We booked our cruise in early December 2013, I had been given an April date for surgery and we felt it would be a lovely way to finish off my recuperation. This was our third cruise (all with RCL), and as the time drew nearer, we were reading reviews on here and started to worry that we had made a bad decision, that the ship would be too big with too many people, that 14 nights would be too long, people were complaining about food, entertainment, staff.. We could have saved ourselves that worry, it was the best cruise we have had to date.
Embarkation - we arrived 15 minutes before our assigned time of 2.15pm and were on board in less than 15 minutes. Our cabin, promenade cabin 6613, was perfect - just over the Cafe Promenade and as clean and comfortable as we would have expected from our previous cruises. It was slightly bigger than before, and was serviced extremely well every day by Winston. The Bay of Biscay behaved itself thankfully!
Food - what do reviewers on here eat at home, I wonder? We had decided to sit at a table for two this time around and had 6pm dinner in the MDR. What can I say, a delicious meal every evening, plenty of choice, and superb service from Teresa and Inmer. They were so friendly too, and Teresa was always very informative about the different ports. There was a table beside us, all ladies, and some/all of them were strict vegans. There was a mix up early on about how something had been described on the menu meaning I think that it was not vegan, and the chef himself came out and spoke to them to apologise. The next night a special meal was prepared for them, and two chefs came to make sure that everything was right, fantastic service to make sure that the customer is happy. We always had our breakfast at the buffet in the MDR as well, and it was fresh with a big selection. Most times we had our lunch in the Windjammer, which was very tasty every day and never any problem getting a table.
Entertainment - again, I had read some poor reviews of the shows and criticism of Joff Eaton. I never saw anyone work as hard as Joff Eaton, he never stops and I wonder when he actually sleeps plus he was great fun. The 70s night was fantastic, such a laugh and we loved the dancing on deck afterwards, also really enjoyed Rock Britannia. The nightly shows were very good, some better than others obviously. All the comedians were very funny, the female pianist/singer was very good although with a strange mix of material, the Bee Gees tribute group were great, and Gary Lovini the violinist was good but his act needs some freshening up. The Independence of the Seas singers and dancers were simply excellent, so talented, particularly Ian Laskowski who has a terrific stage presence. The scenery and costumes were bright and fresh.
We didn't do much during the day on board, except the dance classes on the sea days which we enjoyed and also the one line dance session in the nightclub. We are ballroom dancers, but the only ballroom dancing was from 5-6pm daily in the Pyramid Lounge and that didn't suit us as we were dining at 6pm. It's obviously not popular which is a shame, I would have thought there would have been far more dancers on board than there obviously were.
I went to one quiz, the Crown and Anchor trivia quiz, which was a bit of a con because it was all about Royal Caribbean and not what I would consider trivia, you had to have considerable knowledge about the cruise line, I didn't stay. I also attended the Meet and Mingle and was impressed at what RCL lay on in terms of tea/coffee/juice, savouries, pastries, and Tim the assistant cruise director did a fun raffle with lots of RCL items as the prizes. It was nice to meet some of the people with whom I had spoken on the Cruise Critic Roll Call for the cruise.
We only did one excursion and that was the transport to and from Pisa, otherwise we went ashore and pottered about ourselves for a couple of hours, then back to sunbathe for the rest of the day - the ship is always so nice and quiet on port days. Never had a problem getting sunbeds, and didn't have any problems with the new towel system.
As I said, our best cruise to date and it will be hard to beat whenever we go again. We arrived home tanned, relaxed and very happy - what more can you ask from a holiday!