My husband and I just returned from our 5th cruise and the first one we've taken with just the two of us. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
We flew in Friday night and spent the night at Hilton Garden Inn which is very convenient to the port. They offer a shuttle for $8.00 per person. We've stayed at HGI several times and have always been pleased with that hotel chain. If you book online you can get a great breakfast for an additional $10 for two (breakfast is like $12 per person if you don't pre-purchase).
We sailed Oasis of the Seas with my sister in her husband last September and we were blown away by that ship. With that in mind, we were a bit nervous about sailing Independence afraid we might be disappointed. I am pleased to report we were not disappointed at all. Everything about this ship was in excellent condition. There were really no signs of wear and tear. We were warmly welcomed onboard at noon and waited by one of the pools for our room to get ready at 1:00. The Windjammer was open and serving lunch and the bars were all open for the short wait. At exactly 1:00 our room was ready and we were allowed to go in and had full access to the ship from that point forward.
We had a balcony on this ship which I highly recommend. Our room was on the 7th floor at mid-point of the ship. It was incredibly convenient. We had a little wait time at the elevators a few times but being on the 7th floor made taking the stairs and easy option at those times.
We chose Any -Time dining and decided to keep a standing reservation at 7:00. We never waited for a table in our area. Our waiter and assistant waiter were amazing. By the third night they knew exactly what we wanted and had it ready for us immediately (water, tea with packets of Splenda, and the bottle of wine we shared each evening). They were both very friendly but not intrusive. The food was good and plentiful.
Our cabin was a bit smaller than the cabin on the Oasis but it was clean and our bed was very comfortable. The cabin steward was very attentive and made sure our ice bucket was full at all times. Our room was cleaned the minute we walked out the door each day. The shower was small but what you would expect for a cruise ship. I'll take a small shower as long as everything is clean and it was very clean. We chose room service for breakfast each morning and decided it was much better than the breakfast we got in the Windjammer. It just seemed fresher than the eggs that were under the heat lamps up there. We put down the time we wanted it delivered and it was prompt each morning.
Since we'd seen most of the islands on this trip we decided not to schedule excursions. Instead we took a taxi to a beach on both St. Maarten and St. Kitts and had no trouble getting a taxi to the beach or to pick us up on the return trip. This was our first trip to RCI's Labadee island in Haiti! WOW! That place is amazing. I'd read about the zip line there but didn't book it. I will definitely do that next time. That looked like a blast! RCI spared no expense in the development of Labadee and we thoroughly enjoyed our day there. We are looking forward to a return trip. There is plenty to do for all ages from toddlers to adults and everything between!
The headliner shows on this trip were great. We had a comedian, a ventriloquist and Savannah Jack (singing group) that were all top notch shows. The RCI shows were not as good as we experienced on the Oasis but still enjoyable. We spent a little time in the Casino (I totally lost on the slots but my husband did fairly well at the Roulette table). We played Bingo a few times...never won but had fun anyway.
We chose to walk off the ship with our own luggage. We walked off about 6:30 and it was seamless. This is the way to exit a ship. We were at the airport before 8:00 in plenty of time to catch a flight at 8:45.
Overall this was a great trip. We would not hesitate to book on Independence of the Seas again and would recommend it to anyone.