My wife and I had cruised twice before, both on RCCL, on the Mariner in Nov 03 (initial voyage out of Port Canaveral) and again in Apr 03. We had a seven year hiatus - you know grandkids and all. In any case, we decided to book this cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary which was actually the previous June. We splurged a little and booked a Grand Suite on the hump - wow, great. On our previous two cruises we had booked a balcony and then a junior suite - my wife really enjoys a tub. Being in the Grand Suite we were able to use the Concierge lounge - what a great surprise. The concierge and bartender were just wonderful and we met some great people who had cruised many times including one couple on the 64th cruise and another couple that had spent 72 days in a row on one cruise (talk about B2B).
Everything was as great as we had hoped it would be except for one item I'l mention later. We chose the "My Time Dining" and it was great. We did book dining times before embarking but don't think that was necessary. Except for one night, we had the same waiter and assitant waiter who were both great and sat next to some of the same people that we bantered back and forth with on most of the nights. The service and food was excellent.
We also booked two nights in Chops and it was as good as we remembered from Mariner. The rack of lamb was great.
We really like a mix of at sea days and port days. There was a day at sea between Ft. Lauderdael and Labadee and another to Cartegena and then again between Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and George Town and another to Ft. Lauderdale.
We'd like to have a sea day, port day, sea day type routine but with the ports so close to each other that's unlikely.
The only real complaint we had was that it was difficult to get a lounge chair up by the pool, whether the open air pool or in the solarium. It seems like people must go up early, put towels on a chair and then don't come back for hours later. A lot more chairs had something on them than there were people in the pool.
I guess one other item was a little disappointing between our previous cruises on Mariner and the Jewel and that was the workout area. It seems the Mariner must have taller window because when on the cross trainer you could easily see out to the horizon. However, on Jewel when on the cross trainer I was staring at the top of the blinds and the wall. Not as enticing to work out as being able to watch the sea go by.
The staff we dealt with were all excellent. Our cabin attendant put happy anniversary decorations up one day and the ship delivered chocolate covered strawberries one night, roses another night and a bottle of wine another night. We had pre-purchased a wine package and had a frenzied month of wine tastings before the cruise to find out which ones we really liked. We ended up giving a couple bottles away at the end of the cruise to two couples that we met in the concierge lounge that either lived in Ft. Lauderdale or were staying on board for the next cruise.