Sail Date: January 2015
We just came back from an 8 day cruise on RCCL's Independence of the Seas. This was my 5th RCCL and I have another 5 on Carnival. We are Platinum members and traveled in a group of 17 which included Emerald customers. Let me say this ... Read More
We just came back from an 8 day cruise on RCCL's Independence of the Seas. This was my 5th RCCL and I have another 5 on Carnival. We are Platinum members and traveled in a group of 17 which included Emerald customers. Let me say this may be our last RCCL cruise. What a huge disappointment. Comparing this to prior cruises, it is clear the company has cut staff. This was evident from housekeeping, to the closing of bars at night to the dining staff. A great example was we booked 7 for Chops Grille. It was a fiasco from the moment we booked it. They had 1 waiter who was also the busboy, drink waiter and assistant waiter. We were missing appetizers, never never got our coffee, the meal took over 3 hours, it was so dark we all had to use our I phones to read the menus and they overcharged us for 5 meals which I had prepaid. When I flagged down the head waiter, he turned it over to someone else to deal with because he too was serving meals and bussing tables. No one ever came over to ask how our meal was. The best was my son, who is 23, is a vegetarian. He joined us for dinner because the menu clearly states Gluten and Vegetarian options available, ask your server. We asked our server and he replied, this is a steak house. No kidding.... however one of my kids, who was part of the party, wanted to join us and the menu claims to have options. He ordered a salad and then the waiter went next door to the Italian restaurant and their chef made him a special main dish. Guess what he made him for dinner, a salad. I am so glad I paid extra for him to eat 2 salads. The main dining room was just as bad. My husband and had 2 drinks spilled on him in the main dining room and no one came over to apologize or offer to have his clothes cleaned. Spilled drinks happen and we understand that but please, at least offer to clean his shirt and pants. I learned alcoholic after dinner drinks are sticky and smell after a while. Each meals took forever. We had 6:00 dining and a few nights we were leaving as the late seating was waiting to come in. Ice tea, forget it, our glasses remained empty most of the time. We didn't fare any better at the disco. They had a Michael Jackson dance hour and when we showed up they were playing obscure Michael Jackson songs. Doesn't Michael Jackson have a large enough library of songs you know and can dance too? When we said something we were told by the DJ over the speaker he was doing an hour of Michael Jackson and if we didn't like it we can leave. That was an easy decision, we left and the dance floor was open. A suggestion, when you play "dance" music play the matching videos on the screen. One of our travel companions ordered a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri on the pool deck and the bartender put alcohol in it. She had the upgraded drink card that offers specialty non alcoholic drinks, sode, coffee and juice. He took her card, told her she had to pay for the drink. She told him she asked for a non alcoholic drink and he said she didn't. Basically calling her a liar. Thankfully there were 2 other people at the bar, whom she didn't know, who told the bartender they heard her say virgin. He took the drink and thew it away. He was clearly upset, made a new one and put it In front of another bar patron who had to slide it over to her. How about an I'm sorry I did not hear you instead of attitude. This was my daughter in law's 4th cruise and she has always gotten such a kick out of the towel animals. We got 3 out of an 8 day cruise. The Emerald group never got the items they requested In their rooms. I have many more stories from this trip just like the ones above but the cruise ended on the funniest note that just summarized our experience. We had a few people celebrating birthdays. One of the group ordered a cake on line for his wife. He then went downstairs to talk about the delivery. They asked him his wife's name. That night the cake was delivered to their room. It read Happy Birthday but it was in Spanish, Feliz Cumpleanos. That was really sweet except she does not read, write or speak Spanish, he did not ask for it to be in Spanish and of course it did not have her name in it. She kept the cake since it summed up how this trip went down. A few positives, the ship is clean. However some of the artwork is just weird. I can't figure out if they have a theme or just walked through an art gallery pointing to pictures. Most of the staff tried. They just seemed overworked and totally, severely understaffed. Perhaps this is causing the poor attitudes. I blame ownership for this. We saw one of the wait staff being dressed down by a manager in the dining room. This is inappropriate and should never take place on the floor. I blame management for this. Maybe management needs retraining? The ports were great and even with all the hiccups, had a good time. The beds were comfortable and getting on and off the boat was a breeze. The wait staff in the Windjammer at night were way better so we ate their most of the time. When we did complain to Customer Relations, they had managers called us but really, what could they do at that point? The meal at Chops was already done and not worth the extra charge. We missed hooking up with the other people in our group because the meal was painfully long. They did take my husbands shirt and pants and had them cleaned but that was only after we said something 3 days later. They would not have offered if we didn't say something. They told us they would speak to the DJ and bartender but to what end? The damage was done and they have lost not only us but most of the people in our party including the Emerald couple. Their are many other cruise lines available who would love to take our money. They will get that opportunity. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
This was our 14th cruising experience. We had a delightful week. As Platinum members with RC, embarkation was a breeze in Ft. Lauderdale. We got there a day early and enjoyed a stroll down Seabreeze Blvd. Saturday morning along the beach. ... Read More
This was our 14th cruising experience. We had a delightful week. As Platinum members with RC, embarkation was a breeze in Ft. Lauderdale. We got there a day early and enjoyed a stroll down Seabreeze Blvd. Saturday morning along the beach. Had dinner at Coconut Waterside Grill Friday night - wonderful and we're sure to return. Love the Independence of the Seas. Size of ship offers enhanced amenities, Best fitness room ever. it seems so much easier to get around that on other ships over the years. Dinner room staff and room steward were certainly pleasant and adequate, no complaints, but didn't stand out in comparison. Had a few minor issues/encounters with staff, and they were superb in the attitude and ability to resolve issues. Food was good, entertainment was fun, at sea days were fun - no rain but a little too much wind, ports were very good - St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, Labadee. Wasn't especially looking forward to San Juan or Labadee, but both proved to be enjoyable days. Walking around San Juan is very nice. Labadee feels like Disney Caribbean. Wish we had skipped the excursion in St. Maarten (Philipsburg) and just enjoyed the public beach by the water taxi depot. All ports had dock facilities, so we didn't have to suffer tenders. Bought the unlimited WIFI package which covers two devices and shared with friend. WIFI service gets better and better. We had a 10 bottle wine package we had bought pre-cruise, but apparently they are now doing away with those packages. Based on our cruising experience, RC is certainly our prefer cruise ship company in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Cruised Jan 25 to 31, 2015. Was very impressed with the balcony stateroom on the port side. The steward was very friendly, helpful and kept our cabin spotless, Had a special dinner in the Giovanni restaurant, the staff were all ... Read More
Cruised Jan 25 to 31, 2015. Was very impressed with the balcony stateroom on the port side. The steward was very friendly, helpful and kept our cabin spotless, Had a special dinner in the Giovanni restaurant, the staff were all accomodating and had great voices for the "Happy Birthday" song to my husband. In the British Pub, Ralph was an awesome waiter and knew our drink as soon as we entered. Dining room, 1st sitting, table 308, we were served by terrific servers, who knew all of the names of everyone on the table after the first night and greeted us each evening with our names. The entertainment staff were a lot of fun and very hardworking. Zumba at the pool on a morning was good. Tom, the dance teacher was a good mover and had great songs to move too. The only negative things I found was that too many of the activities had to be paid for over and above the price of the cruise, which were included in previous cruises that we have done, however saying that there was still plenty to occupy your time. The buffet wasn't open for late night dining/snack, and if you wanted a snack - again you had to pay extra. The customer service desk staff and excursion staff were very helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We have been members of cruise critic since 2004 , changed user names , and rejoined in 2006. This was our 42nd cruise, having just returned from the Freedom western in December. We were celebrating our 45th anniversary so opted to use a ... Read More
We have been members of cruise critic since 2004 , changed user names , and rejoined in 2006. This was our 42nd cruise, having just returned from the Freedom western in December. We were celebrating our 45th anniversary so opted to use a junior suite for our voyage. We chose 9548 as have been on this class before in the same suite and liked the location being several rooms from the forward entrance to the elevators. I will add now that this area, even being forward was very quiet in the halls, and never had any noise in the cabin the entire voyage. This elevator is so close making going to the shows, port debarkation and general commuting to deck 5 and the casino very enjoyable. Being on the 9th deck we only had 2 decks to the windjammer . Embarkation.... This cruise sails out of terminal 29 , in Ft. Lauderdale, which is a few blocks from the normal cruise parking for most ships, except for the Oasis class, terminal 31, and princess , terminal 1. We drove from central florida, and opted to use Park & go ,which is right on Eller drive. We drove in at 945, stopped as attendant unloaded bags, walked about 30 feet to a large shuttle van. We were the only two aboard, and in less than two minutes we were on our way to the terminal. I might add the charge prepaid was 67.77 in comparison to the 120.00 at the mid point garage. On the return trip we got off the ship at 715 , walked across the street, got in the shuttle, and again the only two of us, and went straight to our car. I was really impressed since we had 7 ships in both days. Even gave us two bottles of water as we left. Embarkation was great, as using suite,diamond and above line , the whole process took less than 15 minutes windjammer..... Opened at 1115 and had normal food/ etc. which was fine for us the entire week on our visits. We ate breakfast there twice, dinner once, eating mornings in dinning room, brassier30 once, which was lousy, the dinning room most evening. Dinning room...... We ate there most evening and had a table for six. We had late seating on deck 4. Our service was great and had no complaints on food or service. We are not hard to please and usually can always fine something on the menu to our liking. Shows... We only attended a couple as had seen them before. No complaints on ones we saw Cafe Promenade... This area was exceptionally clean, as we found the entire ship. One thing I liked , they had regular cups, along with large carry out cups available for coffee,tea all the time. Ice show..... Did not offer pre selection on computer for shows, but had cruisers come to deck 5 and stand in line to get paper tickets. Just a note the diamond lounge had tickets available early that morning , with no wait. They have never switched to the registration on sea pass and even at life boat drill checked everyone off manually with a paper list. Ports... will not go over most as reviewed many times on boards, but will mention St. Kitts. We took a tour this time returning to St. Kitts, with Thienford Grey tours and can't say enough great things about them. No deposit,no money upfront, entire island tour about 4 1/2 hours and a two hour beach stop and return if you wish for 48.00. Debarkation.... This ship arrives at 520am as it is far back from normal channel. We had #3 ticket for 730 and were called at 700am. Great system in place even having to use old luggage on floor area, and one of our best since our 1991 cruise start. I hope you can bear with my writings and not being double space as I usually don't write one of these, but read many over the years, and felt that I should contribute my thoughts , as it may help others. I wish all calm seas and pleasant cruising. Bob & Nancy ,The Villages, florida   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
