We just returned from our June 28th cruise on the Jewel. I really like this class of ship...my favorite so far. We have sailed on the Oasis, Freedom, Granduer, Enchantment, and Monarch...as well as Celebrity and a few Carnival ships.
In San Juan, we stayed at the Hilton Caribe- I highly recommend- could see the Jewel in port from our morning walk near hotel- $26 cab fare from airport for the four of us- I traveled with husband and two children ages 18 and 20. Our cruising friends traveled with us- their children are same age as ours. Everyone enjoyed this cruise.
We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary- having only been to St. Maarten of the five islands we visited.
Embarkation- the quickest ever!!!! We left hotel around 11:15- less than 10 minutes to pier- walked right into check in with absolutely no lines- got sea pass cards and picture and was on the ship in what had to be 15 minutes.
St. Croix- we went to Sandcastles on the Beach- I had read many positive reviews on this site...however, please know that it IS NOT a mere half mile from pier- we did attempt to walk- it is at least a mile and half- not a problem for our crew but would advise not to do this with small children and older adults- it is $6 round trip for cab fare- not bad- once there we paid $30 for 4 chairs and one umbrella- not a bad deal. It was disappointing that they were very under staffed- bar service was slow-drink machine was broken- the woman that checked us in at front desk also made our drinks- attempted to eat at restaurant and eventually gave up...maybe just a bad day for Sandcastles...beach was nice- but no amenities or extras- a nice beach and beautiful view of the Jewel in the short distance.
St. Maarten- we visited here last year on the Oasis- so wanted to go back to the Westin Dawn Beach resort- you can book through ResortForADay- just visit website- beautiful beach and hotel and a short 10 minute cab ride from pier- I believe fee was around $169 for the 4 of us- that got us a nice hotel room for the day and a $20 resort credit- they provide towels so no need to bring from ship- nice beach bar and restaurant- and more expensive options indoors- also a nice gift shop and bar area- casino as well- closed during the day
Antigua- booked the Catamaran and Lobster Lunch through Royal Caribbean excursions- WONDERFUL DAY-there were about 75 people on this trip but it never felt crowded- a great tour to a beach- lots of good info on sites and wonderful way to see a good bit of the island- we spent one hour on that beach before boarding and going to another beach- we did not like it as well but the views on the way were amazing- there they fed us a lunch of lobster, rice, salad, and bread. There was an open bar for the duration of the trip once we landed at the first beach. This excursion was $109 for two people but lasted 6 hours- we really felt it was worth every penny.
St. Lucia- we booked Tree Top Zipline on our own- loved this- perfect for all ages- I believe cost was about $60 per person but included transport to and from- on the way back to the ship we were taken to several points for taking pictures with breathtaking views- excellent driver and guide. The zipline run included 11 different runs- this trip lasted probably 4-5 hours- zipline run was about an hour- took awhile I thought to get everyone harnessed and ready to go
Barbados- we booked another resort through ResortForADay- Hilton Barbados- loved, loved and loved this resort!!!! Beautiful hotel- several pools, long stretch of beach and lunch was included- no hotel room for this option-cost was $60 per person
On board- we had a D2 balcony room- 9616- our room did have a flat screen- our friends next door did not- typical balcony room- enjoyed the piano entertainment in Schooner Bar- Kelly- piano and singing with several different themes for each evening- we did go see the comedian- enjoyed him very much- did not see the other production shows- did not choose this cruise for entertainment- our young adult children enjoyed Quest and The Love and Marriage show- They did a wonderful job having multiple venues to watch the World Cup matches- above and beyond what we expected as soccer fans.
Food- I will say- by far the best dining experience we have had in the main dining room- food was very good and so was our service. We did my time dining and had no issues with reservations. We also dined at Chops and Portofinos- both were excellent
Drink Package-was purchased by 3 out of the 4 adults with us- I am sure that none of them broke even- you really need to purchase 7 drinks a day to break even and with such a port intensive cruise- we were not on the ship as much as past cruises- now remind you that we are all in our early fifties- so many the younger folk would do better- will not do on our next cruise for sure- but great if you enjoy drinking more than us! We did the $55 per day package and it did include bottled water and the soda package
Debarkation-the longest I have experienced in 9 cruises- not sure what was up- we had over an hour delay as we awaited our scheduled departure- assuming customs was moving slowly or delayed by some event- we were not told-So- as always advised on this board- DO NOT SCHEDULE AN EARLY FLIGHT- we had a 12:40 flight and barely had time to grab some food at airport as security lines were extremely long