Let me preface this review by saying that it truly makes me sad to write such a negative review. I don't often post negative reviews (in fact, this is the only negative review I've posted about a cruise.) I'm not a person who expects everything to be perfect, and I don't criticize lightly. But . . .
I booked this cruise because of the wonderful itinerary. It can be difficult to find a cruise that visits Mykonos, Athens and Santorini, and this one had all three. In that regard, this cruise was perfect, and I'm very satisfied with the ports we visited and all that we were able to see and do on this trip.
The ship experience is a different story. We had previously sailed on the Jewel in January 2015, and at that time, it was obvious that a refurb was desperately needed. The only reason I felt good about booking this cruise was that the Jewel was scheduled for a refurb in April 2016. Royal Caribbean made a big deal about the extensiveness of the refurb, promising that "each cabin" would get a facelift, new restaurants would be added, etc. I noted two things that were different in our stateroom between January 2015 and September 2016 -- new carpet and a flat-screen television. In the common areas, the only differences I saw were a large screen by the pool and the addition of Izumi sushi restaurant. Otherwise, the ship was exactly the same as it had been before the "refurbishment." I was disappointed.
When I read a review as part of deciding whether to book a cruise, I have several specific things I want to know about: Condition and cleanliness of the ship, condition of the staterooms, helpfulness of crew, quality and variety of dining options, and entertainment options. I assume you're looking for similar information. I'll go through each topic in no particular order.
Condition and cleanliness of the ship -- In addition to my comments above (which I won't belabor), the most obvious problem is a horrible smell that you simply can't ignore. Our entire hallway had a mysterious funk, which was either sewer or sweat. I overheard other passengers commenting on it, so I know I'm not the only one who noticed. This smell was present in other areas of the ship as well, but seemed to come and go. Thankfully, once we were in our room, we couldn't smell it, but it was just nasty in the hallway. One night, after eating at Giovanni's, I stopped in the restroom next door to the restaurant, and it smelled so strongly of sewer that I had to just walk out. I don't know why this is such a pervasive problem on this ship, as I haven't noticed this problem on any other ship. I have noticed it both times I've sailed on the Jewel. Another cleanliness issue was the public restrooms. My husband used the men's restroom adjacent to the Windjammer dining venue, and said that it smelled strongly of urine, and that the trash cans were overflowing with paper towels, etc. One final comment on cleanliness of the ship -- when we would put dirty glasses outside our door at night (no later than 10:00 pm), they were frequently still there when we would leave at 8:00 a.m. the next day for a shore excursion. In some places, people had put used glasses on the handrail, and they were there for a long time. It just seemed like the ship's cleanliness was not high enough on the priority list.
Condition of the staterooms -- I think I covered this thoroughly above in my comments about the refurb.
Helpfulness of crew -- Our stateroom attendant was quite friendly and helpful. The wait staff in the main dining room was pretty clueless, mixing up orders and bringing the wrong drinks. The bartenders were pretty unfriendly throughout the ship, with the exception of the Lobby Bar, where service was routinely good. The first night we went to the Schooner Bar, and my husband asked what kind of beer they had. The bartender (Victor) replied "Heineken." My husband said, "anything else?" The reply was "No. Just Heineken." Seriously? So we asked what was available in bottles or cans, and Victor sighed and reluctantly listed a few options. He was quite happy to give us one option rather than putting out the effort to recite a list. If it's that burdensome, how about putting the choices on a laminated card or something? He made it obvious that we were inconveniencing him by asking. The bartenders in the Solarium bar also seemed "put out" to wait on us. It was just weird.
Quality and variety of dining options -- We only ate at the main dining room once, because the food was mediocre and the service was slow and inaccurate. It took nearly two hours to have dinner in the main dining room, which is just too long. We ate a few times in the Windjammer, and while the variety was pretty good, the quality was very mediocre. I don't expect 5-star food, and we're not picky eaters, but it still fell short. We ended up eating in Giovanni's and Chops in order to have some better quality food, which was a huge improvement. Maybe that's RC's strategy -- push everybody to the pay-to-play restaurants to boost their bottom line. If they're going to do that, they need more dining options.
Entertainment options -- Honestly, we didn't participate in many of the entertainment options, as we had full port days, which kept us from staying out too late in the evenings. I don't feel like I could give a fair review of the entertainment options under the circumstances.
General Comments -- I love cruising. I loved this itinerary. I just had some issues with the ship that I wanted to mention. I depend heavily on passenger reviews when deciding how to spend my travel dollars, so I feel like I should return the favor by offering my review to others who might be wondering whether to book. I hope this review has been of help.