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Royal Caribbean International: Independence of the Seas

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By John_CR

  • New

Mar 16, 2017

Western Caribbean

RCCL is Horrible ! I purchased a cruise for my son's BDay with a BOGO special + $200 in on board credit. They cancelled my cruise and basically said...pick another cruise but no bogo nor $200 credit. I asked RCCL salesperson Andrew Hiden why ? He said, "Sorry that special is not currently being offered." How do you tell your kid that the once in a lifetime cruise you had already promised him for his birthday was cancelled ? So I paid more money but

went from a seven night balcony suite to an inside in-order to stay within budget from regular price vs. bogo. I went on to ask, "Are there rowdy spring breakers ?" No he said, "That happens on Carnival, we are a family friendly cruise line." He lied !!! Ship was filled with drunk college kids on unlimited alcohol package RCCl vigorously promotes. Being that an 18% gratuity is already included, they provide rude customer service. I asked for a chocolate martini for my wife, bartender decided to make using one part Kahlua, one part Baileys and one part vodka...that is not a chocolate martini. When I brought that to his attention, he said, "Well, that's how we make it here." I went to another bar where drink was made correctly but not before stopping by the customer service desk to report my experience. Senior Customer Service rep Agata Appel promised to remove charges for properly done drinks as a courtesy. She never did !!! That let's you know the lousy customer service they provide when the senior customer service officer doesn't follow through with a promise she made...but it doesn't end there. They also double charged me for the on-board birthday cake I had ordered for my son...Stop, it get's better; I understand that to them, the bartenders, the servers and yes even the customer service officer, we're just one in a never-ending rotation of guest on there six month work rotation but to us, this is and was a vacation that we had planned and budgeted for over a year to celebrate our son's 12th birthday and RCCL failed every step of the way. While dining at the Windjammer buffet asked a server behind the counter, "Does this sauce contain seafood?" as my wife is allergic to shellfish. The server said, "No, read the sign." Guess what ? It did and my wife ended up in the doctor's office (on my son's bday) taking Benadryl for the last two days of our five day voyage thus ruining the remainder of our vacation. ok ok Horrible Customer service even before I got on board

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Sep 5, 2015

Western Caribean

Wonderful experience.. The staff was unbelievable. The ship was emaculate.. I am sold on Royal Caribean. Food: We Hail from New York so we are not excepting to be wowed. Considering the large volume of people it was fine. Cabin: We had a Grand Suite and we were more then pleased with the accommodations Entertainment and Activities: Something for everyone I love this cruise so much that I'm coming back Hats off to concierge

service. We enjoyed the suite concierge, the lounge, evening cocktail reception.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Jul 20, 2015

Eastern Caribbean

We sailed Eastern Caribbean July 5-12 and what a great time we had. It was the perfect vacation. I'm usually a hard to please traveler but there are no nits to pick on this trip. We have booked for next year in the same cabin on Freedom. We are already counting down the days. The food was outstanding. We ate in the dining room, Windjammer, Chops Grille, Sorrento's and room service. Special kudos to Aila in the King Lear Dining Room. She always

had a smile and knew just how to make us feel special at every meal. Stateroom was excellent. Plenty of room for 2. Nice balcony, full bathroom, substantial closet space. The location was facing aft which has a larger balcony. Lots to do. We do more with each cruise we take and this ship had plenty to do. We were never bored. Our favorite days were the sailing days. One suggestion- if you have the chance to go to brunch with a tour of the kitchen on the last day at sea, do it! You won't be disappointed. Our trip was outstanding from beginning to end. We had previously sailed on Allure but found that Independence was the perfect size ship for us. We had a Junior Suite which was wonderful. The food was outstanding. The shore excursions were excellent. The entire onboard experience was the best that we have ever experienced. We didn't want it to end.

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By Evan_CR

  • New

Dec 23, 2014

Western Caribbean

Overall, the most important thing I can say that should apply to everyone is that Labadee was, in my opinion, the absolute worst part of the trip--and a waste of time and money. Even if you're gung-ho about taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean, I'd urge you to check out an itinerary that avoids this lame excuse for either a resort or a genuine port stop. I looked through their port brochure, and am intrigued by some other places they serve such

as Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. The food quality was very poor, and dining options were few and unsatisfying. I actually touched on this more specifically above. Everything tasted frozen (ok, it's the best way to get food to last for 6 days), but was not prepared in a way that brought out any of its flavor. Things were bland, and drab. There were only a few ethnic foods, most of which were terrible. The sushi bar at the buffet was very disappointing (they had a variety of bad rolls, when they probably should've just had a decent California roll and called it a day). Everything was soggy. When we got off the boat, we'd always crave veggies and fresh foods. They should probably simplify the menu to more reliable things, and consider cheap foods that can hold up well and make people happy…why not have a decent lo mein or burrito bar? And the two premium restaurants were totally not worth it -- $25 per person for generic Italian food or $35 for a lousy steakhouse. They should consider getting a chain or established chef to set up a restaurant if they can source some decent-quality food that a real chef would accept. The stateroom was smallish, but not uncomfortable or unreasonable for 1 or 2 people. The "cold" water in the sink was tepid and tough to drink. The mini-fridge didn't really cool. The curtains were see-through, so there was no privacy...or you could shut the blackout shade, which defeated the value of having a window. Falmouth, Jamaica was a very vibrant place. The produce was so incredibly fresh and diverse. The people were friendly and hospitable. The mountains and sea were beautiful. The history was interesting and complex. The foods were tasty (we went on a culinary walking tour). Plus it's close to Montego Bay and Ochos Rios. I wish we could've stayed at port for a night so we had more time to enjoy this stop. I'd like to preface my review with some context. This was my first cruise, as cruising is not personally my ideal type of vacation. I prefer going somewhere and having time to explore -- maybe city- or country-hop if I can. But I'm not typically into tours or rigid itineraries. Still, I love tropical environs, water and sailing, and am ok with resorts in general even though they're not as authentic as the places surrounding them. So I tried to go into the cruise with a fairly open mind. In the end, I have decided that cruising is not for me. On the other hand, there are some people that love cruises. So the things that bothered me might not apply to everyone else. But I will try to be thorough and specific, so at least others can get a sense of what I experienced during 6-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on the Independence of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. As a quick summary, I found that there wasn't enough time to spend in the better port stops (Grand Cayman and especially Falmouth, Jamaica) and the other was completely artificial and run by the cruise line (Labadee, Haiti). Even in the stops that had some authentic culture, sights, and activities, Royal Caribbean tried to dissuade people from leaving the port area complexes where they take a cut of sales from vendors and luxury shops. They claim the towns and countries can be dangerous. If that was the case, why bother going? Why get off the ship? It's just a money grab. On that note, there were LOTS of upcharges from the alcohol packages to the souvenir cups and the added-fee restaurants that were totally generic and not much better quality than the regular dining hall. The food quality and preparation in the dining hall and buffet were pretty atrocious most dishes were mediocre at best, and some were appalling. There was also a lack of variety in foods, with one exception being the Singapore-Style Curry Noodles unfortunately, while they tried to offer an ethnic taste, they were comically bad (they tasted like ketchup, French dressing, and sadness). In general, the foods were bland, drab, and not particularly fresh. Exceptions were some of the pastas and the steak. The ship, while large, felt confining. It was like we were confined to what Royal Caribbean felt like giving us as a vacation, rather than getting to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the time and the places we visited. Now to get more specific: I'll start with the positive: *The staff members on the ship were incredibly friendly, warm, interested, and caring. They were the absolute best part of the trip. Whether in the dining hall, bars, lounges, or pools, they made us feel welcomed and taken-care of. They helped us enjoy the cruise as much as possible, and are a huge credit to Royal Caribbean for hiring and training them. They're truly outstanding. *The ship was well-maintained, clean, modern, and generally had a nice feel to its layout and in its venues. *There was one night with a stand-up coming guest performer and the show was great, although she might not have thought the crowd was into it due to rough seas at the time. I wish there were more established artists with some broad appeal. *Grand Cayman, while small, had some deliciously fresh seafood and lots of outdoor activities like snorkeling. *Falmouth, Jamaica was a very vibrant place. The produce was so incredibly fresh and diverse. The people were friendly and hospitable. The mountains and sea were beautiful. The history was interesting and complex. The foods were tasty (we went on a culinary walking tour). Plus it's close to Montego Bay and Ochos Rios. I wish we could've stayed at port for a night so we had more time to enjoy this stop. *Onboard activities were fun, and facilities were nice – this applies to pools, hot tubs, the surf simulator, rock wall, etc. The time on the boat was generally enjoyable when we werent in rough seas. *The alcohol package made things that much better as we got the ultimate package, which paid for itself after 4 or 5 drinks a day. That was a good call for us. And now for the negative: *Premium amenities and services were very expensive, for example massages and spa services. Royal Caribbean tried to squeeze more money out of passengers every chance they got. *The "cold" water in the stateroom was tepid and undrinkable. Of course, even with a drink package you could only get one bottle of water at a time. *The mini fridge was barely cool. So you kind of need a beverage package for a cool drink. *The curtains in the promenade stateroom were see-through and provided no privacy unless we used the blackout ones, which eliminated the view and any light from outside. They should've been sheer to let in light, but not prying eyes. It basically defeated the purpose of having the promenade window. *The drinks expensive. You can bring on wine, but not even a large-format beer. Basically if you enjoy drinking, you have to pay out the nose. *WiFi was expensive and unreliable. *There were incessant announcements on the PA loudspeaker system to announce "important" information like longitude/latitude, pre-scheduled port stops we already knew about, and opportunities to spend money at the overpriced duty-free and jewelry shops. These woke us up if we dared to relax during our vacation,and were obnoxious in content and volume. They woke us up at 6am on debarkation day even though many of us were not allowed off the ship until 10. Awesome! *The island stops were too short, and Royal Caribbean tried to mislead passengers that the only safe areas were the ports, where all shopping basically went back to the cruise line. I don't see the point of taking a ship somewhere beautiful in the Caribbean, but not getting time to actually experience these places. For people who enjoy the cruising experience aboard the ship, why bother stopping? It seemed like a lose-lose proposition for me. *Finally, while they're truly amazing people, the cruise staff are overworked, and abused by Royal Caribbean. While the option to work with a cruise line might be a better career choice than staying in their home countries, they should be treated fairly on par with American employment laws and not treated so horribly. It is depressing to see, and I felt ashamed that my family did business with Royal Caribbean. It was typical to learn that some staff members worked 15-17 hour days with no days off. And they are penalized without-pay if they happen to get sick. Sure, it's just business. But I think a company should be judged not only by how profitable they are, but also by how decently they treat the people who work with them to help them succeed. For the absolute best part of this company, the staff was not properly appreciated by Royal Caribbean. I hope some of this might help people make their cruise related decisions in the future as the bottom line is that if you already like cruising, you probably will enjoy this ship and itinerary with a few exceptions. And if you're not sure about the cruise experience, there are some downsides that are probably worth being warned about in advance.

