Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by firegal2539
- Sail Date: October 2015
- Destination: Pacific Coastal
The Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful ship. She is classy, elegant and comfortable, all at the same time. She is an older lady but she isn’t showing her age too badly. She is going in for refurbishment in the spring of 2016 and she will only come out better. I love her size, she is a midsize ship, not a mega liner, which is what I like.
The pool areas were never crowded, always enough loungers to lay by the pool and crew was easily accessible.
My room attendant Lucy, was wonderful. She has worked for RCCL for almost four years, has two small boys and work for the line because she wants a better life for her boys then she had growing up in Jamaica. Whatever I needed she brought me, made sure I had ice every morning and evening, left towel animals all over the room and kept the room in perfect order.
The Main Dining Room, (MDR), Tides was good. I have the 5:30 p.m. dinner at the same table every night and I loved it. Got to know passengers from all over and we became good friends, went to shows and bars together because we enjoyed each other’s company. Our waiter Stanley and Assistant Waiter Rui were wonderful. Stanley has been with the line for fifteen years and you could tell it. He was knowledgeable, remembered all our names on the second dinner and what our likes and dislikes were. Rui was doing her first cruise but she was so sweet, kept our glasses full and our plates taken away.
The entertainment was good, not great, and just good. Wayne Cotter, comedian, John Joseph, comedian, City of Dreams production show, Quest Adult Show, Edge Effect, (5 guys who sang A capella), West End to Broadway production show, Steve Smith, comedian and the Cruise Director, John Blair as Neil Diamond, he was spot on, looked and sounded just like Neil and the Farewell Show.
A problem that is present in all casinos on cruise ships is the smoke. It is one of only a few places passengers smoke. Somehow RCCL figured out a way to get the smoke out of the air. Every cruise I return to my cabin smelling of smoke and beer, on my clothes, hair and skin, have to take a shower immediately to get the smell off of me so I can at least sleep. This did not occur on the Jewel. If was refreshing to go where smokers were sitting and not have the horrible odor bothering me.
THE BAD THINGS: I spend my time in the casino when it is open. I found very few crew available in the casino. There were no crew for drinks while playing the table games or machines. You had to ask a dealer to find one for you, which then had a pit boss out looking for a bartender to take drink orders. It looked to me like RCCL has cut down on the amount of casino employees and wait staff for the casino. If a machine gave you a problem you had to stand by the machine and flag down anyone that had a RCCL uniform on to get you someone from the casino. Every cruise I have been on and that is around 35, the casino staff is usually the friendliest of all the crew. This was not so on this particular cruise.
The Windjammer Buffet has new hours, they don’t open until 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Most cruise buffets are open until late at night and only closing for about an hour to change from breakfast menu to lunch menu to dinner menu. This caused a long line of passengers waiting to get into the buffet. The food was good, not great. There was a large selection of all food, including gluten free and vegetarian. Sometimes you could find a wait person and sometimes not.
There was the Seaview and Solarium Café that were open about two hours in the morning, noon and at 6 p.m. for lite snacks,
Pizza is always available on any cruise I have been on but because it is in the Windjammer it closes at 8:30 p.m. and then no more pizza.
THE WORST THINGS: Arrived at LAX at 9:10 a.m. and was met with a wheelchair escort who took me to the baggage claim area. I received my luggage and found the RCCL/Celebrity/NCL agent. She took my luggage and stored it since she said there would be a wait for the bus until 11 a.m. By that time there were 15 passengers waiting and getting restless because of the wait and the agent not having any idea why there wasn’t a bus. As a seasoned traveler I knew that every cruise line has a travel emergency number and I called RCCL to see what was going on. It took about 15 minutes to get an answer but the Jewel disembarked two hour late, (normally 7 a.m. but today 9 a.m.) making RCCL two hours late. The emergency rep said it was better to sit in the air conditioned airport then to come to the port because there was a two hour wait to get on the ship.
We finally left LAX at 12:30 p.m. and arrived at the port where the Jewel was tethered and it was chaos. Only four ships are allowed to dock at Port of Los Angeles/San Pedro and one is under construction. The port didn’t know what to do with the Jewel, so it was docked way at the end of the port, with two white tents, no air conditioning, no running water, no bathrooms, food, etc. When I got off the bus I asked where I could leave my luggage and that I had requested wheelchair assistance. I was told by a port employee that a porter would be glad to check my luggage for a tip and the wheelchair assistance line was a two hour wait, sitting on white plastic folding chairs, outside of the tent at the farthest end from where the bus let us off. I gave my luggage to a porter and with my walker managed to walk approximately two blocks to the wheelchair area. The people sitting there said some had been there two hours or longer and there just wasn’t any chairs available.
I decided to stand in the handicapped/accessible line, (with many passengers who noticed the line was shorter and stood in the line). I tried to explain to the passengers this was a handicapped line but most of the time I got it was none of my business from them. One hour and 30 minutes later I got to the check in table, yes I said table. Because of where the port put us there was no electricity, so RCCL was doing the best they could by using battery operated Tough Books to connect to RCCL network to check passengers in. In the last three hours the website had gone down four times. When I sat down to be checked in it went down again and took about 30 minutes to be rebooted. The rep that was checking me in notified me that he has already worked one hour longer than he was supposed to so he was leaving and would try to find someone to check me in. I told him no he wasn’t leaving until I got checked in. A passenger heard the whole conversation, saw an officer and reported what was happening. The officer came over and told me that he personally would check me in, to just sit tight until the network was up again.
