OH and I had a nightmare journey to Southampton by train,so were looking forward to our first cruise with RCI on Independence of the Seas.We spent the night before the cruise at the city centre Premier Inn which was great value for money.
On arrival at the pier we had to join a long queue to get our luggage tags as oiur tickets had arrived too late for us to apply for them from RCI.We had to enquire from other passengers as to where this had to be done as there were no signs and no porters as is normal with other cruise lines we have sailed with.The whole check in process took us 2 hours and was quite an unpleasant experience.Thank goodness we weren't travelling with young children or elderley relatives.
We went to the Windjammer buffet for lunch,and our cabin was ready at 4pm.We were on Deck 2 in an oceanview stateroom right in the centre of the ship.Something we would be very grateful for a couple of nights later.
We shared our dining table with 7 other people,and they turned out to be a great bunch,we enjoyed their company a great deal.
The food in the King Lear dining room was quite acceptable,but nothing to get excited about.
The choice of food in the Windjammer was good,but got a bit samey after a few days.We tried breakfast there,also breakfast a la carte in the Macbeth and the buffet breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet.The Windjammer offered a vast choice,the Romeo and Juliet less of a choice,and the one time we ate breakfast in the Macbeth mine was nearly cold and OH didn't get what he ordered.
We were on second sitting for dinner at 8.30 and by the time we came out we found it quite difficult to find somewhere to sit to have a drink.
The entertainment was excellent and we went to see a show every night either before or after dinner.
We found most things on board to be over priced,especially the drinks,and most times we were paying around $16 for 2 drinks which over 10 days certainly mounts up.
Without exception we found the crew members to be pleasant,friendly and very helpful.Our stateroom attendant kept the place immaculate and provided us with a towel animal each evening.Our waiter and assistant waiter were first rate always providing extras for us and whipping away any dishes that we didn't care for,and providing us with another choice.
Unfortunately we can't order the weather and on the second night we were hit by a force 12 storm in the Bay of Biscay.A force 12 is a category 1 hurricane and caused some of the lower deck cabins to flood and their occupants having to be moved.The 10 foot waves did some damage to a lifeboat on deck 4 and caused merchandise in the shops to be thrown about.Thank goodness for the situation of our cabin as we knew nothing of the rough night until we were informed about it by other passengers at breakfast.We heard that some passengers were confined to bed for 3 days as we headed south through the rolling seas.
We had to miss out one port of call,and that was Madeira because the IOTS had to travel a great deal slower than had been intended.
To sum up our cruise I would say the IOTS is a beautiful ship,we've been there,done it,but won't be doing it again.There were far too many people for our liking and the best description I can give it is a floating Butlins.Maybe OH and I are more of the traditional type cruisers and better suited to Cunard or P&O.We did make the most of it and enjoyed it as much as we could,but sorry,we won't be back.