It has been 13 years since we sailed RCCL, having sailed Carnival, Holland America and Princess in the meantime. We were looking forward to being back on RCCL, having always considered this Cruiseline to be our favorite. We also decided to ... Read More
It has been 13 years since we sailed RCCL, having sailed Carnival, Holland America and Princess in the meantime. We were looking forward to being back on RCCL, having always considered this Cruiseline to be our favorite. We also decided to try a larger ship and this is the biggest we have sailed on. The ship is huge, beautiful, has lots to offer, variety of venues and activities, plenty of crew and staff. Boarding went well considering the number of passengers. We were on the ship by 2 pm, cabin was ready and so we dropped off our bags and headed out to explore. It took a while to figure out how to find our way around and we were not prepared for the crowds in the Windjammer, but we were able to grab a bite to eat and continue exploring and getting started on our vacation. Muster went really well and we did not have to wear our life jackets which was a pleasant surprise. After muster, we went back to our stateroom and our luggage was there which was also a pleasant surprise. We decided to try the MDR for our first evening and that was a little disappointing. Too crowded, too much confusion and table assignments seemed too be a problem for many. Our table was full so we had to wait to get a new table and the staff seemed to be unsure of who was supposed to do this, but we finally got a table and we're ready for a nice relaxing meal. Well, the staff was having problems simply meeting the demands of too many people all trying to eat at once, it seemed, and the food was a major disappointment, very bland, very small portions and not as spectacular as we had remembered. We actually felt sorry for the dining staff as they did not seem to be up to speed. I hope that every first evening meal does not turn out like thisi. This did lead to a late night snack at the Cafe Promenade which became a favorite spot. Excellent coffee, delicious sweet treats and the sandwiches were great. Staff were super, too. We did give the MDR a another chance later on that week and can happily say that that meal went a LOT better. Staff seemed more comfortable, it wasn't so crowded and the food was a lot better. We had lobster and shrimp and it was wonderful. We did find that having our evening meal in the Windjammer/Jade cafe was, for us, a much more pleasant experience. Eating there around 8 to 8:30 was peaceful, no crowds, food fresh, hot and plentiful and the staff was great. They weren't so pressured as in the MDR and could actually visit with us and had time to wait on us just as well as the staff tried to do in the MDR a and we could relax and really enjoy our meal. Yes, we had to get our own food, but that was no big deal to us. And the staff checked on us, refreshed our drinks and I really cannot say enough about the service. I don't think the staff in the Windjammer/Jade get enough credit. Lots and lots of things to do all week long. The welcome show in the Alhambra theater was weak as well, but the shows the rest of the week were spectacular. Great comedy, production shows and the ice show is a don't miss. The farewell show was also great. We pretty much wrote off our first night because it did not go well, but our faith in RCCL was restored as the week went on as everything got better and better. Conclusions and observations? Prices have increased. Drinks cost more, shops were pricier, no Fox News on the TV. Enthusiasm among the staff seemed less, their sparkle was gone and we feel that that is the result of the automatic tipping policy. Less incentive for the staff to go above and beyond as we were used to. This is not across the board, though. The staff that excelled in our opinion? Our room attendant, the casino staff and the staff in the Windjammer and Jade cafes. They all did a great job. The cruise director, Jaime, is the best we have seen and we had a chance to visit with him and told him this as well. He was by far the most involved cruise director we have seen. Where did we get to visit with him? In the Windjammer cafe, where else! There is also way too much congestion on Deck 4 from the entrance to the theater through the casino to the atrium. We understand the psychology of wanting to get the most passengers into this area as possible as a lot of money is spent there along with the photo gallery, But this is the most crowded area and we did our best to avoid it, but not always possible. So, overall the ship is not crowded considering, except for this area and look out on formal nights when pictures are being taken. Of course poolside is way too crowded as well, but we expected that and there are plenty of places to find space to relax if a crowded poolside is not your thing. Movies under the stars were fun. We even tried out some of the trivia games and had fun with them. The love and marriage game was outstanding, what laughs we got from that! Rock the boat classic rock band was excellent and they played in the Pyramid Lounge and we caught every one of their shows. They will only be on the ship for a few more weeks. Art auction was pushy, pushy, pushy. Still able to find a bargain for men and women's cologne as I always pick up a fresh new scent for me and DH but the other merchandise for sale has become upscale and pricey for sure. Of course this is all in our humble opinion. We will sail RCCL again for sure as we got a great deal for this cruise and great deals are out there if you are willing to be patient and really study the pricing and itineraries, be ready to book because it dones not take long for the prices to tick up. Also, nice to be able to book shore excursions via the TV and also to keep tabs on our onboard account on the TV. Oh and what happened to the ice buckets and glasses in the staterooms? Minor stuff really, but we will book a smaller ship next time. For us, 3600+ passengers PLUS crew is just too much. We will back down to 2000-2500 or so, that is simply more comfortable for us.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
This was our 15th cruise, and our 7th on Royal Caribbean. We had a less than wonderful experience on our last cruise last October on Vision of the Seas, and looked forward to this cruise on Independence. It was our first experience on one ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise, and our 7th on Royal Caribbean. We had a less than wonderful experience on our last cruise last October on Vision of the Seas, and looked forward to this cruise on Independence. It was our first experience on one of the larger ships, and it did not disappoint, in most areas. As we are Florida residents, we drove from our home in Central Florida, and used Park-N-Go on Eller Road for Parking and transport to and from the ship. We arrived there a little after 11AM, and were quickly on a shuttle, and off to the Port. Very Quick and Easy! We recommend them highly. As Platinum Crown and Anchor, we bypassed most lines, and were on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving at the port. We toured the ship a little, then found a nice table for 2 in the Windjammer for a bite of lunch. We were pleased with the selections of salads, cold cuts, etc. at the buffet. It was much better than our last cruise. Service was good, even with all the incoming guests - and the service continued to be good throughout the cruise. Our cabin was ready by 1:15, and our luggage was delivered before 5pm. We were in a cabin with a large window looking out onto the Promenade area. Very nice to be able to look out -and there was never any noise - even during events. Our cabin steward kept the cabin nice and clean, and we had no problems at all, once we had maintenance reset the hot water in the shower. We used Anytime Dining for the entire cruise - and had the same table every night. Frankie, our waiter was great - and took care of our needs, and remembered our tea preferences every night. The quality of the food in the main dining room was good, with the exception of lunch and dinner on the last sea day. Both meals were disappointing - the risotto at lunch tasted like rice in canned spaghetti sauce, and the dinner meal of fried fish was overbreaded and greasy. Also, Royal Caribbean can't seem to get a good handle on desserts - overall, with a couple of small exceptions -none of the desserts offered in either the main dining room or Windjammer are worth the extra calories. The only exception was the Key Lime Pie, which was excellent. We ate at Johnny Rockets on the Monday Sea day - very fun, with a good cheeseburger and a very good chili dog. The milk shakes were excellent as well, and worth the extra money! We ate at Giovanni's Table on Thursday night. The food was excellent, as was the service. We had also dined at Giovanni's on Vision in October, 2014, and this experience in January was similar. Service was a little more rushed on Independence - but may have been due to the number of diners in the room. Having 24 hour coffee/tea/etc. was nice - and the selection of teas was excellent. We tried the pizza once during the week - and it was OK, but nothing spectacular. The shows were good - especially the ice show. HOWEVER - I think it is absolutely crazy that you have to wait in line to get tickets to a show - Royal allows you to pre-reserve specialty restaurants, spa treatments, shore excursions, etc. - so why not this??? This is not WOW service - if I wanted to stand in line for tickets - I'd stay home and go to Disney. We enjoyed the card area on Deck 14, but a few more tables would have been nice. Also, it would be nice to have someone check in occasionally to see if anyone would like a drink, etc. We missed Grand Cayman, due to swells making it impossible for the tenders to come to the ship - a little disappointing, but it meant we saved some money, as all we were planning was to go and shop a little. We spent most mornings in the Serenity area, in the hot tub that extends over the side of the ship. We tend to be early risers - and it was nice being able to take a soak before a lot of folks were up and around. Much nicer than Vision, where the spas were roped off until 8am. The parties/parades in the Promenade areas in the evenings were great, especially the 70's disco party. Brought back a lot of memories! Debarkation was quick and painless - in fact, we were off the ship about an hour before we were scheduled. Finding our luggage was quick, the lines for Customs ran efficiently, and Park and Go was outside waiting for us. Within 25 minutes, we were in our car and headed home. Overall, this was a very good cruise, not excellent, but good - and provided some much needed relaxation for us. We were very apprehensive after our last experience, but feel that Royal is trying to get things right. We will probably continue to use them, as we are only one cruise from Emerald Level in Crown and Anchor. We are already thinking about our next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We booked an interior room a month in advance for the 8-day Eastern Caribbean cruise (1/17/2015). We were located Deck 10 Aft on the ship. The first two nights were a bit rocky, surprising for a vessel the size of Independence Of The Seas. ... Read More
