This was our 3rd cruise (all with RCI) and our second trip on Independence of the Seas.
This took approx. 90 minutes from being dropped off to opening the champagne in our stateroom. Not bad considering we arrived at 1pm which appeared to be the most popular time for arriving! Still people complained that it was taking so long, but what can they expect when 3,500 people are trying to get on the boat..... I'd rather do 90 minutes there than hanging around an airport for 3 hours once I've checked in.....
As usual, this was clean and contained everything we have come to expect from RCI. Our Stateroom Attendant, Ronald, came along and introduced himself and explained about the towel exchange system and offered his services for anything else we might need. He was a true gentleman and how he remembers everybody's name so quickly, I have no idea, but it goes a long way to making you feel comfortable.
We only eat in the Windjammer cafe, so I can't comment on the food in the main dining areas. The food in Windjammer is always lovely, well cooked and plenty available. Our only gripe is that there is not a lot of difference night to night. I ended up eating mostly vegetarian during the cruise as there was always something different every night and it was absolutely gorgeous. As usual, the puddings were out of this world. It's highly unlikely that the ship will run out of food, so why do people insist on piling their plates so high? It never ceases to amaze me how people can be so greedy....... We had one meal in Johnny Rockets which was worth the $4.95 cover charge -- the burgers are lovely and the entertainment great fun.
Joff Eaton and his team are fabulous. They work so hard and ALWAYS have a smile and a greeting for everyone they meet during the day. We enjoyed the nightly theatre entertainment and went to most shows -- we didn't go to the Take That tribute band (not our thing), nor did we see the Fairy Tale show (we'd seen that before) but everything else was very good. The hypnotist (Christopher Caress) and the magician (Neil Austin) were our particular favourites. We loved the Love & Marriage show -- how Joff managed to carry on after one of the answers is beyond me -- and Quest was absolutely brilliant fun. We enjoyed the quizzes and took part in many of them -- this was a great way to meet new people.
We pre-booked excursions in all the ports apart from Malaga and Vigo. They did vary in quality but this is more to do with the tour guide than the excursion itself. We used the shuttle bus transfer in Malaga which worked very well -- it was our first venture onto land without a tour guide and we would use this again in future if we wanted to do our own thing locally in port.
Somehow, our request to leave from 8.15 -- 8.45am got lost in Guest Relations so we ended up doing the Self-Carry Departure. In the end, this worked out very well for us and we were outside the terminal within 10 minutes of leaving our Stateroom -- we will definitely use this option in future. The instruction video on the RCTV in our Stateroom was worth watching and gave all the information we needed.
I wish the Pool Attendants would enforce the 30 minute rule regarding sun beds as some people reserve 2 beds each to make sure they get the sun in the morning AND afternoon. This is pretty selfish and causes a little bit of hassle when searching for somewhere to relax for the day but could easily be resolved if the 30 minute rule were observed and enforced.
People often complain about the cost of drinks on board the ship. $7 for a vodka, lemonade and lime (and the measures are at the very least triple measures) is very good value, I believe and much cheaper than most town and city bars. Our drinks bill, which included coffees and at least 2 alcoholic drinks and soft drinks each per day came to approx Â£425 for the 14 days. That's about Â£30 per day for two people and we never ever thought twice before ordering. I think the prices are fair.
The ship itself is starting to look a little dated and will benefit from it's refurb in Spring but other than that, everything still works and the staff, wherever you go, are always friendly and helpful.
We've started saving for our next cruise -- not sure whether we'll be back on Indy, but it will definitely be with RCI.