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Antony

Age: 58

Occupation:Teacher

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Jewel of the Seas

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Baltic

Jewel of the Seas is a splendid ship with excellent facilities and a very helpful crew. You can hardly feel or hear the workings of the ship and its jet engines give the smoothest ride possible. The staterooms (cabins to us Brits) are small but well equipped and the public areas are of a very impressive standard. The food in the main dining room is good, but not exceptional and the Windjammer buffet restaurant offers an informal option that can be a nice relief from the over-attentive waiters in the "Tides" dining Room. They tend to dominate their tables with constant menu advice and a desire to make sure that everything is OK. The effect is to disrupt conversation and to be a bit intrusive. Of course they are motivated by the infernal tipping system employed onboard.

The ship's ambience and culture are very American and this can be a source of difficulty for the more reserved British guests. Is Bingo a popular game in America? There is a clash of culture over the heavy concentration on "shopping" onboard and onshore. American cruisers obviously need considerable advice when it comes to deciding what to buy from the ship's shops and those in the ports. One of the ship's TV channels is dedicated to this theme. We were surprised by the lack of all-in drinks etc. We had to buy more than expected. Only the most standard coffee etc. was included for free. The impression is that Royal Caribbean are trying to squeeze as much money out of their passengers as possible despite the cost of the original bookings.

Our advice would be to avoid this cruise line if you find Americans too assertive and noisy, though there were at least another 50 nationalities onboard and those in larger groups were the most annoying.

The entertainments in the main theatre were of mixed quality but some were excellent. According to the (British) Cruise Director several had performed for Her Majesty the Queen of England. We did not recognize their names but they turned out to be top quality entertainers nevertheless. The theatre itself would grace any British city in its equipment and facilities.

The only members of the ship's staff who seemed less than warm and helpful were those at the Customer Relations Desk (ironic!). Having overheard some of the complaints and questions from some of the guests (guess which ones!) we can understand a sort of cold sense of distance creeping in. Our only other complaint was that the champagne cocktails in the Champagne Cocktail Bar were made with "Lambrini" which should never be classed as a Champagne and in Britain is regarded as a low quality and cheap sparkling wine (not even a genuine wine since it is a perry) of very modest alcohol content. We suspected that this was also used at the Captain's Champagne Reception. If so this is very disappointing behavior for the management of such a prestigious ship.

Our minor complaints did not spoil a very well organized cruise in which we were taken with great security and comfort to six very interesting countries. The ship's passenger control systems are excellent and we rarely had to queue to leave or return to the ship.

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