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turtleclanscott

Jewel of the Seas thoughts

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We just returned from our first Royal Caribbean cruise on Jewel of the Seas to Alaska. We had a great time and I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone. (I'm also curious if some things we experienced are the same on other Royal ships.)

 

My only other cruise experience is on 4 Disney ships, but since this was our first cruise without the kids, so we thought we'd try Royal Caribbean.

 

First of all, Jewel is a beautiful ship. As Matt mentioned on the podcast, there are windows everywhere! This was especially nice on an Alaska cruise, where there is always something to see.

 

The entertainment was very mixed. When we went to the first Production show, Cities of Dream, I was worried for the week. It was bad. The show didn't make sense and the some of the performers struggled. We almost skipped the second Production show, West Side to Broadway. I'm really glad we didn't, because we really enjoyed it! The performers were much stronger and we liked most of the music selection. The music in the Centrum was not good. They had a duo singing that sang the same songs badly every night for the 7 night cruise. The entertainment highlight for me was the Jewel of the Seas Orchestra. The live band is the one thing that Disney doesn't have on their ships and it added a lot to the cruise. Our favorite thing on the ship was when the Orchestra performed big band in the Safari Club! It was such an intimate environment with amazingly talented performers!

 

The dining experience was so great! The food quality was great! Our server, Ivan, was very friendly and helpful. We really like My Time Dining, but learned that we need to book the entire cruise when we board the ship so that we can keep the same wait staff each night. On our first night, we made reservations for 5:30 each evening (8:30 at home!) and were able to get the same table each evening. But a couple of days later we realized we needed to change our reservation time due to excursions getting back later. Unfortunately, at that time we couldn't get a table in Ivan's section. We still had good servers, but missed Ivan! (He came by and said hi anyway!) The Windjammer was better than the buffets on the Disney ships. The food was comparable, but there was more seating available!

 

My biggest concern with Jewel of the Seas was the smell of cigarette smoke. It seemed to seep from the casino to all nearby areas. Maybe because it was cold outside, everyone was smoking inside. On embarkation day, we could smell cigarette smoke in our stateroom three decks below the casino. Fortunately, once the ship started moving, we didn't notice it again. My wife is very sensitive to smoke, so we were unable to enjoy the Champagne Bar, which was right outside the casino. The Champagne Bar was one of our favorite places on the Disney Fantasy and Dream, so this was very disappointing. I was hoping that the experience on Royal Caribbean would be good enough to convince my wife and I that we could take our family on Royal Caribbean for 7 nights next summer instead of our 4 night cruise we've booked on the Disney Dream. But my 9-year-old daughter has asthma and other respiratory problems, and I'm not comfortable having her around the smoke. On the Disney ships, the only smoking areas are outside and easily avoidable.

 

The staff though out the ship was friendly! That's always a hallmark of Disney, and Royal Caribbean was just as good! The photography staff was fun!

 

Despite Matt's advice, we missed eating at the Seaview Café! We had missed it on the first sea day, then ended up at the main dining room on Tracy Arm Fjord day for the Salad bar. I told my wife that we had to go to the Seaview Café on the final sea day. The final sea day had huge waves (the captain said 5-8 meters or 16-26 feet!) So they closed all the outdoor areas of the ship, including the ones that accessed the Seaview Café!

 

We quickly discovered and loved the helipad! Especially for Tracy Arm Fjord, we could stand at the front of the ship and see everything!

 

The stateroom was nice, but I don't understand the way it was laid out. When we arrived, we were disappointed to see the bed was underneath the window. We thought this was going to make it difficult for us to look out the window without crawling on the bed. We went to my brother-in-law and his wife's stateroom (next door, same category), and their bed was turned 90 degrees up against the side wall, leaving the area next to the window open. You could easily sit on the side of the bed and look out the window. Each room was designed to be in their configuration, since our room had the lamps and headboard mounted to the wall with the window and my brother-in-law's room had the lamps and headboard mounted to the side wall. So, I did the only logical thing and rearranged my room. (The stateroom attendant never said anything about it, so I wonder if I'm not the only one who's done this!) I was very glad when he vacuumed the carpet where the bed had been that evening! A couple other thoughts about the stateroom...the 90's called and they want their televisions back! And there's no clock in the room. I'd have bought a travel alarm clock in Juneau if I'd have seen one! We struggled thoughout the cruise with the time, since we were three hours difference and it was never dark outside. We'd wake up at 4:30 every morning, since it was 7:30 at home and bright outside. Having a clock would have let me see what time it was, turn over, and go back to sleep!

 

My final thought on Jewel is how well if held the crowd. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. Even when everyone was outside to see the glaciers, there was plenty of space. I don't recall ever thinking that it was crowded the entire cruise!

 

Overall, we had a great time! We loved Alaska. I'd like to compare one of the newer Royal Caribbean ships.

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Nice, thorough, review.  I'm glad you enjoyed the ship for the most part.

