Watch our 2019 Independence of the Seas vlog. We sailed on a 14 Night Transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton. We called at Puerto Rico, Labadee, St Maarten and St Thomas.
Independence of the Seas is a popular Royal Caribbean Freedom-class ship. The ship received a multi-million pound makeover in 2018 and included new Staterooms, dining, entertainment.
Independence of the Seas:
Transatlantic Vlog Episodes
Episode 1: London to Miami
We began our cruise adventure in at the Bloc Hotel in Gatwick Airport where we spent the evening. We always enjoy the Bloc Hotel as it is easy to get to the terminal and has great runway views. The rooms are pretty cool too! A top tip when staying here is to the sign up to the Bloc VIP club. It’s completely free and in return you get Free Gatwick Premium Security (worth £10 per person) and a Free coffee.
After a restful nights sleep we flew with Norwegian Airlines to Miami. Once we landed we went straight to our hotel to relax and unwind. We choose the Guild Downtown Miami because it was good value for our group size and centrally located. The hotel is a short distance to the Port Miami, Miami Central train station and the Bayside Market shopping district.
Episode 2: Miami
Day two in Miami we visited the local supermarket to stock up on our cruise essentials. We always recommend, if flying to a port, to pick up everything you need when you land. This saves on weight and space when flying.
After, we explored the famous Ocean Drive and South Beach which is known for its Art Deco architecture. Later we visited Wynwood and enjoyed doughnuts at The Salty Doughnut.
The Salty Doughnut is a Artisanal donut shop that makes increible small-batch donuts. The flavours change daily and include mouth watering combinations such as bacon and maple syrup. The shop is located in Wynwood, a hip neighbourhood known for its craft breweries and street art galleries. We highly recommend a visit to the district for some fantastic insta-photos.
Episode 3: Boarding Day
It’s finally cruise day and we start the day with a Cuban Coffee at Juan Valdez Café. We then drove to Fort Lauderdale to board Independence of the Seas.
The journey from Miami to Port Everglades takes about 25 minutes. There are plenty of options including Uber, Lyft and cruise transfers from Miami airport. We decided to pre-book a transfer as we where such are large group.
Read our Top 10 Tips For A Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Episode 4: Sea Day
It’s our first sea day on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the seas. We started the day with breakfast in the Main Dining Room before exploring everything the ship has to offer. Later, we watch the spectacular ice show in Studio B.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan for dinner. The main dining room had a very long wait and when we finally did eat, the food was not good at all.
Episode 5: Labadee
The first port of call on our cruise is Labadee, Haiti. Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s private resort and features white sandy beaches, an alpine coaster and Dragon’s Breath Flight Line – the world’s longest zip line over water.
Been on the island is just like been on the ship. Almost everything is included including; Food, trams around the resort, towels, the splash park, umbrellas and sun loungers. Drinks packages are also accepted on the island. You have to pay extra for the water coaster, zip line, spa treatments and excursions.
There are two shopping areas located on the resort – the Artisan Market and the Artisan Village. Be warned that the venders here can be very pusy and be willing to haggle. You need cash (USD) to purchase items at the Artisan Market and the Artisan Village.
Episode 6: San Juan
Our second port of call is San Juan, Puerto Rico. The weather may be raining but we didn’t let that stop us. We discovered the birthplace of the Piña colada and visit the historic Castillo San Felipe del Morro San Juan.
The ship docks in the heart of San Juan old town which is about a 15 minute walk to the main shopping district. San Juan is a great port enjoy without a shore excursion and we strongly recommend planning your day before you arrive to make the most of it.
Remember, when visiting San Juan you will need to take your Passport or ID with you to return to the ship. Simply having your cruise card is not enough to re-enter the port.
Episode 7: St Thomas
Day seven we arrive at the gorgeous island of St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. St. Thomas is known for its beautiful beaches and snorkelling spots. We spent the day at the white sandy Coki Point Beach located adjacent to the Coral World Ocean Park. The beach was about a 30 minute taxi journey from the port. We always recommend agreeing a price before you get into the taxi and arrange a pick up time to return to the ship.
Later in the afternoon we visit the world famous Mountain Top and enjoy a Bushwacker cocktail. The cruise line was offering a excursion to the Mountain Top for $24 per-person. We recommend arriving a taxi which is $8 per person. If you would like to ride the cable car, it costs $19.95 USD per-person.
Episode 8: St Maarten
Our final port of call is the island of St Maarten. The island of St Maarten is divided into two halves. The French and the Dutch Side.
We visit Maho Beach – famous for its proximity to the island’s airport. Aircraft on their final approach landing at the airport fly only a short distance above tourists heads.
Episode 9: Transatlantic Crossing pt. 1
Our first vlog of 8 sea days. We take time to enjoy the ship’s facilities including Greece: The Musical and dine at Johnny Rockets on board Independence of the Seas.
Episode 10: Transatlantic Crossing pt. 2
Our second vlog of 8 sea days. We start with the Atlantic Crossing Ceremony, play a round of golf at the Independence Dunes and dine at Chops Grille steakhouse.
Episode 11: Arriving in the UK
The final part of our Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas vlog. We try the Flowrider Surf Simulator, Laser Tag and the play the Escape Room: The Observatorium. We enjoy lunch at Fish and Ships and dine at Izumi Japanese Teppanyaki.