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303 Royal Caribbean Canary Islands Cruise Reviews

Southampton hotels were all fully booked as three ships left on same day, so travel agency should have booked a hotel for night before boarding. We sorted that by staying in a lovely inn in the New Forest. Boarding was fairly smooth, ... Read More
Southampton hotels were all fully booked as three ships left on same day, so travel agency should have booked a hotel for night before boarding. We sorted that by staying in a lovely inn in the New Forest. Boarding was fairly smooth, but our room was reserved by another couple and they always referred to us by their name. The room was good, interior stateroom, with excellent room valet. We quickly noticed the great amount of mobility scooters, wheelchairs, crutches etc, wherever you were on the ship. The promenade of the ship was like being in a shopping mall, really unimpressive and a complete waste of space. The ship was really just a big money grab full of cabins and very little free space for anyone. The average age of the passengers had to be at least into the eighties, with the majority being disabled and needing assistance. We witnessed one mobility scooter user, lifting her scooter off the boat ramp and climbing on it again, and we think that if you can lift it, you don't need it. The food in the Romeo and Juliet restaurant was not good for choice and was never warm enough. The Windjammer buffet was crowded at all hours it was open, and you were lucky to get a seat. So, now to Royal Caribbean. Drinks package costs $1320.00 for a couple for 12 nights, for the cheapest wine you can imagine, and other drinks of poor quality. This is optional of course, but all the other drinks were very expensive, and would have to be signed for each time. You will never get into profit with the drinks package. The bars upstairs were on deck 14, had comfortable chairs, but they were taken up by sleeping seniors, and slow bar service, if they were open at all. Bars close at 1:00 am at the latest. We had talked with Tracey the Guest services manager, and complained about the lack of activities for people and space for relaxation and she apologized but there were no other activities. We are experienced cruisers, but found this boring, the seminars were about arthritis and back pain, so who wants to go to that! Only thing we could do was quizzes and bingo, and that was really expensive..$22.00 for three tickets. Summary: Boring, poor food, crowded, no space for relaxation, pool bars close when when quiet, old people everywhere, DONT GO on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
we booked this cruise with slight apprehension having read some negative reviews.however thought we'd give it a go and we neednt have worried at all.this was our 4th cruise and i must say the best we have been on,(previously been on ... Read More
we booked this cruise with slight apprehension having read some negative reviews.however thought we'd give it a go and we neednt have worried at all.this was our 4th cruise and i must say the best we have been on,(previously been on the grand princess,sea princess and P&O ventura). the ship....the ship itself is massive,and we have to say beautiful.kept spick and span by the hardworking crew.the pool areas were lovelly and we could always find a sunbed,even on sea days.the ship inside was stunning .the promenade area was great,a real focal point of the ship,lined with shops and restaurants.there was the hard sell for duty free etc but nobody is forced to buy anything.there was also plenty of quiet areas to sit in. food....we had first sitting in the romeo and juliet dining room.could not fault the food plenty of choice and always very good.i have wheat and dairy intolerance and the wait staff were brilliant.i ordered my food the night before for the next night so that it was prepared specially and could not fault it.the windjammer was also good and again with very helpful staff i could always find something to eat.also had gluten free pizza in sorrentos pizza bar, again fine.my husband can eat anything and he was spoilt for choice.there was also plenty of juices and squashes freely available at mealtimes. entertainment.....could not be faulted.loved the parties on the promenade deck.plenty of shows and entertainment.also regular quizzes,talks,casino etc etc. cabin.....had a inside cabin,plenty of storage space,good shower.not loads of room,but we were never very long in the cabin anyway. staff.....all were brilliant.very friendly and helpful.all of the staff were hardworking but always had a smile. other passengers....heard lots of moans from other passengers,'the ship is too big''too many people'to'the weather is bad'.....hello........you were on a winter cruise on the largest cruise ship in europe...what do you expect!!! believe me there was nothing at all to moan about. great cruise,great ship,great staff,great food,great entertainment...nothing else to say. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was are first cruise so we were very apprehensive. After reading many reviews regarding this ship size and stability (ie. cant feel any motion while sailing) we decided it was for us. After a nightmare two and a half hour queue to ... Read More
This was are first cruise so we were very apprehensive. After reading many reviews regarding this ship size and stability (ie. cant feel any motion while sailing) we decided it was for us. After a nightmare two and a half hour queue to board, although we were told this was due to a new system being put in place we boarded. On board we found the ship and facilities to be fantastic. Also the room was great with a fantastic attendant (room 8630) In fact all the staff were great. And then the ship started to sail omg !!!!! We didn't have bad weather but could feel every single wave ! The bay of biscay we had been warned was the worst bit and that didn't disappoint , obviously everyone is different and motion sickness affects people in different ways but we did think a boat of the size of the independence would have better stabilisers. The food in both the windjammer cafe and the main dining room (macbeth) was excellent along with the waiters. The bars were also good although extremely busy with the older generation occupying all seats. The entertainment was mostly geared for this age group as well, quizzes, bingo and piano music being the most popular. The shows were ok , nothing spectacular and the ice show which we were looking forward to was on the whole boring although the skaters were excellent. The shows on the main royal promenade were good although very crowded and unfortunately the motion of the boat seemed worse on this leval. We obviously knew we were on a winter cruise but had a few good weather days round the canaries, which we thought would be spent round the pool, but again seats were limited and the 30 minute rule for unoccupied sunbeds was not adhered to. Bars excellent though and excellent staff. On the whole we had a good cruise, apart from the motion sickness and unfortunately the amount of elderly people on board with mobility scooters!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
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 ... Read More
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" Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I'll try to be fair and honest in my review, and credit will be given when deserved. My wife and I have cruised together three times previously, within the last three years, with P&O and Norwegian Cruise Lines, so any comparisons ... Read More
I'll try to be fair and honest in my review, and credit will be given when deserved. My wife and I have cruised together three times previously, within the last three years, with P&O and Norwegian Cruise Lines, so any comparisons I make will be based on our experiences between RCI, P&O, and NCL. We departed from Southampton on 22/1/2012 for an 11 night Canary Islands cruise aboard Royal Caribbeans 'Independance Of The Seas', and had been looking forward to it since booking in May. We chose RCI this time to add to the flavors already given to us from cruising with P&O and NCL, and also because many had said that the Independance Of The Seas had a real 'wow' factor that had to be experienced. We left on a typically cold and gloomy British January morning, and couldn't wait to get on board, and hoped for a speedy check-in..which we got, together with a polite & friendly departure staff, and were on-board within 20 minutes..impressive! As with most/all cruise lines, our bags were taken at an early stage, and were to be delivered to our door at a later stage. Once onboard, we headed for the Windjammer restaurant (the buffet style restaurant on deck 11). It was chaotic when we arrived, but in fairness all of our other cruise experiences had readied us for this..the first day buffets are always a madhouse! Eventually we found a seat, and had a late breakfast of sausage, burger & chips. We were told that our rooms would be ready by 1.00pm, and the bags would follow soon afterwards, so we did a little exploring before heading for our room. We chose an inside balcony stateroom, overlooking the central promenade deck, and I must say that the room exceeded my expectations..very clean, tidy, well laid-out, huge (and very comfortable) king size plus double bed (the most comfortable bed we've ever had on a cruise ship) modest on-suite bathroom with a tiny but functional shower enclosure, supplied hard-wired hair dryer in a drawer at the vanity unit, plenty of storage space, large wardrobe, large bay window, and tea & coffee making facilities..but this is where things started to go downhill. No complimentary high-end travel toiletries..just two very small no-brand bars of soap, and a shampoo dispenser..still, not to worry, as we'd brought our own. We filled the mini-kettle, and prepared to make some tea, which is when we discovered the 'crockery' consisted of four large single skinned paper cups & wooden stirrers..never mind though, to avoid burning our fingers, we doubled-up the cups which kind-of worked. We have become accustomed to cruise line operators catering poorly for power requirements in cabins, so we always carry a four-way extension lead & a U.S to U.K plug convertor for this reason..just as well in this case, as there were two U.S 110v outlets, and one 220v outlet (configured in 2-pin U.S plug layout?) which the kettle was plugged into, so without the extra hardware we would have found it tricky to charge the phone, camera, video camera, and run the kettle. Very pleased with our cabin, we pulled back the nets to look out onto the promenade. The view would have been better, if the outside of the windows hadn't been truly filthy..still, nevermind..a small inconvenience, and we prepared to venture out, and return later when our bags had been delivered..we knew this would take a while, as the ship was fully booked...they finally arrived at 10.30pm! We looked around at the different restaurants, pubs, and the outsides of the shops, and went to the early show in the Alhambra..the main show theatre. An interesting 'welcome aboard' show..not wonderful, but OK, with a joke or two from the guest comedian, introduction from the cruise entertainments manager, and a song & dance number from the ships resident troupe. After a pleasant evening meal in the Romeo & Juliet a la carte dining room (there are two..yours will be decided for you, and will be your dining room for the duration), we had a drink..oh yes, I'd forgotten just how dear drinks are on American-owned liners..