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EmbarkingWe had received an email not to arrive before 2pm. When we did arrive at port, just after 2, we queued altogether for about two hours before finally stepping aboard . We spent a lot of time chatting to other passengers in the queues. I liken it to the trauma of giving birth, once we'd finally arrived and stepped onto the ship, it was worth the wait, the queuing instantly forgotten.I realised that there would be great attention to cleanliness and this was the reason for the delay. Throughout the cruise, there was evidence everywhere of careful cleaning and attention to hygiene.CabinOur cabin, 6330, was a balcony for four, that is, the sofa converted into a double bed...for small people. My son (6'1") found it a struggle to fit, his feet dangling off the end if he lay straight. I had assumed that the sofa bed would be a standard double bed size. However, he got used to it and we had no complaints. We were happy with our room. There was plenty of room for our stuff, with a small bathroom with shower doors rather than curtain, and hidden storage. The huge telly had a good selection of free films to watch, as well as pay per view films currently on the cinema. Very comfy huge bed which had a great view of the sea. We could also view our expenses, order room service, or order pay-per-view films using the tv.I was one of those people who said that inside cabins were "fine because we only use them to sleep in". That's true if you have an inside cabin. However, adding a balcony does add a special dimension which turns the cabin into a retreat, a place of peace to enjoy the sea, and oh boy, I loved it.Food and diningThe promenade deck (5) has the Cafe Promenade which is open 24 hours and provides sandwiches, baguettes, biscuits and cakes, teas and coffees, and hot chocolate. Tip: you have to ask for the sachets of hot chocolate, in the past this was freely available. Also on the promenade was Sorrentos, generally open late morning until 3am and serving pizzas, salads, desserts, teas coffees, hot chocolate.We visited Jonny Rockets (deck 12) once, just for the experience. There is a $4.95 charge. It was busy and we were given a pager and put on the waiting list. We did not have to wait long and soon were sitting down at a booth and being served crispy onion rings and fries. We had between us chilli dogs, chicken salad, BLT sandwich, cheeseburger plus four Oreo ice cream sundaes. Milk shakes and other drinks were an extra charge, unless you had a soda package in which case the soda was free.On Deck 11 was the Squeeze Bar, just by the family pool area. There you could get light snacks including burgers and hot dogs. This was open approx 11 - 4 most days. Also on deck 11 was the frozen yoghurt stand. Lovely on a hot day.The Windjammer on deck 11 was often busy but we always found somewhere to sit together. I think timing is important though. Waiting staff had their own areas to manage and made sure that tables were cleared and cleaned quickly. They also asked for tea or coffee orders, which I found really helpful. At the entrance to the Windjammer a member of staff was always on duty with anti-viral wipes plus the gel stands. She insisted that everyone use one or the other. Additionally, for the first four days each passenger was given a clear plastic disposable glove to use when handling tongs etc. We opted for mytime dining because we wanted to try something different and thought we'd like the flexibility of choosing when to eat. This turned out to be simple to achieve. All we needed to do was phone down to book a time. On the one occasion that the time we wanted was not available, we were asked to come along anyway and they'd try to fit us in. They did. This option is great if you want a table for two because there were plenty available. Another plus was that we sat in many different parts of the dining room and got to see different aspects of it. We were served iced water and the children used their soda package cards without problems. Indeed they were usually given two glasses of their choice of soda at a time. On the whole the food was ok, occasionally great, occasionally disappointing. I can see that this is an area were costs have been cut. My husband was disappointed that there was no lobster and when he asked, was told that it was only served on 14 night plus cruises now. Having said this, I still feel that our holiday was excellent value for the price we paid.Room ServicePreviously we have had inside cabins. They tend to be cramped for four so we have never used room service opting to eat in public areas, in daylight and comfort. Room service was used every day this time, for breakfast (for me). I ordered using the tv the night before, really easy. I could also fill in the form and hang it on the door before 3am. We always received a phone call just before our allotted time, to confirm our order, then we could then add anything