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7 Night Europe Cruise from Southampton

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Independence of the Seas
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Itinerary

  • Day 1
    Southampton
  • Day 2
    Paris
  • Day 3
    Cruising
  • Day 4
    Vigo
  • Day 5
    Lisbon
  • Day 6
    Cruising
  • Day 7
    Cruising
  • Day 8
    Southampton

Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

Pros

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

Cons

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

Sail Date: January 2019
I was a first time cruiser when we set sail Jan 3 and was pleased with our first time cruise experience. Accommodations: We were in a 2bdrm grand suite on the 6th floor. I was a little worried about how much room we would have for a ... Read More
I was a first time cruiser when we set sail Jan 3 and was pleased with our first time cruise experience. Accommodations: We were in a 2bdrm grand suite on the 6th floor. I was a little worried about how much room we would have for a family of 7, and also worried about how dated the cabin would be, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of space and the updates. Our balcony was huge and nicely equipped with a table for 4, a Jacuzzi, 2 sun lounges, and still room for the kids to play. We spent a lot of room time out there. Dining: As suite guests we had private dining breakfast in Chop Grille. This was great to be able to dine with great views of the water in a more quiet location. The Suite Lounge offered free cocktails & drinks from 4:30-8 so we didn't bother buying a drink package. I wasn't impressed with the main dining room menu options, but the service was still great. Those in our family who chose whatever beef was served that night were generally pleased with it. I didn't particularly care for the lunch options in the Windjammer so we ordered room service or ate in the suite lounge most days for lunch. Service: What made our trip the best was the definitely the service. The following crew members had great personalities and really went the extra mile with their customer service: Elmer our Suite Attendant, Ivan during breakfast in Chops Grille each day, Abishek our 3rd Floor Main Dining Room waiter, and Roosevelt the 14th floor Suite Lounge attendant. If we plan another cruise with Royal Caribbean it will definitely be because of our interactions with them and the excellent service we received from them during our time on the ship. We were there just to relax so we didn't do much at the ports of call, or take advantage of many of the activities on the ship so I can't comment on those. There were a lot of activities for older kids, so it made for a great family vacation. I did notice that the pool area seemed way too crowded to enjoy it on our days at sea so I spent more time taking my little one through the splash pad. Also the Windjammer was overly crowded the first day while everyone waited for rooms to be ready. It was hard to find a table together. Overall, I'd recommend this cruise. If you can splurge for a suite room I definitely recommend it. The perks are nice! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My family and I have been big fans on Royal Caribbean cruises and have previously been on the Liberty of the Seas (x2), Freedom of the Seas (x2) and Oasis of the Seas. (Most of these cruises were taken between 2008-2014 This was my first ... Read More
My family and I have been big fans on Royal Caribbean cruises and have previously been on the Liberty of the Seas (x2), Freedom of the Seas (x2) and Oasis of the Seas. (Most of these cruises were taken between 2008-2014 This was my first time on the Independence of the Seas and my parents second time. We had an amazing experience and the Indy is the best of the freedom class of ships by far. The refurbishment was well done and the changes were all excellent. The new sports bar was a well-needed change and had a great atmosphere. The decor in Boleros was fresh and clean. The Windjammer was also updated and I thought it looked much nicer and the food options had a wide range. Most times I could find a table easily, with only one time needing to really look around to find a seat. The waterslide was also fun, I went down it three times after getting back on board from Mexico and didn't have to wait too long in the line, maybe 5 minutes or so. The yellow and green slide is faster than the other!! The food was absolutely delicious and we ate ourselves silly in the dining room. Each person at our table had 2 appetizers each night followed by our main course. The main course was yummy but I found the appetizers delightful with the Crab Cake being my favorite. The updates snack options at Sorrentos were excellent (go to Sorrentos for their breakfast sandwiches!!!) and Sugar Beach had some fun options. Entertainment on board was only nice. My mom always enjoys the 70s Disco party in the Promenade