85 Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

We almost cancelled this cruise after a disappointing transatlantic this past December on the Brilliance of the Seas. They also cancelled two of our ports and added one, which also made us consider canceling this one. So glad we ... Read More
We almost cancelled this cruise after a disappointing transatlantic this past December on the Brilliance of the Seas. They also cancelled two of our ports and added one, which also made us consider canceling this one. So glad we didn't!! We flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day ahead of time and stayed where we always stay at the Plantation Hampton Inn. We live in Arizona but are from Ft. Lauderdale, so it feels like home to us. The hotel is very nice and has a free shuttle to and from the airport and Port Everglades, which we never use as we always rent a car. When we return the car, National always has someone that will drive us to the port in the same car (which we tip what we would probably pay for a taxi just for the ease and convenience). Embarkation has always been a breeze probably because we arrive early. We were on the ship by 11:30 or so and into the Windjammer for lunch until the cabins were available. The ship is as beautiful as she was in 2004 when we were on her for her first Baltic cruise. The cabin was one of the smallest we have had in recent years, but very functional. Jerome was our cabin steward and did a good job. We had brought small gifts for him and his assistant, but he said he didn't have an assistant. We do think someone else cleaned our cabin the last few days, but it was always nicely done. The extra large balcony was nice but we didn't utilize it as much as we usually do as it was pretty cold after a few days. Still very nice to have and the fresh air was wonderful! The food was a tad better than the Brilliance but the same menus. I went with low expectations. This is a very subjective topic. I can say that if you order your steak medium well or well done, your knife will not cut the meat. It is definitely not the same quality as Chops, which we enjoyed on three occasions. Chops was wonderful as was the staff. In the dining room, we had a wonderful table for two by the window on the main floor. The best location we have ever had. The waiter, Virgilio, and assistant, Faride were WONDERFUL. Unfortunately, the food quality was poor. Some things were better than others. Enjoyed some vegetarian options. Could not find any fault with the service. The 4 top next to us were 2 couples from Tampa. One couple knew and had worked with DH's late father. We had some lovely conversations with all for of them and we enjoyed the dining room because of them and the staff. The cruise director, Clo, was the ABSOLUTE best CD we have ever had. What an asset to RCCL! Captain Thore was in command and we enjoyed his noon briefings. Tremendously enjoyed Marty Allen and Karon Kate (again as they were on the Brilliance) and Richard Bach the illusionist. Did not see any of the other shows as DH was ill. Would have love to have attended the Love & Marriage Show and The Guest talent Show, but these were held late night I and could not make it up that late.DH became ill after a few days and ended up with a large bill from the infirmary. Two days' worth of IV fluids. He was not sure if it was from the Tiger Shrimp he ate or Noro, but was told by the infirmary staff that over 200 were ill with the same problem. We were just glad it was during the six sea days and didn't affect our ports. Our cruise critic friends REALLY made this cruise. They were wonderful and I miss them so much! We enjoyed going around together in the ports. For the ports: Azores-did not take a tour here. Just walked around the city. It was a sunday and most things were closed. We did find a shopping mall and enjoyed that a bit. Please, take a tour if you can. Looking at everyone's photos, we missed so much beautiful scenery. Dover, England-shared a taxi to the train station and a train to Canterbury. Had a lot of fun walking the town with our CC friends, Dave and Cheryl. We were invited into an old Anglican church by the caretaker. He was wonderful. If we had been there an hour later, he would have had tea and scones for us! Did try some wonderful Cornish Pasties. Had a great time there. Definitely worth it. LeHavre-Have been there several times. We had booked a car with Avis. Took a taxi to the Avis location well within the posted times of operation and they were closed. It ruined our day as we had planned to drive up the coast. DH had purchased an international driver's license for this. Avis is investigating this. We knew there was the Coty Mall nearby. It is three stories and has a 2 story grocery story. Brought back a suitcase full of french goodies including two bottles of wine and a bottle of Calvados, the local aperitif. Brugges-our favorite place of all! It was cold and rainy but we had a great time with CC Friends, Judy and Barry. Dave and Cheryl reserved a van for 8 and he dropped us off and returned for us later in the afternoon. It was great! Had some wonderful waffles and hot chocolate there and also strawberries and crepes for lunch with the local beer. Just a great day. Went to the chocolate museum (kind of a waste of money)and hit all of the wonderful chocolate shops, including a "naughty" chocolate shop! The lace shops were wonderful, too, and also watched a local artisan make lace. We would love to go back there someday. Amsterdam-our last port. Disembarked quickly and painlessly. Luggage waiting for us as was the cab we reserved to take us to our hotel near the airport. Dropped the bags at the hotel (the Dorint-very nice) and took the hotel shuttle to the airport/train station and into the city. We really had a good time. Enjoyed seeing the sights. The Anne Frank House was very moving. Buy your tickets in advance over the internet and avoid the long lines. The next day, we took an out of the city tour with Senior Holland Travel, recommended by people on the boards. He was not worth the money. He was very expensive to begin with and was an hour late (due to traffic) picking us up. Some of the sights were wonderful (Keukenhof Gardens) and some were not so wonderful. He rushed us through (I could barely keep up with him and I have no mobility problems) and we had him drop us off back downtown at the end so that we could get some dinner as there was nothing out by the hotel. When we got our of his car, he hit us up for all of the entrance fees, which we thought were including in his sizable fee. He also parked his car longs distances away from where we were so that he did not have to pay any parking fees. He had minimal narration at what he did show us. I felt I had been nickle and dimed to death! However, it was a wonderful trip. Certainly one of our favorites (only the Baltic ones have been better. Yes, RCCL could have handle some things a lot better (Belgian immigration for one thing). I am so glad we decided not to cancel. One more thing I wanted to say was that we had some rough seas. Some days they were 20+ ft seas per Captain Thore. The ship must have some fantastic stabilizers as we hardly felt them! I am prone to motion sickness, but this did not bother us at all. Just take Bonine or wear a patch. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
This was my 1st & last cruise with RCI. I'm a seasoned cruiser. This was my 3rd cruise this year. I've favored Princess, Celebrity, NCL and Cunard. First of all, the ship itself is beautiful. It's intimate and easy to ... Read More
This was my 1st & last cruise with RCI. I'm a seasoned cruiser. This was my 3rd cruise this year. I've favored Princess, Celebrity, NCL and Cunard. First of all, the ship itself is beautiful. It's intimate and easy to move around from deck to deck. The staff was friendly and aimed to please. I give them high grades for the Spa & Exercise facilities. They were top notch. But, anyone booking on this Brilliance class of ships should be aware that suite and balcony cabins on the aft starboard side Deck Six are in for a rude awakening. These cabins are directly over the lounges. There is no sound insulation. Our cabin floor vibrated from the music. It was impossible to get any sleep until 2am most nights. Then, the clean-up lounge crew would be playing loud music until 4-5am. I called guest relations on numerous occasions. They did nothing...Do NOT book these cabins!!! Food: After, just getting off QM2,( the food on QM2 was hands down the BEST at Sea ) the food on Jewel was little better than cafeteria offerings. The menu in the main dining room is very limited. The menus were odd. It often mixed regional cuisine on the same menu. Two nights in a row, pork of some type was the 'Chef's Special'. On the Pork Chop special night our waiter told us 'Not to order it because it was overcooked and tough'! The alternative steak was too tough to chew. The food was so bad we resorted to eating in the Windjammer cafe, where food was better than the main dining room. My wife is a much better chef than this crew. Their food was un-inspired, tasteless and they need to go back to school to learn to properly make sauces. Breakfast proved to be the best meal on the ship. Also, on numerous occasions, self serve coffee was un-available. This happened over and over again from 6am -9am. The waiters were slow to clear tables on deck. This is the 1st ship I've sailed where you couldn't get any food other than pizza past 9:30pm. We had early 6pm seating and would go to the evening show. By 10:30-11pm we were looking for a snack. Out of luck! Entertainment: This was the 1st 12 day cruise I've been on where there were just two full dance productions shows. The best show was a husband & wife from Cirque. They were one of the best acts I've ever seen at sea.The on-board band was very good They did have hit & misses other singers and entertainers. But, it was very average. I must give the Cruise Director, Bobby big credit. He was professional and really made an effort to inter-act with the passengers. The cabins were clean and the ship is well maintained. However, due to the above mentioned issues, I will Not be returning to RCI! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Jewel of the Seas left Southhampton October 30th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale November 11th. We visited three ports of call, Le Havre, France; La Coruna, Spain; and Funchal, Madeira, with sea days interspersed followed by a six day ... Read More
