|Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, currently in the dry dock phase of construction at Aker Yards in Finland, will begin service in mid-May (that's 2008, by the way; Liberty of the Seas, its Freedom-class sibling, launches this May) -- and will be based in Southampton, sharing space with the likes of Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2.|
The 158,000-ton, 3,634-passenger ship will be the largest ever to be based in England by Royal Caribbean. Independence of the Seas will, in its maiden season, offer two main itineraries. The 14-night "Mediterranean Treasures" features ports of call such as Gibraltar, U.K.; Barcelona, Spain; Nice, France; Florence/Pisa, Italy; Sardinia, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; and Malaga and Vigo, Spain. The "Italian Mediterranean" cruises, also two-weeks long, will call at Gibraltar; Cannes/Monte Carlo, France; Florence/Pisa; Rome and Sardinia, Italy; Seville and Vigo, Spain; and Lisbon, Portugal.
There will also be a handful of Canary Islands trips. Offered in late fall, these cruises will be 11 nights long.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor