My wife and I live in Michigan and this was the 18th Cruise for me and 19th for her. We have sailed on Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, NCL, and Disney in the past and this was our 6th on Royal Caribbean.
This was our Second Cruise on the Jewel of the Seas having done the Baltics on her in the Summer of 2007 which we really enjoyed so thought we would get reaquainted with her on this 10 Day Repositioning Cruise from Boston to Miami via the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.
The Cruise Critic Group on this Cruise was huge with over 200 people on our Roll Call and also over 200 Registered for the RCI Meet and Mingle. Many on this group had sailed on the Jewel before and call themselves the Royal Jewel. We had a lot of activities planned including a four round Putt Putt Tourney, a Slot Pull Tourney, Gift Exchange at the M&M, and a Texas Hold Em Tourney as well as Sail Away and a Farewell Luncheon the last day at Sea.
We flew to Boston for two Pre Nights and stayed at the Doubletree Suites in the Theatre District. We had visited Boston a few years so had seen most of the Historical sites at that time, so this was just to relax and get ready for our adventure. We ate near the hotel the first night at Legal Seafood and the nect night near the water at The Barking Crab.
We took a Cab to the Pier about 11:30 and everything went very smoothly. We were on board by 12:15 and got our Spa Appointments and looked around the ship before getting into our Cabin at 1:00. Our luggage showed up by 3:00 which allowed us to be unpacked and ready to Party well before Muster Drill. Muster is much easier now that you do not have to carry your Life Vest to and from the Drill.
Our Cruise really started at the CC Sail Away party in the Safari Lounge where about 100 or so showed up. We were finally able to put faces to those we had been talking to on our Roll Call for about a year. We were able to meet some of those we had linked with for a large table at Late Seating Traditional ( nine of us) as well as some of those we had arranged a Sail and Snorkel Trip with in St Croix.
The weather in Boston was cool the day of boarding and the first day at Sea out of Boston was warmer, but cloudy and very Windy. After that though we had 80+ and sunny days the rest of the Cruise. This made for a lot of people up on deck but never had too much trouble finding a lounge chair as long as you were willing to move them around to the location of your choice.
The first two days of our voyager were Sea Days and there was our M&M on the first day along with the Gift Exchange and the first Round of Putt Putt Tourney the second day. We also got to know our Table Mates and many other Cruise Critic Members while sailing toward San Juan which was our first stop. We only hit the Coach Store and the Barachina Restaurant in San Juan. This is where they first served the Pina Colada. We met up with four of our Table mates and another couple from CC there and enjoyed a couple of great Pina Coladas.
The next day was St Thomas where we had arranged for a morning 3 ½ hour Sail and Snorkel on line. We were two of six on a private sailboat called The Island Girl and they also provided Ski Doo Power Pacs that pulled you around while you snorkeled. These really made it nice for my DW who due to a back injury cannot kick well. She had a ball. That evening was Halloween and six of our nine table mates were in costume for Dinner and then a Party up on deck. Was fun to be a part of over 100 people in costume.
Our next stop the following day was St Croix where 8 of us from the CC Roll Call had arranged a Sail and Snorkel Trip over to Buck Island a US National Park. We sailed out of Christianstad on the Teroro II with Captain Heinz. This is a beautiful Island where we snorkeled, spent some Beach time and just relaxed.
We then had a Sea Day for Day 7 on our way to Aruba! Cruise Critic activities this day included the Second Putt Putt Round and a Slot Pull with just over 100 CC'rs participating. No big money won but a good time was had by all. Quest was also this night, but the place was packed after Late Dinner so we opted to hit one of the Clubs for some Jazz Music.
In Aruba, Six of us from our table used the Bus over to Palm Beach where we got a Day Pass at the Raddison for $16 which allowed full use of Pools, Beach, Bars, and all the facilities. The Bus worked really well and only cost $2.30pp round trip and the station is right next to the end of the pier. Could not have been easier.
Days 9 and 10 were at Sea back to Miami and we enjoyed more sunny days in the high 80s. We had the third and forth rounds of the Putt Putt Tourney as well as the Farewell Luncheon on Day 10 where again there was over 100 of us. Captain Thor Thorkelson even came and spoke to us since many had sailed with him prior including the Maiden TA.
Disembarkation in Miami was also very smooth. We switched our tag colors at the Pursers the day before so we were the next to last Color Called. We left our Cabin about 8:30 and went to the Safari Lounge where our color was called about 9:00. Luggage is now on a turnstile instead of just arranged in a big room so you just had to wait till yours rolled past. We were on our way in a Taxi by 10:00 with no hassles at all.
All in all this was a GREAT Cruise, and the Royal Jewels CC Group do know how to have a good time and had lots of activities where you really got to spend some time with people. They even had a phone tree calling system in place to keep all informed of the days plans for each Sea Day The only drawback for us was the cool weather in Boston and the first day at Sea, but it was what we expected. We are looking at doing this Repo again, perhaps as soon as 2011.