Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International

Ship information

Independence of the Seas

About Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas is the third and final of Royal Caribbean's ground-breaking Freedom-class ships -- once the largest in the world before the launch of Oasis of the Seas and its sister ships.

In May 2018, Indy, as the ship is known to its many fans, went through a massive refurbishment that saw a host of new features introduced onboard including Sky Pad, a virtual reality trampoline experience; a laser tag arena, a puzzle break room, The Observatorium; two water slides and a kids' aqua park, as well as new dining and drinking venues -- and 107 new cabins.

The upgrade was part of Royal's $900 million "Royal Amplified" program, where similar features were rolled out on nine other ships in the fleet. Fans of the popular Viking Crown Lounge will be happy to know that the bar and its DJ nights survived the Independence of the Seas remodel, which was not the case in other Royal Caribbean cruises.

The ship has won multiple accolades from cruisers over the years. A lot of thought went into the last refurbishment, and it really shows, giving Indy a fresh, contemporary feel, as well as cutting-edge (Sky Pad) and on-trend (puzzle break, laser tag arena), new features.

The Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas Deck Plan Is Easy to Navigate

Quite a few things were moved or added during the 2018 makeover of the Independence of the Seas, and its deck plan has changed significantly. Installing new bars and restaurants, as well as the entertainment facilities on the outer decks, is a huge project, yet all of it fits seamlessly into the ship, almost as if it's always been there.

 With that said, Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas is still over a decade old, and some of the cabins and bathrooms are looking their age in terms of decor and in-cabin fixtures and fittings. The ship’s atrium is also somewhat less impressive than those in the larger Royal Caribbean cruise liners.

While Independence of the Seas is a large cruise ship with a maximum capacity of 4,515 guests, its deck plan is well laid out. Cabins are spread over multiple decks, but bars, restaurants, pools and entertainment venues are almost all on decks 5 and 11 to 15. This keeps most public areas within a quick elevator ride or a couple flights of stairs away --  a good thing as  there are only two elevator banks on the ship.

With similar itineraries and offerings, many passengers struggle to decide between Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. They’re both almost the same size and were refurbished in 2018. Independence of the Seas has two more restaurants and more kid-friendly activities than Mariner. Independence, however, lacks a Starbucks.

Independence of the Seas is also very similar to sister ship Freedom of the Seas. They’re both part of the Freedom class and virtually carbon copies of each other. The only main difference between them is that Independence has a Sky Pad, which the Freedom does not.

Independence of the Seas Offers Plenty of Things to Do for All Ages

Where Independence of the Seas really excels is in its kid-friendly offerings. The ship has an extraordinary amount on offer for youngsters -- from kid-oriented entertainment and enrichment to recreational options that range from surfing and body boarding to ice skating and the aforementioned VR-enhanced trampolines -- making it a superb choice for family travelers.

However, adult passengers will still find plenty of space for more grown-up pursuits aboard the Independence of the Seas, with a great selection of restaurants, a vast number of bars and huge amount of entertainment options. The fitness facility is excellent and always busy; adults-only spots beyond bars and the casino range from the Solarium pool and specialty restaurants to late-night adult-themed comedy. Travelers of many different stripes coexisted comfortably. (The ship also has outstanding facilities for passengers with accessibility needs.)

If you're after an almost limitless number of activities and forms of entertainment, whether that's watching a Broadway show, enjoying movies by the pool, or perfecting your surfing skills; or if you want fine dining and a wide bar choice, or if you just want a great kids' club and kids' facilities – Independence of the Seas delivers, time and time again.

Health & Safety on Indepedence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas requires passengers 12 and over to be fully vaccinated, as per CDC guidelines. While kids 2 to 11 don’t need to be vaccinated, they must take a PCR test upon checking in at the terminal (administered by Royal Caribbean at no charge) and – on cruises longer than five nights – an antigen test at the end of the cruise.

In addition, all passengers 2 and over must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. The pre-cruise test should be taken no more than two to three days – for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, respectively – before departure. For those 2 to 11, this test cannot be taken on embarkation day as it could affect the test administered at the terminal.