Jewel of the Seas left Southhampton October 30th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale November 11th. We visited three ports of call, Le Havre, France; La Coruna, Spain; and Funchal, Madeira, with sea days interspersed followed by a six day Atlantic crossing. This was the second such crossing for us, we had traveled to Europe in April aboard HAL's Westerdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome. We are experienced cruisers having traveled on seven cruise lines and 11 different ships in the last five years. Embarkation/debarkation: Among the smoothest we have experienced. No long lines. Pleasant staff; warm greetings and send offs. Ports of Call: Future cruisers may want to note that free WI-FI access was available in the welcome center at the cruise ship dock in Le Havre (you had to have your own laptop) and that Funchal has a free municipal internet center at Rua de Ferrieros. It is open M-F 12:00 - 19:00; Sat. 10:00-17:00; closed Sundays and holidays. A hop-on and hop-off double-decker tour bus operated in Funchal with a stop a quick walk from the cruise ship dock. Cost was 10E to ride until evening and then the ticket could be used on the yellow city buses - far more time than we needed for the one-day visit. Ship/room: The Jewel had been in dry dock prior to our departure. We were surprised then to have a series of plumbing problems, sink stopped up, shower didn't drain and on two evenings water flooded the bathroom floor. All were quickly attended to and corrected. Guests from at least two other cabins had similar flooding problems. The ship and our room were kept immaculately clean. Staff was attentive to detail. On two more stormy days, seasick bag dispensers were quickly hung at each landing and placed in common area bathrooms. Our room provided plenty of space for storing suitcases (we had two 22' inch suitcases and a carryon of similar size) under the beds. Speaking of beds, they were short. Designed to come to a point in the center when the two twins are pushed together, the closer you get to the side of the bed, the shorter the bed becomes. Dining: The quality of the food in the Tides Dining Room and the Buffet, may have improved since the professional critic (see professional review) first ate in them, but we found it to fall short of RCL's competitors. A blandness, sameness and lack of creativity was noted by several fellow guests. Perhaps expectations were too high, but to have frozen potatoes in the potato salad at lunch not once, but twice, had us wondering when they had been cooked and when the salad had been made; green peas in scrambled eggs marked Mexican scrambled eggs, left us chuckling. Unfortunately, it appeared that more creative talent went into the design of the laminated menus than the food preparation itself. Portofino's was well worth the additional $20 per person surcharge, so much so we dined there twice. The food was excellent and it easily took two-hours to savor the many courses presented to us. Seaview Cafe was a welcome change from the ship's buffet. Great snack bar grilled sandwiches and salads. Coffee bar: Unlike HAL and Princess Cruise lines, we were told on the first day that we were unable to purchase a punch card to reduce the per cup cost and/or earn a free drink. The fifth day of the cruise, and after the purchase of several lattes (Seattle's Best coffee) we were given a 'buy six and get the next one free' card. Alcohol: RCL's policy on alcohol is that you are not allowed to bring any alcohol on to the ship for consumption. Anything brought aboard will be confiscated and held until the night before disembarkation. This was a disappointment as it has been fun on other lines to purchase a bottle of wine in the country we were visiting to take to dinner and consume while traveling. There were several reasons - none the same, by the way - given by staff for the policy, but it was a definite 'ding' in rating this cruise. The on-board per glass wine prices ranged from $4 a glass for wine from cardboard boxes (put into a wine barrel) in the buffet to $24 per glass Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. RCL also prohibited the bringing of food on board and confiscated that as well. We were allowed to bring fresh flowers on board. Telephone: Those who have Verizon wireless service are able to make phone calls from international waters at far less money than the $7.95 per minute charge for using the ship's phone. We were quoted $2.49 per minute by Verizon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
My wife and I took the April 2007 Trans-Atlantic crossing on the Jewel of the Seas, with stops in Cork, Ireland, Falmouth, England LeHarve, France and Belgium, ending in Amsterdam. The Jewel is an interesting ship. The Atrium was very ... Read More
My wife and I took the April 2007 Trans-Atlantic crossing on the Jewel of the Seas, with stops in Cork, Ireland, Falmouth, England LeHarve, France and Belgium, ending in Amsterdam. The Jewel is an interesting ship. The Atrium was very impressive. It was also a nice touch that passengers were not forced to travel through the Casinos and shops to get from one point to another. Our suite was of a nice size. The DVD player with the TV also played a single CD at a time throughout the suite. We did bring a dozen of our favorite CDs on the trip. However, when we arrived there were crumbs on the vanity chair that were never removed over the 12 days. We did have rough weather and high seas for the first four days of our trip. Wine glasses fell from a shelf and shattered on a granite counter top and tile floor. We were surprised that the room attendant did not remove these glasses until the seas calmed. We were fearful of stepping on glass for several days. The food was very inconsistent, both in the Tides dining room and the Windjammer buffet. Some days the food was excellent and other days it was below average or actually bad. The speciality dining venues, a steakhouse and an Italian theme spot were good at $20 a person. We were surprised there was no ice cream offered in the Windjammer, just frozen yogurt. We booked the steakhouse (Chops) after viewing an advanced menu for the Tides that looked pretty bad for the next night. The food was above average. Our only complaint was that the wait staff was apparently sick of listening to the music channel for the older trans-Atlantic clientele and switched it to a 90's rock channel that was very annoying. We mentioned it to the manager when she stopped at our table. She confessed some of the wait staff had changed the music and it was switched back to something more pleasant. The entertainment was typical of most cruise lines...some nights very entertaining and other nights not so entertaining. The guy at the piano bar was awful, singing loud rock stuff while an older crowd longed for some Rogers and Hart or Cole Porter tunes that he didn't know. The piano bar was literally an empty ghost town every night. However, the Trio Royale, a group from Bulgaria, that played every night in the lobby, had a female vocalist who was great. You could listen to her from chairs and sofas from Deck 4 to Deck 10 thanks to the open atrium. The ship had a fun miniature golf course that you could play 24 hours a day. The basketballs and basketball goals was the best I have seen on a cruise. On a trans-Atlantic cruise the Movie Theater was in demand. It was usually crowded and we were shocked to see that the crew was allowing passengers to sit on the stairs, making it dicey for someone to leave their seat and try to exit during the movie. The Concierge Lounge for passengers booking suites and for frequent customers was a nice touch, offering complimentary cappuccino throughout the day, snacks in the morning and beer and wine in the evening. There was also a second bar on Deck 13 for evening snacks and drinks all complimentary. The most disappointing aspect of this cruise were the actions of the captain and hotel director during two ports of call. In Falmouth, England they used tender service and local small boats from the ship to the dock. The city had volunteers at the dock who couldn't have been nicer. My wife enjoyed her tour booked on the ship and I had fun exploring the Falmouth business district. However when I returned to the ship there was a 1-hour 40-minute line to get on a tender. When my wife arrived the line was 2-hours and it was raining hard. The captain and hotel director did not send staff ashore to aid the 1,200 passengers standing in the rain waiting for a tender. Later that evening the captain at a reception blamed the problem on the port and refused to accept any responsibility. He stated he would recommend that the ship never stop at Falmouth again and he was actually booed. The volunteers from Falmouth stood in the rain with the ship's passengers all afternoon long, but no one from the ship did. Everybody seemed to be happy with tours to Paris or Normandy offered by the ship. We booked a private tour not offered by the ship of Normandy with Normandy Sightseeing Tours, which offered a van and a 30-year-old history major as a guide. It was pricey but worth the extra costs. However, in Belgium there were problems again. The ship's Concierge was selling shuttle tickets to Brugge. She claimed the the tickets were round trips to the historic city, but in fact they dropped you off near a train station where you had to buy train tickets to Brugge. I have seen some ships' travel desks say anything to sell a tour, but it was a first to have someone with the title of "Concierge" not know what she was selling. Once in port we were delayed even getting to the bus to take us near the train station as there was a 1-hour to get off the ship, as only one gangway was in place. Even regular Royal Caribbean passengers were voicing displeasure. But cruises are often what you make of them. Overall we had a good time, but it was overshadowed by the incidents at Falmouth and in Belgium. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
Just back from the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas September 11 through September 23, 2006. Warning, this review is very long and a bit fragmented. My head is still floating. There were 2 of us in the Royal Suite, Cabin Number 1556. This ... Read More
Just back from the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas September 11 through September 23, 2006. Warning, this review is very long and a bit fragmented. My head is still floating. There were 2 of us in the Royal Suite, Cabin Number 1556. This was a 12-night transatlantic cruise from Harwich, England to Boston. We flew out of Boston Logan on September 7 and spent a few days at the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum in London. London was great fun but the Hotel was too far away, next time in London we will stay closer to town. London is also uber expensive with the British Pound about double the value of the US dollar. Our Driver (Darren Parsons of Adelphi Executive Hire www.adelphiexecutivehire.co.uk was great.) met us at the airport, dropped us at the Hotel and then picked us up a few days later and brought us to the port in Harwich. The port was very easy to find, we dropped our bags, tipped the kid tossing them on the tram and walked into the pier building. Because we had the Suite we were directed behind the red curtain for express check in and that was where the preferential treatment began and ended. First impression the ship is large, clean and very bright. Embarkation was effortless, it was around 2:30pm and we were in our suite by 3:15 or so. The Jewel is a lovely ship. Not gorgeous but tasteful. Suite: The Royal Suite is nice. Again, tastefully appointed but nothing exceptional. It was the perfect size for the 2 of us. My favorite part of the suite was the whirlpool tub. I loved it. Unfortunately there were left-over dead roses and open soda cans in the fridge. One of the sinks was clogged and the place reeked of cigarette smoke, yuk. A rather bad first impression. We met our room steward Ben who was nice but much harried. Ben told us to go enjoy the view while he finished cleaning and worked on removing the cigarette smell&. He never took the time to show us how to operate the suite remotes, lighting, drapes, etc. And the way to get rid of the smell consisted largely in opening the balcony doors. We had booked the Royal Suite expecting a certain level of service, which was non-existent. After dropping our stuff in the suite, we were off to the Windjammer Cafe for the luncheon buffet. This was very good. The space itself is nice, overlooking the harbor and the seating was comfortable. I thought the food in the windjammer was better than the main dining room, especially breakfast. They put out a great spread. This was a much older cruise than we are accustomed to. We are not kids (45 and 50) but the average age was probably 70. Our tablemates joked that this ship was sure to run out of oatmeal and prune juice. This cruise was old even for them and they were about 70. Nightlife on the Jewel was missing unless you like ballroom style dancing or very serious karaoke. The DJ in disco was great but I never once saw more than 12 people up there. The elevators are ridiculously slow. I have an idea here: I think when you push the button to call an elevator and wait and wait and finally decide the stairs don't look too bad, after all it's only 5 flights. There should be a button to cancel your elevator call. Just a thought. On to dining We did not go to the Portofino's or Chops but everyone told us it was excellent but took about 2.5 hours. Our waitress in the Tides Dining room was Charmain, she was great. We sat at a table for 6 but 9 of the 12 nights there were just 4 of us. We went to dinner for the tablemates more that the food. We dined with the most wonderful couple. Great table talk, fun stories and lively banter. Even though I thought the food was good and the service was outstanding. The meat was often dry and they insist on putting fruit with all desserts, but I am not a fussy eater, so it was all good to me. Normally on a cruise, my husband and I greatly enjoy the Casino. The Casino Royale on the Jewel was large, and for the most part very quiet. We sat at a 10 person Texas Hold'em table and played the other passengers. It was a $5-$10 limit game, a friendly game and if you won some money one night, you gave it all back the next. We all joked that the same money just kept going around. The house rake was 10% (more than any other cruise or casino I have ever been to) with a cap at $10.00 per hand. This was the oddest Casino ever. The hold'em table was not really in the Casino but just outside of it in the News / Weather Bar. It was supposed to be a Sports bar but it had NO SPORTS on the TVs 7 out of 12 nights& no kidding, so we called it the News/Weather Bar. What was most upsetting is that around midnight or 12:30am the Casino host would come around to shut down the table. This was unreal. It was the only busy table in the so-called Casino and they wanted to close it. Even on Sea Days when you have no reason to rise early the next day. About the third or fourth night my husband (who is quite soft-spoken and rarely says boo) spoke up and said that we are here on vacation and everyone at the table wants to play cards& and he asked why can't we stay and play longer? Well, let me tell you he was reamed! The little twit of a Casino Supervisor was so very rude to my husband; it set the tone for the rest of the cruise. I dare say this is the best rested Casino Staff on the Seas. With the noted exception of Keith (excellent!), Emma and Justin (both very good), this Casino Staff was rude (especially Sandra) condescending and at times incompetent. Dealers Evelyn and Pinky both mucked the winning hand more that once. So we decided to have a few tournaments in the Card Room. I called my concierge Andrea. Even though Andrea is NICE. She is not a concierge. She is more of a hostess or barmaid. Ok, so let's stop here and talk about concierge service. It may be unfair for me to compare concierge services from other cruise lines but hey, in my experience, if you have seen one concierge you've seen them all& or so I thought. We had the Royal Suite, so we paid a lot more than most, so we expect certain privileges. For example, on other cruise lines, the Concierge meets you, if not at the pier directly, than at least in your suite. Stops by, hands you a business card, carries a clipboard to take any notes (change dining times, order flowers, liquor etc) and lets you know he or she will be available to you to book your spa treatments, excursions or dinner reservations. This never happened. I found Andrea in the Concierge Lounge hurriedly mixing drinks and balancing a food tray. So there was my cue that we did not in fact have a concierge, but a stressed-out, over worked waitress. Poor Andrea, I told her that she had too much on her plate with over 200 Platinum members onboard and her job was not that of a concierge. That perhaps she needed an assistant to handle the bar and small things and that she should at least take the time to introduce herself to Suite Guests. She agreed but I could see that she was not really listening. Too often people mistake heartfelt advice for complaint. I ordered 3 bottles of wine through Andrea to be delivered to fellow passengers. And 2 of the 3 thanked me. So an alarm went off and sure enough the third bottle was sent to the wrong cabin. I asked Andrea to send the bottle to the correct cabin and she said she would try and get the bottle back. I told her NO, you cannot take wine away from someone a day later. Not only had they probably opened it by now but it is just wrong to compound the error. So I purchased a fourth bottle to be sent to the correct cabin. Augh. Interjection: I am not a loyal Royal Caribbean Cruiser. I go wherever my budget allows on whatever cruise line suits my needs in respect to timing and ports. I think if you are a loyal RCCL cruiser, than by all means you should take advantage of whatever perks RCCL throws at you. The impression here is that RCCL really takes care of its' Platinum or Diamond Members&.but how? By giving them a coupon book, throwing them a party and free drinks for a few hours of the day? I don't get it. I think RCCL has over extended itself here; the so-called concierge lounge and another one just like it were packed. How preferential is that? Besides, the coupons were only good for stuff I would never use & discount on the second bottle of wine UNDER $50.00?, Free Picture of the Ship? Johnny Rockets (not on this ship) $2.00 Casino Credit& please. This Concierge lounge was full every time I stopped by for a coffee. There was never a free seat and most folks stayed for the 3 hours of drinking and just sat and drank. I know this because prior to dinner, I stopped in for a coffee and after stopped back for express tender tickets (shouldn't these be delivered to my suite?) and the same people were still there. My husband made the same observation. Now my husband is a true romantic. He wanted flowers in the suite from every port we stopped at. Native floriculture. Andrea had never heard of this, the only flower service onboard was tea roses. Nice but not quite. SO after much ado, he made the order and at every stop we got glorious flowers. By day 7 the suite no longer smelled of smoke but rather a very lovely funeral home& a lot of flowers! Now because we had this nice suite, and met so many nice folks on the message board and at the poker table (and some people are just curious about the suite itself) we decided to have a little get together mid-day on a sea day. I gave Andrea the invitations Cookies and Cocktails along with the room numbers the day prior. She did not get them out until a couple of hours before the party. So, many people told me they JUST got the invitation. Others that did not show up may have never got the invite, I don't know. It is not a huge deal, not life threatening, but still it is sloppy. It was awkward seeing other Crown Jewels and not knowing if they got the invitation or not. So we had our little party and Hugo from room service came through with fancy cookies and lots of finger