Cruised on the Independence December 20-26, 2009.
Positives: Spacious interior cabin rooms, and attentive stewards who kept the cabins clean. Good separation of age grouping for the pools. Kids enjoyed kid club activities. Multiple bar/nightclub choices. "Mall" was a nice area to spend cooler evenings.
Negatives: Number one negative was the overall food quality - food was mediocre at best with very limited choices. While the ship advertises many amenities such as the climbing wall, flowrider, etc. we found that the hours for use limited and the lines were long with disorganized staff. While the majority of staff were pleasant, we did experience poor attitudes from more than one staff member. Entertainment was practically non-existent, and sub-par compared to offerings on other cruise lines. The size of the ship, we found, pushed the limits of the ability for the staff to maintain cleanliness and good service.
Our conclusion is that unless you know that your children or yourself will really use the amenities on the ship (that you are paying a premium for - ice rink, flowrider, etc.) save some money and book with a cruise line that offers more premium food and entertainment. For us, we found that our kids 11 and 15 (very active) were quickly bored with the "extras" and frustrated by the frequent waits for activities and disorganization. They had more fun hanging out with the other kids their ages, and barely used any of the listed features. In short, we wish that we had paid less to go on a smaller, more premium cruise with better ports of call.