We like to cruise on the larger ships, and were hesitant about the Jewel because it is smaller and older. However, we were very happily pleased and surprised with this ship.
We sailed out of San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Johns Antigua, Martinique, and St. Lucia.
Among the positives of this cruise:
-The ship sails to ports that cruises out of Florida don't normally go to.
-The rooms are as nice as any on the newer and larger ships.
-Dinner in the main dining room was excellent, as was the service.
-The captain was visible at several events.
-The Seaside Cafe offers great sandwiches and food at no charge, and much better than the Windjammer food.
-We never waited in line-for anything!
-Lots of activities-rock wall, mini-golf, shuffleboard, trivia.
-Fresh crepes made to order-twice- a nice treat in the Windjammer.
-The live entertainment is excellent.
Among the things that can be improved:
-Some of the TVs are old and not so good in quality.
-The Windjammer food is somewhat that same everyday, especially breakfast, which was the same each day.
-The pizza-other ships have a pizza parlor, and the Jewel pizza lacks in quality and variety.
-Bar service-we purchased a drink package, and they seem less motivated to provide service to drink package passengers.
St. Johns Antigua seems like a bustling city, and offers much in the port area. Beware that the taxi drivers and local vendors are very aggressive and can be intimidating. We did walk around the city and did some shopping. Note that local prices are not in US Dollars, so be sure to get the US dollar price. The local beer is good, and can be purchased in many markets. There is a pharmacy close to the ship that has a very fair and honest merchant, and is good place to buy snacks and beverages. There is also a small shopping village near the dock which has unique gifts and food.
The most unusual port in the Caribbean-the residents speak French and the currency is Euros.
We did find most vendors who took dollars, and enjoyed walking the streets of the city and the park.
There is a fresh produce market that is reminiscent of Europe, and many interesting shops and vendors to visit. By mid afternoon the streets are empty and shops close, so get there early.
Probably the most disappointing port we've ever visited. There is not much at the dock; although the city is there, most of the buildings are empty and run-down. There are a few street vendors, but nothing great. There is a nice shop which offers cheap beer and free internet. The beach close to the pier is probably the best way to spend time if not taking an excursion.
St Lucia seems to be the gem of the Caribbean to many people. We knew we want an excursion, and a day trip to the waterfall, Pitons, and volcano were recommended. We booked an excursion for a catamaran ride to the Pitons with a taxi to the volcano and waterfall, and were very pleased. The ride was about 45 minutes, and our guide provided a history of the island and fishing villages along the way. On the return ride to the ship, we were provided free drinks, and a stop at the beach for an hour. The catamaran anchored off-shore, and the local gents were very entertaining with shuttling passengers to the beach, and selling coconuts and conch shells. Our supper table mates took the land shuttle for the same tour-and spent 5 hours in a vehicle for the tour.
We found Elvis on the dock, and he provided us a great tour of the island. St. Thomas has many tour trucks competing for passengers, and he dropped us downtown for some shopping, then took us to several scenic viewpoints, to the beach, and provided much info and history about the island. He also sings and provides some entertainment during the tour. We got a 4 -6 hour tour for $25 a person-a great deal!