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2,175 Royal Caribbean Southampton Cruise Reviews

Disclaimer... You know what they say about opinions!!!! These are mine and they may well be different to yours ... each to their own. Independence of the Seas 1st Aug 2009 from Southampton. Italian Med cruise. Embarkation Traffic was ... Read More
Disclaimer... You know what they say about opinions!!!! These are mine and they may well be different to yours ... each to their own. Independence of the Seas 1st Aug 2009 from Southampton. Italian Med cruise. Embarkation Traffic was heavy, perhaps because there were two departures from Southampton due that day; Grand Princess and Independence of the Seas. Once reaching the terminal though embarkation was very quick. We didn't queue at any stage of the process and strolled straight onto the ship. It could only have taken 10minutes in total! Admittedly, by being there at 12:15pm or so we were early. However, there were plenty of people around, it was just that the terminal was obviously capable of handling many more people at any one time. Once onboard, we were greeted and sent straight up to the Windjammer for lunch. Whilst I suppose you could describe it as 'busy', there was still a decent turnover of tables which meant that we were able to find one immediately. The standard of food was a pleasant surprise at this stage, especially if you compare it like for like, i.e. with what you would be served in a buffet at a Mediterranean hotel etc. There seemed to be a good selection on offer and it tasted good. Cabin We had a D2 on Deck 7 and these were available from 1:15pm. After reading that cabins would be 'small', it was a pleasant surprise to see the reality. My perception was that it was a good size. The wall mounted TV saves space and the double bed is huge by UK standards. The shower room had plenty of space to move around in and there was plenty of storage space. As time wore on, I must admit that I don't think that the color scheme RCCL uses in the cabins and the corridors is that great; corridors have salmon pink doors and other features with predominantly green patterned carpets and this theme is repeated in cabins. It's not particularly sophisticated and does clash a bit! Announcements made via the ship's public address system were not audible in the cabins so the door had to be opened if we wanted to listen. There was a volume dial in the cabin labelled 'announcement channel' but all this did was turn up some elevator style music. The interactive system had some good features. Being able to review your onboard account and order excursions etc is all very useful. Also, there was a TV channel which allowed you to monitor the ship's progress / location and this was interesting but not always working correctly. There were some interesting programmes on the ship channels such as a tour of the galley but the information on ports and attractions was a little disappointing (more on this later). Public Areas. First off, I should say that this was a full cruise in the middle of the UK school holidays and that all cabins were occupied. That said, Cruise Critic seems to tell horror stories of crowds that perhaps can exaggerate reality. Yes, there are lots of people, but a full ship is by definition full. Importantly, there were always seats in bars and walking routes on ship were never too busy unless an event was taking place; a promenade parade for example. We liked the Olive or Twist bar for its views out over the ship. The Pyramid Lounge was ok, the Champagne Bar was ideally located for pre-dinner drinks if you eat on the Deck 5 section of the MDR. The English pub and the Schooner Bar tended to attract the less sophisticated crowd. The theatre was often full, but seats could generally be found. People were reserving seats and I did see one little darling climbing over a row of seats but that was a rarity. Pool Decks. Sunbeds are naturally a hot topic and inevitably there aren't enough to go around. To be fair though, the experience here was no different to that found at any similar standard Mediterranean holiday resort peak season. The no reservation and 30minutes rule is publicized but rarely implemented and pool attendant presence is inconsistent. Some days there was an attendant in the Solarium drawing diagrams of what sunbeds were unattended and putting timed stickers on left beds, but I only saw towels being removed once. This system doesn't beat the families of four who are reserving four beds and only occupying two at any one time whilst the other two clear off for ages to do something else. Travelling in a party of two however, we found beds easy enough by 9.30am. Some days, we came out mid-afternoon onwards and sometime still found two together or just grabbed on and waited for another to come free. This was almost always in the Solarium area or immediately above on Deck Twelve ... we avoided the other pool areas like the plague as these were essentially the kids' hangout. Dining. I've mentioned a bit about the Windjammer already but we remained generally impressed throughout the week. Again, it seems to come in for a lot of criticism on Cruise Critic but we thought it did the job well enough. Travelling in a party of two, we never particularly struggled to find a table. We had our usual areas where there were several tables for two and more often than not one of these areas would have a table free. We would never find a table before getting food despite this practice appearing to be the fashion amongst the majority of cruisers. I guess securing a table is more of an issue if travelling with three kids though. I was generally impressed with the standard of the buffet food. The breakfast selection was the widest I have ever seen and catered to UK and US tastes with some cursory glances in other directions. No, food isn't 'hot' but you can't keep buffet food 'hot' or it will continue to cook and end up spoiling and drying out anyway! Lunch selection was good with the salad bar, carvery, pizza, pasta, burger station, soup, sandwiches and some other hot dishes all on offer. There was a wide selection of desserts as well as traditional lemonade, red fruit punch and iced water freely available. There was no iced / sweet tea visibly available on this cruise and I wonder if this is because RCCL don't expect it would be popular amongst the predominantly UK based clientele. I only popped in there for dinner once and the selection was very similar to lunch. Service was erratic, I wasn't offered a drinks service at dinner and the speed of table clearance varied. We had selected My Time dining for our MDR service and on Day Two a card was delivered to our room which asked us to make a reservation for dinner instead of just arriving when we wanted to. We perhaps made reservations twice and generally preferred to turn up when we felt like it. With it being just the two of us, we weren't worried if we were turned away although this never happened and there was always a table for two available. It looked as though two sections of the Deck 5 dining room had been reserved for our chosen dining option and these were on the extreme left and right as you entered. This was good as it meant you would be by the windows but bad in that you were some distance away from the centre of the dining room and the regular parades / presentations. We split most of our time between two waiters; Camelia and Bilal. These two offered very good service with Camelia just shading it in our opinion. On nights we ended up with other server, we weren't quite as impressed but perhaps this was just because it was 'different'. Again, it seems to be fashionable to criticize the food standard in the MDR, but as new cruisers we were impressed. We know what good food is and have dined at plenty of expensive restaurants and we thought the staff did an excellent job given the number of meals they are producing in the MDR on a daily basis 'banquet style'. Given the constraints these conditions put upon what can be produced and the cost of the cruise, I don't think we could have expected significantly more. The menu was different on every evening of the 14 night cruise and there was just about always something to take our fancy. Staff were happy for diners to ask for extra dishes although we generally refrained, apart from a bit of extra vanilla ice cream to go with dessert on occasions. Wine was available by the glass from $5.50 for red / white. We ate in both Portofino and Chops. In Portofino, service was excellent and the food was excellent. The quality of food on offer here was probably close enough to the best we've eaten. In Chops, the food and service fell below these levels. The fillet steak was lean but wasn't amazing and that's coming from a steak fan! To be fair, perhaps steak is steak and there's not much you can do to make it that special! Drinks. The drink of the day was £6.95 every day in a plastic glass which could be kept. You could pay extra for a souvenir glass glass which could also be kept. Beer works out expensive for UK cruisers, I had to laugh at people paying $8 for large cans of Fosters lager. Spirits and mixers work out the best value for money for UK cruisers. JD or Jim Beam and Coke is $6.50 (which is just under £3.60 at the current time). These drinks are free poured and the amount of alcohol is easily equivalent to a triple measure by UK standards. Kids Kids were plentiful. The only safe place was the Solarium area and even then the odd little one would try and make an appearance in the adult pool before (sometimes) being sent away by a pool attendant. There were sporadic incidents of them running along corridors or up / down stairs or messing about with lifts but not on a frequent enough basis to become a major issue. Loads of them in the dining room at all times, often having ketchup squeezed on their fries by waiters or sucking coke out of cans through a straw! Port Excursions / Information. The first proper moan is about the quality / nature of the port information offered. The talks given, the TV presentations broadcast and the paper information provided were more interested in making customers spend money in RCCL approved shops than anything else. The level of information given about transportation and attractions was often prohibitive towards cruisers wanting to do their own thing and I'm not convinced that the advice dished out by the reps at the explorations and guest relations was as objective as we should have been able to hope for. After talking to other guests, it was clear other people thought the same. If you asked the staff about using Italian trains, they'd look at you as if you'd suggested skipping across a minefield for fun! We tried the Florence and Pisa On Your Own tour to get a feel for things and felt that whilst it was convenient it was so overpriced at $90 that you could call it extortionate. In comparison, we did Civitavecchia to Rome on the train for just 9.5 euros per person and were amazed at how easy it was. It's interesting to note that when you're making a popular trip like this, there are so many other fellow cruise passengers heading in a similar direction that you can't help but find your way to the train station etc. In many ports, buses - both tourist and local - would stop just outside the docks but RCCL would not publicize this information. Their attitude towards the freedom of such information needs to be improved. A quick moan about the Cruise Compass as well ... it contained references to ports not on our itinerary on more than one occasion. This is really lazy and just shouldn't happen in my opinion. The Ports. Gibraltar was a let down. Unless you want to buy 'cheap' electric goods or go up the Rock, there isn't a great deal to do. If you do want to go up the rock, you can join a huge queue for the cable car, pay to join an official taxi tour or pay lots for a cruise line excursion. Local buses are plentiful and I think we'll probably head round to a beach should we dock here in future. Cannes was good. We had a short tender ride to the harbor which was in the centre of town. Public strips of beach are nearby as are the shops. Cafes are expensive (25 euros for two crepes and drinks in a sit down service place on the main strip of promenade). There's a great little viewpoint to climb for pictures across the town as well. Livorno. Grimy docks which look to be in middle of nowhere. The Tuscan countryside is beautiful though. Pisa has the obligatory sights but there doesn't look to be much else there. Florence is beautiful also and obviously has lots to see and do. Civitavecchia is, as I've already said, and easy port to 'do it yourself' to Rhome. It also looked a pleasant enough place to spend a lazy day if you don't want to go further afield. There are shops, a promenade with cafes and strips of beach. Cagliari is nice with shops and cafes all close by. The bus station is right at the docks with a regular bus service to the popular Poetto beach. Cadiz is picturesque. Again, the local bus stops right at the docks and can take you straight to Caletta beach. Lisbon hit the wrong note with me. Within ten minutes of walking up the main pedestrian route, we'd been moaned at by an old man with one leg for not giving him money and had been openly offered cannabis to buy by two separate drug dealers ... not my idea of a welcome party! My wife says it was a pretty place and the old town was picturesque enough but it was too full of hawkers, conmen and various freaks for my liking! They make lovely cakes though and the custard tarts and a delicacy worth trying. Vigo seems big and there is a large modern shopping mall at the entrance to the port. Bus stops are a short walk away and can take you to Samil Beach. There are some snack outlets here but some people don't take kindly to English ... use your Spanish if you're up to it! General RCCL observations. It's clearly family orientated and has attracted a wide range or people from the UK. Being first time cruisers it was a safe bet, but next time we are going to go for a cruise line with a little less flexibility and a little more sophistication. Each to their own, but I don't want to see waiters having to squeeze ketchup onto children's French fries etc. In this way, RCCL seems to be a cruise line of contradictions. I saw stateroom attendants who were hugely attentive being presented with cabins that looked like warzones. In short, I don't think some of the cruisers appreciated or perhaps even deserved the level of service being offered to them. A woman shouting at a waiter in Portofino because he didn't understand her demand for 'more Sprite' was another notable example. Our holiday was fantastic and every staff member we interacted with was helpful or better. The company's attitude towards its guests needs improving in some ways though, the secrecy about the useful bits of port information for example, and the overt sales culture that exists on board ... I never ever want to hear from "Jackpot Jen" about her lucky bingo cards ever again! It was great, but we will try other cruise lines before rebooking with RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS 4 adults + 4 teenagers cruising during the UK school holiday peak. I am not a natural cruiser and I had a year of Cruise-Critic to get really anxious about what lay in store. Only cruised once before - 14 years ... Read More
