Let me begin by saying that we are first time cruisers and I have a mixed review that I hope you will take the time to read thoroughly through.
My finance and I have never experienced a cruise and after a month of reading reviews and getting input from friends and family we finally decided to take a Western Royal Caribbean for our Honeymoon on the highly recommended RCI cruise line. We were married March 1 and scheduled to board on March 3rd. All my wife could keep telling me was about how beautiful Cozumel and Costa Maya Mexico are, and that's all I could think about from the day we married until the day we boarded the Jewel. With that being said here is my break down of our first cruise experience.
We boarded around 1:30pm on March 3rd and our first objective was to get to our Stateroom and get our carry on luggage put away. Upon arrival some of our regular luggage was already waiting for us, so we quickly put away what we could and took advantage of walking around the ship since we still had a few hours before departing Tampa. Being avid coffee drinkers we thought it would be nice to get some java and explore the Jewel. So we proceeded to start at the AFT part of the ship and work our way forward, surprisingly every restaurant and coffee machine we saw was closed or not working, now being first time cruisers we didn't know the difference so we continued on exploring. The Jewel was beyond our expectations for a cruise ship we were astounded by the beauty and architecture we seen -- it was truly a fabulous ship and I envisioned our fantastic honeymoon to begin in a few short hours.
With no luck on the coffee we continued to walk in hopes of finding some kind of refreshment or open restaurant, and as we got closer to the center of the ship on Deck 12 we heard music so we worked our way in the same direction figuring something would be open. Upon arrival at the main pool my hopes of a romantic honeymoon crashed and burned. The complete pool deck was filled with 21 year old college students at which time half or better percentage of them were already hammered from drinking and here it is only 2:30 in the afternoon, looking around we seen all the sun bathing lounge chairs -- pools and hot tubs were completely taken over by college students who at this point could careless who else was on the ship. It was their world and nothing was going to stop them. Now for the record I am not opposed to anyone of legal age having a good time, however there are still rules of engagement and clearly these young adults were far from understanding the words "Respect and Courtesy" and being drunk was all they cared about.
Emergency Evacuation 4:15 March 3rd
At 4:15 The Captain called for the must have emergency evacuation drill. Being first time cruisers we were very interested in understanding the process. We arrive at E16 our evacuation center and along with us were half the drunken college students talking and yelling above the crew and the PA system completely ignoring the safety protocols that were being announced.
Also during the evacuation drill it was brought to our attention that a group of College students were kicked off the ship and 4 were arrested stemming from obnoxious behavior towards other passengers and the attempt to smuggle drugs through customs. This delayed us from leaving until almost 5-5:30pm. Again, the unfortunate issue here is that none of the RCI personnel stepped up to control the unruly crowd during the evac training - (Very Disapointing)
Being that the culinary staff has to feed 2,000 plus people from several different ethnic back rounds I feel they did an adequate job with the food -- but not necessarily superb.
It was your basic buffet style food -- we did go to one formal dinner but nothing wowed us to go to any others so we mainly ate at the buffet.
Eat when you want? -- No such thing on this cruise -- All the main restaurants closed at 11pm and you were left with Pizza and maybe some nacho chips -- and the worst part was, it was only available at one location at the bow of the ship which made it even more difficult to fight the crowds, and if you wanted a Soda -- good luck finding it after 11pm.
However, you can opt for room service with a little more on the menu however one and half hours waiting wasn't worth the extra money you had to pay.
The entertainment at the Center of the ship was absolutely fantastic -- it was where most of the older generation couples were hanging out because the pool areas and lounges were being overrun by the college students, but as soon we thought we found a nice quiet area where we could talk and enjoy a late night drink while listening to some very good live music -- while dressed in our casual evening clothes here comes the College kids staggering across the dance floor in their swim suits / no shirts or shoes to one of the bars.
The Motown show featuring the Horizons was beyond Fantastic -- Kudos to Royal for having them on board.
The 70's Dance Party that was held on deck 4 inside was Excellent -- However it slowly crashed and burned when (Yep) the drunk college kids got into the party wearing their bathing suits, screaming hollering and using profanity.
All canceled due to inclement weather -- The cruise line did absolutely nothing to try and compensate with on board activates and or offer other excursion options.
Service from the wait staff was good -- but again not as superb as I thought it would be based on all the reviews we read -- again I contribute this too the college crowd and their lack of respect for others, It almost felt like the crew was intimidated by the actions of this young crowd and preferred to let them just do what they want so they wouldn't have to deal with the insubordination or derogatory remarks.
Our Stateroom 9636 was fantastic with a nice balcony and view located in a pretty decent part of the ship where walking to the stairs or elevators was very convenient.
Final Day of Cruise:
My wife and I inquired with the some of the crew about purchasing some wine so we can go back to our stateroom for a last cruise evening toast -- we were told that if we purchased a bottle at the Ship store we would be able to take it with us because it was the final night of the cruise -- However after our purchase we were informed that because there was so many college students on the cruise the Ships staff was suspending any liquor purchase back to the rooms and we would have to wait until morning to pick it up. Another amenity taken because of the college gathering, with that we assumed we could just go buy a drink and take it back to the room however upon arriving on the main pool deck -- everything was closed early, so that the college crowd didn't get out of hand partying all night and ensuring they got off the ship on time the next morning. How sad it is that the responsible passengers suffered for the inadequacies of these younger persons.
Over all our first cruise experience was dreadful -- I expected a lot more interaction from the RCI staff and security to ensure everyone on the ship had a pleasant experience -- I felt as if this cruise was geared strictly for Spring Break College Students and that we were simply the people that filled the empty cabins at the last minute -- I completely understand that this was bad timing for weather and spring break activates -- but it was extremely unfortunate that RCI wasn't more involved with security and managing the unruly -- disrespectful younger generation.
The lack of Security and crew intervention aboard the Jewel was a huge factor in the results of this review -- We witnessed everything from young drunk adults literally bouncing of walls -- Vomiting -- Falling down -- using excessive profanity -- screaming -- yelling and being extremely belligerent toward other passengers and crew. At one point these young adults got so hammered -- the only way to get them back on the ship from one of the ports was to use wheel chairs.
I am simply appalled not only by the actions of the younger generation -- but more at the RCI cruise line and the Jewel Staff for not stepping up and taking control of the ship and its passengers -- It is very unfortunate that our first cruise experience ended this way.
The scores I provided were soley based on our experience - Again I must add that if the RCI Security and Crew were more involved in their Passengers Safety - Comfort and Experience - We may have made it through this experience on a brighter note....
In Closing We are not opposed to taking another cruise -- but rest assured we will be doing a lot more research up to and including other cruise lines before making a final decision.