Sail Date: September 2015
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
Sail Date: September 2015
Pre-Cruise: ========= stayed at Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver; Excellent Hotel with location within walking distance to the Mall and restaurants. Lots of REAL bargains on shoes, handbags, purses, dresses, etc. FREE ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: ========= stayed at Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver; Excellent Hotel with location within walking distance to the Mall and restaurants. Lots of REAL bargains on shoes, handbags, purses, dresses, etc. FREE Shuttle provided by Hotel to the Cruise Port Victoria: ======= Took FREE CVS shuttle from cruise port to Fairmont Empress Hotel where we boarded the CVS bus to the Butchart Gardens (price $45 US per person) . What a wonderful place with over 5 -themed gardens which are very well maintained. Boarded the Hop-On Hop-Off BUS ($20 US per person) upon return to Empress Hotel and took a 90 min tour of Victoria travelling thru various points of interest. Excellent way of sight seeing. Bus dropped us off at the Ogden Port as a courtesy. What a wonderful Bus driver Astoria/Oregon ============= Took the RCL excursion to Seaside and Canon Beach. Excellent tour with quit a bit of time spent at the beach San Francisco ============ Took RCL tour of Muir Woods and Sausolito on day#1 Took BigBus 1-day pass ($45 US per person) on Day#2 and saw entire San Francisco. Palace of Fine Arts, Lombard Street (crooked street), Fishermans Wharf, Civic Centre, China Towne, Union Square, GoldebGate Bridge. Monterey ======== Took RCL excursion of Monterey and Carmel. Excellent tour with lots of stops Santa Barbara ============ Took RCL excursion of Monterey and Carmel. Excellent tour with lots of stops Los Angeles ========== Took -hr tour of Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and drop off at airport. This tour was okay since it only had 3-stops instead of 5 to 6 as promised Shows & Movies ============= Excellent daily shows ini the theatre; Broadway productions are top-rated and they had extremely good comedians Hollywood movies were good too although they could have done better with other choices Food ==== Windjammer Café food was edible but lacked variety. Very few vegetables and main dishes; Most dishes were repeated but nevertheless it did the job Ship Condition ============= For a ship of its age, it was in Excellent Condition. No complaints whatsoever and the inside cabin was excellent as well (cabin #8021). We have sailed on the Explorer, Adventure, Allure, Oasis and Voyageur in the past and this was our 1st on the Radiance Class Ship. We will definitely travel on this ship again. Extremely well maintained and easier to find your way around. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
Having done 6 cruises previously on Celebrity, my partner and I accompanied friends (very loyal Royal cruisers) on the Vancouver to L.A. sailing. I think Celebrity has spoiled me as I have never had a negative comment on any previous ... Read More
Having done 6 cruises previously on Celebrity, my partner and I accompanied friends (very loyal Royal cruisers) on the Vancouver to L.A. sailing. I think Celebrity has spoiled me as I have never had a negative comment on any previous cruise, but I lowered my expectations for this cruise and they were unfortunately met. Weather upon arrival in Vancouver -- cool and damp. What you'd expect, and certainly not the fault of the cruise line. When you are used to Caribbean sailings, though, it sets a different tone. We chose to go on this cruise for the itinerary, so we didn't expect Caribbean weather, but the cool wet start to the cruise really did damper the attitude a bit. The good news is that the weather improved with each and every passing day. Embarkation and disembarkation -- smooth. Great start. Staterooms and bathrooms in particular seemed smaller than usual, but for the amount of time you spend in there -- no problem. Very nice size balcony. Stateroom attendant, cordial and pleasant, but definitely nothing out of the ordinary. Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe -- average at best. Cafe has the same offerings EVERY single day for breakfast, never went in there for lunch. Dining room in the evening, our waiter and assistant waiter very cordial but nothing extraordinary. Food what you would expect when serving 1000 meals at a time. Most of the time mediocre, luke warm, but eating in the regular dining room has slipped steadily over the years across the board, which "encourages" more and more people to use the specialty dining restaurants. We went to "Chops" twice, and both times all 4 of us had outstanding meals, and outstanding, truly "WOW" service from our server, Tiffone. We also went to "Portofino" on one evening, and while dining and service was above average, it did not meet the high level that we experienced at Chops. On the flip side, we went twice to Seaview Cafe for a burger during the mid-afternoon period: the food was adequate and the service was not even remotely good. The evening entertainment was well mixed, with the traditional broadway revues, as well as magic, comedy, and other specialty performers, but most of the time we were at the late dinner seating and passed on the shows. However, the "lounge acts" that were regularly scheduled for each evening in the main concourse for the most part were not worth listening to. I am in my 50's, and even I found most of the songs to be completely outdated. Overall, the age level on the ship was an older crowd and an early crowd, so most of the evening activities around the ship were poorly attended. The best entertainment of the week was the "70's extravaganza" in mid-ship on the second to last night. Very high energy, the cruise director pulled out all the stops. Very well attended, lots of dancing -- very well done. As a non-smoker, it was sort of surprising that smoking was still allowed in parts of the casino. The stale smell permeated throughout. In the year 2015, no excuse for this whatsoever. Smoking should be in limited areas outside - period. The most disappointing feature with the entire 8 days was that the level of service was just not on par with anything I experienced with Celebrity cruises. Most of the beverage staff seemed to be doing you a favor in getting you a drink, and even with the drink package paid for (INCLUDING gratuities), the servers/bartenders would make you sign a slip for the drink, apparently with the hopes that you would leave an extra tip. I thought one of the benefits of the drink plan was to avoid signing all those silly slips, but apparently not. We expected the Champagne Bar to be the "go-to" place before and after dinner, but this bar in particular suffered from bartenders who were downright unpleasant, unfriendly, and just a displeasure to be around...which may explain why most of the time, this area was pretty deserted. That and the fact that the furniture looks like it was borrowed from the set of The Golden Girls or Leave It to Beaver. I know the ship is set up for dry dock in the Spring, but come on! While I never experienced the ship to be dirty, there were areas at both the outdoor pool and the solarium pool that needed paint so badly the bare wood was showing. The overall thought I was left with is all about the service: more than any other cruise I have been on (maybe I just got lucky all the other times), the staff seemed to be in "training" mode. I realize that across the cruise industry, there is a great deal of diversity among the staff -- I get that. But on a few occasions (Solarium snack bar area a prime example), the server did not even understand simple requests in English. The Seaview Cafe was much the same. The overall impression was that much of the staff is in rookie mode, hoping to earn their stripes to get onto a larger and newer vessel. On the cruise board, I saw a specific topic: "Royal Caribbean Jewel" vs. "Celebrity Summit" --- which would you choose? The answer is simple -- definitely not the Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was a special trip booked for 50th birthday, easy embarkation (only because we were early, later passengers queued for 4-6 hours) Ok cabin, nothing special, with balcony on deck 9. Lovely cabin attendant, very helpful. As our ... Read More
This was a special trip booked for 50th birthday, easy embarkation (only because we were early, later passengers queued for 4-6 hours) Ok cabin, nothing special, with balcony on deck 9. Lovely cabin attendant, very helpful. As our cabin was not ready (11 am) we went straight to Windjammer restaurant which was clean tidy and nice food. Unfortunately we never found it like this again! Once the hoards of ill-mannered, rude, noisy, passengers arrived it turned into a feeding frenzy by people who acted as if they had not seen food for a month, plates filled so high it was falling onto the floor, pushing and shoving , frightened they might miss something. Then shovelling into their mouths so quickly it fell out of the sides, disgusting!! it was thrown around the tables and floors while they dashed up for more, I have seen better meal times at the zoo. We ate in the main dining room for the rest of the cruise which was lovely, waiters polite and helpful, food ok most nights and on a couple of occasions very good. The cruise was excellent, scenery amazing, we did the whale watching out of Juneau and would recommend it, we saw humpbacks, sea lions, seals, bald eagles fantastic. Mendenhall Glacier beautiful. Skagway is a must and we did the train up to the mountains, loved it. Entertainment was ok, but catered for the American market which as most of the passengers were from US was understandable. We loved the Solarium and spent most of our time there when we were on the ship except for the last 2 days when the peace was shattered by a large group arrived with children in tow (solarium is supposed to be for over 16's) and proceeded to have a raucous party. Also a group of women thought it was acceptable to sit in the hot tub for hours fully clothed singing, when another couple who were also enjoying the solarium asked the attendant to ask them to be quiet he shrugged and did nothing. Would we cruise again with RCI again, NO! Having cruised a number of times with Princess, Celebrity and Carnival I know that RCI is not for us, However Alaska, Vancouver, Victoria, Skagway amazingly fantastic. Read Less
Jewel of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.3
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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