Children under two do not require any testing.

Before Boarding
• Proof of full vaccination, with vaccines approved by the FDA and World Health Organization
• Negative COVID-19 test result
• Arrival time for check-in must be chosen on the Royal App
• Check-in to be completed via Royal App
• Health questionnaire (able to be completed on the Royal App)

Onboard
• Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. Unvaccinated children should wear masks indoors and in crowded settings. Masks are required for all children 2 and older at the Adventure Ocean youth program. Children under 2 do not have to wear a mask.
• Independence of the Seas sailing at limited capacity
• Physical distancing enforced throughout ship, with signage
• Spaced out seating in dining, entertainment and activity venues
• Designated areas of main dining room for families with children

Off the Ship
• Fully vaccinated groups may book a shore excursion through the cruise line or independently, or choose to explore off ship freely.
• Families with unvaccinated kids must book a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean to go offshore, except at the line’s private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Cabins

Independence of the Seas has 42 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

10 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

10 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

13 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

9 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

14 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theaters on Independence of the Seas

The Alhambra Theatre (Deck 3) is a two-deck-high Broadway-like performance space, which hosts the spectacular production show, "Grease."

Royal Caribbean fought long and hard to bag this classic, securing both the original rights to the play and to the movie. The performance you'll see onboard is part Newton-John/Travolta movie, part original play, blending the best of both -- and then adding a Royal Caribbean touch.

The set the line has constructed is a combination of digital and real, and both were used in precisely the right scenes. The whole performance from start to finish was a genuine treat. The two leads playing Sandy and Danny are outstanding, easily holding their own both in terms of voice and performance, but what stuck us was the quality of the supporting cast, a number of whom -- Vince Fontaine, Rizzo, Rump and Mrs. Murdock -- absolutely owned their scenes. A triumph.

**Star Lounge **(Deck 5) is the ship's secondary show lounge. It hosts game shows such as a "millionaire game show," as well as karaoke nights.

Skating performances take place several times throughout each cruise in the ship's ice arena, Studio B (Deck 3), both during the day and at night, and these are a must-see. In the Caribbean, the same program is performed at each show; European sailings merit two different programs. The performances are great fun -- more than making up in creativity, spectacle and energy what they lack in technical difficulty. During the day this space is transformed into the laser tag arena, which inflates and deflates between ice shows.

Daily Fun on Independence of the Seas

The undisputed hub inside the ship is the Royal Promenade. Spanning three football fields in length, it's lined with a range of shops, casual eateries and bars -- even a full-sized car! It's also the site of numerous special events; particularly fun are the Adventure Ocean parades, with kids dressed up in costumes and chanting or singing as they pass by.</p>

Daytime staples include bingo, art auctions, films, trivia contests, arts and crafts (scrapbooking is popular), wine tastings, dance classes, karaoke and the like. The 2018 refit also saw two new daytime features added: the Observatorium Puzzle Break Room on Deck 15 and Laser Tag: Battle for Planet Z in Studio B.

Located inside Studio B (Deck 3), the Laser Tag Arena is an inflatable, glow-in-the-dark arena, which is blown up and let down between ice skating performances. Essentially it works like this: Participants get divided into two groups (aliens or robots) and then work together to take down the other team during the "Battle for Planet Z." It's fabulous -- and free. Reservations are required; kids can play accompanied by an adult.</p>

The Observatorium Puzzle Break Room sits right at the top of the ship, where the wedding chapel used to be on Deck 15 (you have to access it by its own set of stairs near the Viking Crown Lounge). It's beautifully designed, with a stunning telescope as the centrepiece (hence the name), and surrounded by bookshelves stuffed with clues, wooden boxes and a periodic table of elements. Participants work in teams of six; the aim is to solve a series of clues within an hour.

Special interest groups (mah-jongg, bridge, solo and LGBTQ meets) can post information about informal gatherings outside of the cruise sales' office on the Promenade.

