Our selection was made from a range of companies which sail through the Baltic Sea area with the farthest destination being St Petersburg, Russia. We decided on The Jewel of the Seas, which is operated by an American company The Royal Caribbean. The vacation was for 12 days commencing at Harwich London. On reaching Harwich which was easy to find, (although we had travelled from the South West of France)we found the car park which was allocated for our ship very easily and the documentation prior to boarding was excellent and quick. Our stateroom was on level 3 an interior cabin situated towards the rear of the ship. We found the cabin clean fresh and in good decor. The staff were excellent in making us feel special. We were very excited with the forthcoming itinerary, and set about learning our way around the ship. Everything was clean and nicely presented and had good access for able and disabled passengers. Moving about the ship was easy. We found the mealing times a little early at 6.00pm but that had been our choice, but the food and the staff were again excellent in the dining areas, although sometimes felt that we were spending a little too long there. There were other restaurants available which we did use later on in the cruise. The entertainment onboard we found was a little poor, we enjoy dancing in the evenings when on cruises and although there was opportunities to dance the artists employed for this cruise were much to be desired in tempo and creativity. Dancing was usually cut short by either Karaoke, Bingo, a quiz, or some other function just exclusively for previous clients.
After 3 days on board people started becoming ill, with GI, which is known better as a gastric illness, this eventually become a major problem on the a ship. Self service in the dining areas was stopped and serving by the staff ensued. We both had a touch of the bug but fortunately being younger coped better than most. A frenzy of cleaning by the staff took place and indeed on one morning whilst observing from a good view point of the pool area saw one section of wooden plinth cleaned by different staff over 14 times in 2 hours, unfortunately during that time no one decided to clean the adjacent handrail on the steps leading up to the floor above. Therefore we were not surprised to see the infections on board rise. I think poor supervision of the staff may hold the clue to the illness not being contained.
On a better note the Capitals visited were very interesting and good access to and from them by way of a shuttle (cost for this varied). The trips were quite expensive on this ship. Overall we felt that the company was trying it's best to get as much money from the passengers as possible throughout the cruise, most talks and lectures were only geared to obtaining money for the services talked about. We were not allowed to buy or take on board any alcohol, except what was sold on the ship, which was only delivered when the cruise was over. All drinks on board were far too expensive and the cost of the wine at meal times extortionate. Only entertainment of good value was the theatre each evening. Having dressed up for the formal evenings there was nothing much to do after the meal. Overall very disappointing. Disembarkation was excellent and very efficient