This was our 10th cruise and our 5th with RCI. Having read some of the reviews we were concerned that booking this might have been a mistake. The only similarity with Butlins is that it's nearly all Brits on holiday together. I personally like a mix of nationalities but it's only a preference and not essential.
Arrival and Check in 10 / 10
This was so easy, we drove to the port, arriving at around 10.45, dropped off our luggage and then parked the car. ABP had this part organised well and it only took a few mins to be at the check in desks. As we are Platinum we bypassed the queue but it wasn't a long queue anyway. The check in was quick and we were given a priority boarding pass. They called our number almost as soon as we got to the waiting area and we were at the Windjammer before it had even opened. Be sure to print out and attach your luggage labels. There was a long queue at a little tent to obtain the correct labels before the luggage could be dropped off. Lots of passengers were complaining about the time this took. Pre printing our own certainly saved a lot of time at the port.
Cabin and Steward, 10 / 10
We had an inside on deck 9 Aft and this was a perfect location for us. Our Steward Hallana from Trinidad or Tobago was excellent and even took our souvenir cocktail glasses to be washed up before I had a chance to do it.
Ship 10 / 10
This ship was in good condition (before crossing the Bay of Biscay -- more later on this). They are constantly cleaning, painting and repairing her. There was no sign of the dreaded Noro virus on board. Even though the Indy is the same as the Liberty we prefer the Indy. It's very difficult to say why but the staff seemed better. I had an issue on the Liberty with the coffee on the Promenade running out (more than onece) and being told "go up to the windjammer". On the Indy it ran out and they immediately replaced it.
Dining, 8 / 10
Our waiter was Jeffrey and his assistant Nick. 10/10 for these two. They were excellent, friendly and nothing was too much trouble. The food was overall v good and the only thing that I was disappointed in was that the formal night menu didn't seem much different to any other night, no lobster, no baked alaska, just not an inspired choice on the menu. Twice we were offered a special menu at $14.95. This consisted of Prawn cocktail, Fillet Steak, crÃ¨me Brule, a glass of wine and a glass of champagne. The steak was fabulous and was well worth the extra $.
The windjammer was the same as always -- we ate breakfast here every day and its fine. I would prefer the toasted items to be toasted to order and not left to go crispy in a dish but thats about all that I could find fault with. Lunches were fine with a good selection.
Johnny Rockets was good for the $ and the staff mostly seemed to be enjoying themselves dancing and performing for the diners. V enjoyable.
Entertainment 7 / 10
Not as good as we have seen on other ships. The Rat Pack were excellent. Acromagic were more contortionists than magicians but were quite good. The mindreader was OK. Jay J someone was billed as "from the Benny Hill Show" but it turned out that he played the saxaphone music that Benny ran around to.... Not my kind of entertainment. Didn't get to see the production shows. The Ice Show was fantastic with a really good violinist (she must have been good because I don't like the violin at all!)
The cruise director was Luke Aerosmith and he was good. There were lots of Quizzes which we enjoyed (scrabble tiles are NOT WHITE ) There was enough going on around the ship to keep us amused.
Ports 8 / 10
We had not been to any of the ports on this cruise.
We missed Madiera! Lots of upset passengers but at least the taxes and fees were promptly refunded onto our account (unlike a Princess Cruise where they only refunded to the Americans but the Brits got nothing back -- that was a Bye Bye to Princess from us!)
Lanzarote, we took the tour to the Volcanos and enjoyed every minute. It was excellent.
Tenerife. It rained (people said for the first time in 3 months! ) We took a tour to the Loro Parque. This was fantastic, I can see why its compared to Sea World. I feel that the tour could have been a little longer. Its impossible to see it all in the 5 hours allowed. The ship was in port long enough to extend this tour and it would have been nice to stay longer at the Parque.
Gran Canaria Just wandered around Arricife shops and then went to the beach about 10 mins walk away. The beach was nice, but shortly after I arrived they cleared the water due to a lot of jellyfish being washed up.
Vigo. Just another port and city. A nice shopping mall if you like that kind of thing.
Weather 5 / 10
It was cold and drizzling when we left Southampton but things got much worse. We hit a big storm in the Bay of Biscay with winds up to Force 12 (Hurricane Force!!!!).
This slowed us down a lot which meant that we missed Madeira. It was all very dramatic. All outside areas were off limits but no one would have wanted to go out anyway. The shops were closed for a while as things were falling. Bottles fell off shelves in the Schooner Bar while we were there. Lots of people were ill and it was announced that sea sick pills were available free of charge in Guest services and the Sick Bay. We were fine but the ship was very empty with lots of passengers staying in their rooms. The captain kept us informed and gave advice like not to wear high heels (Formal night I wore my evening dress with flip flops!)
There was some damage done, we saw 2 empty spots where there had been large glass panels and there was a large section of metal missing on deck 11 with lots of wiring damaged.
The Canary Islands were not as warm as I would like but it's just the luck of the draw when cruising at this time of year.
Again very easy and efficient. Our number had already been called by the time we got to the lounge where we had planned to wait to get off even though we were early. We were off the ship and in the car about 20 mins earlier than we had expected to be.
Cruise Overall 9 /10
Loved it, we met some lovely people and had a great time. We would definatley recommend this cruise although I'm not sure that I would want to go at a peak time when it's too busy. We were unlucky with the weather and the storm but it didn't effect our enjoyment of the cruise and we would love to do it all again even with a force 12 storm!