We chose the Jewel TA due to it being the one that met our needs of date and destination to the UK for our land tour that followed. This cruise met those needs very well. This was our first time sailing with RCCL. We were very pleased with some things and others not so much.
Both embarkation and disembarkation worked very well. We had no wait in Miami and since we carried our own luggage off at Harwich, no wait there, either. The train station is in easy walking distance of the cruise port, so we were quickly off to London on our own after disembarkation.
First the superlatives: Of all the ships we've cruised, I liked the pool area on the Jewel the best. There is both an outdoor family pool and an indoor adult pool. The indoor pool made it possible to enjoy the pool each day no matter the weather. On rough days, it was a wave pool. The pool area was well-maintained and staffed 24 hours a day! I'd never seen this on any other ship. We also found the stage shows to be the best we've experienced (not counting the Epic which is a different class entirely). The ship's troop of singers and dancers was exceptional and the other shows quite good. The cruise director, Clo, was great! She could have a career as a standup comedian if she chose with her jokes and expressions.
Our room was good and well-maintained by the steward as is customary on all the cruises we've taken. Like the other lines we've cruised, service in general was very good. We had one problem which I sent in on their survey we got a couple of days into the cruise. Not only did I receive a prompt phone call from the director of housekeeping, but he made a personal visit to our cabin to be sure the problem was resolved to our satisfaction. Very impressive!
Now for the worst: The main dining room was abominable from my perspective. It was very, very noisy to the point that one could not hear the conversation at the table. Large tables of ten are crammed together with not enough space for the servers to move freely between them. (Advice to anyone booking...request a table for just your own party.) The food was the worst of any cruise line we've ever sailed on. The buffet food was preferable as you could see what you were getting before you chose it. The beef was tough. Several at our table sent beef back which was not cooked to order. Tough beef I ate, which was preferable to the very rare I received when I ordered medium and the old shoe I received when I ordered medium well. Gave up on the beef after that. Other entrees sounded good but were not to my taste. When some at our table complained to the head waiter, his response was that the recipes were fleet wide and could not be changed by the ship's chef. The service took a very long time, some of which was due to being at a large table but most was due to the long length of time it took for the food to come out of the kitchen. Several nights this caused us to miss entertainment we wanted to see. We learned to not go to the dining room on nights we wanted to be sure to make a show. If I were to book again, I'd choose the As You Wish dining option.
The drink prices were the highest of any ship we've ever sailed on. This resulted in the lowest bar bill we've ever had as we were just not willing to pay that much. No two for one happy hours like on our January cruise on the Rotterdam. The Drink of the Day seemed always to be a sugary fruity concoction that I tried a couple of times since it saved a couple of dollars. I quickly tired of this and just limited drinks to one or none, a good thing in the long run. The lounge entertainment was the least desirable to my tastes of any ship we've ever been on. Objectively I thought the country group was good but I don't choose that style. Others I just did not care for...also good for the bar bill as on NCL we always find one we love and hang out in that lounge most nights. Since we'd cruised with Holland America in January, we missed being treated as special guests even if you are in a low category cabin. RCCL does not give robes or nice toiletries to everyone and forget the free fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. Perhaps if you are a suite passenger or a Diamond Club member, things are different. For a frequent cruiser who was a first timer on this line, the lack of amenities was noticeable. The library was pathetic. Perhaps the itineraries the ship is on do not require an extensive library but on TAs, the library is frequently used. The fiction shelves were always empty. Although they had a two book limit, this was not enforced and I saw people who had checked out up to ten books, leaving little for late comers. I was glad I'd brought my own supply of books. There were also less daytime activities to choose from than on other TAs/long cruises we've taken. Those we liked would always be scheduled at the same time so you would have to choose and then have nothing to do at other times.
All in all, we had a good time on a clean ship with good service. RCCL will not be my line of choice, but will be considered again if the itinerary and price are favorable as they were this time.