We booked an interior room a month in advance for the 8-day Eastern Caribbean cruise (1/17/2015). We were located Deck 10 Aft on the ship. The first two nights were a bit rocky, surprising for a vessel the size of Independence Of The Seas. The remainder of the cruise was calm, except for the last day back to port. Having been on Brilliance Of The Seas last year, the food was just as good in the Windjammer and Jade Cafe (They are side-by-side). I found nothing to be horrible. Breakfast and Lunch had similar offerings, albeit slight differences such as a different pasta sauce or soup of the day. The most lacking item one could find there to eat was probably the burgers (Although I may have been spoiled by Guy Burger on Carnival). They are your standard "cafeteria burger" with typical toppings. Everything else was pretty good and there is a LOT of variety. Each night for dinner in the Windjammer has a theme (Greek, German, English, Etc.) so there is always something new to try. The pizza place (Sorrento's Pizza) on board was okay, but for claiming a "rich italian heritage" I also felt the pizza could be better. We went to dining twice and both nights our waiter seemed to rush us when ordering, but this may be indicative of just a bad waiter. We went on lobster night, and the lobster was out of this world! The food at dining was excellent. We decided to splurge on a night at Chops Grille. The cover charge is $35 per person including gratuities (Note ironically the bill does not tell you this, but the daily dining guide does). In paying a premium, I really expected a FINE dining experience akin to a fancy steakhouse. When we got there, even after the cover charge, you still have to pay another $20 for a porterhouse steak or lobster, I found that kind of absurd. Ordering and receiving the food was very fast-paced, I would say we completed our meal within 35 or so minutes; I expected dinner to be at least an hour if not an hour and a half. Perhaps I had been spoiled from dining, but I thought the food was only slightly better than what is offered complimentary and is not worlds apart. The steak that comes with the cover charge was a cut nicer and larger than what is offered at dining, but not worth the premium paid. I feel it is a far better value to order a nice steak at complimentary dining. I would not do this again. As far as entertainment, almost all the shows on the ship were all similar. All shows except for the farewell are just some sort of combination of the ship orchestra playing songs and someone singing on stage. Maybe one day some execs at RCCL will realize not everyone likes this sort of thing. There were no true comedy shows (and definitely no adult comedy shows, a la George Lopez on Carnival). This is one department that Royal Caribbean completely lacks (I noticed this on my other cruise last year). The last farewell show saw a couple acts that were funny, but not real stand-up comedy. The cruise director and staff do the standard poolside entertainment out on the pool deck with the choreographed dancing, belly flop competitions, etc, which is pretty fun. As far as staff goes, 99% of the staff on the ship is outstanding and friendly. It is interesting to share stories with them, ask them where they are from or about their favorite activities/ports. The staff definitely gets two thumbs up in my book. At the end of the day, I feel like I harped on the negatives for this review, but those were really the only issues. Everything else on the ship was excellent and overall I had a really good time. RCCL leaves some things to be desired, but in the end they get it better than the competition and you cant have it all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
My husband and myself were traveling with two of our adult sons (ages 23 & 26). Flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the SpringHill Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel. The hotel provided free shuttle from the airport ... Read More
My husband and myself were traveling with two of our adult sons (ages 23 & 26). Flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the SpringHill Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel. The hotel provided free shuttle from the airport and to the port based on your ship. Each shuttle van was divided by ship. The rooms were what you would expect from a Marriott. The hotel provided hot, self-service breakfast (lots of choices), pool, hot tub, and post cruise shuttle transportation from the port to the airport when our cruise was complete ($10 per person for the post cruise shuttle service). We were happy with them and would stay there again. Close to a Walgreen's, McDonald's, Burger King, Chipolte's, K-Mart, and TGIFriday's - all within walking distance. Embarkation Day - we took the hotel shuttle directly to our ship's port. None of that stop & drop that you sometimes have to do with other shuttles. Dropped off our bags, checked in, and we were strolling the Promenade within 30 minutes. Eventually found our way up to the pool to watch the football games on the big screen by the pool. Made for happy men while waiting for our rooms to become available. :) Rooms were ready by 1:30. Our luggage was already there and we were able to unpack, get organized, change into our swimsuits and we were off to explore this lovely ship. 1st At Sea Day - Fun day of exploring the ship, eating massive amounts of food, sitting poolside, enjoying the hot tubs, playoff football games by the pool, the ice skating show, and lots of R & R. Our sons had fun with the Karoake activities the night before and had made some new friends to hang out with throughout the trip. First formal night for dining! I, for one, love the formal nights. So nice to dress up and treat the time together as something a little more special. Good entertainment that night. Comedian brought in for the welcome aboard show. Grand Cayman - This was a great day! (Probably my favorite) We used our onboard credits to purchase an excursion to Stingray City and an excursion to the Dolphin Swim Experience - about 4 1/2 hours all together for the two excursions. WHAT A BLAST! Two items checked off my bucket list that day and we had the best time together. Afterwards there was still time to shop. But we chose to head back onboard and relax by the pool and hot tubs. Falmouth, Jamaica - This was probably the men's favorite day! We booked an excursion to The Blue Hole through Patmar Tours and Patrice Bailey prior to our cruise. Meanwhile, our boys had met another family on the ship that was looking for something to do in Jaimaca and our two families joined together for a fun-filled day. I can't say enough great things about our day in Jamaica. Our guide was Raydale (Ray Daddy) Stewart. He was great! Our main goal was to go to The Blue Hole and then we wanted to get something to eat and we also wanted some beach time. Ray took us to the Blue Hole (Island Gully Falls), and we spent a few hours there. OMG! You have to go there! Forget Dunns River Falls (too crowded)! Go to the Blue Hole!! Beautiful waterfalls that you can jump off of. Beautiful lagoons. The guides there are fantastic and make it so much fun! Just trust me! Then Ray took us to a local restaurant, Scotchies, for some of the best jerk chicken, jerk pork, and jerk sausage you have ever had! Then we went to a local beach and spent maybe an hour there. On the way back to the ship Ray took us to the high school Usain Bolt attended. And shared so much fun information about the country, the history, the diversity, the local heroes, etc. He was so willing to accomodate our every whim. Labadee, Haiti - As you know, this is a Royal Caribbean leased beach area. You don't really get to go into Haiti and see anything there. But it is a wonderful beach area with lots of options and everything is clean and well-maintained. Lunch is provided there with basic BBQ fare. There's also an area where some of the locals are selling their crafts and other various items. This was a terrific way to wind down the week. Nice, relaxing day overall. Second formal night for dining! Last At Sea Day - We spent pretty much the whole day by the pool! So many fun activities poolside! Especially enjoyed the belly flop contest! Just relaxed! And later, begrudgingly, packed our bags to prepare for disembarkation. Great entertainment that evening with a juggler and comedian brought in for the farewell show. Disembarkation - We had a later flight in the afternoon so we weren't in any hurry to disembark (and who really wants to disembark?). We enjoyed our breakfast in the Windjammer. Took a couple of strolls around the upper deck, said goodbye to the sunshine and sea, and disembarked about 10:30 a.m. Found our luggage, went through customs, phoned our shuttle service to come pick us up and we were on our way! Our room: we had a balcony room on the 6th deck towards the back of the ship, port side - in the past we've had ocean view or inside cabins - so having a balcony was a real treat for us. My husband had no idea I upgraded our room from ocean view to balcony! He was thrilled! What a difference a balcony makes! With a wonderful room attendant who kept everything spit-spot! My husband and I purchased the soft drink beverage package, but we were surprised there weren't any fountain machines for us to fill our drink cups. We always had to take our card or refillable cup to a bar to have them refill it for us. That's fine - a bit of an annoyance, but not really a big deal. But here's the thing, the bartenders would always (and I mean ALWAYS) give priority to those purchashing the alcoholic drinks - presumably because that's where the tips are. I would just stand and stand there until they finished serving the booze. Didn't matter that I got there first. I wish I could say that this only happened once or at one location, but it happened every where and every time we wanted a refill. Hopefully, RCCI is working to get the fountain drink machines on all their cruise ships and not just the Oasis. FOOD: The dining room - We had 1st seating (6:00pm) in the main dining room - 4th deck. Just the four of us. The food was wonderful! Lots of selection and the servers are always happy to accommodate our requests. Service, food and atmosphere were outstanding! Windjammer - We had breakfast here every morning and lunches here on most days. Great choices! Plenty of seating! No complaints! There's so much to choose from! And I can't get enough of their fries! Sorrento's - We love their pizza! Great for a snack or meal anytime!!! Cafe - If you eat nothing else, you have to try the cheesecake lollipops! OMG!!! The pool area: plenty of towels, lots places to sit (even on at sea days) in the general pool area. Sometimes can be hard to find seats together later in the morning and as usual there are those passengers who mark their territory and save their seats and then leave for hours. This is especially true in the Solarium area. But I've seen this over and over on other Royal Caribbean cruise ships as well. I really do wish the staff would enforce the 30 minute save rule. Just my $0.02. The spa/gym: no complaints here! Fabulous facilities! Very spacious and spread out. Lots of equipment options to choose from. Loved it! The entertainment: The ice show was excellent, the musicians were great, the cruise director was hilarious and he set a great tone for the whole cruise. We didn't spend much time in the Casino - (Lady Luck wasn't our friend when we did go there). Our boys spent a lot of time in the karaoke bar and had a great time! There's lots of entertainment to be enjoyed! Overall, this was just an incredible vacation. Everything was fantastic. I personally cannot understand the naysayers who come on forums such as this and complain about every little thing. I swear, some people just aren't happy unless they are miserable. WTH?!?! You're on vacation fercryinoutloud!!! Enjoy the Indepence of the Seas. The only frowns or sad faces you'll have are when your cruise is over and it's time to disembark and head back to real life. Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Went on Royal Caribbean Many time and loved it so much that I get a group every year together to go with us! Wow this year was a bummer. I understand that cruising is interpreted different for many people. To me its the once a year ... Read More
