Independence of the Seas

Key details

  • Cabins 1817
  • Crew 1360
  • Passengers 3634
  • Decks 15
  • Launch Year 2008
  • Registry Bahamas

Reviews summary

3.5
Above average
( 79 reviews)
Brilliant
40
Good
9
Average
12
Poor
12
Awful
16
  • 4 room
  • 4 pool
  • 4.5 service
  • 4.5 dining
  • 4.5 amenities
  • 2.5 value
  • 4 food
  • 4 cleanliness
 

Traveller reviews

MAY NEVER CRUISE AGAIN

1
Awful
by

"My wife and I have been regular cruisers since 2008, two or three time a year. This is our second on an Royal Caribbean ship. The first was great and we were looking forward to this cruise. Now, however, we may never cruise again!

I liken this cruise to Benefit Britain holidays at Skegness on a ship run by Ryanair with catering by a transport café.

The public rooms design was outstanding. That's the only good thing. The ship is just too large with too many passengers for the facilities. There was queuing for everything. Very little seating unless you were happy to be crammed like sardines on the sun/pool decks in all weathers. There were too few bars with far too few staff. Getting a drink served was a frustrating task. Self service was the norm with long waits at the bar with at times only one bar person on duty.

On the theme of drinks package, we had included a package in our booking described as "all inclusive" but on ordering our first cocktail we were informed that we were not covered for spirits or cocktails or coffee or water, and had to stump up another $112 each. Not a great start!

Cabin, or state room as they like it to be called, was a good size. The balcony had an unexpected partial view with about 40% obstructed by an external stairway. The cabin itself was bland in the extreme. Items that we expect as standard were missing:- No alcohol in the 'fridge, no bath robes, no cushions on the sofa, no cosmetics, no fruit, no night time chocolates, no flowers, some of these less important that others. Substandard toiletries, shampoo from a squeeze bottle on shower wall, Motel 6 style. Small lump of face shop which was never renewed. The in room TV was a joke. Hardly ever did we find a English speaking program of any worth. The film channels were "Pay to View" which I feel is outrageous on a cruise of this cost. The servicing of the cabin was minimal, beds were made but no dusting and little toilet cleaning.

We eat meals mainly in the "MyTime" dining room called Romeo and Juliet. I have to say that our table waiters and wine waiter were top class, although having to work under intolerable conditions.

On the first night I booked a table, and requested that we have the same table every night at the same time. I twice checked that his was in place twice and was assured that it was no problem. Second night our table had been given away. My wife has difficulty walking and we wanted a table closer to the entrance. Despite my continually asking why this had gone wrong a was met with silence and a shrug. I then caused a scene with a supervisor and the problem went away. Now to the main and most serious complaint, the food was very, very, poor. The menu was repetitious, unexciting, bland, limited and the food that arrived was generally not as described. Many items were either over or under cooked, of poor quality and close to inedible. The "seasonal vegetables" were carrots and broccoli EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!. As I try to keep the carbs down I asked for "no potatoes but extra veggies". This generally resulted in even MORE carrots and broccoli on the plate. It became a standing joke between the waiter and I. One time the C&B covered the plate so I could not seen the small portion of meat. One day I noticed asparagus on the menu but green beans turned up. When I asked I was told they had run out of as asparagus! How? They also ran out of some wines and cocktail mix. Deserts appeared to have been bought in from a supermarket. A chocolate cake appeared as a small chocolate runny center sponge that I buy in Asda!

Now to breakfast:- We first ate breakfast in the AL La Carte section. IT WAS A VERY LIMITED MENU. It was then we found they could not cook eggs to save their lives. Eggs Benedict turned into to two scrappy poached eggs, one hard, one rare, on standard grilled bacon with a very small dollop of some kind of congealed white sauce. Although this is my standard breakfast on cruises, I never ordered it again. My wife had scrambled eggs. The were made of powdered eggs and inedible. Once again she never had these again. We then relocated to the buffet. No freshly cooked eggs. Generally the same scrambled powered eggs, no fried eggs until the last two days, then they were way over cooked and some burnt. We never went to the Windjammer self service as it was just too disorganized and crowded and from what I saw everyday was the same food.