$14 for two pints of Heineken draught lager, spirits being around the same price, so unless you have a bulging wallet..excersise moderation! You could pre-pay for your alcoholic drinks however..over $600 EACH for 11 days, and if one of you're tee total..tough luck, because you'll both be charged the same amount to prevent sharing..so, around $1,300 for an unlimited drinks package..phew. The upshot of this was a constant parade of people permanently carrying glasses, many of which were permanently 'inebriated', trying desperately hard to 'break-even', as I heard more than one guest refer to it. There are other packages that start with unlimited soda, wine, and beer deals. Here's the deal..RCI see their passengers as walking wallets..virtually everything's chargeable (Would sir/madam like a 'behind the scenes' tour? That'll be $125..EACH, or would sir/madam like a photo package on a single disk? That'll be $325 please..how about a base no-brand bottle of chardonnay with your meal? $64 please..and no, you're not allowed to bring your own alcohol onto the ship..ask the couple that were thrown off the ship for packing a bottle of gin in their luggage. No? Then how about a sweatshirt with the 'Independance Of The Seas' embroidered onto it..a snip at $39.99. Which brings me on to the shops. Deck 5 is the promenade deck, with a parade of shops, restaurants, scenic lifts, the always-busy customer services desk, and access to a caberet-style room where the (very good) ships band more than often played, as well as the Cigar Room..the ONLY room on the whole ship where you can smoke indoors (the official booklet quoted several rooms). The room is very small indeed, and will seat about 35 people max..the rest have to stand. The other option is brave the elements on deck 11. These are the only two allocated smoking areas. To start with, the sheer size of the ship creates the wow factor, mostly centered around the main promenade, but this wears thin by day two when you realise that the only shop that offers good value is the booze & cigs shop..and any alcohol bought will be 'looked-after' for you until the last day of your cruise..how considerate of them. At this point, it's worth mentioning that the vast bulk of the staff offer quite exceptional service, and are polite & cheerful. Also a treat was the fully-equipped and spacious fitness room..many cruise operators charge a hefty premium for this facility, but not RCI. Sadly, although you could be blamed for assuming a ship this size would be spacious, you'd be desperately wrong, as the promenade was forever rammed full with folding tables en-masse selling all sorts of tawdry, over-priced tat. Forgot to buy a plug convertor from the pound shop? That'll be $10 please. A Made In China miniature glob-like model of the ship? $26. Plated crystal dress jewellery, very expensive gold jewellery, bags, scarves, perfumes..you get the picture, with several tables towards the end of the cruise selling absolute trash for a bargain $10. Shoulder-to-shoulder bumping into each other, people barging into or in front of you was de rigeur. Rather like a heaving shopping mall on the run-up to Christmas, but with penguin suits. British manners (or lack of) were in full force, and if you ever had a spare moment (we did), you could play 'spot the person without a tattoo'. The food, to be kind, was barely passable, with literally every dish in the main dining room served luke-warm, with what tasted like instant mash, ubdercooked veg, and frequently tough meat..but, however, served by a top-class waiting staff in an ornate and spectacular dining room..a brilliant example of style over substance. We soldiered on with Romeo & Juliet dining until day four, when we switched to the Windjammer buffet. Most lines have a 24-hour buffet..the 'Jammer' (appropriately named) closed at 9pm. This restaurant was permanently packed, and always but always a fight for a seat. The fare offered falls uncomfortably between hospital food/ seaside resort, and motorway services standard..more or less the same served up every single day..value-brand quality burgers & sausages, fatty bacon, frozen battered fish, cherry crumble with watery custard, fake sweetened cream galore, frozen concentrated sweetened orange juice...you get the picture. On other lines, we used to genuinely look forward to mealtimes. Here, we ate only if we were very hungry, as the food was dire throughout. Miss the a la carte and Jammer restaurants, and you have the choices of two areas on deck 5 where you can choose from limp, floppy tasteless pizza, mini rolls, or pies. Big deal. Now onto the entertainment. This falls into two groups..the ships regular compliment, and visiting guest 'stars'. The ships main cast were entertaining once, maybe twice, but after the third evening of strangely-chosen song & dance numbers, the act wore very thin indeed. The guest acts were better however, with a very funny comedian, and an illusionist 'as seen on TV'. Not wrong either, as I remember seeing the whole set, piece-for-piece, on the TV a few years ago. The ice-show is quite stunning, but you have to queue a few days before the show, as tickets are complimentary. COMPLIMENTARY? Haven't we paid for the entertainment? I could ramble on and on, but for the most part, the entertainment was 'end-of-the-pier' style & standard..certainly NOT world-class or West-End..this seaside-resort theme seemed popular amongst many guests, who similarly cheered for the 'Belly-flop' contest in the pool on deck 11, the countless, COUNTLESS quizzes, $32 a pop Bingo, 'Mr & Mrs' style game show, karaoke, etc, etc. I was waiting for the knobbly knees contest with the staff selling Kiss Me Quick hats & jellied eels, but it didn't happen. Having been on an American-oened ship with predominantly American citizens aboard, I can assure you that the quality & variety of the food on this ship WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED, and the 'entertainment' would have been boo'd off. This was most certainly a case of 'serve them junk..they'll be too drunk to notice' Fortunately, the weather was superb..no rain..sunny and warm. Unfortunately, they even managed to screw this up, with some destinations arriving at 9.00 am, and back on board by 2.30pm...what? Vigo (a non-destination..boring and devoid of anything of interest to visitors) was scheduled for a Monday, whilst Madeira (a lovely destination) was visited on a Sunday where everything was closed (docking on a Sunday is cheaper for operators, and the only reason why EVERY operator visits Vigo is for a cheap re-fuel). Look, if your idea of the perfect cruise is a semi-formal one, with civil guests, good food quality, acceptable entertainment, a 24-hour quality buffet, reasonably priced drinks, reasonable staff, then go P&O. If you don't mind fly-cruises but enjoy EXCEPTIONAL West-End productions, varied & 'don't-miss' entertainment, expensive drinks, FIRST-CLASS dine-anywhere (Freestyle) food, a 24-hour buffet, hit-and-miss staff, but VERY reasonably-priced, then cruise with NCL..but the beds on P&O and NCL are hard, and the rooms not as well laid-out. To close, we were glad to get back. This style of holiday died out in seaside resorts in the late 70's. My idea of a cruise goes beyond reading The Sun whilst stretched out on a poolside lounger, with a pint permanently attached to my right hand. 'Enrichment' lectures OK if you wish to discuss back-pain, or want to pay to have your feet analised! Without naming brands, it more closely resembled a British holiday camp at sea, but some of the holiday camps I've visited are better, with better entertainment, and not £900 each for 11 nights. They'll recommend $234 in gratuities & tips (this is in addition to the 15% gratuity you'll pay for every drink) but you can opt-out if you don't agree, and pay tips to those who you consider offered a good service (and EVERYONE did in my eyes, with the exception of a surly and argumentative room service waiter who swore blind that we lied about hanging a breakfast requirements ticket on our outer doorhandle) Room service breakfasts are definately the way to go..no shoulder to shoulder bumping into people, queueing for a fried egg with a numbered ticket..(I kid ye not)and then playing dead-man's-shoes for a table. In a nutshell, AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE, unless you're permanently blind drunk and never leave the ship (a large number of the guests fitted into this category). Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I found some of the negative reviews on this site really surprising and felt that I had to add my comments as my husband and I had such a good experience on the Independence of the Seas cruise round the Canaries for 11 nights from 22nd ... Read More
I found some of the negative reviews on this site really surprising and felt that I had to add my comments as my husband and I had such a good experience on the Independence of the Seas cruise round the Canaries for 11 nights from 22nd January. As we entered the dock at Southampton and saw the ship our first impression was "wow". The ship was absolutely stunning. The embarkation process was rather slow, but I understand there were technical problems with some of the scanners and with almost 4000 passengers to get on board it was always going to be a logistical problem. Cabin: We had a Promenade Room, with a bay window overlooking the Royal Promenade. Our initial concern was that there would be a lot of noise from the promendade, but this proved not to be the case as the soundproofing was superb. The cabin was spacious, spotlessly clean, and the best use had been made of the space available. Enough storage space and hangers, and adequate size shower/toilet facilities. Superb bed with plenty of space underneath to store empty suitcases. Tea making facilities, hairdryer and fridge provided. Cabin Attendant: Mola was very hardworking and friendly. She kept our cabin immaculate throughout the trip. Food: We opted for My Time Dining and ate most nights in King Lear. We never had a problem getting a table, and thought the standard of food was excellent. The waiters were all friendly (particularly Rocky) and we had some lovely table mates (95% of whom said they loved the ship and were having a fabulous time - you always get the odd moaner). We occasionally had breakfast or lunch in the Windjammer and, while it was always busy with people consuming mountains of food, we never once had to wait for a table, and again found the food to be of a very good standard. We ate once at each of the speciality restaurants (Chops Grill and Portofino) and didn't grudge a penny of the supplement paid as the food was superb. We also enjoyed the odd free snack or coffee at the Promenade Cafe or at Sorrentos, and the free ice-cream and coffees on the top decks. Drink: There were soft drinks, water and coffee available free with meals. So, no real need to buy a water or soda package. We bought a wine package for the dining room. Packages were available for 5, 7 or 11 bottles of wine. These worked in at around 33 dollars a bottle - about what you would expect to pay in a good restaurant at home. I often had the cocktail of the day which at 6.75 dollars was in line with cocktail prices at home. Entertainment: We went to shows in the Alhambra Theatre every night and have paid a lot of money to see worse shows in London Theatres. Really professional shows. The Ice Show was spectacular. I should also mention Joff, the Cruise Director, who did a superb job morning, noon and night. Fitness: We made good use of the walking/jogging track, and of the wonderful gym facilities, sauna, steam room and cantilever whirlpools. On Deck: On days when the sun was shining we sunbathed on the top deck. We never had a problem finding a sunlounger. Shore Trips: We did one organised trip (Lisbon/Estoril) and thought it was excellent value for money. At other stops we simply walked ashore and explored the area on foot, or paid around 12 euros for the city bus tour. Disembarkation: Left cases outside door on the night before departure and picked them up on shore. Very smooth operation. To summarise: Good value for money cruise, on a superb ship, which certainly exceeded our expectations. However, travelling in January there were not a lot of children on board and I think that at the ages of 63 and 69 we would have reservations about booking during the school holidays when the pool areas might be over-run by children. We would definitely cruise again with Royal Csribbean, and would be happy to choose Independence of the Seas. I must compliment RCI on their commitment to ensuring hygiene standards on board. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Having read other reviews we were a little uncertain of what to expect - luxury ship or holiday camp on sea ? Little had prepared us for our first sight of the ship which was absolutely enormous. Parking and check in were simple and ... Read More
