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Royal Caribbean International: Jewel of the Seas

Jewel of the Seas Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

A spacious, modern ship with plenty of nightlife and all the other trappings of a mega-ship without the crowds.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A small-ship congeniality and comradely atmosphere; single open seating; a large variety of dining options.

Onboard Experience

As the fourth ship in the Radiance-class of modern vessels by Royal Caribbean (Radiance, Brilliance, Serenade Jewel), Jewel and her sisters were built as the antidote to the concept of bigger is better as typified by the larger Voyager-class ships of Royal Caribbean, 1999. These ships are newer and smaller, and they are also better, carrying all the sports and dining options of the bigger ships, but in a smaller package with more space per passenger.

And what's not to like? At just over 90,000-tons for 2500 passengers (maximum), these ships fit in to the "right-sized" category of ships akin to Carnival Spirit, and Island Princess, to give you the best a mega-ship has to offer, such as an array of onboard activities, but in a more uncrowded and accessible manner. These are the modern mid-sized ships which give you the best of all possible cruising worlds, comfort & convenience with plenty of action in an uncrowded environment.

Public Rooms

The obvious heart of the ship is the lobby bar, where an ensemble performs each night, is people naturally congregate. Two decks above. the low-key Champagne Bar offers views of the atrium through floor-to-ceiling windows. A small but well-stocked library also faces the atrium.

On Deck 6, Bombay Billiards Club has the first pool tables at sea - and very high tech pool tables at that, each balanced on a ball bearing the size of a grape; the table may move as the ship rocks, but the balls are always stationary. The natty Schooners features marine blue chairs accented by real teak throughout, with nautical antiques and reproductions. In the adjacent Colony Club there is a large dance floor and stage suitable for a variety of entertainment.

Deck 12 offers Scoreboard, a sports bar with multi flat panel televisions and a satellite connection to ESPN. Close by is the tiny Crown and Anchor Club, but don't miss it, you can stand on a glass platform with a view of the entire atrium beneath your feet.

Perched high atop the ship, the traditional Royal Caribbean Viking Crown Lounge offers a near 360 degree panoramic view above the top of the entire ship. On Jewel it is divided into a disco and a low-key room with small stage for performances.

The tranquil library evokes a traditional English study; while the literary retail outlet Books, Books & Coffee features some 200 titles - as well as cappuccino, pastries and pizza.

Jewel boasts a more upscale shopping area than what appears on other Royal Caribbean ships, including designer-branded fashion wear and brilliant jewelry store. Nearby the Internet area is a small coffee and pastry shop with the unforgettable name of Latte-tudes. One of the best features of the ship is the cinema which shows two features per day, or for more interactive amusement, gamblers are drawn as moths to flames to Casino Royale, the ship's large gaming spot.

Indoor smoking is allowed only on passenger cabins, a small area at the rear of the Colony Club Lounge on Deck 6, in the casino, and in a designated area in the Starquest Disco. Outside, smoking is restricted to the starboard side of the ship. Remarkably, even the seating areas immediately in front of the outdoor bars are designated non-smoking areas. The ship is well laid out and easily navigated.

Cuisine

It's as good as on any of the mass market lines', though only one salad is offered on the menu (in addition to the always-available Caesar). The ship has two alternative dining venues,Chops offers delicious food with equally delectable presentation. The $20 per person surcharge includes the service fee. Jewel also features a Murder Mystery dinner one evening in Portifino that requires reservations. The price is a dear $49.95 per person, but includes a pre-set wine selection.

Restaurants

Cascades, the glamorous two-level main dining room, has a waterfall, a grand staircase, and enormous pillars, and could be right out of a 1940s film. Two smaller dining rooms, Breakers and Tides, enjoy the same high level of service. The Windjammer Cafe serves casual breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dinner. This restaurant has food stations for individual courses (meat, sandwiches, vegetables), cutting down on lines. In the morning, get yourself a made-to-order omelet. The best seating is just beyond the main restaurant area, where you may dine al fresco overlooking the aft, or in cozy banquettes. The specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino, are both tiny, elegant and quite wonderful. The Seaview Cafe, perched above the Windjammer, serves light meals in the afternoon, early evening, and late night to 1 a.m.

Cabins

Out of a total 1,050 staterooms, 813 have ocean view and 577 private verandas; Standard features in all cabins include refrigerator/mini-bar, hair dryer, interactive TV, telephone, computer jack, and a large closet and plenty of drawers. In standard and most balcony cabins, bathrooms have a shower and one large medicine cabinet. There are also such welcome touches as beds with rounded corners and lighted vanity tables with mirrored cabinets. Tubs are found only in the highest category staterooms; most bathrooms have just showers (though unexpectedly large ones) with medicine cabinets. There are even full-length mirror in the "superior" category cabins. There are 14 wheelchair-accessible staterooms.

