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Independence of the Seas
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Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International


Outstanding entertainment including "Grease," the musical; vast number of daytime activities


Food quality varies considerably; upcharging for certain activities can be wearing

Bottom Line

2018 refurb has reaffirmed the ship as one of the best family-friendly cruise ships afloat

Cruise Reviews

3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Got off of Independence of the Seas yesterday – 5 nights western Caribbean (Cozumel & Costa Maya) Feb. 4 – Feb. 9, 2019. Please feel free to ask any questions. Background: Just 2 of us – my DW and myself, mid-50s from ... Read More
Got off of Independence of the Seas yesterday – 5 nights western Caribbean (Cozumel & Costa Maya) Feb. 4 – Feb. 9, 2019. Please feel free to ask any questions. Background: Just 2 of us – my DW and myself, mid-50s from Connecticut. This was our third cruise, all on RCI. Our first 2 cruises were both on Anthem of the Seas (5 nights to Bermuda in Sept. 2017 and 7 nights to Port Canaveral / Nassau in Oct./Nov. 2018). We chose this cruise as a relatively quick escape in warmer climates and on a different ship. We flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the Courtyard Marriott. We took an Uber from the airport to the hotel (I didn’t feel like waiting for the hotel’s shuttle), and took the free hotel shuttle to the port the morning of the cruise. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 11:30 and were quickly checked in (it helps to be a gold member). Boarding started at noon and we boarded at 12:30 (again, it helps to have gold status) and it was right up to one of the pool-side bars. Cabins were ready at 1:30. The previous cruise was the annual 70000 Tons of Metal cruise, so it took the crew a little longer to get everything ready (and I think they were a little worn out, but they still did a great job all cruise). Cabin: Balcony cabin on deck 9 aft/port. Cabin was fine – in fact it seemed slightly larger than what we’ve had on Anthem (both the cabin and balcony). Only 2 power outlets to charge things which we made do with, but Anthem is much better with additional outlets plus USB ports. Our steward Lennox was terrific and made the best towel animal we’ve seen – DW called it Oscar the orangutan – he was hanging from a hanger with was hanging on the half curtain in front of the bed. Dining & Bars: We had breakfast every day in the Windjammer which was fine – the usual for RCI. Consistency seemed to be a problem. First morning I got an eggs florentine which was ice cold. The remaining mornings I made my own version of eggs benedict by grabbing a toasted muffin or bagel and putting my own fried eggs on – all of which was hot and delicious. The scrambled eggs were delicious as well. One morning my orange juice (they pour it for you, unlike Anthem which was self-serve) was hot – I think they poured it into a glass that had just come out of the dishwasher. From then on it was ice-water every morning. We didn’t typically have lunch, but did have a few mid-day snacks of pizza at Sorrento’s. The pizza was decent – better than on Anthem (full disclaimer – I grew up eating Sally’s & Pepe’s in New Haven, so my standards for pizza are pretty high). We had dinner 4 of the 5 nights in the main dining room using My Time dining (7:30 each night). Because we booked these nights/times in advance, we had the same table and wait staff, and they were terrific (waiter Ionut and assistant waiter Yehven). Ionut would take the time each night to engage in some small conversation and made us feel very welcome, and both remembered our names after the first night. Overall the food was quite good and got better each night. All of the appetizers and desserts were excellent and the entrees were pretty decent except the first night when my prime rib was rubbery and drowned in a thick, brown gravy and DW’s strip steak was overcooked and seasoned very poorly (one end was extremely salty and the other end had no salt). We both had the spaghetti bolognese (on different nights) and it was excellent. The one night we didn’t eat in the MDR we ate at Chops. We had eaten at Chops on Anthem and had a terrific meal, so we thought we’d try it on Indy. It was just as good if not better. The waitress was great (I can’t remember her name, just that she’s Russian). And all of the food was excellent, including the steaks (we both had filets) being prepared perfectly. Clearly RCI knows what they’re doing with their steakhouse. We had the deluxe drink package and probably broke even. All of the bars were terrific and we never had to wait for service. The Olive Twist on deck 14 is a hidden gem. We had pre-dinner drinks there almost every night and there were only a few people there. It’s got a great view. Sadly the bartender there didn’t know how to mix drinks – I had the worst whiskey sour and worst gin & tonic I’ve ever had at this bar. All other bars and drinks were good, including the drinks of the day. Activities & Shows: We didn’t do too many of the activities. We would have done the escape room, but not for $20 per person (on Anthem there was no charge for the escape room – I didn’t understand why there was a charge on Indy). We did play 9 holes of mini-golf which was fun (my guess is the mini-golf course was installed during last year’s rehab as it was in excellent shape and seemed new). The water slides looked like great fun – always a small line but it never seemed like a long wait and everyone came out with a big smile