Having read other reviews we were a little uncertain of what to expect - luxury ship or holiday camp on sea ? Little had prepared us for our first sight of the ship which was absolutely enormous. Parking and check in were simple and easy despite a short delay as the system was down and we were on board within an hour of arriving at the terminal, others however did speak of some delays later on. Once on-board we could have lunch and although the restaurant was a little crowded at that time we were easily seated and finished by 2.00pm. Rooms were available from mid afternoon and we spent a pleasant few hours exploring prior to sailing. As regards the rooms we had opted for a balcony as my partner smokes and were perfectly happy with our room - it was spacious, spotlessly clean and the bed was extremely comfortable. Throughout our stay the housekeeping staff were excellent, the room always clean and we wanted for nothing. There were tea & coffee making facilities and although they were paper cups this was no big deal as they could easily be disposed of leaving little clutter. On the point of smoking, it was advertised at the time of booking that there were a couple of indoor areas on-board for smoking but in fact by the time we sailed that was reduced to one and quite a few people were a bit miffed as they had booked specifically as they thought they could smoke in certain areas. There were quite a few outside areas though which were easily accessible. We had opted for the "my time" dining option whereby you are allocated a restaurant but can choose your own time (this option also included pre paid gratuities for staff which was handy). Although the dining room was beautifully decorated with great service we found the choice of food disappointing as there was no option for any plain or un-marinated dishes, although you could look at the following days menu and make special requests. As a result we only used this once, so taking that option at additional cost was really as waste of money for us - if you want the ambience of a formal dining room with waiter service at a time of your choice, then this is probably for you. We ate in the Windjammer cafe, which contrary to other reviews we found perfectly acceptable - there was plenty of choice, fast food like pizza, chips, etc. through to Asian / Indian, vegetarian, pasta and roasted meats. In fact most of what was on the menu from the main dining rooms was also available if you looked carefully. We were quite happy with the selection and quality of the food and both came home a few pounds heavier. Yes it was self service and yes, if you turned up for lunch at 1.30 pm every day it was crowded, but otherwise I could see no fault with it at all. There was as much or as little to do on-board as you wanted - entertainment ranged from some quite cheesy shows, through to classical music recitals and there was plenty of choices of activities throughout the day depending on your own preference. The spa was pretty pricey however and some of the talks were aimed at getting you to buy expensive creams or have additional treatments. Ice skating was free as were most other activities. There was a massive and well equipped gym which put most leisure centres and clubs to shame. The deck areas again were spotless with plenty of loungers available although it was not really sunbathing weather - I can imagine it may get a little crowded in high season and there were few children on board so it was generally quiet around the pool area, although there was an adults only area. There were plenty of bars to chose from, most with music of some form or another at various times. The prices of drinks were reasonably comparable to the UK, some a little more such as Baileys at $8 a time. We opted for the all inclusive drinks packages on day 1, which sounds a lot of money, but by the time you have had a few soft drinks throughout the day, a couple of drinks pre dinner, then a few after it soon adds up anyway. However this would be no good if a member of your party does not drink, as you are not allowed to have 1 alcoholic & 1 non alcoholic to avoid "sharing". Watch your account thought (easily done on the TV in your cabin", they tried to charge for drinks in 1 bar but we easily got this taken off the bill later. I can't say that we noticed many people drunk or rowdy, but we were not late night owls. Shops on board were pretty limited and pricey and each evening they had a "special" sale, again mostly overpriced stuff they seemed to need to shift. Duty free was not really that much cheaper than in some shops in the UK so was not really worth the bother. Overall the staff were polite, friendly and helpful, there was the occasional misery but you'll get that anywhere. We did not bother with any of the trips on shore - time at each port was pretty limited and "hop on, hop off" buses were available that took in most key sites at around 15-20 Euros each. Most trips were quite pricey and seemed to spend a lot of time on coaches. Madeira was probably the best stop but was the shortest which was a shame. Having never visited any of the others before we can't complain and sadly it was a little chilly on some days Overall I would recommend the ship and would happily travel on her again - I would not do the same route again, having done it once now, but would happily go to other destinations on the same ship or any other of Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Our second cruise on this ship, we arrived at Southampton around 1.30 pm which we know is a busy time. Embarkation very straightforward and the queues were dealt with very efficiently (security checks, etc.) Terminal parking was very ... Read More
Our second cruise on this ship, we arrived at Southampton around 1.30 pm which we know is a busy time. Embarkation very straightforward and the queues were dealt with very efficiently (security checks, etc.) Terminal parking was very simple after offloading our cases for transfer to our staterooms. The Windjammer self-service cafe was already open with a very wide selection of hot & cold foods. The safety drill was carried out at the individual muster stations before sailing, so everyone knew where to assemble in an emergency. This was our first time staying in a promenade stateroom overlooking the Royal Promenade. This was very roomy and well equipped with plenty of storage space and a large comfortable bed, with the added bonus of an electric kettle. We opted for early fixed-time dining (6 pm) in the Romeo and Juliet Restaurant. This had lovely surroundings and we enjoyed wonderful service from our waiter and his new assistant who was just learning the ropes with much enthusiasm. We always received good advice on the extensive menu choice but there is always the alternative option of plain chicken, steak, fish or vegetarian available every night. The food was always good and well presented. We find RCI are expensive for wines and drinks but they did have a special offer on some quality wines and the cocktail of the day was always a reasonable price. Breakfast and lunchtime we tended to use the Windjammer where the food was always fresh and plentiful. It did get busy at times but with the serving period extending over 3.5 to 4 hours, we could always pick a quieter time to find a table and eat our meal. The main dining rooms were also open for waiter service/buffet service over a similar period. The Promenade Cafe was always open from early morning to late evening for free tea, coffee and snacks. The Royal Promenade does take up a large section of the centre of the ship so this limits the number of open seating areas but there are still a number of pubs/cafes with their own seating, plus other larger lounges and meeting areas, if you wanted somewhere quiet to sit. On nice days, the outside decks provide plenty of alternative seating and sun-loungers. On the plus side, the Royal Promenade offers space for a variety of shops and market type stalls plus it is a very good venue for street parties. Going onto the entertainment, the evening shows were always put on twice each night and a wide variety of of acts were presented. The Cruise Director, Joff Eaton was excellent, as was the Ice Show. There was always plenty to see and do, such as quizzes, game shows, destination lectures as well as well equipment sports activities. The destination lectures were presented by Howard Nicholls who gave a history of each port visited plus some very useful guidance on what to look out for. We were mostly very lucky with the weather with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures throughout. In the Canaries, it was up to the mid 20 degrees centigrade. We had plenty of time in port to explore the area except for Madeira where the ship had to leave at 2.30 pm due to the long journey ahead to La Coruna on the Spanish coast. We would have been better off stopping longer in Madeira as it was cloudy and drizzling in La Coruna when we arrived there. We did book a ships tour in Madeira to see as much of the island as possible. It was beautiful weather and we had a lovely time, especially enjoying the wine and cheese party. It was all very well organised. In the rest of the ports, we made our own way to look around and explore, although it was a mix of sunshine and showers in Tenerife so we stopped in Santa Cruz and it did brighten up later. Disembarkation was well organised as we elected to have our cases taken off board by the ships staff after being allocated a numbered luggage label. We chose what time we wanted to leave, as long as we had left the ship by approximately 9.15 am. After walking off with our hand luggage, our cases were found in the corresponding numbered area in the terminal. We were leaving the car park within 15 to 20 minutes. All in all, it was a very enjoyable cruise and very good value. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either ... Read More
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either along the corridor then up 2 decks, or going up then walking through the pool areas. We had no problems finding a table, and there was a varied choice in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.The downside was that there were no trays to carry the food to a table. We chose first sitting and were placed in Romeo and Juliet, on deck 3. On the whole we both said that P&O dinners were better.Independence served a set amount on the plate; if you wanted extra vegetables you have to ask for them.The dining room crew were really great, doing everything possible, and very friendly.There wasn't always much variety in the dishes offered.The evening shows weren't bad, though one "comedy" act was shades of Norman Wisdom/Tommy Cooper,but not really funny. Prices in the bars were very expensive, having 15% added as tips.Quite a lot of people talked about the way the options for tipping were continually advertised.Much was said about pre- paid tips, which took a set amount from each passenger.Vouchers were given to cabin steward and dining room waiters and head waiter at the last night. It was suggested that the amount those crew received was not the whole amount that had been quoted. Some staff said it was important that they were described as "excellent" in the questionnaires, otherwise they might not be taken on again for a future voyage.The whole subject of tipping was controversial. If it is expected, and deducted from the passengers' accounts, then it is not a discretionary amount given as a mark of appreciation for exemplary service; rather it could be construed as a subsidy to the crew's wages. There is a jogging/walking track on deck 12, though the distance of 3 laps making 1 kilometre and 5 laps making a mile doesn't equate.5 miles equals 8kms.Sometimes in the early mornings it was very windy, but the fitness centre has plenty of treadmills to use without a fee, so it was still possible to get