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270 Royal Caribbean Southampton Cruise Reviews

This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, having sailed on P&O previously, but with a three generation party we were tempted by the facilities on offer on the Navigator. First impressions were good - boarding, even on such a large ... Read More
This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, having sailed on P&O previously, but with a three generation party we were tempted by the facilities on offer on the Navigator. First impressions were good - boarding, even on such a large ship, was effortless, and the ship's public areas were clean and well-appointed. Our cabin was spacious and seemed to provide more for the money than P&O. A high point for us was the gym. It had 20 treadmills, which were well-maintained , and even repaired en route, plus cycles, cross trainers and weights. We also signed up for a programme of spin classes, which were among the best we've been to on land or sea. The ship was large and had clearly been filled by discounting. We spent a lot of time in our spacious cabin as it was a haven from the overcrowding in the public areas, where tattooed obese smokers took up all the available space. One evening at around 11pm we tried every public room on the ship to get a seat and could not find one. The large ship also moved alarmingly in not particularly rough seas. The Captain informed us that the Bay of Biscay would have rough seas in 30 knot winds, which didn't alarm us too much, but we were all very seasick, despite having seen much worse conditions on smaller ships. Catering was variable. Dinner in the main dining room had clearly been formulated with American customers in mind, so coffee came before the dessert, and our waitress was efficient but insincerely familiar. Some nights we would be treated to the waiters singing, a feature which increased in frequency as tipping time came closer. Some people clearly like this sort of thing but we prefer to finish our meal quietly. Food was plentiful, but managed to be both bland and salty at the same time. Grilled meat was OK, but anything else was too ambitious. Breakfast and buffet lunches in the Windjammer displayed a huge variety, and crowd management was very efficient. We preferred room service breakfast, which gave us the chance to enjoy our large cabin, but was a little haphazard in what actually turned up. On the subject of drinks, RCI has a very American nanny state approach to alcohol consumption which is probably motivated as much by economics as concern for our safety. I suspect many British cruisers enjoy a sundowner in their cabin, but it is not possible to buy spirits for on board consumption and a team of heavies are poised at every port to relieve passengers of any on shore purchases. I'm afraid we resorted to smuggling, but being treated like a criminal when you've spent a five figure sum to go on holiday is not on. Service on board was disappointing to anyone used to the imperial style of P&O. Our cabin steward cleaned the room but that was it, and bar staff clearly hated being out of the Caribbean. Bar tariffs include 15% service charge but that doesn't stop waiters hanging around intimidatingly for tips. Fortunately on board prices in dollars made them cheap for sterling tourists this year. It's very hard to get out of the compulsory tipping regime. We wanted to tip our waiter and steward - they have a tough job - but we didn't feel the need to tip our head waiter. However unless you opt out of all tips you have to tip everyone RCI thinks you should. Be prepared for this or carry a load of dollars or sterling in cash, as cashing cheques on board is not possible. A number of other reviewers have commented on having to pay for shuttle buses into ports. We found taxis, where you were allowed to use them (and sometimes there was a shuttle bus monopoly) were cheaper and, like the alcohol policy, showed RCI's aim is to fill the ship as cheaply as possible then whack on as many extras as they can. For such a young style ship children's facilities were really poor. Our children (14 and 12) hung around with a gang of others, but never returned to the kids' club, where activities were poorly organized by badly motivated staff. Perhaps we're too traditional for RCI but we were very disappointed overall. The ship is set up to take Americans round the Caribbean, so the staff clearly hate a season in rainy Europe, and there is not enough space inside on bad weather days. We missed being treated as special and we'll be back on P&O next year Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
    We were not impressed. This was our sixth Cruise but the first from a UK port. Whether this was the reason or not we are not sure.     The Balcony Cabin was very good and very clean. The staff were all very good and ... Read More
    We were not impressed. This was our sixth Cruise but the first from a UK port. Whether this was the reason or not we are not sure.     The Balcony Cabin was very good and very clean. The staff were all very good and attentive.The food was overall abysmal, certainly the worst we have had on any cruise ship. It is the very first time I have been on a cruise and not had a decent steak in the restaurant. The Windjammer Buffet was not very good either. The presentation of the food was pathetic and the same every day very little variation.      They seem to do some very strange things. Although there were nearly four passengers they closed half the Winjammer and only used one side most of the time, consequently there was a shortage of tables. Why ? no one seemed to know.       One day whilst in the Med they stopped the use of balconies so they could be cleaned.......why not do this in cooler climes when the balconies were not being used ?       Also while in the Med on a beautiful day the closed part of the pool area for CLEANING and Varnishing !!!!!       The cost of everything was very expensive ( $6.50 for a can of Buds...almost a fiver)$29.99 for 1 hour on the internet.       They must actually have got embarrassed at on stage as they were charging $12 for a trip into Livorno town and decided to refund $4 and charge only $8.       We only met one couple on the ship that were satisfied customers ( and we strongly suspected that was because they had a relative working onboard)       We were on the Grand Princess last year wnd the difference was remarkable it would have been difficult to fault anything on that ship.        By the way we agree with the Daily Telegraph reviewer, there are only lifts at the front and rear of the ship and it is a hell of a long walk to get your meals if you are not situated near the rear.        Maybe just too big !!!!!!!              Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Just returned from a 14 day tour of the Med on the Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Having sailed in one of the giants last year (QM2) we were keen to give the latest biggest cruise ship a try. Well lets just say that ... Read More
Just returned from a 14 day tour of the Med on the Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Having sailed in one of the giants last year (QM2) we were keen to give the latest biggest cruise ship a try. Well lets just say that biggest isn't best. Not to say that our latest adventure wasn't enjoyable - it was, and much of what we got was just as expected and of a good standard. But there are so many negatives concerning the Royal Caribbean operation. Cunard they are certainly not, they are not even on the same page. They are the nautical equivalent of a travel lodge with a few more amenities. Much of what was included in the price wasn't actually used by us, but much of what was available - was only in fact available at an additional cost. As a guest I found myself being part of the target group, with the well-honed sales team keen to make a killing on maximizing revenue. You can imagine all their team-building exercises, staff appraisals and target setting going on a daily basis behind the façade of the cruise, with lots of high-fives and hooting and hollering before making their sales pitch. To be greeted with the Disneyesque "enjoy your breakfast", "how are you today", and the stomach-churning classic "have a nice day", was not my idea of enhancing the dining experience. To make matters worse, it was usually offered by a singing welcome-host who I never saw do anything else on the entire cruise. God only knows what the position she applied for was. The fact is, such greetings usually limited my food intake in case of sudden nausea brought on by the in-your-face and over-the-top greetings that were rammed down your throat with all the sincerity of a McDonalds employee. Ugh ! I am familiar with lift music that is usually the preserve of major hotels and larger department stores. Sometimes it can be dismissed without possibly meaning to do so. Possibly a subconscious reaction. It is usually nondescript and completely forgettable background music that is unobtrusive unless you allow it to be, when in a moment of weakness you may even hum along or tap your feet, hopefully out of sight to other punters of course. Royal Caribbean have gone the extra mile and made all their lift music completely obtrusive, mirroring the antics of many of their staff. In your face, nauseating and completely pointless, but obviously appealing to the younger clientele who saw the lifts as some kind of evening entertainment facility. You can usually get an indication of a company by the way in which it deals with any complaints. Customer service usually begins with, "the customer is always right," even if they are not. Well, Royal Caribbean seem to tackle any points raised with an immediate defensive stance, or "please fill in all these forms in triplicate," so that any desire to voice concerns or see the person in charge is completely stone-walled with an intricate defense mechanism. My wife commented on some marks on her wine glass one evening, and the Assistant Waiter, the Waiter, and the Head Waiter all suggested that this is how they come out of the dishwasher. There was no "I'm sorry madam, I'll get you a clean one" - but an immediate defense response, and a slight suggestion that such trivial concerns shouldn't really be raised. Hands up who would put dish-washer stained glasses or cutlery on their dinner table. Exactly. So come on Royal Caribbean - don't defend the indefensible. Then again it is possible that perhaps my wife should have apologized for noticing the offending stains and made her point quietly on her way out of the dining room and out of earshot to other guests. It wasn't as though she was asking for a mass-suicide of the kitchen staff, she was merely pointing out that her glass was dirty. On a positive note, after this incident it would appear that they managed to repair the faulty dish-washer as there was no repeat performance. A picture is emerging. But before more of the bad things lets look at some of the good ones. The entertainment team are very good - the resident band are superb - particularly the drummer. The standard of acts again was good, and the ice show outstanding. The food at breakfast and lunch was taken in the Windjammer area and was of good standard with plenty of choice - although the welcome host became annoying to say the least, and the plastic crockery was not in keeping with the attempted splendor. Even the coffee mugs were plastic, although you could venture all the way down to other end of the promenade and find a more appropriate receptacle for beverages. Sorry I was meant to be concentrating on the good, but seem to have wandered off again. The staterooms were excellent and the house staff were proficient in their housekeeping service, and were genuinely polite and amiable people - well done to all. The main dining room was a grand affair on three levels and the standard of service was generally good - with more appropriate crockery and fortunately the wine wasn't served in plastic cups. The onboard facilities were generally of a good standard with an attempt made to offer both fun and quiet areas for all guests. The central promenade was interesting and proved popular with the guests, although to me it was like wandering around an out-of-town shopping mall which isn't exactly everyone's cup-of-tea, but was something novel on-board The information was also very clear and of a good standard, from the daily publications to the gust service staff. Unfortunately it's now back the bad. Royal Caribbean need to get one of their employees to be a guest on a cruise - they will certainly benefit from the experience, and they will undoubtedly hear the numerous whisperings from disgruntled guests around the ship, who then seem content to just put up with it. Royal Caribbean's bizarre defense mechanism will eventually do more them harm than good. Don't remind people that they are having a great time or inform them of the "superb entertainment". Let guests make up their own minds, but be ready to respond when necessary. It called customer service. We were fawned all over during evening dinner service as to whether or not we were enjoying our meals. My attitude is that if I'm eating it I'm enjoying it - stay away. If I'm not enjoying it I'll let you know. On one evening I was asked by three separate members of staff as to whether I was enjoying my meal. Such distractions