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Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Nassau

21 Feb 2022

The last day of our cruise visits Nassau, Bahamas.

We did not have any plans to do anything onshore for this visit, although I left the possibility open to maybe walk off for a beer later.

Since we had no plans, we slept in a bit and woke up to a cloudy and windy day.  Independence docked earlier in the morning, and I noticed we were docked at what I believe is one of the new piers they built.

We were further down into Nassau Harbor, with Celebrity Apex docked behind us.

After getting breakfast, we went up to the sports deck. Originally I was going to take the kids to do the SkyPad again, but it wasn't open until 1pm. 

Instead, we saw the pickleball court was set up and took the kids to try it out.

Pickleball is essentially tennis with a whiffle ball and hard racquets. It was a lot of fun, although the wind made the game very difficult to keep the ball in play.  My lower back did not agree with it either, but I still enjoyed it.

A friend signed up for the ping pong tournament they held aboard the ship, and about a half dozen people participated. He came in second place at the end of the competition.

Lunch brought us back to Playmakers.

Unfortunately, they seemed to be a bit short staffed and our waiter told us the kitchen is a bit overwhelmed.  We told him to bring out whatever he had, when he had it.

The meal took longer than I planned, but Playmakers is usually slow to begin with.

After lunch the kids wanted to try the family scavenger hunt.  They had 15 minutes to answer a bunch of questions and take photos of various things around the ship.

They didn't win, but they liked being able to run around the ship for a few minutes and play.

We had planned to go see Grease, but opted instead to take a break and let everyone relax. Sometimes a lot of vacation fun needs a reset to keep everyone even-keeled.

Dinner tonight brought us to Chops Grille.

After dinner, we played a bit in the casino and then had some drinks at Playmakers to round out our evening.

Overall, it was a fun weekend on Independence and it gave us exactly what we wanted: a weekend getaway to CocoCay.

Thanks for following this live blog. Our next live blog is in less than two weeks when I check out the brand new Wonder of the Seas!

Stray observations

For the departure options after the cruise is over, there are segmented self-assist times.

I had never seen this before, but essentially instead of a luggage tag number, people who want to walk off the ship on their own have assigned times.

I suspect this is because on a 3-night cruise there will be a lot of people looking to do self-assist and they want to prevent a mass of humanity trying to get off the ship at the same time.

I found a tribute to travel writer John Honeywell, better known as Captain Greybeard, on the sunning deck above the Sky Bar.

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

20 Feb 2022

The second day of our Independence of the Seas cruise brings us to the pièce de résistance of the sailing: a visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Perfect Day at CocoCay entrance sign

Our ship docked around 7:30am or so, and the ship was cleared right at 8am.

We took the kids up the Windjammer for breakfast, which was super packed since everyone else was trying to eat something before getting off the ship. It's times like this I miss having Park Cafe or Cafe @ Two70 to have an alternative venue for breakfast.

As we disembarked the ship, Harmony of the Seas pulled in to join us.

The weather was beautiful with no clouds in the sky, warm temperatures, and low humidity.

We purchased tickets to the CocoCay water park for this visit, so we headed right to Thrill Waterpark.

The kids went up and down the slides and all over the park, while the adults mostly stayed around our chairs and the wave pool. The water was a bit chilly, but I was just enjoying being outdoors.

We had lunch at Snack Shack, which is located inside Thrill Waterpark (there's two other locations around the island).

After lunch, we decided to take a break from the slides and head to the beach. We chose Harbor Beach as something different to try.

The appeal of Harbor Beach is this cove has no waves at all.

The kids loved it because there are rocks on one side that are home to many hermit crabs, which they found great pleasure in finding.

We ran into a few friends from Harmony of the Seas during the day, which was a really nice surprise.

We eventually headed back to the ship as our time came to a close at CocoCay. I showered and then immediately took a nap after a full day of fun on the island.

Dinner tonight was in Playmakers.

Playmakers is really large, and located on deck 4 between Boleros and Casino Royale. It's an impressive space, and our waiter Cyrus took good care of us throughout the entire meal.

After dinner, we went down to Studio B to see Freeze Frame ice skating show.

The show is a journey through the music of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Great hits to enjoy as you watched the skaters do their thing.

