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Being frequent sailors on NCL, we had some trepidation in dipping our toe back into RCCL's offerings. We were pleasantly surprised on many, but not all, points. The ship was large, but unlike the NCL Breakaway, it never felt crowded except on sail away. We never encountered the long lines that were common on the Breakaway. We never had a problem finding a deck chair, as long as being right next to the pool was not a goal. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze in Southampton and at every port. We had a large balcony and it felt spacious for two people. The shower was the only thing that was very small. You couldn't bend in the shower without opening the doors. RCCL provides a bar of soap and a soap liquid that serves as BOTH soap and shampoo. There was an electric tea kettle because this was a cruise out of England. The outlets in the cabin were both American and European. It would be better if they also provided conditioner, like NCL does. Overall, NCL has larger bathrooms, more room in the shower and better amenities for bathroom products. I also believe that NCL provides robes that are not a condition of your cruising status. The balcony was very roomy, with two chairs and a large circular table and plenty of room to move about. We got two towels animals during our 6 day cruise. I think on NCL we got a towel animal almost every day. We ate at the Italian restaurant, Giovanni's. It was average. NCL does a better job with specialty restaurants. I had grilled shrimp, which was fine, but it should not have been served on a bed of mashed potatoes at an Italian restaurant. The desserts also were not well presented and looked very sloppy and not gourmet. The waiters in the main dining room were very good and attentive. They accommodated my lactose intolerance by having me order one day in advance each night. The food overall was between good and average. Some meals were better than others. I did not have dairy in my meals, so perhaps they were blander than the standard fare. We found the choices at the Windjammer buffet very good. We ate breakfast, lunch and tea in the Windjammer. It was fun to experiment with some British foods we never heard of like the meat pie and Scottish egg. The scones at tea time were very good and they offered strawberries, jam and cream to go with the scones. The entertainment was good too. We enjoyed the ice skating show, Strings. I wish they had showcased the ice dancing headliners more, as they were excellent. I also wish they had more than one ice show. Grease was just ok. It was a cut above a school play. However, the cast was very talented. It is just that Grease did not showcase their talent. We saw the woman that played Rizzo sing Rocky Horror at the Rocky Horror sing a long. She was exceptional. You could not appreciate her exceptional talent in Grease. Also, cast member J.P. did a guest set at the piano bar and he was absolutely exceptional and talented. He did a Jerry Lee Lewis rendition that was outstanding. Again, the play and show offerings did not show the breadth of his talent. NCL wins in the entertainment division. They have better quality shows. We enjoyed trivia, although the questions were geared towards the almost exclusively British crowd. The Britannia dance party was great fun as well. The ports were fun: Normandy, Bilbao and La Coruna, Spain. It was easy getting both on and off the ship. We booked an expensive semi private tour of the D Day landing beaches. I probably would not recommend that. They tour quality was fine but the guide, Christopher, was persnickety and scolded me for opening a ginger candy in the van when I felt motion sick. Also, we had a group of older, petty people who made the trip unpleasant, with comments about where they sat in the van. I think the anonymity of being in a larger tour is better. Our large tour of Santiago de Compostela was excellent. We took a ship shuttle to Bilbao and spent they day at our own pace. We would probably try RCCL again, but the food and entertainment on NCL is better. We did like the Independence much better than NCL Breakaway.

Large Ship but never felt crowded

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Poipu04

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Trip Details
Being frequent sailors on NCL, we had some trepidation in dipping our toe back into RCCL's offerings. We were pleasantly surprised on many, but not all, points. The ship was large, but unlike the NCL Breakaway, it never felt crowded except on sail away. We never encountered the long lines that were common on the Breakaway. We never had a problem finding a deck chair, as long as being right next to the pool was not a goal. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze in Southampton and at every port.

We had a large balcony and it felt spacious for two people. The shower was the only thing that was very small. You couldn't bend in the shower without opening the doors. RCCL provides a bar of soap and a soap liquid that serves as BOTH soap and shampoo. There was an electric tea kettle because this was a cruise out of England. The outlets in the cabin were both American and European. It would be better if they also provided conditioner, like NCL does. Overall, NCL has larger bathrooms, more room in the shower and better amenities for bathroom products. I also believe that NCL provides robes that are not a condition of your cruising status. The balcony was very roomy, with two chairs and a large circular table and plenty of room to move about. We got two towels animals during our 6 day cruise. I think on NCL we got a towel animal almost every day.

