's Godmother: Kathy Mellor, the U.S. Teacher of the Year
2004. In the forward staircase between deck 4 and 5 is Miguel
Chevalier's holographic film "Flow" and in the Centrum staircase is
Birgit Ten Berge's oil painting "Landscapes"
Aft is the Tides Dining Room, whose entrance is magnificent.
There are silk draped columns, stretching all the way aft to Mouls'
Mosaic of Byzantine glass, brass and copper titled the "Full Moon
Swing." The colors of the dancers' clothing are emerald, amethyst,
ruby and tourmaline: tones reflected by the Ship's name (RCI "Art,
The Collection," 2004). Prominent in this mosaic is the full moon.
With artwork like this, the dining room is simple, but dramatic and
Deck 5 & 6 are all public areas.
Deck 5 forward is the main level of the Coral Theatre. Its
beautiful curtain ("Reef Rhapsody") has an ocean theme evoking
images of sea fans and schools of fish. Midship on Deck 5 is the
conference Center, Photo Art Gallery, the shops (logo items,
jewelry, perfume etc.) and the Centrum with the "Latte-tudes"
coffee shop. Toward aft is the Tides Dining Room Balcony with its
wine cellar walls. In the corridors leading to the dining room
there are some colorful glass panel scenes.
Deck 6 forward is the Coral Theatre Balcony, where we sat at the
back for shows. There is an excellent view of the stage from every
seat. There is a Cinema featuring the latest movies. Toward midship
is the Pit Stop Sports Bar and the Casino Royale. The Champagne Bar
is located near the Centrum. Toward aft is the Schooner Bar and as
usual some of the most interesting art work can be found here. The
model of the "Soliel Royal" (Louis XIV, the Sun King) Flagship of
the French Fleet launched in 1690, is exquisite in detail. Ebbing's
ceramic statue "Beatrice" is amusing with its upturned nose. The
corridor to the Schooner Bar holds a wooden boat with a steering
wheel which fascinates children.
The entrances to Portofino and Chops Grille are here and toward
aft is the Safari Club, and the Game Reserve with self leveling
gyro pool tables. All the way aft is the Congo Bar. Sinclair's
"Pair of Giraffes" done in painted resin and Couts' oil paintings
"Cheetah" and "Zebras" are found here.
Decks 7, 8, 9 & 10 are all staterooms with the exception of
the Bridge located forward on 10 and the Library on deck 9 and the
Concierge Club on deck 10, located near the elevators. Art work in
the forward staircase, between deck 8 and 9, includes Spaans'
photographs of light sculptures "Three Dancers, Blue Corner, Yellow
Door" and, between deck 10 and 11, Van Munster's neon "Brainwave"
and "Moi." In the Centrum staircase there are interesting
photographs: Deck 6 - 7, Ellen Kooi's "Velserbroek - The Bridge"
and deck 8 - 9, Jorma Puranen's "Language is a Foreign Country
Decks 11, 12 & 13 are public areas.
Deck 11 forward is the Ship Shape Spa and the Solarium,
Vincent's favorite area. There is a whirlpool and a lap pool. The
Burmese and Thai influence here is nice and includes the following:
an antique Burmese Bell, a Temple gate flanked by two Golden
Elephants and Manley's "Reclining Tiger" in bronze. Midship is the
outdoor pool area and aft the Windjammer buffet with casual
Deck 12 forward is the ShipShape Center, Gym, the jogging track,
and the Crown & Anchor Society Lounge. From midship to aft are
located Adventure Ocean (arcade), the Teen Pool, Sports Court with
its comical Kinloch Bronze "Catch," a stout man in a bathing suit
trying to get up a beach ball game. There is also the Seaview
Cafe`: an excellent place for lunch -- onion rings, Cuban
sandwiches, fish and chips, soups and salads -- desserts too.
Deck 13 forward has the Viking Crown Lounge, with its 180
degrees view of the sea, and Hollywood Odyssey (intimate night
spot) plus a putting green, mini golf course and the Rock Climbing
CABIN Stateroom #7114 is one of nineteen wheelchair accessible
staterooms w/ automatic door openers. When entering on the left,
there is a double armoire, with a set of shelves, private safe, and
a large closet. Next there is a desk/vanity with lighted mirror,
T.V. and refrigerator. There are two plush blue arm chairs and a
large coffee table. A glass wall faces to the verandah with sheer
drapes and heavy brocade blackout drapes. We found these useful,
since the passengers in the cabin next door left their balcony
lights on all night. Our balcony had a large table for dining or
playing cards etc., two chairs and a chaise. Very nice.