I was amazed by the mix of passengers. I have never seen so many disabled. Many people in invalid buggies, so many that at times it was hard to access many venues. I was also shocked by many people who failed to accept the standards of behavior and dress usually in place on cruises. I find it hard to accept football shirts and shorts with sandals in a restaurant on formal nights and in bars. I have never come across this before.

We usually enjoy taking cocktails before and after dinner whilst listening to a musical performance. Not on this ship. We managed to catch one group in a bar and then only for the last two songs. They only performed for half an hours and we missed most of it.

Finally on a safety point my wife noted that the emergency call buttons in the disabled toilets were positioned on the wall without cord pulls down to the ground so that had she fallen she would have been unable to call for assistance.

"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 20th of September 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 2 Room
  • 4 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 1 Food
  • 2 Cleanliness

Football Shirts n Shorts in Restaurants

1
Awful
by

"Very disappointed in what Royal Caribbean class as "smart dress". The state no shorts in restaurants. Yet once you have paid, and not the cheapest cruise line the don't provide the level of service they advertise. People were allowed into the restaurant every evening wearing shorts, football tops and flip flops. That is no the cruise they advertised and I bought but when I complained ll they said was "thanks for bringing it to our attention"."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 26th of August 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 5 Room
  • 1 Value
  • 4 Food
  • 4 Cleanliness

Very disappointed

2
Poor
by

"Miserable staff...mostly trainees as all experienced staff have been moved to the new ship...
£13.50 a day taken from each person..adult and also each child even at 12 yrs old for gratitude (tips) .. have to argue with management for refund.
Dining experience is now a big let down same food every night. ..limited choice...even when you pay the full premium drinks package ..you will still need to pay EXTRA if you want a decent coffee after your meal."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 21st of August 2016

Never Again.

2
Poor
by

"An absolute rip off from start to finish.Drinks are so overpriced food bland.Way to much time at sea and not enough on land constantly clock watching.

Shops offer 10% off on board ship I purchased some perfume for my wife and found out I could have got it £5 cheaper in Boots.The RC use you as a cash cow and try and rice every last penny out of you they can.My first and definitely my last cruise.Avoid Avoid Avoid.I could go on and on. "

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 14th of August 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 2 Room
  • 2 Pool
  • 3 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 3 Food
  • 3 Cleanliness

Not the greatest introduction to cruise holidays

1
Awful
by

"The trip started badly with an alarmist email from Royal Caribbean three days(!) before stating that traveling with children who had a different surname would require a signed legal notary. The email was worded in such a way that implied this was an issue even if the child was with their biological parent. As my partner and I are not married our 13 year old son does not share both our surnames. It took a few frantic calls between the agent and Royal Caribbean to resolve this concern - not a good first indicator.

Once on board, the all inclusive drinks package turned out to be the Select package, which only included beer, rather than Premium which included cocktails up to $12 and water, and had been implied by our travel agent . Had to pay ~$426 to upgrade after the travel agent denied any knowledge of what the description of "all inclusive drinks promotion" on our invoice actually meant.

The tax and duty free shops on board were expensive with advertised "sale" prices being no less than manufacturer recommended retail prices in the main part and usually the same items could be bought in port for less. The Tissot watch I bought, supposedly tax free and with a 15% discount worked out at the same UK price offered on Tissot's online shop, which included all relevant UK sales taxes. Similarly a bottle of Mont Blanc aftershave sold on ship for $77 was $11 less in Mallorca.

For £5,850 we got a stateroom for four that was barely bigger than a two-man prison cell (without a window, virtual or otherwise) - could have paid for at least two decent family holidays to Greece or Turkey for the same price.

Trips to port were at least one hour shorter than advertised, as they didn't include time for port clearance or the last return time which was usually half an hour before the ship set sail. Understandable, but could have been made clear beforehand. Similarly nearly every port (apart from Cadiz and Villefranche) required a shuttle bus into the actual town which cost between €5 and €15 per person. Again, would have been helpful to describe this up-front.

