As a travel consultant, I am always learning about new suppliers, promotions, and destinations to share with my clients. My host agency, KHM Travel Group, has an annual conference to help their agents learn about new topics in the travel industry, help us network with our suppliers, and give us some one-on-one time with their agency leaders. The conference ends with an awards ceremony to honor the top agents for their hard work throughout the 2017 year. This year, the KHM Crystal Conference was held on board Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. The conference began January 27th, with four wonderful days sailing the Caribbean to the port of calls of Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.
This was my first time cruising with Royal Caribbean, (I have only cruised on Carnival up til now), so I was so excited to see what it was like to cruise on another cruise line. Since this was a working cruise, I didn't get a chance to explore all what the Independence of the Seas had to offer, but I was able to explore the ship between my training classes. Since I have only cruised on Carnival up until now, my cruise expectations have been set with the Carnival Miracle.
RCCL's Independence of the Seas belongs to their 15 Deck Freedom class and carries about 3600 passengers. The only time I ever felt "crowded" was when I walked through the Promenade after dinner time, 8:00-9:00 PM. Think of trying to maneuver to the front of the stage at a Bon Jovi concert! Another congested part of the ship was mid-morning on Deck 11 where the kid's water park and other pools were located. Some mornings it was difficult to find a table in the aft Windjammer Buffet area, especially if you didn't get there when they first opened at 7:00 AM. Other than the evening time on the Promenade and around the pool areas, you would never imagine that you were with 3600 other passengers.
One of the first things I noticed onboard the Independence was the ambiance of the ship. The atmosphere on the Independence has a more laid back feeling than what I remember when sailing on Carnival. If I didn't have my daily PLANNER to read each night, I wouldn't have known what was happening on the ship the next day! Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of activities to participate in or watch, you just needed to know ahead of time what time these activities took place and where to be. The only time I saw the cruise director on this cruise was when she walked out on stage before the 8:30 PM show and introduced the dancers and singers for that evening's show. Now, remember, I was on a working cruise, so I could have missed some announcements since I was in classes most of the morning, but I don't remember hearing the Cruise Director coming over the loudspeakers with any upcoming activities.
The Independence's Promenade area is AMAZING! This 4 deck high open area is one of the main gathering places for meeting other people. On Deck 5, you have all of the shops and some eateries from Sorrentos and Ben and Jerry's to Dog and Badger (an English Pub) and Vintage wine bar. While walking through the Promenade, look up and what do you see? Staterooms with a view! Decks 6-8 offer staterooms overlooking the Promenade. These rooms are a little larger than an inside stateroom and although it's not an ocean view, you do have an opportunity to open your window and listen to some of the nightly entertainment.
The Independence OTS has quite a bit to offer its guests for entertainment. If you are adventurous, how about the FlowRider or Rock climbing wall? A round of miniature golf? Ice skating? An evening show or karaoke? From comedy to singing, I'm sure you can find a great way to pass the night away!
As with sailing on any new cruise line, learning the layout of a ship can be quite challenging the first day or two. Navigating the Independence was quite easy! Once you learn where the main activities and areas are on a ship, (which deck the casino or main dining room is on) it was easy to get from your stateroom to where you needed to go.
One thing I love about Royal Caribbean is their Autism at Sea program. They are one of the only cruise lines to offer this program. Families can be confident in knowing they will find autism friendly products, amenities, and TV programs available. You can find more information on this on the ROYAL CARIBBEAN tab found under the CRUISE LINES tab.
So, I highly recommend Royal's Independence of the Seas for both first time and the more experienced cruisers.
Check out photos for this cruise on the PHOTOS tab!
I am an avid traveler wanting to see as much of this world as I possibly can.