foods and exotic tid-bits (salmon, caviar, etc) and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Nuff said. The Suite: The Suite was nice. One major complaint: NO Coffee maker. Come on now, even Carnival ships have a little coffee maker. We brought our own coffee (Dunkin Donuts) but were unable to make it. They say it is a fire hazard, bull. Another problem with the suite was the poor TV reception. We had huge white lines constantly riding up the screen. This drove me nuts so I called Andrea. But she is only available during the AM coffee hours or the PM drinking binge so I was on my own. I had 3 guys from electrical maintenance in the suite trying to fix the problem. They told me that the entire side of deck 10 had this poor reception problem. But I had made friends with my neighbors and their TVs worked just fine. So the maintenance guys lied. I asked if they could just replace the large flat screen with one from the Sports Bar since nobody was watching those anyway and they were the same size, but they blew me off. I offered to pay, but still no. Also you could not get the CD player to work. You had to play CDs though the DVD which only had one giant speaker under the TV. Here we are in is this lovely suite with speakers all throughout the ceiling and you cannot get them to work. It was very frustrating. Also the Suite has these huge archaic remote controls that hardly work and need a lot of re-charging. I just wanted a simple clicker. Back to poker. Since the Texas Hold'em table was only open at the Casino's leisure, us committed poker players decided to have our own tournament. I had brought my chip set and there were 10 of us, so why not? I called Andrea about 5pm, since this is the ONLY time to reach her, (first mistake) to request that she reserve 2 tables in the Card Room for 10am the following morning (this is standard procedure on any cruise line) I called again to confirm but she still had not had time to make the reservation. So I told her no problem, I could see that she was busy and I would contact the Activities Director myself and make the plan on my own. NOW, Andrea said she could not give me the Directors name or number. She told me it was up to her to do this. Yes, I agreed but knew she was too busy. I called her back later, she said we could not have the 2 tables in the card room because of a scheduled bridge tutorial but they would bring 2 tables and 10 chairs to my suite, OK fine. Next morning I stop by for coffee, see Andrea ask when the tables and chairs will be delivered& she said Oh, you can use the Card Room now, Bridge Talk will not be until 11. Well, I told her that our Poker game will go longer than 1 hour and that I had already invited everyone to MY SUITE. Augh. Long story short, we got the table, chairs and they stayed in my suite for the rest of the cruise. We had 3 tournaments. And while we played in my suite, the dealer sat alone at the Texas Hold'em table in the News/Weather Bar. The Cruise Director was OK. But the shows were same old. One girl can really sing, the other (a soprano) was not as good. Both men singers were good. Truth be told I only saw one show entirely the others I either left early because they were lame or I could not find a seat. The Platters were great but Standing Room Only. Again on other lines, your concierge makes sure you get seating. I am not a tough customer. I expect to get what I pay for. If I had paid less than I would happily accept this level of service. Truly I am an easy customer, I book my own excursions, do not want spa treatments or have special meal plans. Itinerary: great places, great weather, loved them all. Did the Blarney Castle Excursion and the Guinness Dublin Tour, both were awesome! Music: I only heard one great band, do not know the name, I think I crashed a private party in the Hollywood Odyssey. It was full of officers. Overall: What I heard a lot on this cruise was how relaxing it was. This was definitely a relaxing cruise. If you want to relax than this is the cruise for you. I was bored to bits. Also my husband spoke at length with an older fellow passenger that told him that he thought many elderly people actually live full time on cruise ships. And this kind of made sense to me. When we were being herded like sheep into the Tides Dining room among the sea of canes, walkers and wheelchairs, it had a funky, sour milk smell. Hell, it beats the rest home and is probably about the same cost. The good: The ports, the weather, best tablemates ever, meeting new friends, Meet and Mingle Party, easy embarkation and disembarkation, Thomas and Hugo from Room Service (very good room service menu but the same as all the other rooms, again at this suite level you either have a butler, or waiter that will bring you good food late at night or a concierge to arrange it), excellent photographers courteous and professional, no hard sell for bingo or the Art auctions, Mpho and Gemma from Guest Relations were wonderful. Seafarer Cafe was also very good. The Bad: The Staff, not just the Casino but the overall attitude. It was like they were doing us a favor. Lousy concierge service, no nightlife, lame casino, crowded or poor shows, s l o w elevators, an overall sloppiness that continually reminded me that RCCL just does not care. After re-reading my review, it sounds like a miserable cruise. It was not. It was the best we could make it. The ports were magical, the weather perfect and the Crown Jewels a lot of fun. If ever we cruise RCCL again, we will just get the balcony cabin and not have any great expectations, thus no disappointment. Plus I should note that most everyone I spoke with was having a wonderfully "relaxing" cruise. They absolutely loved it. Till next time, Enjoy this glorious day. Juried Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was our first transatlantic cruise, and because it was 12 days we decided to take a junior suite. The price was very good for 12 days. We booked the entire trip through Royal Caribbean, to include the flights, and pre-cruise transfers ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise, and because it was 12 days we decided to take a junior suite. The price was very good for 12 days. We booked the entire trip through Royal Caribbean, to include the flights, and pre-cruise transfers and the hotel in London. The booking was fairly smooth. The flights were convenient, and we got to choose our own seats on the airlines. The flight to London was routine, but of course due to the security measures, it took us about an hour to get through customs at Heathrow Airport. We thought that was bad until my sister told us that it took them two hours to get through earlier the same morning. In any case, we had no problems, and the Royal Caribbean agent was waiting for us outside customs with a plaque with our names on it. We had our own private taxi driver to the City Inn Westminster, one of the RCCL hotels. The check in at the hotel was speedy and our room was beautiful: clean and modern. We enjoyed some sightseeing that afternoon to include lunch at the Tate Modern Museum Cafe. Later we met up with my sister and brother in law, also staying at the City Inn and we had a delightful dinner at Simpson's in the Strand. The complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel the next morning was impressive. They had something for everyone. We strongly recommend the City Inn Westminster. It is a smart, clean hotel in a great location, five minute walk from Westminster Abbey. The RCCL bus picked up our group at 10 AM and we were whisked off to the Port of Harwich about two hours away. There was a separate check in line for suites, and we didn't have to wait at all. Altogether a smooth trip so far. When we got on the ship we were so impressed. The Jewel is a beautiful ship. The first thing we did was split up, so that I could check out our table in the dining room, and Scott went to find the suite and drop off our carry on bags. Our assigned table was badly placed between a pillar and wall, so I got in line to request a change. This process is not very guest friendly. I was third in line, but the maitre'd told us the only table available was in a far corner. Not a very good spot, but at least it was a quiet area and by a window. We were stuck and had to take it. What irritated us about this is that every night at dinner, there were tables for six or eight in the middle of the dining room that had only two diners. Why they couldn't have put us there we do not understand at all. In any case, I got the table changed and notified our traveling companions of the switch once we got to the suite. The suite was incredible: spacious, well appointed, with a walk in closet and a marble/granite bath, full tub and shower. It had a large balcony which we used constantly, coming into port and departing, as well as with champagne watching sunsets. Our suite had plenty of room for cocktails or champagne with friends before dinner, which we did several times. Our steward Ben was the best; we never wanted for a thing. He was always there within one minute when we needed anything. After the first day he knew that we always wanted fresh ice in our bucket, and for the duration of the cruise it was always there. Our room was always spic n span. Kudos to Ben and his staff. The public spaces on the Jewel are beautiful. The atrium became our favorite place for our pre-dinner cocktails. There was always music and dancing, and the bartenders got to know our drinks. The atrium is an incredible space, and we have many great photos. We also liked the Safari Lounge, the Schooner Bar, and the Champagne bar but alas these were the smoking areas, so we limited our time there. We always have late dinner seating. Our food at dinner was usually very good. We tended to stick with the special of the day or to follow the suggestions of our waiters. They were usually right. A couple of times when we ordered something he didn't recommend we ended up sending it back and getting a steak. The meat was always a safe bet on this ship, whether it was steak, duck, veal or lamb. But even the fish specials were great. And of course the lobster was wonderful. One of our favorite places was the Seaview Grill which was a well kept secret for the first