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My wife and I cruised with my niece and her friend, so essentially I spent the cruise in the company of three lovely women, which kept many of the other passengers guessing and boosted my ego quite a bit. Our cruise was the second of the IotS, from Southampton calling at Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo and back to Southampton (not Western Mediterranean as I selected from the CC drop down list, but there is no selection offered for this itinerary). On a very warm and sunny day in Southampton, embarkation was fast and slick and by sailaway on deck 11 we were very much in the holiday spirit; the ship's band, 'Rock the Boat' caught our attention immediately with their superb playing, but I will come back to that. The Ship - huge of course and actually very impressive, good architecture, well designed and built. All I can compare with is QM2, and whilst the dEcor is perhaps a little jazzier, no quality is lost. I didn't think I would like the Royal Promenade, but it actually works as a main thoroughfare and social focal point for the ship. Of all the bars, we liked Boleros for a pre dinner cocktails in a very lively Latin American atmosphere, or for something quieter the Champagne Bar was also excellent. Both of these are pretty close to the main Dining Room entrance, so perfect venues just before dinner. There are of course other bars around the ship, and we used those occasionally. The top decks 11 and 12 are also well designed and create a variety of extensive sunbathing and pool areas, many of which sheltered from the wind, and on a nice late afternoon, the pool bars are a good place for a margarita or two. Flowrider and Rock Climbing wall are on the upper deck at the rear of the ship, looked good fun but didn't try. Sports Court here also, used this from time to time, kicking a ball around or the occasional 5-aside football game. Cabins - Good. We were in 7502, right at the front of the ship with a fantastic porthole facing dead ahead. We had a few gripes about the stateroom attendant but overall the cabin was as good as similar cabins on QM2, but without robes, slippers, toiletries. Casino - Big, all you need and I won so no complaints. Dining - We ate in third tier (King Lear) by the window, a wonderfully intimate setting considering the size of the restaurant, served by Milan and Olga. After the first night, which took too long and served dry steak, leaving us at that point wishing we were back on QM2, the food improved. There are only three courses but I have no problem with that, because you can supplement your meal with pretty much anything off the menu, if you can find room for it (which I could not). Milan and Olga were excellent, and took extremely good care of us (Hello Stacey, Chris and Dan). Speciality restaurants (supplement applies) Chops Grille and Portofino's were both excellent, Portofino's had the edge in my view, 5 star dining and excellent service. Entertainment - Alhambra theatre shows were OK to excellent, but even the less impressive shows are still a nice way to spend an hour in the evening. The Ice skating shows, we saw two, were superb, don't miss them. One evening the rink was converted into a venue for a crazy game show called 'The Quest'. Don't be snobby about this, go see it, you cannot help getting caught up in the fun. Otherwise there are performers ranging from violins, guitars, lounge bands etc dotted around here and there, all very nice. And then there is the ship's rock band, 'Rock the Boat'. That's right, rock band, in fact rock, pop and blues. This band, I promise you, was worth the fare alone, so much better than the usual calypso / Caribbean / party band that you will find disappearing into the background on other ships. Rock the Boat - Four extremely talented musicians and I will name them: Band lead vocalist and bass player, Curtiss; Drums and support vocalist Dave; Keyboards Dave; and last and certainly not least, lead guitar and support vocals Darren. I love this band, and Darren is an expert lead guitarist who knows how to play, really play. The blues night in the Pyramid lounge, amongst many other excellent nights when we saw the band, ranks as one of the best nights of my life. The Pyramid lounge became a blues club for the night, a sort of jamming session with a couple of the orchestra's sax players joining in for a few numbers, unrehearsed and simply magic. These guys don't know how good they are, Maybe RCI don't know either, but if you were born in the fifties like me, you will probably love these guys too. I could go on and on about this band, but I won't - just go see them. Destinations - OK, liked Madeira and Lisbon best, but actually usually were quite glad to get back on the ship. Go again - Probably, if only to catch another blues night.