and the time taken to respond on each occasion interrupted my meal and the general table conversation. I also don't wish to be mithered as to whether I want some more wine pouring. I can perform this function quite adequately myself - and can even turn the bottle to avoid any spillage. Greet, take orders, deliver drinks, deliver food, bon appetite, and a fond farewell. But be around to deal with any issues. Not too much to ask is it. Nobody interrupted the evening entertainment to ask whether or not I was enjoying the show, and I cannot recall any of the bar staff enquiring as to my satisfaction with the drinks that I had ordered. So is the over-zealous attention in the dining room being polite, over the top, or the assumed standards that Royal Caribbean think they should set or aspire to? Well I'm of the opinion that it is the latter, although they miss the mark completely. As regards staff availability and attention, when the queues were mounting up for disembarkation on the tenders at Villefranche, tempers seemed to be rising and the Royal Caribbean staff were conspicuous by their absence. A result of the latest training initiative perhaps. When there's going to be a problem - hide. If I nip down to my local hostelry and someone offers me a drink I am usually grateful and may even reciprocate later in the evening. On Royal Caribbean ships beware waiters bearing drink filled trays offering you cocktails. "Ooh thanks very much". Then they bring you a bill for a drink they offered you, which you probably wouldn't have ordered if you had decided to venture to the bar. You can keep your rummy-rummy in future. I got fed up with continual market-trader baying by the free-range cocktail waiters out on the deck offering their wares. It was rather akin to the lucky-lucky men that proliferate so many of the tourist hotspots around the Med nowadays The meals in the main restaurant were adequate and occasionally good, but became increasingly familiar during the cruise. The non-popular choices seemingly remained on the menu instead of just being lost in the self-service Windjammer buffet. The biggest issue on board was with the sheer number of unsupervised kids. Perhaps the issue was therefore the parents of these little miscreants. Lets face facts, no kid actually paid anything for their cruise. Their parents paid. So once they have ditched their folks, why are they still treated as equals on board? As friendships grew some areas became similar to the street corners back home with hoards of teenagers pushing older guests out of lifts, trying to coerce other guests into buying them alcohol, and generally being a nuisance to guests who had actually paid out of their own pockets. The ship has a running track on the uppermost deck, although the kids preferred the stateroom corridors. Lifts also provided a great deal of free fun - press every floor button and the run away. Alternatively just hold the doors open on the top floor. Adult only zones were located at various parts of the ship, which were obviously meant to put off other the kids and not the ones that chose to ignore the signs. Perhaps Royal Caribbean needs to define what they mean by the term adult. Old? Over 18, 21 or 25? Being a parent, being married or in a civil partnership, or having a proper job? It seems a cop-out to me to use the term adult as there are so few on any holiday nowadays. Perhaps it means someone who is considerate to others, or even conscious of anyone outside their little tribal gathering. To me it probably means me and perhaps my wife and then hopefully the captain, one or two of the staff and ideally other like-minded guests muttering obscenities under their breath. If you can answer the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" with an answer that is in the present tense, then you probably are an adult, or as near as one can get. As for the kids it is their parents that are ruining them with such lavish treats as a way of extolling their own prowess in modern society. Cruising is not really for kids despite what the adverts say and the extensive range of activities on board. Kids belong at Euro-Camp, Disneyworld, All-inclusive hotels or Butlins. As I said, kids haven't paid anything themselves, but they can get free soda, ice-cream and pizza all day long, and a dedicated pool area offering all the fun of an adventure park. There were some classic quotes overheard from some patronizing parents; "Don't you think you've had enough ice-creams this morning", "Try not to have just chips today", "Florence will be a great trip - you can even try some Italian ice-cream" Just a few gems that probably say more about the parents than it does about the kids. These families are seemingly not from the seedier suburbs, but appear to be from affluent backgrounds with even a smattering of education. Unfortunately the kids seem to expect their world of treats, and probably demand one better than last year or just keep up with their school friends, "cos Tarquin did a cruise last year". Their parents seem to want to use their holiday experience of taking the kids on a cruise as some collateral in their bawdy recollections back home at the Golf-Club or Gym. Funnily enough, the kids on board appear to have similar role models to those less fortunate teenagers back home - Amy Winehouse, Vicky Pollard et al. Any direct complaints to the dear little lambs were met with the usual "Am I bothered" routine. Unfortunately I wasn't met with any such retorts, so I wasn't able to suggest that "if only your opinion mattered," as a suitable put-down. Royal Caribbean security staff were invisible in the main, although they were more than active at the ports, whilst you were getting on and off the ship. You would like to think they could easily address the issue of massed ranks of unsupervised kids. Just before daybreak, you could apparently watch many parents prowling the corridors in search of their offspring who had not yet returned to their stateroom. Occasionally, bags of discarded clothes sent shockwaves through concerned mothers until the little miscreants were finally tracked down, so that they could shower, get changed and do it all over again. The only time when parents were asked to take responsibility for a child's behavior was before a show started with a announcement for parental control over the PA. This wasn't actually policed though and I can hardly sit in judgement on Royal Caribbean when it is merely more evidence of social breakdown. More alarmingly, I reckon the parents would no doubt be more defensive than Royal Caribbean on hearing any complaints, if not abusive about being questioned on their parenting ability. For the record I'm not anti-kid - I have at least 5, and have done my stint of holidays of all types with my own squad of little tykes, so for those accusing me of not knowing what parenting is about, believe me I'm suitably qualified Well back to the cruise itself. The brochure has you conjuring up an illusion of a floating hotel with a new destination being served up as you awake on the next leg of your cruise. So you book a cruise to visit all these fascinating places that unfortunately you sometimes don't actually get to see. You usually find yourself moored up against a harbor wall with a view of a container port, with a possible glimpse of the glossy destination you so longingly wanted to visit. You may have to stand on the balcony furniture or adjourn to the upper most decks to catch a view of the cathedral dome using some high magnification binoculars. So your cruise doesn't actually take you where they tell you in the brochures - you must pay more to get into the town - ie Lisbon, Barcelona, Gib, Livorno. I have some excellent footage of the cranes in operation at Barcelona and Malaga, to the tuneful accompaniment of reversing sirens on the fork-lift-trucks or the container cranes. It is completely at the other end of the spectrum to your envisaged docking location. Why did the adjacent ship at the port of Livorno only charge 1 Euro for the shuttle bus, whereas Royal Caribbean charged 5 dollars each way? Someone made a formal complaint in triplicate which was posted in the relevant complaints box - which probably is linked directly to the effluent discharge. Admittedly, sometimes the shuttle was free - but this was a gesture of the town rather than a service laid on by Royal Caribbean. A nice gesture in order to get the tourists to part with their hard-earned Euros in the town center, but most welcome all the same. As you leaf through the brochures you are promised excellent service, cuisine and entertainment on board ship, although occasionally I would forgo some of this for a brief go on the internet, which was at an additional cost and extortionate to say the least. Just a little free googling and emails isn't too much to ask for, rather than yet another ice extravaganza - all teeth and knickers, or rolling out some has-beens or in some cases never-was's. I would also liked to have opened a bottle of red on my balcony instead of being blasted every night by music and lights, but any booze you try and take on board gets confiscated and the bar prices can be expensive for a nice bottle of wine ($40 on board - £3 a bottle in Gib) So, somethings that you yearn for you are denied and instead you are led on a tailored holiday experience that is tailored to ramp up your bill. Comfortable air-conditioning is provided in the casino to encourage you stay and lose any winnings, although it can get uncomfortably warm on the promenade in order to entice you to quench your thirst at one of the bars. So for 14 nights, you can generally pay up to £2000 per person, sometimes more sometimes less. They then hope to get half as much again from your on board account. So cater for at least 25% of your cruise cost to cover the so called extras. Then there's the tips. Royal Caribbean even offer a pre-paid gratuity service for their staff. When I booked the cruise there was a promise of excellent standards. This standard was never exceeded on the cruise so I feel I've already purchased the service with the booking and to me a tip is for going above and beyond. This was never achieved and the service was just as described on the tin so to speak. Why don't Royal Caribbean pay their staff a decent salary rather than rely on customers to make up their apparent shortfall in staff wages. In order to maximize Royal Caribbean shareholder dividends, they pay their staff minimum wage and rely on the grand old tradition of tipping to ensure that their staff can make ends meet by expecting the customers to stump up a bit extra for the guys that expertly manage to get a cork out of a bottle, or bring a plate of food to your table containing exactly what you ordered, or the noble art of making a bed and hovering the carpet. I really don't know how I mange this same level of service myself at home. And it's a real shame I never got the opportunity to stuff a $20 bill into the Captain's top pocket, "Well steered and thanks for staying up all night driving the boat." As a reminder of Royal Caribbean's "green" stance we were continually reminded to "save the waves" and limit towel washing requirement and wasting water, and we even initially participated in this with some enthusiasm. However, after the captain discharged the effluent tanks once 16 miles off land, we became disturbed by the sheer hypocrisy and were immediately put off the prospect of "catch of the day" for our evening meal. I'm sure that any discharge conforms to all relevant international standards and the company could wheel out some marine biologist of undoubted repute in order to praise the marine conservation efforts of Royal Caribbean. But the aroma that confronted us on deck during one part of the voyage was particularly unwelcome, but not nearly as unwelcome as my wife's line of enquiry as to whether I was responsible for the offending smell. So, use as many towels as you want - it's your holiday. All in all, a good experience - but you have been warned. If you've got this far and want to do a cruise with the kids - Royal Caribbean is probably for you, although in reality you probably haven't read this far. Royal Caribbean should remember that their cruise is not for affluent dummies eager to part with cash to purchase tawdry goods, tours and unwanted chattels. They need to understand the term "guests" and in my experience such people don't mind buying things, but definitely don't like being sold it. If you want a top drawer cruise with less kids - try Cunard, Princess or Norwegian. Although Thomson Holidays apparently offer adult only cruises but on much smaller ships - but then again what exactly is an adult? Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Right - lets beginFirst impressions were that it was great - huge - well crewed and spacious the truth - its actually not much bigger than say Legend if you add the extra passengers and crew - so no real time increase is actual free space ... Read More
