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OK, this trip was planned as a 42nd wedding aniversery celebration. It not only failed to deliver, it was a totally negative experience and was quite pathetic in some respects. We felt so bad, that we contemplated jumping ship at Gran Caneria and going to a hotel we know very well. This floating piece of candy floss is designed for Americans and the crew seem to think that everyone aboard is American. You get what scant infornmation that they bother to give you in a totally American manner. i.e. You are told where to change your dollars!!!!!!!!!!!! You are told where you can call America AT&T call collect!!!!!!!!!!!! and your mobile phone beeps "welcome to the USA" and charges accordingly. For god's sake the cruise is leaving from the UK and stopping (briefly) in European destinations with a mostly UK passenger contingent! Do they think the world uses dollars! All shipboard finance is dollars, and you are hit with an inflated US pricing structure with a shitty exchange rate plus comission. Should be called Royal Pirates of the Caribbean! OK. Now the review. I will start with the few good points. The shows were very good and the headliners were very professional and entertaining. Without these shows we would probably have become suicidal. The staff (with the exception of the so called guest relations and the hand wash nazis)were in the main very helpful and some tried their best to help us within their limited scope. The staff as usual were mainly Asian and Eastern European. It was obvious that they were trained only in serving Americans in US caribbean cruise situations, and had scant knowledge of European standards. That is all I can say for the good part. The so called state room was a corridor width extended cabin with a settee, a good sized bed and a balcony that only had room for two chairs and a table, not sun loungers as shown. Not very good. As the first night was the wedding anniversary date, we opted to use the Portofino Italian Restaurant for the sense of special occasion. What an intense disappointment! The restaurant was simply a side room, had no atmosphere and the food offered on a very limited "table d'hotel" style menue bore only a passing resemblance to Italian. The wine was outrageously expensive (more later)and was incomptently served. An expensive bottle of red wine was seved so cold that there was condensation all over the bottle! When I complained, the waiter was surprised, and I was terated to the explanation given (incredibly!) was that it was the first night, the wine had only just been loaded on board, it had been standing on the quayside so what did we expect? Are they mad was my first thought! We had very mediocre lamb chops with no discernable Italian quisine influence, and were charged a surcharge of $40. The whole meal was not worth $40! Dining for dinner in our nominated restaurant "King Lear" was no better. The staff were helpful and attentive, but had no idea how to serve Europeans. Every option, situation and process was focussed as though we were sat in what passes for a resaurant in Miami. We were on a "my time dining option" but as we still had to either queue or book, I never quite understood the benefit. The wines were a trap, and the only acceptable wines were in the $79 - $120 bracket. The choice was 90% Californian, and European wines were very limited, and were categorised as "adventurous" and some were well past the $100 mark. These wines would be £12 to £25 in an English restaurant. This is a complete rip-off, and is designed to maximise the sales of very poor American "cough mixture" at inflated prices. There was an option to buy pre-paid packages, but the price was (yes, this is not a typo)$690. Then to rub it in, it is only available if your partner buys it as well!!!!!!$1380 for crap wines! The dinner food was dreadful and utterly biased to American taste. Some starters were cold, and the mains were very poor and not up to a normal resaurant standard. I am not in a position to comment on the lunch and breakfast facilities, as on the two times we tried to use them we were met with what can only be described as a shambol "bear garden" scenario wherby you fought for the food at some sort of buffet style dispensary and then sat on the floor to eat it as there were no available seats, We were not able to use the dining room for two nights as there was nothing acceptable on the menue, and all the acceptable choices had been taken. Where was the so called "rich variety of choices"? When we did return in desperation, as we could no longer face two small buns with lettuce and some sort of greasy ham available at the sandwich bar for dinner, a person in a supervisory position came to us, and stated that our absence had been noticed, and that they were aware we had some issues. She was quite genuine, and she arranged to provide us with meals to order. This was very much appreciated, and at last we were able to eat the sort of food commonly availble all over the world and not just the USA. However, this was far too late in the cruise to make us feel good again. We had been eating in the top deck burger bar "Johnny Rockets" which was good fun but outside the price and was charged extra. This in itself was not a problem, but an additional $4.50 cover charge certainly was! The ship was dreadfully overcrowded and the facilities were totally inadequate for the number of passengers aboard. We spent a lot of cruise hours walking round trying to find somewhere to sit. Utterly unacceptable. I liken it to (and UK readers will understand this)walking round the Trafford centre trying to find a place to sit and eat on a Sunday lunch time. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that they frequently closed the main bars for "private functions". What the heck are they playing at? There should be no private function at the expense of the fare paying cruiser. On one occasion we were ordered to drink up and "clear off" from the Olive-or-Twist bar, as they were setting up for a private chamnpagne reception party. I regard this as a complete breach of contract. The RCI owners need to understand contract law and the effect of striking a contract under UK consumer law, and not USA law as they mistakenly believe their TCs$Cs dictate. We only went on one excursion, as we had already seen everything else. This was to the Portuguese village of Obidos and it was basically only transport with a commentary but it was OK. When we asked the so called guest relations about where to go on shore at the ports of visit, they were completely clueless and could not even give meaningful taxi transfer information Even the disembarkation was a shambles and we were provided with colour coded bag tags, despite the fact that we had "signed up" to the "carry your own lugguage programme". Yes, they really offer a "programme" of carrying your own bags!!! We stuck with the instructions provided by the Hilton Hotel and had no problems. I think if we had gone with the ship's instructions we would have missed the coach! To sum-up, my wife and I can only say that leaving the Independance of the Seas was a relief, and we feel cheated. I was left with a $1385.00 account to settle and we actually only had one excursion. We stopped buying wine with the meai for three days, and drank mainly rum and coke (when we could find a bar to sit in that is). That's another point to mention. The bars had opening and closing times. Typically 3.00 PM, and music in the bars only from 5.00 or 7.00 PM depending on the bar. This is not my experience of other cruises where bars and music were available all the time. I am in the process of making a formal complaint and claiming compensation. As this will be via my solicitors and legal means I can only state that it will be under UK consumer law. The RCI bunch of crooks should be prevented from operating their mis-represeted ships in European waters. They should be re-named "The Royal Pirates of the Caribbean"