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By Fred_CR

  • New

Feb 24, 2013

Eastern Caribbean

Overall, our experience was good. Our experience cruising is limited to 4 RCI cruises and 1 NCL. As a couple that likes to travel in luxury to many destination resorts, we have grown fond of cruising. We always get a balcony room and prefer suites, just because of the extra space. 2 years ago on Allure of the Seas, we had the Grande Suite which offered us upgraded amenities, access to private seating for shows and the pool deck and availability

of our own Cabana in Labadee Haiti. This cruise, we took our 16 year old daughter and her friend. We both had adjoining junior suites. We expected to receive the same "suite" treatment, but don't be fooled. The junior suite is not really a suite at all. Yes, the room is 100sf larger than the standard room, but no amenities are available. The first day of a 8 day cruise we attempted to get a cabana for Labadee but nothing was available. There were cabanas reserved for suite guests, but the junior suite is not a suite, I guess!!! They should call it an upgraded stateroom. So after spending 10000 on these rooms I was a little bitter from the beginning. The food in the Windjammer buffet was fairly good. We primarily used it for breakfast. Good selection of all breakfast items. You really shouldn't want for anything. If you can't find something you like, then I'm not sure what you eat at home. I had 2 issues with the buffet. First was inconsistencies with service. This was a trend throughout the ship. One day a waiter is right there to offer coffee, juice etc. The next day you will have to go get your own. I also wish they offered fresh squeezed fruit juices. Of course you can get fresh squeezed OJ if you pay for it. Dinner in the main dining room was pretty good once they got to know your wants and needs. Food was varied from night to night. I do recommend going to Chops or Portofino at least once for a great dining experience. It's like $20pp. My wife and I do the wine package. Nice to have a variety of wines each night with dinner. Although house wines are available at no charge. Junior suite is spacious enough for a couple to have plenty of room when getting ready for dinner or bed. Full tub/shower is a nice benefit not available in lower class rooms. Again, don't forget the junior suite does not offer suite benefits. If your card isn't gold...... Forget about it! Activities are ok. Didn't really care for the shows in the evening. Sorry, it's just that other RCI ships have had better shows. The cruise director was funny at times when he was "on". Otherwise, didn't really see him and when we did, he pretty much ignored us and others around us. I believe the cruise director should be "on" all the time. It's part of the job. Some of the typical activities were there. Bummed they cancelled the parade early in the trip. Allure and Oasis had great activities. Just check all the ships and reviews to get an overall feeling of the ship. As for excursions, we prefer to walk, visit the shops and have lunch. In St. Maarten, if you want to have a beach day, this is the place. When you cross to the island via boat, walk down the boardwalk to the left. Do NOT let the locals swindle you into a umbrella and chairs. Walk for a few hundred yards and look for signs giving good rates. We got swindled. 4 chairs and an umbrella for $40. Right near us was a sign for Lizzie's restaurant offering 4 chairs, 2 umbrellas and 8 Red Stripe beers for 40. Oops!! Most other stops like St. Thomas, St. Kitts, San Juan are all good for shopping. Labadee is great for RCI excursions. I highly recommend zip lining and the coaster. Jet skiing is ok if you have never done it. Ocean waves are fun and the guys take you to 4 different points for about 45 minutes. My 16 yo was scared to deaths as a driver. Oh we'll, live and learn.

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Mar 7, 2012

Canary Isles and Maderia

Will not be going again, queue to get on, queue to get a meal, queue to get a drink. Following problems on previos cruise we queued in the cold for about 5 hours to get on. 3 star Good was generally good, but following an outbreak of sickness on the preious cruise they had instigated extra, but inadequae precautions. No self service, no cruets on the table. Want salt, find a waiter. 4 star Excelent, very clean and a reasonable size

Good range on offer, some of the shows were excellent 2 star These varied greatly. couple were very interesting, one was boring and so slow. Coach drove at 5mph and 15 minutes after leaving the ship we stopped for a look around the square no more than 100yards from the ship. Fairly expensive for what they were, in Lisbon we hired a taxi and had an excellent half day trip at about half the price of the ships offerings Staff were excellent. drinks were expensive Much too crowded, certainly made up our minds that we will not be going again.

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Aug 11, 2011

med

One has not sailed on this cruise itinerary yet, we will be in 8 days from now though!! Myself has endured a lifetime of experiences onboard cruise ships, therefore I has an insight and understanding of the ever more demanding of cruise companies and the cruise liner industry. Myself along with fellow guests who are cruise experts and have enjoyed every minute of sailing onboard these fantastic and inovative technolgy ships will however say, the standard

of service, the sheer "luxury", the glamours shows and entertainment, pioneering broadway and west end shows and 5* food have somewhat decreased over 20 years; even more popular with families, affordable even for the working class, cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger up to the point that onboard a ship is like a city, is it too big? Is this why standards have fallen? Who knows? It still today remains a mystery but what i can tell you is, a cruise experience is an experience of a lifetime, it is still luxury, food is outstanding, shows are excellent, onboard facilities are phenominal, family friendly, accomodation is somewhat OK you would find the rooms standard for all 5* hotels - porky if you are used to villa and luxury condo holidays like myself, but one has to say that your holiday is your holiday, your room is where you go to sleep, really does it matter?? NO!!!! Sum up about a cruise in one sentence would be, its a 5* floating hotel, a new day is a new destination, pay 1 price, you only have to unpack once and you are seeing and exploring 8-10 different ports, your entertainment and food is included, along with your stateroom, a cruising holiday is a holiday! P.S if anyone has any questions, tips, advice about cruising, please it would be my upmost pleasure to assist you, jamie x.

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Aug 1, 2011

Italian Med

WOW! Royal Caribbean never fail to make me smile. It was so fun that I wanted a holiday to get over this holiday! It was the best experience of a lifetime. :) Great food. Excellent choice even for me being Vegetarian. I love there food so much I never stopped eating! Even though we just had an interior state room, the beds are comfortable and the teles good. So is the bathroom. But with everything to do on the ship you barley find time

to lounge in the room. So many Choices it's unbelieveable. You can go Ice skating, rockclimbing, Mini Golf, basketball, flow rider or even an arcade! The excursions are really brillent and if you spend the time to look though them and book them then you won't be dissappointed. My trip was amazing. The last one was in the Caribbean and we went done ziplines and just Wow. Everyone should experience this cruising idea. EVERYONE! Also our cruise director was Kirk Detweiler and he was an amazing cruise director because he had competions and every body has loads of fun. We also met a new family. We sat on the same table as them in the three story dining room. I think it was brillient to meet these people as after each day we would catch up on everything thing we did and the food was WOW so everthing was really good. My sister, age 15 (older then me, me being 13) was particuily fond of the ice cubes that they gave us in our state room. She says it the best ice for miles and so it should be as we were in the sea but it was, for some reason, really good!

