We sailed on the Independence six years ago and had a great time which prompted us to re-book for the 14 night Italian Mediterranean cruise in July. The coach journey to the port was perfect and embarkation was quick and friendly. When we boarded the ship we sat on the top deck with a drink in the sun as we left Southampton looking forward to our fortnights break. Around four o'clock we decided to check out our rooms, as a party of five we booked two superior balcony staterooms on deck 7. First impressions were how tired the rooms were. Picture frames had chunks out of them, bedding had dirty marks on it, pillows were stained, the list went on. The worst issue in one room was the tea tray which was filthy and had somebody's false eyelash stuck to tray. We complained twice asking for a replacement tray (for obvious hygiene reasons) the gentlemen at customer services was very apologetic both times but this never happened and we ended up washing it in the bathroom sink ourselves.
As the cruise went on we noticed how packed the ship was. It was a constant struggle to find a table for five most evenings in any of the bars and I likened getting a meal in Windjammers to shopping at a supermarket at Christmas, not a pleasurable experience. We opted for anytime dining but on three occasions were told that there were no tables available (hence Windjammers) on the times we did dine in the main dining room the food and service were excellent.
The ship was roamed by gangs of teenagers who on two occasions we saw getting amorous with each other (much to the horror of some of the passengers) and young children running around chasing each other around the lifts and promenade.
Tired, shabby, not very clean. The balcony had hair from the last occupant all over it and the glass was really dirty to see through. The only redeeming feature was our room attendant who was great.
Quick embarkation, very friendly, no problems.
A fantastic tour. Our second time in Florence, an absolutely beautiful city.