On a nice Spring day we arrived at Southampton after a short domestic flight, boarding was straight forward before noon. I was on the ship within 10 mins of checking in at pier being a Diamond guest.
(I did however learn from other guests arriving after later that is was chaotic and lengthy.)
The Indy is an excellent advert for the RCCL product. She is in good condition and well maintained.
This was a short 3 day cruise billed as Paris, well Le Havre really. I was familiar with the layout having been on the Explorer and Freedom. For first timers however it is behemoth. 3 days is a short time to explore a ship of this size.
It was a beautiful evening as we set off into the sunset, sailing closely past the Isle of Wight and into the English Channel.
Passengers were a general mix, middle aged couples trying a cruise for the first time to seasoned cruisers on mini breaks. Many young families too as it was a holiday weekend, and whole generations of the same family travelling together and and all looking for different things. A few stag and hens. And lots of young groups too ... the lager swilling tattooed will be ignored however.
The new drinks packages that have been introduced on the Indy were thankfully not available on this cruise. I would imagine if they had then drunkenness would have been prevalent, especially at around $40 per day for all you can drink, it would have been a bargain at around £75 each for 3 days. The Brits are known to like a good drink on holiday and it could have changed the atmosphere completely.
Once Upon a Time was the show in the Alhambra Theatre, with an early and late dining performance. Also the Ice Show had 2 opportunities to attend.
Day 2 brought a cold cloudy day in France. The ship was berthed on the starboard side.
I chose the morning tour to Honfleur which was excellent value. Very pretty Normandy harbour town and great photo opportunities, just watch out for the dogs dirt though, the French don't seem to care about this !
By lunch time the ship was very busy with few activities available, perhaps not as many people went to Paris as expected. Sunny weather would have made such a difference to the atmosphere aboard.
Showtime was a comedian, with 2 late performances.
After an overnight in Le Havre day 3 brought more dank weather. My trip was the Alabaster Coast, taking in Etretat, Fecamp and the Benedictine Liqueur Factory. Very pleasant.
Showtime was Centre Stage. A cosmopolitan mix of contemporary music, from classical recitals through to the Beatles, Queen and finishing with an Elton John tribute. Both production shows were the best I have seen in over 130 days at sea. Perhaps RCCL should roll out this formula onto more of its predominately British passengers cruises, there was nothing as good as this on the Brilliance out of Dubai last month unfortunately.
Rock Britannia finsihed off the 3 day party. A tribute to the Beatles, Queen, Robbie Williams, Status Quo to name a few. The Brits love this sort of stuff, the 70s and Motown ones go down well too. Come on RCCL, we all love ABBA, Mowtown, Rock and Classic Rock to name a few, give us more.
Only disappointment was the ships tours were moved forward an hour from booking pre boarding. As France is one hour ahead of the ship and the UK, trips that should have departed at 8 were leaving at 7. Even the Windjammer wasn't open this early. And when we got to our first destination, most of the shops were closed in the villages and did not liven up till after 10.
Overall a good short break and value for money. Same old gripes about the food which has been the same menu for the past 3 years, and the Windjammer feeling like a mass catering at busy times. It was worth doing this short break. Some chose to stay on the the further 4 days, inc Cork to make it a week onboard.
The onboard shops are full of tat and have got worse over the past few years. The occasional $10 sale is fine, but it would be nice to have the odd Designer Item Factory sale too, Princess used to have Ralph Lauren or Longchamps etc. Where have all the nice handbags, purses and costume jewellery gone? We all like to treat ourself on holiday.
A couple of first timers did feel it was like Butlins at Sea. They expected the shops to be open during the day and for there to be daily newspapers to purchase aboard like you would in a Spanish or Greek hotel resort.
To close, the service in the Diamond Lounge was excellent and it was a lovely place to spend an hour or two admiring the view and meeting new friends. Drinks and canapes served between 5 and 8.30 pm.
It is a hectic 3 day itinerary if you are thinking about going on this one ;)