Right - lets beginFirst impressions were that it was great - huge - well crewed and spacious the truth - its actually not much bigger than say Legend if you add the extra passengers and crew - so no real time increase is actual free space If anything we found it to be far more crowded than previous smaller shipsThe crew were great and very helpful but there were so many it was difficult to actually get the 'personal service' provided on previous cruises - this wasn't a major problem but did make it difficult to relax like other cruisesWe found the bars to be very crowded most fo the time during the evenings and almost impossible to walk in and get a seat most of the time The shows were great but seating was again an issue - rather than have more shows you were issued tickets to each show - queueing is the great British pastime and yes we queued for tickets each time for the Ice ShowGetting there early was the only way to get good seats Unless >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>You had a suite - Gold members - not the loyalty kind but the Suite kind had seats reserved for them at every show - the pool side , sun beds , ice shows etc - It seems RCCI has introduced the two tire system them and us !!!!! and i have say that some of them were pains in the butt - moving around in their front seats during the shows getting the way - just because they couldThe prices for soft drinks were not too bad - still way over the odds but just liveable - obviously the soda package was available but way over priced for what you got - The cost of beer was out of this world - $6.50 for a 24oz glass (pint) - how in the world do RCCI get away with it - the cost was disgusting - as was the beer alot of the time - canned was $8 for a large Fosters WOWAgain the prices of the cocktails were massive - and the cocktails are not made from totally fresh ingredients - they use a cocktail mix and ice - so no where near as nice as freshly mixed onesThe excursions were OK but not as nice as last time and again well over priced for what you get - shorter and less interesting than last cruise - cost cutting big timeThe dining room we didn't use so cannot commentThe Wind Jammer food was cold and disgusting - when the manager was asked why the food was of such a low temperature - 'to stop people namely children burning their hands' was the answerI suggest getting your food directly from the chef and not taking the food on hold - the meals we had hot we had to ask for - holding temperature was 50 degrees celcius - UK spec is 65 degrees minimum !!!!! proven by a temp probe by the Soux Chef when asked to - his answer was the probe was getting there lolOur room was no bigger then a smaller ships room as previously used - the balcony was great - we only had one soft chair - we asked for another and in this massive ship they had no spares - so we endured the cruise with one sofa chair and the bed to sit on !!! don't have an ajoining room unless you need it - we didn't and suffered from the door being there and no second chairThe room wasn't hoovered everyday - neither did our room guy dust or provide ice even after being asked - The towel animals don't start until day 8 either - they really weren't very good either Overall value for money - very poor - Overall enjoyment - poorOverall relaxation - medium poorOverall excursions - medium poorOverall cruise - medium poorwill i cruise with RCCI again - yes - but it will be on a smaller ship quote from my wife - 'its like a floating Butlins' - there was fighting on the dance floor too lol Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We booked this holiday at the beginning of 2008, a suite at the rear of the ship on deck 9. That's where we wanted to be. Unfortunately when we arrived at our suite, we realised what a huge mistake we had made. The view from our ... Read More
We booked this holiday at the beginning of 2008, a suite at the rear of the ship on deck 9. That's where we wanted to be. Unfortunately when we arrived at our suite, we realised what a huge mistake we had made. The view from our balcony was diminished by this incredible amount of steel designed around the rear of the ship. It was probably the largest balcony we had ever been on, but unfortunately it was also overlooked by deck 10, so we had no privacy and very little sunshine. Considering we spend allot of time on our balcony when cruising, this was a major disappointment. We did speak to the concierge about changing room but this was not possible. We went for dinner that night, we were in the Romeo and Juliet restaurant on deck three, we were astounded to find there was no silver service, and the food served plated reminded me of school dinners. I ordered a rare steak, it came cremated. I ordered the same meal for three nights and not once did they get it right. I complained every night, I didn't eat the food and on the third night when speaking to the resturante manager, I was comparing the food to P&O's. I said how incredible P&O's food was, he said to me "that's because you have to pay more money with P&O." I have cruised with P&O 6 times, and this cruise was the most expensive I had ever been on. We tried one more night in this restaurant giving it another chance and the food was worse than the previous nights. So we all agreed that it wasn't good enough. It seemed the only time we experienced quality, was when we got off of the ship, because this restaurant had none. The first full day of cruising, we took our 3 year old daughter to the children's club 'Aquanaughts'. We stood in a narrow corridor for 10 minutes in a queue. When we got to the entrance there was a rope across the doorway and a 6ft 3" male greeting my child. My daughter was petrified and immediately started to cry. I asked the gentleman on the door whether there were any young females around, the only other person there was another rather tall male. When we tried to leave my daughter with them, she wouldn't stop crying. When we asked if we could go into the club with her to see if we could calm her down, they would not allow any adults in. I said "how do you expect me to leave my child in a state of fear with you?" He sarcastically replied "You don't have to." I tried to explain to him one of the main reasons we cruise is because the other cruise lines we have been on offered incredible child services. Which P&O do. His reply was "this is not P&O." I spoke to the manager to make my complaint, in her defence; she told me all of her staff were qualified. I asked the question "why would you employ such large males to look after such small children?" All she could say is that her staff was qualified. Needless to say our 3 year old child didn't go in the children's club at any period of the holiday. So that left me and my wife no longer had the holiday we thought we had booked. So you can imagine after 4 days now, we didn't go back into the restaurant, our child wasn't in the kids club, we couldn't use our balcony and our 13 and 14 year old children, that were hoping for a structured teenagers club found to their disbelief that there was no structured activities to take part in as a group. So everything I had experienced with P&O I thought I was going to get and allot more by sailing on the Independence of the Seas, and so far my holiday is now in turmoil. We had waited so long for this cruise, we had virtually complained to everyone that would listen to us, when I then realised that it was all a waste of time. One thing about the ship that we all liked was the Wave rider but having to queue for half an hour for a 1 minute go wasn't much fun. The live entertainment reminded me of a holiday camp I worked in as a very young man. The high street in the centre of the ship, had windows above the shops, sometimes it looked like it could have been the red light district and I thought the space could have been better utilised. I think there is a lot more to say about the ship that we are not happy about, but I think that I will be here too long. I never checked any reviews of the ship which I should have done. When I first seen the ship it looked incredible. I was expecting from my holiday to have fantastic food, good company, good entertainment, outstanding service and children's club with great facilities to give some freedom and quality time with my wife. We only got one of these..... We have only cruised with P&O; we thought that maybe this ship may offer everything we had before and maybe more. I was totally wrong. I think this might be a little bit like the BT sinario, other companies pretending to offer better quality services and better rates, and for most people that didn't happen and now you find BT welcoming their old customers back and so will P&O. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
First, the good points.A nice cabin, plenty of space and balcony. A lovely bed. Very quiet.Great staff, hardworking and friendly (apart from guest services below)Some good entertainment - ice show, super violinist Joana Fuczik, Kory Simon ... Read More
First, the good points.A nice cabin, plenty of space and balcony. A lovely bed. Very quiet.Great staff, hardworking and friendly (apart from guest services below)Some good entertainment - ice show, super violinist Joana Fuczik, Kory Simon in the piano bar, Hilary O'Neill. And no more than we wanted.Enjoyed food in windjammer, and plenty of good coffee. We have previously found dinner in the dining room excessively fussy and drawn out.Now the badToo little port time, and no useful information on ports. No good reason for this, especially as we crawled back to SouthamptonOutrageous markups on drinks - not a huge problem as we were trying to drink less. Still, this and the tips regime an example of stealth pricing. Probably a culture clash between customers who feel they've paid for a holiday, and a company that sees this cost as a downpayment.Hygiene regime following Norovirus outbreak caused dermatitis to me (first time ever!) and an allergic reaction to wife. Not consistently enforced either, especially with big blokes and children. Very callous and indifferent attitude from guest services, and those who used the medical facilities felt overcharged. Wife pointed out that the problem was RCI's fault, and happens to be a professional infection control scientist - was not charged.No decent swimming pool - too many splash poolsHuge queues on embarkation, and not just caused by the norovirus - regularly loading 4000 passengers in 2 hours is worse than most airports. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We are experienced cruisers and have done 19 now ranging from weekenders to 7 nights to 15 nights - Med, Caribbean, Panama Canal, British Isles, Indian Ocean etc. etc. and as you've probably gathered already - cruising is one of our ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers and have done 19 now ranging from weekenders to 7 nights to 15 nights - Med, Caribbean, Panama Canal, British Isles, Indian Ocean etc. etc. and as you've probably gathered already - cruising is one of our favourite things in the world to do! So we tried RCCI (Voyager) in 2007 and wanted to take our son (aged 9) on a short cruise during the Whitsun school holidays and found this 3 night mini-cruise to Le Havre from Southampton and thought - perfect. We booked the Holiday Inn cruise package and could not have been closer to Indy before embarking. We chanced our arm and were onboard before 11.30am - check-in was very efficient and we were soon enjoying the main pool and bar area for a wonderful sunny afternoon - jacuzzis, pools, sunshine and cocktails - who could ask for more!!! Very impressive cocktail range and even served my favourite (BBC - baileys, bananas & cream) - do try it if you go on Indy. Also, when special cocktails are bought round by barmen in the special cocktail glasses, if you buy one of these cocktails, you get to keep the glass as a souvenir and they are nice glasses. We had an E1 deluxe ocean view stateroom (7708) at the aft of the ship with a lovely large balcony and everything was in order. The ship was full for this mini-cruise and we like many other families had decided before setting off that we were going to give Le Havre, Honfleur and Paris a miss and just stay on board to get the full RCCI cruise "fun" experience and on the whole we did just that. The food and service in both the very busy restaurants and bars was good despite the staff obviously being caught short with just how many passengers stayed on board during port days. One thing we always notice on RCCI is that there are no vegetables served with dinner (only that comes in the meal) and we really miss our veg both from home meals and that of the silver service of P&O. Our son obviously wanted to try the rock climbing wall and the flowrider surf simulator so we went to check out when he could do these activities only to read that the rock climbing wall only opened for both days from 3.30pm-6.30pm and that the flowrider also had very restricted hours unless you wanted to pay a ridiculous sum of money to hire it privately for any period of time!!! So we ended up, like most people on board, queuing for over an hour for each activity - we thought we had gone to Alton Towers by mistake!!! Still, when Luke got on the wall and flowrider, this was all forgotten but it would be better for all concerned if RCCI had just opened these well advertised activities all day instead! We love a bit of karaoke and so decided to go to the On Air studio on Deck 3 and have a bit of a sing song only to find that many popular "British" karaoke tunes were missing. Considering this ship now sails from Southampton all year round, RCCI needs to address this straight away. Also, these days most karaoke microphones are cordless due to Health & Safety reasons (as well as extrovert performers like my OH who loves to run around the bar seronading unsuspecting punters)! The hypnotist show was fabulous and Luke had a tummy ache from laughing so much. The casino is great - it has 5 roulette tables (double zero wheels unfortunately however all take neighbour & French bets) as well as numerous card tables and machines. We enjoyed a few hours in here. We also managed to get some tickets for the ice show that we had been told was full (we blagged a couple from diamond plus members Declan and Chris - thanks guys) only to find that 1) 1/2 the seats were empty and 2) the show was not nearly as good as the ice show we had seen on Voyager. The drinks are overpriced and that's without the 15% service charge however we were aware of this from our previous cruise and from other reviews! Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the ship - Luke loved the H20 zone and we struggled to get him back to the room just to shower and change for dinner but he did well and tried food that we never thought he would and looked lovely in his tux for formal night so a great time was had by all but then..... We arrived back in Southampton on the Saturday morning and disembarked early as we had booked the ferry over to the Isle of Wight for the day as we thought we'd make the most of the weekend and already being in Southampton. Our trouble began when we arrived home and Pete tried to buy his train ticket to get to work in London and his debit card was declined. At the same time, I was doing the food shopping in Asda and upon trying to pay with my debit card (from the same account), it was also declined. Luckily for me, my brother was with me and loaned me the cash to settle my bill however Pete had to walk home from the station where I had only just dropped him off so he could try to get some money to pay for his ticket to get to work!!!! Neither of us could understand why our cards had been rejected as we knew we had plenty of money in our account to pay for our day to day expenses before we both got paid again. I immediately phoned my bank who informed me that RCCI had 4 pending transactions on my account and that they needed to cancel them so they would "drop off" my account!! I then phoned RCCI post cruise customer relations department who told me they could not cancel the transactions as they had only asked the bank if the funds were available and not to actually debit the money from my account!!! These 4 transactions came to over £500 and were processed on 3rd-5th June 2010. Today is 14th June 2010 and the funds are still not available to me as RCCI are still saying they cannot cancel the transactions and my bank is telling me it is the retailer's responsibility to do this otherwise amounts just remain as pending on my account but I have no access to my own money!!!! JUST A WARNING - IF YOU REGISTER A DEBIT CARD ON RCCI - YOU WILL PROBABLY EXPERIENCE THIS SAME PROBLEM AS THEY DO NOT DEBIT FROM THE AUTHORISATION CODES THEY OBTAIN DURING YOUR CRUISE BUT PROCESS A SEPARATE TRANSACTION AT THE END OF THE CRUISE AND THEN FAIL TO CANCEL THE PREVIOUS ONES!!! I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU EITHER REGISTER A CREDIT CARD OR PAY BY CASH OR AS WE WILL FROM NOW ON TRAVEL WITH AN ALTERNATIVE CRUISE COMPANY LIKE P&O WHEN THIS DESPICABLE TYPE OF THING DOES NOT HAPPEN. AS YOU CAN APPRECIATE I AM STILL VERY ANGRY ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO ACCESS MY OWN MONEY AND NOBODY BEING ABLE TO TELL ME WHEN THIS IS GOING TO BE RESOLVED (11 DAYS SO FAR). I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND RCCI FOR THIS REASON AS WE WILL NOT BE TRAVELLING WITH THEM AGAIN NO MATTER WHAT FACILITIES MAY OR MAY NOT BE ON OFFER ON THEIR SHIPS. WE ARE SO DISAPPOINTED AS WE WERE HOPING TO TRY OASIS ALAS THIS IS NOT TO BE! I HAVE BEEN HONEST AND FAIR AND WOULD SO HAVE LOVED TO WRITE A GREAT REVIEW BUT I'M AFRAID I'VE BEEN LEFT WITH A VERY BITTER AFTER TASTE AND ALL I WANT IS FOR THIS NOT TO HAPPEN TO ANYBODY ELSE. IF IT WASN'T FOR THIS PROBLEM WITH RCCI STEALING MY MONEY, I WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN MENTIONED ALL THESE SMALL NIGGLES THAT I'M WRITING ABOUT TODAY AS OVERALL THEY DID NOT AFFECT THE ENJOYMENT WE EXPERIENCED ON THE SHIP AS WE ALWAYS ENJOY OURSELVES ON ALL CRUISES (DESPITE SAILING THROUGH A HURRICANE ONCE) BUT WE DRAW THE LINE AT A SUBSTANTIALLY FUNDED COMPANY LIKE RCCI STEALING OUR HARD EARNED MONEY AND EVEN PREVENTING MY OH FROM GETTING TO WORK TO EARN MORE MONEY TO SPEND ON CRUISING!!!! THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED WITH RCCI BOTH TO US AND OTHER PASSENGERS AND IT MAKES ME WONDER HOW MUCH INTEREST RCCI IS EARNING FROM HAVING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PASSENGERS MONEY IN PENDING ACCOUNTS EVERY DAY!!!! THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW AND SORRY IF IT HAS DISAPPOINTED YOU TOO!! SORT IT OUT RCCI OR YOU WILL LOSE MORE CRUISERS LIKE US!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Met some fabulous people who we hope will remain friends for a long time. Independence of the Seas is fabulous, as a structure. She is also fabulously clean and the Staff, who we came across daily, were magnificent. ... Read More
Met some fabulous people who we hope will remain friends for a long time. Independence of the Seas is fabulous, as a structure. She is also fabulously clean and the Staff, who we came across daily, were magnificent. But...... There was an awful lot wrong with this cruise, when compared to Voyager and Indy's sister ship Liberty. It became apparent very early that the customer that Independence wanted was not the "Cruiser" but people from the mass-market and I don't mean that in any disparaging way whatsoever. Standards were way below other RCCL ships and in my humble opinion this was a deliberate ploy. Jeans and T Shirts in the dining room on formal nights? How about a pair of flip-flops? Signs stating the opposite being blatantly ignored and not challenged. If we had been pre-warned that the dress code was to be so relaxed we wouldn't have spent £££££'s on new clothes and outfits for the cruise. Dining room food: - Well cooked and well presented but dated. We were eating the same menu from 3yrs ago and nothing had changed. Disappointed. Windjammer: - Chaotic Bars EXPENSIVE $6-95 for a beer or £4-54 is an outrageous RIP-OFF. Entertainment Hit & Miss Ports Very disappointing. $6-00 to get you to the port gates? Another RIP OFF. Vigo shut Tenerife shut Gran Canaria ok Lanzarote never even bothered getting off Madeira RIP OFF-see above Stateroom Attendant Michael was superb. Waiter and Second Waiter Owen & Joey both superb Head Waiter Wouldn't pay him in washers Maitre de Who is this elusive person? Staff other than mentioned were extremely pleasant and worked very hard. Paying the Bill After returning from the cruise I checked my Bank Statement and the Bill from Indy had been paid. I found however, a huge £524-05 Black-Hole in my account. I phoned my bank who told me that RCCL were holding the monies, even though my bill had been paid!! I didn't even owe them the money yet they had taken it from my account. Not a happy bunny. You got an awful lot wrong on this RCCL and I will certainly not be returning to Independence and likely as not, not from Southampton again. I doubt very much if I will return to RCCL after this experience which is a shame as prior to this I sang their praises from the rooftops. It's a further disappointment as we were looking forward to going on Oasis or Allure in the next couple of years. Yours, A former customer. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
How do you start to describe an experience which was a nightmare from start to finish!!My advice to future travellers don't waste your money.The Royal Caribbean company is all about making as much money out of their guests has ... Read More
How do you start to describe an experience which was a nightmare from start to finish!!My advice to future travellers don't waste your money.The Royal Caribbean company is all about making as much money out of their guests has possible ie photographs, drinks, shuttle bus charges, spa treatments,INTERNET CHARGES (TOTAL JOKE)and many more items which add to your final sea pass bill.My daughter was bored throughout the cruise because once you have done every activity what else is there to do. The swimming pools if you can call them that because to be honest i have paddled in bigger rock pools on a beach.Food OK but much the same every night just in a different sauce. Staff service again average nothing outstanding.Beware to all travellers that intend to bring cigarettes back to UK don't fall for the discounts offered on board ship with their 15% sale because customs are out in force and they will be seized. My advice is to buy them in mainland Spain so you abide by the correct amounts allowed.My view it was BORING BORING BORING ETC Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Sailed on the 25Th March the ship which we have travelled on several times before was well kept & although the ship was undergoing a deep clean we left on time.The big production shows were great although the same ones as when Indy was ... Read More
Sailed on the 25Th March the ship which we have travelled on several times before was well kept & although the ship was undergoing a deep clean we left on time.The big production shows were great although the same ones as when Indy was launched but apart Elton John the guest acts were poor.The food in the main dining room as gone down in standard along with the windjammer cafe & the fight to get near the place was a joke (windjammer) & what is it with Johnny Rockets no atmosphere & lots of things missing off the menu.The drink package was causing problems with drunks carried into lifts, bar staff been threatened & sick bags everywhere what a awful atmosphere along with children out of control running up & down the corridors & playing on the stairs in the dining room not a relaxing cruise.We booked shore excursions before leaving & not one did what it claimed on the RCCL site,we enjoyed it far better when we did our own thing.The food was excellent in Chops & the crew were worked hard cleaning & serving drinks.Will we cruise with RCCL again!!! we will have to think long & hard we love the ship,but the drink package & low prices attract problems. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We had been on two fantastic cruises previously one on NCL and the other RCI Voyager. So were really looking forward to the trip to the Canary Islands from Southampton. The day before we received an email saying as the ship needed deep ... Read More
We had been on two fantastic cruises previously one on NCL and the other RCI Voyager. So were really looking forward to the trip to the Canary Islands from Southampton. The day before we received an email saying as the ship needed deep clean we should not arrive until after 2pm. So 3,500 + people arrived at the same time to book in! The queues went on forever but they did move quite quickly. We were all ushered towards the Windjammer which is a lovely area with great views. Unfortunately it was so packed it was difficult to find a seat. We were glad that we had booked My time dining, until we went for our meal at 6pm. We had booked the 6pm seating for four, 3 month previously. There was no table for four when we arrived, after a few words a table was made up for us in the corner of the room at a door entrance, not satisfactory. We were promised a table for the following evening but not until 8pm. As the service was not exceptional and the menu was similar to the Windjammer we decided to eat at of peak times there. On sea days when it is really packed you are asked to vacate your table. Sanitizing through out the ship is pretty evident especially in the Windjammer.The ship is ideal if you have any disabilities. The lifts are often full but if you are not disabled why not use the stairs. The mall is busy at the best of times but with wheelchairs, electric buggies and pushchairs it makes it quite a squeeze. On sea days it resembles a jumble sale.The pool area is not great. Pool to small. Quite a few Jacuzzis which were having a thorough clean in the evenings. We booked in term time before the Easter holidays to avoid the family rush but there seemed to be plenty of children of school age around.We tried the theatre a few times but found it to crowded and ended up standing at the back.The itinerary left a lot to be desired. Two stops were on a Sunday (closing) The length of stop over time was far to short to arrange anything. If there are just a couple of cruise ships in the same port the area is just saturated and not a pleasant experience.Departure. We were told that we were to leave the ship at 7:15am not given any choice.(our taxi booked for 10am) Our cases were taken the night before so we decided to leave when we were ready in the morning. If you want to experience an expensive holiday camp at sea, this is the cruise for you. If this had been my first cruise I would definitely not be cruising again. The ship is far to big and overcrowded. RCI, for the sake of quantity has forsaken quality Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Just back from a 4 day cruise ex-Southampton. To preface, Vision was the first RCCL ship I cruised on under 2 years ago August 2009. * Staff rude and diffident without the glimmer of a smile on their faces * Dining was a ... Read More
