1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Independence of the Seas
We have been on Radiance in 2006 and Freedom in 2007 which we sailed out of Miami. We stayed the night before in Hollywood and the hotel supplied a free shuttle to the Port the next day. We arrived to the Port at around 11 am. Port Everglades is much different: it lacked the carpeting, lighting and ambiance of Miami. However, the customer service, speed were superb. There was a slight delay in boarding as rumor had it that several travelers from the previous cruise had not gotten off the ship yet. However, later in the day, we did see a wedding that had taken place prior to our boarding. We were on the ship by noon and promptly went to the Windjammer. The Windjammer was predictable as from our previous sailing on Freedom 2 years ago. Beautiful presentation, lots of choices: healthful or indulgent!!! One note to those future passengers- they have smoked salmon, but you need to ask the Chef by the Fruit area- and they are too generous with the amount- and they are generous with the sliced red onion and capers. By the time we finished with our lunch, it was 1pm, and we took a chance by walking to our staterooms. Low and behold, they were ready and our luggage was outside our rooms (had adjoining balcony rooms). We met our lovely and attentive attendant, Iliana from Romania. We asked right away for the adjoining door to be opened- she asked if it was ok for it to be done a little later. I have no doubt if I said no, it would have been done. But it was opened before dinner as well as the balcony divider. We had main seating for dinner. We were a party of 4 and when we booked our trip, we had requested to be with a larger table- just to meet others, etc. We were seated at a table for 4-near the kitchen and the grand staircase. We had a great view for the wait staff entertainment(dancing, singing and the Chef parade). The Head Waiter was exceptional and our waiter, incredibly professional. The Ass't waiter was pleasant but not as attentive as we have had on the past cruises. Some differences from our last cruise in 2007, as remarked by our 14 year old daughter: they never asked our names, never offered a 2nd dinner roll( not to say that if we wanted it- we would have asked) and 'crumbs' were never swept away before dessert. Food was great- choices were fine and we noticed healthy choices marked on the menus as well as Vegetarian choices- for appetizer, entree and dessert. My husband and I Entertainment was abundant. We went to the comedy show, which as per previous reviews, were not favorable. It seems this comedian had just boarded the cruise this day and he was excellent.We really enjoyed ourselves. There were 2 Parades and several shows. If you you did not make it to the show, it was shown many times on the Television in the stateroom. And I must say, the choices on the television were much improved and very recent run movies. My husband and I did enjoy shows, Bingo, the cantilever hot tub, the solarium pool, Ben and Jerry's, and the Casino. My daughter and her friend, enjoyed Johnny Rockets, the teen areas, the arcade. Of course, we all enjoyed the shopping on the promenade (although not sure my husband did as much as my daughter, her friend and me). There was definitely an issue with the teen programs for us. My daughter is 14- to be 15 in 3 months; her best friend, traveling with us, just turned 15. The age groups are 12-14 and 15-17. One "counselor" was very strict and didn't allow either to be each others group and another was more lenient provided they acted appropriately. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was an issue for many teenagers. This allowed these teens to form their own group and enjoy the ship on their own. I think a lot more participation in the teen activities would have occurred if the age issue didn't cause a 'roadblock'. I hope RC will either reconsider the age group divisions, sign waivers or set up an overlap age group. I must say, my daughter states this should not influence your decision to go with this age group of children- she believes because of this- she met and connected with more. We had towel animals from day 2-5, but no chocolate on our pillows. I did ask our attendant about that. She said as per passenger surveys, 90% said they threw the chocolate away and RC discontinued it based on this survey. I enjoyed it and was disappointed it wasn't there- it was just a little nicety that is gone. We booked our excursions a few weeks prior to our cruise via the RC website. We were not disappointed. We choose to go with scheduled excursions from RC- just feeling a little more secure with safety issues and not missing the ship if there is a delay. We chose beach based excursions and none of us were disappointed. Each day and excursion seemed better each day. Our tickets for each excursion were in our rooms when we arrived on board. The disembarkation process seemed disorganized and cumbersome. Our original plan was to carry off our own luggage as our previous experience with Freedom- we got off the ship quickly but took a long time to get our luggage. However, to carry off your own luggage, you could only disembark at 8am or 10am- not in between. We decided to get tags and go through the regular process. We had yellow tags which as per the directions from RC, we were to go to the Theater at 9am- and not before as to not cause a 'traffic blockage' for those leaving. We got to the theater for 8:55- and they had already called our color tag and were leaving the theater. We were walked upstairs, a flight, through the corridor, and down 2 more flights- and standing for what seemed a while. It didn't seem organized and the crowds were frustrated. On the positive note, our luggage was there when we got off the ship into the Terminal- and was grouped by colors- no luggage carousel. We were able to find our luggage in seconds. We ended up on an extensive line for Customs- but I must say, despite the crowds, it moved swiftly and we were out of the terminal much sooner than I anticipated. Overall, our experience was excellent. And if you didn't cruise with RC before, you wouldn't know what was missing. The ship was immaculate(saw constant cleaning) and the staff was friendly. Occasionally you would need to wait for another elevator- but nothing significant. I will discuss our excursions in the Port Reviews.

