Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship, Royal Caribbean Cruises
"We were delighted by the service entertainment and really everything inboard. There was a design fault with out cabin 6500 but that's not their fault. We got 20 percent of the cruise and that in itself is just fine, that shows a gesture of good will which we were happy to accept. Nathaniel our waiter was FANTASTIC and I mean that too. He made paper animals to occupy the kids and was a generally very very nice person."
- Holiday details: Jul 2013, Booked Independently
- Advice: Book in advance and not at the front of the ship
- Good For: Beach, City Breaks
Did you find this review helpful? Yes
"Traveled on 21st September 2013 to Mediterranean with my husband and 2 children, aged 2 & 4.
This was our 1st cruise, we had 2 ocean view staterooms.
Good points - Ship was impressive, extremely clean and stunning in decor. There were lots of nice bars, restaurants, shops, swimming pools, lovely Jacuzzi s, a spa and nightclubs. We ate in King Lear on deck 5 and had my time dining. The staff were fantastic, really attentive and entertained the children well (Mervyn, Michael and Mary were especially great) they had highchairs and booster seats ready, made paper hydroplanes for the children and even rescued my son when he leaned a little too far back. They were extremely helpful. The Windjammer was also good for breakfast and lunch although it got very busy.
We had staterooms 3320 and 3322 which were interconnecting and we were pleasantly surprised by the space and amenities in the cabin. The biggest surprise for me was that we had expected a lot of extras that would bump up the cost but we hardly spent anything inboard as we used our on board credit. The ice show was fantastic and the staff in the kids club (aquanauts and royal tots) were very good ... now time for the negatives.
Bad points - The bed was so uncomfortable, I was unable to sleep for the last few days (my husband was the same). Our toilets in both cabins got blocked on numerous occasions, despite us not putting anything down there we shouldn't and one time even flooded the bathroom! My main disappointment however related to the lack of facilities/entertainment/shore excursions for young children. For those who are happy to leave their children in kids clubs all day and night, they will have no problem, but my son (age 4) didn't wish to stay in his for more than a couple of hours and as my daughter is just under 3, we had to pay 8 dollars an hour for her to be there and to be honest, although she was happy enough, there wasn't much there for her to do, it was just a small room with nothing much in it. Before I left I rang Royal Caribbean to ask if there was soft play and they said there was so we were disappointed to find there was nothing of the sort! Neither were there many activities for young children outside the kids clubs. There was no cinema or films screened for children and there was no bowling alley etc. There was a nice splash pool (no slides) just spray fountains but in the poor weather, we were struggling to find anything to do with them. We used a room on deck 2 which had some toys in but that was it and a lot of parents were saying the same thing. The restaurants weren't geared for young children and the main restaurants had the same limited children's menu every night (for 12 nights!). My children were asking when we were going home, which was heart breaking given how much we'd paid for the holiday and how much we were looking forward to going. The last point refers to the shore excursions. Given that this is supposed to be suitable for families, there were no child-friendly excursions, we had to do all our research before we left. There were no trips such as water parks/theme parks etc and when we asked at guest services and the shore excursion desk (presuming they would have knowledge about what was available for kids at the ports we were visiting!) they actually told us to get off and ask at the port!! They were actually rude, unhelpful and just couldn't be bothered. Awful! One man on Guest Services actually handed me a form to complete for in cabin babysitting that was intended for staff!! They really were useless.
Overall, I would return if it were me and my husband but children really are an afterthought so I would never return with young children to this ship ... may try a Disney Cruise though!!"
- Holiday details: Sep 2013, Booked Independently
- Advice: If travelling with young kids, do your own research on child-appropriately excursions at ports before you go, otherwise you'll be stuck!!
4 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Having just returned from our second cruise on the independence of the seas, the last one being in 2011 I felt that I had to make comment on our latest experience.
On our first trip the ship, service, in fact everything was great, we came home relaxed and full of praises for RCI.
Was I naieve to expect the same quality the second time around? Obviously so.