You'll also find a series of port shopping talks most days during which a shopping "expert" dispenses info on retailers -- who pay a fee to be featured -- in each port of call. If you want learn about non-retail places on your itinerary, you'll need to do your own research

Nightlife on Independence of the Seas

Another highlight are the evening parties that take place in the Promenade, each with the happy vibe of a street festival or holiday parade. Expect anything -- Rock Britannia is a staple, featuring costumes, music, singing and dancing by performers along the promenade and on the bridges across it. Be prepared to join in: the enthusiastic entertainment team will be sure to grab any wallflowers to join in a conga. There is also an occasional DreamWorks character parade, and when there are a lot of kids onboard they also participate in the parades.

There is also a "White Party" on cruises of seven nights or more, which takes place around the pool deck.

The Casino Royale features some 300 slot machines (ranging from one cent to $25) and a range of table games, such as blackjack and Texas Hold'em. Beyond the basic gambling, there are occasional events and tournaments.

Independence of the Seas Bars and Lounges

Royal Caribbean offers a number of drink packages, which can be purchased pre-cruise for 20 percent less than onboard. Note that the drinking age onboard is 21 (18 when the ship is in Europe), and each passenger of drinking age is permitted to bring up to two bottles of wine onboard (there's a corkage fee). Free drinks available include tap water, iced tea, lemonade and flavor-infused waters.

Playmaker's Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 3): This bar was added in the 2018 refit, and has become a huge hit. Replacing OnAir (which was empty during the day), Playmaker's Sports Bar links the Casino with Studio B and is busy day or night, showing major sports fixtures on 35 giant TV screens. It also has classic arcade games and board games, as well as an extensive craft beer menu, as well as cocktails and a snack menu.

**Schooner Bar (Deck 4): **You'll find this hugely popular nautical-themed bar across the Royal Caribbean fleet, hosting trivia and piano music throughout the day. It's the perfect spot for a pre- or post-dinner tipple in the evening.

Bolero's (Deck 4): This Latin-themed lounge, which features lively music (they've got an excellent six-piece Latin band) and Latin-style dancing, was given a refresh in 2018, complete with card tables and retro Cuban-style furniture. There is an emphasis on Latin-themed drinks, including Cuban mojitos and Brazilian caipirinhas.

**Ale & Anchor Pub (Deck 5): **Head to Ale & Anchor for that "authentic" British pub feel, complete with live music and a glass, bottle or can of your favorite brew. It's a real pleasure to sit outside on the promenade and watch the world go by. (Choose from 40 different types of beer.)

Vintages (Deck 5): A low-key wine bar, Vintages offers tastings, lots of comfy seating and self-serve, extra-fee Enomatic wine dispensers. It also offers outside seating.

Champagne Bar (Deck 5): This bar is located on the Royal Promenade, across the way from the passenger services desk.</p>

**Olive or Twist (Deck 14): **Billed as and designed with the ambiance of a martini bar, this spot also acts as the ship's disco. It's the place for late-night dancing to music from all decades.

Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 14): Set high atop the front of the ship, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, the Viking Crown Lounge is another Royal Caribbean favorite.</p>

Independence of the Seas Outside Recreation

Pools on Independence of the Seas

The ship's pool deck, which consists of three distinct pool areas, is comfortable, magically colorful and full of energy.

The center pool with its nearby whirlpools is party-central -- at least during the daytime. It's the site of light-hearted fun, pool contests and music on sea days.

Two water slides were added in the refurb. Collectively known as the Perfect Storm, they allow two people to race each other down to the bottom. They've been built beside the rear funnel, on the opposite side of Sky Pad. The entrance is on the same level as the FlowRider (Deck 13).

The Solarium (Deck 11) is a pretty, though small, adults-only pool area that includes two whirlpools that are cantilevered out over the ship (great spots for watching the sun set), a bar that opens only on sea days and swinging benches.

None of the pools are equipped with a retractable roof that can be shut in case of inclement weather.

