Just got back from 8 nights on the high seas of the eastern Caribbean on board Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas.
If you look back a couple years this is our second cruise. This ship is MUCH larger. The Norwegian Star we were on last time is 91,000ish tons while the IotS is more like 150,000... Interestingly its not really any taller but it is longer and wider (the Star was limited so it can go through the Panama Canal). As a technical innovation its amazing, the Grand Promenade down the center of the ship is astonishing and the ability to surf or boogie board on the Flow Rider is great fun.
Interestingly we decided that we don't actually have a preference when it comes to Royal Caribbean vs Norwegian. On the first cruise we met people who complained about Norwegian and the food options and theres definitely a big difference, especially in the buffet. The buffet on Norwegian felt like a cafeteria, which is to say low rent. On Royal Caribbean it was much more upscale. The grand dining room on Independence of the Seas is also gorgeous and out did the Versailles dining room on the Star.
That said I thought our stateroom on the Star was a little bigger, the bathroom was definitely bigger, the shower on the Independence was very small. In both cases we'd paid a little extra for a slightly nicer room though both ships have rooms much nicer than ours.
The one thing Royal Caribbean had over Norwegian was the boarding process. Now I'll grant that it was Norwegian's first time sailing out of Tampa but it took us something like 3 hours to get on the dang ship which then left an hour late. On Royal Caribbean we went from our shuttle to our stateroom in maybe 15 minutes most of which was walking around finding our room since I'm a traditional man and refuse to ask questions.
Anyway I'll post more details about the trip later after I've had some rest and time to process.