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Cruise Ratings
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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
To avoid the holiday costs we choose the weekend cruise to the Bahamas. I read some of these reviews and warned my spouse to not get his hopes up since it wasn't looking great. Getting on the ship was a breeze, we waited until ... Read More
To avoid the holiday costs we choose the weekend cruise to the Bahamas. I read some of these reviews and warned my spouse to not get his hopes up since it wasn't looking great. Getting on the ship was a breeze, we waited until later in the afternoon and avoided lines. Once on the boat, we went to our room to find the entire level 3 was locked out. This was the biggest downfall of the cruise. We went to guest services and had to wait in the biggest line because both 3 and 7 were locked out. They made everyone get out of line for the safety drill which was frustrating, but we eventually all got into our rooms. They comped the room 25$ for this inconvenience and our first two drinks we had while we were waiting to speak to someone. Dinner the first night was good- the french onion soup was amazing. The waitstaff does a great job remembering drink orders and accommodating everyone. The menu was a variety. My favorite part was we were sat with 3 additional couples, same age, who quickly became our friends. We ended up attending every dinner and hanging out with them the entire cruise. Nassau was an experience, as most islands are. We rented a scooter and went over to explore atlantis (the free areas) and caught some local food before getting back on. CocoCay was a blast. We did not know lunch was served there so we ate at windjammer before getting off the boat (also good). Our favorite part was the floating bar and the atmosphere. It was a day well spent. The pizza in the Solarium was excellent. Always hot and always available. The line was always there but moved along steady. The casino staff was very friendly and helpful if you were learning a new game ect. We did order water bottles to our room and they wanted 5$ which was disappointing. I thought room service was included. I did not attend any of the trivia or bingo but i heard great things about it. Our room was clean for the most part and not too small but not overly big either. The winds picked up at night and the boat was rocky. I felt it the entire time when I don't remember feeling it at all on my cruise 10 years ago. I am still feeling it 2 days after disembarking. We enjoyed the smaller ship because you can get from point A to point B better, but it does not handle the sea as well. Overall great cruise. Met great people, ate great food, and had an amazing time. Even with the couple hiccups I would recommend it. Most of the negative reviews are from nitpicky people. If you enjoy a drink and good company you will enjoy this cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The Independence remains an attractive ship albeit with annoying cabin glitches due to aging. The addition of many suites and cabins as well as an obvious marketing plan to attract more families with children has lead to less comfort and ... Read More
The Independence remains an attractive ship albeit with annoying cabin glitches due to aging. The addition of many suites and cabins as well as an obvious marketing plan to attract more families with children has lead to less comfort and more noise. Added "specialty" dining venues (read fees added) seem to have reduced the quality of buffet and Main dining room lunch offerings. Breakfasts and dinners in the Main Dining room are still good to very good. Service in the main dining room was excellent. Crowding in the buffet creates many uncleaned tables. Entertainment in the theater was very good, production shows were OK. and as expected but fewer hours of music in smaller venues. Bar service was top notch as were drinks served. The Concierge lounge has been changed to a Suite only Lounge and Diamond Plus Crown and Anchor members are excluded; a minor annoyance as the Diamond lounge was well staffed and had adequate seating. Guest services provided excellent attention to passenger needs. Passenger demographics have changed to many large families, noticeably younger and more casual. Library was always empty and provided a quiet respite for the very few who used it. No area of the ship smelled of smoke, a real plus. Over all a satisfying cruise with no major problems or complaints. This was our 83rd cruise. So we have a good basis for comparing and rating ships. Read Less
Meh
