My husband and I did B2B cruises on the Independence of the Seas, but 90% of what you’re about to read is about our experience on the 6 night cruise. First, we did the 6 night Western Caribbean that left on January 26, 2014, and then we did the 8 night Eastern Caribbean that left right after, on February 1, 2014. Our 6 night cruise was beyond awful, and even though, our 8 night cruise was better, it still was not the greatest. But for being on the same ship, there were a few major differences between the 6 night and the 8 night, which you will read towards the end.
To start off, on our 6 night cruise our room was absolutely filthy...I took some Clorox wipes (as people have mentioned to take) to wipe down door handles, light switches and things like that, and when I wiped down the floor of our shower I used 5 wipes and they were completely black as if I was wiping down a dirty car! It was horrifying and disgusting! Maybe I'm a weirdo for wiping down the shower floor, but I'm sure glad I did! Our room smelled extremely musty and when we ran out of kleenex or toilet paper, our room steward would never refill them so we always had to call and have some brought to our room. 2 of the 6 couples that we sat with at dinner also had the same problem with their room steward not refilling their toilet paper or kleenex.
Our room steward was lazy to say the least...there was a long shelf on top of the closet where we would put our souvenirs, and every single night our room steward would take a bunch of clean towels (for when he would clean our room the following day) and shove them up on the shelf pushing all of our souvenirs towards the back! When we took the towels off the shelf my husband got up on a chair to see if any of our things got pushed way to the back and to our surprise not only were our things shoved to the back but we also found a pair of pajamas, a hair brush, a t-shirt, and a disposable camera, none that were any of ours, that were also pushed to the back because of what the room steward was doing!!!
The food in the Windjammer buffet was inedible...it was cold, tasteless, the trays were empty and when you would ask for something that was supposed to be in a tray that was empty they would tell you to go over to another station on the other side of the room and get what you wanted there. This happened 3 separate times on different days. The same thing happened to us when getting drinks, I went up to get my husband and I an apple juice during breakfast and there was only one there, so I kindly asked for another one only to be told to go over to another drink station to get it! Thankfully, I'm not handicapped because if I was and they told me to go elsewhere to get what I wanted, I would have thrown a fit!
Our main waiter in the Main Dining Room for dinner was not friendly, a few times after we were done ordering what we wanted he would literally rip the menu from our hands (the other 6 couples at our table complained about this also) Every single night, he would forget to give 1-2 people either coffee, an appetizer, or a dessert and when we would mention it to him he would never apologize, he would just simply walk away never coming back with what we ordered. Now, on the other hand, the assistant waiter was very friendly and attentive, in fact, one night when everyone at our table received their appetizers and my husband had not, the assistant waiter asked our main waiter, who was just standing there, where my husband’s appetizer was and the main waiter just shrugged his shoulders, so the assistant waiter went back himself to get my husband his appetizer, if he would not have, my husband would not have received his appetizer that night. Not only that, every single night it took our entire table an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes to get served our 3 course meal. We would get our appetizer, and then have to wait for 30 minutes to get our entree, and then we would eat that and wait another 30 to get our dessert. It should not take that long for a 3 course meal, our entire table complained, to who I think was the maitre'd, and things got a little better but there wasn't much of a difference. Due to how long it took for us to eat dinner, our whole table was constantly missing the evening shows...which we found on our second cruise not to be that great anyways.
I'm not sure what is going on with this specific ship, but everyone we ran into complained either about the food or the service. We talked to several diamond status members and they said that this was the worst Royal ship they have been on because of the service and the food. My husband and I are not picky eaters at all, but we just couldn't get over how bad the food was, especially in the Windjammer buffet. So, we just ate breakfast in the Main Dining Room every day where it was much better, and we had lunch at Sorrento's.
On the second to last night of our first cruise we were supposed to get some paperwork sent to our room letting us know the procedure for doing a B2B cruise, but we never received anything. So we went up to guest services and asked what we were supposed to do and the guest services person was rude and told us to be patient and that we would get something sent to our room by the morning letting us know what to do....well morning came and we never got anything so we went back to guest services letting them know and the girl who was helping us this time, looked up our information on the computer and said that the reason we didn't get any paperwork sent to our room was because it was not in the system so we weren't put on the list as doing a B2B. Mind you, we booked both of the cruises at the same time 13 months in advance and they noted that it was a B2B and we even called to confirm before we flew out for the first cruise. So, needless to say, if we wouldn't have went to guest services we would have been clueless on what the whole B2B procedure was.
Now on the second part to our back to back cruise (on the same ship) things were a lot better, except the food, the food was still blah. On the 8 night cruise, our room steward was great and our room was spotless when I took the Clorox wipes to it, which I was extremely happy about. Thankfully, there was no black all over the wipes when I wiped the shower floor in our new room. On our 6 night cruise we were on deck 2 room number 2427, and on our 8 night cruise we were on deck 3 room number 3617. Our waiter and assistant waiter were friendly and attentive also on the 8 night, which was a complete turnaround from our 6 night cruise.
On both of our cruises, we had some minor maintenance issues and when we contacted the maintenance workers they were in our room in less than 5 minutes and always fixed our issues, so we were extremely happy with that aspect. We also really enjoyed Sorrento’s, on both cruises, the pizza was very good! I have read on Cruise Critic about how good the cookies were in Café Promenade, however, the cookies on the Independence were as hard as hockey pucks, it seemed as if they were baked a week in advance and left out to dry. We tried the cookies every day and they were the same each time, which was disappointing.
We did contact Royal about our complaints, but we haven't heard anything back yet. I think that pretty much sums up most of the major issues that we had. If we ever cruise with Royal Caribbean again it definitely won’t be on the Independence of the Seas and it won’t be on any of their Freedom Class ships either.