I picked this ship for the itinerary, and the price was also excellent. Previously I had sailed Explorer, Oasis and Allure. I certainly wasn't expecting Oasis, but I was really surprised that so many reviews said that ship was beautiful. It was so basic. There was no WOW factor. In fact, nothing pretty about this ship at all.
EMBARKATION AND FIRST IMPRESSION:
Embarkation was a breeze. Once they opened the line at 11, we were on the ship in about 15 minutes. The staff was very friendly. We walked on to a random deck with absolutely no frills. We wandered around the ship waiting to be impressed. We went from end to end in a matter of minutes. This ship is small and lacks any life or interest. The pool is very small for 2000+ passengers.
Once we got to our cabin I immediately noticed the outdated bubble tv. Really RCCL??? Small flat screens don't cost that much. The cruise line should be embarrassed. The bed was a disaster. It had a huge dip in the middle and slanted to the left. My husband felt like he was falling out of bed while wew still anchored. We went to the desk and they said it was a full sailing and couldn't move our cabin. So housekeeping brought egg crate and made it bearable, but certainly not comfortable. This ship and cabin is in serious need of updating. Explorer needed updating as well (we sailed her on October) but the fun factor, cruise directors and other features more than compensated. Not the case on this ship.
I have to say, I read a lot of reviews about the food being bad. I actually thought the food was excellent. And I'm tough. I'm a foodie and a great cook. I guess its what you order and personal taste. My dinners were all good. I chose CHOPS on the evening that the menu didn't appeal to us and we loved that. We went to the Windjammer every day for breakfast and lunch. We never encountered waits or crowds and this was a full sailing. We had cooked to order eggs every day and never had much of a line and there was always seating.
We had my time dining and on the first evening our wait staff was horrible. We were a party of 2 and both our servers spent all of their time at the larger tables. We were so tired of waiting for him to come back that we just skipped desert and left, even though we wanted some. When we made a reservation for the next evening we requested new servers. The head waiter spent the rest of the week apologizing repeatedly, and even sent a fruit basket to the room. Our new servers were amazing!
ENTERTAINMENT (oh no!)
Now the downside...... entertainment. Wow, where do I start?? We had a cheesy cruise director (Yowza Yowza kinda guy that loved to sing in the mic and loved his chubby self a little too much) And I think my 79 year old dad is too young for this ship. I expected a heavy Latino crowd since we left out of Puerto Rico and didn't mind the excessive Latin music, but I did not expect the ship to cater mostly to the 80 year olds. The piano bar on most ships is one of my favorite places for an after dinner drink. This ship had an older lady that sounded like an even worse Ethel Merman and sang hits from the 40's - 60's. Other than karaoke and latin dancing, there were many nights that there was nothing else to do. And I don't sing or speak Spanish, so I was out of luck. The main shows in the theater were all very old school singing and dancing.... again, hits from the 40's-60's. The highlights were the 30 minute music trivias in the lounge. Love and Marriage and Quest were fun, but the cruise director just was not very entertaining. Don't get me wrong, he entertained the heck out of HIMSELF. But nobody else was laughing.
Loved them! It was a vacation saver. I wasn't a fan of the ship but I loved these ports. St. Thomas is beautiful. We took a sail and snorkel charter to St. John. St. Kitts was amazing! We rode quads through the rainforest. This was the highlight of the trip. We even got a little rain on the ride which cooled us down a little. Aruba is beyond words and looks like a postcard. Curacao was very pretty as well and we did an excellent wave runner tour.
I can safely say I would never sail Jewel again. However, I will sail RCCL again based my excellent past cruises with great cruise directors and entertainment. Jewel needs an overhaul in every department! I had a great time on my vacation because I made my own fun and loved the company! I am a seasoned cruiser with 17 of them under my belt and I know there is much much better out there!