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 16th cruise on Royal Caribbean and our 2nd time on Independence. Sadly, it was rather a disappointment overall; for me to give a cruise a 3 star rating is a first. In fairness, not everything was disappointing about this ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise on Royal Caribbean and our 2nd time on Independence. Sadly, it was rather a disappointment overall; for me to give a cruise a 3 star rating is a first. In fairness, not everything was disappointing about this cruise and not everything about the vacation was a problem with Royal Caribbean. I'll try and delineate in my full review below. Pre Cruise Stay We drove to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to our cruise and stayed at The Quality Inn and Suites on Stirling Rd, roughly 15 to 20 minutes from Port Everglades. NEVER AGAIN. Our room in this "hotel" were dingy and dirty. The price for the room plus five nights parking was close to $200. It included a free shuttle to/from the port, however, there was so much confusion at the time we were supposed to leave regarding who was going where in the shuttle that we decided to take an Uber instead (about $20 plus tip; we shared the Uber with another couple also not happy with the shuttle situation). Our car was fine when we returned, so, that's a good thing! Embarkation Good marks for this. We arrived at the port around 10:30 and were through security, check-in, and sitting in the Diamond embarkation area by 10:50 or so. They boarded not too long after, and we were on the ship a bit after 11. Ship Indy has received a huge overhaul since the last time we were on her (December 2015) with the vast majority of the changes being to "kidify" her (water slide, bungee jumping thing, other stuff) plus add venues that younger adults would find more interesting (Play Makers Sports Bar/Arcade (this in essence cut the casino back by a third)). I'm sure there were other differences as well, but these were the most obvious. Not upgraded were the staterooms; still the old light green/pink drapes, carpets, etc. in them. The ship itself seemed in good shape; very clean, no obvious signs of wear and tear, carpet stains, etc. I'm also impressed by the looks of the main dining room on Freedom Class ships. Oh, and they added hand wash stations at the entrance to the Windjammer. Dining We pre ordered the Ultimate Dining Package so had all four meals in one of the specialty restaurants (which would be Giovanni's Table or Chops Grille since the package wasn't good for Izumi). There were significant issues with making RSVPs. Our first RSVP was made for us at 6:30 embarkation night at Gio's, which was ok; however, we prefer eating at 7:30. Absolutely none of these time slots available at either restaurant when we checked with the Diamond Concierge that first evening. So, we ended up eating very late the 2nd night (8:30 RSVP (more on that evening later) and 6:30 the 3rd and 4th nights. It seems to me they oversell these packages and it's very hard to get the time slot you want. I wouldn't do this again. Also, the food was just, in general, "meh"; some stand-outs here and there, but not what you'd expect for paying extra. People seem to complain about the food in the main dining room (which I can't really comment on this cruise since we only ate breakfast in there one morning and it was fine), however, you'd really expect the food in restaurants you have to pay extra for would be superior. It wasn't. The wine list was also pathetic. Only a few wine by the glass selections available, and fewer of these within the limit of the drink package (which we had). For the first time ever, we did not step foot into the Windjammer (other than to visit the bar), nor did we order room service. The food available in the Diamond Lounge was quite good, especially what they laid out for lunch/afternoon. We found ourselves in there more often than not eating several small wraps, sandwiches, fruit, etc. Drinks As mentioned, we had the drink package having secured a pretty good deal on it during the Black Friday sales. Most of the bars/bartenders were very accommodating and helpful as we attempted to navigate through the issue of why there was a $12 per drink limit, yet, many of the menus listed drinks at $13 each. Only one bar, The Champagne Bar, were sticklers for this (telling us the only glass of champagne we could get there would cost us $8 over the drink package price; very confusing since Chandon Champagne was widely available every other place and included). Come to think of it, we had an issue at Indy's Champagne Bar the last time we were on this ship! Service in the pub, Boleros, Schooner Bar, Viking Crown (Olive or Twist), the bar in Windjammer, and the Diamond Lounge was excellent. As an aside, we paid $52 per person per day for the drink package. On board it was $70!!!!! Service In general, ok. A few folks were just so friendly and helpful. Most were ok; a few were not very helpful at all. This was not a cruise where I'd say "The crew made this