First cruise - and probably last one. First the good things: the organisation (apart from embarkation at S'hampton which was how I imagine arrivals at Ellis Island were handled)was excellent (excursions, disembarkation).
The crew were without exception excellent in every way - special mention to Joao and Teresa in Macbeth dining room; to Selvin the cabin steward and Salvio in Boleros bar (great band there incidentally). There is a real sense that all of them care for you and care as to how you think about them and the service they provide. A sense they are proud of their ship - Independence of the Seas.
The ship (boat) is pretty smart, and biggggg. Nice design throughout and clean.
Food in main dining (evenings varied from good to excellent - mostly the latter. Cabin (so-called deluxe superior something or other with balcony and sea view, was very nice - clean and comfortable as was the balcony.
The not-so-nice: outrageous prices for all alcoholic drinks - a captured audience, with not competition. Time the Competition Commission and Brussels did something here - they are operating in EU waters: $40 for a bottle of Wolf Blass! or for a very soapy Pinot Grigio. First time we have ever made a bottle of wine last over two dinner evenings - maybe that's it? RCI is trying to improve our health. No, cannot be that, given the Windjammer - a 24 hours eating hell-hole which attracts the already grossly obese and those who aspire to that condition. It could be called The Piggery to good effect.
What else on the negative? Lack of lifts - especially given the large numbers of disabled with mobility scooters, some of whom are not shy at giving you a whack on the heels if you are up among the Jammerites scrabbling for a crust or two.
If you are of an age where you have got rid of the kids and think this will be a rewarding way of having a kids-free holiday - forget it even in term time: RCI is pretty much switching to the young families model - and I imagine children (and their parents) would really love this. But it is not for the Blue Harbour mob and they will be disappointed.
Back to positives: a good way to get a taste of a number of attractions in a short period of time: Gib, Toulon, Florence, Rome, Carthagena (a gem), Cadiz and Vigo.
More negative stuff: So-called superior deluxe suite with balcony or some such description. Offence under Trade Descriptions Acts of most EU countries, I imagine. It was a very nice cabin, with a decent balcony, shower etc; a suite it was not; superior I suppose to ones that were lower on the price rung.
If your neighbour smokes and you are down wind - (or is it 'aft' of them) then you get free lungfuls of the stuff on the balcony - gives a new meaning to 'thar she blows'.I expect Royal Caribbean to start charging non-smokers for this freebie once they cotton-on to it. And why not if they can charge without blushing $40 for a bottle of Wolf Blass!!??
We were on Deck 9, Port, towards the back end (stern, me hearties).
Great cabin steward - Selvin from Honduras.
All in all, glad I tried it - but never again, and especially not with RCI. (Disclaimer: I cannot emphasise enough how good the crew were - pity RCI is so greedy).
great guide. Going back
Nice town - good cafes and bars. Reasonable prices; nice people. Did not go ape.
Nice town once you get behind the main street