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This is our third cruise, but our first time on Royal Caribbean. We've been on Carnival the other two times. We chose Jewel this time because of the itinerary to go into the Panama Canal. My wife and I are in our mid 50's, kids have grown and flown. We've been married for 33 years. We took a train from Albany NY, to Miami. It's a day and half travel and we had a roomette for privacy. It's tight quarters and a bit noisy, but the train never leaves the ground so we were happy overall for that. We met a couple who were also going on the Jewel. We saw them many times during the cruise. Our cruise was scheduled to leave Monday March 23, and we arrived in Miami Sunday March 22 around 7PM. We stayed at the Fortune House in downtown Miami which was only 4 miles away from the port. Fortune House is a condo with one and two bedroom suites for sale or rent. It's a very classy place in a good area of Miami. On Monday the 23rd, we slept in a bit, and eventually had a taxi take us to the port. Our luggage was picked up by one of the loaders and we went into the main terminal. Because I had done the on-line preregistration, getting our sea-pass cards went very quickly. We had to wait in the terminal as the Coast Guard was doing a surprise inspection of the ship. The ship passed with flying colors which is nice to know. But by 12:15pm or so we were able to board. We headed for the dining room first to try to get a table for two. We had to wait for the MD until after 1:30 to make any changes. We headed up to the Windjammer to see what was for lunch. Our room was available after 1:30 so we headed there to unload all our carry-on bags. We were met by the most delightful and sweet cabin attendant you could ask for. Mehalia was just a gem the whole cruise, willing to run for us for anything we needed. My wife was told by the MD that they would see what they could do about getting us a table for two but for the first evening we would have to sit at the assigned table,which turned out to have only two other people there. The following day, we got a card in our cabin door advising us we had our table for two as requested. I'm not sure the exact time our luggage showed up at our room. We were having too much fun exploring to worry about that. At some point in the late afternoon all of our bags showed up. We didn't unpack until after the ship left port. I've seen many reviews of the ship that describe it in detail so I will refrain from repeating what can be read elsewhere. I will state that the ship is beautiful with many wonderful nooks and crannies to explore. We loved the adult solarium for its quiet peaceful atmosphere. My wife spent many hours reading and relaxing there. For us it's one of the best spots on the ship. It's a non-smoking area which I thought the ship had a lot of. In fact I think there were fewer smoking areas on this ship than either of the Carnival ships we have been on. They had several smoke free nights in the casino too. I thought that was really nice. Cruises are what you make them. If you go with certain expectations and they aren't met, it could ruin the cruise for you. If you go with a broader openness of what you hope to enjoy and most of those expectations are met you will enjoy the cruise overall. We found a few things of note that were a bit disappointing. The big production shows put on by the RC entertainers were a bit lacking in snap, punch, or whatever you call it. The Broadway tribute would have been more enjoyable if the show tunes they performed were ones we knew and could sing along with, or at least recognize. We didn't stay for the whole show that first night. The big Tango production show was much more flashy and lively. But after the first 5 or seven tangos done by the two main dancers, they all sort of began to look alike. There were lots of costume changes, lighting changes and even the stage moved, but still, they kicked their legs and danced the tango over and over. The other shows, comedians, juggler, singers were good, not great, but good. I thought the cruise carried the "family oriented" shows a bit far in that there was only one "blue" late night comedy act for the 11 nights. They had some games and other entertainment in the Safari Lounge that was somewhat slightly suggestive but I'd like the opportunity to be treated like an adult once in a while. Carnival offered late night comedy acts and made it clear they were for adults only, strong,or sexual language would be used. At least there, I could make up my own mind if I wanted to go. The food was very good. I was expecting a little more zing to the flavors of the meals at dinner though. Again, with Carnival there was a WOW factor on some of the meals that had new flavors from various seasonings that just jumped off the food on to your taste buds. I didn't really experience any WOW with RC dinners. We didn't go to the specialty restaurants. Chops advertised great steaks, which were frequently offered in the Main dinning room at no extra charge. As for Portofino's, I couldn't see paying for meals when we had free food all the time. I saw no reviews that raved about Portofino's to make me interested in going to it. If paying extra is what it takes to get the WOW factor in dining on RC, I'll