Well what can i say? After looking forward to our canary island cruise on Independence of the Seas, I have to say I was a tad disappointed.
Okay, so perhaps my judgement is clouded by too many "rough" sea days - stabilisers on the ship weren't great, and not enough sunshine - my fault for choosing to go in October I guess. But the ship itself is just too big. And dont get me wrong, I have cruised on Ventura and Ruby Princess recently but Independence just doesn't seem to be able to cope with the vast amount of passengers.
Sun beds were plentifull, but typically people would lay towels out early on and then be nowhere to be seen for the most of the day. The 30 minute rule was not observed at all, and I think that should be up the cruise line.
Food was good, and plenty of choice, but quite often a long wait in line for a table on the My Time Dining option if you turned up at 8pm - we ended up eating earlier to secure a table. The waiters are lovely and work very hard and soon get to know your preferences which is a nice touch.
We only had inside cabins as I prefer it (not being woken by early morning daylight) and it was more than adequate, plenty of storage, standard shower cubicle etc. What I was upset about was being charged for a mini-bar purchase (on the first day), which I queried but was never refunded - I dont think it was stocked properly to start with - but they would not take my word for it!!
Shops on board have all the basics and are reasonably priced. However, I was again overcharged in the shop on the last day, and because the till was busy the assistant assured me he would process the refund as soon as he got a change, suprise suprise it wasn't done - it was only $3 but it is the principle!!! More bars than you could possibly visit - and plenty of eating places. As well as the 3 main dining rooms, the Windjammer cafe always had a good selection of food whatever time of day you visit, and we always managed to find a table reasonably quickly. Johnny Rockets is a must if you have kids, they just keep bringing the food until you can't eat anymore and for $4.95 each surcharge was good value. Didn't try either Choppes or Portofinos so can't comment on them.
Do your homework for any port visits as the local information they provide is very basic - on the grounds they want you to buy their trips. For example, on the port guide for Madeira they didn't even mention the cable car/toboggan ride which is what most people chose to do!
My main gripe I guess is the amount of people that dont abide by the dress codes - on formal nights it is nice to make the effort and a lot of people just didn't bother which is a shame - and sticking my neck out here, but I do think Independence is indeed "butlins at sea" and is more downmarket than some of the other cruise lines.