We ate at the Italian restaurant, Giovanni's. It was average. NCL does a better job with specialty restaurants. I had grilled shrimp, which was fine, but it should not have been served on a bed of mashed potatoes at an Italian restaurant. The desserts also were not well presented and looked very sloppy and not gourmet.

The waiters in the main dining room were very good and attentive. They accommodated my lactose intolerance by having me order one day in advance each night. The food overall was between good and average. Some meals were better than others. I did not have dairy in my meals, so perhaps they were blander than the standard fare.

We found the choices at the Windjammer buffet very good. We ate breakfast, lunch and tea in the Windjammer. It was fun to experiment with some British foods we never heard of like the meat pie and Scottish egg. The scones at tea time were very good and they offered strawberries, jam and cream to go with the scones.

The entertainment was good too. We enjoyed the ice skating show, Strings. I wish they had showcased the ice dancing headliners more, as they were excellent. I also wish they had more than one ice show. Grease was just ok. It was a cut above a school play. However, the cast was very talented. It is just that Grease did not showcase their talent. We saw the woman that played Rizzo sing Rocky Horror at the Rocky Horror sing a long. She was exceptional. You could not appreciate her exceptional talent in Grease. Also, cast member J.P. did a guest set at the piano bar and he was absolutely exceptional and talented. He did a Jerry Lee Lewis rendition that was outstanding. Again, the play and show offerings did not show the breadth of his talent. NCL wins in the entertainment division. They have better quality shows.

We enjoyed trivia, although the questions were geared towards the almost exclusively British crowd. The Britannia dance party was great fun as well.

The ports were fun: Normandy, Bilbao and La Coruna, Spain. It was easy getting both on and off the ship. We booked an expensive semi private tour of the D Day landing beaches. I probably would not recommend that. They tour quality was fine but the guide, Christopher, was persnickety and scolded me for opening a ginger candy in the van when I felt motion sick. Also, we had a group of older, petty people who made the trip unpleasant, with comments about where they sat in the van. I think the anonymity of being in a larger tour is better. Our large tour of Santiago de Compostela was excellent. We took a ship shuttle to Bilbao and spent they day at our own pace.

We would probably try RCCL again, but the food and entertainment on NCL is better. We did like the Independence much better than NCL Breakaway.
Poipu04’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Spacious Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 2B 9308
We had a large balcony and it felt spacious for two people. The shower was the only thing that was very small. You couldn't bend in the shower without opening the doors. RCCL provides a bar of soap and a soap liquid that serves as BOTH soap and shampoo. It would be better if they also provided conditioner, like NCL does. Overall, NCL has larger bathrooms, more room in the shower and better amenities for bathroom products. I also believe that NCL provides robes that are not a condition of your status. The balcony was very roomy, with two chairs and large circular table and plenty of room to move about. We got two towels animals during our 6 day cruise. I think on NCL we got a towel animal almost every day
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bilbao
    We took the ship shuttle for 10 Euros (cash only) to Bilbao. We saw the Guggenheim and Old town. We had excellent tapas and I bought Spanish shoes. It was a great day.
    View All 114 Bilbao Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Bilbao Cruise Port Review
  • La Coruna
    We did the tour of Santiago de Compostela. It was excellent. Great narration. We saw the Cathedral, the old town, and a panoramic view. We saw many sites with narration on foot and had free time to eat and shop.
    View All 237 La Coruna Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's La Coruna Cruise Port Review
  • D-Day Beaches
    The guide was very informative and educated but he also was persnickety, scolding me for opening a medicinal ginger candy for motion sickness in the van. After paying $169 pp for two people, I would expect more respect. The tour was semi private, with 6 people. The other people made the tour less enjoyable as they were petty and had attitudes. We tried to make the best of it, but would recommend a large group tour to others. We saw Omaha beach, Pont du Hoc, the American cemetery and a brief stop at Pegasus bridge. We stopped for lunch and a quick souvenir shopping trip.
    View All 66 D-Day Beaches Reviews