we'd forgotten. The food was always consistently presented, hot, lovely. The staff were very polite and pleasant and usually surprised to receive a tip . We ordered mid afternoon snacks too, from a large selection on the tv.EntertainmentThere were several shows and we particularly enjoyed An Invitation to Dance, Once upon a Time, and Under the Big Top. There were two shows and generally, the later one was the most popular (though not always). This meant that we usually went to the early show and ate later. It is worth getting advice from entertainment staff about which will be the busy show and if you can, go to the other one. You won't need to get there ridiculously early.Captain's cocktail party on the evening of the first sea day, a formal night, was held on the promenade and there was plenty of 'champagne' (some of it blue to match my dress lol), and fruit punch going around. There was a great atmosphere and most passengers were dressed to the nines, which was lovely to see and made for a great atmosphere. Later in the cruise was Rock Britannia on the promenade, also good fun.Things to Do. A large and varied number of things to do covering physical sports (team games, individual and competitions), daily quizzes, seminars about healthy lifestyle, etc., art and craft (jewellery making, scrapbooking etc). We had a whiteboard on our cabin which we fixed to the wall with magnets. This was really useful to listing all the things we wanted to do each day, times etc. We went along to a debate at the Schooner Bar. This is something new that the company are trialling. Any interested passengers can take the mike and give their views about subjects such as the paranormal, are footballers paid too much, capital punishment, or euthanasia. It only works if people join in with interesting and considered points. Fascinating.One high point for us, and totally unexpected, was the karaoke booth on deck 3, next to the ice rink. We found it by chance and spent many happy moment (as a family) singing along to great songs in private. Our piece de resistance was Bohemiam Rhapsody on the last night. Sublime lol.A tip: it's not necessary to get up early and queue for ice show tickets. These are available on a certain morning and on our cruise there were five showings of the same show over three different days. We forgot about it completely and went the next day to reception to ask if there were any tickets left. It turns out that there were plenty for the final three shows. We just took the tickets for the show we wanted. No queuing.VigoShip's information suggests getting a $15 shuttle bus into town because it is '4 miles' to the centre. It is not necessary. A short walk takes you to the shopping area, and slightly further, up a number of steps takes you to a panoramic view over the bay. LisbonWe took a ship's tour while in Lisbon ($34 each), " Medieval Obidos", a half day tour which took an hour in the coach, north past the busy city of Lisbon, to the conurbations outside the city, filled with high rise apartments, then on to rolling hillsides and beautiful scenery. Obidos is a charming town surrounded by castle walls. We were dropped off at the edge of the town and walked in with our guide Phillip. He took us inside the church and talked about the building and town. It is a beautiful church with tiled walls and wooden painted ceiling. After this we were free to wander the town. We decided to walk around the castle walls. I recommend this tour. We only booked it the evening before too.TenerifeWe docked centrally and could see a City Sightseeing Red Bus from the ship. For 15 euros we could have done a tour of the city. However, we walked into town up the San Sebastian and saw a Tourist Information booth. The man was really helpful and circled the market, museum, a couple of churches and other places of interest. He also told us that the museums were free on a Sunday. Useful. Right next to the ship was a large shopping centre, Muelle Sur. Worth a visit before boarding.Las PalmasAgain, we stopped right in the centre of things. Again a City Sightseeing Red Bus was visible from near the ship. This time we boarded (15 euros) and went on the tour. The beach is a ten minute walk away, really close by. However it was cold and cloudy (the only day with no sun), so we didn't visit. We visited another huge Muelle shopping centre right at the port before boarding.MadeiraThis time we went on a Yellow Bus Tour for 12 euros (there are Red Bus tours too). There are two circuits; a blue and a yellow. We started at stop 1, yellow tour and got off at stop 10, crossing the road and waiting for the blue tour (stop 9) which took us up to Camara de Lobos, a lovely fishing village. The blue tour replicates the yellow tour later on so we missed very little. A word of warning, on the way into the fishing village a pesky child threw a water bomb onto the open topped bus (from a high vantage point). It didn't hit anyone because