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS 4 adults + 4 teenagers cruising during the UK school holiday peak. I am not a natural cruiser and I had a year of Cruise-Critic to get really anxious about what lay in store. Only cruised once before - 14 years ago on P&O and our friends had cruised more recently on Cunard. RCCL is a very different product. Despite all that, I had a good holiday (great in parts). The few negatives that follow are not really a criticism of RCCL. It is really aimed at first-time cruisers, or people who have enjoyed more traditional cruises. Read the brochure carefully and use your imagination. And then add crowds to the picture. Also, the cruise was 90% Brits. So it lacked the "abroad" factor. Travel off-peak if you can to avoid this. EMBARKATION Very smooth. Real luxury to drive 1.5 hrs to Southampton, give bags to porters at terminal, park the car and walk 10 mins to the ship. Whole process maybe took an hour. Arrived midday (instead of the 2pm boarding time quoted) and our cabins were ready. Went to Windjammer for lunch. CABIN Booked 4 inside cabins on deck 9. Very small as expected but very efficient. Cupboard space just about adequate for 2 reasonably sensible packers (well one reasonably sensible packer and his wife). Good sound insulation. Bathroom even more compact but worked fine. Great shower. Only soap and shampoo supplied. Kettle/T bags/sugar/creamer supplied. Get small carton of milk from Windjammer and keep in fridge. Or fetch fresh brewed coffee or tea from cafe (free) 2 US style electric sockets (two flat pins) plus one Euro style (two round pins). Weak hair dryer. Nice size flat screen TV. Limited TV but OK. Pay movies outrageous $13 per film. PUBLIC AREAS/PROMENADE Reasonably elegant, glitzy - looked like a 4 star chain hotel. Heart sank when I first saw the Promenade: a mini shopping mall with cafe, a few expensive shops, stalls selling utter crap (I wonder whether they put this on for "cheapskate" Brits or whether other cruises also feature this?), pizza eaterie, Ben n Jerry's and pub. The image was one of Brits swigging lager, stuffing themselves with snacks between meals, prodding tacky watches, jewellery etc. Still, the advantage is that it keeps the hordes away from other parts of the ship (see also Pool Areas) Duty free alcohol and perfume prices good. Gordons gin or Lambs navy rum - $11. Southern Comfort $22. Sambucca $20. Unfortunately can't drink on board. Plenty of photographers on formal nights to take photographs. Not bad photos. But $20 for an unframed 10x 8. Ouch! Casino - very scary place. Usually empty on this cruise. POOL AREAS 3 great looking pool areas - kids, families and adults only plus two Jacuzzis. But when you add 4000 passengers to this glam picture "Wow" then becomes "Vision of Hell". Maybe 2,000 loungers covering every inch of decks 11 &12 - spaced 4 inches apart. Add to this scene pizza, spilled drinks/ice cream, squashed fries etc (full marks to RCCL - they cleaned things up quickly - these areas were pristine in the morning and evening). Could I get hold of an un-hogged lounger? I wouldn't want to if I could! Again, the advantage is this deck attracted the hordes, leaving the other areas reasonably quiet and civilised. But if you are travelling with kids who need the pool, good luck to you! I suppose this would be exactly the same at a popular resort with a pool deck. We spent our time on Deck 4, a wide, wraparound promenade deck with plenty of loungers and shuffleboard courts. Plenty of shade but obviously no sun when sun was directly overhead. Real bonus was access to the helipad at the front. It had a few benches where people sat quietly and read. Or looked out for dolphins. This is the one area which reminded us that we were on a ship. SPORTS AREAS Great. I was expecting the rock wall and flowrider to be token gestures but they were substantial facilities which offered a real challenge. Flowrider queues not too bad in the morning but could be 30 - 40 mins between rides in the afternoon. Even the mini golf was fun and never too busy. Table tennis was always available but balls seemed to be in short supply. Very nice jogging track on deck 12 used by walkers and joggers in the early morning (before loungers took over). For me the highlight of the cruise was getting up at sunrise and walking around deck 12 or deck 4. Need to be very early to see the ship pass through the Straits of Gibraltar, approaching the Cote d'Azur, parking sideways in one of the many ports etc. etc. Highly recommended. BARS/DRINKS PRICES A pint (20 Fl Oz) of draught beer (Heinekin) was $6.50. Bottled beers $5.50 - $7. Cocktails more expensive than I expected ($8 - $10) apart from the cocktail of the day which was cheaper. Drinks with a splash (gin n tonic, rum n coke, mojitos) were a very reasonable $6.25. Not totally convinced about the alcohol strength. I know that drinks prices have been reduced in response to complaints by UK cruisers and I have the slight suspicion that they have reduced the content. Maybe it was simply too much ice. Wine packages have dropped in price. I was expecting $260 for a 10 bottle Gold and it was $226. For this you could choose bottles costing $22 - $28. So you save if you consistently choose the more expensive bottles. Warning - the more expensive packages include wines off the cheaper packages but prices are not shown so you need to know what you are choosing otherwise you will lose money. The really naughty thing was the lack of clarity about the 15% service charge. I understand that RCCL included the 15% in these prices because Brits were complaining about the added 15% charge and about high prices generally. But the bar lists are simply silent about the charge. They present you with a bill inviting an "additional tip if you want to reward outstanding service". No fuss made when we simply struck through the line but I expect others not familiar with Cruise Critic would have tipped. Soda cards - bought these for the kids mainly for peace of mind. Includes Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite & Ginger ale. Kids price ($4.95 per day incl 15%) quite reasonable but soda was crap - full of ice so tasted like faintly flavoured ice water. To be fair this is the US custom so you need to constantly say "easy on the ice". As Windjammers is on Deck 11 it was quite easy to fetch free lemonade or cherryade (non fizzy) or ice water to the pool deck. RESTAURANTS Amazed by the quality. Cannot believe the complaints or even mediocre reports of food quality. Either I am living on a different planet or we have a bunch of toddlers on this forum. We breakfasted once in MDR but it was very busy and the food in Windjammer was much better. I would either eat at 8 am (absolute joy) or at 10 am when things were still very busy but we were always able to secure a window table for 4. You can also go into the Chops section. Huge variety of food, all freshly cooked. Egg station (fried eggs or omelettes) can get busy at peak. Excellent quality fruit and they have a great bakery producing different kinds of fresh rolls, muffins, English muffins, croissants, fruit bread, danishes, bagels etc etc, The toast station usually had a mini queue - but only because people were fussing over the unevenly browned toast (Jeez - I wished I had an AK47!). Tried everything including Japanese Miso soup, fried rice and kedgeree. Some of the stuff was over-salted. Lunch - always in Windjammer but we arrived late - at 3pm to avoid the crowds. Still busy. Huge variety of food served - salads, cold meats, burger, hot dogs, sandwiches, 2 or 3 types of stews or ragouts, fish, curries (very good), stir fries, ribs, roast carvery, various pasta dishes, tacos and lots more. The food was reasonably hot - I cannot understand the complaints about luke warm food. Had the food warmers been more powerful the food would have been overcooked and dry. And there was obviously a fast turnover so it was always fresh. Non-fizzy lemonade, cherryade and ice water supplied, plus tea and coffee. (no ice tea - possibly as this was ex UK) At 330pm they reduced the lunch offering (but not completely) and brought out the cakes and scones/biscuits. Cakes were boring but the scones were fresh baked and lovely. Freshly baked cookies were very popular (chocolate fudge and English toffee were my favourites) Dinner - always in MDR - late sitting. Once again, I simply do not recognise the restaurant from the criticisms. Excellent choices. I sometimes simply went with the Chef's choice if I couldn't choose. I would say it was very good. And if you make allowances for the fact that they had to provide meals for 1000 people, all at the same time, I would say "excellent". It was miles better than the warmed-up food served in hotels at functions of 50 - 100 guests. OK, the portions were somewhat small but after a large-ish breakfast and lunch I was glad of that. We are all healthy eaters and none of us complained about shortage of food. I shudder to think about the complaints about portion size or suggestions to order two entrees etc Desserts were consistently disappointing. They looked good but tended to be low in flavour and tasted of sweetener. Still, we were far too full to bother. Big problem was wine service. The white & blush wines were not chilled enough. They provided an ice bucket but then proceeded to fill large glasses so the wine never had a chance to get chilled. Not entirely sure whether they were simply pouring out "US sizes" or trying to empty the bottle fast! Service in MDR was generally good. Asst waiter was friendly, efficient and helpful. The waiter was OTT: constantly asking us about our "dining room experience" or the "RCCL food service offering". Corporate training material or massaging us for a tip? Even the Head waiter came around every so often to smarm over us. This was a real pain. Even worse were the performances the waiters and chefs were put through. We had to applaud them while they did a conga or mimed to music. All designed to whip up applause. Some of them seemed to go with the flow but the majority seemed to hate it as much as we did. A Disney version of Nuremburg. ENTERTAINMENT Excellent! Cruise entertainment aimed at the middle of the road, middle aged market is not my style. But went to 2 shows, 2 ice skating shows, Elton John impersonator, Beatles tribute band, magician and hypnotist. Absolutely amazed by the high standard of the production, orchestration, singing, dancing and general talent. Huge theatre (1300 seats - with plenty of leg room so the waiters can serve you drinks during the performance!). Went to a behind-the-scenes-tour afterwards and was told that they repeat the shows for a few years because they invest so much money in them. Not good news for repeat cruisers but the money invested certainly shows. In contrast, the "parades" and "parties" in the promenade were trashy and simply an attempt to generate a fake party atmosphere Lots of very good live music in the bars. PORTS Didn't try any excursions. Didn't even look at the over-priced list. Gibraltar - possibly the Most Boring Place on Earth? Good only for duty free shopping. Walked from ship to the foot of the cable car. Saw the queue and walked back. But the harbour itself was quite interesting and you can see dolphins. Cannes - anchored in beautiful bay. Lots of super-yachts. Nice little boat ride (free) by tender into town. The town itself was not particularly interesting - mainly shops and a very crowded beach. Take the train to Nice if you have a chance. Livorno - industrial port. Paid $9 return for shuttle bus to town. Too far to walk. Just about worth the effort. Nice market but get there before lunchtime. Walked around the canals. Civitavecchia - industrial port. Stayed on board to enjoy the facilities. 7 other cruise ships in town so walked up and down the dock to compare notes. Killed an hour! Cagliari - port provided free shuttle bus to town. Walk up to the Citadel. Quite interesting. Cadiz - walked from the ship. Quite a pretty town. Lisbon - Ship offers $11 (return) shuttle bus tickets into town and provided no other information. Hop on/Hop off buses stop a few yards away (Euros 15 ($21)). These are much better value and save a lot of walking. They go one way into town and then the opposite direction to see the monastery and monuments at Belem Vigo - short walk into town. Very boring. Large shopping centre in port. The harbour itself is quite interesting. A bummer was the fact that the climbing wall and flowrider do not operate until about 4pm on port days. I had hoped these facilities would be quieter and available on port days. MISCELLANEOUS Art auction - designed to part fools from their money. Went along once for a laugh. I think we annoyed the auctioneer because we just sat there sipping free "champagne" and not bidding. Gym - my wife says this was superb. Talks - womenfolk enjoyed lectures on "Lose weight by eating more" and "Drab to Fab". Nuff said. CASH ACCOUNTS AND DISEMBARKATION No mistakes on my bill. Arranged for all family cards to be charged to my account so could keep an eye on TV screen in cabin. Paid off account in cash on last night otherwise the account is automatically charged to credit card. No check out process. Were allocated a 715 am departure time. Yuck. Went straight to Guest relations who happily changed this to 9 am. Bags are all colour coded according to departure time. Ours were waiting for us in terminal. Would recommend disembarking promptly as you risk stoopid cruisers walking off with your bags Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
First Impressions Massive! Check In Excellent. Well organised, two weeks free parking, at arrival at the port we were on the ship within half an hour - what more could you want?! Photo call 1: photos taken as you step on to the ship, ... Read More
First Impressions Massive! Check In Excellent. Well organised, two weeks free parking, at arrival at the port we were on the ship within half an hour - what more could you want?! Photo call 1: photos taken as you step on to the ship, no choice given, stand there and say cheese and we'll charge you $19.95 if you want it. Accommodation Very nice, clean, spacious. Balcony stateroom, nice little balcony, small but bright bathroom, nice big comfortable bed, lots of storage space. Ship DEcor Very nice, some beautiful staircases, chandeliers, paintings and pictures, furnishings, around the ship. Also some great celebrity photos. Everywhere comfortable and interesting with some humour thrown in. Food I challenge anyone not to find the food anything less than great. Well cooked, well presented, well served, tremendous choice of eating venues. Tip: choose mytime dining as we did (saw queues to get into two main sittings, 6.30 and 8.30). We had a lovely table for two with an ocean view for all our dinners, lucky us. Drinks In dollars, but good value as spirits poured free hand therefore not singles - beware! Great choice of cocktails every minute of every day (for the adventurous) and you can buy a soft drinks package at the outset if you prefer (we didn't), or even a wine package I believe! Entertainment Very good. Lots to choose from, some great shows, ice shows, singers, bands. Graham Seymour, the cruise director, very down to earth, very funny, you can even watch the shows on your tv in your room the next day if you missed one the day before. Graham has his own little contributions to make throughout the cruise which I'm sure will make you titter (grow up Graham.......ok....don't then). However, we did hear from previous cruisers that quite a bit of the entertainment was repeated from the previous year, even joke for joke (how could they let this happen, come on RC, get a grip). Pools and Sunbeds Some great pools, Jacuzzis, lots of sunbeds, but the 'no reserving of sunbeds policy' not enforced at all during our cruise, so sometimes struggled to get one, but always did get one (or two) in the end! Excursions As first time cruisers we pre-booked all our excursions, lots of people did their own thing, but we were happy doing things this way, the excursions again were well organised and interesting. Tip: try white water rafting in Vigo, rather than go on another sight seeing tour. Never done it before but it was such fun! You can buy a photo cd at the end with pics of you and yours in your raft either in the throws of concentration, determination or laughter - absolutely great (and not as dangerous as it's billed, trust me, I'm a wooss). Highlights for us Formal Evenings - nice to see everyone dressed up Champagne Bar Casino Graham on tv Dinner in King Lear Portofinos Room Service! Soaking up the sun on deck with no wasps about! Moans Sunbed policy (lack of enforcement) Husband got refused entry to breakfast as he was wearing a sleeveless (but collared) shirt, could not show his (lovely) arms, but lots of ladies there with shoulders, flabby arms (and even hairy armpits), hanging out - where's the equality? One rule for men, one for women - something wrong here - shoulders should be covered I agree - but by all diners including the fairer sex! Sardinia Beach Transfer excursion billed as 'an area of beach, two sunbeds, parasol, made available for your group'. When we got there, we were mixed in with the locals and allocated two deckchairs, not quite the same as you will agree, had to pay extra for a sunbed, not much but it's the principle. On board photos way too pricey in our opinion, they took some lovely ones, but nobody wants to feel ripped off, so we only bought two out of a possible 10. Well done's Catering for so many guests so efficiently, you would never have known the ship was running with full guest capacity. Lots of space for everyone, everything maintained to high standard, friendly staff, trained to perfection (in most cases). Tips Take a week one wardrobe and a week two wardrobe, there's so much tempting food, it's hard to be good! We took outfits we couldn't wear in week two! Would we travel on the Independence again? In the words of Austin Powers: How about YES? Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Just back from a great two weeks cruising the western Mediterranean on Independence of the Seas. (Aug 15-29) Our first and last impression of the ship is that she's a monster! Truly enormous and over the top. There is nothing subtle ... Read More
