Fist RCI Cruise.

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Review Details

Views:
55
Overall Rating:
Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Jewel of the Seas
Destination:
Mediterranean

Review Profile

Occasion:
Annual/regular holiday
Cabin:
Balcony
Sailed:
October, 2021
Age:
36 - 45
Times cruised before:
6-10

Cruise Elements:

Quality of Food:
Entertainment:
Shore Excursions:
Staff:
Onboard Activities:
Cabins:
Our first RCI cruise and first holiday since the Pandemic. 7 Nights from Cyprus around the Greek Islands. With flight included it tempted us to leave the country! 

Pre cruise RCI bombarded us with emails, special offers always ‘last chance’ , not to be repeated ( to be repeated a couple of days later…..), emails about upgrading  your just booked stateroom, paying for expensive WiFi (absolutely no need excellent Vodafone coverage across Cyprus and the Greek islands) , order drinks packages (worth it if your going to be having more than half a dozen alcoholic drinks each a day), pay for shore excursions etc. Only right at the last moment were there helpful emails about travel arrangements and tips for a smooth departure. For this reason I believe there were a few who turned up at the airports without the Cyprus flight pass etc.

Flying from Gatwick was good, plane full but the transfer and testing to get on the ship was exceptionally efficient, much better than expected. We had printed copies of vaccination record, flight pass, dockside testing appointment and it generally made it easier than handing over phones etc.

Jewel is a really nice sized ship, big enough to have good facilities, not too big that you feel your travelling on a floating city.
We were told 1240 people were checking in with a few more doing back to back, so about 1300 on or 50% occupancy.
This meant that the ship felt especially spacious and there was never an issue finding a sun longer, a table or queues that were too long.

We were pleased with the cabin having just booked the ‘balcony guarantee’ we were allocated a forward cabin on deck 7. These benefited from some of the biggest standard balconies (ie without going for a suite) The ‘extra’ balcony space was overlooked from balconies on higher decks but it was larger and captured the sunshine. The balcony big enough for deck chairs but only a table and chairs provided. 

The cabin did reflect the ships age and a new sofa, chair and some refreshing of the shower unit was needed but it was comfortable  well designed and kept spotlessly clean. As a forward cabin it was positioned over the theatre. No noise issues for us as we were on the second dinner sitting and at the second show so when we got it it was silent!

The public areas were all great - glitzy and the atrium is a masterpiece! I liked the variety of artwork and decor was bright. Ship upkeep was good. 

Entertainment was mixed, ranging from excellent  (Barricade boys and the main production show) to very poor. One of the few areas Covid did impact was the theatre where it’s much less enjoyable sitting in a mask - but not the fault of RCI and I felt they did an excellent job of keeping people safe (clearly you did not wear a mask whilst eating in restaurants or sunbathing on outer decks) most guests respected the rules.

Food was always served with a smile. Crew seemed happy despite the Covid restrictions meaning they could not get off. We were pleased to hear that RCI had made WiFi free for staff to stay in touch with families at home. 

 Windjammer choice good and the buffet served to you worked well.
Dinner in  Tides, the main dining room was a bit hit and miss. Some nice,  well executed dishes but a few fell short in terms of quality and presentation.  Whilst staff friendly they were spread thinly at the expense of small things, like offering freshly ground black pepper, Parmesan etc. 
Live Music in the restaurant only played on the 2 formal nights, again just small touches you might miss . Menu Variety here  [tides] could have been improved but certainly not an issue on a 7 night cruise!
 I do wonder if the ships offering extra cost dining venues have slightly pulled back on the main dining room food / experience to encourage some to splash a bit more cash. 

Formal nights were more casual than expected.  At one point I doubted we had got the formal night wrong before stopping others that had dressed up. Some of that may have to do with the windjammer (informal) restaurant not opening for dinner so those who prefer the informal had to sit with those that liked the dressing up. I assume the Windjammer would normally have had a theme in evenings that would have been nice to see. 

This cruise was a bargain although some of the lower cruise fair is offset by needing to budget for tips, expensive alcoholic drinks ( which are a little more acceptable  in the nice bars, but not in plastic cups on the outside decks) , speciality restaurants and some onboard activities (like exercise classes).  
However the free filter coffee was fine, plenty of free soft drinks  - iced water, orange juice, lemonade, fruit punch etc. Tea and coffee in cabin along with a cooler for wine (2 bottles allowed on boarding) and milk.

The RCI app good and watching safety videos on the app and only needing to briefly turn up in your muster station was good. ( I remember donning life jackets and standing in queues on the deck on cruises a few years ago) 

We had seen some reports about Covid but actually we felt safest on the ship ( and safer than we would have done going into a restaurant at home) It was the airports, planes and some of the bustling ports of call (Santorini had three cruise ships on the same day) that felt the riskiest, not the cruise itself and if your feeling anxious about cruising i’d say relax whilst the capacity levels remain reduced. 

Overall a good return to cruising and RCI proving that a good deal can be just that! 
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