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Jun 28, 2011

Italian Med

First time cruising and a little worried beforehand after reading other reviews, but was absolutely fabulous! First time ever on a holiday I genuinely did not want to come home! The ship is magnificent, hygiene and cleanliness on board first rate, excellent food & service, friendly helpful staff. My only negative comment would be that the coffee everywhere on board is really bitter, and there is none in the cabins, so take a small jar of your own

if you are a coffee drinker. Food was absolutely excellent. Breakfast used the Romeo & Juliet dining room, Windjammer and also Cabin room service - all had an excellent choice, and hot food was hot. Lunch used the Windjammer or Sorrentos - never had to wait more than a few minutes in Windjammer for a table for the 6 of us and such a great choice of food - unbelievable choice something for everyone. Dinner had My Time Dining, but we booked the same table each night in the King Lear dining room as our waiters Reynaldo and Gerard were so good - genuinely nice people giving an excellent service. Stateroom was excellent (Cabin no 6360). Much bigger than I expected, and with friends in adjoining cabins, we had the balconies open between us which was great to sit together and watch the world go by. Cabin was clean comfortable and bigger than many hotel rooms I have been in. The bed was absolutely massive and so comfortable. Our stateroom attendant was so friendly and helpful and kept our cabin spotless. Sachets of coffee would be the only improvement I would request. On board activities were numerous and varied. I must admit we were very lazy and did not do many activities, but we did try ice skating and the climbing wall, and these were great fun, with no queueing when we went each time. We watched both ice shows which were fabulous - but wear long trousers and a jumper - we froze at the first one! We watched two evening shows which were scheduled at 10.45pm and both were really good. Unfortunately, most days they were on at 6pm (when we were getting ready for dinner) or 9pm (when we were having dinner), so missed most of them. Being in a group of 6 we made our own entertainment, but if I was to go just with hubby I think we would try and catch more of the shows. We only booked one excursion and that was the private train into Rome, which was excellent and removed the worry about whether or not public transport would get us back to the ship in time. The guide on board was helpful, and took us the short walk into St Peter's Square, where we then went off independently. Rome is a city not to miss. We took an open top bus tour which was excellent for seeing all the major sights and is recommended - not very expensive and saves lots of walking! At other ports, we did our own thing, except at Livorno where we took the shuttle bus into town (not being allowed to walk through the port at this location). We would recommend doing the boat trip here - we booked it independently at the tourist office right next to where the bus dropped us off. At Gibraltar, I would recommend taking a cab up the Rock - we walked to the cable car and the queues were so long we did not have time to go up. The cab would have taken us to all the major sites and back to the ship for around 25 Euros each. I would definitely do this next time! In Lisbon we took an open top bus tour - do not use the Blue Route bus - it was very dreary and took us through all the industrial areas! Take the Green Route for the historic area instead! In Cadiz we similarly took an open top bus, and this was excellent for seeing the city. In summary our trip was absolutely fantastic - I would not hesitate to book again or to recommend to others. Other passengers were very friendly and I did not hear any complaints - many were experienced cruisers, who said they preferred this ship to any other they had been on. Marvelous!

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By fred_CR

  • New

Jun 25, 2011

med

Have been on 6 cruises with various companies but this cruise was by far the best cruise my wife and i have been on larger than previous cruises Dont miss Florance, Rome or Lisbon

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Apr 3, 2011

Med

After many years cruising, we probably will never travel with Royal Caribbean again. They have become very greedy and standards have slipped. The Food - Compared to previous cruises - it was sub standard. Plated meals in the Dining room were cold by the time they arrived. All meals were nothing special. Stateroom was very nice as always. Activities - Did not do anything onboard Stay away from excursions as they are

over priced in our opinion. After many years of cruising, with many different cruise lines, we chose to cruise again with RC as we are now Platinum members, and in busy terminals, the benefits on check- in are worth this status alone! We took my elderly parents on the Independence of the Seas but unfortunately our experience this time was well below standard. As other reviewers have mentioned, the service onboard has dropped considerably since cruisng became 'available' to the masses. That sounds terribly snobby, and I don't mean it to - but when we first started cruising we felt like film stars. Everything was just so wonderful onboard - and the price of the cruise reflected this - but we did not mind saving hard every year to pay double the cost of a 'normal' holiday because it was just so wonderfully different and you felt as if you really were being spoiled. Not any more. The food was ordinary. The staff were rude. Some of the passengers were also horrible - drunk and wandering around in vests all day. The whole experience was under par, and we probably will not travel with RC again. It also did not help that my 80 year old, otherwise healthy and sprightly father, tripped over a badly placed stage prop on the main promenade, during the first parade. Through no fault of his own he tripped over a steel pole that was jutting out, and fell full length on the marble floor. He knocked himself out, and hurt his hip quite badly, and had to spend the whole holiday in a wheelchair. RC at first refused to accept any responsibility and even charged us for the wheelchair and the visit to the hospital! Unbelievably, when a nurse first arrived on the scene, before she did anything she presented her Visa machine to take payment before she could take him to the Hospital deck, so the doctor could see my father. All the while he was lying prostate on the floor, bleeding from the head in front of a load of gawping passengers. I thought this was absolutley terrible and I was very vociferous about it to the management. After a huge disagreement with management, we ended up being satisfied with the treatment he got onboard, and most of the fees were waived, but that accident changed his life as he still has problems with his hip, (turned out he had cracked his symphis pubis) and I will never forget how shoddily he was treated and how MONEY was all the company cared about.

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Apr 3, 2011

Med

After many years cruising, we probably will never travel with Royal Caribbean again. They have become very greedy and standards have slipped. The Food - Compared to previous cruises - it was sub standard. Plated meals in the Dining room were cold by the time they arrived. All meals were nothing special. Stateroom was very nice as always. Activities - Did not do anything onboard. Stay away from excursions as they are over

priced in our opinion. After many years of cruising, with many different cruise lines, we chose to cruise again with RC as we are now Platinum members, and in busy terminals, the benefits on check- in are worth this status alone! We took my elderly parents on the Independence of the Seas but unfortunately our experience this time was well below standard. As other reviewers have mentioned, the service onboard has dropped considerably since cruisng became 'available' to the masses. That sounds terribly snobby, and I don't mean it to - but when we first started cruising we felt like film stars. Everything was just so wonderful onboard - and the price of the cruise reflected this - but we did not mind saving hard every year to pay double the cost of a 'normal' holiday because it was just so wonderfully different and you felt as if you really were being spoiled. Not any more. The food was ordinary. The staff were rude. Some of the passengers were also horrible - drunk and wandering around in vests all day. The whole experience was under par, and we probably will not travel with RC again. It also did not help that my 80 year old, otherwise healthy and sprightly father, tripped over a badly placed stage prop on the main promenade, during the first parade. Through no fault of his own he tripped over a steel pole that was jutting out, and fell full length on the marble floor. He knocked himself out, and hurt his hip quite badly, and had to spend the whole holiday in a wheelchair. RC at first refused to accept any responsibility and even charged us for the wheelchair and the visit to the hospital! Unbelievably, when a nurse first arrived on the scene, before she did anything she presented her Visa machine to take payment before she could take him to the Hospital deck, so the doctor could see my father. All the while he was lying prostate on the floor, bleeding from the head in front of a load of gawping passengers. I thought this was absolutley terrible and I was very vociferous about it to the management. After a huge disagreement with management, we ended up being satisfied with the treatment he got onboard, and most of the fees were waived, but that accident changed his life as he still has problems with his hip, (turned out he had cracked his symphis pubis) and I will never forget how shoddily he was treated and how MONEY was all the company cared about.

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Dec 26, 2010

MEDITTERANEAN

Our family decided to do a 2 wk Meditteranean cruise together. It was myself, my husband and our 3 teenage kids. My in-laws also also came. The ship is beautiful and very clean. We found alot to do during days at sea. The food was just okay-not amazing! We had a lot of issues with the stateroom. Almost immediately I started to have upper respiratory problems. I went to the medical facility and asked if my husband (who is a Physician) coulld listen

to my lungs and determine if I had a pneumonia. Nurse was very rude and said I would have to pay 180.00 to use the stethescope!!! Spoke to houskeeping and they changed all the sheets, comforter and bedding. Still sick!!! Went to the Windjammer buffet and heard other people coughing and wheezing on board!! There were about 30 of us that I know about that had the same symptoms. I alerted the staff and Physicians and they didn't seem concerned. This ship obviously has some problems in the airconditioning ductwork or something environmental that was making a lot of the passengers sick. No one on board seemed to care. The food in the dining room was fine and the staterooms were roomy (for cruise standards) and had lots of storage space. Food was adequate Roomy and loads of storage Good Didn't do any excursions

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Nov 30, 2010

Canary Islands

We were very disappointed with the Independence of the Seas. All they seemed concerned about was charging extortionate prices for drinks and more or less everything else. The Ship did not have adequete aftr dinner seating and people were literally fighting for a nice place to sit. We were unable to get acup of coffee (other than in a paper cup) after dinner witha brandy. Most of the activities i.e. wrinkle seminar, teeth whitening etc. all involved

vast expense. There was not adequate provision made or enterntainment in the bad weather. Queing seemed to make up a large part of most events. There was not adequete provision for smokers, with everybody crammed into two very smal rooms like second class citizens The food was very boring and unimiaginative, the Windjammer was like being at a holiday camp and the servie in the dining room left a lot to be desired. Wine was priced out of all proportion The stateroom was very nice and spacious. Not very much, the entertainment in the theatre was good. Didn't go on any as very expensive. All in all very disappointed and willl not be going with Royal Caribean again,. They have got very greedy and even little things like chocolates on the bed have been stopped.