Fun, Relaxation, Options and So Worth It!!

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by PMSheidi

Trip Details
We have been on Radiance in 2006 and Freedom in 2007 which we sailed out of Miami. We stayed the night before in Hollywood and the hotel supplied a free shuttle to the Port the next day. We arrived to the Port at around 11 am. Port Everglades is much different: it lacked the carpeting, lighting and ambiance of Miami. However, the customer service, speed were superb. There was a slight delay in boarding as rumor had it that several travelers from the previous cruise had not gotten off the ship yet. However, later in the day, we did see a wedding that had taken place prior to our boarding.
We were on the ship by noon and promptly went to the Windjammer. The Windjammer was predictable as from our previous sailing on Freedom 2 years ago. Beautiful presentation, lots of choices: healthful or indulgent!!! One note to those future passengers- they have smoked salmon, but you need to ask the Chef by the Fruit area- and they are too generous with the amount- and they are generous with the sliced red onion and capers.
By the time we finished with our lunch, it was 1pm, and we took a chance by walking to our staterooms. Low and behold, they were ready and our luggage was outside our rooms (had adjoining balcony rooms). We met our lovely and attentive attendant, Iliana from Romania. We asked right away for the adjoining door to be opened- she asked if it was ok for it to be done a little later. I have no doubt if I said no, it would have been done. But it was opened before dinner as well as the balcony divider.
We had main seating for dinner. We were a party of 4 and when we booked our trip, we had requested to be with a larger table- just to meet others, etc. We were seated at a table for 4-near the kitchen and the grand staircase. We had a great view for the wait staff entertainment(dancing, singing and the Chef parade). The Head Waiter was exceptional and our waiter, incredibly professional. The Ass't waiter was pleasant but not as attentive as we have had on the past cruises. Some differences from our last cruise in 2007, as remarked by our 14 year old daughter: they never asked our names, never offered a 2nd dinner roll( not to say that if we wanted it- we would have asked) and 'crumbs' were never swept away before dessert. Food was great- choices were fine and we noticed healthy choices marked on the menus as well as Vegetarian choices- for appetizer, entree and dessert. My husband and I
Entertainment was abundant. We went to the comedy show, which as per previous reviews, were not favorable. It seems this comedian had just boarded the cruise this day and he was excellent.We really enjoyed ourselves. There were 2 Parades and several shows. If you you did not make it to the show, it was shown many times on the Television in the stateroom. And I must say, the choices on the television were much improved and very recent run movies.
My husband and I did enjoy shows, Bingo, the cantilever hot tub, the solarium pool, Ben and Jerry's, and the Casino. My daughter and her friend, enjoyed Johnny Rockets, the teen areas, the arcade. Of course, we all enjoyed the shopping on the promenade (although not sure my husband did as much as my daughter, her friend and me).
There was definitely an issue with the teen programs for us. My daughter is 14- to be 15 in 3 months; her best friend, traveling with us, just turned 15. The age groups are 12-14 and 15-17. One "counselor" was very strict and didn't allow either to be each others group and another was more lenient provided they acted appropriately. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was an issue for many teenagers. This allowed these teens to form their own group and enjoy the ship on their own. I think a lot more participation in the teen activities would have occurred if the age issue didn't cause a 'roadblock'. I hope RC will either reconsider the age group divisions, sign waivers or set up an overlap age group. I must say, my daughter states this should not influence your decision to go with this age group of children- she believes because of this- she met and connected with more.
We had towel animals from day 2-5, but no chocolate on our pillows. I did ask our attendant about that. She said as per passenger surveys, 90% said they threw the chocolate away and RC discontinued it based on this survey. I enjoyed it and was disappointed it wasn't there- it was just a little nicety that is gone.
We booked our excursions a few weeks prior to our cruise via the RC website. We were not disappointed. We choose to go with scheduled excursions from RC- just feeling a little more secure with safety issues and not missing the ship if there is a delay. We chose beach based excursions and none of us were disappointed. Each day and excursion seemed better each day. Our tickets for each excursion were in our rooms when we arrived on board.