Went on Royal Caribbean Many time and loved it so much that I get a group every year together to go with us! Wow this year was a bummer. I understand that cruising is interpreted different for many people. To me its the once a year vacation that we go on to have fun, sun, dancing, and relaxing and of course the food! This year Royal Caribbean made so many changes that the cruise felt awkard or different to me. It wasn't really fun, music was scarce, the 2-for-1 drinks only from 330-430 in 2 bars both on each side of casino. No more announcement from cruise director so you have to carry Compass or watch. Although they have 3-4 that I notice electronic compasses around ship. (waste of money for cruise line). Also, food was ok not great seems like a lot of same thing. In the main dining room on formal nights don't entertain anymore only have piano and violinist playing softly. So many people didn't dress up for formal nights. staff actually said they were upset that they don't sing and dance anymore! When we arrived on cruise on prior sailing. There was immediately someone playing steal drums and cocktail servers going around selling drinks not this time. I was disappointed on the changes. it definitely wasn't for the better but It was worse. The best thing on there was the H2O zone and Casino and of course The adventure Ocean Rocked! I can't say enough about adventure ocean! They were amazing with my Girls I have a 3 and 4 year old. They have a program that they can have lunch and dinner with them and its opened until 10. for free. My kids never wanted to leave. I even took them to the main dining and at 640 (early dining 6) they would meet outside of one of the 3 dining rooms and take your kids up. to play. so we can enjoy rest of dinner and show. I felt like the activites weren't a good selection. We went on Independence of the seas and the ship itself was ok but seems like the cruise line made some bad changes! Forgot to add missed a port (grand cayman) completely ok with that. But the other 2 ports weren't as good! Falmouth we took a tour and it stunk. it was the best of Falmouth and Montego bay. We also did Labadee it was ok. we rented a cabana and went swimming bad bad choice. Royal Caribbean gave us a cabana way out no biggie. when my husband and a bunch of other people went swimming knee deep to waist deep water there were all rocks so they all decided to swim and some guy got cuts up and down his chest bleeding and screaming this is a death trap and my husband decided he can't walk because he was stepping on too many rock and ended up trying to swim and cut both hand and arms that the medical facility had to come and bandage him up. ended being coral reefs knee deep. Be aware!!!! overall cruise didn't wow be at all. they have changed so much for the worse that it actually makes me want to go on another cruise line. We have sailed 6 times with Royal 1 with norweign and 1 with Carnival.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
I have been on 3 Carnival cruises, and wanted to switch it up. So for my 30th Birthday, I grabbed my 7 closest friends and hit the Independence of the Seas in late January 2015. I am pretty easy to please, so I'm writing this review ... Read More
I have been on 3 Carnival cruises, and wanted to switch it up. So for my 30th Birthday, I grabbed my 7 closest friends and hit the Independence of the Seas in late January 2015. I am pretty easy to please, so I'm writing this review for those of you who want an unbiased opinion from someone who is just happy to be on vacation! Hotel -- we rented cars and stayed at a hotel about 20 miles away from Port Everglades. It was a good deal cheaper than staying somewhere that had a shuttle to the port. The Ship -- it really is pretty! The promenade area is very grand, the pool (3-4 large freshwater pools) and kids area (with sprayers and buckets) was really well kept and inviting looking! There were also about 7 hot tubs - which we definitely enjoyed in January! The temperatures varied in these, some were great... some were like taking a bath with strangers. There was a huge state of the art gym, and all the other amenities that the website boasts. The only downside to these activities, is that they aren't open all the time. Public ice skating time was only open for a total of about 3 hours (major bummer for the skater in our group who brought her own skates) the whole cruise. We ran into the same issues with the wave surfer and rock wall. The pools and hot tubs also weren't open at night... which I suppose is a safety thing, but it was still a bummer. Another thing that stuck out to me on the ship, that I didn't love, was that they really favored their "elite"members. Now, I understand that there are perks for being members, and that's fine, but I saw a lot more of the favoritism on this ship, than I've ever seen before. Large sections of great seats in the theater roped off before shows, many of them remained empty when elite members didn't show up. Sections of deck chairs were also roped off and saved for elite members. They were also allowed early access to be able to get off and on the ship, etc. Again, I understand that there needs to be some perks, but this just made me feel like they didn't care nearly as much about me coming back, as they cared about their return customers feeling important, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Activities - In comparison to Carnival, the activity options were quite limited. It may have been the time of year (our group of 20 and 30-somethings brought the average age on the ship down pretty far), or maybe it's just that Carnival is more geared to a younger crowd. We found ourselves wanting more to do in the evenings. We went to a couple of trivia games, The Quest, and battle of the sexes, which were all fun! We wanted to do karaoke, but it was only open for about 90 minutes on a few of the nights, and if you weren't there right when it started, the list filled up fast and you were turned away. We went to one of the "spa treatment" events, which turned out to be a sales pitch and a bit of a waste of time. The events we did go to, overall, were fun... we just wanted more! Service - Can't say enough great things about our waiters, cabin steward, cruise director/staff, etc. Everyone was very friendly, personable, welcoming and fun. They really seemed to go out of their way to make sure we were having a good time. We had a couple of slight issues with my-time dining (see dining section review), and with our sea-pass accounts not being accurate - both of which were taken care of very quickly. Ports/Shore Excursions - We were supposed to go to Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Haiti. Unfortunately, due to weather, we weren't allowed off the ship at Grand Cayman... so I can't help you with that one. George Town Jamaica... this was an interesting port. Royal Caribbean has clearly purchased a plot of land right at the port, fenced it in, and set up a little outdoor mall. It was very safe and clean and nice, with a few souvenirs to buy - even a Margaritaville! Outside the fenced in area was a different story though.... It was a completely impoverished area, very run down, and didn't look safe at all. Not the tropical paradise one hopes to encounter on a vacation. I didn't even see a beach. Our group split up to go on different excursions in Jamaica. I did the Thrill Seekers Pass (zip line, water slide and river tube). We had an awesome time. There were 3 good length zip lines, the "slide" was a bit of a joke... it was a concrete slab at slight angle with water running over it, and the river float was relaxing. The tour guides were extremely friendly, knowledgeable and fun. It was through Chukka tours, and the best thing was that they were not allowed to ask for tips. They had a tip jar at the main site we went to after the whole tour where you could tip if you wanted. They told us to report any guide who asked for a tip -- I loved the no-pressure attitude. Others in my group did the Good Hope House tour through Chukka, and also had a great experience. The other members in our group did the Grotto Cave tour and Climb the falls. They had a wonderful time, great pictures, and said it wasn't too physically demanding - highly recommended. Labadee Haiti - This port is only for Royal Caribbean. A few of us did the Dragon's Head Zipline. While it was a bit expensive, we all LOVED it, and thought it was worth the money. Incredible views, and a LONG zip over of the water. I do recommend going as early as possible if you want to do this. The rest of the port was really nice. There were lounge chairs available for everyone, free lunch (burgers, hot dogs and bbq) for everyone, bathrooms, and a gorgeous beach. There was also a market area. They had lots of fun stuff to buy, but be prepared for the attack of the vendors.... they will follow you and talk to you and try to get you into their shops. On the bright side... they are more than willing to negotiate with you, so be prepared with lots of small bills! Cabin - Our room was nice, although a bit smaller than Carnival. We were on the 2nd floor, near the rear elevators, 2352! It was well equipped and everything had a place... we never felt claustrophobic. We had 4 people (women) in a room, and there was always room for us all to be in there and not kill each other. The bathroom was also small... but then again, it's a cruise. It was clean and it worked. We were sad about the lack of towel animals. We only had 2 for the 6 night cruise... it's the little things. Dining - Dining Room...The food was on par with Carnival. I found something that I liked every night...and I'm a pretty picky eater. Each night they have a "classic" menu, with the same 5 items (pasta, steak, roast chicken, etc), and they have a "specials" menu, with just items of the night (lobster, prime rib, potato pie... yum...etc..). I never had to order from the classic menu, there was always something great looking on the specials. Our waiter, Gregory, was FANTASTIC. He told us what to try, brought us extras without us asking, etc. I was a little disappointed in the desserts each night. Some things were good... but as I type this, I can't think of one thing that I loved. Windjammer cafe... also on par with Carnival. The french fries were a favorite in our group! Good sized salad bar, and always a wide variety of options. Our biggest complaint there was that there seemed to be more people than seats, so we always felt like we were fighting to find a place to sit. I suggest getting to breakfast after 9:30, or before 7:45, and waiting til after 1:30 for lunch to avoid the crowds. Johnny Rockets... there is a 6$ fee for all you can eat Johnny Rockets, when you need a break from Windjammer. The only caveat to that, is that the 6$ doesn't include drinks/milkshakes/floats, which wasn't clear until we were already seated and excited about getting a soda. Entertainment - I'm a huge Broadway show nerd, so I love the shows that you get on Carnival. I was nervous that Royal Caribbean wouldn't compare based on other reviews I'd read. I'm so glad to report that I was wrong! There were 2 shows with the singers/dancers/orchestra, and 1 ice skating show. The singer/dancers were great! The shows were entertaining musical reviews that had the audience clapping and singing along to all the great songs! The ice show was also really good -- fun costumes and great entertainment... unfortunately, we had some bad weather that night, so the ship was moving a bit more than usual, and most of the skaters fell out of their jumps... but I don't blame them! That's hard! The opening night comedian was okay... not the best, but not roll-your-eyes bad, and the closing night comedian was pretty good. I laughed out loud! Very pleased overall with the on-board entertainment. Disembarkation - As expected. We chose to carry our bags off and not wait. We left our rooms, ate breakfast in the Windjammer (which was SO crowded), then relaxed on the deck until they kicked us out! Customs line took about 45 minutes, taxi line took about 20 minutes, and off we went. Summary - We really had a nice time! I think if I were to book again, I'd go back to Carnival, simply for the extra activities. I enjoyed my trip, and was relaxed, but I don't think RC really sold me on making it a priority to come back. Would I go on a Royal Caribbean cruise again? Sure! This ship again? Probably! But if I'm planning the next cruise, I'm probably going back to Carnival Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We're from the currently frozen tundra of Ohio, so us enjoying a Caribbean cruise really isn't difficult, and we did in fact enjoy this most recent one a great deal. First time on Indy (although we were on her twin Liberty 2 yrs ... Read More
