We typically cruise with Carnival, but wanted to do a full transit through the Panama Canal, which Carnival rarely offers. So we booked a cruise on Jewel of the Seas, we have been on Explorer of the Seas back in 2002. We have been on nine cruises, we are in our mid sixties, husband and wife. We have never had a bad cruise and we did enjoy Jewel, Some people might be upset that I am doing a comparison, but it may help explain our views on the ship and may help others deciding what cruise line is best for them.
Our cruise left on March 13th out of San Diego, we did an overnight in Cabo San Lucas, next port was Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Quetzal Guatemala, Puntarenas Costa Rica, cruising through the Canal, Colon Panama, Cartagena Columbia, ending in Miami on March 29th.
Embarkation: We arrived a day early in San Diego and stayed at The Courtyard in Liberty Station. Embarkation on the 13th seemed to take longer than Carnivals, with both there are long lines, Carnival seems to move all the time, we stood barely moving in Royals lines for about 45 minutes. We headed to Windjammer for lunch as expected, it was crowded. Lido Marketplace on Carnival is even more difficult to get a seat on the first day, but Carnival has alternatives to go to and avoid the crowd, we usually go to Guy’s Pig and Anchor BBQ or Pasta Bella, which are free for lunch but away from the crowds. It would have been nice to have an alternative on Jewel, say lunch in the main dining room.
We almost always get a balcony cabin. First off, I was disappointed that the view over the side of the ship was obstructed by the roof over the lifeboats. You could look out just fine, but not down to see the ship cutting through the water. This was my mistake as I should have checked to see if there was a sight line down (if you have a balcony at the front of the ship, the roof does not extend there). The room itself felt small, it only had a loveseat instead of a sofa. Jewel’s balcony was very roomy. but the sightline when sitting in the chair, you had to bend down to see the horizon. The bed was fine, a bit hard but we had no trouble sleeping on it. The cabin seemed to be soundproofed well, either that or we had quiet neighbors. The bathroom has less storage of toiletries than expected, but the shower with a door is far better than a curtain which does not keep the water in.
We arrived the day before the cruise, we had a hotel at Liberty Station. We walked to Liberty Station expecting it to be small shops, it was mostly small eateries. There was a section that I think had shops with art work, but that did not interest us. It was nice walking back to our hotel along the bay.
We did the Mayan Experience here, because it was a 9 hour tour with a 2 1/2 bus ride there and back, I booked through Royal. It was a long bus ride but very interesting, we had a terrific guide with great information. We headed through the plains up into the volcanoes, we even saw where the highway and a village were destroyed by the lava flows last June. Then the bus wound trough narrow streets in villages, it was almost heart stopping. Our guide spend a lot of time explaining Mayan culture (60% of Guatemala is Mayan). We arrived at the ruins and toured a small museum. Then our guide took us to the far end, come to find out there was a Mayan ritual in progress there and we were able to observe. The second bus started at the front of the ruins and totally missed the ritual. it was very interesting. I also enjoyed learning the history of the ruins and Mayas. We then stopped at a very nice restaurant for late lunch before returning to the ship.
We took transit to Ft Lauderdale airport.