The two ports which sold the cruise to me originally (Ajaccio, Corsica and Cagliari, Sardinia) were cancelled and replaced with Barcelona and Toulon. The night before landing at Toulon, our second stop, the fact that a €18 ferry was needed actually get to Toulon was reported in the small print of the Cruise Compass pamphlet with no other announcement made. Tried to book this the next morning upon finding out the requirement only to find delays until 11:30, which meant a delay of 90 minutes plus the 50 minutes travel time (25 each way) on a port with a limited disembarkation time. Ended up taking a trip into port town we'd actually landed at, La Seyne-sur-Mer, which had absolutely nothing going for it other than a nice, but grubby local market - Royal Caribbean completely mis-sold this port and Guest Services were not helpful when I made a complaint.

All the ports were miles away from the towns, with Toulon being the worst. Barcelona required a paid shuttle bus to the City, which dropped passengers off at the World Trade Centre - miles away from anywhere. The only way to get to anywhere interesting from this point was to get a tourist guide bus from here to travel round the immense city at €75 for two adults and one child. The timing could have been better too as Saturday lunchtime is the busiest time of the week for Barcelona's most famous landmark, La Sagrada Familia. There was no way to get in to visit in the time available due to the crowds and getting off the tour bus meant a lengthy queue to get back on with waiting times of 45 minutes plus, or a 20 minute walk to La Pedrera. Barcelona is too large to do everything in the short time allotted.

Nice was lovely (but only discovered because we'd done Villefranche in less than an hour and required a bus and taxi ride), with Palma De Mallorca and Malaga being a welcome surprise from my Brits abroad reality TV expectations, but the sailing times meant you were constantly watching the clock and unable to truly relax. Malaga especially was cut short, as we landed right in the middle of the hot day and had to spend our first few hours in the bars keeping the kids hydrated.

We hit stomach-churning 70+ mph winds traveling between Villefranche and Palma De Mallorca which wasn't pleasant, with the lurching of the ship causing us to retire early, confining ourselves to our rooms with only the $27.99 (for 24 hours) internet for entertainment. The trip from Cádiz saw a similar occurrence with ~62 mph winds causing the same discomfort.

Cádiz itself was atrocious. The town was small, run-down, dated, dingy, fly-infested and smelly. Not one of the bars or restaurants in the town looked sanitary. La Calenta beach was recommended by the excursion team, some 20 minutes' walk from the port. The beach had none of the white sand described, and looked like a 1970's UK seaside front. Other than the cathedral there was very little else to see, with most of the town in total disrepair. Cádiz was an extremely poor choice for final destination if Royal Caribbean were looking to provide customers with a positive lasting memory - which given the cost you'd expect word of mouth recommendations to drive much of their business. It felt like Royal Caribbean had just given up by this point in the cruise.

Most of the staff were friendly, with the housekeeping staff being the most welcoming. The bar staff at the Sky bar however were rude and ignorant to anyone but regular sun lounger lizards. Trying to grab a drink from here was usually a lesson in frustration as people waiting patiently to be served were ignored by the preferential treatment of the "regulars". Ended up avoiding this bar as much as possible, which was a shame because it offered the better range of cocktails.

The days at sea were dull, with little to do other than drink or eat. The food in the Windjammer was bland, and in at least one case inedible as the grilled minute steak was so rare it mooed, making for a very unpleasant following day due to stomach upset. I ended up with "tummy issues" three times on this trip due to the food provided in the Windjammer, though on a positive note this stopped me from gaining too much weight.

The ship felt even more confining when we turned back towards Southampton, and as the weather turned too cold to sunbathe which meant all 4,300+ passengers were left to roam the ship to try and find somewhere warm - making the limited indoor arranged quiz events oversubscribed and too full to join or really enjoy. By this time we'd stopped enjoying our cruise.

