1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Independence of the Seas
We liked the ports in the brochure and I had enjoyed over a dozen cruises with Royal Caribbean in the past; however I had always booked my air and transfers myself. I am a Senior now and I am changing the way I travel to let others do some of the booking chores. We had Royal Caribbean do the Air and Sea Program for us, that is handle the flights from California to London and return, also all transfers to the hotel in London for the day before the cruise and transfers to and from the ship from London to Southampton before and after the cruise. We had one stop in Dallas from California before we would fly to London; the plane was delayed due to air traffic in Dallas and unable to land so when we should have been getting our connecting flight we were circling Dallas and missed the connecting flight that the pilot told us would be waiting for us! This should have been no big deal, we did the footwork and got another flight to London. We had planned to sight see in London and the plane we re-scheduled with would have allowed for that. We got to the airport in London, looked for our Royal Caribbean prepaid transfer service Representative and found none. We waited, still no one, there were representatives from two other cruise lines but no one from Royal Caribbean. We did not have a phone number on our voucher in case of a mix up. There were no phone numbers on any of our paperwork to call if transfer personnel did not show up. The tourist information assistants tried to call a number we had for the cruise line but they could not get through (it would have been about 5:00 A.M. U.S. time.) Travelers Assistance told us just wait, they will show up; we waited over three hours. No one showed up. Travelers Assistance finally suggested we take a cab at our expense to the hotel and follow up with cruise line personnel later which we did however that took another two hours, so we got to our hotel in London too late to do any sightseeing; we just had dinner at the hotel, a Holiday Inn Express. Had we chosen a hotel it would not have been the Holiday Inn Express in London. We told the hotel personnel our transfer from the cruise line never showed up to transport us, they told us they have nothing to do with that to contact the cruise line. Our van to Southampton showed up on time the next morning, we showed our vouchers and they took six of us packed like sardines in a small van with luggage in the back seat; they acted like there was a mix up but did not share the reason for that with us; I suspect the van was really for 4 people and we actually had no ship scheduled reservation but we had the prepaid vouchers in hand so they took us to the ship. Once on board I went to Passenger Services and asked why we had to re book and re pay to get to the hotel from the airport after no one showed up from the cruise line to take us. to take us. They asked for all documentation and receipts, the vouchers for everything, air, hotel, all transfers, etc. which I produced. They told me I had to contact the hotel about the airport transfer, it was their shuttle that didn't show up. I had already spoke to the hotel personnel and they told me to talk to Royal Caribbean staff, they don't shuttle people from the airport. The ship Representative asked me to wait while she contacted a manager. The manager said we did not have a reservation to get from the ship after the cruise to the London airport, we were on a wait list and they said they had better get that straightened out before working on the airport transfers; they told me they had not received the money for the transfers, I provided a receipt for those and everything else including the cruise. I asked for the money we had paid for the transfers (2) we did not receive. It took them 4 days and 5 trips to the service desk for them to acknowledge they had made the errors. I refused to let this upset me and I enjoyed the time on board regardless of their errors however it did consume some time I could have been doing more enjoyable things. On board things looked very nice, the ship is showing some slight age but the layout is so fantastic we happily overlooked the rust and aging signs. It was crowded beyond belief on the pool decks, promenade, shows, and there were times we went into the Windjammer and just walked out due to crowds. There is a rule about saving lounges at the pools but they were not enforced so you seldom got a place at the pools. We were on the ship while the European "children and young adults" were still on summer vacation. This created quite a nightmare for us; the teens and preteens ran in groups, they attended shows that they were required to have an adult present and no adult was with them. Somehow they manipulated the elevators so that it would not stop on your floor, so we spent some extra time on elevators. They ran up and down the halls and elevators not only all day but from 1:00 a.m. (curfew time) until after 4 a.m. in the morning, I didn't sleep much the first 3 nights so I complained. Again very little if anything was done, it continued throughout the cruise. Prior to booking the length of the Ships port tours are given but not the hours they depart and return; The shore trips seemed to be planned at the worst times possible. If we were in port from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the tour would start at 10:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 or 2:30 p.m. This created way too much "dead time." This did not leave any time before or after the ship tour to see the port; we canceled about half of our ship port excursions because of the poor times they chose to do them and explored on our own in ports and had a much better time. We left feeling we had seen more than the ship tours showed us. It would have been better to have more time in port or even dock over night in a couple of ports like some do in Mexico. We had early dining and the Waiter and his assistant were very good however many of the breakfasts were changed from regular dining room breakfast to "breakfast buffet" style dining which was nothing like a normal dining room breakfast. The Windjammer buffet was very crowded, the food was mediocre. There was ample seating with excellent views however due to the crowds we seldom got to enjoy that feature of the ship. We ate every meal we could in the dining room, it was better quality, hot or at least warm as compared to cold "hot food" at the buffet. They did come around with non alcohol buffet liquids once in awhile which was nice since they provide no trays for your plates, bowls and cups or glasses of liquids. Food on the Promenade was varied, some good some not so good, it was a great place to get water, I kept a pitcher in our cabin and used the small bottles of drink enhancers I had brought with us because we don't drink much soda, alcohol or high acid drinks (like orange juice). We could drink some lemon water or mango water that was available free in a couple of places, however for taste I would rate it a two on a one to five scale. Getting on and off the ship was good. The shore excursion staff was very good but the reason I will not cruise with this line again soon (if ever) is because of the crowds, lack of action by security, lack of action by passenger services with options and assistance on issues such as being stranded at the airport in a Foreign Country and shoddy reaction to problems with set rules that are not enforced.

