Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Independence of the Seas
Ship: 389 out of 500
Accommodation: 142 out of 200
Food: 235 out of 400
Service: 284 out of 400
Entertainment: 75 out of 100
Cruise: 269 out of 400
Overall Score: 1394 out of 2000
Independence of the Seas Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9349681
Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)
Original Cost: $590 million
Entered Service: May 2008
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 1,112.2/339.0
Beam (ft/m): 184.0/56.0
Draft (ft/m): 27.8/8.5
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (75,600kW)/3 pods (2 azimuthing, 1 fixed)
Passenger Decks: 15
Total Crew: 1,397
Passengers (lower beds): 3,634
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.6
Cabins (total): 1,817
Size Range (sq ft/m): 149.0-2,025.0/13.8-188.1
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 842
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 32
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This ship provides excellent family facilities and entertainment
Overview. This ship’s ‘wow’ factor is its connection with water in the design of a dramatic water theme park on the pool deck - recommended for families with children. There is, however, something for everyone.
The Ship. This Freedom-class ship is essentially split into three separate areas, rather like Disney’s cruise ships: adults-only, family, and main.
The ship’s ‘wow’ factor (particularly for children) is its connection with water in the design of a dramatic water theme park afloat. By day, an H2O Zone (in the center of the pool deck, has an interactive water-themed play area for families that includes water cannons and spray fountains, water jets and ground gushers; by night the ‘water park’ turns into a colorfully lit sculpture garden. Adjacent is a ‘sports’ pool - with grandstand-style seating - for things like jousting contests and other sports-related pool games, plus a ‘main’ pool.
There are 16 bars and lounges to enjoy, plus a whole promenade of shops and munching and drinking spots along an indoor mall-like environment called the Royal Promenade. This is four decks high, and some cabins have great views into it. The Royal Promenade is home to fashion, jewelry and perfume shops, a general store, logo shop, Promenade Café, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream outlet, a Book Nook, a ‘classic’ barber shop called A Clean Shave (a razor shave ‘experience’), a pizzeria, and an English pub - the Dog & Badger. Look out for the stilt walkers and inflatable elephants when the circus is in town (promenades will be announced in the daily program).
One deck down from the Royal Promenade is a large Casino Royale (full of gaming tables and slot machines), The Raven disco, Schooner Bar (piano bar), Boleros Lounge (a Latin hangout), and a photo gallery and shop, while the forward section leads into the three-deck-high Alhambra Theatre.
A regulation-size ice-skating rink (Studio B) has real, not fake, ice, with ‘bleachers’-style seating, and broadcast facilities. Outstanding Ice Follies shows are presented here, but note that a number of slim pillars obstruct clear-view arena stage sight lines.
Almost at the top of the ship is RCI’s trademark Viking Crown Lounge, the cutely named Olive or Twist jazz lounge, and a Wedding Chapel (this is actually on the deck above). Other facilities include a cigar smoker’s lounge, conference center, a concierge lounge (for suite occupants only), and a comfortable 3,600-book library - located at the aft end of the Royal Promenade, on Deck 7.
Families. Children are well catered to, with Adventure Ocean (on Deck 12) for kids of six months to 17 years of age (teens get their own chill-out room). Children will love this ship and all the fun activities and sports activities - not to mention meeting other kids. Adventure Ocean is where new friends are made easily.
Accommodation. There is a wide range of suites and cabins in several categories and different price grades, from a Presidential Family Suite that can sleep up to 14 to twin-bed two-person interior cabins, and interior cabins that look into an interior shopping/strolling atrium promenade. The price you pay depends on the size, grade, and location you choose. There are many family-friendly cabins, good for reunions, but no single occupancy cabins. All outside-view cabins have even numbers; all interior cabins have odd numbers.
Presidential Family Suite. Located in the aft section, it comprises five rooms. These include two master bedrooms, each with twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed and en suite bathroom with tub/shower (but the toiletries cabinets are the same as in all other cabins); two other small bedrooms that can sleep four; private balcony with sand-colored rubberized decking (not teak), with loungers, tables, chairs, a bar, and a decent view aft - although part of the balcony is overlooked by balconies on decks above, and there is a lot of wasted space aft of the balcony because it doesn’t extend to the aft edge. There’s also a lounge with two sofa beds and bar. It can accommodate eight to 14 (that’s odd numbers breathing in, even numbers breathing out!), located aft, at the opposite end of the ship to the showlounge. Size: 1,215 sq ft (113 sq m) plus balcony: 810 sq ft (75 sq m). It’s a pleasant enough apartment, but nothing special - it’s really cramped and the ceilings are plain - but it could be good value for a large family.
