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 Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz

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PostSubject: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 8:53 pm

So we are home from Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas - 6 days - Fort Lauderdale, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel.

In one word - AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

I have reconfirmed to myself that the Freedom class is my FAVORITE ship for families. We didn't want to leave. My 8 year old cried on the plane trip home....only happened once before and that was our flight home from Freedom.

I'll break the review into sections.....

Pre-Cruise

FORT LAUDERDALE

We flew into FLL airport. Took a shuttle from the airport (there is a rental car center on site) to Enterprise. Got a Jeep Compass ($62.50 total). And drove to our hotel which was 15 minutes away...

Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, Hollywood Florida

We arrive at 10:30am. The hotel is gorgeous. I was using Starwood points so I figured the room would be small....facing the parking lot....no balcony. I get to the desk and the clerk says "How many beds do you need? We are going to upgrade you to a Oceanfront CORNER WRAP AROUND BALCONY SUITE" {I think my heart stopped for a second}

She hands me the keys to our 28th floor suite which was HUGE. The glass walls slid open onto the balcony. The room was immaculate. The property was kid paradise with pools everywhere, an ice cream social at 2pm and a wonderful gentleman by the name of Santiago in the lobby that handed the kids hershey kisses everytime they walked past him. He also told the kids to wait while he went and grabbed them "a surprise". He came back with Westin Kid backpacks with a Westin hat, stickers and map.

The hotel does have $17 parking (and valet parking). So the parking is not free. It does not have a shuttle to the port...which was the reason we rented the car. No free breakfast in the morning. There is a trolly out front and for $1 per person you can tour Fort Lauderdale with hop on/hop off options all over the city. It leaves every 30 minutes. We took the trolly to the boardwalk and ate there.

If you want a cheap hotel with a free shuttle and breakfast, do not stay here. If you want a high end experience, superior service and a true luxury resort...then start your cruise off at the Westin Diplomat.

The pictures from the Westin....


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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 8:54 pm

those pictures are beautiful
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 8:59 pm

DocDance WooHoo Way to go Michele! What a way to start the week!!
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:00 pm

DAY 1 -

Enterprise Drop off

DO NOT rent a car from Enterprise at Fort Lauderdale unless you are willing to pay for the taxi from the "Port Drop Off location" to Port Everglades. We were assured on the phone when we booked that there was a shuttle to port. When we picked up the car, we told them we were dropping the car off at the port, "no problem" they said. When we arrived at the "port location" to drop off the car we were met by a sign that says "Due to 9/11 security, no shuttles to the port will be provided". They called a taxi for us which cost $32 without tip due to the traffic at the port.

Getting on the ship - we arrived at 11am. The Port Security gave the taxi driver a hard time. Can you say "Power Trip"? The port security yelled at the driver for pulling into the passenger pick up area instead of the drop off area. The driver kept trying to apologize.

We handed our bags off to the porter who said "I am the one who takes care of your bags and make sure they get on the ship...." so I interupted him and said "So if I EVER want to see my bags again, I need to give you a good tip". He laughed and said "noooo, noooo that's not what I meant"....lol...yeah right. I told him that I know the drill and handed him a tip. (our bags were at our cabin by 1pm...lol)

In the terminal building, we were able to go through the "Suite Guest" line (we were in a Junior Suite). Our Sea Pass cards were Silver, Grand Suite and Above were Gold (as was Diamond/Diamond Plus I think)....everyone else was white.

We were able to board the ship by 11:30am...no problems. We went to the Windjammer for lunch. Nice selection of food. Got a seat with no problem. We were told that we could go to our cabin at 1pm.

So at 1pm, we arrived at our cabin -

Aft Junior Suite - 1406, the bags were already waiting for us.


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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:02 pm

Looking GREAT Michele! Keep 'em coming!
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:12 pm

Our dining room team was wonderful. Leoncia and Kemar. After the second day they had the chocolate milk ready for the kids when we sat down.

No additional charge steak appeared on the menu. There was an alternative steak on the menu every night, but no additional charge for it.

The last night had a Seafood Platter that did include lobster and shrimp. I wasn't impressed.

They DID NOT HEAT the pools on Indy. The pools were ice cold the whole week. The kids didn't seem to mind. I guess the concierge was telling people that in the Caribbean, they do not use the heating system in the pools but will turn them back on when they return to the Med. So many people were complaining about the cold pools. The temps were only 72 degrees on some days. The wind was cold. So the hot tubs were filled every day. So I guess some of us couldn't understand that if they have the ability to heat the pools, then why not heat them?????

