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The following are some experiences and observations about our 5/16 California repositioning cruise on the Jewel of the Seas - sailing out of San Diego. We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary, but we are also big fans of the RCL Radiance class ship. San Diego is a great departure port; taxi fares to almost anywhere in San Diego proper are very reasonable and cabs are easy to find. We decided on the Marriot Courtyard in the “Gaslight District”. This historic property is a real gem with friendly, polite staff and a great, central location. There are many restaurants, nightlife venues, grocery and drug stores within a short walking distance; if you forget to pack something or want to pick up a few bottles of vino to bring onboard, it is all readily available. We visited the USS Midway. It is a short $10 cab ride from the Gaslight District and the ship is docked about a half mile or so from the cruise pier. This is a wonderful museum and it was an honor to tour the ship and talk to the many volunteers who serve as docents and guides. Many of these gentlemen served on the Midway; all were friendly, very knowledgeable and eager to share their experiences about life on board. This is remarkable and very memorable tribute to our naval history. We arrived at the cruise pier about 12:30 PM; we booked a GS category cabin and with priority embarkation we were walking onboard in under 10 minutes. Everything was very efficient. We stayed in GS suite #1554; the cabin was showing some wear and tear and in need of an update but overall, it was OK. The location was excellent since it is very close to both the elevators and the Concierge Lounge. Unfortunately the weather during almost the entire cruise was not cooperative so we got very little use of the balcony. I am not a big fan of the design of the balcony in these “hump cabins”; even though I believe that it is a bit larger, privacy is compromised. Overall the areas of the ship we visited were pretty nice; but like the room, some signs of wear and tear - but nothing too significant. Food – a very subjective topic but overall we were surprisingly pleased with the MDR food quality and presentation. Every night escargot was available and twice during the week they served the “fisherman’s platter” entre, which features twin lobster tails; certainly not as good as the “old days” but pretty decent nevertheless. We enjoyed the other nightly menu selections and thought dinners overall were fairly good; we typically share a dessert and we were very pleased with the selection and quality. Lunch in the MDR was also pretty good; and they offer an excellent, server prepared salad bar which I really enjoyed. Suite guests are served breakfast at Chops Grill; again, we enjoyed the food quality and especially the friendly service. It seems that on JOS, RCL is trying to keep the Sea view Café a secret. I knew it was there from previous sailings on this class ship but in the dailies, it is only offered as a cover charge ($10) venue. However, it is free during the late afternoon; either this was an oversight or it is being downplayed as a free restaurant for some reason. My favorite, grilled grouper and Cesar salad, is still available but it just didn’t seem as good as I remembered it on past sailings. Entertainment – with the exception of the (non-singing) piano player, we thought all of performers in the bar venues were mediocre. Mid-week we caught the show with Bowser of Sha Na Na fame and really enjoyed his performance. We didn’t attend any of the production shows until the final afternoon and after seeing that show, we thought we probably had missed some good productions. The Cruise Director was actually a very good performer; funny, personable and a very good singer. His wife works with him and she is also very talented and connects with the audience. Missing on the JOS was the big “cirque du soleil” style show in the Centrum. We saw this production on the Brilliance a few years back and thought it was spectacular. Whether the show is off the roster, or this ship is just not set up for it wasn’t clear but we really missed it. Casino – some good, well trained dealers and slots that at least produced some “seed money”. Unfortunately RCL still hasn’t gone totally non-smoking in their casino so for non-smokers like us, it is occasionally unpleasant. Service on the ship was spotty but overall good. It seemed clear to us that RCL has under-staffed the ship and it is reflected in both the level of service and the overall vibe of the staff. Our room attendant had a great attitude and worked very hard to please, but the poor man had so many rooms to service it seemed he was always rushed. Unlike sister company Celebrity, as well as HAL, there is no “butler” type specialized service that comes with a full suite cabin; the room attendant is expected to do it all. Fetch luggage, clean and attend to the perks you hope to receive with the cabin category. We tipped generously because he tried so hard and we truly felt for bad for him with so much on his plate. MDR servers also tried very hard to please; we chose MTD and thanks to a great maitre d’, sat in the same dining area every evening. We had the same servers each night and we could not have been more pleased. But again, it was obvious watching them they were stretched very thin and had a lot of tables and diners to manage. Bars, Café Latte-tudes, casino etc. all appeared to be short of servers. There never seemed to be enough staff to attend to customers and when things backed up a little, service slowed way down. A few times I wanted bottled water while playing in the casino; one of the casino staff actually called over the bartender to take my drink order. Beverage package – I purchased the “premium beverage package”. Depending on what and how much you drink, this could be a good option. I was not happy with it and cancelled after a few days; a pro-rated refund appeared on my sea pass account. I only drink wine, water, juice in the morning and an occasional beer. The wines on the wine list I would enjoy were never actually available in the bars. For water, only a small bottle of Crystal Geyser or club soda were available and in the MDR at breakfast, OJ was available but for a $2.50 fee. There seemed to be too many rules and not enough options to make this have value. And of course, there were never enough servers. One bright spot however was the “Champagne Bar”; good service along with some decent selections made this one of our favorite venues for relaxing with a glass of wine before dinner. Suite amenities – if you’re looking for something comparable to the higher end suite perks offered by Celebrity and HAL, you will no longer find them on RCL. Aside from a bigger room, priority embarkation/disembarkation/tendering and access to the Concierge Lounge, there isn’t a whole lot else offered for the considerable jump in price. However the concierge on this ship, Diego Tripaldi, is a first rate ambassador for RCL; always eager to please and help. This guy has a real future in the hospitality industry. Ports – some brief comments on the itinerary. Since this was a repositioning cruise, it is not regularly offered by RCL but it is an interesting alternative if you’re looking for something a little bit different. Although the weather wasn’t very cooperative, this was still an interesting experience. In my opinion, Catalina is all about Avalon. Although we did an RCL sponsored tour of the island, there really isn’t all that much to see after the first hour. Taking the tour didn’t give us as much time in Avalon but we still had time for a great lunch (Bluewater Avalon Seafood) and to stroll around this scenic little town. San Francisco – what can be said about this incredible city? The ship docked at pier 27, a beautiful, new facility minutes away from many “Fisherman’s Wharf” attractions and ferries. We decided on Alcatraz and a day in Sausalito, but I don’t think you can make a bad choice with 2 days in port and so many options. Victoria BC – our stop at this port was cut very short because of a mechanical delay departing SF. This is a regular stop on many Alaskan itineraries and it is a beautiful city with many fine dining options. Summary – as much as we enjoyed this cruise, it was probably our least favorite of all. Perhaps it is the cumulative effect of RCL cut-backs and under-staffing but the “wow factor” of an eager, friendly staff and the little things that made a cruise experience special were just off. And that is not to say that there weren’t some really engaged staff we crossed paths with throughout the week. There were some standouts but in general, we always felt like many of the service personnel were just going through the motions. A final word on the delay departing SF. We talked about this with a ship officer who happened by one day. Evidently (and in complete layman’s terminology on my part), a new part was installed on one of the turbines and there was a soft-ware issue that prevented it from starting. While it was a back-up turbine, the Captain wisely chose not to depart until it is was in working order. I applaud what I believe to be a wise decision; putting safety first is the most important consideration of all in my opinion. Thanks for reading.

