Cruised to Cobh on 4 night cruise. We are regular cruisers and despite being Crown and Anchor members we had thought that quality on recent RCCL cruises had declined. However, we found nothing to fault on the Independence and felt that standards had returned to what we considered were normal. Mini cruises are always at full capacity but the ship coped well with only slight difficulty getting a table at breakfast time. The My Time Dining was the best we have experienced with no wait at all, the same waiters every night and the table for two we had requested.
Rather than have a balcony for what might be cool weather, we had an outside cabin on Deck 9, right at the front which was excellent. The advantage is that you get considerably more space for the same money, you are close to the facilities and being at the end of the corridor, you don't get the noise of people passing your cabin all the time (or lift noise.) Would highly recommend this location.
Service was very good, food also very good and surprisingly, the drinks waiters were not pestering you all the time. Presumably removing the 15% charge has reduced the incentive.
All in all, an excellent cruise for a mini break and we definitely thought that RCCL had reverted to previous higher levels of quality and service. Not quite Celebrity standards but that is not what you are buying. If this experience is mirrored on other ships then credit to RCCL for halting the decline or aggressive cost cutting.
Finally, we travelled by train to Southampton and arrived at the main station at 1145. Courtesy of Crown and Anchor membership and streamlined boarding, we were sat down eating lunch in the Windjammer at 1215. Must be the best boarding experience yet!