Having cruised many times before, my wife and I decided to try a "RCI Independence of the Seas sampler cruise" (their description). We booked a suite, deck 9, mid ship. The checking in process was completed very quickly and smoothly and after a very short time we boarded the ship . Our cabin was soon available and our first impression was that it was very nice BUT with none of the extras that you would expect when booking a suite. There were no flowers, chocolates, magazines, champagne or even drinking glasses, things that have always been a standard on our previous cruises as suite passengers.
Our first dining experience was at the 'Windjammer/Jade Buffet Restaurant', for lunch. Having said that we actually left without eating lunch as the fare offered looked inedible, very little choice and poor quality most of which would be available at a roadside burger van. Staffed by miserable, unhelpful waiters and more than a few in need of a little advice with regards to their personal appearance. That evening we ate in he ships premier restaurant, "Chops Grille" which attracts an additional cover charge. The food was at best average, served on tables placed far too closely together and covered with table cloths that I do not believe have ever seen an iron.
With regards to the ships service in a word I would say poor, I expected Dubai or Far East quality service but what we got on the whole, was a crew who almost begrudgingly serve, or indeed not, we tried twice to get a drink in the Champagne Bar and twice left after waiting over ten minutes to find that no one came to take our order. On a separate occasion we went to one of the other bars to request one alcoholic drink and one latte only to be told that if we wanted coffee we had to go upstairs to the self service coffee outlet and get it yourself in a paper cup.
Now a more serious issue, the mandatory safety brief is almost a joke, the ships crew attempting a roll call outside on an open deck, we were corralled and ordered to stand in lines by extremely rude crew members who failed to educate most passengers in what the emergency procedure is. RCI please visit a P & O ship, watch and learn how a safety brief can and should be delivered.
So to sum up, a beautiful ship which we feel is understaffed by poorly trained unhelpful rude staff, where the focus is not on quality, passenger service or safety, but on more of a conveyor belt approach.
If you are still in doubt, this last sentence should speak volumes, on the morning of our disembarkation we declined the ships woefully poor breakfast and decided to visit the local Mc Donald's for a drive-thru.
Apologise to the few crew who really do try, the lone barman at the pool bar and the waitress in vintages who were the only crew worth paying.