My husband and I took my mother on the Jewel on October 14th to celebrate her birthday. We had TS-8668, which is a two bedroom, two bath suite with balcony. We had plenty of space and the suite features are great. One bedroom has a TV (flat screen) and ensuite bathroom with tub, no window or porthole. The other bedroom also has no window or porthole, but it has no TV or ensuite bathroom. The second bathroom has a shower and opens into the living area. The living area has a couch, dining table, chair, and flat screen TV. The balcony furniture is nice. We are not sure 8 people would be comfortable in this suite, but maybe if you had young children it would work.
My mother and I had been on the Jewel for a similar itinerary in 2006, and we were amazed how beautiful the ship still is. The wood trim everywhere makes the ship look so unique. The staff is still very friendly and the food is great. Having been on a Princess cruise in September, we were amazed how much better the food was on the Jewel.
We ate at Chops one night and it was wonderful. We also went to the Mystery Dinner Theater (Ba Da Bing, Ba Da Boom) and had a great time. You start out at the Safari Club with champagne and appetizers. They began the skit there and the actors were hilarious. After the murder (which we didn't see, just heard the guns), we were moved by table numbers to Portofino's and had a terrific meal with wine. The cast would continue with the play as the dinner progressed. They even came around to the tables and we could ask them questions. We voted for the most likely suspect and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We will do this again.
As a special suite perk, we attended a Cocktail Party in the Captain's and Hotel Director's Quarters. They have a stairway straight up to the Bridge. We were also able to eat breakfast every morning in Chops, where they had a cold buffet and a chef to prepare hot dishes. Concierge Club was great also.
We loved playing pool on a table that kept the playing surface level, even when we were "at sea". It's just as you enter the Safari Club and the balls are available at the nearby bar - no charge, you just leave your cruise card with the bartender until you return the balls. What fun!
The only shore excursion we booked was the L L Bean shopping trip. Freeport is a shopper's dream. We highly recommend lunch at the Jameson Tavern. The locals eat there and the food was awesome.
The only (small) disappointment we encountered was our pre-cruise hotel. We had booked the Hyatt Harborside with RCCL and they changed us at the last minute to The Langham Boston, which is a beautiful hotel, but we wanted to see the harbor. This trip was lots of fun, and the Jewel still shines for us.