Just back from a great two weeks cruising the western Mediterranean on Independence of the Seas. (Aug 15-29) Our first and last impression of the ship is that she's a monster! Truly enormous and over the top. There is nothing subtle about the Independence of the Seas. We last travelled on Sea Princess - almost half the tonnage of Indy - and were keen to try the big ship experience. We expected big-time glamour and Independence didn't disappoint. All the public areas were kept spotless - although the staff struggled some days to counteract the creativity of passengers when it came to leaving a mess (who leaves empty plates and cups in a lift??) RCI have pitched this ship at British families and I'd say this ship fits that niche perfectly. There were 1200 under 18s on board when we sailed (middle of the school holidays) and while we were very aware of the younger cruisers we never felt they were taking over. (We're a couple in our 30s with no kids) The ships design helps a lot in this respect - three pool areas have specific personalities and clientele - adults, sports / activities and children - so you can choose an area to suit your mood. We frequently sat on deck four under the lifeboats - in the shade and away from the mayhem of the main pools. Perfect! Also the activity areas for children are at the back of the ship, close to the climbing wall, flow rider (great to watch!) and sports court, so again the design helps separate active passengers from those wanting to relax. It's a shame this isn't a real promenade deck as sunbeds encroach on the walking and jogging track on the upper deck. What we liked a lot: RCI's own entertainers were first class. The theatre is better than you'll find in many UK cities The headliner acts we saw were really good with the exception of Darren Day. It's a shame he was one of the first acts of the cruise as I think it put a lot of people off, but David Copperfield and The Beatles tribute were really good. The back stage trip gave a great insight to how the shows are put together. Elsewhere the musicians were also excellent. Rock the Boat rocked everything from Abba to Zeppelin. We watched them most nights in the Pyramid Lounge or by the pool. Olive or Twist has the best views on the ship and was a child-free haven after 10pm. The service charge had gone from drinks bills - but with the exchange rate not in our favour the drinks felt expensive even if they compare with hotel prices on land. We paid around $13 a round for a beer and a G&T. (Around £9) Food in the restaurants was excellent. The choice in Windjammer was vast. We used it for breakfast (when we were awake early enough!) and for lunch. It was busy but the staff tried hard to help people find empty seats. We had second sitting (8.30pm) for dinner in the Macbeth dining room. It was great to have a set table at a set time and the others on our table were really good company. Only downside was lots of the entertainment was pitched at guests on early sitting so we missed out. Check in and departure were a doddle. On the ship by 11am and off by 8am using the self carry service. None of the usual hanging round in lounges. No flying was a bonus too - no luggage restrictions. Our cabin was great - a balcony cabin on deck 7 - and was kept spotless by Jermaine, who bent over backwards to help. I'm glad we didn't have a cabin overlooking the promenade. One the rare occasion someone had their curtains open you could see straight in. The overwhelmingly British passengers dressed to impress. Most of the casual attire would have passed muster on formal nights! And a huge thank you to the generous passenger who handed in the ring I lost. I really thought I'd never see it again but it shows you shouldn't underestimate the honesty of fellow passengers. RCI did their bit to maintain onboard harmony - at least one family were left ashore when their behaviour didn't come up to scratch. What we liked less There was a feel from the start that RCI were out to squeeze as much money from their passengers as possible. Low prices mean they're trying to recoup revenue in other areas. We knew better than to buy bottles of water at $4.50 each (boil the kettle, fill your own bottle, put in the mini bar fridge, drink and repeat...) but I'm sure many others didn't. There weren't many announcements but the ones you wanted to hear (updates from the captain) were really quiet, while the ones you didn't want to hear (Bingo and art auctions) were loud enough to raise the dead. But then the art auctions and bingo are money spinners.... Port information was geared towards dissuading people from going it alone. RCI stressed that several ports required shuttle buses from the ship to the port exit and these had to be paid for. Indy is so big she has to dock on the edge of many ports and RCI takes full advantage of this by making passengers pay extra to catch the shuttle. Buses cost around $8 return, which soon adds up if you're a family of 4 and want to leave the ship. I don't mind paying for shuttle buses into town (in Livorno the bus journey is a must) but really objected to paying in Malaga for a hop to the edge of the port. We accidentally caught a free shuttle bus in Lisbon provided by NCL for their passengers! Cigarette smoke from Labyrinth night club filters out, despite the double doors, and makes Schooners bar smell really bad, which was a shame because it's a nice bar with a good atmosphere but I couldn't stand the smell. The layout of the ship means some forward areas can only be accessed from the back of the ship - it's not possible to take the forward lifts straight to some areas. And the promenade means lifts and stairs are only at either end of the ship. There's none in the middle. This was fine for us as we have no mobility problems and our cabin was near a lift but could make moving round the ship more difficult for anyone who can't walk very far. The entertainments programme seemed to wind down on the second last night. This, combined with poor weather on the way back to Southampton, made the last day a real anti climax. I'd like to see RCI move things up a gear on the last day rather than giving off the impression that the holiday ended in the last port. I was forced to have several cocktails to restore the holiday mood! Ports Gibraltar - flat, hot 20 minute walk into town from the port. Huge queues for cable car (Grand Princess also in port that day) so we caught a local bus as far up the rock as we could and walked the rest so we could see the monkeys. Gibraltar is a good first stop as it feels really cheap compared to the ship - great for buying anything you forgot. Cagliari - free shuttle to the edge of the port. It's a really hilly town, and most of the interesting bits require a steep climb. There wasn't much to do in town. Lots of the shops were closed. Livorno - you really need to take the shuttle bus here - about 9 euros return from the ship. Then we bought local bus and train tickets from the tabac (opposite the bus stop), hopped on a local bus to Livorno station and took the train to Pisa. I think it was about 14 euros for two, return. Cannes - tender to the port, using local charter boats which took around 200 people each, so there was no real wait. And it meant disabled passengers could go ashore. We walked along the main street and people watched - it was too hot to do anything else! Barcelona - my favourite! We walked into town (about 30 mins easy stroll in the heat) then caught the open top tourist bus and hopped on and off all day (20 euros each). We walked back to the ship in the dark (quicker as not so hot). Be aware it's only 1 day in Barcelona -, not two, as advertised in the brochure. We arrived at 6am and left at 1am so technically we'd been there two days but it really was a technicality! Malaga - we caught the RCI shuttle bus (8 euros each) as were told it was a 40 minute walk into town and as this was only a six hour stop and we didn't want to waste time walking. In the end it's not that far so we felt a bit ripped off. (could probably have walked in 20 mins) Lisbon - another port where RCI stresses the need for a shuttle bus. It is a long way into town but the local buses and trains run from the port. We bought a 14 euro ticket for the yellow open top bus which entitled us to get on and off all buses and trams all day. Vigo - a surprising gem. We walked up to the castle and so almost completely missed the lively street of sea food sellers. (keep the shopping mall on your right and then cross the main road, follow your ears and nose to the back streets!) Anything else I would recommend this ship and itinerary to families with children and to passengers in wheelchairs. The ship is perfect for exploring on wheels but anyone who can't walk too far would struggle to get from one end to the other without a sit down. We enjoyed our trip but would probably not choose such a large ship again - whatever the cruise line. Having tried smaller ships we wanted to give a large ship a try, hence choosing the biggest in the business. I missed the personal service which comes from smaller ships, the camaraderie and the opportunity to see the same faces more than once. While Independence is perfect for active families and we did enjoy our holiday she's not the ship for us. I think we'll go back to something smaller in future but I'm glad we went and saw her in all her splendour. But isn't this the beauty of cruising? So many ships, so many itineraries, so many opportunities. We now have the perfect excuse to book another and see how that compares! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This summer I cruised for the first time on the independence with Royal Caribbean. I picked this ship because of it's size and facilities, and thought that there would be something to suit everyone's taste on board. ... Read More
This summer I cruised for the first time on the independence with Royal Caribbean. I picked this ship because of it's size and facilities, and thought that there would be something to suit everyone's taste on board. I'm not going to go into a huge minute by minute account of my holiday, but I will say what I liked and disliked. Likes: The ship! The ship really is amazing. The size, facilities, beautifully clean and maintained - couldn't fault it. The staff. The staff generally were very attentive and really looked after us, both in the dining room (where I have never been treted so well) and in the bars. The ports. Nice selection of ports, had no trouble getting on and off the ship - were always welcomed back. The food. Generally the food was good. Had no trouble at all in the main dining room, didn't feel the need to use the speciality dining options. The people. We made many good friends who we will stay in touch with. The entertainment. was mostly good with fantastic ice shows. Oh and if you dont queue up for the tickets because your sleeping in (err, I was on holiday) you just go along and you can get in after the poeple with tickets. The adult solarium. I was amazed how much quieter it was than the kids areas/pools. Olive or Twist. My favourite place on the ship. The staff were amazing Mapula,Chris,Chistopher, Faye, Ramesh, Mimi) and its a wonderful place to watch sailing in and out of ports. Kids activities. We didn' have any kids in our party, but as we were going during August, we thought there would be loads if issues - noise/playing in lifts etc. This wasn't the case. For the most part, they are on or around deck 13 - where the sports court, climbing wall, flow rider are. If you dont go up there, you nevere see them - great. Final Bill. We thought it would be hugh, but were pleasently surprised, drinks were'nt as pricy as we thought they would be. There is a good mix of formal and informal evenings. If you don't want to take part, you dont have to either. Dislikes: Toilet paper is single ply - didn;t realise they still made stuff like that! Tea but no coffee in rooms. Another casual dining option for breakfast would be good. Saying that, we only once strugglesd to find seats in the wind jammer and you can have breakfast in your rooms. We had a promonade room which was lovely... but you end up with the curtains closed most of the time as people can see in. Complaints. This was good until we has a serious insident. On one of the evenings, a very drunk man verbally attacked my gay partner and I and then proceeded to threaten one of our female companions. When we reported this, we were listened to, told to avoid the man, and inform staff if anything else happened. I just felt that this required more action, but tried to not let it ruin our holiday as everyone alse we had met were really supportive. The entertainment. I did say this was mosly good, but one comedian used farely poor racist material, and many guests walked out. Night life. DJ Donovan was poor. He didn't always take requests, and had the ability to completely empty a full dance floor in 10 seconds of playing a new record. If there is only one night club, it helps if it plays the music you like! Overall. We had a good holiday, most of which is still sinking in. We will cruise again, but probably not for next holiday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Having started my Cruising life on the Canberra & enjoyed many years on various cruise lines & visited most parts of the world from Iceland : Russia :to Carribean . After talking to my trusted Cruise Agent a suggestion was made ... Read More
Having started my Cruising life on the Canberra & enjoyed many years on various cruise lines & visited most parts of the world from Iceland : Russia :to Carribean . After talking to my trusted Cruise Agent a suggestion was made that we might like the Independance Of The Sea as they had done a short Trade visit on it . Books were looked at & the decision was made to try a big one for a change . Many thoughts were made about the size & amount of people on board but we were to learn that we should have not given this any consideration . Being oldies we picked a Med trip going end of August not thing of the children being on board but again this was of no worry to us . My transport to Ship was arranged by their coach company & my friend my National coach & it could not have been better arranged with no luggage to worry about . Book in was swift& a delight when we saw our Balcony Cabin & with in 15 mins the steward was at the door to see if could help. Licking second sitting we found the dining room & service good plus a good choice of dishes . At other times we used the self service dining facilities with such a range of dishes & sat over lookingthe sea to enjoy our meal. What to do on board was never a problem during the day as you could lay in the sun [with serve your self free ice cream ]play putting :play games :with clean towels issued as many times as required or have a nice warm jazici over the side of the ship. At night the range was from Ice Shows: Stage shows:or shopping in the main street or just joining friends in the Pub for a drink. Before turning in at the end of the main street is a free cafe serving all the usual Brit drinks & various pizias etc to sit & watch or be joined by friends . What more could you want to end a very enjoyable day. Whitch had been made better by the service of all staff at every level On day when we went a shore this was very well dealt with This was my 20TH cruise & so much enjoyed that I am repeating it again for my 21ST cruiseas I think coming of age could not be spent in better company & VALUE And Cruiser that knows a good thing . L.H.Vowles BRISTOL Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We are Josie & Al, mid-sixties, essentially retired, living in Houston TX. This was our fifth cruise together in just over two years; the previous four were with Princess. I've been on approximately 40, although my last Royal ... Read More