Neverever again

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Tony Holt

Trip Details
OK, this trip was planned as a 42nd wedding aniversery celebration. It not only failed to deliver, it was a totally negative experience and was quite pathetic in some respects. We felt so bad, that we contemplated jumping ship at Gran Caneria and going to a hotel we know very well.

This floating piece of candy floss is designed for Americans and the crew seem to think that everyone aboard is American. You get what scant infornmation that they bother to give you in a totally American manner. i.e. You are told where to change your dollars!!!!!!!!!!!! You are told where you can call America AT&T call collect!!!!!!!!!!!! and your mobile phone beeps "welcome to the USA" and charges accordingly. For god's sake the cruise is leaving from the UK and stopping (briefly) in European destinations with a mostly UK passenger contingent! Do they think the world uses dollars! All shipboard finance is dollars, and you are hit with an inflated US pricing structure with a shitty exchange rate plus comission.

Should be called Royal Pirates of the Caribbean!

OK. Now the review. I will start with the few good points.

The shows were very good and the headliners were very professional and entertaining. Without these shows we would probably have become suicidal.

The staff (with the exception of the so called guest relations and the hand wash nazis)were in the main very helpful and some tried their best to help us within their limited scope. The staff as usual were mainly Asian and Eastern European. It was obvious that they were trained only in serving Americans in US caribbean cruise situations, and had scant knowledge of European standards.

That is all I can say for the good part.

The so called state room was a corridor width extended cabin with a settee, a good sized bed and a balcony that only had room for two chairs and a table, not sun loungers as shown. Not very good.

As the first night was the wedding anniversary date, we opted to use the Portofino Italian Restaurant for the sense of special occasion. What an intense disappointment! The restaurant was simply a side room, had no atmosphere and the food offered on a very limited "table d'hotel" style menue bore only a passing resemblance to Italian. The wine was outrageously expensive (more later)and was incomptently served. An expensive bottle of red wine was seved so cold that there was condensation all over the bottle! When I complained, the waiter was surprised, and I was terated to the explanation given (incredibly!) was that it was the first night, the wine had only just been loaded on board, it had been standing on the quayside so what did we expect? Are they mad was my first thought! We had very mediocre lamb chops with no discernable Italian quisine influence, and were charged a surcharge of $40. The whole meal was not worth $40!

