This cruise was supposed to be a type of reunion for me. I used to be a police officer and my old precinct was sponsoring a cruise, so I decided to go. One by one people started to drop out. Before you knew it, there were only three people going, myself, my wife, and my friend Kurt who like me, was retired.
We flew into San Juan the day before. When I travel any distance I like to have a buffer in case of a delay. We stayed at the Comfort Inn. The room was clean, the bed was comfortable, but the hotel is showing signs of wear. It needs to be refurbished. The included continental breakfast was okay. Nothing to write home about. The best thing about this hotel is that it's about a 10 minute ride to the pier.
We arrived at the pier at 10:45 am and were on the ship at 11:15! We were literally the third party of passengers aboard! This gave us time to explore the ship. We had been on Brilliance of the Seas, the sister ship of Jewel, so we basically knew our way around. After a quick stroll around, and a bite to eat, the rooms were ready so we dropped off our bags. Our luggage arrived soon after that so, we unpacked.
We had a superior balcony stateroom on deck 9. Having had a room on deck 10 on Brilliance, that was right under the Windjammer, I knew that deck 9 was as high as I wanted to go! The bed was comfortable. I can honestly say that in 9 cruises I've never had issues with the bed. The bathroom was a typical cruise ship bathroom, small but adequate. There was no problem as far as closet space was concerned. There was plenty of room to hang our clothes and plenty of shelf space. With all those cruises under our belt we know what, and what not to take. Because we were Platinum members(we actually made Emerald on this trip!) there were two bathrobes for our use in the room. Our excursion tickets were delivered promptly and the roses I bought for my wife were there waiting for her. Our cabin steward Malbert was all you could ask for. He was helpful and thorough without ever being in the way. The one special request we made, to empty the refrigerator, was handled promptly. Our neighbors above and below us, and on either side were nice and quiet.
The first meal we had was in the Windjammer. They had a wide variety of buffet items. We never really ever had a problem finding a table. It was nice to see that there were two free-style Coke machines available. The Main Dining Room was also very nice. We had no problem having my friend Kurt moved to our table. Our waiter Samantha, and her assistant Mo-Bin were very attentive and fulfilled our every request. They always knew what dinner rolls we wanted and how we took our coffee and tea. We only ate in two other venues on this trip, The Seaview Café, and Chop's Steakhouse. Both were very good.
Having been on 8 previous cruises we'd seen about every production show they have. They were good, but after a while they get kid of repetitious. They did have a comedian and two headliner shows which were very good. Every day they would have at least one trivia contest in the Schooner Bar and of course The Quest, and Love and Marriage.
Our cruise stopped at Tortola, St. Maarten, Dominica, St. Kitts, and Barbados. All ports, with the exception of St. Maarten, were new to us. We only took excursions that consisted of an island tour. We never went to any tourist traps. On Barbados we did take the Atlantis Submarine tour(which was very interesting) coupled with an island tour.
Jewel is a Radiance-class ship. Not one of the mega-sized ships but by no means tiny. The pools are adequate, but on sea-days they can get a little crowded(just a little). The theater is big and comfy. All the public rooms are of adequate size that you're never falling over one another. My favorites were the Champagne and Martini Lounge and the Schooner Bar. Jewel is do for a refurbishing soon, but if you ask me, they can put that off for a while. At ten years old I think she's in excellent shape.
I have to give every crew member I ran into a thumbs-up! It seems that they couldn't do enough for you. Our cabin steward Malbert was great! Our waiter and assistant waiter, Samantha and Mo-Bin were top notch! Our Captain, Captain Thore, was so personable and friendly it was hard to believe he was the man in-charge! Our cruise director Dennis Charles, was probably the best cruise director we've ever had. He always had a smile on his face and saw to it that all passengers were having a good time.
As easy as it was to get on the ship, it was just as easy getting off! When we arrived at our waitng area they informed us that our number had already been called and we could leave. We got through all the checkpoints and got our luggage. We flew through customs and before you knew it, we were in a taxi heading for the airport.
With all the fanfare associated with ships such as Oasis and Allure, and now Quantum. Many people forget about the smaller, older ships. They might not have all the bells and whistles of their big sisters, but they provide a relaxing and memorable voyage.