cruise", however. Entertainment We saw two shows; the ventriloquist and Royal's Love and Marriage. The former was excellent; I laughed so hard I cried. The latter was ok. Same questions, so, I am thinking people come prepared to answer them "correctly", which isn't very interesting. The Scottish guitar player/singer in the pub was good. As an aside, there were a lot of kids at shows that were not really kid appropriate. And, speaking of which. PAX Kids! Kids! More kids! I've never seen so many kids on a cruise before EVER. Why were they not in school? LOL. Kids, teens, young adults (20s) overran the pool areas so we didn't even bother trying to hand out in our usual spot The Solarium. Kids running around the hallways, up and down the stairs, in and out of the elevators. Even kids in the Diamond Lounge during cocktail hour (thankfully they were well behaved). So, yeah. I've nothing against kids but this was a bit much. Which leads me to believe Royal Caribbean is really upping the game on the kid/family market, which means we'll probably jump ship to Celebrity. There were your usual party animals on this cruise, not surprising as it was over a long weekend. Booze Cruisers. Thankfully, though, no real issues with PAX except one evening in Gio's when there was a huge snafu with RSVPs. People with RSVPs were waiting long past their time slot. Some were getting very irate and extremely rude, both to employees and other PAXs waiting in line. I know it's not unusual to run into rude people here and there on a cruise, but this situation was boarding on uncomfortable. Stateroom Junior Suite 9338 starboard in the middle of the hump. Very close to Centrum (aft) elevators. Oversized (long) balcony (large enough for two chairs, a small round table, and two loungers). Quiet stateroom with tons of space, a walk-in closet, lots of drawers, and a good-sized bathroom with a shower/tub. As previously mentioned, the furnishings were a bit dated. Our stateroom attendant, Ultra, was sweet and efficient (although we hardly saw her; not that we needed to; she responded to our few requests promptly). Diamond Lounge One of the best experiences we've had. Hailey was the concierge and she was very helpful. Because it is up on Deck 14 close to The Viking Crown, the views are quite nice. We stayed in there frequently when we just wanted to sit, read, or chat. Disembarkation Another "meh"; I don't think folks were following instructions. Heck, there were no instructions where we were told to go and wait for our number to be called. We saw some people we knew go by while we were waiting for our number to be called; there number was our number so we just jumped in with them. A very long line at the terminal to get through security. Thankfully, it moved quickly. A bit of a zoo getting our Uber back to the hotel. Summary Maybe we're just getting old, but, for the first time, I didn't feel quite at home on this cruise. Everything seemed to be catering to kids, families, and first time cruisers. Even the magnet that you put on your stateroom door (magnet itself a vast improvement over the thing you put on the door handle) was geared at younger people. "Out catching more thrills. Please make up my room". PLEASE! The fact that we hung out in the Diamond Lounge (and other very quiet places) as opposed to the pool area or some of our favorite bars told me that we felt we needed to "hide" from all the craziness. Thankfully we found a few nice places, including our own balcony, so we did have some positive moments. 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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My family and I have been big fans on Royal Caribbean cruises and have previously been on the Liberty of the Seas (x2), Freedom of the Seas (x2) and Oasis of the Seas. (Most of these cruises were taken between 2008-2014 This was my first ... Read More
My family and I have been big fans on Royal Caribbean cruises and have previously been on the Liberty of the Seas (x2), Freedom of the Seas (x2) and Oasis of the Seas. (Most of these cruises were taken between 2008-2014 This was my first time on the Independence of the Seas and my parents second time. We had an amazing experience and the Indy is the best of the freedom class of ships by far. The refurbishment was well done and the changes were all excellent. The new sports bar was a well-needed change and had a great atmosphere. The decor in Boleros was fresh and clean. The Windjammer was also updated and I thought it looked much nicer and the food options had a wide range. Most times I could find a table easily, with only one time needing to really look around to find a seat. The waterslide was also fun, I went down it three times after getting back on board from Mexico and didn't have to wait too long in the line, maybe 5 minutes or so. The yellow and