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

Bucket List Cruise to Mediterranean

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by Truluv

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Spacious Ocean View Balcony

I’m a frequent cruiser (widow-60s), most often with RCL in the Caribbean. This was a bucket-list & 1st European cruise to celebrate my retirement. I was joined by one of my kids. We spent 4 days in Rome first, which was useful to adjust to the time difference. Ship: Service was fine, and ship was maintained well.

Food: We really loved the Chef's Table, and our dinners at Giovanni's and Chops. We also had a Chops lunch on embarkation (note: The Key lunch was in the dining room not in Chops itself -- very few people were in the restaurant itself for lunh, and it was a nice way to kick off the cruise). Kid took advantage of coffee-card and enjoyed specialty coffees all week. The Mystery Theatre dinner show was lame, but we really enjoyed meeting our tablemates and the dinner. We ate breakfasts in the Windjammer, which were good. We tried both the Windjammer & MyTime dining (always seated quickly) for other dinners. RCL food has definitely gone downhill, but we enjoyed some very good and some not-so-good meals at both venues. There are two soda machines at the back of the Windjammer for use with the soda-card cups. One didn't work for a few days, but it did not appear that many people used them anyway.

Entertainment: We skipped the shows (really -- a Celine Dion impersonator and a couple that makes shadow figures?). Maybe the shows were great, but after days of tours we were simply too tired to go. Lots of trivia and Karaoke, and some good music in the lounges and in atrium. The 2 Billiard tables were always in use. My Kid noted the basketball tournaments were canceled, but few people had showed up anyway. Ship condition: We thought the ship was in very good condition for its age. It had been a few years since I cruised on a small RCL ship, and it felt very cozy. I won $150 on two spins in the small casino (and stopped while I was ahead LOL), so I think the casino was fun. As someone else noted, the ship doesn't get washed down often and we observed dirty/salt-encrusted windows. Not surprising though, in view of the scarcity of water in many of the ports.

Excursions: We took all RCL excursions, and only had 1 bad & 1 mediocre tour guide. Our guide for the bus tour of Naples only pointed out sites on the right side of the bus so people on the left side missed 90% of the things he pointed out. In Santorini, our guide for the Oia/Fia tou walked quickly before everyone was even off the bus and often talked to people who were immediately next to her. At one point she described the Santorini volcanos and said that the govenment could stop the above-ground volcano but not the one that was under the ocean. Okaaaaay. I didn't know that Greece is able to stop a volcano!!! By the end of the cruise, I had ended up skipping the excursions in Rhodes & Athens to stay on-board to rest due to strenuous walking tours the previous day (I did not ask for refunds). Santorini was a particular fitness-challenge whether passengers climbed down the 600+ steps to the port or waited in the sun for 1-1/2 hour for the cable car. Quite a few passengers stayed onboad the next day to recover. Overall, very satisfied - the fault was not RCL's, but my own for under-estimating how strenuous the trip would be.

Passengers: A mix. Many retirees due to length & month of cruise, but there were also families incl. some young children. Primarily seemed to be Canadians & Americans, but we met a few other nationalities as well. Everyone was very friendly. Biggest take-away from this cruise is NOT about RCL, but the itinerary. I was totally clueless about the reality of the physical challenges of touring countries with so much history (and without America's ADA laws, which we take for granted). Descriptions of excursions disclosed fitness levels but I felt they underestimated how much walking would actually be necessary. I had bought a Fitbit, and routinely found I had walked 8,000-10,000 steps and climbed the equivalent of 10+ staircases on tours -- all in hot sun/80's temps over very uneven and hilly terrain. Tour guides seemed to race ahead. Archeological sites, picturesque villages built on the side of volcanos and historical buildings don't have elevators, benches to rest, etc. I found a folding cane to be useful as a walking stick. Despite the challenges, I'm thrilled that I went on this adventure and believe RCL made it a wonderful experience.

Truluv'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

Great location. Cabin was fine with plenty of storage space, and Steward very good. Beds comfortable. Fridge useless.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Private Tour

We took a 13-1/2 hr tour to Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast, planning on using a ship excursion to Capri or another tour in Naples. The trip was limited to 16 passengers, and the Pompeii guide was an archeologist. Both tour guides were fantastic, and we really enjoyed this trip (got to Pompeii early, before cruise ship crowds). Pompeii took 10,000 steps on my fitbit though! We also took a Vatican tour. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Pompeo visited the same day. We were not allowed to leave the Sistine Chapel during the time that he & his entourage incl. the Secret Service also entered. Our tour guide told us that we couldn't go into the Basilica or St.Peter's Square during Pompeo's visit (the Pope's scheduled appearance in the Square that day was also cancelled due to Pompeo's visit). It was disappointing not to be able to see the Basilca. My kid took a walking tour of Rome and the Colloseum, which he said was very interesting -- but noted that the Colloseum was a LOT of walking!

View All 157 Private Tour Reviews
Island Tour

We took the RCL island tour, which included Oia, Fira along with wine tasting. On the plus side, we disembarked early on a tender to the old port. Some passengers tried to sneak off with the RCL excursions, and were turned back. We got to Oia early, before other tour buses (and even before some stores opened) and got to experience the beauty before crowds showed up. By the time we left, the bus parking lots were full and you could barely walk through the town. At Fira, the guide started walking before the bus was fully unloaded. Chasing her through crowded streets and up a hill was a physical challenge. If she said anything about Fira, no one in the back of her 50 passenger tour could hear. She was not clear about how to get back to the ship, and defensive when people didn't understand her. Fira was packed with tourists (3-4 other ships in port). The 600+ uneven steps down to the port stank of donkey urine & poop. The alternative was to stand in line for an hour+ line in the sun to get to the cable car. There was no place to sit, and people were pushing, complaining, hot & tired. The MSC passengers standing around us were panicking about getting down before their ship sailed. No one was managing the line. We heard there was a physical fight at one point when someone tried to cut in. We saw a woman being helped through the line since she had turned an ankle on the uneven cobblestones or steps. Fira gift shops were full of touristy-junk, and prices seemed high compared to other islands. The churches we saw were closed to tourists when we were there (I am Orthodox and had wanted to light a candle). As our bus drove from Oia to Fira, we saw a lot of garbage such as plastic water bottles eveywhere along the roads. I had looked forward to seeing Santorini the most, so this was a disappointing port for me.

View All 119 Island Tour Reviews
Island of Delos

Really enjoyed seeing the Island of Delos, and thought the RCL guide was informative. The ferry and tour organizaton were good. We were able to wander the port-town after the tour, and have a wonderful Greek lunch with Calamari along the seafront. The ferry to Delos had provided a voucher to get us back to the ship. My favorite port!

View All 97 Island of Delos Reviews

(Skipped our RCL tour to recover from all of the walking in Delos since our RCL tour warned that the Rhodes tour would require a lot of walking -- saving up energy for Santorini!)

City Tour

Really enjoyed the RCL excursion and an opportunity to see the city quickly by bus. Unfortunately, we sat on the left side of the bus. Our tour guide pointed to things on the rght side 90% of the time, and it was impossible to see past the passengers on that side. He also didn't say much about the history or life of the City. Stll -- it was great to get an overview of the city. I got some good video clips of aggressive Naples drivers & motorcycles playing chicken on crowded streets and driving through red lights. Wild place!!!! Terrifying to see that it is so close to Vesuvias though...hard to imagine any evacuation plan for that population density could be effectve enough to prevent another Pompeii someday.

View All 77 City Tour Reviews

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