We're from the currently frozen tundra of Ohio, so us enjoying a Caribbean cruise really isn't difficult, and we did in fact enjoy this most recent one a great deal. First time on Indy (although we were on her twin Liberty 2 yrs ago), 5th RCL cruise. Embarkation was very smooth, the only time we stopped walking was to sign the receipt and pose for pictures for SeaPass card. Ignore the voice mail and email RCL will send you telling you certain times for certain decks; we were over 2 hours earlier than they said, and no one batted an eye. Slight snafu with getting one of our bags, which is just one of those things, and the young lady at guest services was very gracious in helping us find it. It was, however, a little disconcerting that when we did find the suitcase, it was sitting, all by itself, unattended in any way, on deck 1, free for the taking to whoever wanted my used underwear and toiletries. Fortunately no one did. Our cruise was greatly enhanced by the company of our dinner-mates; we really won the lottery on that one! 2 other couples and us were joined at a table for 6 late seating in the main dining room (3rd deck, bottom floor of the 3 in the MDR). The service was excellent, and the food quality and variety was maybe a little better than I expected; many of the same dishes we’ve enjoyed (and a couple we’ve learned to avoid) from previous cruises, but it seemed to me done somewhat better than we experienced on Liberty. The quantity, as always, was staggering. Apparently one of the perks of the late seating is that the waiters are very eager to see the food consumed instead of wasted; on lobster night I didn’t even ask for seconds, but I received (and consumed) 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths (and yes, I still ate desert). We ate every possible meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, in the MDR. The few times our schedule forced us into the Windjammer, it was what the Windjammer always is and probably always must be; imagine your college cafeteria, only full of people in power wheelchairs running over your feet. We took refuge in Sorrentos for a snack once, decent quality and nice snack sized portions, never looked crowded. We missed lunch on Labadee, so we stopped by Johnny Rockets as we shoved off. Nearly empty, quick service, pretty good quality, well worth the small cover charge (I think it was less than $4 per person?) to enjoy the only outdoor dining venue on the ship (they have indoor seating as well). We did not try the premium restaurants on this trip as we were having too great a time with our new friends at our dinner table. For the first time ever, we tried the room service delivered breakfast on our very early St Kitts port day, and sadly that was a fail. Very few choices, and what was delivered was pretty poor, tepid and flavorless. We did take advantage of the room service for snacks a couple other times, they were quick, and although the menu was limited, what we got was well prepared and tasty. I think next year we’re just going to place a standing order for the fruit and cheese plate for 5 pm every day…. The production shows were fine; diverting, interesting, not spectacular. The cruise director (I think Jamie?) and staff were very good. Whether by coincidence or design, they were almost all British, and funny without being too over the top. The ice show was somewhere between impressive and outlandish; very talented performers doing a lot with very little space, but for my taste held together very thinly by a hokey premise about the life cycle of an enchanted violin, and costumes that Liberace would say were over the top. It’s definitely worth seeing though, so be sure to pick up your tickets when they are offered (on our trip it was the first sea day). Probably our favorite entertainment was the night the singers did some standards with a 5 piece band up in the Olive or Twist (Viking Crown) lounge; wish they had made that a longer set, and/or did it more than once. Disembarking was the confused mess it always is. I don’t know what the better way is, but there has to be one. Our original plan was to use the Luggage Valet service, as our flight was not until about 7 in the evening. We missed the note in the Cruise Compass that said we had to have that request in 4 days in advance, so when we enquired about it 3 days before we returned to Ft Lauderdale, we were told it was too late. This seems odd to me, but oh well, just be aware that you should book that probably as soon as you board if you plan to use it. We were assigned the last group off the ship, so we slept in a little (not much as it gets fairly noisy in port), grabbed a few things from Windjammer for breakfast, returned to the room to shower and relax until our assigned meeting time of 10 AM. When we arrived at the assigned meeting room, we were told by one staff member that all numbers had been called and we should proceed to gangway. Almost immediately another staff member came up, quite perplexed, and asked where we were all going. At this point pretty much all the cruisers had decided to ignore the staff, since they had no idea what was going on, and we followed suit. The result was a 40-50 minute crawl through turnstyles lugging most of our earthly possessions around with us waiting to get through the Customs process. The RCL airport transfer is a rip-off, don’t do it; cab fare to FLL from port was less than $15, per cab not per person. Note to those flying Southwest; if your flight leaves more than 2 hours after you get to airport, do not go to the Departures/Ticketing desk on level 3, there is a separate check-in on level 1 near the baggage carousels where they will check you are your bags in for later flights (they say 6 hours, but they took us and our bags just before noon for a 7:10 flight). The line was very long, but moved fast. RCL has apparently discontinued the daily announcements by captains and cruise directors over the PA. I miss them, but I guess I understand that some people found them distracting. I do wish they would use one of the many empty channels on the TV system to have the captain make those announcements available on demand or in a loop. We in fact did hear from our captain on the PA twice, as there were 2 medical emergencies on our trip that changed our arrival/departure times from ports slightly, but not enough to disrupt any tours or plans.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We left port on the 17th January and made our way to St Maarten 2 days at sea then onto St Kitts , San Juan and Labadee , first impression Was what a huge ship embarkation was a breeze , and we made our way to the windjammer , ... Read More
We left port on the 17th January and made our way to St Maarten 2 days at sea then onto St Kitts , San Juan and Labadee , first impression Was what a huge ship embarkation was a breeze , and we made our way to the windjammer , unfortunately I was not impreessed the food was lukewarm and not a lot of taste to it , then to our cabin 1318 on deck 10 well presented and clean and surprisingly spacious ,unpacked the cases and went for a walk about the ship and was very impressed , overall the all the crew were fantastic and hard working , the only downside was the food on offer in the windjammer was not to our liking and breakfast in the main dining room was ok but watch out for the toast it could do serious dental damage it was that hard , evening meals were well presented but could have been better again the waiters were first class , overall we were impressed enough to book another cruise next year but I am hoping for improvement in the catering dept Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
This ship was by far my worst experience with cruising with Royal Caribbean. Day 1 - My luggage was damaged and they did not resolve the situation to my satisfaction. I had American Tourister luggage and it was replaced with an off-brand, ... Read More
This ship was by far my worst experience with cruising with Royal Caribbean. Day 1 - My luggage was damaged and they did not resolve the situation to my satisfaction. I had American Tourister luggage and it was replaced with an off-brand, off color piece of luggage. I didn't think that basic black would be so much to ask for. Day 2 - Requested dinner seating time to be changed due to health reasons and my request was satisfied. Day 3 - My new seating arrangement for dinner now no longer existed. The table that I was assigned to is now fully occupied. Here we are, fully dressed for dinner standing in the middle of the dining room with no place to go and feeling like a spectacle. I was never so embarrassed in my life standing in the middle of a room full of people looking like we didn't belong there. I then was so upset feeling a panic attack coming on, which it did, so I left the dining room with no dinner. I was that upset. Day 4 - I ran into my wonderful and gracious server (named Inna) who I knew had nothing to do with the problem, she felt terrible about the situation and went out of her way to correct it. She deserves a rating of 10, if there was a 12 she would have it. The overall dining experience at dinner from that point forward was what I would have expected from Royal Caribbean. My dining experience for breakfast and lunch, however, during the whole cruise was not what I would expect from RCCL. As a whole, the food quality has diminished when compared to my last cruise with RCCL. Portion sizes were reduced, food choices were limited, up charges for things that were incuded on my last cruise and even vegetable portions that wouldn't have been enough for a child much less for adults. The overall experience this time around was very disappointing. Some of course, were out of RCCL's control such as the weather. The only Island that I was excited to visit was Grand Cayman, since I had already visited the other ports of call. Now to find out that Grand Cayman was shut down, which I know is out of RCC's control and for our safety, just added another day at sea. Your activities were not timed properly. I was shut out of many shows due to lack of seating and timing. I feel that this ship was overbooked and much to crowded that's why I believe that the service and the quality was lacking. I can honestly say, that I did not have a good vacation this time around with your cruise line. In the future, I must in good conscience consider other cruise lines due to my latest experience with RCCL. My travel agent also will be notified of my total disappointment of this vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We had a wonderful time sailing on the Independence of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean. The Ship The Independence of the Seas is beautiful, classy, clean and well maintained, the staff are clearly working hard to keep it looking bright ... Read More
