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At one time, Independence of the Seas was one of the largest cruise ships out there. Now, of course, that’s hardly the case, but this ship is by no means shabby. Revamped as recently as 2018, it’s still in great condition and offers spectacular sailings for avid cruisers.

Interested in seeing what awaits you, if you book an Independence of the Seas cruise in the near future? Here’s what you need to know.

All of the Freedom-class cruise ships were the largest in the world when they were rolled out in the late 2000s. However, you’ll notice that, by today’s standards, Independence of the Seas is, while hardly small, not exactly mammoth. 

Here’s how the ship measures in:

Gross tonnage: 155,889
Length: 338.95 meters
Capacity: 4,370 passengers
Crew: 1,360 members
Total decks: 19 decks
Passenger decks: 15 decks 
Staterooms: 1,929 in total

In comparison, today, the largest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Icon class, which comes in with a gross tonnage of 248,663 GT — quite a difference. 

When looking at the world’s overall biggest cruise ships, the Freedom class isn’t even in the top 30 largest cruise ships. Additionally, it’s worth noting that it’s not like the Freedom class held the “biggest in the world” title very long; Oasis of the Seas came along in 2009 as the new biggest.

Again, though, just because these ships no longer hold that “biggest in the world” title, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a trip. In fact, some might argue that the smaller size is an attractant; there’s less cruise ship to get lost in. 

Independence of the Seas was built at Aker Finnyards Turku Shipyard, for approximately $828 million. The ship was launched in late 2007, and then christened on April 30, 2008, before embarking on its maiden voyage, on May 2. 

The ship was christened in Southampton by godmother Elizabeth Hill. Hill was picked after Royal Caribbean held a contest to find “an ordinary British woman who has done extraordinary things.” Hill was nominated for the contest by her daughter, and was recognized for founding the Gamelea Countryside Training Trust, which supports children with disabilities.

Independence of the Seas Debut

Independence of the Seas was the third and final Freedom-class ship that Royal Caribbean built. The class launched with Freedom of the Seas in 2006, followed by Liberty of the Seas, which launched in 2017. 

The Freedom class was fairly similar to the previous Voyager class. Standout features included the ships’ ice skating rinks, Royal Promenade, FlowRider surfing simulators and H20 Zone waterparks.  

As part of Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified initiative, the ship underwent an extensive dry dock in 2018, which brought new features and amenities. Most recently, the ship was dry-docked in Cadiz, Spain, for routine maintenance.

Escape Room: The Observatorium

Additions included not only new and upgraded staterooms for cruisers, but also an escape room, laser tag arena, new water slides (with the favorited Tidal Wave slide, that propels riders up a vertical wall, for free falls and big thrills) and the bungee jump park at sea — though the trampoline, dubbed SkyPad, is much more than just a regular trampoline; it’s a VR experience. 

With a total of 1,929 staterooms, the cabins on Independence of the Seas can be broken down as such:

790 interior rooms  
289 ocean view rooms
724 balconies
126 suites

The staterooms are, honestly, some of the most outdated parts of the ship. While the 2018 renovations may have brought upgrades to the staterooms, they certainly didn’t bring more style. The majority of the staterooms are decorated in greens and blues, with lots of light wood. There’s a certain budget-hotel-at-the-beach vibe.

Balcony Stateroom

Staterooms come standard with amenities such as:

24-hour room service
In-room safes
Phone and voicemail service
Interactive TV
Stateroom attendants
Nightly turn-down service 

Interior staterooms offer around 150 square feet each, and some do offer promenade views — which is a nice feature if you want a little extra light, and don’t mind some of the extra noise. Spacious interior cabins are also available, with more than double the space and room enough to sleep six.

Ocean View Stateroom

The ocean view staterooms are around 160 to 200 square feet, each, and feature sitting areas and large circular windows. Unfortunately, some of these circular windows are situated directly behind your bed, which is less than convenient and/or desirable.

Read Also: Are Royal Caribbean Cruises All Inclusive?

You can try to snag one of the very few panoramic ocean view staterooms, though, which were added during the 2018 dry dock. These offer large, floor-to-ceiling windows that are much more preferable. 

