My partner and I sailed on the 11 night Canary Islands cruise on the Independence Of The Seas (IOTS) from Southampton on 24Th Feb 2012.
Enough has been said already about the check;in problems that day due to the virus on board and a member of the crew later told us that the shore side health authorities didn't eventually clear the ship for boarding till shortly after 5pm. The ship finally sailed around 8.30pm at which time we had the boat drill just as the ship was leaving her berth.
Stateroom: Ours was a cat D1 on deck 7 no 7390 towards the stern of the ship. It was quite spacious with mini-bar and tea/coffee making facilities and a nice large very comfortable king sized bed with memory foam mattress topper.
We had a separate seating area with large settee, separated from the bed area by a curtain. We also had a nice sized balcony with 2 chairs and a table, which although comfortable enough, looked a bit on the small size in regard to the space available on the balcony. The bathroom although on the small size, which is not unusual on these modern cruise ships, was perfectly serviceable and had a very good and powerful shower cubicle instead of the normal shower curtain that sticks to you when wet ! Only small criticism of the stateroom is it was a bit short of closet space.
Lifts: The ship was full and quite often we had to wait quite a long time for a lift, for the size of the ship and the numbers of persons it carries, we thought it could have done with a few more lifts.
Public Rooms: We did not visit all the public rooms/bars but the ones we did visit frequently (Boleros, Schooner and Casino Bar) were comfortable but didn't have enough seats and could have been a bit better laid out. All the public spaces as well as our stateroom were kept absolutely spotless by a very hard working crew. Tables and chairs were constantly being wiped down with anti germ/bacteria solutions. Every where we went on the ship there were anti bacterial hand wash dispensers or hand wipes being handed out by the crew.
Royal Promenade/Boardwalk: Full of various coffee shops/bars including an Irish themed pub. The usual logo/souvenir shops, clothes shop, jewelry and watches and even a men's barbers shop to name just a few.
Windjammer: Plenty choices of food every day but could be very busy and short of seats especially when people just sat for ages after they had finished eating instead of moving on so someone else could use the tables.
Macbeth Restaurant Deck 4: We had a table for 2 on the second sitting at 8.30pm. Have no complaints about the menus always seemed to have plenty choices/variations and the food was always piping hot when it reached the table. Our waiter was Remus from Romania and he was one of the best waiters we have ever had on a cruise ship. We used the restaurant on deck 3 on sea days for lunch instead of the windjammer and it also had very good menus and very good service.
Guest Relations Deck 5: Cant believe I'm saying this but have no complaints about them they were always very friendly and cheerful and couldn't do enough to help.
Shore Excursions: Didn't take part in any, just used the shuttle bus a few times.
Casino: Quite a large casino, plenty choice of slot machines and tables.
Amenities: There seemed to be plenty choices including a water park, climbing wall, skating rink, swimming pools, sauna etc etc, absolutely brilliant for families.
Entertainment: The usual singers/musicians in the bars/ lounges. Did not go to any of the shows in the theatre but did here very good reviews from fellow passengers.
Staff: All were very hard working polite and friendly only criticism is there seemed to be a shortage of bar waiters especially between 7pm and 8.30pm.
Room Service: We had breakfast in our stateroom every morning and the food was always on time and nice and hot, we often used room service for tea/coffee and an afternoon snack they were always very good.
Summary: On the whole we enjoyed ourselves and cant really find anything major to find fault with. The most annoying things were disabled scooters who would just mow you down to either force their way into a lift or beat the ques to the gang ways when getting on or off the ship. I'm disabled my self due to strokes etc and am 80% deaf and 85% blind so have problems walking but don't use a scooter but I hate having to say a large number of the disabled guests on this cruise had the worst manners I have ever seen !
Would we sail on the Independence again ? Yes but only if we couldn't get another cruise that we liked. The Independence is a great ship and I would recommend her especially to families, but I think she is just too big for me, I prefer a ship a bit smaller like the radiance class, as we have sailed the Brilliance Of the Seas before so we have booked her sister ship the Serenade for Christmas. I apologise if I have droned on too long ! If someone would like to edit this for me I wont refuse ! ha ha.