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Oct 27, 2010

CANARIES

This was our first HOME sailing and it is much better then an airport holiday. Although its a big ship, getting about was very easy. The food was quite varied and our waiter did ask if we would like more courses, but it was only WARM. Hot food should be just that!!!! All food came plated and covered but if he was serving other tables first it would only be warm when presented. Buffet in The Windjammer was fine but with so many people on board

I don't like pushing through people to get served! Having taken an upgrade to a Junior Suite, the cabin was good. Plenty of wardrobe space and a bath as well as a shower. On sailing days it was hard to get a lounger as people STILL put towels on them ! Lots of things to do during the day and the nightly quiz in the bar was good fun. Enjoyed the cruise, but where the ship moors is a let down. Apart from Madeira and Vigo, the ship is in docks with no views!

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Oct 22, 2010

Western Mediterranean

The Independence of the Seas is a remarkable vessel with something for everyone. The entertainment was top drawer, especially the skating revue (akin to the Ice Capades) produced on the ship's very own ice rink. The excellent exercise/spa facility opens at 6:00, giving early risers the opportunity to clear their heads and keep fit throughout the entre cruise. The service was outstanding, especially our cabin steward who was very accommodating of each

and every request.. Ditto the dining room waiters. Smoking in rooms is of course, prohibited, but a the port side decks are designated for smokers. Non-smokers should reserve starboard side rooms if they want to avoid drifting smoke. Inside cabins on decks 6 to 10 all face an open atrium. It is important for those booking these rooms to remember to keep their shades/blinds closed for privacy since the opposite inside staterooms on each deck are but 50 feet away. Food in the dining rooms was all right. Starters and desserts were were exceptionally good but the entrees fell short of our expectation. The three adult pools were well positioned but deck reclining space was somewhat inadequate for the 4,200 passengers. Transfers in and out of Southhampton were very thoroughly and professionally handled and security at certain ports of call was very tight.. As above. The Windjammer buffet was too small to handle the number of passengers. On certain days, the dining rooms were left open for breakfast. The buffet food was acceptable but not so good as that offered on the Coral Princess a few years ago. The location of certain foodstuffs was hard to find -- not always logically placed with other corresponding foods. Small but well appointed. A large outside balcony; a good shower; lots of hot water -- never had a lukewarm washdown. Very good. Sommething for everyone. There were two entertainment co-ordinators -- one American and one British who conducted a television programme outlining what was happening that day. Land excursions are better when they are at least four hours long. Those "trimmed-down" excursions tended to be confined to the bus with no or few stops for photos. Pay a little more for the longer tours and have time to walk/stretch and take in the scenery from your own perspective. 14 days from Southhampton to Gibraltar, Villefranche (Nice), Livorno (Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Cagliari (Sardinia), Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo and return to Southhampton. Relatively smooth sailing (under 8 foot swells) with only one day having a rough sea warning. Very few got seasick though the predictable spread of colds was evident. Wash your hands regularly with the hand sanitizers to prevent disease spread.

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Jul 31, 2010

medditerian

I travelled with my 11 year old daughter and a friend. this was our second cruise together and we loved it!! Food was very good. We ate in the Winjammer cafe for breakfast and lunch, it was always busy but we got a seat without any hassel. we went to Johnny Rockets American diner a couple of times and that was magic, the waiters dance when certain songs come on and food great.At night we ate in dinning room on deck 3 we always had same table and

same waiters who took great care of us.We were spoiled rotten! Our room was perfectly fine,spotlesly clean and plenty of cupboard space.It was cleaned 2 times a day and lovely towel animals everynight It is the type of holiday that you can be very busy or do nothing at all.Every night you get a newsletter in your room telling you the times of everything that is going to be on the next day so that you can make your plans. We had the best cruise director, Joff, he was pure magic,so funny !! Last time we went on too many trips so we did less this time and for us it worked out fine.We went into Rome it is a long day (9hours) but we had a great guide and enjoyed ourselves.We went to the aquarium in Lisbon and another trip to Florence. All good but we enjoyed the ship so much we were glad we only got of 3 times.

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Jul 19, 2010

Meditarrean

Just got back from a brilliant 2 week cruise round the med. The ship itself was incredible, was a bit worried as we have never cruised before but enjoyed every minute and will definitely be cruising with Royal Caribbean in the future! The food was gorgeous and so much of it! We ate in the windjammer cafe for breakfast and lunch time, then had a 3 course meal in the Dining Room in the evening at the 830pm sitting. The food in there was very nice,

and the waiters were fantastic and couldn't do enough for you. There was always a good selection of food, and if you didn't like what u ordered they were always more than happy to get you something else. We had an inside stateroom with a big window overlooking the promenade. It was well kept and very clean. Maybe a bit on the small side but perfect for the 2 of us. Although next time we hope to pay extra and have a balcony room There was so much to do on board on sea days, from rock climbing, arcades, surfing, golf, ice skating, fitness activities, line dancing round the pool or just chilling out with a book! There really is everything to suit all people and ages! We only done 1 pre booked excursions and that was the trip to Cannes and Monte Carlo. This was very good and would definitely recommend - great value for money and breath taking scenery in Monaco! Overall we had one of the best holidays so far, couldn't fault the staff. I read a lot of reviews before we went about the drinks being expensive, but really they weren't as bad as i imagined ( some people just enjoy moaning) vodka and coke was 6 dollars and beer 6 dollars glass of wine 8 dollars! Make sure to take lots of spending money for the shops on board as they have some fantastic offers on clothes, make up, hand bags etc!! ENJOY YOUR TRIP!

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May 27, 2010

eastern caribbean

Stunning and spacious ship but awful food and subliminal hustling by company to unload your wallet. Poor quality of beef, awful cream soups and the lunch buffett is as budget as it gets from an overabundance of rice, pasta, beans and cheap pork carvings, all served in classy areas but on plastic (melmac plates) disguised in a blue caribbean design. At breakfast in the dining room, the server greets you with fresh O.J. for you and the lady,if you

say OK, be prepared for a bar bill of $8, not counting gratuity. This greeting happens every day. At the pool area, sprinkles ice cream bar is really a kiosk of self serve cheap custard and only 1 that is for 4300 guests? My wife isn't waiting behind 20 people so naturally there is a BEN and Jerry's in the Promenade that sells ice cream for 3.50 for a small cone. I've been on some of the finest ships afloat and this ship is gorgeous but it's a game to unload your wallet. From drinks to excursions be prepared to overspend. Very budget,from beef to soups. The fowl surprisingly is very good from roast duck to Roast chicken. The lobster tail is a joke,looks like a shrimp. Maybe the best of any ship I've been on. It was a superior outside, comfortable beds,good ergornomics and spacious. Only negative, only 2 bath towels cheap soap and no goodies such as toothpaste,a razor,and no piece of chocolate at night. Very good. The caribbean band is full size,other ships cut down and use boom boxes. From flow rider to a full size basketball court, it has it all. If money is no object, excursions are good If it wasn't for the cuisine and the hustling atmosphere, it's as good as it's gets.

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By Jana_CR

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Mar 7, 2010

Western Caribbean

I traveled with my husband and 4 other adult relatives. In the past I have felt that cruising is somewhat cheesy and staid, with endless eating being the primary onboard activity. I was pleasantly surprised with this cruise. There was quite a bit to do during sea days. The excursions we chose were pretty good, too. Overall, I enjoyed this cruise very much. We were all impressed by our assigned dinner waiters. They were courteous and solicitous

of our every need beyond belief. I have never experienced similar food service on land. The food is excellent, too, in the dining room and in the restaurants. We actually ate at all 3 restaurants, too-- Johnny Rockets, Portofino, and Chops. All excellent. Great! We had a stateroom with a balcony, a first for us, and it was worth the extra fee for that balcony. It was as big as our stateroom. So nice to go out there and relax. There was an impressive array of onboard activities. We enjoyed the rock wall, the mini-golf, ice-skating, dance lessons, and the FlowRider. On the FlowRider, I tried both the boogie-board and stand-up surfing. There was an adult boogie-boarding hour one night at 9 pm and I was the only one who showed up, so I got as much FlowRider as I could take. Awesome! We also learned some Bollywood dancing which we expected to be lame but which actually turned out to be really fun. The Ice-skating rink is small but to have a rink at sea at all is something! You get to practice your turns. And the Ice-skating show, "Strings", was amazing. In Belize we did the Cave Tubing and Zip-line excursion and it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, the day was cool as well so being in a river was not as pleasant as it would have been on a hot day. You float down a river that goes through a long cave. The water level is low during winter so many times we had to avoid rubbing our rears on rocks. Each tour guide gets to basically manhandle a train of 6 tourists on tubes through the cave because there wasn't a strong current. I enjoyed the zip-line much more than freezing in the river. There were maybe 6 towers, and you hike or walk from one to the next in many cases. One guy freaked out after his first zip-line and quite, but everyone else in our tour group had a great time. In Costa Maya we went on an excursion to see the Mayan ruins of Kohunlich and Dzibanche. There is a 2 hour bus ride to and from, but at least the bus is comfortable. The ruins were amazing, and you can climb on them. Very cool. At the Cozumel stop, we went on the Xcaret excursion. We did this one because part of our group had already been to Xel-Ha. Xel-Ha seemed to be the most recommended park. I was looking forward to snorkeling but the snorkeling at Xcaret is lousy. No other way to put it. There is a cool lanrynth of water paths to float down, even snaking through a building at one point, but not many fish to be seen. Out in the bay, the life guards do not allow much room for snorkeling. There are not many fish within the snorkeling zone, that's for sure. Xcaret is more focused on wildlife. There is a mini-zoo there. During our stay, they had a sea-turtle release. I also saw dolphin-encounters. Wish we would have gone to Xel-Ha, though, because I hear the snorkeling is great there. One thing to note about going to the mainland from Cozumel island--you have to travel via 45-minute ferry boat ride and it was not smooth-sailing. The ferry employees handed out plenty of sea-sickness bags. We quickly discovered the benefits of going up to the top level of the ferry, which was open air. I recommend sitting up there and taking Dramamine.

