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In 2013, Independence of the Seas underwent a $7 million upgrade. The new features included a cupcake shop, an Italian trattoria called Giovanni’s Table and a Royal Babies & Tots Nursery. On the technology side, the ship was given new digital signage, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and a poolside movie screen. For all the emphasis on wholesome, family activities, passengers without children will still find plenty of space for more mature pursuits. The fitness facility, complete with boxing ring, is excellent and always busy. Then, as well as bars and the casino range, there is the Solarium pool, boutique restaurants and late-night comedy shows.

Accommodation

Independence of the Seas has five types of cabins: insides, promenade views, outsides, balconies and suites. A handful of cabins across all categories are designed for families. Cabins are outfitted in a pleasant nautical blue-and-green colour scheme. All standard cabins, from insides to balconies, come with features like interactive flat-screen televisions, telephones, desks/vanities and easy chairs or couches. Beds, covered with duvets, can be configured as twins or converted to a queen. The Grand, Owner’s and Royal Suite guests have access to the Concierge Club lounge where they can enjoy complimentary pre- and post-dinner canapes and cocktails, and the concierge is on call to book shore excursions, dining reservations and spa appointments.

Food

There are two new eating venues on Independence, following its upgrade: an Italian Trattoria, Giovanni’s Table and The Cupcake Cupboard for gourmet cupcakes. Decorated with soft yellow, wooden panelling and mint green finishes, the Cupcake Cupboard is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy a coffee and a cake. The vast, three-deck-high dining room (called Romeo and Juliet on deck 3, Othello on deck 4 and King Lear on deck 5) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daytime meals, which are open seating, are limited to Romeo and Juliet, and there’s rarely a wait for a table. Johnny Rocket’s is the only eatery onboard to offer outdoor seating. This 1950s diner-style chain eatery features trademark hamburgers, chili dogs, onion rings, fries and milkshakes.

Activities

The ship’s sun deck, which consists of three distinct pool areas, is vibrant and comfortable. The Solarium is an adults-only pool area with two whirlpools and a bar that opens only on sea days. It has a dedicated room for a variety of classes, such as yoga, aerobics, Pilates, group cycling and water aerobics. The ship’s boxing ring hosts boxing lessons. Royal Caribbean’s Shipshape Day Spa offers a comprehensive range of services. The salon features hair-cutting and styling, manicures, pedicures and teeth whitening. The spa offers the usual range of treatments: massage, reflexology, facials and body wraps, as well as acupuncture sessions.

Families

Adventure Ocean reaches out to children of varied ages (from three to 17 years) and keeps them well entertained with a huge range of activities. The program includes activities that are focused on enrichment and recreation, some occur during mealtimes and others encourage family participation and offer creative outlets. Independence of the Sea offers My Family Time Dining, an initiative aimed at kids aged three to 11, which allows families who choose the traditional dining option a special, expedited service for the kids. After 40 minutes, Adventure Ocean counselors pick children up and take them back to the age-appropriate facility while parents finish their meals at leisure.

Verdict

– Cruise Passenger 

– Cruise Critic 

“This ship’s ‘wow’ factor is its connection with water in its dramatic water theme park on the pool deck – recommended for families with children. There is, however, something for everyone.”

– Berlitz

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