I got in yesterday from my trip to Rome and cruise to Greece and figured I'd try and do a general review of it while it's fresh on my mind - focusing on the cruise. Let's be honest. The fact that this was a Greek Isles cruise - ONLY Greek Isles (other than embarkation/debarkation) is what sold me on this. I'll cover these in later posts in this thread. This initial post is only the ship/general cruise experience. The Basics... I booked this cruise over a year ago using Hilton Hhonors Cruises - I liked the itinerary, they offered a no-deposit deal plus points, and I have liked the Radiance Class ships, which Jewel is. A friend later commented how jealous she was of the trip, and I spontaneously offered to find out how much it would be to add her to my stateroom. It was doable, so she signed on. We met in Rome for a couple of nights prior to heading to Civitavecchia (aka the "port of Rome"). The Ship... Jewel of the Seas is a Radiance Class ship. One of Royal's smaller classes with lots of glass to the outside but not all the bells and whistles the behemoths have. She does have a casino which allows smoking in about half...though the stench permeates the entire area. She is in good repair - I didn't notice anything glaringly not right. The Cabin... We had a balcony cabin - deck 9, the first room on the portside hall. Slight obstruction from "skin" but nothing horrid. We could look into the Bridge (one level up), so there was a light if we looked directly towards the bow. It didn't bother me, but it might some. Beds were fine - right next to the balcony as opposed to next to the bathroom, so that was interesting. One bathroom - a tad small for me. The shower had a plexiglass cylinder with sliding doors rather than a curtain. I have never had issues with the curtains, but it was nice. Our cabin host kept it clean and nice. The Crew... Now we're getting into some of my issues. Overall I felt like the service has slipped a bit. I don't know if Royal is just focusing all the attention on the big girls, but I definitely felt much more of an apathetic vibe from the crew. The cruise director was completely nondescript. If I hadn't gone to ONE show (more on that in a moment) where she introduced it, I would have thought the Activities Director was the CD as he was much more outgoing. Not that that is saying a ton. One thing I did notice was a difference in how the crew reacted to people. I use the DCL lanyards I bought my parents and me for our first DCL cruise (the navy blue ones with the wallet-like card holder - that is OBVIOUSLY Disney) because I have it and I know Royal doesn't provide them. More than once I'd encounter crew on stairs or in the hall, and noticed that while they did not acknowledge people walking a bit in front of me, the moment they saw the lanyard they were all "Hello! How are you?" Almost like they knew what someone who has cruised DCL enough to have one of their lanyards for use would have certain expectations. Ditto my experience with Shore Excursions (it was a "next guest" without looking up followed immediately by a visible shift in facial expression and attentiveness the moment the lanyard was spotted) and Guest Services (very similar when I went on the last night to close my account - SHOCKINGLY they had all of TWO people out there actually interacting with guests (while THREE computers sat idle) and one girl was on the phone for a full 30 minutes out at the counter - quite opposite to my experience with DCL where the last day ALL the terminals have been staffed and anything that will take that long on the phone is handled in the office and NOT at the counter). I'll touch on the dining in more detail momentarily, but let's just say it took me filling out the mid-cruise food check-in card and putting our cabin number on it for our head waiter to really get involved in our ordering process. Entertainment... Or more specifically lack thereof. It was horrid. There was ONE production show - City of Dreams, which I learned the hard way to avoid like the plague when I cruised on the Radiance - the entire week. They did have Tango Buenos Aires one night - which used the singers and dancers as back up for a professional tango couple...the exact same ones I'd seen on Brilliance two years ago. It was tolerable. The other nights they had contortionists (ew), a Motown cover group that was awful (I lasted a song and a half) and one act that I could not figure out what he was from the Cruise Compass description and did not want to chance going. There is a casino, but it allows smoking in half of it so the stench permeates the whole area. I'm not into gambling anyway, so a casino is not a draw for me. There are 2 pools and a small slide/play area. 1 pool is adult only. The slide is mainly for kids. Dining... I am gluten-free, so my food needs are a little different than your standard cruiser. They do have a "corner" labeled in the buffet at lunch and dinner, though it has gone from a whole pod to one side. Curries featured heavily in this. I usually cobbled together my own thing from things I knew were safe at lunch. Breakfast they don't even bother marking an area - probably because it's pretty easy to know what is and isn't safe at breakfast? I can say the eggs on the buffet are not powdered - more than once I found shells in them. Ew! They had bread, but no bagels or any other kind of pastry option. The MDR could do French toast (not bad) or pancakes (WAY too cakey for my taste), but it's the standard fill the tables thing there, so not my favorite thing in the morning. My friend had her own food thing, so we both ended up pre-ordering our dinners. While they have put some non-mousse-type desserts on the menu that are gluten-free (even a pineapple upsidedown cake...coconut figured heavily in that which was weird), I felt like my options on the menu had gone WAY down. To be fair, they have severely trimmed the menus in general - gone are the delicious cold fruit soup appetizers other than one night - but the items marked as gluten-free were VERY limited. Speaking of marking/labeling, there was a LOT of inconsistency with the menus both in marking what was gluten-free - a dish with farro (most definitely NOT gluten-free) was marked gluten-free (and our head server tried to convince me that farro doesn't have gluten) while Caprese Salad (tomatoes and mozzarella) was not?? - and in what was on the menu actually being on the plate - one night a dish listed "parsnip mash" as the side, but it was legit mashed potatoes; one dish listed an aioli as the topping but it was a marmalade. As I indicated above, once I filled out that survey our head server was all involved in the ordering and was all "You can order even things off the menu and if we have the ability we will make them". But it should NOT have taken me filling out a survey for that to happen. It should have been made clear from night 1. Our servers did try their best - but culinary has really left them all hanging out to dry with the menu changes and inconsistencies. I do have to note that if you have special food issues, if there is a night where the ship is in port late and they are going to do "open seating" in the main dining room (meaning no one has a reservation or a set time), plan on either the buffet if it is an option for you or a specialty restaurant. They could not find my pre-order even with my stateroom number, my table number, and my servers' names the night we were in Santorini. I was hot, tired, dehydrated, and hungry and was virtually in tears asking them to just let me order for the next night and I'd just go to the Windjammer before a head server got involved and found everything. In summary... Fortunately this was a fairly port-intensive cruise with only 2 sea days, so I was kept occupied with the ports and planning (I'll cover excursions when I do the individual ports). If there had been more than that...I don't know. I have liked the Radiance Class ships before, but I really feel like they might be trying to kill them (and other smaller ships) in favor of the big girls, which I have no desire to cruise on. IF the itinerary is right, I might consider a RCCL cruise again, but this one has definitely left me with pause about it. I've got one DCL cruise booked and will be booking one for Presidents' Week later this year. I'm already thinking ahead to some special Europe cruise or trip for my 50th birthday in 2021 and am fairly sure that even with the cost I'll do Disney. Definitely Disney leads over Royal at this moment for me - definitely a case where the total value of the cruise includes all aspects, and based on this experience, Disney is leaps and bounds ahead; at least if you don't want to jump to the big girls, which I don't. It makes me sad to say/think this as I've had 2 good experiences with Radiance Class ships - this one just left me severely underwhelmed.