Just back from a 4 day cruise ex-Southampton. To preface, Vision was the first RCCL ship I cruised on under 2 years ago August 2009. * Staff rude and diffident without the glimmer of a smile on their faces * Dining was a chore, taking 2 hours on 3 off the 4 nights to get our main course served (on one night, the "Headwaiter" came to us and told us there would be a delay because George was stuck in the kitchen whatever that meant * Head waiter pranced about like a pompous idiot with an inane grin on his face but made no attempt whatsoever to rectify any of the problems. * I went on this cruise with 3 friends none of which had ever been on an RCCL or Celeb cruise in their lives. Two of them had over 300 nights each cruising Saga, Cunard, Princess and NCL and the other spent over 40 nights crusing on Cunard. As a big big UK RCCL cheerleader I hoped that I might get a couple of converts to the cause. I have to say that the dining experience was so poor, the staff were so uniniterested, the bar staff so apparently lazy both compared with my first Vision cruise and also with the other ships I have cruised with, that not only do I not have an arguement with my friends views on this, but I actually have to assess for myself where and how to have my own next cruise which is awful, as, thus far I have never cruised (as a paying customer) with anyone else other than RCCL (apart from a 2 nighter on MSC). We very politely addressed these problems on a daily basis but eventually got so tired with it, that I decided that I would take issue when I get home, as I did not intend to let this incompetance spoil my holiday more than it already had. Up until this cruise I had always pre-paid gratuities and always tipped on top of the pre-paid amount. For some reason I did not on this cruise, and I am pleased that I didn't. The only person who deserved any sort of gratuity whatosever on this cruise was my cabin attendant, to whom I amply rewarded him for a job superbly done. I write these comments in sorrow far more than anger, since I am going to have to reassess my holiday options now, and I never felt this would ever happen, until I ran out of cruises or ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our October Oasis Odyssey blew us away so it was with some trepidation I took a short 3 nighter on Indy to see how she compared. In short the facilities (cabin, food, activities etc.) were not too far off what we found on Oasis - ... Read More
Our October Oasis Odyssey blew us away so it was with some trepidation I took a short 3 nighter on Indy to see how she compared. In short the facilities (cabin, food, activities etc.) were not too far off what we found on Oasis - which surprised me as I had not expected to be so satisfied with what was on offer going 'down a class'. My main motivation to write this review is that I met quite a few first timers on Indy that were quite frankly being put off!! On this 3 day cruise we unfortunately experienced cold and wet weather which kept a full capacity ship mainly indoors. Add to that a pretty uninspiring port of Le Havre on a grey day and that exaggerated the overcrowded feel. We had a number of Stag and Hen parties, who gave a lot of entertainment (especially the 'lie down crew' who took to interrupting public events by lying down on the floor motionless - very very funny!! I approached the future cruise consultant for reassurance on whether I could expect a similar experience on a longer med cruise, she gave 'some' assurance of positive differences. For example on this cruise the staff in the bars and windjammer where very overwhelmed and service levels were affected. So to summarise, pleased with the food, accommodation and activities, felt stifled by the crowds on such a short cruise. I hope the first timers I met were reassured that this experience was a result of its short nature and bad weather. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
To start with the good points: the ship was clean, the cabin was spacious with a good balcony, the steward was excellent. the food available was of good but not cruise standard fare. But: be prepared they do not put ant toiletries in the ... Read More
To start with the good points: the ship was clean, the cabin was spacious with a good balcony, the steward was excellent. the food available was of good but not cruise standard fare. But: be prepared they do not put ant toiletries in the cabin this does seem very penny pinching as you get these at a 2 star hotel, the toilet paper is useful if you have children as it can substitute for tracing paper "good money saver there LOL". So best tip take your own toiletries as the are very expensive on the ship and the first day is at sea so no local shops for 2 nights. We had major issues with the dining though this was not universal, we were shown to a table for two (as we had booked this for ruby wedding celebration) on the first night we sat down ordered wine and food from a very attentive waiter, then after a short wait were told we were on the wrong table ( even though no one used it during the cruise) we were then moved to a table of 8. The waiter was very inept, we waited 45 minutes for him to take the order and that was only after we asked him to do so, we never got our wine and everyone on the table got the wrong order, all in all nearly 2 hours start to finish.We made a complaint to customer relations and we were moved to a table of 2, this looked like it had been pushed in between two others (the table number ended in A) so was an add on. Again the waiter was very slow taking as long as the first waiter. So back to customer relations, the reason given was that the waiter had just come back from holiday, I would had thought this would have refreshed him. Next day still on the same table being waited on by the head waiter, things did pick up but the food is only OK not the usual cruise standard Very few people had wine on the table so can only presume the the cruise line had priced there selves out of the marked, as with the cost of most drinks; this is false economy if they kept the prices realistic more people would use the service.Be careful with your expensive drinks, one night when we were dancing 2 full drinks were taken off the table by the waiter, when we approached him he just shrugged and walked away. So back to customer relations they started an enquiry (for $7.50)this took two days before we were given a refund.Feral kids abound on the ship, running wild in the entertainment venues until the early hours, they also seem to think the lifts are part of the entertainment making it very difficult to get one when you need it.The next thing you need to be aware of is the mobility scooters, there are a lot and you do have to keep you wits about you to avoid being hit by one.The shows on board were very good if a little short (45 Min's) the ice show is very good but you will need to get tickets at 8.30 on the first show day and be early for the show to get a decent seat. For the evening show people are saving seats as early as an hour before the show, even though you are not supposed to save seats. this also goes on with sun beds, people start saving beds early with towels, one in and one out of the sun and then just keep swapping. they make announcements about this but do seem to do anything. but having said all this still had a good holiday but need a rest to get over it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My wife and I had never cruised before but were persuaded by relatives and friends. None of them had ever cruised with the Independence of the Seas nor with Royal Caribbean. Holidays that we have enjoyed recently included Sorrento (Amalfi, ... Read More
My wife and I had never cruised before but were persuaded by relatives and friends. None of them had ever cruised with the Independence of the Seas nor with Royal Caribbean. Holidays that we have enjoyed recently included Sorrento (Amalfi, Isle of Capri, Pompeii etc), Prague, Vienna plus several wonderful British holidays in the Scottish Islands and Highlands, Lake District, Wales, South West England plus Ireland (both north and south).We were looking forward to seafood, sea fish dishes and a bit of fancy dining. Instead, we got a works canteen (The Windjammer Cafe), a very nice dining room in the Romeo and Juliet dining room but with food that, at best, was adequate, and two cafe-type places. One of these offered a slice of pizza and the other offered rolls which were sometimes stale. Breakfast was quite good with semi-formal dining (buffet style) in the dining room although the only eggs on offer were scrambled. The toast was like cardboard. There was a la carte available in the Macbeth dining room which was good. The works canteen (Windjammer) had a good range. Breakfast was far and away the best dining option apart from the Portofino, which was an excellent Italian restaurant but was an extra $20 per person per meal.I didn't see a single bit of seafood available at lunchtime in the Windjammer but I did see some fish dishes labelled 'fish curry'. When did you last see a dish labelled 'meat curry'? I don't eat meat but do eat fish, chicken, seafood, vegetarian dishes, salads, eggs and cheese. Not once did I see boiled eggs at lunch time (they make a nice addition to a salad). When fish was available the kitchen staff didn't seem to know what it was e.g. fish goujons. There was something labelled 'cold cuts' which I believe was fish.There were 8 ice shows. The theatre holds 600 people. There were 3000 passengars onboard thus at least one ticket per passenger - wrong. When the tickets go on sale on the first day at sea, all the tickets for all the shows are first-come first-served. So some people got several tickets for several shows. The people at the back of the queue got none. Every cabin should have 2 tickets on the bed on arrival. If you don't want them, hand them in to the customer service desk. As it was, apparently some of the shows had vacant seats because people who had seen a previous show couldn't be bothered to attend.We thought there would be history lectures onboard and also a celebrity speaker. Other people told us that they had been on cruises where Henry Cooper gave a talk, or Chris Bonnington, or well known history professors. Instead, the only talks were on Crime and Offenders!!!The drinks are ludicrously expensive and you can't take a local bottle of wine onboard for a drink on your balcony. We bought the cheapest onboard wine package at $270 for 10 bottles. A bottle of London Pride beer and a small lager was $13.I could go on but won't. The best moments were meeting the people at our dining table in the evening. All were experienced cruisers - all were disappointed. The ship previously had the Norvirus but we weren't told until we had boarded. I've come home with sickness and diarrhoea and had it since Saturday (today it's Wednesday). The best description I can give is Butlins-on-sea but I always enjoyed Butlins - and went back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The ship itself is stunning, there is a lack of open areas to sit out, and there feels like there is a lack of natural light in a lot of the public spaces. The cabin we had was really nice, spotless and fairly spacious. The shower was ... Read More
The ship itself is stunning, there is a lack of open areas to sit out, and there feels like there is a lack of natural light in a lot of the public spaces. The cabin we had was really nice, spotless and fairly spacious. The shower was also fantastic, and the balcony was a good size. The bed was huge, and very comfortable with a memory foam top. This ship however, is far too crowded. Its big yes, but it feels small due to the number of people that all seem to want to be in the same place as you at the same time as you. And most of them will trample all over you to get their first. The food on board was average at best. The main dining room (romeo and juliet) is a huge spacious and beautifully decorated place, the service was very very good. unfortunately the food and menu wasn't really fine dining. I got the feeling that this ship has dumbed down the food quality to cater for its British, Chip Loving guests. A case of, why bother serving fine food, when all they want is chips. Which for the majority of the people on the ship was perfect. But not for me unfortunately, being in close proximity of so many over indulging Brits, made me ashamed to be British, and at times, watching everyone stuff chips and cakes into their mouths made me feel more sick than the choppy crossing of the bay of biscay. But that is no fault of the cruise line, or the ship. The dining times on board were ok, except for the Windjammer all you can stuff in your fat face restaurant, which seemed to be closed more than it was open, I really do feel that this restaurant should be open all day and most of the night. This would cut down on the crowds of people that all have to go there at the same time. It really is over crowded and getting a table is a nightmare. Especially given the fact that the Brits on board are so rude and competitive. The food on offer however was really good, plenty of different styles to choose from and the quality seemed pretty decent. For times when the Windjammer was closed, all you was left with was 2 very small cafes. Promenade Cafe serving Awfully rough coffee, Pastries and Cakes 24 hours , and Sorrento's which served tasteless and greasy pizza. Both were too small to accommodate the 3500 chip and cake eating lardies on board. The queues for the lifts was always ridiculous, and people who didn't really need to use the lifts to go down one deck, would stand for ages waiting and moaning about them. The quietest place on the ship was the stairways, cos none of the bone idle Brits on board would use them. It was like they had no choice but to stand in the lift queue and moan about how crowded they were. And the lifts always brought out the rude nature in people. Even though we had a small child in a pushchair and had been waiting for a lift for some time, people would jump in front of us and cram in so that we would have to wait for the next one. Even more rude was the people in mobility scooters, thinking they had the right to run you over to get in the lift before you. The staff on board were always very kind and courteous. We only had one problem with one of them who was rude to us, and had a bad attitude. She works in the photo gallery, so can be avoided quite easily. Oh and incidentally, she is one of the few British members of staff. Overall, we had a nice time, it is what it is really, a middle of the road cruise, full of rude and ignorant Brits. If you don't expect too much then you'll be more than happy. If you've ever taken a cruise with another company, then you will probably be disappointed. Would I travel on this ship again? NO, NEVER! If I wanted another holiday like that, I would just go to Benidorm and save myself a couple of grand. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We booked to travel on The Independence Of The Seas, as we have travelled on this ship before and thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Once boarding, my wife's disability scooter became faulty, and it became necessary to use one of the ... Read More