Things to Do on Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas has outstanding recreational facilities, which got even better in the 2018 refit with the introduction of the first Sky Pad on a Royal Caribbean ship. This combo trampoline/bungee/virtual reality experience sits right at the top of the ship (you can't miss it; it's a giant yellow ball that looks like a piece of new radar equipment). Here's how it works: You get strapped into a harness, with bungee cords attached and after a briefing in which you choose the world you want to experience, you put on the VR headset. Then you start bouncing up and down. The three world choices are: a post-apocalypse city where you shoot aliens with your eyes; a candy crush style world and a "pop video"-style world. The higher you go, the more you'll experience of the VR world you have chosen. Each experience lasts 2.5 minutes and is a lot of fun. It's open to over 5s and is free.

A deck below you'll find another feature -- a suspended climbing frame, which is more aimed at kids.

Also aimed at the younger set, is the kids-only Splashaway Bay, a water park that incorporates small pools (some slightly deep, some shallow) and all sorts of fountains and water guns. It replaced the previous kid-only splash zone in the 2018 refit.

One of the most popular top deck features is the FlowRider, a surfing simulator that debuted on Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships. At specially designated times, ShipShape staffers are on hand to assist passengers who want to give it a go; you must be at least 52 inches tall to use a Boogie board and 58 inches to try stand-up surfing. FlowRider is free, but passengers can also book private lessons ($75 per person) or rent out the FlowRider ($350 per hour).

The rock climbing wall, which hovers some 30 feet above the deck and 200 feet above the sea, can accommodate two climbers at a time. There's no fee to use it.

Other recreational options include a full basketball court (also pressed into use for soccer games and dodge ball), a running track (four laps equals a mile), mini-golf, a golf simulator and the ice rink. (Skate rentals are free of charge.

Dining

Independence of the Seas offers over a dozen restaurants. Overall, the quality of food was at best variable, with free dining really not coming up to a decent standard in the main dining rooms and Windjammer Marketplace. However, the dining experience and service levels in the specialty restaurants, in particular Chops Grille and Izumi, is generally high and it's worth a splurge at one if you're on a seven-night cruise.

There are multiple drinks station scattered throughout the ship’s free restaurants, but the only drinks included in the cruise fare are tap water, juice, coffee and tea (including iced tea). All restaurants on the Independence of the Seas offer rather extensive drinks menus, but even beer prices are high (and don’t include the 18% mandatory gratuity), so if you like to indulge, getting a drinks package is highly recommended. Drinks plans include, among others, the Deluxe Drinks Package, which offers unlimited alcohol, and the Refreshment Package for unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.

Independence of the Seas Free Restaurants

Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear (Decks 3, 4, 5): The vast, three-deck-high dining room harks back to the classic days of cruising -- beautifully decorated and designed; it makes the evening meal into a real event, especially on formal nights and if you are situated toward the middle where you can look up or down and really take in the size of the room.

Each deck is somewhat randomly named after a Shakespeare play, with play-specific decor to match. The main dining room on Independence of the Seas is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, though daytime meals, which are open-seating, are limited to Romeo and Juliet, and there's rarely a wait for a table. 

At breakfast, a standard American menu offers cruise basics, from eggs Benedict and pancakes to granola and omelets. There's always a special; chocolate-chip pancakes and almond-crusted French toast are among them.

At lunch, there is a buffet setup in Romeo and Juliet for the midday meal, but only on sea days. It features a make-your-own-salad bar and a wonderful antipasti selection for those who want light fare. It's a terrific choice if you want a quick lunch in the quiet and elegant atmosphere of the dining room, and it's one of the better lunchtime offerings for vegetarians. 

There is also a menu of lunch entrees, featuring hot dishes, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. 

For dinner, passengers can choose between standard two-seating arrangements or My Time Dining, a flexible option where you choose your own dining time each day in the King Lear Restaurant. Either way, the food's the same, and largely, so is the ambience. What you give up with My Time Dining is the chance to have the same waiter and tablemates every night -- but the service is exceptional, no matter where you sit. Dinner in any of the three main restaurants is a lovely, elegant affair.

