I tend to get carried away on writing these reviews, so I will make a conscious effort to keep my remarks as brief as I can.
I don’t think that I will ever fly a full day to get to a ship that departs at 8:30 pm. I was exhausted on arrival in San Juan. Prepaid transfers from airport to ship went well but were slow. They wanted to see a voucher that indicated pre-paid- something my agent never warned me about. Np big deal- I got around it. Everything that could have gone wrong . . . didn’t (USAirways).
Easy and quick . . . . but be prepared to show your Passport at least five times. Ship is easy to negotiate and room was ready hours before arrival. Male room attendant (Marlon) was typical- friendly, efficient and then invisible for the week.
Way smaller than what I’m used to and this was my 19th cruise. When booking an upper deck “Superior Verandah” stateroom, I expected more space. It was smaller than a lesser category on the Solstice and Reflection! Think of your own bathroom at home and then measure the width of your vanity. The Jewel had a 3’9” wide counter on the distance from the mirror to the round shower was 30” That’s SMALL! This was by far the smallest bathroom I have ever had on any cruise. It was not pleasant. The box (old style) TV was replaced with a flat screen that barely worked that day. Now, I know that we don’t take cruises to watch TV, but an occasional game or English news broadcast would have been nice. More than half the channels were Spanish only.
Built in 2004, the Jewel is due for a rehab. I had heard 2014, but the Captain said it will be in dry dock for 4 weeks in the spring of 2015. Note to Richard Fain: Move up the Jewel rehab- it’s showing its age.
I had requested a table for 2 at the main (6:00 pm) seating and it was, of course, a table of 8. I changed it immediately. No matter, many if not most of the guests chose the Windjammer (top deck) buffet. Menu in MDR did not impress me on any of the days. I had pre-booked a dinner in the ‘pay $30 extra) CHOPS restaurant. The food was not much better than the MDR and the waiter was an ex-football player who insisted on calling me “brother” and ‘Fist Pumping” . . . . because they “don’t shake hands on Royal Caribbean”. I got upset and disgusted and left early. The manager for CHOPS and PORTOFINO made a point of contacting me and was genuinely interested in hearing my complaints. He invited us to Portofino the next night and it was spectacular. Truth is that the extra charges should be reversed. PORTOFINO is worth more! Windjammer was excellent as one might expect . . . but (little thing) . . . there was no smoked salmon (my personal favorite and one of the reasons for taking a cruise) until the 4th day of the cruise. Escargot did appear on one night for any former complainers.
I’m not big on the physical stuff. At my age, the Elizabeth Taylor-Cleopatra sled carried by muscle boys sounds good. The daily newsletter was awful. I needed breakfast and a cup of coffee and a quiet spot where I could read it in seclusion. It was cluttered, confusing, repetitive, and poorly organized. I found the trivia contest which was led by a beautiful young lady who spoke Spanish well and English poorly. Everything else was haphazard. You figure it out. Compared to other ships (including RCCL), the entertainment sucked. Details not necessary- you get the point. Smaller older ships get the Round One losers from “America’s Got Talent”. I did try, but had to leave early every time. Sorry.
On my cruise, no one won more than a few bucks. What does that tell you?
I was all excited about visiting a different island every day. Boy, was I wrong. It was too much. Those “days at sea” might sound boring, but they are an important part of the Caribbean cruise experience. I do not believe in buying shore excursions from any cruise line, so I rented taxis, or my own car and proceeded to see the islands on my own. Most of them use the “other” side of the road, but the steering wheel is still on the left side. Good luck at the roundabouts (rotaries). The only suggestion I have is to avoid the places where the ship excursions go and hunt out the quiet and secluded beaches and beach bars. Yes, I will happy to recommend (privately at firstname.lastname@example.org) Also photos of the interior of the ship are available. Just tell me what you want to see.
2,500+ people and TWO U.S. Customs Agents. Yes the line was long- very long and we were off early! I took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get to the deskâ€¨and they d d not care, at all.