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Patricia Ibbotson

Age: Over 60


Number of Cruises: 28

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Jewel of the Seas

Sailing Date: 2009-09-19

Itinerary: New England and Canada

This cruise was round trip from Boston. There were long lines at the dock to check in. Luckily the weather was good because the lines were so long they were outside the terminal building. Some of the people had been in line for hours. Once I got inside a Royal Caribbean representative said the delay in boarding was due to a Coast Guard inspection.

Once on board my initial impression of the ship was disappointment. An immediate comparison was made between the Jewel of the Seas and the Explorer of the Seas, which I had sailed on last year to Bermuda. The Explorer is a fantastic ship and I liked it better. The Jewel of the Seas is very nice and the glass elevators afforded views of some beautiful sunsets at sea. My inside cabin on the Jewel seemed very small, but part of that was the dark wood and navy and white color scheme. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all cabins are non-smoking now and smoking is restricted elsewhere. The ship has a beautiful solarium.

The mandatory life boat drill was held, but they no longer require passengers to wear a life vest for the drill which makes things easier. There were 2041 people on this cruise of which 1800 were Americans. There were only 12 children on board.

My table was rectangular and sat twelve which is far too many and the shape of the table made conversation almost impossible from one end of the table to another. The ship also has alternative restaurants and any-time dining. People can come to the dining room any time they like as long as they pre-pay gratuities. There were as few as three people at my table with the usual number being seven. We were tucked away in a corner off the main dining room. On the positive side, I had a window to view the ocean while I dined which was wonderful. And our waiter, Alberto, from Costa Rica was a real delight. The food was good, but the menus uninspiring. I enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and thought the food was better there with a much better variety. The Windjammer has a very nice outdoor eating area. The ship also has a Sea View Cafe that serves light lunches and dinners, and I had the fish and chips there once and the fish was tasty.

I attended three cocktail parties. The first was for all passengers and I had a glass of champagne and left. The second was for Crown and Anchor members and all that was served was champagne or fruit punch. The third was for platinum and above members and this one was like the parties of the old days. They had a carved ice sculpture, hot and cold appetizers, and chocolate desserts. The Captain doesn't shake hands with the passengers anymore due to the Swine Flu/H1N1 threat, and there are also hand sanitizer dispensers available at spots around the ship.

The entertainment overall was very good and the production shows were very professional. In this respect, the Jewel shines. The cruise director was also very good. There were many activities available on board plus the usual art auctions and bingo.

The ports were all good. I took the ship's shore excursions and they all were well-run with good guides. The prices are much less if one books shore excursions independently in most of the ports. I took the Portland tour and went to the Portland Head Light House which was built by George Washington in 1791 and recommend a visit there. In Bar Harbor we tendered in. I took the tour to Acadia National Park. This is a charming resort town and one could easily spent the day walking around, shopping and having a lobster roll. In St. John, New Brunswick I took another city tour which stopped at the reversing falls. Some passengers walked from the ship to the reversing falls so one does not have to take the tours. In Halifax, I took the tour to Peggy's Cove which I found to be a classic tourist trap. This is a little fishing village with only 60 residents and more than 20 tour buses. The lighthouse there is the most photographed in the world and it would be much lovelier without hundreds of tourists around. I took the hop on and hop off bus in Halifax in the afternoon and recommend that tour. There are three different routes at different prices. We did not have enough port time in Halifax.

Security at the cruise terminals is very tight now. In some ports we had to go through security twice, once at the port and another at the ship. One had to have the ship ID plus a passport every time one left or boarded the ship and all the passengers had to go through screening just like at the airports. I can see why they do it, but waiting in those lines takes a lot of time and takes away from the pleasure.

Whatever complaints I would have about the Jewel would be minor. This was my 6th cruise with Royal Caribbean and they put out a consistently good cruise at an affordable price.

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