Overall the trip was disappointing and the sense of confinement was exacerbated by the ships schedule. I doubt I'll book another cruise and if I did it would be with a different provider."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 14th of August 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 1 Room
  • 1 Pool
  • 2 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 2 Food
  • 2 Cleanliness

disappointing

2
Poor
by

"We have been with on this ship for 7 years and its about time they changed the entertainment, its the same year in year out and got very boring two different acts but they did the same tricks, its never been so bad. We went as it was sold as a beach holiday but did we go to any beaches there was not one trip to the beach, we had an overnight in Palma what good is that when everywhere is shut because it is Sunday very disappointed, we didn't even book to go again on board this is a first for us. We went to information desk to say how upset we were and we got told there was nothing they could do so I am going to ABTA for the false selling of a beach holiday. They had nothing going on at the pool side just the same old belly flop thing it seems they just cant be bothered any more its just how much money they take. The café didn't have the choice of cakes etc that they used to have. The carpets on the stairs are beginning to look tired and worn like most of the things on board. It used to be the little things that made it but they have all gone so sad"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 2nd of July 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 3 Pool
  • 3 Service
  • 2 Value
  • 3 Food
  • 3 Cleanliness

What Happened RCI?

3
Average
by

"Having had the great pleasure to travel on IOS in a Junior Suite for our honeymoon eight years ago, when she was brand new ship, we were very much looking forward to this, our second voyage on this same vessel. The first was an absolutely amazing experience that led us to our decision to book this latest cruise on the same ship, again in a Junior Suite. But oh, how very different this experience was.

It started with the cabin. Still spacious with seating area, but the sofa’s (which can be used as a sofa bed) support had all but gone. So much so the only way to enjoy it was to place a pillow on it before you sat down. The bed was so hard that I had to use two spare duvets from the closet on top of the mattress before it was even bearable. The two sun loungers on the balcony both had missing slats making it impossible to use them. However, our cabin attendant did change these upon request. Our kettle did not work and also had to be changed, but again at our request. Gone were the bathrobes, again as Diamond members we were able to request them, but only found that out by chance after several days – we were told by the cabin attendant that they are not offered unless people ask, so take note. The room was never cleaned properly. We leave our cabin very tidy, beds straightened and all items put away each day. Yet despite all this the attendant most days simply smartened up the bed, put in new towels but not even dust surfaces. Biscuit crumbs laid undisturbed for several days and no bleach was used to scrub the toilet which over the two weeks developed a grey water-line ring around the bowl. The windows were never cleaned – and this goes for the whole ship, the balcony glass was filthy both sides on departure and was never cleaned throughout the entire voyage. Only the restaurant windows were ever cleaned in port.

Now to the dining experience. We selected “any time” dining, as we prefer the casual café, however on the second formal night we decided we would like to participate and use the formal dining room. Realizing this might be busy, as they suggest, the night before we made an advance reservation for 8pm. On arrival at the Romeo & Juliet dining room allocated for such guests, there were two queues – one had at least 80 people in it, the other about 30 and no signs to indicate what each was for. We assumed the shorter might be for those with reservations, but after waiting 10 minutes in this line with no movement, upon asking at the desk we were told that we must join the end of the longer queue to be assigned a table. So a reservation counts for nothing. It was now 8pm. So we waited a further 15 minutes, the queue went no-where and so we gave up and went back to the cabin, changed out of the formal wear and made our way to the Windjammer café.

Turning to this venue – this is nothing short of a zoo. It is a very stressful experience at best, made so much worse by the continual closure of at least half of the seating area plus it's much reduced opening hours vs. our previous trip when it was open till 11pm. No late night snacks here anymore. The only food outside the current hours is a slice of pizza, a pre-filled roll or a pre-packed salad from Sorrento’s in the promenade shops. Or you can purchase a pie for a cool $4.95 at the pie shop or pay $6.95 cover charge for the pleasure of simply occupying a table at Johnny Rockets. Unlike our last trip on this ship when there were literally teams of staff clearing tables, taking drinks orders, on this occasion there were far less employees and it was a challenge on each occasion, not only to fight to find yourselves an empty table, but to then attract someone’s attention in order to get served a drink from the bar. Several staff seemed content to hide themselves behind the service areas, others stood around just chatting to passengers and seemed to purposefully ignore anyone trying to get their attention leaving their colleagues to do the work.. There appeared to be a total lack of good management in this area. The food was mediocre, very, very repetitious, and tepid. Think school dinners and you will have the picture. Previously we had nothing but praise for the service and the food in this restaurant but the cutbacks are very evident and the staff morale seems much diminished. Furthermore, on our last 2 days at sea we were interrupted on both days, while eating, to answer questions as to how we would be rating the overall cruise experience and the Windjammer specifically. We were also requested to ensure a good rating was given or it might affect staff jobs as they would be blamed for any misgivings. I took some delight in giving some fairly honest feedback here!

