Jewel of the Seas made its debut in spring 2004. Measuring 90,090 tons and carrying 2,100-plus passengers, it was the fourth and final limb on Royal Caribbean's Radiance-class family tree.
When launched, the ship had the same DNA as its classmates; it featured all the innovations of the time, such as a climbing wall, solarium and Adventure Ocean kids' facility.
In 2016, the ship went into dry dock for a nip and tuck that gave it two new specialty restaurants, a new wine bar, an outdoor movie screen and also gave its staterooms some TLC.
The makeover didn't change the ship beyond all recognition, however. Its look is still quite classical. With the exception of the revolving bar in the Vortex nightclub and the racing theme of The Pit Stop bar, the ship doesn't really go in for gimmicks. Instead, it drops nautical hints throughout, with lots of dark wood, blue-hued fabrics and brass.
The entertainment offering imitates the ship's look. Daytime activities include cruise ship classics like line dancing and trivia sessions, while the nighttime line-up features cabaret, karaoke and live piano music.
Food on the ship can be a bit of a game of roulette. The Windjammer Café buffet restaurant is consistent as a crowd pleaser. However, the main Tides dining room giveth one night and taketh away the next, especially when it comes to portion sizes. The specialty restaurants, meanwhile, knock the proverbial ball out of the park, and are pretty reasonably priced.
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No matter where you eat, service is first-rate. In fact, great service doesn't just apply in the eating areas. Waiters, bar staff and cabin attendants are friendly, attentive and have the memories of Mensa members.
Jewel of the Seas is ideal for cruisers who don't go in for bells and whistles, but instead prefer a traditional cruising experience. It's a laid-back ship, where customers enjoy long lazy mealtimes, a few G&Ts an evening and a bit of nostalgia when it comes to entertainment.
One final thing to bear in mind when deciding whether to pick this cruise ship is that, as mellow as it feels on sea days, there can still be some 2,000 plus passengers onboard. That means there can be a bit of a crush in tender ports. Another downside is that you have to cough up for quite a few additional expenses, such as specialty coffees and room service.
The passengers on Jewel change depending on the itinerary; for example, you get more Americans onboard during Caribbean sailings, while Brits dominate European sailings. The ship is particularly popular with the mature traveler and a favorite with Royal Caribbean's Diamond Club passengers --some of the line's most loyal cruisers.
During the daytime, passengers dress casually. Passengers dress to the eights rather than the nines on formal nights. For men, the ratio is about one bow tie for every six or seven neckties, and some men even go for open collars. Women, meanwhile, tend to go for cocktail dresses over ball gowns.
Royal Caribbean: Totally professional and honourable company. Very impressive.