green slide is faster than the other!! The food was absolutely delicious and we ate ourselves silly in the dining room. Each person at our table had 2 appetizers each night followed by our main course. The main course was yummy but I found the appetizers delightful with the Crab Cake being my favorite. The updates snack options at Sorrentos were excellent (go to Sorrentos for their breakfast sandwiches!!!) and Sugar Beach had some fun options. Entertainment on board was only nice. My mom always enjoys the 70s Disco party in the Promenade and also enjoyed the new 80s party as well. The comedian was good and the ventriloquist was amazing! We spent most of our evenings in the casino which is fun for us, but it did get busy some nights and it was hard to find a spot for roulette. Embarkation and Disembarkation were smooth experiences for us, we arrived around 12:15 and were on the ship pretty quickly. We left the ship around 8:15 and carried off our own luggage and that was also smooth. The only note I will say is if you park in Lot 19, be aware that the line to pay for parking and leave the lot is slow if you get caught up in the wrong line. Park close to the exit or pay attention to alternate lines in the back of the lot. Cozumel is nice, and we went to Carlos and Charlies for a little while. This port isn't our favorite and wasn't the main attraction to our cruise but we enjoyed the day non-the-less. The escape room was also a hit for our group. It was a fun challenge and well worth the money if you like puzzles!!! We did escape with 15 minutes left so we felt pretty proud! I wish I would've had time to play laser tag or rock climbed but still felt satisfied with my activities. Had an absolute blast and great experience on board. Again, the staff and food were all wonderful and we already booked our next one!!! Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I was a first time cruiser when we set sail Jan 3 and was pleased with our first time cruise experience. Accommodations: We were in a 2bdrm grand suite on the 6th floor. I was a little worried about how much room we would have for a ... Read More
I was a first time cruiser when we set sail Jan 3 and was pleased with our first time cruise experience. Accommodations: We were in a 2bdrm grand suite on the 6th floor. I was a little worried about how much room we would have for a family of 7, and also worried about how dated the cabin would be, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of space and the updates. Our balcony was huge and nicely equipped with a table for 4, a Jacuzzi, 2 sun lounges, and still room for the kids to play. We spent a lot of room time out there. Dining: As suite guests we had private dining breakfast in Chop Grille. This was great to be able to dine with great views of the water in a more quiet location. The Suite Lounge offered free cocktails & drinks from 4:30-8 so we didn't bother buying a drink package. I wasn't impressed with the main dining room menu options, but the service was still great. Those in our family who chose whatever beef was served that night were generally pleased with it. I didn't particularly care for the lunch options in the Windjammer so we ordered room service or ate in the suite lounge most days for lunch. Service: What made our trip the best was the definitely the service. The following crew members had great personalities and really went the extra mile with their customer service: Elmer our Suite Attendant, Ivan during breakfast in Chops Grille each day, Abishek our 3rd Floor Main Dining Room waiter, and Roosevelt the 14th floor Suite Lounge attendant. If we plan another cruise with Royal Caribbean it will definitely be because of our interactions with them and the excellent service we received from them during our time on the ship. We were there just to relax so we didn't do much at the ports of call, or take advantage of many of the activities on the ship so I can't comment on those. There were a lot of activities for older kids, so it made for a great family vacation. I did notice that the pool area seemed way too crowded to enjoy it on our days at sea so I spent more time taking my little one through the splash pad. Also the Windjammer was overly crowded the first day while everyone waited for rooms to be ready. It was hard to find a table together. Overall, I'd recommend this cruise. If you can splurge for a suite room I definitely recommend it. The perks are nice! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our first cruise - a three day holiday cruise to Freeport and Coco Cay. This ship is clearly older and in need of renovations but not terrible by any means. Ever crew member was friendly and responsive. I found the food ... Read More