This Boat Rocks

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Gary

Trip Details
My wife and I cruised with my niece and her friend, so essentially I spent the cruise in the company of three lovely women, which kept many of the other passengers guessing and boosted my ego quite a bit.
Our cruise was the second of the IotS, from Southampton calling at Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo and back to Southampton (not Western Mediterranean as I selected from the CC drop down list, but there is no selection offered for this itinerary).
On a very warm and sunny day in Southampton, embarkation was fast and slick and by sailaway on deck 11 we were very much in the holiday spirit; the ship's band, 'Rock the Boat' caught our attention immediately with their superb playing, but I will come back to that.
The Ship - huge of course and actually very impressive, good architecture, well designed and built. All I can compare with is QM2, and whilst the dEcor is perhaps a little jazzier, no quality is lost. I didn't think I would like the Royal Promenade, but it actually works as a main thoroughfare and social focal point for the ship. Of all the bars, we liked Boleros for a pre dinner cocktails in a very lively Latin American atmosphere, or for something quieter the Champagne Bar was also excellent. Both of these are pretty close to the main Dining Room entrance, so perfect venues just before dinner. There are of course other bars around the ship, and we used those occasionally. The top decks 11 and 12 are also well designed and create a variety of extensive sunbathing and pool areas, many of which sheltered from the wind, and on a nice late afternoon, the pool bars are a good place for a margarita or two. Flowrider and Rock Climbing wall are on the upper deck at the rear of the ship, looked good fun but didn't try. Sports Court here also, used this from time to time, kicking a ball around or the occasional 5-aside football game.
Cabins - Good. We were in 7502, right at the front of the ship with a fantastic porthole facing dead ahead. We had a few gripes about the stateroom attendant but overall the cabin was as good as similar cabins on QM2, but without robes, slippers, toiletries.
Casino - Big, all you need and I won so no complaints.
Dining - We ate in third tier (King Lear) by the window, a wonderfully intimate setting considering the size of the restaurant, served by Milan and Olga. After the first night, which took too long and served dry steak, leaving us at that point wishing we were back on QM2, the food improved. There are only three courses but I have no problem with that, because you can supplement your meal with pretty much anything off the menu, if you can find room for it (which I could not). Milan and Olga were excellent, and took extremely good care of us (Hello Stacey, Chris and Dan). Speciality restaurants (supplement applies) Chops Grille and Portofino's were both excellent, Portofino's had the edge in my view, 5 star dining and excellent service.
Entertainment - Alhambra theatre shows were OK to excellent, but even the less impressive shows are still a nice way to spend an hour in the evening. The Ice skating shows, we saw two, were superb, don't miss them. One evening the rink was converted into a venue for a crazy game show called 'The Quest'. Don't be snobby about this, go see it, you cannot help getting caught up in the fun. Otherwise there are performers ranging from violins, guitars, lounge bands etc dotted around here and there, all very nice. And then there is the ship's rock band, 'Rock the Boat'. That's right, rock band, in fact rock, pop and blues. This band, I promise you, was worth the fare alone, so much better than the usual calypso / Caribbean / party band that you will find disappearing into the background on other ships.
Rock the Boat - Four extremely talented musicians and I will name them: Band lead vocalist and bass player, Curtiss; Drums and support vocalist Dave; Keyboards Dave; and last and certainly not least, lead guitar and support vocals Darren. I love this band, and Darren is an expert lead guitarist who knows how to play, really play. The blues night in the Pyramid lounge, amongst many other excellent nights when we saw the band, ranks as one of the best nights of my life. The Pyramid lounge became a blues club for the night, a sort of jamming session with a couple of the orchestra's sax players joining in for a few numbers, unrehearsed and simply magic. These guys don't know how good they are, Maybe RCI don't know either, but if you were born in the fifties like me, you will probably love these guys too. I could go on and on about this band, but I won't - just go see them.
Destinations - OK, liked Madeira and Lisbon best, but actually usually were quite glad to get back on the ship.
Go again - Probably, if only to catch another blues night.
Gary’s Full Rating Summary
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