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Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,652 Reviews

Amazing Panama Canal sailing

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by travelingmcnairs

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Mar 2019
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Spacious Ocean View Balcony

We love Royal and especially Royal sailing in our backyard in San Diego California!

You should know about embarkation - Royal doesn't have their own terminal in California, so they were using another cruise company's facility. This meant a little more chaos then we had seen at Galveston or Miami. The process for platinum up to diamond category was no faster than a first cruiser would have taken, as the only short lines were for key program or pinnacle. No benefits for loyalty points, unless the top tier or paid.

Once on board, we explored this smaller ship in a short time. Finding a comfortable bar, and staying put until the cabin is ready. We booked this cruise late, meaning we were able to book an ocean view, not a typical balcony.

We were blessed to bid an upgrade and received a balcony cabin on the 10th floor.

The ports and excursions: Leaving San Diego, the ship stayed two days in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Although we had visited both these ports before, the weather in March was wonderful. Our stops in Central America were new to us, so we were excited to everywhere.

The service was as usual fantastic by room steward and dining room staff. We would definitely cruise on the Jewel and other Radiance class ships, as long as we were not under the Windjammer.

travelingmcnairs's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Spacious Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 4B 1072

Frequent cruisers will know that the cabins on 10 on a Radiance Class ship will sometimes be located aft beneath the Windjammer. Yes, that's where we were, every morning at 3:00 am wakened by staff vacuuming the floors above us. In addition, in the midst of a sea day, maintenance decided to replace the tile floor in a beverage station on 11, necessitating the use of a jackhammer. For hours on a perfect sea day afternoon enjoying the cabin balcony, we heard jackhammers above our heads. This inconvenience did annoy us, however, we still were happy to have the balcony instead of the ocean view cabin.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

San Diego

We stayed at the Wyndham across the street. We walked across the street to the port. It's literally 100 yards away. Since California is home, we were able to take the train down to San Diego and walked to the Hotel from the station. It's less than .5 miles away.

Catamaran Cruise

Not a catamaran, just an open top ferry boat, similar to the tenders (or is it tinder?). They did have picnic table style tables and provided soft drinks. The cruise was out to the arch and around to the North side. If you book this excursion, sit on the starboard side of the boat. It stays close to land on the out, and away from land on the return. Your best pictures will be on the starboard side.

View All 18 Catamaran Cruise Reviews
Puerto Vallarta

Our third trip to Puerto Vallarta. We did some light shopping and returned to the ship.

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

Guatemala, the land of volcanoes. We were surprised to take a small bus. Really small. Of course, that's because the streets in Antigua are tiny tiny tiny. Our cruise tour was very knowledgeable and shared some of the challenges faced in living there. The small co-op we toured before the city, had some of the most beautiful weaving I have ever seen. All by hand, as did the coffee roasting. Would love to return to Guatemala. Don't miss seeing the chicken buses - every district or route has a different paint scheme.

Train ride

We took this excursion on the later or afternoon session. We were bused to the train station, wherein waiting, we were treated to fresh fruit and dancing by local teens. The location had a bar ($) and tables set up to display local hand-made crafts for purchase. When the train arrived we set out to our boat tour through the rainforest. I had previously warned that the train goes through the poorest areas of Costa Rica and it does. Also, the train does not have air-conditioning :/. We were given bottled water and a bag of plantain chips. After a short train trip, we boarded smaller boats (about 20 ppl) to venture into the forest. Since it was late afternoon we were able to see a few animals which the morning excursion missed in the heat of the day. If you book this excursion, bring your own snacks and bring your binoculars or a good camera with a zoom lens. Without either, it's only a boat ride.

View All 40 Train ride Reviews
Colon (Cristobal)

We weren't enthusiastic about the excursions in Panama. The crossing of the canal was the highlight of the entire cruise. Nothing else was needed.
We were enticed by the color roofed shopping area just off the ship. Venturing there we found a very small also disappointing shopping center. Although, there was a Panama Hat store. For fun, we went through the grocery store/market which we found more interesting. Maybe we're boring, or just foodies, it was fun to see the local produce and brands carried in the market. Spending less than $20, we picked up a bottle of sparkling. Being semi-novice cruisers, we were surprised to find ship security confiscate our wine and return it late on the last day of the cruise. No cheap drinks for cruisers!

I'm sure I did not name the excursion accurately. I did describe what we did, which was a quick boat ride outside the fortress wall, and then a walking tour of Cartagena including a stop at the Emerald Museum. The boat ride was enjoyable, the tour was interesting. Be prepared for tons of street vendors hawking, almost accosting, you along the tour. Be prepared to haggle, or say NO. Loved Colombia, would return.

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We carried our luggage off the ship and were surprised to see half the ship did the same thing. The wait was almost an hour for customs.
We had just gone through customs in Miami in December and breezed off within 15 minutes, so surprised to see such an issue. Be prepared.

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