The standards had to my mind had dropped across the entire spectrum of the ship with the emphasis on packing as many people on board as possible and also charging exorbitant prices for everything on board, from $12 (£8) for a shuttle bus ticket to $61.00 for a bottle of very medioca red wine. The Food although fairly well presented was bland and samey with to my mind very little variation in the menu. Room service was a joke used it only twice, first time for breakfast where on ordering two meals only one arrived. The second time we tried it was for lunch. The meal took 40 minutes to arrive and when it did the food and coffee were cold and the steak (if that's what it was) was inedible.
Although we chose my time dining and paid around £80.00+ each extra for the privilege, we constantly found ourselves being jostled in the food queue reminiscent of buffet time in one of the cheaper hotels.
On our first visit we dined in Portofino's Italian restaurant a truly wonderful experience. Although Portofino's restaurant is still advertised on the website it no longer exists and has been replaced by another 'Italian' restaurant, the reason we were told by a member of staff was that Portofino's was too upmarket for the customers they were now trying to attract, a comment which I felt personally quite offensive. We dined at the new restaurant' and as was to be expected it could not even be compared with the original Portofino's. The cover charge to eat there and purchase a mediocre bottle of wine was an exorbitant $109.00 which added insult to injury.
On one occasion we witnessed a drunk who was unable to stand unsupported being manhandled by his friends from the audience of an ice show where children were present (Which as a point of interest was the same show we saw in our first trip in 2011). On another, an elderly lady in a lift shaking with fear because she had nearly been knocked over by a group of young children rampaging through one of the public areas unchecked either by parents of ships staff. She told us that after her evening meal she shut herself in her room because she was frightened of all the children running about. No way to enjoy a holiday.
The list is endless. This was the worst cruise experience we have ever had. I could go on but all I will say is 'Sailor beware' I personally could no longer recommend Independence of the seas to any one who asks or will we ever sail with her again. Very, very Disappointed."
- Holiday details: May 2013, booked with Co-Op travel
- Advice: Find another Ship
29 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Spent over £4000 for room with balcony for my family, complete waste of money. The ship is like a carry on movie in fact they even dress like the cast in the sixties.
To start with our room was tiny and we watched with amazement as the room attendant came in and simply turned the couch round and advised us this is your daughters bed. I burst out laughing thinking he was joking, he wasn't.
Company charges you FULL PRICE though for kids, what a cheek!
Going for the food on the windjammer was unbelievable my family and I were bashed, kicked and on several occasions my 4 year old daughter was pushed over. No apologies given, one woman said this is how it is. This was the kind of people we were up against.
The staff ignored us all the time. It got to the point that we considered flying home.
The ports are so bad it as if its a wind up every one of them stinking covered in graffiti with very dodgy areas, and I'm from Glasgow. One of the ports is a French navel base. I cannot understand why they think anyone wants to walk around a navel base. One of the expensive tours is on a small train taking you round a complete dump, high rise flats, car parks etc?... Not one of the ports is even slightly decent, very disappointing.
We have cruised several times with royal Caribbean and have been great but this ship and staff with these abysmal ports have to be avoided. Total waste of money.
We will not be traveling with them again."
- Holiday details: Sep 2012, Booked Independently
- Advice: Buy a wig, flares, paisley pattern shirt etc
21 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"In average everything was OK, just OK, but compare to our past cruises with Carnival Royal Carribean is on the poor end with quality and variety of daily meals. at Cafetheria on the 11th deck same choices of breakfast,lunch and diner, cakes with very poor selection, maanly mousse style. We only enjoyed our formal dining time at Romeo and Juliet restaurant. Daily used sauna and steam room. They were clean and fine. Room service was OK too."
- Holiday details: Dec 2012, Booked Independently
- Advice: Better food selection
10 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"From the moment we got to Southampton we had a stress free experience getting on board, okay you have to queue for a little while, but you have to do that anywhere you go. Our promenade view cabin was beautifully clean and was kept like it throughout our 11 day cruise by Anthony who does amazing towel displays and it was quite amusing to come back at night to see a monkey hanging from a coathanger wearing my sunglasses. The ship is so big and there is something for everyone. The food range was amazing, so much choice and water, juice and hot beverages in abundance. The Windjammer got busy at times, but there was always someone there happy to find you a table. My time dining was great and for the majority of the cruise we had table 566 and our two waiters William and Charlie were fantastic, pity I couldn't fit them in my suitcase to bring home with me. Had to get to the theatre early to get a seat to see the show, but again no problem, a time to chill out with a drink. James Andrews works so hard to keep the guests entertained and is so funny with his little quirky comments. The shows were fabulous and everyone works so hard. The ice skating show was amazing. Everywhere was kept clean and on entering every eating place hand gel or wipes had to be used, which is good to see. Constant reminders to wash your hands when you use the bathroom to try and avoid a risk of Norovirus on board, pity some people don't take any notice of it and just walk out after using the toilet. Only did one excursion which was arranged by the ship to Mount Teide in Tenerife, found it to be good value for money, all other visits to ports we explored ourselves easily by taxi or cable car. Where else can you rock climb a wall, then have a go on the Flow Rider, then a spot of ice skating, have a trip to the gym all for nothing. Everyone on board works so hard to keep the guests happy. Disembarkation was so easy and stress free and well done Royal Caribbean and Independence of the Seas. We will be back."
- Holiday details: Oct 2012, booked with Virgin
- Advice: Go with the intention to make use of all the amenities and have a good time
33 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Just returned from a cruise with the Independence Of The Seas. Sadly we will not sail with this company again. On our arrival at our stateroom, there was a notice, warning us that Novovirus was an issue onboard. Well thanks for letting us know now " To late". The food in Windjammer was just awful, lukewarm food and often cold.A hotmeal in the windjammer was hard to find. I have also never met so many rude and arrogant people, especially when it came to getting 1 of the many lifts. Kids running up and down corridors, drinks very expensive. We enjoyed our port of calls, but 11 days was more than enough on this cruise."
13 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"just returned from med on independance of the seas, and have returned really dissapointed,we have cruised twice before albeit on the same ship and that was ocean village 2, and the independance of the seadespite being a beautiful looking ship bears no comparison to the ocean village 2, the food on independance of the seas in the windjammer was tasteless boring and no variety every day,theres far to many people on the independance meaning you had to fight through crowds every day to get from one end of the ship to the other,you couldnt get any decent hot food late at night,drinks expensive,stateroom small and just about adequate,also it felt like we were in a race everyday with the speed the ship was travelling we should have been cruising not racing,its a pit that ocean village 2 was sold to p and o and became the pacific jewel my 2 cruises on ocean village were to say the least out of this world and i never had any complains. so never again royal caribbean, if i spend a lot of money for a cruise again it definatly will not be with rc,"
- Holiday details: Oct 2012, Booked Independently
- Advice: be prepared to eat luke warm bland food
12 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We've just returned from the Med cruise out of Southampton. Our holiday was booked only 10 days before departure so we were offered an Oceanview room on deck 2, which was fine though we would prefer the option of fresh air in future with a balcony room, rather than 24/7 air-conditioning for ventilation. Our room attendant was fantastic and kept our room beautifully clean and tidy every day, as well as providing some 'entertainment' on several nights with crafted towel animals (wearing our glasses) on our bed. The beds are so comfortable and the quality of the bedding is good.
The embarkation and disembarkation service is very organised and we were off the ship and into our car within 15 minutes which beats any airport!
We went with an open mind and were pleasantly surprised by our experience. We were slightly nervous about the sheer volume of passengers aboard, but generally it was ok. Peak times can be congested though. There weren't a lot of children aboard and we didn't experience any problems with those we did see. Due to the main age group being very elderly, they seem to favour the earlier dining time and then go to bed early, so we didn't experience difficulty going to the later shows in the theatre. There were always plenty of seats available. Generally the daytime entertainment is geared towards the older age group, but we were expecting that.
Dining: The Romeo & Juliet dining room was quite impressive and opulently furnished, and the waiting staff are very good. They are always cheerful and professional at all times. Nothing seems too much trouble for them. The food is nicely presented but sometimes it was served at a tepid temperature. The desserts are not to a very high standard but adequate. The buffet breakfasts served in the same restaurant were very good, with a good selection to choose from. We tended to avoid lunch at the Windjammer as it could be very busy though. The cafeteria style layout seems to attract the type of diners who really go for quantity rather than quality! Unfortunately, the mostly British passengers were rather embarrassing in this department. No matter what time of day you visited, there were the same loyal patrons waiting for another meal or snack! Breakfast/lunch/afternoon tea/dinner/snacks - it was endless.
