We traveled on RC's Independence of the Seas to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti. This is the first time we'd sailed with Royal Caribbean and we really enjoyed our trip with them. My husband and I had been on an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Pearl three years ago which was fantastic as well (our first time cruising). We chose RC and particularly this ship because we were taking our kids with us and it looked like it had a lot more things to do with kids onboard. We made an excellent choice with Ind of the Seas - the kids pool was amazing, the mini golf, the rock climbing wall, the Flow Rider, etc. Our kids loved the children's program (they are five and ten years old). Every day they would ask at some point to go play with the other kids so it wasn't like we even had to ask them if they wanted to go. The kid's leaders were fantastic and I thought it was a very well run program!
All in all, my husband and I agreed that we More
liked the Ind. of the Seas better than the Pearl. We just liked the decorating style and found it much easier to get around on the ship. However, we thought that the Norwegian Pearl had much better entertainment for the adults. Not that the Independence was bad....it just wasn't as good as the Pearl. It was really hard to beat Sharkbait, the entertainment on the Pearl!
I had done a lot of research before we left on Cruise Critic about other people's thoughts on this ship. I read how some people thought the food was not that great. After having experienced it, I can say it's all what you are expecting. I thought the food was very good but then I was realistic that it was a buffet situation unless you ate in the main dining room. We never had to wait in line for anything and our food was always hot and well prepared. So I personally had no issues with food.
Our cabin was at the front of the ship which made for quite a bit of walking to get back to the children's areas and the pools. But that was good to walk off the food :-) I did think being in the front of the boat made for a little bit more rocking motion as opposed to when we had an inside cabin mid ship. But I don't get sea sick so it didn't both me or any of my family.
We did three excursions in the ports - Stingray City in Grand Cayman (we used an outside tour company - Aquarius Sea Tours which was fantastic), Red Stripe Beach in Jamaica, and rented a cabana at Nellie's beach in Labadee. It was hard to find information and pictures about Red Stripe beach but it was a gorgeous beach and very close to port so only about a seven minute drive. I would definitely recommend that as an excursion especially because it was the best priced excursion thru RC. And we loved the cabana at Nellie's beach - lovely location and totally peaceful setting to hang out! Less
Independence of the Seas Cruises to the Western Caribbean
We chose to go to Red Stripe Beach which was only about a seven minute drive from the port. It was very difficult to find out a lot of info prior to sailing about this beach and we almost didn't go. But I am so glad we did because it was just gorgeous! Turquoise waters, white sand beach...perfect! It wasn't very big but they had bathrooms, changing rooms, food, lifeguards. For the money, you couldn't beat this beach!!! And it was close by which was good because we were traveling with our kids and didn't want the long drive to Ocho Rios or Montego Bay.
Our kids LOVED Stingray City. We used an independent operator, Aquarius Sea Tours and they were fantastic. They gave us pizza and took pics of us underwater and with the stingrays all at no extra charge.
We rented a cabana on Nellie's beach and it was just lovely! The cabana was perfect, right on the beach so could see our kids and be nearby. We had a great lunch at the Barefood beach. Our attendant couldn't have been more helpful and caring. And the beach itself was very clean and the water was very clear and the sand was pretty smooth. It was very cool to be able to see our cruise shipped parked out past the beach area.
I personally would recommend the beach cabanas vs. the cabanas over the water because I think the water access was much easier from the beach. Plus they are less expensive.