After the show, we had a few drinks at the pub before calling it a night.

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray observations

I bought this Perfect Day at CocoCay Tervis cup!

In the back of the ice skating show set, there is a large newspaper with an article from right before the Oasis Class ships launched with a contest to name the Project Genesis ships.

I found the Stowaway piano player in front of Boleros. This is the same stowaway piano player I saw on Odyssey of the Seas last summer.

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

19 Feb 2022

I'm back on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this weekend, this time checking out Independence of the Seas.

Since it's President's Weekend, my kids have off from school on Monday and that's a natural fit for a weekend cruise.

We had originally booked connecting Royal Promenade rooms for this cruise, but prices came down at the last minute and my travel agent was able to upgrade us to connecting balcony rooms for just $50 extra.

Independence is sailing from Port Canaveral and offering a 3-night Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay itinerary.

A week or so before the cruise, Royal Caribbean alerted us that embarkation would be pushed back an hour so that the ship could undergo additional cleaning. This is not unheard of over the last few months, although it is the first time I encountered it.

We had a 11:30am check-in time, but Royal Caribbean said for everyone to arrive one hour later than when they had booked.

We left our house and drove to Port Canaveral, which is about an hour drive door to door.

When we got to the terminal, they were letting people into the building to check-in, but they were holding passengers in the waiting area until the ship opened up boarding.

Luckily, by the time we finished checking in, boarding began.  They started with suites and pinnacles, and then went in reverse Crown and Anchor Society before opening it up to everyone.

The weather started off a little cloudy, but everything cleared up as the afternoon progressed.

Onboard the ship, we grabbed lunch at the Windjammer.

The cabins weren't open until 2pm, so we took the kids up to the sports deck for a ride on the Sky Pad.

I booked the unlimited dining package for this cruise, and it's always a good idea to book your reservations for restaurants on the first day. I was able to get the days and restaurants we wanted without much issue.

We signed the kids up for Adventure Ocean next. On this sailing, there are 600 kids onboard and they are limiting parents to 3 hours per child for advanced reservations.

My wife took a well-deserved visit to the spa, while I took the kids to the pool deck. Independence of the Seas has a rather large Splashaway Bay, and they enjoyed the slides.

Once we got in the rooms, we dropped off our belongings and then headed downstairs to complete the muster drill.

Our next stop was up to the Sky Bar to enjoy sail away. We ended up staying in port a bit longer than expected, but it was a beautiful afternoon in terms of weather, so we enjoyed being outdoors.

As we sailed away, it was time to prepare for dinner and change.

We had dinner tonight in Izumi hibachi.

Dinner was great, and we had a really good chef who had some original material.

After dinner, we enjoyed some music at the pub.

Tomorrow, we will be visiting at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Perfect Day at CocoCay

14 Jan 2022

Today is the last day of my cruise on Independence of the Seas and I cannot think of a better way to end my sailing than to spend the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Since the weather this week had not been ideal, I woke up this morning expecting cloudy skies, cold, and rain. However, when I walked out to the pool deck, sunshine appeared from behind the clouds! I immediately went back to my stateroom to grab my belongings and I disembarked the ship.

Independence of the Seas was docked next to Freedom of the Seas this morning.

The previous and only two times I have been to CocoCay, I spent the day at the Coco Beach Club. This time, however, I did not reserve anything and was excited to spend the day exploring other parts of the island.

First up was a brief walk to South Beach. South Beach was closed this summer, so today was my first time there. While it is “further” than other beaches on the island, it only took around ten minutes to walk there from the ship. You can also opt to take the free tram rides available on the island.

South Beach is to the east of the Coco Beach Club and offers a more relaxed environment to guests. There is a long stretch of beach, cabanas for rent, two bars, a Snack Shack, and sports area. While I just walked around briefly, I would definitely come back here to spend the day in the future.

Next up was Oasis Lagoon. Something I think is very helpful at CocoCay are the free lockers available throughout the island. As I am always carrying my camera equipment around, it is nice to have a secure place to store it while I go for a swim.