the bus was not full, however be vigilant. On the way out of the village (same road) we were watching and shouted to the child not to throw the new water bomb. He gazed at us in surprise and did not throw it, thankfully. We also had a peg thrown at us from an apartment nearer the city. I guess that locals get annoyed at being stared at all the time by nosy tourists.La CorunaA charming city with extremely helpful tourist information right at the port. Just tell them what you want to do, be it beach, museums, shopping, and they will give you a map with all the relevant info pencilled in for you. A short walk will take you to a long beach, or you may prefer to visit the Praza de Maria Pita, a large open square. The old town is off here and I spent an hour or so wandering the streets. There is also a large shopping street, Rue de Galera, which is popular.To sum up, we had a great cruise. The balcony helped to make it relaxing for me. I spent a lot of time either on it, or laying on the bed with the door open watching the sea in extreme comfort. The kids did not spend any time at the kids club after the first day, they didn't feel comfortable. It's a pity because this happens every time we got with RCCI. With P&O it is a totally different thing, then we never see them at all because they love the kids club. Not sure what's going on here. Son wished he was back on Aurora. Having said that, myself and husband loved spending time with our teens (and them with us). We did lots of family things, rock climbing, swimming, skating, golf, singing (karaoke), eating, quizzes etc., and had lots of fun together. They are 16 and 17 now, so these times will become fewer and fewer, so we will have precious memories.We elected to take our own luggage of the ship and this was easy and much better than leaving at the pre-arranged time and picking up luggage in a vast and crowded hall. We were in our car very quickly and away home.Although the food was (in my opinion) average, the staff were excellent, and relly tried hard to please everyone. Entertainment was varied and good, ports - we'd been to all of them before, it just nice to be in sunshine really.

Loved my balcony on Indy!

Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by Amanda Littler

Trip Details
EmbarkingWe had received an email not to arrive before 2pm. When we did arrive at port, just after 2, we queued altogether for about two hours before finally stepping aboard . We spent a lot of time chatting to other passengers in the queues. I liken it to the trauma of giving birth, once we'd finally arrived and stepped onto the ship, it was worth the wait, the queuing instantly forgotten.I realised that there would be great attention to cleanliness and this was the reason for the delay. Throughout the cruise, there was evidence everywhere of careful cleaning and attention to hygiene.CabinOur cabin, 6330, was a balcony for four, that is, the sofa converted into a double bed...for small people. My son (6'1") found it a struggle to fit, his feet dangling off the end if he lay straight. I had assumed that the sofa bed would be a standard double bed size. However, he got used to it and we had no complaints. We were happy with our room. There was plenty of room for our stuff, with a small bathroom with shower doors rather than curtain, and hidden storage. The huge telly had a good selection of free films to watch, as well as pay per view films currently on the cinema. Very comfy huge bed which had a great view of the sea. We could also view our expenses, order room service, or order pay-per-view films using the tv.I was one of those people who said that inside cabins were "fine because we only use them to sleep in". That's true if you have an inside cabin. However, adding a balcony does add a special dimension which turns the cabin into a retreat, a place of peace to enjoy the sea, and oh boy, I loved it.Food and diningThe promenade deck (5) has the Cafe Promenade which is open 24 hours and provides sandwiches, baguettes, biscuits and cakes, teas and coffees, and hot chocolate. Tip: you have to ask for the sachets of hot chocolate, in the past this was freely available. Also on the promenade was Sorrentos, generally open late morning until 3am and serving pizzas, salads, desserts, teas coffees, hot chocolate.We visited Jonny Rockets (deck 12) once, just for the experience. There is a $4.95 charge. It was busy and we were given a pager and put on the waiting list. We did not have to wait long and soon were sitting down at a booth and being served crispy onion rings and fries. We had between us chilli dogs, chicken salad, BLT sandwich, cheeseburger plus four Oreo ice cream sundaes. Milk shakes and other drinks were an extra charge, unless you had a soda package in which case the soda was free.On Deck 11 was the Squeeze Bar, just by the family pool area. There you could get light snacks including burgers and hot dogs. This was open approx 11 - 4 most