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Independence of the Seas Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,776 Reviews

Butlins at Sea

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Troski

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2017
  • Destination: the British Isles & Western Europe
  • Cabin Type: Junior Suite

Having cruised with RC before and also on this particular ship, we decided to give it another go. We were absolutely shocked that the service had significantly gone downhill, whilst the prices had rocketed!

We stayed in a Junior Suite, which was not terribly different to the standard balcony cabin... Slightly more space, a bathtub & larger balcony, but nothing else for your buck... Not even a complimentary bottle of water!

The service was generally terrible and most days we were not even offered one drink! The staff were also somewhat rude, often barging in front of us, with very little courtesy, apart from a few staff members. We also noticed a huge hike in bar prices (e.g. $14 for a Martini).

Excursions were extremely poor and extremely expensive, which meant we often did not even have time to take photographs, before having to be piled back onto the coach... This was despite our return to the ship several hours before sailing (up to 4 hours before). We complained about this, but RC couldn't have been less bothered!

The ship has certainly aged and is definitely in need of some TLC and clearly the staff have been significantly reduced!

Dining was fairly good quality in the Windjammer cafe (casual dining area), but the food and service in the main dining room was shockingly bad! On one formal night, we had fish fingers, with curried tartar sauce! Often the food was of a poor quality and certainly not the quality we have seen on any previous cruise (15 in total). All meat was offered as 'red or brown'... We asked for medium rare steak, but were told we could only have it either 'red' or 'brown'! In the Windjammer, we often struggled to find a clean table and on a few occasions, we found ourselves surrounded by dirty tables, full of used cutlery, plates, cups etc.

Overall the entertainment was very good and the cruise director was excellent. However, the daily activities were at an all-time low and included such activities as adult colouring, bingo, the belly flop competition and card making. During the day on deck the music was so loud that we could not hold a conversation with anyone sitting next to us... This became very aversive and we heard numerous individuals complain about it.

We also noticed additional charges and price hikes from the last time we travelled with RC. For example, all of the exercise classes were charged for, room service (which used to be free) is now $8 per use, 1 litre of water is now $5, a movie in your room costs $12 and, as previously mentioned, the shore excursions and drinks prices have risen significantly.

As we have travelled with RC on 3 previous cruises, we are now classified as Platinum members, which meant a BOGOF glass of wine, a BOGOF specialty coffee (non alcoholic) and a handful of other such tokens, which add up to very little indeed. We also discovered that we were seriously 'ripped off' with the price we had paid for our cruise and met fellow assigners who had paid up to 1K less than us for the same cabin standard, including a premium drinks package. We asked at the cruise booking place on the ship whether they could offer us a better deal for a future cruise and they could not be bothered to provide us with any special offers or deals.

Overall, the atmosphere and service was poor and we have decided that we will not be travelling with Royal Caribbean again!


Troski's Full Rating Summary
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Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Junior Suite

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Southampton

Southampton cruise terminal is the best in the world!

Vigo

Vigo is absolutely awful... I have never understood why some cruise lines choose to dock there (cheap maybe?). It's an absolute dump & the people of Vigo put no effort whatsoever into welcoming visitors.

Cascais, Sintra and the beach

This has to be one of the worst excursions we have ever been on... We visited Sintra first and had to walk for about 20 minutes up a steep hill (apparently owing to roadworks... However, other coaches managed the journey up the hill). Having climbed the hill, we were given 25 minutes to enjoy the beautiful village, go to the toilet (none on coach), get a drink and take photographs... By the time we had ordered a coffee and visited the toilet, we had to be headed back down the hill again!

We then drove past some beautiful coastline, which our guide pointed out to us. However, we did not stop & were not even allowed to have a 5 minute photo stop... What beach?

Our last stop was Cascais (a seaside town with a small harbour) & we were allowed 50 minutes to explore and grab some lunch... We literally sat down at a restaurant & ordered lunch, which would have been lovely, but we ended up having to eat so quickly that we felt sick.

We were taken back to the ship, 4 hours before sailing, so I think it is reasonable to expect more time to explore the destinations... Mean!

View All 37 Cascais, Sintra and the beach Reviews
City Tour

This was by far our best tour on this cruise... Our guide was engaging and knowledgable and gave us plenty of time at each stop. We visited a vineyard and sampled some wine, observed 3 demonstrations regarding the tremendous heat of the ground and had a really good excursion around Timanfaya National Park.

View All 9 City Tour Reviews
Canadas del Teide

Once more we were rushed around throughout this trip, with one quick toilet stop and the odd photo opportunity... Our guide was tedious and we found that we were often nodding off, with his vast lectures regarding the geology and geographical nature of the landscape... I would suggest 'overkill' on the detail here!

View All 29 Canadas del Teide Reviews
Madeira (Funchal)

We wanted to book an excursion, but it was full!

We hopped on the cable car to Monte &enjoyed the views over a coffee and did some shopping.

I would suggest that this stop was far too short and we had to be back on the ship by 2pm.

La Coruna

The place is as bad as Vigo... Absolutely nothing to do!

Probably another cheap stop!


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Troski
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