We booked this cruise on "Jewel of the Seas" long before the Coronavirus scare and decided to go ahead anyway, as we have a daughter living in Dubai whom we wanted to visit. In the couple of weeks before the start date, RCI sent us several reassuring emails that the cruise would go ahead, so we were never left wondering whether we should cancel.
I cannot speak highly enough about this cruise company. Embarkation at Dubai was smooth and efficient and we were all looking forward to sailing to the other scheduled ports. However, suddenly the port authorities (Oman, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, etc) all announced a ban on cruise ships, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. We therefore spent the entire cruise at Dubai. This may sound dire but, thanks to the Captain's regular tannoy updates and the wonderfully upbeat and positive attitude of the Cruise Director and all the staff and crew, it was one of the best cruises we have ever experienced - and we've done around thirty. The food was excellent, with plenty of choice; all the shows were among the best we've ever seen; and the sun shone daily!
One of the first things RCI did was to assure all guests that they would receive a full refund of the cruise fare via the credit card details lodged with the ship (not just vouchers for another cruise). This is in contrast to some other cruise companies, which I understand are proving very evasive on the subject of refunds. The Captain said he would understand if any passengers decided to disembark early and take an earlier flight home - they would still receive the full refund. Inevitably some did just that, so by the end of the cruise the number of passengers had diminished considerably. However, the standard of service, quality of food and the entertainment remained superb. Even with a handful of people in the theatre, the performers continued to give the same 100%.
Sadly, the crew are being sent home, to wherever their homes are, and their contracts will be ended. At this stage they have no idea when they will be rehired. Yet even this morning, at our last breakfast in the Windjammer buffet, a crew member told us that his most important priority was the health and happiness of the guests - incredible!
Even though this cruise turned out to be very different from the one we'd expected, we enjoyed it very much. Jewel of the Seas was a well run, very happy ship, right to the end, thanks to Royal Caribbean, the Captain and all the crew.
I would say to anyone thinking of booking a cruise in the future, once this current "hiccough" is over, please don't hesitate to cruise with Royal Caribbean.