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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Royal Caribbean International

gts Independence of the Seas

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Operator: Royal Caribbean International
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 2008 / 2008
Length / Tonnage: 1,112 / 154,407
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 1,817 / 3,634
Officers / Crew: Norwegian / International
Operating Area: Caribbean, Europe

She entered service in May of 2008 and joined her sisters Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas as the world's largest cruise ships. The third of the Freedom-class of ships, Independence of the Seas offers a shipboard surf park and cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, in addition to unexpected amenities like a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite.

At 160,000 GRT Independence of the Seas weighs more than 80,000 cars or 32,000 adult elephants and would trump New York's famed Chrysler building (1,046 feet) and Paris' Eiffel Tower (986 feet) if it stood upright on its bow. Boasting a width of 185 feet, the ship is actually wider than the White House is long (168 feet), and when measured from the waterline to the top of the funnel, Independence of the Seas towers 208 feet tall, approximately the same height as two of the Statue of Liberty, placed head to toe.

Public Areas
Located at the heart of the ship, the Royal Promenade is a 445-foot-long shopping, dining and entertainment boulevard that spans the length of an entire football field. The Promenade also hosts nightly street parades, put on by select staff, commencing from a revolutionary new descending bridge amidst a fanfare of music, lasers and lights. Guests can begin their culture quest at one of the varied and diverse experiences found in the Royal Promenade, including a new 3,600-volume Book Nook for relaxed reading and an Italian- style pizzeria, Sorrento's, for an afternoon with a group of friends. On Independence of the Seas, the English pub located off the Royal Promenade is called the "Dog and Badger". At A Clean Shave, male guests can rekindle the nostalgia of their favorite neighborhood barbershop, indulging in traditional shaving, scalp and shoulder massages, haircut and shoe-shining services.

rOutside the Royal Promenade, courageous crooners, theater buffs and gutsy gamblers will delight in Independence of the Seas's engaging entertainment offerings, from Broadway and ice-skating shows to blackjack and karaoke. Guests can find their 15 seconds of fame at the On Air Club, Independence of the Seas's karaoke venue, equipped with state-of-the-art theatrical lighting, video cameras, flat screen TVs and even a "green screen" for aspiring music stars to record their own music video. For professional entertainment, the Art Deco-style Arcadia Theatre (1,350 guests) features three shows: Marquee, a medley of performances, the musical Now You See It! magic show, and Once Upon a Time, a narrative piece combining the Brothers Grimm's fairytales.

Finally, Independence of the Seas introduces two new sipping spots on the high seas, including Squeeze, a refreshing juice bar near the H2O Zone for health- conscious cruisers, and the Wipe Out! bar, a free-standing shack near the FlowRider surf park which offers draft beer, wine and icy fruit drinks in a casual and fun environment.

Adventure Theater by Camp Broadway, New York City's famed children's theater group, introduces kids and teens to the theatrical arts by folding folktales, music, dance and cultural elements into the mix. Sure to be a hit among teen cruisers are the Scratch DJ 101 classes, where teens hone their turntable skills in sessions hosted by professionals from New York City's Scratch DJ Academy.

rIndependence of the Seas offers passengers a wide variety of dining options. Aft of the Royal Promenade is the spectacular three-level main dining room with all three levels connected by a dramatic grand staircase. Three separate and distinct dining levels depict famous works of Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet on deck 3, Macbeth on deck 4, and King Lear on deck 5.

Two smaller dining rooms, adjoining the Leonardo level, are available for smaller parties. The Main Dining area accommodates 2000 people + 50 + 50 people in the two separate areas, and is large enough for a two seating arrangement for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Each level of the main dining room area is served by a separate galley in the aft end of the ship on decks 3,4 and 5.

If you are interested in something more casual Johnny Rockets 24 hour fast food restaurant on deck 12 provides classic American fare including burgers and fries. The Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11 is the main casual dining area serving breakfast, lunch and light dinners.

There are also two alternative restaurants on board. Those looking for something more intimate may want to consider Portofino, an upscale Euro-Italian restaurant. Reservations are required and there is a service charge. The Island Grill is the other alternative restaurant, also located on Deck 11. The setting here is more casual and reservations are not required.

The quality of food on board in general is good and service is generally fine.

Independence of the Seas's 1,817 staterooms include six different family-focused stateroom categories specially designed for larger families and groups of friends. The largest will be the 1,215-square-foot Presidential Suite, which will sleep 14 and will feature four bedrooms, four baths and a 810-square-foot outdoor living area with whirlpool, wet bar and al fresco dining table.

The 588 square-foot Royal Family Suites include two bathrooms, a living area, and best of all, a 234 square-foot balcony to catch a breath a fresh air and enjoy a private meal. In addition, each stateroom onboard Independence of the Seas comes equipped with flat-paneled televisions and the line's plush bedding enhancements, an indulgence for all guests.

Who Goes
Anyone who wants lots of action, good night life, and doesn't mind being around lots of people should be pleased with the Independence of the Seas. You will find all age groups, many nationalities, many income brackets. Whenever a ship carries this many passengers, you're bound to find pleasant company.

Independence of the Seas offers Caribbean itineraries during the winter and the heads to Europe for the summer.

If you like to be with people - lots of people - and are looking for a land based resort gone to sea, then you will probably like Independence of the Seas. She attracts a lot of first time cruisers and offers the widest array of activities afloat - but she is so big that you may very well forget you are at sea.

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