 

My thinking is that if you liked the Jewel, you'll like the other Royal Caribbean ships given that Jewel has not received any of the upgrades nor has gone to dry dock in quite a long time.  Thus, even the other Radiance class ships offer more amenities than the Jewel currently does.

 

Entertainment can always be hit and miss especially given the turn over of the performers as their contracts end.  I had a similar experience in the main show room as you.  The strength of most of the performers seems to be Broadway, so anything else can be a challenge.

 

I didn't notice smoke outside of the casino when we were on the Jewel in January, but I think that you're probably correct; more people were smoking indoors and in the casino because of the cooler weather.  My cruise was to the Southern Caribbean, so weather wasn't an issue.  Thankfully, they don't allow smoking in the cabins anymore.  We had a horrible cruise on another line because of the awful smell of smoke in the cabin that they had to come in and remove some of the soft goods as they could rid the cabin of the smoke, and this was a balcony cabin.  Thankfully, this was only one in 20+ cruises.

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Great review! It sounds like you had a good time.  And I agree that the live music on Royal Caribbean's ships is a wonderful touch.  You will find live music all over the ship and throughout the cruise, day and night.  I love the band that plays on the pool deck and the string orchestra that plays in the main dining room.

 

I agree entertainment can be hit or miss.  My wife is a huge fan of the shows and she admits some are better than others.  If you ever get to the big ships that have Broadway shows, you will see a really big difference.  Also, the ice shows on those larger ships are quite entertaining.

 

I think Doc nailed it when he said if you like Jewel, you will love the other Radiance class ships that have been upgraded.

 

Now the big question: What is your next cruise booked?

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great review - and the windows do really add a lot on a ship in Alaska - there is SO much to see -
it really is a must do sailing for people that love cruising and outdoors.  Thanks for sharing and

you will never see huge ships in Alaska, which I'm glad about, its nostalgia dictates that.

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I agree about the smell of smoke in the casino, I cant stand it. Not for health reasons, It just stinks. 

I wish they wouldnt allow it inside, its one of my soar points with Royal. I cant really stay in there for long, the smell of hundreds of people smoking is awful, it really gets into the carpet and other things, I even smoke from time to time and I still cant stand it in mass.

In my city you cant smoke inside anywhere, bars or casinos (they are still full), dont even have those glass smoke rooms. We also have laws against cologne or perfume, if you were too much at work you will get sent home or atleast get a 'talking to'.

As you know it really does bother many people, hopefully one day Royal will stop smoking inside.

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Guest amejiajr8

Looking forward to seeing these windows every is talking about. I can see how that will add to the onboard experience. We usually gravitate to the pool area so I hope the music playing will be good. we will be sailing around spring break so I am curious what activities will be available on the ship. I usually avoid the casino area because of the smoke. Great to hear staff was great. It's been close to 10 years since we were on a Royal ship but remember the great service we had. Thanks for the review

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Can't please all of the people all of the time.

 

Things have changed for smokers and non-smokers a lot in the cruise industry just since I started cruising 2 years ago.

 

On the whole ship, there is only 1 place inside to smoke. And while I agree it can carry and smell outside of there, it shouldn't be enough to ruin someone's trip.

 

Every trip I have taken has been with a non-smoker and none of them have said that the smell of smoke was that big a deal or ruined the trip or even kept them out of the casino.

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Yes, I agree montocguy, things have changed significantly for smokers. When I first started cruising I was a smoker and you could smoke in a number of venues inside including the English themed pub on the Navigator and Freedom class ships (they all have different names but they are all basically the same) and at least 1 night club, varying from ship-to-ship as to which one it was. I have never smoked inside the cabin but for a long time you could smoke on your balcony...now even that is prohibited - which I think is ridiculous - even though I am no longer a smoker.

 

I know that those who are extremely sensitive to smoke or are militant anti-smokers will complain about the casino but it doesn't bother me at all. Even though I am no longer a smoker, I am a strident supporter of smokers' rights (of course that is an anachronism...they have none these days).

 

Other changes ? No more ice or fruit sculptures in the Windjammer...no more midnight buffets (I guess there are a couple of exceptions for this one...Majesty being one), few, if any, waiter shows in the dining rooms (mixed feelings about this one), reduced staffing just about across the board, more and more opportunities to spend even MORE money (specialty dining, ships' tours, beverage packages, internet packages, etc.).

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Reading back I probably came across more p'd than I actually was.

While I do think its overpowering its definitely no deal breaker. Its probably more of a problem with the air circulation than it is with the smokers. I remember it being allot worse on the Enchantment than it was on the Adventure, maybe the Adventure just had better circulation.

With good circulation I can see people staying in the casino longer and still have content smokers, win win.

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I haven't seen a midnight buffet in years on any lines. The closest I've seen is a late night dessert/chocolate buffets on other lines.

 

It has been reported that the Enchanment has one upon leaving the Bahamas.

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