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Our daughter was on a school trip to Italy, so we decided to meet up with her in Rome and take a family cruise to the Greek Isles. We choose Jewel of the Seas, because we like RCCL and sailed on the Radiance of the Seas previously (Alaska). I will say that so far the Radiance Class ships are my favorite of the RCCL line (I have been on Independence of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, and Empress of the Seas as well). The ship is beautiful. Lots to do while easy to navigate. While all the usual accolades for Royal apply (very good food, great Piano player in the Schooner Lounge, very good Production Shows, etc.), what stood out for me was two new activities that I enjoyed immensely. The first was a Mystery Puzzle game that was professionally produced to be similar to current Escape Room type games. It was not an escape room, but a team game, where each team received an envelope with many puzzles that led to solving the mystery. Like I said, it was professionally produced and really awesome. Not easy, but not extremely difficult either. Took about an hour and was loads of fun. The second was a Murder Mystery Dinner, where the production entertainment team put on a play during cocktails and hors d'oevres where two mob bosses were about to combine their territory. One gets murdered. We went into dinner in one of the speciality restaurants, where clues were given throughout the dinner. At the end, there was a drawing from those who solved it correctly, with the winner receiving a champagne basket. Again, lots of fun. The first was no additional charge, while the second had a charge associated (but did include a great dinner in the speciality restaurant, including champagne and wine). The addition of these types of activities will keep me coming back to RCCL. The only reason I did not give this cruise 5 stars was the Itinerary. The ship gets 5 stars. The Itinerary, only about 3.5. If you really want to visit the Greek Isles, then this is a great way to do it...but be prepared for a grueling itinerary. We had one day at sea, followed by 4 port days, and ending with a day at sea. In general, the Islands are beautiful, but very hot and very crowded. Long days of touring with crowds, heat, and lines...and 4 in a row was a little more than we could handle. 1. Santorini: Definitely the most picturesque...but get on an early tender. Dress very cool, wear a hat and sneakers. Be prepared to wait in a line for 1-2 hours to get the cable car up and another 1 1/2 - 2 hours to get back down at the end. Be prepared to walk on very uneven cobblestones. 2. Mykonos: Probably the easiest port and also very beautiful. Classic white buildings. Beautiful seascape vistas. Good history. Cool breezes and no lines :) 3. Athens: Our least favorite. Crowded city. Very hot. Walking up the Acropolis is the highlight (you gotta do it), but go early and be prepared for a very slippery climb up ancient slippery marble. 4. Katakolon: Too pooped to visit the sight of the ancient Olympic games...choose instead to taxi to a nice beach.

Great Ship - Grueling Itinerary

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by Canejean

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Trip Details
Our daughter was on a school trip to Italy, so we decided to meet up with her in Rome and take a family cruise to the Greek Isles. We choose Jewel of the Seas, because we like RCCL and sailed on the Radiance of the Seas previously (Alaska). I will say that so far the Radiance Class ships are my favorite of the RCCL line (I have been on Independence of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, and Empress of the Seas as well). The ship is beautiful. Lots to do while easy to navigate. While all the usual accolades for Royal apply (very good food, great Piano player in the Schooner Lounge, very good Production Shows, etc.), what stood out for me was two new activities that I enjoyed immensely. The first was a Mystery Puzzle game that was professionally produced to be similar to current Escape Room type games. It was not an escape room, but a team game, where each team received an envelope with many puzzles that led to solving the mystery. Like I said, it was professionally produced and really awesome. Not easy, but not extremely difficult either. Took about an hour and was loads of fun. The second was a Murder Mystery Dinner, where the production entertainment team put on a play during cocktails and hors d'oevres where two mob bosses were about to combine their territory. One gets murdered. We went into dinner in one of the speciality restaurants, where clues were given throughout the dinner. At the end, there was a drawing from those who solved it correctly, with the winner receiving a champagne basket. Again, lots of fun. The first was no additional charge, while the second had a charge associated (but did include a great dinner in the speciality restaurant, including champagne and wine). The addition of these types of activities will keep me coming back to RCCL.

