Independence of the Seas to Haiti & Jamaica. 3/9/19
This was a Spring break cruise for my family. We brought our adult kids and their friends. We live in Florida, so we drove 4 hours to the port in the morning. I pre-booked parking at the park and go. My husband dropped us off with the luggage and drove to the parking lot, and they shuttled him back. He was back with us in 10 minutes. We gave our luggage to the porter and went through security with our carry on's after a quick stop at the expedited desk (gold members) we walked right on the ship, it was 1:00. Our rooms were ready, so we dropped off our carry on bags, the kids changed into swimsuits, and we went for lunch. Luckily we missed the rush, it was typical buffet food, salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, fried chicken, some Asian food that I don't eat, etc... Nothing to write home about, in fact, I think the food is Royal Caribbean’s biggest weakness.
We booked a balcony cabin on deck 7 and the "kids" had an inside cabin across the hall from us. I booked this cruise a month before sailing, and it was for Spring break, so my options were limited to find 2 cabins near each other. Our cabin 7398 (spacious oceanview balcony) was excellent, the only drawback was the long walk, but honestly, after the first day, I really didn't mind the walk at all. I was worried it would be loud at the back of the ship, but it was not, I would stay there again!! Our cabin steward was wonderful, wish I could say the same for the person who took care of the kid's room. We never saw him, he never left any towel animals in the room, and there was broken glass on the floor for 2 days, I finally had to ask my guy to take care of it. This is why I don't like the gratuities being automatically charged to the account. I went down to guest services to complain about the kid's room not being cleaned, and I was told rather abruptly that all rooms are cleaned every-day, and the only reason it wouldn't be was if the do not disturb sign was up. I assured them this was not the case, but he just stared at me like I had 2 heads. I asked if he could make sure someone went in there today because one of the small glass shelves in the bathroom cabinet was broken, and there was still some glass on the floor. No one ever came to the room, I had to ask my steward to clean it when we got back to the ship from being in port all day.
We spent the first day exploring the ship, she is beautiful!! There is so much to do, if you don’t have fun on this cruise, it is because you don’t want to!! I was worried with this big of a ship, and this many passenger’s, it would feel really crowded, it did not!! Except for the places you would expect, like around the main pool, but there are so many lounge chairs, you just go up a level, and there are plenty of seats. Never had trouble finding a table in the windjammer for lunch (buffet). We arrived for most of the shows just a few minutes before they started, and never had trouble finding 6 seats together (even for grease). The shows were all really good! The late-night comedian the first night was disappointing, she did not know her audience, or how to change gears when she wasn’t getting the laughs. The late comedian on the last night was awesome, we laughed so hard it hurt!! The cruise director is hysterical also. He runs the Love and Marriage game, and the Quest game. Both are not to be missed.. so much fun!!
Our favorite place to hang out during the day was in the adult only Solarium. It has 2 hot tubs that hang out over the side of the ship, big enough for 20 people in each, and the pool in this area has adirondack chairs in ankle deep water, and bar stools in the deep part of the pool. The pool is also deep enough that you can swim, not just walk across like most ships have. There are lots of chairs in the shade, for those that don’t want to get any sun. There is a bar right there, so you don’t have to go to far to get a drink. However, these are the slowest people I have ever seen in my life. They make everyone stand in a single file line to get a drink, I attempted to sit in a bar stool to order a drink and was told if I wasn’t going to sit there and finish my drink, I would have to get in the line. So, no one ever at sat at that bar, it was just weird. I ended up going to the next pool bar to get my drinks, because it was always much faster.