We are Josie & Al, mid-sixties, essentially retired, living in Houston TX. This was our fifth cruise together in just over two years; the previous four were with Princess. I've been on approximately 40, although my last Royal Caribbean voyage was in 2002. Now that they've become more competitive, we were anxious to try them. We booked the cruise a year prior to sailing, and anticipated this adventure from that time on. We had always wanted to experience a transatlantic cruise, and at under $1000/pp including airfare, it was an offer we couldn't turn down. This will be a pretty comprehensive review, so please bear with me. Each component will be rated from * to *****. EMBARKATION ... ****. With approximately 3700 passengers to process, the terminal at Southampton was large and well-staffed. We arrived about 3:00, two hours before departure, and snaked through the line in about twenty minutes. We were a bit apprehensive about leaving our luggage outside virtually unattended, but it all got aboard, and was delivered to our stateroom promptly. The cruise was essentially sold out. THE SHIP ... ****. The Independence is a Freedom-class vessel, one up from the Voyager class, and below the new Oasis of the Seas. It was launched last year, and is in pristine condition. Despite its size, we found it easy to get around, and had it figured out in about an hour. The Royal Promenade (Deck 5) makes it feel less crowded, although passengers were really packed in during scheduled events there ... you can only disperse such a mass of humanity so far. There are two quaint eating establishments, the Promenade Cafe (pastries, sandwiches, etc.) and Sorrento's (pizza, Italian salads and desserts). Coffee, tea and snacks are available 24/7, and there is no additional charge for food. They're both wonderful. The pool deck (11) is massive and very pleasing aesthetically, including two cantilevered hot tubs extending 12' beyond the ship, and a large area dedicated to children's use. We discovered two glaring omissions, however. One was the lack of an indoor pool (or at least a retractable dome), which precludes use in cold and inclement weather (Europe in November certainly falls into this category). The other was no outdoor food venue, save for a self-serve frozen yogurt machine. With the adult pool area forward and the Windjammer Cafe (buffet) aft, one has to traverse the length of the ship in order to grab a bite, then take it all the way back. The Sports Deck (12) contains the rock wall, mini-golf course, basketball court and the new Flo-Rider. OUR STATEROOM ... *****. We booked an inside guarantee (generally a Cat. Q, the least expensive accommodations) and were pleasantly surprised at an upgrade to a Cat. N ... still inside, but in a terrific location. We were in #3615, on Deck Three, mid-ship, close to the art gallery, the main floor of the dining room (where sit-down breakfast and lunch were served daily), the ice rink (Studio B, also used for other activities ... the ice is covered with a removable floor) and the On-Air Karaoke venue. We were concerned with the proximity to these potentially noisy places, but heard absolutely nothing. It's a great area (just a few staterooms, in a location where the ship's movement is minimal) ... and it connects to 3613 (again, we heard zero). So if you're planning to travel on the cheap, and will have need for adjoining staterooms, book these! They're away from the rows and rows of cabins on the upper decks, and just a few steps from pretty much everything. We often walked the two flights up to the Promenade and theatres. THE PASSENGERS ... *****. Americans were definitely in the minority. The majority were British, with significant numbers of Canadians, Asians, and Europeans. It was an exhilarating experience sailing with such a diverse group of people. This being both a lengthy trip, and a time when children are in school, the number of kids was limited to 128. Most were pretty much invisible, and those who were seen were hardly heard ... a total non-issue. THE STAFF ... *****. I've excluded the dining room employees here, as I'll cover them when I address the food-related matters. We found everyone to be congenial and eager to help. The folks at Guest Services were as good as I've ever encountered, and our stateroom steward(ess), Desena, a lovely Jamaican gal, was absolutely perfect ... available when needed, in a stealth mode when appropriate. No complaints whatsoever with any of these folks. The Cruise Director can play a huge role in the overall enjoyment of a voyage. Ours was Joff Eaton ... probably the best I've ever come across (the memory is fading, but I don't remember anyone quite as good ... perhaps Graham Seymour; but if there's any difference, it's minimal). In addition to the usual qualities, we found him quite approachable, eager to please, efficient and very much in charge. We saw him every morning at our progressive trivia contest, and continued to return solely because of him ... we had absolutely no shot at winning. He actually made losing fun! His staff likewise performed flawlessly. If there's something that needs a bit of work, it's the daily telecast that runs continuously from midnight to noon. Joff and the Activities Director, Katie, summarize the day and preview what's ahead. Granted, they both have a sense of humor; but their schtick is just plain silly and immature ... this comment coming from a fan of The Three Stooges. It was an effort to watch it. ENTERTAINMENT ... ***. We've never been fans of cruise ship productions, and none of the three programs did anything to change our minds. The singers and dancers are talented kids ... but the content of all the shows was inane, as usual, probably in an effort to please 3700 passengers. The scenery and costumes, however, were dazzling, and their creators deserve high praise. As for the guest performers (lots of them ... remember, it's a 13-nighter), this is as subjective a topic as food. A quartet of tenors known as Teatro was adored by the crowd. We thought their voices were thin, the repertoire stale, and the harmony (what there was of it) elementary. By contrast, the impressionist, Sean O'Shea, received many negative comments ... we really liked him. The other entertainers were the usual nondescript singers, comedians, hypnotists, etc. There was also a pianist, Tian Jang, who brought down the house. Josie thought he was wonderful; my impression was that the masters didn't write their concertos to be backed up by a big band. If you liked Liberace, you'd love this guy. But in any event, we had something to see each evening. Unlike cruises in warmer weather, there was no Calypso/Reggae deck band ... with winds up to 108 mph across the bow, that's understandable. But those musical groups on board were outstanding, especially a Latin trio called Clave. The house orchestra (10 pieces) was excellent. There were also two ice shows, both really great. It still amazes me how those kids can work so well on the "small ice." DINING ... **. As usual there was plenty to eat in many venues. The Windjammer buffet was by far the best we've ever come across, both in terms of variety and quality. There are two mirror-image serving areas, each divided into many components ... meats (including a carving station), cold, hot, a "burgerama," desserts, salads, all with many choices. Adjoining each side is Jade, food with an Asian flair, including sushi, fried rice, stir-fry, curry ... pretty good stuff. After being introduced to such an array in the self-service area, one would expect it to carry through to the Main Dining Room. Unfortunately, such was not the case. We're veteran cruisers, and know full well that dinners are not the "gourmet feasts" as advertised, but rather good banquet-quality food. Still, we were disappointed. With an exception here and there, we found the menus very limited and lacking imagination. Preparation and presentation were at best ordinary, with most dishes exceptionally bland (which might explain why the wait staff was pushing the "fresh-ground pepper" whenever possible). Even the signature lobster dinner (actually a tail, served with shrimp) was subpar ... overcooked and delivered at close to room temperature. We actually had to ask for drawn butter. Desserts lacked creativity, and we often found nothing appealing enough to order. Ice cream was largely vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, most likely a concession to Ben & Jerry's, which has a shop on the Promenade. Service was inconsistent, at times bordering on the inept. Even when the station was not at capacity, there were inordinate waits between courses, salads brought before appetizers, soups and main dishes served lukewarm, long waits for tables to be cleared, staff whizzing by the tightly-packed-in tables, which proved very distracting ... in short, hardly the "Gold Crown Service" touted by Royal Caribbean. We were informed by a travel agent/passenger that about 40% of the staff was moved to the new Oasis of the Seas prior to this cruise, and that much of the kitchen personnel were new. Based on what we experienced, this would seem correct. Breakfast and lunch menus in the Main Dining Room were identical each day, but a buffet table was available at breakfast, and a manned salad bar was present at lunch. The augmenting of the rather ordinary daily menus with these selections is a nice touch ... if not for the fact that they kept running out of the more popular lunch choices such as shrimp, it would have worked perfectly. It's a great concept, but the execution needs work. PORTS OF CALL ... *****. I'm not going to devote much space to the stops. After all, what could be bad about Paris, other than the two-hour ride each way? But the tour was wonderful, and we did get that fabulous panoramic view from the Eiffel Tower! There was an issue upon our return to Le Havre, which literally and figuratively put a damper on the day. When we arrived back at the ship (along with at least 25 other coaches) we found exactly one gangway open ... and that was a pretty steep climb. There were people with physical disabilities who could not even attempt the embarkation. To make matters worse, it had become cold, windy and rainy. Only after a half-hour or so did two other gangways open. We did fill out a complaint form, and were credited with half the cost of the excursion ... a fair compensation; but it never should have happened. Our visits to Cherbourg, France and Vigo, Spain were lovely. We got to see the major attractions, and learned much about the cultures. But by far, the biggest surprise came at Funchal, Madeira. This is a Portuguese island, west of Casa Blanca, Morocco and north of the Canary Islands ... roughly the same latitude as Fort Lauderdale. If you think that it's tough driving in St. Thomas, it will feel like a straightaway in comparison. But every hairpin turn, curve, and close call with oncoming traffic was worth it. The views were absolutely incredible, the people as accommodating and welcoming as possible ... just a wonderful day. We stopped at a mountaintop restaurant to sample local wine, cheese and bread ... magnificent ambience. Madeira is a vacation destination for Europeans ... we can certainly understand why. The stop was an appropriate prelude to the upcoming six consecutive sea days. ABOUT THOSE SEA DAYS ... ***. If anything, it provided the opportunity to readjust from the jet lag, as we gained back an hour for five days, passing through the various time zones. We just wish that there were a few more activities ... but the weather gradually became warmer and calmer, and the deck was alive and rocking by the time we reached Fort Lauderdale. There was one huge nighttime party up there, which we enjoyed very much. The late-night buffet was spectacular. DISEMBARKATION ... *. There's nothing like enjoying a wonderful cruise, then having to wait over two hours past your scheduled departure time, with pretty much nothing to do. It does wonders for those with flights to catch and excursions to take. Royal Caribbean assessed total blame on US Customs, citing, (1) a necessary thorough health inspection, since the ship had not been in US waters for over 6 months, (2) the large number of non-US citizens needing to be processed, and (3) only ten agents on duty. I can accept all of that ... but this is hardly the first time that an RCI ship has encountered this set of circumstances. A simple caveat about possible delays for these reasons would have at least mitigated the anxiety experienced by many. We were being picked up by a dear friend ... thankfully, he's still that, although he was seriously inconvenienced. For the record, we were due off at 9:00 and reached our luggage at 11:15. CONCLUSION ... This deserves a mention: kudos to Royal Caribbean for its policy on smoking. In addition to the usual places, it is prohibited in staterooms (except on balconies), open bars (i.e. those direct walk-in venues), and even the casino (there's a small area of slot machines where puffing is permitted on certain days from about 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., but that's it). We often had to pass through the Casino Royale on our way elsewhere, and it was wonderful not to breathe in that stench. Overall, the trip was a marvelous experience, and we'd certainly do it again ... although likely with another cruise line. Royal Caribbean has brought us the concept that bigger is better ... but they need to tweak some procedures, all related to the number of passengers they attempt to accommodate at any given time. Lines for shore excursion assignments and ice show tickets (complimentary and ultimately unnecessary) were interminable ... and with a little thought and advance planning, these issues could easily be resolved. There were also two bookkeeping errors that took what seemed like an eternity to rectify. We opted for My Time Dining, which requires that all gratuities be prepaid, since RCI does not add them to your account as other lines do ... not a problem, except that they had no record of us paying them (about a year in advance, I might add). Only after I showed the Guest Services Supervisor the invoice from my travel agent did they notify corporate (everything goes through Miami) and correct the problem. The other involved a charge of $4.54 for a bottle of water from the mini-bar. We never took a thing from the fridge, and filed a dispute with Guest Services about five days before we disembarked. As of our leaving, the charge was still on our account. We were far from the only ones with similar problems ... inexcusable, given today's sophisticated accounting programs. Add to this our disappointment with the dining room food and service, and a look at another carrier is certainly warranted. If you've gotten this far, thank you. I trust that you've gleaned some valuable information ... but if you need more, please feel free to e-mail me at ... al@duffey.net. Smooth sailing! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Got back to Southampton on 10/10 from 2 weeks sailing around the Mediterranean on Monster of the seas. It is the largest ship in the world so you would expect it to be amazing and in many ways the ship is great . However ,in our ... Read More
Got back to Southampton on 10/10 from 2 weeks sailing around the Mediterranean on Monster of the seas. It is the largest ship in the world so you would expect it to be amazing and in many ways the ship is great . However ,in our opinion they have gone to far and tried to get too many people on one ship , this has a detrimental affect on service , facilities and the restaurants. We were at a table of 8 in the Romeo & Juliet dining room for dinner at 8.30. Our co dinners were great company and will remain friends . First impression of the dining room was that it lacked sparkle, it just did not have the same feel to it as dining rooms on other ships we have travelled on. The tables are fairly close together to fit everyone in and the lighting is not impressive. The main problem with the dining room however is the quality and warmth of the food.With the exception of the 3 formal nights where the food was distinctly better overall , the cuts of meat were poor and there were some strange miss matches with some of the vegetables . Our waiter had to look after 3 tables and seemed to always be under pressure.To help fill us up ,he brought us cheese and biscuits each day ( but only after we had asked for it) ,extra chips, mash and extra jacket potatoes. He swapped quite a few meals when things were tasteless or not as they seemed. On the 3 formal nights there was a distinctly better menu and distinctly better cut of meat. The meals on the formal night were the minimum we would expect every night. Our waiter tried hard and was very pleasant but we think he knew we were not impressed with the cuisine. The head waiter was a miserable long streak of missery with as mutch charisma as a dunlop tyre. A massive personality bypass and a huge disappointment. There were no wine waiters , wine order were take by our assistant waiter and therefore no wine recommendations. This is the worst dinner dining experience we have had at sea, there were often empty tables ,particularly on the last few nights. Second sitting was our chosen time as we like to take in the show afterwards before retiring to the casino . This didn't work either. On the 14 night cruise 2 of the nights entertainment were movies!( not my idea of entertainment on board) and of the other 12 we had 5 pre dinner shows starting at 7pm.I don't know why RCI did this but it was not what many late diners wanted or expected. Chaos in the Jade & Windjammer cafe, this is the main buffet restaurant where most people have breakfast and lunch and is also open for casual (buffet)dining in the evening.This place is not big enough for the number of cruisers, sometimes it was a complete bun fight to get to the counters and you could not always get a seat. I have never witnessed jostling on a cruise liner before but it certainly went on here . However on a more positive note ,it did have great dining views from deck 11 at the aft of the ship and the food was considerably hotter and tastier than the main dining room. Breakfast offered a good selection and the food was off a decent quality. Lunch was again pretty good . Dinner always included a carved dish including beef ,lamb ,ham,chicken and turkey. The cuts of meat were not the best but were OK for a buffet. Great selection of variable dishes from lamb curies to cottage pie ,soups were decent and the deserts quite tasty. The Windjammer got busier in the evenings as the cruise went as more people lost faith in the main dining room. Orange juice at breakfast and lemonade ,water and tea and coffee were included for free at the Windjammer. Jade is a section of the buffet diner next to the Windjammer and serves oriental buffet food. The quality of the wine in the main restaurant was not particularly great and well over priced. The cheapest wines were $27 per bottle and the mid $30 dollar bottles lacked quality. Sorrentos is a pizza place on the Royal Promenade ,quality is OK and rarely too busy. We also tried Johnny Rockets it is a burger bar with an extra cover charge. Food is good but it is pretty noisy ,the kids will love it. All 8 of us at our dinner table went to Chops Grille one evening. Including wine ,water and the extra $25 dining fee it works out at $50 plus extra per head. The food in here was 10 times better than the main dining room ,the staff were professionally trained and the ambiance very pleasant. It was worth the extra charge although the service,atmosphere and food served is what we expected in the main restaurant. There is no midnight buffet (except for on 1 night).If you want a late night munchie ,it's pizza or pizza. Smoking on board is restricted to the port side of the open decks 4, 11 and 12 , to guest balconies and the upper floor of The Labyrinth night club(that was open most of the day for the smokers). 