some exercise. P&O give more information in their daily programme of events. We didn't find any list of channels for the cabin TV.You had to scroll down to find out what there was. The lifeboat drill wasn't really much use. Some P&O ships had the drill outside with lifebelts and you were shown how to put them on. On the Independence, you went to the designated station, but didn't have to take the lifebelt with you.If you want to look round the galley, you have to pay. There were some events in the Royal Promenade running the length of deck 5,and they were colourful.New Year's Eve was fun.However, with such a large crowd an emergency could have been chaotic.All entrances to public rooms have hand sanitisers. In the lifts the voice is English, but in the toilets, the reminder to wash your hands is American.Under 21s aren't allowed alcohol, and there is a 1.0am curfew for young people. We hope to use P&O again,but aren't too sure about Royal Caribbean, but that is just our opinion. We had done this destination some years ago, so we just explored the ports of Vigo, Lisbon and La Corunna. Lisbon on New year's Day and being a Sunday, nearly everywhere was closed.surprisingly the previous evening's revellry left the streets in a mess, rather like it often is at home.If using a shuttle at the ports expect to pay 10 dollars round trip.La Coruna Spain This was the final port. It was built on an isthmus, and is sheltered. We had a walk round some of the streets. One or two shops were open on a Sunday, but most were cafes and restaurants. There was quite a large marina, and there was a very large square with some imposing buildings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Fantastic time. Crew and fellow holiday makers very friendly. Wonderful facilities for all family. Shows mainly very good although 1 with resident singers and dancers didn't have a theme and was very disjointed. Comedian Tommy Boyd ... Read More
Fantastic time. Crew and fellow holiday makers very friendly. Wonderful facilities for all family. Shows mainly very good although 1 with resident singers and dancers didn't have a theme and was very disjointed. Comedian Tommy Boyd was brilliant and also had a wonderful voice. Hypnotist Christopher Caress also very good.Ice show was amazing and well worth seeing. Balcony cabin was very comfortable, bed was huge and again very comfortable. Tea and coffee making was supplied. Unfortunately we were right at the rear and the balcony got covered in soot, especially on sailawy. It was a very quiet position though and we had no noise from surrounding cabins or corridor. Swimming pool was like a warm bath and the jacuzzi was even hotter. We were able to swim everyday, even leaving and returning to Southampton in Dec/Jan. Food was varied and of good quality generally. Not impressed with menu on New Year's Eve and ate in the informal Windjammer buffet. Drinks expensive $6.95 for pint and cheapest glass of wine. Not worth getting drinks package unless you are heavy drinker. Enjoyed mini golf and climbing wall. Casino had loads of slot machines and some were only 1 cent play so kept us amused for long time with little loss - did win once or twice. Would have liked more enrichment lectures. Most of the ones I attended were just sales talks for the spa treatments. Screening room very tiny and didn't manage to get in to see films. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 girls aged 16 & 12. Embarkation was good we were on board 20 minutes after handing over our luggage. We did speak to others on board who took longer due to several coaches turning up at once. ... Read More
We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 girls aged 16 & 12. Embarkation was good we were on board 20 minutes after handing over our luggage. We did speak to others on board who took longer due to several coaches turning up at once. Windjammer food was overall good but breakfast items like bacon, sausages etc were only ever warm and cold after 5/10 minutes on the plate. Several days I opted for a freshly cooked omelette which was always piping hot. Variety at other mealtimes was very good I found the chicken coconut curry especially nice. We used the main dining room most nights where the food was fine but lacked much variety perhaps we expected too much. The staff were nice, friendly great with the girls but not as professional as we had encountered on Adventure and Voyager. Cutlery for different courses had to be asked for a couple of times, we weren't always told what the recommended dishes were and they were unable to answer fairly basic questions about the ports despite being on board for a few months. They announced during the cruise that our dining room staff had won the best in company award for 2011 so we may have just been unlucky or spoiled previously. I opted for the basic beer package which included house wines for $39 per day, it also allows 20% discount on any other drinks purchased so I used it as a way to buy reduced priced drinks for my wife who was in our second cabin. No additional tip is added. Overall it was good value and I will use it again. Our children had soda fountain packages. Room stewards were very good and worked around our erratic timings. The mini bars were emptied on request and fresh ice was supplied every day. The entertainment was good not great apart from the ice show which was very good.We tried mystery theatre and that was good fun. New year Eve was very busy especially on the promenade but was no different from most town centres at this time of year. Countdown had everyone joining in, decked out in the hats, beads and rattles supplied by RCI. Our children loved the Living Room and made many new friends doing all the activities arranged by the staff. Living room staff do a difficult job dealing with teenagers remarkably well. We didn't pay much attention to the Lisbon or Vigo preferring to spend time off ship at the Canaries and Madeira. We did get off at La Curuna for a wonder round. Madeira was our favourite port probably due to tobogganing. The mix of passengers was overwhelmingly British with a sprinkling of American, European and few South Americans. Overall an enjoyable cruise were we met lots of friendly folk including a few from our home town! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We made a point of reading all the reviews for IOS before we sailed and I have to say that the majority were poor so we were expecting the worst. However, we were pleasantly surprised and will attempt to give you an honest and fair review ... Read More
We made a point of reading all the reviews for IOS before we sailed and I have to say that the majority were poor so we were expecting the worst. However, we were pleasantly surprised and will attempt to give you an honest and fair review o our holiday. We joined the ship with my brother and sister in Law age range 59-65. We were asked to arrive at Southampton at 1pm but circumstances dictated that we arrived at 10am, we were booked in and was on the ship by 1130 hrs the process was painless. We had a cabin with balcony and my brother had an ocean view, both cabins were spotless and for such a relative small space storage was amazing. The beds have to be the most comfortable we have all ever slept in. The steward could not do enough for you. MEALS: Most reviews we read stated that the Windjammer Cafe (Breakfast/lunch) was always chaotic and finding a table was near impossible. Rubbish...we never waited more than 3/4 minutes for a table the whole cruise. The food was fantastic with every taste catered for. We chose my time dining for evening meal so could eat when we wanted, again food quality and service immaculate. SOCIAL: Loads of bars on the ship, prices were a little high a beer $5 spirits $8 but that equates to around £3.50/ £5 and hey...your on holiday. Theatres and Ice Rink on board with shows every night either West End style or comedian/singer/magician/illusionist all top drawer also other bars with entertainment and regular shows/parades along the length of the promenade impossible to get bored on ship. SMOKING: We were smokers, we could smoke on our balcony and one side on decks 4,11 and 12, we could also smoke upstairs in the labyrinth disco which was quite enjoyable at night as there was always music playing and not to loud or head banging. Cigarettes on board very cheap £50 for 400, you can only bring 200 each of the ship but customs were non existent when we disembarked, if you visit Spanish ports you can bring back 6000 each but keep your receipts. EXCURSIONS/PORTS: We didn't do any excursions or port transfers prices expensive with the cheapest excursion being $49 per person, port transfers were also expensive but every port had taxis on the dock and cost no more than 5/6 euros for four of us to get int town, most ports you could walk. Taxis also did tours for around 100 euros per taxi. PHOTOS: Biggest rip off of all, photographers everywhere and pics cost $24 each, we stuck to two 'formal' pics but did purchase the cruise DVD at the end well worth the $14.99. PAYMENT; We charged all on board expenses to credit card which saved joining huge ques on the final day, everything is bought using your ship card and is automatically debited when you leave the ship. CHILREN/WHEELCHAIRS: Our cruise had full capacity with lots of children and elderly people with motorised scooters, non of them were a problem we never once found a corridor blocked with scooters and the children we saw were all well behaved. All in all an excellent cruise and holiday we would definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again and look forward to booking our next cruise. Hope this helped. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My husband booked this cruise to celebrate my 65th birthday and we had reservations about cruising with RCI before we booked. We could not fault the ship it was beautiful and our cabin steward one of the best we have encountered. Our ... Read More
My husband booked this cruise to celebrate my 65th birthday and we had reservations about cruising with RCI before we booked. We could not fault the ship it was beautiful and our cabin steward one of the best we have encountered. Our only real complaint was that we had asked for a special menu as I am diabetic and also have raised cholesterol. In spite of asking several times no special menu was forthcoming and I was told by the waiter to choose from the Vitality menu. This rather spoilt the cruise as I wasn't sure what the ingredients were in the dishes. Before we cruised my children tried to arrange a Celebration package for me and early in December rang RCI office in England. The member of staff didn't seem to know much about this and told them to ring again after Xmas. They did and were told it was too late now to arrange anything. Unless you were very keen on quizzing there was very little in the way of daytime entertainment except for some excellent lectures on the Ports of Call. The evening entertainment was a but hit and miss the comedy magician was awful as was one of the comedians and the Productions shows were tedious. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Six of us had this cruise booked for a long time and were very excited as it grew nearer. My mum has parkinsons, so a wheel chair was need, which we took with us. The flight to Malaga was great and very easy instructions to find out ... Read More
