After a harrowing adventure in which our parking lot/shuttle service basically lost one of our bags at Port Everglades, we finally got on board and started relaxing! (The service is called "Premier" and they were anything but -- we do NOT recommend them!) Thanks to a porter at HOLLAND AMERICA on a nearby Pier who sent our "lost bag" over to Independence --happily, it actually was the 1st to arrive in our cabin. (Do NOT pack important meds in anything but your carryon, lesson learned).
FOOD We did "anytime dining" for the 1st time (this was our 6th cruise) and liked the flexibility and meeting more people. Main Dining Room food was not always stellar but we'd rate it good to very good. One night when the lamb was very tough, my husband was brought a replacement (salmon) fairly quickly. Politely ask for what you'd like until you are pleased, don't just "suffer in silence". We especially loved the melt in your mouth roast turkey and my lobster tails were great. We were fairly pleased with the Windjammer and only found it chaotic perhaps twice all week. That happens mainly when they're getting close to shut-down time, so try to avoid that. Loved the small portions in array of desserts and grateful for sugar free options too (SF peanut cookies are great!) We learned to be very precise in our breakfast orders in the Main Dining Room and, once we did, it was pleasant to be served. Tip: Hubby prefers a fresh fruit plate as his appetizer and they brought it every night, no questions asked. He also likes milk to drink, and they met that request easily too. On one of the last days they did amazing FRUIT carvings outside the Windjammer -- don't miss it!
ADVICE for your ROOM: unless you plan to buy items from the in-cabin frig, ask the steward on Day 1 to empty it out so you can chill your own items. Then we kept some medical supplies but also could store, eg. a yogurt, a milk carton, a bit of cheese etc. plus the 4 cans of soda we brought from home. We also asked the steward on Day 1 for fresh ice 2 x a day; we brought our own flavored water enhancer and simply kept mixing tasty ice water as we pleased. Also re your room: we had an interior cabin. When you ask for a queen size bed, they push 2 twins together and it is VERY tight getting in and out of bed from both sides, especially the TV side. If you are 55 plus (as we are) you may not like that! Next time we may go with two twins in order to have a center aisle. Also, we overpacked and had trouble finding a place for everything plus our empty luggage: next time we'll know better. Note that you can ask for robes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and shower gel -- if you don't ask, you probably will not get them.
Entertainment: Motown was a disappointment - bass singer sick but even still the voices were lacking, they just seemed too old and tired out and their attempts at humor failed. Once Upon a Time: we loved it a few years ago and felt they made some changes we were not crazy about but still fairly creative. We didn't miss a show, really.....we felt the ship's team had some pretty strong singers. Ice skating show was being raved about, and we agree. I missed Quest but hubby went and liked it; it was quite the topic of conversation next day. Some people are so lackadaisical about watching the Compass and totally miss these things, which we don't understand.
I'll review Shore Excursions elsewhere. If you are fortunate enough to be sailing on Independence soon, Bon Voyage!
Our 3rd time here and we always have a good time. This time we had determined to do the Zip Line (we're 64) and we loved it. For me especially (female and a bit of a chicken w/ heights), it helped so much that they have you "practice" on a lower shorter line first. You can even go watch people at this one if it would make you feel better b4 you sign up. The main thing I learned was "ask for the ladder" at the end of your big zip line as I did not really have the ability to pull my own weight up with my arms to get off at the end. The worker made a point of telling me this so I wouldn't hurt myself. At the top I was stoked and almost fearless, anxious for my turn. If they let you, put your arms out to the sides (starfish), it is way more fun than holding on for dear life! Relax, look around, wave at the beach people and enjoy every minute - we did! Wish it was an "all day pass" for what you pay ($95 each)! So don't miss it out of unfounded fears: it is so very safe and they take good care of you. Kudos to the young blond gal who was our leader; sometimes the 'teacher" is unenthused or just does not make it fun but she did, for sure.
We walked on our own: We'd say do not miss touring El Morro if this is your first time in San Juan, as it was for us. We walked from Pier 1 to El Morro - the sun was already hot but there was a shady side to the street and the uphill wasn't bad. it doesn't open til 9 am anyway and we were off the ship at 8 so you have time to get there. We spent 1 1/2 hrs, then walked to the Fiorenza governor's palace. They didn't let us tour it as they were booked up until afternoon with groups so we enjoyed the artchitecture nearby. Popped into San Juan Cathedral (free). Can get pix of our ship on your walk back along the water's edge. Saw the old City Gate and then ended up back at the pier (we walked in a circle). Everyone loved the air conditioned CVS store near our ship, you can even get a basic souvenir there! Sidewalks and streets are very narrow. We had a knapsack with WHEELS which was a lifesaver for us as we like to carry camera, snacks, visors, etc. Enjoy! Oh yes: we sure to be on deck for Sail a way -- the views of the old walled city and El Morro from the ship are very neat.
See above (the beach break was part of the island tour including Fairview).
This tour took me to Fairview Greathouse and on a Beach Break. Highlight was views and photo opps at Timothy's Hill: best view of my entire 8-day cruise: astounding. Fairview is in a lovely setting and parts are well preserved; modern touches like the pool kind of detract. The gardens were ok; I had expected larger and perhaps more mature. Loved the place for the beach break-for me, it was too short (only 1 hr - so if you wish to swim, be in your suit already). Restrooms & changing areas were clean. Overall, I'd recommend it.
Felt the instructors were weak, not clear enough and not helpful/supportive enough. But mainly the rafts and other equipment were old and unsafe - got scratched on parts of it, rafts falling apart, difficult to move about etc. Do not recommend. I got 20% back but felt it should be more.
We took a circle tour in a brand new AC bus which was nice. Photo opps were weak (thru bus windows until we got to Marigot). Marigot's marina is a pretty area to walk around in. The butterfly farm is small and could be better done but they are sincere about teaching you about butterflies and restrooms were clean!