2 main issues here ; The Labyrinth stinks ,you cannot enter it unless you are a smoker ,although it is only smoking upstairs ,it does not work ,we entered once and left immediately,it's disgusting.we had 3 smokers at our dinner table who spent half their time in there so you can imagine how bad it was. We also had inconsiderate heavy smokers on the balcony next to ours and one down from that we had captain pug wash lighting up his cigars from 7.30 am until late.This ruined our enjoyment of our balcony. Even when our balcony door was shut we could smell smoke in our room from the couple next door. RCI need to address this ,all balconies should be non smoking or at least a separate smoking section. Drinks prices on board were extortionate.while I fully expect a mark up this was over the top. A pint of beer was $6.50 ,a measure of spirits(draught mixer included) $6.50 and a house wine $5.50 . Spirit measures were not from optics ,some seemed quite strong ,some were positively weak and non existant.There was a good selection of cocktails from $8 plus . The Dog and Badger pub on the Promenade was good and the staff very friendly. The Champagne bar is a let down. A bog standard Moet is $69 ,again that is OTT but the bar lacked class .It is next to a busy walk way across from guest relations, there was no special feeling about it. Drink prices are the same in all bars.The Viking Crown lounge is by far the nicest of the bars. Captain Remo was about as visible around the ship as Captain Nemo. The entire senior crew were rarely seen around the ship. Far too many people did not bother getting dressed properly on the formal nights. Dress code was laxed and this meant the ship loosing any class it tried to create on the formal nights. There were numerous instances of jeans being seen in the dining rooms on casual nights. This would not have been permitted on other ships we have travelled on and was a good example of RCI allowing standards to slip on this cruise. We had a category D1 balcony cabin. It was nice and the bed was very comfy . There was some grime on our toilet seat where people had obviously been putting their sweaty feet. It took until day 12 for us to get a second bar of soap and our sheets changed.There are no extra toiletries apart from shampoo in the shower. When we moved our suitcases on the last night from under our bed we dragged out 2 Irish coins,clearly the underside of the bed had not seen a hoover for a while! Again on smoking ,despite all cabins being non smoking we had a cigi burn on our suite and another on the curtain. Some yobs just wont play to the rules! Surprisingly there was no alcohol in our fridge. This was a disappointment as was the cost of water at $4.50 per bottle and you will go through a lot of it.You can get free cold drinking water in Sorrentos. Despite nearly 4,000 cruisers the main swimming pools are tiny , don't expect to be able to stretch out and do a few lengths ,it is not worth it. Kids however will have fun in the H2O Zone and the flow rider. The walking track is good but you can't see it at peak sunbathing times. On a few positive notes apart from our comfy bed: The evening entertainment was either good or very good (apart from the movie nights which I find unacceptable). The in house shows were good and the headline acts worth seeing. The casino is the largest we have seen at sea ,has a variety of games and over 300 slots. Some of the croupiers are a bit miserable and avoid the single deck black jack ,it only pays $6 to $5 for blacjack or $7 to $6 etc. There is another black jack table with multi decks that gives you a better chance. There are a good variety of slots and lots of poker machines. As annual visitors to Vegas we felt quite at home. Casino was shut most nights by 2am which we felt was a little early. The Royal Promenade is good and it is nice to sit and watch the world go by with a beer outside the Dog and Badger. There was a good variety of very good musicians on board including a decent rock band, Rock the Boat. They were on most nights in the Pyramid lounge until 1am. The port itinerary was good although why they stopped at Vigo is beyond us, we would have much preferred a longer stay in Gibraltar or an extra night in Rome. The Port and shopping show on the first Sunday is a waste of time.Very little inside track and way to much emphasis on the presenters favourite shops. On our day in Lisbon we were advised we had to take a shuttle bus into town at a cost of $11 each . In town we then walked several blocks to pick up the sightseeing bus. To our amazement the sightseeing bus on route stopped right outside the ship.The shuttle bus transfer was recommended at the talk on the Sunday ,this was most annoying. There was also a shuttle bus charge at one other port. we have never had to pay for a shuttle bus before on any other cruise we have been on. The tender service to shore in Cannes was excellent. Beware of the £70 regional airfare deal . When we booked the cruise we had not at that time decided how to travel to Southampton. When we decided we would fly we contacted RCI to book the £70 flights to be told the cost was actually £110. This made us rethink but we did not want to drive so phoned back to book our flights . At this point we were told by RCI that the plane was full and we could not book seats. We checked the internet and were able to book seats ourselves without any problem. The plane was not full , RCI were talking rubbish. We booked the seats and I called RCI to complain. RCI advised me that what had actually happened was that all the RCI allocated seats were taken. They should not have advised us that the plane was full. Their erroneous advice caused a couple of hours of unnecessary panic. We had just moved house and moved our broadband from BT to Sky.We did not have the new connection installed and had to get our son to book the tickets from his office. Panic over but RCI seemed far from caring . The biggest problem we had with the cruise was the sheer number of people . RCI have run a sustained TV advertising campaign and this has resulted in many first time cruisers coming on board.While that is great we must say that this is the first cruise we have been on where we have seen so many football tops and tattoos. The vast majority on the ship were English and we are ashamed to say that it was a small English minority that lacked decorum .You can't choose who you cruise with and we met loads of really nice people but it is the first cruise we have taken where we thought we are glad we are not sitting next to those people at dinner. Cruising has always been a special time for us and we will take many more, we will not however, cruise again on such a huge ship. There are just too many people crammed into one space which results in behaviour you would not normally see on a cruise ship and cruise standards slipping.We still enjoyed our cruise but it could have been an awful lot better .We hope RCI get this right as the ship itself is great but we do not think the future of cruising is making ships bigger and bigger. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We boarded Independence of the Seas at Southampton on 26th September 2009 after a 40 minute drive from home. This is the first time we have taken a cruise, so here is a summary of our experience: The Good: 1. Very quick and smooth arrival, ... Read More
We boarded Independence of the Seas at Southampton on 26th September 2009 after a 40 minute drive from home. This is the first time we have taken a cruise, so here is a summary of our experience: The Good: 1. Very quick and smooth arrival, car-parking, check in and boarding. 2. The high standard of presentation and decor on board and the obviously acive maintenance of the that standard. 3. The great importance placed on cleanliness and hygiene in all areas. 4. This is currently the largest cruise liner afloat, so lots of things to do (gym, spa, crazy golf course, "flowrider" surfing machine (did not try), swimming pools, hot tubs, ice rink, internet cafe, video games, library, shows, lectures, etc.). 5. Excellent wide choice of well-presented food at both the main dining rooms and the self-service Windjammer cafe reflecting the ethnic diversity of the staff. 6. Top quality shows with the ship's own team of singers, dancers, musicians and ice skaters. 7. A compact well designed cabin with a large and comfortable bed. 8. Attentive and friendly staff. The Not So Good: 1. With over 3,500 guests and 1,500 staff the ship has the population of a sizeable village and it shows in the queues for dining, entertainments, excursions, shuttle buses and tenders; in the battery farming arrangement of sun-loungers on deck; and just the hassle of negotiating the crowds to reach anywhere on board. 2. The relentless selling of overpriced stuff on board - drinks, excursions, shuttle buses, spa treatments, casino, bingo, souvenirs, photographs, artworks, the on-board shops and market stalls - Royal Caribbean seems to have the same business model as Ryanair (cheap headline prices, but make the profit on the extras). 3. For my taste the otherwise excellent food was spoiled by the addition of too much salt. 4. The library is far too small and limited in scope for the ship's population. 5. There were a few "destination lectures" that were very interesting, but were not directly related to the sights that we were to see at the ports of call. Here was an opportunity to tell the interested passengers more about the world-class sites that they could visit (e.g. ancient Rome and the cradle of the Renaissance in Florence), but there was nothing of that nature. This perhaps reflects Royal Caribbean's attempt to make cruising more attractive to a younger and more socially diverse demographic, but in my view it was an opportunity missed, and they may even have sold more excursions as a result. 6. The casino is sited across the main walking route to the onboard theatre and hence has no age restrictions on access to it. On balance we were impressed by the ship and very much enjoyed our holiday, but there were just too many people on board. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was our first experience of Royal Caribbean after two previous cruises with Princess and my wife and I were very impressed. I would say that both companies are comparable in respect of facilities, comfort, service and can't ... Read More
This was our first experience of Royal Caribbean after two previous cruises with Princess and my wife and I were very impressed. I would say that both companies are comparable in respect of facilities, comfort, service and can't really separate them. No problems with car parking, luggage drop-off or embarkation. Very slick and professional. Ship is massive but even with full occupancy, it doesn't feel crowded. I know that previous reviews have alluded to problems at Windjammer at breakfast time and also the perennial problem of getting sunbeds but I can honestly say that these were not issues for us. We only used Windjammer for breakfast and sometimes the afternoon snacks (3pm to 5pm)and never had a problem getting a table. Food was excellent with loads of options both healthy and otherwise! we were in MacBeth for second sitting and we were at a table of 11 and they were all very nice people who we thoroughly enjoyed meeting. Apart from the two nights when we used Choppes & Portofinos, all 11 of us met for dinner every night. Special Thanks to Camelia & Edwardo, our waiter & assistant who looked after the lot of us with great patience and efficiency. Our only complaint regarding the food was sometimes, it was not hot enough for my wife's liking and the portions were not the biggest. However this is where Camelia came into her own and would bring extra veg and additional main courses and desserts as and when requested. I, myself on a few occasions had 2 starters when I could make up my mind. Murder Mystery Dinner at Portofinos was absolutely brilliant and a great night's entertainment. Choppes Grill on the other hand was a disappointment in comparison as my wife had to send her steak back twice before it came as she requested it. by this time her veg had got cold. The staff replaced it but by the time the replacement veg arrived the steak was cold. We did complain to Guest Relations and received a note of apology and a bottle of champagne and we appreciated the gesture. Apart from that, absolutely no complaints whatsoever. All the facilities are excellent and beautifully maintained. I will summarise what we used and can only apologise if we can be as comprehensive as possible as we did not use all that was on offer. Spa- My wife had a treatment and she was very impressed and rated it as good as she had received anywhere. Entertainment - We only went to the Alhambra a couple of times and what we saw was excellent and very professional. The ice shows are amazing and should not be missed. Incredible to believe you were watching the quality on display whilst sailing at 20 knots! Our entertainment highlight was the resident band, Rock the Boat in the Pyramid Lounge. They are absolutely brilliant and incredible musicians who are extremely versatile. They played the most wide ranging repertoire of songs you could imagine and were a huge hit with the crowd who it seemed to appear there every night. On a personal note, I loved the "Rock-a roke" which gave me the chance to sing with a real rock band. So thanks to Joe, Dave, Ricky & Darren for some great memories. I heard a rumour that Royal Caribbean were considering changing the band for next year and I would urge all the Rock the Boat fans to back them up by giving as positive feedback as possible. we didn't book any official tours or excursions as we prefer to do our own thing. Previous comments about RCCL charging for shuttle buses at some ports were correct and I have to say, I felt was a bit much and I feel that they would get more credit if all shuttle buses were complimentary. Tried the climbing wall, without much success (didn't realise how physically demanding it was) Also did Boogie boarding on the Flow Rider which was great fun. In conclusion, a great first time experience with RCCL And the IOTS. Don't know when we will see her again as we fancy going further afield next time, but impressed with our experience of her. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
WOW WHAT A LINER!! Arrived at port very well organised went to gate 10. Drove to where we had to unload our luggage passed cases to staff waiting for us next time we saw our cases was in cabin. Car parking went smoothly,unloaded ... Read More
WOW WHAT A LINER!! Arrived at port very well organised went to gate 10. Drove to where we had to unload our luggage passed cases to staff waiting for us next time we saw our cases was in cabin. Car parking went smoothly,unloaded mobility scooter help was there if needed. Best to book online went very quick to embarkation desk. Ramps all way to boat. Greeted by very helpful staff, picture taken for sea pass which you will need for purchases and getting off and on boat. Windjammer crowded, taken to seat no problem food good choice. We chose 6pm dinning ( you can change table if you don't like people who you sit with), service waiting staff brilliant thanks to BENNI, JONAS, 6pm dinning, good for evening shows which were 1st class ice show great don't miss them.Cabin lovely and cozy.on deck 8. balcony needed for mobility scooter. put coffee table in closet more space Cases under bed.disappointed no coffee no china cups, take your own cups Great view watching sun rise Dolphins also whales. Our cabin lady Maravic from Philippines very helpful kept cabin very clean. Many thanks to her. We appreciate how hard she worked for us. There is everything on board for everyone, you can find a quite space despite being a full ship Jacuzzi very relaxing for those of us who cant swim. Swimming pool area a bit crowded choose time carefully Eg when most people are dinning is better. Took laptop on board broadband too expensive Beware!!! No problem for mobility scooter staff always helpful for getting on off boat. only problem was other cruisers with there manners. Disembarkation very well organised, TIP!! put ribbon on handle of case easier to recognise amongst a load of others A lovely holiday many thanks to all staff from captain to staff below decks. Booked for next year cant come quick enough. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
