4 days is not enough for the wonderful Independence
Drove down a very busy M3 and got to Southampton by 11.00. Had prebooked the carpark with AB parking [abparking.co.uk] - dropped off the luggage, parked the car, checked in - all within 5 minutes - and got priority boarding. Were called and on board by 11.30 First impressions - wow - big, blingly, beautiful, and sparkling new.
Our speciality restaurant reservations had been cancelled - apparently cannot prebook if not travelling outside of the EU - something to do with tax, so straight up to book Portofino's for the first night and Chops for the last night. Slice of pizza at Sorrento for lunch and then off to explore. It was noticeable how RCI had 'Anglified' the ship for the mainly British crowd -with a English CD with a very subtle dry sense of humor, ("the tarot reading has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances"), English back bacon, baked beans, brown sauce for breakfast and the kettles in the cabin. We were in D2 balcony cabin 8520 - nicely laid out with the twin beds next to the window, large powerful shower, good storage, and 21 coathangers....only niggle was the position of the plugs in relation to the desktop, if you had an plug that was large it would not fit into the converter. Cobh -we arrived at 3pm where it appeared the whole town was out to meet us, band and and farmers market. Had prehired a car via greatislandcar www.greatislandcarrentals.com. €80 for 24hrs. Drove up to kiss the Blarney stone, entrance fee €10, and then back for a few glasses of the local brew before dinner at Johnny Rockets. Those burgers - yum! Next morning we were up early for a round of golf at Kinsale Golf Club which cost €90 including the hire of golf clubs and trolleys, followed by lunch at Fishy Fishy Restaurant (guess what they serve!) in Kinsale, which is very highly recommended. We only had dinner on one night in the main dining room- We had gone for Mytime dining option and it worked perfectly. The previous day we had reserved table for 2 at 8.15 - and there it was. In my mind the service is more relaxed, slower, as you are not all eating at the fastest pace of the rest of the table, and the food seems to come up fresher and hotter. I hope RCI continue this.
It was miserable weather throughout the short trip – this is when the ship starts to creak at the seams with 3500+ on board – there queues for everything! What else do you expect on an English Bank holiday. There was a Food of Nations display on Royal Promenade where you could stroll down and sample the various foods of the nationalities on board. Demographic on board ranged from grandparents to babies...and 70% were in black tie on formal night I am glad to report. Final dinner was at Chops where the fillet steak cut like butter.....all in all a very enjoyable cruise on the most beautiful ship.