Independence Of The Seas January 10th 2012
We have never done a UK cruise before and so were apprehensive over a number of things, namely the weather and the traffic getting to Southampton.
Neither were a problem.
Day one we were picked up by coach and taken to Southampton were we arrived at roughly 1PM to a MASSIVE queue of embarking passengers. Embarkation however was pretty smooth considering the size of Indy and the amount of passengers.
THE SHIP :
Wow, what a ship ! Its large. 14 decks high, very long and very wide. We docked next to NCL Jade one day ( we have travelled on her also ) and Indy makes Jade look small, even though she is not.
Royal Promenade is packed full of shops, dining venues and drinking dens... the latter of which were constantly full day and night ! Well, that's the Brits for you....
The pool area has a real wow factor, it was fantastic and amongst the best we have seen onboard a ship. Certainly a great pool for kiddies.
The theatre is the Alhambra, seating for 1400 on 2 levels, mostly good views but they do have some supports holding up the upper level that block the views in a fair number of the seats.
Bars etc, well there are a lot.
Casino was very big, I failed to win anything ( again !! ), but we did see a few people winning good amounts on the slots.
Ice Rink, climbing wall, 'Flowrider' , mini golf, basketball, games arcade, kids clubs for all ages, various lounges, helicopter landing pad, jogging track, table tennis, photography area, art auction area, a massive gym with boxing ring ( !! ), the list really does go on and on... Indy has a LOT of facilities.
As usual we had an inside cabin. It was totally fine for our needs, not really spending any time in there except for sleeping. It was well appointed, the usual TV, King sized bed,, sofa, etc etc... bathroom a little on the small size but good enough. Safe in the room which is always handy plus a kettle and tea and coffee ! That was a first !
We had most evenings in the main dining room, ours was the Macbeth on level 4. We dropped very lucky with our dining companions being really nice and friendly, always a bonus. Staff in the dining room could not have been more helpful, absolutely superb. I am a notoriously fussy eater and I must say everything I requested, I got.
The Windjammer is the buffet, we pretty much had breakfast there every day.
We also ate one night at Johnny Rockets, a 50's type diner. Unfortunately it has a cover charge of $4.95 per person and that gets you in there, but does not get you a drink ! Thought that was a bit poor, but I could live with it as it was possibly the best dining experience we had onboard. The Johnny Rockets staff are fantastic, they have mini jukeboxes at each table ( which are free ) and if you trigger the 'right' song the staff all charge out and do a dance.... Hilarious !!!
FORMAL NIGHTS :
3 on our 12 day cruise. Most people observed the formal nights, tuxedos for men and evening gowns for the ladies. Some did not but seemed to eat in the Windjammer. All good.
2 comedians, one better than the other, a Motown tribute act who were superb, comedy juggler ( very good ! ) an awesome mind reader, a brilliantly talented lady singer / piano player and a strange but intriguing act from the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Then there were the cast production shows...... now there is no doubt that the cast are talented singers and dancers. But talk about upsetting an audience with poor and boring content. Unbelievable. Whoever advised them to sing the songs they chose wants a good talking to ! For example, after half an hour of songs NO-ONE had ever heard before they tell us they are going to do an Elton John number, great I think , he has done a load of excellent songs.... What do they choose ? Saturday night is alright for fighting !!! Arghhhhhhhhh one of his worst EVER !!!! The they come on stage in Beatles outfits, I am sat there thinking, brilliant, I like the Beatles.. which classic do they choose? Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, basically an INTRO to an album ! I repeat.. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh
Moving on..... some great entertainment elsewhere onboard, we loved the Rock N Roll band in the Pyramid lounge, superb. Also some brilliant and hilarious quizzes in there.
The Ice show was not to be missed.
SHORE EXCURSIONS :
We did 3 with Royal Caribbean. Didn't think two of them were very good at all. We mainly spent most of the time on the bus, desperate to get off. Usually we do our own thing, this time we tried their excursions, lesson learned.
I have posted reviews of ports of call in their own sections, apart from La Coruna as I cannot locate it, so here goes :
We did one of the aforementioned 3 ships tours to Santiago De Compostela, to be fair it was reasonably priced and a good distance from port so we didn't want to risk D-I-Y. The town is the 3rd most visited Catholic pilgrimage site worldwide, after Jerusalem and Rome. Magnificent medieval buildings and a cathedral that ' allegedly ' has the bones of St James. Not for me to say anymore on that. Well worth the visit.
As for the actual trip, well Royal Caribbean for reasons unknown decided to leave for Santiago at 12.30pm, all aboard was 5.30pm. The ship docked at 11AM and was cleared almost immediately by customs. We did not make it back to the ship on time, we only got back at 5.45pm. Of course this being a ships excursion it wasn't a problem, but why did they go so late ? We didn't have much free time there at all, the hour and a half in the morning could have done so much good.
Would we sail Royal Caribbean again ? Definitely. We already put down a small deposit on a future sailing with them. Its an excellent system they have, you pay the deposit, don't have to tell them which cruise you want to go on, the deposit sits there indefinitely until you choose and then they give you a stack of free onboard credit. Brilliant.
Cruise Director, Joff Eaton was pretty good, his sidekick, Rob the Scouser, definitely future cruise director material. Listen up Royal Caribbean... don't lose Rob !
Staff, always smiling, eager to please. Overall a fantastic time was had by all.