A Different Kind of Cruise
I wanted to compare my last cruise on Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, to something smaller. Jewel of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class ship. Due to their outward facing glass lifts they provide stunning views and are fondly referred to as ‘ships of light’.
One benefit of a smaller cruise ship like Jewel of the Seas, is getting access to more ports of call. You will find more detail regarding the onboard experience, at the end of this article. Let’s look at the destinations first of all.
The Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus tour was probably the best option for us, due to travelling with a child and an elderly man.
The traffic is slow as you would expect in a city and the bus stops very often and as a result seems like quite a while at each stop. It is a great value for money option at 17 Euros per person (Joshua was free). Driving around the city in the sunshine for an hour gives you a sense of the local culture.
My tip would be to fill your bag with essentials such as water and snacks, and make the most of the free wifi onboard.
After our bus tour, we took the long way back to the Jewel of the Seas via horse and cart. For just 20 Euros for 3 of us, it was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.
I have always wanted to visit Santorini. The mode of transport was a choice between donkey (which will hopefully be withdrawn in the near future), cable car or a hike up the mountain, so in this instance I decided against it. The majority of people disembarked the ship, as a result I was able to relax by the pool.
Mykonos is stunning, romantic, friendly, quaint and more. It was a short ferry ride from where we docked to the town.
The bus will take you to one of the stunning beaches. After the ferry ride, we took the option of wandering around the town, with a quick dip in the sea, followed by a relaxing lunch in a local taverna. The waterfront restaurant we went to was called Kavos. We ordered a bottle of local wine and the most delicious calamari I have ever tasted. It even beats my favourite seafood restaurant at home, Loch Fyne where I told you about the Best Oysters Ever. So we followed that with another bottle of wine and more calamari.
Athens and Kusadasi
While I love travelling and experiencing new things, cruising became attractive for me because, in addition to offering value for money, being onboard a cruise ship is a safe and convenient option when you are looking for to holiday in the sun with children. Athens and Kusadasi have amazing sights, but I will return to see them when Joshua is a bit older.
This was a great place to stroll off the ship and into the local village. The street is lined with shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, hats, handbags, clothes and various forms of art. There are restaurants, bars and coffee shops on the waters edge, for you to sample the local cuisine. The people are friendly and the goods are very reasonably priced. This is a great place to stock up on all your presents for people back at home.
Pro Tip – this was the cheapest place for duty free goods compared to everywhere else on our trip. The shop is right outside the ship as you disembark.
Onboard Jewel of the Seas
The currency used on all Royal Caribbean ships is the US Dollars.
Things to do
At the centre of the ship is the atrium which is 9 decks high. When you visit the loyalty desk on deck 12, just outside the Adventure Ocean kids club, you can stand on a glass platform and see the decks below.
I attended my first art auction purely due to the fact that free champagne was on offer, however, I really enjoyed it. You get to see a huge collection of amazing artwork. On entry you are given a complimentary print to keep and take home with you, and some raffle tickets for prizes drawn throughout the auction. So sit back and relax for an hour with your glass of bubbly and whatever you do, DON’T raise your hand!
Royal Caribbean offer great facilities for children and the Adventure Ocean program is fantastic. There are three sessions per day which are free of charge for children between the ages of 3 and 17. Almost all of the larger ships offer a drop off nursery for 6 months – 3 year olds. While this was not available on Jewel of the Seas, they did have a play area where parents could come in with their children. The toys were changed daily in addition to the free toy loan service as well.
I love formal night. Royal Caribbean don’t enforce a strict dress code, so you have the option to dress up or not. Personally I enjoy it, and although I am not one for souvenirs, I was pleased to add Jewel of the Seas to my collection of photos with the Captain.
In conclusion, Jewel of the Seas is a lovely ship. With great staff and facilities. We had the added benefit of fantastic ports of call and great weather. It seems like bigger is not always better when it comes to cruise ship sizes. It all depends on what you are looking to get from each cruise that matters.