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melissa89n

Jewel review 12/03 (not including food)

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We just returned from our cruise on the Jewel. All in all we had a wonderful time. This was our family's first cruise together and it definitely met expectations.

 

We had 2 balcony rooms on deck 9 midship, and they were great. My dh & I were in one with my 11 yo daughter, and the other had my brother and 2 teenage sons. They were not adjoining but they were right next to each other. We could have had the door opened between the 2 balconies, but we decided not to.

 

We had some friends on deck 8 in inside cabins, and after seeing their rooms, decided it was totally worth it to have the larger room with the awesome balcony!!! I think it made the trip much more enjoyable. Every time we sailed in or out of somewhere, we had our own private place to watch! We could sit out there anytime (in our PJ's if we wanted to!), we could get room service or run up to the buffet and bring food down and not have to search for a good place to sit. We have already decided for our next cruise we want an even bigger balcony! I can see how this gets addicting...

 

Our steward was Jose, and he was terrific. He made the trip great - everything we wanted him to do, he did in no time. He was super nice and always around. The first night when he made up the fold out couch, we discovered you cannot go out on the balcony very easily while it was open, so he took the bottom section, stowed it somewhere, and made the bed shorter so it was long enough for my daughter to sleep on, but we could still walk out on the balcony. Perfect!!! He also took away the mini bar so we gained another area to put stuff. We had towel animals every night. We only ran into him once turning down the cabin, the rest of the time it was like magic - we came back and the room was clean! I wanted to take him home! I miss him already!

 

We thought the room was very comfortable. It was also very new and clean. It had floor to ceiling shelves just behind the front door for our stuff, as well as 3 small drawers. We had shelves above and below the fridge, and 2 shelves by the balcony door. There were plenty of hangers to hang everything I needed to, including some of my t-shirts. The bathroom was nice - I loved the pretty tile with the wood-look walls. There were 3 glass shelves above the sink which was enough for us to put all our toiletries on. There were also 2 small corner shelves in the shower for my special shampoo & conditioner, razor, and stuff. My daughter loved the shower. We thought it was fine - nice water pressure, great shower head, just enough room to move around. There were 2 towel bars on the back of the door plus 4 hooks. There were also 2 hooks right outside the bathroom door. No problems finding places to hang or put stuff!

 

We spent a pretty good amount of time in our room or on the balcony. Dh loved the channel that showed the ship's log and all the info - I kept making him mute it because I could not get the music they played out of my head! The air conditioning worked great. The beds were fine - we sleep on a queen size bed at home so this was a bit larger but you had to sleep in the center of each bed - no snuggling cuz you could really feel the edges of the 2 beds where they come together. My kids & brother all loved the beds and I could hardly drag them out of them in the mornings. The duvets were perfect - just the right weight for us, but the pillows were flat. I could not get the right height - I tried various combinations (Jose kept bringing me new pillows to try!) but it never was perfect. However, after the first couple of nights I was so exhausted I slept like a baby no matter what pillow I had.

Also the sound of the ocean from our balcony door left open and the movement of the ship lulled me right to sleep.

 

Backtracking a little: we arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport around noon, waited a half hour for the transfer bus we decided to take instead of a cab. Bad idea. The bus was $15 per person, filthy and marginally air conditioned. We had to take one broken seat as we were the last ones on. On the way home we opted for a cab with no wait, got a quick and cool ride and only paid $10 more total (this was for 4 of us). Just FYI if you are flying into FLL.

 

Getting on the ship was smooth - we got to the port about 1:15 pm and were on the ship by 1:45. We checked out our rooms and went to find our friends and eat. We were just hanging out and waiting for my parents to board (They were the last ones on! The ship was closing it's doors right after they boarded) when I realized I needed to go make some dinner reservations. We got all the ressies I wanted except for Mama's - we ended up with a 9 pm slot that very night. It was SO nice to have the menus from this board (they were virtually identical to what ours actually were) so I had planned what nights I did not want to eat in the main dining room.

 

Our drill with the life vests was in Tsar's, which is this really fancy restaurant at the back of the ship. We were late, and there are stairs to descend into the dining room. When we got there I started to laugh hysterically because all I could see were hundreds of unsmiling people sitting in this very nice restaurant wearing orange life vests and staring at the late-comers! So if you were one of those people, I apologize but it was very funny. I took pictures.

 

I will post my food reviews seperately, but here are my thoughts on the rest of the ship and the activities. It will be short. We did not spend a lot of time doing anything. We are relaxed people. We are relaxed lazy people while on vacation. :o We had family on this cruise to take our kids to all the things they wanted to do so we could relax and be lazy. So dh & I only ended up going to one show - Cirque Bijou. It was what I would expect for cruise ship entertainment. After seeing it, I was glad I didn't go to the others (dh & I were enjoying alone time;) ), but my kids absolutely LOVED all the shows. They could not stop telling me about them, especially the magician.

