Since we booked this cruise in the summer we had been counting the days until sailing. We took an early morning flight from TN to Boston (we left home at 4 a.m.) which made for a long day. It was quite easy to get a cab (van) from Logan airport to the cruise terminal for about $30 for all of us. Although the Black Falcon Terminal is pretty depressing, the personnel were friendly and our wait was minimal. We were soon on board and enjoying the Jewel of the Seas. Having sailed Royal Caribbean 17 times, we have experienced most of the different categories of vessels (haven't done the Oasis yet). However, I think that the Jewel is probably the most beautiful in the fleet. Lots of wood, brass and windows. The staterooms were ready when we boarded at a few minutes past 1 pm so we went to drop off our carry-on bags. Having booked a guaranteed inside cabin I was somewhat surprised to find that we were on deck two which is primarily the infirmary and crew cabins. I guess my Diamond Crown and Anchor didn't get me any perks as far as cabin assignments. Other than the inconvenience of waiting on the elevators it really wasn't bad. The cabin was spacious enough with plenty of storage.
We met up with our traveling companions and headed up to the Windjammer for some lunch. The selection was good and the layout was conducive to a favorable flow of folks loading up their plates for the first time on this cruise. The staff in the Windjammer was friendly and service was good with the waiters offering to fetch whatever you needed to drink which was a pleasant surprise. All during the week we continued to eat all breakfasts and most lunches in the Windjammer and the service stayed consistently good.
We had requested a table for 4 in the main dinning room so I went to check it out and found that we were actually at a table for 6. I left a request to have the table changed to a smaller table since we wanted to spend time with our traveling companions on their first cruise but to no avail. We were told that the main seating was completely full and unfortunately nothing could be done. I figured this would not be a major problem since most of the folks I have been seated with on cruises have been wonderful people. When the four of us arrived at dinner that night we were surprised that our other two table mates never materialized (and they didn't ever show up for the whole cruise). So we actually got our table for four after all. Since I'm talking food I will go ahead and provide my review on this important aspect now. After doing 5 RCCL cruises in the last year we pretty much have the menu memorized. In the main dining room the food was consistently good and occasionally great. The service was consistently great but occasionally average (asst waiter was sometimes a little slow but responded quickly if reminded). It would be nice if a few more entrees were added to the menu just for variety for frequent cruisers.
As far as the entertainment on board, the on board singers and dancers were pretty good. They did a show that featured Latin American music which was very good but unfortunately it is not my favorite music or dance. Let's face it you can take a boy out of the hills of TN but it is hard to make him tango. There was a juggler that was pretty good (I was hoping to see chainsaws but he only had big knives). They had a quartet call the New York Vagabonds that were very good and did a good array of music. And then there was the magician and his lovely assistant (and wife). I have to admit he had me from the first illusion and I never figured out how he did that stuff. They did an afternoon show up in the Safari Lounge and we were sitting right next to where he was doing his illusions and I still was a "lost ball in high weeds" when it came to figuring them out. Great show!
We played trivia most days and had relatively good success but it seems the questions are getting much harder or possibly the scotch is starting to have lasting affect of my brain. We did come a way with a free RCCL ball cap which I can add to the other three that I have won over the years.
We were hoping to see beautiful fall leaves that New England is known for but unfortunately we were a little early due to the unusually warm fall. Portland and Bar Harbor were nice little towns with lots of speciality shops that were fun to visit.
In Bar Harbor we had booked a Whale Watching Tour thru the shore excursion desk. When we got on the tour boat with probably 200 people we were told by the captain that we would experience some rough seas (HE SAID 4 FT WAVES) and sea sickness was possible. He announced if you booked directly with them you could leave before they sailed and receive a refund. However, if you had booked with the cruise line you would have to deal directly with them and they "may" refund your money. My wife started to get off and then I committed a grave error and said "Oh, it will probably be fine, just stay on". Those are words I have come to regret! Let me say those 4 ft waves turned out to be 10 (ten) foot and over half of the passengers were making use of those little white plastic barf bags. Needless to say my wife was one of the first to get sick. It was the longest 3 1/2 hours of her life and I felt really bad for talking her into staying onboard. At one point I even offered to buy her jewelry. When we returned to the ship and went to the shore excursion desk and asked about a refund we were told that we could get a free ticket for another trip the next time we were in the area. Needless to say this was not a viable alternative to us!! I didn't argue too much but took it up with customer service after returning home and received a full refund from RCCL. Thanks so much to Angel in customer service for his prompt handling of the reimbursement.
Halifax and St Johns Canada were okay to visit but really not what we expected. We did book a private tour of St Johns with Freedom tours. Our guide Donna Lee and her husband Bill (the driver) were super nice folks and did a great job of showing us the sites. I would highly recommend them.
All in all I'm glad we did this cruise but unlike Alaska which we keep going back to, I think this will be our only time for this Itinerary.