Background Information - Looking for New Ports to Visit and some R & R.
Hotel Info (if any)- Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale / Plantation. Booked via Priceline. Great Pre-Cruise Hotel and Great Price. Free Shuttle from FLL to Hotel and from Hotel to Port (plus) Free Breakfast. Beautiful Pool Area.
Embarkation: A New Record / A New First ! We arrived at the Ship at approximately 11:30ish. Proceeded through check in very quickly. Took a Seat and just a few minutes later was informed that all Staterooms would be ready in another 10-15 minutes. They were - that was really fast:) Then - The Icing on the Cake was that when we got to our Cabin, our Luggage had already been delivered. Very Surprised/Happy and what a great way to start our Cruise.
Ship Info - Jewel is the 3rd Ship we have sailed in Radiance Class. Easy to navigate. Liked the familiarity and Layout of the Ship.
Activities and Entertainment - Varied. Mostly took in the Trivia Games, Daily Name that Tune, Nightly shows, Enrichment lectures, Mini- Golf and Movies. Not a Non-Stop 24/7 Schedule, but plenty enough to do, while still having some time for R & R.
Service - Excellent. The Key for us is that all crew members seemed to really enjoy what they were doing. That spoke volumes.
Port & Shore Excursions - Aruba: Large Bus Group on Island Tour. Opt for the Jeep Safari....More fun and Sun if you are up for it. Cartagena, Columbia: Rented a Taxi with (2) new friends, i.e. Dining Mates. $ 35.00 plus $ 5.00 Tip per Couple. Went to La Popa, Old Fort, Old City and Shopping District. At onset, our Cab Driver seemed to speak English (but) came to find that it was very limited. Hint: Have your Cab Driver talk a bit about the City/Port (before) you even set foot in a cab. Colon, Panama: Did the Eco Tour / Gatun Lake and Gatun Locks. Interesting, but felt that this Tour (in particular) was overpriced. That being said, Colon, Panama is a City that you do not want to currently explore on your own. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: Did the Hacienda Experience. Highly recommended - Informative, Fun and quite a variety (plus lunch to boot) Eric, our Tour Guide was outstanding. There is (2) hour ride up the mountains to the "Hacienda" but it was well worth it. Georgetown, Grand Cayman: "Taste of Cayman" Tour. Visited (2) Rum / Rum Cake Factories and a Beer Brewery. All you could Drink - Enough Said : ) Plenty of time afterwards to take a public Bus ($2.50 per Person each way) down to the "Royal Palms" on Seven Mile Beach and Relax in the Sand, Sun and Surf. Beach is Public. There are currently rinse showers, changing rooms and toilets available at no charge. Chairs and Beach Umbrellas are available for a fee. The Downtown Georgetown area is very easy to get around and tourist friendly.
Stateroom - Loved the Bigger E-1 Balcony. Extended Platform is no big issue. Great trade-off is that you will have (2) Loungers, (2) Standard Chairs and (1) Small Table. Hint: 7654-7656-7658-7660-7662 are Super. 7664 has a Window Washing Platform Overhead. 7664-7666-7668-7670 has less of a view out then 7654-7656-7658-7660-7662. Note: Arnett, Our Stateroom attendant went above and beyond. We left a note (and dollar Coin)requesting a Corkscrew, as we had won a bottle of wine. Upon return to our Cabin, there was a corkscrew, 2 glasses for the wine and a note from Arnett Thanking (us!) for our kindness. That really was amazing !!
Dining - Dining Room Service was Excellent. Meals were hit or Miss (Dining Room and Buffet )i.e. some were outstanding, some not so much so. Our Waiter, Mikeal (oops, spelling) was awesome. When a steak was delivered well done (ordered as Medium Rare) it was promptly returned and a new Steak delivered. All with a smile and "I agree, that steak was well done" from Mikeal.
Disembarkation - Very organized, quick and smooth. We tried something new, i.e. Luggage Valet Service. Loved it. $ 20.00 per Person - Ship provided Airline boarding passes to us on last night of sailing plus Baggage Claim Numbers. Luggage was picked up from outside of cabin by 11:00ish PM. Next saw luggage at our final destination / Baggage Claim. This is a great Service, well worth the cost to us. Upon leaving the ship, we did not have to locate our luggage, haul it through customs or load it onto a bus / Taxi. At the Airport, we did not have to wait in line to check our Luggage - Everything was already taken care of.
Summary: Some Good new ports, some not so good. Would have liked the Solarium warmer, as it was with past cruises - It was downright chilly for this sailing. Need Upgrade with the Ventilation system in the Casino - the Smoke was really bad and overflowed into the Atrium area. I think this kept a lot of Non (or Ex) smokers away from the Casino, even on Non-Smoking Nights. Missed: Having access to the "Veranda" area behind the Windjammer buffet area until the last few days of the cruise (Parts were being refurbished).
Overall - we had a very enjoyable cruise.....Looking forward to more new ports and itineraries.