My husband and I had the pleasure of cruising on the Jewel of the Seas at the end of March. We boarded in San Juan and sailed to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Antigua, Martinique and St. Lucia. Spent the last day at sea. We've sailed on Royal Caribbean before and like the cruise line. The Jewel is a nice ship but is in need of some updating. I understand that it will be dry-docked in 2015 for some upgrades.
Our cabin was acceptable and big enough for the two of us. My husband loved having a balcony. This ship was nearly identical to the Serenade of the Seas that I sailed on four years ago. I would like it more if the ships did not look exactly like each other inside. It doesn't feel like a NEW experience to me, but rather feels like Deja Vu. I loved all of the ports of call, except Martinique. When we ventured into the city we were not welcomed at all. No one was friendly and we were even snubbed in several places. We will be certain to avoid cruises that stop in Martinique. We snorkeled in St. Thomas, Kayaked in St. Croix, hit the beach in Antigua (choose from 365), snorkeled in Martinique and took the Cosul Tour in St. Lucia. Check out Cosul tours - they are exceptional. The food on the ship was okay. Other reviews have indicated that the food in the Windjammer is pretty much the same for breakfast everyday. Very true. By weeks end, I was bored. Choices for breakfast in Tides Dining room aren't much better, but you can get Eggs Benedict. Lunch choices in the Windjammer changed daily based on a specific Cuisine (American, Asian, African, etc.) Not my favorite since many of the choices I was unfamiliar with and didn't care for them. Dinner at Tides was good. Again, I was surprised by some of the Chef's choices. Lamb was served on two of the seven evenings. While there were other options, I just found it odd to serve lamb chops one night and then lamb shank on another (petty complaint I guess). We ate at Chops and really enjoyed the experience and the food. All very good.
The one thing I found most lacking on this cruise was the friendliness of the staff. In the past every single staff member would go out of their way to make you feel welcomed. We didn't experience it this time. Didn't get the warm greeting when entering the Windjammer, but rather eyed up and down to make sure we put our hands under the Purell dispenser. In the Schooner Bar we previously would have bartenders who were super friendly and funny. This time around they were just interested in taking your order and giving you your drink. No interaction. Same thing happened at the pool bar. Our Waiter and Assistant Waiter in Tides were nice, with the Assistant Waiter really being the best part of the service. He was very sweet and nice. Overall, we had a fantastic time. I am considering looking into other cruise lines for our next cruise. We've only ever sailed Royal Caribbean and really have nothing to compare it with. Also, on shore excursions booked through the cruise line, they need to be more specific on what to wear and what to bring (or not bring) on the excursion. On our kayaking trip we weren't allowed to take our camera on the kayak. We would have brought our underwater camera had we known (again minor complaints) but something that I'd like to see improved.