on their face. We saw Grease and it was excellent (almost as good as We Will Rock You on Anthem). We also saw the ice-skating show which was amazing – Olympic and national champions from around the world doing amazing things on a very small rink (about a quarter the size of a hockey rink). Cruise director Daniel and the activities director (I can’t remember her name either, just that she’s from Scotland) were great. We saw them at the Love & Marriage show, belly-flop competition, lip-sync competition, and Quest game show and all were a lot of fun, thanks in large part to them. Ports: This was our first time in Mexico. We didn’t do any excursions. For both ports, we just walked around. In Cozumel we walked the immediate area off the ship, and then headed down to Sting Ray beach. I’d read other reviews that said to watch out for all of the shop keepers who get right in your face to sell you something and those reviews were dead on. In Costa Maya we just walked around the immediate port area with all of the shops and stuff. We did see the swim-with-dolphins attraction which was great – everyone looked to be having an amazing time. We also went into the aviary which was great fun. They give you a little plastic cup with bird seed and sunflower seeds to feed the birds, and the birds are not shy about landing on you and eating. It was very neat. And when in Mexico… we had a Mexican beer at the Mexican cantina just to say we did it. Disembarkation: As usual with RCI, this was easy. We stayed in our cabin on the balcony until we had to vacate at 8:30. We were scheduled to disembark at 9:45, but walked off at 9:15. Luggage was waiting for us, and clearing customs took only a couple of minutes – we were in a taxi heading to the airport by 9:30. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I traveled on the newly amped Indy the last week of January with my kids and we had the time of our lives. I’d like to touch on some things that I couldn’t find in reviews, specifically for parents traveling with kids. Embarkation ... Read More
I traveled on the newly amped Indy the last week of January with my kids and we had the time of our lives. I’d like to touch on some things that I couldn’t find in reviews, specifically for parents traveling with kids. Embarkation from Ft Lauderdale was extremely organized and I was thankful for the large play structure for the kids to run around on while we waited. My kids were ages 3 and almost 7 and both loved Adventure Ocean. They were in different groups, which was actually good because they got a break from each other. The camp hours were 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10. The youngest age group, ages 3-5, filled up quickly at night. Capacity is 30 kids and they were always at capacity after dinner. Also, the rate after 10pm is extremely reasonable at $7 per child per hour. They also prorated it, so one evening I picked up at 10:40 and they charged me $3.50 per child. The kids activities on this ship were great and there was so much to do. The kids Splashaway Bay was great for both kids and the 2 feet deep kids pool was where my 3 year old spent so much time. It was nice that Fish and Ships had a bar to utilize, the free ice cream was right near by, and the main pools were just around the corner. So many hot tubs to use in that general area. It was a great set up. Also, Windjammer being right through the door was great, the kids could get food and get right back to the pool. I checked my younger one into kids camp and was able to do laser tag, the big water slides and sky pad with my older child. He loved all these activities. Both kids loved ice skating and the large climbing structure near the Flow Rider. We never got a chance to do the rock wall or mini golf. As far as the ice skating goes, they have blocks of time to skate. So if they’re open for skating from 5-8, go sign up for a block of time. The schedule was weird and we didn’t get as much skating time in because of it. I saw a comedy/magic show which in my opinion, was terrible. I also saw Grease, which was fantastic, not cheesy at all, I really enjoyed it and the theater was packed. I arrived 40 minutes before the show and it’s a good thing I did. People had a hard time finding seats. We did my time dining in the MDR on deck 3 at 5:30 every night. It was the earliest dining which I wanted for my kids but we had the same table by the window every night. Food was great, kids menu got kind of boring for my kids by the end of the week. I wish they would have had a grilled chicken or steak option, different pasta dishes, veggies choices like corn on the cob, etc. They basically served them “kid food” which they definitely got tired of because they ate it for lunch as well. For extras, Sugar Beach was an inexpensive fun treat for the kids. I let them get a few pieces here and there and it was well worth the small cost to treat them. The kids arcade was a complete and total ripoff. The was the only thing on the entire ship that had me rolling my eyes at the pricing. $2-3 for ONE GAME?!? At home these games are at most $.50 each. My kids begged to play in the arcade and I refused. Nope, no way. Not paying $50 for them to each play 10 games. Just no. The music on the Royal Prom was fun for all ages, the kids loved dancing. I really enjoyed the layout of this ship. Service was good, food was good, and I’ve sold my kids on cruising. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We (myself, wife and 13 yr old son) sailed on Independence of the Seas: 1/25/2019. This was a 6-night sailing that stopped in Nassau, Labadee and Falmouth. This was our forth cruise with RCCL and 7th overall since 2014. We had a very ... Read More
