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Pre-cruise We stayed at the Holiday Downtown-Port of Miami. A great choice. Bayside Marketplace is across the street with lots of shops and eateries. Hotel is $10 cab from pier. Staff is great. Tip:If you are a Priority Club member you get $5 per room off breakfast. Embarkation We arrived at 11:20 AM in a wave with about 20 of our group so we sort of clogged up the check-in lines. Still the process was smooth. By 11:45, we were at our deck but found the door to the hall closed until 1:00 PM. Since the Windjammer would not open until noon and I had wisely placed my swimsuit in my carry-on, I enjoyed the Solarium Pool for a while. At 1 PM, we returned to our deck and saw that the door to the hall was still closed. Just as we opened it to see if we could get to our cabin an attendant was arriving to fix the door in the open position. (I wonder if we could have entered earlier) Our Cabin We were delighted with the size and layout of our cabin. Our cabin attendant, Don, greeted us warmly and asked if we needed anything. He asked if we wished our ice bucket replenished more than once a day and I said yes. Later in the cruise he told me that 'policy' was to only fill the ice bucket once a day unless the passenger requests it more often, so he makes sure that he gets the 'request' right away. Throughout the cruise, Don continually anticipated our needs and thus made our stay a real pleasure. We dropped off our carry-on luggage, popped our passports into the safe and headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch. We took a leisurely stroll back to our cabin perusing the public areas of the ship along the way. As we turned into our hall, we were surprised to see that our luggage was already waiting for us outside our cabin door. We brought our things inside and unpacked. We found that there were plenty of hangers and ample closet space. We lowered the second clothes rod on one side of the closet and my husband took the top rod for his shirts and slacks while I hung all my short sets on the lower rod. We used the full length of the other side for my gown and dresses and his suits. There was a row of shelves in the middle of the closet, cabinets over the TV, and a medicine chest in the bathroom. There was more than enough storage space. Shortly after the obligatory safety drill, we set sail. Dining Dinner was at 6PM. We were escorted to our table and met Emanuel and Mario, our delightful waiter and assistant waiter. They asked us to introduce ourselves and promised to know our names by the next night and indeed, they did. The food in the Tides was excellent. The portions were moderate but you could always have seconds. There were healthy choices listed everyday. Eight to ten appetizers and entrees were available. Dessert always included at least two sugar-free choices as well as low-fat options. We had breakfast in The Tides on at-sea days. The menu was the same each day, offering hot and cold cereals, eggs to order, omelets, eggs benedict, fruit plates, etc. The smoked salmon plate was excellent featuring a bagel that satisfied even this NYC bagel connoisseur. Excursion days, we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Windjammer which featured a typical breakfast buffet. We enjoyed eating lunch at the Windjammer everyday except the two days that our shore excursions included lunch. We decided that since we were having lavish dinners, it was a good idea to 'behave' at lunchtime. The Luncheon fare was similar each day. Hot dogs and hamburgers with the usual fixing's' were always available. There were sandwiches, salads, soup, pastas, pizzas and desserts, which varied from day to day. We ate dinner at the Windjammer on the evening our shore excursion returned too late for dinner. There was a nice variety of hot entrees to choose from. Pools and Spa The main pool and hot tubs were open air and not very crowded although it was difficult to find an empty deckchair on at-sea days. I found the solarium pool and hot tub more to my liking. It was quiet and covered by a large glass ceiling. The Spa was right next door. I won a minifacial that was delightful. I also won a day's use of the thermal spa, which included an aromatherapy room with heated tile lounges. The steam room and sauna were inside the Spa. These were complimentary but that was not widely advertised. Perhaps they are concerned that since these facilities are so small they could be overwhelmed if masses of passengers tried to take advantage of them at once. Other recreational areas A cute mini-golf course is on the top deck near the famous rock-climbing wall. There is a golf simulator (fee charged). A water slide, basketball half-court, ping pong table and shuffleboard area complete the outdoor deck. The Schooner bar has two $100,000 self-leveling pool tables. According to my Physics PHD holding husband, these are a marvel. We were excited that the library was on our deck until we saw how lame it was. The daily crossword, sudoku and trivia page were not so hot either but with so many other things to do, I didn't care. One afternoon, a Sudoku time challenge competition was held in the Safari club with the fastest finisher winning a backpack. Gambling The Casino was nicely laid out. There were several smoke free nights there. I played in the Blackjack and Slot tournaments, which were fun and friendly and featured a $20 entrance fee and cash prizes. There was a Texas Hold Tournament, which lasted the entire cruise because they had so many participants. There were BINGO games most days. A cruise was the top prize one day and the final day had a large guaranteed jackpot that had accumulated over the cruise. Enrichment Programs A history Professor whose specialty was Latin America gave lectures each day. Along with History and Geography lessons, he offered advice on what to expect in Port. An astronomer gave a talk on the stars that should be visible in this part of the world. A group of line dancers performed gave lessons. A Bridge expert offered lessons and organized play. Onboard Activities The onboard activities were the best we have ever experienced. One could literally sit in the Safari Club from 9 AM until midnight and be entertained all day by a series of games, dances, lectures and music. The same could be said for the Centrum. There were musical artists performing every afternoon and evening in the Schooner bar. The classic guitarist was superb. The pianist/singer was a standout. When most of our group of 70 gathered in the bar on the final night for an impromptu get-together, he graciously performed our song requests and made us feel like VIPS. I confess, I am a triviaholic and Jewel of the Seas Cruise Director Joff and his fantastic staff provided a trivia fix to end all trivia fixes. There were at least three games each day. Most days someone won a bottle of Champagne or wine at a contest and if you didn't manage to score a pen or keychain during the cruise, well, you just weren't trying. Everyone playing in the Wii baseball and bowling got a keychain for participating. The Progressive Trivia contest had a session each at-sea day and scores accumulated throughout the cruise. Two big gameshows were held in the Coral Theater. They were Millionaire, a version of the popular TV show and Love and Marriage, which was similar to the Newlywed Game. The prize packages for these were a lot more than a token gift. I know because I won the Millionaire Game. One night there was even a limbo competition. This brings up an amazing point: With the exception of a few honeymooners, the demographic on this cruise was decidedly middle-aged plus. On the other cruises I have taken, the older crowd tended to sit out theses contests and competitions but on this cruise, we were completely drawn in. I understand that Joff's byword is interactive and because of that, his program succeeds smashingly! Gambling The Casino was nicely laid out. There were several smoke free nights there. I played in the Blackjack and Slot tournaments, which were fun and friendly and featured a $20 and cash prizes. There was a Texas Hold Tournament, which lasted the entire cruise because they had so many participants. There were BINGO games most days. A cruise was the top prize one day and the final day had a large guaranteed jackpot, which had accumulated over the cruise. Enrichment Programs A history Professor whose specialty was Latin America gave lectures each day. Along with History and Geography lessons, he offered advice on what to expect in Port. An astronomer gave a talk on the stars that should be visible in this part of the world. A group of line dancers performed gave lessons. A Bridge expert offered lessons and organized play. Entertainment The Jewel of the Seas Singers, Dancers and Orchestra were wonderful. They performed two elaborate shows with lavish sets and costumes. Some of the dancers flew from rigging. The guest entertainers included comedians, comic singers and a violinist. The final night featured a comic/juggler/unicyclist whose act was fantastic! Debarkation Don't you hate having to drag yourself down to the theater for the debarkation information every cruise? Well on this ship they have video taped the presentation and they air it all day on the last full day of the cruise and even on the debarkation morning. We did the valet luggage and I would highly recommend it. We did have a problem. We had booked the Everglades post cruise tour. When I signed up for the valet luggage service I was assured that we could do both. Fortunately, I watched the debarkation information TV show and found that we would have to cancel the tour since we would not be able to leave the ship until after 8 AM. We were somewhat disappointed but it meant that we did not need to be up at 6 AM to make the tour. Instead, we had a leisurely breakfast while waiting to hear that our luggage had been cleared by port security. Toting our carry-on luggage, we breezed through customs and were on the pier in minutes. An airport shuttle offered $10 per person rides but after standing around for about 20 minutes while they waited for more customers we stormed off toward the taxi stand. My advice: just take a cab! The fare to the airport is about $30 for your party. It is well worth the extra $10 for the excellent service. Post-cruise We decided to return to the Holiday Inn near the port where we had stayed pre-cruise. Taxi Fare was only $9. At the Hotel, we asked the concierge/bellman for suggestions on how to spend the 5 hours until our flight. You can imagine how happy we were when he got us the same Everglades tour we had originally booked on the ship for $40 less. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We had delicious hot dogs and fries at the Safari Park before returning to the hotel to pick up our carry-on pieces and take a cab to the airport. The total for cabs and the tour ended up costing less than the post cruise excursion would have been.