Book Your Own Air, Hotel and Transfers!

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by JeanieRich

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We liked the ports in the brochure and I had enjoyed over a dozen cruises with Royal Caribbean in the past; however I had always booked my air and transfers myself. I am a Senior now and I am changing the way I travel to let others do some of the booking chores. We had Royal Caribbean do the Air and Sea Program for us, that is handle the flights from California to London and return, also all transfers to the hotel in London for the day before the cruise and transfers to and from the ship from London to Southampton before and after the cruise. We had one stop in Dallas from California before we would fly to London; the plane was delayed due to air traffic in Dallas and unable to land so when we should have been getting our connecting flight we were circling Dallas and missed the connecting flight that the pilot told us would be waiting for us! This should have been no big deal, we did the footwork and got another flight to London. We had planned to sight see in London and the plane we re-scheduled with would have allowed for that. We got to the airport in London, looked for our Royal Caribbean prepaid transfer service Representative and found none. We waited, still no one, there were representatives from two other cruise lines but no one from Royal Caribbean. We did not have a phone number on our voucher in case of a mix up. There were no phone numbers on any of our paperwork to call if transfer personnel did not show up. The tourist information assistants tried to call a number we had for the cruise line but they could not get through (it would have been about 5:00 A.M. U.S. time.) Travelers Assistance told us just wait, they will show up; we waited over three hours. No one showed up. Travelers Assistance finally suggested we take a cab at our expense to the hotel and follow up with cruise line personnel later which we did however that took another two hours, so we got to our hotel in London too late to do any sightseeing; we just had dinner at the hotel, a Holiday Inn Express. Had we chosen a hotel it would not have been the Holiday Inn Express in London. We told the hotel personnel our transfer from the cruise line never showed up to transport us, they told us they have nothing to do with that to contact the cruise line. Our van to Southampton showed up on time the next morning, we showed our vouchers and they took six of us packed like sardines in a small van with luggage in the back seat; they acted like there was a mix up but did not share the reason for that with us; I suspect the van was really for 4 people and we actually had no ship scheduled reservation but we had the prepaid vouchers in hand so they took us to the ship. Once on board I went to Passenger Services and asked why we had to re book and re pay to get to the hotel from the airport after no one showed up from the cruise line to take us. to take us. They asked for all documentation and receipts, the vouchers for everything, air, hotel, all transfers, etc. which I produced. They told me I had to contact the hotel about the airport transfer, it was their shuttle that didn't show up. I had already spoke to the hotel personnel and they told me to talk to Royal Caribbean staff, they don't shuttle people from the airport. The ship Representative asked me to wait while she contacted a manager. The manager said we did not have a reservation to get from the ship after the cruise to the London airport, we were on a wait list and they said they had better get that straightened out before working on the airport transfers; they told me they had not received the money for the transfers, I provided a receipt for those and everything else including the cruise. I asked for the money we had paid for the transfers (2) we did not receive. It took them 4 days and 5 trips to the service desk for them to acknowledge they had made the errors. I refused to let this upset me and I enjoyed the time on board regardless of their errors however it did consume some time I could have been doing more enjoyable things.

