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ultimatecruisemaster

Independence of the Seas - Recap & Review (1/23) - Photos/video/scans

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Hey folks!

 

Just got off the Independence of the Seas, 5-day Western Caribbean cruise from Jan 23rd through Jan 28th. As I write, edit and compile everything, I'll be sharing a fairly thorough daily recap and review... with photos, videos and scans of various documents. Hope you enjoy!

 

Background

We are a couple from Ontario, Canada... near Detroit, MI. I have cruised three times previously with RCCL ... once as a child and a couple times in my 20's. This was my girlfriend's first cruise. We're in our 30's and I'd say we're a fairly an active, adventurous and outgoing couple. We do like to travel a couple times a year, we both like planning and organization, and we are somewhat budget conscious.

 

I did most of the planning, research and booking on this trip. There was no special occasion... I had just found the great price on this itinerary and we went ahead and booked the vacation. Overall, we had a fantastic time, with just a couple minor hiccups. In the future, we do have a number of other land vacation destinations on our list ... but would not hesitate to cruise again if the right deal came along.

 

Here's a couple of teaser photos! All images are from a Canon EOS M mirrorless camera, and Samsung Galaxy S6. The coming video was shot on a Sony HDR-AS20 Action Camera.

 

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Independence of the Seas at Labadee

 

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Sunset at sail away

 

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The main dining room

 

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US!

 

Much more to come soon! Stay tuned....

Edited by ultimatecruisemaster

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Awesome. Looking forward to the rest of your review. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

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Thank you for the comments! Let's continue ...

 

Pre-Cruise

 

To give us some extra time before the cruise... we flew from DTW to FLL on January 21st. We flew Spirit at a cost of about $225 U.S. round trip per person, with a checked bag, seats picked, and all fees in. After a 2.5 hour flight, we arrived in Florida, picked up our luggage and took a cab to our hotel.

 

We wanted to stay in the Fort Lauderdale beach area. After reading reviews on Tripadvisor, I decided on the Tropirock resort. It's an older, refurbished motel-style resort, about two blocks from the beach. Accommodations were so-so ... but a decent value for about $160 US per night. Taxi cost from FLL to the hotel was about $22.

 

First night, we settled down in the hotel room. Then headed down to the beach area main strip, which was about a 15 minute walk. We got some snacks and supplies from CVS, explored the area and went for a walk on the beach. We changed and freshened up back at the hotel then made our way down to the Rock Bar. The place was quite packed. We paid about $30 for some giant 2 for 1 margaritas and hit the dance floor. After the bar, we checked out Lulu's Bait Shack for some late night eats. For under $30 ... I had my first ever shrimp po' boy, and my girlfriend had some pulled pork sliders.

 

The second day in Fort Lauderdale, we started off by walking down to the Ritz Carlton and had brunch at Burlock Coast. I had huevos rancheros and my girlfriend had pork belly eggs benedict. We browsed the shops along the A1A, and hung out on the beach for a bit. In the afternoon, we hopped on the "Free Ride" electric trolley... and went down to the Las Olas downtown area. We browsed the art galleries and shops, and stopped for gelato and iced coffee. We went for a stroll by the Tarpon River, before taking a taxi back to the hotel. In the evening, we decided to rent some bikes and go for a ride. As we were about to check out our bikes, an employee came up and gave us a code for free 30 minute rentals! We grabbed our bikes and rode around... making our way toward Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for dinner. I had southern fried chicken and my girlfriend had coconut shrimp. With a drink, the bill came to about $60.

 

We settled in back at the hotel and packed up our luggage for the cruise the next day! Had some trouble falling asleep though... as a hefty storm rolled in. Lots of lightning and some heavy rain, but I eventually found some rest.

 

Next chapter... embarkation!

 

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Poolside at the Tropirock Resort

 

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Drinks at Rock bar

 

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Nice looking garage in Fort Lauderdale!

 

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Night view from the Tropirock

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Love seeing your beautiful pictures! Which restaurants are open for lunch on embarkation day? Thanks in advance.

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Love seeing your beautiful pictures! Which restaurants are open for lunch on embarkation day? Thanks in advance.

 

Glad you like the photos!

 

We went straight up to Windjammer for lunch. We also grabbed some sandwiches and cookies at the Cafe Promenade. Don't quote me... but I believe Sorrento's was also open. Other than that... sorry, not quite sure.

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Love the review so far! We are going on Indy in March .

 

Was coffee included In drink package? Starbucks at cafe promenade?

Edited by sunseafun

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Love the review so far! We are going on Indy in March .

 

Was coffee included In drink package? Starbucks at cafe promenade?

 

Free regular coffee is available at many locations around the ship. You could get coffee at Cafe Promenade, at the Windjammer cafe, with meals in the main dining room and through room service. The free coffee is ... I would say... below average, haha. It just always tastes kind of bitter & burnt.

 

There is no standalone Starbucks or Starbucks kiosk on Independence. You can get upgraded espresso drinks for an additional price though. And I believe the prices were fairly reasonable. Around $4-$5 for a latte, cappuccino etc.

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Love the review so far! We are going on Indy in March .

 

Was coffee included In drink package? Starbucks at cafe promenade?

 

There isn't a Starbuck's but specialty coffees are included with the drink package.

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Embarkation / Day 1

 

We woke up on embarkation day and turned on the TV, to find out that last night's storm caused quite some damage throughout town! Checked online though, and the status of the Independence seemed fine. We packed our bags and took an Uber to the Port Everglades. The Uber cost about $16, even with the driver getting a little lost and taking a loop toward the airport.

 

Once we arrived at the port, security directed us where to go. Porters took our luggage and we left them with a couple bucks tip. We arrived about 11am and went through security and check-in. We then stopped and had our photos taken in front of some backdrops. There was a lanyard sales kiosk after the photo area, where we stopped and got our Seapass cards punched. We went up the stairs into the waiting area, and were directed into the gold section. At about noon, they started to board starting with higher level CAS members. At about 12:45pm, they called our section and we made it onto the boat!

 

When we boarded... we first went to see where our room (8211 inside) was. As well, I noticed that our seapass cards indicated that we were late seating for dinner, when I thought I had requested first seating. We stopped by the main dining room, and within a few minutes they switched us back to early seating. We then took a stroll through the promenade. We then headed up for lunch at the Windjammer, which was starting to get pretty busy. It took a couple minutes of looking, but we finally found a table. After finishing lunch and heading out... we saw that quite a lineup had developed for the buffet. Get there early to avoid the rush!

 

Despite just having lunch... we dropped by the Promenade Cafe for more food. We grabbed some oatmeal raisin cookies, a chicken roti wrap and some shrimp sandwiches (which unfortunately, never reappeared on the cruise). They made the call for the muster drill, and we headed down to the Pyramid Lounge. We got there just in time for some seats, and the drill was over in about 20 minutes.

 

We opted not to go for any drink packages on our trip. I'm not much a of a drinker, and my girlfriend didn't really think she would clear the $60 per day in booze to make it worthwhile. We did bring two bottles of wine on board with us, and ordered an extra bottle to our cabin.

 

We then went up to the pool deck for the sail away party. Got some cones from the sprinkles machine and hung out poolside. We spent some time watching people on the flowrider and jumped in the hot tub. Dinner time rolled around and we headed to the dining room. We were at a table for 6, but none of our other guests showed up. Things seemed a little hectic and unorganized, which worried us. I started with smoked fish rillettes, and had a medium-rare Manhattan strip steak, while my girlfriend had the mojo-marinated grilled pork chop.

 

We made it to the Welcome Aboard Show ... which featured some singing by cruise director John Blair, some music from the orchestra, a latin dance performance and a short set by comedian Angelo Tsarouchas. When the show let out, we stopped by the Windjammer for a snack. We dropped by the Labyrinth, which wasn't too busy, and did a little people watching. We had one last stop at Sorrento's for some pizza, before heading to bed.

 

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Sail away party!

 

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Poolside at sailaway

 

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Inside room 8211

 

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Day 1 starters

 

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Day 1 mains

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Thank you for the review. Loving it already, will be following along. I wanted to thank you for the menus and compasses as well, I find them fun to look through.

Edited by jonj

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Following along. Just booked the Indi today for March 16th.

 

Just 44 days till we sail. Can't wait to read the rest and see more photos

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Following along. Just booked the Indi today for March 16th.

 

Just 44 days till we sail. Can't wait to read the rest and see more photos

 

We are booked or that sailing also!! Its a small roll call, but starting to pick up some steam i think!

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