The Independence of The Seas is one of the Freedom class ships owned by Royal Caribbean International. This is now the largest ship sailing the Mediterranean and one of the largest in the world.
The Independence of The Seas offer numerous different staterooms ranging from the small twin inside cabins to large balcony suites, all staterooms are well fitted out and have ensuite bath or shower rooms and a selection of toiletries. Helpful room attendants make up the rooms several times a day and before bed guests are greeted by a towel animal and chocolates on their pillow.
Suite guests have extra luxuries including chocolates and cheese platters delivered as surprises to the rooms, the use of a concierge lounge with free drinks for three hours each evening, reserved seating for show and reserved sun loungers on deck.
There are several dining options on board. RCI have just introduced My Time dining in half of one of the formal dining rooms and all the other tables are allocated to fixed dining of one of two sittings. The formal dining room has three tiers and excellent waiting staff. The menu is varied and they were always happy to change items if required.
Informal dining is offered in the Windjammer Buffet from early morning until 9 o’clock at night. This does get extremely busy at breakfast and lunch. The staff are very efficient at clearing the tables and they will assist you in finding an empty table if you are having trouble. The food served here is reasonable but sometimes it is not hot enough and during a two week cruise it became quite monotonous, especially the breakfast when the pastries and bread were always the same.
During the day snack food is available on the Royal promenade at the Pizza Parlour and the Cafe; these are also the only places to get food after 9 at night, except through room service. There is no food service on the open decks which was surprising so everyone had to go to Windjammers which required putting clothes over swimwear which could be a nuisance.
Ice-cream is available self-service from 11 until 9 at night.
The main theatre is the Alhambra which has a balcony and seats about 1200 so early arrival is recommended for popular shows. The ships singers and dancers put on two shows a week (each one is shown twice a night); these are passable but not particularly polished. The other performers depend on the schedule and who is around so the quality is very variable. Sometimes the entertainment crew host game shows in the theatre but these are usually quite late.
The ship has an ice-rink and carries a crew of ice-performers who put on one magnificent show each week (repeated four times). These are popular and it is recommended that you get the free tickets when they are being distributed to guarantee a ticket.
The ship has many different bars catering for all tastes from the sophisticated Olive and Twist to the karaoke Sports Bar. Finding seats later in the evening can be a bit tricky as they do tend to fill up. The ship also has another venue Lounge, the Pyramid Lounge which often has music acts in the evening and offers a lot of seating.
Drinks prices are high but probably not much worse than any cruise line. The soda passes are certainly worth their money if anyone in the family likes soft drinks.
Daytime entertainment is hosted through the ship by the entertainment team. This varies from dance classes, lectures and destination talks to sexy legs contests, quizzes and napkin folding.
Royal Caribbean ships are known for their sporting activities and the Independence of the Seas does not disappoint. The onboard Gym is huge with up-to-date fitness machines and the best view you could ever hope for whilst working out, there are also a huge range of classes but some carry a fee.
Heading to the top deck reveals the climbing wall and flow rider. Both of these activities require the signing of a waiver form and then the wearing of a plastic band to say you are in agreement. All of the instructors were helpful and polite and the waiting time for any activity was never very long. Not all activities are available all day so check the ships newspaper, the Cruise Compass, for details of times.
A nine hole putting course can also be found on deck with clubs and balls available at the entrance so you can play as many times as you like, even into the night.
A large multisport court is used throughout the day for organised activities or general ball games.
Several table tennis tables are dotted around the ship but many are in unsuitable positions as they are too windy and the balls are frequently lost.
Down at deck3 is the ice-skating rink. Once again a waiver form is required and all participants must wear the helmets provided and either their own skates r the ones supplied by RCI. This is a popular activity so you need to arrive early as only 40 people can skate at a time.
The real wow factor for this ship can probably be found inside. Deck 5 consists of a four story atrium promenade with shops, bars and cafes. This is the location of the Captains party and the various street parties that occur through the cruise. Underneath this is the Casino and nightclub and above is the spa.
Dress code on Royal Caribbean Ships is mixed; a fortnight cruise normally has about 3 formal nights, 4 semi-formal and the rest casual. However this is only a recommendation and some people choose not to follow the recommendations.
Independence of the Seas is a huge ship that can have over 4000 passengers in the height of the season. This does lead to a crowded feeling on deck but it is usually possible to find a vacant sun bed somewhere. There are three separate pool areas on the deck and also two large cantilevered whirlpools that stick out from the side of the ship. The large number of guests also seems to result in a certain rowdy element and the pool areas in particular can become almost no-go areas for a lot of the passengers as they are taken over by groups of teens. The RCI staff do not seem to be very keen on sorting out disruptive behaviour which is unfortunate for many of their guest.
The Independence of The seas is a magnificent ship offering a wealth of opportunities for an exciting vacation. However the luxury feel of cruising diminishes as the ships get bigger and this is a definite example of where bigger is not necessarily better.