Good, But Not Great

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by richard1s

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2015
  • Destination: Pacific Coastal
  • Cabin Type: Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
The following are some experiences and observations about our 5/16 California repositioning cruise on the Jewel of the Seas - sailing out of San Diego. We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary, but we are also big fans of the RCL Radiance class ship.

San Diego is a great departure port; taxi fares to almost anywhere in San Diego proper are very reasonable and cabs are easy to find. We decided on the Marriot Courtyard in the “Gaslight District”. This historic property is a real gem with friendly, polite staff and a great, central location. There are many restaurants, nightlife venues, grocery and drug stores within a short walking distance; if you forget to pack something or want to pick up a few bottles of vino to bring onboard, it is all readily available.

We visited the USS Midway. It is a short $10 cab ride from the Gaslight District and the ship is docked about a half mile or so from the cruise pier. This is a wonderful museum and it was an honor to tour the ship and talk to the many volunteers who serve as docents and guides. Many of these gentlemen served on the Midway; all were friendly, very knowledgeable and eager to share their experiences about life on board. This is remarkable and very memorable tribute to our naval history.

We arrived at the cruise pier about 12:30 PM; we booked a GS category cabin and with priority embarkation we were walking onboard in under 10 minutes. Everything was very efficient.

We stayed in GS suite #1554; the cabin was showing some wear and tear and in need of an update but overall, it was OK. The location was excellent since it is very close to both the elevators and the Concierge Lounge. Unfortunately the weather during almost the entire cruise was not cooperative so we got very little use of the balcony. I am not a big fan of the design of the balcony in these “hump cabins”; even though I believe that it is a bit larger, privacy is compromised.

Overall the areas of the ship we visited were pretty nice; but like the room, some signs of wear and tear - but nothing too significant.

Food – a very subjective topic but overall we were surprisingly pleased with the MDR food quality and presentation. Every night escargot was available and twice during the week they served the “fisherman’s platter” entre, which features twin lobster tails; certainly not as good as the “old days” but pretty decent nevertheless. We enjoyed the other nightly menu selections and thought dinners overall were fairly good; we typically share a dessert and we were very pleased with the selection and quality. Lunch in the MDR was also pretty good; and they offer an excellent, server prepared salad bar which I really enjoyed. Suite guests are served breakfast at Chops Grill; again, we enjoyed the food quality and especially the friendly service.

It seems that on JOS, RCL is trying to keep the Sea view Café a secret. I knew it was there from previous sailings on this class ship but in the dailies, it is only offered as a cover charge ($10) venue. However, it is free during the late afternoon; either this was an oversight or it is being downplayed as a free restaurant for some reason. My favorite, grilled grouper and Cesar salad, is still available but it just didn’t seem as good as I remembered it on past sailings.

