Independence of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Nassau

10 Oct 2022

The last day of our cruise on Independence of the Seas takes us to Nassau, Bahamas for a short visit.

It's always odd when you only spend a few hours in a port, and the timing of the port times stand out when we are only in Nassau from 8am to 2pm. It also limits what you can do.

Since we didn't have a ton of time in port, we didn't book any shore excursions.  The plan was to treat it like a sea day and stay onboard.

First and foremost, we all took this opportunity to sleep in after a busy couple days at the beginning of the cruise. 

We managed to roll into the Windjammer at 10am for breakfast, followed by a visit to Cafe Promenade for a morning coffee.

My wife and I took our coffee down to deck 4 and outside to the promenade deck. While it's hot and humid out, if you can sit in the shade with a breeze, it's quite comfortable.

Maybe it was the caffeine, but I started getting an itch to do something and get off the ship for a little bit. So we grabbed our stuff to take a short walk around Nassau.

Your best bet when visiting Nassau is to have some kind of a tour or activity planned, as the area near the pier is a rather large tourist trap of shops and bars. 

Read moreBest things to do in Nassau on a cruise

Just walking off the ship, you could see the progress the port is making to upgrade everything. The pier and port area are in the process of being completely upgraded, which is a multi-year effort.

We started off doing a little bit of window shopping at the various souvenir stores.

We stopped for a drink at my favorite bar, Pirate Republic Brewery.

They had a limited amount of beer today, so I decided to try their hard seltzer since I like Truly. 

It was good, but too much of a seltzer taste compared to Truly, so I think next time I'll stick to whatever beer they have available.

We made our way back to the ship and I got exactly what I wanted out of our visit: a short excuse to walk around port for a bit.

Back in the cabin, I had one thing on my mind now: a nap.

Independence of the Seas departed Nassau right around the time I got up, and I made a quick run to the Windjammer for a late lunch.

My wife went with my oldest daughter to see the Broadway musical, Grease, while I napped/stayed with my youngest daughter in the cabin. I would have enjoyed seeing it, but naps are serious business.

After my nap, I went up to the Diamond Lounge to have a drink and spend a few minutes up there.

One of the many fabulous benefits of being at least Diamond in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society is access to a dedicated lounge for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Guests. It's kind of like their own clubhouse, meeting place, and bar wrapped into one.

On Independence of the Seas, it's located on Deck 14 near the Viking Crown Lounge and it has great views. Plus, there's a nice outdoor part to it as well.

Dinner tonight was at Izumi hibachi, which is always a popular restaurant on almost any ship that has an Izumi location.

Food was great, and the kids enjoyed the experience. If you want to dine at hibachi, you definitely want to make reservations as early as possible. With the dining package, I recommend going immediately after you board the ship to get a reservation.

After dinner, it was back to the pub for music for one last evening.

Overall, we had a great time on Independence of the Seas. Three night cruises always feel like they go by so quickly because of the fact it's only a few days, but it's better to have cruised quickly than not to have cruised at all!

Weather was great, sea conditions perfect, and the ship itself was lovely. The crew members did a great job of taking care of us, and I hope we can do another weekend sailing sooner than later.

This wraps up my live blog here, but Allie will be live blogging in a few days from Odyssey of the Seas in Europe, and I'll be back with another live blog on Allure of the Seas from her new home in Galveston next month!

Thanks for reading and all the wonderful comments!

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

09 Oct 2022

Our first stop on this quick 3-night cruise is Royal Caribbean's private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Independence of the Seas as seen from Harbor Beach

Independence of the Seas was cleared for guests to disembark around 8am, but that's a bit too early to round up our family, so we planned to walk off the ship at 9am.

Our first stop was the Windjammer for breakfast. It's strange when I don't go to the Windjammer on the first day, because of how much of a usual stop that is for us.

A lot of other people had the same idea because the Windjammer was packed. We had to do a loop around until we found a table.

Breakfast was great, and just what we needed to make it off the ship and keep us sustained until the Snack Shack opened up on CocoCay.

Joining us on the island were guests from Freedom of the Seas, also doing a quick weekend sailing.

Our plan was to grab some seats near Oasis Lagoon and then explore the island. 

First up was Harbor Beach, which I really liked the last time we were here.

Unfortunately, there were too many fish for my preference. Yes, I know the ocean is where fish live, but there lots of minnows and slightly larger fish that kept swimming around so we decided to hit up the beach later.

Next was to the 100% fish-free area of Oasis Lagoon.  The DJ didn't get set up until later in the morning, so it was nice and relaxing to enjoy being in the water before the Spring Break vibes kicked up.

Our "early lunch" was a visit to the Snack Shack to enjoy my favorite "secret sandwich", which consists of the chicken sandwich combined with the mozzarella sticks. 

The kids then explored the various outdoor games available near Breezy Bay. I was surprised how busy this area was.

My kids really enjoyed the soccer ball billiards game. I would have spent more time here had there been more shade.

To cool off, we went to Breezy Bay and the ocean here was the perfect temperature. While I'm sure there were just as many fish around as before, I didn't see them as much so I was able to cool down.

Since it had been 90 minutes, my kids were ready to eat again so we took another break over at Chill Grill to enjoy another lunch.

I really like the make-your-own taco bar so I can create my favorite type of taco salad.

