We’ve just come back from a 14 night trip on the Independence which went to the western Mediterranean. It was a fantastic cruise and very little of our experience was anything like negative. However, a quick run down of the different ... Read More
We’ve just come back from a 14 night trip on the Independence which went to the western Mediterranean. It was a fantastic cruise and very little of our experience was anything like negative. However, a quick run down of the different bits we saw and did, follows!
-- Windjammer --
We found the Windjammer a huge improvement on Vision of the Seas’s version. The seating is well spaced out and the furniture is nicer, meaning it’s an experience that’s generally nice, rather than a low quality fight for somewhere rubbish to sit to eat some food. We avoided it on Vision as much as we could.
The guys with guitars singing for guests to wash their hands on the entrance were slightly amusing but completely unnecessary. Those who don’t wash their hands, won’t do so just because a couple of guys are singing at them. Also if you eat like a normal grown up human, you’ll use cutlery anyway!
-- Izumi --
We were looking forward to some beautiful sushi (as we’d had on Vision) but this Izumi focuses far too much on Hibachi. Which essentially is a chef singing songs (expecting passenger participation) and flicking bits egg into guests’ mouths amongst other really “hilarious” things. My wife and I went on a formal night but we were sat around a chef with six others, none of whom were wearing anything smarter than t shirts. Made us feel awkwardly overdressed and we were completely unable to have a nice meal together.
Izumi on Independence is very much expecting you to order their Hibachi combo meal. Don’t get me wrong, the chefs are very skilled but the food just tastes normal, like you’d expect for cooked Japanese food. Nothing special but $10 more than the dining package allows.
We did order some sushi to have with the cooked food which was excellent but the atmosphere just didn’t fit with a nice meal out with your other half.
In summary, don’t bother going to Izumi if you want a classy meal, don’t. It’s a slightly too expensive, too loud and too informal way to spend an evening eating what’s quite regular food.
-- Chops Grille --
Fantastic - we ate there three times! Wonderful food and a really nice atmosphere and view. The seafood towers were great! Definitely worth every penny, especially as a package night.
-- Main dining room --
The service was great, as is expected. We found that the menu was pretty boring though. Turns out that Royal Caribbean make the menu more British as the majority of the passengers are British. I’m sure it suited many but I don’t go on holiday to eat the same food as I make at home!
By the way, they don’t have soup spoons. Eating soup with a dessert spoon takes ages and got boring! A strange lack of equipment for Royal Caribbean!
I would say that the MDR is a nice dinner, but not special enough to look forward to. The food is great quality but not interesting - left me wondering whether I ought to have gone somewhere else (even Windjammer!) for dinner rather than spend 90 minutes eating unexciting food.
-- Bars --
The bars were as expected, brilliant. Great staff and plentiful drinks. Schooner is a bit of a shame as it’s too much of a thoroughfare and seems to have a quiz on every half an hour. Our experience of Schooner on Vision of the Seas was a good one, but it was far more laid back and more music than quizzes (can’t remember any quizzes there actually).
-- The pools --
Fantastic - facilities are brilliant. The rules about reserving beds aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on though - nobody follows them and the staff don’t confiscate stuff left on them all day. People reserve beds at 7am on a sea day and don’t move all day. This is a huge issue that Royal Caribbean needs to sort out!
-- The promenade --
We had loads of great evenings around the Promenade. The events and music make for a lovely evening atmosphere - and a party too some nights. We loved spending time here!
-- Dress codes --
If you’re new to Royal Caribbean, the dress code for anything other than a formal night is anything from very informal to formal. On formal nights, if you wear a Tuxedo, you’ll be in a miniority - I reckon only 5% ish of passengers wear Tuxes. Generally most others makes an effort - but even so, don’t expect to be surrounded by those smarter people. Even in speciality restaurants, if you’re in shorts and a t shirt, you won’t be turned away on formal night. But if you are that person, do those of us who’ve made an effort a favour and stay in Windjammer please!
-- The other passengers --
Generally, the (mainly British) passengers were fine. We did notice however fairly large groups from a certain northern city in England (not naming where, but you might be able to guess…) who unfortunately don’t travel with a lot of class - taking up huge areas of bars/pool areas with towels, getting drunker than is enjoyable for others nearby and being unable to maintain any eating manners or dress codes. These people yawped at each other (at one point, one group had a water/drinks fight in the pool bar…) and had little consideration for others.
We found this description of group travellers to be in a surprising majority on the ship, maybe this city finished early for their school holidays. The serious point being that I’m not sure we’d sail from Southampton again because of it. The cruise wasn’t cheap but apparently price doesn’t guarantee any quality in fellow passengers! As advice for other travellers, think about whether this sort of group has a tendency to affect your enjoyment and plan your activities with this in mind.
-- the destinations --
As with the other two cruises I’ve been on, I don’t really choose a cruise because of its destinations when it’s around Europe. Simply because European port cities can be a little samey. They were all pleasant (certainly Cagliari and Cadiz) but places like Naples were not good for those who aren’t great on their feet. We heard of injuries!
-- overall --
I would happily do this cruise again. Nothing can be perfect and for a 14 night cruise, Royal Caribbean did an absolutely sterling job at it. My small observations are definitely only tiny issues. I will definitely be traveling with them again next time! Read Less