first (and last) cruise
Independence of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western
Sail Date: January 16, 2016
Cabin Type: Balcony
Cabin Number: 1530
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 1 year ago
We had a good cabin, deck 10, very convenient to deck 11 without using elevators, a quiet location. (1530) . You can see the bridge (and they can see you) from this location, so just FYI. Our room steward Isabella, was superb. Excellent, kind, and knowledgeable. Not having to make the bed and clean up towels is a vacation in itself, but she went beyond and made sure it was always spotless, and she learned our patterns very quickly.
After hearing everyone rave about the food on RCL ships in general, we were totally disappointed in both the Windjammer and the main dining room. Expect that it's going to be like cafeteria/wedding food. Mass-produced, lukewarm and mostly bland. I kept seeing signs for 'Jade' at the Windjammer, I had read that 'Jade' was where we'd find exotic food choices. Maybe we were never there at the correct time, I never found it.
But the people! People, who were perfectly civil on other parts of the ship, suddenly act like they've never eaten in their lives. Nudging people out of the way, bumping into you, sighing if you pause in front of something, jumping ahead in the line, and just generally creating chaos. It was always as crazy as a mcDonald's on saturday at noon. And we were never at the Windjammer when it was easy to find a seat. Not my idea of a relaxing meal.
We chose to eat at Chops and Giovannis and Johnny Rockets, all three of which were excellent, with Chops being my husband's favorite, and Giovanni's being mine. The service was impeccable at all three. Make sure to research how to tip properly there, I wasn't sure what to tip.
We went on an excursion in Belize to Lamanai mayan ruins, which was absolutely amazing (120$ for two people) . Our tour guide Ungatu (sp?), and our guide for the ruins and our speed boat driver were excellent. The boat ride to the ruins was super fast and so much fun! The ruins are spectacular. Our (included) lunch of rice and beans and fresh tortillas and chicken was better than most items I had eaten on the ship. Plus the restaurant was picturesque and relaxing. We loved Belize and learning the history. I would recommend the Lamanai river safari to anyone with an adventurous spirit. Just make sure to book it through the cruise line, because it has a tendency to run long, and you don't want to get left behind. Also, the ruins are very rocky, with un-marked stones sticking up everywhere on the path, just waiting to trip you. I was glad I wore my sneakers and work-out clothes. I saw several people trip and fall, all ages.
At Cozumel, we got of the ship and took a taxi (20$) to Playa Azul which was so awesome, beautiful everything, perfect service and food, super strong drinks, and in general, a great time. (50$) Very easy to get a cab (20$) back to the boat too. We didn't want to leave, and we're totally going back there ASAP. so we spent about 100$.
So, it turns out we liked being off the ship more than being on it.
There's no way to know if you're going to have a rough day at sea, so it seems like a costly gamble to me if you are prone to motion sickness, which apparently... I am. We had one night which was super rough, so we really lost that full day and into the night. Seems like a waste to pay a ton of money to feel like you're in a hospital bed from which you cannot escape and it will not stop moving. My husband was not sea-sick, but was bored because so many activities were shut down, and I was knocked out.
Formal night isn't exactly formal on the ship. If you dress up too much, you are destined to feel out-of-place. Guys should only take a suit. A tux will feel weird. Although the guys in tuxedos seemed to give each other a bit of a nod like they were in some kind of well-dressed club. Women can just wear what you'd wear to go out to dinner. Even my cocktail dress seemed too much. I think i'd recommend a little black dress, and be done with it. There were people in shorts in the dining room that night, not even kidding.
A couple of things we took that were rockstars: a night light, and a power strip. Mint gum. bug repellent wipes. When packing, we rolled our clothes to avoid wrinkles, and that even worked for our formal wear.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing to me is the constant up-charging that goes on. Even if you have an all-inclusive drinks package (PP we had), there are still charges for glasses of wine that are 'over the limit' if they're listed as more than 12$. Which is pretty much all but 1 type of red. So each glass is going to cost you $2 - $8 anyway. Charges for tapas (appetizers) at vintages 5$, charges for cupcakes 4$, charges for 'specialty coffee' 5$ including espresso and cappuccinos at dinner 6$, and so on. I didn't expect to come home with such a large bill --just for the food-- after having paid thousands of dollars in the first place BEFORE the trip to book it, drinks packages, and excursions plus airfare.
So I'd say, if you drink mostly mixed drinks or cheaper beers (bud, coors), or white zinfandel, shiraz and moscato, then get the drinks package. However, if you drink red wine and 'fancy' coffee, don't bother, because it won't be covered anyway.
Also, the drinks are best in the viking lounge on 14. So is the band.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
if you drink mostly mixed drinks or cheaper beers (bud, coors), or white zinfandel, shiraz and moscato, then get the drinks package. However, if you drink red wine and 'fancy' coffee, don't bother, because it won't be covered anyway. Drinks are best in the viking lounge on 14. So is the band.