After we ate, the kids wanted to go to Splashaway Bay. I didn't object when I found a comfortable Adirondack chair in the shade to catch a few zzz's.

By about 3pm, everyone started to feel a little tired too, so we got our stuff and went back to the ship to shower, change, and nap.

I had to decide if I was going to nap or power through it, and ultimately decided to get a coffee from Cafe Promenade and stayed awake while my kids napped.

Independence of the Seas set sail right around 4pm or so to start the very short journey to Nassau.

We had dinner reservations for Chops Grill, but since I decided to cut out red meat for health reasons, the menu doesn't excite me much. The family ate at Chops, while I took a detour to grab something to eat at the Windjammer.

It turned out to be Italian night in the Windjammer, and there were so many great choices, including a custom cooking pasta station.

It was a great decision for me, and everyone else got to enjoy a lovely meal at Chops.

After dinner, we went down to Playmakers. The Mets/Padres games was not being shown again, so we streamed the game on a phone. Tonight the internet worked better, with far less buffering than last night.

After a bit we moved up to the pub to enjoy some live music.  

The pub singer's set was cut short due to the 80's dance party on the Royal Promenade, but he had one more set before he was done for the evening.

We wrapped up our evening with a few games in the casino.

Tomorrow is our final day, and we'll be in Nassau.

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

08 Oct 2022

A three-day weekend on my kids' school calendar is the perfect opportunity to escape for the weekend to the Bahamas on Independence of the Seas!

Royal Promenade on Independence of the Seas

Since we live in the Orlando area, weekend cruises are an easy sailing to hop on, especially when there's an extra day off of school.

We're sailing on Independence of the Seas for a 3-night cruise that visits Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

We left our home at 10:30am and made the drive over to Port Canaveral. No traffic and an easy hour or so ride to the coast.

The check-in might have been the easiest and fastest check-in and boarding I've had since cruises restarted last year. We rarely stopped walking, and when we did, it was just to verify everything.  The ship was already open and boarding guests when we got to the terminal.

After getting on the ship, we headed to Playmakers for lunch.

We booked the unlimited dining package for this cruise, so one easy way to maximize the package value is to start the cruise with a specialty restaurant lunch.

I was concerned it would be overly busy, but we had no problem getting a table and the food came out nice and quick.

Our waiter was very nice, but he mistakenly told us we could each only eat at Playmakers once per day. Unfortunately, I've heard waiters occasionally say that, but it's simply not the policy.  In short, the unlimited dining package is unlimited, with no quotas or limitations to how many restaurants or times you can dine at a restaurant on any day. I didn't say anything to him, figuring I can cross that bridge if we need to later.

While we waited for the food, I went over to Izumi to book our dinners. If you have a specialty restaurant package, it's a good idea to go ahead and book a reservation once you get onboard. We had no issues getting the restaurants and times we wanted.

Lunch was served quickly and it was very warm.  Wings, burgers and fries...oh my!

Next up was a visit to our muster station to complete the muster drill process. Couldn't have been easier and still so happy to not have to do the old muster drill process!

The staterooms weren't ready until 1:30pm, so my wife and I took time to hang out in the Solarium for a bit and enjoy the beautiful weather.

For this cruise, we booked connecting Promenade View cabins. 

One of my favorite family cruise tactics is to book two connecting cabins, rather than one large room. We get separation from the kids and an extra bathroom.

Since we booked this cruise a few months ago, prices were much cheaper for this category, so an inside cabin is just fine for a quick weekend cruise.

After the rooms were ready, it was back up to the pool deck for some afternoon sun and sailaway.

The weather was absolutely fantastic, and we enjoyed bright sunny skies for our departure, along with a lot of other guests who were ready to party.

Dinner took us to Giovanni's Table.

This is still the "old" Giovanni's Table menu (and not the new Giovanni's Italian Kitchen), but just like on Allure of the Seas last week, it was great.

We also were treated to a lovely sunset from our table.

After dinner we grabbed a drink at Boleros, where Michael poured a drink in a very unique way.

This leads me to using the new Starlink internet that is now available on Independence of the Seas. Overall, it works great when browsing the web, checking Facebook and whatnot.

Just like pre-Starlink, it will struggle at times as you wait for something to load. We also tried streaming the Mets/Padres playoff game via both MLB.TV and our cable provider web portal. The live stream held up about 50% of the time, with lots of buffering.  This could be a product of too many people also using the wifi, poor connectivity to the closest router, or something else.

In my experience, there are so many variables on the cruise ship that can affect internet performance that it's difficult to assign blame. 

The good news is the internet is substantially faster than what Independence had before, so there's no question it's an upgrade. We'll see how the rest of the cruise goes with regard to performance.

Back to the cruise fun, we went to the Schooner Bar since the piano player there started up first and there was a big crowd for the show.

We rounded out the night in the pub with live guitar music.

Tomorrow we will be at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Stray Observations

I don't ever recall seeing these wood tables in the Solarium on this, or any ship.

We stopped by Cafe Promenade and noticed they also have the new Starbucks drinks available here. This means if you have a Diamond drink voucher or unlimited drink package, you can get drinks here included (unlike the Starbucks kiosk).

One strange thing about our Promenade View cabin is the telephone is on the desk, and not by the bed.

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.

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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.

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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.

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