When it comes to booking a cruise there are lots of things to think about – where do you want to go? Which cruise company do you want to use? Which ship is going to be best for you?
Some cruise ships seem very similar, but there are some subtle differences between them that can impact your holiday.
In this guide we will be comparing two Royal Caribbean cruise ships – Independence of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas – to help you decide which ship would be better for you and your holiday.
Keep reading to find out more.
How Big Are The Ships?
Royal Caribbean has a fleet of 60 ships which vary in size and capacity. Their ships are organized into classes based on their size. The biggest ships are in the Quantum class.
Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas are in the Freedom class, which is in the middle in terms of size and passenger capacity.
Ships in this class are between 154,000 and 158,000 tons.
When Freedom of the Seas was built, it was the largest passenger ship in the world. It has now been taken over by newer ships. It is 1,111.46 feet long and 209 feet high.
It has 1817 cabins and can accommodate up to 4375 passengers and 1360 crew, giving a total capacity of 5730. There is 16.5ha of deck space for passengers to use.
Indepence of the Seas is 1,112 feet long and has a total of 19 decks including 4 that are crew only, just like Freedom of the Seas.
It can accomodate 4375 passengers and 1360 crew members, so it also has a total capacity of 5730.
When it comes to size, you won’t really notice any difference between these two ships. Both ships have the same ratio of passengers to crew, and the same ratio of ship space to passengers.
What Choice Of Cabins Do You Have?
Freedom of the Seas has 642 inside cabins, 768 balcony cabins, 711 with an ocean view, 168 cabins with a promenade view, and 127 suites.
Independence of the Seas has 620 inside cabins, 724 balcony cabins, 269 with an ocean view, 168 with a promenade view, and 127 suites. The cabin layouts are very similar, along with the decor.
The availability of different types of cabins will depend on how far in advance you book your cruise. Make sure you leave plenty of time if you want to have your first choice and avoid disappointment.
When Were They Built?
Out of the two ships, Independence of the Seas is newer but Freedom of the Seas was more recently renovated.
Freedom of the seas was built in 2006 but underwent renovation in 2020. Independence of the Seas was built in 2008 but renovated in 2018.
This is a minimal difference so both ships will be finished to a very similar standard on board.
How Many Pool Areas Are There?
If you’ve never been on a cruise then you might be worried about the pool areas feeling overcrowded. You want to make sure that the ship you choose has plenty of space for everyone to swim and relax.
This is especially important on days where the ship is at sea and all of the guests are on board rather than on excursions.
Freedom of the Seas has three main pools and 5 hot tubs. 1 of the pools and 2 of the hot tubs are adult only. Independence of the Seas is similar but with more hot tubs.
There are 3 main pools and 7 hot tubs – 1 pool and 1 hot tubs are for adults only.
The pools will be a little quieter on the days with the most popular excursions and destinations, but to make the most of your cruise holiday you should make sure you spend time exploring the places that you visit to soak up the local culture.
What Are The Dining Options?
When you choose a cruise ship you need to make sure that there are plenty of options when it comes to dining.
You don’t want to get bored of eating the same food, and if you are traveling with a group then people will have different preferences and requirements.
Freedom of the Seas has 18 dining venues – 9 of which are complementary- and Independence of the Seas has 17 dining venues with 8 complimentary options, so they are very similar.
Both ships have a Ben & Jerry’s, Cafe Promenade, Chef’s table, Chops Grille, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Johnny Rockets, Playmakers, Sorrento’s Pizza, Windjammer, Vintages Wine Bar and the Main Dining Room.
Independence of the Seas also has Fish & Ships and Giovanni’s Table. Freedom of the Seas has Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Cupcake Cupboard, and El Loco Fresh.
Both ships have a good range of dining choices with plenty of food that is included in the price of your cruise. With either ship you can splash out and dine at one of the extra establishments for an additional price if you fancy a treat.
What Activities Are Available?
Both ships have a good amount of activities and entertainment including in the price of your cruise, with some extras available at an additional cost.
Independence of the Seas has a few more activities to try, but a lower percentage of them are complementary.
On both ships you will be able to make use of the adult only relaxation area which is ideal for couples or friends cruising without children. You can visit the casino for some gambling, or hit the fitness center to get your workout in.
You can play games in the arcade, have a game of mini golf, challenge your family in laser tag or have a go at basketball. Both ships have adventurous activities like a climbing wall, ice skating and the flow rider surf experience.
They also have water slides, a splash park and a spa. You can watch poolside movies to enjoy live music.
The Independence of the Seas has a few other activities including escape rooms, a sky pad bungee trampoline, and musical theater shows.
What About The Cost?
When it comes to budgeting for your holiday, you won’t notice much of a difference between Independence of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Both ships are in the same class so will be priced evenly.
The main factors that impact the price of your cruise holiday are the time of year you choose to go, how long in advance you book the holiday, the length of your trip, the destinations included, and the package that you choose.
Royal Caribbean are known for their dynamic cruise pricing which means the price fluctuates leading up the cruise.
If a package or an excursion you have already purchased goes into a flash sale before the date of your holiday, you are able to request a refund and repurchase the item.
As well as the cost of booking your cruise holiday, you need to take into account the amount of money you will spend on the ship. The onboard prices for the Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas are very similar.
Some extra costs may include wifi in your room, drinks and snacks that aren’t included in your package, additional activities and spa treatments, tips and service charges, gift shop items and souvenirs.
Which Ship Is Better?
So, which ship is better? Which one should you choose for your cruise holiday?
There aren’t that many differences between these two ships and the experience you have on each will probably be very similar.
The ships are about the same size, have the same style of cabins, and will be similar in terms of the overall standard and decor. They each have three main pool areas, plenty of deck space and lots of fun things to do.
The pricing won’t vary much between the ships as they are in the same class.
Here are the main differences you need to consider:
- Hot Tubs – Independence of the Seas has 2 extra hot tubs
- Dining – Freedom of the Seas has an extra dining option and more complimentary dining options
- Activities – Independence of the Seas has three extra activities but less of the activities are including in your cruise price
If you think that any of these differences will have a big impact on your holiday then you should pick one ship over the other.
For example, if you want more dining options then you should pick Freedom of the Seas, but if you want more activities to choose from and you don’t mind paying extra for more choices then choose Independence of the Seas.
If you are worried about overcrowding and you want to make sure there is space for a dip in the hot tub then choose Independence of the Seas.
Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas are in the same class so the ships are very similar. Either ship would be an excellent choice for a cruise holiday.
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