I believe the biggest problem with this sailing is although they are newly back in South Florida port, they still think they are sailing out of South Hampton. OMG, even one of the debarkation screen instructions yesterday showed, "when disembarking out of South Hampton." Really?? Get it together IOS. Seriously though, I've had many cruise director staff sailing out of U.S. ports that was from the U.K., and loved them but they knew Americans pretty well, didn't use lingo we totally didn't understand as much as this staff did. From overdoing it with British trivia (including naming U.K. TV shows) to verbiage during other activities, to the RCI brochures all in British Pounds, to as I said, signs regarding south Hampton - it went on and on like this and frankly I just don't know if they realize this, but many of our fellow cruisemates said the same thing. Unfortunately they also were unable to answer simple questions regarding the Caribbean ports or areas we were passing, even the managers.
We had a junior suite with the bumped out balcony, absolutely lovely, however, on Day 2, we received a note they would be cleaning the balcony so to please take in any personal items and keep drapes closed. Advice taken. They had all the dividers opens most of the day, but they didn't clean but rather varnished the railings and they left wet paint signs, but it remained sticky the entire time so we weren't able to lean on the rail at all, especially Day 2 & 3. Also, the varnish ran down the entire balcony glass - looked horrid, very sloppy. Then Day 4 we receive the same note about cleaning. So again, dividers opened all day, cleaning did take place that day. So basically we weren't able to enjoy our balcony for most of the trip. You think they would spread the days apart or only inconvenience us for part and the other side of the ship or deck on others.
We had lovely Christmas decorations on our door which were stolen. We met two others who had their decorations stolen the same night (we were all on different decks). Also stolen one night was everyone's do not disturb signs in our area (the stateroom attendant was clearly unhappy with this). This was also our first cruise, where we all received a letter asking us to check our rooms, that someone did NOT receive their luggage. I think this a polite way to ask someone who took luggage not belonging to them to return it.
The internet was down more than working. They said this was a problem for the past few sailings. This was difficult for staying in touch with home since every time we went to use it we couldn't.
Our first visit to the Schooner left us shaking our heads as how dirty it was. One could write their name in the dust it was that bad. We checked a few days later while there again and it had been dusted.
Other than the beautiful Christmas tree, there seemed very little Holiday spirit on board the IOS. While doing trivia the last day we heard the adventure club children singing carols on the deck above us. Now had this been announced we would surely have loved to join in. But they are so busy announcing bingo and the art auction, they totally dissed anything holidays.
The TV reception was awful, snow on most channels. They did not show any holiday movies in the theater. Of all the cruises I've taken, usually in December, this was the least holiday I've ever felt. It was a very crowded ship, elevators took forever, windjammer was crammed.
The shows on this ship were not very good. They had that awful Foreigner band guy Dominck Allen who thankfully we remember seeing him before and how terrible he was. Yup, everyone who went to that show walked out AGAIN. This IOS singers and dancers show Once Upon a Time was, extremely disappointing. Only a couple of songs actually had to do with a fairytale but I guess whatever it takes to get their singers and dancers on stage. The only song close was Little Red Riding Hood, but then again, I clearly know she doesn't hop in a car and drive off with the wolf. We normally love the shows on RCI ships.
They were running out of so many things, Cabernet in the Diamond lounge, ice tea and syrup in the Windjammer - it went on and on so many things weren't stocked properly (according to a staff member).
The logo shop was one of the smallest ever and did not have the typical nice RCI stock we are use to seeing.. They made room for the Clean Shave (ick), more than a barber shop, where Day 1 they were shaving men right there in the prominade. Some things are better behind closed doors.
This ship or sailings since coming back to South Florida just was off as many reviewers are saying.
The good and yes, there is some good. Some very nice staff, (we handed out many WOW cards. The cruise director grew on us but did not care for the cruise director staff although I do appreciate how hard they work and the long hours they work. Diamond conceirge Ryno was nice and he did decorate the lounge on about Day 3. Wait staff service was excellent on this ship be it in the lounges, pool, or windjammer. There was always someone there to take your drink orders, clear the table or just to stop by and chat. This may have had some of the friendliest staff I've met. They had lots of trivia which we enjoy, however, so many folks were doing b2b2b they had all the answers. lol
We ran into a fellow C&A member who said he booked another Independence cruise on Day 2 but by Day 5, they had cancelled it. I think that pretty much sums it up.
Sorry Indy, but I still love ya RCI and won't give up on you yet.