few days, as it was way up at the top of the ship at the very back. They had the best french fries, and they were open late. For breakfast and lunch we tended to stay with the buffet, which was always good: plenty of choices, and some variation from day to day. On excursion days we ordered room service breakfast to save time. We found it to be very good: it arrived on time, and it was hot and tasty. We did this three times, and it was consistently good. The solarium food was pretty disappointing. After one try of a crepe we never went back. But the pool here was very nice. The entertainment on board was pretty good. We went to most of the shows in the main theater and were never disappointed. Our favorites were the broadway show tune review and the Platters. The chanteuse in the Atrium was terrific. They played all kinds of music from the 40s to the 80s, from waltz to cha cha to disco. People danced a lot here and so did we. We went on several excursions and they were very well done. We especially liked the day trip to Mont St Michel when we docked in Cherbourg. The gray drizzly weather was a perfect complement to a visit to this medieval mountaintop abbey. And the countryside was so beautiful. We also enjoyed our trip to Blarney Castle when we were in Cork, but wished the bus could have dropped us off in Cork after it. We ended up back at the port in Cobh where we had a delightful lunch on the waterfront instead. We went on our own in Plymouth, Dublin, and St. John's. These are great places to wander about and explore, and in each of these places we found that in one day we could see a lot of the main attractions. In Halifax we had arranged for a van for the six of us, and he took us to many hidden places along the route to Peggy's Cove, showing us some incredible seascapes. He dropped us off on the waterfront where we had Digby scallops, Nova Scotia lobster and the freshest fish and chips. After that we were able to walk the waterfront trail right back to the ship. We were very lucky on this voyage as the weather was beautiful. The crossing was fairly smooth and we were able to be out on deck for miniature gold, rock climbing, lunch at the Seaview or just sitting by the pool. The three sea days for the crossing passed so quickly we can't even account for our time!! Spa treatments helped pass the time, and we even went to the gym several times to get on a treadmill. A great facility. Disembarking in Boston was smooth and uneventful if somewhat slow. Having the last day before arrival as a sea day is great. It gave us time to pack unhurried and prepare for the next part of our trip. All in all this was a wonderful cruise experience. The 12 days just flew by. Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful, well-maintained ship, with lots of bright open spaces. We never realized there were 2,000 passengers on board with us. Royal Caribbean should be proud of the ship and its able, friendly staff. We would definitely sail on this ship again if it had the right itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
OUR GROUP -- After spending 6 months in Florida we were travelling home to the UK for the summer with our two married daughters and their DHs plus a 19 month old grandson. For one daughter and family it was their first cruise and for the ... Read More
OUR GROUP -- After spending 6 months in Florida we were travelling home to the UK for the summer with our two married daughters and their DHs plus a 19 month old grandson. For one daughter and family it was their first cruise and for the other her second. My DW and I have cruised on two previous occasions. One part of the family had flown into FFL from the UK the night before embarkation and the other part of the family had been staying with us in our Florida holiday home for the previous week. The younger daughter and family (travelling with us) did not know that her older sister (flown in the night before from the UK) would also be on board for the journey home to the UK as we had kept it as a secret. We had planned that the surprise would be unveiled on deck 11 outside the Windjammer where we would be having our embarkation lunch. This was a very emotional occasion with joyful tears being shed when the two sisters did meet up at the pre-planned point and the long kept and at times difficult to keep secret was revealed. EMBARKATION was very professionally handled. We had our Sea Pass completed on-line in advance of arriving at Fort Lauderdale so we sped through and were on board having lunch in the Windjammer on deck 11 at 12 noon, about 30 minutes after arriving for embarkation. Cabins were not accessible until 1.00 oclock but there was an area close to the gangway on board where hand luggage could be tagged and left before being taken up later to the cabins by crew members. CABINS -- We had a GS category cabin and it was extremely comfortable with a huge balcony. We will find it very hard to go to a lesser category cabin after experiencing this level of comfort. Our daughters and family had D1 category cabins also on deck 10. These were very adequate with suitable balconies and even with a babys crib in one of them were reasonably roomy. Our suite attendant (Geedee) was from Bali and performed his duties in a friendly and efficient manner. The animal towels on the bed most evenings were terrific. CONCIERGE -- As a GS category cabin holder we qualified for the Concierge Lounge which although small was very adequate for its purpose. The concierge was a charming South African gentleman called Mpho who performed his tasks admirably and was always very helpful. Cocktails were served each evening between 5.30 and 8.30 with a good selection of hot and cold canopies. 24/7 coffee and tea was also available as well as a continental breakfast and lunch time snacks. Because of problems I had linking up my laptop computer to the ships Internet wireless system, Mpho arranged for me to have gratis, dial-up facilities in my cabin. Although very slow it met my needs and allowed me to keep in touch with the outside world during the whole trip. THE JOURNEY This was a 14 night re-positioning cruise with stops in Bermuda, Lisbon (Portugal), Vigo (Spain), Le Harvre (France) and Zeebrugger (Belgium) before disembarkation in Harwich (England). There were plenty of sea days, seven I think in total and the seas were generally very calm. The ports of call were all interesting with opportunities to tour in the countries of the ports of call. As someone from the UK we were quite familiar with the European countries visited so did not take any special tours. We did however undertake a four hour taxi cruise of Bermuda which was highly informative and fun. FOOD in the main dining room TIDES was excellent every single night we dined there. Out fantastic waiter (Walter from Chile) and his lady assistant waiter (Festy, from Assam in North East India) really did look after us. We always took Walters recommendations as to what to eat from the menu and he never let us down. One night the Head Waiter (AJ, also from India) arranged for a special India curry meal to be prepared and served for our table. The recipe, he informed us, was e-mailed to him by his mother in India. It was delicious. We ate on two occasions in CHOPS where the fillets are well worth the $20 charge for dinning in this specialty restaurant. The food, service and ambience were all excellent and we would strongly recommend that the fillets are ordered in preference to the other choices on the menu. The T-bone steaks, however, were huge and were a good alternative choice and much enjoyed by my DW. Kristina from Hungry, the manager of Chops, excelled when our meal was interrupted by baby sitting problems (more of that later). PORTOFINOS was visited by us once and although good was not quite up to the Chops standard. The WINDJAMMER buffet restaurant was used by us for both breakfast and lunch on most days. The quality and variety of food was very good and my only criticism was that we ate too much there!! Although we didnt use the SEAVIEW CAFÉ, our family who did visit it were pleased with both the table service and food quality. The same applies to the SOLARIUM where family reports suggested that the crepes were magnificent. So over all the food was a big hit on the Jewel. However we did not eat from the ROOM SERVICE menu so can not comment on what the calories were like from that source. SPA Out kids bought us a spa package including a message. The whole experience was spoilt however by the hard sell made by the staff at the end of the message in trying to sell us beauty/therapy products. In addition to this unpleasantness we were surprised at being asked for a tip!! THE SHIP was magnificent and met all our expectations and more. I wont go into details here as this has been covered in so many other reviews. What was amazing to us was that despite there being nearly 2200 passengers on board, the ship never looked crowded (except at dinner and the theatre) and there was always space available to do your own thing. GUEST RELATIONS was the one activity that really let the ship down. In our dealings with them they were more interested in fobbing us off than dealing with the problem. On the two occasions when it was necessary to deal with this department we had problems. The first was when I couldnt receive the ships full Internet service on my lap top. I demonstrated my problem to one of the female staff who insisted that I was not connected but should keep trying. I explained I was connect and illustrated this point to her. However she just didnt want to know and directed me away and said keep trying it later. I then went to the concierge who examined the problem and then spoke to the IT people on board. They confirmed that my computers wireless software might not be compatible with the WIFI system on board. Something that Guest Relations could have done for me instead of fobbing me off with misinformation. The second occasion was when we booked the baby sitting service for the nights we were at Chops and Portofinos. Having booked a babysitter and had it confirmed by Guest Relations that she would be available, she then never appeared at the appointed time. Our party was in Chops at the time while my daughter was in her cabin