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We booked our cruise direct with Royal Caribbean 18months before we sailed and got a brilliant deal for the Royal Family Suite. There were 7 in our party including our 13 year old son, my parents, both 75years old and our daughter and her boyfriend who booked a separate stateroom. Our first impression of the ship as we drove up to the docks was WOW! It is simply enormous. The check in was smooth and quick. The only thing I would advise people of is the baggage handlers will not take suit bags along with your suitcases and we had to carry our suit bags on board. We had around 10 between us and it was a bit awkward. That said we were on board for 12.45pm and only had a 15min wait to get into our suite, which was simply perfect. All staterooms can be accessed at 1.00pm. My wife had pre-ordered a wine/fruit and cheese package for when we arrived. This was delivered to the suite shortly after our arrival. It cost £28 and was well worth the money. It really put is in the holiday mood. She also pre-ordered the romance package (£63) which again I thought was good value for money. First impressions> The ship is huge, it was spotlessly clean. The Royal Promenade is spectacular and the way we were greeted by members of the crew was brilliant. Throughout the cruise the crew were outstanding. Dining and eating> We had my-time dining, but after the first night we opted for the same time and same table. This was purely down to the waiting staff who served us (Leoncia and Allan). They were attentive, helpful, knowledgeable and charming. After the first evening they remembered our names and our preferences. The food was of a very high standard. The escargot were to die for. The food was plentiful and there was adequate choice. The wine was of a good quality and not extortionate at £17 a bottle, if you buy a package. The dining room was splendid and beautifully furnished. I would recommend to take your breakfast in the main dining room as well. Breakfast was all you could eat buffet style with your drinks served by your waiter. You could go a-la-carte and be waited on, but the choice of food was reduced. We lunched in the Wind Jammer, again a help yourself buffet. The array of food on offer was mind boggling and you could eat as much as you wanted. If you fancied a snack the Promenade Cafe had pastries and sandwiches 24/7 and Sorentos pizza cafe was always open. We also ate at Jonny Rockets, well worth the $4.95 cover charge. You could eat as much as you wanted for that amount. The staff were also good fun, dancing at certain times to entertain the diners. Drinks and beverages> Tea, coffee, iced water and squash was available f.o.c. My wife and son had soda packages which were great value. The choice was a bit limited only Coke and Sprite and ginger beer were on offer but you could drink gallons of it for a few pounds a day with your soda package. Beer on board was about £5 a pint, not overly expensive considering you are a captive audience. Cocktails were good and not over priced. I can thoroughly recommend the Summer Breeze which was about £4.50. Spirits were around the same price but you did get generous measures. Entertainment> My wife and I never went to the main theatre, choosing instead to use the Pyramid Lounge during the evening. The bands that played were all very good, with Wavelength being outstanding. There were competitions in there most evenings hosted by CHRIS, who is a natural entertainer and great compare. My parents went to one of the shows in the theatre and said it was brilliant. We did not use the night club or the casino. We did have a drink at the Dog and Badger Pub, where the staff were very good. We only experienced a limited amount of the nightlife and bars on offer, but those we did use were very good. Activities and sports> The Flow Rider!!!!! Outstanding. I am 43 and should know better. I am still sore and stiff 2 weeks on, but it was the most fun I have had in years. There were kids as young as seven and people a lot older than me having a go. The staff were fantastic, so patient and so encouraging. After a few days you had the usual suspects all trying to out do each other and it was a great atmosphere. There was no ridiculing or mocking, everyone was encouraging each other to do better. A note of caution, make sure your shorts are done up very tightly! The climbing wall was a lot tougher than it looked and is not for the faint hearted. But again the staff there were great. We also went ice skating, this was not so easy when the boat was rolling! All of these activities were f.o.c. AMAZING. There were lots other things to do, but we never got round to them. Ports of call> The outstanding port of call was Madeira. I would recommend hiring a taxi and doing a tour. We paid 20 euros each for a 3 hour taxi tour and it was great value. The other ports were ok, Vigo was good for shopping as was Tenerife. La Coruna was very pretty, but the shops all closed for siesta which curtailed any shopping. Gran Canaria was fine as there was a very good beech in the town. We did not get off the ship in Lisbon, choosing to stay on board and enjoy the ship while it was a bit quieter.(I would recommend doing this). Overall> The staff and crew were brilliant, helpful and courteous, our suite attendant (Edwin) was truly exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble. Every member of staff we encountered were only too happy to help. The ship was magnificent and the pool deck great for relaxing and having fun. The midnight pool party and buffet was one of the highlights, dancing under the stars was a dream come true. Our concierge (Kenneth)was a true gentlemen and very kind. He up-graded our daughter and her boyfriend, who were travelling with us in a balcony stateroom, to suite status when we told him they had become engaged on the first day of the cruise. This gave them all the privileges of suite guests at no extra cost. Although there were 3600 people on board the ship did not seem over crowded. At times certain areas got busy, like the Wind Jammer during lunch, the lifts occasionally were full, the Promenade when there was a parade on, also the pool areas on sea days, but this never bothered us or spoiled our holiday in the slightest. Despite some bars being open from 7.00am we never saw any drunkenness on board. We had a fantastic experience with Royal Caribbean and would recommend them to anyone. We all thought it was extremely good value for money. We found if you treated the crew and staff with the respect they richly deserve they could not do enough for you.

Royaly treated by Royal Caribbean.