When the network came up that officer, Manuel Palmero, IT Operations Manager/Officer, checked me in. I told him I needed a wheelchair to get on the ship and he was told there weren’t any. He told me to have a seat at the end of the line and he would find a chair and get me on the ship. Thirty minutes later he walked by and saw I was still waiting, five minutes later he came with a wheelchair and brought me to my room. I didn’t arrive on ship until 3:30 p.m. so I could not get any food because the Windjammer was closed. Room service wasn’t open yet and I hadn’t eaten since 6 a.m. that morning.
I met Manuel in the elevator early Sunday morning and asked how he was doing and he told me that of the fifteen years he has worked for RCCL that was his worst experience ever. He explained that some of the problems were RCCL but most was the port, not being accessible, not even ready for our ship to dock and disembark and embark new passengers. He said there was an officers meeting planned for later in the day to assure that this never happened again. I told him I felt that this wasn’t RCCL’s fault but passengers were put in a situation, left in a hot tent, with temperatures of 100 degrees outside, no a/c, no food, and no bathrooms and of course they will blame the cruise line.
Both tender days were totally unorganized. In Santa Barbara on Deck 4 the passengers started waiting in line to get on the tenders. The line started at Guest Services, went all the way to the back of the ship and up the other side of the ship. Passengers couldn’t get out of their rooms because they were blocked by this huge line. I think that is a definite safety hazard. If a fire starts or there was a passenger emergency in one of the rooms being blocked it would be havoc for everyone. It was stated in the Cruise Compass that please wait until you got your tender number and it was called before starting a line. First RCCL didn’t have a place set up to get your tender number so it was total confusion and RCCL should have stopped the passengers from starting and standing in a line.
In Monterrey, again, totally unorganized. We were a little late getting into port and passengers that had excursions were being told to go to the conference room on Deck 5 to get off first. When we got to the Conference Room, no RCCL employee was there and when someone showed up, we were told to go wait in line again. Many excursions were missed or we were too late to take them.
On the fifth day on ship, a sea day, Captain Thorolvsen came on the intercom and apologized for what occurred in Los Angeles Port. He guaranteed us that this would not occur when we disembarked. He had spoken to RCCL International Headquarters and were working on getting us the easiest and fastest disembarkation available.
On the day of disembarking all passengers needing wheelchairs were told to meet in the Conference Room on Deck 5 at 7:30 a.m. I wanted to make sure I had no trouble getting there so I was there at 7:15. There were already a few disabled passengers in the room. Around 8 a.m. a crew member told us that there were only 5 wheelchairs available and no attendants to push them, so if you could make it off the ship by yourself you needed to do that. There was one couple waiting that the woman only had one leg, a couple with a child with Downs Syndrome and several others that there was just no way possible they could walk down the gangplank to the port building. After sitting there until 9:30 and knowing my flight left from LAX at noon I walked off the ship with the aid of my walker.
When I arrived in the port building in Los Angeles, there were 41 poles with numbers from 1 to 41 on each pole and your luggage tag told you at what luggage pole your luggage would be. I had green tag 19. When I got to 19, there was not any luggage at the pole. I stopped a port employee to ask if all luggage was off the ship and she said yes. She asked me to give her a description of the luggage and she would start looking for it at other luggage poles and be back with me in about 5 minutes. While she was looking, I did too, and my luggage was not at any number from 1 to 41. When the port employee returned she said I would have to a make a claim at a counter across the building. I explained that it was 10 a.m. and my flight was leaving from LAX in less than two hours. She said there was nothing she could do.
I started walking to the claim counter and saw a couple hunting for their luggage also and they told me that a bunch of luggage with no RCCL tags on them were stacked behind a brick wall, where you couldn’t see them, and to go check there. My luggage was there with about 15 pieces of other luggage on top of it. I couldn’t get anyone to help me, so I had to move those pieces of luggage myself to get to mine.
My final thoughts on this cruise is, I love the Jewel of the Seas and Royal Caribbean. I feel that the treatment of handicapped passengers has disintegrated to non-existent. Handicapped passengers don’t matter to RCCL and I am sad for this to be happening. RCCL has to figure out a way to better service the disabled passenger. We pay our fares just like anyone else but are treated very differently than a passenger that can walk off the ship, take care of their own luggage etc. This has to be addressed quickly by RCCL.
I do want to say that any passenger that blames RCCL for what happened in the sauna tents in the Los Angeles port is wrong in doing so, this was clearly the ports fault. Could RCCL have done things better, yes, there could have been some kind of bathroom facilities for passengers to use while waiting three hours to get on the Jewel. There could have been some crackers, or something non-perishable for the passengers to chew on. There needs to be more attention paid to the tender days and for RCCL to ascertain that the passengers don’t gather for miles around the deck of the ship.
Wheelchair access is something that most cruise lines hire other companies to do but maybe it is time for RCCL to look at the companies they are using for wheelchair access and find a better company that can deliver a handicapped passenger to the ship and back off of the ship.
If I had to give the cruise a point average from one to five, I am sorry to say, because of the handicapped problems, I would give it a rating of 2.
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