Kelli Sparks, (from the eyes of a 1st time cruiser)

As a first time cruiser, all of my feelings rested on nervousness because I was venturing into the unknown! However, from the second we arrived at Port Canaveral and I spotted our ship (Independence of the Seas), I immediately felt at home and eager to explore the floating paradise I would be spending my weekend enjoying! This adventure was going to be spent with my husband and twin 9 year old daughters, which made this first cruise even more special.

Due to our early arrival, our stateroom was not immediately available, so we decided to explore the ship and grab a quick lunch. We chose to visit The Windjammer Cafe (complimentary) for our first dining experience, and we were amazed at the variety and number of options available for all tastes and appetites. As a guest with Celiac, I was equally impressed with the availability of options, as well as the additional option to request specially-made dishes with the chef.

After lunch, we made our way to the pool deck and Splashaway Bay. Our girls loved playing in this area, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a refreshment while sitting in the warm Florida sun. There is ample seating on loungers and small dining tables, making this a comfortable place for parents to watch their children splash around and swim (or join in the swimming fun with them)!

If water play is something you are planning to enjoy on your cruise, head on up to The Perfect Storm for epic water slide fun! Our girls loved the slides, and spent hours here! While on the upper deck (13 on Independence), you will also find Flowrider (surfing simulator), the Skypad, Rock-Climbing Wall, and Sports Court. Take note, though, that to enjoy the dry activities on this deck, you will need to be completely dry and some require you to have closed toe shoes. You won’t regret participating in these fun activities, especially if you are cruising with young children!

After exploring the ship on our first day, and experiencing the water activities, our stateroom was ready, and our luggage had been delivered. We chose a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah, because we wanted to wake up to paradise, and watch the beauty from our private balcony. Our room was wonderful, and our stateroom host had it all ready for us when we arrived. Our beds were prepared, and she even tucked in my daughter’s baby doll, which elated my daughter (exceptional attention to detail)! In fact, all throughout our cruise, our host would leave extra things we didn’t even know we needed, and she created a personalized atmosphere with hand-made towel animals!

After cleaning up, we went to dinner in the Main Dining Room. Each night offers a theme for guests who choose to participate, and our favorite was Caribbean night, because everyone loves to wear their island florals! The formal dining room is nothing except perfection! From the gorgeous environment, to the stunning view out the windows, to the delicious variety of foods offered, the dining experience here was superb. In fact, this exceptional service and quality was provided to us every evening of our cruise. After the first evening, our staff even took the time to note my gluten-free needs, and was absolutely prepared for our arrival. Upon arriving each evening, warm gluten free bread was waiting for me, our attendant was prepared to discuss my options for all courses, and a special dessert was prepared in advance, in order to give me a personalized and unique experience. There are exotic and traditional dining options for everyone, so I recommend being adventurous and trying some new things! My daughters loved the Escargot, and in no other setting would this have been something available to them, so memories were created everywhere on this ship!

Our cruise was visiting the Bahamas, which meant we had the privilege of visiting Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay! It was spectacular! Crystal clear water, warm sand, and beautiful sun greeted us as we disembarked for our day of island living. Most of our day was spent enjoying the fresh-water Oasis Lagoon. The pool offers a swim-up bar, and is surrounded by ample seating and sand. There are many activities on the island, so there are many opportunities to personalize your experience to make your day perfect, whether you prefer relaxation or excitement, complimentary or with added fees!

Each day of our cruise was just as wonderful as the first, and we have fallen in love with not only cruising, but the superior service of a Royal Carribean Cruise! We enjoyed visiting the many shops, taking in a late-night snack at Sorrento’s Pizza, satisfying our sweet tooth in the candy store, watching the broadway-level performance of ¨Grease¨, practicing our ice skating skills during open-skate, watching the professionals perform an epic ice skating show that transported us through the decades, playing the slots in the casino, admiring the spectacular art gallery, soaking up the sun on Coco Cay, participating in ship activities, and so much more!

Regardless of the Royal Caribbean ship you may choose to sail on, you will absolutely find superior service, amenities, activities, and fun for the whole family! If you are considering a Royal Caribbean Cruise, and you just cannot decide, let me stop you there! You NEED to experience the exceptional service and vacation power you have been missing! From the eyes of a brand-new cruiser, I fell in love, and I hope everyone gets to experience the grandeur of a Royal Caribbean Cruise really soon! I know I am already planning my next cruising adventure!