When entering on the right was the huge bathroom, with a 4'X4'
shower, sink, medicine cabinet and plenty of safety rails all
around, and eight hooks for hanging robes and clothes. There was
also a chest of drawers, a king size bed, two night stands and
reading lamps -- very comfortable. Our cabin attendant Glenford
O'Garro was the best! He kept everything spotless and was so
cordial. Thanks Glenford.
FOOD & SERVICE Hotel Director Nibu Sayed runs a tight ship.
He has high expectations for the crew and we feel that they are
met. Anything that we needed was promptly and pleasantly provided.
On a new ship, it is difficult to have all things come together so
quickly, but Nibu managed it well.
The Tides Dining Room and all of the many food venues are in the
capable hands of Maitre D' Orlando Rosa. If a preference is just
stated, his subordinates are on it and they relay it to the waiters
(or vice versa). Their motto is "please the passengers." Mary asked
for lemon wedges on the first night and they were on our table
every night thereafter. Our waitress Anabelle and her assistant
Daniel Ford were both very efficient and pleasant.
We have done enough cruises to realize that when passengers are
tardy to dinner it can disrupt the pace. Meals are usually served
course by course to insure freshness and proper temperature. We are
always amazed when passengers stroll into the dining room fifteen
to forty five minutes late. The servers work in conjunction with
the galley (course by course), which may be serving more than a
1,000 meals for each seating. Fifty years ago, when we first began
traveling by ship, the dining room doors were closed fifteen
minutes after the stated dinner time. People are not so punctual
nowadays, but courtesy is always in vogue.
We used Room Service on a daily basis. Full American breakfast
every morning was hot and and inviting. One night we had dinner
with soup, salad, Filet Mignon and cheesecake for dessert, all
served in our room elegantly.
We also dined with our friend Captain MacDonald, where an
excellent meal was over seen by Maitre D' Orlando. Mary, seated
beside the Captain's father, had a lively conversation with this
very erudite gentleman. We were also treated to an exceptional
luncheon by the Group Coordinator Elmer del Fierro in the Tides
balcony with its wine display cabinetry.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Jill Tasker is part of the "Take
Out Team," which brings on line the new ships, thus placing RCI's
stamp on every ship -- from the Concierge to the Chef. This system
provides uniformity of service throughout the fleet.
The RCI singers and dancers were on their final cruise and
really went out with a lot of energy. We felt that by far the best
production show was Tango Buenos Aires, a revue built around tango
stars Ruben and Sabrina direct from Argentina. Having seen the
Argentinean tango champions in Buenos Aires over two years ago, we
were thrilled to see this sinuous duo. Their routine with the boles
was superb. John Christie was also in fine form once again. We
missed the Celtic Tenors, but were assured that they brought the
Music in the Centrum featured "Deja` Voo" by Theo and Zlati
(Bulgaria), his "Jail house Rock" and her "More" were something.
The Rosario Strings played each evening before dinner and their
Bass player also sang some great renditions of Johnny Mathis hits.
In the Schooner Bar, Barry from Boston entertained with Broadway
show tunes. There were "Olympic Games" at the pool, Horse Races,
Guest Talent Shows, "Dead Again" an interactive murder mystery,
"The Quest" an adult scavenger hunt, plus the usual Bingo and Slots
Tournaments. After all, five sea days are a challenge for the
Cruise Director, and she was up to it.
Then there was also the sea itself which treated the passengers
to many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There were dolphins
frolicking in the Atlantic at dinner time. There were terns, gulls,
birds and spouting whales. Then, there were the many faces of the
ocean itself: calm and serene, active with swells, glistening in
the sun or even shrouded in fog with the ship's fog horn sounding.