Lunch today was at Chill Grill. Before today, the only food I had tried on the island came from the Mediterranean-style restaurant at the Coco Beach Club. I was spoiled by endless hummus, pita, grouper, and chocolate-caramel brownies. Because of this, I wasn’t sure what to expect for CocoCay’s complimentary food options.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food offered at Chill Grill. From salads to build-your-own tacos and standard American fare, there were more than enough options available.

By far the best part of my lunch, though, was my brownie sundae. A great food “hack” at Perfect Day at CocoCay is to take a brownie or cookie from the buffet and top it with ice cream. You can thank me later!

My next stop was Chill Beach. I think this may be my favorite beach on the island because it is, as the name implies, a chill place to spend the day. I went for a swim and the ocean temperature was not as warm as it had been in the summer, but was still comfortable.

The sunshine was very well welcomed after the past few days of clouds, and I had a really hard time getting out of my hammock to walk back to the ship. On my way back, though, I ran into a few cute and colorful iguanas!

For sailaway I headed to the Helipad. Even though the Helipad is one of my favorite places onboard, I had never watched sailaway from there. Tonight’s sailaway was during sunset and it was gorgeous! We had views of Freedom, Symphony, and Vision of the Seas as well.

Dinner tonight was in the Windjammer. The food quality in the Windjammer on Independence has been impressive. Tonight they had the most elaborate and beautiful spread of cakes and pies that I’ve ever seen!

I ended my cruise by walking a few laps on the Promenade Deck and it was a nice way to exercise while taking in the sea breeze. It also gave me time to reflect on the past four days.

Overall, I had a fantastic time this week on Independence of the Seas. I was a little nervous before the cruise due to recent Covid concerns and the fact that it was my first solo cruise. However, everyone followed protocols really well while onboard and I met so many kind crew members and passengers throughout this sailing.

I’m sad to disembark tomorrow, but on the bright side… I board Harmony of the Seas this Sunday!

Stray Observations:

Oasis Lagoon turned into a party scene today and was LOUD. While it was entertaining to people watch and listen to music, it is not the most relaxing environment compared to the quieter beaches on the island! This is something to consider if you are choosing between a cabana at the pool or at another location at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

With the sound of intense wind and nothing but darkness beyond the ship, the Helipad is kind of spooky at night! There were some nice views of the stars, though.

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Nassau

13 Jan 2022

I spent today exploring Nassau, our first port of call. My first port day in Nassau last August was a bit of a mess due to lack of planning and rain, so I felt more prepared today.

Prior to my cruise, I purchased a day pass to the Warwick Paradise Island from Resort For A Day allows you to purchase day passes to hotels and resorts in popular Caribbean, Mexican, and American destinations.

The Warwick is an all-inclusive, adults-only hotel located on the harbor side of Paradise Island. A full, in-depth review of my experience there will be published next week, but here is a brief overview:

I got off the ship around 10AM and grabbed a taxi to Paradise Island. The taxi ride to the Warwick was around 10 minutes long and I paid $12. Once I checked in as a day pass guest, I began to explore the resort.

The first thing you will notice at the Warwick is the huge pool area. There is one large pool, a small hot tub, and ample seating areas throughout the property.

As the Warwick is located in the harbor, it does not have open ocean views like you would get on the other side of the island. It does have a small beach, though, as well as hammocks and a volleyball net on the sand.

Unfortunately, today's weather in Nassau was less than ideal. The wind was intense and with temperatures of around 70 degrees, I was pretty cold. Unsurprisingly, the pool remained empty throughout the day!

One benefit of the Warwick is that it is all-inclusive, so there was no need to worry about choosing food or drink options under a certain amount of money.

There are two lunch options at the resort: the food near the pool and the buffet located inside. However, the buffet was closed for lunch today, so I went to lunch at the pool and ordered quinoa salad and conch fritters. The food was quite good and I liked how they had options to fit many different diets.

After lunchtime, I grabbed a piña colada and swung in a hammock on the beach for a few minutes before the rain came back. Shivering in the hammock as raindrops fell on me, I concluded that while the resort was really nice, today was simply not a beach day. 

I took a taxi back to downtown Nassau. Last time I was in Nassau was in August and it was way too hot to comfortably walk around the city. So even though today was not the best day to go to the beach, it was a perfect day to walk around Nassau.