Jewel has some of the best balcony cabins at sea, and for the very best look to the aft cabins on decks decks 7-10 where the Cat. D rooms have the largest balconies on the ship, measuring 13 ft. long x 9.5 ft. wide. There are steel walls between balconies instead of the glass common to most new ships, which affords no privacy at all. Overall, the staterooms on this ship are larger than the average Royal Caribbean cabin. While inside cabins measure only 165 sq. ft.; outside cabins rangeribbean c from 170 to 204 sq. ft., and the five categories of suites from 293 to 1,001 sq. ft.

Beware the uncomfortable "cot style" beds, which RCI has promised to replace fleet wide by the end of 2007. Let's hope they also spring for better sheets, blankets and towels.

Fitness/Spa

The 15,500 sq. ft. ocean view ShipShape Spa comprises three sections: a beauty and health center with 12 treatment rooms including Rasul and thermal suite ($15 for a half-hour); an aerobics area with mirrored wall and wood-suspended aerobics floor; and the gym, with 18 treadmills, 10 Reebok Recumbent Cycles, eight Reebok Body Peaks, four Reebok Ridge Rocker Cycles, four Reebok Body Treks, free weights, and multiple benches. There are stereo sound and television monitors throughout. There's a wide selection of scheduled fitness activities, including stretching and aerobics classes and aquadynamics. The famous rock-climbing wall rises 200 feet above the sea with five separate climbing tracks. The Sports Club & Country Club has golf simulators, ping-pong, a basketball court, and deck games. There's even a 9-hole miniature golf course and a jogging track.

Children's Facilities

"Adventure Ocean" is the title of Royal Caribbean's youth programs where youths are separated into five age groups: Aquanauts (age 3-5, must be toilet trained), Explorers (age 6-8), Voyagers (age 9-11), Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens (age 15-17).

Facilities open 30 minutes ahead of morning shore excursion departures so parents can leave their children before they leave the ship. On sea days, organized activities are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee. The program runs year-round in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Teen centers are now open past 2 a.m.

A new program for developed in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price offers tots 45-minute playgroups for children six months to three years old when accompanied by an adult. The program involves storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games.

Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.

Attire

An unusually high percentage of gentlemen don actual tuxedos on the two formal nights per cruise, though no one would grouse if they chose a dark suit. There's so much to do on any given evening that not all passengers dress alike anyway.

Overview

One of most desirable Radiance-class vessels of "right-sized" small but modern cruise ships debuted 2004.

Decor

Jewel is an airy and open ship, with plenty of views of the sea, unlike her Voyager-class brethren. The atrium, called the "Centrum" rises nine light-filled decks with vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass making this ship a joy to sail to picturesque destinations. In fact, fully half the ship's exterior is glass, some 110,000 square feet of it! An enormous glass panel rises from Decks 5 (the lobby) to 12, making visible vast expanses of sea and sky.

The ship's most beautiful rooms are on Deck 6. Schooners Bar is thoroughly nautical, with dark paneling and blue carpet. The enormous low-key Colony Club evokes a private British club you'd see in a film adaptation of a Graham Greene novel set in India or Hong Kong. The Solarium, a glassed-in pool area, has an African theme, with three enormous plaster elephants overlooking the pool. You'll hear bird and animal sounds through the towering tropical plants.

Even the ships' high-style public bathrooms, with their marble floors and counters and porthole-like mirrors, are gorgeous. And cabin decor, featuring navy blue and copper tones, is a welcome change from the line's very Miami Vice pinks, mints, and baby blues.

Service

It's obvious that the multinational staff and crew enjoy watching their passengers enjoy themselves. They're uniformly cheerful, knowledgeable, and eager to help. The wait staff in every restaurant is noticeably solicitous and conscientious.

Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser's desk is notably responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must have to do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.

Tipping

Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Entertainment

The two-level Aurora Theatre has an Arctic theme, with sculptured balconies, sidewalls and parterre divisions resembling glacial landscapes, and a dazzling stage curtain inspired in the Aurora Borealis. Sight lines are excellent, and you're highly likely, whatever your musical prejudices, to enjoy the likes of Rockin' in Paradise, a special-effects-laden celebration of tropical music. Lounges have pianists and combos playing everything from C&W to jazz. The lobby bar has a group performing Broadway show tunes each night. Two non-first-run movies are screened daily in the ship's cinema. In-cabin movies are also scheduled throughout the day.




