After we cruised with our best friends on the Monarch of the Seas back in September of 2011, I caught the "cruise bug" and ended up booking 3 more cruises, before we even set sail on the first of the three. We cruised the Western Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas back in November, and just over a week ago, we set sail on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas for another Western Caribbean Cruise.
We "tested the waters" with Rylie on the last cruise, and the whole family went on this one...including my mom. We booked two oceanview staterooms, with the kids in my mom's room, of course. ;-) Bryce was so excited for his first cruise, but he had no idea what to expect. When we finally arrived at the port and started walking up the gangway to the boat, he said "where is our seat?" Imagine his surprise when he found out that we had a room, rather than just a seat!
Let's talk about the whole "finally arrived" thing. Yes, we came close to missing ANOTHER ship! We couldn't leave until Rylie got back home from dance, and since it should have taken less than 2 hours to get to the port, we still thought we had plenty of time. Yeah, not so much. Between the horrendous traffic on I4 in Hillsborough County and Bryce's I-need-to-go-potty-NOW pit stop, we were literally the last people on the ship. Craziness! I think for our next cruise, we will be driving to the port the night before and staying in a hotel near the port.
Anyway...we finally boarded the Jewel of the Seas, and ended up walking around the whole 5th level deck before we figured out how to get inside. I was surprised that we didn't see too many people outside, and not that many inside once we got in. The kids (especially Bryce) thought it was so cool to be up so high on such a big boat, and they enjoyed walking around and looking out over the side of the ship.
We made it to our staterooms on Deck 3 and checked them out. The rooms were actually pretty spacious, and the adjoining door made them even bigger...especially since we had two bathrooms. Having the huge window was definitely a plus. The rooms were clean and the beds looked comfortable. We met our stateroom attendant, Robert, while we were there, and he gave me a card with his phone number on it in case we needed anything during the cruise.
We didn't have much time in our stateroom before we had to go to the Muster Drill. I was happy to find out that our emergency station was inside the dining room again, so we got to sit down while we listened to the emergency instructions. Of course we had to wait forever for it to get started because of all the late arrivals, but Bryce and Rylie found ways to keep themselves entertained.
We walked through the Schooner Bar on our way out of the Tides Dining Room, and Bryce had to play captain on the little ship that is in there.
After Bryce sailed Rylie around the world, we headed up to Deck 11 for the poolside Sail Away Celebration. It was a beautiful day! I love being up top like that when the ship sets sail, and the kids were excited to hear the horns blow and see the boat start moving down the channel and away from the dock.
Of course once Rylie and Bryce saw the pool, they wanted to go in. Brian took them down to the room to get their suits on while Mama and I checked out the pool bar and had a Mango Mojito to celebrate our first vacation together in a long time.
When Brian and the kids came back, we walked back to the kids' pool first. I really wasn't impressed with the overall size of the pool area, but the kids were perfectly happy to splash around and go down the small slide. The Jewel of the Seas also has a long, curvy water slide for the kids, but it is only open a couple hours a day and wasn't open then.
After playing in the kids' pool for a while, we all headed back to the main pool so we could listen to the tropical music and join the party. The main pool wasn't all that big, but it had plenty of space for the kids to play since it was a little windy and chilly and not many people were in it. Rylie was also happy to see the two "hot pools" next to the pool, and she loved the big fountain sprays at the sides of the pool.
I waited too long to add the My Time Dining to our reservation (where you can dine at any time you like), so we were stuck with the 6:00 dinner seating on Deck 5 in the Tides Dining Room. As expected, it was difficult to get the kids out of the pool, so we ended up being about 15 minutes late for dinner. We finally got everyone ready and headed to the dining room.
As we walked up to our assigned table, I saw a couple who were in their 80s, along with their daughter, and thought "well, this is going to be fun." I just know how my kids can be when out at a restaurant, so I figured that we were about to ruin dinner for these older folks. To my surprise, my kids were on their best behavior, and we actually had a very nice dinner. Kate (the daughter of Dorothy and Al) ended up being one of my pals for the whole cruise, and I *think* they all enjoyed being with the kids during dinner time. Whew!
The menu was the same as our last cruise, and I remembered not being very impressed with the choices on the first day. I stepped out of my comfort zone a little and tried the Eggplant and Artichoke Tart for my appetizer, and it was quite tasty. None of the main courses really appealed to me, so I went with one of the "favorites" which was a New York Strip Steak. I saw that Kate had sweet potatoes with her meal, so I asked for those instead of the baked potato, and they were awesome! I had the "BBB" Creme Brulee for dessert (I know one of the Bs was for banana, but I don't remember the other two) and it was absolutely delicious! I had told myself that I wanted to take pictures of the menu and my food every night at dinner, but I decided not to since I didn't want to bug our table mates and surrounding tables with the flash.
After we finished dinner, we went back to our stateroom to try and get things organized and unpacked a bit. We ended up going to bed a little early that night (or tried to, at least), because we knew we had a full day of fun ahead of us on Day 2.
When we were on the Liberty of the Seas, we ended up getting all of our cruise photos on a disc, so I took every opportunity for photos during this cruise. Unfortunately, and I didn't find this out until the next to the last night, the Jewel of the Seas doesn't have the technology available to offer photos on a disc, so we ended up with over 100 8x10 prints. Of course I still purchased them, because more than 30 of them were pretty great, but I have no clue what I am going to do with 32 8x10 photo prints! I scanned in a few of my faves to share in my posts, and here is the one I liked from Day 1...
Stay tuned for Days 2-5. Hopefully it won't take me months to get them all posted!
Jewel of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise - Day 2
Jewel of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise - Day 3
Jewel of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise - Day 4
Jewel of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise - Day 5
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