We (myself, wife and 13 yr old son) sailed on Independence of the Seas: 1/25/2019. This was a 6-night sailing that stopped in Nassau, Labadee and Falmouth. This was our forth cruise with RCCL and 7th overall since 2014. We had a very nice time and even some poor weather did not affect us that much. There was just so much to do on ship that we did not get around to everything. Embarkation was smooth. We arrived at the port about 10:15 and were on the ship by 11:30. Our cabin was ready at 1:00 and our luggage was delivered around 5:00. We did attend most, but not all of the shows. The ABBA (ABBACADABRA) show was nice and the production of Grease had us toe tapping and singing along. We’re in our early 50s and grew up to much of that music. Kudos to the production teams of both of those shows. Also attended a comedy show (Rondell Sheridan) who was very funny in both in the ‘family’ show and the ‘Adults Only’ show. The ice show was very entertaining as well and very similar to what we experienced on the ‘Freedom of the Seas’ back in 2016. My son and I tried the ‘SkyPad’ on the first day and we were both a little underwhelmed. We were going to try and get back to it again later in the cruise but never did. My son did play laser tag and said it was fun but was in a very confined area. I wanted to try so many more of the activities on board but just didn't get around to it. Did not try the flo-rider, rock wall or the 'Perfect Storm' water slides but did play a few rounds of mini golf and enjoyed that. My son tried the other activities and had a great time. The food was generally very good and we had dinner in the main dining room every night. On sea days, we also had lunch in the main dining room and would highly recommend doing this if time permits. Not that the food is that much better but finding a table is simple and you also get waited on like during dinner. Sorrentos was a hit when we sailed on Freedom of the Seas a few years ago and this was no different. We enjoyed ‘Grabbing a Slice’ many times throughout the cruise. Our main dining room wait staff were very friendly, helpful and were very attentive to my wife’s celiac disease. They would have gluten free bread at her place setting every night while my son and I ate regular bread. They also presented her with the following night’s menu each night so she could select just about anything which they would then prepare gluten free for her the following evening. I think this would be easier to do if you had fixed time dining like we had but may be a bit more difficult for those choosing ‘My Time’ dining. Windjammer was very good as well with lots of options and a tip of the hat to ‘Mr. Washy – Washy’. Very entertaining way to get passengers to wash their hands before eating. Yes, seating was a bit difficult at times but we were always able to find a table in a short period of time. After a couple of days, one of the crew showed us that we could sit in Giovanni’s table restaurant during breakfast and that became our ‘go to’ place to eat when eating in Windjammer. Not sure how that would work during lunch or dinner but It’s directly to the left when you enter the Windjammer café and was awesome. We used the fitness center on 3 mornings and found it to be very nice. They had anything and everything you would find at your local club such as Planet Fitness. Equipment was in excellent condition with lots of it. Treadmills were very nice and you could look out over the ocean when you ran. PORTS: Nassau, Bahamas: We’ve been to Nassau a few times before so did not have any excursions planned and feel somewhat lucky that we didn’t. The weather was not good in Nassau and it rained off and on much of the day. We stayed on the ship and just ‘chilled’. I did talk top some people who did have excursions planned and said they generally had decent weather. Labadee, Haiti: We really like this port. My son and I did a parasailing excursion and had a great time. We also did a bit of snorkeling although this is not a great place to see many fish. My wife relaxed on the beach and read while we were parasailing and snorkeling. Lunch on Labadee was probably my least favorite meal and not that it was necessarily bad but it’s just not like other venues on the cruise. The burger and hot dog I had were fine but just overall a bit underwhelming. Falmouth, Jamaica: We have been here before and the last time, we spent the day at Margaritaville and had a fantastic time. This time we decided we’d wander out into the town (outside the gated port area). Once outside the gate, we were constantly approached by locals which made my wife a bit uncomfortable so we ended up going back inside the gated area and grabbed a few drinks at Margaritaville. The locals were fine if you told them that you were not interested but it was a bit much. I think if we would have gotten a little further away, it would have lessened but we decided to just go back. Debarkation: We chose self-debarkation since we had a scheduled flight for 11:55. This went very smoothly and we were at Fort Lauderdale airport around 9:45 only to find our flight had been delayed but that is no fault of RCCL. Overall, we had a great time. We did not notice the over crowdedness that some reviewers have written about although I understand our sailing was sold out. We were able to find sun beds when we wanted to but like any ship, finding one ‘poolside’ was difficult. We already have another cruise (Harmony of the Seas) scheduled and are very much looking forward to it late in the year. Read Less
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