This was our first cruise on Indie and before we go any further just to say while on board we booked another with her for Xmas 2010 so that should say it all.
It was a great idea to register for the "meet and mingle", well organised by RCL staff, great prizes in the free draw (up to $75 free internet) and the opportunity to identify a cohort of travellers to bump into and share experiences with. Some became firm cruise companions and we feel they have the potential to become longer-standing friends. We also then went on to arrange other joint activities such as meeting for drinks, dining together and organising our own slot tournament. It is great now we are home to share photos and videos.
The ship is just magnificent and so much to do and see one looked forward to sea days. As we are not into sports, water or sunbathing all that was out of our equation yet still we were never bored. The highlight for us was the Promenade, the High Street that runs almost the length of the ship, with shops, cafes, bars, etc. It was a great place to people watch and bump into cruise companions. Pick up a late night snack or coffee and wind down at the end of the day. On four occasions the Promenade was the venue for parades which were well organised and magnificent entertainment. Food in the Windjammer buffet was of very high quality with a great choice and always hot and fresh. Johnny Rockets was a great 50's diner experience, the staff being very cheerful and helpful. One member deserves a special award; Yolanda was a natural for thee Johnny Rockets Dance with great personality and the gift of getting others up and going.
Some of the downsides were common to many cruises. The ubiquitous "photographers" who on the whole just take "snaps" of questionable quality. New staff doing too much learning on the job that could have benefited from some pre-cruise training, particularly in projecting a personality. Our cabin steward was good at his job but not prone to exchanging pleasantries. For people cruising without a group of friends a friendly greeting form the steward can make all the difference. Not expecting anyone to be servile but to return a smile, a greeting and a friendly word would go a long way.
We had worried about so many children but on the whole they were polite, well behaved and mainly contained in the entertainment areas catering for under 20's. Perhaps better behaved because they were mainly Scottish school children, the Scots holiday starting sooner.
Food in the main dining rooms uninspiring and nowhere near the standard of that in the buffet. The choice for vegetarians was poor in main dining, more often than not a small ramekin of watery curry with a ramekin of rice. In the windjammer the vege options were plentiful. Re the quality of food there was the general excuse of serving so many passengers at one time but the sister ships in the Celebrity suite manage it so why not RCL? One thing to watch out for - although your agent might "confirm" your table request it is only the "request" that is confirmed and you may not end up with what you expected. For us a table for two turned into a table for FOURTEEN. Fortunately they were a good bunch of people and we got on well but not what we asked for. For the next cruise we have opted for "my time dining" with cruise friends we made this time.
The shows were excellent, the ice show unique to RCL. Having done a few cruises I am at a loss as to why entertainers are labelled "cruise ship" as a pejorative. All the companies we have seen are so talented and versatile and those on Indie were superb. My favourite was Preston, singer and all round entertainer, would buy his CD if he released one. Excellent singer and great comedy timing, a male 'Judy'.
We did a couple of shore excursions due to the distance from the ship and the security of knowing the ship will wait if you are late. We had been warned of wildcat strikes on the Italian rail network and not to be disappointed the night before we docked we were advised the train to Pisa was off due to a strike. In other places we take local shuttles or open-top tour buses and as the cost of ship tours is rising astronomically I would advise anyone new to cruising to check the location of the ship to the town and availability of other local tour options. The tours we did were good and the guides pleasant, friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
Celebrity Eclipse in May and Indie again 12/10 so will keep you posted.