We booked to travel on The Independence Of The Seas, as we have travelled on this ship before and thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Once boarding, my wife's disability scooter became faulty, and it became necessary to use one of the on-board wheelchairs, which were extremely cumbersome. We contacted customer relations whilst on board, but were advised that no scooters were available for rental in our port of call (Le Havre). As a result I had to wheel my wife around the ship, which was extremely taxing, as I have diabetes. The level of service received was reasonable. I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed, and the standard of food, especially in The Windjammer restaurant, was mediocre in the extreme. The children's club was a particular disappointment. My grandson is disabled and so I would have chosen to stay with him. This simply wasn't presented as an option. It was simply a choice of leaving him there, or him not being accepted. Inexcusable in my opinion. I would say that as a disabled passenger, my experience was more negative than positive for this trip, especially bearing in mind the experience with my grandson. On the whole, I would not recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was my first cruise, a party of 6 of us went on a cruise to celebrate my Brother in law and Sister in laws' silver wedding anniversary. Ship I have been a Merchant Navy Officer for 30 years and I am not easily impressed, ... Read More
This was my first cruise, a party of 6 of us went on a cruise to celebrate my Brother in law and Sister in laws' silver wedding anniversary. Ship I have been a Merchant Navy Officer for 30 years and I am not easily impressed, but I thought the Independence of the Seas was a spectacular ship unfortunately RCI is not so spectacular. Our cabin was a deluxe balcony stateroom and was much better than I expected. Staff The staff I found to be friendly,polite and very helpful.Our cabin attendant kept our cabin clean,tidy and well supplied. The room service staff bought our breakfast hot and on time every morning. The dining room staff were very good, friendly and at times entertaining. Food The food was good quality and plentiful although after about a week it became a bit repetitive. On a cruise to Spain and The Canaries I would have expected the menu to have had a bit of a Spanish influence, but in 10 days I did not see one Spanish dish. Drinks Packages When we joined the ship we were encouraged to sign up for one of the Beer and soda Packages, this cost $45 per day for every day onboard for each person in your cabin, on a ten day cruise this works out as $900 per couple. This should have allowed us 'free' beer,soft drinks and glasses of wine for the whole trip. When you sit down and do the sums it works out that have to drink about 8 Beers or Glasses of wine each per day to make it pay, which unless you are a very heavy drinker is quite alot to drink every day. RCI also have other tricks up their sleeves to make sure you don't get your moneys worth :- 1) You can only get certain beers, wines and soft drinks on the package, we heard of a couple who paid $1500 for the Premium Package but still had to pay extra for a can of Coke. 2) If you have more than 1 drink every 30 minutes for your own 'Health and Safety' the bar staff are instructed not to serve you. RCI don't seem to be so concerned with your 'health and safety' if you are not on a package and are paying for drinks, as so far as I could see you can then drink what you want when you want. 3) If one of your party appears to be getting drunk (difficult not to when you have to drink 8 pints every day) then the barstaff are instructed not serve the whole party. 4) The package is supposed to be an easy and simple way to pay for your drinks, but you have to keep a close eye on your account, as most days we found that we had been charged for drinks we shouldn't have and had to join the morning queue's at reception to get it sorted out. We did not meet anybody who had sailed with RCI previously who had bought a drinks package on their second cruise, many said they had bought one on their first cruise and thought it a waste of money. Drinks on board are expensive about $6.5 a pint (£4.25), this is particularly expensive when you consider RCI are buying it duty free for less that $1 a pint. Excursions We were encouraged at every opportunity to signup for the excursion packages which were very expensive. We only went for the $10 scheduled buses in Madiera and Lanzarote and there was a free bus in Tenerife. You are supplied with quite alot of information about the excursions that you had to pay for, but there was not much information if like most people you just wanted go for a walk ashore in the local area. We were considering signing up for an excursion in Gran Canaria and Vigo as this looked like the only way to get ashore, until we found out from the bar staff that the ship actually stops in the middle of town in these ports and you can just walk ashore. The organisation for passengers not using the paid for excursions was often non existant. For instance when we arrived at our first port Madiera, no instructions were given about going ashore which meant that people began congregating at the gangway, we were eventually organised into an orderly queue which went up the stairways for 3 or 4 decks and there we stayed for about 90minutes until the gangway doors were opened. Buying onboard There is a huge mark up on any Jewelry, Drink or tobacco bought onboard.Drink and tobacco is about twice the price onboard than it is ashore. My wife was looking at a ring in one of the jewelry sales it was marked up $216 but when we peeled back the price tag put on by RCI we found a makers Price tag with a recommended price of $115. Entertainment We only managed to see one show which was an ice show, the show was very good but the organisation of the seating was chaotic and many people ended up having to stand. In conclusion if you are not suckered into any of RCI money spinning Scams you can you can maybe have a good time. Although RCI are keen to tell you about the experience of crews working onboard their ships, it sometimes appears that they have never actually taken a cruise themselves. If I go on another cruise I will look somewhere else. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
3 swimming pools - childrens pool very large geared for young kids and babies. Second pool dominated by children geared for older kids so not really suitable for adults. ADULT ONLY POOL - Tiny 20 people and its packed unsuitable for ... Read More
3 swimming pools - childrens pool very large geared for young kids and babies. Second pool dominated by children geared for older kids so not really suitable for adults. ADULT ONLY POOL - Tiny 20 people and its packed unsuitable for swimming. Alcholic Drinks very expensive - drinks package available but still very expensive 8 USD for a Pint of beer 7 - 12 USD Glass of wine. SPA prices much higher than UK Prices. Dining rooms theatre and general interiors very cold due to air conditioning. Theatre - Lower standard of entertainment in comparison to other cruises some highlights buy not many - on board singers and dance shows almost of amateur standard. Ships orchestra very good they saved the poor quality singing and dancing of the theatre shows. Children allowed in most bars and theatre till late and allowed unsupervised in cinema Not a relaxing cruise outside areas particularly were always congested. Sunbeds rare as usual. Appears that the lowest cost ports of call were chosen VIGO MALAGA ALICANTE inparticualar not very interesting or at all scenic. Ships entertainment for Sail offs was not very memorable Food very good and staff friendly - ship very clean and well maintained. Cruise director was good and made the final 2 nights entertainment very memorable. Plenty of things to do but overall my least favourite cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was our first ever cruise and it was booked by my parents to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary;as well as my two parents we were travelling with my sister and her two children plus myself, my wife and our two children. To be ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and it was booked by my parents to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary;as well as my two parents we were travelling with my sister and her two children plus myself, my wife and our two children. To be honest nobody but my mum and dad were looking forward to the cruise as it just isn't the kind of holiday the rest of us would normally choose. Sadly it lived up to our expectations! We took our car and had a wait of about 30 minutes to drop off our bags; once dropped off we had to move the car to the nearby car park and walk to the terminal (not valet parked as expected). Then the queuing started in earnest -- a queue to get in the building, then a queue to check-in (even though we had checked in online which apparently means nothing); then a queue for customs/security, then a queue to get on the boat. Once on-board our cabin was ready but we were shocked at the size of it -- we were on deck 3 in an outside cabin with a porthole. The room was tiny, just the width of a double bed, then a small area with a 2-seater sofa, a dressing table and chair, a small wardrobe and the integral shower/toilet room. The kids beds pulled down from the ceiling above our bed but the attendant told us the kids under 6 could not use the bunk beds meaning that, had we abided by the rules, either myself our my wife would have had to use the bunk and the other share a bed with our son. With the beds down it was very claustrophobic. The attendant put the beds up and down each day for us though. We could not fit all our clothes in the wardrobes/drawers and although we squeezed one case under the bed there was no storage space for the other, further reducing the space in the room. We also got noise from drunks using the open deck above ours to smoke until the early hours of the morning, often shouting or singing. The sheets were not changed during the 14 days were there. Our first meal was in the Windjammer and initially we were pleased by the array of different foods on offer -- by the end of 14 days though it had all became very 'samey' with the same choices regularly on the menu for lunch and dinner. It was also often crowded in there too, with tannoy announcements encouraging you to eat quickly and vacate the tables for other guests. Cleanliness is an obsession on-board and I guess Ithis is a good thing with so many people on-board. Everywhere you go there are sterilising fluid dispensers for washing your hands and upon entry to any restaurant you are given a wipe or a squirt of sterilising fluid. Taking your photograph is another obsession -- they take your picture at every opportunity, and without permission, even of the kids at the swimming pools. Pictures are then put on display for you to buy (circa £12 a pop btw). We really didn't want to go to the formal dinners and I hadn't taken a suit (I wear one every day for work and do not want to wear one on holiday thanks) however my parents were keen so I donned a shirt and tie and went along for a couple of dinners in the main restaurant. Whilst there were many who went the whole hog with dinner jackets, kilts and ballgowns etc. the dress code was only 'recommended' and there were others less formally dressed and some in jeans, even on the official formal nights. Food in the restaurant wasn't impressive, mashed potato seemed to be the only potato dish available (and it tasted like Smash to me), food was luke warm and everything very bland. The service was over the top and, to me, cloying, others may like that level of pandering but it made me feel uncomfortable. We were on the MyTime option and had no problem booking a table at a suitable time. Whilst my parents ate in the restaurant every evening we took most of our meals in the Windjammer which was ok, self-service so portion size and choice of what goes on the plate is up to you -- the main problem here was the number of people, although we always seemed to be able to find a table somewhere. Like many places on the boat there was no restrictions on unsupervised kids and several times we saw groups of kids messing about in the Windjammer, throwing food, taking over tables even though not eating or being noisy. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants because there was an extra charge of $30 per person each time you wanted to do so. The first two days were at sea and we found little to occupy ourselves, quizes, bingo and art sales seemed to be all that was on offer and the weather wasn't suitable for using the pools. The ages of the children in our extended family group were such that each would have been in a separate kids group had they been interested in joining but to be honest none of them were -- the activities on offer seemed rather playschool like -- crayoning seemed to feature a lot. Evening entertainment for younger kids was almost non-existent, or for families with younger kids really. Most nights the theatre show didn't start until 9:00pm so we only saw two shows on the couple of days when it started at 7:00pm. One of them was a comedian who was ok but the other was a Queen tribute band who, although seemingly loved by everyone else, I thought were terrible -- Queen but made 'safe' or without an edge if you know what I mean. There was no cinema but films were shown occasionally in various locations but again the times were too late or were in the middle of the day when you were on-shore. We did catch both ice shows, which I am sure were good if you are into that kind of thing but to me it was rather dull. Most evenings we ate our dinner and were back in our (tiny) cabin by 8 -- and it wasn't even like you had any decent tv channels either, perhaps why I managed to read three novels. There were bars but beer and wine was ridiculously expensive and we refused point blank to be ripped off. The cheapest wine in the restaurant was $10 USD a glass. You couldn't take drink on board with you and any drink purchased onshore was taken off you when you got back on the boat and held until the end of the holiday. Even stuff bought at the boats duty free was held until the last day. The swimming pool area was ok although every day all the loungers were reserved with towels despite signs everywhere saying this wasn't allowed. There were no life guards and nobody supervising the pools so nobody was taking any notice of the do's and don'ts -- dive bombing was common place, and I even saw kids eating ice creams in the jacuzzis and pools. Many of the H2O area features were often not working which was disappointing. When the weather was good enough our eldest did try the climbing wall and the flowrider which were good (although you had to queue) but at 5 our youngest was too small -- there was a mini golf which he liked when it wasn't too windy. Towels were provided at the poolside but were charged at $25 usd each to your ship pass should you fail to return one. Information about the ports of call was very poor -- no help for those wishing to make their way independently, just really trying to sell the ships excursions or shuttle bus services. I would encourage everybody not to use the shuttle buses as they are a total rip-off. Often only transporting you a short distance from the port to the town centre they are charged at $14 usd each, including children. In at least one instance (Malaga) the bus they put you on was a public bus which the ticket via the driver was just 4 euros return. Tips in our instance on the MyTime package had been pre-paid but rather than being given vouchers to hand out as you felt justified you got a letter saying the tips would be distributed to our waiter and room steward equally but we only used the restaurant a couple of times so would have preferred the room steward got more. They still give you some envelopes should you want to give extra gratuities. Gratuities are charged at the same rate for kids and adults alike -- I think it was something like 5$ usd per person per day minimum, over $600 usd in total for the 9 or us. Of course on the last day there is a guest survey to complete with questions carefully structured to tell them what they want to hear and just 2 or 3 lines available for free comment -- a waste of time. Nothing asking about value for money which if asked I would have to say is extremely poor for the amount we paid. In summary -- everything is expensive, the room is pokey and basic, and there is little to do in the early evening or on sea days. There is plenty of food but it's rather bland. Ports are OK but not enough time to see much and if you want to travel on local buses then research it beforehand. Dress up for dinner if you want to but don't be surprised if others don't bother. And finally 'don't forget to wash you hands' (its a phrase you will come to hate as its a talking reminder activated on motion sensors in all the toilets on-board), Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We are currently in the middle of a 14-day transatlantic voyage on Vision of the Seas. We have sailed many times before with RCI and it seems that this line has really cut corners to go downhill. The ship is very worn and nothing seems ... Read More
We are currently in the middle of a 14-day transatlantic voyage on Vision of the Seas. We have sailed many times before with RCI and it seems that this line has really cut corners to go downhill. The ship is very worn and nothing seems to work. We have had the same television programs for four days now and all the sleepy guy on the phone can say is that they're working on it. Meal portions have definitely shrunk. Hash browns at breakfast are the size of a medium postage stamp and the wait staff ignores you if you ask for two. The coffee is the worst we have ever had, we have to order a pot of hot water with it to dilute it (and we like strong coffee!) Of course you can pay 4 bucks a cup for the good stuff but we shouldn't have to. Service at breakfast and lunch is terrible although the dinner waiters have been very good. There is a terrible lack of information on the ship. The newsletter is obviously preprinted before the voyage so any changes are not reflected. There is no advance program guide for the television, only a scrolling channel list. Dinner menus are posted on a video screen that takes 15 minutes to go through the whole menu in 6 languages. Would it hurt to tape a paper menu to a bulletin board? How much did those video screens cost, anyway? A bridge tournament was organized, there were 13 tables of players but they had no cards! The craft projects are the same ones we had on our first cruise over 5 years ago. All we hear from staff is "Unfortunately...." or "Sorry...."The ship is definitely in need of a major remodeling. The woodwork in our cabin is scratched and worn, there is only one comfortable chair in our cabin for two, upholstery is clean but worn. Most of the staff has a "can't fix" attitude except for the notable exceptions of our dinner servers, headwaiter and cabin steward. This morning half the clocks in the ship were wrong. We have paid a deposit for Galveston-Barcelona-Dubai-Singapore next April on RCI but we are seriously considering canceling it unless RCI can demonstrate a commitment to better quality and service between now and then. We're writing this now, mid-cruise, in the hopes that somebody at RCI might notice it and do something to make Vision of the Seas a better cruising experience and perhaps retain a long-term pair of customers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We knew the Vision of the Seas was an older, smaller ship but were surprised at how poorly maintained it was. We experienced sewage smells in the hallways and elevator shafts for the first week of the cruise. Trim was falling from the ... Read More
We knew the Vision of the Seas was an older, smaller ship but were surprised at how poorly maintained it was. We experienced sewage smells in the hallways and elevator shafts for the first week of the cruise. Trim was falling from the ceiling and carpet curling to create tripping hazards. A large piece of granite fell at my mother's feet from the counter top in the buffet line with no apologies or excuses. We were repeatedly told that the ship was going into dry dock for refurbishing next year but obviously the cabins have not been touched since the ship was put into service. The satellite service on the ship was out the entire two weeks and the TVs in the rooms were terribly outdated. Our cabin's air conditioning didn't work the entire cruise and after two complaints to customer service nothing was ever done. After calling the front desk for assistance on how to contact our cabin steward for things he had neglected to replace, I was told to walk the halls and look into open doors to try and find him. This was the only way of contacting him. The food in the dining room was the worst we had all experienced in all of our years of cruising. I sent bad fish back to the kitchen three times during one meal with my complaints falling on deaf ears. We finally were fed up with cold food at each meal for the first week and had to have the dining room manager retrieve our food from the kitchen to get warm food. The quality of the food was very disappointing. Meals were not as described on the menu and poorly prepared without seasoning. We all felt like we were in the way of the dining room attendants in the Windjammer Cafe. They never offering to assist handicapped guests nor offer refills on coffee or tea. We all felt very unwelcome. The bar service was a huge disappointment as well. The bar staff was unaware of the bar menu placed on the tables and repeatedly over charged for drinks that were pointed out to them from their own menu. A bartender that refused to make a drink as requested was inexcusable. I brought my bar complaints to the attention of an officer and nothing was done about it. The Cruise Director and staff were the worst I've ever experienced. Never approaching guests nor attempting to get guest involved in any activities. I can only assume that this staff was in training on a small ship or being punished for poor job performance. This is a forgotten ship on a poorly run cruise line that should seriously be avoided at all costs. This was my worst cruise experience in 33 years. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This is yet another "review" of my transatlantic trip on the Independence. That's because I spent many hours on board drafting one for the Royal "mid-cruise feedback". 4 pages, noting the good, the bad and the ... Read More
This is yet another "review" of my transatlantic trip on the Independence. That's because I spent many hours on board drafting one for the Royal "mid-cruise feedback". 4 pages, noting the good, the bad and the ugly. What do I get for that? Taking off the internet charges from my bill and a promise to call me later - which never happened. So, once more: After 6 cruises on Carnival in 2.5 years, my wife and I felt we wanted to "move up" to something else. Carnival is what Carnival is. Bottom line for us was the, how to put this nicely, Carnival deciding to become the cruise-line of the "unwashed masses". I guess that was not so nice. It caters to the 20s and 30s rudy-necked, part crowd with break dancing in the atrium for 3 hours during dinner, disco music replacing live bands, etc. So, with 6 cruises at Carnival as a comparison, we embarked on the Independence. We ended up seeing a LOT of good points about Carnival as a result. We'll probably try to "move up" again next cruise to Celebrity. My review here will mention Carnival a lot - sorry, but that is what we have it to compare against. Of the 35 points I reported to Royal worthy I might modestly add of being a professional critics feedback about a third were applause, a third were suggestions and a third were complaints. Unfortunately for Royal, my trip is how I see Royal as a whole which means I will likely not be sailing them again - if just for the lack of response from management as anything else. I know, ho hum, they'll probably survive without me. I'm old enough to know that not everything is ever going to be perfect, but the little things tend to make or break an experience like a cruise. Embarkation A sign of things to come. It was horrid. I have always been early enough in the past to be on board sipping a nice drink about 30 minutes after boarding started. This time it was over 2 hours. Why? No one ever said. But the boarding started late and all the "special" people had to be boarded first. Boarded in tiny little groups. I was in the "first" group, but that was the group of unspecial people. So for hours after I arrived the previous Royal cruisers arrived and complex and silly categorization of them and their boarding class began. Throughout this