Our group was ourselves and another couple that we have cruised with previously. This was our first trip with RCL and was our seventh cruise. The other cruises were with Celebrity - a sister line.
We arrived in London at Terminal 4 one day ahead of time and spent the night at the Thistle Hotel near the airport (not a great place, but adequate, and it included breakfast). It is a 20 pound taxi ride between the two - each way. (The Hilton near Terminal 4 may not have cost much more.) The next morning found us back at the airport to meet our purchased shuttle bus to the pier in Harwich. After about a 2 ½ hour ride we were at the ship where embarkation was by far the easiest, smoothest we have experienced.
The Ship - Jewel of the Seas was a bit of a disappointment to us. The biggest negative was the Centrum area on Deck 4 that extended up several decks. There were many activities that took place there and the sound carried up this center portion. This area was often very congested, also, because there are so many things here - guest relations, a dance floor, a bar, and the onshore excursion desk. It was difficult to find a quiet, comfortable place to read anywhere on the ship. We were disappointed that the main dining room did not open to windows at the stern of the ship as we have had previously. The ship was well maintained, had lovely art work, and was easy to navigate. However, there are no elevators toward the stern - only sets at midship and forward.