Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by lynnees
- Sail Date: November 2008
- Destination: Western Caribbean
Boarding - We had been pre-warned that boarding was going to start late because the US Coast Guard was going to be inspecting her as she was arriving in the US for the first time. Boarding actually started about 2 PM. Once the line started moving it really didn't take long. We were entitled to use priority boarding therefore we were checked in and on-board within 10 minutes. However, they should have moved us along sooner from the reports I've seen from others. We are D+ and should have been sent to a different line.
Even though it was 2 PM the cabins were not ready. We headed to the Windjammer for lunch shlepping our luggage with us. It was crowded but it didn't take us long to find a table. We had no problems for the most part, finding a table at lunch or breakfast throughout the cruise.
After lunch we headed to our cabins. We were in balcony cabins on deck 6. The cabins were spotless with absolutely no sign of any wear at all. Although the bathroom is small the shower stall has an enclosure instead of the curtain which was so much better. No water all over the floor. There are flat screened TV's now, something we've never had before. The bed wasn't too bad. The new bedding is wonderful. Our balcony had 2 chairs (not very comfortable) and a small table. There was an issue with our friends' balcony. Their neighbor's were smokers of cigars. The cigar ash floated over to their balcony. The smell alone is bad enough but the deck had all this ash over it. She told the steward about it and asked him to vacuum the balcony at the time he was doing their stateroom.
There is plenty of storage room. As we were only on a four day cruise we didn't really have a lot with us - we were using hand luggage only.
From there we went exploring. One of the first things to impress me was the H2O zone. It was at least as big as the adult regular pool area. This made me realize just how much RCL is gearing to families. We walked down the deck to the adult pool area which is quite nice although exactly the same as all other ships. From there we went to the Solarium. I have to say, the cantilever's hot tubs were great. We used them several times during our short cruise and not once was there any crowd. Even though I knew it, I was disappointed there was not retracting roof over the solarium as there is on the Radiance class. We could have used it on this trip.
We took a look into the SPA which is where the boxing ring is. We were never able to find out it how it was utilized however that was of no interest to me anyway. The exercise area is huge. We checked out the prices at the Spa and thought they were outrageous.
We went to the back of the ship to check out the sporting area. The Flowrider was fun to watch. It was open pretty well the whole time we were onboard. The rock climbing wall was also open most of the time and very well utilized. We played a few games of mini putt.
We went to Chops to make a reservation but they told us they were completely booked via the internet. They said the would put us on the waiting list. As we are D+ I did ask if we would get priority waitlisted and I received a blank stare. We walked across the floor to Portofino's and were able to make a reservation for that evening for 6PM.
We went directly back to the stateroom as I wanted to call the concierge and ask about the priority waitlist. She was no help at all. So much for "helpful concierge". We did get called from Chops and did end up with a reservation for the second night however we really didn't get the help I had received on other cruises from the concierge.
Back to Portofino's - the food was delicious and we completely enjoyed ourselves. We went to Chops on night two and again had a delicious meal which we completely enjoyed. The other two nights we ate in the main dining room. If it hadn't been for the excellent service of our waiter, his assistant and the head waiter we would not have gone back the fourth night. The food was blah to bad. We have noticed this on our last few cruises and there does not seem to be any improvement at all.
Our waiter was excellent - he was run off his feet. We arrived on time at 6PM. He served us immediately. Nearly an hour later the other four arrived. This also happened on our last night so I have to assume they arrived late every night. I don't suppose it was too bad for the first two nights as we weren't there but for the last two it was very difficult on our wait staff as they had to do everything twice.
The other three (not me) decided they wanted to try out the ice rink. They enjoyed it but the skates that are provided are certainly not very good. Nevertheless they did have a good time and I played photographer for them.
We went to the last ice show on Saturday afternoon. It was absolutely fantastic. Not one error that I could see and with such a small ice surface that is a huge feat.
We only attended one evening production show which was very well done.
We wandered the Promenade several times. We stopped at Sorrento's for Pizza - not bad. They had the usual "stuff" for sale in the center isle as the week wore on.
We did visit the Diamond lounge on three evenings. It is very nice but it was far too crowded, especially the first night. We found out later there were over 1,600 repeaters on board with at least 800 being platinum and over. I would guess then that the D/D+ were at least 400 of that. I also feel there were a lot of people in there on the first evening who were not suppose to be as on the subsequent evenings the concierge or one of her staff were outside the door checking everyone's status.
I was not impressed with the concierge. I asked one thing of her and she wouldn't even try. The bartenders were extremely harried. The bar setup is extremely poor. It's like working at a kitchen counter at home. There should be a proper bar so the bartenders can be on the other side. It would make their lives a lot easier.
We didn't notice as much smoke as usual on this cruise except when we headed to the ice rink. We had to go past the sports bar which had a very strong smell of cigarette smoke.
We were on this cruise more for R&R and to look the ship over therefore we didn't do much more than I've already indicated.
The biggest bother was disembarking. We decided to self-disembark as we only had hand luggage. Now there is a program that needs to be revamped. It was utterly chaotic. People were hauling off huge and multiple suitcases, struggling down narrow stairs pulling and pushing not only their huge suitcases but people around them. Then, once off, they stood around at the end of the gangway waiting for their friends and family. They were extremely rude to staff who told them they had to move on as they were now blocking everyone else. As a matter of fact far too many of these people were extremely rude. We took the elevator down to deck 2 not anticipating the crowd that would be there. There was an older couple on the elevator who was staying on deck two. They simply wanted to get to their cabin. There were people in the elevator area who were yelling ad screaming at them and wouldn't listen or let them through.
As much as I enjoyed the ship and would recommend it to others, fellow passengers left a lot to be desired. What I have described above was only an example of the behavior throughout the cruise. We've never sailed with such cold rude people before. Yes, there are always some who are like that, but this time we found most if not all we ran into were like that.
The Independence is a beautiful ship. One of the things we did find there was hardly if any, movement even though the weather was not particularly good and we had quite some winds, there was no swaying movement at all that we could discern. Although we prefer the smaller size of the Radiance class, we would highly recommend this ship to anyone with children. They definitely cater to families.
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