We had a wonderful time sailing on the Independence of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean. The Ship The Independence of the Seas is beautiful, classy, clean and well maintained, the staff are clearly working hard to keep it looking bright and shiny. We loved the Royal Promenade, it's a brilliant space with a great energy and I pretty much want every cruise ship I sail in the future to have one. We enjoyed the quirky artwork in the staircases and cabin hallways. Even though the ship is huge it still feels like a cruise ship with lots of windows with views of the ocean. Traffic moved well throughout the ship and even though it was a full ship it never felt too crowded and we never had trouble finding a space to sit at any venue. I don’t know how much of this had to do with the fact that we were sailing with a large group on board (700-800 people?) who had their own events and activities going on and may have helped disperse people throughout the ship. Dining The food quality varied from average to excellent. We went to the Main Dining Room for dinner every evening. My Time Dining wasn’t quite as flexible as I was hoping it would be as we found that you either had to arrive early or late to get a table without waiting (reservations for popular times were well booked up in advance). While I enjoyed the Main Dining Room food and experience, dinner did take a good hour and a half every evening which is much too long to spend sitting at a dinner table. The Windjammer always had a good selection on offer and never felt too crowded except for the time after our early afternoon departure from San Juan when everyone in the world decided to go to the Windjammer for lunch. We also visited Sorrentos a few times (the pizza was pretty good) and spent a lot of time at Cafe Promenade which was great for snacks, desserts and generally overindulging. We had much love for the teas and coffee available at all hours. We also went to Johnny Rockets once which we thought was good value for the cover charge and a nice bit of fun. The fries were awful but we enjoyed the burgers and hot fudge sundaes. Entertainment Our entertainment highlight was the ice show Freeze Frame – we were completely impressed! I had very low expectations for the production shows in the main theatre, having read several scathing reviews, but I actually found them quite enjoyable. Yes they’re cheesy and not professional quality and yes I did sometimes find myself laughing at things that weren’t meant to be funny, but they’re still worth seeing if you enjoy a song and dance show (and who doesn’t). I thought Invitation to Dance and Once Upon a Time were great, though Centre Stage was disjointed and I wish I’d have skipped it. The headliners were good. I would’ve liked to have seen a musical on board like most of the other bigger ships have. Activities We like to be active on holiday and enjoyed the variety of activities on offer including rock climbing and ice skating. The wind on the outside decks made table tennis and miniature golf almost impossible most of the time (though that didn’t stop us from trying). We would've liked to have tried the FlowRider but the queues got pretty long towards the end of the week (go early!) We went to the gym most days and thought there was a good variety of equipment available and it was never too crowded.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
First, let me say that my purpose for booking this cruise was to reach diamond level. I completed a 14 day repositioning cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas in November 2014 which was so awful that had I not already paid for the IOTS ... Read More
First, let me say that my purpose for booking this cruise was to reach diamond level. I completed a 14 day repositioning cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas in November 2014 which was so awful that had I not already paid for the IOTS cruise, I would have cancelled it and never sailed Royal again. Now I am glad I could not cancel! Embarkation: prior to sailing I kept getting emails, phone calls, and text messages from Royal telling me that 2:00 pm was my time to arrive at port and check in (I learned that everyone got these communications). I confirmed with Royal that this was “only a suggestion” so I arrived at 11:00 am and was onboard by 11:30. I was in my cabin at 1:00 pm. Disembarking went just as smoothly except that once off the ship Port Everglades has a weird way of getting people through the terminal (zig zag lines that never end). This is a large ship and as a solo cruiser I was a little concerned that it would be confusing to navigate and hard to meet people. Wrong on both counts. It’s a beautifully designed ship that lends itself to ease of movement and congeniality. There is a wealth of things to do or watch. The flow rider on deck 13 was quite a draw and I enjoyed watching people try their luck. There are the usual participatory games, but not the pool deck activities you see on some ships. Shopping left a lot to be desired and for the first time I did not buy one thing on the ship. I had a favorite bar, Boleros Tequila Bar, so I can’t speak to the others. Lorenzo, surely one of the best bartenders at sea, made sure to introduce his bar crowd to each other, making Bolero’s the place that people returned to time and time again. Music in Bolero’s was mostly Latin and that brought a suave group of Latinos to the dance floor each evening. There were a few 20 somethings, but most were with their families. This was a friendly 30-60 year old group of cruisers who mixed and mingled. I cruised solo, but I was never alone and someone was always inviting me to join them for something. I did not eat in the dining room at all (see below), choosing to dine at Giovanni’s, the Italian restaurant. At $25, you get a feast. Lamb, filet, shrimp, etc., all perfectly prepared with excellent service in a nice intimate setting. I thought about going to Chops for steak, but Giovanni’s had a delicious filet, so there was no need to spend the extra $$. I visited the Windjammer a few times for breakfast or lunch – totally unimpressive and uninspiring. If you’re hungry, you won’t starve, but expect quantity, not quality. Sorrento’s Pizza on the Promenade had surprisingly good pizza (no fee there). Other than Café Latitudes (try the shrimp salad sandwich) there were no other complimentary outlets that offered casual food (wings, etc.). Also, service hours are shorter in the Windjammer and free room service now ends at 10:00 pm instead of midnight: different than previous Royal ships I’ve sailed. Now for the negative: I purchased the Ultimate Beverage Package in November because it included unlimited glasses of Moet & Chandon through January. When I arrived and ordered M&C, I was told management had cancelled M&C (cheap stuff was offered). Since I had verbally confirmed the choices with Crown & Anchor before purchasing I was more than disappointed – I was very unhappy with the bait and switch tactic. I went to Guest Services and cancelled the package. Deciding that I did not want management to get any gratuity from me, I also cancelled the standard $12 per day gratuities and my dining room reservations. I wanted my $$ to go to the people who actually served me. I tipped in cash everywhere I ate or drank, including the Windjammer. I am a heavy tipper so the servers and bartenders (and my room steward) were happy to see me. Royal is definitely cutting corners. There are no snacks at the bars, no pens and paper in the cabins, no ice in the room, and no tissues in the bathrooms (they put them in the desk drawer but not the bathroom). It took me 3 tries to get a box of tissues for the bathroom. The room steward explained that everything in the room is replaced at the end of each cruise, so they don’t include any extras unless you ask for them. I plan to sail the IOTS again. I will never pre order another beverage package on any ship. I will always cancel the gratuities when I board so I can reward the people that do the actual work.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
First time on RCL and not quite what I expected. Not sure if it was the time of year or the norm but tons of families and kids. My husband and I are both in our fifties and we were a bit disappointed. Lots of little hiccups but nothing ... Read More
First time on RCL and not quite what I expected. Not sure if it was the time of year or the norm but tons of families and kids. My husband and I are both in our fifties and we were a bit disappointed. Lots of little hiccups but nothing that made the trip unbearable! Embarkation was a breeze, hotel shuttle dropped us off around 11:30 and we were through the lines and on board the ship within 30 minutes! Room was ready by 1 pm. Dropped off our carry ons and were eating lunch by 1:30! Room steward and room service itself were both lackluster. Couple of towel animals were left but other than that we spent too much time tracking down and requesting items we needed (room service menus etc). Room service has limited breakfast menu, rather plain and dry pastries, delivered without cream and sugar for coffee twice! Tried ordering snacks a few times and were told items we wanted were "out". Someone moved our breakfast menu one morning and room service called to tell us they wouldn't bring us breakfast since it wasn't on our door, took some convincing to get them to bring it anyways! Dining room staff was exact opposite! Best service ever in main dining room! Food was fairly good but again, not quite up to the standard we expected! Windjammer was also a bit of a disappointment for buffet, not as many choices and very limited hours! Our travel agent sent us to Chops Grille, great meal, but not sure I would of been thrilled had I paid the fees. As for Johnny Rockets, extra fee, limited menu and not nearly as fun as the real thing! Ben & Jerry's is extra and the coffee house "specialty" brews are a joke. I'll stick to Starbucks. Sorrentos has ho hum pizza, no extra fee, but also nothing to drink except coffee or purchase soda or beer! Felt a bit ripped off... We hit three ports, no issues at all with embark and disembark, well handled. Excursion desk staff is a bit curt but very knowledgable and gave us great advice. I use a portable oxygen concentrator and was glad for the extra information they had to guide us with. Labadee is a private peninsula in Haiti that the cruise line leases. If you are into water sports or just a day on a beach, great fun. For the rest of us, rather boring. We did a coastline cruise, walked through the "local craft area" and sat on the beach for a bit but that was about it for us. Casino pretty basic, great for a few hours of slots and they gave us a couple of cute key chains for our points. There is a smoking area in casino but didn't bother me too much. Would highly recommend this for anyone travelling with kids! Tons of stuff for them to do and many of the activities are billed as family only! Ship is huge and there is plenty of room in the theater, entertainment itself was a bit blah but ship band and dancers were great. Ice show was the high spot, well worth standing in line for ticket (hand out tickets to ensure that everyone gets a chance to see the show, no additional cost) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
I went on the Independence of the Seas December 28-January 3, 2015. It was a great cruise with only a few hiccups. First, the ship with a few battle scars was clean and in great shape. The room had two twin beds with a small sofa in the ... Read More
I went on the Independence of the Seas December 28-January 3, 2015. It was a great cruise with only a few hiccups. First, the ship with a few battle scars was clean and in great shape. The room had two twin beds with a small sofa in the room. We ate all of our breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer. There was something there to eat daily and my friend and I found the food very good. All but one dinner was ate in Romeo and Juliette dining room. I found the menu didn't change much with limited selection. I choose this cruise for the ports. I did a tour of Grand Cayman and got a kick out of going to Hell. An area called Hell with its own post office. I went to Montego Bay from Falmouth. I love Jamaica, I just wished I had more time there. I know people complain about Labadee but I enjoyed zip lining and the ribs. I also like the fact that the bathrooms were very clean and each time someone came out of a stall the attendant would spray the toilet and wipe it down. New Year's Eve was great on the Royal Promenade Overall this was a great cruise with good food and entertainment. The only problem I saw was the enforcement of children in adult spaces and bad parents. I would highly recommend this cruise especially for New Years Eve. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Ship was nice but there really wasn't much in the way of entertainment. No headliner shows except the ice skating show (which was performed 2 times on 2 different days, and was really good). Royal Caribbean needs to do something about ... Read More
