Our first cruise and our last, as our experience was awful.
Do not expect 5* service/food/quality, as it is 2* - 3* at best. we did experience many frequent/experienced cruisers, who were appalled as to how the quality had gone much down hill, just since last year, so it is unfortunate that we obviously chose to cruise on the independence, at its worse. One lady said, she it was her 6th time on independence and she would not be going back, this was generally a lot of peoples opinion.
The ship is in much need of refurbishment, it is tatty
A shame, as it is a large ship and on first seeing it, you have the wow factor, both from the outside and within but very quickly, you see passed that. one of everyones pet hates, were the lifts, you spend many hours of your cruise, waiting for a lift or on a lift. they are very badly organsied, you can be stood there for ages, only to see the lift shoot on passed you, or watch a lift stay on one floor for a long long time.
Our cabin did not smell good, it smelt of a dirty person. Again sad, as it is a nice size, the bed is very comfortable and you have plenty of storage. There is very little in the way of toiletries supplied (something apparently they were good with before) you have a small bar of soap and i 'think' it was shampoo in a dispenser in the shower. The tv channels are atrocious, repeating 'chicago fire' all day and repeating the episodes frequently, to watch a film, it would cost you 11.95 dollars per film. tea coffee supplied but we were constantly having to chase up, or replenish our supplies ourselves.
Dining; we were very fortunate to have a table in the main dining room with a great position, with a view of the sea. Our two waiters were excellent, Rosario and Peter, they made our experince in the dining room perfect. Sadly the food is not of a great standard, one evening even sending a meal back, i would say again 2*-3* quality. the buffet restaurant, was always very busy and the food of the same standard but a lot of choice.
Entertainment, hmmm we had not had good feedback about the shows, so did not attend any, until the last night, which was a comedian 'Mick Miller' who was hilarious. by all accounts, the ice show was the best shows to attend. we frequented the Pyramid bar, where we did enjoy the games, either a quiz or a game such as true or false. the band 'undercover' were OK but the reggae band were great! You find you have great trouble getting into venues, they fill fast, as if there isnt enough supplied, for the amount of people on board. the few activities were good, the small fun golf course, the flow ride and the climbing wall, you also get the opportunity, 2 or 3 times during the cruise, to ice skate. The cinema is beside the noisy pool, so the 5pm showing you couldnt hear properly, then the 8pm and 11pm showings, were too cold, besides, the films shown, were very dated, 'Da vinci code' casino royale' to name a couple. There was a nice quiet pool to relax by but many people reserved the beds very early, despite the 'no reservation' rule, so never had the opportunity to sit by that pool (but to be fair, none of the pools are really big enough to have a swim in)
Service was poor, as mentioned above, we had the pleasure of two great memebers of staff, in the dining room and our room attendent was ok but you feel they are too stretched, you are one of thousands and there is not much of a personnal touch due to this. Some staff were friendly enough, others could barely raise a smile but one thing was for sure, they all worked very hard and long hours.
It is a true money pit, for a start, they add a gratuity fee automatically to your room of just over 13 dollars a day (you can ask to have this removed) they add gratuity fee for every drink you buy between 1 and 3 dollars (i think its on a percentage) and the drinks are expensive, they offer you drink packages but unless youre a lush, it is not worthwhile, for example, to include wine and beer in the package, you pay 49 dollars a day. coffee, tea and hot chocolate are free (as long as they dont run out) you can get an awful lemonade or apple juice or kiwi drink, when the windjammer buffet restaurant is open. All in all, you feel they are trying to get an extra buck out of you, every way you turn, not what i call 'all inclusive'.
The visits to the ports were great,loved it, we visited, Gibraltar, Nice, Rome, Valencia, Barcelona, Malaga, and Cadiz (not Seville as you are told, unless you wnat to pay for another excursion) but cadiz is beautiful. our first dock was in Gibraltar, we had been at sea for over two days and we were chomping at the bit to get off, as we felt we had been imprisoned.
we chose one excursion, which was to Rome (basically just a coach there and back which cost 75 dollars per head) as it is very far from the Dock you arrive in civitavecchia but i would advise to make your own arrangements. We also paid for a 'fast track' into the vattican museum, which was a waste of money, as we could have got in there quicker, had we just queued, with their fast track, it was around 90 minutes before we were in.
Most days we were on and off the boat with ease but sadly a couple of the ports, the visit was too short, so everyone was trying to get off and onn all at the same time, which was hell.
coming off the ship when we returned to southampton, was a joke, many people had booked taxis etc, who were left outside waitng, with the taxis fee raising as they wait, it was organised chaos, no one knew when they should disembark, announcements were not made, a female memeber of staff was walking round shouting it out and there was much confusion.
My father is post stroke and needed either a wheelchair or mobility scooter to get around, the staff were not that helpful at times such as disembarkment and other passengers were damn right rude and thoughtless, often making getting about very difficult, many would should passed him, to get in a lift, he had waited ages for, they should be disgusted with themselves.
I could go on moaning but i shan't
Very basic, looked clean but didnt smell clean
A good size
bed was very comfortable
2* - 3*
very expensive, just for transport to and from rome 75 dollars a head
as for the fast track, we were robbed, paying 69 dollars and it taking around 90 minutes to go in, it would have been faster to have just queued, rather then being made to stand out in the backing sunView All undefined undefined Reviews
Loved Gibralter, it was easy to access the cable cars to the top, to see the apes, the caves etc
LOVED barcelona, we saw so much and enjoyed the hop on hop off tour bus
beautiful place and very clean
very wheelchair friendly
easy to walk to from the port, beautiful place, lota to see and again a hop on hop off bus
felt the 75 dollars per head, was far too much just for a lift to and from rome. sadly we also wasted money paying for a 'fast track' in the the vattican museum, as it took 90 minutes to get in there, after having to stand in the blaring sunshine, due to bad organisation, it would have been quicker to just queueView All 171 Rome on Your Own Reviews
a beautiful place to visit, straight off the ship
loved malaga, again walking distance from the ship (if you are healthy) great shopping, clean and lots to see