A great time onboard and in port

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by cbsongbird

Trip Details
Pre-cruise We stayed at the Holiday Downtown-Port of Miami. A great choice. Bayside Marketplace is across the street with lots of shops and eateries. Hotel is $10 cab from pier. Staff is great. Tip:If you are a Priority Club member you get $5 per room off breakfast.
Embarkation We arrived at 11:20 AM in a wave with about 20 of our group so we sort of clogged up the check-in lines. Still the process was smooth. By 11:45, we were at our deck but found the door to the hall closed until 1:00 PM. Since the Windjammer would not open until noon and I had wisely placed my swimsuit in my carry-on, I enjoyed the Solarium Pool for a while. At 1 PM, we returned to our deck and saw that the door to the hall was still closed. Just as we opened it to see if we could get to our cabin an attendant was arriving to fix the door in the open position. (I wonder if we could have entered earlier)
Our Cabin We were delighted with the size and layout of our cabin. Our cabin attendant, Don, greeted us warmly and asked if we needed anything. He asked if we wished our ice bucket replenished more than once a day and I said yes. Later in the cruise he told me that 'policy' was to only fill the ice bucket once a day unless the passenger requests it more often, so he makes sure that he gets the 'request' right away. Throughout the cruise, Don continually anticipated our needs and thus made our stay a real pleasure. We dropped off our carry-on luggage, popped our passports into the safe and headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch. We took a leisurely stroll back to our cabin perusing the public areas of the ship along the way. As we turned into our hall, we were surprised to see that our luggage was already waiting for us outside our cabin door. We brought our things inside and unpacked. We found that there were plenty of hangers and ample closet space. We lowered the second clothes rod on one side of the closet and my husband took the top rod for his shirts and slacks while I hung all my short sets on the lower rod. We used the full length of the other side for my gown and dresses and his suits. There was a row of shelves in the middle of the closet, cabinets over the TV, and a medicine chest in the bathroom. There was more than enough storage space. Shortly after the obligatory safety drill, we set sail.
Dining Dinner was at 6PM. We were escorted to our table and met Emanuel and Mario, our delightful waiter and assistant waiter. They asked us to introduce ourselves and promised to know our names by the next night and indeed, they did. The food in the Tides was excellent. The portions were moderate but you could always have seconds. There were healthy choices listed everyday. Eight to ten appetizers and entrees were available. Dessert always included at least two sugar-free choices as well as low-fat options. We had breakfast in The Tides on at-sea days. The menu was the same each day, offering hot and cold cereals, eggs to order, omelets, eggs benedict, fruit plates, etc. The smoked salmon plate was excellent featuring a bagel that satisfied even this NYC bagel connoisseur. Excursion days, we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Windjammer which featured a typical breakfast buffet. We enjoyed eating lunch at the Windjammer everyday except the two days that our shore excursions included lunch. We decided that since we were having lavish dinners, it was a good idea to 'behave' at lunchtime. The Luncheon fare was similar each day. Hot dogs and hamburgers with the usual fixing's' were always available. There were sandwiches, salads, soup, pastas, pizzas and desserts, which varied from day to day. We ate dinner at the Windjammer on the evening our shore excursion returned too late for dinner. There was a nice variety of hot entrees to choose from.
Pools and Spa The main pool and hot tubs were open air and not very crowded although it was difficult to find an empty deckchair on at-sea days. I found the solarium pool and hot tub more to my liking. It was quiet and covered by a large glass ceiling. The Spa was right next door. I won a minifacial that was delightful. I also won a day's use of the thermal spa, which included an aromatherapy room with heated tile lounges. The steam room and sauna were inside the Spa. These were complimentary but that was not widely advertised. Perhaps they are concerned that since these facilities are so small they could be overwhelmed if masses of passengers tried to take advantage of them at once.
Other recreational areas A cute mini-golf course is on the top deck near the famous rock-climbing wall. There is a golf simulator (fee charged). A water slide, basketball half-court, ping pong table and shuffleboard area complete the outdoor deck. The Schooner bar has two $100,000 self-leveling pool tables. According to my Physics PHD holding husband, these are a marvel. We were excited that the library was on our deck until we saw how lame it was. The daily crossword, sudoku and trivia page were not so hot either but with so many other things to do, I didn't care. One afternoon, a Sudoku time challenge competition was held in the Safari club with the fastest finisher winning a backpack.
