Adventures in the Caribbean Sea
2018 was really getting the best of us, one of us between jobs and the other with time off to spare, so we decided it was time for an adventure. I would not say that we are particularly good at selecting destinations. We are often inspired by movies; we ended up in Montenegro/Balkans after watching Casino Royale, and on a spider filled riverboat in the Amazon Jungle because of an obsession with the movie Anaconda. One ended with me crying outside of a horrible train station bathroom in Bosnia, the other with me crying all over a riverboat in the Amazon. Clearly, we are a mother daughter pair not afraid of a little adventure, but for this trip we wanted easy and relaxing. One might suggest a cruise. For people who don’t love crowds, lines, waiting for anything, bad food, hot weather, and confined spaces that may not be the best plan. So, we signed right up and literally 3 days later, we flew to Puerto Rico to get on Jewel of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. P.S. for those who say last minute travel deals are not a thing anymore, I assure you, they are. We got an excellent deal on this 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise sailing from San Juan to 5 different ports with one day at sea. Here are our thoughts, i.e. snarky and judgmental commentary.
Jewel of the Seas🛳
Long, long ago, at age 20, my father and I went on a Western Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean on a bigger and fancier ship (Mariner of the Seas) as a college graduation celebration. What a celebration it was, and for this reason, it was a good experience, I was young and vacation with my dad tends to be a lot more of sitting around at the pool and have a beer. Naturally, being older and well, older, this was going to be different and we told ourselves that we would not let the crowds and cruise things bother us. The Jewel of the Seas was much older and smaller than Mariner of the Seas. We initially thought that this would be better, less people equal more space, right? Not so much, we found that there were simply less places to go and more people in smaller areas. Keep this in mind as you are planning your cruise.
Stateroom: 🌎🌎🌎🌎 of 5 on the GOA globe scale
We paid for an ocean view cabin and were upgraded to a balcony cabin. We assumed that the people in that cabin cancelled last minute and since we booked with only a few days to spare, got very lucky. The balcony made the trip significantly more tolerable especially with the issues we had with a neighbor smoking cigarettes in their room. The ability to open the door and have fresh air literally saved me from ending up in the ship hospital as I have severe allergies and asthma. However, amenities, bedding and service were very good.
Service: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 of 5
From the main dining room, to our cabin, we found the service to be excellent.
Cleanliness: 🌎🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5
Though the ship was older and needed to be updated, it was very clean. It probably did not hurt that we are “those people” who carry Lysol wipes, Purell wipes, liquid Purell and a gallon of Clorox Bleach absolutely everywhere on a ship (only kidding about half of those supplies, your guess which ones). See above comments about cigarette smoke as well, this was not just in our cabin, but throughout the ship. The smaller and older ship seemed to lack the air filtration system the larger ship had, or more people were smoking.
Entertainment: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. With that said, there were a couple of singers who were above average, and the productions were…entertaining. Honestly, we did not do any of the other activities that were available as we could not bring ourselves to intentionally be around more crowds than we already were, also…belly flop contest? No thanks. If you were involved in a lot of clubs in high school and are an activity joiner, mark up your daily cruise newsletter to plan for the following day.
Spa: 🌎🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5
There was no chiropractor on board to put my shoulder and neck back together, so I had a hot stone massage per the suggestion of the spa team. I was skeptical, but it was actually quite effective and relaxing. Go to the spa in the afternoon or evening of a day that the ship is in port, it is much less expensive than if you go during a day at sea.
Crowds: 🌎🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5
We judge crowds on a scale of Iceland, 0 to Tokyo, Japan, 5. With this in mind, if you are like us and allergic to people, take the stairs and avoid elevators, eat at random times, choose the later showtime for the productions. Most importantly, BYOB (wine actually, you cannot bring beer on board) and sit away from the crowds and people watch. Better yet, skip the large cruise and go to Iceland.
Food: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5
The food in the main dining room was average to above average, the food in their buffet restaurant, Windjammer was horrible to slightly less horrible. If you are a foodie or generally care about what you eat, maybe choose a different cruise line, or stay away from the buffet (also, hello Norovirus).
Ports: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 of 5
We chose this due to the port intensive itinerary and a cruise being the easiest way to see so many islands quickly.
Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎 of 5 on the GOA globe scale
I do not know that we are the appropriate people to review this type of cruise as we knew prior to setting sail, that we are not “cruise people,” we are discerning (judgmental) travelers who like a bargain, but also highly value personal space. If you are interested in only unpacking once, seeing a number of new destinations quickly and do not mind crowds, by all means, put on that bathing suit that is two sizes too small like everyone else on a cruise, douse yourself in Purell and go!
Stay tuned for part II, the best part, all about the Southern Caribbean ports!!