Dining for dinner in our nominated restaurant "King Lear" was no better. The staff were helpful and attentive, but had no idea how to serve Europeans. Every option, situation and process was focussed as though we were sat in what passes for a resaurant in Miami. We were on a "my time dining option" but as we still had to either queue or book, I never quite understood the benefit.

The wines were a trap, and the only acceptable wines were in the $79 - $120 bracket. The choice was 90% Californian, and European wines were very limited, and were categorised as "adventurous" and some were well past the $100 mark. These wines would be £12 to £25 in an English restaurant. This is a complete rip-off, and is designed to maximise the sales of very poor American "cough mixture" at inflated prices. There was an option to buy pre-paid packages, but the price was (yes, this is not a typo)$690. Then to rub it in, it is only available if your partner buys it as well!!!!!!$1380 for crap wines!

The dinner food was dreadful and utterly biased to American taste. Some starters were cold, and the mains were very poor and not up to a normal resaurant standard.

I am not in a position to comment on the lunch and breakfast facilities, as on the two times we tried to use them we were met with what can only be described as a shambol "bear garden" scenario wherby you fought for the food at some sort of buffet style dispensary and then sat on the floor to eat it as there were no available seats,

We were not able to use the dining room for two nights as there was nothing acceptable on the menue, and all the acceptable choices had been taken. Where was the so called "rich variety of choices"? When we did return in desperation, as we could no longer face two small buns with lettuce and some sort of greasy ham available at the sandwich bar for dinner, a person in a supervisory position came to us, and stated that our absence had been noticed, and that they were aware we had some issues. She was quite genuine, and she arranged to provide us with meals to order. This was very much appreciated, and at last we were able to eat the sort of food commonly availble all over the world and not just the USA. However, this was far too late in the cruise to make us feel good again.

We had been eating in the top deck burger bar "Johnny Rockets" which was good fun but outside the price and was charged extra. This in itself was not a problem, but an additional $4.50 cover charge certainly was!

The ship was dreadfully overcrowded and the facilities were totally inadequate for the number of passengers aboard. We spent a lot of cruise hours walking round trying to find somewhere to sit. Utterly unacceptable. I liken it to (and UK readers will understand this)walking round the Trafford centre trying to find a place to sit and eat on a Sunday lunch time. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that they frequently closed the main bars for "private functions". What the heck are they playing at? There should be no private function at the expense of the fare paying cruiser. On one occasion we were ordered to drink up and "clear off" from the Olive-or-Twist bar, as they were setting up for a private chamnpagne reception party. I regard this as a complete breach of contract. The RCI owners need to understand contract law and the effect of striking a contract under UK consumer law, and not USA law as they mistakenly believe their TCs$Cs dictate.

We only went on one excursion, as we had already seen everything else. This was to the Portuguese village of Obidos and it was basically only transport with a commentary but it was OK. When we asked the so called guest relations about where to go on shore at the ports of visit, they were completely clueless and could not even give meaningful taxi transfer information

Even the disembarkation was a shambles and we were provided with colour coded bag tags, despite the fact that we had "signed up" to the "carry your own lugguage programme". Yes, they really offer a "programme" of carrying your own bags!!! We stuck with the instructions provided by the Hilton Hotel and had no problems. I think if we had gone with the ship's instructions we would have missed the coach!

To sum-up, my wife and I can only say that leaving the Independance of the Seas was a relief, and we feel cheated. I was left with a $1385.00 account to settle and we actually only had one excursion. We stopped buying wine with the meai for three days, and drank mainly rum and coke (when we could find a bar to sit in that is). That's another point to mention. The bars had opening and closing times. Typically 3.00 PM, and music in the bars only from 5.00 or 7.00 PM depending on the bar. This is not my experience of other cruises where bars and music were available all the time.

I am in the process of making a formal complaint and claiming compensation. As this will be via my solicitors and legal means I can only state that it will be under UK consumer law. The RCI bunch of crooks should be prevented from operating their mis-represeted ships in European waters. They should be re-named "The Royal Pirates of the Caribbean"
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