this was the first time on royal caribbean and the last. first impression great looking ship and thats the only good thing about it. entertainment verry good except you have to get your tickets for the ice shows on your first day at sea ... Read More
this was the first time on royal caribbean and the last. first impression great looking ship and thats the only good thing about it. entertainment verry good except you have to get your tickets for the ice shows on your first day at sea otherwise you wont get to see them.The cabin was comfortable.First night at dinner was the worst experiance i have ever had on a cruise before.Had to wait one hour for first course then when main course was served it wasnt worth waiting for.all it was waqs a steak with a jacket potatoe rolling round on the plate with 2 mushrooms and 3 mangetout peas and all of that was cold.Never got coffee had to leave for the next sitting.Went to dinner second night diddnt have to wait as long but anything you have is always served with a jacket potatoe rolling round on your plate and luke warm. Never went to dinning room again.The self service was a free for all always the same food and always luke warm.The only dinning place which served hot food was the burger bar and you had to pay for that.24 hour food was either filled roll ar pizza tea and coffee was plastic cups anywhere on the ship and they were mugs then you have a battle to find a seat to drink it.THE SHOPS are just one big rip off.Everything was so overpriced a family would need a mortgage.One of the cloths shops had a jacket which i hab bought on po aurora it was double the price to aurora.Drinks prices are extortionate and you cant take any drink you buy to your cabin.I have had better in a motorway caff. All you hear allday is if you leave your sunlounger your towel will be removed and your towels are charged to your onboard account untill you return them.Also all you hear is vacate your seat in the selfservice dinning hall when you have finnished this announcment is every 10 miniuts.The shuttle busses for all ports of call are charged and expensive. on ports of call if you stay onboard to sunbathe you are told to leave at around 4pm so they can stack the sun loungers away and that is usually 2 hours before you set sail. If you buy any dutyfree shopping ie alchohol tobacco ashore it is taken away from you when you get onboard and returned on your last night this is so you have to buy all your drinks from their bars and pay more for them than you would in any pub in england.IF YOU MAKE A COMPLAINT AT THE DESK THE STAFF LOOK AT YOU AS IF YOU WERE SOMTHING DIRTY ON THEIR SHOE AND DO NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT ANYWAY.I have never been on a cruise before and checked what i have spent on my onboard account on a daily basis but this time i had to.All in all if some of my friends had not been on this cruise i would have got off at the the first port.One last word of advice DO NOT PREPAY YOUR TIPS WHEN BOOKING YOUR CRUISE. BECAUSE WHEN YOU GET BAD SERVICE YOU CANNOT CHOOSE WHO GETS THE MONEY. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This is our 17th cruise YES a fantastic ship,the crew could not do enough to help. The food was great in the wind jammer, chops and grill, johnny rockets, in fact the food was good every where on board, we did not eat in the main dinning ... Read More
This is our 17th cruise YES a fantastic ship,the crew could not do enough to help. The food was great in the wind jammer, chops and grill, johnny rockets, in fact the food was good every where on board, we did not eat in the main dinning room never have done as we prefer causal dinning. Our Cabin was at the back of the ship on deck 6 it was kept spotless and the cabin steward could not do enough to help. We went to 2 shows and the ice dancing all very good, the music and singers in the bars were also good. The main deck is something to see shops, bars, eating places and entertainment even a barbers, Now the NO Let me explain I smoke drink and enjoys a gamble as do many other cruisers, there are only 2 smoking bars the Connoisseur with about 20 seats and the labyrinth with about 40 seats both are enclosed with no views in fact the bar in the connoisseur has only 2 seats the only other smoking areas were on the outside on deck 4 and 11 port-side with about 5 tables remember this ship can hold 3000 plus people. In the evenings both bars were overfull and people were finding it hard to find a seat. The labyrinth even had a disco. I have been on 4 other royal caribbean ships and the vortex always had a smoking area with nice views, this it not a smokers ship. On the drink side of things yes the beer was over priced $6.50 for a pint, but the cocktails were ok at about $7 to $9 considering the size of the measures and the spirits were about 2 doubles to a glass. Now to the casino i like a game of poker, Texas hold em, the only table was automatic no real cards, no dealer, just a machine it spoilt the fun of the game, no chat and banter, in fact boring just a money making machine for the ship. This is a family ship there were quite a few children and teenagers on board, i would hate to think what it would be like in school holidays in fact 1 crew member said in august there were more children than adults, don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with kids and teenagers and the ones i spoke to were having a fantastic time. I wish royal Caribbean every success with this type of ship i really do, but it is not for me or many other people i spoke to, i prefer a more adult type of ship, would i go on it again no I am natural talker and spoke to many other cruisers who agreed we me on the above points Now Back to YES would i go with royal Caribbean again defiantly but not this ship i like a smoke with a view a good game of cards, with real cards and a dealer and a laugh also a bar with more than 2 seats. I hope you some of you regular cruisers find this review helpful and hope to see you board some time, again good luck to royal caribbean with this ship Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We travelled to the port left home at 10.am and were on the ship by 11.45am, it doesn't get much better than that. The weather was fabulous for the whole 11 days, it was better than the cruise we went on in June to the Med. ... Read More
We travelled to the port left home at 10.am and were on the ship by 11.45am, it doesn't get much better than that. The weather was fabulous for the whole 11 days, it was better than the cruise we went on in June to the Med. We saw loads of dolphins on our first sea day. We did my time dining we had a lovely table for all 10 of us on Deck 5 and we had the same wait staff every night. Our waiter Godfredo and Charles were brilliant and good fun aswell. The steaks were also perfectly cooked although sometimes still a bit tough. The windjammer was busy especially on sea days but the staff all did their best to keep tables flowing. The bistro 30 on sea days was great. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8, that we booked as a guarantee, it was a little further forward than I would normally book, but it was very convienient. Our stateroom attendant Sergio was also one of the best we had ever had. We did the skating lesson and thought the staff were great. We didn't particularly enjoy the theatre shows, but I guess you cannot please such a wide audience all of the time. We all did our own thing at all the ports of call, most of us didn't particpate in the Bingo. All in All a very enjoyable holiday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Just back from an excellent 11 night cruise onboard Independence of the Seas to the Canaries during October half term- 2 adults and a 14 year old boy. Excellent ship and great facilities - takes a couple of days to get used to purely ... Read More
Just back from an excellent 11 night cruise onboard Independence of the Seas to the Canaries during October half term- 2 adults and a 14 year old boy. Excellent ship and great facilities - takes a couple of days to get used to purely because of sheer size, but surprisingly easy to find your way around. Great crossing of Biscay despite time of year and couldn't believe we would be sitting in the sun last day of October returning across Biscay - have had worse crossings in the Summer. Balcony cabin excellent -plenty of space for 3 of us and very good steward. The staff were all without exception exceptionally friendly and very helpful and a special mention to the Guest Services Manager -Sue Yates- who we dealt with, who was absolutely first class in her customer service and attention to detail -sorting out relatively minor issues with a great smile and fantastic attitude. It's no surprise that the staff are so friendly and efficient if she is typical of the leadership that they are getting. The food has moved on a bit from our earlier experience on Legend when RCI first entered the UK market - now have a wider choice and have included english bacon and sausages at breakfast. The food is very good and as always US beef and in particular steaks are extremely good quality. Windjammer can get a bit busy at peak time sbut staff were always very helpful in trying to find a table - and anyway why not have room service on the balcony - we never made breakfast preferring to have R/S which worked really well for us and was always impressively delivered on the dot- they ring you just before they set off to make sure you are awake and half decent !! This ship definately has the edge on recent P+O cruises including Ventura last year - (OK) , and previously Oriana-(like an old peoples home at Sea). Lots of activities on Ind , absolutely great Gym - plenty of brand new equipment in it, loads of machines, punch bags, aerobic space and not very busy!! Pools were fine - not particularly busy considering school hols - always empty first thing and around 5pm for a bit of a decent swim. Great running track which was fine later on in day The Entertainment Director works really hard to get it going and can't fault his enthusiasm - maybe the quality of the shows could do with a bit of an upgrade- I guess it depends on your taste - tribute to Four Tops show very popular and great fun others less so. Ice skating show was spectacular- quite unbelievable the speed and agility i nthe space and Flowrider excellent. Plenty of loungers on deck and free self serve ice cream machine!. Quickest check in ever on any cruise ship - really impressive. Would definately recommend and plan to go again - hopefully longer next time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
I travelled on the Indy with my husband, 14yr old son, and 70yr old mother round the Canaries in Oct. I have never written a review before but here goes. Embarkation: We flew into Southampton from Glasgow and mum from Manchester and ... Read More
I travelled on the Indy with my husband, 14yr old son, and 70yr old mother round the Canaries in Oct. I have never written a review before but here goes. Embarkation: We flew into Southampton from Glasgow and mum from Manchester and we all had paid for transfers. Mum is in a wheelchair and we were informed that she would not be going on the coach as she had a private taxi booked courtesy of RCI. This was a pleasant surprise and we were all allowed to share the taxi with her. We had organised our set sail pass on line and embarkation was very quick and smooth. My husband pushed mum in her wheelchair and it was no problem. A youth worker introduced himself to my son as we boarded and he was given info on the meet time. We had lunch in the Windjammer and went to our room at 1pm where our suitcases quickly followed. So far we were very excited and impressed. Room: We had an outside room which was originally intended for just my husband and i. Anyway it quickly ended with my son and mother joining us too. The room had 2 single beds with pullman beds over the top so it looked like bunk beds. there was a curtain which helped with privacy, a sofa and the best thing was the large porthole window. There was adequate wardrobe and drawer space and i kept finding new hidden cupboards there was also a safe in the wardrobe. There was a flat screen telly and i could check our on board account on it. I would have no qualms about booking same room again for all of us. Food: The MDR was great and staff were always helpful. Portions were not big but plenty adequate you could never get hungry on this ship. We had first sitting and sat on a table for 12 and our table companions were great. My son did his own thing most days but he did say one night i am tired of steak!!! We ate in the Windjammer sometimes and the choice was great we also had some fantastic puds in there. However as previously reported the food was lukewarm to cold sometimes especially at breakfast. We discovered the MDR for breakfast later in the cruise and found it much more relaxing. We also had dinner in the 2 speciality restaurants and they were definitely worth the cover charge. When we dined in Portofino's my husband and son had to leave before the sweet course and the restaurant sent chocolate dipped strawberries and biscuits to our stateroom for them. There is also Sorrento's a pizza cafe on board which also has salads and lovely biscuits and sweets. Cafe Promenade is open 24hrs and has cookies, sandwiches and cakes. You can pick up tea and coffee here to either sit in or take away. We did try an ice cream at Ben and Jerry's which was disappointing as i did not feel they had enough choices though to be fair we did not have the time or room to visit a second time. Kids: My son was very reluctant to visit the teens club but reluctantly took himself along for the meet on the first night. Well we hardly seen him all week he had a brilliant time lots of activities (and medals) and their own bar to hang out in. He made lots of friends and even got back to the room later than us most nights. He has informed me that he is going cruising with his friends when he is 18. Meet and Mingle: Thank you to RCI for hosting our meet and mingle on day 2 it was lovely to meet everyone. RCI provided a room ,gifts, raffle prizes, nibbles and refreshments. Staff: Most staff were lovely and very helpful. Be very wary though of the lady offering fresh orange at breakfast in the windjammer as you will be charged extra for it. I spoke to loads of people caught out by this member of staff one morning. Our room attendant was great and we loved the towel animals in our room every night. Shops: The shops on the promenade were ok and plenty good enough. However hated the stalls in the middle of a busy promenade which only made space even more limited. The Promenade in my opinion is far too small for the size of the ship, hence the reason we never attended any of the street party's. Entertainment: We saw some of the shows ,we really enjoyed some and not others. We saw both ice shows which we really enjoyed. All the bars were great but again in my opinion they are all too small for the amount of guests on board. There is always something great to do every evening and lots of bars to try. Bingo: Mum and i went to the bingo every day it was on but with after sight would not advise this. The wins were not good for the amount of people playing. Next time we will go to two sessions, the one for the Presidential suite and the one for the accumulated snowball.He ho we were on holiday and probably wont go to bingo again until the next cruise. Miscellaneous: Plenty of opportunities for photos and the large ones cost nearly 20 dollars however you don't have to buy. We used the opportunity for a professional family photo while we were all dressed up. Mum and i went to the cinema one day and enjoyed it though some nibbles would of been nice. Sprinkles youghurt ice cream at the children's pool area was lovely and we did not feel guilty as it was only youghurt! Wheelchair access was great though could be a little problem at busy periods. The lifts were great but it could take forever to get one at meal times. We often took the lift up when we wanted to go down just so we could get in there. We are not big drinkers so found prices ok, vodka hand poured and there is defo more than 1 measure in a single drink. Son had soda package which was well worth it for him. Disembarkation: This was smooth also though beware you do go through customs (as the lady with a bag full of cigarettes found out). There was no private taxi to the airport and mum had to struggle onto a coach this made you feel that they didnt care once the holiday was over. We also had a 4 hr wait at the airport so it was a long day. I could write loads and believe me this is the condensed version , we had a fantastic holiday and would definitely do it again. I would love to sail on the Oasis, maybe next year?. Mum and i didn't visit any of the ports as we went on this holiday for a rest. My husband and son got off at most ports and visited the local towns and shops. They did the trip to Benfica in Lisbon and had a great time though they did say it was 85 euros for a football top (hence they did not buy one). Some of our own table companions went to Fatima which they said was unforgettable. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Hi all, I could write a book of our first time cruise with the Independence of the Sea and will probably have too to get any kind of refund from this company. Accommodation: Stateroom I don't think so! Rabbit Hutch would be ... Read More