with the baby waiting for the arrival of the babysitter. She was then due to join our family party in Chops. When the sitter still had not arrived after 30 minutes we contacted Guest Relations (the booking agency) who said the sitter was no her way. When she still hadnt appeared after a further 30 minutes we were fobbed off with no excuse or explanation as to what had happened. I then asked to speak to the head of Guest Relations. During this time our very frustrated family group were sitting patiently waiting for my other daughter to arrive so we could order our eagerly awaited Chops meal. Eventually 1 hour 30 minutes after we arrive in Chops, and still not fed, I met with the Duty Officer who explained that there had been a complete mess-up and the baby sitter had never been informed that she was required that night. Apologies were offered but I asked for some other compensation. We eventually ordered our meal at 11.00 PM, 2 hours late, and my son-in-law took over baby sitting duties leaving the five of us to eventually enjoy a good meal. The Chops manager Kristina told us not to rush our meal and was very sympathetic with our problem and said we could stay as long as we wanted in the restaurant although it would normally be shut by now. She made a big fuss of us knowing that we had had a difficult evening so far. In a gesture of goodwill we had a wine paid for by Guest Relations!! After that we were never really confident with Guest Relations generally nor with the baby service in particular but did mange to deal directly with the baby sitter for future occasions. ENTERTAINMENT was okay but not really anything special. The main productions were adequate and were performed by a new group that had just joined the ship as they were booked for the forthcoming summer season in the Baltic. The play room facilities for our 19 month old grandson were very good. Few children were on board however. Mountains of Fisher-Price toys were available within the play room which was well supervised by a very charming young lady called Sue from Montreal. DISEMBARKATION in Harwich was very well organised and there was no hassle getting off the ship after a good breakfast. OVERALL the Jewel of the Seas is a first class ship run very professionally (with perhaps the exception of aspects of Guest Relations activities) and the Captain, officers and crew are to be congratulated. We were amazed to hear some people, just two in fact, being critical about the cruise and their criticism left us speechless. I suppose on all ships there will be the usual few who just cant be pleased with the service and choice. They are always a tiny minority of CC boards. We have booked two more cruises on Royal Caribbean ships, one a return Transatlantic trip to Tampa from the UK in the fall, and one next year in the Mediterranean. If they are up to this standard we will be very pleased indeed.    Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We recently were able to cruise from Florida to Europe on the beautiful Jewel of the Seas. We are not first time cruise people having been on Holland America, Celebrity and Princess lines and were looking forward to a new line and ship. ... Read More
We recently were able to cruise from Florida to Europe on the beautiful Jewel of the Seas. We are not first time cruise people having been on Holland America, Celebrity and Princess lines and were looking forward to a new line and ship. This is what we found--- Embarkation--This was very easy and stress free and took only about an hour or so from start to finish. This was by far the most easy embarkation we have experienced. Stateroom--We spend little time in our room and and decided and inside cabin was all that we needed. The room was of similar size to other ships but was set up better--especially the bathroom and did not seem too crowded. A small couch was present so we could sit and relax and a draw curtain could be used to shield the bed from light if one wanted to go to bed while the other stayed up--a nice touch. The Ship--The Jewel of the Seas is a new ship--built in 2004 and takes on about 2000 or so passengers. It is in a word--beautiful and very well appointed. The Centrum is especially nice and goes from level 4 to 10 and the live music played there can be heard all the way up making reading,playing cards,etc on the upper levels very pleasant. The lounges are excellent with good seating and there are no substandard areas. I don't like any smoking and hence avoided the casino and the one smoking lounge but did visit the cigar smoking lounge which was nice. The theater is state of the art. Overall the ship is wonderful and never seems crowded. Dining--The two main areas of interest here are the Windjammer cafe and the main dining room. There are two other areas specializing in Italian food and steaks that are extra cost and we did not go there. Smaller cafes for more fast food type service are present but not visited by us. The food in the Windjammer and main dining are essentially the same and there wasn't much differentiation in what you could get in either place for any meal. The food could be described as being less upscale and imaginative as the other lines we have been on although perfectly good and of course--plentiful to the degree of excess if wanted. For example at one dinner the Chef's suggestion was a pork chop of some type--not what I would call 5 star eating but certainly ok. Do not expect very exotic dishes on this ship although the food will be satisfactory. Desserts were beautiful to look at but frequently not all that tasty. Room service is always available but not used by us. Late evening food is available but also not used. Activities--Entertainment--The ship has wonderful live music with very talented musicians and singers roughly all day long in many locations beginning about noon each day. Some of the musicians are really very good--the best I've heard on any cruise line and could be performing at more noteworthy venues. During the day there seems to be plenty to do for the women with knitting classes,art auctions,shopping,etc to keep them occupied. For men there seems to be much less during the day of interest and men should expect some time when they may be looking for something to do. The evening entertainment on our 14 night cruise consisted of 2 very good,polished,professional production shows with the other nights filled up with comedians,singers,etc that were also very good. Also at night there is Karaoke,dancing,drinking,casino,and in general lots to do. Overall I was impressed with the live music and production shows but for a 14 night cruise more production shows are expected and needed. Men's daytime activities need exploration and improvement. We did not bring children and have no idea what is available for them. Service--In a nutshell the crew of this ship from the cabin staff to the dining room, guest services, etc., are truly wonderful. I can not sight one deficiency. We were completely and totally satisfied and pleased. Shore Excursions--Our ports of call consisted of Bermuda, Lisbon, Portugal, Vigo Spain, Le Havre, France and Zeebrugge, Belgium. We had never been to any of these and they were all wonderful. The names may not be well known but the excursions from these ports are excellent. The ship staff that discusses the ports,the excursions,and what to expect,etc are informative and right on practical. We only used the ship excursion one time for transportation into Paris--everything else we did on our own and got great service at cheaper prices although the ship sponsored excursions were comprehensive and of good quality if you want to go that way. Disembarkation--Equally as fast and easy as embarkation--the best we've ever experienced. Summary--We enjoyed the Jewel and especially the live music,the staff and the ports of call. I would not want to again be on this ship if I were to have several continuous days at sea but would consider a shorter cruise with a similar number of ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We are Diamond members we have 18 RCCL cruises, 2 Celebrity cruises and 1 Princess and this has to be one of the best! Embarkation was a little disorganized but when we found the priority line everything went smoothly. The jewel is ... Read More
We are Diamond members we have 18 RCCL cruises, 2 Celebrity cruises and 1 Princess and this has to be one of the best! Embarkation was a little disorganized but when we found the priority line everything went smoothly. The jewel is beautiful. our luggage was in our room and unpacked before 2 pm. The Jewel Expo in the lobby was a great way to get door prize tickets and to get to know some of the staff. Seas were a bit rough till we arrived in Bermuda but were calm for the rest of the crossing. Bermuda was a very unfriendly island and extremely expensive. At sea days were wonderful with a staff that had planned great activities, who changed and added new ones as they read their guests. The cruise director, Karen Mayberry was wonderful! She was everywhere on the ship, so with her guests always! A great staff also.. Bobby, AD was fantastic and ready to move up to director any day. The entertainment was good. Lots of British entertainers. Lisbon was wonderful as usual. Taking the train to Casscaiis always a nice trip to do. The train is 6 Euros for 2 round trip. The new shuttle system leaves a lot to be desired. The excursions dept. on ship too needs some work. Very disorganized. Vigo, Spain... We did a ship tour to the Border country and enjoyed the Celtic village ruins and the walled village. Great photo opts. Beware..the gypsies were out in full force and several people were robbed. LeHarve (Paris) -- This excursion was nice and a good way to see Paris. 2 1/2 hours by couch each way and an excellent 1 1/2 hour driving tour when there and 3 1/2 hours on our own to explore. Lines were LONG so my advice is to obtain tickets to any places on line before you arrive. Bruges .. Fantastic port. We toured the canals by boat then on foot. This town was the so interesting and has buildings dating from 800 to the present day. Wonderful. Food was average. Our waiter was good but not the best we've had. The head waiter was rarely by our table but we survived ok! Our room was very nice. Largest inside and for the first time we could put our suitcases under the bed. very good room steward. The Diamond lounge was very nice. The regular room was overseen by a terrible staff person but the bartender in the overflow room was wonderful. The ship is well kept up and still very clean and nice. The solarium food area is so good. The crepes were to die for! Karen Mayberry as I have said was the best cruise director we have ever had! She is so available for all her guests. One minute she will be in the elevator interviewing guests the the next minute she is running a trivia game. So much fun. When she and Bobby, Asst. cruise director noticed that there were more that 30 people at the first line dance class they put more on the schedule every day. Dani, Brent, Belinda, and Paulo kept the fun going all the time. Bobby is ready for a move up to cruise director any time! Debarkation in Harwich, UK was smooth and the trip (1 1/2 hours). British Air back to Miami was good. We booked the airfare through RCCL and drove to Ft. Lauderdale where we left our auto. RCCL did the flight from the UK and there were 2 transfers in our packet and we expected to be transferred back to the pier to the place that we embarked from. All in all this was one of the best transatlantic trips we have done! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