Balcony staterooms measure in at around 180 square feet each, with balconies that average out around 70 square feet. Balconies are furnished and accessible via glass doors that provide nice views, even when you’re not sitting out on the balcony.  

So what can you expect among those 126 suites? 

There are a few different types of suites on the ship, including:

Junior suites
Grand suites 
Ocean view panoramic suites
Owner’s suites
Family suites
Presidential family suites
The Royal suite

In terms of style and aesthetic, suites are more upgraded than the majority of the staterooms, with a few more elegant touches.

Junior suites are 287 square feet and, while not really a suite per se, with only one bedroom, they still come outfitted with special extras, like walk-in closets. Grand suites offer two bedrooms, walk-in closets and bathtubs.

Ocean view panoramic suites offer two bedrooms and two bathrooms each, which is a nice feature if you’re traveling as a family or a group. There’s no balcony, but the panoramic views almost make up for it. Plus, these suites are on the newer side, in relation to the rest of the suites, as they were added as completely new features in 2018.

Independence of the Seas Suite Cabin

Owner’s suites offer even more to love, with a dining area, large living space and ample balcony space. 

Family suites provide extra space with amenities geared toward families (of course); think bunk beds and a bathtub. The presidential family suite is one of the largest on the ship, at 1,215 square feet, and a balcony that’s almost as big. It can really fit the entire extended family, with four bedrooms and multiple bathrooms.

Worth Reading: Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society – What You Need to Know

Lastly, there’s the crème de la crème single Royal suite, with tons of space, amazing views and special luxury touches like a marble tub and baby grand piano. All the while, suite guests enjoy exclusive amenities such as: 

Exclusive priority check-in
Complimentary concierge service
Reserved prime seating during shows
Priority tender tickets (when applicable) 
VIP pool deck seating
Private breakfast and lunch seating in specialty restaurants
Complimentary luggage valet service 
Complimentary laundry service 

Additionally, suite guests have access to a concierge lounge, where they can find small bites and drinks available all throughout the day, as well as the concierge to help make appointments and reservations. 

You’ll enjoy access to a handful of complimentary restaurants during an Independence of the Seas cruise. Your options include: 

Three main dining rooms (dubbed Romeo and Juliet, Othello and King Lear, for the Shakespeare plays)
Windjammer Café, the ship’s buffet
Sorrento’s, a pizza spot
Cafe Promenade, for light bites that are available 24 hours a day
Sprinkles, your spot for satisfying your sweet tooth

Sorrento’s – Royal Promenade

You can also order room service, though it does come with fee. While this isn’t quite the number of complimentary restaurants that you’ll see on newer ships, it’s still enough to get you through a short cruise.  

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with the dining you get included in your fare, you may want to spring for some of the for-a-fee dining options. Your tummy definitely won’t regret the choice.

Fish & Ships in Independence of the Seas

Specialty dining restaurants on the ship, where you can dine either a la carte or for a set, per-person fee, include:

Izumi Sushi & Hibachi, for Japanese favorites
Sugar Beach, a candy shop
Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, serving up casual eats
Ben & Jerry’s, for your favorite flavors form the famous brand
Fish & Ships, the ship’s pub-style restaurant
Giovanni’s Table, an Italian eatery
Chops Grille, for a classic steakhouse experience
Johnny Rockets, for diner bites at a well-known chain

There’s something for every taste! Plus, when you combine a trip to one or two of these specialty restaurants with dining primarily at the complimentary restaurants, you can easily still remain safely within your travel budget, while also splurging for a few special meals. 

You won’t be lacking for a choice in watering holes on this ship. There are tons of bars and lounges, and Royal Caribbean offers a variety of drink packages, so you can pick the best option for you (you’re also allowed to bring two bottles of your own wine aboard, if you so wish). Bar and lounge options include: 

Playmaker’s Sports Bar, for craft beers and cocktails in a sports bar setting
Schooner Bar, for nautical theming, piano music and trivia
Boleros, for Latin flair, Latin music, Latin dancing and Latin drinks
Star Lounge, for more similar activities to what you’ll find in Schooner Bar
Ale & Anchor Pub, a British pub with beer and live tunes
Vintages, a wine bar with a cozy and comfy atmosphere, as well as outdoor seating
Champagne Bar, on the Royal Promenade
Plaza Bar, serving Windjammer buffet guests
Two pool bars 
Olive or Twist, a martini bar with late-night dancing
The Viking Crown Lounge for amazing views thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the ship

Playmaker’s Sports Bar

See what we mean? You’ll never be thirsty while you’re aboard a Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas cruise. No matter the time of day, you can always find a little tipple to whet your whistle.  