Chairhogs - on our last Sea Day, I was surrounded by pool towels and some reading material....lol. I saw the Solarium Deck Patrol and I commented to them that it was nice that the library could get a nice tan. I never saw them remove the items. And I did sit for 2 hours next to a book by Anita Shreve. You were suppose to pay $20 per towel if they weren't returned. They did scan the sea passes when we got towels and returned them. But I didn't see the deck patrol removing any towels.

Kids in Diapers in the pools - The H20 zone had a member of the deck patrol watching for diapers and redirecting the parents back over to the Baby Zone (the water play area for infants in diapers). I saw one mom get pretty ticked. Guess she couldn't read the sign that specifically said no kids in diapers in the pools.

Suite Guest Perks - There was NO reserved pool seating for Suite guests. We made friends with a few suite guests and I specifically asked them what extra perks they were receiving. They got the fruit basket in the cabin. They didn't need to wait in line for ice skating tickets, just needed to show their concierge card which had their names on it. But no special pool chairs roped off for suite guests on Indy.

H20 Zone on Day 1

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Main Sports Pool (Family Pool)

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Adult Only Solarium - AKA Heaven on Earth

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The Cantilevered Hot Tubs (Adult Only) that hang off the side of the ship

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Evening 1 - Super Bowl Party

Yes they held the Super Bowl Party in two places, Studio B ice skating rink and the Sports Bar. They had Nachos and Salsa with Hot Dogs.

They auctioned off VIP seating on the main floor. You can see the winners of the auction sitting on the couches down front.

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We decided to take advantage of Mini Golf and had the place to ourselves.


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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:19 pm

michele - when i see you pictures of the independence and my pictures of the explorer it is like they are not even close.
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:19 pm

the explorer looks like an old boat next to yours
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:20 pm

i sure hope the rehab in january spruces it up a little. it's sort of battle worn
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:22 pm

Day 2 - Sea Day

Started off with Breakfast in the main dining room - Romeo & Juliet

Choices every day in the dining room were Omlets, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Pancakes, Cereal (Hot/Cold), Home Fried Potatoes, Hash Browns, Bacon, Toast, Bagels, Fresh Fruit Selection, Orange/Apple/Tomato Juice, Coffee, Tea

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In the afternoon for the kids Ages 6-8 Adventure Ocean -
The Circus comes to Town

The kids had a circus parade and them a performance in the Promenade in front of Sorrentos

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We tried Johnny Rockets - ONE HOUR WAIT - Price is up to $4.95 per person. Coupons are in the books for any Crown/Anchor members. We ordered milk shakes which cost us $4.50 each. The rest of the food was included. The milk shakes were not worth $4.50. And I can honestly say that the food was not worth the one hour wait. I am glad we did it. But won't be doing it again.

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The rest of the ship - Promenade


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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:23 pm

oesnjstar wrote:
michele - when i see you pictures of the independence and my pictures of the explorer it is like they are not even close.

Awww...well did you have fun?????

Indy is suppose to be all shiny, it's brand new. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:25 pm

Cruise Compass Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:28 pm

Cruise Compass Day 2 - At Sea - Formal Night

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:29 pm

Photos - 8x10's - $19.99 each

Backgrounds set up all over the ship starting at 5:30pm

We did the ones on the Bridge


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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:30 pm

that's what i'm doing right now - scanning in the daily compasses
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:31 pm

oh your girls look beautiful
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:35 pm

Day 3 - Belize

The ship arrives in Belize at 7am.

Some of the people on my CC roll call decided to meet and go on a group excursion together. This was the BEST idea yet.

We met at 9:45am in Sorrentos. We left and boarded the tender (took about 25 minutes to tender to the port).

At the port, we walked through one of the shopping builldings and on the other side was our bus from cave-tubing.com for an ATV JUNGLE ADVENTURE!

For $55 per person, (at the end of the trip paid in cash/tip extra), we rode in an air conditioned bus to the jungle trails. It was a one hour trip....but seemed alot quicker because our guides were hysterical. It was a nice little party on the bus. They had music videos...the guide danced for us...lol. It was alot of fun.

We arrived at their "hut". We were advised to wear old clothes because we WOULD get muddy. They sold t-shirts for $10 each if anyone wanted to cover up their clothes. They also gave us plastic bags to tie over our shoes.

The guides took our cameras and went ahead on each trail to video and to take still pictures of every leg of the trail. NO EXTRA CHARGE. By the time I left, I had a video of our experience on my own camera. And I had pictures, including Before/After mud shots.