First up was a trip to see the Queen's Staircase and Fort Fincastle. This historical staircase is located in the fort's complex in Nassau and consists of 66 steps in a lush walkway. The stairs lead directly to the Fort, which is the highest point in Nassau. There were local guides available at the fort and staircase. While I walked there myself, Royal Caribbean offers shore excursions that visit these two places if you would prefer to be on an organized tour.

I also grabbed a coconut from two friendly Bahamians on the side of the road near the top of the Queen's Staircase. One of my favorite parts of traveling is chatting with locals to get to know them and their culture, so we chatted for a few minutes before I continued on with my walk.

If you have never tried fresh coconut water or are dehydrated from walking around Nassau in the summer, be sure to grab a coconut from these guys!

Overall, I much preferred exploring the staircase and fort to walking around the touristy streets right outside the cruise port. I headed back to the ship in the late afternoon.

Dinner tonight was at Izumi Hibachi. This is one of my favorite things to do while on a cruise because of the energy it brings to a dining experience. I also love how it brings the whole table of passengers together. It is much more social than dining at separate tables!

Today our hibachi chef was funny, upbeat, and had excellent talent at building a "volcano" out of onions. Yes, an onion volcano. Whenever I order vegetable hibachi, I always get a different type of dish (I guess each chef has a different 'go to' for a vegetarian option). Today our chef cooked vegetable and tofu udon which definitely hit the spot.

Also, shout out to our waiter Dan for being a Royal Caribbean Blog fan!

After dinner I went to Studio B to watch Freeze Frame, the ice skating show on Independence of the Seas. The ice shows are my favorite type of performance to watch onboard. Due to an injury, though, the entertainment was altered.

Instead of the regular show, several cast members were brought to the ice and briefly interviewed about their background and skating experience by the Cruise Director. Following their "get to know you" session, the cast member skated for the audience. At the end of the show, five cast members performed together.

While it was not the normal show, I really enjoyed the revised production they performed tonight and it was fascinating to learn more about the cast.

I ended my day at Star Lounge for a Big Band jazz performance. It was a relaxing way to end a busy day in Nassau and onboard.

Tomorrow is the last day of our cruise and we will be at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray Observations:

Many cruise passengers stay on the ship while in Nassau, but I think New Providence Island has a lot to offer beyond jewelry shops and Atlantis. I am looking forward to finding more authentic experiences there for my next cruise. If anyone has any recommendations, please leave a comment below!

Izumi Hibachi/Teppanyaki is an excellent dining option for a solo cruiser. The tables seat eight people, so you will be seated with other passengers who also may not know each other. Tonight there were four different groups of people and we chatted the whole dinner!

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

12 Jan 2022

Today is a sea day and my second day onboard Independence of the Seas. We were originally supposed to be at Perfect Day at CocoCay today, but will be there on Thursday instead due to weather conditions.

I woke up early this morning hoping to catch some sun on the pool deck, but unfortunately it was wet and windy! This is the Caribbean, though, so I was hopeful that the weather would improve as the day went on.

For breakfast this morning I decided to go to the Main Dining Room. I had never eaten in the Main Dining Room for breakfast, so I was excited to try it out. I love the ambiance of the Main Dining Room on Voyager and Freedom-class ships. The architecture and decor is elegant and ornate, and it reminds me of a movie set!

The woman at the table next to me was traveling solo and we chatted with each other throughout breakfast. 

This is my first solo cruise and, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous beforehand. Would I be bored? Will I not talk to anyone for days? What will dining be like?

Now that I am on my second day, though, I realize I had nothing to worry about. It is easy to be social when cruising solo, and I’ve found that both passengers and crew are eager to strike up a conversation.

The weather seemed to be improving after breakfast, so I took a walk around the outdoor Promenade deck and Helipad. One of my favorite parts of Independence of the Seas is the huge amount of outdoor deck space. The Promenade deck spans the entire length of the ship and is a calmer area to walk around compared to the pool deck.

I spent a couple hours before lunch editing videos for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel. Lunch today was in the Windjammer. As soon as I sat down, though, I realized the weather outside was beautiful, so I quickly ate and went out to the pool deck.

