Let me start off by saying, this review is just my opinion (along with my wife-who is writing this) based on our experience. It's neither right or wrong so you can take it with a grain of salt.. ( And tequila & lime too! if you want :) )
After 14 cruises all with RCCL, this one is our least favorite and we would not sail on her again. We have sailed solo, with large groups, with other couples, with our kids, and this latest cruise, with a party of 16.
After sailing on the Freedom and the Liberty which we all loved, we thought the Independence would be the same since they are all in the Freedom class. Huge disappointment :( It just didn't seem to be typical RCCL standards.
The staff on board just didn't seem to be as friendly. The service at dinner was almost as if it were a training session. I understand with a party of 16, it might make it a little more difficult. Salads being forgotten, steaks not cooked as ordered, drinks not being delivered... etc .. Not really a big deal, but the bartender delivered my 11 year old son a malibu and diet coke (which to took a big drink of). If the bartender would have given it to my 12 yr old son who is on prescription medication, it might have been a different story. Still, we aren't ones to complain but this service just wasn't what we are accustom to when we sail with RCCL.
The concierge in the diamond lounge didn't seem to want to help us ? I ended up getting the ice show tickets for our party myself. I will probably offend some people with this next statement and I apologize but like I said, it's our opinion. It seemed to us, if you were American, he just didn't want to deal with you. Now, is this because it just came back from Europe? Don't know? But we felt uncomfortable and therefore, never went back. Which is a shame, since our boys normally love going there for breakfast.
The pool attendants didn't really monitor people hogging chairs, they instead monitored the kids in the pool. They did not want them jumping in. Now, I am not a parent who doesn't watch their kids. My children know, they are not allowed to run and jump in. But I see no harm standing on the edge and jumping in. Huge NO NO !
The walk for wishes is something our family holds dear to our hearts and we walk every cruise we take. Last November, my husband & I cruised with another couple on the Liberty and did the walk for wishes with the Captain and several officers. After the walk was completed, the captain gave a speech on the pool deck with how much money they have raised and how many wishes they have granted. Fiona even came over and hugged me when she saw I was walking with a picture of my son. On the Independence, only the cruise director walked and when it was completed, if just tapered off. There was no ending to it, they went right into the belly flop contest.
Again, all these things might seem like a big deal and that we are nit-picking but we work hard at our jobs, and have had a very stressful couple of years with our son who was diagnosed with a tumor inside his spinal cord at the base of his brain and once a year we want to be pampered by the staff on board. We like the "spoiled brat" feeling that we normally receive when we sail with RCCL. Having said all this, we will continue to sail with RCCL-just not on the Independence.
I'm sure everyone has a favorite ship and for some it might be the Independence, it's just not ours .. Alot of little things that added up over the week long cruise that will make us go back to the Liberty !
Happy sailing <3