You can pre-reserve My Time Dining online, but if you wait until you embark, you must choose My Time on the first day by reporting to the dining room on Deck 5, and you can't switch between traditional seating and the flexible option during the cruise.

Menus offer a list of starters, which might include eggplant and Kalamata olive tartare, a Spanish tapas plate, pan-seared scallops and a soup selection. Entrees might include a chicken dish such as a schnitzel, meat (lamb or beef) such as beef Wellington and a fish dish like battered-cod fillet with scallops or pan-seared halibut. When the ship is U.K.-based, expect a curry dish, too. There's also a small "Classics" selection (available every night), which includes French onion soup, escargot and a king prawn cocktail to start and New York strip and spaghetti Bolognese as mains.

On the menu all of the dishes sounded mouth-watering, but we found the reality to be disappointing. It was clear most had been cooked hours before and been sitting around since. The steak, for instance, was tough and tasteless with a sorry selection of tepid fries and tiny carrots, the poorest we have eaten in an MDR on any cruise. Portions, too are measly: The "Royal" seafood salad is anything but: It came with the smallest shrimp and tiniest portion of lobster we have ever encountered in a seafood salad; it was more like a slaw with seafood flavoring. The French onion soup was watery and tepid and the puff pastry was the size of a postage stamp.

There are a number of upcharge options, including whole Maine lobster, Surf and Turf, and the "Chops Grille filet mignon" cooked perfectly to order and accompanied by a better quality mashed potato side than the usually dry version that come with regular main courses.

Desserts include Key lime pie, ice cream or souffle, apple pie and New York-style cheesecake, which were on the whole tasty.

Menus include notes indicating gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian dishes, but note there is not a vast selection.

Windjammer Cafe (Deck 11): The food quality here was generally good for cafeteria-style fare and was best when we stuck to the basics such as pasta dishes, grilled chicken and pizza. Off to the side of the Windjammer on Independence of the Seas’ Deck 11 is 

Jade Sushi

, an Asian-themed buffet. As well as a limited selection of sushi (only available in the evening), you'll also find Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes on the Jade menu, including stir-fried beef and various Asian salads and spring rolls. Food aside, somewhat disappointing is the fact that there's no outdoor seating in the 

Windjammer

. (The room stretches all the way to the back of the ship.) It would be nice if the ship had a casual (free) poolside grill. Windjammer is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sorrento's (Deck 5): 

Sorrento's 

serves thick, doughy pizza along with antipasti and Italian desserts. (The tiny tiramisu is divine.) It's open from lunch until late.  Gluten-free pizza is available upon request.

Cafe Promenade (Deck 5): 

Cafe Promenade

 is the Independence of the Seas' only 24-hour restaurant, and offers breakfast pastries, mini-sandwiches and desserts. It also serves specialty coffees (for a charge). 

Sprinkles (Deck 11): You can snack on ice cream at this pool-adjacent self-serve ice-cream machine.

Independence of the Seas A La Carte and Specialty Restaurants

Aside from a wide range of free dining venues, Independence of the Seas offers a number of specialty restaurants and a la carte options, none of which are included in the standard cruise fare. Food at these venues is consistently better than at free restaurants and includes many of the Royal Caribbean staples, such as Chops Grille and Izumi.

Izumi Sushi & Hibachi (Deck 4); sushi: a la carte; Teppanyaki: prix fixe: Izumi offers the biggest hibachi dining area across the fleet (in terms of cooking stations, not square footage). While the Oasis-class ships have bigger spaces, a lot of that space is taken up by the sushi restaurant. Here it's all about hibachi with just a small raised area dedicated to sushi. As in all hibachi restaurants, it's part theater, part meal and is an acquired taste, metaphorically speaking -- if you don't like egg juggling, food throwing and cheesy singing, perhaps it's not for you. If you are happy to be entertained and fed at the same time, this new venue comes highly recommended.

The set price includes edamame, rice and a green salad (or -- for a fee - you can order off the sushi menu). Mains consist of beef, chicken, shrimp, veggie or a combo (which is an extra charge). This is then chopped, whirled and cooked by your friendly chef while you watch. It's delicious, especially washed down with an Asahi beer. There is mochi ice cream for dessert. It was, by far, our favorite venue on the ship.