On board things looked very nice, the ship is showing some slight age but the layout is so fantastic we happily overlooked the rust and aging signs. It was crowded beyond belief on the pool decks, promenade, shows, and there were times we went into the Windjammer and just walked out due to crowds. There is a rule about saving lounges at the pools but they were not enforced so you seldom got a place at the pools. We were on the ship while the European "children and young adults" were still on summer vacation. This created quite a nightmare for us; the teens and preteens ran in groups, they attended shows that they were required to have an adult present and no adult was with them. Somehow they manipulated the elevators so that it would not stop on your floor, so we spent some extra time on elevators. They ran up and down the halls and elevators not only all day but from 1:00 a.m. (curfew time) until after 4 a.m. in the morning, I didn't sleep much the first 3 nights so I complained. Again very little if anything was done, it continued throughout the cruise.

Prior to booking the length of the Ships port tours are given but not the hours they depart and return; The shore trips seemed to be planned at the worst times possible. If we were in port from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the tour would start at 10:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 or 2:30 p.m. This created way too much "dead time." This did not leave any time before or after the ship tour to see the port; we canceled about half of our ship port excursions because of the poor times they chose to do them and explored on our own in ports and had a much better time. We left feeling we had seen more than the ship tours showed us. It would have been better to have more time in port or even dock over night in a couple of ports like some do in Mexico. We had early dining and the Waiter and his assistant were very good however many of the breakfasts were changed from regular dining room breakfast to "breakfast buffet" style dining which was nothing like a normal dining room breakfast. The Windjammer buffet was very crowded, the food was mediocre. There was ample seating with excellent views however due to the crowds we seldom got to enjoy that feature of the ship. We ate every meal we could in the dining room, it was better quality, hot or at least warm as compared to cold "hot food" at the buffet. They did come around with non alcohol buffet liquids once in awhile which was nice since they provide no trays for your plates, bowls and cups or glasses of liquids. Food on the Promenade was varied, some good some not so good, it was a great place to get water, I kept a pitcher in our cabin and used the small bottles of drink enhancers I had brought with us because we don't drink much soda, alcohol or high acid drinks (like orange juice). We could drink some lemon water or mango water that was available free in a couple of places, however for taste I would rate it a two on a one to five scale. Getting on and off the ship was good. The shore excursion staff was very good but the reason I will not cruise with this line again soon (if ever) is because of the crowds, lack of action by security, lack of action by passenger services with options and assistance on issues such as being stranded at the airport in a Foreign Country and shoddy reaction to problems with set rules that are not enforced.
JeanieRich’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Cabin
We were towards the aft. That extension towards the front of the ship often obstructed our view coming into port. Cabin attendant was pretty good. Comfy beds, good in cabin internet if you downloaded first rather than try to stream directly.
  Independence of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    Good coverage but not many photo opportunities as trees and the speed of the bus prevented good pictures. Would not recommend.
    View All 254 City Tour Reviews