days. Also on deck 11 was the frozen yoghurt stand. Lovely on a hot day.The Windjammer on deck 11 was often busy but we always found somewhere to sit together. I think timing is important though. Waiting staff had their own areas to manage and made sure that tables were cleared and cleaned quickly. They also asked for tea or coffee orders, which I found really helpful. At the entrance to the Windjammer a member of staff was always on duty with anti-viral wipes plus the gel stands. She insisted that everyone use one or the other. Additionally, for the first four days each passenger was given a clear plastic disposable glove to use when handling tongs etc. We opted for mytime dining because we wanted to try something different and thought we'd like the flexibility of choosing when to eat. This turned out to be simple to achieve. All we needed to do was phone down to book a time. On the one occasion that the time we wanted was not available, we were asked to come along anyway and they'd try to fit us in. They did. This option is great if you want a table for two because there were plenty available. Another plus was that we sat in many different parts of the dining room and got to see different aspects of it. We were served iced water and the children used their soda package cards without problems. Indeed they were usually given two glasses of their choice of soda at a time. On the whole the food was ok, occasionally great, occasionally disappointing. I can see that this is an area were costs have been cut. My husband was disappointed that there was no lobster and when he asked, was told that it was only served on 14 night plus cruises now. Having said this, I still feel that our holiday was excellent value for the price we paid.Room ServicePreviously we have had inside cabins. They tend to be cramped for four so we have never used room service opting to eat in public areas, in daylight and comfort. Room service was used every day this time, for breakfast (for me). I ordered using the tv the night before, really easy. I could also fill in the form and hang it on the door before 3am. We always received a phone call just before our allotted time, to confirm our order, then we could then add anything we'd forgotten. The food was always consistently presented, hot, lovely. The staff were very polite and pleasant and usually surprised to receive a tip . We ordered mid afternoon snacks too, from a large selection on the tv.EntertainmentThere were several shows and we particularly enjoyed An Invitation to Dance, Once upon a Time, and Under the Big Top. There were two shows and generally, the later one was the most popular (though not always). This meant that we usually went to the early show and ate later. It is worth getting advice from entertainment staff about which will be the busy show and if you can, go to the other one. You won't need to get there ridiculously early.Captain's cocktail party on the evening of the first sea day, a formal night, was held on the promenade and there was plenty of 'champagne' (some of it blue to match my dress lol), and fruit punch going around. There was a great atmosphere and most passengers were dressed to the nines, which was lovely to see and made for a great atmosphere. Later in the cruise was Rock Britannia on the promenade, also good fun.Things to Do. A large and varied number of things to do covering physical sports (team games, individual and competitions), daily quizzes, seminars about healthy lifestyle, etc., art and craft (jewellery making, scrapbooking etc). We had a whiteboard on our cabin which we fixed to the wall with magnets. This was really useful to listing all the things we wanted to do each day, times etc. We went along to a debate at the Schooner Bar. This is something new that the company are trialling. Any interested passengers can take the mike and give their views about subjects such as the paranormal, are footballers paid too much, capital punishment, or euthanasia. It only works if people join in with interesting and considered points. Fascinating.One high point for us, and totally unexpected, was the karaoke booth on deck 3, next to the ice rink. We found it by chance and spent many happy moment (as a family) singing along to great songs in private. Our piece de resistance was Bohemiam Rhapsody on the last night. Sublime lol.A tip: it's not necessary to get up early and queue for ice show tickets. These are available on a certain morning and on our cruise there were five showings of the same show over three different days. We forgot about it completely and went the next day to reception to ask if there were any tickets left. It turns out that there were plenty for the final three shows. We just took the tickets for the show we wanted. No queuing.VigoShip's information suggests getting a $15 shuttle bus into town because it is '4 miles' to the centre. It is not necessary. A short walk takes you to the shopping area, and slightly