We arrived at Southampton port around 12.00, checking in was a breeze, boarded the ship around 13.00 due to deep cleaning, we had to wait in the boarding lounge which was no problem, we suprised our friends by just turning up and not saying a thing, my friend Carol's face was a picture.
We had booked a Grand Suite but it was not ready till 16.00 but had a walk along the Royal promenade and grabbed coffee and cookies, felt like we were home again. Then we ventured up to the suite, was amazing when we looked inside, nice big size stateroom, three seater sofa, an occasional table, bar area, mini fridge, dvd player, flat screen tv, bose surround, the bed was made into queen size was massive with memory foam, the bathroom was a twin sink with marble surround and complete with smellies with loads of drawers to put things, plus a double wardrobe plenty of room inside with a lockable safe. We had a use of the full menu in the suite and two cards giving us access to the Concierge Lounge and the facilities. The balcony double sized area had three sunloungers and two chairs a small table and a larger round table, was nice sitting out there on sail away and sometimes having breakfast out here.
We popped in the Concierge Lounge early afternoon,and grabbed a Seattles Coffee, between 17.00 - 20.30 included is alcohol drinks, pre dinner canapes, as many as you wanted. We really enjoyed and looked forward to going to the lounge every evening, met some great people and now good friends. Our Concierge Ken was amazing and more than helpful and would do anything he could to help resolve any issues you had.
We took advantage of one of the ships organised trips to Blarney Castle, was well organised, the lady tour guide who was very funny cracking a few gags which made the 40 minute journey to the castle fun and pleasant. Once we arrived we went up the 100 windy steps to the top of the castle, quite claustraphobic but managed this ok and once up there walked along and kissed the stone, they take two photos and you choose which one cost 10 euros, but was worth it, was a great day loved it.
We really enjoy the Independence again and again, she is an amazing ship, modern facilities, the staff are always cleaning everywhere which I like. We came to the conculsion although you pay more for the luxury of the suite, its putting price on the extra space with comfort to really relax and manoeuvre.