Where do I begin – this is our 4th cruise overall and our 3rd with RCCL, my wife and I decided to try a different cruise line in Dec 2013 and absolutely nothing compares to RCCL. So this review is a little elongated but worth the read. Our ship sailed to St Martin – St Kitts – San Juan and Labadee on March 1st for an eight day adventure.
Ft Lauderdale Port Authority:
The construction around this area is absolutely terrible – my wife and I cruise the same time every year, we cruised in March 2012 – 2013 – December 2013 and March of 2014 and the port is still jacked. How long does it take to do construction? Beyond that the Cruise terminal loading was quick we arrived at 10:30 and were on board by 11:00am. The RCCL team does a great job (A+)
As for the Independence of the seas it is compiled of 15 Decks.
Deck 15 is the home of the Skylight Chapel,
Deck 14 has several lounges and quiet spots – very nice.
Deck 13 is the home of the Rock Climbing Wall – The Sports Court – Golf Simulator – Flow Rider and Put-Put golf located Aft.
Deck 12 has a wide variety of different areas Video Arcade – Adventure Ocean Teen Club Nursery – Johnny Rackets (All Located Aft) Towards the front you have a couple deck bars and the Spa and Fitness Center – All of these are surrounded by an outside Jogging track.
Deck 11 is the second floor of the Spa and Fitness Center – Main Pools – Whirl Pools – Deck Bars – Big Screen for Movies H20 zone for Kids Chops Grill – Giovannis – Dive Shop the Squeeze (For Drinks and Snacks – Limited Day time) and the Windjammer Café located Aft Ship.
Deck 10 thru 6 are Passenger Cabins –
Deck 5 is the Promenade Deck with a variety of Shops – Shore Excursion information – Food Courts including Cup Cake Factory and Ben and Jerrys. This deck is also the home for the King Lear main dining room (Aft ship)
Deck 4 has a variety of Lounges – Casino and the Macbeth Main Dining Room –
Deck 3 is the home for the a couple more Lounges the Theater – The Romeo and Juliet Dining Room – Studio B which is also where the Ice Skating Rink is. This deck also has passenger cabins on it.
Deck 2 has Passenger cabins and second level entrances for the Ice Rink, Theater and the conference center
The ship is extremely easy to maneuver around there is either a Staff member – Kiosk or Ship Map located on every floor that can assist you quickly. The ship was always clean – I only seen one instant of a dirty Bathroom and that was immediately following a show with unprecedented traffic but there were staff members on site immediately after.
Our State Room Deck #3 3258
This is our first cruise without a balcony – which we mainly enjoyed because we are smokers – however due to the new regulations you are not permitted to smoke on balconies any longer so we opted for a big Oval Window – and Honestly I thought it was spectacular – Especially if you are smokers it was easy access to deck 4 or deck 11 for the other smoke areas. On the other side of this – it is a perfect – quite very little movement stateroom. Our Stateroom attendant Gilbert should be commended for his first class service and attentiveness especially when my wife wasn’t feeling well – Thanks Gilbert
Overall on any cruise ship you will obviously get some positives and negatives for the avid cruisers you know the type of food that is served – for you first timers you will think you fell into Food Heaven so I will say this – I have no complaints about the food – Although we did find it odd that almost all of the food options were not available 24 hrs. as you would expect on a cruise ship. But it wasn’t a show stopper. Our Main Dining Experience was great – Our Waiters Avdesh and Aveenash were Outstanding in every way and Our waiter Oral in the Windjammer was exceptional
Well this was a first for us – we purchased the UP Drink Package which was well worth the cost. Now read carefully – First we are not heavy drinkers – however there was one or two evenings we stayed out late and had a few ginger ales – after dinner and social drinks. After adding up all the Fresh Squeezed OJ – Sodas – Frozen Drinks and Beers we consumed we definitely got our money’s worth. Prior to buying the drink package we did a lot of research and discovered that if you consume a combination of at least 8 Drinks a day consisting of Sodas – Fresh OJ – Drinks – Frozen Drinks – Beer then you are well ahead of the cost of the package. The only down fall you may experience is when you get into ports and you’re not on the ship to drink anything. However, even with the 4 stops we had we still stay above margin with Sodas and Fresh OJ. So do some researches – on drink packages remember the magic number is 8.
