We had a great time onboard the Independence of the Seas, although we did notice some changes onboard from the last time that we sailed on RCI over the summer. A little bit about myself I am nineteen years old, and this is my 27th cruise, and eighth on Royal Caribbean. I traveled with my grandmother who is in her 80's and who has been on 39 cruises, and my sixteen year old sister who has been on 25 cruises. We choose this cruise because the itinerary worked out perfectly with the many different school schedules at hand, and it gave a bunch of frozen New Yorkers, the perfect opportunity to escape the cold and the snow.
Embarkation: This process could not have gone anymore perfect! I don't think that it took us more than ten minutes from the moment we stepped out of the taxi, to the moment we stepped onboard the ship. We got onboard nice and early because of our flight, and by the time we finished lunch all of our luggage was waiting for us at the room. Fantastic!
Ship: I thought the ship was absolutely beautiful! We had never gone on a ship this size before, and we were nervous about the crowds, but you would not even notice them. I absolutely loved the Flowrider (surfing at sea) it looks very intimidating, but it was really easy once you got up there. I could not believe that I was stand-up surfing, it was fun, and something that I never thought that I would be doing, although I could not have done it without the help from the pro's. We also loved Sorrento's Pizza, the Solarium, and the Royal Promenade as always. Overall the ship was very clean.
Our Cabin: Our cabin was great! This cabin seemed to be a little bit bigger than ones we had before, having a bigger balcony, and more room around the edges. We loved our room steward Gede, who seemed to know everything that we needed, before we needed it.
Sint Maarten: We have been here many, many times so we stopped off at some of our favorite places in town, and then went back onboard because of both the rainy weather, and the fact that there were five other ships in port with us. Since we left my parents at home we had to get them honey at the Guavaberry store and chocolates at the Belgium Chocolate Factory. After that we took the water-taxi back to the pier, and unfortunately walked back to the ship with a Caribbean rain storm raining down onto our heads.
St. Kitts: What a beautiful island! We had never been here before, but after talking to the people at the information desk on the island, we learned about Friar's beach. The taxi ride to Friar's beach was only four dollars a person ($12 total), and the drive there was such a beautiful one. Friar's beach is a public beach, but it has a beautiful beach club, with a great bar, restaurant, and lounge area. The beach had gorgeous green mountains surrounding the crystal clear water, it was really a postcard perfect beach. We rented a loveseat like chair-ish couch there for twenty dollars, and enjoyed the day that was predicted weather-wise to be a rainy one, but turned into a gorgeous one. I would definitely recommend this beach! Overall we loved St. Kitts, and think that this is the Caribbean's best kept secret.
San Juan: We absolutely love San Juan, but unfortunately because of the itinerary we had no time to do anything while in port, we were there from 7AM-1PM (which was one of our complaints). Once again we went to the Coach Outlets in Old San Juan, and got some great deals on handbags. Later on, we sat in a park near the pier and ate empada's from a street food truck. Yum!
Labadee, Haiti: We love Labadee! I have been to Labadee before, but never with another ship in port with us. We took the shuttle to Nellie's beach, where got ourselves a few beach chairs, and a labadoozie. They had a great beachside barbeque, which was very organized for having two ships in port. The food was great we had ribs and chicken. Overall great day, in a gorgeous place.
Entertainment: We thought that the entertainment onboard was fantastic. My sister and I absolutely loved the singers and dancers, with their three shows: Invitation to Dance, Once Upon a Time, and Center Stage. They were absolutely great, especially the main male singer Warren. As for the guest entertainers there was a comedian who wasn't that funny, and a pop-opera good that was fantastic and made that type of music really entertaining. We had a fantastic cruise director, Joff Eaton, who was funny personable, and made the Love and Marriage game show fresh, new, and entertaining.
Dining: Dining onboard was good, there were only a few standout meals, but there was not one thing on the menu that was bad. I would definitely recommend lamb chops on formal night, basically all of the soups, baked Alaska, and anything on the Italian night. Our waiters were Dennis and Rocklan, they were good, although I have to say that we were extremely spoiled by our waiters on our last cruise, and were kind of let down on this cruise. All in all they did a good job.
Christmas: Although we don't celebrate Christmas, they did so many things that made the cruise extremely festive and fun. From the reggae Christmas carols by the pool, to all of the decorations, to the special Christmas dinner that we had, the staff made it extremely fun. We really enjoyed the Christmas variety show, which had both the singers and dancers, the comedian, and a juggler. The show really put you in the spirit. We also really loved the caroling that they had on them Royal Promenade, in which we all got our own little song books, as we caroled with the captain, cruise director, ships officers, and some of the singers and dancers and skaters from the ship. We missed seeing Santa because we were in St. Kitts. Overall the crew made this holiday cruise extremely festive.
Disembarkation: This was a breeze! We choose to take our own luggage off the ship, because we had an extremely early flight. This could not have been easier, once again it took no more than ten minutes to get off the ship, and get out of the terminal. After that we got a taxi right away, and we were at the airport in under ten minutes. Royal made it a very easy process.
Summary: All in all we had a great time onboard the Independence of the Seas, and will definitely be traveling on Royal Caribbean. We loved St. Kitts, the entertainment, and just being onboard.