My first time cruise review, just because I was so impressed. By background, traveling on this cruise were me, my husband and four friends, all of us on the “other side” of 50. My husband and I have taken over 20 cruises and our ... Read More
My first time cruise review, just because I was so impressed. By background, traveling on this cruise were me, my husband and four friends, all of us on the “other side” of 50. My husband and I have taken over 20 cruises and our friends have taken a few themselves. For all of us, though, it was our first time on Royal Caribbean. We have sailed with Celebrity a lot so as such had Diamond status.
Okay, first off, Royal Caribbean just seems to get some things so right, like the way some things just flow so easily. Check-in at Canada Place was a breeze. We got there about 11 in the morning and it was like a ghost town. Curbside at Canada Place to tableside in the Schooner Bar with a glass of bubbly, about 20 minutes. We had two tender stops which can often be tortuous with a mad scramble for tender tickets. This was so easy. I don't know, maybe nobody else got off. Because we went through U.S. immigration on the ship in Astoria - which also only took about 40 minutes - we didn't have to go through that in L.A. which was a huge bonus. Very easy getting off the ship. Plus I loved that where we waited in the Safari Club they had a big screen with a movie playing and pastries and coffee, etc. for everyone, any tier. Nice touch.
I am also used to receiving tons of debarkation material and questionnaires about two minutes after I have gotten on a ship. I kept waiting for it but four, five days into the cruise I still hadn’t received anything. I phoned guest relations because I was getting nervous and thought we would have to stay on the ship forever; I wish. But it seems Royal Caribbean must actually pay attention to everything you fill out online pre-cruise, because I can only guess that is how they assigned luggage tags and debark info. Which we didn't receive until the last day. Very refreshing!
Okay, so the ship itself is beautiful. It doesn’t have all the glitzy bells and whistles or contemporary sophistication of some ships, but has a warmth to it which cannot be denied. We all felt that. Spacious, never felt crowded, lots of glass, windows, ocean wherever you looked. But most of the warmth is due not to the ship itself but the crew. They are all the jewels of Jewel of the Seas. Hands down the friendliest of any ship we have ever sailed on. I can’t say enough about them, and have already said lots in the online survey.
Our Cabin: we had an aft balcony - really nice, in great shape and, yes, with a flat screen TV! Amazing views of course from the balcony, fitted out nicely with two chairs and table and two reclining loungers, which unfortunately we didn't really use much. Tons of storage, comfy bed, itsy, bitsy shower.
Ports of Call - Great Itinerary, all places we had been to before
Victoria - because we’re from the area we treated it as a sea day and stayed onboard.
Astoria - We walked along the boardwalk, passing all the squawking sea lions by Buoy brewery, hit Wet Dog brewery where we stopped in for a tasting flight. Made our way from there to Fort George brewery for more tasting flights and some appetizers. Both are great places and highly recommended! On the way back we found North Coast Distilling, a craft distillery in town where we sampled some of their mighty fine craft spirits. And then on the way back along the boardwalk we found a wine tasting room right on the wharf. So we had to stop there too and try some wine flights. A fantastic day in Astoria!
San Francisco - we were lucky enough to overnight here. The first day there we went on a private tour with a tour operator that we had used earlier in the year. He took us into Sonoma where we stopped at a few wineries and had time to have lunch in Sonoma Square. A great day! The next day we all treated as free days, and went our separate ways. We went to Union Square for some shopping. Used public transport and had no problem getting around.
I should mention, too, that we all bought wine in Sonoma, but when we came back to the ship it was not taken away from us. We weren’t expecting that at all, but had no plans to open it anyway until post-cruise in San Diego.
Monterey - just kind of walked around the town some, a bit of shopping, lunch downtown.
Santa Barbara - we walked from the ship to the downtown area and then walked some more. It was exceptionally hot and humid so we became quite thirsty and decided it was time for the Wine Trail in the Urban Funk Zone. We took in 4 wineries there, one that left no particular impression, and then Santa Barbara Winery, Lafond and Pali which were are all very nice. We went to Metropolitan Deli just down the street and brought sandwiches back to Pali where we bought a bottle of pinot noir and sat outside and ate and drank.
Okay, more about the cruise itself. I’m going to admit I went in with lowered expectations and was pleasantantly surprised over and over again. I won’t say we’re foodies but we pretty much are. We weren’t disappointed in the food at all, certainly not in the MDR or Chops or Portofino. The Windjammer we only ate in a couple of times. It was okay. We had breakfast in the MDR as it was much better and I liked the little buffet they had there too that you could choose from. What a great idea. Specialty restaurants, especially Chops, was very good and a bargain compared to some lines. Portofino was also very good but my preference was Chops. Others with us saw it the other way around. We also enjoyed a few lunches in the Seaview Café. Cute little place. Exceptional service everywhere we ate, particularly in the MDR.
Drinks - we had the ultimate drinks package and had some great craft-style cocktails in the Schooner Bar. We love our wine and for some reason the Schooner Bar, not the MDR, had the best selection of wine by the glass. The Champagne Bar also had some nice wine and was a fabulous place to sit and relax, day or evening.
Entertainment - we like to have fun and this ship did not disappoint! I mean, dancing in a nightclub while wearing individual headphones, all listening to different music? A big 70’s disco party in the centrum? Even the trivia, which we usually don’t play on ships, and name that tune were fun on this ship. I hear the cruise director we had, Dennis, is one of the best. We only saw a couple of the shows, but they were pretty good. There was a female impersonator/singer from Ontario who was very, very good. And there was a piano player in the Schooner Bar who, I am sorry, was very, very bad. But some of our best times were lazy afternoons entertaining ourselves with a deck of cards and Manhattans in the Schooner Bar.
I’m going to leave it at that. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid. Yes, I booked two more cruises for my husband and I onboard. Yes, my friends and I just yesterday booked another cruise we’re taking together next year with RCL in the Caribbean. Thank you, Royal Caribbean for a fabulous vacation. Read Less