We started cruising with Royal Caribbean about ten years ago and have reached "Platinum" status. We have tried other cruise companies and each has strengths and weaknesses. We chose the Jewel for its itinerary and departure from our nearby port of Harwich.
We were very satisfied with our balcony cabin which was always kept clean and tidy by our excellent Cabin Attendant. The service in the Tides restaurant was brilliant, thanks to Tamara and her assistant, Socco. We had a table of eight and were delighted with our fellow cruisers.
The itinerary was superb and we really enjoyed St Petersburgh, thanks mainly to two full day tours arranged through Alla Tours. All the other ports of call had their attractions, but why oh why do RCL now charge so much to transfer you from the port areas to town centres? Normally you can walk, but Gothenburgh centre was about 6 miles from where we docked and there was a charge of about $20 per person for the return transfer - scandalous! A similar charge was made for transfers in Stockholm and Copenhagen. We did not take any of the provided excursions because these, too, have become too expensive for us. We like to do our own thing so recommend thorough research before you travel which means you miss little and pay far less!
We thought the evening shows were OK, but nowhere near as good as when we started cruising. The resident singers were sub-standard but the dancers really good! Why did we have one evening with no live show, which was replaced by a very poorly transmitted film? We miss the chocs on the pillow at night, the midnight buffet, the five course meals and the absence of Lobster from the menu.
As we were Crown& Anchor members, we loved the special party for like cruisers, and also the welcome on board party. We are glad that RCL still provide these events. Overall, we would still recommend RCL to those wishing to cruise. On the plus side there is the excellent service from virtually all sections of the crew, the traditional dining, the welcome parties, a great cruiser in the "Jewel", the free activities like mini golf, climbing wall, quizzes, casino (but please no smoking)etc. On the down side, there is the high price of drinks, excursions and port transfers. The recommended "gratuity" amounts have crept up over the years and it is slightly embarrassing to tip less than recommended for service that you expect. The food was good overall, especially in the buffet restaurant, but we found the choice slightly underwhelming.