We took the Independence of The Seas 8 nights Holiday Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. It was our fourth cruise, after two cruises with Costa and one with Carnival.
I must say that I was a bit disappointed, considering RCI reputation as an upscale cruise line and the high price of the cruise. We paid $1,200 plus ~100 pre-paid gratuities. I realize that holiday cruises are more expensive, but this is still way more expensive than Costa, and the overall quality did not justify such steep price. It was okay, but not outstanding.
No complains here. Very quick and efficient, especially considering the size of the ship.
Pretty good, not outstanding. Waiters in the pool and bars were very quick to come and offer you a $10 cocktail, I wish they were as quick to offer free stuff such as coffee at breakfast and lunch. Our cabin service was just okay and not consistent. I asked to get ice every evening, I got it about every other evening. Some days the cabin has been cleaned during our breakfast time, other days it could take as long as 3-4 hours. Sometimes it felt that there is not enough stuff for such a big ship, and their first priority of maximizing profits, not necessarily providing the best service.
Just okay. Breakfast had pretty good selection, but it was exactly the same each and every day. Lunch buffet was below average. About 30% of the selection was junk food (pizza, hamburgers, fries, sausages) which is probably fine with most Americans. The rest was just okay. Dinner was usually good quality, but only two courses (starters and entree). Costa had selection of 4-5 courses. Juices (orange and apple) were free only during breakfast, rest of the day you had to pay for it. No midnight buffet, which one of the main attractions on each cruise. When we asked our waiter why there is no midnight buffet, he said it is a waste of food. Well, breakfast/lunch buffet are waste of food as well, maybe just cancel them and bring some sandwiches.
There were limited activities during the day. The skating was very nice, but it was available only 3 days for 3-4 hours. The evening shows were just okay, most of them have been performed by in the house singers and dancers and felt a bit amateur. The guest show was pretty good. The Ice show was outstanding. The cruise Director, Joff Ethan, was hilarious. The farewell shows was pathetic. FYI RCI: you don't put a piano on wheels.
I guess bigger ships means smaller cabins. The cabin was only 150 sqf including bathroom and closet. Not a big deal since you are supposed only to sleep in the cabin. Just don't expect bigger cabins only because it's a bigger ship. Costa was 175 sqf btw.
We visited 4 ports: St. Kitts, St Maarten, San Juan & Labadee. Don't take excursions from the ship. You can get a $45 tour for $20 from a local tour provider. Those are exactly the same excursions; you just pay double if you book through the ship. The only inconvenience is that locals usually accept cash only. St. Kitts is beautiful. St Maarten and San Juan are very nice for shopping. Labadee is a private island owned by RCC. It was a very nice day on a beach, very well organized.
This was a complete disaster. They charge $0.65 per minute for an Internet service which is about 3 times slower than a high-speed Internet. It was supposed to be available in the cabin and most public areas. In reality, most of the time you had to go to the Business center to get it. The price and the service were just outrageous.
Pools were nice but way overcrowded. Most of the time it was difficult to find a spot. The largest public area was the casino, which is probably the biggest cash cow for the ship.
Conclusion: Larger ship doesn't necessarily mean better ship. We didn't feel that the stuff is ready to go the extra mile to turn a good cruise to outstanding. Overall, the quality does not justify the significantly higher price compared to Costa. Maybe this ship is an exception, but based on our experience, I would not call RCI a premium cruise line. This ship is a 4 star ship at 5 star price. Next time we will probably try Celebrity, or go back to Costa.