Myself and a colleague flew from Dublin to London and were met by Royal Caribbean reps on arrival. We were coached down to Southampton and this only took around 1 hour 40 minutes.
On arrival we were checked in right away and were able to board the ship at 1145am. This was great as we just wanted to get to our stateroom and drop our bags to explore the ship. We started at deck 14 and worked our way down. I have been on the Liberty of the Seas last year and the Independence is a carbon copy with a few minor changes.
The flowrider is alot of fun and a guy was demonstrating how it works. Some of the guest then tried and its not as easy as it looks. Its nice to be able to sit and watch and always makes people laugh. A stop for a Pina Colada at 'Wipe out' bar next to the flowrider was a welcome break. No changes to deck 13. The basket ball court/Mini golf and the Wall are all the same.
Down to deck 12 and a visit to the day spa. As we walked in the smell of essential oils was very nice. We were greeted by the staff and given a tour of the treatment rooms and advised about the treatments on offer. Down the glass steps to the boxing ring and sauna areas everything shiny and brand new. My colleague being a girl went to look at the ladies sauna area and I went to the mens area. After that we met outside and showed eachother the photos of the sauna's. The ladies sauna is half the size of the mens. I don't know why this is .
We then went to look at the kids area 'Ocean Adventure' and Johnny Rockets. I was looking forward to having a milk shake but it was closed and remained closed for the whole time we were onboard. The kids area has so many facilities to keep any child happy for a 14 day cruise.
Deck 11 and we loved the H2o zone for kids. Its a great idea and looks very impressive. The Solarium and whirlpools are a really nice area to relax in. I always prefer this area than the main pool area as its quiet.
Down the other end of the deck and we were at the Windjammer. We decided to stop here for lunch. So much on offer and it was hard to decide what to eat. I decided to go for a a mix. The sweet and sour chicken was amazing. I decided not to go for a dessert although they were very tempting.
We then proceeded to the stateroom decks and various types were available for viewing. I have to say my favorite was the Royal Suite. The owners suite follows. They are so spacious and nicely furnished. We then saw a reduced mobility stateroom and it really is great to have all of the handrails and wider doors for people with wheelchairs. Everything is tailor made to make life easier.
The Promenade stateroom is an ideal choice for those who cant afford a outside but don't want to be boxed in with an inside. Alot of people actually prefer the PR staterooms as you can see all thats going on in the Royal Promenade. I have stayed in one on a Trans Atlantic cruise on the Voyager and it was ideal as a solo traveller. The outside stateroom was nice but to be honest Id prefer a PR. I love the showers onboard in the staterooms. They are very powerful and the curved doors give you extra room so you don't keep bashing your arms whilst showering. There was a dispenser for shampoo but I prefer to take my own products that I use at home. The towels were lovely and soft and made from 100% Egyptian cotton. The beds were so comfortable it was hard to get out of them the next morning. They get 100% for that. The powerpoints in the stateroom are one European 2 pin and 2 USA flatpin so for all UK cruisers take adapters!!! All staterooms have a Data socket to plug your laptop into.
Time to take a stroll along the Royal Promenade. I love the Freedom class as the longer Promenade really makes a difference. The Cafe is great and you have to try the 'Rustica' vegetarian Pizza! Its to die for . Free Tea and Coffee from the self service area are always available. Speciality Coffee from Seattles finest is charged but very nice for a proper brew.
The pub is called the Dog and Badger and is nice to have a pint. Im sure it will be popular with the Brits this season.
The Champagne bar is as good as ever. I tried the Pomegranate one and it was very nice.
All of the normal logo wear and perfume shops are there. The guest relations area is also the same. It was then time to check out the nightclub and its called the 'Labyrinth'. All quite gothic but also Tower of London themed with Beefeaters and ravens !!! Quite a mix but I have to say I loved the British influence for a UK based ship.
Studio B and the Theatre are the same . We did look in on a show that night but to be honest I didn't like it and we left after 15 minutes. This is quite unusual as I normally enjoy them. Im sure they will improve on the proper cruises. I thought they would have done something related to productions in London's West end theatres but this seemed to be clowns or something.
The main dining room is as glitzy as ever and it really looks the part. Dinner that evening was amazing and the food was top class. I went for my favorite shrimp cocktail and then we shared the Eggplant and Mozzarella dish which was equally as nice. I then went for the beef fillet and it was 100%. The food on the whole ship was 100% so a big thumbs up to Royal Caribbean for that.
The dedicated terminal and great itineraries from Southampton should prove a success for Royal Caribbean. It certainly is a ship packed full of amenities and there is something for everyone onboard.... With the arrival of Genesis not far behind I can only dream what Central Park will look like.