Six of us had this cruise booked for a long time and were very excited as it grew nearer. My mum has parkinsons, so a wheel chair was need, which we took with us. The flight to Malaga was great and very easy instructions to find out coach to take us to the port. On arrival the ship was massive, check in was fast and we boarded very quickly. We had two balcony suites and up-graded my mum and dad to a junior suite, the cabins, especially my mums was bigger than i thought they would be, the only problem was that the junior suite had a bath with a shower which my mum and dad couldn't use due to the fact that the bath sides were quite high so they couldn't get in, however this was resolved as our suite had a walk in shower so they used our room. When we first boarded we had a coffee and took in all the surroundings, theres so much to take in and the ship was lovely and very clean. When we went to our cabins our cases were there outside, very quick service. We deaprted Malaga at 5pm so were up on the 12th deck taking everything in. Once we were ready for our evening meal, we went to the main restaurant and we had my time and had a table booked everynight for us. The staff were very friendly and went out of their way to help you and were always smiling, the service was excellent. However during our first night the sea was extremely rough and we were rocking everyway possible, the following morning all six of us just couldn't get out of bed you felt like you were on a roller coaster ride, we weren't actually sick, but the movement from the ship was nothing i have ever experienced we were on deck 9 but the waves were splashing onto our balcony. We spent the first 36 hrs on hour cruise in our cabins, although I have to say room service was excellent, they were rushed off their feet, the whole corridor when you looked out was full of room service trays, so we weren't the only ones Once docked in Teneriffe we felt fine and were able to go on the 11th deck and sit and chill although weather wasn't very good, we left there at 5pm and set sail again the Lanzarote again we decided just to chill, weather again not very good. We weren't looking to sailing back to Malaga but wasn't as bad. Your could not fault the ship in any way, the cabin sizes were good, the buffet for breakfast and lunch catered for everyone's needs and staff were always helpful were ever you were on board. The ship had everything on it that you could possibly need and was outstanding, my friend had a very good win the the casino. The shows were ok we couldn't get tickets to see the ice show as they were sold out, and the last show tickets were given as priority to the people who were too ill to see the first one due to the crossing. We booked this cruise as a trial because our friends want to do a Caribbean cruise next year and i'm so glad that we did, because we were so ill it has unfortunately really put us off and don't think we will ever do another cruise. People I spoke to who have done many cruises did say that if that had been their first one they would have been put off, its a shame but after two days of being home I still haven't got my land legs back. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have come to the conclusion that RCI are the most inward looking company I have ever dealt wit, their quest for profit comes above all else. Let me explain: Things went wrong before we even got to the cruise. They more or less insist ... Read More
I have come to the conclusion that RCI are the most inward looking company I have ever dealt wit, their quest for profit comes above all else. Let me explain: Things went wrong before we even got to the cruise. They more or less insist that you log in on line and print off your cruise booklet and order baggage tags. To do this you need a special log in that RCI are supposed to send you 14 days before the cruise. We had to call our travel agent to get the log in as none had come via email, as had been promised. We ordered baggage tags but none came. I phoned a week before the cruise but was told it was too late to reorder. No baggage tags then. We flew to Malaga from Gatwick, upon arrival we went to the coach, which was waiting for us. The RCI rep took our cruise brochure from us, tore out a page and handed the remains back to us. We got on the coach and were swiftly taken to the docks to embark. The queue was huge but there were lots of agents so we got to one pretty quickly. We gave her our cruise booklet but she said she could not check us in because the page torn out by her colleague was missing. When I tried to explain what had happened she was quite rude and abrupt and thrust a form at me to fill in. It had all the information that I had spent some time filling in on line. She then needed my credit card, even though I had already registered that on line. It was now about 13:30, we had been traveling since 3 am, we were hungry and tired, I was not impressed!!! We headed straight for the Windjammer where we had a pretty decent lunch and then made our way to our cabin. The cabin was well laid out with lots of storage but boy was it looking tired. The ship is 10 years old and it really looks it in places. Things like a well rusted waste bin and a filthy toilet seat spoiled the overall effect. Right from the word go everything seemed to be about extracting the maximum amount of money from their guests. We had paid gratuities up front but soon discovered that 15 % got added to everything anyway. Everything on board was at sky high prices, the cost of drinks seemed to put most people off drinking altogether. It really was a rip of culture - 2 examples: Price of massage advertised at from $139 - 2 people went as a couple and ended up with a $510 bill plus a $5 gratuity!!! On the day we went to Lanzarote they were selling 500ml bottles of water for $4.95 then telling people that on land they would be over$6. Utter rubbish - any supermarket will sell you one for under a euro. It's one thing to rip people off but quite another when you start lying to them as well. One thing that really got to me is on the last evening we tried to find somewhere for a reasonably quite drink, all the public areas were full to bursting. We went to the sports bar and asked for a Bacardi and diet Coke only to be told they had no Bacardi. OK says I, just a diet Coke then. They didn't have any of that either. Unbelievable, they go to all that effort to empty your wallet then run out of the basics. Be wary if they offer you freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast, they will charge you for it, same as they will charge for a "speciality coffee" after dinner. Look, RCI if you are going to charge me - tell me up front, otherwise I will feel like I have been conned. Be very careful of what they sell in the shops too. If you go for a quite drink you will have the peace shattered by somebody shouting sales messages over a pa system, it's like being in a market. They were trying to sell cheap Chinese watch sets at 20 bucks, the same stuff our local market sells at a quarter of that. The other thing you need to be aware of that RCI have not cottoned on to yet is that when you fly these days any toiletries of over 100ml will be confiscated at the airport if they are in you hand baggage. Given that many people may want to freshen up as soon as they are on board I am guessing that many people may carry some bits and pieces on with them. RCI do not put any toiletries in the cabins except for a small bar of soap. I find this astonishing. I have travelled all over the world and stayed in the best and the worst of hotels, B&B's guest houses and cruise ships and this is the first time I have ever gone to my room to find no toiletries. To make matters worse not one shop had any shampoo for sale, we had to buy some in Tenerife. Come on RCI, at least stock the essentials or give "pamper packs" like all the other cruise lines do. The ship has some great areas, the food was pretty good although teh steak on the first nigh was inedible, the mash was always so salty that most people left it and in general it was nowhere near the standards we are used to on P&O or Cunard. We won't be going RCI again, we will be going back to P&O where we will get much better value for money and be with a company that cares as much about teh customer experience as they care about profit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our first cruise and all in all a great experience. We (for some reason) chose early November as cruise date, we aren't too bothered about hot weather, obviously this is a gamble though and we experienced some pretty rough ... Read More
This was our first cruise and all in all a great experience. We (for some reason) chose early November as cruise date, we aren't too bothered about hot weather, obviously this is a gamble though and we experienced some pretty rough seas on the way there as a result. 27 deg C was the maximum experienced and that was in Madeira We got gale force 7-8 in the Bay of Biscay according to the captains announcement and that was easy to believe given the extreme winds on deck, the whiteness of the sea and the 4-5 mtr waves in the pool. On entry to Lisbon we crossed over shallow water, the waves there hit the ship and many bottles of duty free were broken in the hold, we were sat in the Windjammer at the time and several people and pretty much everything on every table hit the deck. Egg shells orange juice and water everywhere. Neither of use suffered any sea sickness but others did, personally I've never slept so well. We had a great time on board some annoyances but overall very good, not to many children and the entertainment was very good James Andrews is a very good cruise director. We had a Junior suite and were not disappointed by the size of the cabin or the attendant service. Room service breakfast was a mistake though maybe ordering Bacon was a bit optimistic, it was cold as was the scrambled egg, but the food in all of the restaurants was amazing and with very few exceptions cooked extremely well. The staff were really great and work extremely hard to make your time a good one. The down side is the cost of everything on board don't know why but we more or less assumed that bottled water would be free and that wine prices etc would be reasonable. Water is charged for and wine is expensive. We took out a Diamond wine package (the top one) for 7 bottles that came in at $270 and the wines were not really great. The people that were selling the booze packages on the first day had quite poor English skills and that made the whole thing really hard to understand as a first timer. If you take out a beer package at $39 every one in that stateroom must also take it out meaning you would each have to drink 5+ pints a day to even break even, that made it out of the question for us. They don't allow you to bring on and consume alcohol from the ports obviously this to make you drink the ships stock but I think that is very mean, our cruise wasn't cheap anyway. The Internet costs .65 cents per minute! you can take out an hour package and save .4 cents a min (gosh) but the net was so unreliable "limited connectivity" I am pleased that I didn't do it, in fact in spite of trying several times a day I only got on 3 times. Holidays aren't about the net but it was our agreed way of communicating with home.... Smoking on the balconies was a real pain in the neck of course people have to smoke somewhere but if the wind is not blowing it hangs around and seeps into the none smokers space and neither of us could cope with it, also the Labyrinth Disco was a no go area for us because of the thick smoke in there. But all in all our experience was a good one made more entertaining by the rough weather, some didn't find it so though. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Easy embarkation at Southampton, from parking to onboard ship in about 20 minutes. Staff all really friendly and made a fuss of the children. Arrived on board and went into the coffee shop for drinks and snacks - we were lucky as that ... Read More
