We anxiously set said out of Port Everglades on December 30th 2012. This was a highly anticipated trip for the entire family as we had a couple of celebrations planned. Plus, it was going to be our third year in a row spent out at sea with Royal Caribbean. Eight glorious nights were awaiting us.
As we left port following a convoy of other cruise ships, we hit the Atlantic Ocean. Mother nature was a little intense the first couple of nights. We are experienced cruisers and the wife had her trusted patch on. She was still a little queasy as were a number of other guests. All of the meals were typical Royal Caribbean meals. If you've been on one ship, then you've eaten the food. This doesn't bother me, but, the wife is a little more harder to please. It's not that the food is bad, it's just the same thing each year. Like I said, it doesn't stop me from ordering a couple of these and a couple of those. The food is good, not great. We don't believe in eating in the pay for service restaurants when there is food for free at every corner.
Before embarking on the ship I had read how the ship looked tired or wasn't well maintained. I can honestly say that I didn't come across any of that. There were crew members cleaning all over the ship and were quite visible. The crew was very insistent on sanitizing (Purell dispensers) and handing out wipes. At first it was a whee bit alarming. There were no outbreaks that we know about and after awhile, we found it refreshing.
The ship has all the amenities you could ask for. The kids never even got to the flowrider. Upon the second to last day, they finally put their jeans and long socks on and went ice skating. Both of these are favorite activities for them and they were just to busy. That is a major key!!! Keep the kids happy and busy. My wife and I participated in many trivia challenges (lost most of them) and other activities. They were all enjoyable.
The New Year's Eve celebration was awesome. This being our third cruise of this nature, we knew to get to our spot early and camp out. We got down to the promenade deck around eleven and found an open area by the Christmas tree. Thirty minutes later, you couldn't move. It was interesting that there wasn't a party by the pool (the rough seas might have had something to do with it). The midnight celebration was a lot of fun as kisses and handshakes were handed out. I was waist high in balloons and graffiti. The one thing I never had was a champagne. There are usually crew members walking around with complementary glasses. We were told they were at the other end of the deck. This really annoyed me as there was a station setup to sell bottles of champagne. Royal really needs to get their priorities straight here. You shouldn't be peddling high price champagne on a cruise you are charging a premium on. This just seemed very cheesy to me this year.
We got to take advantage of the diamond lounge this cruise and found it a nice escape. Love the coffee maker, although the crew should be taught that when cups are building up with unused coffee, something is wrong with it. The view from this lounge was beautiful and we enjoyed watching each port sail away from there.
Cruise Director Joff Eaton was incredible. He really knew his job and how to entertain. From the Welcome Aboard show til the End of Cruise Finale, he was there to entertain and make sure you enjoyed the cruise. The entire cruise directory staff did an outstanding job. The shows were also very entertaining. If you've never seen a Royal Caribbean Ice show then you are missing out. Those stunts are hard enough on a normal skating surface. So get your tickets and don't miss the ice show!!!
We did a couple of excursions and they were new experiences. New as in good. We have been to these ports a few times now and are hoping that new itinerary comes available. We like the longer then seven day cruise. We also enjoy going to different ports.
As with going on any cruise, we met new people from all over. That's the most enjoyable thing about cruising. The people. Where else can you meet people from South Africa, United Kingdom, Brazil and Mexico among other places then the USA?
As for the above mentioned possibly ugly. I didn't get into that bathing suit until day six! So the ugly was hidden for most of the cruise. I would like to give a huge thank you and bon voyage to the entire crew of the Independence of the Seas.