Ship was nice but there really wasn't much in the way of entertainment. No headliner shows except the ice skating show (which was performed 2 times on 2 different days, and was really good). Royal Caribbean needs to do something about the smokiness in the casino - it was almost unbearable in there. The smoke-free area was very small, and there was nothing to separate it from the rest of the smoking area. Food in the main dining room wasn't great. Service was excellent, however. Chops was delicious. However, it was difficult to get reservations, even through the dining room never looked fully booked. Labadee was a relaxing port, and we found good (non-cruise) excursions in both Falmouth and Grand Cayman. My 3- and 4-year-old nieces enjoyed the children's club the few times they went there. Gym was crowded at peak hours, but not overly so. I was a little concerned about having a promenade window room but it was very quiet and dark in our room, which made for great sleeping - and the bed was very comfortable! Not enough storage space (very little dresser space). New Year's Eve celebration was nothing special - just a ceiling full of balloons released at midnight after a short countdown. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
A group of close friends and I cruised the Indy for New Year's Eve. This was by far one of the BEST cruises ever and a HUGE compliment to the Indy crew and staff especially since I just completed a back 2 back cruise on the brand new ... Read More
A group of close friends and I cruised the Indy for New Year's Eve. This was by far one of the BEST cruises ever and a HUGE compliment to the Indy crew and staff especially since I just completed a back 2 back cruise on the brand new Quantum of the Seas. We opted for my time dining and our waiter (Ernani) was excellent as well as his assistant and bar server. We frequented the Schooner Bar nightly to sing along with Joe Hollywood (piano bar). Joe was GREAT and very talented! By far, our favorite bartender was Victoria (Schooner Bar). What an awesome young lady! The ship is in EXCELLENT condition. My cabin (8544) was extremely clean and was maintained throughout the week. I can't say enough about the staff and crew....some of the best in the cruise industry. We arrived at the pier at 10:30 and were sitting at the pool bar at 10:45. I did self assist during debarkation and was off the ship by 6:30 a.m. If you don't have a good time on this ship, you have no one to blame but yourself! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
The staff were friendly and the ship is beautiful with lots of amenities ie: Rock Climbing Wall, Flow Rider and Ice Skating. The sports team were very helpful and encouraging. The cleaning crew are wonderful and attentive and so are the ... Read More
The staff were friendly and the ship is beautiful with lots of amenities ie: Rock Climbing Wall, Flow Rider and Ice Skating. The sports team were very helpful and encouraging. The cleaning crew are wonderful and attentive and so are the wait staff. The one major disappointment was the quality of the food. We ate at the windjammer and the dining room and the food was adequate. Nothing was outstanding and the variety was limited. If you wanted a decent burger then you needed to pay $5.95 per person at Johnny Rockets. The pizza was nothing special either at the windjammer or on the promenade. The ice cream machine was broken for 3 days on our 6 day cruise and then the only other ice cream was at Ben and Jerry's and you needed to pay for that. On the Carnival cruise there are more than just one ice cream machine available and its open 24 hours unlike Royal Caribbean where the ice cream is only available for a limited time each day when its not broken. Also wish the rock climbing wall and flow rider would be open for more hours and why not keep it open on port days as plenty of people stay on the ship and would benefit with enjoying these amenities without hours of waiting. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our first Holiday cruise, normally go in the Spring out of Miami. We were with a group of 20 family members ranging in age from 12 to 73. Ports of call were Grand Cayman, Falmouth, and Labadee. My husband and I didn`t do any ... Read More
This was our first Holiday cruise, normally go in the Spring out of Miami. We were with a group of 20 family members ranging in age from 12 to 73. Ports of call were Grand Cayman, Falmouth, and Labadee. My husband and I didn`t do any excursions so can`t comment on those. Dec. 26th - Traveled to Fort Lauderdale from Canada and spent 2 nights pre-cruise at the Sleep Inn and Suites near the airport, provide free shuttle for pickup (phone in Arrivals area). This is an older property, the suites were clean but basic, small outdoor pool and sitting area. Hot, self-serve complimentary breakfast til 10:00 a.m., no restaurant or lounge on site. Walgreen's next door, not much else in the immediate area except a Chinese restaurant across the street - one look was enough didn't eat there. Since we didn't have a vehicle we ordered in pizza the first night (1-1/2 hr wait for delivery). Fine for one night but don`t think I would stay longer without a car. Nothing much to do in the area daytime or for meals. Some of us took a cab to Sawgrass Mills Mall on the 27th, cost $48 plus tip each way (split 3 ways). Dec. 28th - Arranged hotel shuttle to Port (think it was $10 pp), arrived at Port approx noon, Embarkation was quick and easy, first time out of Port Everglades and best embarkation yet. In our staterooms by 1:00 p.m.and most luggage outside doors. Our Muster station was on Deck 4 under lifeboats but some others in our group had their Muster station in lounges. Muster took about 20 minutes. Independence is a beautiful ship with plenty of activities, which is what we wanted given the diverse ages in our group. The kids loved Flowrider, basketball, mini golf, the pools, ice skating, watching movies under the stars, ice skating show etc. The adults made sure to check out the shows, bars, casino, lounges,trivia games, karaoke, and of course the pools, hot tubs and soak up the sun. Our favorite place in the evenings was the Pyramid Lounge with `Rock the Boat`. Normally we sail Voyager class so I was concerned about crowds, elevator accessibility etc. Everything was great, although we sailed at capacity there never seemed to be lineups or long waits. We were on Deck 9 and normally took stairs back and forth to Pool decks. Some public areas of the ship were decorated for the Holidays, however I was surprised the various lounges and bars were not. The biggest celebration on New Year`s Eve was on the Promenade (countdown on screen, balloon drop etc). Promenade was packed so our group decided to `Ring in the New Year` together at the Pyramid Lounge with `Rock the Boat`. Smaller crowd than the Promenade and we were able to dance the night away. The only downside was that the Lounge didn`t have any festive decorations ... luckily we brought a few noise makers etc of our own. The other thing that surprised me was that although it was New Year`s Eve, everything closed at 1:30, except the Disco..... so most of us headed there .... probably brought the average age up by 20 years, but what the heck it was New Year`s! Six of us had Traditional 6 p.m. dining while the others couples (with kids) chose My Time Dining. We prefer Traditional, like to have the same wait staff each evening. Food and service was excellent each evening as it has always been on RCI. My husband and I had the Premium drink packages. We have been to Jamaica and Grand Cayman before so spent most of the day on board relaxing, enjoying the hot tub, sun and a couple of drinks. Add to that wine with dinner and a few drinks at the lounges & NYE party and our drink packages were a good choice for us. Jan. 3rd - Very efficient disembarkation around 10:00 a.m. Once outside it was a different story. Stood in a lineup for approximately 30 minutes waiting for a taxi. Independence is a great ship especially for a diverse group travelling together, there absolutely is something for everyone!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed from Dec.14-20th (6 nights) on the Independence of the sea - Cayman Island, Jamaica and Haiti. This is our second time sailing with Royal (we have been in two other cruise line before), but we like the Royal better. This is our ... Read More
We sailed from Dec.14-20th (6 nights) on the Independence of the sea - Cayman Island, Jamaica and Haiti. This is our second time sailing with Royal (we have been in two other cruise line before), but we like the Royal better. This is our 4th cruise. Our Stateroom (deck 9- room 678) - had a big balcony and a sofa bed for our two kids (ages 10 and 6), which was big and spaces for all 4 of us. We loved the balcony room because of the view. We really enjoy sitting in the balcony and looking into the Ocean. Main Dining room -menu needs some improvement in choices of food, however, overall the food was good. Lobsters night was excellent. The Windjammer (Deck 11) was the favorite place to eat at all times, they always had many choices, Indian, Thai, Sushi, salads, Italian etc. The food was well made and it tasted soooo good. Café (Deck 5) - had great choices of finger food and tea, coffee, hot chocolate. Pizza - the Pizza plc. Was excellent, our kids loved it that it was open 24hrs. Shows - the skating show and the 70's street night was awesome. We had a great time. Overall, the ship was very clean and the service was excellent. We had an awesome time.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I'd like to preface my review with some context. This was my first cruise, as cruising is not personally my ideal type of vacation. I prefer going somewhere and having time to explore -- maybe city- or country-hop if I can. But ... Read More
I'd like to preface my review with some context. This was my first cruise, as cruising is not personally my ideal type of vacation. I prefer going somewhere and having time to explore -- maybe city- or country-hop if I can. But I'm not typically into tours or rigid itineraries. Still, I love tropical environs, water and sailing, and am ok with resorts in general even though they're not as authentic as the places surrounding them. So I tried to go into the cruise with a fairly open mind. In the end, I have decided that cruising is not for me. On the other hand, there are some people that love cruises. So the things that bothered me might not apply to everyone else. But I will try to be thorough and specific, so at least others can get a sense of what I experienced during 6-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on the Independence of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. As a quick summary, I found that there wasn’t enough time to spend in the better port stops (Grand Cayman and especially Falmouth, Jamaica) and the other was completely artificial and run by the cruise line (Labadee, Haiti). Even in the stops that had some authentic culture, sights, and activities, Royal Caribbean tried to dissuade people from leaving the port area complexes where they take a cut of sales from vendors and luxury shops. They claim the towns and countries can be dangerous. If that was the case, why bother going? Why get off the ship? It’s just a money grab. On that note, there were LOTS of upcharges from the alcohol packages to the souvenir cups and the added-fee restaurants that were totally generic and not much better quality than the regular dining hall. The food quality and preparation in the dining hall and buffet were pretty atrocious – most dishes were mediocre at best, and some were appalling. There was also a lack of variety in foods, with one exception being the Singapore-Style Curry Noodles…unfortunately, while they tried to offer an ethnic taste, they were comically bad (they tasted like ketchup, French dressing, and sadness). In general, the foods were bland, drab, and not particularly fresh. Exceptions were some of the pastas and