Owner’s Suite. Sleeps up to five. Size: 506 sq ft (46 sq m) plus balcony: 131 sq ft (12 sq m).
Royal Suite. Sleeps up to four (and includes a black baby grand piano). Size: 1,406 sq ft (130.6 sq m) plus balcony: 377 sq ft (35 sq m).
Grand Suite. Sleeps up to four. Size: 381 sq ft (35.3 sq m) plus balcony: 89 sq ft (8.2 sq m).
Junior Suites. These sleep up to four, and measure 277 sq ft (25.7 sq m) plus balcony: 65 sq ft (6 sq m).
Superior ocean-view cabins. These measure 202 sq ft (18.7 sq m) plus balcony: 42 sq ft (3.9 sq m), and sleep two (some rooms sleep three or four).
Deluxe ocean-view cabins. These cabins measure 173 sq ft (16.0 sq m) plus balcony: 46 sq ft (4.2 sq m). Sleep two (some rooms sleep three or four).
Interior (promenade-view) cabins. These cabins, on three decks, are interior cabins but with bay windows that allow occupants to look into the Royal Promenade. Sleep two.
Interior cabins. These no-view cabins measure 160 sq ft (14.8 sq m), and sleep two (some rooms sleep three or four).
Family ocean-view cabin. Located at the front of the ship, it has two twin beds (convertible to queen-size), sofa and/or Pullman beds, sitting area, and bathroom with shower. Accommodates six, and has 48in (122cm) round windows. Size: 265 sq ft (24.6 sq m).
Dining. The huge Shakespeare-themed main dining room is set on three levels, each with a different name: King Lear, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. A dramatic staircase connects all three levels, and fat support pillars obstruct many sight lines. All three have the same menus and food. When you book, choose one of two seatings, or ‘My Time Dining’ (eat when you want, during dining room hours). Tables are for four, six, eight, 10, or 12, and place settings, china, and cutlery are of good quality.
Other dining options. Promenade Café: for Continental breakfast, all-day pizzas (Sorrento’s), sandwiches, and coffee in paper cups or plastic mugs.
Windjammer Café: this is a large, sprawling venue for casual buffet-style, self-help breakfast (this tends to be the busiest time of the day), lunch, and light dinners (but not on the last night of the cruise); it’s often difficult to find a table and by the time you do your food could be cold. This venue bears the brunt of many passenger complaints regarding poor, lukewarm food, and non-caring staff.
Jade ‘Restaurant’ (it’s actually a section of the Windjammer Café) is the spot to go for casual Asian-themed food.
Portofino: a Euro-Italian specialty restaurant, open for dinner only. Reservations are required, and a there’s a cover charge. The menu, which doesn’t change during the cruise, includes antipasti, soup, salad, pasta, main dish, dessert, cheese, and coffee.
Chops Grill: an intimate specialty restaurant for steaks and seafood. There’s a cover charge and reservations are required.
Johnny Rockets: a retro 1950s all-day, all-night diner-style eatery that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and other fast-food, and malt shakes, with both indoor and outdoor seating. All indoor tables have a mini-jukebox; dimes are provided for you to make your selection of vintage records. The all-singing, all-dancing waitresses will knock your socks off, if you can stand the volume. There’s a cover charge, and it’s located near Adventure Ocean on the starboard side of Deck 12.
Sprinkles: for round-the-clock ice cream and yoghurt, pastries, and coffee.
Entertainment. The 1,350-seat Alhambra Theater - the ship’s stunning showlounge - is located at the forward end of the ship. It spans five decks in height, with only a few slim pillars and almost no disruption of sight lines. The room has a hydraulic orchestra pit and huge stage area, together with sonic-boom loud sound, and good lighting equipment.
Spa/Fitness. A large Independence Day Spa includes an aerobics room, fitness center, private massage/body treatment rooms, men’s and women’s sauna/steam rooms, and relaxation areas. Some basic exercise classes are free, but the good ones such as yoga and personal training cost extra.