We chose this Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Sea Jan 24, 2011 Ultimate Caribbean/Panama Canal cruise because of the balance of 5 at sea days and 5 days in port. We were aware that the cruise ship did not actually enter the Panama Canal.
Booked a hotel room through www.Stay123.com in Ft. Lauderdale. They list a choice of hotels that offer free on-site parking up to 14 days, transfer from hotel to pier and back from pier to hotel. Great deal! Works for any cruise port.
Embarkation was a breeze! Checked in about 11:30 AM, ate lunch at the Windjammer. Went to our room about 1 PM and our luggage was already there. We were unpacked before dinner at 6 PM.
Our interior room was spacious for 2 people. We were only there to change for dinner and to sleep a few hours. Lots of storage, hidden storage behind two side mirrors near vanity. We did put the small oval coffee table into the closet, so we wouldn't be constantly tripping over it. Put all our luggage under the bed. Bed was comfortable, bathroom had a circular shower door (no sticky shower curtain)
Our waiter was Oksana and our assistant waiter was D.G. Food at the Tides dining room was good. One night I didn't like any of the entree offering, so instead asked for 3 different appetizers! If you want anchovies on your Caesar salad, just ask. At lunch you have to try the Tutti salad (one terrific salad bar) They have it set up in the center of the dining room.
Entertainment was good to great. I'm not going to list them all, as the entertainers change so often, that you probably wouldn't get the same ones. The best evening however, was with Marty Allen!
Ship was in great shape for her age. Loved the adult only Solarium pool. Out of the wind, no kids allowed and not as crowded as the main pool. Tried their pizza - very good - pleasantly surprised!
We booked all of our off-shore excursions on line. Our review of the 5 port off-shore excursions follows.