We booked the November 2011 cruise on the Jewel out of Tampa during our first cruise (Enchantment of the Seas) so we could share the cruise experience with my husbands mom and dad. Here's a collection of my positive and negative observations on our overall experience:
1. My parents-in-law's "Accessible Cabin" was phenomenal!! The large room and balcony was fantastic for my mother-in-law's limited mobility and walker maneuvering. She would have been miserable in a standard stateroom. Our cabin steward was wonderful and she took good care of all of us--quickly and efficiently.
2. Dining room and room service food were very high quality and reasonable delivery times.
3. The balcony in our standard room was wonderful--I just need to remember to ask for the non-smoking side of the ship. Smoking wasn't common, but it was frequent enough to be annoying.
4. The balcony in my parents'-in-law room was amazing--extra spacious with additional furniture.
5. I could always find areas of the ship without crowds in beautiful areas (but, not near the pools). I love the Viking Crown Lounge! I wish I had found the Sports Deck and the little Seaview Cafe before the last night of the cruise. I'll check out future ships for these relaxing, lesser used areas EARLIER! :-)
6. The risotto at Portofino was amazing!!
7. The wine tasting dinner at Chops was almost amazing as the risotto at Portofino--I loved it!
8. The All-Access Tour was worth the expense and the Activities Director was a phenomenal tour guide and hostess. The Captain taught us many of the techniques he uses to control and maneuver the 90,000ton ship. Amazing!!
1. Our assigned seats in the main dining room (MDR) for early seating were in the middle of the huge crowded room--getting there was very hectic and difficult for my mom-in-law and her walker. The early seating filled with young families, large parties, and lots of noise. I wish we had requested a change in seating to simplify our entry/exit--we needed the early time to meet my parents'-in-law preferences for eating early.
2. The elevator capacity was insufficient for everyone to use and should have been prioritized for the handicapped or parents with strollers-- healthy people who can walk (of any age) should have been encouraged to use the stairs by the staff. My mom-in-law spent 20-30 minutes to get to dinner every night. She would even be forced to wait 10-20 minutes during non-peak times because clueless people and unsupervised children were monopolizing the elevators. I used the stairs at almost every opportunity and found them much faster and easier than the jam-packed elevators.
3. I wish Royal Caribbean would simplify and streamline paying for alcohol or other uncharged food/beverage items. I know RCL wants to control access to alcohol to avoid the behavior issues associated with alcohol abuse, but it does seem manipulative and reduces the relaxed atmosphere. I wish they would equip all of their servers with quick scanners to read Sea Pass cards and authorize purchases with digital signatures (like UPS or grocery store checkouts). No PREVENTATIVE security is provided with the paper exchange, since a stolen card could be used to make many unauthorized purchases before a victim would know it was being abused.