cruise there were many attempts to show new Royal cruisers how unimportant they were. We boarded when all the special people were aboard. We were thrown out of lounges when the special people had one of their CONSTANT "parties". We got no bathrobes - because that is what the special people got for being so, errrr, special. The caste system is alive and well on Royal. Perhaps it might be good to make NEW cruisers feel welcome. Never was done. All in all, the embarkation process is by far the worst I've ever seen in terms of confusion and time taken. The Norovirus Well, it was a long time to be communicated to us, but apparently the Norovirus was alive and well on the Independence. It changed first 8 days or so of the trip into a internment feeling. We were not allowed to touch food - even a foil-wrapped tea bag. We were constantly inundated with wipes being forced on us. Constantly told to wash our hands. An antomated "attendant" told us to wash our hands every time the bathroom door was opened. Each time we sat at a card table or used a stair railing our hands would come away dripping of the "stuff" they were constantly wiping on it. It was an over-reactive response that succeeded in nothing so much as making the cruise a hardship for people. The Ship We loved the ship - as compared to Carnival. The layout was very easy to learn - unlike on Carnival where, even after a week, I never knew how to get where I wanted to go. The decor was pleasant, the cleanliness was perfect, the design of the common areas, where and what, was flawless. A very pretty ship. A very nice stateroom - albeit, the first one we've had with a balcony. Only thing lacking was room amenities like a bathrobe, beach towels, and the little pack of goodies/samples that we were used to on the Carnival. Turned out the beach towels could be "checked out" - which we figured out after a week on board. I wonder why they do this? Whatever. The Food One of the biggest letdowns. Carnival food is far superior in selection and preparation. A hit on Carnival is the made-to-order omelets and Mongolian stir fry. Nothing like this on Royal. The prepared things like eggs were alternatively soupy (do they like this in England, perhaps?) or so dry they could not be eaten. No made to order anything. Selection very hum-drum. Tried Johnny Rockets - as opposed to others, we found it poorly presented and pretty low quality food. The only good food we found was a the extra-charge Portifino. That was excellent. However, all 5 of the desserts were highly rich and chocolate which we would not eat. Some selection would have been nice. The Entertainment On one hand the main shows were clearly inferior to Carnival, with the exception being the Ice Show, which could have been done more often (please). The smaller venue entertainment which on Carnival were painful on the ears, was very nice on Royal. The often heard strings group was awesome, as was the final night impromptu jazz revue in one of the smaller lounges. The Alcohol The specialty drinks were very unappetizing as opposed to Carnival. Carnival has its own beer, Royal does not but has a "decent" selection. The main problem is that the selection varies by where you are. It is not posted and it is always an effort to figure out what is served where. Also, as opposed to Carnival pushing drinks, it was nearly impossible to get the attention of a bartender or deck waiter. In one lounge, I had to ask FOUR times for a drink. Clearly, they do not work on any commission, lol. Dinner Reservations Carnival's "my time" dining is wait in line and take what you get. Royal's is a great concept. You can actually call down during the day for reservations (so can schedule around other things you want to do), and they will answer the phone with your name and know who you ate with previous nights, and where you dined those nights. So, generally you are able to be at the same waiter's area, even though you were not in a general seating. How wonderful that was. Staff Staff was very lacking, with the exception of dining staff. After some "training" the wait staff knew who took coffee, who took tea, who got that unusual glass of milk with their dessert, who like chocolate, etc. And they did not hesitate to recommend certain dishes. On the other hand, stateroom attendant was never around, I had to ask 3 times for ice - finally calling guest relations. Or the dirty tea pot which I had to beg many times to be cleaned. Bar staff did not want to be bothered with hearing your order. Guest relations were a joke. No smiles from anyone anywhere. Seems like a pretty unhappy bunch. I did not think that Carnival staff was particularly happy or helpful, but in comparison..... Dining Menus Seems like a small thing, but Carnival posts menus on-line in the room. They even have them available for the entire cruise on-line before you board. Royal had them posted only for that day outside the restaurant. Makes it very difficult to decide where to eat. We use that on Carnival to determine if we would prefer the extra-charge or buffet that evening. Not so, here. Not easily. Strange Amenities Beach towels were not present in the room (as Carnival), but could be checked out on the pool deck. On carnival you have to check out golf clubs and balls for mini-golf (like someone would STEAL this stuff?), but they were there available for Royal cruisers. On Carnival there is a checkout system for library books - only during 2 1-hour periods a day. Silly. On Royal, everything was available there all day long for the taking. On Carnival each room had nice robes. On Royal, no robes, except for the special passengers. On Carnival there were virtually no games available. On Royal there was a game room with an area where you could grab any of a number of games, or take a new deck of cards with pencil and paper. This was great. Buffet Restaurant Mentioned food earlier. Just a note here about trays. Why are none furnished. It is a needless effort to make 3 trips from table to buffet for breakfast because you have to take one cup or bowl/plate at a time. Would be a great stepsaver to have trays available. On-board Activities I suppose all ships have the same inane on-board activies. We tend to just ignore them, but we did attend a trivia game that had beer as a theme, since I am a beer aficionado, thought it would be fun. It wasn't. In this game and in one other we attended, the host made a point of talking about how HIS answers would be the correct ones, even in cases where they were NOT correct or just one of other correct answers. He did it in a put-down way. That was uncalled for and silly. So, as we thought, on board activities are generally something to be avoided, unfortunately. I can't believer that someone can't come up with things that are worth doing and that could be handled well, but I've not seen it. Captains Announcements I just have to stay this one. I'm sure the Captain (Remo?) is a nice enough person. However, it was SOOO painful to listen to his announcements. I guess he just like to talk. They would go on and on and on and on.... and say pretty much nothing. Everyone rolled their eyes when these "chats" started and absolutely no one paid attention to them after the first couple of days. Soooo, most everyone was caught unawares when the time changed on board for the first time. After that, they did seem to put the announcement in the daily newssheet. Please don't let Captain Remo near the microphone.... Internet Service My wife and I needed to check e-mails each day. It was a very nice place at which to do so, with many stations set up and ready to go. Unfortunately, it was a very slow connection and after painstakingly taking 2+ minutes to just get logged in - the signal was lost. Over and over, day after day. It was a known issue but I had to complain about it to get the charges removed - rather then Royal just striking all charges with 2 minutes automatically. Room TV I don't care about movies on the television - that is not what I'm aboard to do. However, I do watch the information channel a lot, which shows ship position, speed, etc. On one day the ship position did not change - for 40 hours. I looked outside and it did not appear that we were going around in a tiny circle, so I called about it. An hour later it started working again. Might be a good thing for them to monitor this stuff. The Crowd Well, yeah, we were sailing from London to Ft. Lauderdale during school time. Intentionally. Our fellow passengers, as compared to those on Carnival, were well-behaved, friendly and quiet. Yes, you might also say "old", but then so am I. But it was a breath of fresh air not to have to contend with kids running up and down hallways at 2 in the morning (by that I mean drunken "kids") which is the norm on Carnival. The music events reflected this - strings on a Carnival ship would be an oxymoron. There were two acts with stringed instruments and they must have been popular with everyone because they kept appearing in the shopping area as well as at dinner. What a great touch! Muster Oh my, muster on Carnival used to be like Royal. Stand outside for 30 minutes for no apparent reason. Then Carnival (a change or a change of ship?) started using the lounges and restaurants to do this. Royal has not figured that out. We spent that time in COLD, blustery weather standing on the outside deck with wind whipping at us freezing. Bad idea, Royal. A Funny Thing One of the neat things which I appreciated aboard was the presence of a teapot in my room. I used it a lot, both morning and evening. As we approached the end of the trip, we were notified that all teapots would be removed the day before disembarkation. I guess that is either because the US has rules against this sort of thing, or that Royal figures only the English drink tea and the US does not or should not have it available to them. Nit-picking As I end I figure that people will consider most of this picking nits. However, I never mentioned the TV remote which did not work, the shower whose water varied from scalding hot to freezing cold over 20 seconds or the toilet which overflowed at 1am. I understand this stuff happens. But with some care and consideration by Royal personnel a lot of what I have indicated could be fixed. Instead, I get an overwhelming feeling of apathy, as witnessed by the lack of response I got from any of my feedback (both good and not-so) by Royal personnel. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We have sailed with Royal Carribean 4 times with all the previous others turning out to be enjoyable experiences on well run ships with excellent crew. What has gone wrong with Royal Carribean, or perhaps Adventure of the Seas is a one ... Read More
We have sailed with Royal Carribean 4 times with all the previous others turning out to be enjoyable experiences on well run ships with excellent crew. What has gone wrong with Royal Carribean, or perhaps Adventure of the Seas is a one off and so badly managed that it seems to be run for the benefit of the crew not the passengers. Boarding at Southampton was brilliant, smooth efficient and we were on board within the hour. We decided to have lunch in the Windjammer Restaurant but we were forced to go round and round trying to find a table to sit at. This we found out was the norm as you had to hunt for tables at both breakfast and lunch. The food was not too bad although mostly luke warm other than the egg station which was brilliant, serving you omelettes and eggs to order that were hot and tasty. The main dining room was split over three floors,and served meals that were reasonable but rather lacking in taste. Mashed patato seemed to be a favourite with the chef as it seemed to appear on most meals and I hope I do not have to eat it again for a long time.Coffee was free but after 9.00 pm trying to obtain a cup was nearly impossible as the Windjammer was then closed and with a full theatre and second meal sitting over, all you had was a very small cafe bar which was always full at this time Our stateroom was rather tired with lumpy beds, filthy sofa and carpet and seemed to not have had a proper clean for years. We were asked to nominate members of staff that gave us the wow factor but other than the excellent entertainment manager,the waiter that met passengers outside the Windjammer and the waiter and assistant waiter in the dinning room, we were unable to find any others. Staff generally seemed to be more concerned looking for an easy life for themselves, were sometimes abrupt and rude and seemed to exist making life difficult for their paying passengers. The Shows in the theatre and ice rink were mainly excellent and enjoyed by the majority although on one night in port the theatre was closed, the shops were closed and all the seats were taken throughout the ship.Perhaps in warmer climes that the ship had been sailing in this was not a problem but outside in Iceland and Norway this was not an option. The weather was not kind so some of the ports and excursions suffered but others were brilliant. Our higlights were the midnight sun in the artic circle, spotting large numbers of whales in northern Iceland and the other passengers on our table for eight. Disembarkation was rather a shambles but we managed to find our luggage and were away.We enjoyed our trip but not the Adventure of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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