We enjoyed the formal evenings when it was an opportunity to dress up but sometimes other diners just didn't want to participate, so that was a shame to find yourself next to somebody in a t'shirt and jeans! The souvenir photography is expensive but it's nice to have a memento of the occasion. I can't get my husband into his tuxedo very often!
The ship is enormous but impressive, and the crew all work extremely hard to keep everything clean and well maintained. The ritual of sanitizing your hands before entering any restaurant became second nature but seems to keep any sickness at bay. It did become rather annoying to hear the automatic 'don't forget to wash your hands' on entering and leaving the restrooms though!
We were fortunate with good weather for most of the voyage. If you are a dedicated sun worshipper though, sunbeds are rather tightly packed together on sunny days to accommodate the volume of people. We didn't use the rather small swimming pools and found the constant piped loud rock music rather irritating. This deck seemed to attract the less mobile passengers (and there were a lot of them). Generally the age range was well above us but people with mobility problems are well catered for, so no wonder they book up. We chatted with lots of people and most of them are seasoned cruisers, so it suits them.
The shore excursions are very expensive though and some aren't worth the money at all. For example, the cost of the coach trip into Rome was over $99 per person though we travelled in on the local train for Euro 12 each (55 mins each way). Some of the shorter tours just don't give you enough time ashore to enjoy the destination, which is a shame. Guest Relations unsurprisingly aren't very forthcoming with information on the ports and travel arrangements if you aren't booking up a tour.
Drinks: these are also very expensive and soon add up. We didn't order any wine at all and over 14 days the extra costs can mount up. Beverage Packages are available. We did get the impression that RCI don't miss a trick when it comes to making money aboard.
Entertainment: We went to most of the evening shows, which were good and well presented. Joff the Cruise Director is great fun and has a good team of entertainers.
We enjoyed our cruise and it was an experience but generally it is quite an expensive holiday when you count in all the extras. We are usually independent travellers all over the world and have visited most places over the years.
Pick your time of year carefully, avoid school holidays and you should be fine!
35 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"My trip onboard the Independence, from the 28th July to the 11th of August 2012, was truly magnificent. The voyage was my third one upon a cruise ship and I have to say that she really is a huge beast. This ship is so well looked after, with places to cater for everyone, I really can't find anything to complain about. Food was excellent, service was 'Splendid' (if you're travelling onboard soon, you'll get that), entertainment was superb and the whole experience was brilliant. The only reason I didn't enjoy the cruise was because I had a feud with members of my family, but of course,this was not the cruise's fault. The staff onboard are always so especially helpful, and Joff and the team are hilarious. I would recommend all of the shows they put on; they were truly magnificent. Special mention to Jenny and Derrick, our waiter and assistant waiter, we couldn't have been more well looked after. I found the ship absolutely amazing, and the whole experience very enjoyable. Well done Royal Caribbean, and well done to the Indy and its staff!"
- Holiday details: Jul 2012, booked with Iglu
- Advice: Do all that you can do whilst your onboard, otherwise you will regret it when it comes to a close.
- Good For: Beach
27 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Dear Cruisers, old and new,
We are writing to you today as loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers in the interest of
improving Royal Caribbean’s Customer Care when unusual situations occur. All we are
asking from you with this letter is your attention, your consideration of the issues which
still disturb us regarding the Customer Care we received, and your commitment to a
higher level of training for the crew members who interact with customers after a
We recently found ourselves in a very unusual situation on our 28th May 2011 cruise on the
Independence of the Seas. As we were returning to the ship at All Aboard time in the
Port of Gibraltar on (date), a terrifying explosion rocked the port, causing injury to a
number of passengers and workers. While we were very fortunate to escape physical
injury from this terrible event, we were completely traumatized while we watched in
shock as our ship quickly pulled out of port away from the fire caused by the explosion,
leaving us behind.
