We sailed on the Jewel on January 23, 2005, 6 nights, Western Caribbean. We visited the following ports: Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Grand Cayman.
The embarkation process was one of the most smooth I had ever experienced. Port Everglades is a wonderful port to sail from. This was only the twenty-third sailing for the Jewel, so the ship was still in almost new condition. The public rooms on the ship are as well decorated as any ship I have sailed, not the "Las Vegas" look of most ships.
Every staff member we came in contact with was more than willing to accommodate your every request. I must say the staff works day and night to keep the ship looking its best and to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible.
This time we stayed in the lowest priced cabin available, which is Cat. Q. The other time we rented a higher priced balcony suite we found ourselves only in the cabin to sleep, so why not enjoy that money elsewhere on your cruise. We stayed on deck 2, and I must say I was not at all disappointed with our decision. They are small, but well appointed and arranged for their size. We were only steps from the elevators and convenient to the gangway for our ports of call.
Our dining experience was also one of the best I can remember out of five cruises. The people that give this ship a low rating on dining must have impossible expectations. I preferred the main dining room for all my meals, but the Windjammer and Seaview were also excellent choices.
The entertainment onboard the Jewel was what I would call average, still some room for improvement, but still not a disappointment.
Our first port of call was Key West. It was an unusual 50 degrees, so not the warmth I was seeking in January, but a wonderful port of call. Next stop Cozumel. Here we booked the Beach and Cavern excursion, which took us directly to Playa Del Carmen. Here we had the opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters of a beautiful cavern and then enjoyed authentic Mexican lunch on the beach. I must say, our experience driving on the Mexican highway and off the beaten path was interesting. The two guides that went with us, Manny and Rueben, were great. This excursion is about 8 full hours, so I was drained at the end of the day. Next port of call, Costa Maya. This port was one of our most enjoyable stops. This is a fairly new stop for the cruise ships. There is a nice public beach area with chairs and hammocks provided. Costa Maya is also one of your best places to shop for a bargain. Our last port was Grand Cayman. This place is way too small for the amount of cruise ships that visit at one time. Imagine your local Wal-Mart and someone stops outside and drops off 8,000 people. This will give you an idea of what to expect from Grand Cayman, not to mention the hassle of having to tender to the island. If Costa Maya can have a port, so can the Caymans. If you're looking for bargains, please don't leave the ship, the Caymans are going to be one of your highest priced places to visit. Royal Caribbean had much better deals in their on board shops.
I must say RCI did a great job in disembarkation, well organized, in fact almost effortless. Overall this was our best cruise experiences and one of the most beautiful ships we have ever sailed.