August 2015 - 7 Night Alaska Sawyer Glacier (Seattle Roundtrip) Cruise on Jewel of the Seas
First cruise on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas to Alaska. Smooth departure from Seattle. Exactly as described by family and friends- we were politely herded on the ship for photo ops and beverage plan sales pitches then lunch at a very busy but abundant buffet at the WindJammer. Be prepared to fight for window seats.
Balcony stateroom on deck eight was small as expected but had everything we needed including safe, flat screen tv,decent closet, hairdryer,shampoo,soap, etc. Stateroom was a little worn but very clean and the balcony had ample room for our family of three and our empty luggage stacked in the corner. Our stateroom attendant was very attentive and on duty most the day.
We chose the stateroom because we were told it slept 4 with a king bed and pull out couch but was advised by the attendant it was safer to use the pull down bunk over the bed for our child so not to block the entrance in case of an emergency.We ended up using the pull down bunk only once because the metal ladder to the bunk was too difficult to use. By the end of the week, we were all sleeping in the king bed-luckily, it was big enough.
We ate most of our meals in the Windjammer because it had more options for our family, including a soft serve machine and balloon animals made by the door greeters who also reminded guests to use the hand sanitizers. Some greeters actually made it a game-balanced sanitizer bottles on their heads which the kids enjoyed.
Our family enjoyed most the entertainment provided. The Jewel of the Sea's singers and dance troop were talented but the show music in the productions was dated. The musicians playing around the ship were amazing professionals but the main area they played in was small with limited seating taken by what seemed to be the same people every day leaving others to watch from higher balconies.
The cruise director was also very entertaining but at times came off like he was working more a summer camp than a cruise.
The ship's naturalist was very knowledgable-her lectures were always interesting.
Excursions through the ship were well worth the expense. In Juneau we saw humpback whales bubble feeding and other wild life on the coastline on a boat tour. In Skagway we took a bus tour to see sled dogs and mine for gold all our child enjoyed immensely. As the cruise director liked to say, we had a lot of liquid sunshine but it didn't stop us from enjoying the amazing sight of the Sawyer glacier,waterfalls and a surprise landslide and ice calving.
Somewhat smooth cruise. We did have one rocky night on board but crew around the ship and in the dining halls were helpful with advice-one being sour green apples. Who knew!
We did wish they had more children's activities, more than one children's movie(they offered "Bear")and that they allowed children to swim in the enclosed Solarium pool especially on windy, chilly days which we had more than a few. We saw families kicked out of the Solarium a few times. Some families resorted to putting their kids in the outside pool's hot tubs.
What we didn't enjoy about the cruise- .
The charging for hot chocolate on the morning we saw the Sawyer Glacier. They said there would be hot chocolate available but you had to buy a large plastic cup to get it.
The slow elevators.
No wifi and not enough outlets in the staterooms. Wifi was spotty but when we did have it it was difficult to find a place to use it. Seating in public areas was limited.
No announcements ahead of time about professional photo ops other than for formal nights. We were told before the cruise they took pictures at Sawyer Glacier but we never heard an announcement about it. We later saw pictures that they did it in the gallery.
We also didn't enjoy the constant reminders from the crew members during the last two days to complete the cruise survey. It got to be a bother.
In all it was a decent first cruise experience but a truly great opportunity to see some of Alaska.