Don't forget the game of figuring the ship's course. Just after
leaving Cork, Ireland, Vincent was convinced that the ship was
going east instead of westerly. He was puzzled until the next
morning, when the Captain announced the ship had returned toward
Ireland to debark a lady with acute appendicitis, foregoing the
usage of a helicopter due to a thick foggy night and transferring
the patient to a boat which met the ship half way. Later Captain
MacDonald reassured passengers that she had been operated on and
was recovering well.
PORTS OF CALL Naturally on a transatlantic cruise there are five
restful sea days. However, this cruise started off with exciting
European cities: London, Harwich and Plymouth, England; Le Havre,
France; and Cork, Ireland. Then of course across the pond there is
Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. We enjoyed this
itinerary and found the approach to Plymouth lovely, while Cork
whet our appetite for a return to Ireland.
Sept. 1, Harwich, England Depart: 5:30pm We sailed into the
sunset accompanied by the Bagpipes playing traditional tunes.
Sept. 2, Le Harve, France Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 10:00pm LHA
Tour: Paris sightseeing with Lunch cruise on the Seine, 11 hrs.,
$189. This is well worth it since it tours the Normandy
countryside, the major sights of Paris and serves a gourmet meal on
the river. There are three other tours of similar length and price
to the Beaches of Normandy, Mont St. Michel and the Alabaster
Sept. 3, Plymouth, England Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 5:00pm
Tendering to the port is necessary. This was the last stop for the
Mayflower prior to sailing for the New World. PYG Tour: Leisurely
drive & Devonshire Cream Tea, 3.5 hrs., $56. Admiring the
Devonshire moors covered with heather and drinking cream tea make
an unbeatable combination.
Sept. 4, Ringaskiddy, Ireland Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 5:30pm
Ringaskiddy is the port for Cobh and Cork. CKB Tour: Scenic Drive
& Blarney Village, 3.5 hrs., $40. This took us through the
countryside to the Woolen Mills; with hindsight perhaps the CKA
Tour of Blarney Castle and Panoramic Cork would have been a better
one, because to get so close to the castle, one might as well see
it up close and personal, rather than just from afar. We didn't
take the CKA tour because of the warnings describing the presence
of stairs. Sometimes we find these tour warnings are a bit
exaggerated. There are also excursions to the Killarney Lake region
and the Waterford crystal factory.
Sept. 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9, At Sea.
Sept. 10, Portland, Maine Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm There
are an abundance of city tours and several tours for the sports
minded: kayaking and lobster fishing. PWA Tour: Portland highlights
& lighthouse, 2 hrs., $29. This not only tours Portland, but
also does the rocky coastline.
Sept. 11, Boston, Massachusetts Arrive: 8:30am Depart 5:00pm
There are two highlights of Boston City tours by bus BXA, 1.5 hrs.,
$45 which ends at Logan Airport and BXA, 2.5 hrs., $45 ending at
the Sheraton Boston or at the Hyatt Harbor Side Hotel. However, if
there is time, the better part of the day, it would be nice to do
the "Freedom Trail," a walking tour by the Boston Common, Paul
Revere's house, the Old North church, etc....
DEBARKATION RCI has a color/number procedure with the
Immigration/passport check done several days earlier on board.
Boston has a simple system with a very short distance to the
baggage pickup. There were an abundance of porters, taxis and
busses right at the port terminal. We were met by Mary's brother
Frank and his wife Regina. Just perfect timing -- we didn't wait a
second and we were off to three days in Sudbury Massachusetts,
Mary's home town.
SUGGESTIONS Almost every day the NY Times FAX ran out, not
enough copies, but there were too many copies of the German,
French, Canadian and Spanish daily news sheets. Perhaps, at the end
of the day a survey on the number of unused sheets and the unfilled
requests of the other language papers should suggest the number of
copies to be printed for the next day.
CONCLUSION This was a wonderful cruise, passengers should expect
a few glitches on a new ship, but this was almost perfect. We were
amazed at the gentle kindness of all the crew. This always starts
from the top: Captain MacDonald should be very proud of his
subordinates: Francois, Nibu and Maitre D' Orlando. It was surely a
pleasure to sail with them. We are looking forward this winter to
booking two more cruises on RCI ships so we'll reach the number of
25 cruises for the status of Diamond Plus in the Crown & Anchor
Society. In the meantime we have already booked a cruise on the new
Caribbean Princess for November. Happy Cruising!