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Independence of the Seas Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1639 reviews
23 Awards

Lots of positives but some real niggles

Review for Independence of the Seas to the Baltic Sea
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2-5 Cruises • Age 50s

Rating by category

Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Aug 2018
Cabin: Spacious Ocean View
Traveled with children

When booking I enquired at length about the kid's club and whether the children were confined to a room or if they were taken out to use the many facilities on-board. I wouldn't have booked had I known that it was basically a babysitting service in a dedicated room. The staff were pleasant but the overall concept of the program is poor. All sessions were in the room and it was always some dodge-ball type games, some arts and crafts and sometimes a video. Such a shame when there was a whole boat of interesting and exciting things they could have been doing. It meant that I was not able to book long excursions because it wasn't fair on the children. In Club Med resorts they can't wait to ditch us and get to the kids club but this was more like a creche than an enjoyable holiday activity.

Service is sometimes pushy rather than genuinely and appropriately friendly. My impression is that the staff are terrified of negative feedback, under orders to be friendly at all costs and desperate for tips so they launch into their prepared patter or present you with extra (unasked for) food items rather than taking their lead from their guest. There's an air of desperation as well about keeping the bosses happy which takes priority over the guest experience. Some people may like this service style but I didn't enjoy being stalked at breakfast each day and cornered into a lengthy conversation when I was trying to eat, chat to my family, get my children fed and get out to get the day started. Even when I thought we were making it pretty obvious that we just wanted to get on with our meal it persisted and was very awkward. Many of the staff are genuinely friendly in a nice way and it was lovely to get to know them a little bit, but the pushy over-familiarity of some really had a negative effect on the trip. I think it's probably a cultural thing - it's a very American service style but taken to extremes by some staff members.

Buffet was decent. Main dining room food was OK - a bit patchy and no frills but as expected given the numbers they cater for. Desserts weren't great in comparison to other courses (the ice creams were particularly cheap and nasty but the free ice cream from the machine out by the kids pool was much better). Ate in all the speciality restaurants. Wine lists were a joke - it seemed that more of the wines were unavailable than available. I was told that many of the wines by the glass hadn't been available for weeks - they are not long lists so why not reprint them and keep them current? On a number of occasions the wine I ordered by the glass was definitely not the one I was served - mostly it was a similar style of wine and I didn't say anything, but on one occasion I was given a glass of red and assured it was the albarino I had ordered. Chops and Giovanni's were decent but Izumi was very disappointing - for the price and given the decent raw ingredients they use the finished food was terrible and the production very gimmicky. My Family Time dining (another reason we booked) was unavailable with hundreds of people already on the closed waitlist when we tried to change our Main Dining Room late sitting allocation.

Cabin Review

Spacious Ocean View

Cabin 1M

Long and narrow and not very spacious although the window was great. The fold-out double bed wasn't ideal as it meant the children annoyed each other at night - I'd have preferred bunks which would also have taken up far less room and not required clambering over to get to the shower room. Two things missing that were very annoying in a new room were a curtain/partition to separate the main double bed from the fold out children's bed which meant we couldn't watch a movie on the laptop after the children were put to bed and also no powerpoint beside the bed for recharging a phone overnight.

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