August 2015 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Independence of the Seas
As the title says, this cruise was wonderful but could have been spectacular. I will try and be thorough as I know some things will bother certain people more than others. This was our fourth cruise with RC and although it won't be my last I may entertain looking at other cruise lines in the future too. I would like to add this before I begin..... as you read please keep in mind that we made it a point throughout this cruise to remain polite, friendly and smiling no matter what. If we encountered a staff member who was not smiling, upset or rude we responded with politeness and a smile and refused to let anything or anyone spoil our vacation.
Getting on and off the ship: We arrived at 11 am and it was very crowded. The staff was friendly and I felt like it moved very quickly. The same can be said for getting off the ship although we were in no hurry to catch a flight and were able to relax through the process. I can see how some people felt like cattle being herded but I'm not sure there is a better way to load and unload 4000+ people in a relatively short period of time. Once on the ship we went right to the Windjammer to eat. The staff there and everywhere on the ship at this point did an outstanding job handling the large influx of people in a very short time span. Again, it was very crowded but understandable. I was very surprised at how quickly the rooms were ready and luggage delivered to the room!
Balcony room #7662: Loved the room and the size of the balcony. The rooms seemed a bit larger than rooms on the smaller ships (Grandeur of the Seas). The bed for me was very comfortable although my girlfriend said that it hurt her back by the 3rd day. The bathrooms are small, which is expected on a cruise ship, but I felt they were comfortable and the space was used very well. Out stateroom attendant, James, did an outstanding job taking care of the cabin throughout the week. He was always polite and ready with a smile.
The ship: The ship was absolutely beautiful and I felt like it was very well laid out. I really had no complaints about the ship itself and enjoyed walking down the Promenade each and every time.
MacBeth Dining Rm: I know it can be the luck of the draw but our headwaiter was just so so but luckily our asst. waiter (who was fairly new) was unbelievably fantastic and made dinner and enjoyable experience every night we were there. His name was Kino (sp?....pronounced Keeno) and he deserves a shout out for being without a doubt one of the best employees on the ship that we dealt with during our 7 days. The food, I think, was all very good. Some things were much better than others but you could always find something that was delicious. We did have dealings with other staff members in the dining room and all seemed to be very friendly and willing to help. My suggestion here is to make sure you are set on your dining arrangements before the day of the cruise. We thought we had a 6:00 seating time (as did two other ladies sitting at out table) only to see on our sea pass card upon arriving that it was 8:30(ughhhh). Forget trying to change it, no matter the circumstances, believe me we tried. We didn't, however, let it get the best of us and enjoyed the experience. I would say that the head waiter (wish I had his name) that is at the front of the D.R. on the day we left needs to take a people skills class as he was by far the rudest person we encountered on the ship. We simply (and politely) asked about changing our dining time to 6 and he responded as if I had just asked him if I could sleep with his wife. When I tried to explain to him that guest services had told us to come talk to him about the situation he dismissed us. Luckily one person does not a cruise make
The Windjammer: The staff was attentive and friendly overall. Although the food here, on this cruise, did not seem to be quite as good as I have seen in the past. Don't get me wrong, it was not bad but the quality of the food seemed to have gone down over the years. That being said, it always amazes me to watch the sheer number of people they serve and wonder how in Gods name they do it.
Drinks and drink pkgs: The drinks were well made and always to my liking. We had the premium drink pkg. and the beer pkg. and found that, for us, it was well worth the price. We both drank steadily during the cruise but not to excess (okay...maybe one night) and other than stopping by the Dog and Badger Pub at the end of each night we did not hang out in any of the bars. The other pro about the drink pkg is in not having to stop and sign your name each time you get a drink that is included in the drink pkg. The water being included in the premium drink package was a huge plus for us as we always tried to drink some water throughout the day. Hope this helps you in deciding!
The bartenders: This is my biggest complaint of the whole ship. Keep in mind that we were always smiling and polite, even asking questions of the bartenders, when ordering our drinks. They (almost without exception) never responded to our being pleasant. We did not get a smile, a "hi, how are you?", "are you enjoying your cruise?" ....nothing...not even a "your welcome" to our "thank you's"! Not sure what the problem was but I believe RC needs to take a long hard look at this area on this ship.
Pool area: It is pretty much the same as other cruise ships. Liked how there was a separate area for families with kids if they chose. The other two pools were crowded but hey...its a cruise ship and it was great for meeting people. Even though we only spent one afternoon by the adults only pool it was very, very nice. We only went there because they started showing a movie in the main pool area one afternoon about 3:30??? Not sure what that was about especially since they showed the same movie over and over throughout the night.
Specialty Dining: We ate at Giovannis table. I thought it was good but would rather buy the kids or Grandkids a few extra gifts with the $50 extra it costs (not counting the wine).
On board entertainment: I did not care for the nightly shows on this ship compared to other cruises. Judging by the numbers that were attending I would have to say many on the ship agreed. The only exception for me was the acrobats on the last night of the cruise. Poolside entertainment was fun but wished there was a little more of it....the same goes for the game show type entertainment at night.
The Labrynth: This is RC's main dancing nightclub and I just don't get it. 4000+ people on a ship and I never saw more than 10 people on the dance floor. If they did play something that had people up dancing the DJ immediately switched the music to clear the dance floor?? Have seen this on the other 3 RC cruises I have been on and still don't get it.
The Royal Promenade: This was on Deck 5 and was wonderful. It was always a nice stroll down through this area with a nice assortment of bars, eateries and shops. Easily one of my favorite areas of the ship.
Excursions: We went jet skiing in Haiti and we loved it and would highly recommend it and would probably do it again if I go back. Went to Dunns River Falls and the Green Grotto caves in Jamaica. I enjoyed them both although Dunns River Falls was very crowded. I would recommend them if you are interested in either but I would not do again. Did not do anything in Grand Cayman other than shop but we happened by a bar called 5 below zero that is not advertised but I would highly recommend it even if you do not normally hang out in bars. It is literally 5 below zero and everything except the floor and the bartender are made out of ice. Last stop was Cozumel and we did the salsa and Margarita making and learned to salsa dance...I wasn't sold on the idea at first but the people running it and the experience made it well worth It.
I could probably cover more areas but hopefully I have covered one or two that help someone. Overall we really enjoyed our cruise. None of the negatives I touched on were enough to keep us from going back but were worth mentioning in case they might bother you more than they did us.