Entertainment – with the exception of the (non-singing) piano player, we thought all of performers in the bar venues were mediocre. Mid-week we caught the show with Bowser of Sha Na Na fame and really enjoyed his performance. We didn’t attend any of the production shows until the final afternoon and after seeing that show, we thought we probably had missed some good productions. The Cruise Director was actually a very good performer; funny, personable and a very good singer. His wife works with him and she is also very talented and connects with the audience.

Missing on the JOS was the big “cirque du soleil” style show in the Centrum. We saw this production on the Brilliance a few years back and thought it was spectacular. Whether the show is off the roster, or this ship is just not set up for it wasn’t clear but we really missed it.

Casino – some good, well trained dealers and slots that at least produced some “seed money”. Unfortunately RCL still hasn’t gone totally non-smoking in their casino so for non-smokers like us, it is occasionally unpleasant.

Service on the ship was spotty but overall good. It seemed clear to us that RCL has under-staffed the ship and it is reflected in both the level of service and the overall vibe of the staff. Our room attendant had a great attitude and worked very hard to please, but the poor man had so many rooms to service it seemed he was always rushed. Unlike sister company Celebrity, as well as HAL, there is no “butler” type specialized service that comes with a full suite cabin; the room attendant is expected to do it all. Fetch luggage, clean and attend to the perks you hope to receive with the cabin category. We tipped generously because he tried so hard and we truly felt for bad for him with so much on his plate.

MDR servers also tried very hard to please; we chose MTD and thanks to a great maitre d’, sat in the same dining area every evening. We had the same servers each night and we could not have been more pleased. But again, it was obvious watching them they were stretched very thin and had a lot of tables and diners to manage.

Bars, Café Latte-tudes, casino etc. all appeared to be short of servers. There never seemed to be enough staff to attend to customers and when things backed up a little, service slowed way down. A few times I wanted bottled water while playing in the casino; one of the casino staff actually called over the bartender to take my drink order.

Beverage package – I purchased the “premium beverage package”. Depending on what and how much you drink, this could be a good option. I was not happy with it and cancelled after a few days; a pro-rated refund appeared on my sea pass account. I only drink wine, water, juice in the morning and an occasional beer. The wines on the wine list I would enjoy were never actually available in the bars. For water, only a small bottle of Crystal Geyser or club soda were available and in the MDR at breakfast, OJ was available but for a $2.50 fee. There seemed to be too many rules and not enough options to make this have value. And of course, there were never enough servers. One bright spot however was the “Champagne Bar”; good service along with some decent selections made this one of our favorite venues for relaxing with a glass of wine before dinner.

Suite amenities – if you’re looking for something comparable to the higher end suite perks offered by Celebrity and HAL, you will no longer find them on RCL. Aside from a bigger room, priority embarkation/disembarkation/tendering and access to the Concierge Lounge, there isn’t a whole lot else offered for the considerable jump in price. However the concierge on this ship, Diego Tripaldi, is a first rate ambassador for RCL; always eager to please and help. This guy has a real future in the hospitality industry.

Ports – some brief comments on the itinerary. Since this was a repositioning cruise, it is not regularly offered by RCL but it is an interesting alternative if you’re looking for something a little bit different. Although the weather wasn’t very cooperative, this was still an interesting experience.

In my opinion, Catalina is all about Avalon. Although we did an RCL sponsored tour of the island, there really isn’t all that much to see after the first hour. Taking the tour didn’t give us as much time in Avalon but we still had time for a great lunch (Bluewater Avalon Seafood) and to stroll around this scenic little town.

San Francisco – what can be said about this incredible city? The ship docked at pier 27, a beautiful, new facility minutes away from many “Fisherman’s Wharf” attractions and ferries. We decided on Alcatraz and a day in Sausalito, but I don’t think you can make a bad choice with 2 days in port and so many options.

Victoria BC – our stop at this port was cut very short because of a mechanical delay departing SF. This is a regular stop on many Alaskan itineraries and it is a beautiful city with many fine dining options.

Summary – as much as we enjoyed this cruise, it was probably our least favorite of all. Perhaps it is the cumulative effect of RCL cut-backs and under-staffing but the “wow factor” of an eager, friendly staff and the little things that made a cruise experience special were just off. And that is not to say that there weren’t some really engaged staff we crossed paths with throughout the week. There were some standouts but in general, we always felt like many of the service personnel were just going through the motions.

A final word on the delay departing SF. We talked about this with a ship officer who happened by one day. Evidently (and in complete layman’s terminology on my part), a new part was installed on one of the turbines and there was a soft-ware issue that prevented it from starting. While it was a back-up turbine, the Captain wisely chose not to depart until it is was in working order. I applaud what I believe to be a wise decision; putting safety first is the most important consideration of all in my opinion.

Thanks for reading.
richard1s’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
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Entertainment
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Cabin Review

Grand Suite - 1 Bedroom
Cabin GS 1554
The usual GS layout but some obvious wear and tear is evident on the inside of the cabin, as well as on the balcony. Wallpaper peeling back from the wall, carpet a little worn and other cosmetic issues. The location is great but some may have an issue with the lack of privacy on the balcony.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews