I took two cruises on the exact Royal Caribbean ship – and they were totally different

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If you are somebody who cruises frequently with the similar cruise line, you have most likely set sail on the same cruise ship far more than the moment. Dependent on wherever you sail and who you cruise with, currently being on the exact ship can really feel like a totally diverse practical experience. 

Not to point out, if a cruise ship has been a short while ago refurbished with new additions and amplifications, this can completely rework the onboard expertise. Just simply because you are sailing on the same ship, it’s not likely that you will have the exact working experience two times. 

I just returned from a 12-evening sailing onboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas to go to Iceland with my husband. This was not the very first time that we had sailed onboard Jewel of the Seas. Again in December 2018, we cruised on Jewel of the Seas with spouse and children for a 7-night time Caribbean sailing from San Juan. 

A five year change experienced a large influence on our perception of Jewel of the Seas and the onboard working experience. Even though I believed I understood what to be expecting from our prior working experience onboard, I was mistaken. Our Iceland sailing on Jewel of the Seas was absolutely different than sailing on the exact same ship in the Caribbean five a long time earlier – and not just due to the fact of the significantly distinctive local climate and itinerary!

Right here is how our activities differed whilst sailing on the same Royal Caribbean ship. 

Jewel of the Seas is a Radiance Class ship that to start with debuted in 2004, building her approximately 20 decades previous. 

The Radiance Class ships are Royal Caribbean’s 2nd oldest in the cruise line’s fleet. Jewel of the Seas, along with her sister ships, is a stark distinction from Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, which are huge floating resorts that hold triple the quantity of passengers.

These ships are considered small to midsize and maintain appropriate around 2,700 passengers, building them excellent for port-intense itineraries to off-the-beaten-path cities. I’ve also sailed on all of Jewel’s sister ships, some even many times, so I contemplate myself a Radiance Course cruise expert at this position (kidding!!). This is probably because I am location-pushed when booking cruises and Radiance Course ships tend to sail extra appealing itineraries. 

When I first sailed on Jewel of the Seas in 2018, the ship had just been given a $30 million investment decision for refurbishment.

With refreshed staterooms and a bow-to-stern makeover, we experienced no gripes about the ship’s appearance, amenities or in general affliction back then. In simple fact, everything felt fairly refreshing and up-to-date, while Jewel of the Seas has never had the same bells and whistles that you will locate on newer and more substantial ships.

For the duration of this dry dock in 2016, Jewel of the Seas received the addition of Giovani’s Table and Izumi Sushi although disappointingly eradicating one particular of the couple complimentary eating solutions onboard, Seaview Cafe.

When we booked this cruise, my partner and I were 23 and freshly married. We have been residing on a substantially tighter budget back again then as well. We booked the most economical cabin onboard to make our finances stretch as significantly as attainable. In point, we booked by means of a web-site called iCruise to preserve an added $500 (a thing I would never do right now). We booked that cruise due to the fact of the dates and the fascinating itinerary, with special stops like Granada and Dominica.

The whole price of our cruise on Jewel of the Seas in December 2018 was $2,063 for an outside cabin, which was oddly much less expensive than an inside stateroom. I keep in mind contemplating this was astronomical in comparison to other cruises we had taken for fifty percent the cost in faculty, but this was mainly thanks to the point this sailing was more than New Years Eve. 

At the time, we ended up both equally Diamond As well as users since my spouse inherited my Crown and Anchor Status when we ended up married. 

Onboard Jewel of the Seas in 2018, we had a great Caribbean getaway with family, even ringing in the New Yr onboard! 

Every single night, we would sit outside the house in the Concierge Lounge and sip on our endless cocktails during happy hour. This was back again when Diamond Plus customers could check out the Concierge Lounge onboard and drinks did not involve vouchers in the course of joyful hour. 

We sailed with initially time cruisers who raved about the cruise knowledge, notably the foods in the eating home. My partner indulged each evening with his favorite escargot and everyone cherished lobster night. We ate each night in the key dining room since we did not experience like splurging on specialty eating, nor did anyone in the loved ones. 

Although we had paid what felt like a premium, the onboard encounter felt fairly luxurious as we sailed in the heat Caribbean solar. We beloved seeing the sweeping sights of the ocean with Jewel of the Seas’ floor-to-ceiling windows and outward experiencing glass elevators.

Quickly forward to 2023 and we found ourselves booking a cruise on Jewel of the Seas once again, this time heading to Iceland. 

Five many years down the road, we booked Jewel of the Seas yet again for a 12-night time experience to Iceland This was completely vacation spot-pushed, as Iceland has been at the top of our bucket checklist and we desired to go to this summertime. 

We appeared at both Celeb Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, but Royal Caribbean’s pricing could not be defeat for practically 50 % the value. Of study course, our daily consume vouchers are an astounding perk as nicely. We compensated $3,000 for a balcony ensure, as we desired to have our own private veranda to get in all the internet sites of Iceland. 

I was not surprised to see that Jewel of the Seas was sailing to Iceland this summertime, as the ship’s dimension is excellent to pay a visit to the ports of connect with on our itinerary. The just about 3-acres’ value of glass in the course of the ship make it perfect for scenic cruises. Just after our prior sailing in 2018, we had rather fair anticipations about what the cruise would be like – or so we thought.

Almost immediately, we recognized that Jewel of the Seas essential an additional refurbishment to modernize the cruise ship.

Even though Jewel of the Seas is almost 20 years previous, we were being shocked to see the ship’s general condition experienced absent down hill quite a little bit. It was apparent to us that Jewel of the Seas wanted one more refurbishment. 

To get started, there was a broken window around the Cafe Latitude coffee store! I was shocked to see this window fully shattered, despite the fact that I presume it (with any luck ,) did not pose a protection danger considering the fact that it was remaining unfixed. This was virtually as astonishing as the time we noticed duck tape on a window when cruising on Carnival’s oldest ship, Ecstasy, previous summer time. 

In addition, other locations of the ship experienced a seemingly odd smell when we would wander by way of, which was something that we experienced not discovered just before.

Our stateroom also had a large amount of wear and tear. The drawers and desk were being all seriously worn, along with the balcony. Our carpet had some stains as effectively, which had been a little bit off-putting. Thankfully, we had an outstanding stateroom attendant and felt that assistance on the ship was just as fantastic as we experienced remembered.

Had this been my to start with practical experience with Royal Caribbean, I truthfully would not have been tremendous impressed by these weakened regions. This did not negatively effects our cruise by any signifies, but it was undoubtedly noteworthy compared to our former time onboard. 

We skipped acquiring accessibility to the Concierge Lounge and other loyalty added benefits that have considering that transformed. 

Royal Caribbean’s put up-pandemic comeback has led to some alterations to the Crown and Anchor loyalty program, the two fantastic and lousy. A person of the most important adjustments has been the addition of everyday drink vouchers, together with the removing of Concierge Lounge obtain for Diamond As well as users. 

Again in 2018, we loved likely to the Concierge Lounge on Jewel of the Seas. Every night time before evening meal with family, we sipped on our endless cocktails as the ship sailed into the sunset. 

(Still left: Concierge Lounge in 2018. Proper: Diamond Lounge in 2023). 

These times, Diamond Moreover customers are no for a longer period capable to obtain the Concierge Lounge with current changes designed to the loyalty method. 

As we crammed into the Diamond Lounge on our modern Iceland cruise, we had been a bit bummed wondering about how this reward experienced been taken away. Acquiring additional room with less people today made it come to feel a lot more profitable and unique. My partner also misses the limitless beverages all through pleased hour, whilst our 23-calendar year-aged alcoholic beverages tolerances are a little bit various than right now!

With additional Diamond members than at any time ahead of, the lounge was packed to the brim pretty much just about every night. We struggled to come across seats most evenings until we came a great deal later on. Thankfully, possessing the vouchers removes the want to go to the lounge completely, but we do love the views, company and in general firm. 

A further tiny, but notable, variance was the loyalty presents been given in our cabin. 

Wanting back at images from 2018, I was stunned to see a huge loyalty basket with cheese and fruit, which had been gifted to us for remaining Diamond Plus users. We also acquired chocolate covered strawberries and other petite treats through that cruise.

During our the latest Iceland sailing, we gained a little plate with a bruised banana, orange and apple with a notice that said “Compliments of the Chef”. This was… an intriguing option, to say the minimum!

Now, I am not anticipating just about anything more than the prime below, as I do appreciate any recognition of loyalty from Royal Caribbean but, comparatively talking, the change from certainly warm and welcoming gifts to this obligatory, fairly unfortunate-seeking token of appreciation was a little bit disappointing. Others onboard also uncovered this reward a bit questionable, as it was a hot matter on our Fb sailing webpage!

A single of the biggest, and most disappointing, variances we recognized was the modify in the key dining room’s foods high quality.

The most controversial transform within Royal Caribbean has the rollout of new menus in the principal eating room before this yr. Even though we liked our food on earlier cruises this year, we felt there was a obvious decline in the high quality of primary eating space food items onboard Jewel of the Seas.

Because this was a lengthier cruise currently being 12 nights, we opted to guide the Chops + 1 eating offer so we had a minor assortment in our eating choices. We also planned to employ our BOGO eating benefit as Diamond Additionally associates, alongside with scheduling an evening at Chef’s Table. As these, we had 5 evenings in the specialty dining establishments all through our cruise. 

The other nights we ate in the dining room, and when the company was fantastic, the food stuff was very hit or miss out on. While we truly liked some entrees, other individuals have been quite bland and reduced excellent. This was a major disappointment for us, as we cherished the key dining expertise when we sailed on Jewel of the Seas in 2018.

The menu alterations are additional subjective, though my partner missed his nightly escargot. The deficiency of complimentary lobster was also a bummer, as this is a highlight commonly through his cruises. 

With the most important dining room remaining hit or overlook, we commenced debating if we really should splurge extra on specialty eating. 

Certainly, again in 2018, we would have never ever justified expending extra on a a lot more upscale dining experience. We ended up newly married and budget-busting previously to sail on a holiday getaway itinerary. 

Having said that, and most importantly, we also did not sense the have to have to go after specialty eating because we experienced great experiences in the key dining area. 

This was a huge distinction for us in 2023. We are not picky eaters, but we do enjoy the culinary working experience when we cruise. There ended up a handful of evenings that we debated heading back again to the specialty dining restaurants simply just since specific menus genuinely did not charm to us. 

But, probably that is element of Royal Caribbean’s business tactic to push a lot more attendees to specialty dining and away from the complimentary alternatives, specially all those willing to splurge.

We also found the ship’s complimentary dining schedule did not align properly with our European itinerary. 

Simply because we were being sailing all-around Europe, our times were a lot for a longer time than a normal Caribbean sailing. Returning to the ship close to 4pm or afterwards, we struggled to find substantially for complimentary dining. 

The Windjammer closed just about every working day from 3pm to 6:30pm, leaving just the very small Solarium Cafe as an possibility with the exact sandwiches each and every day till evening meal. This was a bummer for us and others who had late eating or My Time Dining. 

Given that most folks were being also spending very long days in port, it was disappointing not to have additional complimentary eating solutions. I would have cherished choices like Cafe Promenade, El Loco Refreshing or Sorrento’s Pizza onboard with additional availability and choice. 

This was also the situation late at night time. All people crammed into the corner of the Solarium for late-night pizza and snacks, but the tiny Solarium Cafe could not keep up with everyone’s starvation. 

This was not an issue that we seen on Jewel of the Seas back in 2018. Possibly the Windjammer is closed extra or the ship’s dining routine does not align nicely with the standard speed of a European cruise. Either way, it seemed like this was an unusual challenge to have on a cruise. 

Eating gripes apart, Jewel of the Seas’ outward-dealing with style and design actually shined during our scenic itinerary in Iceland. 

Jewel of the Seas was a terrific ship to sail all-around Iceland, primarily as our ship weaved in and out of the magnificent fjords. We could see sweeping views from not only our balcony, but also from the glass elevators and flooring-to-ceiling home windows. 

Using a cruise to the Caribbean is not typically very scenic, at least not for the the vast majority of your sailing. Most of the time, at the time you leave port, you will getting observing ocean for miles upon miles. This is not the situation for locations like Iceland, exactly where you can see mountains, waterfalls and fjords even several hours after leaving port. 

Jewel of the Seas was the great measurement for this itinerary. We docked in distant ports in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle that had as small as 2,000 individuals living there hence, a mega-ship holding 6,000 passengers would not have gotten the work completed. 

At the close of the working day, 5 several years seemingly made a massive variation in our perception of Jewel of the Seas. 

Boarding a cruise ship that you have sailed on ahead of inherently provides up nostalgic memories. I have been sailing on Royal Caribbean ships considering that I was 10 several years aged, so I have a life span of particular reminiscences tied to these cruise ships. I have observed the enterprise evolve and adjust with some good changes and other not-so-terrific adjustments. 

Becoming again on Jewel of the Seas experienced us reminiscing on that treasured time in our lives back again in 2018. Most likely these rose-coloured eyeglasses performed into our current notion of the ship way too. Concerning alterations in the dining, loyalty benefits and the ship’s all round issue, the encounters onboard had been incredibly diverse. 

Involving 2018 and 2023, Jewel of the Seas has undoubtedly aged – just like my spouse and I have too. But, our perception has also changed. Getting a little bit a lot more set up, we no more time have to pinch pennies to extend our cruise budget. Perhaps we have a bigger cruising regular now immediately after getting in a position to afford larger-finish ships and cruise traces in the past five yrs. 

Boarding Jewel of the Seas yet again and producing this article was like getting a journey down memory lane. Back in 2018, we were being newly married with a model-new dog waiting around for us again property. We also experienced a hugely expected transfer absent from the Midwest to get started my husband’s army service. We named that Caribbean cruise our ‘last hurrah’ just before we knew daily life would change significantly. 

Now, life appears a whole lot diverse, just as Jewel of the Seas does also. Cruise ships can actually transportation us back again to specified eras of lifestyle. Though this write-up was a bit much more sentimental than I meant, I feel that is what cruising is all about – producing lifelong recollections with the people today we appreciate most.

Stepping again on to Jewel of the Seas fifty percent a ten years later on resurfaced a lot of memories for us. We beloved each of these cruises, even if our notion of the ship and onboard experience has altered time beyond regulation.  It is outrageous to assume how 5 much more many years will change the Radiance Class – and I am eager to see how (or if) Royal Caribbean modernizes these cruise ships.