We were literally cut off in the Coronavirus Epidemic so this review will be what happens when things go wrong. We are two upper 30s adults and our two kid, twin boy and girl who were seven and just shy of 8 when we sailed. This sailing was March 9th , so mid-cruise all cruises ceased operations, so this review will let you know how RCCL handles emergencies.
The first two days were in the port of Dubai, as we started on a Monday and didn't leave until Tuesday, the lines were small. They had you fill out a questionnaire, adults did it for the kids, that asked if you were feeling okay and check for virus symptons. You were also screened for a fever and upon arrival and at the cruise desk verbally asked to confirm the paper information again while they visually searched everyone's passport for stamps of effected areas. ( This search was also done at the airports leaving the state's and upon arrival in the UAE.)
It went quickly as we were fit to sail and we were having lunch by 2:30 pm, just before they closed at 4pm.
Now our first two days were spent in Dubai, click my name for a day by day review, but as far as port go it had more than enough to do, as day three they made an announcement that UAE had closed all ports and we were being forced, after a passenger was checked and cleared of the virus, to dock only in the UAE. Later in the week the second leg of our B2B was cancelled, as well as all cruises due to the pandemic. Thus we had some sea time, but we only ported in Dubai. While some people ventured to Abu Dhabi, it was about a 2ish hour car ride, we remained in town.
The good port is about 10ish kilometers ( according to the taxi/uber gps) to the metro or about a 25 minute cab ride (around 35 dirhams ($12ish) more when leaving the terminal) to the Dubai mall, where the Burj Khalafi also is located. Annoying for us as we like to do our owing touring. Depending on which terminal there is a free mall or outlet mall shuttle ( the outlet mall is far away unless you plan on visiting the theme parks). For the required can ride, I would prefer to embark and disembark there, but not use the cruise as a way to see Dubai.
That is always subjective, but we didn't go hungry. We enjoyed breakfast in both the buffet and dining rooms for different reasons, so we were pleased. Though they don't change the breakfast menu so it got old, but they have a buffet in the dinning room so it was a great place to get a quick and got meal as we could serve the kids and then order something like an omlete for ourselves.
We only had lunch in the Windjammer and they had staples that never changed, like pizza for the kids, but slight variation such as different stir fry dishes, that kept it exc iting.
The Solarium is the only place to get anything to eat after 9:30pm.They had pizzas,salads and some sandwiches ( and cookies that we devoured most evenings.) Not the best selection, but if you were hungry and didn't want to pay or wait for room service it was good enough. I will say do stop by for the cookies though.
We did the Chiefs Table and while the food and service was too notch, I don't think I would do it again. I will say they are very generous with their wine pours... I couldn't finish my last drink.
We had 2 connecting ocean view rooms, which normally are too expensive, but there wasn't really a difference for two or four in a room so we got two. If budget isn't a problem this is great as it allowed us to keep the rooms tidy and he ready faster. It was super easy to embark and disembark as we were about ten room away to the exit. The other way about ten rooms to the elevator and stairs, so we could get around super quickly. I really loved this location.
The more exotic itineraries don't attract too many kids ( so the kids's club monitors told me,that they don't see too many kids at all on this Jewel). with the Coronavirus scaring many away, my kids were usually the only ones in attendance, four was the most ever there. They didn't do their normal routine, so I can't really fault them for anything. They let my kids play and draw, while pretty much doing whatever game they were interested in, so for that they get high marks. Even though it was only my 2 kids, they always wanted to go so they did a good job.
There were a lot of wonderful themed bars on this ship, but we couldn't take advantage of too many because of the kids. If you have a drink package or like to hear music this would be a nice ship to just sit and and enjoy that atmosphere.
We never made it to one as we used the ship as a hotel.
We caught a movie on the deck and we really enjoyed doing that. I like that ships have these as they are a unique experience.
They had activities going on, but we were there to see the middle east not hang out. We passed music and other things like that daily so they were available we just didn't take part.
My daughter love the rock climbing all and my son enjoyed that little mini golf on board and the sports area. My only complaint was they were inconsistent with the times they were open and they would say they're open and then no one would be there.
They had a small kids pool with a slide that was the slowest thing on the planet and made everyone stuck, but it was there and the kids enjoyed it. It had very limited hours and was only open for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon so you couldn't take advantage of it often.
We were blown away that on the 3rd day they offered a full refund once they realize they couldn't sale anymore, though it is taking a long time, we did receive the taxes and port fees refund within days of leaving the ship, but not the cruise fair. I thought that was very generous and you could even get the gratuities refunded if you requested it. We stayed for the duration of the week so we left them and place, but immediately offering a refund I thought was very generous and a nice way to handle the whole epidemic fiasco. (Not what I heard other ships on other lines we're doing without a fight.) Now as a back to back passengers, they just left us hanging out to dry. They said we could talk to the port authority to help get accommodations, but they were not willing to help us at all get a place to say until our next week's airfare flight, though they did offer a generous $300 Change fee reimbursement. We are a big boy and girl so we were able to book our own accommodations, but if you needed help and did not book anything through them they were not offering it. You had to do it all yourself. Now I will say have we booked through them they were taking care of all of this for you. But with everything going on we had to cancel them it end up flying out the last day of the cruise because the UAE begin to close off the flights.
Because we had an early flight out we didn't get to experience the normal disembarkation procedure, but I will say by 5:45 AM almost all of the luggage was already out. If you left the ship before 6AM you had to clear your room charges the night before, but by the time we got up and we're heading out we had already gotten our statement delivered to the room. We left about 5:40AM. We took our own luggage since it was super easy, but also keep in mind in Dubai, you have to have your luggage scaned on the way out as well as on the way in. This check was also for every time you left the ship, they checked your bags going into the country (and your temperature because of the coronavirus with a thermal camera.)
While very stressful I was satisfied with the Jewel of the Seas and Royal Caribbean's response to the epidemic. We are diamond members now and will continue to sail with them because of how they handled the situation and the product they provide .
It was perfectly fine for 2 people but if we had to wish for and there it would have been a lot harder.I didn't like that the connecting door was all the way toward the window.