Sugar Beach (Deck 5); a la carte: This candy store was added to the Independence of the Seas in 2018 and features a huge choice of loose candy, both retro and modern, to bag; as well as chocolate bars, lollipops and bacci (Italian for kisses = little chocolate treats). Beware: A little bit of candy can cost a lot of money (especially when you have demanding kids in tow).

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade (Deck 4); a la carte: Added during the 2018 refit, this sports bar and arcade occupies a large space on Deck 4 next to the Casino. Primarily a bar, it also offers classic sports bar food such as burgers ($9), sliders ($3 each), wings ($8 for a dozen), nachos ($7), loaded potato skins ($6) and popcorn shrimp ($7) to wash all those beers down. For dessert you can find a warm chocolate chip cookie served with Nutella, melted marshmallow and a side of milk shooters ($6).

Ben & Jerry's (Deck 5); a la carte: Ben & Jerry's ice cream bar, located across from Cafe Promenade and next to Sugar Beach (there's an adjoining entrance at the back), makes delicious fresh waffles, in addition to offering up a large ice cream selection that tops a dozen flavors. They also make floats and shakes and let you sample flavors before committing.

Fish & Ships (Deck 11; a la carte): This opened to much fanfare in the 2018 refit, to cater to British tastes, offering what the line calls a "quintessentially British seaside menu" of classics such as fish 'n' chips, battered sausage and chip (fries) buttys (sandwiches), plus a few extras such as calamari. While we liked the casual nature of the eatery, we found the prices (most items are $9 for not big portions) steep, which would have been fine if the food was any good, but it's not; we found it over-fried, dry and tasteless.

Giovanni's Table (Deck 11): 

Giovanni's 

is a family-friendly place located next door to the Independence of the Seas’ buffet. It has a relaxed atmosphere and good, hearty, if not outstanding cuisine. The waiters greet you with a warm welcome in Italian and guide you to your seat. Neat and simple tables and decor are ideal for a family with young children who may fidget during the meal. The food is beautifully presented but maintains a rustic charm in its blend of Italian herbs and seasonings. One of the starters, focaccia della casa -- a flatbread with potatoes, marinated artichokes, olives and pesto -- is a perfect example of well-cooked, homely food. We particularly liked the oven-baked, almond-crusted scallops with red bell pepper, which are a more delicate starter and a lighter option, as compared to some of the heartier, carb-filled mains. There are dishes for vegetarians and those with specific dietary requirements, as well. Normally only open for dinner, it does open for lunch on the last sea day.

**Chops Grille (Deck 11): **

Chops Grille

 is the ship's steakhouse restaurant, and is a mainstay across the Royal Caribbean fleet. The menu is steakhouse-influenced with starters like shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad; various cuts of meat, including filet mignon, lamb and pork; and family-size side dishes, such as succotash and mashed potatoes. 

Johnny Rockets (Deck 12); $6.95; 

Johnny Rocket's

 is the only dining venue onboard to offer outdoor seating. The 1950s diner-style national U.S. chain features trademark gut-busting hamburgers, chili dogs, onion rings, fries and milkshakes. (The Oreo sundae is worth trying!) It's also the only place onboard that you'll find plastic straws (Royal Caribbean tried to do without them, but it didn't work. Especially with kids). If you hear the Bee Gees starting to rev up on "Saturday Night Fever," you'll know that the wait staff are about ready to break into a dance. Linger over your meal, and you'll be treated to several versions. The cover charge does not include drinks, such as sodas, beer or milkshakes.

Room Service on Independence of the Seas: Delivery is available 24 hours a day, at a cost of $7.95 per order. The breakfast menu is rather more generous than some of Royal Caribbean's big-ship competitors, going beyond continental fare to offer "country breakfast" items like eggs and bacon. The all-day selection, though limited, offers a blend of healthy and fast-food choices, such as fruit plates, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and chili, along with desserts.