I got a cruise bug last summer and booked us on the Jewel. I had been on the S/S Norway in 1996, and again for our honeymoon in 2002, right before it went out of service. Of course, by late July, the biggest room we could get was a ... Read More
I got a cruise bug last summer and booked us on the Jewel. I had been on the S/S Norway in 1996, and again for our honeymoon in 2002, right before it went out of service. Of course, by late July, the biggest room we could get was a minisuite. It slept 4, so that seemed reasonable. (our kids are 3 and 6)
We drove to Houston, stayed at a hotel near the terminal, then boarded fairly early the next day. The staterooms weren't ready until about 2 pm, so we had about 3 hours to kill. We had lunch at the Garden Cafe (which was always quite good) and checked out the ship (and bought thermal spa passes....amazing). I also had to stop by guest services/the cruise concierge because they had me listed as a first time passenger, which I am not. THey fixed it for the voyage, and said I had to get it resolved after getting home. Ive been working on it since I got back, and hopefully the techies will merge the accounts soon. I had a great experince with the latitudes customer service lady - she found both accounts, but one was under my maiden name, and the other was "in the archives", whatever that means, so she couldnt merge them. But she told me exactly what to write in the email and where to send it to get results. It says 4-6 week wait for a reply due to the transition for Latitudes to Latitudes Rewards.
We were in 115566, which was just down the hall from the elevators, 1 floor down from the Garden Cafe, and right below the kids club. When we got into the room, it was nice and seemed spacious. Our luggage arrived, and we went to dinner at Cagneys (we had the UDP), then dropped the kids off at the kids club.
After turndown service, the suite got REALLY cramped. No place to even stand, except right by the bathroom/entrance. It was fine, but keeping the laundry contained was an issue, since all our luggage was stacked inside itself. I have no idea how 4 adults can share a smaller stateroom than that, honestly.
The 2 days at sea were fantastic. We would have breakfast in the garden cafe, then drop the kids off at Splash Academy, and go sit in the spa or have some alone time, meet up again for lunch, then take a nap, then dinner (will cover restaurants in a bit), then splash academy and shows.
Cozumel, I had prebooked the Playa Mia Deluxe Day Pass. It was obviously a tourist trap, but it was nice. A waterpark area for kids, a playground, another non-kid pool, a big slide/bouncy house thing in the ocean, and a big open buffet. One wierd thing is that the package included open bar, so we assumed that meant any bar there. Nope. They were labelled "Open Bar" and "Cash bar". The Open Bar had things like rum punch and beer, the cash bar had the expensive liquor. However, the rum punch was plenty alcoholic anyway. The buffet was good. Mostly we watched the kids play on the playground and swam with them until it was time to leave. Everybody had a good time, and was EXHAUSTED.
Belize City the next day, my 3 yo and I stayed on the ship (she was tired and a bit sunburned). My husband and 6yo got off to go explore and spent maybe 2-3 hours onshore.
The day after Belize, we went to Trujillo, Honduras. It was... obviously a very new port. The area where the tenders docked was nice, but the rest of the town was very underdeveloped. Dirt roads (ok, some were paved with ballast stones from Colombian era voyages, but...), stick and mud houses with thatched roofs, corrugated metal houses, people washing clothing, dishes, and bathing in the streams/rivers, etc. We took a tour to the beach, where they had a little setup with 2 small pools, a bar, and a buffet. The beach itself was nice, but VERY steep, with very sinkable sand. We had to go off to a little area off to the side where my kids wouldnt go from sticking a toe in to 6 foot deep water in less than 2 feet. It was still pretty rough, though. Eventually we gave up and went to the pools. The buffet wasnt anything great. The food was traditional Honduran, which was neat, but they kept running out of plates and silverware. I think I may have caught something at this port. (more on that later).
The last day at sea was great. Disembarkation was handled really smoothly, also. the line was long at customs, but we didnt do walk off disembarkation and deliberately chose one of the last times, so that's really our fault.
Cagneys - we went here twice, it was delicious. Couldnt go wrong.
Chin Chin - whatever "asian fusion" food is, it was disgusting. Chicken fried rice was akin to Panda Express, but tasted worse, my moo goo gai pan was kind of OK. My husband's orange chicken was good (it wasnt on the menu, orange beef was but he asked and they accomodated). We had to go to the Garden Cafe to get the kids some edible food. Yuck.
Moderno - not as good as Tejas de Brazil, but it was good brazillian food. We liked it.
La Cucina - service was super slow, even though we booked/ate early (like 5:30) and were one of 2 tables. The food wasnt very good there, either.
Le Bistro - the dining area was amazing, the food was delicious, and my 6 yo even tried escargot :).
We also ate in Tsar's Palace one night to give the kids an MDR experience. It was OK. Nothing spectacular, but OK. (it was chocolate night, so all the desserts were chocolate)
My son didnt have a lot of fun. He was in the 6-9 yo age group, and I guess the counsellors didnt split them up by age or size, so when they played games like Dodgeball, one team was all younger, smaller kids, and the other was all the older, bigger kids. Yeah. That didnt go so well. He did have fun doing the pirate treasure hunt and the circus show.
My daughter (3) LOVED the kids club, especially Ariel, who was the check in/lead counselor. We could hardly pry her out of there with a crowbar. We did have a couple of incidents due to their taking the "no help with bathroom" to the extreme - they wouldnt even lead her to the door - so in the end, after 2 accidents, we were told that she either wears a pullup or would be dismissed from the program. I totally understand that POV, so we sent her in pullups. She had a BLAST in the princess parade, the pirate hunt, and the circus show (she had to wag her tiger tail LOL). She is still asking when we can go back on the boat so she can see Ariel.
I took 1 fitness class, but found it more useful to use the aerobics room to practice tae kwon do on my own. They were charging $12-15 per class for the non-6 am yoga stuff like aerobics, noweigan fight klub, etc.
It was too cold to use the pools the first day and the last day of the cruise, but the other days, my kids had a blast on the slide, and in the kid pool and kid hottubs (such a fantastic idea to separate it!) . I didnt like that they didnt enforce the "no reserving for more than an hour" rule on lounge chairs, but oh well.
The shows that we went to were great - one was a comedian, one was a magician, 1 was a pair of russian acrobats - a husband wife pair. He had been in the army and was an MMA fighter, she was trained in the Russian school of rhythmic gymnastics. It involved silk, hoops, and flying out over the crowd, along with amazing contortions. We also went to Le Cirque Bijou, which was pretty much the same thing, just with more people, special lighting effects, and a guy bungee cording down from the ceiling. The kids loved it.
The Latitudes party was nice - especially the complimentary drinks, (we didnt buy the UBP).
As for the GI bug, the last night of the cruise, both my son and I started having lots of grumbly tummy issues and some... protracted stays in the restroom. It took a few days to clear up, also. Not my ideal post-cruise diet, but oh well.
Overall, we had a great time. So great, in fact, that we are booked on the Jade for NEXT spring break, out of Houston, on the cozumel-Harvest Caye- Roatan itenerary. However, this time, I booked us in a 2 bedroom family villa in the Haven. I think it will be much more our style than the minisuite. And as a bonus, we're getting the UBP, UDP, free gratuities AND $300 OBC for booking before 4/6. Im trying to convince my parents to come with us, too. Read Less