We took the 8 night Caribbean cruise on Independence of the Seas over Christmas. It was my first cruise, and I was very impressed with the ship and it's staff. I read a ton of reviews prior to this trip so I thought I'd leave my experience here as well.
This ship is huge, there is more than enough to keep you entertained. We spend most time on sea days by the pool - word to the wise if you want seats on the deck right around the pool you'll have to get up pretty early. Otherwise you'll be on the upper deck, which is fine but we had a couple of windy days so extra breezy up there and also if there are any fun pool games/competitions you want to watch you most likely won't get to enjoy it from your chair.
The gym, which I only visited once, was really great. Even if you don't want to spend much time working out, I recommend trying it out. When else will you be on a treadmill staring out at the open ocean?
Meals were good, I liked most everything that I had to eat. We would have breakfast & lunch in Windjammer and dinners in the MDR. Food was definitely better in the MDR, and our first 2 nights our service wasn't great but upon request to move we were put in another section and had AMAZING service for the rest of the trip. We had Gerald & Esmael from the Philippines, they were so fantastic and I looked forward to seeing them every night.
The shows were good as well, there were only 2 that I didn't really enjoy but all the others were fantastic (I went every night). I also saw the Ice Show, which was great. The staff had 2 small falls during the performance, but the skating area is quite small and had clearly not been cleaned off since previous shows and allowing guests to skate. At times there were up to 10 performers on the small stage, so really all things considered they did an incredible job.
If you have kids/teens, this seems like a good ship (I don't personally have any children so this is just an outside observation). They have a flowrider, rock wall, basketball court, and any time I was in that area it seemed to be a huge hit with that age group, with teens playing sports and lined up to try the flowrider.
Drinks were really delish, I tried several of their cocktails. They are of course additional, but no more than I'm used to paying for a drink out at home. And really isn't a pina colada at the pool worth it? :)
We stayed in an interior room that overlooked the Royal Promenade. It was a nice room, plenty of space for 2, I had no trouble unpacking and finding room/storage for everything. My only complaints would be that since you are inside, its disorienting in the morning, the room stays so dark that you have no idea what time it is. Next time we'll go for a balcony (if budget allows!). Our stateroom attendant Tyron was great, we saw him in the hallway often, he always stopped to chat and he left cute towel animals for us and kept our room nice and clean.
The ports were ok, we enjoyed our excursions but the ports themselves were sort of the same thing at each stop. Except for Labadee, it's just beach and activities instead of the typical souvenir/jewelry shops. So I definitely recommend doing excursions at each stop on this itinerary - our favorites were the America's Cup Regatta at St. Maarten and the Zipline & Sandbar Island trip at Labadee.
Overall it was a good experience and I would recommend this ship and Royal Caribbean to others.