BACKGROUND: My DH and I are retired (I am semi), fun loving, 60something cruisers traveling with 2 other couples with similar backgrounds and interests. We enjoy cruising, meeting people, laughing and just love life! This was our 16th cruise having sailed on Carnival(4), Celebrity (1), NCL (3), Princess(3) and RCL (4). We selected this cruise because we wanted to try a longer cruise (prior to this our longest cruise was 8 days)and it had 5 days at sea, which we love!
EMBARKATION: We arrived at Ft Lauderdale at around 11:30, got luggage and picked up our transfer to the ship. Check in was a breeze but we had to wait in a lounge with all the others who checked in until around 2:00 pm. The plus about this was that our rooms were ready, the negative..the Windjammer was slammed with people and not enough tables. It took a little while to get a table but that was a minor incovenience.
SHIP/ROOM: The ship is very lovely...clean and well maintained. Our room was located forward on the starboard side. The 3 couples had rooms next to each other. RCLs rooms are very small compared to other lines (Carnival is one that has larger rooms) but nicely appointed with enough storage room for everything. We prefer having the shower doors rather than fighting a shower curtain. It was a pleasure having the doors on this ship.
We met our cabin stewart, Derrick, who did a superior job all week. We requested robes, all 3 cabins/couples, and we all got robes within a couple of hours. Derrick was amazing, thorough and very pleasant. Needless to say, we gave him extra for all his hard work.
ENTERTAINMENT: DH and I as well as the other 2 couples enjoy and appreciate the shows on our cruises. However, the talent on this ship was exceptional. The lead singer, Melissa, was outstanding and should be on Broadway. I live about 3 hrs form NY and enjoy going to Broadway shows a couple of times a year. This production cast overall was as good if not better than some I have seen on Broadway. We loved Westend to Broadway, but City of Dreams was even better!!! Unfortunately, this was their last cruise together as they were leaving the ship; and a new cast was coming on starting the next cruise. We loved that most of the shows for late seating were at 7pm. We would have our happy hour in theater while waiting for the show to start. We saw every show and really enjoyed them all. RCL had the best of the best..violinist, ventriliguist, juggler etc. Yes, we have seen similar talent on other ships but these entertainers were well above the rest and truly talented.
ACTIVITIES: In our younger years, when we travled with as many as 28 people, we participated in all the activities. I actually won 2 lipsinc contests on 2 cruises!! ( I am an entertainer at heart!) However, now we love to relax, people watch, go to the casino...just chill. So we didn't participate in any "games". Since the guys are golfing fanatics, they did play mini golf a couple of times. We enjoyed thoroughly, the Solarium. Great to have an adult only pool. Getting chairs was a problem as the chair hogs were out in full force. They would even go to lunch and keep their towels etc on the chair. Wish that was addressed by RCL but it wasn't
I had a spa treatment and it was great. And we used the Casino. I hated the smoke..it is really terrible in the casino. But, I loved that the 2 formal nights were non smoking. Also, I won $675 on a slot machine! I was thrilled. I took my money and ran!
EXCURSIONS: Aruba-we had been there many times. We did the KukuKonuku Beach trip thru RCL. We to Moomba Beach. The weather was wonderful and the beach was perfect. It was a fun day. In Cartegena we hired Claudia Vidal to give us a private tour. She was excellent. She spoke perfect English, was professional, knowledgeable and entertaining. We saw so much in such a short period of time. We highly recommend her. In Panama we just walked around and shopped as we had been there several times. We had already seen the canal and been thru the locks so we just spent a few hours off the ship. In Costa Rica we did the Train, Boat and Bus excursion thru RCL. Our guide, Eric, was really great. It rained this day but we had the afternoon trip and it was clearing up by the time we left for our excursion. It did rain on and off during our trip but it didn't affect our excurison. In Grand Caymen we did the Jolly Trolley thru the ship. We had been here many times so we didn't want to spend a lot of time and money on a long excursion. Afterward, we shopped and had lunch at a restaurant by the water. Very good food and very relaxing.
DINING: We had late seating and thought the service and food was well above par. The choices were great, food was hot, wait staff very attentive and the desserts were yummy. The first day we checked our table and didn't like the location. Got it changed and were pleased! We loved the new location and our waiter, Devon and Asst waiter Ann. They called us by name after the first introduction! And Ridah, the bar server, met us with our drinks at dinner after the first night. It was just so nice to have such personal attention.
STAFF: Can't say enough about the Jewel staff. Everyone greeted you and was very pleasant. Plus the Guest Services staff, unlike other cruises, was very pleasant at all times. And Guest Services is open 24/7.
DEBARKATION: We opted for the valet/luggage service so, after placing our luggage out the last night, we didn't see it until we arrived in Baltimore. It was well worth the extra $20 per person. We did the transfers thru RCL and left the ship around 8:30. It was very efficient.
NEGATIVES: It is hard to find anything negative to say about our cruise. However, there were more Europeans on this trip than Americans and they were not very friendly or courteous. They thought nothing of just getting in front of the line without waiting their turn. I don't ever want to hear about the "Ugly American" as the Americans were always more polite on the cruise.
We met some wonderful Canadians and enjoyed their company.
The ship rocked and rolled several nights with winds up to 75mph. The last sea day was very windy and cold but this didn't affect our good time.
All in all, this was a wonderful cruise. I don't know if I can go back to cruisng 7 days as the extra time was so relaxing.
The Jewel and her staff were outstanding. You can't go wrong with this cruise.
We look forward to sailing RCL again.