Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by traumac: A review for non-cruisers by non-cruisers
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A review for non-cruisers by non-cruisers
We are not a family of cruise zealots. This review is meant for those who are looking for a relatively short cruise, especially for Florida residents. We booked through AAA. I would not recommend them. Details were lacking, some important ones (e.g. there was My Time dining, never told of this).
1. Parking. We were in a wild mood, so we did not park at the official lot. On our drive over, we saw an open air lot surrounded by barb wire fencing. A group of young guys run this place. VERY professional gentlemen, very helpful. We were a bit concerned about potential safety, but the reality is, it is harder to break into a car in the well lit open air than in a dark garage. The cost was about half that of the recommended place. Their website is 241services.com, located about three blocks from the port. They drive you and your luggage over via a scary little minivan. Awesome start! Picked us up at the end when we called, even called back to be sure we found the van. Their credit More card machine is wireless (bring cash in case).
2. Boarding. Easy enough. Obligatory photo op. We ate a snack.
3. The Rooms. We had two cabins, both with little window portholes. One had those upper bunks that we used. Regular bed was comfy, upper one not so much. For a cruise, the room was reasonably spacious, just no good area to put the luggage. The bathroom was nice, but THERE IS NO FREE SHAMPOO!!! Whaaaat? Shower is well designed with good power. Unfortunately, you could see strips of mold wherever there was a corner seam. Ugh. The caretaker for our room was ok, but nothing special, never really checked in on us. Meh.
4. Food. It was pretty good for the most part. There is the major food trough for the super-obese called the Windjammer. Buffet style, but at dinner often had most of the same things offered in the sitdown dining room. Evening snack had sushi-ish offerings with hot wasabi. At breakfast, the lox is hidden in the aft section! One nice thing was the offering of fruity flavored sugar free water! The Tides is the more formal dining room. They have all kinds of dress code rules; IGNORE THEM! Many people come in shorts (so did I; this was a vacation not a job, wedding or funeral -- funny I chose those three). As long as men have a collared shirt and the women aren't dressed like hoochy mamas, you are ok. There is great people watching on the one formal night, all kinds of inappropriate garb. It is like free entertainment. There is also some little snack place on the aft 12th deck which is pretty bad (e.g. Caesar salad topped with fish -- the fish had a curry rub, gross!). One good things is lots of Indian food in both main dining areas that was yummy. Finally, we had one meal in the added cost Italian place, Portofino. It was restaurant quality for 20 bucks a head. Well worth it. Table service in Tides was good not spectacular. Oh yeah, at lunch in the Tides they have this amazing Tutti Salad; custom made salads, try it at least once, you will be hooked. Overall food quality though was a Meh+ (one notch higher than meh). Our head waiter had a really dull personality, not sure what he did (we skipped his tip, sorry dude). Grade: Meh.
5. Excursions. First went to Cozumel. Some of us took the dune buggy and snorkeling trip. Great, well worth it. Skip the onsite massage people, they change the prices with the wind. The others took the Mexican cooking class, that featured an open bar and some time at a beach resort type place. Both of these trips booked through the ship, worth the cost. In CZ, you can also just head out of the port, and within walking distance (head left) get to use a hotel's beachfront for 20 bucks. Looked nice, we did not partake. We did not manage to dock in Porto Playa; we were going to use the Native Choice tour of the Mayan Ruins (see Tripadvisor), but we spent another day at sea due to weather. HERE IS WHERE THE CRUISE FAILED. Both the extra day at sea, and the following day at sea were dull. Had we been able to dock again, it would have been tolerable. However, the ship's crew made no effort to ramp up the cruise experience. People were getting cabin fever, drinking out of boredom. Tragic. The weather is not RC's fault, but their lack of adequate preparedness is. Grade: F for the time at sea.
6. Entertainment. Nightly shows were mostly fun. The exception was Marty Allen. Yes the bug-eyed comedian (not) from another era. He is actually still alive, but you wouldn't know it from his routine which was petrified rock. We left the show after ten minutes. The cruise entertainers were good. None lost their balance on a particularly rocky/stormy evening. The last night featured some group who supposedly was "best of Vegas" at some point, I think they were called the Caballeras or something like that. Lastly, the live orchestra was awesome! Some ships use recorded music (ugh). RC should be commended for having live musicians. BTW, the musicians in the lounges were excellent for the most part.
7. The guests. A broad slice of America, makes you realize not everyone should be allowed to vote. Many multi-tatted types hanging out (sometimes literally) at the bar. Plenty of middle aged men and MILFs who haven't realized that they shouldn't party like they did twenty or thirty years ago. A few times was nearly blinded by the vision of them in their pool outfits. OTOH, we met some nice folks at the various dining tables.
8. Fitness center. The two trainers, Sonic (really!) and Wayne (I think) were great. The morning and evening stretch classes were free and fun. The machines are ok, but don't have TV screens. How primitive. And boring. Overal rating: Meh.
9. Pools. There is the main football/drink/destroy pool with the aforementioned crowd. Lots of inappropriate behavior, especially in the hot tubs. However, there is a quiet adults (>16) only pool, the Solarium. Relatively quiet, lots of plants, sun. Great for a nap or to read a book. There was a kiddie pool with slide. Why no slide for adults? Again, meh.
10. Disembarkation. They herd you into groups. IGNORE THE RULES. Leave whenever you like, your luggage will be there. They just want to avoid a massive push at the customs area. We left an hour earlier than instructed, and our bags were faithfully waiting. Customs clearance was easy (no TSA so no mandatory cavity exam).
Summary: An overall meh-rated cruise. Inexpensive, and would have been a good value had we been able to dock at the second port en route. However, the ship's time at sea was SO dull, we will not repeat. Think about this risk carefully. For a bit more money we would have had a better time on Princess or Disney. Less
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