On the pool deck, the sprinkles ice cream machine constantly looked a mess as the drip tray was full of melted ice cream and discarded cones, utterly revolting in its appearance.

As for the entertainment: what happened to the singers and dancers? They appeared at the set-sail show then we did not see them again until the penultimate cruise day. Other shows were very varied in quality, Bobby Davro was excellent as were several other entertainers, but there were also some very lack-luster performances where we decided to leave well before the end. In fact the farewell show was nothing short of pathetic with a comic magician whose jokes were ancient and who should restrict himself to infant’s parties. The two ice shows were good.

This cruise was supposed to go to Mediterranean Beaches with only one port listed as a tender – Villefranche. This port alone, though quaint, is a waste of time, there is nothing there and after an hour, or even less, it’s done with. Why they don’t ferry you to Nice just around the corner is a mystery – or is it, the excursions there cost in the region of $100 per head. Another example of how it’s all geared to money: the berth in Toulon was in fact NOT in Toulon, so to get to Toulon you had to take a ferry across the water at a cost of $18 per head and if you don’t pay for it on the ship, but in the terminal, you board last. Why – you still buy the ticket from Royal Caribbean’s own desk in the terminal at the exact same fare – but because you have a sticker rather than a ticket you have to wait until all the other passengers board. Again, in both Barcelona and Palma, the cruise berth is so far from the center that you need to take a coach, at a cost of $5 and $10 each respectively. It is possible to walk at both, but it’s about 2 miles each way at the first and over 3 at the second. The only place we arrived and actually saw a beach was Malaga.

So, what really stood out from this trip is that RCI have made severe cuts in many areas and it's not good. With all the silly quizzes, competitions such as belly-flop, sexiest male, etc., just to fill up the cruise compass, plus then being “clapped in” by the staff as we entered the Windjammer as it opened one lunchtime, alongside the constant chanting of “washy-washy” (i.e: use the alcohol gel) as you enter this venue, the whole cruise experience with RCI is fast being downgraded to what feels like a 1970’s holiday camp experience – and I know what I am talking about as I worked a summer season at one of the major ones during that time. The synergies were utterly depressing. As diamond members we had intended to maintain our loyalty to RCI by eventually reaching Gold, but after this trip we will not be booking again – preferring the Cunard experience.
"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 2nd of July 2016

Expected more

3
Average
by

"Boarding at Southampton was seamless, on board within 15 minutes of arrival.
Balcony cabin on deck 7 large enough for two, plenty of storage. Tea and coffee etc. In room TV terrible
Food in MDR average at best, ( please no more reviews saying how wonderful it is, where do you eat?) Windjammer terrible, Chops Grill and Giovanni's good.
Entertainment on the whole pretty good
Bar service mainly good
Guest services indifferent, wont deal with any real issues telling you to sort when home.
On board travel agency, terrible.
If markets are your thing you're in for a treat, the whole of the Royal Promenade is given over to a tat fest, selling trinkets and cheap watches making it nigh on impossible to navigate the length of the deck
Room service good, just as well because that's where we spent most of our time.
Formal nights? We chose to make the effort, a lot didn't preferring casual attire which included football shirts.
Kids? Just let them loose, the little darlings can run about all over the ship, public rooms, corridors banging on doors. Oh and pressing lift buttons, they love that.
I could go on but I really can't be bothered, RC aren't.
This was our last time with RC, it used to special and they made you feel special. No longer

