As I live in Southampton, I am always seeing the Independence of the seas sailing in and out and have always wanted to sail on it. I saw a great offer through a travel agent through which I will NOT be using again and thought I cant miss out.
I met my patents at City Cruise Terminal and checked in and walked on the ship in minutes. Not a queue in site. We were on board by 12 noon. We headed up to the Windjammer and got a bite to eat and had a drink by the pool. Got lost trying to find out cabin when the call came over the PA at 1.30pm. Once there, all our bags bar mine were there waiting and undamaged. We could not believe how quick this had happened. (Mine didn't turn up till 6.30pm!).
The cabin was a great size. Very well thought out, clean, tidy and enough space for all out things. The bathroom was a good size and the shower doors rather than curtains made such a difference. I loved the fact that it had an interactive TV in it and a dial for music to play in the cabin. Very fun.
Our cabin Steward, Maurice came in and introduced himself, gave us a map and showed us how to work the TV, phone and told us about the safety features of the ship (muster stations, where our life jackets were and asked if we needed any assistance).
As we were on deck 8, we never had a problem with lifts most of the time as we were central to most things.
The ship itself was ever so clean and tidy. Always saw staff cleaning and polishing. Slight bits of light maintenance going on around to keep the ship looking young and fresh. We were very impressed with this.
Never felt crowded on the ship and we always managed to get a sun lounger or a chair somewhere. Maybe it was not always right by a bar or a pool but we got one. ( Here's a tip, avoid the loungers on the top deck near the jogging track. They are constantly being jolted and jabbed by people walking and running about. It got very annoying very fast).
Entertainment all around was superb and could not be faulted. The cruise director Joff Eaton was the best I have ever seen and would love him to follow me on all my cruises!
The food in all areas was really good. I am a fussy eater and I always managed to find something to eat. The food in Macbeth at night was really good. So much choice and if you wanted something different or the food prepared slightly differently, all you had to do was ask and you got it. Johnny Rockets was very good and worth the extra money as was the Italian restaurant.
We made sure to avoid the Windjammer at peak times. That way we didn't experience the 'masses of people' or other negative comments people have left on here. If you go when it's busy, Queue. If not, wait till the rush is over.
The only criticisms I have about the ship is that it does not have an outdoor pizzeria or burger bar like most other ships have. If you wanted to eat by the pool, you have to go all the way to the Windjammer and come back out.
The other thing is most cruise lines put on free coaches in ports into the local area, RCI charge up to $5pp for this service.
I will defiantly go on her again and have already booked. September 8th 2012 here we come!