Yet again Independence delivered a spectacular cruising experience. The size of the ship always wows. She seems to be in great condition now she is a year old.
Boarding was prompt.I think the ship was full of non-CCers who had no idea you could board by 11:30. We were literally the only people at check in, and were on within seconds.
It was half term, the ship was packed, but there was always room to sit in the solarium, and we always found a table in the WindJammer for breakfast or for lunch immediately.
The food in the main dining room was generally tasty (and hot, contrary to recent reports). Whilst the Videlia Onion Tart was a winner as always, the roast turkey tasted like a Bernard Matthews prepacked meal. Not good
I found Portofinos to be very disappointing as it did not deliver the same level of service I have had before - the ceasar salad was not prepared at the table, instead I was presented with an overchilled pile of tasteless lettuce; there was no clove of garlic display, my glass remained empty for 10 minutes. Little things but it was not as good. The restaurant was empty so there was no excuse for the lack of service or care.
The Diamond Lounge and Ricardo were superb. I could happily have stayed in there for the duration.
Good to see that everyone made the effort and got dressed 'properly' for formal night and there was quite a bit of glamour on the other nights too. I will ignore the man who wore Adidas tracksuit bottoms with a dress-shirt.
Entertainment: the young man singing in the Schooner Bar was fantastic - a real charmer. His name was Paul O'Shea and I believe this was his last cruise with Indepedence, and he was moving to Freedom - you are in for a treat! The disco was empty as always, with a few people smoking and the DJ playing noise you can't dance to (goodness, I sound like my mother!).
Graham Seymour was doing a good job especially getting everyone on board dancing to The Proclaimers waving their Union Jacks on British Night!!!! In the theatre there was the usual selection shows, but one had a lady playing classical music accompanied by 3 more ladies with violins. Definitely a step up from the usual belly flop contests. I got the feeling that RCI were trying to be a bit classier.
The best thing on this cruise was the drop in the drinks prices. No more 15% added to the bill. The prices have been dropped by 15% and then the 15% gratuity is built into the bill you get. Probably a way to stop the stingy Brits from lining up at GR asking to get the 15% removed. Ha ha. Anyway, certainly a lot more people appeared to be drinking. Also noticibly was the distinct lack of announcements calling you to bingo or art. I only heard one a day which was a marked improvement.
Cobh itself is far prettier on the sail in than it is up close. The town comes out in force to meet the ship and it is a general party atmosphere in town. The train station is right opposite the port, as is the museum. The museum gave you 50% off the ticket price if you showed your seapass card, and it is well worth a visit, as is the cathedral at the top of the steep hill.
The weather was sunny and warm throughout, the children remained in the childrens areas so were not seen, and were certainly not causing chaos in the lifts etc, the sea was like a mill-pond - so all in all a very good little cruise.