Gambling The Casino was nicely laid out. There were several smoke free nights there. I played in the Blackjack and Slot tournaments, which were fun and friendly and featured a $20 entrance fee and cash prizes. There was a Texas Hold Tournament, which lasted the entire cruise because they had so many participants. There were BINGO games most days. A cruise was the top prize one day and the final day had a large guaranteed jackpot that had accumulated over the cruise.
Enrichment Programs A history Professor whose specialty was Latin America gave lectures each day. Along with History and Geography lessons, he offered advice on what to expect in Port. An astronomer gave a talk on the stars that should be visible in this part of the world. A group of line dancers performed gave lessons. A Bridge expert offered lessons and organized play.
Onboard Activities The onboard activities were the best we have ever experienced. One could literally sit in the Safari Club from 9 AM until midnight and be entertained all day by a series of games, dances, lectures and music. The same could be said for the Centrum. There were musical artists performing every afternoon and evening in the Schooner bar. The classic guitarist was superb. The pianist/singer was a standout. When most of our group of 70 gathered in the bar on the final night for an impromptu get-together, he graciously performed our song requests and made us feel like VIPS. I confess, I am a triviaholic and Jewel of the Seas Cruise Director Joff and his fantastic staff provided a trivia fix to end all trivia fixes. There were at least three games each day. Most days someone won a bottle of Champagne or wine at a contest and if you didn't manage to score a pen or keychain during the cruise, well, you just weren't trying. Everyone playing in the Wii baseball and bowling got a keychain for participating. The Progressive Trivia contest had a session each at-sea day and scores accumulated throughout the cruise. Two big gameshows were held in the Coral Theater. They were Millionaire, a version of the popular TV show and Love and Marriage, which was similar to the Newlywed Game. The prize packages for these were a lot more than a token gift. I know because I won the Millionaire Game. One night there was even a limbo competition. This brings up an amazing point: With the exception of a few honeymooners, the demographic on this cruise was decidedly middle-aged plus. On the other cruises I have taken, the older crowd tended to sit out theses contests and competitions but on this cruise, we were completely drawn in. I understand that Joff's byword is interactive and because of that, his program succeeds smashingly!
Gambling The Casino was nicely laid out. There were several smoke free nights there. I played in the Blackjack and Slot tournaments, which were fun and friendly and featured a $20 and cash prizes. There was a Texas Hold Tournament, which lasted the entire cruise because they had so many participants. There were BINGO games most days. A cruise was the top prize one day and the final day had a large guaranteed jackpot, which had accumulated over the cruise.
Enrichment Programs A history Professor whose specialty was Latin America gave lectures each day. Along with History and Geography lessons, he offered advice on what to expect in Port. An astronomer gave a talk on the stars that should be visible in this part of the world. A group of line dancers performed gave lessons. A Bridge expert offered lessons and organized play.
Entertainment The Jewel of the Seas Singers, Dancers and Orchestra were wonderful. They performed two elaborate shows with lavish sets and costumes. Some of the dancers flew from rigging. The guest entertainers included comedians, comic singers and a violinist. The final night featured a comic/juggler/unicyclist whose act was fantastic!
Debarkation Don't you hate having to drag yourself down to the theater for the debarkation information every cruise? Well on this ship they have video taped the presentation and they air it all day on the last full day of the cruise and even on the debarkation morning. We did the valet luggage and I would highly recommend it. We did have a problem. We had booked the Everglades post cruise tour. When I signed up for the valet luggage service I was assured that we could do both. Fortunately, I watched the debarkation information TV show and found that we would have to cancel the tour since we would not be able to leave the ship until after 8 AM. We were somewhat disappointed but it meant that we did not need to be up at 6 AM to make the tour. Instead, we had a leisurely breakfast while waiting to hear that our luggage had been cleared by port security. Toting our carry-on luggage, we breezed through customs and were on the pier in minutes. An airport shuttle offered $10 per person rides but after standing around for about 20 minutes while they waited for more customers we stormed off toward the taxi stand. My advice: just take a cab! The fare to the airport is about $30 for your party. It is well worth the extra $10 for the excellent service.