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Aug 19, 2009

Italian Med

My son and I were looking forward to joining the Independance again after our cruise on her last year. Initially everything seemed the same but as the days passed it became apparent that standards had dropped immensely. The ice shows were exactly the same as last year so there was no point even going to them. The availability of ice skating for adults was virtually nil and seemed to be more geared for the children. The entertainment in the theatre

was very similar to last year (we saw "Elton John" and the "Beatles" ) and I felt that putting on a film that had actually been on the ships television two days before was scraping the bottom of the barrel. The issue of people still putting towels and books on sunbeds and going off for lunch etc when there is a sign advising this is not allowed needs to be looked into - on quite a few occasions I had to sit in the shade looking at sunbeds that had been vacant for up to two hours but there were no members of staff patrolling and removing peoples belongings to free these sunbeds for other people waiting. There were a lot of unrully children running about all over the ship and my son who is 16 was blamed on one occasion for hurting one of these children but only for another passenger speaking on his behalf and telling the officer he was nowhere near this child he was just about to have all of his details logged by the officer. We have two cruises booked for next year and hope that we have better experiences on board the Brilliance and the Oasis. My son and I booked the coach excursion to Seville and I think that 60 dollars each is far too much for a trip that lasts an hour and a half each way

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Aug 2, 2009

Western Mediterranean

This was our first ever Cruise and it proved to be a fantastic experience! We loved it! The Main Dining room experience for our Evening Meal was fantastic. We used the 'My Time Dining' and on the first night were seated by a window which was floor to ceiling glass. On a number of nights throughout the Cruise we were lucky enough to spot Dolphins as we were eating our meal which made the whole experience even more exciting for our daughter. The

Waiters, John and Olare were very attentive especially to her, and we tried to book in with them every night. The 'My time' just meant we could be a little more flexible with our times if we wanted but we mostly stuck to an 8:00 slot. The food was exceptional and there was plenty of variety. We discovered that if it wasn't on the menu you could always ask and it could normally be sourced. Contrary to other reviews, we found the food in the Windjammer restaurant to be extremely good too. The variety was extensive for both breakfast and lunch and throughout other times of the day. Additionally there was always plenty of free Tea, Coffee, Water and Ice cream available. We didn't try the specialist restaurants as we just didn't have the time. I am sure they would have been great. Our daughter did visit Johnny Rocket's with the Kids club one evening and she said that was great too! There were three formal evenings and people looked great in their smart dinner suits and dresses. Many of the teenagers looked fantastic in their suits and proms dresses too!!! My daughter loved dressing up. It was great to see!!! The rest of the evenings were a mixture of smart casual and casual which showed up what peoples different ideas of casual are. We tended to stick to smart trousers and shirts and blouses and smart trousers, but many people wore jeans. Our stateroom was on the second floor and was very comfortable. We had two queen sized beds pushed together and our Daughter had a bunk bed which came out of the ceiling above us. There was also a sofa and flat screen television. The Bathroom had a good deal of storage space and the shower was just right. It was extremely quiet for the whole of our holiday and we were not disturbed at all by noise. Our stateroom attendant was great. The room was always kept tidy and my daughter got great delight in discovering what animal he had created out of a towel each evening! The sporting facilities - Climbing Wall, Flow rider, Gym, Ice Skating Rink, Cray Golf, All Weather Pitch, to name a few, were exceptional. There was something for everyone on board. The Theatre and Ice Skating shows were all really good and there were numerous other things going on in other bars throughout the ship all day and night! There were a number of parades down the main Promenade and also a Pool Party. Quizzes, films, shopping, dancing, spa, casino, bingo, exercise classes, craft classes, karaoke, art exhibitions, library, internet cafe to name but a few! The children's clubs were fantastic and very secure and well run. They were open for most of the day and well into the night. After 10:00 p.m. a reasonable $5 per half hour was charged which we used once so that we could go to the Adult late Night Comedy Show. My daughter made so many friends by the end of the holiday that was all she wanted to do. We were even able to leave her on ship when we went on a trip to one of the ports of call! There were also clubs for the teenagers with their own area and disco as well. However by the end of the holiday they were beginning to become a nuisance by gathering in groups on stairs etc. However,this wasn't too bad as the ban on alcohol to under 21's, (18 to 21 year olds could drink if their Parents signed a waver) did mean there wasn't any drunkenness as well. The shore days were good. We had pre booked trips for each of the Ports of Calls as we were first time cruisers. This meant we didn't fall out over what we were going to do at each location and waste time trying to decide. Gibraltar 'Upper rock Walking Tour' - was excellent! Really good tour guide who knew the place inside out. Sardinia 'Beach Trip' - Wouldn't do again as was not really a good stretch of beach. However live and learn! Livorno 'Leaning Tower of Pisa' - Really good trip. Good tour guide and if you want to go to the top of the tower this is the only way to do it as we had a pre booked time slot to climb it as part of our organised trip. We were talking to some Australians who went to Pisa on their own and they weren't able to get a slot as it was fully booked that day. Well worth the experience and my 8 year old really loved it! Cannes 'Monaco /Monte Carlo' - This was the one stop where we experienced tender boats! All three resorts were brilliant. Very clean, lots of shops and Monaco showed how the other half live! Lots of fantastic cars and very exclusive clothes shops! It was well worth the trip. I would well consider visiting again one day. Barcelona 'Picasso trip' - Very interesting. We had visited Barcelona before and experienced the football stadium, magic fountains and Las Ramblas. This was a little more cultural this time, but we managed to go off on our own after the tour had completed and took a stroll up Las Ramblas and also around the Quay side. Lovely day. Malaga 'Marbella' - This was the one place I would never really want to visit again. It was very commercial and seemed to be one continuous sprawl of high rise hotels and buildings. Still a well organised trip. Lisbon 'Walking tour' - Well organised tour and an excellent very entertaining guide. A real laugh! Vigo - Our daughter decided she didn't want to come with us on this tour. We knew 48 hours before so were able to cancel it and get our money back! It was much cooler than Southern Spain and we had a nice trip to a small fishing village. It was really ideal for a good walk. Certainly somewhere I would visit again. If we went again we would probably do some trips ourselves, now we know which ports are easily accessible. However for first time cruisers or first time visitors to these ports then pre booking trips is definitely the best option. We could always cancel any 48 hours before if we wanted and it definitely stopped us arguing over where what we were going to do once we were on shore! Also if you have young children then the children's clubs were always open all day on shore days and they would arrange the children's lunch etc. so it was an ideal opportunity for them to stay on board with their new friends and for the adults to explore. Overall, an absolutely fantastic trip. I would recommend the Independence of the Seas to anybody.

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Jul 20, 2009

Western Mediterranean

This is a magnificent ship packed with things to do and to entertain. Sadly I have found it necessary to write to the company regarding passengers failing to maintain health standards and crew failure to enforce cleaning of hands when entering dining rooms. Although gel hand clean is available many guests choose to ignore the need to clean their hands and staff fail to enforce this - allowing passengers ro walk by. The bar waiters hover over

you like flies to take an order - often before you have even sat down - just to earn the extra bucks through tips. The prices on board for drinks are in my opinion grossly overpriced. Royal Caribbean automatically adds 15% to the drink cost hidden in cost of drink price and then you are invited to pay tips on top. Don't get me wrong - I was happy to tip because these kids rely on them for a decent wage. In addition Royal Caribbean charges guests appx $4.25 in some ports to get from the dock to the town, and that is per person each way - $18 when required. The food is excellent we did not have a bad meal in either the Romeo and Juliry dining rooms or indeed in the Windjammer Cafeteria. The Windjammer gets very busy for all meals but I never failed to get a table even though the ship was full. The dining room staff are attentive for the most part and also try to entertain guests with some singing. We had a balcony stateroom on Deck 6 Starboard side. It was spotlessly clean and our cabin steward was very attentive to needs. If you required anything it was brought. Make sure you take some decent teabags and coffee. You don't get coffee in your stateroom, only tea, and the teabags were so weak you felt like giving them the kiss of life, totally flavorless. You can look at your ship charge account as you spend. I would recommend this strongly as many guests including ourselves had several charging errors. Facilities on board are excellent. There is always something going on - boy do they plug the bingo. There were quiz sessions, 'keep fit', aerobics, dance and spanish lessons which we went to. The entertainment in the theatre and in the Pyramid Lounge was always good if a bit cheesy at times, and the ice shows are a must, but get there early for a ticket they are limited. One word of caution - if you want to get a seat get to a bar early and stay - move and you will find your seat gone in a second - many quests had to stand - that is my only complaint. Excursions we did were - Cagliar - Amphitheatre and Botanical Gardens - this was a complete rip off - avoid at all cost! It is expensive and the guide was not impresssive - lead to formal complaint to RC. FLorence - Good trip marred by bad weather. Malaga - Panoramic and Cathedral - pleasant and interesting with excellent guide. Lisbon - Sitges and Cascais - Fantastic - lovely coach outing with excellent guide and time in both locations to look around. Vigo - The boarder Country - trip to Valenca across boarder in Portugal - again excellent ans excllent guide. Southampton - Gibraltar - Cagliari - Livorno for FLorence/Pisa - Cannes - Barcelona - Malaga - Lisbon - Vigo - Southampton. Excellent weather apart from Florence and a great ship apart from comments made. Would I go with RC again - probably but would need assurances on standards of germ protection being radically improved.

