After just returning from a 2 week cruise to the Western Med upon the IOTS (Independance of the seas) I thought that I needed to post a review of our experience for everyone to read.
This trip was our honeymoon and to be honest our expectations of the cruise was very high.
Booking in at Southampton was slow and not as organised as you would hope, but once issued out Sea Pass cards and the staff outside the arrival doors as you enter taking the luggage for you, leaving you only to check in with hand luggage, you could board the ship straight away. We chose to go to the room and drop off our hand luggage first.
Stateroom:- Very clean and comfortable. Not of great size and you could not fit 2 people in the bathroom, however the bed would easily fit 3 fully grown adults in it was that spacious, and was so comfortable. The sea view balcony we had was a great luxury and had such awesome views everyday. The room was cleaned twice everyday! In the evenings we would find the towels shaped into vaious animals, which was a lovely treat to come back to after dinner. There is a hairdryer in the room and plenty of hangers and wardrobe space.There is also a free safe that you can use, just type in a 4 digit password of your choice and in locks all your belongings inside. You cannot take on a travel iron, but ladies, you can take on hair straightners and curling tongs.
After we dropped off our hand luggage into the room we went for a tour around the ship. It really is breathtaking and even after 2 weeks you cannot get over the sheer size of the biggest ship in Europe.
Dinner:- The main dining rooms (of which there are 3 levels of dining rooms, 1st level was Anthony & Cleopatra, the 2nd level was Romeo and Juliet and the 3rd dining room was King Lear which was our dining room). We opted for the My Time Dining Option which meant we could eat when we wanted each night, otherwise you have a choice of 18:00 or 20:30 for which you have to eat at that time every night. The main dining room is the formal choice for dining and with a different menu every night really was a treat. A 3 course waitered meal with offerings of bread and water throughout. They try to sit you in the same area each evening, and therefore the waiters remember your names and what you drink without having to ask. Impressive really considering there are 4,000 guests. We were sat in Harry & Charlies area, and they really were very accomodating. Being a vegetarian the menu really does provide great options, and they will do anything that you request from a meal- add chicken onto a pasta a sauce meal, give you fruit as a starter if nothing else takes your fancy- if you cannot decide between 2 meals, they will bring you both! Cannot fault the main dining experience and would recommend this 100%
The Windjammer Cafe was the buffet, casual dining experience. This was also where we would have breakfast every morning. This is your typical all inclusive buffet style restaurant- continental pastries, ham and cheese. An umpteen amount of different bread options, muffins, toast, waffles, pancakes, french bread. A fully cooked breakfast and cereals. Juices are provided free with breakfast lunch and dinner here. Lunch was very repetative offering burgers, hotdogs, pizza and chips. Salads, a pasta and sauce option and different meats. Snacks also include burger and hotdogs, sandwiches and french stick with cheeses. Dinner in the Windjammer doesnt really differ from lunch, except for the addition of chinese and indian foods. The staff here are also very friendly whilst they clear your plates and offer you tea, coffee and juices.
Entertainment:- There was a lot going on all the time and is hard to keep up with it all. A Cuise Compass (a detailed calendar of what is happening each day) is put in your room each night for the following day, so you can plan what you want to do and when- a real asset to the trip and a nice souvenir. The theatre shows every evening were spectacular and what you would pay to watch in the westend and places like that. Very talented and extremely entertaining.
The Cruise Director Joff and the Captain were very funny and made the trip for me. A great rivalry in team grudge matches and a constant feed of jokes from Joff kept you laughing the whole time.
The Excursions at each port are down to you and what you want to see. The organised tours that we took were very good. Great tour guides who had great knowledge of the area.
All in all a fantastic holiday and one I would highly recommend.
Only things I would faulter are in the Windjammer Cafe the vegetarian options are few and far between and really needs to be improved, only really pasta and veg, even the sauces had meat in them.
There was always a fight for the sunbeds in the least windy spots. On deck in open seas can get really windy and in a 33 degree heat you can still find yourself shivering. There isnt enough sun beds for all on board. They operate a no return in 30 minutes to the sunbed then the towels and the belongings on it then they remove them, however we never saw this happen and a number of towels were left on sunbeds for a number of hours with no sign of the selfish people that reserved them at 6:00 in the morning.