I'm expecting we might see a few bad reviews of this cruise. The weather in the Bay of Biscay was just about at its worst. Force 10 winds gusting up to Force 12 meant Indy was delayed crossing Biscay and the stop in Madeira was cancelled, disappointing many passengers, some of whom might vent their spleens here?
It was the luck of the draw that we sailed into a storm on Biscay whilst the Grand Princess, sailing roughly the same itinerary but which left Southampton a day earlier, avoided it altogether.
So yes, the Independence is a ship that sails on the ocean. Surprise, surprise, there are storms on the ocean. When you get caught in a storm, things happen. Get over it.
I had always wondered what it would be like to be on a ship caught in real hoolie of a storm.
Well it wasn't so bad, if you took the tablets and stayed in the middle of the ship on lower decks. Go forward or aft and things get more extreme. You up your chances of getting sick by staying in a cabin that's rough. Seek shelter somewhere on the lower decks in the middle of the ship. It's all common sense really. Take advice, take sickness pills which were freely available and ride it out.
I know some people are more prone to illness than others, but don't be proud, seek help and advice if you're in trouble. Indy's crew did their best to help such passengers.
Independence weathered this storm well. The crew were helpful and supportive, the Captain made the right call to slow down and take it easy, even if it meant delays. The safety of passengers was paramount and in this test, unlike Costa Concordia, Royal Caribbean can be proud of the Independence of the Seas, her captain and crew. Storms like this can very dangerous and I'm glad we were sailing in such capable hands.
On a more general level, Indy is a great cruise ship with some excellent facilities to please a wide variety of cruisers. It's very clean and there is a constant emphasis on hygiene which is essential when you have a lot of people all congregated and infections can spread easily.
The food was very good. Well served, with the polite and friendly staff always keen to get feedback. Cabins were well kept and all amenities were spotless.
Entertainment was good, sometimes excellent. The Ice Show was brilliant and the production shows on formal nights were also superb.
Our fellow pasengers were a cross section of UK society, some good 'uns, other who we may not choose to rub shoulders with, but none of whom were particularly unsociable. It's each to their own and good luck to them.
One negative: I was a little perturbed by the rising number of mobility scooters on board. I understand that some passengers do need them, but it appeared to me that there was also a contingent of users for which scooters were a convenience and not strictly a necessity. I hope that this trend does not continue. Am I being harsh? I'd be interested to hear the views of others.
Another I'll indulge myself with is the WiFi on the ship. It is very hit or miss to connect and is very expensive.
In conclusion I would recommend a cruise on Independence to anyone who is looking for a quality holiday experience and understands that on any holiday, as in life, not everything is always plain sailing and a sense of humour helps.