We were on the repositioning cruise on the Jewel of the Seas, which took us from Boston to Tampa, with stops in St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, Curacao and Aruba. While we had some nasty weather at the beginning, it calmed down by the third day, and overall our cruise was lovely.
This was our second Royal Caribbean cruise, and we really enjoyed the energy on board. The service was spectacular everywhere -â€" poolside, in the lounges, at dinner and in our stateroom. We loved our waiter and assistant waiter (Jerome and Jose), who took great care of us and made us feel like we were the most important people on board. We also spend a lot of time in the Schooner Bar, where waiter Roy became our new best friend. Cruise director Carly B was a riot, and her staff was funny, fun and always pleasant.
Overall, the ship was beautiful. Lots of room for lounging, and some great spots for a little privacy as well. The rooms were small, but that's pretty standard for cruising. There was plenty of room for storage (we had an exterior room, no balcony, that was slightly oversized). The Schooner Bar was great for a predinner cocktail, as it was far away from the smoky Pit Stop and casino. While RCL limits the places where people can smoke, we found the ship still too smoky overall. Any time you got near the Centrum in the middle of the ship, you could smell smoke no matter which floor you were on. Also, the jogging track runs right through a smoking section, which made that section for a morning jog particularly unpleasant.
The food was average, and occasionally poor (stay away from the calzone in the dining room!). The Windjammer was OK for breakfast, but lunch was awful -â€" limited, bland selection with a lot of redundancy from day to day. They also seemed to run out of a number of items as the cruise went on. We ended up in the Sea View Cafe most days for lunch, which was a decent alternative. We ate at both Chops and Portofino and found both to be just decent but not worth the upcharge. We preferred Chops, though both had amazing desserts. We visited Chops on a busy night and were "forgotten" for a while by our waiter, and our dinner ended up being almost three hours. The food on board was our biggest disappointment.
Activities were wonderful. This was a Halloween cruise, and we were amazed by the number and intricacy of the costumes. RCL held a costume contest and decorated the ship. Myriad activities were scheduled for each day during the cruise, including several trivia contests throughout the day. Other activities included the Love and Marriage Show, Battle of the Sexes, table tennis tournament, bellyflop contest, Quest and World's Sexiest Man contest. We participated in a number of events and were spectators at others and really had fun. We also took advantage of the climbing wall and mini golf course. We went to several shows and were impressed with the variety.
One other minor complaint: The stateroom amenities were terrible. Women, pack your own shampoo, conditioner and bath gel or soap. RCL provides only low-quality items, including a shampoo/conditioner combo that neither cleans the hair nor conditions it. The hair dryer is awful; it's old and the handle gets hot while using it, so drying the hair took a while.
While Celebrity remains our favorite line, we really enjoyed our cruise on RCL. We absolutely adored the itinerary and crew and had an incredible vacation.