We just returned from the Jewel of the Seas Repositioning cruise from Boston to the Southern Caribbean. We had a SUPER time. The ship is absolutely beautiful with tons of glass and rich woodwork.
A note to all future RCCL passengers, be sure to fill out your boarding documents on the cruise line web site prior to checking in. This feature saves and incredible amount of time. This was our first cruise from the Black Falcon Pier in Boston. Our only complaint with the pier is the lack of organization and signs outside the terminal. We were extremely lucky that the JOS was the only ship at the pier that day or it would have been even more chaotic. Once inside the terminal, the entire process from check in to first Pina Colada on board took less than 15 minutes. Upon boarding, the Windjammer Cafe was serving lunch. We were able to check into our cabin right away. The muster drill was at 4:30 pm. Our sail away was on time at 5pm and included a beautiful sunset over the Boston skyline.
Cabin -- We had an E2 category cabin, #8544. Though it was the same category as we had on the Explorer of the Seas, it was definitely smaller which was a bit disappointing. Luckily, there is plenty of storage in the cabin. I am a notorious over-packer and we had room for everything. The "hallway" in cabin was much too small. You could not open the door of the bathroom if some one was getting something in the closet. The bathroom/shower was adequate for our needs and size. We had a good size balcony which was plenty of room for two chairs and our empty luggage.
The ship-- This was our first cruise on a Radiance Class ship. RCCL's use of glass on this ship is magnificent. The outside glass elevators are beautiful but they were far too crowded most of the time. We opted for the stairs, quite often. The other elevators, foreword, were certainly not as crowded but they were also not as convenient to the public areas. We enjoyed the huge expanse of glass in the public areas on the starboard side, gorgeous views from the Champagne Bar, Latte-atudes, and The Schooner Bar (our favorite). The Safari Club had self-leveling pool tables that were amazing to watch in action, never mind enjoying a game yourself. The Safari Club was richly decorated with warm woods, tapestry upholstered furniture and a wall of glass overlooking the aft of the ship. We had lots of fun here including trivia, Halloween party/parade, Quest, dancing, etc. All in all, there are 13 bars/lounges on board.
The pool and pool deck area is FAR TOO SMALL for a ship that will be in the Caribbean half of the year. We were told by our Maitre D' that there are less than 200 chaise lounges for a ship that carries as many as 2100 passengers. Unfortunately, we were on board with many inconsiderate passengers who put out their pool towels, there by "reserving" a chaise extremely early in the morning. I went to the pool deck at 8am one morning and EVERY chaise on the pool deck 11 was "reserved". Though RCCL has signs saying reserving chairs is not permitted, there wasn't any crew members even trying to enforce this rule. "Cool Vibes", the ship's Calypso band was so talented and it was frustrating not being able to find a place to sit close enough to the pool to hear them. Listening to Calypso/Reggae, while basking in the sun is one of my favorite aspects of cruising. Unfortunately, that was barely possible with this ship's layout combined with the inconsiderate guests. IT was even more maddening that a lot of the saved chaises went unset in ALL day.
After having previously cruised on the much larger Explorer of the Seas, we were disappointed with having to cut through the sometimes very crowded public areas such as the Casino, the Gallery and the Pit Stop to go from one end of the ship to another. I understand RCCL wants us to spend our time and money there but maneuvering though those places was some times difficult. Also the shops on the EOS, were far less crowded.
Dining Room-- Jolly and Rohan, our waiters were excellent. They took care of any and all requests immediately. The menus were quite varied and included all our favorites. Dinner every night was excellent. I know, though not at our table, some passengers may not have experienced 100% satisfaction, we certainly did. Our favorites included the Banana Soup with Malibu Rum, the lamb chops, the lobster, the prime rib, and each and every dessert!!! The dining room itself was beautiful but seemed cramped for space. There was very little room for the wait staff to maneuver around the tables. Due to the large size of our table of ten, a fun group and wonderful dining companions, it was difficult to carry on one conversation throughout the table. Overall, we had a terrific dining room experience.
Crew-- the Captain was so friendly. Karen and Tracy, Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director, were awesome. Every request was taken care of immediately. We loved trivia with Demi but Lance was a bit of a "Trivia Nazi". No mercy, but good fun. Alex, our Cabin Steward, took very good care of us without being intrusive.
Entertainment--Mediocre, at best. Barry from Boston, at the piano in The Schooner Bar, though popular with a few of the ladies, was a good piano player but in no way did he have the singing voice to do justice to the choices of songs he said he was "capable" of..... Jay Johnson and Marty Allen, our Headlining comedians were both talented and funny. The "West End to Broadway" production show was painful to watch. Their interpretations of some Broadway hits were embarrassing. One example is "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" was done "Hip Hop" style!
The voyage-- Quite a few of our fellow passengers and our GOOD FRIENDS (miss you already) thought there was definitely something wrong with the ship. There were constant thuds and noises from the aft of the ship. Those passengers unfortunate enough to have a cabin back there had to endure the noise most of the cruise. We saw workmen arrive on ship in Aruba, then that problem seemed to be resolved. Also, there was possibly something wrong with the stabilizers. Experienced Radiance class cruisers we spoke with said the ship was riding much less smooth than what they had experienced in similar weather. We understand that sailing out of Boston lends itself to rough seas but we expected a ship that does cruise the Canadian Maritimes to ride much smoother. Hopefully, RCCL will be able to straighten out this issue.
Overall Cruise Experience-- The Jewel is a "gem". We had a wonderful time on a beautiful ship. Would we sail on the Jewel again? Not sure. RCCL again? Most definitely. Thanks to Cruise Critic and its message board, we able to assemble the most wonderful group of people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting, the Royal Jewels. Our group, numbering over 80, now includes some great friendships that we hope we will be able to hold on to for life. PUNA, PUNA, PUNA!!!!!!