Easy embarkation at Southampton, from parking to onboard ship in about 20 minutes. Staff all really friendly and made a fuss of the children. Arrived on board and went into the coffee shop for drinks and snacks - we were lucky as that was the only time we ever had a seat in there. As mentioned in previous reviews, it is a bit small. Entered our room at 1pm and were suitably impressed, bed, sofa, nice balcony and all very clean. Three of the four bags arrived by teatime, the last one got broken in transit and the label became detached. After several visits to Guest Services, we found it. First few days extremely rocky - after being assured that the ship was so big we'd never feel any movement, it was a big shock. However, we had the misfortune of hitting a storm at the same time as the Bay of Biscay which followed us for a couple of days, so can't blame RCI for that one. The captain was great, gave regular updates of where we were and what was happening and even detoured slightly to miss the eye of the storm which only delayed us by a couple of hours in Vigo (not missed as not very impressive place!) Once the sun came out it was great - the pool area not too busy and the free ice cream machine went down a storm with the children! Kid's Club Adventure Ocean was superb, our two were in there continuously, they had games, quizzes, crafts, cinema nights with popcorn in their PJs and apart from an unfortunate accident involving my son's head and a basketball hoop resulting in stitches (the medical team were superb!) all went well. We didn't frequent the formal restaurant often, we tended to stick to the Windjammer, which had great food (especially cakes!) or Sorrento's which was great for a snack. As was Room Service, although would say the menu a bit limited, but the Hot Chocolate great. Staff very courteous, always cleaning and some worked like trojans. One criticism with regard to gratuities, you are advised to give them to your stateroom attendant and waiters, whereas there are many other very worthy staff. Entertainment a bit hit and miss - the Cruise Director very prominent (not always a good thing), Bingo very expensive, we only did it once for a bit of a giggle, but worked out at $32!! Ice Show absolutely superb as was some of the evening entertainment. Some not so good - very dated 70's comic was highly rated but not our cup of tea. Ports good apart from the Spanish ones (Vigo and La Coruna) - my advice would be skip them to spend more time in Portugal/Madeira, but just my opinion. All in all a great experience, would definitely cruise again - whether with RCI not sure and would certainly go when the weather a bit more favourable Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We had been on quite a few cruises before this, but this was our first formal cruise, and we've been on many others since and it hasn't come anywhere near as close in any way. The staff are amazing, so accommodating, helpful ... Read More
We had been on quite a few cruises before this, but this was our first formal cruise, and we've been on many others since and it hasn't come anywhere near as close in any way. The staff are amazing, so accommodating, helpful and friendly, the food is incredible, wow, from breakfast through lunch dinner and the other diners and pizzerias fabulous, you certainly wouldn't go hungry at any time and the food was amazing, it really has made us see how it should be done. We really enjoyed the fact that if you didn't want to dress up and wear Black Tie/Evening dress/Cocktail dress you could dine elsewhere, and those who really wanted to dress up could do so with like minded people, this does make a big difference as on other ships they allow you in even if you're still in t shirt and shorts, it really can make you feel " what's the point". The entertainment was fantastic, we found something different to do every night and really had a good time. Everything on this cruise was brilliant, we had one little hiccup with lunch one day and nothing was too much trouble trying to get it fixed, it was brilliant, the food, service, attitude, cabin, destinations, everything was perfect and to top it off, we met our best friends on this ship. Thanks Royal Caribbean for doing things the way all cruise ships should. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My sister and I travelled together for the first time and these are our memories: Day 1. Malaga. Flew into Malaga from Yorkshire that morning; flights booked independently through Jet 2. No problem, good flight which arrived early. ... Read More
My sister and I travelled together for the first time and these are our memories: Day 1. Malaga. Flew into Malaga from Yorkshire that morning; flights booked independently through Jet 2. No problem, good flight which arrived early. Had booked airport to port transfers through Royal Caribbean. Staff from RC waiting at airport and was easily able to transfer onto coach and a hasty transfer to the port. Very efficient. Check in for the ship was easy as we had completed the set sail passes on line so it literally took about 5 minutes to get our on board spend credit cards which also open your room. The queueing for the check in was organised and the queue moved very quickly as there were many desk clerks on duty so the experience was very good. After embarking we headed for the Windjammer cafe for lunch. As it was about 1pm the ship was relatively quiet still and the food in the cafe was very good for a self service facility. We then headed for our room. The ship is lovely but more importantly the staff on board took trouble to speak to us in corridors etc and were on hand to help if needed. Our room did not disappoint. It was the cheapest interior stateroom but spotlessly clean and well tended. The bed was hastily made up into 2 single beds as opposed to a double and it was a spacious home for the week. Next day was spent on the ship. Lovely facilities A La Carte breakfast or buffet in a different restaurant were available and the standard was very high. Again, staff were so pleasant and seemed genuinely happy to serve and oblige. Madeira. Our first day on land was a visit to Madeira. We decided to go alone as had visited Madeira before. A shuttle bus was available along the prom for 6 euros per person each way but we decided to walk (about 25 minutes from one end to the other) We went on the cable car to Monte then on the baskets down the mountain but be aware, those baskets go quite quickly - my sister loved it! We had a nice lunch at the port end of Madeira at The Beer House sandwich and a pot of tea, high standard and very reasonable; it is then 10 minutes walk from here to the ship. Day 2 was Tenerife - There was a free shuttle bus into Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is nice, there is an old town apparently which we missed but we walked around the streets and bought a few things then had a sandwich lunch near the port at Olympia then back on the ship. A nice place to visit for a day. Grand Canaria We had booked a trip (through RC) on Grand Canaria called Ageata Valley tour - I can really recommend this trip we went to a family farm and the farmer produces many fruits and lovely wine - the hospitality there was great and we then had some photo stops and a stop for 45 minutes by the sea which was also lovely. A thoroughly enjoyable day and the farm will stay in our memory for a long time. Lanzarote another trip through RC which I can definitely recommend entitled "Yesterday and Today in Lanzarote" the tour guide was fantastic. We visited a lovely site where there was a museum based on previous life in Lanzarote. We then visited a most spectacular cactus garden which was stunning the colours were beautiful. Lastly we visited the home of the famous Lanzarote designer from the 60s who had an unusual home carved out from volcanic eruptions. The home was part of a visitor centre and was interesting and reflected life in 60s and 70s. I can recommend this trip. The next day was spent at sea and we really relaxed before returning home. I can definitely recommend this cruise it was wonderful and I cannot be more complimentary of the staff on board the Adventure of the Seas or of the organisation and quality of the ship. Easily four star. Disembarkation was good up to the point of getting our cases. It was a bit of a crush for the RC buses to get us onto the airport transport but frankly this is our only gripe; the rest of the trip was wonderful. Happy memories to take us through the winter. I have been with RC twice now and found them first class. Thank you Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Our first time with RCI and with trepidation we viewed the gargantuan ship in Southampton dock, then the snaking endless queues to board, oh how our hearts sank BUT once on board we loved the stateroom (balcony, v. spacious), bathroom good ... Read More
Our first time with RCI and with trepidation we viewed the gargantuan ship in Southampton dock, then the snaking endless queues to board, oh how our hearts sank BUT once on board we loved the stateroom (balcony, v. spacious), bathroom good sized we thought, shower fine. ENTERTAINMENT Ice show superb, Mike Doyle very good, the main dancers and singers put their heart and soul into the acts and it showed - but without a doubt the best was Jimmy James - as a lover of soul music he was obviously always going to be my first choice - yes, even above the ice show which was fantastic. ACTIVITIES My husband did the ice skating, Flowrider and climbed the wall - all great fun and not available on any other ships we have been on so a first again for him - I was happy to watch but these are great activities for teens and younger children, and Royal Caribbean should be commended for taking care of them - after all if they are happy then so are the parents. DINING We dined in Macbeth, table of eight - our waiters Tayfun and Lancelot were outstanding in their helpfulness - could not fault them in any way. Also the fish dishes were all good, apart from sea bass on the first night which was awful, but tiger prawns, lobster, sole, crayfish - all tender and large portions. We also ate in Portofino one night which was good, but not sure it was worth the extra $20pp surcharge in my opinion. One tip I would recommend is the Romeo & Juliet dining room - you can eat buffet style in here for breakfast (they seat you and bring orange juice and tea/coffee, then you can simply help yourself to cereal or eggs, bacon etc.) this is a great way to avoid the Windjammer crush. Also they do a guaranteed 30 minute meal in there at lunchtime, with a salad cart in the centre to help yourself - again a nice touch if you don't want to linger too long over meals and thoroughly recommended. SERVICE Waiters were excellent, our cabin steward was just OK, but seemed to spend most of her time telling me how tired she was, or I had woken her up to ask housekeeping for the towels she omitted to leave in the morning (!) and was off ill for a couple of days with a sore throat (again I heard all about her symptoms) however, we still tipped up - after all, no cleaning for me for 11 days so happy to do this. Had room service breakfast a couple of times - prompt service and nice fruit platter, croissants and fresh tea/coffee. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS Vigo - Caught a ferry (30 minute ride) to one of the small islands nearby, lovely beach and a great way to spend the day. Lisbon - visited the old elevator off the main street and had a drink at the top, lovely church here too. Gran Canaria - Tenerife - we caught the tram from Fundacion to the old village in the mountains, you could spend all day here if you wished but the ship left at 3.30 so we had to come back - also visited (Terisitas?) beach which was lovely. Madeira,cable car ride La Coruna - nothing of note but nice enough - and we had sunshine. We found the dockside staff from the ship to be most unhelpful when trying to find tram stations etc., as obviously they wanted us to do trips but even so no information was given to independent travellers - they simply said they did not know where anything was. SUMMARY Glitzy, blowsy, in your face American style but give her a go and be open minded - she will grow on you - honestly! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My Husband & I sailed 2 years ago with my younger daughter with RCI on Voyager & have done nothing but rave about our full experience from the moment we boarded the ship til we left to board Independence of the Seas. We looked ... Read More