We were left alone to find our way to Cannes, the next scheduled port on our
cruise. The Port Agent did take things in hand and arrange for us to fly to Nice the next
day. We made our own arrangements to stay overnight with family nearby. We spent
nearly 14 miserable hours in airports and in transit the next day. Once we arrived in
Nice, we made our way by taxi to Cannes. We received a rather unkind email from
Royal Caribbean (our only contact from RCI), forwarded by our travel agent, informing
us that RCI would not reimburse our expenses for the travel to Cannes to meet the ship.
We also discovered that no arrangement for a hotel in Cannes had been made, and we
had to make several phone calls in order to eventually get this problem solved by the
Port Agent in Gibraltar. When we finally arrived back to our ship on 2nd June 2011, we
expected to meet with Royal Caribbean representatives to help us cope with the event
which had ruined our cruise vacation. We were kept waiting for six hours before that
When we finally were able to meet with the guest services manager, we were surprised to
encounter a somewhat hostile attitude, which seemed to imply that we were somehow
at fault for the event which interrupted our vacation. It took four days of meetings to
achieve a resolution which was to the satisfaction of RCI more than us. During this time we were made to feel as though we were at
fault. We were already stressed and traumatized by the explosion and the fact that the
ship left us behind, and the two days we had to spend (in the clothing we were wearing,
with no access to our medicines) trying to rejoin the ship on our own were terrible. We
felt completely abandoned and disregarded by Royal Caribbean.
In the interest of improving Customer Care, we would like to offer the following
after-the-fact suggestions. Had this protocol been followed in our situation, it would
have made all the difference in the world, and we would not have felt nearly as
stressed, traumatized, and abandoned as we did. We would have felt that RCI cared
1. The trauma and uncertainty of our situation could have been instantly remedied if
arrangements had been made to tender us immediately back to the ship. We
completely understand why the ship had to make an immediate move (prior to the
published departure time) out of its berth in the port for safety after the explosion. We
do not understand why OUR safety was disregarded. Had we been tendered back to
the ship while it waited a safe distance from the port, the further trauma of our travelling
on our own to Cannes while we were still suffering from shock could have been
2. An immediate call should have been made to us by a Customer Care
Representative aboard the Independence. This representative should have inquired
about our wellbeing, inquired whether or not we had our passports with us, and asked if
we had adequate cash to travel to Cannes to meet the ship. (No contact was made and
no concern for us was expressed by anyone aboard the Independence.)
3. The Customer Care Representative should have made certain that arrangements
were made for our flights, taxi and hotel, and informed us of these. Periodic phone
contacts to check on us should have been made at least once per day during the time
we were away from the ship. (No phone calls were ever made to us by RCI or any
member of the crew of the Independence.) We should also have been given a phone
number by RCI that we could call so that we could access the representative in case of
4. When we finally met the ship in Cannes and reboarded, the Customer Care
representative should have immediately met with us. (We were kept waiting for six
hours. We lost our opportunity for a day in Cannes.) There should have been some
semblance of CARE communicated to us - care for our wellbeing, for the trauma we had
endured, for the stress of our being left behind, and for the rigors of our travel to meet
the ship. A simple note in our cabin upon our return, and perhaps some small amenity
like a vase of flowers with a Welcome Back message, would have been a nice gesture.
A small gesture like that would have made all the difference in the world to us. It would
have made us feel like we mattered, like we had some value to RCI as a customer.
While we realize that our situation was an unusual one, we would like to suggest
that some training be conducted so that Royal Caribbean Customer Care Staff are
better equipped to deal with passengers who have experienced a traumatic event. An
emphasis should be placed on CARE for the passengers who have endured such a
horrific experience. We offer this input with the hope that RCI will take steps to insure
that any future passengers in a situation such as ours are treated in a more appropriate,
sensitive, and caring manner than we were. We, like the majority of Royal Caribbean
passengers, had saved our money for many months to pay for what should have been a
wonderful vacation aboard the Independence of the Seas. Instead, our vacation was
ruined, not by the explosion itself, but by the complete lack of Customer Care we
experienced at the hands of representatives of RCI after the explosion.
This lack of CARE for us is the lingering after effect of our experience and
completely destroys the memory of the good days of our vacation. To put it simply, we
feel disappointed and betrayed by the way we were treated. We have continued to
choose Royal Caribbean for years as our cruise line because we enjoy the beautiful
ships and the level of service we’ve experienced aboard our Royal Caribbean cruises in
the past. (And please know that we received excellent service from our waiters, cabin
attendant, and other crew on this cruise - it was only the Customer Care staff who were
uncaring.) In this situation, our loyalty to you was repaid by your disregard for us.