and also enjoyed the new 80s party as well. The comedian was good and the ventriloquist was amazing! We spent most of our evenings in the casino which is fun for us, but it did get busy some nights and it was hard to find a spot for roulette. Embarkation and Disembarkation were smooth experiences for us, we arrived around 12:15 and were on the ship pretty quickly. We left the ship around 8:15 and carried off our own luggage and that was also smooth. The only note I will say is if you park in Lot 19, be aware that the line to pay for parking and leave the lot is slow if you get caught up in the wrong line. Park close to the exit or pay attention to alternate lines in the back of the lot. Cozumel is nice, and we went to Carlos and Charlies for a little while. This port isn't our favorite and wasn't the main attraction to our cruise but we enjoyed the day non-the-less. The escape room was also a hit for our group. It was a fun challenge and well worth the money if you like puzzles!!! We did escape with 15 minutes left so we felt pretty proud! I wish I would've had time to play laser tag or rock climbed but still felt satisfied with my activities. Had an absolute blast and great experience on board. Again, the staff and food were all wonderful and we already booked our next one!!! Happy Sailing! Read Less
Meh
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 16th cruise on Royal Caribbean and our 2nd time on Independence. Sadly, it was rather a disappointment overall; for me to give a cruise a 3 star rating is a first. In fairness, not everything was disappointing about this ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise on Royal Caribbean and our 2nd time on Independence. Sadly, it was rather a disappointment overall; for me to give a cruise a 3 star rating is a first. In fairness, not everything was disappointing about this cruise and not everything about the vacation was a problem with Royal Caribbean. I'll try and delineate in my full review below. Pre Cruise Stay We drove to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to our cruise and stayed at The Quality Inn and Suites on Stirling Rd, roughly 15 to 20 minutes from Port Everglades. NEVER AGAIN. Our room in this "hotel" were dingy and dirty. The price for the room plus five nights parking was close to $200. It included a free shuttle to/from the port, however, there was so much confusion at the time we were supposed to leave regarding who was going where in the shuttle that we decided to take an Uber instead (about $20 plus tip; we shared the Uber with another couple also not happy with the shuttle situation). Our car was fine when we returned, so, that's a good thing! Embarkation Good marks for this. We arrived at the port around 10:30 and were through security, check-in, and sitting in the Diamond embarkation area by 10:50 or so. They boarded not too long after, and we were on the ship a bit after 11. Ship Indy has received a huge overhaul since the last time we were on her (December 2015) with the vast majority of the changes being to "kidify" her (water slide, bungee jumping thing, other stuff) plus add venues that younger adults would find more interesting (Play Makers Sports Bar/Arcade (this in essence cut the casino back by a third)). I'm sure there were other differences as well, but these were the most obvious. Not upgraded were the staterooms; still the old light green/pink drapes, carpets, etc. in them. The ship itself seemed in good shape; very clean, no obvious signs of wear and tear, carpet stains, etc. I'm also impressed by the looks of the main dining room on Freedom Class ships. Oh, and they added hand wash stations at the entrance to the Windjammer. Dining We pre ordered the Ultimate Dining Package so had all four meals in one of the specialty restaurants (which would be Giovanni's Table or Chops Grille since the package wasn't good for Izumi). There were significant issues with making RSVPs. Our first RSVP was made for us at 6:30 embarkation night at Gio's, which was ok; however, we prefer eating at 7:30. Absolutely none of these time slots available at either restaurant when we checked with the Diamond Concierge that first evening. So, we ended up eating very late the 2nd night (8:30 RSVP (more on that evening later) and 6:30 the 3rd and 4th nights. It seems to me they oversell these packages and it's very hard to get the time slot you want. I wouldn't do this again. Also, the food was just, in general, "meh"; some stand-outs here and there, but not what you'd expect for paying extra. People seem to complain about the food in the main dining room (which I can't really comment on this cruise since we only ate breakfast in there one morning and it was fine), however, you'd really expect the food in restaurants you have to pay extra for would be superior. It wasn't. The wine list was also pathetic. Only a few wine by the glass selections available, and fewer of these within the limit of the drink package (which we had). For the first time ever, we did not step foot into the Windjammer (other than to visit the bar), nor did we order room service. The food available in the Diamond Lounge was quite good, especially what they laid out for lunch/afternoon. We found ourselves in there more often than not eating several small wraps, sandwiches, fruit, etc. Drinks As mentioned, we had the drink package having secured a pretty good deal on it during the Black Friday sales. Most of the bars/bartenders were very accommodating and helpful as we attempted to navigate through the issue of why there was a $12 per drink limit, yet, many of the menus listed drinks at $13 each. Only one bar, The Champagne Bar, were sticklers for this (telling us the only glass of champagne we could get there would cost us $8 over the drink package price; very confusing since Chandon Champagne was widely available every other place and included). Come to think of it, we had an issue at Indy's Champagne Bar the last time we were on this ship! Service in the pub, Boleros, Schooner Bar, Viking Crown (Olive or Twist), the bar in Windjammer, and the Diamond Lounge was excellent. As an aside, we paid $52 per person per day for the drink package. On board it was $70!!!!! Service In general, ok. A few folks were just so friendly and helpful. Most were ok; a few were not very helpful at all. This was not a cruise where I'd say "The crew made this cruise", however. Entertainment We saw two shows; the ventriloquist and Royal's Love and Marriage. The former was excellent; I laughed so hard I cried. The latter was ok. Same questions, so, I am thinking people come prepared to answer them "correctly", which isn't very interesting. The Scottish guitar player/singer in the pub was good. As an aside, there were a lot of kids at shows that were not really kid appropriate. And, speaking of which. PAX Kids! Kids! More kids! I've never seen so many kids on a cruise before EVER. Why were they not in school? LOL. Kids, teens, young adults (20s) overran the pool areas so we didn't even bother trying to hand out in our usual spot The Solarium. Kids running around the hallways, up and down the stairs, in and out of the elevators. Even kids in the Diamond Lounge during cocktail hour (thankfully they were well behaved). So, yeah. I've nothing against kids but this was a bit much. Which leads me to believe Royal Caribbean is really upping the game on the kid/family market, which means we'll probably jump ship to Celebrity. There were your usual party animals on this cruise, not surprising as it was over a long weekend. Booze Cruisers. Thankfully, though, no real issues with PAX except one evening in Gio's when there was a huge snafu with RSVPs. People with RSVPs were waiting long past their time slot. Some were getting very irate and extremely rude, both to employees and other PAXs waiting in line. I know it's not unusual to run into rude people here and there on a cruise, but this situation was boarding on uncomfortable. Stateroom Junior Suite 9338 starboard in the middle of the hump. Very close to Centrum (aft) elevators. Oversized (long) balcony (large enough for two chairs, a small round table, and two loungers). Quiet stateroom with tons of space, a walk-in closet, lots of drawers, and a good-sized bathroom with a shower/tub. As previously mentioned, the furnishings were a bit dated. Our stateroom attendant, Ultra, was sweet and efficient (although we hardly saw her; not that we needed to; she responded to our few requests promptly). Diamond Lounge One of the best experiences we've had. Hailey was the concierge and she was very helpful. Because it is up on Deck 14 close to The Viking Crown, the views are quite nice. We stayed in there frequently when we just wanted to sit, read, or chat. Disembarkation Another "meh"; I don't think folks were following instructions. Heck, there were no instructions where we were told to go and wait for our number to be called. We saw some people we knew go by while we were waiting for our number to be called; there number was our number so we just jumped in with them. A very long line at the terminal to get through security. Thankfully, it moved quickly. A bit of a zoo getting our Uber back to the hotel. Summary Maybe we're just getting old, but, for the first time, I didn't feel quite at home on this cruise. Everything seemed to be catering to kids, families, and first time cruisers. Even the magnet that you put on your stateroom door (magnet itself a vast improvement over the thing you put on the door handle) was geared at younger people. "Out catching more thrills. Please make up my room". PLEASE! The fact that we hung out in the Diamond Lounge (and other very quiet places) as opposed to the pool area or some of our favorite bars told me that we felt we needed to "hide" from all the craziness. Thankfully we found a few nice places, including our own balcony, so we did have some positive moments. Read Less
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