JEWEL OF THE SEAS Transatlantic Cruise Harwich, England to Boston, Mass. Sept. 1st, 2004 By Mary & Vincent Finelli For us the most exciting trip is the transatlantic crossing on a new ship; of course, the draw back is that in order ... Read More
JEWEL OF THE SEAS Transatlantic Cruise Harwich, England to Boston, Mass. Sept. 1st, 2004 By Mary & Vincent Finelli For us the most exciting trip is the transatlantic crossing on a new ship; of course, the draw back is that in order to do this we must first fly to Europe, since currently most cruise ships are built in Finland, Italy, France and Germany. And the Jewel of the Seas was built in Germany. Consequently, we flew to London, England from Miami, Florida, on August 29th and spent two days in this splendid city. We had been there before, so no herd like tours for us this time. We stayed at the City Inn Westminster and spent a good part of our time at Westminster Abbey, where we even observed Matins. On September 1st, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) transferred us by bus to Harwich, England (home of the Pilgrims' "Mayflower" ship). Harwich harbor has had extensive growth recently, but the best thing about departing from Harwich is the Bagpipe band which plays as the ship sails away. This is an exceedingly touching moment as the passengers realize that they are headed for the ship's maiden transatlantic voyage. The band is elegantly dressed in full Scottish apparel, kilts and all. EMBARKATION The bus deposited us and our baggage just twenty feet from the port door. Excellent! There was wheelchair assistance from the entrance. We were grateful, because there is no elevator and the ramp leading to the ship has an unusually steep incline. The Crown & Anchor Society has priority check-in for its Diamond and Platinum Members. It also greets all passengers with freshly baked cookies and lemonade. All this welcome was nice after the two hour long ride from London through the quaint English country side. Between check-in and boarding, we were in our cabin in less than thirty minutes. SHIP When RCI conceived of the Radiance Class of ships, it truly designed a modern, classically shaped liner with yacht like overtones: 90,090 gross tonnage, GTV (Gas Turbine Vessel). The first of this class was the Radiance of the Seas (2001), followed by the Brilliance of the Seas (2002), the Serenade of the Seas (2003) and finally the Jewel of the Seas (2004), which concludes this class of ships. All were built at the Meyer Werft Yard, Papenburg, Germany. Last year, RCI also concluded the building of the larger Voyager class ships, five in all (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas), and recently it has announced the construction of two Ultra Voyager class, soon to be the largest cruise ships in the world. The Jewel is 902 ft. long, 106 ft. wide (Panamax). It has a 28 ft. draft and cruises at 24 knots. There are three acres of glass windows, giving passengers continuous views of the seas. There are nine elevators and twelve passenger decks with a maximum passenger capacity of 2,501. This trip the ship was full to capacity with passengers of all ages, from infants to elderly, and a crew of 859. The total number of staterooms is 1055: 817 are ocean view of which 577 have balcony; 238 are interior. There are 19 wheelchair accessible cabins distributed in various categories. All cabins have interactive TV, telephone, hairdryer, computer jack, refrigerator and 110/220 volts electrical outlets. We were happy to sail again with Captain James, Chief Purser Francois and Maitre D' Orlando. We felt like we had returned home. The first night we saw a gorgeous sunset while dining, with the sun, a huge red ball, slowly setting in the west over the sea. Then, at 9:30pm from our balcony, we watched the full moon rise, changing colors from orange, to gold, to white by ten o'clock. The air was so clear the craters of the moon were evident. In other reviews, we have described the Jewel's sister ships in detail and we refer you to our prior reviews for details. But each ship has a specific identity which arises from her unique art work. Many pieces are in the forward and Centrum staircases. Even though we extensively use the elevators, we manage to visit the ship's staircases, where we can view the interesting art work. Deck 2 has some ocean view and interior staterooms, but mostly non public areas. Look for interesting art pieces in the forward stairs between decks 2 and 3, such as David Stuart Forbes' unique "Luggage of Babel Part I" a work in neon, wood, metal, leather and paper. In the Centrum stairs between deck 2 and 3 are Pascale Riberolles' blown glass vases "Automne - Clairette" and Paul Cox' photo collage "Tafelberg/Curacao." Deck 3 has all ocean view and interior staterooms. In the Centrum staircase between deck 3 and 4 are Lippa Dalen's earthenware "Vase" and Ramon Enrich's acrylic painting "Paysage." Deck 4 forward has the first level of the Coral Theatre, midship are staterooms and toward aft is the Centrum, with the Guest Relations Desk and Explorations Desk. This Centrum is beautiful with a marble dance floor, bar and an eight deck tall atrium with balconies on each deck. There is a water fall and orchids plus a stunning sculpture by Nico Widerberg (Norway) entitled "Northern Lights" made of aluminum, stainless steel and crystal. This sculpture is lighted by an intricate system creating an awesome effect recalling the Aurora Borealis. Here also is the portrait of the Jewel's Godmother: Kathy Mellor, the U.S. Teacher of the Year 2004. In the forward staircase between deck 4 and 5 is Miguel Chevalier's holographic film "Flow" and in the Centrum staircase is Birgit Ten Berge's oil painting "Landscapes" Aft is the Tides Dining Room, whose entrance is magnificent. There are silk draped columns, stretching all the way aft to Mouls' Mosaic of Byzantine glass, brass and copper titled the "Full Moon Swing." The colors of the dancers' clothing are emerald, amethyst, ruby and tourmaline: tones reflected by the Ship's name (RCI "Art, The Collection," 2004). Prominent in this mosaic is the full moon. With artwork like this, the dining room is simple, but dramatic and tasteful. Deck 5 & 6 are all public areas: Deck 5 forward is the main level of the Coral Theatre. Its beautiful curtain ("Reef Rhapsody") has an ocean theme evoking images of sea fans and schools of fish. Midship on Deck 5 is the conference Center, Photo Art Gallery, the shops (logo items, jewelry, perfume etc.) and the Centrum with the "Latte-tudes" coffee shop. Toward aft is the Tides Dining Room Balcony with its wine cellar walls. In the corridors leading to the dining room there are some colorful glass panel scenes. Deck 6 forward is the Coral Theatre Balcony, where we sat at the back for shows. There is an excellent view of the stage from every seat. There is a Cinema featuring the latest movies. Toward midship is the Pit Stop Sports Bar and the Casino Royale. The Champagne Bar is located near the Centrum. Toward aft is the Schooner Bar and as usual some of the most interesting art work can be found here. The model of the "Soliel Royal" (Louis XIV, the Sun King) Flagship of the French Fleet launched in 1690, is exquisite in detail. Ebbing's ceramic statue "Beatrice" is amusing with its upturned nose. The corridor to the Schooner Bar holds a wooden boat with a steering wheel which fascinates children. The entrances to Portofino and Chops Grille are here and toward aft is the Safari Club, and the Game Reserve with self leveling gyro pool tables. All the way aft is the Congo Bar. Sinclair's "Pair of Giraffes" done in painted resin and Couts' oil paintings "Cheetah" and "Zebras" are found here. Decks 7, 8, 9 & 10 are all staterooms with the exception of the Bridge located forward on 10 and the Library on deck 9 and the Concierge Club on deck 10, located near the elevators. Art work in the forward staircase, between deck 8 and 9, includes Spaans' photographs of light sculptures "Three Dancers, Blue Corner, Yellow Door" and, between deck 10 and 11, Van Munster's neon "Brainwave" and "Moi." In the Centrum staircase there are interesting photographs: Deck 6 - 7, Ellen Kooi's "Velserbroek - The Bridge" and deck 8 - 9, Jorma Puranen's "Language is a Foreign Country 1-3." Decks 11, 12 & 13 are public areas. Deck 11 forward is the Ship Shape Spa and the Solarium, Vincent's favorite area. There is a whirlpool and a lap pool. The Burmese and Thai influence here is nice and includes the following: an antique Burmese Bell, a Temple gate flanked by two Golden Elephants and Manley's "Reclining Tiger" in bronze. Midship is the outdoor pool area and aft the Windjammer buffet with casual dining. Deck 12 forward is the ShipShape Center, Gym, the jogging track, and the Crown & Anchor Society Lounge. From midship to aft are located Adventure Ocean (arcade), the Teen Pool, Sports