Ice cream in one hand and camera in the other, I explored the pool deck and Sports Court for a while as I filmed the full ship tour of Independence of the Seas, which will appear on our YouTube channel in a few weeks.

As a Freedom-class ship, the pool deck on Independence is long and has a full kids area including Splashaway Bay, two main pools, and five whirlpools. That’s not even counting the Solarium, which has its own pool and two large whirlpools that stick out over the side of the ship.

While still windy, it turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon, and I was delighted to finally have a sunny day at sea! My previous two sailings were to Alaska in October and a foggy sailing from Los Angeles in November, so I fully appreciated the sunshine today. It’s definitely more comfortable than the snowstorms we had a few weeks ago at home!

After hanging out on the pool deck, I went to Schooner Bar for “Where in the World” trivia. Being a geography nerd, I expected to do better than 10 answers right out of 15, but it was still a fun way to break up the afternoon outside.

Following trivia, I relaxed in my stateroom before heading to the Royal Theater to watch Grease: The Broadway Musical. Independence is my first cruise that offers a Broadway show, so I was looking forward to checking it out as I have heard a lot about the Broadway shows onboard.

Once the show started, though, I was quite confused! While there were a few lines of acting and dance moves here and there, the cast was mostly stationed at the microphones singing a concert. Where was the dancing? The acting? The Broadway aspect of the show? Why was it over after 45 minutes?

Little did I know that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Grease got changed to Grease: In Concert instead of the full-length performance. In the Cruise Planner, the show was listed as Grease: The Musical with a length of 90 minutes, so it must have been a recent change. I also admit that I had not been paying attention to the Entertainment Director at the beginning of the show, so he may have mentioned this to the audience beforehand.

Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed the performance and energy the cast brought to the stage! The performers were super talented and the set designs and costumes were well done. I am hoping that the full Broadway show is being performed when I sail on Harmony of the Seas next week.

Walking up, down, and around the ship all day while filming wore me out, so I had a small dinner at the Windjammer before going back to my stateroom for an early night.

Tomorrow we will be in Nassau, our first port of call. I will be spending the day at a resort on an all-inclusive day pass, and I am excited to share my experience there with you all tomorrow!

Stray observations:

All passengers are following the mask protocols and distancing well. I feel safer onboard than I thought I would. That being said, I am still trying to avoid crowded indoor areas. I also sat far away from most passengers today in the Royal Theater as an extra precaution.

While I didn’t end up seeing the full Broadway show, I love how Royal Caribbean offers Broadway musicals onboard its ships. Sometimes I find the regular shows to lack an easy-to-follow storyline, although the dancing and singing is always great.

After five cruises, my conclusion is that the best food venue Royal Caribbean offers on the pool deck is El Loco Fresh.

Live Blog Index

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

11 Jan 2022

Today is my first day onboard Independence of the Seas for a 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day cruise. This is also my first time on a Freedom-class ship, so I woke up this morning especially eager to get onboard!

I was able to snag an early check-in time by monitoring when my sailing would open for check-in on the Royal Caribbean app. I boarded quickly at 11:30AM and headed to the Windjammer.

After a delicious lunch of Indian curry, I was off to explore Independence of the Seas.

Independence was recently amplified in 2018 and is fit with many of Royal Caribbean’s newest venues and activities. Recent additions to the ship include waterslides, a Sky Pad, Escape Room, large Splashaway Bay, Playmakers, Izumi hibachi, and Sugar Beach.

Cabins were ready at 2PM. I am staying in an interior cabin on this cruise. I did not select my own stateroom when I booked and was assigned to a studio cabin. Studio cabins are slightly smaller than a regular interior room, but offer enough space for a solo traveler.

I caught up on work at Cafe Promenade before heading to the pool deck for sailaway. The weather was on and off throughout the afternoon, and around sailaway the wind was quite intense. However, I still managed to get some nice views of Independence of the Seas sailing out of Port Canaveral.

This is my fifth cruise, and my goal for this sailing is to try activities that I have not done so far on a cruise ship. Today's activity of choice was ice skating in Studio B.

Sign ups for ice skating begin 30 minutes prior to the start of the activity. I went to Studio B as soon as sign ups began and there was no line, so I signed up for the first spot available.

