Independence of the Seas is a ship for all ages. Whether you're a family with children, group of friends or an active couple, the ship's rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink and Broadway-style shows are sure to keep you busy. When you need to unwind, head to one of the cantilevered hot tubs overlooking the ocean or treat yourself to a spa day. Worked up an appetite? "Indy" is packed with a variety of dining options -- from old-fashioned hamburgers and fries at Johnny Rockets to fine Italian dining at Giovanni's table. To help you navigate the ship, check out our five best Independence of the Seas cruise tips.
Tip 1: Dont Miss the Royal Promenade Show
When it comes to evening entertainment, Independence of the Seas is on its "A game." Studio B offers spectacular ice shows, while the Alhambra Theater puts on a number of Broadway-style performances. But don't miss what goes down in the Royal Promenade. The ship's energetic "Main Street" -- lined with shops, bars and cafes -- is home to evening parties, concerts and parades with a street-festival vibe. If you aren't shy, we encourage you to dress up and dance along.
Tip 2: You Can Escape the Sun Deck Crowds
The main pool is a sea day hot spot on the 3,634-passenger Independence of the Seas. It's where you'll find pool contests, music, an outdoor TV screen and most of the lounge chairs. But if you're not a fan of the crowds, or just in the mood to soak up some sun with a good book, head to Deck 12 aft. Below the FlowRider surf simulator, there's an unfrequented deck space with lounge chairs overlooking the back of the ship. You'll still get noise from the FlowRider, but it's nothing compared to the main pool.
Tip 3: Snag Tickets for the Ice Show Early
Held in the Studio B rink, the ice-skating shows -- which rotate between Freeze Frame and Strings -- can't be missed. But because they're in high demand (word gets around) and tickets are first come, first served, you should get them early. Royal Caribbean's daily newsletter will inform you when tickets can be picked up on your cruise, but we recommend keeping an eye on the booth -- located in the Royal Promenade -- the first day. Sometimes it opens early. Once it does, passengers can form a massive line in seconds.
Tip 4: Don't Wear a Hat When Playing Mini-Golf
Between the rock-climbing wall, surf simulator and pool contests, you can easily get tuckered out onboard Independence of the Seas. If you're in the mood for a slower-paced outdoor activity, head to Deck 13 for a nine- or 18-hole round of mini-golf -- but leave your hat in the cabin. The upper deck gets windy, especially on sea days. With that in mind, it might not be a good idea to wear a dress or skirt, either.
Tip 5: Soothe Your Muscles in a Cantilevered Hot Tub
There are six hot tubs on Independence of the Seas, and two of them offer some of the best views on the ship. Even better: No kids are allowed. Tucked away in the Solarium, an adults-only pool area with a bar, the hot tubs are cantilevered off the port and starboard sides so it feels like you're floating over the ocean. As relaxing as it sounds, don't expect the hot tubs to be empty. The Solarium tends to get crowded on sea days. If you want to enjoy some quiet time in the hot tub, go on a port day or at sailaway.