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We were on Independence of the Seas from February 15 - 21, 2009. First day was a day at sea. Our two children did the Adventure Ocean club on Day 1, which was a sea day. 8-year-old stayed all day. 4-year-old stayed just for the morning, then spent the afternoon at the pool. Adventure Club is just OK. I think they could do a better, more personal job with entertaining these kids, but no major complaints. Day 2 was the port of Belize City. We took an independent snorkeling charter with Happy and Grumpy. It was awesome. They took great care of us and our two children. We felt very safe with them, and they made sure our children enjoyed snorkeling. We saw sea turtles! And touched sting rays. All in the "wild." It was awesome and everyone loved it. If you have children, this is an excellent tour. They really help you with the kids, so you can enjoy your snorkeling, while knowing there are two more adults watching out for your kids. We were the only ones on this tour. They specialize in running a small excursion and offering wonderfully personalized service. I highly recommend Happy and Grumpy. They are wonderful. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them. Our next port was Costa Maya. Here we booked independently from the ship with The Native Choice. Excellent tour. We did the "Mayan Experience," which takes you to the Chacchoben ruins and then to the village, to meet a Mayan family, make tortillas and see how the Mayans live. They are a very poor culture, and it was truly a lifetime memory to experience this. I highly recommend the Mayan Experience. My children brought school supplies to donate to the Mayan children. As we pulled up, the kids hovered around our van and were so happy and excited to get simple things like a glue stick or a pencil. It was so good for my kids to do and see, and The Native Choice was also a first class group. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab National Park and swam with the dolphins. I booked this independently through dolphin discovery.com. It was a great experience, though not all that well organized on their end. Kids were free, if an adult paid. So, the price was much, much cheaper than the ship's price. The ship itself is great. Ice rink is awesome. They have rental skates (free), even for little feet. My 4-year-old got skates with no problems. They offer private lessons, but you need to ask for them. My daughter did a lesson with one of the stars from the ice show. She loved it! Tips/advice: try to stay in a cabin more toward the middle or rear of the ship. We were in the front, and it's close to nothing. We needed to go up two floors, walk across the ship, then go down. You can't walk all the way across the ship on every floor. Next time, we'd be more toward the middle or rear of the ship. Up front wasn't close to enough things for us. If travelling with children, save space and weight by not packing story books to read at bedtime. The ship's library has a nice selection of books that you can check out and take to your room. There is a nice selection of adult books as well. The Internet was terrible. We tried several nights to use it, but it was so slow and unusable. Maybe during off-peak hours it's better, but each night we wanted to use it, we could find an open computer, but it was dog-slow and frustrating. We never connected to the websites we wanted to. When booking excursions, keep in mind that ship's time may be different than island time. For example, our dolphin swim was at 1pm island time, but that was 2pm ship time. The ship was leaving at 4pm (ship time). So, when the 1-hour dolphin swim was over at 2pm island time, it was really 3pm ship time, and we had 1 hour to get back to port. That is plenty of time, but it's important to keep track of ship's time vs island time, if you book an excursion independently from the ship.

Great ice rink - don't stay on deck 2 forward

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Rebecca30

Trip Details
We were on Independence of the Seas from February 15 - 21, 2009. First day was a day at sea. Our two children did the Adventure Ocean club on Day 1, which was a sea day. 8-year-old stayed all day. 4-year-old stayed just for the morning, then spent the afternoon at the pool. Adventure Club is just OK. I think they could do a better, more personal job with entertaining these kids, but no major complaints.
Day 2 was the port of Belize City. We took an independent snorkeling charter with Happy and Grumpy. It was awesome. They took great care of us and our two children. We felt very safe with them, and they made sure our children enjoyed snorkeling. We saw sea turtles! And touched sting rays. All in the "wild." It was awesome and everyone loved it. If you have children, this is an excellent tour. They really help you with the kids, so you can enjoy your snorkeling, while knowing there are two more adults watching out for your kids. We were the only ones on this tour. They specialize in running a small excursion and offering wonderfully personalized service. I highly recommend Happy and Grumpy. They are wonderful. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them.
Our next port was Costa Maya. Here we booked independently from the ship with The Native Choice. Excellent tour. We did the "Mayan Experience," which takes you to the Chacchoben ruins and then to the village, to meet a Mayan family, make tortillas and see how the Mayans live. They are a very poor culture, and it was truly a lifetime memory to experience this. I highly recommend the Mayan Experience. My children brought school supplies to donate to the Mayan children. As we pulled up, the kids hovered around our van and were so happy and excited to get simple things like a glue stick or a pencil. It was so good for my kids to do and see, and The Native Choice was also a first class group. Check out tripadvisor.com for more information on them.
In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab National Park and swam with the dolphins. I booked this independently through dolphin discovery.com. It was a great experience, though not all that well organized on their end. Kids were free, if an adult paid. So, the price was much, much cheaper than the ship's price.
The ship itself is great. Ice rink is awesome. They have rental skates (free), even for little feet. My 4-year-old got skates with no problems. They offer private lessons, but you need to ask for them. My daughter did a lesson with one of the stars from the ice show. She loved it!
Tips/advice: try to stay in a cabin more toward the middle or rear of the ship. We were in the front, and it's close to nothing. We needed to go up two floors, walk across the ship, then go down. You can't walk all the way across the ship on every floor. Next time, we'd be more toward the middle or rear of the ship. Up front wasn't close to enough things for us.
If travelling with children, save space and weight by not packing story books to read at bedtime. The ship's library has a nice selection of books that you can check out and take to your room. There is a nice selection of adult books as well.
The Internet was terrible. We tried several nights to use it, but it was so slow and unusable. Maybe during off-peak hours it's better, but each night we wanted to use it, we could find an open computer, but it was dog-slow and frustrating. We never connected to the websites we wanted to.
When booking excursions, keep in mind that ship's time may be different than island time. For example, our dolphin swim was at 1pm island time, but that was 2pm ship time. The ship was leaving at 4pm (ship time). So, when the 1-hour dolphin swim was over at 2pm island time, it was really 3pm ship time, and we had 1 hour to get back to port. That is plenty of time, but it's important to keep track of ship's time vs island time, if you book an excursion independently from the ship.
Rebecca30’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Deck 2, forward. Near conference center and movie theater. Quiet location, but not convenient to main areas of ship. Decks 2 and 3 don't go all the way across the ship. So, we had to go up to deck 4 or 5, then walk across the ship, then go up to deck 12 for the pool (for example).
  Independence of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews