Sailor of the seas or Independence of the seas?
Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas depart from Port Canaveral, so choosing which ship to sail is a decision many cruisers face.
Both ships were recently amplified under Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified program. For this reason, Mariner and Independence of the Seas offer many of Royal Caribbean’s newest and most popular activities, restaurants and entertainment.
Both ships have more similarities than differences, although there are a few key things to consider before deciding which ship is right for you.
Mariner of the Seas is a Voyager-class ship and, with her maiden voyage in November 2003, is the older of the two ships. It is 1,020 feet long and weighs 139,863 tons. The capacity of Mariner of the Seas is 4,000 dual capacity passengers.
Independence of the Seas is a Freedom-class ship whose maiden sailing took place in May 2008. She is larger than Mariner of the Seas, at 1,112 feet in length and weighing 154,407 tons. The capacity of Independence of the Seas is 4,515 double capacity.
The Voyager and Freedom Class cruise ships have an almost identical layout. Many sites are in the exact same location on Mariner of the Seas as they are on Independence of the Seas. However, because Independence of the Seas is longer, there is more room for additional sites, pool spaces, and retail.
Food and dining
Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas share many of the same dining locations, with a few differences. Of course, both ships offer free venues, including the Main Dining Hall and the Windjammer Market.
As for culinary specialties, both ships have Izumi Sushi & Hibachi, Chops Grille and Johnny Rockets.
Mariner and Independence also have Playmakers, Sorrento’s and Ben & Jerry’s, but the layout is different on each ship.
The Playmakers on Independence of the Seas is on Deck 4 and is a much larger space than the Royal Promenade location on Mariner of the Seas.
Similarly, Sorrento’s and Ben & Jerry’s have their own stand-alone stores on Independence, while they are part of Cafe Promenade on Mariner of the Seas.
The Italian specialty restaurant on board is different on each ship. On Mariner of the Seas you will find Jamie’s Italian while Independence of the Seas has Giovanni’s Table. While the restaurants each serve popular Italian dishes, Giovanni’s Table tends to offer more traditional Italian dishes while Jamie’s offers a modern take on Italian cuisine.
Mariner of the Seas has a Starbucks while Independence of the Seas does not. On the other hand, Independence of the Seas has a Sugar Beach, where kids and adults of all ages can stock up on their favorite sweets and treats.
Bars and lounges
Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas share many of the same bars and lounges, including the Pool Bar, Solarium Bar, Star Lounge and English-style pub.
Mariner of the Seas is one of two Royal Caribbean ships to feature The Bamboo Room, a Polynesian-themed bar located on the Royal Promenade, which serves tropical-themed drinks including Banana Colada and Island Old Fashioned.
The venue transports guests to an island setting with its tiki decor, bossa nova music, and colorful uniforms worn by crew members.
Independence of the Seas does not have The Bamboo Room in the Royal Promenade. Instead, the ship has Vintages. Vintages is Royal Caribbean’s specialty wine bar offering an elaborate selection of wines from around the world.
This venue has a more tranquil atmosphere compared to the party atmosphere found at The Bamboo Room. Wine tastings and other events are common throughout the day, though they come at an additional cost.
Independence of the Seas also has a champagne bar on the Royal Promenade. It’s a casual, no-frills bar with comfortable seating. Although called a champagne bar, other drinks are available here.
Both ships have Boleros, the Latin-themed bar on Deck 4, although the Boleros on Independence of the Seas has more seating than the venue on Mariner of the Seas.
Additionally, both ships feature a Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14, which offers stunning views of the pool deck and the ocean. Although they have different names (Olive or Twist on Independence and Ellington’s on Mariner), the venue is the same.
Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have the same selection of entertainment venues: the Royal Theater and Studio B. The shows on each ship are different, however.
Studio B’s ice show on Mariner of the Seas is the ice under the circus-themed marquee. While not the best show for those afraid of clowns, Ice Under the Big Top turns the rink into a colorful and vibrant carnival.
At the Royal Theater guests can enjoy the original production of Gallery of Dreams, which tells the story of a young artist whose sketches become reality. Gallery of Dreams takes guests on an adventure through both time and space to bring history to life.
Unlike Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas features a Broadway show on board. You can enjoy the full Broadway production of Grease: The Musical at the Royal Theatre.
The ice show on Independence of the Seas is Freeze Frame. In this show, figure skaters take guests on a journey through memorable world events. Thanks to the scenography with historic newspaper clippings, art, cars, fashion and music, guests will feel like they have traveled back in time at Studio B.
Both ships also offer alternative entertainment including comedians, singers and live bands.
Pool terrace and sports area
As a Freedom-class ship, the pool deck on Independence of the Seas is longer than that on Mariner of the Seas. The main pool is similar on both ships, with two main pools and multiple hot tubs.
Of the two ships, Independence of the Seas offers more activities on the pool deck for kids. The Independence’s pool deck features Splashaway Bay, a water park with slides, water sprayers, and water dump buckets. Plus, there’s a baby wading area as well as a full-size swimming pool connected to Splashaway Bay.
Mariner of the Seas doesn’t have a baby splash zone or splashaway bay, but still offers a variety of kid-friendly activities around the ship.
Pool deck lunch options also vary by ship. On Independence of the Seas, you’ll find Fish & Ships, which serves fish and chips, fried shrimp, fried calamari, lobster rolls, breaded sausages, and more. Fish & Ships has an extra, with items costing between $3 and $10.
On Mariner of the Seas is the Boardwalk Doghouse. This is a free place where you can choose from a selection of hot dogs and sausages with toppings including sautéed peppers, onions and sauerkraut.
The adult-only solarium on both ships is similar to each other. However, the Solarium hot tubs on Independence of the Seas are cantilevered, so they protrude 12 feet above the ship with nothing but the ocean below!
The sports field of both ships is also almost identical. Both include The Perfect Storm slides, a Skypad, colorful climbers, a Flowrider, a basketball court and a climbing wall.
Activities on board
Onboard activities are similar on Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. Both ships have the following:
- escape room
- Perfect slides for the storm
- Colorful stairs
- stream runner
- Basketball court
- Climbing wall
- Ice skating
- laser label
Independence of the Seas offers 3 and 4 night Bahamas cruises departing from Port Canaveral. Cruises visit Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, and the 4-night cruise will have a day at sea.
Mariner of the Seas offers a wider range of itineraries. Here are some routes you can see on the boat departing from Port Canaveral:
- 5-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise and Perfect Day Visiting Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay
- 4-Night Bahamas Getaway Cruise visiting Grand Bahama Island and Nassau
- 4 Night Bahamas Cruise and Perfect Day visiting Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay
- 5-night Western Caribbean cruise visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya
- 5-Night Caribbean and Bahamas Cruise Visiting Nassau and Labadee
- 4-Night Western Caribbean Cruise Visiting Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Perfect Day at CocoCay
Mariner of the Seas also offers longer 8-night sailings with itineraries to destinations including Bermuda, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Nassau, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Kitts and La Romana .
Which ship should I choose?
Deciding whether to choose Independence of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas comes down to a few considerations.
If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, Independence of the Seas has more options. With 3- and 4-night cruises on a consistent weekly schedule, there’s more flexibility in when you can sail. Additionally, every cruise on Independence of the Seas visits Perfect Day at CocoCay.
If you are hoping to visit destinations other than Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, booking a cruise on Mariner of the Seas will be the best option. With a wider range of route lengths and destinations, you won’t be restricted to the same ports.
Regarding the layout of the ships, the two ships are extremely similar to each other. Many guests might not even notice that Independence is a different class of ship than Mariner! Places where you might notice this, however, are at the pool area with the large Splashaway Bay area or on the Royal Promenade which includes a few other retail stores and venues.
Guests who enjoy watching sports can enjoy the extra-large Playmakers Room on Independence, while guests planning to sip tropical drinks all day will love The Bamboo Room on Mariner of the Seas.
Ultimately, since Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have recently been boosted, they will offer the opportunity to try out Royal Caribbean’s latest features and amenities. And again, the ships are more similar than different, so whichever one you choose will lead to a fantastic cruise experience.