Ship Overview

The fourth and final Radiance-class ship, Jewel of the Seas was launched in 2004. In 2016, the ship will be the last in the class to receive upgrades that have been popular throughout the fleet such as an outdoor movie screen poolside, a pub, the casual Park Café, Italian and steak-house specialty restaurants, digital signage, lounges for elite past passengers, and a new nursery.

Considered by many people to be the most beautiful vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Radiance-class ships are large but sleek and swift, with sun-filled interiors and panoramic elevators that span 10 decks along the ships' exteriors.

Big, bigger, biggest! Royal Caribbean has the largest modern mega cruise liners in the world, as well as some of the most innovative technology on its newest ships, from robot bartenders to the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. Its fleet of 25 and counting are all-around favorites of passengers—arguably the most multigenerational (and Millennial) crowd at sea—who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Each ship in the fleet has action-packed activities such as surfing pools, rock-climbing walls, and on the newest ships, skydiving simulators, and 10-story slides.

Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Aft on deck 6, four distinct lounges and a billiard room form a clubby adult entertainment center
  • Spacious family ocean-view cabins sleep up to six people
  • Ships offer a wide range of family-friendly activities and games

Cons

  • Upgraded features of the fleet are not consistent throughout this ship class, so check before booking
  • Dining options that charge have replaced some that were previously complimentary
  • Libraries are tiny and poorly stocked for ships this size
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 857
  • Entered Service 2004
  • Gross Tons 90,090
  • Length 962 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,056
  • Passenger Capacity 2,112 (2,501 max)
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Nov 15, 2015

Panama canal

This was a great 15 day cruise with a fantastic Itinerary and great shore excursions. There are plenty of relaxing sea days aboard ship and the crew on this ship was friendly, cheerful, helpful and made the experience wonderful. This ship is only one of two able to traverse the Panama Canal. It is older but still well maintained and is scheduled for its second renovation in 2017 we were told. The service on this ship was really outstanding.

The stateroom attendant and the dining room servers were among the best we have ever seen in 20 years of cruising. We would definitely recommend this itinerary. Royal Caribbean changed the entire menu on our second day. Instead of normal cruise ship fare they replaced the menu with a very limited, unappetizing and obviously cheapened menu. Gone are the Cruise ship normal foods like prime rib, turkey, shrimp cocktail, New York cheesecake. Instead they have substituted almost inedible dishes which when you actually have them in front of you seldom look like the description on the menu. The "everyday" menu was similarly very limited consisting of a few items you wouldn't pay to eat and the tough beef described as "Manhattan strip steak". The passengers ship wide hated the menu and the food and menu were the talk of the ship in elevators, bars and the dinner table. This was an epic fail on RCIs part. What a disaster. Someone at Royal has lost their mind. The food in the two specialty dining houses, Portofino and the Steakhouse were excellent, but the cover charge has gone up to $25 and $35 per plate respectively. Nevertheless the food was a great respite from the swill they tried to serve in the dining room. Our stateroom has quite spacious and surprisingly had a lot of storage which is seldom the case. We were very pleased with the stateroom and our attendant did the usual fantastic job. In the Royal Caribbean cost cutting corner cutting they have done away with pens and paper in the staterooms (as well as ice) so bring your own writing materials to make notes. They will bring ice on request. Royal has apparently done away with the Broadway type shows. In 15 days they presented one show and it was a rehearsal for adoption fleet wide. It was a rather strange collection of music which was supposed to be from Broadway shows but about 40 % of the music didn't actually come from a play. Go figure! Otherwise the nightly entertainment is comedians, jugglers, variety acts and musicians. The musical activities in the various venues were very good throughout the ship and had a good mix of music. There was oldies, Latin music, contemporary. All of the excursions we had ended up being great. The chiva bis in Columbia, the indian trip in Panama, the coffee plantation in Costa Rica. All of them exceeded expectations. We didn't get off the ship in Guatemala due to security concerns and the two Mexican ports, Cabo and Puerta Vallarta we had seen previously. Tender operations on this ship were excruciatingly inefficient so if you plan on going ashore NOT with a shore excursion get your tender ticket as early as possible or you will regret it. This was a great trip. I would absolutely recommend this trip to anyone who wants to not only see Latin America but traverse the Panama Canal with about half of the 15 days being relaxing sea days. The crew on this ship was fantastic, always helpful, cheerful and knowledgeable about their jobs. The specialty dining was similarly very good experiences. Regrettably the new Royal Carib food menu in the dining room was horrible. Since almost every passenger we ran into hated it I suspect that Royal will get the message. What is more concerning to me is whether Royal is trying to save money by corner cutting. That will force me to return to my other favorites, Celebrity and Princess.

