Swiss Jewel Cabins
Of the 59 all-outside-facing cabins onboard Swiss Jewel, 85 percent feature floor-to-ceiling windows. There are six categories of cabins spread across three decks. In the standard categories, the big difference is the window: Category 1 cabins, located down on Deck 1, have windows placed up near the ceiling. While these staterooms will be flooded with light when sailing, they're often quite dark in port as they may be below dock level. There's no elevator to Deck 1, so this option is not a good fit for those who can't manage narrow, twisty stairs.
The 30 Category 3 cabins are the same size, but their French balconies makes them feel a bit larger. (With a French balcony, you can open the door for fresh air, but there's no actual balcony to step out on.) All of the standards are beautifully designed and quite comfortable. You can opt for twin beds or a queen. (Interestingly, unlike most lines, which just have beds that convert from twins to a queen by being pushed together, Tauck actually has separate bed-sets for each preference.) They are extremely comfortable, with gorgeous bedding, lots of pillows and cotton duvets.
The color scheme uses warming shades of red, yellow and orange, which are tempered by the dark paneling.
Standard staterooms come equipped with flat-screen televisions with channels that include BBC, Sky TV, CNN and movie channels. Each cabin has a small desk and a pair of chairs, and it's equipped with a mini-fridge, stocked with your choice of complimentary sodas and bottled waters. Beds have reading lights. Storage, I thought, was a bit oddly arranged. The triple-closet is reasonably spacious but has only two drawers, which are set well below waist level and rather awkward to get at. Beds are elevated so large suitcases tuck neatly underneath.
Also curious is the bathroom design. The showers, equipped with glass doors, rather than body-clinging curtains, are designed in an odd rectangle that appears spacious at first glance. In reality, with the way the nozzle's placed, the space is actually ill-used. The rest of the bathroom, though beautifully decorated with marble sinks and pretty taps, has some oddities, too. A small trash can is placed under a shelf so you have to move it to open it. Storage is limited, with no medicine cabinet-style shelves. Kudos to Tauck for the lovely L'Occitane toiletries and strong hair dryer.
I loved the ship's Junior Suites (categories 2, 4 and 5). At 183 square feet, the beds are actually placed catty-corner in the room so you look directly out the French balcony window. Plus, there's room for a pair of comfortable armchairs. Otherwise, the amenities (and the odd bathroom) are the same.
The top cabins are Swiss Jewel's 14 Suites, which, at 300 square feet, are double the size of the standard cabins onboard. These are beautifully designed as an extended main room. At one end is the bed, and at the other is a living space, which features either two deep, clubby armchairs or a couch that pulls out to make an extra bed. There's a walk-in closet. The bathroom features a separate shower and tub; the tub's got a funky design in which it gets really narrow at the foot, but the passengers we spoke to who'd used it assured us it made no difference.
In the nice touch category, cabins have alarm clock radios, which are not a part of the package on mainstream cruise ships. You can still request a wake-up call -- but it's nice to have the option not to, plus music to boot!
And in the "be prepared" category, know this: Swiss Jewel's cabins are outfitted with 220-volt power outlets for two-pin plugs, standard throughout Continental Europe. Be sure to bring the appropriate power adapter so that you can plug in and charge up your cell phone, camera and whatever other electrical equipment you may have.
Next: Swiss Jewel Dining
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