"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 25th of June 2016

The Americans never landed on the moon

2
Poor
by

"Check in was good On 4th June 2016 for 2 weeks round med,but we are priority boarding but once we arrived at our cabin 8405 we were in a very small cabin that we had to ask for the beds to be separated else there was no way round the end of the bed as it was touching the sofa one side and the units the other.The mattress's need changing they were very dipped and the toppers were falling apart.The TV did not work and was out of our cabin for repairs for 3 days when it did come back we could never get a signal yet they say they landed on the moon.Even the big screen on deck 12 was off more than on for the euro 16 football.The food was very bad never hot covered in salt and inedible most of the time and as for a salad well the cold meat was like teddy bear ham or spam disgusting.I have done over 30 cruises and this is the first time ever I have lost weight on a cruise 8 pounds in 2 weeks they should use the food as a means of slimming advertising.
Getting off and on the ship in all the ports was a nightmare and on the only tender port we waited 3 hours before our number was called a total waste of time and our day ashore.We were left in red hot sun queuing to get on for up to an hour at every stop.Thankfully we only had 7 I would go with RCCL again, but not on Independence again it needs a refurbishment.
The weather was very good and the staff brilliant and tried their very best.However it had no WOW factor for me.
The food in specialty restaurants is overpriced as are all the drinks,and gratuities which I think should only be given if you get good service not as an extra payment for RCCL"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 21st of June 2016

Independence of the Seas

1
Awful
by

"Mediterranean Cruise - May 2016: Stood in queues for three hours before embarkation to the ship and then cards did not open cabin doors. Cabin (or Stateroom as RC prefer to call them) was noisy with loud noises throughout the day and night emanating from the Windjammer Restaurant above; sufficient to ensure that we never had an undisturbed night's sleep. Complaints did not resolve the problem and we were merely offered a 15% discount on our next RC cruise. If they think we will sail with them again they must be joking. The food in all restaurants was disgusting - on at least four occasions inedible. My advice would be to go for starters and deserts and leave main courses well alone. The only good aspect of the boat was the evening entertainment which was excellent. And by the way RC will try to charge you extra for anything they can - check out the cost of bottles of water in the cabin mini bars."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Mon 30th of May 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 2 Room
  • 4 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 1 Food
  • 4 Cleanliness

Independance Of The Seas First Time Cruisers

5
Brilliant
by

"Had a fantastic time on the Independence Of The Seas staff were friendly and always smiling and willing to help, the food was fantastic something different every time and there was always lots of variety for children to eat also, the staff in the children's club was also fantastic kept them busy all the time, the entertainment including the Ice Show was brilliant also, Ronnie on deck 9 room 9374 who kept our room top class and also the animal figures he done out of towels was amazing such a lovely man he could not do enough for you. What a brilliant relaxing time will definitely go next time with Royal Caribbean on the new ship Anthem of the Seas cant wait. Sandra and Steve from Hengoed South Wales"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 25th of October 2014

Rating breakdown

  • 5 Room
  • 5 Pool
  • 5 Service
  • 5 Value
  • 5 Food
  • 5 Cleanliness

Independance of the Seas

5
Brilliant
by

"This was a first time cruise for us, the staff especially Vanessa & Nan in the Windjammer, Ben in the Dog & Badger and Miguel our cabin attendant were excellent. The whole trip was amazing from start to finish (apart from the Bay of Biscay!!) The only criticism I have was that the pillows were not as fresh as we would have liked, apart from that top marks."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 17th of October 2014

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Top traveller tips for Independence of the Seas

  • "Get a cruise on a smaller ship.…"

    Will-I-Be by Will-I-Be
  • "By a football top for the restaurant…"

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  • "Spend your money elsewhere…"

    Richard S by Richard S
  • "Unless you want the Benidorm experience, take a trip on another cruise line…"

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  • "Choose a different ship…"

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  • "If you have passengers who will make use of the facilities GREAT but if you are an older couple who wants to get on and off in port choose a smaller ship!…"

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  • "plan your day with the daily events everyday…"

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  • "Take advantage of the shows on offer. Ice show is wonderful.…"

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  • "Mytime dinning and wine package. Don't book a tour for every port. …"

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  • "Think twice before booking and look at other cruise lines first…"

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  • "Go on a p and o cruise…"

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  • "sail when children are at school…"

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  • "Book in advance and not at the front of the ship…"

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  • "Better food selection…"

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  • "Go with the intention to make use of all the amenities and have a good time…"

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  • "be prepared to eat luke warm bland food…"

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