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By Kim_CR

  • New

Mar 30, 2015

Eastern Caribbean

Sailed March 21 on a seven day eastern Caribbean cruise out of Puerto Rico - ship is very nice, standard Royal Caribbean ship,, plenty of shows, shopping and good food choices. Ship had a movie theatre and was showing newish movies, including Gravity. Casino too smokey for me and I do not understand why cruise lines continue to let people smoke inside the ship (or at all) If ships continue to allow smoking keep all smoking to a certain side of the

ship - outside ONLY! Music and activities throughout the day to enjoy. Spa was nice, always busy, same for the fitness center. Our ports were St Thomas, St Croix, St Lucia, St John Antigua and Grenada, last day was at sea, sailing back from Grenada. Ports are similar, beaches, local shopping and island tours. I enjoyed Grenada the most as there is a great rain forest. The tour from the ship was a driving tour, I was hoping for a hiking tour and although we made a few stops, we drove through the rain forest. Food choices were good, I ate early dining and Windjammer, not in the specialty restaurants. Plenty of fresh fruit/vegetables and a variety of entrees Stateroom was fine, shower small, I prefer showering in the spa area as the showers are much larger Plenty to choose from, for all ages I only did one shore excursion - rain forest tour in Grenada, it was fine, although I would have preferred a walking tour. Several people I spoke with enjoyed catamaran tours. Most people seemed to spend the day at the various beaches Overall, had a great time!

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  • New

Mar 24, 2012

Mexico

Fabulous time. Ship was clean, staff friendly and certainly willing to go the extra mile, plenty of options for dining and entertainment, and spacious rooms! Never felt crowded as ship does a great job of dispersing 2500 passengers. Easy on and off processes as well. All reviews I read before booking I found to be true. I would book with Royal again. Many options for food. Main dining food and service were great, comparable to upscale

dining. Ate at Chops one evening and would recommend that as well. Clean, spacious and well maintained. Comfortable sleeping and plenty of room for two. Fun and good for all ages.

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  • New

Dec 22, 2011

Tampa-Cozumel-Costa Maya-Tampa

Happy, Relaxing, Rejuvenating and Energizing!! Abundant, not excellent but very good, lots of variety, delicious desserts. Comfortable, quality furnishings, big enough for the two of us. Numerous, nonstop We booked our own snorkeling excursion instead of one that was offered by RCI. My husband and I just came back from our first cruise 5-days with Royal Caribbean on Jewel of the Sea, sailing Tampa-Cozumel-Costa Maya-Tampa.

We are 63 and 54 and were far from the oldest on the ship. The guests were of different ages but mostly elderly. They were basically divided into two groups “ the virgin cruisers (cute! but not my term) and the Diamond and Diamond-Plus cruisers". There were many weddings, anniversaries and birthday celebrations. The activities were non-stop during the day and evening in different parts of the ship. Food was served every minute at numerous bars and restaurants. The atmosphere onboard was unbelievable everybody, and I mean everybody, was really happy! Guests could not stop dancing even in the elevators. Each and every operation of the entire cruise was conducted smoothly and we did not experience a single problem or inconvenience whatsoever. I have to confess -- it was hard to resist the temptation to just eat, eat, eat. Thank God they did not offer free drinks! There were two options to avoid coming back home a few pounds heavier to eat at Tides (the main dining room) or even better, to eat at one of two specialty restaurants (Portofino or Chops Grille) instead of the buffet at the Windjammer Cafe, and/or to do some serious working out at the Fitness Center. I had an opportunity to speak my native tongue because the members of the crew were from many different countries. We did not turn on the TV even for a minute and were not interested in checking our emails for five days. We just submerged ourselves in the happy atmosphere of the ship and gave ourselves over to the kindness and care of the wonderful crew team. I was so energized that the day after we returned I was able to do two consecutive 60-minute spin classes in my health club with two very hard instructors.

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  • New

Aug 6, 2011

Scandinavia and Russia

I can highly recommend this cruise. It has one of the best itineries I have experienced, with every port having something good. The food was good, we did MyTime dining which is a must for this cruise due to the new of port days. Stateroom was to the normal standards. The entertainment was good. Particularly the shows which could rival the West End. There was a pianist, which I thought I would not like so did not attend, but everyone

was raving about this. Also I missed the Salsa dancing, and this was also very good. No time to get bored on this ship. With the exception of Gothenburg and Russia you can easily make your own way to the cities by foot or the port shuttle bus. We went to the church of the spilled blood and it was absolutely amazing. Well worth the visit. We were very lucky, the weather was in the mid 70's and sunny the majority of the time. Unfortunately the week before it rained, so I guess it is a bit like the uk? Each port had something to offer and was easily reached. Prices are high in Scandinavia so probably best not to eat out unless it doesnt bother you.

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