I'll start by saying this one cruise has me planning more! The Jewel of the Seas is a wonderful ship! I now know why so many people love RCL's Radiance Class ships. The efficient flow, all the windows, outdoor dining, the adult solarium, the relative spaciousness of the ship are all things that made our cruise so incredible.
Embarkation: This was astounding!! I carried on my luggage and from the time I stepped off the shuttle from the off site parking garage I utilized (1/2 the price of the terminal parking garage) to the time I stepped into my stateroom was less than 14 minutes!!
Stateroom: Deck 8, mid-ship and it was perfect!! There is a bit of an over hang from Deck 9, which I really liked. It rained as we left Tampa, and my friends and I were able to stand out on my balcony with no rain blowing in. It was also nice in the direct sun as that over hang mostly shaded my balcony. The bed was a bit thin, but ok for my tastes. The bathroom was fine for me, although some may think the shower is too small. My mini-fridge didn't cool well, but I only used it for water.
Dining: Did Portofino's the 1st night. It was ok, but our party of 5 was one of just two tables. So it was a bit too quiet and kind of slow at just over 2 hours, but again, it was ok. The rest of the trip, we used My Time dining and it was fantastic! Never had to wait, although we made reservations each day, never saw a line. We had the same wait staff each night, which was great because they were! Last, really enjoyed the hidden secret at the back of the ship on deck 11. Look it up! There's a cafe there, with indoor and outdoor seating. Never busy, had great made to order food with great views of the sea.
Entertainment: Every time I ordered a drink I would comment how good it was. On other ships, you sometimes get that "all inclusive" Caribbean island resort type drink quality (meaning, not so great) but No, they were excellent and reasonably priced I might add. The Casino was pretty good. Not smoky at all in there, well ventilated, and most of the dealers had pleasant attitudes. Not all though. Great center bar in there too! Skipped the shows, so can't comment on those. The pool areas were very nice, loved the Solarium, as well as the other public areas of the ship. The Disco was fun too! Revolving bar! Wish I knew that when it started and I was only half on it! LOL!! (side note: if you cruise out of Tampa, make sure to be on the upper most deck as you pass under the Sunshine Skyway bridge! It's very cool. The view from the Sky Bar to the funnel as we passed was worth loud cheers from all of us out there in the pouring rain. It literally looks like it is within inches of touching the underside of the bridge span, but it's actually like 12 feet.)
Ports of call: Enjoyed the ship so much, I skipped a sailing excursion in Cozumel! There was virtually no wind, so I didn't think it was going to be much fun. We did get off the ship later in the afternoon to take in some people watching at Senor Frogs.
Fellow Passengers: The most diverse group of passengers I've seen on any of my cruises. There was the young out to have a good time on up to the seniors running around in their powered carts. There was surprisingly few children on this cruise, but it was February, they are all in school. All and all, everyone was having fun and relaxing.
The Crew: They were fantastic! Can't complain really about anything with the crew. They were attentive, spoke great English, and were generally very positive. The Captain likes to talk! LOL. I appreciated his detailed announcements, but I could see others looking around like, "ok Captain, wrap it up!" The guys and gals running all the activities were excellent as well.
Disembarkation: From stateroom to parking lot shuttle.....drum roll.....12 minutes!!! I did carry off my own luggage. Very impressed with the Tampa Port!!
I will miss the Jewel! My wife sails on it in Mar with her girlfriends. I was on with my buddies. We are planning one together, not sure if we'll bring the kids or not. Happy to hear the Jewels replacement will be another Radiance Class ship with the Brilliance of the Seas!