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Greg Lurie

Age: 59

Occupation:CPA

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Jewel of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 8th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My wife and I sailed on the Jewel of the Seas to the Western Caribbean on January 8, 2006. We are both around 60 years old. This was our sixth cruise, the third with Royal Caribbean. We have also been on two Celebrity cruises and one NCL cruise. We traveled with another couple also about our age.

Getting to the Jewel/Embarkation

We drove to Port Everglades from our home in Florida. We were told that embarkation would be at 2:00 PM. We arrived at 1:30 and it was clear that Royal Caribbean must use a staggered arrival time. We pulled up and the porters were very busy. One took our luggage and asked for a tip, then just put the luggage to the side and went to the next car. We had to move and wondered if our bags would actually get on one of the many full baggage trolleys that were sitting there. (They arrived in our rooms with no problem). Our wives waited in the terminal while my friend and I parked the car.

The parking terminal is a short walk to where the ship was and parking was not a problem. Cost was $12 a day. We met our wives and after that we had no lines at all. We walked through screening, registered our credit card and received a Sea Pass which is used for charging on board. We then went to our state room.

I noted a sign that said embarkation begins at 11:45. I guess our no hassle of getting on board was a trade off between that and getting there almost two hours earlier.

Stateroom and Room Steward

We opted for a junior suite. This was more like a hotel room than the typical cramped stateroom. We had a queen size bed, and a sitting area with a chair, small table and coach. We also had a balcony with two comfortable outdoor chairs and a chair with an attached ottoman. There was a built in writing desk with attached storage cabinets. The closet was a walk in (just barely) and had plenty of room. There was a safe in the closet. The bathroom had a marble floor and a tub with shower.

The room was nicely furnished and the newness of the furnishings was apparent. I like a hard bed and this one was rock hard. I think this could be a problem for some people.

Our room steward was Corazone. She did an excellent job and the room was always immaculate when she was through. She also went out of her way to run some errands for me.

Our room was 1596 on deck 10. It is towards the rear of the ship. I can’t believe there were no public stairs or elevator available at the rear of the ship. We were just below the Windjammer buffet restaurant but to get to it we had to walk to the middle of the ship then take the elevator or stairs up one deck and walk back towards the rear. This was true of all activities as there is no way to get anywhere unless you walk back to the center or front of the ship.

The Ship

The ship is new and spotless. The areas have been broken up so that you never feel like you are in a big group. This works for the most part. However the pool area is divided between the pool and the atrium (which also has a pool). The result was that the pool area was very crowded most of the time. The atrium area, while very nice, had a strong smell of chlorine.

Food Service and Dining

Dining is a major factor for us. We enjoy food. We all found the food to be very mixed. The first few days we found the menu disappointing. Our waiter seemed harassed. That changed as the cruise progresses and the food the last three days was excellent. We even asked if they changed chefs. Our waiter became much friendlier and wound up being very accommodating and had a good sense of humor.

The bar service in the dining room was almost non existent. We were never asked if we wanted a drink before dinner. My wife wanted decaf diet soda which was available at the bars but we were told wasn’t available in the dining room. That turned out not to be true but we had to arrange for it ourselves.

We purchased the wine package which consisted of 5 bottles of wine for the cruise. The first night it took forever to get our wine. After that we ordered what wine we wanted for the next night before leaving the dining room. That ended the delay but I would have preferred to select the wine based on what we were ordering for dinner rather than the other way around

My wife was on a special diet and she had no trouble getting what she needed prepared as she requested.

On the second night of the cruise we ate at Chops, the steak restaurant. This is available for $20 per person which includes tip. This was very worth it. The food was very good and the shrimp cocktail was more like what you would get in a real steak house. I highly recommend this. This restaurant also is a good place to go on formal nights as smart informal is the dress in here.

We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer Café. The food was buffet food and was good for what it was. I was very impressed with the amount of service available. There was always someone around to clean, get a drink, or get things like ketchup etc that you might have forgotten while in the line.

We also stopped in to the Sea View Café. This is in the rear of the ship on deck 12. It’s kind of hidden. They have sandwiches cooked to order as well as milkshakes and beer. There hours compliment the main dining area.

I wished that there was an area for 24 hour snacks. Unfortunately only room service is available round the clock. We also missed having ice cream available.

Entertainment

We went to the show almost every night. The production shows were outstanding especially the West End to Broadway production. We love musical theater and this show was well done. The costumes and choreography were top notch. On other nights the introduction show was just OK. One night they had a magician. It was a standard magical act but well done. We also went to see the pianist show. It was fair.

We really liked Tom McFee in the Schooner Bar. We would go there most nights for a drink and to listen to him/ He is a very talented guy.

The Casino is small but no kinder than any other casino. The staff is very friendly. It bothers me that drinks aren’t free in the casino but that has been my experience on other ships also.

Spa

Before we went on the cruise we had decided to relax and use the spa. After getting on board we took a tour of the spa. It was set up so that the staff was using the facility or getting treatments to show how the various treatments were done. The tour ended at a desk where you could make appointments for the treatments. We did.

After doing a few things over the next couple of days we decided to cancel two of the treatments We called and were told that there was a 24 hour cancellation policy (we called 20 hours in advance) and we would be charged 50% of the cost of the service. At no time was that policy ever explained to us. The staff, who had been so nice when we made the appointments, was condescending. We eventually talked to the spa manager who cancelled the charges but was not very nice about it. I have never been treated like that. Very disappointing.

I did have the seaweed wrap treatment. The treatment and message were very relaxing but that was almost totally destroyed by the high pressure to buy products and additional services. I would be leery when using this facility.

Shore Excursions

We signed up for the shore excursions online a moth before the cruise. I think next time I would wait to get the feel of the ship and what I wanted to do. In Key West my wife did the Garden Tour and Tea and enjoyed it very much. I did the light tackle deep sea fishing. It was a disaster. They expected 3 people but 5 of us were signed up. We went on a 22 foot open craft with no seats (except the top of the cooler). The sea seemed calm until we got out a little way. My friend was black and blue from being thrown around on the trip out. Three of us got sea sick, me the worst. It was not very pleasant. I suggest they put more of a warning on that trip.

The 4 hour Mayan ruins trip was very interesting as well the Atlantic Submarine trip. I would recommend both.

Disembarkation

On the morning of the last day you must be out of your state room by 8 am. Breakfast is served until 8:30. We took advantage of that and figured we would spend the waiting time in the restaurant. Unfortunately we were done by 9:15. We then joined the masses of people waiting to get off. There is not enough seating and we were in a middle group and finally got off at 10:15. Getting the car was no problem but it was crowded trying to go back to the terminal to get the remaining passengers and luggage.

Summary

The Jewel is a beautiful ship but, while new, it is not one of the new mega ships. This is good in that you don’t feel like the ship is crowded with people but you also pay for that in areas like the lack of an ice cream parlor and having a small pool area. Our room was excellent and the ship is immaculate and new. Food is fair to good but better on other ships (including other Royal Caribbean ships). Be cautious of the spa. Read shore excursion descriptions carefully. Of course all this is opinion and you should try it yourself. For me, I can’t wait until my next cruise.

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