Time slots for ice skating were in twenty minute chunks. They did not appear to be allowing many people to sign up for each slot due to limited capacity, so the ice rink was nearly empty for my turn.

It was really enjoyable and, despite a few close calls, I didn't wipe out on the ice! I think I have a new appreciation for the talented figure skaters that perform onboard. I cannot even imagine doing a triple axel or backflip on the ice!

Dinner tonight was at Playmakers. The Playmakers on Independence of the Seas is huge! It must be nearly double the size of Playmakers on other ships I have sailed on. There is ample seating, a ton of TVs, and arcade games.

Because it is so large, the venue feels more like its own restaurant and bar on land as opposed to a small venue like on Mariner of the Seas. And while Playmakers is a specialty restaurant, I think the prices are more than reasonable.

I ordered the Pile on Nachos, which is one of my favorite appetizers at Playmakers. Loaded with guacamole, tomatoes, jalapeños, and cheese, it was delightful!  I will most certainly be back at Playmakers this week for one of the best desserts on any Royal Caribbean cruise, the Campfire Cookie.

After dinner, I walked around the Royal Promenade. As a Freedom-class ship, Independence of the Seas is similar to a Voyager-class ship, but is longer, thus allowing for more space and venue options. I’m not sure if it is because the ship has limited capacity or because it was still dinnertime, but the Promenade was pretty empty this evening.

I do feel that while the Promenade on Independence of the Seas is longer than on a ship like Navigator of the Seas, it has a more relaxed atmosphere. I think this is because, unlike on Navigator, the venues within the Promenade on Independence are quieter. Since Playmakers is not located in the Promenade and Vintages is in place of The Bamboo Room’s spot on Navigator, it definitely feels more tranquil.

After walking around and filming for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel, I decided to call it a night in order to get some rest for another fun-filled day onboard tomorrow.

Perfect Day at CocoCay and our sea day got flip-flopped due to weather, so tomorrow will be a sea day.

Stray observations:

Independence of the Seas is sailing with a capacity of around 1700. It does not feel crowded and everyone seems to be adhering to protocols well. I have been avoiding really crowded areas as a precaution.

There do not seem to be any cancellations in entertainment offerings onboard. Both Grease and the ice skating show will be happening this week, and I am excited to check the two shows out.

I am really craving my favorite drink onboard, the Banana Colada, but there is no Bamboo Room on this ship! However, there is a Vintages wine bar, so that will suffice!

A Freedom-class ship feels almost identical to a Voyager-class ship. In fact, I may not have even noticed anything was different if I hadn’t known ahead of time!

As someone who enjoys learning languages, I love the global environment that crew and passengers create on a cruise. Getting a chance to practice my Portuguese skills with a crew member from Brazil is always fun!

Outlets can be hard to find in public areas onboard. There is a set of outlets in the corner of Cafe Promenade if you need to charge a device or get some work done.

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

26 Nov 2017

The final day of our Independence of the Seas cruise is a sea day, and it also an opportunity to take things easy. The past few days have had us all rushing around to get things done, but we wanted to enjoy this last day by slowing things down.

My wife and kids slept in while I enjoyed a quiet morning and beautiful sunrise. While I am all for taking things slowly, I could not lay in bed this morning knowing there as more time available to enjoy the ship.

Eventually everyone got up, and we had our usual breakfast in the Windjammer. I think a lot of other families were sleeping in, because it was not overly busy in the Windjammer.

After breakfast, we mostly wandered the ship to see what was going on. My kids said they wanted to swim, but also did not want to shower (evidently showering everyday is a kid faux pas), so they opted not to go to the pool.

We had planned to eat lunch at Giovanni’s Table, but I think the kids were still tired and we decided to grab something quick in the Windjammer and let them take a nap. Sometimes you just have to adjust your plans in the name of family sanity.

With the kids napping, we started packing up our belongings to avoid having to do it later tonight.

Once we woke from naps, I could tell everyone was feeling better. The kids spent some time playing in their room.

My oldest daughter wanted to try ice skating again on this sailing, so we headed down to Studio B. We arrived 15 minutes early and found a rather long line, which was surprising to see so many people there early. Luckily, we were the last two guests that made it into the first session.

We headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. As per usual, we took the kids up to Adventure Ocean and then my wife and I enjoyed some time in the Diamond Lounge.

Dinner tonight was in the main dining room, and the service was great. Unfortunately, my eggplant parm was not cooked well (as was the case with the table next to us), but otherwise the food was on par with what we were used to on past cruises.

To round out our evening, we enjoyed some drinks in the Pub while listening to some live music.

Overall, we had a great cruise and I am so glad that we took this opportunity to getaway for Thanksgiving and finally cruise on Independence of the Seas. She is a great ship, and I think anyone going on her will have a great time. In fact, I think the April 2018 refurbishment that will take place should revolutionize this ship and breathe new life into what is an already a great ship.

While we generally cruise on at least 7 night cruises, a 4 night cruise worked really well. To be honest, I think it worked out even better than I thought it would prior to getting onboard. Given that this was a weekend getaway cruise, I felt it was a great choice.

Stray observations

  • Overall, I am impressed with the Voom internet speeds on Independence of the Seas. While it may not be Oasis class fast, it is significantly better than I expected.
  • In retrospect, I could have skipped the drink package purchase and been alright with relying on wine I brought onboard, Diamond drinks, drinking in Cozumel, and the drink card.
  • I tried a bloody mary at two different bars this morning. Champagne Bar makes a better one, although both bars relied on mixes.

  • The Sorrentos Pizza on this ship might be the worst I have ever had.  Sorrentos Pizza is never amazing, but it is edible.  The pizza on this ship is more “mushy cheese” is the best way I can describe it.  We have tried a number of times and always lament the decision.
  • The weather today started out nice enough, but after lunch clouds rolled in and the sun never reappeared.

Thank you to everyone that followed along on this live blog. I always have such a great time reading your comments and answering questions, so thank you for being part of the fun.

My next live blog will take place on Rhapsody of the Seas in March 2018. Until then, don’t forget we talk Royal Caribbean daily on Periscope and Facebook Live!


Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

25 Nov 2017

Our first and only port stop brings us to Cozumel, Mexico. I think I have been to Cozumel the most of any cruise port and I have always enjoyed my time here. There is so many different things to do, and this time around we get to try something newto us.

Our ship was set to dock around 7:30 and be cleared at 8, but we got in a little early and ship was cleared by 7:45. We had set our alarm early so that we could get on our way sooner than later. As we got out of bed, I got to see a lovely sunrise over Cozumel as our ship arrived.

We got our things together and had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer.

Getting off the ship was easy, and we were just one of three ships in port today. In fact, there was not even a ship next to us, which is kind of unusual.

We hopped in a taxi cab and went to our spot for the day, Nachi Cocom.

Nachi Cocom is an all-inclusive beach resort that offers unlimited food and drinks, along with access to its beach and pool. Nachi is best known for the fact it limits the amount of guests that may enter each day (around 100), which means it is not oversold.

We had heard about Nachi Cocom from friends and random people on the Internet for years, and decided to give it a try ourselves.

It takes about 10-15 minutes by taxi to arrive (which will cost about $17 each way). Once you arrive, you are greeted with a photo opportunity (that you can buy later) and then check-in. At check-in, you are assigned a waiter and get to pick any spot you wish from the beach.

We picked a table and chairs by the pool because the kids prefer to swim in the pool.

Overall, Nachi Cocom was exactly as described: an indulgent escape with lots of flowing drinks and plenty to eat. Your day at Nachi is about splashing in the pool or ocean and enjoying drinks and food. There are not any water toys or similar things to do, because it is about relaxation.

The kids had a blast swimming to their heart’s content. Despite the fact the pool water was really cold, they could not get enough of it. I later told my wife that this may have been the most successful beach day for our kids in quite a while.

Somewhere between 1-2pm, we decided to head back because the kids were starting to run out of energy and naturally refused to nap. Thus, my wife and I decided to leave before an epic meltdown.

Back on the ship, it was time for that much needed nap to ensure everyone had enough energy for the rest of the day.

We were treated to a spectacular sunset this evening, as our ship was in town until past 6:30pm. One nice thing about cruising in winter is you get earlier sunsets.

