This is our 7th cruise, and my sister and her family's second one. Departing from New York was very easy; the dock was easy to find (much easier than NJ's Port Liberty), and parking was a breeze.
My partner and I booked a penthouse, my sister, a balcony and my 2 teen nephews in inside. At check in, since we were in a penthouse, we were asked to wait in a "VIP" lounge (which was not so VIP) to wait for the concierge to provide us with the keys and for the priority boarding. So, essentially we were separated from rest of our family. Pre-boarding was great; but the concierge took us a lounge, and hand delivered welcome letters and excursion information (which we did not need as we already pre-booked all our excursions) which took a while. After a while, we were directed to Cagne's for lunch. We asked if our family could join us, we were told no, so we found the rest of our family and had lunch in the Garden Cafe instead.
Our aft "Penthouse" cabin was very nicely setup, More
and had a coffee/cappuccino maker which we loved, and a large deck. My sister's balcony cabin was very nice as well. The inside was just an inside. Our penthouse cabin was serviced by a "butler", who seemed a bit nervous dealing with a same sex couple. He was very attentive though. Our room attendant was not friendly at all, and I question the cleanliness as I scrubbed the sink thoroughly off the black gunk. My sister and nephew's room attendant however was very friendly and cheerful.
One advantage with Penthouse was the ability to reserve tables for the whole family in the restaurants including Tzar Palace and Azure.
The food in the dining rooms were good. Garden Cafe served almost the same menu every day. We did not try the paid restaurants.
For the first couple of days, we found the staff to be fairly unfriendly, specially the servers in Tzar which included the maitre de who seemed more interested in paying attention to the young lady servers then the guests. The servers seemed rushed, and did not bother to ask how we liked our steak, if we wanted wine with dinner or if we wanted tea with our dessert. We had dinner at Azure one night, and the service was even worse. The servers were communicating to each other by yelling across the room. Shiela, who served us on the last 2 days of the cruise was excellent though.
The ship provided lots of activities for the 2 teens. We only saw them for dinner; other than that, they were with their group of teens with the teen coordinator. They saw shows together, had tables reserved for them in the dining rooms and had lots of games.
As for excursion, the Disney world excursion was excellent with friendly bus driver and comfortable transport (we had concerns about spending only 6 hours but it was enough), Aqua Adventure at Atlantis in Nassau was good and snorkelling at Great Stirrup Cay was amazing. We did not reserve an umbrella on the ship; it was all booked by the time we tried to reserve it on the island.
The cruise was very comfortable overall. We usually stay in balcony stateroom but extra for the penthouse was worth it. The ship is definitely showing it's age and not at par with RCL's Voyager of the Seas sailing from Port Liberty. Less
Jewel of the Seas Cruises to the Southern Caribbean