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Paul Skye

Trip Details
We booked our cruise direct with Royal Caribbean 18months before we sailed and got a brilliant deal for the Royal Family Suite. There were 7 in our party including our 13 year old son, my parents, both 75years old and our daughter and her boyfriend who booked a separate stateroom. Our first impression of the ship as we drove up to the docks was WOW! It is simply enormous. The check in was smooth and quick. The only thing I would advise people of is the baggage handlers will not take suit bags along with your suitcases and we had to carry our suit bags on board. We had around 10 between us and it was a bit awkward. That said we were on board for 12.45pm and only had a 15min wait to get into our suite, which was simply perfect. All staterooms can be accessed at 1.00pm.
My wife had pre-ordered a wine/fruit and cheese package for when we arrived. This was delivered to the suite shortly after our arrival. It cost £28 and was well worth the money. It really put is in the holiday mood. She also pre-ordered the romance package (£63) which again I thought was good value for money.
First impressions>
The ship is huge, it was spotlessly clean. The Royal Promenade is spectacular and the way we were greeted by members of the crew was brilliant. Throughout the cruise the crew were outstanding.
Dining and eating>
We had my-time dining, but after the first night we opted for the same time and same table. This was purely down to the waiting staff who served us (Leoncia and Allan). They were attentive, helpful, knowledgeable and charming. After the first evening they remembered our names and our preferences. The food was of a very high standard. The escargot were to die for. The food was plentiful and there was adequate choice. The wine was of a good quality and not extortionate at £17 a bottle, if you buy a package. The dining room was splendid and beautifully furnished. I would recommend to take your breakfast in the main dining room as well. Breakfast was all you could eat buffet style with your drinks served by your waiter. You could go a-la-carte and be waited on, but the choice of food was reduced. We lunched in the Wind Jammer, again a help yourself buffet. The array of food on offer was mind boggling and you could eat as much as you wanted. If you fancied a snack the Promenade Cafe had pastries and sandwiches 24/7 and Sorentos pizza cafe was always open. We also ate at Jonny Rockets, well worth the $4.95 cover charge. You could eat as much as you wanted for that amount. The staff were also good fun, dancing at certain times to entertain the diners.
Drinks and beverages>
Tea, coffee, iced water and squash was available f.o.c. My wife and son had soda packages which were great value. The choice was a bit limited only Coke and Sprite and ginger beer were on offer but you could drink gallons of it for a few pounds a day with your soda package. Beer on board was about £5 a pint, not overly expensive considering you are a captive audience. Cocktails were good and not over priced. I can thoroughly recommend the Summer Breeze which was about £4.50. Spirits were around the same price but you did get generous measures.
Entertainment>
My wife and I never went to the main theatre, choosing instead to use the Pyramid Lounge during the evening. The bands that played were all very good, with Wavelength being outstanding. There were competitions in there most evenings hosted by CHRIS, who is a natural entertainer and great compare. My parents went to one of the shows in the theatre and said it was brilliant. We did not use the night club or the casino. We did have a drink at the Dog and Badger Pub, where the staff were very good. We only experienced a limited amount of the nightlife and bars on offer, but those we did use were very good.
Activities and sports>
The Flow Rider!!!!! Outstanding. I am 43 and should know better. I am still sore and stiff 2 weeks on, but it was the most fun I have had in years. There were kids as young as seven and people a lot older than me having a go. The staff were fantastic, so patient and so encouraging. After a few days you had the usual suspects all trying to out do each other and it was a great atmosphere. There was no ridiculing or mocking, everyone was encouraging each other to do better. A note of caution, make sure your shorts are done up very tightly! The climbing wall was a lot tougher than it looked and is not for the faint hearted. But again the staff there were great. We also went ice skating, this was not so easy when the boat was rolling! All of these activities were f.o.c. AMAZING. There were lots other things to do, but we never got round to them.
Ports of call>
The outstanding port of call was Madeira. I would recommend hiring a taxi and doing a tour. We paid 20 euros each for a 3 hour taxi tour and it was great value. The other ports were ok, Vigo was good for shopping as was Tenerife. La Coruna was very pretty, but the shops all closed for siesta which curtailed any shopping. Gran Canaria was fine as there was a very good beech in the town.
We did not get off the ship in Lisbon, choosing to stay on board and enjoy the ship while it was a bit quieter.(I would recommend doing this).
Overall>
The staff and crew were brilliant, helpful and courteous, our suite attendant (Edwin) was truly exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble. Every member of staff we encountered were only too happy to help. The ship was magnificent and the pool deck great for relaxing and having fun. The midnight pool party and buffet was one of the highlights, dancing under the stars was a dream come true. Our concierge (Kenneth)was a true gentlemen and very kind. He up-graded our daughter and her boyfriend, who were travelling with us in a balcony stateroom, to suite status when we told him they had become engaged on the first day of the cruise. This gave them all the privileges of suite guests at no extra cost. Although there were 3600 people on board the ship did not seem over crowded. At times certain areas got busy, like the Wind Jammer during lunch, the lifts occasionally were full, the Promenade when there was a parade on, also the pool areas on sea days, but this never bothered us or spoiled our holiday in the slightest. Despite some bars being open from 7.00am we never saw any drunkenness on board. We had a fantastic experience with Royal Caribbean and would recommend them to anyone. We all thought it was extremely good value for money. We found if you treated the crew and staff with the respect they richly deserve they could not do enough for you.
Paul Skye’s Full Rating Summary
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