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First of all let me say that I have cruised 7 times (3 Carnival, 1 Princess, 3 Royal Caribbean) and enjoy cruising very much. There were a few areas I wanted to point out so that someone else might avoid a similar experience. I'll start from the beginning - Getting on the ship was very easy. Arrived around 1:00 PM and was on the ship by 1:45. Immediately went to check out the room and was very impressed. Flat screen TV, comfortable and updated bedding, plenty of storage and a shower that has a door rather than a curtain - perfect. I have 3 children ages 7, 9 and 10 so my next goal was to get them checked into the kids program. Upon arriving I found a line of around 25 parents with the same idea and only 2 people checking them in. This took about an hour and a half and was entirely too chaotic for my liking. The ship should have at least 4 people checking kids in on the first day. I was the second to last person to get my kids checked in on the first day and the 20 people behind me who had waited in line to check their kids were told to come back at 7:30 that same night (don't you think they could have told them that a little earlier so that they didn't have to waste time in line?). Ridiculous! When I went to check my kids into the kids program the next day, again I had to wait in line for around 30 minutes. This was extremely frustrating considering that we were dropping them off at 9AM and had to pick them up by 12PM (3 hours and we lost the first 30 minutes in line). There were parents yelling at the RCL staff and things were getting extremely ugly. Very bad situation. My advice is to get there early to avoid this same problem. My kids said the program was fair but nothing special. They wanted to spend most of the remaining time with me and only went back to the kids program a couple times after that. Now for the all important food. Unfortunately, it was just okay. The service was excellent but the food was nothing compared to the prior 2 RCL cruises I took a few years back. Appears that RCL is cutting expenses to increase profit at the expense of our dining pleasure. Unfortunately I paid a premium to go on RCL and I was willing to do that because of the little extras that premium provides - including the food. In my opinion, that's only going to hurt RCL's ability to command that same premium in the future. The ship itself is breathtaking. Great amenities and very well kept. Despite the packed ship it really didn't seem too overcrowded because the ship is so big and there are so many different places to go. The kids H2O zone was great and my kids enjoyed it very much. By the way, the kids program will never take your kids to the pool or any other "risky" place. Be prepared to take them yourself. My oldest son was able to ride the flowrider since he is 56 inches tall but could not ride the surfboards and had to settle for the boogie boarding since he did not meet the 58 inch surfing requirement. The flowrider is VERY fun but be prepared to stand in line for what seems like an eternity. The ice skating rink is also a lot of fun - IF you can actually get in to use it. We had 2 days we could use the rink and only for about 2-3 hours each time. If you miss these distinct opportunities you are "S.O.L.". This is absolutely ridiculous in my mind considering that RCL promotes this rink so heavily when you are looking at the amenities online. We complained while on the ship but got no consideration for additional time. Getting off the ship was absolutely insane. We chose to get off the ship early under the "priority" program and found stairways and elevators completely jammed for at least 2 hours. There were times that I actually thought the crowds might start getting unruly. I saw one elderly lady knocked to the floor by another passenger trying to get through the crowds in front of the elevator. This was the worst I have ever experienced in my 7 cruises and I was not alone in that sentiment. I was standing next to a man who had cruised 15 times and had never seen anything so poorly orchestrated. My advice is to wait until later to get off the ship unless you absolutely MUST get off early.

Stumbled out of the gates...

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Cruizerz

Trip Details
First of all let me say that I have cruised 7 times (3 Carnival, 1 Princess, 3 Royal Caribbean) and enjoy cruising very much. There were a few areas I wanted to point out so that someone else might avoid a similar experience. I'll start from the beginning -
Getting on the ship was very easy. Arrived around 1:00 PM and was on the ship by 1:45. Immediately went to check out the room and was very impressed. Flat screen TV, comfortable and updated bedding, plenty of storage and a shower that has a door rather than a curtain - perfect. I have 3 children ages 7, 9 and 10 so my next goal was to get them checked into the kids program. Upon arriving I found a line of around 25 parents with the same idea and only 2 people checking them in. This took about an hour and a half and was entirely too chaotic for my liking. The ship should have at least 4 people checking kids in on the first day. I was the second to last person to get my kids checked in on the first day and the 20 people behind me who had waited in line to check their kids were told to come back at 7:30 that same night (don't you think they could have told them that a little earlier so that they didn't have to waste time in line?). Ridiculous! When I went to check my kids into the kids program the next day, again I had to wait in line for around 30 minutes. This was extremely frustrating considering that we were dropping them off at 9AM and had to pick them up by 12PM (3 hours and we lost the first 30 minutes in line). There were parents yelling at the RCL staff and things were getting extremely ugly. Very bad situation. My advice is to get there early to avoid this same problem. My kids said the program was fair but nothing special. They wanted to spend most of the remaining time with me and only went back to the kids program a couple times after that. Now for the all important food. Unfortunately, it was just okay. The service was excellent but the food was nothing compared to the prior 2 RCL cruises I took a few years back. Appears that RCL is cutting expenses to increase profit at the expense of our dining pleasure. Unfortunately I paid a premium to go on RCL and I was willing to do that because of the little extras that premium provides - including the food. In my opinion, that's only going to hurt RCL's ability to command that same premium in the future.
The ship itself is breathtaking. Great amenities and very well kept. Despite the packed ship it really didn't seem too overcrowded because the ship is so big and there are so many different places to go. The kids H2O zone was great and my kids enjoyed it very much. By the way, the kids program will never take your kids to the pool or any other "risky" place. Be prepared to take them yourself.
My oldest son was able to ride the flowrider since he is 56 inches tall but could not ride the surfboards and had to settle for the boogie boarding since he did not meet the 58 inch surfing requirement. The flowrider is VERY fun but be prepared to stand in line for what seems like an eternity. The ice skating rink is also a lot of fun - IF you can actually get in to use it. We had 2 days we could use the rink and only for about 2-3 hours each time. If you miss these distinct opportunities you are "S.O.L.". This is absolutely ridiculous in my mind considering that RCL promotes this rink so heavily when you are looking at the amenities online. We complained while on the ship but got no consideration for additional time.
Getting off the ship was absolutely insane. We chose to get off the ship early under the "priority" program and found stairways and elevators completely jammed for at least 2 hours. There were times that I actually thought the crowds might start getting unruly. I saw one elderly lady knocked to the floor by another passenger trying to get through the crowds in front of the elevator. This was the worst I have ever experienced in my 7 cruises and I was not alone in that sentiment. I was standing next to a man who had cruised 15 times and had never seen anything so poorly orchestrated. My advice is to wait until later to get off the ship unless you absolutely MUST get off early.
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