go back to Carnival where their main dining room served it as part of the cruise. I will say that the service in the dining room was 5 star plus. Our wait staff were top of the line, pure class in serving the meals all the time. They were excellent and well earned a big tip from us. As a case in point on the WOW factor, the night they served lobster tails, they didn't serve any melted butter with it. Lobster and no butter is a totally different flavor and lacks something. This is what I mean by WOW. The Windjammer had really good food also, and a lot of variety. Again, the flavors were a bit bland or plan relying on the food items themselves to provide flavor. It was all good, just not great. I realize they are serving thousands of people three times a day and it's impossible to season to taste for every single person. I just think more could have been done to spice up the flavors a bit. We had two issues in our room. One was the pushbutton for the toilet that didn't always get the toilet to flush. At first I thought it was just me trying to get the hang of how hard to push, how far in to push, etc. Eventually the toilet just wouldn't flush. We brought this up to the customer service desk on our way off the ship to an excursion. When we got back, the toilet was working much better, problem resolved. The second minor issue were the door hinges on the clothes closet. The screws on two hinges had come out so opening the door was a bit tricky. Our cabin attendant had already notified maintenance of the problem but it was never fixed. As I said, we could open the door, we just had to be gentle with it. We enjoyed all of the ship sponsored shore excursions. As you would expect some were more fun than others. We snorkeled in Aruba. Considering I had knee replacement surgery in December I was nervous about doing this but my recovery was faster than expected so I had a grand time in the waters of Aruba. We did a general tour of the Columbian capital, some walking, some on bus. It was fun to experience the street level life style of the people there. In Costa Rica we took a bus tour to a banana plantation, plus a train and canal boat ride through some of the jungle areas. We were a bit disappointed at not seeing more wild animals than we did, but on a tour like that, there is no guarantee of what will be seen. It's not DisneyWorld folks. For us the whole cruise was centered around going through the locks of the Panama Canal. You've all heard about them, seen documentaries on them, it's just something everyone knows about, but we wanted to experience them. We were up very early (5am) to get to deck 5 and hopefully a good spot on the rail. The bow was already crowded when we got there, but we got to see the operation from beginning to end. It was worth the trip as far as we're concerned. The Island Princess was going through the locks just ahead of us and we had a ball, calling back and forth to the passengers, waving and watching their ship rise, and then we'd follow. It was the best part of the trip for sure. Grand Cayman was fun too. It was our second time there. We took the Jolly Trolly tour this time. It's just a one hour tour which gave us lots of time to walk around the port city and explore. We didn't get a chance to do that last time. A major difference I saw was between RC and Carnival is the age of the passengers. At least on this cruise, the average passenger was like me, mid to late 50s or older, retired or close to retirement. A much more subdued crowd overall. Carnival plays more to the younger set with kids and therefore you should expect more noise later into the evening. We didn't mind the rowdiness on Carnival, we found it entertaining to watch the young people get drunk, silly and do the stupid things drunk people do. Disembarkation took us by surprise. RC really has it down to a science where Carnival has a free-for-all get off any way you can method. If we had known how well organized RC was we would have been able to leave the same day on the train to go back to Albany. Keep that in mind for your return trip home. RC knows how to empty the ship in an orderly fast fashion. We stayed an extra night in Miami and took the train the next day. As I said before, cruises are what you make them to be. We had a grand time on the Jewel of the Seas and would go back on her anytime. I highly recommend her because of the smoke-free environment throughout most of the ship, the crew was the friendliest of the three cruises we have been on. The ship is truly a marvel to behold and explore with more things to do on board than you can do in one cruise. The food is good and the service is outstanding. There are many quiet areas to hide in all around the ship just to relax and read or whatever. There is lots of music entertainment throughout the day and evening with a variety of styles. The games and contests are fun to watch or join in on if you want to. This cruise was very special to us because of the Panama Canal and that was the overall factor for us. The little things I've mentioned were just that, little things that might not be noticed or an issue with others. We will forever remember the cruise, the people we met, the adventures we had. The little stuff will be forgotten. So why are you reading this? GET OUT THERE!!!