Next, we took the kids up to Windjammer for dinner and then dropped them off at Adventure Ocean and the nursery.

My wife and I enjoyed some cocktails in the Diamond Lounge before heading to the main dining room for dinner.

After dinner, we tried our hand at the casino (it did not go well for us) and then enjoyed some time on the pool deck to enjoy the perfect weather outside.

Tomorrow is our last day and it is a sea day.

Stray Observations

  • I swear every time I get pool towels from the pool deck, there are pool towels available to pick up near the gangway and every time I don’t, there are no pool towels by the gangway.
  • We had perfect weather today: no clouds, warm temperatures and low humidity. It was a pleasure to be outdoors.
  • A friendly reminder that even in a beautiful setting as Cozumel, danger lurks around the corner (or beach)
  • The drink card showed up today.  $85 for 10 drinks.
  • Drink of the day is the Royal Lemonade.
  • A mariachi band from Cozumel boarded the ship to perform this afternoon. I do not think I have seen that happen before.
  • Here is what happens when you ask for "nothing" for dessert

Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

24 Nov 2017

If you are familiar with the contemporary acronym “FOMO”, then you know exactly what a typical first sea day on a Royal Caribbean ship feels like for me. Despite any logical argument, I always find myself wanting to do as much as I can, and today was no different.

We did not set an alarm, but ended up waking up around 8:30am or so. Even though we all got to bed late last night, the drive to get a full day of fun in on Independence of the Seas was too great to ignore.

We headed up the Windjammer for breakfast at 9:30am and it was very busy. In fact, I think the Windjammer on Harmony of the Seas was less busy during this time than on Independence. I think going forward if we want to eat breakfast after 9am, we need to go to the main dining room to ensure getting a table.

After breakfast we did what any sensible Black Friday shopper would do: we went to the NextCruise office! We did not book anything new, just re-booked a sailing or two to take advantage of the Black Friday offer combined with the NextCruise booking bonus.

We then took the kids up to the Teen club, Fuel, where they have an open play area for toddlers from 9am – 5pm. Both kids played together for a bit.

Lunch today brought us to the main dining room. On sea days, they serve lunch in the main dining room and today’s menu was wonderful. The tandoori chicken kabobs were excellent, and they even had coffee ice cream available!

Following lunch, we headed to the pool for the only activity my kids can never get enough of. Even though we rolled in around 1pm, there were still a few lounge chairs here and there near the H2O Zone. In fact, we managed to get three chairs near the pool and in the shade. Perfect!

After lunch, we instituted a mandatory nap for everyone to ensure we all had enough energy later this evening. The kids especially need a nap to recover from all the energy they expelled at the pool.

Walking the ship this afternoon, it turned out to be a really great day weather-wise.

After naps, we all got ready for formal night and dinner. We wanted to take nice photos of the kids this evening, so the kids had to get ready early.

I fed the kids and took them up to the Windjammer for dinner before dropping them off at Adventure Ocean.

My wife took in Grease while I took care of the kids. Today was the only day to see Grease, so we had to split up. One of the nuances of a shorter cruise is you have less time to see everything, and that includes less showtimes than on a seven night cruise.

We had planned to go to the main dining room for dinner, but my wife was feeling a bit run down from a steady stream of fun over the last 48 hours, so we decided to call it an early night and rest up for our time in Cozumel tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • The onboard internet continues to perform well. One annoyance is after connecting with my phone, if I let the screen turn off for more than about 15 seconds, it will lost the WiFi connection and I usually have to manually re-connect. I don’t have to re-login, but it is not a perfect situation. Still, I will gladly take internet that functions reasonably well.

  • Oddly, Chops was open for lunch today but not Giovanni’s Table.

  • We did not meet our stateroom attendant yesterday, but ran into him this morning. He gladly opened up the balcony divider between our connecting staterooms.

  • One nuance of a sailing less than 7-nights is trying to work in all the entertainment is much more difficult since you have less opportunities to see the shows.

  • The Solarium on Independence of the Seas has these great bench swings, which are not on Freedom of the Seas.

  • There is Izumi Sushi To Go available at Sorrentos.

  • The drink of the day is the Woo Woo.

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