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May 3, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

This was my family's first cruise and it was a great start to our cruising experience. We flew in the night before to Ft. Lauderdale to avoid the hectic rush the day of departure that we heard of from our friends at home, which really helped. We took the complimentary shuttle to the Everglades Port and checked in. The check in for the cruise seemed to go smoother than most airports I've been in. We boarded the ship and were amazed. We bought the Coca-Cola

package within our first 2 minutes of being on the ship. The coke package was definitely worth it. The whole week went absolutely flawless. And departing the ship at the end went smoothly. The whole crew had everything planned and were very organized. The food was amazing. Sorrentos was the best pizza and they had very good side dishes that made for a good midnight snack. The windjammer had something for everyone. And the dining room food was better than I expected. Our waiter would bring us and extra dish just becuase! The desserts were very good, too. We had an exterior state room on deck 2. We had the nicest stateroom attendant. She was always checking in and willing to get us anything we needed. The room itself was very comfortable. Nice flat panel TV, desk and sofa. The bathroom was small but you can't expect a huge hotel size bathroom on a cruise. There was a good amount of closet space and a safe to put your valuables in. I strongly recommend using the safe to put your cell phone in (since you wont be using it) and other things. Even though you're on a ship, things can still go "missing" (or stolen). The activities onboard were endless. There were definitely too many to fit in. The shows at center stage were very nice and the ice show was well put together. At the time of our cruise, Graham Seymore was our Cruise Director and was he funny! The various shows he put on during the week were great! The sports area is fully equipped with a basketball court, rock wall and flowrider. There was always something to do, and always nothing to do. You can do as little or as much as you want. So if your looking to relax, relax. Don't ware yourself out! It's vacation! A good, inexpensive way to enjoy the port of call that you're at, is to just jump in a taxi and go to a local beach. If you go to the excursions desk on the Promenade they will be more than glad to tell you the best beaches.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Wonderful ship and staff. Very good, especially Indian food in Windjammer. Good location, nice bedding. Great activities, lots to do. I don't do ship excursions. Pre Cruise: We flew into FLL at night and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express using free points. It was a nice place with free airport shuttle. There are many good restaurants within walking distance, but we were convinced by the staff to try Coco Asian Bistro a couple

blocks away. It was fantastic, a truly great meal! We took the shuttle the next day to the ship after picking up some items at the Publix store. Ship: In my opinion, this is by far the prettiest ship I've ever seen. The art work is very interesting; works from modern artists are compared to those of old masters and explained in detail. I walked the various decks one day to see it all and found it enjoyable. The Promenade is an indoor mall with shops, bars, and restaurants and is a great place to relax and watch and meet people. The big difference in this ship compared to the others is that there were (thankfully) more smoke free venues such as the wine bar (Vintages) and the piano bar. Boleros and the English Pub were very smoky, however, and we were unable to enjoy them; ditto for the casino and the Karaoke bar. I don't understand why they allow smoking in a venue full of singing; it’s simply wrong. Cabin: We booked a Deluxe Oceanview cabin (Cat E2) on Deck six, known as a "hump cabin" because the area juts out a bit. It was central aft and very convenient. It was adequate, with a nice flat screen TV, comfortable bedding and a balcony. The room has a small shower with sliding door, a safe and a mini fridge. No shower amenities are provided, except a body wash in the shower and soap. Entertainment: Headliners vary from cruise to cruise. We enjoyed the two comedians but really were awed by "El Gaucho," a comedian/musician/Boleros artist. The production shows "Invitation to Dance" and "Center Stage" were the best shows I've ever seen on a ship. Part of the reason was the quality of the entertainers and musicians and the originality as well. "Center Stage" used all the various ship musicians in vignettes with dancing and singing. The pro dance team, Olga and Dima were spectacular to watch. We scheduled 3 private dance lessons with them and learned a lot. They were a lovely couple. We didn't hear the entertainment in Boleros (smoky) but really enjoyed the Odessa string trio and the talented group in the Viking Crown, Night Flight. They also played ballroom music in studio B. The piano player in the Schooner lounge was Paul O'Shea, a talented man who really played to his crowd. The ice show "Strings" was amazing. The music started with Mozart and ended with a roaring rendition of Copeland's "Rodeo". Costumes were stunning. The skating was good, not as good as on some other ships, but enjoyable. There were two parades on the Promenade and they are always so much fun. Costumes and antics are great. There are various game shows such as "Love and Marriage" and "Battle of the Sexes" held in various places around the ship. There are several trivia contests daily, as well as, demonstrations of cooking, ice carving, vegetable carving, napkin folding, etc. The Daily Compass, that arrives the night prior, keeps you well informed. One thing not to be missed is the back stage tour. It is amazing what goes into the production of the shows, and the technology is cutting edge. Bingo is a huge event; they play for cash, as well as, a cruise. Fitness: Staying fit is important to us. The gym has Lifestyler equipment (treadmills, steppers, elliptical, bikes) which have touch screen controls for various programs and TV. The newest feature is ports for iPods and MP3 players and headphones. If you don't bring headphones, you can buy a pair at the gym, but they are plastic and not very nice. I was a little upset at the volume of the techno music. It was so loud that you could not hear the TV programs and the various fitness instructors were never around to check on anything; they were too busy doing training or giving bogus "detox" seminars. There are classes in yoga, spinning and pilates for a fee. There are free seminars and stretch, step and aerobics classes offered. There is a boxing ring for sparring and training and many machines for total body workout, as well as a large free weight area and small wooden gym floor for Tai Chi, etc. The running track is on the deck above the pool. However, once people start filling up the chairs, it is useless, as they block the track. This is a bad design and I hope they change it. I enjoy "power walking" on the Promenade deck. At times, sections are closed for cleaning, but generally it is wide open in the afternoons and shaded. The ship has putt-putt, golf simulator, rock climbing wall, full court basketball as well as shuffleboard and ping pong. There are also dance classes (free) almost daily. Food: I found the food to be very good overall. There are many healthy and tasty options. In the Windjammer Cafe (buffet) there is an area called Jade where fusion food is available. The Indian food served daily there was wonderful. Some of the Thai dishes were hit and miss, but overall the best buffet food I've had. You can have specialty omelets made as well as egg beaters. We had room service one morning which was okay; eggs were a bit cold and they brought pastries instead of fruit. I'd rather just bring it down from the cafe to eat on the balcony. We didn't eat at the specialty restaurants this year, but have loved Portofino in the past. We shared a table for six in the dining room and enjoyed perfect service from Eduardo and Manny. Our head waiter, Sam, was the best ever. He was always in sight making sure things were right. We had great tablemates and shared many laughs. Several menu items were outstanding, some were just okay. I liked when they served the salad "family style" twice. Lobster was served on one of two formal nights and it was delicious. We were offered more, but passed. The dining room is gorgeous and on three levels with a huge crystal chandelier overhead. Each night, a pianist or a string trio entertains. Dinner is also served in the Windjammer, as well as Johnny Rocket's ($4.95 cover charge). People: Our favorite part of cruising is meeting others. This cruise, the last week in January, had very few children on it. The majority of cruisers were over 50 and there were many nationalities on board, but generally more Americans than in the past 2 years. We made lots of friends, but especially enjoyed a large group of Swiss travelers who brought their own bands. We partied and danced with them several times and had a blast! We also are members of Cruise Critics and enjoyed a small "Meet and Mingle" party hosted in the dining room for us. The crew, as always, were warm and friendly and we always love seeing familiar faces. Our room steward, Ricardo, did a great job - no more chocolates at night, but there were towel animals on the bed nightly. Cruise director, Allen Brooks, was excellent and entertaining. Venues: We enjoyed the Diamond Club on the 14th floor. They offer Continental breakfast, great lattes and cappuccino and special service for members. There's also a nice private outside area for relaxing. There were so many Diamond cruisers that afternoon snacks and drinks were served in the Labyrinth Club on the 4th floor. I didn't like that much. I liked watching the sun set with my cocktail. The internet cafe still has the slow connection and many computer problems. At 55 cents a minute, it's frustrating to wait so long for mail to open, etc. However, there always were computers available. The library below offers many books for use and they have daily trivia pages and sudoku puzzles. Gone were the daily headlines (wire service from the NY Times). I heard that they will offer these again, but I missed them. I also miss my daily crossword puzzle, but brought a supply. On the Promenade, the shops include upscale clothing , logo clothing/gifts, sportswear, general merchandise and books, jewelry, perfume/makeup and various tables offering all sorts of jewelry, t-shirts and gifts. These tables also generate lots of crowding. Restaurants on the Promenade include Sorrento's which offers 24 hour pizza and daily antipasto, desserts and Italian cookies. The Promenade cafeoffers delicious sandwiches, snacks, cookies/desserts and drinks. This is a good central place to grab water or iced tea. Ben and Jerry's Ice cream is available for a price at their store. They hold 2 parades here as well as a disco dance party, which is hilarious. Vintages wine bar has several wine tastings and offers "flights" of any 4 wines and serves complimentary cheese and fruit trays. The Dog and Badger Pub had guitarist Shane Tapper, who was very good, but the smoke drove us away. The Pool area is always lively with games such as Men's sexy legs, belly flop and volleyball. They have a "Dancing Under the Stars" night with a large buffet. The H2O Zone is a water park area for children. Bright and whimsical, it is very popular with the kids and keeps them out of the other pools! The adult area is the Solarium and has a small pool, hot tubs and shaded reading areas. There are hot tubs along the sides of the pool areas as well. The 4th floor is where art is displayed and where photos are displayed and sold while at sea. They also sell digital cameras there and do photo processing. The On Air Karaoke club also has 2 small sound rooms where you can tape yourself and cut a CD for a price. However, if you're there during karaoke times, it gets very smoky. The ice rink has open skating hours, but you must wear long pants. The rink is turned into "Studio B" at other times and hosts the crazy "Quest Game," which is an R-rated adult scavenger hunt. I did not use the spa, casino or book any ship excursions. You can't do everything! However, we did use the Loyalty Ambassador to book our next cruise, the Oasis. Ports: We generally book for the ships and rarely get off at the ports. The first stop was San Juan, PR where I went to Marshall's for a piece of clothing I had left at home. It was close to port in Old Town and had some great deals! Nice to know about this should you forget to pack something! In the past, we've visited the forts, shopped in Old Town and enjoyed a meal or snack in town. Second stop was St Thomas where we stayed on the ship. However, in the past, we've taken the ferry to St John and enjoyed the pristine beauty of the island. It's a 15 min ride from Red Hook, accessible by a short taxi ride. Others in the Cruise Critic group went on a small charter boat on a snorkeling trip around the island. St. Martin was the third stop. We took a taxi to Cul de Sac and had lunch at the small restaurant, Mark's Place, where we were craving their Accras (a type of fish cake). This is a great spot, if not very fancy or scenic, but the locals love it. I also have several favorite places to eat in Grand Case and Marigot. Last time we were here, we took the cab to lovely Orient Beach for some fun and sun; there are many beach bars and music as well as a nude beach for the brave. Another year, we caught the ferry from Marigot to pristine Anguilla where there was no traffic or crowds and enjoyed a gorgeous beach day and private tour from a cab driver. Last stop was RCCL's private island, Labadee, which is actually a small spot on Haiti where some locals are allowed to sell goods, play music and entertain. The dancing is amazing! There are three beaches with plenty of bars, an island barbecue with basic food, some ruins, a water park, volleyball, and many shaded hammocks for the less active. Water can sometimes be a little murky here, not the pretty aqua that you see elsewhere. The reefs are devoid of fish, due to overfishing by the locals, so it's not a good snorkeling spot. However, it's a great place to rent a Waverunner and you go up the coast quite a way and are allowed to go as fast as you want. Embark: As Diamond members, we get a priority embarkation area. We did online check-in and it took us 15 minutes from the taxi to the ship! We arrived around 1 pm and the buffet was not very crowded and our room was open. We were off the ship from the Diamond area which let out at around 8:30. It only took 15 minutes to reach the taxi line, which was horrible. It took us over an hour to check luggage with SWA then wait in LONG taxi line. Good thing the weather was nice! Conclusion: We left home three days before an ice storm hit. We were without power when we arrived at home, but it returned the next day. Perfect timing! Our goal in January is to enjoy some respite from the cold in a relaxed setting, and cruising always provides that. We also enjoy staying active and dancing, which we did often on this ship. We've tried Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines, but have found a good fit with RCCL. Not everyone likes the huge ships, but we love all the various activities and venues. I have never felt crowded on the big ships; they are so well designed that crowding never occurs. The theatres and venues almost always accommodate all guests, which cannot be said for other ships. Once again, we had a great time and we don't let the petty problems keep us from having fun. Life is short. Making memories through travel and spending time together will always be our priority! Happy cruising! I'll be happy to answer any questions if you write me at LLindaC@aol.com