Adventure of a Lifetime, hope we can do it again

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by whitewolfny

Trip Details
This is our third cruise, but our first time on Royal Caribbean. We've been on Carnival the other two times. We chose Jewel this time because of the itinerary to go into the Panama Canal. My wife and I are in our mid 50's, kids have grown and flown. We've been married for 33 years. We took a train from Albany NY, to Miami. It's a day and half travel and we had a roomette for privacy. It's tight quarters and a bit noisy, but the train never leaves the ground so we were happy overall for that. We met a couple who were also going on the Jewel. We saw them many times during the cruise.
Our cruise was scheduled to leave Monday March 23, and we arrived in Miami Sunday March 22 around 7PM. We stayed at the Fortune House in downtown Miami which was only 4 miles away from the port. Fortune House is a condo with one and two bedroom suites for sale or rent. It's a very classy place in a good area of Miami.
On Monday the 23rd, we slept in a bit, and eventually had a taxi take us to the port. Our luggage was picked up by one of the loaders and we went into the main terminal. Because I had done the on-line preregistration, getting our sea-pass cards went very quickly. We had to wait in the terminal as the Coast Guard was doing a surprise inspection of the ship. The ship passed with flying colors which is nice to know. But by 12:15pm or so we were able to board. We headed for the dining room first to try to get a table for two. We had to wait for the MD until after 1:30 to make any changes. We headed up to the Windjammer to see what was for lunch. Our room was available after 1:30 so we headed there to unload all our carry-on bags. We were met by the most delightful and sweet cabin attendant you could ask for. Mehalia was just a gem the whole cruise, willing to run for us for anything we needed. My wife was told by the MD that they would see what they could do about getting us a table for two but for the first evening we would have to sit at the assigned table,which turned out to have only two other people there. The following day, we got a card in our cabin door advising us we had our table for two as requested. I'm not sure the exact time our luggage showed up at our room. We were having too much fun exploring to worry about that. At some point in the late afternoon all of our bags showed up. We didn't unpack until after the ship left port.
I've seen many reviews of the ship that describe it in detail so I will refrain from repeating what can be read elsewhere. I will state that the ship is beautiful with many wonderful nooks and crannies to explore. We loved the adult solarium for its quiet peaceful atmosphere. My wife spent many hours reading and relaxing there. For us it's one of the best spots on the ship. It's a non-smoking area which I thought the ship had a lot of. In fact I think there were fewer smoking areas on this ship than either of the Carnival ships we have been on. They had several smoke free nights in the casino too. I thought that was really nice.
Cruises are what you make them. If you go with certain expectations and they aren't met, it could ruin the cruise for you. If you go with a broader openness of what you hope to enjoy and most of those expectations are met you will enjoy the cruise overall. We found a few things of note that were a bit disappointing. The big production shows put on by the RC entertainers were a bit lacking in snap, punch, or whatever you call it. The Broadway tribute would have been more enjoyable if the show tunes they performed were ones we knew and could sing along with, or at least recognize. We didn't stay for the whole show that first night. The big Tango production show was much more flashy and lively. But after the first 5 or seven tangos done by the two main dancers, they all sort of began to look alike. There were lots of costume changes, lighting changes and even the stage moved, but still, they kicked their legs and danced the tango over and over. The other shows, comedians, juggler, singers were good, not great, but good. I thought the cruise carried the "family oriented" shows a bit far in that there was only one "blue" late night comedy act for the 11 nights. They had some games and other entertainment in the Safari Lounge that was somewhat slightly suggestive but I'd like the opportunity to be treated like an adult once in a while. Carnival offered late night comedy acts and made it clear they were for adults only, strong,or sexual language would be used. At least there, I could make up my own mind if I wanted to go.
The food was very good. I was expecting a little more zing to the flavors of the meals at dinner though. Again, with Carnival there was a WOW factor on some of the meals that had new flavors from various seasonings that just jumped off the food on to your taste buds. I didn't really experience any WOW with RC dinners. We didn't go to the specialty restaurants. Chops advertised great steaks, which were frequently offered in the Main dinning room at no extra charge. As for Portofino's, I couldn't see paying for meals when we had free food all the time. I saw no reviews that raved about Portofino's to make me interested in going to it. If paying extra is what it takes to get the WOW factor in dining on RC, I'll go back to Carnival where their main dining room served it as part of the cruise. I will say that the service in the dining room was 5 star plus. Our wait staff were top of the line, pure class in serving the meals all the time. They were excellent and well earned a big tip from us. As a case in point on the WOW factor, the night they served lobster tails, they didn't serve any melted butter with it. Lobster and no butter is a totally different flavor and lacks something. This is what I mean by WOW.
