Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by robert_nadler1
- Sail Date: December 2018
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
Admittedly, I sought out the best deal - based on value. I ignored small ships. I ignored ships with poor reviews. But I looked for a good price. I was willing to sail out of anywhere in Fla.
We tested our luck (successfully) and flew in from Toronto to FLL the day of sailing. Although we made it with a couple of hours to spare, maybe we won't test our luck again. We got to the port around 1:30pm and it was a very manageable line. We were through security, checked-in and on-board within 20 minutes.
The ship itself was wonderful. Of course, I have no experience to draw upon - but it seemed big and well-appointed, without being so big that you got lost. We paid for the guaranteed ocean view and got a 2nd deck room about 3/4 towards the front of the ship, but it was great. Bigger than we expected, lots of places to store your things, and the cabin steward was fantastic. Actually, just about every single staff we encountered were great. Smiles, sometimes singing and joking with you. If they don't love their job, they know how to hide it very well.
The food was good. Probably our biggest disappointment, only because we always hear how amazing the food is. Admittedly, we may be more "foodies" than most and had a higher expectation, but some meals were excellent - while a couple were at best just decent. We dined on our own time on the 3rd deck, and were very happy with that choice. Most evenings, we didn't go to eat until after 8pm so we could enjoy the ship. We did hit the buffet for lunch or breakfast a couple of times. It is huge in there, and you really need to walk around a few times to see all the choices. The food was good in there, but we avoided it because tables were a bit hard to find.
We saw the comedian on the first night during the late show (11:30pm). It was adults-only, but there were several families with young kids. While I was fine with that, that does lead to a thought that it was hard to find staff at times to help enforce the rules (we were on a smoke-free sundeck one day and some guys came up and vaped a few feet from us - it took me 10 minutes to find someone to ask them to stop). But the comedian was amazing. Truly. Comedy can be hit-or-miss, and this was a hit.
Morning. Day-2. We must have been in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and we woke up to the ship rocking. I thought: this is my worst nightmare. But I was worried for no reason. So long as I didn't look out at the water, the movement didn't bother me. Yay! Many of the experienced cruisers we met said that while it CAN get worse, this was not normal for cruising and you typically don't feel the swells that much.
We saw Grease on night-2. It was good. Better than what you might expect a cheesy cruise show to be, but far from Broadway. My biggest surprise was that the show was one-night-only. I expected to be able to go any night that worked for us, but we had to change our plans in order to see it.
That was about it for entertainment for us, though. They did have cheesy things like DJs throwing light-up necklaces in the main mall, and game show activities, but no more comedians or more formal shows. But that was okay - we were always busy.
Admittedly, we didn't get to do a lot of the things on the ship. The days went so fast on a 5-night cruise. We spent a lot of time in the adults-only hot tub and the people were a lot of fun. Overall, the other cruisers were excellent.
Time wasters: the art auction - we thought it would be fun, but bidding starts at just 10% below retail value (and who knows who is responsible for assessing that value!), and the auction takes a couple of hours. Blech! Also, we entered the slot tournament - fun, but once again we spent an hour in the awfully-smoky casino in the middle of the day, when we should have been up on deck.
Ports: Costa Maya - basically an outdoor shopping mall. We took advantage of an empty ship and didn't debark until after lunch. Did some shopping, had a beer on the fake beach and was back on board two hours later. Experience was about a 4 out of 10.
Cozumel was fun, but also so touristy. We decided to avoid the outdoor mall at the port and take a taxi into town. Good luck getting out. It's set up like a casino, making it hard to get out. The ride was safe, 10 minutes and cost about $8. The main strip in town (about 6-7 blocks) was similar to the tourist trap shopping mall, but at least there was a mix of locals with the big-name stores. And once you walked beyond the strip, or away from the beach inland, you got to experience more of what you'd expect from Mexico. We found a mom-and-pop restaurant for lunch a few blocks inland, and it was great. I had a steak - my girlfriend had seafood. Came with soup. Nachos and their homemade salsa and guac. We each had a beer. And the bill was $16. Amazing.
Back on the ship, we enjoyed our sail back to FLL and felt like the trip flew by way too quickly. I will cruise again. Most likely with RC. I would certainly recommend this ship for just about anyone. I just wish we had a couple more days.
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