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel

Very nice ship, will not cruise again after this, realized that for the money the value is not there. Did not get to relax, as this whole process of fighting the crowds at sea in not for me. Too big and too crowded. Everything is extra and all drinks are so very expensive - wow bar bill way too high. Average of $6 to $8, now that insane. Mostly ice too. Food was everwhere and it was great. Just remember that when you are hungry so are 4500 other

people and it can get crazy. Stateroom was great. Had a bacony and it was very expensive. No tub and small shower. All new, though and super clean. Great if you can ever get to them, 4500 people leaves a long wait for all. Do not do the Costa Maya jungle beach break, the beach is very small and littered with GARBAGE. In fact, they have two men standing bye to rake it all up as it washes ashore. Broken glass too. You can only swim in a very small area the rest is hazerdous and littered with trash. Bad food and very strange set up. Good bar though. Drink until you cannot drink anymore. Watered down mixed drinks and tap beer. Not impressed with this at all. Bus was so dirty it has dead flies in the windows and who knows what else. Smelled like bug spray. A very sad place Costa maya. Had a great time came home very tired and wanting to get away from the vacation itself, ship is big and crowded. People everywhere and alot of them, so many people.

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By Ken_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

This was only our second cruise; the previous one was on RC also, but on the Radiance of the Seas. The Independence is a beautiful ship, and lives up to all the hype it gets. Our previous cruise wasn't bad, just a couple of hiccups and even though we had a couple of small hiccups on this cruise, it was still so much better. We flew into Miami the day before the cruise and after talking to a RC rep, we waited a few minutes for our shuttle. It