The Windjammer had really good food also, and a lot of variety. Again, the flavors were a bit bland or plan relying on the food items themselves to provide flavor. It was all good, just not great. I realize they are serving thousands of people three times a day and it's impossible to season to taste for every single person. I just think more could have been done to spice up the flavors a bit.
We had two issues in our room. One was the pushbutton for the toilet that didn't always get the toilet to flush. At first I thought it was just me trying to get the hang of how hard to push, how far in to push, etc. Eventually the toilet just wouldn't flush. We brought this up to the customer service desk on our way off the ship to an excursion. When we got back, the toilet was working much better, problem resolved. The second minor issue were the door hinges on the clothes closet. The screws on two hinges had come out so opening the door was a bit tricky. Our cabin attendant had already notified maintenance of the problem but it was never fixed. As I said, we could open the door, we just had to be gentle with it.
We enjoyed all of the ship sponsored shore excursions. As you would expect some were more fun than others. We snorkeled in Aruba. Considering I had knee replacement surgery in December I was nervous about doing this but my recovery was faster than expected so I had a grand time in the waters of Aruba. We did a general tour of the Columbian capital, some walking, some on bus. It was fun to experience the street level life style of the people there. In Costa Rica we took a bus tour to a banana plantation, plus a train and canal boat ride through some of the jungle areas. We were a bit disappointed at not seeing more wild animals than we did, but on a tour like that, there is no guarantee of what will be seen. It's not DisneyWorld folks.
For us the whole cruise was centered around going through the locks of the Panama Canal. You've all heard about them, seen documentaries on them, it's just something everyone knows about, but we wanted to experience them. We were up very early (5am) to get to deck 5 and hopefully a good spot on the rail. The bow was already crowded when we got there, but we got to see the operation from beginning to end. It was worth the trip as far as we're concerned. The Island Princess was going through the locks just ahead of us and we had a ball, calling back and forth to the passengers, waving and watching their ship rise, and then we'd follow. It was the best part of the trip for sure.
Grand Cayman was fun too. It was our second time there. We took the Jolly Trolly tour this time. It's just a one hour tour which gave us lots of time to walk around the port city and explore. We didn't get a chance to do that last time.
A major difference I saw was between RC and Carnival is the age of the passengers. At least on this cruise, the average passenger was like me, mid to late 50s or older, retired or close to retirement. A much more subdued crowd overall. Carnival plays more to the younger set with kids and therefore you should expect more noise later into the evening. We didn't mind the rowdiness on Carnival, we found it entertaining to watch the young people get drunk, silly and do the stupid things drunk people do.
Disembarkation took us by surprise. RC really has it down to a science where Carnival has a free-for-all get off any way you can method. If we had known how well organized RC was we would have been able to leave the same day on the train to go back to Albany. Keep that in mind for your return trip home. RC knows how to empty the ship in an orderly fast fashion. We stayed an extra night in Miami and took the train the next day.
As I said before, cruises are what you make them to be. We had a grand time on the Jewel of the Seas and would go back on her anytime. I highly recommend her because of the smoke-free environment throughout most of the ship, the crew was the friendliest of the three cruises we have been on. The ship is truly a marvel to behold and explore with more things to do on board than you can do in one cruise. The food is good and the service is outstanding. There are many quiet areas to hide in all around the ship just to relax and read or whatever. There is lots of music entertainment throughout the day and evening with a variety of styles. The games and contests are fun to watch or join in on if you want to. This cruise was very special to us because of the Panama Canal and that was the overall factor for us. The little things I've mentioned were just that, little things that might not be noticed or an issue with others. We will forever remember the cruise, the people we met, the adventures we had. The little stuff will be forgotten. So why are you reading this? GET OUT THERE!!!
whitewolfny’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3556
Smaller than Canival average stateroom, but met our needs. Room was very quiet, clean, fresh smelling. Cabin atendent was terrific. Tight on closet space for two.
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