Embarkation: As a solo cruiser, I arrived at the port at 10:45 a.m and at 11:00 a.m. walked onto the ship. After 30 hours on the Jewel, the ship is very clean with a staff that seems to be worn out. My cabin was 2001 and it was always quiet, despite other critics complaining about the noise from the staff's cabins behind ours. It is obvious that staff is instructed to stop you and go out of their way to ask if things are "Ok?" This is my 5th cruise, the general public areas of passage all seem to be tight and narrow, especially the Tides Dining Room. The first two nights in the TIDES, my chair had been hit 10-15 times by the waiter and assistant. The tables are uncomfortably too close. On night two, I presented my coupon from my GOLD member discount booklet, several minutes later, the wine stewart presented himself and thoroughly questioned me. My traveling friends also received the same booklet. The wine stewart said the coupon had expired in 2010, which it did. It was RCCL's problem.
Casino: Enjoyed the games and dealers, however, limited types of table games.
Labadee: The Dragon Breath zip line was terrific. Make sure you are within the height/weight guidelines...A million dollar view too! Snorkeling Safari: a privately owned company running snorkeling for RCCL. The surf had white caps....numerous people argued with the guide (owner) who was dodging the questions, "who is in charge here." Michele, the captain of the boat, told me the guide was the owner. The owner quickly reviewed information...1/2 of the boat had never snorkeled before with the youngest being 6 and the oldest 75. The surf was so rough, the boat should have never departed. Those who bought their tickets directly from him, got their refunds on the spot. We (group of 7) purchased our tickets through the cruise line. We (2) of us, went back on the boat, and demanded a refund. He was going through the tickets and returned all 7 to us. You will need your tickets back to get a credit and the subcontractor not to be paid! We (7) all bee-lined to GUEST RELATIONS. Unfortunately, the guest relations' agent didn't listen to our story. She said a credit will be posted. We said, how and who would credit our rooms? When the person doesn't know what the situation was....she acted as if the snorkeling guide was going to refund the ticket. We said, here are our 7 tickets, we got them back....she seemed stunned. Took our 7 tickets and said the manager of Excursions will credit the rooms. 24 hours later, the credits appeared on our portfolio.
Simeon, the cruise director thinks he is an entertainer. He contributed nothing to the success of the cruise experience except his annoying personality and no talent. Is this the best RCCL has to offer?
Cabin steward did a fine job! Checked cabin several times a day to refresh it and was very efficient! BRAVO to the housekeeping staff. Lindie and Fernanda were great and attentive waiter and assistant waiters. Food and its temperatures were appropriate. Having never eaten at the early seating, I found the overall staff rushing.
Because of the narrow walk/passage ways, especially in the TIDES restaurant. I suggest, as did other cruise critics to check out your table immediately upon boarding the ship. You can change your seating. The Maitre'd didn't want to make any changes at 1:00 p.m., when the TIDES restaurant opened to take changes. I went back at 3:00 p.m. and saw a room of 50 plus people waiting to make changes. Seemed to me he had a huge head ache of a storm. The spaces are extremely crowded and getting into the restaurant is an extremely long line. Hint... go to the 5th floor and take the star board side staircase to its entrance.
Theater performers: All should be replaced. Significant vocal pitch problems. No energy, no sparkle, destroyed the WEST END TO BROADWAY famous songs... mechanical at best in the limited and out dated choreography. Sound techs should go back to school. The outside entertainers were great!
Cartagena: Took the advice of cruise critics and went on a private tour by Dora. The van was air conditioned and saw the highlights of Cartagena in 4 1/2 hours. Her prices were slightly cheaper, especially for children than the excursion's desk onboard.
Panama: Took the advice of cruise critics and went on a private tour by Myfriendmario.com. Very informative and Mario (the father) is a perfect gentleman! SIGN UP NOW with them.
Costa Rica: Original Canopy Tour- Booked it through RCCL's website prior to the cruise. Another couple booked through OCT. The starting point is over an hour away from the port. I paid an extra $10 than the couple and had transportation to/from, along with a great guide (Agnes) who was very informative about Costa Rica and the original canopy tour. Don't miss this experience! If you are afraid of heights, SKIP it.
Final night: One has the choice of pre-paying their tips on the sea pass or cash. 1/3 of the TIDES dining room was empty. If you didn't use your sea pass and didn't show up to dinner...well you know...3 rooms of 20-somethings stiffed the stewart! Tips should be included.
My conclusion: It was a great cruise and interesting ports. I would avoid this class of ships. The narrow passage ways in the Casino, Tides Restaurant, Shops and central atrium made me NOT want to return to this class of ships.