When you’re ready to play, Independence of the Seas has you covered. The ship can easily hold its own when it comes to offering plenty of entertainment and activities. From gambling in the Casino Royale to kicking back for some relaxing at the Vitality at Sea Spa, you’ve got options. Here are some of the highlights vacationers like most.

Read Also: Royal Caribbean Ships By Age – Newest to Oldest

If you are determined to come back from your cruise with an enviable tan, then you’ll find lots of spots aboard Independence of the Seas to catch those rays.

Pools on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas (Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt)

The pool deck has three different zones. There’s the main pool with its whirlpools, the hub of all the activity and where you’re most likely to find some rambunctious kiddos; the water park-style area with its water slides and FlowRider surf simulator; and the Solarium, the adults-only area with two whirlpools and a bar. Water slides on this ship include the Perfect Storm, with the Cyclone and Typhoon slides.

If you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxing setting in which to sunbathe, it’s the Solarium that you’re going to want to go to. Just note that the bar in the Solarium is only open during sea days, which is kind of a bummer. 

When Royal Caribbean first debuted its Royal Promenade, it was a huge deal — and this portion of the ship still is. On each ship where a Royal Promenade appears, it’s a impressive, large, sweeping room with lots of dazzling effects to draw your eye.

Royal Promenade (Photo Credit: ShaunWilkinson)

It’s the heart of the ship, with so many people coming and going. If you’re ever bored on this ship (unlikely!), just go check out the Promenade. You’ll soon discover something fun.  

Royal Caribbean offers a lineup of theatrical shows that channel your favorite Broadway hits, from “Grease” to “CATS.” These are no low-budget productions, either. Royal Caribbean strives to hire a top-notch theatrical cast and it shows. The talent is there, along with high-quality, modern sets and stage management.

Alhambra Theater

In addition to these main theater attractions at the Alhambra Theater, you can also find live music and similar entertainment throughout the ship.

Ice skating? At sea? It’s more likely than you think! While ice skating may be the last thing you’d expect to do on a cruise, you definitely can on Independence of the Seas. Families can enjoy skating on the rink during the day, and then return for a skating show at night.

If you want to get a little active on this ship, the skating rink isn’t your only choice. There’s also a mini golf course, golfing simulator, rock climbing wall, jogging track and the classic sports court with basketball, volleyball and ping pong.

Onboard Sports Court

Royal Caribbean is very family-friendly, and kiddos will have no shortage of things to do during a cruise.

Adventure Ocean programming is available for children ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. Then, The Living Room offers less structured fun for those ages 12 to 14, but still lots of activities likely to pique preteens’ interest. Fuel is the older teens’ hang-out spot for those ages 15 to 17.

Independence of the Seas has operated all around the world, with itineraries around the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Europe, and the Caribbean and North America. Currently, the ship sails both Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami, and European fjords cruises from England, for getaways on both sides of the pond.

How many pools are on Independence of the Seas?

There are three pools aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. The aqua park pool is more geared toward children and their family, with water park-style features. The main pool is open to all ages and is where you’ll find most activity occurring. The Solarium pool is only open to adults. There are also several whirlpools on the ship.

What class ship is Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas?

Independence of the Seas is part of the trio of Freedom-class cruise ships, along with sister ships Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas. The Freedom class would precede Royal Caribbean’s larger Oasis class.

How large is the Independence of the Seas cruise ship?

The ship accommodates 4,370 passengers and 1,360 crew members over 15 passenger decks and four crew decks, with a gross tonnage of 155,889 GT and a length of 338.95 meters. When the ship launched alongside Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, they were the largest cruise ships and passenger vessels built to date.

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