This was our first cruise - a three day holiday cruise to Freeport and Coco Cay. This ship is clearly older and in need of renovations but not terrible by any means. Ever crew member was friendly and responsive. I found the food excellent at all times and well exceeded expectations - My Fair Lady, Chop Grill and Windjammer. Susie and Nicola as cruise directors brought a lot of energy to the entertainment and Paul Boland was the highlight. The bike tour on Freeport was average at best despite a very nice tour guide - I wish we were able to visit Nassau and had an excursion to Atlantis. Coco Cay was great - highly recommend you take the first tender off the ship as the lines get very long mid-morning and the lines are also long to get back to the boat - kills a lot of time. Definitely try the wave jet tour on Coco Cay - a blast! I heard we lucky to get to Coco Cay as the last 2 or 3 cruises could not because of the weather - caution to future travelers in December 2019. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and only the smaller ships can do that. The ship was small, including the state rooms. The bed was not very comfortable and the shower was tiny. However, the crew was great and there were many cozy areas to sit outside of your room. The ship was kept clean and the crew worked hard to keep everyone happy. Entertainment was good but not great. Some shows were very entertaining and others not so much. The lack of lounge chairs on the decks was a problem for those who wanted to sit in the sun, but at least there were usually chairs to be found near the Windjammer around tables near the pool. The food was average with dinner being the best. Breakfast/brunch in the restaurant was fair. The buffet food lacked flavor and variety and seemed to be mostly re-purposed entrees from the previous night's dinner. Cold foods could have been chilled more and hot foods were barely warm. The children of our table mates loved the kids center. Overall, about what I expected from the oldest and smallest ship in the fleet. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to sail on a cruise for New Years (which I do often with my husband) plus, this year I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been-Cuba. So, we chose the Empress. Warning: if you are a modern cruiser where you expect to experience a Disney type of ship with rides, slides or roller skating rinks, don’t go on the Empress. If you are someone who loves the ocean, loves sailing and enjoys classic style cruising, this cruise is for you. I’ve been on over 50 cruises. I’m an avid cruiser. First, I booked an ocean view cabin and about 4 weeks before sailing, I received an e-mail from RCCL about an auction for an upgrade to a junior suite. So I did it, I bid $1000 and got a great junior suite 9126. The best thing about this cruise was our cabin. It had a spacious balcony, a lot of space, a great bed, a small walk in closet, a small couch area and a roomy bathroom. It was well worth it. We slept well and truly relaxed. Also, our cabin steward was superb. The next best thing about this cruise is the staff. Bobby, the cruise director is great. Our waiters were wonderful-Melvin and Ma. The enfire staff is professional, warm and friendly. The ship is clean and inviting. The food was delicious. NOW CUBA- it is not for everyone. We were 2 days in Havana. Food and basic nutrition in Cuba is non-existent. Best tip for you- eat on the ship. My first day in Havana I was afraid. I was lost and did not know what to do so we set off walking into Old Havana. Some streets are breathtaking but other streets look like a war zone. My best advice for Havana is hire the prettiest old car right when you get out of the port. For $40 an hour they will give you the most amazing tour of the REAL Havana and you will not regret it. About 4 people fit in the car and 3-4 hours is more than enough for an all encompassing and thorough tour of the real Havana. Do not be afraid. The people are friendly. Everyone on cruise was complaining that the cruise excursions were not worth the price. We ended up having a splendid and unforgettable day 2 in Havana. In Grand Cayman, there’s no need to splurge. The swimming area right by the tender / dock (walking distance) shopping area and is a nice swimming, snorkel area. Don’t go to Calico Jacks or anywhere else. Those areas are overcrowded and not worth it. Grand Cayman is clean and pretty. Back on the Empress, I recommend the sushi making class BUT here is my TIP: buy one class which is enough for two or even three people and they let you share. The class makes so much sushi enough to share with 2 other people. A couple can take turns making the different types of rolls and so on. What I didn’t like about the Empress was that there is an odor on the port side of the ship like ballast water. The bon voyage party was exactly like the white hot party-boring. They need new activities. They have the same ole love n marriage show, Quest. The bingo was lame as well. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) ... Read More
