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Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions

Age: 43

Occupation:Self Employed

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Independence Of The Seas

Sailing Date: 2013-02-16

Itinerary: 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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