I'm afraid I'm not really much of a writer, but I thought I would impart our experience aboard the Independence of the Seas.
My wife has suffered quite poor health over the last 12 months or so and could not face the thought of travelling to an airport and sitting in a plane seat for 10 hours so we decided to try cruising from Southampton. We were taking our 7 year old daughter so I spent some time deciding on a family friendly cruise ship that went from Southampton and narrowed the choice down to the IotS and the Ventura. Having read MANY reviews I opted for the IotS as it seemed to have received less poor reviews than the Ventura, although both had received a mixed response.
So, we paid our money and waited until the 14th March to start our adventure. Then came the reports of the dreaded Noro virus! 4 days before we were due to depart we recieved notification that our embarkation would be delayed while they gave the ship another 'Deep Clean'. We were concerned but undeterred by these events.
Unfortunately the delay caused by the cleaning meant a massive queue at Southampton. This was disappointing, I had heard tales of legendary queues on this ship and feared that this was sign of things to come. We managed to get onboard after approximately 45 minutes in the queue and were immediately met by a couple of staff from the excellent Cruise Directors department, notably Chris. My daughter had taken her toy dog 'Wolfie' on holiday with her and he was introduced to Chris. Throughout the holiday Chris always spoke to both my daughter and Wolfie and never forgot either of their names. With this many passengers on board that is no mean feat! A very nice touch that made my daughter feel very special.
Anyway, moving on.....
We found a booth at Sorrento's and had a couple of slices of Pizza and a tiramasu - start as you mean to go on! All washed down with a cup of tea. At about 3:30 the announcement came that the staterooms were ready so there was a mad dash from everyone to settle into their accommodation. We found our cabin, with our cases waiting outside, down in Steerage and entered with trepidation.... only to be pleasantly surprised at how bright and spacious it was. Don't get me wrong, it's no suite at the Savoy, but it was certainly no cupboard either. Unfortunately there was no time to relax as it was time for muster stations. This legal requirement is a real pain, and far more onerous than the flight safety announcements, but I suppose it could save your life so it could be important. I didn't get the feeling that the staff's hearts were really in it though, but I guess that's no surprise as they do it so often.
I stayed 'top side' (getting all nautical now) to watch us depart from Southampton. It was dry, but rather cold but I have to admit to a tingle of excitement as we pulled away from the quay. I was disappointed, but not surprised. that there was no band playing and no ticker tape to see us off. Those films from the 60s don't reflect the realities of today.
Back in the cabin we managed to unpack and find homes for most of our things, and then came the next pleasant surprise. Our steward popped in to welcome us aboard and informed us that our room had bunk beds not a sofa bed. My daughter was delighted by this news! She was up the ladder as soon as it was in place.
We visited the kids club to register and then made our way to Bolero's for a pre-dinner cocktail. We are not real drinkers but when on holiday my wife and I enjoy a cocktail or two. Given the oft discussed price of beer and wine on board it was just as well we don;t partake too much. I did, however, think that the price of the Cocktail of the day was reasonable at $6.95.
Dinner followed, where we met our very pleasant dinner companions and our excellent waiter. He made sure that our daughter was properly cared for and after dinner showed us the first of many 'tricks' to entertain us. The service was excellent and we all thought the food was good too, although I have read different opinions on this.
Following dinner it was off to the Alhambra Theatre for our entertainment. It was a very good singer/comedian from Wales, whose name unfortunately escapes me. I hadn't heard of him before but, as I say, he was very good. This was also the first time we experienced Joff, the Cruise director. We all found him very entertaining throughout the cruise.
Sorry, this is rambling quite a bit, so I will now get far more brief..
I had taken a number of magazines and other things to occupy myself with when there were 'down' periods. These never got looked at. There were never any 'down' periods. I always managed to find plenty to do.
I can't find (L)A Corunna listed so will say this about it -
The surprise destination of the trip. A lovely little town. Very pretty and very welcoming. We hope to return here again as well.
A couple of other points to mention. We took our daughter to the kids club on the first day and although she said she enjoyed it she didn't want to return. When I went to pick her up, it didn't feel like the happiest place to be. Just an impression that I got.
Queues: I heard people before the cruise and on the cruise complain about queues. We encountered queues on embarkation, presumably made worse by the delayed boarding, and again at Vigo. It seemed everyone wanted to get back on for lunch! Other than that we didn't experience a queue worthy of the name. I believe we queued for breakfast at Macbeth when we went at 9 am, but we were seated within a couple of minutes. I also heard of queues for tickets to the ice show 'strings' when they were made available but as we didn't mind which performance we went to, I just went to the desk 5 minutes before they were due to close and there was no queue whatsoever.
I know there was more I wanted to write, but I can't think of it now. In summary as first time cruisers the IotS was great fun, great value and a great holiday. Would we do it again? Definitely.
Oh, I almost forgot. During this cruise my daughter learned to Ice Skate.....kind of!