Post-cruise We decided to return to the Holiday Inn near the port where we had stayed pre-cruise. Taxi Fare was only $9. At the Hotel, we asked the concierge/bellman for suggestions on how to spend the 5 hours until our flight. You can imagine how happy we were when he got us the same Everglades tour we had originally booked on the ship for $40 less. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We had delicious hot dogs and fries at the Safari Park before returning to the hotel to pick up our carry-on pieces and take a cab to the airport. The total for cabs and the tour ended up costing less than the post cruise excursion would have been.
cbsongbird’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9620
Roomy cabin with ample stroage space. Close enough to elevator for convenience and far enough away to be quiet. Best deck loaction. Easy to walk down to 4th, 5th & 6th decks for dinner and activities. Could even walk up to windjammer on 11 when the elevators were passing our deck by.
  Jewel of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cartagena (Colombia)
    We took the Swamps and Mangroves tour. A policeman joined us on the bus. Our first stop was for a photo op at Fort San Philippe. We had been warned about the aggressive vendors but I felt very uncomfortable and glad that this would be our only stop in such a public place. On our way to the swamp, we drove past horrible areas with fragile looking shacks. Our mangrove boat ride was in little canoes each holding four passengers and a poler. Our canoe leaked but we were more fortunate than those in the last canoe, which capsized. The swamp was only 2 feet deep but the lady lost her shoes in the mud. We reboarded the bus for a short drive to a hotel where we were greeted by the Folkloric troupe. They led us in a merry procession to the beach where we were served punch while thye entertained us. It was a lot of fun. They changed costumes about four times during their half-hour performance. We received coupons for a soft drink or beer and were invited to use the hotel pool or take a dip in the Caribbean until the bus returned us to our ship.
    Tip: we were warned not to carry much money and to beware of pickpockets. Nevertheless, bring change for tips at the hotel.
    One negative: The lovely marble steps at the hotel had no banisters.
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  • Grand Cayman
    In many ways, this was the best port experience. Georgetown is a lovely little town with lots of shops and friendly people. We took the Land and Sea Tour, which began with the Nautilus semi-submersible. The views through the windows were great. Midway a diver was dispatched to feed the fish, which resulted in our vessel being engulfed by the hungry little fellows who followed the driver as he swam passed each of us. We boarded a bus to the Turtle farm where we got to hold a baby turtle and have our picture taken. We purchased the photo at the gift shop and bought some souvenirs. Then we went to Hell. I mailed postcards to friends at home and took pictures of the rock formation that gave the town its name. On the way back we passed charming homes, condos and beaches. The bus driver let some passengers off at the famous Seven Mile beach. After a quick lunch on the ship, we tendered back to Georgetown for a bit of shopping. Tip: The windchime shop to your right on the pier has free maps of Georgetown. The Tipsy Turtle is a discount souvenir shop located about a block from the pier. Look for the 2/$10 T-Shirt sign.
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  • Puerto Limon
    This was the only port that was disappointing. The weather was terrible! I would strongly advise everyone to skip the Tortuguero Canal boat ride. It was a miserable and dangerous experience. The driver of the boat did not maintain control of the craft. He continually crossed his own wake and each time he did filthy brackish water poured into the back of the boat where I was seated. The last three rows were knee deep in water before long. The guide promised that each time an animal was spotted the boat would try to turn around so the passengers on both sides could see and take photos. On one of these attempts, another boat got too close to us. Our boat listed badly and we barely missed a tree. Limbs from the tree snapped into the boat hitting several passengers in the head and face. By this time, the motor and battery compartments flooded and we feared that the engines might stop working. The driver speeded up and again lost control. The boat rammed into the support of a bridge over the canal. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. On shore, I asked for a towel because I was soaked to the skin. We were shown an interesting film about banana production on the way to the aerial tram park. When we got there, we were "soaked" again. It was pouring rain by this time and they sold us ponchos for $10 each. Now they were nice but not worth $10! Advice: Bring a poncho! Then we were informed that the road to the tram was under water and we would have to walk across a rope bridge to get there. I am afraid of heights but was amazed that I crossed the sturdy bridge without panicking. A buffet lunch of local cuisine was served to us before we broke into groups of six for the tram ride. The Aerial Tram ride was breathtaking. Even though we were cold and wet and the animals were much too smart to be out on such a dreadful day, the views were worth the discomfort. The ride back to the ship was terrifying. Several areas of the road were washed out. We passed a local bus that had been swept into a ditch. They told us of contingency plans to put us up for the night and fly us to Grand Cayman if we could not get back to the ship. Our bus driver did a great job and we got back to the ship before it was scheduled to depart the port. There were still two tours that had not yet returned. The ship waited another hour until all passengers were onboard before pulling in the gangway and setting sail. In response to numerous complaints about this Costa Rica Favorites tour, we were given a partial refund.
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