If you are already booked on a RCI cruise, or if you are an
ardent fan of RCI, you may not want to read this review. If you do
and disagree or think it will spoil something, I have warned
It is long.
First cruise on RCI, 20 something total cruises.
I will not talk about the ports visited, only the ship. It is a
cruise review, not a port review.
Sat. Oct. 11, 2008. Jewel Of The Seas, Boston to Canada.
Parked in Port Of Boston parking garage. Sign said $27.00 per
DAY. However upon leaving the garage, the fee was $15 a day.
11:30 arrived at check-in. No wait, took 10 minutes only because
the woman who checked us in was training a new person. Thru
security and on board by 11:45. Rooms not ready until 1pm, so off
to the Windjammer for lunch. Food OK, quality comparable to that of
a buffet at a medium priced Las Vegas hotel.
1pm, to the room. The cabin steward was still working on his
section of cabins, and ours had not been vacuumed yet. I know this
because of the toenail clippings
left on the floor. This seemed really unusual when Reuben, the
cabin steward, told me that the cabin was vacant on the previous
cruise. If they don't use it, they don't clean it? Strange.
After dropping off the carry-on luggage, time to explore the
ship. Long level corridors in the cabin areas unlike the cruise
ships of the past when the corridors had a noticeable sway to
The cabin was the generic cabin of today, with a nice window.
The bed turned out to be so-so as to comfort, and was two twins
pushed together to make a queen.
The ship is a handsome vessel and its fairly easy to navigate
about it. Muster drill went off fairly quickly, and it appeared
that the people who are always real late for these things or don't
think they have to participate, were not on this cruise.
Dining Well, we tried the 'My Time Dining', and can say we tried
it and didn't care for it. Turns out you can only make your
reservation for dinner between 9-10am, and 4-5 pm. And nowhere did
I see anything about how to make that reservation, so it was a
phone call to the operator to get a number to call, and after a bit
of a wait, she found the number. Then of course, if you don't have
dinner close to the traditional early or late seating, you will not
see the scheduled evening show. Very few people were doing the MTD
deal as it was were using only a small portion of the upstairs of
the dining room.
The wait staff was inconsistent in their service, and the first
night's dining experience was underwhelming to say the least. Took
forever to get anyone to stop by after being seated, and then it
was the headwaiter who came and filled the water glasses. Waiter
and assistant waiter were friendly, but sloooow. Different set last
three meals and they had a terrible time the last night with the
orders at our table for six with two meals totally messed up.
Breakfast was taken in the Windjammer. Same items everyday, but
enough selection to be interesting. Tend to eat the same thing for
breakfast anyway, so it was OK. actually the best meal of most
Lunch also taken in the Windjammer. Different cut of meat at the
carving station each day, but most of the rest of the selections
seemed to repeat day after day. Second best food of most days. Like
I said, comparable to a mid-priced Vegas joint. Deserts a big
letdown with an equal number of sugar-free and the kind I like
(with sugar and calories), but not much taste (I know the Europeans
have a different concept as to sweet than us Americans). Fruit also
at the desert station.
Tried the Seaview Café for the fish & chips (two
small pieces of fish, fries) OK but once was enough.
Dinner in the dining room was a huge disappointment. A step up
from fine dining at Denny's, but I won't go much better than that.
A basic three course offering, starter, main course, and dessert.
The starter selection made no separation between an appetizer and a
salad so it appeared most chose one or the other. Five choices for
main course, one of which was a steak (the default entree) of
I have been on 20+ cruises and this is the first time that I
have left the dining room hungry. Actually skipped the main course
one night because I didn't like what I ordered at all, didn't see
anything else I wanted, and could not face another of the steaks. I
know times have changed, but from a meal of appetizer/soup, salad,
(perhaps sherbet to prepare the palate) meat/fish, cheese, dessert,
coffee/expresso/capachino, and mint/truffle to Applebee's on a
tablecloth. Come on people.
Thursday sea day dinner was the best meal we had in the dining
room, lobster & prime rib main course selections (took lobster
as appetizer, prime rib as main). Not gourmet by any stretch but
Spent the extra twenty pp on Portifinos and was treated to
excellent service and a fine meal. Impressed my bride and me the
most of anything else on the ship. Just like the service you used
to get in the dining room in days past. One tacky thing was the
extra charge for the espresso and other dessert coffees (Seattle's
Best), please don't ruin such a nice experience with ol' Mr.
Entertainment Didn't care for the cruise director at all, but
again she was not our cup-of-tea as the Brits say. The cruise
directors staff seemed to be really disorganized, late, and
generally a mess, never seemed to really get it together. Not a
whole lot to do as for activities, especially on the sea days,
unless you were into spa stuff, or physical activities with the fit
n' trim staff. (fee for spa/fitness) Oh, the odd trivia, bingo,
art/jewelry sales and such, but this is the first time we were
bored. Very small tacky prizes form trivia and game winners. So it
was a lot of time at the bar. Very friendly bar/wait people at the
Schooner bar. When they know your name after day 2, you are
drinking way too much.
Movies in the theater are somewhat old. If you want first run
flicks, they are available on pay-per-view TV. Don't want to miss
out on revenue, now do we.
Saw a magician/dancer dude, a production show with the ships
dancers/singers. Forgettable. Saw a comedian who was a funny guy.
Missed the Tango dancers. Gymnast was good. The usual singers, who
are from Poland and sing phonetically, not really understanding the
song. Most of them fair. Same for the dance quartet, who were
really a trio because the drummer missed the ship.
Pianist/guitarist, miscellaneous music maker pleasant in the
background throughout the public spaces.
Thirty-one dollars to play four games of bingo on Thursday. It
was more the last game, I didn't go.
Of the activities listed in the daily to-do-list, several were a
pay-per-do event (spa), and a lot were an outside physical-activity
activity, and a few were telling us that so-and-so venues were not
available for us common passengers to use. Sometimes I was bored,
so the choice was nap or drink. Big bar bill.
Photos Boy do they take a lot of photographs of you. Leaving the
ship in St. John, there were three photographers on the
gangway/exit walkway, all within 50 feet of each other, all with
different props, all clamoring to take our picture leaving the
ship. Take my picture, break your camera. Better half actually
bought several of the photos and they are pretty good.
Ever notice on a cruise ship that there are people whom you
never see until the last day no matter how few passengers on a
ship, then there are those who you see all the time no matter how
many on board. Everyday, everywhere. Sandy and Gerry were those
people for us. Saw them all the time.
Tendered into port one day, went off without a hitch.
I was amazed at how many people did not dress for formal nights.
Amazed. Kudos for the crew when they stopped people from entering
the area where the Captains reception was occurring who were not
Also was amazed at the amount of people who ate at the buffet
every meal, never set foot in the dining room. Pardon me, but why
Peeve If you want to sell me a bottle of booze while I am on
your ship, let me take it back to my cabin, and not 'hold it for
me' until the last night of the cruise. Ah, can't let any
opportunity to make a dime off of the passenger now can we.
One thing of note: If you are a soda drinker and don't want
diet, say regular Coke, etc., cause if you don't, the default is
diet. Same with beer, lite unless you speak up. Guess they think we
are too fat. Well they are right, but I'm on vacation.
Went to the Meet & Mingle, met and mingled, won a nice prize
in the drawing. Met some terrific folks there and got together
several times during the cruise.
Gambling Tight slots. Blackjack gave me some. Saw someone
selling pull-tab lottery tickets outside the showroom entrance,
thought that was tacky. Then of course heard that someone won a
grand from a pull-tab, so...
Tuesday sea day was dead calm waters and fog so thick I hoped
the navigator had a knife to cut it with. Thursday sea day was
windy and 6-8 foot swells. Ship rolled quite a bit.
Not too much brasswork on the ship, mostly stainless steel. Low
maintenance, but not the same. The crew kept the ship very
Fifty cents per minute internet access fee. 30 bucks per hour.
Highs and Lows The ship was nice and the crew did their job very
well. Chef not so much.
Took no ship's excursions.
The smoking areas on the ship were very smoky. How about NO
SMOKING throughout the ship.
Disembarked using the express method. You carry all your bags
and stuff off yourself and thus get to get off first. They said
between 7 and 7:15 for express folks, actually was about 7:40 (glad
for Indian summer because we waited outside), but then bam, and we
were lurching down the sidewalk to the car.
Overall, 2 1/2 stars out of five. Will we return to RCI?
Probably not, but I won't say don't go, only chose wisely. With the
exception of the dining, not too much seriously awful, just to me
there is that little something missing.
I know that many people who were on this cruise will have a
totally different perspective of this adventure, this is mine.