The disembarkation process seemed disorganized and cumbersome. Our original plan was to carry off our own luggage as our previous experience with Freedom- we got off the ship quickly but took a long time to get our luggage. However, to carry off your own luggage, you could only disembark at 8am or 10am- not in between. We decided to get tags and go through the regular process. We had yellow tags which as per the directions from RC, we were to go to the Theater at 9am- and not before as to not cause a 'traffic blockage' for those leaving. We got to the theater for 8:55- and they had already called our color tag and were leaving the theater. We were walked upstairs, a flight, through the corridor, and down 2 more flights- and standing for what seemed a while. It didn't seem organized and the crowds were frustrated. On the positive note, our luggage was there when we got off the ship into the Terminal- and was grouped by colors- no luggage carousel. We were able to find our luggage in seconds. We ended up on an extensive line for Customs- but I must say, despite the crowds, it moved swiftly and we were out of the terminal much sooner than I anticipated.
Overall, our experience was excellent. And if you didn't cruise with RC before, you wouldn't know what was missing. The ship was immaculate(saw constant cleaning) and the staff was friendly. Occasionally you would need to wait for another elevator- but nothing significant.
I will discuss our excursions in the Port Reviews.
PMSheidi’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Rates
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Cabin
loved the balconies- wish there were more adjoing balcony rooms;if needed to call housekeeping- and the call didn't go through- the attendant must have their phone- could see where the call came from - and she was there asking how she could help.
  Independence of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Belize City
    We chose the Jungle Beach Break. We had a private tender the private beach. The ride was 15 minutes and the tender was clean. There was plenty of room. The beach itself was very 'hard', not sandy. Lots of lounge chairs, hammocks, a bar, a little area for young children including a little 'zoo'. We ordered meals mid day,at an additional charge- highly recommend their BBQ chicken. Very friendly staff- they really work hard for you!!! Snorkeling, as per my husband, was very limited- not much to see. It was very relaxing. They offered additional services:tattoos for kids, hair braiding, massages and had their tiny souvenir shop. The water was clear and overall, it was a relaxing, serene experience. I believe RC was the only group there- there were 3 tenders- and each one was clearly announced when it was time to go- the beach was small enough that you wouldn't miss the announcement. When we were leaving, we were offered to stay on the tender after it got to the ship to head back to Belize City- and was told it was another 15 minute ride. We did not choose to go to the city and did get back on the ship. Even though the experiences were limited, we would mostly likely go back but on an earlier tender to be able to see Belize City and not be rushed back to the ship.
    View All 2,339 Belize City Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Belize City Cruise Port Review
  • Costa Maya
    We chose the Jungle Beach Break for Costa Maya. We boarded a nice comfy, clean air conditioned bus and listened to a little history of the area. The 'town' at the port was lovely- and you could realistically spend the day there with a lovely pool, bars, shops and a great view. We did enjoy our beach break. Truly a sandy beach with lots of lounge chairs with a few of these covered pillowed lounge chairs. There was an open bar and a souvenir shop. They offered kayaks, wave runners and parasailing. My 14 year old daughter and her 15 year old friend parasailed. They allowed my husband to be in the boat with them for the experience. The prices were very 'negotiable'. After a while, we ordered lunch, at an additional charge, and were not disappointed. We bought a few sterling silver items- prices probably not the best price as in the town, but they were unique and we will enjoy them. They did solicit tips for the bus driver (done everywhere I have been) and for the resort- and was told it was completely voluntary. The resort was simply for day participants as we did not see any resident type structures. A hat was passed around and people were generous. The ride to and from the resort took 30 or 40 minutes. And basically, it was barren land. The area was devasted by Hurricane Dean in 2007 and there is some rebuilding- the resort itself and a few areas here and there. In town, the shops were very negotiable and they people were very friendly. It was very relaxing day. I am not sure if we would go back or look for a different experience.
    View All 2,602 Costa Maya Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Costa Maya Cruise Port Review
  • Cozumel
    We selected the Beach Break Party. We had been to Passion Island last time and wanted to try another. And we all enjoyed this one over Passion Island. Again, it was simply for tourists as there was no residence areas. We were in Cozumel when there were 5 other ships. Needless to say this place was busy. The staff was very customer service oriented and attentive. It had an open bar, lovely buffet lunch- which met the needs for children or anyone not wanting the regional cuisine. The staff offered umbrellas, ping pong and other games to get the customers involved. There was a water trampoline, water iceberg, hobie cats, kayaks which was included. Something that was reassuring to a mother, there was a little boat near the water trampoline/iceberg that was a first aid vehicle/lifeguard. Each ship had its own colored bracelet for the included services- and it seemed RC/Independence had the highest level. Bathrooms were clean, wait staff attentive and the alcoholic drinks were not disappointing. My husband rented snorkel equipment and really enjoyed himself. We did look in a few shops and again, did buy a unique item. The ride back was smooth and peaceful- and quick- maybe less than 15 minutes. There were plenty of taxis there if you wanted to leave early or go to town to shop. This will definitely be a place we will go back to!
    View All 6,795 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cozumel Cruise Port Review