I don't normally write reviews after returning from a cruise but I think the information in the few reviews available for the Royal Suite needs to be updated. We just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable week in the RS on the Jewel.
We flew out on embarkation day (don't normally take that chance but had no choice this time) and arrived in San Juan at 1:30 P.M. . We picked up our bags, took a cab to the airport and were at the pier by 2:15. The suite line was fast and we were walking up the ramp by 2:30. RC used to have an officer escort you to your room if you were in the RS but they apparently discontinued that little perk. We were in the RS on the Serenade in 2010 and were escorted. Last year on the Brilliance we were not. Frankly, unless you need the guided tour and ego trip, it is a waste of time. I remember waiting for the officer to arrive so we could get on the ship. It was better to just go on our own.
The RS was exactly like the one on the Serenade. Right down to the furniture. The nice thing about this is that the bedroom is extended out to the end of the balcony with a large picture window for the entire wall. The cabin steward stopped by almost immediately to introduce himself. His name was Simplicio and he was extremely efficient and polite. He explained how the lights work (no minor thing) , the piano (which I will talk about later), and his schedule. He was the perfect attendant, He was never obtrusive yet every time we came back to the room he had been there to freshen things up. He always made sure ice was plentiful without me ever asking.
Next we walked the very short distance to the concierge lounge. It is located next to the elevators on the opposite side which is very convenient. The concierge, Diego, was there when we arrived. He was very friendly and welcoming. We asked him to make reservations for Chops for the following night which he immediately took care of. Having him make that reservation instead of doing it myself assured us of a special evening in Chops. When we walked up to Chops the following night there were three waiters waiting for us at the door and they greeted us by name. The service, food and atmosphere were perfect.
A previous review was critical of the concierge and complained that he was really an overworked waiter. I am happy to report that things have changed. Diego had two waiters serving drinks during happy hour and was available for whatever help suite guests needed. The lounge itself was never overcrowded, They told us that suite guests could also go to the Cigar Bar or another bar on the 12th deck to get free drinks from 5 to 8 P.M. if they preferred. This seemed to work as there were always seats available. Diego seemed genuinely concerned about the mix of the people in the lounge and whether everyone was happy. At one point my wife mentioned to him that they used to have tasty little doughnuts in the morning along with the other pastries available in the CL. He said yes, he remembered them and that they were discontinued. The next morning, and every morning thereafter for the rest of the week, the kitchen made them for us and delivered a plate of them to the room. We didn't even ask for them but it showed the level of service they are willing to go to. Nice touch.
Now, back to the cabin. Everybody knows the RS includes a piano but not many know that they don't need to play to enjoy it. The piano is a disklavier, which is Yamaha's player piano. Inside the bench are disks which you can insert into the controller and enjoy real piano music. This is one of our favorite things about the suite. The piano in the suite on the Jewel was in tune and was a real acoustic baby grand. I mention that because on the Brilliance it was not. The music selection on the jewel is wanting though. Fortunately there is a disk of classic jazz played by Dick Hyman which is great. No classical music though. There were a couple disks that someone had bent that no longer worked. You can buy disks through Yamaha and bring them with you if you really want to listen to listen to specific tunes. By the way, the selection on the Serenade was great and the Brilliance was slightly less but still good.
The bed in the RS is a large king. As Simplicio said, the largest on the ship. The mattress is relatively hard but still comfortable. The room is quiet. Some of the people in other suites nearby said they could hear noise from above and music from the Centrum at night. We never noticed any noise.
The television in the living room is controlled by a controller that is attached to the bar. It also control the stereo system. When you turn it on a panel opens in the wall and exposes a 50 inch flat screen. The reception was very good. The only negative comment would be that since there is no portable remote you have to get up go over to the bar every time you want to change a channel. The bedroom also has a flat screen but it has a conventional remote that you can use form anywhere in the room. That tv is interactive and allows you to check your account onscreen during the week.
With the price of the suite approaching the cost of a week on one of the all inclusive true luxury lines we have wondered whether that would be a better alternative. We like the size of the radiance class ships and like the people we meet on these cruises. So far we think the value is there. The suite perks allow you to order room service from the main dining room menu anytime the dining room is open. You can eat breakfast in Chops every morning if you like. That alone is a very valuable perk. The free drinks between 5 and 8 in the CL and the other two bars is perfect for us as we are not big drinkers. All in all we feel like we are on a cruise within a cruise with the suite program and the RS in particular. You get all the benefits of a larger ship and still get to feel pampered.
One last thing I want to mention about the Jewel. There was a definite feeling that most of the officers and crew really like working on this ship. The captain (Thor) was more visible and open than on any ship I have been on. I heard over and over from the staff all week that they asked to be on the Jewel because they like this size ship and the people that work on it. I think it shows. It was an enjoyable week.