Court with its comical Kinloch Bronze "Catch," a stout man in a bathing suit trying to get up a beach ball game. There is also the Seaview Cafe: an excellent place for lunch -- onion rings, Cuban sandwiches, fish and chips, soups and salads -- desserts too. Deck 13 forward has the Viking Crown Lounge, with its 180 degrees view of the sea, and Hollywood Odyssey (intimate night spot) plus a putting green, mini golf course and the Rock Climbing Wall. CABIN Stateroom #7114 is one of nineteen wheelchair accessible staterooms w/ automatic door openers. When entering on the left, there is a double armoire, with a set of shelves, private safe, and a large closet. Next there is a desk/vanity with lighted mirror, T.V. and refrigerator. There are two plush blue arm chairs and a large coffee table. A glass wall faces to the verandah with sheer drapes and heavy brocade blackout drapes. We found these useful, since the passengers in the cabin next door left their balcony lights on all night. Our balcony had a large table for dining or playing cards etc., two chairs and a chaise. Very nice. When entering on the right was the huge bathroom, with a 4'X4' shower, sink, medicine cabinet and plenty of safety rails all around, and eight hooks for hanging robes and clothes. There was also a chest of drawers, a king size bed, two night stands and reading lamps -- very comfortable. Our cabin attendant Glenford O'Garro was the best! He kept everything spotless and was so cordial. Thanks Glenford. FOOD & SERVICE Hotel Director Nibu runs a tight ship. He has high expectations for the crew and we feel that they are met. Anything that we needed was promptly and pleasantly provided. On a new ship, it is difficult to have all things come together so quickly, but Nibu managed it well. The Tides Dining Room and all of the many food venues are in the capable hands of Maitre D' Orlando. If a preference is just stated, his subordinates are on it and they relay it to the waiters (or vice versa). Their motto is "please the passengers." Mary asked for lemon wedges on the first night and they were on our table every night thereafter. Our waitress Anabelle and her assistant Daniel were both very efficient and pleasant. We have done enough cruises to realize that when passengers are tardy to dinner it can disrupt the pace. Meals are usually served course by course to insure freshness and proper temperature. We are always amazed when passengers stroll into the dining room fifteen to forty five minutes late. The servers work in conjunction with the galley (course by course), which may be serving more than a 1,000 meals for each seating. Fifty years ago, when we first began traveling by ship, the dining room doors were closed fifteen minutes after the stated dinner time. People are not so punctual nowadays, but courtesy is always in vogue. We used Room Service on a daily basis. Full American breakfast every morning was hot and and inviting. One night we had dinner with soup, salad, Filet Mignon and cheesecake for dessert, all served in our room elegantly. We also dined with our friend the Captain, where an excellent meal was over seen by Maitre D' Orlando. Mary, seated beside the Captain's father, had a lively conversation with this very erudite gentleman. We were also treated to an exceptional luncheon by the Group Coordinator Elmer in the Tides balcony with its wine display cabinetry. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Jill is part of the "Take Out Team," which brings on line the new ships, thus placing RCI's stamp on every ship -- from the Concierge to the Chef. This system provides uniformity of service throughout the fleet. The RCI singers and dancers were on their final cruise and really went out with a lot of energy. We felt that by far the best production show was Tango Buenos Aires, a revue built around tango stars Ruben and Sabrina direct from Argentina. Having seen the Argentinean tango champions in Buenos Aires over two years ago, we were thrilled to see this sinuous duo. Their routine with the boles was superb. John Christie was also in fine form once again. We missed the Celtic Tenors, but were assured that they brought the house down. Music in the Centrum featured "Deja Voo" by Theo and Zlati (Bulgaria), his "Jail house Rock" and her "More" were something. The Rosario Strings played each evening before dinner and their Bass player also sang some great renditions of Johnny Mathis hits. In the Schooner Bar, Barry from Boston entertained with Broadway show tunes. There were "Olympic Games" at the pool, Horse Races, Guest Talent Shows, "Dead Again" an interactive murder mystery, "The Quest" an adult scavenger hunt, plus the usual Bingo and Slots Tournaments. After all, five sea days are a challenge for the Cruise Director, and she was up to it. Then there was also the sea itself which treated the passengers to many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There were dolphins frolicking in the Atlantic at dinner time. There were terns, gulls, birds and spouting whales. Then, there were the many faces of the ocean itself: calm and serene, active with swells, glistening in the sun or even shrouded in fog with the ship's fog horn sounding. Don't forget the game of figuring the ship's course. Just after leaving Cork, Ireland, Vincent was convinced that the ship was going east instead of westerly. He was puzzled until the next morning, when the Captain announced the ship had returned toward Ireland to debark a lady with acute appendicitis, foregoing the usage of a helicopter due to a thick foggy night and transferring the patient to a boat which met the ship half way. Later the Captain reassured passengers that she had been operated on and was recovering well. PORTS OF CALL Naturally on a transatlantic cruise there are five restful sea days. However, this cruise started off with exciting European cities: London, Harwich and Plymouth, England; Le Havre, France; and Cork, Ireland. Then of course across the pond there is Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. We enjoyed this itinerary and found the approach to Plymouth lovely, while Cork whet our appetite for a return to Ireland. Sept. 1, Harwich, England Depart: 5:30pm We sailed into the sunset accompanied by the Bagpipes playing traditional tunes. Sept. 2, Le Harve, France Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 10:00pm LHA Tour: Paris sightseeing with Lunch cruise on the Seine, 11 hrs., $189. This is well worth it since it tours the Normandy countryside, the major sights of Paris and serves a gourmet meal on the river. There are three other tours of similar length and price to the Beaches of Normandy, Mont St. Michel and the Alabaster Coast. Sept. 3, Plymouth, England Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 5:00pm Tendering to the port is necessary. This was the last stop for the Mayflower prior to sailing for the New World. PYG Tour: Leisurely drive & Devonshire Cream Tea, 3.5 hrs., $56. Admiring the Devonshire moors covered with heather and drinking cream tea make an unbeatable combination. Sept. 4, Ringaskiddy, Ireland Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 5:30pm Ringaskiddy is the port for Cobh and Cork. CKB Tour: Scenic Drive & Blarney Village, 3.5 hrs., $40. This took us through the countryside to the Woolen Mills; with hindsight perhaps the CKA Tour of Blarney Castle and Panoramic Cork would have been a better one, because to get so close to the castle, one might as well see it up close and personal, rather than just from afar. We didn't take the CKA tour because of the warnings describing the presence of stairs. Sometimes we find these tour warnings are a bit exaggerated. There are also excursions to the Killarney Lake region and the Waterford crystal factory. Sept. 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9, At Sea. Sept. 10, Portland, Maine Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm There are an abundance of city tours and several tours for the sports minded: kayaking and lobster fishing. PWA Tour: Portland highlights & lighthouse, 2 hrs., $29. This not only tours Portland, but also does the rocky coastline. Sept. 11, Boston, Massachusetts Arrive: 8:30am Depart 5:00pm There are two highlights of Boston City tours by bus BXA, 1.5 hrs., $45 which ends at Logan Airport and BXA, 2.5 hrs., $45 ending at the Sheraton Boston or at the Hyatt Harbor Side Hotel. However, if there is time, the better part of the day, it would be nice to do the "Freedom Trail," a walking tour by the Boston Common, Paul Revere's house, the Old North church, etc.... DEBARKATION RCI has a color/number procedure with the Immigration/passport check done several days earlier on board. Boston has a simple system with a very short distance to the baggage pickup. There were an abundance of porters, taxis and busses right at the port terminal. We were met by Mary's brother Frank and his wife Regina. Just perfect timing -- we didn't wait a second and we were off to three days in Sudbury Massachusetts, Mary's home town. SUGGESTIONS Almost every day the NY Times FAX ran out, not enough copies, but there were too many copies of the German, French, Canadian and Spanish daily news sheets. Perhaps, at the end of the day a survey on the number of unused sheets and the unfilled requests of the other language papers should suggest the number of copies to be printed for the next day. CONCLUSION This was a wonderful cruise, passengers should expect a few glitches on a new ship, but this was almost perfect. We were amazed at the gentle kindness of all the crew. This always starts from the top: the Captain should be very proud of his subordinates, Francois, Nibu and Maitre D' Orlando. It was surely a pleasure to sail with them. We are looking forward this winter to booking two more cruises on RCI ships so we'll reach the number of 25 cruises for the status of Diamond Plus in the Crown & Anchor Society. In the meantime we have already booked a cruise on the new Caribbean Princess for November. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Jewel of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.3
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

Find a Jewel of the Seas Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click