Thus, we can’t help but wonder - if loyal Royal Caribbean customers (we have achieved
the Diamond + level in the Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor loyalty program) are
treated with such blatant disregard as that which we experienced, what would a first
time customer have experienced? We also can’t help but wonder if it is time for us to
investigate other cruise lines which might place a higher priority on customer care and
be better prepared to deal with an emergency situation such as ours.
We sincerely hope that our experience offers a learning opportunity for RCI that
will result in a higher level of staff training and sensitivity, which hopefully will result in a
much higher level of care for any future customers who might find themselves in a
similar traumatic situation. As for us, it will take us awhile to determine whether RCI still
meets our needs as a cruise provider. A continuing relationship of any kind requires a
level of commitment from both sides. We have to decide whether we can risk the
potential for betrayal before we cruise RCI again.
64 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"I would like to express my gratitude and pleasure following recently returning from a cruise onboard Independence of the Seas 11.04.12 with my family. Being a first criuse for most of us, it was with some anticipation that we boarded on Saturday 31st March 2012. What an unexpected suprise, the ship is truly splendid. All of the crew that we had the pleasure of meeting were very helpful, friendly, polite, smart and professional. I had my fears allayed, following my interrogation of several crew members regarding the safety of the ship on more than one occasion, due to my anxiety surrounding modes of transport. I am sure they had more important things to deal with rather than counselling sessions, but were most understanding and reassured me. We did not have the treat of meeting Captain Teo, but found his daily announcements both humourous and informative, i can only look upon him with gratitude and admiration.
The serivce that we received on board can only be described as 5*, the selection and quality of food was wonderful in whichever venue we chose to use. The Windjammer cafe furnished us all with a wonderful breakfast every morning and King Lear Restaurant was a treat for our evening meals. The self service ice cream machine on deck 11 was a novelty. Clean pool towels were always available for the braver among us (The Atlantic Ocean can get a bit breezy at times.) The organisation of all aspects of the cruise were very impressive and well thought through, considering the amount of guests. The ship was clean to a very high standard. Our room attendant was very thorough and attentive.The wonderful 'creatures' made from towels by our room attendant, were a lovely touch when we returned to our cabins in the evening.
We wanted a family cruise and that is exactly what we got, having a 21, 16 and 3 year old with us we wondered whether it would suit all of our offspring, and indeed it did. Our eldest sons managed to keep themselves suitably occupied in the pools, hot tubs, bars, amusement arcade, playing golf and regularly using room service. It would appear that the ability to obtain ones' own food frequently escaped them!! Our little one was soon recognised and remembered by lots of crew members, which once again, considering the amount of guests, was impressive. The entertainment was varied and of a good standard. We watched a performance on the ice rink, a show in the theatre and used the casino and bars, all of which were much to our satisfaction. The daily Morning Show with Joff and Sophie frequenlty made us laugh. There were lots of little extra touches that made this cruise special and the first time cruisers among us have been spoilt for possible future cruises, in our opinion, this would be a 'hard act to follow'.
We can highly recommend this cruise ship and all that it has to offer. We would use Royal Caribbean again and consider that although the cost may have been slightly higher that the normal run of the mill holiday, it was well and truly worth every penny. Thanks Royal Caribbean, The Independence of the Seas, Captain Teo and all of his crew."
21 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
Rating by feature
Need a hotel before or after your Independence of the Seas cruise?
Check out these recommendations in ports for upcoming itineraries
by Jo and Chez
" If you get lost on the ship there are lots of Mini ships dotted about telling you what is on which deck "
by mum who loves to cruise
" Be organised and time your visits to everywhere. "
" Get to the shows early to get a seat. Get up early to bag your place by the pools. Iron all your stuff before you go because there are no irons for guest use on board. "
by Llinos Zolman
" to avoid dissapointment make use of all the facilites and remember to collect tickets for the ice show as it is on a first come first serve basis "
by Dolfin Watcher
" Make sure you visit all the decks. "
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