 

The pool was nice - we only went a few times because it was very windy and when it wasn't, it was very crowded (not in the pool, which was usually almost empty). On our balcony though - no crowds and chairs always available! ha ha We had some bad weather as well - some rough seas and a little rain. My brother went to an art auction and had a lot of fun - he bought a nice little piece. We didn't go to any seminars or anything but there were plenty to choose from. We checked out the bars - Spinnaker Lounge was the best. The bar group downstairs from Chin Chin's was very smoky when we stopped in and we didn't go back later in the week to see if it was always that way. Actually, after our stop in San Juan we didn't need to go to bars at all! ;)

 

That's about it. We checked out the photos but they only had taken about 4 of our group. I guess we weren't in any of the restaurants when they were busy and the photographer wasn't there. We also tended to be late getting off the ship at port so the photog would be gone. No biggie as I took about 400 photos and I am sure at least a couple will turn out nice! ha ha

 

We did not do any shore excursions as we are people who like to do our own thing and not work too hard to be on time, so this is what we did at the ports:

 

San Juan - We decided to take the free trolley to El Morro. ugh! We waited 45 minutes for it to show up and had to stand in the back til we got there. The fort was neat - beautiful views of the ocean. We walked back to town and shopped a little before heading back to the ship. Dh got a bottle of rum, poured it into his water bottle, bought a six pack of coke and carried them both onboard. No problems! Soon after we got back to our room we both had no problems! ha ha

 

Antigua - Hired a cab to take us to a beach. He suggested Jolly Beach. It was a beautiful beach. It was free, and not crowded, and pretty clean. There was a bar to eat at and people selling beer, soda, and water out of coolers very cheap. They were also selling something that we could clearly smell every so often. Everyone here was friendly and very relaxed. I wonder why...

 

St. Thomas - Went to Magen's Bay. Gorgeous!!! The water was incredible shades of blue and green, and very clear. Boys snorkeled around the edges and saw fish and crabs. Giant birds of some kind were diving in the water catching fish. We lounged beneath 2 perfect palm trees and felt like we were in a postcard. We brought soda and booze back onboard here too...

 

Unfortunately, we did not get to go to Great Stirrup Cay because of the sea conditions. The captain rerouted us to Nassau, Bahamas. There were 6 other ships there. It was crazy crowded! We shopped for about an hour, then the kids gave up and went back to the boat with my mom. Dh & I along with my bro and dad found an outside bar, sat around and had a ton of fun watching the tourists fight past each other on the narrow streets! They really had to look out for the old people with walkers! They would run someone over before getting out of the way! Getting back on the ship was a trip - a very long line, expectedly, but we were still a little buzzed so we made it fun. We struck up conversations with everyone we could. Things got heated when some line jumpers tried to get in front of the Royal Caribbean people. The line jumpers were Carnivalees. It was fun making up stereotypes about them.

 

Well, I hope you liked reading my review. I will post the food review tomorrow probably. I have a lot to write about that. If you have any questions, please post them and I will do my best to answer!

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Thanks for your review. We are going in a month and each review is more exciting and making it more real.

 

You mentioned that the menus you saw on this board helped you pick the nights for your reservations. Are the menus from other ships i.e. the Dawn the same order as the menus on the Jewel? Any memorable meals or nights that should be missed in the main dining rooms?

 

Can't wait to read more of your review. Keep it coming!!

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Nice review. A couple of questions. How much for the cab in Antigua to go to Jolly Beach? Did the driver come back to get you or were there cabs waiting at Jolly Beach to take people back?

Also, how hard was the walk from El Morro back to the ship? My wife had surgery a couple of months ago. From what I read it's downhill back to the ship. Is that right? Thanks!

 

Steve

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Its about a half mile from El Morro back to the ship, and its all downhill. We walked up and back (my DW and I are walkers) and we enjoyed it despite the 85+ degree heat. The first quarter mile is mostly flat across the plain immediately in front of the fort, then its down city streets. Do stop and take a break for a mojito or a pina colada!

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benelana- Yes, the new menus from the Dawn that were posted here are pretty much the same as we got on the Jewel. I just went through the daily menus of the main restaurants and picked days when there was nothing we thought we would really like. They also had all the menus sitting out to look through in Tango's on Sunday.

 

Steve- The cab to Jolly Beach was $8 per person one way and he did come back to pick us up (I didn't pay him in advance though). It was a nice van with air conditioning. The ride was pretty wild and through some interesting little towns that showed us the real side of Antigua - it definitely was the most poverty-stricken place we were in. Oh, and Jolly Beach has no good snorkeling. We could have paid a guy to take us out to the reef but we didn't feel like it.

 

And like NoVa said, it is not a bad walk back from El Morro. Defintely better than the free trolley! It was downhill but not really steep and there are lots of really cool little parks tucked here and there with fountains or statues that were fun to discover and also sit and rest at if you need to. Also it was a totally safe area - our 17 year old wandered around by himself and we had no problems.

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benelana-

 

And like NoVa said, it is not a bad walk back from El Morro. Defintely better than the free trolley! It was downhill but not really steep and there are lots of really cool little parks tucked here and there with fountains or statues that were fun to discover and also sit and rest at if you need to. Also it was a totally safe area - our 17 year old wandered around by himself and we had no problems.

 

Back to the ship from El Morro okay...downhill:)

Walking up can be a problem..steep, cobblestone streets from the ship.

 

I wouldn't wander around alone.

Side streets alone..not advisable.

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