Quest / Love and Marriage and the Song Trivia Games were awesome – I didn’t get to see the headliner shows in person so it would be unfair to comment – however I did see a replay of one of the shows on RCCL TV and honestly it wasn’t that great at least it wasn’t that great for me and I am sure being there in person wouldn’t have changed my mind much. On a brighter note Geoff the cruise director and his staff are extremely pleasant to be around and willing to give you 5 minutes of their time when you see them on the ship.
Pools / Spas and Whirlpools
Incredibly cool I think overall the operations & cleanliness of these areas where above and beyond expectations – Especially the crew working to clean up the messes passengers made.
Cruise Compass / Ship Itinerary
Ok so I have allot of input on this subject – I can’t phantom what it takes to put activities together for over 2000 passengers and appease everyone however, I do feel there is some additional things they can add to make the experience on the ship more enjoyable. For example the ship had 70’s Night – Which was Awesome – But as I watched and joined into the festivities I started thinking of all kinds of different ideas. First – I think it would be fantastic for the Cruise Director to put together a 50’s – 60’s – 70’s - 80’s night throughout the week depending on the length of the cruise. And days before these events the cruise line can put together some type of class or gathering that allows the passengers to MAKE their own costumes or some type of clothing that will enhance their experience with the shows. This is our 3rd RC cruise and for the life of me can’t figure out how we can find out the itinerary prior to boarding. As I aforementioned the 70’s show was awesome and whether we were dressed like the 70’s crew or not we still had a great time dancing – laughing and singing along – I just think it would be more fun to play the part as well as be in it – well that’s my opinion on that.
I have a lot of mixed emotions about passengers and the relationship with cruise ship personnel – I don’t usually write reviews about this however I personally seen and heard comments that turned my stomach and hopefully those of you who have read to this point will have a more clear understanding where I am coming from – Some may not agree but I feel a need to make this point. First and foremost if you are a first time cruiser or veteran take time to talk to your stateroom attendant or your waiter / waitress or anyone on the ship’s crew. These people bust their A** to ensure that passengers have a great experience – and it really burns my A** to hear passengers “demand” that Ships crew fulfill simple duties. For Example my Wife was at the Windjammer Café – Everyone knows this is a self-serve area with plenty of food options – my wife witnessed a Passenger walking up to a food area asking the Crew member behind the counter to get His Food for him – The Crew member was polite and explained that it was self-serve – with that the passenger responded with “Hell That’s why I pay your salary” on another occasion I seen a passenger leave their lunch garbage napkins etc. all over a table on the pool deck – and simply walked away with the wind blowing and garbage flying everywhere and crew members trying to retrieve it – The part that burns me up is the garbage can was literally 2 feet away from the table. On some other occasions we heard remarks during dinner that the “Crew Members must love their job if they are still working here” or gestures like snapping fingers to get a waiter or waitress attention or tapping on the glass or making snide comments like “Can I have a glass of wine….. And Hurry” – It’s Unbelievable that human beings act like this to one another – What happened to respect? This is appalling in a every way – As passengers we tend to see the greener side of the grass – If you took the time to know your room stewards / waiters / waitresses etc… you will learn that these people work nearly 24 hrs a day for pennies on the dollar we may think its glamorous working on a cruise ship but from what I seen – experienced and the stories I hear from different workers its not greener on the other side of that dock. Just as a side not an Average Room Stewards wage is $500-600 Month – that is roughly $150 a week or $25.00 a day – I suppose coming from a poverty country that’s good money – but not good enough to be treated like someone’s personal servant. Ok done Ranting on this subject.
We opted to take our own luggage and leave the ship around 6:15am - It was about a 15 minute wait on Deck 4 and about 15 minutes though customs - all in all we were off ship and outside the terminal by 6;45am PERFECT!
Well I think that about covers everything on the ship and our cruise – overall we had a fantastic experience and will absolutely be booking our next cruise with Royal.
Thanks again for a great vacation and experience