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After reading reviews of this ship that were very negative, I was concerned about our December holiday cruise. The cruise was from 12/24-12/29, which I would assume to be a terribly busy cruise. And for the record, I absolutely hate huge crowds. I was really worried with all the extra cabins added. For background, this was my 13th cruise, 4th on Royal Caribbean (3 on Carnival, 3 on Princess, 1 Disney, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Holland America). I've been on the Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis of the seas. The Freedom of the Seas was one of my favorites, which is why we booked this ship. But again, my concern was the extra 100+ cabins. Also, this was the first cruise that I took NOT in the summer, so every other cruise has been during summer vacation when the ships are probably packed as much as possible anyway. Having said all that, it really was totally fine. The first attempt at lunch in the windjammer after boarding was a total disaster. We just gave up after 15 minutes of wandering trying to find a table. We came back an hour later and got lucky, and I was really worried that it was going to be that way the rest of the cruise, however I remember it being the same way on Freedom of the Seas back in 2014. As it was on the cruise, the rest of the cruise was totally fine with being able to find a table. We had breakfast and lunch in the windjammer every day except one, when we ate in the main dining room for both. There were plenty of staff constantly clearing tables, bringing drinks, refilling the buffet items, just being overall very helpful. As far as everything else goes, we never had a problem getting seats at the shows. We'd show up maybe 15-20 minutes early, but in reality, we could've arrived 5 minutes early and still been able to find seats. With a few rare exceptions, the cafe promenade, sorrentos pizza, the soft serve ice cream were never terribly busy. I DID think that the tables in the main dining room were a bit more cramped than what I recall. It was rather difficult at times just to get out of the seat and through the exit. But the service was very good. The ship was in very good shape. The new water slides were great. We only went to them on the first sea day, about 30 minutes after it opened. We had no wait the first few times, then maybe 5 minutes or so a bit later. My kids loved the splash pad and pool. They also really like Adventure Ocean. They even liked it better than the kids program on the Disney Dream. I read many reviews complaining about bar service being bad, I can't comment because I don't drink, so it was a non issue for me. But I don't remember seeing huge lines of people at any of the bars that I would walk by. If I had to have a criticism, it would be that I was a bit disappointed in the dinner menus. There wasn't as much exotic-ish type things to try. Understand that I'm a chili's, applebees, famous dave's, coney island type of person, so it doesn't take much for it to be exotic to me. But even still, compared to other cruises, I was a bit let down. They had prime rib 2 nights, and turkey dinner two nights. Funny thing about the turkey, we noticed that the cranberry sauce still had the ridges from the can on the side. Disembarking was a nightmare. The government shutdown resulted in very few customs and immigration agents, we didn't get off the ship until probably 10am, and had to wait another hour to get out of the actual building. It was really terrible. Not the cruise line's fault, but left a really bad taste. Luckily Fort Lauderdale airport is a 5-10 minute drive, so we made our 12:55pm flight, but it was close. We disembarked through the same terminal in the summer of 2016 of the Oasis with very little problem, so I was really surprised at the mess this was. To recap, first holiday cruise, was really nervous about massive hoards of humanity, and while that was the case, the crew did a really good job of accommodating the people. I would definitely consider doing it again.

Holiday Cruise...was worried, ended up very happily surprised

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by sblahars

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View Balcony
After reading reviews of this ship that were very negative, I was concerned about our December holiday cruise. The cruise was from 12/24-12/29, which I would assume to be a terribly busy cruise. And for the record, I absolutely hate huge crowds. I was really worried with all the extra cabins added. For background, this was my 13th cruise, 4th on Royal Caribbean (3 on Carnival, 3 on Princess, 1 Disney, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Holland America). I've been on the Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis of the seas. The Freedom of the Seas was one of my favorites, which is why we booked this ship. But again, my concern was the extra 100+ cabins. Also, this was the first cruise that I took NOT in the summer, so every other cruise has been during summer vacation when the ships are probably packed as much as possible anyway. Having said all that, it really was totally fine. The first attempt at lunch in the windjammer after boarding was a total disaster. We just gave up after 15 minutes of wandering trying to find a table. We came back an hour later and got lucky, and I was really worried that it was going to be that way the rest of the cruise, however I remember it being the same way on Freedom of the Seas back in 2014. As it was on the cruise, the rest of the cruise was totally fine with being able to find a table. We had breakfast and lunch in the windjammer every day except one, when we ate in the main dining room for both. There were plenty of staff constantly clearing tables, bringing drinks, refilling the buffet items, just being overall very helpful.

As far as everything else goes, we never had a problem getting seats at the shows. We'd show up maybe 15-20 minutes early, but in reality, we could've arrived 5 minutes early and still been able to find seats. With a few rare exceptions, the cafe promenade, sorrentos pizza, the soft serve ice cream were never terribly busy.

I DID think that the tables in the main dining room were a bit more cramped than what I recall. It was rather difficult at times just to get out of the seat and through the exit. But the service was very good. The ship was in very good shape. The new water slides were great. We only went to them on the first sea day, about 30 minutes after it opened. We had no wait the first few times, then maybe 5 minutes or so a bit later. My kids loved the splash pad and pool. They also really like Adventure Ocean. They even liked it better than the kids program on the Disney Dream.

I read many reviews complaining about bar service being bad, I can't comment because I don't drink, so it was a non issue for me. But I don't remember seeing huge lines of people at any of the bars that I would walk by.

If I had to have a criticism, it would be that I was a bit disappointed in the dinner menus. There wasn't as much exotic-ish type things to try. Understand that I'm a chili's, applebees, famous dave's, coney island type of person, so it doesn't take much for it to be exotic to me. But even still, compared to other cruises, I was a bit let down. They had prime rib 2 nights, and turkey dinner two nights. Funny thing about the turkey, we noticed that the cranberry sauce still had the ridges from the can on the side.

Disembarking was a nightmare. The government shutdown resulted in very few customs and immigration agents, we didn't get off the ship until probably 10am, and had to wait another hour to get out of the actual building. It was really terrible. Not the cruise line's fault, but left a really bad taste. Luckily Fort Lauderdale airport is a 5-10 minute drive, so we made our 12:55pm flight, but it was close. We disembarked through the same terminal in the summer of 2016 of the Oasis with very little problem, so I was really surprised at the mess this was.

To recap, first holiday cruise, was really nervous about massive hoards of humanity, and while that was the case, the crew did a really good job of accommodating the people. I would definitely consider doing it again.
sblahars’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 6D 8676
Cabin was like all cruise ship cabins. Too small for a family of 4, especially at night after the couch was transformed into a bed. We actually think it might be better next time to get an inside cabin with the 2 pull downs because it doesn't take away all your space in the evening. The little coffee table thing is totally useless, and we ended up putting it in the closet the entire cruise. Also, it's very difficult with only 2 power outlets. If I had remembered to being my european adapter, we could've used that one for a 3rd outlet, but I didn't. Cabin attendant was great, they usually always are. The balcony railing is in need of a re-finish.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins