Tips for Cruising on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas

The 4,560-passenger Independence of the Seas from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is an impressive ship with LOTS to do and experience. Here are some tips and highlights to consider for your sail.

Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas VIP Cruise Tips

Consult the Interactive Map

By the last day, I always know my way around a cruise ship. Fortunately, instead of having the standard map signs, the Independence of the Seas has interactive touch screen maps near the elevators. You can select a particular venue or even enter a stateroom number and a of steps on how to get there will appear. Genius!

Ask Your Steward for a Robe

Robes aren't automatically in your cabin, but you can request a terry cloth RCCL robe from your steward for the duration of your sail. Loved wearing it out on our balcony.

Don't Miss the Evening Piano Show at the Schooner Bar

After our 8 p.m. dinner, we headed to the Piano Bar where we cozied up right by the gleaming grand piano and sang along to favorite tunes. More talented guests (I can't sing), would also come and join the host for a duet providing for even more fun. We had so much fun that we ended up staying till 1:30 a.m. There were two different pianists/performers, and I wish I remembered his name, but the silly one with props and curly hair above was my favorite.

Bungee Fun on Sky Pad 

Strap in, put on your virtual reality headset and soar high into the sky for gravity-defying fun at Sky Pad℠ - a bungee trampoline experience that brings it a step further with VR. Whether you’re smashing candies in a sugar-coated world or traveling light years into the future — this brand-new bungee trampoline experience opens up a whole new universe of possibility.

Have a Water Slide Race & Go Surfing

These water slides aren't just for kids. Race a friend or significant other and plunge down the blue or yellow tunnels on THE PERFECT STORM℠ dual racer slides Typhoon and Cyclone.

While fun to watch, I didn't brave the FLOW RIDER surfing stimulator, especially after seeing some of the wipeouts. I just don't have the skills, lol.

Snag Tickets for the Ice Show at Sea

Held in the Studio B rink, the ice-skating shows -- which rotate between Freeze Frame and Strings -- can't be missed. Tickets are first come, first served, you should get them early. Royal Caribbean's daily newsletter will inform you when tickets can be picked up on your cruise.

Although, we were able to catch an afternoon show on the last at-sea day without a ticket and there were still extra seats available. I couldn't get over the fact that there was an ice rink there on board. Unfortunately, two of the performers fell, but they are on a moving ship after all.

Attend the Champagne Art Auction 

On the first at-sea day there is a Champagne Art Auction with free flutes of champagne and other chances to win more goodies like free art, books and even a bottle of champagne. You don't have to be a serious art collector to enjoy this lively and educational experience. I managed to control myself this time, however, I have bought before from the Park West gallery.

Another way to score some free Champers is on the first formal night in the promenade on Deck 5 during the captain's dinner, waiters will be passing out flutes of bubbly. I may or may not have drunk two ;)

Bring Your Own Wine Onboard 

You can bring personal wine onboard on boarding day only, limited to two (2) 750 ml bottles per stateroom, not per person. No beer or hard liquor allowed though. Do not put the wine in your checked luggage or it will be confiscated though. Instead, have it in your carry on. I actually was able to bring in two bottles of Champagne and a mini bottle of Prosecco without any problem. However, when we stopped in Cozumel and I purchased some Tequila as gifts, they were flagged and taken when we re-boarded the ship, and returned to us the evening of our last day to put in our luggage. The same goes for on-board Duty-Free liquor purchases. Also, open your personal bottles in your room and not in public areas, otherwise you will incur a $15 corkage fee per bottle.

How to Always Remember What Day it is

Simply check the elevator floor. Yup. Each day they switch out a piece of the elevator carpet to read the current day. Be the first to point it out to your friends ;) I kept wanting to go to the elevator banks at Midnight to see this happen, lol.

Go Here to Escape the Pool Crowds 

The main pool and adult pool is packed on at Sea Days since that is where most of the activities happen and where TV screen is. To escape the crowds, head to Deck 12 aft. Below the FlowRider surf simulator, there's an unfrequented deck space with lounge chairs overlooking the back of the ship.

Shop Along the Promenade 

Deck 5 is like the Times Square for this ship with bars, specialty dining, music, the complimentary Sorrento's pizza place, Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor, Sugar Rush candy store and shops from Duty-Free, Michael Kors, a jewelry store and more. I splurged on this Valentino Handbag and a pair of shorts. It's tax-free at least. This strip is quite stunning and jaw-dropping as I felt like I was in a floating mall.

Splurge for a Balcony Cabin

It's so worth it. Really. I loved waking up each morning and breathing in the salty air. I didn't have to worry about second-hand smoke here either so opted to read and sunbathe on my private ocean view balcony instead.

Pack a Badge Holder & Towel Clips

Once you set sail there isn’t any need for a wallet or purse since all purchases can be made with your Sea Pass, which is also your room key. Thus, it’s important not to lose it, which is why you’ll see many passengers wearing theirs around their neck with a lanyard. The cruise line doesn’t provide the lanyard, but Passenger Services desk will gladly punch a hole in your card for you to attach to your string. You can always buy one in the gift shop on board or from one of the merchants at the boarding port, but I prefer to get mine ahead of time and one that matches my style ;) like this rose gold one.

Also, while towels are provided by the pools and sun decks, you are on a ship and it gets windy, so be prepared to have your towel keep slipping, falling for flying away unless you have towel clips. I was surprised by how many guests came with their own from flamingos to margarita designed ones and I was quite envious. Next time.

Oh, and the two power plugs were not enough for my gadgets, which is why I brought in a Cruise Power Strip with USB Outlets and extra plugs. This particular one includes Non-Surge Protection & Ship Approved. I take it on all my cruises.

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Overall Thoughts on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas 

I have sailed over 20 times on various cruise lines and it’s hard not to compare and contrast. Below is what I liked and didn’t like in comparison to other ships.

What I liked...

  • It's definitely an impressive ship.
  • Internet was by far the most reliable and fastest service at sea that I’ve experienced on Disney and Princess. Reasonably priced packages too. 
  • Dining Rooms were modernly furnished and quite contemporary, even the buffet had an upscale feel to its design. 
  • Quality of food included in your sail price was excellent. 
  • Variety of water slides, surf simulator and splash area. 
  • An ice show at sea? Come on, that’s pretty spectacular. They also have Grease the musical. 
  • The fitness center is quite large and thankfully offers an amazing unobstructed view of the ocean with treadmills and elliptical machines facing out toward the windows. If that’s not motivation right there, I don’t know what is. 
  • The royal promenade of shops and restaurants on deck five with high ceilings gives guests the feeling as if they are on a floating mall. It’s quite impressive and exciting. 

What I didn’t like...

  • The amount of secondhand smoke. I expect to smell smoke in the casino or designated smoking rooms, but there were many smoking areas up on deck that made lying out or just walking by the pools quite unpleasant. 
  • The beds/mattresses were stiff and not as comfortable as Princess Cruises.
  • I felt there was a constant upcharge for most services where guests were nickel and dimed, definitely not an all-included offering like with other ships. Yes, specialty dining fees are expected, but it went beyond that. 
  • The price for drinks and cocktails weren’t as reasonable as other lines. 
  • Only one movie channel – that rotates two programs each day. I know, you’re not supposed to spend time in your cabin, but I’ve always enjoyed getting caught up on new releases while away in the downtimes.
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas VIP Cruise Tips

1 comment

  1. It was such a great time and I'm happy that we went! This is such a great insight for anyone wanting to go on a cruise!