My Husband & I sailed 2 years ago with my younger daughter with RCI on Voyager & have done nothing but rave about our full experience from the moment we boarded the ship til we left to board Independence of the Seas. We looked forward to the larger ship, the 11 nights instead of the 7 nights and the enjoyment & luxury of Royal Caribbean. We travelled this time with 2 daughters, 1 age 20 & the other of 9. Where do we start.. The positives.. The restaurant staff were the best, the experience from voyager was a little disappointing, mainly due to the waiter but these guys (kharan & alex) made up for it for sure. The flights incl with our price (70 return each) was excellent and good flight times with fly-be. The spa staff were excellent, although i wouldnt pay full price & booking prior to travelling as the deals on ship were fab.. pick & mix 3 or 6 items for 42/66.. staff were excellent, although i let the aftersales of what they used & recommended go over my head! 15% grat is automatically added ontop of cost, but i felt this was well deserved. Room service we had one evening, due to the time of the cancelled & rescheduled ice show. Room service was lovely, much better than had thought would be. all hot food was warm, fresh & delicious, although a little more choice wouldnt have went wrong, but still great. Hand sanitizer is everywhere, which initially was a pain but when you see others lifting & returning food, it was welcomed! If I can dig deep & think of any other postives I will add as i go on. The holiday- After having 2 weddings, engagements, big birthdays & a housemove this summer, we decided to have our summer holiday later in the year. With advice & knowledge from our local travel agents we were excited to book our 11 night cruise on the 2nd biggest cruise ship in the world, with 4 days at sea (wow, on this vast ship) and even talked our 20 year old to come & join us, we assured her she wouldnt be disappointed!! we arrived at southampton airport with no doubt the rest of the flight heading to our ship, (approx 200 ppl) to have one irate lady telling ppl to wait here if waiting on west bus... westbus??? other passengers were of the same opinion as us, that we guessed we just stood behind the others looked bewildered of her instructions. No notice that this lady was of RCI. we boarded the westbus which duly took us to the ship (lucky). It all looked very calm & relaxed until we got in the terminal building, where thousands of ppl were queueing to get thru customs/checkin. 2 hours later we were about to board the ship, against the all aboard 90 min check in departure rule. Muster drill carried out and we were off 4.30pm prompt. We left top deck (due to the wind) and went to our cabin to unpack. The cabins were small but well set out, plenty of coathangers & generally clean. Dinner was a 6pm sitting & had emailed RCI before travelling for a window seat for dinner which was lovely. After dinner we went to the theatre for the 9pm showing at approx 8.30 to already have a full house. Reserving seats was clearly not allowed, but clearly ignored. We eventually had to queue to be able to sit in 'gold card' members seats after they had decided not to attend. Drinks were ordered & 4 drinks were passed along the full row along with our seapass card & receipt to sign & pass back along. Other guests were clearly not amused & if known this was going to happen we wouldnt have ordered drinks. At this point, I would like to point out the issue wasnt passing the drinks, it was passing the drinks passed approx 15 others, which were elderly, infirm & wheelchair bound! We were guaranteed the Independence would no different than voyager other than the size. Indy is 100ft longer thus more cabins. Another few shops, ie sorrentos which is just sliced pizza which on voyager was also served in cafe promenade. The clean shave shop, which was expensive for a regular razor shave, my hubby avoided at all costs on the choppy seas. A Swarovski shop which was almost always empty & the jumble sale tables which were brought out to the promenade on sea days to 'get rid' of the the when its gone its gone items. Duty & tax free shops are there, which even although travelling in european waters the ship fails to tell you that its usa sales & permits you to purchase 200 cigs & 1 lt of spirit each. I guess they dont want to tell you this as there sales may drop, but the customs as you get off the ship are there in force and clearly aware that passengers will come off with more than allowed & then confiscated. TAKE NOTE!! Our restauarnt staff were 1st class, as in the windjammer. The cafe promenade staff and other 'free food' areas were more on the rude side, clearly not needing to be nice for gratuties & this was very evident. The promenade housed the permenant residents of guests which caused an issue when looking for a seat to sit & drink tea/coffee. The theatre shows were just ok, especially there own production team. Ive heard better but they do put their heart into it. The headliner acts were much better, namely mike doyle, the hynotist (- as seen on tv - in poland), & the comedy magician. The back beat beatles i feel were of the same opinion as us of the crowd. The ports were poor in our eyes, after doing more touristy places in our previous cruises. What disappointed us more was to get from the ship/port to the place you are docking at there is a shuttle bus (as there was on voyager) but was at a cost. Although only $10 , its $40 per trip for our family on the few days we docked. this cost should be included in the cruise surely, again we were not alone with this unexpected cost. so if you dont pay the shuttle, you have an hour treck ( as we found out). Maderia was the only one which was easy walking but shops closed on a sunday, there was little to do, or the day we docked 12 & sailing again at 6 with shops closed 1-5, seems a waste of time getting off, and not told of this before the shuttle costs were taken & arrived at the closed town!!! In 2 years i have found the RCI have changed from the Nation of why not, to the ship of give us your money! we were soooo disappointed. My 9 year old daughter used the voyagers kids club & loved every moment!! Now, this was our biggest gripe... the age group!! Now my husband & i are 40 & 46, def not old in our eyes. On speaking to staff, they also found it funny (we weren't laughing) that the age groups of people of travelling. In summer months this ship would have 1400 children, this trip had 142! 4000 on board, of which easily 3000 were 75+. Even a lovely lady of 74 was having a moan of the volume of elderly, not just elderly, but elderly that occupied the lifts, cafe promenade & corridors with wheelchairs & mobility scooter's. I am a very fair person, & totally understand that everyone is entitled to a holiday to where & when suits them, however, when my 9 year old is getting run over with a mobility scooter because the lady didn't know how to operate it, and with no apology, I'm not a happy camper. The same evening, another scooter was put into reverse instead of forward which subsequently ran over my left foot. Along from our cabin, we had 6 wheelchairs/scooters parked in the corridor every evening, which was a def hazard should we have had to evacuate. The lifts were simply a no go area as were permanently occupied with wheelchairs etc, to the extreme, mothers with pushchairs were using the stairs. Appar October onwards is occupied by this age group and feel that the travel agent should have advised us the same as they would have advised oaps of a family or young holiday venue. The volume of wheelchairs on the ship would have been an issue for the users should the ship have to evacuate, although with witnessing a few of them using the pool, the golf, i'm sure they would make sure they were first out their chairs to be on the life boats. Chairs were left outside the restaurants & theatre, if chairs were needed, why not use them. everyone's needs are different, i know that, but it was a gripe throughout the ship and 4 days at seas putting up with this, will in my eyes, never seen again as i will always from now on, book to go abroad to from Barcelona etc to avoid this. I'm fed up talking about this. Our room attendant clearly had a few cabins to service, his sweat dripping from his brow made this evident. He moaned (cute coming from me lol)about the sea, his work load, if people were in the rooms, if people were out the rooms. Towel animals were every 2nd night for us, but every night for others,the hoover was there, but never used, the tv was on one night i returned to my cabin as he was on the sofa watching the football ;-0 . Although were out the room for 9am some mornings, we returned early afternoon for it still to be serviced. Gratuities we decided to pay cash at the end of trip. 11 nights in our eyes was really 2 days getting to port & 2 days returning, therefor a 7 day holidays. Gratuities for 4 passengers is alot and should be added to the initial cost as although most did warrant the tips, it should be at the passengers discretion and not what RCI dictate. In all, we enjoyed our holiday, as we decided we would. The crowd should have been highlighted as i'm sure this october holiday was not a one off. Although i am proud to be British, I really didn't expect the ship to be full of British! Looking back, why i thought that, i don't know. I enjoy the culture of Spanish, french etc, which we only heard a few Americans! People in reviews have previously said butlins at sea and sadly i would agree! Bingo every morning, noon & night, quizzes, craft classes, to buy items from it, diet advice, with items to buy after it...money money money!! Disappointed in RCI, although not put off by cruising but will def sail with others before RCI again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
me and my 3 sisters booked an 11 night cruise to canaries .we all over 50 so looking for a good break and plenty of entertainment . well we were disappointed .on entering the ship we made our way to the windjammer cafe for ... Read More
me and my 3 sisters booked an 11 night cruise to canaries .we all over 50 so looking for a good break and plenty of entertainment . well we were disappointed .on entering the ship we made our way to the windjammer cafe for something to eat it was packed we wondered around for 40 Min's looking for somewhere to sit .it was like a free for all people eating like they had not been fed it was a scramble to get to the food .. the entertainment was so bad on an evening . the ship had 4000 passengers and the theatre housed 1100 . so no luck their getting in. we turned away and managed to get a seat in the piano bar zzzz is all i can say. when we did manage to get a seat in the theatre it was 1 turn only for 1 hour every night . and we managed to pick Mr and Mrs quiz .come on royal caribbean i was watching turns like this in the 70.s then the next night a hypnotist boring ...watching 4 people on a stage pretending to be chickens.. again for 1 hour . we got lucky i night we managed to see 2 comedians wow wee...the price of the drink was very very expensive $8 dollars a pint. hardly anything on during the day no games nothing. except sunbathe but hardly any nice sunny days we did manage to get in the pyramid lounge a few night to watch a rock band . but the same group every night ....then to cap it all my holdall was broken into on the last night when we were told to put out our cases outside the cabin at 11 pm. when i got to luggage pick up i never noticed my bag was tampered with when i got home 4 bottles of new perfume i bought had been stolen my lock was hanging on by a thread take my advice take your luggage off the ship yourself . not an enjoyable holiday very disappointed with the royal caribbean experience .. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
On arrival at Malaga, we were handed a typed piece of paper, which due to handling luggage and 2 children, didn't get to read properly until we were on the transfer bus........when too late, we found out that the ship was being ... Read More