This was the MOST fun we had ever had on an excusion. They also run Cave Tubing trips. But recently started to do the ATV jungle tours. The age minimum is 12 to drive your own ATV. If you don't know how to drive one or you are unsure about your own skills, the guides will drive for you. One person in our group elected to do that.

The ride was 5 miles through the Belize rain forest and it lasted one hour on the ATVs.

They sold soda for $1/bottle and Belize Beer for $3. They also had Tamales for $2, ice cream, doritos and cheetos.
There was SOOOO MUCH MUD! We started off clean and ended up VERY MUDDY - but smiling from ear to ear. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat. If I go back when it's warmer, I want to try the cave tubing excursion that they have. The minimum age for their cave tubing is 5 if you have kids.

The Belize City Port when we arrived...

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And we're off...

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The Group AFTER Mud and our crazy tour guide

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:37 pm

Day 3 - Cruise Compass - Belize

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:47 pm

Day 4 - Costa Maya

So we decided not to schedule an excursion for Costa Maya. We knew the port area was redone. We were docked and it was 72 degrees.

After breakfast at the Windjammer, we grabbed a couple of towels (must sign them out at the pool deck, $20 each if you don't return them).

We stayed at the port area at Costa Maya. Pulled up some lounge chairs. The drinks are a little pricey here. The water was cold...very cold....did I mention cold? Only a few brave kids got into the pools. They have a pool and a small fountain area for the little ones.

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It seemed like most were shopping. The vendors were very nice...not agressive at all. One did put a musical instrement set in my 4 year olds hands - SUCKER MOM - yes I bought it. But he wanted $25, I paid $15. It was probably only worth $10...lol.

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We stayed in the port until about 12:30pm. We got back on the ship, no need to pay for food when a whole ship had it for free. We spent the rest of the day with the ship pools to ourselves. The entire pool area (H20 zone) was empty until after 4pm.

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And did I mention sprinkles????? Free soft serve ice cream, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and twist every day from 11am - 11pm at the H20 zone.

Sprinkles - my new favorite place to hang out.

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:49 pm

my husband said to me at 5:30 today - pat it's time to get dressed for dinner. like someone is cooking for me today.
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:49 pm

Day 4 - Cruise Compass - Costa Maya

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:50 pm

oesnjstar wrote:
my husband said to me at 5:30 today - pat it's time to get dressed for dinner. like someone is cooking for me today.

HAHAHAHAHA hard to come back home, isn't it?

I already booked Majesty yesterday. I couldn't stand the thought of waiting till Dec to cruise again.
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 9:58 pm

good for you. do you buy the future cruise credit when you are onboard?
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 10:00 pm

Day 5 - Cozumel, Mexico

We awake to the sight of RCCL Grandeur being parked into our backyard
: - )

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We grabbed a quick bite to eat in the WJ on Thursday morning. Grabbed our towels (yes, got them at the H20 zone again, bring a sea pass card).

We were set to meet the "Passion Island" guide at 9:15 on the pier. So we make our way off of the ship....5 cruise ships are in port that day. Two Carnivals, 2 Royal Caribbean, 1 NCL.

We meet up with our guide "Mr. Leo" who informs us that the seas are too choppy to take the Catamaran to Passion Island (as originally planned) - we would take a bus, then a short small boat ride over to the island.

Passion Island is PURE paradise. It is deserted. It is for cruise ship guests only. I booked it through the ship. On RCCL, the passengers take a catamaran over to the island. On Carnival, they take a high speed power boat called the "Twister". We saw the Carnival people doing high speed donuts over to the island...lol. It is OPEN DOMESTIC BAR and buffet included.

For the kids, I couldn't have picked a better place. They had a water trampoline, but since the water was too rough, they brought out a couple of men to install a regular trampoline on the sand (no charge). They had mini ATVs for the kids - FREE. The operator just "works for tips". They had a playground and mini maze for the kids.

For the adults - they had some shopping there. Full bar. Covered restaurant. Hammocks everywhere. They had tables under the palm trees so you could have eaten on the beach. They had chairs in full sun. Chairs in shade. The merchants stayed in the shopping area so no one was walking around selling anything (except one guy with a box of cuban cigars)

The restrooms and changing facilities were very clean.

And the best part, everyone was so nice.

Port Area at Cozumel

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Passion Island

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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 10:02 pm

oesnjstar wrote:
good for you. do you buy the future cruise credit when you are onboard?

Nope I tried. But I found the LA (Loyalty Ambasador) to be about as helpful as dirt. Rolling Eyes

She can keep her $50 OBC. I saved alot more by coming home and looking at each week to compare prices. She was useless to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz   Independence of the Seas Fort Laud, Belize, Costa Maya, Coz Icon_minitime

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