Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Jewel of the Seas
Sailing Date: March 6th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The Jewel of the Seas is RCI’s newest ship and it shows. There was little wear or tear anywhere and the ship really is amazing. From the 11 story Centrum lobby to the beautiful artwork which is everywhere this is one awesome ship. The colors are cheerful without being in your face happy or loud and I thought that the color scheme was classy.
Getting on was a breeze and was very well organized. Getting on and off at the ports of call was also a breeze with your ship’s seapass which you carry everywhere to pay for things and as your pass on and off the boat. In general security felt tight but not obtrusive and it was reassuring as I’m sure ships like this one are tempting targets for some groups out there. Leaving on the last day was organized. We were the last group called and were still off the ship by 10:20 am and there were lots of porters and taxis for everyone. I’d think twice about booking any flight out of Ft. Lauderdale Airport before Noon as the airport was a zoo, truly PACKED with people from lots of ships that came in and dumped their folks simultaneously.
The Service and the Crew
The crew was great and the service was also solid. They really seemed to want you to have a great time. From room stewards to room service, pool bars to the dining rooms the people of Royal Caribbean were great.
Our stateroom (an outside standard on deck 4) was very well thought out and had lots of storage space so it was easy to unpack a lot of stuff. The beds push together and are comfortable. The TV system is great and includes interactive TV so that you can check your account. The bathroom is tight but efficient with lots of storage and the shower was awesome with tons of hot water. Our room steward (Frankie) kept the place looking shipshape with twice a day service that was impeccable. My only minor complaint would be that they should teach those with no common sense to keep it down as you could hear people in the hallways late at night and the stateroom doors slam loudly.
In general the food was good and extremely plentiful. There are literally 3 to 6 places to eat at any given time including 24 hour room service and you will gain weight so just deal and enjoy. Most of our meals were in the “Windjammer” as it is quick, mostly good and very convenient as it is buffet service. I’m not a big fan of the buffet back home, but I have to admit that they do a good job. Breakfast there was good except for the scrambled eggs which were abysmal. If you’re willing to wait in line you can get omelets, fried eggs etc cooked to order which was good. Lunch and dinner were also good there with a lot of choices and salads which were all very good for the most part.
The “Tides” dining room is the main sit down formal dining room and we only ate there once on the first night. The room itself is very nice and the food that night was only OK. Service was great but my prime rib was banquet quality. I’m sure that it is better on the whole though as I heard no complaints from other guests and on previous RCI cruises it was good.
We ate some lunches at the “Seaview Café” on the back of the boat behind the kiddy pool and it was a nice escape as I truly believe a lot of people went the whole cruise without even knowing it was there. They had sandwiches and other good lunch/snack food and you could stay in pool gear and eat there which was handy. Another neat spot which was lightly traveled and great for a quick snack was the “Solarium” snack bar where they served great crepes and hummus with pitas.
We made good use of the alternative dining venues. We ate at the “Chops Grill” twice and “Portofino Italian Restaurant” once. We all thought that Chops was great, actually really great. In my mind it stands up to comparison with the finest steakhouses anywhere and was better than some meals I’ve had at Ruth’s Chris. The 10oz fillet mignon was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the sides were hot and incredibly good. I guess really the best compliment that I could give would be to say that if Chops was a restaurant in the real world, I’d eat there. Combine this with great atmosphere, awesome appetizers and dessert and perfect service and you’ve got about the best deal going for a $20 cover charge which includes gratuities.
Portofino was good as well. By way of truth in advertising I’m not a huge fan of Italian cuisine and so I thought that it was very good but not as great as Chops. No matter how you slice it though it’s also a steal for $20.
Drinking on board is expensive but I didn’t feel gouged for the most part and the quality and service was good. They offer and we bought a pass for unlimited Coca Cola products and juices. I’d say that in retrospect it would have been cheaper to buy soft drinks a la carte but if you are a heavy soft drink drinker it’s probably a good deal.
Didn’t see a lot of it but what we saw was better then expected and the Coral Theater is very nice and very high tech. The crew did a good job of organizing things to do like Karaoke, games, etc and there was pool, the casino, numerous bars, the library the cinema the fitness club, putt putt golf, rock climbing, basketball and spa etc. If you’re bored on this ship you need help as there are lots of activities to keep you busy.
Ports of Call and Excursions
We stopped at Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Nassau in the Bahamas. We were supposed to stop at Grand Cayman but because of weather they cancelled and rerouted to Nassau, I’ve heard that it happens frequently. All of the stops were fine but I found Costa Maya to be the best because of the Chaccoben Mayan ruins tour that we did which was a lot of fun. The longer ruins excursion spent 5 hours on a bus, no thanks. Our tour was 4 hours total, perfect and enough time to really see the ruins with a good guide included. Key West and Nassau are warm tourist stops with lots of shopping but which from my point of view I could take or leave. Cozumel was good as a beach break spot but avoid the “Deluxe Beach Break” unless you’re under 30 and are looking for a rowdy good time with lots of alcohol. We heard Passion Beach Break was much better although a bit more money.
Complaints are few but here goes:
- The scrambled eggs at Windjammer tasted like powdered eggs, I’m sure they weren’t but they were awful.
- The Spa while great, was expensive and you got the hard sell on “detoxification pills” or “skin treatments” that cost a lot of money. Kind of tacky in my mind to sell me a service and then hard sell the “add-ons”.
- The stateroom doors slam shut which is annoying especially if your shipmates lack the class or the common sense to shut it quietly late at night.
This is a fun vacation and hard to beat for the money. RCI pulls in a nice crowd and other then the fact that it was Spring Break so we saw more then the average number of rowdy college types the ship had a nice mix of people. We are thirty something's and felt comfortable onboard. There were families with little ones and retirees and everyone seemed to be having a great time. My only complaints were the occasional noise at night in the stateroom corridors but I think that had a lot to do with the Spring Breakers and so we’ll do a better job of timing our trip in the future. We just got back last night and we’re already looking forward to our next trip with Royal Caribbean on the Jewel.