The only reason I did not give this cruise 5 stars was the Itinerary. The ship gets 5 stars. The Itinerary, only about 3.5. If you really want to visit the Greek Isles, then this is a great way to do it...but be prepared for a grueling itinerary. We had one day at sea, followed by 4 port days, and ending with a day at sea. In general, the Islands are beautiful, but very hot and very crowded. Long days of touring with crowds, heat, and lines...and 4 in a row was a little more than we could handle. 1. Santorini: Definitely the most picturesque...but get on an early tender. Dress very cool, wear a hat and sneakers. Be prepared to wait in a line for 1-2 hours to get the cable car up and another 1 1/2 - 2 hours to get back down at the end. Be prepared to walk on very uneven cobblestones. 2. Mykonos: Probably the easiest port and also very beautiful. Classic white buildings. Beautiful seascape vistas. Good history. Cool breezes and no lines :) 3. Athens: Our least favorite. Crowded city. Very hot. Walking up the Acropolis is the highlight (you gotta do it), but go early and be prepared for a very slippery climb up ancient slippery marble. 4. Katakolon: Too pooped to visit the sight of the ancient Olympic games...choose instead to taxi to a nice beach.
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 2D 8608
Royal Cabins always leave a bit to be desired. For two people they are fine. But for 3, it's a bit cramped. Plus, I'm not a fan of having the third bed as a top bunk. Otherwise, nice little sofa seating area and nice balcony.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Acropolis
    Athens Full Day Private Tour. This was our least favorite port and our least favorite tour. Our driver, David, was on time and did follow the itinerary. And, in all fairness, the description said he would not be able to 'guide'. The good part is that we did get to the Acropolis early, did 'skip the lines', and did hit the other locations on the itinerary (the temple of Zeus, the Changing of the Guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and the Marketplace of ancient Athens). I knew to try to find a guide at the Acropolis, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Therefore, I viewed a lot of ruins with no understanding of the history or significance. That was true in all of the other areas as well. The Marketplace actually seemed much more interesting (where the ancient philosophers hung out)...if I could find a guide (none available there). We decided to skip the authentic Greek lunch, veered off to the Museum of Illusion (lots of fun, if not historic), and headed back to the ship early. My biggest regret was that the Museum of the Acropolis was last on the itinerary...and therefore we ran out of energy (and time to some extent), and I think I would have enjoyed that the most. The flip side, though, was that as exhausted as we were by this time in the cruise, I don't think a ship excursion to the ruins would have worked any better. We would have had a guide for the Acropolis (+), but would have seen less, and not been able to cut it short when we physically just could not do any more. My advice...if you can find a tour of the Acropolis (very early) followed by the Marketplace, with a guide, and just do those two (especially in the summer) with maybe the Museum...go for that. Don't know if it exists, but that would be the ideal.
    View All 330 Acropolis Reviews
  • Katakolon (Olympia)
    In planning, I was pretty sure we would be to pooped for a 4th tour -- and I could not have been more right. I considered an excursion to the beach...but was put off by the price (onboard $45 each and Viator about $30 ea if I remember correctly). So, my daughter and I took our chances. We went off the ship and immediately found a taxi that agreed to take us to a close-by beach (that was not the very close one that was reportedly very dirty), for 30 Euro round trip (total). The driver waited for us for 1 1/2 hours and took us back. The beach was absolutely beautiful and a welcome respite. On the way back, we had him drop us off a bit shy of the port so we could do a little shopping. So glad I did not book anything!
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  • Mykonos
    This was my favorite port of the cruise. I was very pleased with the small group tour for the most part. Our guide Linda was wonderful. She was the most knowledgable of all our guides and the easiest to listen to. She also provided the most history and information. My only complaint was the pick up and drop off. Let me try to be very clear for you: There are three spots that you can arrive by ship. One is the New Port, where you will dock. The second is Old Port, Mykonos Town, where you will tender. The third is Old Port, Bus Terminal, where you will also tender. While they are all close, they are not that close. The walk between the two Old Ports is pretty long (they say 15 min. but it would take more more). It is not possible to walk from these to the New Port. There is a Sea Bus that goes between the ports (but not necessarily stopping at all three). The instructions for picking up the tour were very unclear. But it does pick you up at Old Port, Bus Terminal. If you arrive at one of the other spots, you will need to get there and that could take at least 15 minutes...and longer if you have difficulty getting the right Sea Bus. The tour then drops you off at Old Port, Mykonos Town. We attempted to take the Sea Bus back to the other Old Port. The Sea Bus people sent us on the wrong Sea Bus, which had us go to New Port, then back to the Old Port where we started (but not where we needed to catch our tender). They put us on another, which did make that stop, but wasn't really supposed to. Finally, I really wish I had spent more time in Little Venice. If I were to do it again, I would have left the tour there and stayed for a bit...and wish that they would have given us better information for getting back to our tender spot.
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  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    Rome is one of those cities you just have to see. We stayed at the Independent Hotel, which was awesome, and toured the city for several days. The highlight for me was a Roman Food Tour through Viator, while my husband and daughter really enjoyed the Segway Tour at night. We felt we did the best we could by booking the skip the lines evening tour of the Vatican...but it was still very crowded and hot.
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  • Island Tour
    We did the Panorama tour and had a wonderful guide, Nikolas. He picked us up on time. Everywhere he took us, he would drop us off at the high point and pick us up at the low point, so we did not have to walk up. All of the roads/sidewalks are made of uneven cobblestones and difficult to walk on. Must wear sneakers and hat. Given the lines for the cable car, the heat, and the cobblestones...this island is beautiful to see (classic white buildings with blue-roofed churches), but I think the day would have done us in if not for Nikolos. He really took good care of us, gave us cold water all day, give us much history and information, took us to the best places, and even arranged for me to sit comfortably in a cafe while the heartier of my family waited in the long cable car line. If you do Santorini, a private tour is recommended.
    View All 98 Island Tour Reviews