Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by notadwarf: Spanish Med Trip and Teenagers takeover the ship
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Spanish Med Trip and Teenagers takeover the ship
Last year we cruised on this ship and horrendous smells on our corridor create a complaint and a cruise discount and as a result another cruise of this ship - this time the Spanish Mediterranean. It's really seven days in the Med with the rest on the Atlantic - a gamble really that's paid off on both our cruises out of Southampton.
There are three of us and our young son is a FlowRider fanatic. This provides us with plenty of opportunity to sit and read and we don't really do the 'Benidorm Deck' experience. As usual mutterings from other guests were around RCI staff not enforcing the 30 minute towel rule and sun loungers were apparently hard to come by - a frustration if that is what you are in to. This was a repeat complaint as last year's cruise. It's strange really cruising on a mainly British occupied ship as when we have sailed out of Venice and Fort Lauderdale this wasn't an option - most people weren't really there to resemble the duck teriyaki served in the Windjammer More restaurant.
Here are my thoughts, in not particular order: -
Sports deck - as ever superb with amazing staff. We paid again this year for my son to have a small group lesson on the FlowRider and again it was excellent.
Romeo and Juliet dining - the menu is tired and is really at best decent pub grub. Not gastro pub grub - just the normal stuff - but served in lovely surroundings. Baked potatoes are served in tin foil and some British classics come in pottery dishes - to them employ on to the plate with scorched fingers. This is bad enough in a out at home, but here?! Croquet potatoes were served?! Where did they come from? Had someone rediscovered this awful blast from the past? The curry's are bland and are often listed as having nan bread one the side - they don't and it is roti. Cod, an endangered fish. I avoid eating it, however, twice I ordered sea bass (which I adore) and what came? You guessed it - cod! The waiter and head waiter could not give a stuff!
That brings me to our waiter - the worst we have ever had - They have all been great previously. However, this one was not good at all - and he was being promoted.
A previous head waiter who runs the breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet is, however, superb. Her and the team really made breakfast something special. The bircher muesli has to be tried - incredible! The English breakfast (the cooks again) is bloody awful to be frank. The pasties are excellent.
The Windjammer - not an experience for the faint hearted - it ought to be renamed 'The Elbows Out.' Especially if you dare venture to the traditional British staples part of this buffet restaurant. The food in the Jade section is superb and far better than the evening menu down below. The staff are hard working and excellent.
Stateroom - we had, again, a rear stateroom with a balcony. It was good and the stateroom attendant (with a MBA in sales and marketing) was brilliant. The wooden balcony rail was treated with a never drying varnish - which was rather frustrating. This year smoking on balconies has been banned - hoorays! Last year it was not at all pleasant to venture out, whereas this year it was fine, with only the odd stink from a crafty smoker nearby and down below.
The trips - generally of a poor quality. In Gibraltar (the hell of the Med) we, having been there before, used it for some targeted shopping only. Our neighbours hired a taxi and had an excellent time. Others we spoke to who ventured out on organised trips were not impressed. Our Vigo trip was to a vineyard for wine tasting. The setting was gorgeous. The wine not so - more like Blue Nun revisited. I'm a red wine fan and I could not drink their red. A coach accident on the way back to the ship was brilliantly handled and the driver was superb. It wasn't so good for the car driver who appeared to have fallen asleep at the wheel. We never say her get out of the car. We were transferred to another coach and taken back to the ship. Other than the 'are you okay' question at the end, not much else was done to address any shock from the passengers. One US couple did kick-off though and it does make one wonder about the approach to such incidents by us Brits?
Lisbon was a walking tour for us with port tasting. It was rather pleasant and really not enough time (15 minutes) for personal shopping/sightseeing. The port tasting could have been much longer :o)
In Barcelona we attended an organised bike tour and it was superb - the best trip yet with RCI. It became apparent after this that we ought to start going to more effort and booking and organising our own trips as we could at least be in control of designing our own day. An example was the Lladro tour in Valencia. The Lladro part of it was controlled by them and was excellent. We then went to a pottery museum and I'm convinced that the RCI tour guide was totally winging it. It was as if she had not visited the museum for a good while. She had not idea of the baggage arrangements there and was constantly bickering with the museum staff. I started reading the information sheets (in English) in the museum - a different story and very useful. It ended up a pretty awful trip in a city which is gorgeous and full of numerous excellent places to visit (TripAdvisor list a lot). This is a city to which (like Barcelona) we will return.
Ibiza was fab and we did our own thing and had a great time. In Mallorca we went to the Drach caves trip - top-notch - what a place and what an island. Cadiz is a small and beautiful town to visit and there were red open top tour buses (like in most places that the cruise visited) and we considered using them and glad that we did not. You can walk around Cadiz in no-time and the beaches are very close by.
On ship entertainment. Joff Eaton is a talent cruise director. Hard-working and clearly a man who needs his 15 minutes of fame on the TV. Our only criticism is that the shows are rather tired and the music is as current as the 80s. It's as if the staff organising this entertainment are just too comfortable. For the younger people on the ship, it must be frustrating to have so little that is anywhere near current. For someone of our age (50s) it is! The parades were late at night (totally different to our Oasis experience) and not at all conducive to the sleep patterns of FlowRider mad almost teenagers.
Teenagers - as last year, the teenagers are allowed to get out of control. For the parents they must love it - allow then to roam free whilst they nip off doing whatever they do and yet the teenagers roam around and gather causing mischief. The sea days are of course the worst and this cruise has it's fair share of sea days. Passing back through the Bay of Biscay and the weather turned cool. This was good for those of us two wanted a quieter mad teenager free cruise. Less
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