further, up a number of steps takes you to a panoramic view over the bay. LisbonWe took a ship's tour while in Lisbon ($34 each), " Medieval Obidos", a half day tour which took an hour in the coach, north past the busy city of Lisbon, to the conurbations outside the city, filled with high rise apartments, then on to rolling hillsides and beautiful scenery. Obidos is a charming town surrounded by castle walls. We were dropped off at the edge of the town and walked in with our guide Phillip. He took us inside the church and talked about the building and town. It is a beautiful church with tiled walls and wooden painted ceiling. After this we were free to wander the town. We decided to walk around the castle walls. I recommend this tour. We only booked it the evening before too.TenerifeWe docked centrally and could see a City Sightseeing Red Bus from the ship. For 15 euros we could have done a tour of the city. However, we walked into town up the San Sebastian and saw a Tourist Information booth. The man was really helpful and circled the market, museum, a couple of churches and other places of interest. He also told us that the museums were free on a Sunday. Useful. Right next to the ship was a large shopping centre, Muelle Sur. Worth a visit before boarding.Las PalmasAgain, we stopped right in the centre of things. Again a City Sightseeing Red Bus was visible from near the ship. This time we boarded (15 euros) and went on the tour. The beach is a ten minute walk away, really close by. However it was cold and cloudy (the only day with no sun), so we didn't visit. We visited another huge Muelle shopping centre right at the port before boarding.MadeiraThis time we went on a Yellow Bus Tour for 12 euros (there are Red Bus tours too). There are two circuits; a blue and a yellow. We started at stop 1, yellow tour and got off at stop 10, crossing the road and waiting for the blue tour (stop 9) which took us up to Camara de Lobos, a lovely fishing village. The blue tour replicates the yellow tour later on so we missed very little. A word of warning, on the way into the fishing village a pesky child threw a water bomb onto the open topped bus (from a high vantage point). It didn't hit anyone because the bus was not full, however be vigilant. On the way out of the village (same road) we were watching and shouted to the child not to throw the new water bomb. He gazed at us in surprise and did not throw it, thankfully. We also had a peg thrown at us from an apartment nearer the city. I guess that locals get annoyed at being stared at all the time by nosy tourists.La CorunaA charming city with extremely helpful tourist information right at the port. Just tell them what you want to do, be it beach, museums, shopping, and they will give you a map with all the relevant info pencilled in for you. A short walk will take you to a long beach, or you may prefer to visit the Praza de Maria Pita, a large open square. The old town is off here and I spent an hour or so wandering the streets. There is also a large shopping street, Rue de Galera, which is popular.To sum up, we had a great cruise. The balcony helped to make it relaxing for me. I spent a lot of time either on it, or laying on the bed with the door open watching the sea in extreme comfort. The kids did not spend any time at the kids club after the first day, they didn't feel comfortable. It's a pity because this happens every time we got with RCCI. With P&O it is a totally different thing, then we never see them at all because they love the kids club. Not sure what's going on here. Son wished he was back on Aurora. Having said that, myself and husband loved spending time with our teens (and them with us). We did lots of family things, rock climbing, swimming, skating, golf, singing (karaoke), eating, quizzes etc., and had lots of fun together. They are 16 and 17 now, so these times will become fewer and fewer, so we will have precious memories.We elected to take our own luggage of the ship and this was easy and much better than leaving at the pre-arranged time and picking up luggage in a vast and crowded hall. We were in our car very quickly and away home.Although the food was (in my opinion) average, the staff were excellent, and relly tried hard to please everyone. Entertainment was varied and good, ports - we'd been to all of them before, it just nice to be in sunshine really.
Amanda Littler’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 6330
Cabin 6330, a balcony cabin on the hump, was an excellent choice. It was not to high in the water, central to all amenities, right by the lifts, our dining room was one floor directly below, as was reception and the beginning of the Promenade. The library was one floor up. The kids club and Windjammer right up the stairs by our cabin. Everything was to hand and this meant that the ship did not seem too large at all. It was always quiet too.
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