Independence of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Contributor Level: Cruise Director

7+ cruises


Helpful Votes

4 out of 5

Enjoy a Unique Itinerary on one of the Largest Cruise Ships in the World

Sail Date: January 18, 2014

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Inside

Ship: The third and final Freedom Class ship (sisters: Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas), the Independence of the Seas (IOS) was the largest cruise ship when it debuted in 2008. Holding the title for only one year, the ship has many of the Royal Caribbean features that have now come to define the brand including: a rock climbing wall, a Flowrider surf simulator, Studio B ice skating rink, and On-Air Karaoke bar.

Itinerary: Our eight day itinerary was a nice departure from a typical seven day trip giving the Princess (AKA my lovely wife) and I the opportunity to visit two new ports of call: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Basseterre, St Kitts. Other ports included the traditional Caribbean destinations of St. Marteen and RCI’s Labadee, Haiti.

independence itinery

Highlight: The service in the dining room far surpassed the bar that had been set by our previous cruise experiences. Our waiter and assistant waiter (Ramir and Michael) provided the best service we have EVER received in the main dining room.


Biggest Disappointment: Even though IOS went through a recent refurbishment, the only major additions were the for-fee Cupcake Cupboard, the rebranding of the Italian specialty restaurant to Giovanni’s Table, and the addition of an outdoor movie screen on the pool deck. The ship still lacked newer RCI favorites like the Park Café.


Main Takeaways: Overall, the IOS itself lacked in character compared to our other recent cruises, but the service and ports of call made up for it.  The Cruise Director, Joff Eaton, was very entertaining with a dry sense of humor that kept me laughing though the Princess did not always find him to be that amusing.  The entertainment was basically on par with other ships on which we have traveled; although, this is the first time in our cruising history that we walked out of a show! The fellow passengers were typical for a January trip with few families and mostly other adult passengers traveling alone or in groups. This crowd suited us fine as the princess and I could easily find seats in the theater, bars, and lounges. While the IOS does lack some of the more modern shopping, entertainment, and dining venues of her sister ships, the experience on IOS can be very relaxing and enjoyable with the proper planning and execution.


Ship Quality
The IOS has a lot of different activites and the venues are clean and well laid out. It has the same layout out as other Freedom Class ships
Food and Dining
Cruise food is, food. Independence's food, while not bad, was on par. Compared to Oasis class ships, you have less options for dining, but we always found something to eat.
Cabin / Stateroom
A standard large interior room.
Service and Staff
Ramir and Michael in the main dining room were excellent. Our room attendant was nice and attentative and we found bar service to be hit or miss, with great service in the Schooner Bar.
Not the best entertainment we have experienced on a ship. The cruise director Joff Eaton was entertaining, but some of the headline acts were, less than thrilling.
Children's Programs N/A
Onboard Activities
Solid offerings and plenty of things to do and see. We found crowds were manageable and we did not see too many ques or lines, unless you go at peak times.
Destinations and Excursions
We did two excursion through the cruise line, one on our own, and we had a great time. Definitely check out Maho Beach in St. Maarten and an Island Tour in St. Kitts is well worth it.
Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida
Fast and quick processing. You get on the boat with little headaches and wait time.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Maho Beach is a must see. We did a private tour with Bernard's Tours and he was excellent
Basseterre, St. Kitts
St. Kitts Tour including Brimhill Fortress and Romney Manor was great tour. Beautiful island and nice people
San Juan, Puerto Rico We did a nature walk in El YUnque rainforest. Great tour, but we were only their for a few hours.
Labadee (Cruiseline Private Island)
Nice beach day.


$6 blackjack on the afternoon in you are in Labadee. Tables open at 3pm. The casino was dead.
At Labadee lunch is from 11:30am to 1:30pm, go early. Food runs out, fellow passengers get a little irritated, and the workers deal with this everyday, so they are indifferent

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