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Our holiday got off to a bad start when we boarded our flight to Miami to find that B.A., in their quest for more profits, had tightened their seat pitch to the point where it was impossible to move, the foot rest was suitable only for midgets and cut across the shins of normal mortals when raised and the seat-back screen was only about 6 inches from my not unduly big nose when the forward seat was reclined. Having said that the cabin crew were excellent and the (seafood option) meals actually good. It is a pity that when spending this amount of money on a holiday the cruise lines cannot negotiate a reasonable upgrade price to economy plus for their clients. Thereafter everything went smoothly with efficient transfers and excellent overnight hotel (Hilton Biscayne) and smooth boarding procedures. Boarding was at 11.30 and after lunch and an exploration our cabin was ready for us by 13.00 with cases standing outside. It was average size but clean and modern looking with everything working and an excellent female steward (Natalya) who was quite amazed and gave us red carpet treatment after I spoke to her in Bulgarian !! Exploring the ship, the Centrum was a wow factor and the facilities were way above anything we had previously experienced - playing mini-golf in a 25 knot wind on a rolling ship for example and the self-levelling snooker tables were quite an experience. Now to the cons - whilst the ship was 5* the food was only 3* and actually not as good as on our previous cheapie cruise on the Thomson Celebration and the service, whilst satisfactory, was what I can only call robotic, perhaps due to the mix of nationalities,compared to the friendly super service on the almost exclusively Filipino waiters on the Celebration. Entertainment was patchy - an excellent Liberace sound-alike but the others so-so (perhaps it is me not appreciating American humor). Disembarkation again was smooth and not as bad as some earlier reports have indicated, so perhaps the U.S. immigration authorities have woken up to the fact that tourism is important and not to be discouraged and again a satisfactory day room at the Wyndham Airport hotel before getting on to another cramped 100% full flight back to London. With hind-sight what would we do different ? Come out 2 days before and return 2 days after the cruise (which although enjoyable is also tiring) to unwind and avoid the 100% flight loading of cruise days - not worry about getting a forward upper deck cabin to avoid engine noise/vibration because the modern gas turbine engines are virtually silent with no vibration, and go for a more central cabin - look for an airline with bigger seat pitch (even at the expenses of worse service) or upgrade.

Mixed feelings

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by Roy and Carol Carpenter

Trip Details
Our holiday got off to a bad start when we boarded our flight to Miami to find that B.A., in their quest for more profits, had tightened their seat pitch to the point where it was impossible to move, the foot rest was suitable only for midgets and cut across the shins of normal mortals when raised and the seat-back screen was only about 6 inches from my not unduly big nose when the forward seat was reclined. Having said that the cabin crew were excellent and the (seafood option) meals actually good. It is a pity that when spending this amount of money on a holiday the cruise lines cannot negotiate a reasonable upgrade price to economy plus for their clients.
Thereafter everything went smoothly with efficient transfers and excellent overnight hotel (Hilton Biscayne) and smooth boarding procedures.
Boarding was at 11.30 and after lunch and an exploration our cabin was ready for us by 13.00 with cases standing outside. It was average size but clean and modern looking with everything working and an excellent female steward (Natalya) who was quite amazed and gave us red carpet treatment after I spoke to her in Bulgarian !! Exploring the ship, the Centrum was a wow factor and the facilities were way above anything we had previously experienced - playing mini-golf in a 25 knot wind on a rolling ship for example and the self-levelling snooker tables were quite an experience. Now to the cons - whilst the ship was 5* the food was only 3* and actually not as good as on our previous cheapie cruise on the Thomson Celebration and the service, whilst satisfactory, was what I can only call robotic, perhaps due to the mix of nationalities,compared to the friendly super service on the almost exclusively Filipino waiters on the Celebration.
Entertainment was patchy - an excellent Liberace sound-alike but the others so-so (perhaps it is me not appreciating American humor). Disembarkation again was smooth and not as bad as some earlier reports have indicated, so perhaps the U.S. immigration authorities have woken up to the fact that tourism is important and not to be discouraged and again a satisfactory day room at the Wyndham Airport hotel before getting on to another cramped 100% full flight back to London.
With hind-sight what would we do different ? Come out 2 days before and return 2 days after the cruise (which although enjoyable is also tiring) to unwind and avoid the 100% flight loading of cruise days - not worry about getting a forward upper deck cabin to avoid engine noise/vibration because the modern gas turbine engines are virtually silent with no vibration, and go for a more central cabin - look for an airline with bigger seat pitch (even at the expenses of worse service) or upgrade.
Roy and Carol Carpenter’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 1500
Deck 10 front cabin. Slightly tapered compared to further aft but looking on to the bridge for potential captains -and we got to know the real Captain through our proximity.
We chose this to avoid engine noise/vibration but on this ship, because the gas turbine engines are so smooth and quiet (even aft on deck 2), would in future choose an alternative for more convenience to facilites.
  Jewel of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cartagena (Colombia)
    Typical Central American city - not worth taking the tours. We negotiated a taxi for 40 dollars tp take us around the main sites compared to around 100 dollars for the ship tours.
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  • Colon (Cristobal)
    Our main aim for the cruise was to see the Panama Canal and we booked the 'highly acclaimed and popular' Panama Canal Railroad Dome Car Journey. After waiting on a coach for 45 minutes after leaving the ship, we set off with the most boring monotone guide - self-styled Uncle Marty - we have ever come across - telling us everything about his childhood and the American forces in Panama and nothing about the canal and its construction. After 1.5 hours we came to the Miraflores locks at the Pacific end expecting to be conducted round a museum depicting the construction of the canal with pictures models etc. - instead we were shepherded into a room to see 2 blurred crackly films lasting about 10 minutes and stood around whilst no activity occurred at all. Back on the bus and a tour of the least interesting parts of Panama City !! Then to the train thinking we had got rid of 'Uncle' - but oh no!- he reappeared and kept us 'amused' whilst we ate our school type packed lunches and trundled along with occasional views of the canal back to the ship. Avoid this trip like the plague!! Other people we spoke to went on the ferry /coach trip through the locks to the Pacific end - said it gave them a better appreciation of the immense size of the locks and had a fantastic day. So much for the aforementioned hindsight!!
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  • Grand Cayman (Georgetown)
    Beautiful place for the rich !! We had been before and decided to go to Stingray City but because of lack of demand it was cancelled so we took a service bus to 7 mile beach and had a great day swimming in the clear blue water and topping up our tans.
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  • Puerto Limon
    After my previous disastrous decision my wife chose this trip avoiding trains and 'Uncle Martys' and decided we would go to see the sloth sanctuary. Not my choice but what a super day. Enthusiastic guide and sanctuary staff, the cuddliest monkeys, a canoe trip through the rain forest (complete with rain - in the dry season) and an adventurous drive along perhaps the most pot-holed roads I have ever seen.
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