On arrival at Malaga, we were handed a typed piece of paper, which due to handling luggage and 2 children, didn't get to read properly until we were on the transfer bus........when too late, we found out that the ship was being "sanitised" due to an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting. This lead to an hour and a half transfer, "sightseeing" from a coach, instead of a 25 minute transfer. We appreciate this sometimes happens, but improved communication could have reduced the amount of stress. Had someone clearly told us there was problem, prior to getting on the coach, who knows whether or not we would have taken the option of re-arranging the cruise for a different time. Then we stood outside in the rain at the port, literally with hundreds of other people. No one took charge, there were no clear instructions, and it took over an hour to embark. The cabins were absolutely fine, and as expected. Clean, with a pleasant house keeper. The Windjammer was extremely crowded on the first day, but afterwards was very pleasant. Dining at 18.45 in the Strauss was OK, service was good, but only 3 courses (some other cruise companies offer up to 6 small courses). Despite the fact that we had pre-ordered the Platinum Wine Package, some of the bottles we had chosen were not available, due to it "being the end of the European season", and we accepted substitutes. The Soda packages for the children were a really good deal, and the teenager club was popular. However, repeatedly having to fill in disclaimer forms for the children's activities was time consuming and annoying. Perhaps this is something that could be improved upon, maybe, by an electronic disclaimer prior to sailing. We experienced a little rough weather - but nothing like as bad as I have experienced previously on cruises; but unfortunately it was enough to close the outdoor in line skating track, the ice rink, and the swimming pools. That didn't leave an awful lot to do during the at sea days. The theatre productions, were, on the whole excellent. We couldn't fault the local band - Take 4 - who were 4 brilliant guys who sang and played their hearts out, excellently, and could turn their hand to anything that was requested. The Adventure orchestra were superb as well - especially the drummer. The on board entertainment was faultless. One final moan - was the gratuity reminders. I have always felt - that gratuities and tips should be paid at the discretion of the customer, for the amount felt to be appropriate, to reflect the service given. There is no doubt - that our 2 waiters we brilliant, as was the housekeeper - and we didn't begrudge them their tips at all. What spoilt the last couple of days for me, was being reminded not only about paying the gratuities, but being told how much to pay (that - and being charged $18 for 4 fresh orange juices taken at breakfast in the Strauss restaurant - beware!!). Breakfast in the Vivaldi buffet was extremely good. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on ... Read More
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on anything. It was PERFECT! I booked this cruise over 18mths ago direct with RCI. I pre-registered online for 2011 before the dates of the cruises were released. In March 2010 RCI phoned and asked if we were still serious about a cruise as they had now got the dates for October 2011. I told them yes and was offered an unbelievable cruise package, which consisted of a suite for the 5 of us, onboard spend, free parking for 2 cars plus other benefits that you get when you book a suite. As the months passed and the cruise date finally arrived we all left for Southampton, directions are easy and the parking a doddle. (Word of advice make sure your luggage labels are attached before you leave and get to Southampton as the porters unload your car as soon as you get through the gates, and don't take suite/dress bags as you have to carry these on. We had put all our evening wear into the specialist bags but ended up having to carry them onboard ourselves as the coat hangers won't go through the scanning machine. This was not really a problem as we boarded at 12.45pm and we were allowed into the suite at 1pm. If we had of boarded earlier which you can, we would of had to of carried them around until 1pm which would of been a pain) Boarding was stress free and very easy, then it hits you just how huge this ship really is. You cannot comprehend the magnitude of the sheer size and how spectacular she looks; she really does give you the WOW factor. We went straight to our deck and waited until 1pm then an announcement was made that all passengers could go to their staterooms. Again we had the WOW factor; the suite was beautiful and very spacious for the 5 of us. We had ordered a fruit, cheese and wine basket to be delivered for the start of the cruise for an incredible £28. The sparkling wine cheese and fruit were delicious. I had also ordered for my husband a Romance Package, which consisted of Sparkling Wine, Breakfast in Bed (or on the balcony), a silver frame for a photo taken on a formal night and pre dinner nibbles this cost £63. I think both of these items were value for money. Our suit cases were delivered, in my opinion quite quickly, the first one arrived within 15 mins of us being in the suite, the last one to arrive, which was mine, arrived an hour and half later. This did not cause us a problem, but when we were walking down the corridor to go to Muster Station, at 4pm some passengers were complaining that they had not yet had their luggage. RCI do inform you that it can sometimes take up to 9pm until you get your luggage and to carry on a small bag with a change of clothes and medication. My son and I had taken out the soda package on line. The queue for the soda package when you boarded was very busy, with fraught parents and kids wanted drinks right away. My advice, do it on line it saves so much hassle and your soda cups will be waiting for you in your stateroom. That way you have more time to explore and find were things are. We also took out the wine package which you can do at the table on the first evening your waiter will sort this out for you. We chose the "My Time" Dining option; we found this really worked for us. We found the food to be wonderful and plenty of choice, my mother in law as food allergies but was catered for without any problems at all. The one thing that was worrying both my husband and I were the beds. I have M.E. and I need a comfortable bed. I don't like staying away from home as I can never get comfortable in any other bed. I have to say the beds were fabulous. There was no need to worry. The bedding was soft and there was a memory foam topper on the mattress. I never had any trouble sleeping. On our first morning we all went to breakfast, you have several choices, Windjammer, Al le carte on deck 4, buffet in the restaurant on deck 3 and then the promenade cafe which serves drinks and freshly baked pastries or room service. Over the cruise we tried all the options, and we found the self service on deck 3 the best option for us. The Windjammer is brilliant and as mountains of choice (more than the restaurant on deck 3) but if you are not a morning person and you don't like crowds stay away, it gets very crowded and can be difficult to find a table. There is less choice on deck 3, but you are shown to a table and juice, tea and coffee are served to you. The first day is a sea day and it can be quite cold and rough on deck in October so make sure you pack a fleece or something warm. The kids on board don't seem to feel the cold and were in and out of the pools for most of the day. I booked myself a manicure as a treat, also this is the first formal night as well. The manicure was very pleasant and the young lady, Natalie, soon put me at ease. I booked to have a massage further into the week which was not a pleasant experience; it was a Swedish massage which is a very deep manipulation of the muscle tissue. I was advised by one of the girls on the desk to have this treatment and it was totally the wrong treatment for me. It was extremely painful. However this did not put me off as I had 2 different treatments which were very relaxing and most enjoyable. Do not book on the internet before you leave, the Spa runs some deals on certain days at a fraction of the cost that's advertised on the webpage. Look out in your cruise Compass leaflet that your cabin attendant leaves for you every evening. Word of warning all the spa treatments have a 15% surcharge and you do get subjected to some hard sell after your treatment. Be polite but firm, and then you don't get pestered after that. Before we booked our cruise we had spoken to several people that had cruised before, and every one of them had advised us that if you don't feel like getting off the ship Don't! Enjoy the ship and its facilities. So with that in mind we had already decided that we would not get off at every port. The first port of call was Vigo which to my surprise was a very nice city. The shops etc are a 5 min walk from the ship, there is a lovely square as you walk through the town and we stopped at a cafe/bistro for a beer. Vigo was very easy to get to and very clean. We did a bit of window shopping then went back onboard. We did not book any trips from the ship for any port of call. Next port was Lisbon. We had already decided not to get off the ship here. Where the ship docks (just under the bridge) it's not a very nice place and there is a 35min transfer into the city from the ship. We enjoyed the sundeck and pools as it was 31c and the ship was very quiet. We later found out that several passengers had been victims of pick-pockets and had several items stolen. So if you do decide to get off the ship, do not take any valuables with you and be extremely careful. Gran Can aria was next on the agenda; we got off the ship here and spent an hour at the beach. There is a beach which you can see from the ship, but we walked for approx 10mins into town and found a much nicer beach. There are sun beds you can hire for a fee, or take a towel with you and lie on the beach. Worth seeing are the sand sculptures they are quite remarkable. Tenerife was next, and on the day we went the local market was on. It's quite a walk so if you are going it alone and not doing the organised trips get a taxi or bus, we regret not doing this. Madeira for me was the highlight of all the ports of call. It's a beautiful place to visit. Again we did not do the organised trips, we paid 6 dollars return for a coach to take you into the town then we got a yellow taxi. What a bargain this trip was. We paid 20euro each to go where the organised trips were going which were $89 each on ship. The taxi driver was very informative and spoke excellent English. The taxi trip lasted approx 3hrs. This was by far the best way to see Madeira. The sledge ride was an extra 15euro each, which when you got to the bottom they had your photo waiting for you which they had taken at the start. To purchase this it was 10euro which if did not want to you did not have to buy. Final destination before Southampton was La Coruna. Easy place to get to shopping centre next port to do your final present buying. This is a nice town with some beautiful old buildings. The organised trips are expensive, and if you don't mind sitting on a hot coach for a few hrs and you like to be shown around, then organised trips are your best option. We went on this cruise to relax and to enjoy the ship and what it had to offer. The ports of call to us were not important. The ship is just a fantastic place to be and to be honest I would of spent all my time onboard. The food is to die for, the crew treat you like royalty, they are always smiling and nothing is too much trouble. Every minute of the day the ship is being cleaned and maintained. Our suite attendant Edwin was so helpful and obliging nothing was too much trouble. Our waiters Leoncia and Alan made our dining experience so enjoyable; to the extent we actually cancelled our booking at Portofino's. We did not attend any shows as we enjoyed the entertainment that was being offered in the Pyramid Lounge and again the staff in there were very attentive. I think value for money you will not beat this cruise, get the soda packages, wine packages etc and you won't go wrong. The duty free shop is cheaper than the ports. Royal Caribbean International have got this format perfect, I don't see how they can perfect it any further. Enjoy your experience. We did, we are hooked and can't wait for the next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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