the steak. The ship, while large, felt confining. It was like we were confined to what Royal Caribbean felt like giving us as a vacation, rather than getting to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the time and the places we visited. Now to get more specific… I'll start with the positive: *The staff members on the ship were incredibly friendly, warm, interested, and caring. They were the absolute best part of the trip. Whether in the dining hall, bars, lounges, or pools, they made us feel welcomed and taken-care of. They helped us enjoy the cruise as much as possible, and are a huge credit to Royal Caribbean for hiring and training them. They’re truly outstanding. *The ship was well-maintained, clean, modern, and generally had a nice feel to its layout and in its venues. *There was one night with a stand-up coming guest performer – the show was great, although she might not have thought the crowd was into it due to rough seas at the time. I wish there were more established artists with some broad appeal. *Grand Cayman, while small, had some deliciously fresh seafood and lots of outdoor activities like snorkeling. *Falmouth, Jamaica was a very vibrant place. The produce was so incredibly fresh and diverse. The people were friendly and hospitable. The mountains and sea were beautiful. The history was interesting and complex. The foods were tasty (we went on a culinary walking tour). Plus it’s close to Montego Bay and Ochos Rios. I wish we could’ve stayed at port for a night so we had more time to enjoy this stop. *Onboard activities were fun, and facilities were nice – this applies to pools, hot tubs, the surf simulator, rock wall, etc. The time on the boat was generally enjoyable when we weren’t in rough seas or having a mediocre meal. *The alcohol package made things that much better – we got the ultimate package, which paid for itself after 4 or 5 drinks a day. That was a good call for us. And now for the negative: *Most importantly, Labadee was horrible, inauthentic, and a waste of a day. The entire complex was set up by Royal Caribbean, and is fenced-in from the rest of Haiti. If you were to judge from Labadee, Haitian food must be burgers, hot dogs, and the “Labadoozie” frozen drink. True story: one guy tossed part of a burger to one of the stray dogs on the beach – the dog sniffed the burger and wouldn’t eat it! The beaches were crowded, and most of them were rocky with coral chunks. The ones that had nicer sand were near the boat, and smelled like fuel. We were not allowed to experience any of what actual Haiti had to offer in terms of culture and sights. Yet from the beaches at Labadee, we could only be teased by the beautiful rolling hills that lay beyond the resort area’s fence. And as a resort, it was poor – everything had an upcharge whether it was a floating mat or a cabana. And the facilities were dirty and run-down (stank bathrooms). They do let some Haitian residents work in the complex, which I guess is a decent job. But it’s not a good experience for tourists. Except for the landscape, there’s no reason to bother leaving the boat here. *Premium amenities and services were very expensive, for example massages and spa services. Royal Caribbean tried to squeeze more money out of passengers every chance they got. *The "cold" water in the stateroom was tepid and undrinkable. Of course, even with a drink package you could only get one bottle of water at a time. *The mini fridge was barely cool. So you kindof need a beverage package for a cool drink. *The curtains in the promenade stateroom were see-through and provided no privacy unless we used the blackout ones, which eliminated the view and any light from outside. They should’ve been sheer to let in light, but not prying eyes. It basically defeated the purpose of having the promenade window. *The food quality was very poor, and dining options were few and unsatisfying. I actually touched on this more specifically above. Everything tasted frozen (ok, it’s the best way to get food to last for 6 days), but was not prepared in a way that brought out any of its flavor. Things were bland, and drab. There were only a few ethnic foods, most of which were terrible. The sushi bar at the buffet was very disappointing (they had a variety of bad rolls, when they probably should’ve just had a decent California roll and called it a day). Everything was soggy. When we got off the boat, we’d always crave veggies and fresh foods. They should probably simplify the menu to more reliable things, and consider cheap foods that can hold up well and make people happy…why not have a decent lo mein or burrito bar? And the two premium restaurants were totally not worth it -- $25 per person for generic “Italian” food or $35 for a lousy steakhouse. They should consider getting a chain or established chef to set up a restaurant – if they can source some decent-quality food that a real chef would accept. *The drinks were a price gouge. You can bring on wine, but not even a large-format beer. Basically if you enjoy drinking, you have to pay out the nose. *WiFi was expensive and unreliable – if you expect dial-up speeds, you will be sorely disappointed. *There were incessant announcements on the PA loudspeaker system to announce “important” information like longitude/latitude, pre-scheduled port stops we already knew about, and opportunities to spend money at the overpriced duty-free and jewelry shops. These woke us up if we dared to relax during our “vacation,” and were obnoxious in content and volume. They woke us up at 6am on debarkation day even though many of us were not allowed off the ship until 10. Awesome! *The island stops were too short, and Royal Caribbean tried to mislead passengers that the only safe areas were the ports, where all shopping basically went back to the cruise line. I don’t see the point of taking a ship somewhere beautiful in the Caribbean, but not getting time to actually experience these places. For people who enjoy the cruising experience aboard the ship, why bother stopping? It seemed like a lose-lose proposition for me. *Finally, while they’re truly amazing people, the cruise staff are overworked, and abused by Royal Caribbean. While the option to work with a cruise line might be a better career choice than staying in their home countries, they should be treated fairly on par with American employment laws and not treated so horribly. It is depressing to see, and I felt ashamed that my family did business with Royal Caribbean. It was typical to learn that some staff members worked 15-17 hour days with no days off. And they are penalized without-pay if they happen to get sick. Sure, it’s just business. But I think a company should be judged not only by how profitable they are, but also by how decently they treat the people who work with them to help them succeed. For the absolute best part of this company, the staff was not properly appreciated by Royal Caribbean. I hope some of this might help people make their cruise related decisions in the future – the bottom line is that if you already like cruising, you probably will enjoy this ship and itinerary with a few exceptions. And if you’re not sure about the cruise experience, there are some downsides that are probably worth being warned about in advance. Overall, the most important thing I can say that should apply to everyone is that Labadee was, in my opinion, the absolute worst part of the trip--and a waste of time and money. Even if you’re gung-ho about taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean, I’d urge you to check out an itinerary that avoids this lame excuse for either a resort or a genuine port stop. I looked through their port brochure, and am intrigued by some other places they serve such as Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. Happy travels! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was my husband's and my 17th cruise since 1992, and our fourth on a Royal Caribbean ship. We love cruises -- in the first 25 years of our marriage we traveled all over the world, and had plenty of adventure and drama and cultural ... Read More
This was my husband's and my 17th cruise since 1992, and our fourth on a Royal Caribbean ship. We love cruises -- in the first 25 years of our marriage we traveled all over the world, and had plenty of adventure and drama and cultural experiences/immersion. When we started cruising, we found a different world - the chance to get around without care about logistics, largely prepaid, comfortable, even luxurious, wonderful food, great service, and the choices to do a lot of active things or nothing at all. I recommend Royal Caribbean for first time cruisers as its always a good generic experience. But it hadn't seemed to excel in anything much, so we had tried other cruise lines. When we took a RC cruise, Brilliance of the Seas, in 2013 mainfly because it went out of Tampa (we lived in the Tampa Bay area and were moving, so we thought we really should take a ship out of the most convenient port!), we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed the ship and cruise. I should say here that our all-time favorite cruises have been the destination ones - Alaska, New England-Canada, and Europe. The Caribbean cruises are for relaxation, r&r, being on the sea, sunshine! We were happy to book this cruise and it exceeded our expectations. It was our first holiday cruise (Dec. 28-Jan.3) and we enjoyed the three-deck high Christmas tree and the New Year festivities. There were many families, teens, young adults, and children aboard and they all seemed happy - in our 70's, we enjoyed seeing their happiness and being surrounded by younger people. Did not experience bad behavior. We thought the food on this ship was superior to the other RC cruises we'd been on. Most of the offerings in the main King Lear dining room. where we ate dinner every night were excellent. We usually had several starters, sharing a third or each having two as they were all wonderful. The service at our table was excellent - kudos to Randy and Vic of the Philippines - and the dining room was, we thought, one of the best run ever. Junior Bailey is the head waiter, a very affable guy who seemed to be on top of it all. LIve music was provided nightly by piano and violinst, and a guitarist. The first night the sound was pitched too loud for us to hear each other; we mentioned this to Mr. Bailey and he had them lower it to a very pleasant background music level and I think everyone enjoyed it more then. The ice skating show was fantastic!!! The other entertainment we weren't much interested in. We had an internet package, expensive at $200 for the entire trip, which though not perfect, was the best we've had yet aboard a cruise ship. We loved our cabin 8328, midships, quiet, clean, cozy, comfortable with balcony, and plenty of storage space. I liked the bathroom sink-counter-three sided mirror set up with shelves behind the outer mirror - didn't have to have all my cosmetics and meds lined up on the counter for a change. All the crew we encountered were pleasant, helpful and competent. I usually avoid spas, looking in on them only because they usually seem cold and a little intimidating. Went to two presentations, and yes, I bought the featured products, expensive but have found them to be wonderful! No one in the reviews I have read of this ship has mentioned the wonderful Royal Promenade -- I loved this feature. It made a focal point on the ship for seeing people, having an onboard "destination" and providing more walking, and it's very photogenic. I liked the Promenade Cafe at which coffee, tea, pastries and interesting sandwiches were available without charge all day and evening. It made a great venue for New Year's Eve. We enjoyed the three port stops, and found both embarkation and disembarkation a smooth process. Seemed to me that Royal Caribbean still provides an all-around excellent cruise, though maybe too blatant in trying to sell you something, and is trying hard with much success in the food and service categories. It was, for us, a great cruise! Read Less
Independence of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.2
Family 5.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates N/A 3.8

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