This was a good cruise. People have to understand your not going on a mega ship. ALSO this is not a cruise to take with 16-20 year olds, UNLESS they are truly into visiting Cuba. There is no disco club, sports deck (other than rock wall) and only one small pool. We did not go to key west as there was an accident earlier in the month closing part of the port so we were changed to an overnight in Havana The food was excellent both in the MDR and Windjammer. Again, this is not a mega ship. The cabins reflect the ships age.. No balconies, except for suites. The cabins are small as are the bathrooms and showers. There is not a lot of technology like on the newer ships. The staff was very friendly and bent over backwards to make sure you were happy. Dinner in the MDR was very good. There was a Cuban themed menu every night along with the classics. Windjammer had it usual fare. It is smaller and a bit more crazy especially on days when everyone wants to get off the ship, but they had a great choice of dishes. The gym, if you can call it that, looks like an add on above the Viking Lounge. Small and lacking equipment. Overall it was a great time. This cruise is about going to Cuba. If you have teens who want to party and play sports this is not the ship for you. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise to celebrate New Years with friends. Having cruised since 1995 this is our first RCL cruise. Never have I heard one negative thing about RCL from friends who only sail RCL. I was well aware this 6 day cruise was on ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate New Years with friends. Having cruised since 1995 this is our first RCL cruise. Never have I heard one negative thing about RCL from friends who only sail RCL. I was well aware this 6 day cruise was on an older ship, but never did I expect the ship to show her age the way this one did. Because of the jacked up price for the New Years cruise, we took an inside cabin, something we haven't done in years. Carpets were worn, in the main areas, and stateroom. The couch was badly stained, the bathroom showed signs of rust and I have never had a bathroom as small as this one. The shower? Small is too large a word to describe it. The bed was about 2 inches from the couch on one side and table on the other. Getting out of bed in the dark was interesting to say the least. We went to put our wine in the refrigerator and found pooled water with mold growing in it. So much for the room. I do want to say boarding was a pleasure. Disembarkation was a nightmare cattle call, with everyone being ushered off the ship at one time, despite a so called schedule. Food ... room service was nicely done. The Windjammer buffet was mediocre, with the same selection daily of so so food. If you like your coffee strong , and I mean strong, this is for you. Breakfast in the dining room was slow unless you chose the buffet they offered there as well. I ordered my eggs over easy and they came out with runny whites. The staff are all eager to please at every turn. Dinner in the dining room some nights seemed rushed. We were told by our travel agent because we were a party of 7, to see the reservation staff upon boarding and request our dinner time, so we wouldn't have to wait for an available table with any time dining. We were given a time prior to 6 pm, which was too early. Otherwise we had to wait until 8:30. We felt as the dinner wound down and desert came, we were being rushed out . Put down your fork and the dish disappeared. Of course, as expected on a holiday sailing, at sea days it was impossible to find a lounge at the pool. The entertainment was so so. The Latin band was excellent, as was the band in the theater. We loved the ice skating show!! The Lyric Theater shows were not so good. Some of the staff we spoke to agreed the ship needed to be updated. Some even apologetic. All in all, when I pay top dollar I expect something. I expected something special because it is RCL. Having been to most ports before many times over, I have to say we loved the trip to Mayan ruins we took in Costa Maya. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to walk outside the port area, but we were not in port all day. We had a fun private tour guide in Cozumel and we loved how he just let us do our thing. We went to a beach north of town, which was lovely and we hit the Ticquila factory of course! We wandered the town and took some fun, surprising turns to end our day of fun. All in all, the success of the trip was all due to great off ship trips, great friends and abiliity to laugh at it all. I would not go back on this ship but I may want to try a newer RCL. Read Less
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