As far as the extra attractions on board, the kids all did the flow rider, they have separate times for people that want to lay on the board (boogie board style), and those that want to stand up (surf style). It is always a shorter line to boogie board, they only waited 20 minutes. There is plenty of seating for those of us there to just watch. The line to surf standing on the board took about an hour. It is so much fun to watch everyone do it, the wait did not seem that long. The staff are very patient with all the guests, and really want everyone to succeed at it! We thought you had to pay for the lessons in order to ride it, but you don’t, just sign a waiver, get a wrist band and wait in line. The slide always had a line as well, but it moved very fast. They all did the rock climbing, and the archery. They waited maybe 10 minutes and enjoyed it. The sky-pad was not something we attempted, and after hearing about the man who fell off it, we were glad we didn’t use it. The girls went ice skating, they said the skates were in terrible shape, she has been in skating all her life, so she would know. The blades were very dull, and small kids were falling everywhere because they don’t have those walker style things to help them. The girls decided it was just to dangerous to be out there, the were afraid for the little ones, so they left. We wanted to do the escape room, but never got around to it, and at an extra $20 a head times 6 of us, the $120. went elsewhere. Mini golf was fun, pool volleyball was fun, as was the volleyball tournament. The kids were not interested in the arcade, but did play the games in the sports pub, they have corn hole, foosball, pool tables, dart boards, and some arcade style basketball and ski ball games. We tried the wings in there, and they were very good, of course, we had to pay for them. The casino was smaller than I thought it would be for a ship this size. We are not big gamblers, but we managed to donate a few hundred dollars over the course of the cruise. The staff made it fun to lose your money! The night club on the 14th floor is fun, it was always crowded, but that is to be expected. The bar staff there was exceptional, this is the only place where we tipped extra. They really earned their money and took care of the crowds of people. One night they held a silent disco, it is not to be missed. Everyone is given headphones, and the room is silent. It is so funny to watch people dance to different music that you can’t hear. If you go, take your headphones off and just watch the crowd, too funny!! It was a very windy week, so we never did any of the outdoor at night events, they had dancing under the stars one night, and movies by the pool, can’t comment on any of those.
Breakfast in the dining room was wonderful, you could order from the menu, or if in a hurry, they have a buffet. We ordered room service one morning, it came about an hour later than we asked for, but it was a sea day, so no worries there. We enjoyed it out on the balcony. The dining room was a disappointment every night. The food was just bland, honestly unless you want a steak every night, you will be disappointed. Even the desert left a lot to be desired, we all ordered something and passed them around, boring. I wonder if this is done to get you to pay to go to one of the other restaurants onboard where you pay extra. The waiter was very hard to understand, he was Indian, and got upset when I asked him to slow down when speaking. He also asked us to give him a good review on the survey they email you after the cruise. His assistant was wonderful and got us everything we needed. We all had the drink package, and he remembered what each of us was drinking every night. We ended up skipping the dining room one night to go to Johnny Rockets for hamburgers. It was really good, we had to pay $10 each, but you could have as much as you wanted, except the shakes were another $5. Gold members are buy one shake get one free, but you have to ask for the discount, they don’t just give it to you. On our last night we were charged for our drinks in the dining room, even though we have the drink package. We did not know this until we got up the next morning and found the bill slipped under the door. You must go to guest services to have the charge removed, but they are kicking you off the ship, and the line for guest services is about an hour long at this point. We left thinking we could just call when we got home. No such luck, I wonder how many people they pull this little trick on.
We debated over getting the drink package, but it worked out that we got our money out of it. We figured 5 drinks a day would cover it. I’m not a big drinker, but when on vacation, I have a few more than normal because I am up and out more than usual. I had a frozen drink by the pool during the day, 2 drinks at diner, because it took so long, one at the show, one if we went to the casino or karaoke, and another one at the late night comedy show or the night club. That put me at 6 for the day, most nights it was more than one drink late night. It sounds like a lot, but if you think about being out from 6:00 pm for dinner until 2:00 am when the night club shut down, that is less than a drink an hour.
Overall, I loved the ship, she is beautiful and there is so much to do, the service was lacking in certain areas, and the food was very disappointing, despite this we had a great time.. I will review the ports and excursions in Haiti and Jamaica that we did in another post. I will also post the Cruise Compass. Read Less