Hi all, I could write a book of our first time cruise with the Independence of the Sea and will probably have too to get any kind of refund from this company. Accommodation: Stateroom I don't think so! Rabbit Hutch would be closer to the room size, but to be more accurate I will say a small living module (pile em high sell em cheap comes to mind). When your shower gel runs out you won't get a replacement neither will you get replacement sanitary bags, remember to put your do not disturb card in your door lock or you will be constantly badgered by your room attendant. Drinks: I agree with most other reviews, too expensive by half, and of poor quality. No coffee in your cabin and only paper cups. Atmosphere: Without being unfair to holiday camps which have probably come a long way over the years, this is a cruise for 1960's Butlins lovers, very over crowded, if you don't say sorry to someone at least 20 times a day you are either ignorant or you haven't left your cabin. Please allow at least 3 times a day for being held up by invalid wheelie bins. Night Life: Forget it, if you are under the age of 21 years, no alcohol or fun is permitted to younger people, if you smoke you are allowed to go to only one indoor place allocated, the small and cramped night club, but be prepared to consume lungs full of other smokers smoke as this place as not got any air extraction or recirculation. Most bars shut at 1:30am on the dot occasionally 2:30am. One person I saw at a top deck disco night special was a little bit worse for ware but sempt to be enjoying herself rather well was escorted of by two security guards and was chucked of the ship the next morning promptly? Sun Bathing: If you are lucky enough to get a sun lounger you will be no more than 2 inches away from the next bather on all sides, swimming pools are a joke and if you have a baby forget it they are not allowed in the pool at all unless you can prove your 8 month old baby is potty trained, older kids can use the pools but with rules No jumping in the pools, No plashing in the pools, in other words no fun at all then, if your child does do any of the above they will be severely reprimanded by the pool attendant, no life guards present at all, if you inadvertently fall a sleep don't worry you will be awakened by the camps commandant regularly with the Bing, Bong Bing of the ships PA system followed by some speak about the ships course, weather etc, Quite it is not, comfortable it is not, private it is not, Fun it is not. Food: out of 10 I would give it minus 10 the Chefs would not get a job at McDonald's anyone liking this cold, bland and 3hrs old food have not eaton anywhere other than hospitals, poor is being kind. The fresh fruit and deserts are good if you like cold custard or as they call it a sauce. Shows: I have seen better at our local working men's club. Entertainment: The staff may have certificates coming out of their ears but do they know how to have fun a BIG NO. On the forth day we landed at Tenerife me, my daughter and wife had had enough and just wanted to leave, when I asked at reception if they had a Refund Policy the girl said she didn't know what I meant, I explained if we wanted to leave the ship now and make our own way back to the UK could we expect a refund whatever the amount may be, she said no then pretended to be busy ignoring me altogether, guest relations is non existent. If you decide to watch a film in your cabin as we did be prepared for the cost of $12.99 and make sure you all watch it together cos you only get it once. I didn't see any winners at the Casino so the odds must be well stacked on the ships side of the odds. I tried the Spa with achipunture and massage very expensive @ $179.50 as the girl was only present for about 10 minutes in total and didn't help my back at all but did give me a nice neck ache for two days. We didn't use the Excursions they seems too expensive. Out of the 35 are so other guest we met 30 said they would not travel with RCC again some said they would go with P.O but mainly they would not cruise again, sorry to say but it has put my family off cruising totally. Fancy a game of bingo well it will cost you $20.50 for a 4 game card with only one winner per game, first game one line only, second game two lines only, third game one line forth game full house only. Third day I checked my bill via the TV in our room $1200 and we hadn't enjoyed any of it. I won't tell you the final account its frightening. I could carry on but running out of time and its starting to get me down, if you want to cruise and you can put up with the above then go with the yanks, they know how to riffle throw your pockets expertly. If I had known then what I know now I would have cancelled the our cruise and happily lost the deposit, my wife and daughter concur. You will see from my rating mostly ones and that's only because there isn't a 0 Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our 8th Transatlantic crossing but our first on such a huge ship, our previous cruise experiences with RCI have all on Vision class ships at half the size, but its not too big, yes its big, a five minute walk from the theatre to ... Read More
This was our 8th Transatlantic crossing but our first on such a huge ship, our previous cruise experiences with RCI have all on Vision class ships at half the size, but its not too big, yes its big, a five minute walk from the theatre to the restaurant, and the Olive and Twist bar is on deck 14! a long walk from boarding on deck 1. We never found anywhere crowded, tables were readily available every time we went to the Windjammer and we always found a sun lounger on deck when we wanted one. We had previously visited all of our Ports of call but we still enjoyed browsing about Le Havre, Cherbourg, Vigo and Funchal( Shame that this latter was on Sunday, it was very much closed) The weather in the early part was not good but was improving by the time we got to Vigo, Independence was very comfortable at all times, you did not know you where at sea siting in the Pub on the Royal Promenade. Entertainment was generally good and the ice shows great, one act 'Teatro' stood out as exceptional, one evening in the theatre and a second performance in the Royal Promenade, hits from musicals, my kind of music. Food seems to cause much comment in these reviews but we found the food throughout the ship was very good and varied and there was very little we could fault but I would agree that the restaurant menus need a revamp. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We took the Thalys from Brussels to London and then a bus to Southampton the day before embarcation.We were two of the 4 Belgians aboard. Access to boarding on departure in Southampton was easy. We stayed overnight at the Ibis hotel and ... Read More
We took the Thalys from Brussels to London and then a bus to Southampton the day before embarcation.We were two of the 4 Belgians aboard. Access to boarding on departure in Southampton was easy. We stayed overnight at the Ibis hotel and walked to the departure terminal. The waiting there was of an acceptable duration. Our cabin was quite comfortable and spotless. During the cruise we had many reasons to commend our steward Kenneth. Dining "on our own time" led to some confusion at the beginning but was a most convenient system for us allowing reservation of a table for two at requested hour for dinner at midday. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment which we judged to be of a high quality.The MC Joff is the best we've seen on any cruise. Of the four stops : Le Havre : depressing Stalinist architecture/ Cherbourg : more typically French but really not worth a visit. We surmised that these stops were intended for Americans wishing to visit the 1944 landing beaches and Paris. Vigo : we took the well organized tour to Santiago de Compostella. Interesting but not overwhelming. Madeira : this was the best day of the whole cruise for us. Beautiful island and very agreeable walk in Funchal. We took a bus to the Botanic Garden and enjoyed the splendid variety of plants and flowers. One negative is the loud music played in most public areas. It is clearly chosen by people of another generation than 90% of the passengers. Too trendy ! Another negative is the faulty billing of wine and drinks. Very difficult to correct and finally fixed after many unkept promises.(5 days) My wife was worried she might get seasick. This crossing was remarkably smooth or it could be a combination of that and excellent stabilizers on the ship. And then : the big spoiler ! Most probably not to be attributed to the ship or the line but to the U.S.A's obsession with security. We stood in line for THREE HOURS to get through immigration.And then another hour's waiting for the car rental shuttle because the driver assumed there would be no more customers after such a long time. This authority has obviously not adapted to the huge number of passengers on recently built ships and is responsible for spoiling our remembrance of this cruise and our loss of half a day vacation-time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
The ship is still new and is in outstanding shape. As usual, RCCL keeps it spotless and the service was fantastic. The ship is quite massive but very easy to get around. We had a center cabin which really helped to speed up where we ... Read More
The ship is still new and is in outstanding shape. As usual, RCCL keeps it spotless and the service was fantastic. The ship is quite massive but very easy to get around. We had a center cabin which really helped to speed up where we wanted to go. The crowd was older than I am used to but this type of cruise generally draws that type of crowd from what I am told, however, everyone was very friendly and ready to share their stories about past cruises. Embarkation was flawless and we only waited 10 minutes to have our key in hand and walking on the ship. (can't say the same for getting off). In port we did not have any problems getting on and off the ship except in Le Havre, France. All of the tour buses arrived back about the same time from Paris and we had to wait approximately an hour in the cold and light rain...there were a few unhappy campers over that one, but that was the only wait for us getting back on the ship. I had read that the weather varies on this cruise and that was correct. We had everything in the range of cold rain to 80 degree sunshine, so if you do a transatlantic crossing in the winter, bring everything from jackets to swimming suits. The entertainment was so so, but I expected that as you are not going to be able to switch acts around while you are in the middle of the ocean. Food was excellent as usual with RCCL, however, on the long cruises, I would have like to see different themes (i.e., German, Mexican, etc) for the lunch buffet like Princess does. However, it was still all good and good quality. Cannot say enough about the staff...all very friendly. We went with six other people and all felt the same way. My wife and I got of the ship first in Florida and it was a madhouse in the terminal, however, it only took us about 30 minutes. One of our friends did not get off until about 10:00 am. They had to wait 3 hours to get through customs. Needless to say, they did not like ending the trip like that. GREAT CRUISE. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our second crossing on the Independence of the Seas, having done the Eastbound this past April. We came in the day prior and stayed at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow where we had stayed after the Eastbound. The flight on ... Read More
This was our second crossing on the Independence of the Seas, having done the Eastbound this past April. We came in the day prior and stayed at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow where we had stayed after the Eastbound. The flight on British Air was uneventful, but one of those awfully long flights. We, once again, used Woodford Chauffeur Cars for our transportation to the port, sharing with another couple from our Cruise Critic roll call. Woodford was nice enough to let us stop at a supermarket for some supplies for the crossing. The Indy is a beautiful ship and so far, our favorite one. We were happy to hear that Capt. Teo was once again at the helm for the crossing as there is a certain comfort level with him. He has a great sense of humor, too, and we enjoyed his noon announcements. We enjoyed our cabin on the "hump" which was perfect. You could see both forward and backwards from our balcony. We had the luck of a great room steward the last crossing (Stevie) who apparently is now on the Oasis. The gentleman we had on this cruise was Erwin. I was initially worried about him as he was very quiet, but he became more talkative as the cruise went on and he was very, very good. We appreciated his hard work. Once again, as far as dining goes, it was the usual, same RCCL food and menu, ranging from poor to good but nothing outstanding. We actually found that the Windjammer had much better food on occasion and the Windjammer staff was very good and attentive. We were not as happy with the dining room staff. We had a wonderful table by the window in the McBeth (4th floor) dining room. The waiter, Rohinton (Rocky) was ok. Nothing special and no extra touches that we have had on previous RCCL cruises. Beverly, the assistant, was hit or miss, but did try to please us. We are pretty convinced that the best ones went to the Oasis and it shows. We booked this cruise for the ports and we enjoyed them very much. In LeHavre, we called (from the desk in the cruise terminal) for a taxi with an English speaking driver. We had emailed LeHavre taxi when researching the cruise and the taxis are independently owned and operated. They have several circuits for set prices. We were very lucky as we had Daniel Pain as our taxi driver (pain-daniel@orange.fr). We could have chosen any circuit, even Paris, but we just wanted a half day tour of Honfleur. It was very picturesue and we enjoyed our time there very much. He offered to show us more, but it was getting dark and we wanted to go back to the ship. The morning was spent on our own at the Coty Mall shopping at Monoprix supermarket for French goodies to bring home. It is a beautiful mall and we have been there several times before. This time, it was all decorated for the holidays and so beautiful. The next port was Cherbourg and we rented a car from National Car Rental with another roll call member to tour the Normandy Beaches/D-Day sites. It was very emotional and the highlight of our trip. My husband was the driver and the other gentleman was the navigator. It was very easy and we would certainly do it again. The other ports were Vigo, Spain and Funchal, Madeira, both of which we have visited before. Madeira is one of our favorite places and just beautiful, but two of our four visits there have been on sundays when things are closed (cruise lines, are you listening?. Anyway, I have to mention two other highlights of our cruise. One was the progressive trivia with Joff Eaton, cruise director. I was initially disappointed that we did not have Graham Seymour again. However, Joff made the cruise. He was hilarious and I think he is the best cruise director we have had!! No one could top him! There were so many people at trivia that you had to get there an hour and a half early just to get enough seats for your group. I usually don't do trivia, but I did it because Joff made it so much fun. The other thing that made this cruise special was the enrichment lectures with Ronald Bowers, the former DA of Los Angeles. Usually, enrichment lectures tend to put me to sleep. His were so fascinating that both my husband and I went to all of them. This was truly a treat and RCCL would be wise to book him for all of their crossings! He spoke about famous murder cases (Marilyn Monroe, O.J. Simpson, Ennis Cosby, etc.). He revealed things not known to the general public. One thing I was a bit concerned about was the weather for the crossing and the wave heights. They were having gales and I am prone to seasickness. However, the Indy handled the waves very well and it truly became a non-issue for me. Would I go on the Indy again? Definitely! One wish, though, would be for RCCL to get rid of the "filet of beef shoulder" from its menu. It appeared several times and it is something to be avoided. Also, just as on the Eastbound crossing, they ran out of the tea concentrate. Easy to remedy with tea bags but why not carry enough for a 2 week cruise? RCCl does need to change its menues. They have been the same for several years now. All in all, this was a good cruise. We just wish the Indy was not going to come back to the USA after the spring 2010 crossing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We embarked in Southampton on 23rd November 2009. Everything went smoothly from the the time we were met at Heathrow by the RCI rep. We actually embarked at about 3.30pm and walked wide-eyed around the ship. It was like a floating city, ... Read More
We embarked in Southampton on 23rd November 2009. Everything went smoothly from the the time we were met at Heathrow by the RCI rep. We actually embarked at about 3.30pm and walked wide-eyed around the ship. It was like a floating city, absolutely HUGE. First stop was the bar for a drink, it had been a long trip from Edinburgh. I nearly fainted at the size of the measures and pretty cheap too, no more than what you would pay in a wine bar in any big city. Then we went to find our stateroom. I was a little worried about how much space we would have, but my fears were allayed very quickly. We quickly introduced ourselves to the stateroom attendant(Marko) who was brilliant all the way through the cruise. We were also a little worried about who we would be seated with for dining, but RCI must be psychic, because they sat us with an American couple who we had so much in common with. Our waiters Tyrone and Ladislav were so friendly and nothing was too much trouble. I had to tell Tyrone not to pull my chair out for me, I'm quite and independent woman and although it's nice once or twice, I felt it was something I could do for myself. After assuring him it was not a slight on his skills as a waiter he deferred to my wishes. And we became the best of friends. Ladislav however was very gracious and had a wicked sense of humour. He had to have really from the ribbing he took from both my husband and his partner in crime (our tablemate). We mainly ate in the main dining room at night, but tried Windjammer for lunch and afternoon tea quite often. There is every type of food you could wish for in Windjammer from burgers to stews and Chinese options. We did find it was difficult to find a table at breakfast and lunch in Windjammer, and found it was best for one of us to find a table, while the other got their food, and then the other go for theirs. The Cafe Promenade was THE place to go for a cappuccino and a wind down. Kim was nearly always on hand to have a quick chat. For the first few days it was cold as it would be in this part of the world in November, but there were quizzes and bingo to keep you occupied inside. Docking at ports and disembarking at them was trouble free and there was a transfer coach to take you into town centres. although be warned the do charge for this usually about $8-10 each return. Some people on our cruise got on them and then got off when they realised they had to pay for them. (rolls eyes in disgust lol). The pool on deck was actually warm which surprised me, and I've got to say the whirlpools were my second home for nearly 2 weeks. Evening entertainment was good. The ice shows were excellent, very professional. and the Beatles tribute band had everybody singing and dancing. The only setback we had was disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale. It took us 4 hours to get off the ship and an extra 2 to get through US Immigration. Not any fault of Royal Caribbean's just US Immigration not having enough staff on to cope with the amount of people on board. Tut Tut. All in all a very memorable first cruise and an experience we are definitely going to repeat. We are just booking to sail on Liberty in 2011. As a footnote but not meant to be an after thought, we would like to thank all the staff on board Independence for making our trip such a success and a relaxing and memorable occasion. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We went with 2 friends and have been cruising with R.C. before and enjoyed it we were looking forward to going on the Independence. Embarking was easy and quick and we went to our cabins which were slightly bigger than previous ships and ... Read More
We went with 2 friends and have been cruising with R.C. before and enjoyed it we were looking forward to going on the Independence. Embarking was easy and quick and we went to our cabins which were slightly bigger than previous ships and quite nice (although opening a cupboard and finding 2 stale biscuits didn't quite welcome me. On the first day we got a taste of what it would be like. We went to the Windjammer for lunch, it was chaos, not half as many astaff as previous ships and people walking in all directions looking for a table, (with little success). We asked for a bottle of wine and it took an hour for it to arrive. That night the ship went across to the Bay of Biscay and didn't we know it it was a force 9 and it was horrendous, we all had read reviews and understood that the stabilisers would protect us from this awful feeling. Most passengers did not make the dinner that night but instead went to their beds. Imagine another 3 days like this with everyone really ill and hardly able to stand. We couldn't understand why when the weather improved the rolling motion didn't. It was until we reached Grand Canaria and the rocking and rolling was still happening that some of the staff told us that the captain had not engaged the stabilisers as they cost money and he was on a bonus to save it. We all tried to complain, but you try to complain on a RC ship the Customer Relations were smug, patronising and generally rude, however we must have got somwhere as 4 that morning suddenly the ship was calm, the stablisers had been turned on. Bliss. The next problem was getting a seat in the main public areas, impossible in the main. The bars were crowded and difficult to get seats, the Windjammer impossible full stop. The Romeo and Juliet opened for breakfast and lunch which offered some respite but the days when there were trips and everyone came back on board at the same time, the Romeo and Juliet was closed!!! Why? People despaired of getting a table. We were hurried by staff, put onto tables with others whether we wanted to or not, we gave up ordering wine as we were never allowed to stay on a table long enough to drink it. The only solace were the staff in the Champagne Bar and Dining Rooms. The rest seemed of low morale and totally disorganised. On previous ships I had been given ice in my room of an evening and the limited mini bar replenished, however to get this on this ship I had to find my cabin steward and request same, one night I was questioned to why I was drinking so much mineral water. The trips we went on were good and informative and not too expensive. However little information was given if you wanted to explore by yourselves. Dismebarking was easy and quick. Would I go back not in a million years what would help? Having a customer relations person who could even PRETEND to be bothered. Perhaps it was because most were English and previously they were US citizens. ARe RC bothered it wouldn't seem so as it is impossible to put in a complaint apart from your guest relations review and who knows what happens to them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We have just retutned from an eleven day cruise to the Canary Islands, stopping at Madeira on the way there and Lisbon and Vigo on the way back. We sailed for the first time In May, and not knowing then what to expect, we thoroughly ... Read More
We have just retutned from an eleven day cruise to the Canary Islands, stopping at Madeira on the way there and Lisbon and Vigo on the way back. We sailed for the first time In May, and not knowing then what to expect, we thoroughly enjoyed that experience, so much so, we had to go back. Independence of the Seas is a lovely ship, and the staff were very welcoming once again. We even had the same waiters in My time, and the boys in the bars remembered how to mix my favourite cocktail which was delicious! The first time we sailed we had a junior suite, which was lovely, and the cabin staff, very attentive, but this time we had a Grand suite, and this was exceptional. From the service of the cabin, to the Consierge facilites, reserved seating areas. The cabin was very spacious, and enhanced by having the robes and slippers, along with treats every few days. Lovely!. We were not too impressed with the Canary Islands, but I think, as the weather was not as good as we had expected, it just made for a less enjoyable visit, for us, but perhaps not for others. As we sailed from Southampton, the weather was not very good, and we had terrible weather through the Bay of Biscay, the motion from the ocean Captain Remo said was the roughest they had had all year, and we had wind gales of 150miles plus, and a force 9-10. A lot of people were staying in cabins pver the first few days, and the ship was a little quiet, but once we were in calmer waters it was lovely and the sun came out. There were a couple of emergencies on board, along with a helicopter evac from Lisbon. On the evening when a gentlman had suffered a heart attack we believe, I have never seen medical response move so fast, and bless them for their skills, we understand that the man, was recovering in intensive care once we docked in Tenerife. The second person, we heard nothing of, but he was evacuated to Lisbon, so we wish that patron well. The medical assistance on the ship seems to be second to none for sure. Well done Indy crew. The food as always on Indy was superb, a little on the cool side in Windammer at times, and always a struggle to get a table in there, but that didnt spoil anything for us. Chops and Portofino's as per normal, were exceptional, and the Filet Mignon at Chops is just the best. One thing I found infuriating at times, were the people who insisted on pushing into lifts whilst you were trying to get out, and others who were rude to waiting staff, saying things like Oi you!. That was rude, cringe worthiness. All in all we had a lovely time once again, and nothing was too much trouble for any member of staff that we came across, highly professional and dedicated to customer care. We look forward to sailing once again next year Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our third time on the Independence of the Seas, this time traveling around the Canary Islands... We stayed at the Holiday Inn Southampton the night before and met up with friends from a previous sailing, the double room was ok bit ... Read More
This was our third time on the Independence of the Seas, this time traveling around the Canary Islands... We stayed at the Holiday Inn Southampton the night before and met up with friends from a previous sailing, the double room was ok bit dated, bathroom could had been much cleaner, but food in the restaurant was really good and so was breakfast. It was nice staying so close to the port as I watched the Independence pulling in around 5.20am, I was so exctited. Boarding was not till 14.00 but they were allowing passengers through the gates around 10.45am which was great, dropped off the luggage and parked the car, check in was ever so quick. This time as a birthday treat we booked a Grand Suite (mainly due to a bargin price), we was given two gold suite cards and made our way onboard. Suite was not ready till 13.00 but had a walk along the Royal promenade and grabbed coffee and cookies, felt like we were home again. Then we ventured up to the suite, was amazing when we looked inside, nice big size stateroom, three seater sofa, an occasional table, bar area, mini fridge, dvd player, flat screen tv, bose surround, the bed was made into queen size was massive with memory foam, the bathroom was a twin sink with marble surround and complete with smellies with loads of drawers to put things, plus a double wardrobe plenty of room inside with a lockable safe. We had a use of the full menu in the suite and two cards giving us access to the Concierge Lounge and the facilities. The balcony double sized area had three sunloungers and two chairs a small table and a larger round table, was nice sitting out there on sail away days and breakfast. We had a sneak peak in the Concierge Lounge early afternoon, pop the card in the slot and door opens automatically, free tea and Seattles Coffee within the lounge, plus between 17.00 - 20.30 included alcohol drinks, pre dinner canapes, as many as you wanted but make room for your dinner. We really enjoyed and looked forward to going to the lounge every evening, met some great people and now good friends, plus the captain visited one of the evenings and spoke to us for a while and shook his hand, this made my day. Our Concierge Gershwin was more than helpful and would do anything he could to help resolve any issues you had. Showing your gold card allows you access to the various seating areas in the main theatre and not having to que for ice show tickets, plus having breakfast in Portofinos every morning was really nice perk to have, as you find the Windjammer gets busy, but we are not snobs but were called that on a couple of times I guess by the jealous few, just ordinary people, easy going and friendly. Within the last two months the outside reserved sunbed area fror suite guests has moved to on top on the Sky Bar, previously it was on the same level as the Sky Bar, it seems this was due to difficulties in patroling the area, we did try the reserved area a few times the sun was out but no shelter from the wind was to blowly, and a girl attendant came around and checked we had appropriate card and half a dozen people were told to leave as not supposed to be there, my friend Carol and I were sniggering, it was quite amusing. On the second day we had arrange a meet and greet with fellow friends and RCCL laid on nibbles and refreshments, and prizes for a raffle, which I won, a nice bag and brolly, key chain and drink beaker, was good fun. I also used the Gym onboard, advised by the instructor the best at sea, I did mainly running and free weights, the running machines allow you ipod to be connected and if you have videos stored you can watch these on the screen in front of you or just listen to your music tracks, this was good to have. We had prepaid and gone for MyTime dinning option but a few days in we were not happy, it is nice and personal for two or four people but we missed the laughs and stories from others on larger tables, so friends on the same trip said they had space on their table and we managed by hook or crook to change to Main Dinning at 20.30 which was great and loved this. Food was good as always, we also had two nights in Chops the mushroom soup and steaks was amazing and is worth the extra cover charge for service alone, plus as this was my birthday the Concierge arranged a surprise birthday cake, then waiting staff sang happy birthday which was really appreciated. Also the suite had been decorated with bithday celebrations RCCl package and answerphone message wishing me a happy brithday and another cake with thanks to my Dave for that, looked nice and cake was a tasty vanilla sponge, too nice. The weather was ok, very windy in certain ports but we had good sunshine at times, but its nice on a port day to stay on the ship or come back early as the ship areas less busy. We managed to bump into a few previously members of staff Dan now in Vintages wine bar, so good to see him again, we found all staff very kind and attentive, but what really amazes me is how certain passengers talk to staff they can be so rude and no need for this. On one of the days a distress message went over the tanoy and then in a short period a helicopter came a hovering over the ship, seems a passenger was very ill and was air lifted to safety, it was amazing to watch and gave everyone on the cruise reassurance that they really do look after you in a real emergency, all credit to the ships staff and crew. Overal we really enjoyed the Independence again, she is an amazing ship, modern facilities, always cleaning everywhere which I like, meeting up with friends, the only thing was we felt the main theatre shows needed a refresh as we have seen them a few times now, ice shows can watch them over and over. We came to the conculsion although you pay more for the luxury of the suite, its putting price on the extra space, but look around for a bargin price they do happen at times, comfort to really relax and manoeuvre plus the use of the Concierge Lounge made the trip for me, this really added the enjoyment to the holiday, the trouble is it really spoils you by wanting a Grand Suite all the time from now on. We are trying Celebrity short trip to Cork as a taster in April 10 on the Eclipse some different and hope to back on the Independence in the future. Mark Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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