only took about 30 minutes to get to Ft. Lauderdale from Miami. We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which is only 5 minutes from the port depending on the traffic. The Hotel is nice, they have a pretty big breakfast buffet in the morning, and there are few things to do and see within walking distance. We took a cab to the airport and rented a car so we could be more mobile. We stayed here last time and think it's worth it, just so you're not rushing from the airport to the port. Departure day was excellent. There were only a handful of folks on our shuttle to the port, so getting our bags loaded wasn't a problem at all. Traffic at the port was crazy, but our driver did a fine job of getting us there. There were people sitting all over the place at the port, but no one was checking in, which we found a bit strange. Our first cruise we had no clue as to what we were supposed to do when we got to the port and the porters were badgering everyone for tips, this time we knew what to do and the porters weren't asking for tips this time. We gave our bags to the porter and headed off to the terminal. Once in the terminal, we were able to use line for people who had suites, we got checked-in and got to the pre-boarding area in less than 5 minutes . We were in the boarding area maybe 10 minutes when we were told we could board, but, we couldn't go to our state rooms since they were still being cleaned. We went up to the Wind Jammer and had lunch (last time we didn't know you could do that) and just sat and talked for while until we could go to our room. At 3 pm we were allowed to go to our stateroom (Rm. 1251 Grand Suite). The room was set up almost exactly like the Radiance, but was a little bit bigger. The balcony was quite a bit larger, and the bedding was a lot nicer on the Independence. The room also had a LCD TV mounted on the wall. The bathroom was really nice and even bigger than on the Radiance. Dual sinks, a huge tub, just an all around a very nice room. We got a briefing by our state room attendant, then we read all the material left for us, then got ready for the "drill." After the drill we started to explore the ship and get a feel for where everything was. We also went to the main dining room and found where we would be sitting. A little before 5 we went up on deck and watched as we pulled out of the port. Once we were officially "at sea," the activities started, but the shops didn't open until later in the evening. We selected the first seating for supper as we both are early eaters. We were the first ones at our table for eight. We were a little concerned that we would be at a table with small children, fortunately that wasn't the case. We ended up sitting two other couples that were our age and one of them brought their grown children with them. The son had a great sense of humor and we all enjoyed each other's company the entire week. During our conversation at supper we had asked the others if they had gotten their luggage yet. The family got all of their luggage prior to 6pm, while we had not. We weren't concerned though. Because last cruise it was delivered to our room before we got back from the show. That was the case for this cruise also. The crew does an excellent job of sorting all those bags and getting them to the right rooms. In most cases you will have your bags before 8:30 in the evening. I'm not a very good food critic, because anything tastes better than military MRE's, but, we both enjoyed everything we ate all week long and the waiters do such a great job of taking care of you. If you have a special request (like if you can't choose between 2 appetizers) they'll bring out both of them. Before the week was up, our waiters knew what kind of bread we liked and what drinks we wanted. Two thumbs up to them for being so helpful. On both cruises there were 2 formal nights where they ask you to dress up for supper. On this cruise I brought my dress uniform for one night and hoped to rent a tux for the 2nd night, but was never able to find the tailor. Also, there are photographers all over the place to take your picture at scenic spots on the ship and with backdrops. We found out on this cruise that they will make custom photos for you. We had one picture taken that we really liked, but didn't like the background, so we had them change it to a different background that had a picture of the ship, the dates of the cruise and what ports we went to. We were very happy with how it turned out. You can also purchase a video that highlights the entire cruise. After dinner, we headed to the theatre to catch the 1st show of the week, the welcome aboard show. We really enjoyed all of the shows in the main theatre. The Independence also has an ice skating rink and does a show on ice. Because this arena is smaller they limit the number of people who can go. Suite holders just have to show their seapass cards, everyone else has to get tickets. There is no charge to see the show and no assigned seats; they just don't want it too crowded. We were really impressed by these performers; it's hard enough to skate on ice, then you add a rocking ship to the mix, and it's pretty amazing what they did. We recommend you see this show. Also, the Love and Marriage game show is hilarious. Both cruises did this game and we were rolling on the floor laughing both times. We have never really had a desire to visit Mexico or the Western Caribbean; we chose this cruise because of the ship and not the ports, but we still had a good time. Our first port was Belize City, Belize. Of the three ports, this is the only one where we were tendered (not at a pier), you had to take boats from the ship to the port. I worried about this thinking that you would have to wait a long time, but they did an excellent job of getting folks to and from the ship. We purchased a snorkel/beach get away excursion online prior to the cruise. Everyone who went on excursions had a special exit and boat to use to make sure you got to your place on time, which was very helpful. We have always wanted to try snorkeling, but we didn't have a very good experience. It had nothing to do with RC or the company that did the excursion, it was just us. Once I got in the water my goggles fogged up and never could see anything. I tried everything to get them cleared up, but nothing seemed to help. My wife had a little better luck she got one of the guides to help her so she some of the coral and fish, but when she got back to the boat, she started feeling sick. She said she swallowed a lot of salt water and thinks that's what caused it. After the snorkeling, we went to a little island where you could swim, drink, eat, play volleyball, or just walk around. I walked around while my wife laid in the sun and let her stomach settle down some. We were there for a couple hours then we got back on the boat and headed back to the ship. We went to the Wind Jammer to eat lunch then quickly showered to get the salt off of us then caught the next tender to the Belize port. Like most ports there are a ton of shops around where you can spend money, and if you leave the secure area of the port, the locals have set up shops where you can just about anything you want. Our next stop was Costa Maya, Mexico. The ship pulled up to the dock here, so getting off the ship was even faster than Belize. We also purchased an excursion prior to the cruise for this city. This time we stayed on land and went to see the Mayan Ruins. After loading up on a bus, it took about 1 and 1/2 hours to get to the ruins. We had a tour guide who did a very good job of explaining the history of the ruins and what they used them for. You do a lot of walking on this tour, but, you also get another 1 and 1/2 bus ride back to the ship to rest your feet. We also got a sack luch which was unexpected, but appreciated. Our last port was Cozumel, Mexico. Again, the ship docked at the port. We didn't know what to do here, so when we first got on the ship we went to the concierge and asked what he recommended, and he said the dolphin, push, pull, swim was very good. We told him we did the swim with the dolphins on our last cruise, but he explained you got to interact with the dolphins a lot more on this one. So we went ahead and got ticket for it. After a short taxi ride (included in the price) we got to the park and got into our swim suits and got our life jackets on. We had about 12 in our group, and we each got to dance and kiss our dolphin. But, we also got to be pushed by it, and ride on its belly as it swam to the dock. Plus we got to just play with the dolphin too, so over all, I think it was better than just swimming with them. Caution though, both times we were surprised as to how cool the water was. You get used to it, but the initial shock is a little breath taking. Also, they take plenty of pictures and video of your group. Afterwards, they show you the video and you can purchase it and the pictures if you want them. There was also a botanical garden at this park so we got some very scenic pictures before going back. Some of the things we did on the ship, we tried to go to the trivia contests every day at the schooner bar, those are always fun and we met some nice people. We did the couples Swedish massage at the spa, that was very nice and relaxing. We went to the food carving demonstration; it was really interesting seeing how the chefs make those amazing designs. We don't gamble, so we didn't spend any time in the casino, but there were plenty of people there every night. On the Royal Promenade there are a ton of shops and cafes. They have a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop that you have to pay for, but, there's also a pizza place where the pizza is free. They also did a couple of parades down the Promenade and those were pretty good. They have an internet cafe on this ship, and for a fee you can get online and check your email. On this cruise we also tried one of their specialty restaurants, Chops, which specializes in steaks (Porto Fino is the other one and does Italian food). We were very impressed with Chops, because you pay, I think $25 a person, but you get WAY MORE than what you pay for. We were full after the appetizer, the steaks were tender and juicy, the sides were huge. They tried to make us get desert, but we were just full full to eat anymoret. Our table mates went to Porto Fino and had the same experience there. So if you want to eat somewhere besides the main dining room you can try these. Or, you can go to the Wind Jammer, we didn't see many people eat there, but there were a few. We did have a couple of small complaints: 1. I had ordered chocolate covered strawberries to be delivered to our room for our anniversary (on Thursday), well, they were delivered to our room before we even left port, 4 days early. 2. We had purchased 2 excursions online long before our cruise. When we got to our state room on the 1st day, we noticed the tickets weren't there. When they didn't show up the next day we went to our concierge and explained the situation and he was able to print the tickets up for us. If this had been our 1st cruise we would have never known that we even needed tickets. So if you pre-purchase excursions prior to your cruise, make sure they are delivered at least the day before the excursion. 3. The last thing is kind of minor, but still, I found irritating. Our first day on the ship, I went to the logo shop to buy a polo shirt that had the Independence logo on it. I was told those wouldn't be sold until the last day of the cruise - why????? And then they sold them outside by the pool where it was incredibly windy and everything was getting blown around. And, as nice as the ship was, the polo shirt didn't match the elegance of the ship. I was disappointed, but purchased one anyway. 4. If you have sailed on RC before you may have had the opportunity to see their Grand Buffet in the main dining room. We were telling our table mates about this, well, they didn't have it on the Independence, I'm not sure why though. The Radiance did it and it was spectacular. The last day is always the saddest day is returning. When I woke up, we were just pulling into the dock in Lauderdale. We had packed our bags the night before and left them in the hallway, they were gone by morning. We got up and went up to the Wind Jammer for our final meal. We went back to our room gathered our last bit of stuff and headed to the theatre to wait for our departure time. On our 1st cruise you sat anywhere on the ship and waited for your color to be called, this time, everyone had designated waiting areas, this seemed to work out much better. When our time came we exited the ship, found our bags (eventually) and cleared customs all within about 30 minutes, pretty fast really. We found our shuttle that took us back to Miami and back home. The airports are crazy busy on cruise return days. Last time we flew out of Lauderdale and waited well over an hour to get to the ticket counter. It wasn't much better in Miami, but, this isn't the cruise lines fault. You have several ships all coming into port on the same day; you're going to have to wait. We are looking forward to our next cruise on RC and we're hoping some friends will come with us next time.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Carribbean

From the moment we walked on the ship till the moment we walked off, we were blown away with everything the ship had to offer. You never go hungry or get bored on this ship because there is really something for everyone. The kids have their own groups in the back of the ship where they meet new friends and play new games while the adults can relax in the sun by the pool. The food is fantastic everywhere on the ship, including the free pizzeria and

the cafe promenade which offers free desserts any time of the day. If bars are your thing, there are more than 5 of them located all over the ship. The casino is large, there is an ice skating rink, a huge theatre and many other things to enjoy on the ship. We had an inside stateroom which was just your average room but it was still nice because the ship is new, so it doesn't seemed used much. We were the second-from-the-front room and supposedely this is the worst spot for getting sea sick, but we were all fine with it. Just be careful to not catch a cold or flu bug because it can spread like wildfire in the ship. Just wash your hands plenty of times and you should be fine. The dining room is beautiful, just like everything else in the ship and the waiters/waitress' are the best in the world. You will be treated like royalty from the moment you walk into the dining room until you walk out after you finish your dinner. Every night they have a different menu, about 6 items and there are always American-favourite alternatives like steak, pasta, chicken so you don't have to worry about not ilking something. All in all, the cruise was amazing and we would go on it again in a second!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mediterranean

This being our first cruise we were a bit apprehensive about what to expect but the minute we arrived at the pier we knew it was going to be spectacular! The ship was unbelievable & th service was topnotch! The food is absolutely delicious, from the buffet to the sit down evening meal! The choice is immense, definitely something there for everybody! You will never go hungry on a cruise, you may gain a few pounds though!!! The staterooms are

clean & comfortable, perfect for the amount of time you actually spend in there (sleeping & getting dressed!). The stateroom attendants were in & out before we even realised & never disturbed us, leaving little touches each time - towel animals, chocs on the pillows & even folding our clothes! There are so many onboard activities to choose from that you could literally be on the go from the minute you wake to the minute you drop! Ice skating, rock climbing, mini golf, movies, quizzes, competitions, bingo, evening entertainment to name but a few!! We only went on one so I cannot really comment much apart from to say that the excursion we went on (tour guided trip around Pisa) was well organised, infomative & enjoyable. I cannot explain how brilliant this holiday was, for anyone to understand you have to take a cruise yourself!! The service was top-notch in every way possible, the ship was clean & full of atmosphere, the food was divine, drinks were reasonably priced & the duty free gifts were a bargain!!

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