This was our third cruise with Independence of the Seas, a ship which we love very much. We had a little bit of space in our calender, so we decided to book the Cobh 4 day and the 3 day Le Havre breaks, departing from Southampton.
The weather was not good on the first morning, and we had already checked the weather for the week ahead, so we knew it would not be nice in Ireland, but we were expecting good weather for France.
We checked in the evening before sailaway, at a local Hotel in Southampton, and met up with fellow cruisers we had met on the boards of Cruise Critic, this was a lovely evening, and a lovely meal at a Spanish restaurant, which we had pre booked.
At the dock on the Saturday morning, it was raining, but we arrived at the gate around 10.10am, we were asked to wait just a few minutes, then let through, but we were advised that because there had been an issue or two with the Noro virus on board on the previous cruise, we would not be allowed to board until 12 noon. Not a problem, we met up with more cruise critic friends in the departure lounge, once our bags had been taken. We were on board at 12.10, and carried on with a little drink or two with our friends, followed by lunch in the Windjammer which was lovely. What was even nicer is that crew who we had previously met the last time we were on board, upon seeing us, came over and greeted us like long lost friends.
Cabins would not be available until after 3pm, as they were completing a thorough sanitisation following the Noro virus, again not a problem, as we were due in the Schooner Lounge to meet more cruise critic people. This was a nice event. Friendships made and we are all now planning our next breaks.
Independence of the Seas is a beautiful ship and spotlessly clean. The crew and staff are always very attentive and cannot do enough to assist.Cleaning was going on constantly.
We did notice this time however, that the entertainment on board was the same as it had been in the past two years, so we did not attend any of the theatre or ice skating shows, and we were informed tha they only change every 2-3 years. We also noticed that all of the shops were closed for long periods of time, and yes I understand they have to do so whilst we are in port, but we were a long time in both ports, and a lot of people were having a good old moan, coupled with the Flow rider and the Climbing wall only being open at certain times, restricted the amount of time for the customers who wanted to experience these things, and it seemed there were long queues.
We also found that the future cruise area was only open certain times of the day, and it didnt open at all on two days, our view was that, if you offer these taster cruises for people to have an idea of what cruising is all about, then at least open those offices or have staff on hand to talk to people about what is and what isnt on offer. This was disappointing, as the cruise compass advised of opening times, but it was not open at the stipulated time. I spoke to Guy in the office on board and he said that he had taken on board what we and everyone who wanted more information was saying.
The Rock Brittania on the Royal promenade was a grand evening, and following may "Yellow birds" we danced on the promenade! something I do not think I will ever live down, but what fun!
The dining experience on Indy is wonderful, from the Windjammer, where the food was plentiful and a vast variety, to the wqonderful Filet Mignon in Chops My one criticism about the Windjammer is that sometime the food is not as hot as it could be, but it is never a problem, if we ask for assistance it is there. Chops is a lovely dining experience, and currently managed by Joclyn, who we had previous to this holiday is a very professional lady and very helpful and always smiling My time dining suits us well, and our waiters there once again were very efficient and again always smiling. Bless them they work their socks off! The food is very good - the Chefs, all of them to be congratulated.
Cobh is a lovely little place, made all the more special by the welcome Indy gets when she docks from the local people, with their local brass band playing and this time they had a festival on, which I understand is happening so many times in the year to greet cruise ship passengers, this was a nice touch, with local dancing, arts and crafts etc. Of course we had to have some Guinness!. We took an RCL organised trip to Blarney Castle andWoollen Mills, which was nice to do, but the only one who didnt manage to Kiss the Stone was me!. Pehaps next time!!
Le Havre, I am afraid this time we did not get off the Ship, as the weather was so good, we decided to stay on board and enjoy the facilities. This was lovely to do.
All in all a wonderful expeience on board the Independence once again and we look forward to the next one.
The down side of our trip :-- Not an awful lot, really apart from the issues that were evident following the outbreak of the Noro Virus.
Crew were going out of their way to make sure that the hand gels were used going in and coming out of Dining rooms, which was good, and the Cruise Compass reiterated the points of ensuring hands washed etc. However, it was noticed that a lot of people walked past the gels, people were leaving the toilets not washing their hands, and more than one occasion people were seen picking their noses. These hands then touched lift buttons, serving tongs, stair bannisters! Sneezing into hands and not into hankerchiefs.. How gross!.. One person was approached after being in the toilet, and asked was he washing his hands, the reply was mind your own business!.
This virus I understand is passed by human contact, well after that are we surprised!that these outbreaks occur, and Cruise companies are held accountable. . We have had Balcony cabins, Junior Suites and Grand Suites, I dont mind any of them, they are all spacious and well looked after, my preference is the Grand Suite, along with the Concierge lounge, which has Ken at the minute looking after it, and he is very attentive and again very professional.
We find that prepaying the tips is a good option for us, and we always make sure that the people who look after us, we look after them.
We have met some lovely people on our jaunts and have become firm friends, and we have met some wonderful crew and staff on Indy and we look forward to our next holiday in September this year. We understand that Grahma Seymour has now left Indy and is on the ~Freedom, and we wish him well. Thankyou and " WhyNot"Royal Caribbean once again for a wonderul holiday