Independence of the Seas Review
Introduced in 2008, the third and final Freedom-class ship, Independence of the Seas enjoys many of the popular elements of her sister ships and in 2013 received similar enhancements such as an outdoor movie screen on the pool deck, digital signage to make navigating
the ship easier, a cupcake cupboard, and a new nursery.
Although they are no longer the world's largest cruise ships, the Freedom-class vessels live up to Royal Caribbean's reputation for creative thinking that results in features to stir the imagination and provide a resort-like atmosphere at sea. Whether you are hanging 10 in the surf simulator, going a few rounds in the boxing ring, or strolling the Royal Promenade entertainment boulevard, there's almost no reason to go ashore. The layout is more intuitive than you might expect on such a gigantic ship. A mall-like promenade is lined with shops and bistros, an ice-skating rink/theater, numerous lounges, and dining options, but these are not simply enlarged Voyager-class ships. With plenty of room, even the most intimate spaces feel uncrowded. A good fit for extended families, these ships have expansive areas devoted to children and teens and enough adults-only spaces to satisfy everyone.
Big, bigger, biggest! In the early 1990s, Royal Caribbean launched Sovereign-class ships, the first of the modern megacruise liners, which continue to be the all-around favorite of passengers who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Plunging into the 21st century, each ship in the current fleet carries more passengers than the entire Royal Caribbean fleet of the 1970s, and has amenities—such as new surfing pools—that were unheard of in the past.
All Royal Caribbean ships are topped by the company's signature Viking Crown Lounge, a place to watch the seascape by day and dance at night. Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.
What You Should Know
- FlowRider surfing simulator is exciting, even for observers
- The H2O Zone is a fun place to beat the heat beneath a waterfall, in the fountain sprays, and along a lazy river
- A sports pool accommodates water volleyball, basketball, and golf
- The location of a self-serve frozen-yogurt bar near the kids' pool means that it often ends up messy
- Hang on to your wallet—the malts in Johnny Rockets diner aren’t included in the price
- On a ship this large, lines are inevitable, particularly at disembarkation
- Crew Members 1,360
- Entered Service 2008
- Gross Tons 160,000
- Length 1,112 Feet
- Number of Cabins 1,817
- Passenger Capacity 3,634
- Width 185 feet