Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by catloverinhightown: Spanish Mediterranean July 26th 2014
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Spanish Mediterranean July 26th 2014
Well-organised and took less than 30 minutes
We changed to outside guarantee about 3 weeks before the cruise. Our stateroom was 6508, at the front of the ship, overlooking the helipad, and we were very happy with it. Our attendant, Hilda, was lovely – friendly but not in-your-face - and our cabin was spotless.
We were on my-time dining. Because we hadn't reserved in advance, our options were basically 6pm or 8.45pm. Next time we will reserve for the whole holiday and change on a daily basis to fit in with our evening plans. Our waiters were Karietha and Gilbert, who were good fun and looked after us very well. Some nights the service was slow due to problems in the galley. The third formal night was the day we were in Cadiz so most people ate later and service was very slow – I've never cruised where a formal was on a port day and it didn't work well. We ate lunch and most breakfasts in Windjammer More and never had too much of a problem finding seats whether it was just the two of us or all four of us. We are vegetarian and have problems because the food isn't labelled and choice is restricted. There is a vegetarian menu for the MDR but you have to choose the night before, which means waiting around for the section head, and then I don't feel we can change the dining arrangements so we lose flexibility. There were three veggie choices each night but one was always a curry, one pasta and sometimes the third was also spicy. We occasionally had breakfast in the MDR and were always looked after by Karietha.
We didn't make every show but these consisted of four RCI singers and dancers entertainments, a 60s tribute band (Zoots), a magician, a comedy juggler, a pianist/vocalist, two comedians (Mike Doyle and John Martin), a Motown tribute act, a vocalist (Johnathan Wilks) and the welcome and farewell shows. Standards were mixed but mostly good. The ice shows were, as always, spectacular.
There were the usual parades and street parties, an outdoor nightclub and a pool party. We were disappointed to find that very few movies were shown either on the big screen or indoors. Those that were, were really old. We were disappointed with the library, which had very few books. The weather was lovely and we were off the ship a lot so didn't really get involved in any of the activities other than the above.
Most were lovely. However, I didn't find the Excursions staff or the Customer Relations staff particularly helpful, or particularly friendly.
Ports (be aware if making private bookings that you may be on ship's time, not local time as we didn't change until after the third port)
Vigo – not the most exciting port after the first visit. It's possible to get across to Cies Islands and Cangas but timings would be very tight for Cies. There is a tour bus but it only operates every 2 hours.We wandered round the old town and then found a bar on the Rua de Teofils Llorente which was very cheap and friendly
Lisbon – shuttle is $18. It goes to Lisbon and to Belem. We took the Tourist Bus (Euros 18 each) which gives access for 48 hours and to both Blue and Red line. It had bad reviews on Trip Advisor but we found it OK and would use it again. We stayed on and went round on the same bus as it was too hot for us to explore further.
Gibraltar – we walked into town and took a bus to Europa Point. An all-day ticket is £2.50. We then wandered up through the town and found a bar. This is the cheapest place for alcohol and cigarettes, much cheaper than the ship. We took the town shuttle bus back to the port (£1.50 each)
Valencia – shuttle bus $18 taxis were listed as Euros 18 each way so for four of us it would have been more cost effective but we wanted the convenience. Shuttle stops near the Old part of Valencia. My family walked across for a tour of the football stadium (20 minute walk and Euros 9.50 each) which they said was brilliant. I went on a guided walk (Euros 18, tickets from the tourist office). It leaves at 10.30 am outside the Basilica. There were only three of us on the tour. Pablo, the guide, spoke good English and was very informative. We went to the local market for horcheta. The walk took over 2 hours and it was exhausting but well worth the money and the effort. We would all like to have spent more time there.
Barcelona -we didn't get off but my daughter and son-in-law took the port shuttle bus (Euros 3 return) to the bottom of Las Ramblas. They said it was very easy to do.
As it was Sunday it wasn't possible to visit the Cathedral and lots of shops and at least one museum were closed. We had a couple of drinks in a bar near the Cathedral, lunch in another and then an icecream on our way back to the ship. There was no RCI shuttle in Palma but the Hop on Hop off bus leaves from the Port (we weren't impressed last time we used it), a taxi cost us Euros 15 out and Euros 11 back, or there's a public bus which I think is Euros 2.5 each way.
The ship docks a long way out. There was a shuttle but I don't know how much it cost. There are taxis and a bus into town (half-hourly and Euros 2.50 each way) which we used. It's also possible to get a water taxi (Euros 3 each way I think) but we didn't realise until after we'd bought our bus tickets. The bus drops you at the harbour, near the shops and the old town. We walked up to the old town, wandered about and then found a hotel (The Corsario) with a terrace and fantastic views. The lady who owns it is lovely and spoke excellent English. Prices were reasonable, especially considering the location and, if you are missing your pets, there's a friendly cat and dog. We stayed an hour or so then walked back into town. We ate at El Pirato then wandered round the shops before catching the bus back to the ship. I then had a wander and found a little rocky cove where some families were swimming and I then walked up the hill and behind the lighthouse for views across the bay. It's possible to get the ferry to Formentera (Euros 40 return and takes half an hour, with regular services) and also water taxis down the coast and to the beaches.
You need a map as it's very confusing. Lots of lovely squares and old streets. There's a market but not sure which days it opens (we were there on a Wednesday and it was open). We visited the Cathedral – Euros 5 for an audio tour which was well worth the money. We stopped for a drink in the square and watched a flamenco dancer before wandering off down the back streets to the beach for yet more drinks and a paddle. It's not the best beach we've been to but we were quite happy to spend some time there. There is another beach in the new town but that's not walkable. We walked back along the promenade to the ship but it's possible to cut through the town if you're a confident map reader.
We chose to take our own luggage off and this was much better. We were stopped by Customs and interrogated as to whether we knew what we were allowed to bring in although they didn't search our case (0thers were searched)
We'd been concerned after reading the reviews and after information from friends who'd sailed in May. However, whilst RCI standards have definitely dropped, we were happy with the cruise. Although the ship was full and it was the school holidays there were few problems with bad-behaviour, lifts or getting on and off the ship. Less
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