I'm excited to write this one because it was pretty darn good. Of course there are glitches! Don't worry, there will be some juicy stuff here as well. One of them about my roll call mates, and one with dining. But I'm glad to say I will give every tip I got to help future cruisers. And of course to memorialize it for myself so I don't forget.
First off, I planned/booked cruise/air August 13', but I didn't look for a roll call until Jan. The roll call started a yr. before the cruise, so a couple of people were like the best of buds by the time everyone else joined. When I joined it I was so excited, and I wanted to say hey and share my great airfare deal with Royal Caribbean's Choice. It was a great deal, and my welcome was 'what a mistake I had made booking through Choice'. Not nice. But I'm here to tell you that there were no issues at all. I got a great price. They booked us with US, so we got AA points. Even my husband, who has enough AA miles to take him to the moon and back 1 1/2 times said he was impressed. We fly all the time. So in spite of the nay sayers...Just do your due diligence. After booking, go to the airline, and follow up. Just like you would do with a cruise. You may book with crown, icruise, smartcruiser, etc., but tickets are issued by Royal. So they (roll call starter wenches) wanted to get the minimum required by Royal together for the meet up, and they wanted to get an adults only excursion together (so I was out with a teenager) and they started emailing each other instead of using the roll call, because "the other people don't need to see all our plans". Whatever. If you have not been to a ship sponsored meet up, Royal is super nice. They book a nice club, give gifts, etc. I tried to start some fun stuff to bring everyone together, including us folks with those nasty children, like a hometown gift exchange, a slot pull, a cabin crawl, but they were already kind of off it. The gift exchange did happen with some of the folks, but going in I wasn't sure.
So lets start with the cruise. Since our last Royal cruise they started My Time dining. We cruise NCL as well, but it's not quite the same. Our first night, Sat. the 24th, we went to dinner about 6, and the host guy asked if we had a reservation. My DH and I looked at each other quizzically, very funny, and said uh, no. So he hands me a pseudo card and says "Call me for a res." Oh boy. It has his name, number, and says call between 8-12 or 1-5. He proceeds to seat us at the saddest table (to me). Take an immediate right when you go in, against the wall. You can't see anything but walls. It sucked. And apparently the waiters thought so too, because the service was not great. So the next morning, I had an early wake up, breakfast, and called him at 8 on the dot. I told him I would like to make a res. Honestly I was making my best guess because we had a great excursion in St. Maarten and I didn't know when we would eat. I asked for 6:30. I also said, can we please sit at a table within viewing distance of a window? I explained where we sat the night before would not work. He said sorry, all the good tables have been taken, reserved for the entire week. He also said a blatant lie; all the window tables are 2 seaters. Absolutely not true. You people do not know me, but let me tell you, that did not fly with me. I was mad. So tip one; know you should make a reservation, and tell them you want that area the whole week, because this is My Time dining! But lets move on.
Those were the only 2 sucky things of the cruise. Not bad right? We ended up in a great section. Sherlyn in the dining room is a sweetheart. We watched the sun set at dinner every night. I could cry thinking about it. We met some really nice people, some of which won the suite they give away day one in bingo. Lucky!
The ship is pretty! It has been maintained really well, and it has a beautiful color scheme going. Obviously there were things here and there, but overall beautiful! The food was a solid B. I'm picky, so that's pretty good. They have a Iive band that is great. The shows were good. There is singer on board named Zach Hess. He was really good. There is only one reel for him online. Zach? He should put more! It may not be like this on every cruise, but other than the elevators about 50% of the time, and the 5th floor inside after a show, this ship doesn't seem crowded. We would leave dinner and go to the show about 10 minutes before it starts, and it was virtually empty. We always sat in the first three rows, isle, and could have sat in the front row center every night. But since most shows are comediennes. no way are we sitting there! The comedy shows would have been better if people did not bring their 5-10 year olds with them and sit in the first row. Oh yeah, real funny to have your kids yelling out at them during the show. I met some of these parents outside of the theater, and would not have thought they were numb nuts, but apparently...So yeah it's a claustrophobes nightmare after the show, but if you beeline outside and go past the on board shops, heaven. If you want to cattle call shuffle and you don't mind it, then you are good to go. They had so much stuff to do on the ship. We are excursion people though, not to mention fairly early to bed, and early to rise. My perfect ship fantasy would be adventurous excursion all day, great shower and dinner at 6, show at 7:30, dancing until about 10, 11, then bed and sleep until about 6. That fantasy will not happen on a cruise line though. Our room steward was very good. He took good care of us. Our waitress and asst. were great. They did some special things for me one night.
I can't wait to review our amazing excursions! It was overall just a fantastic vacation. I wish I had brought less clothes. I wish I had brought binoculars. Oh wait a second, I just thought of a so so thing. It wasn't bad, but just FYI. We took our son to the 12th floor to get him registered for the youth thing. He is 14. They had switched up. The guy said they just do that sometimes, but to me something was off. His name was Andrew, and he had a bit of a tude. I think my son sensed it as well, because he really did not want to go. So glad because we had a great time together as a threesome. To heck with you Drew! We spoke to him (Drew) for a long time that first night, and to confirm our decision, we saw him occasionally on the ship and he did not have a word to say. The other employees of the ship were so great! He was just a fluke and actually I'm grateful, because we had a blast with our son. We have been on some other ships that the teen club was awesome, and we never saw or kids. But you know, it takes a certain kind of person to bring people together and make them bond. It's a gift. Andrew does not have it.
I did want to say that if you buy a soda on board, it's a 12 oz. can, and it costs $2.50. You get a can and a glass of ice. If you get the drink packages, OMG my memory, it was at least $20 for the soda package. That's per day. I think it was more. So if you drink more than 8 cans of soda, minimum, per day, then it may be a deal. It's a personal decision. For alcoholic drinks, I still don't know if it pays off unless you are there to get wasted daily. The bartenders did not seem as friendly to people with the packages. Actually, on the friendly scale they might be at the bottom. With Drew!
I would love to go again more educated. I say that every cruise! The airport experience was good. The employees were really friendly! Way to go Puerto Rico! Of course my most recent experience was Italy. I can say this because I am a first generation Italian. My family there is wonderful, but in general, the Italians no likey Americans. But everyone can tolerate a different level of crap before it ruins their vacation, so I won't go there further.
Oh, I am envious of people getting ready for their cruise on the Jewel. So close! I hope that I am able to help in some tiny way. Bon Voyage! Have a splendid time! I will review my excursions here and on trip advisor. Ciao!