Myself and partner both 22, have returned from Independence of the Seas on a 14 night voyage of the Canary Isles. We have cruised many times before on RCCL (Diamond Member), as well as other lines including P&O and Princess.
We booked two week prior to departure due to the fact we gained an excellent deal of £749pp for an inside guarenteed stateroom.
Our embarkation was swift and efficient as we were pulled from very long queues due to our status. The departure lounge had been opened early to allow guests to sit whilst the ship was prepared for boarding.
When boarding the ship we headed for lunch in the Windjammer Cafe, this is the buffet style restaurant on deck 11. The restaurant is generally over crowded and serves basic food for a British market leaving many passengers disappointed unless you enjoy burger and chips.
In all my time of cruising I have never seen so many wheelchair or mobility scooter guests. I am all one for equal opportunities , however, this did hinder the experience for fellow passengers. The lifts were always in use and impossible to get hold off. Mobility scooter guests would ram their vehicle in to a space that was not possible over people's feet and into legs. The average age of the cruise must have been well over 65 the majority using a walking stick, you can imagine the congestion in hallways and public venues.
Our stateroom became available at 2pm, when opening the door I was guinelly surprised, we had been assigned a family inside room, this is the biggest room I have ever seen! There were two doubles beds pushed together segregated from other bunks beds in which children could sleep easily. There was a shared bathroom along with two dressing tables. A nice feature was the walk in wardrobe which allowed us to hang all our clothes which is a nice change. Our stateroom attendant Stephen from St Vincent was one of the nicest members of staff I have ever come across. He was friendly at all times accommodating your every need and working around your sleeping requirements in order to offer a high level of service when making up the room cleanliness was immaculate, thank you Stephen!
The Main Dining Room is always something to look forward too, it is set over three levels which can be seen throughout. The bottom two are used for set dining at 6.30 and 8.30pm. The top Dining Room is for MyTime Dining which allows you to eat at your leisure you can make an appointment to suit for the following evening or simply turn up but expect a small wait whilst a table is organised. The first few evenings we were fluctuated between waiters and no of which offered a level of service I have experience on previous cruises. It left me slightly disappointed as most staff seemed disheartened and lacking inthusiasm. Following this I explained my concerns to the Matitre De he quickly assigned me the following evening to a table in the window in which the service was excellent and could not be faulted attention to detail at every moment. The main menu most nights was disappointing, the waiter had claimed in confidence it was mainly due to the fact the menus are made up whilst cruising in the Caribbean by their signature chef. These menus are designed for 7 night cruises which left an additional 7 nights to fill whilst sailing in Europe. The variety was lacking and in my opinion has been the blandest most repetitive food I have ever experienced aboard any cruise. I frequently asked for a meal that was not stated on the menu which the waiter always managed to find to his credit.
The Main Dining Room is also used for Breakfast each morning as well as Lunch during sea days. The service on both deck 3 and 4 was truly appauling everything was an issue. The way we asked for eggs to be cooked, certain item we did not wish to have on our plate or our choice in orange or apple juice seemed big problems for rude staff giving bad attitude. This is the first time I have ever come across this on any cruise and normally am not one for moaning. Due to this I felt it necessary to complain at the main desk, my concern were noted. Later that evening we received a phone call from the Dining Room manager that was extremely apologetic and also sent a bottle of Champagne and fresh fruit to the room.
One Vening we dined in Chops Grille one of two luxurious speciality restaurants on-board which requires a $30 Cover Fee Per Person. This was as an alternative to MyTime dining that was getting repetitive. The food in here's was sensational! Well worth a visit an we both said it was worth any fee. The service was second to none and nothing was too much trouble. It mainly specialises in steak and you will not be disappointed it was on of the best I have ever sampled.
The Cruise Director was Rob McNally by far the worst I have ever seen! The normal cruise director Joff Eaton was on vacation and the ship really did miss his sence oh humour. His deput Rob looked like a fish out of water telling poor jokes are looking very uncomfortable.
Activities were few and far between and for the first time ever whilst cruising I found periods of time were there wasn't very much to do.
The guest entertainers were sensational including Clair Maidin a classical pianist but playing modern material, Tukker a London Comedian very funny, A Hypnotist and Adrian Walsh an Irish Comic very well known that was not to my taste in humour but others enjoyed.
The Broadway style shows are superb for first time cruisers, however if you have cruised before they are just the same as previous sailings when asking when these would change I was told every 5 years which mean they are now surely due a shake up!
The Bar service was very slow and waited long periods on numerous occasions to be served a drink a lot of people losing patience and trying another bar. The also appeared to be very sharp with passengers when ordering less popular drinks. Cocktails were generally strong we can both drink but some were too strong to even knock back. We took advantage of the $55pp per day all inclusive drinks package which allows you to drink anything behind the bar other than a few imported drinks such as red-bull. To use this package all passengers in he stateroom must participate this is so drink sharing is not losing the line revenue.
The addition of the Big Screen poolside was magnificent, I could sit in the hot tub whilst watching all the British Football with a cocktail fantastic for sail away nice feature for the ship.
Live music was nightly in the Schooner Bar with a pianist singing contempory music to suit a wide range of guests. Boleros also had Latino themed music which was good for a dance. There was karaoke on several evenings which was rather funny to watch people make a fool of themselves thing they were going to win X Factor.
Future cruise sales desk seemed popular but when speaking to friends we met onboard who had booked up for September the prices seemed very high compared to the travel agents online.
Overall we have thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and shall definitely cruise RCCL again, we would recommend to younger cruisers like ourselves our families in summer months when sailing are a lot more exciting.
RCCL please iron out these little things that really could make the difference between a good holiday and a memorable holiday.