This was my 9th cruise 8th with RCI. We were on the Independence of the Seas sailing from Southampton 29/11/2010 for an 11 night cruise to the Canaries. We stayed in Southampton the night before joining the ship and saw the ship come into port from our bedroom window. Getting on-board was extremely painless. car-parking was booked and our bags taken. Short walk (follow the yellow line) to the lounge. We were very quickly processed and were on the ship by 12 enjoying complementary food and drinks.
The ship is amazing. We have travelled on the Freedom when it was first launched so new what to expect from the ship.
I have no argument with the ship/staff/food/entertainment. My main quibble is with the on-board prices. I have travelled with RCI before and have never experienced such a hike in on-board pricing that in some areas can only demonstrate a total rip off of the passenger. At dinner they did try only once to get us to buy bottled water at $4.95/litre. We actually bought the same water at one of the stops for 45 cents.. Drinks prices were very expensive compared to previous trips and other cruise lines. ($6.95 per pint $6.25 per half!!). Just as well we do not drink that much.
The entertainment was very good and the cruise director and his helper were terrific.
I like the ships and would still probably go one one again... but my next cruise is with P&O.