I suppose that for every family of cruisers there must surely be a cruise that does not come up to par. Independence of the Seas, 20th October to the Canaries was ours. Only our eighth but this was one that we hope will not be repeated in ... Read More
I suppose that for every family of cruisers there must surely be a cruise that does not come up to par. Independence of the Seas, 20th October to the Canaries was ours. Only our eighth but this was one that we hope will not be repeated in the future.
We had previously had two very happy times on Navigator, so were looking forward to a repeat performance on the bigger ship.
I'll begin at the beginning. Arrival in our own car at Southampton was handled in as efficient manner as one can expect considering the volume of passengers. Check in, following that seemingly endless zig zag queuing system was quick and handled by a very friendly young lady. Once up the gangway we were accosted by what was to be eleven days of having a camera shoved in our faces by the over enthusiastic onboard photo staff.
The Windjammer was, even at about 1pm, very busy but seating for five was effortlessly obtained, a feat never to be easily repeated thereafter.
Cabins or staterooms as they are naively now called, were spotless, our luggage was already on site and our cabin attendant made himself known and said that if we needed anything at all, to let him know. He was true to his word, a very nice guy.
We had picked first sitting for dinner, 6pm, hoping to do a bit of dancing and then go to the 10-30 theatre show. This plan was immediately shot to pieces as, some nights the theatre show was 8-45 and 10-30 and some nights 7pm and 8-45. We asked to change to second sitting and this was happily arranged without problem by the Head Waiter. This presented its own problems for us as the 7pm theatre show interfered with the ladies 'getting ready' time. Why there was a need to constantly change show times is unknown. We did most of the performances though, sometimes not being present quite at the start but what a disappointment they were. Only one dancing and singing show and we had enjoyed several on Navigator, mostly to set themes, you know what I mean. This time, with the exception of Bernie Flint, tears of laughter from us, and 'Kev' a very funny guy from Armenia (really?) and what a brilliant piano player he was. The rest of the performers were fourth rate. A Beatles 'tribute' band, a Scottish woman who screeched her way through her stage time, a guitar group who insisted that we all clapped our way through the act, to drown their appalling playing one assumes, and a juggler, fifty minutes of juggling, or so we were told, we left halfway. One night there was 'Mr & Mrs' and another 'The Quest'. Both were audience participation shows where guests were invited to 'make fools of themselves' basically. All for cheapness?
We were told by a staff member that the entertainment was tailored to the type of client on each cruise and the Brits were people who liked to sit and booze. Fellow cruisers we spoke to had done the Carribean on Independence and they said the entertainment was remarkably different. Plenty of dancing and stunning stage shows, so perhaps there is some truth in what we were told. Certainly the few yanks on board this cruise were dissatisfied.
A noticeable thing was the profusion of wheelchairs and motor buggies. There is some embarrasement in commenting on these as I know those who are wheelchair bound have as much right to a cruise as I. But there was rather a lot. Perhaps it was that they do not normally find themselves among such a large amount of other beings but they did barge their way through crowded areas at time. Toes were repeatedly run over especially in the lifts. In the theatre they were allowed to 'park' behind the back row of the auditorium apparently with disregard to their numbers. Should there have been an emergency, either they or the rest of us would have been in a panic situation.
The Ice Show was something else. Only one show, performed several times to accommodate everybody. Spectacular, Stunning, Amazing, Extravagant we absolutely loved it. But no adherence to the rules. There was a specific request that nobody sat in the aisles, for safety reasons I suppose. So they sat in the aisles and no staff member intervened, yet there were empty seats.
Who would believe that smoking is allowed in the Labyrinth disco? Of all places when you are gyrating about, breathing heavier than normal, smoking is in order. Except........that normally there is nobody dancing. The DJ plays what he thinks and not what the punters ask for. But the punters go in......and come out just as quickly because of that and the fug.
The food on board was up to the standard we expect, as was the waitress service in the Macbeth Dining room. What an unfortunate name for a dining room, but all were Shakespeare themed. Nothing was too much trouble, if there was anything we disliked after trying, it was replaced with something else of our choice. The pre cruise literature informed us that there would be two formal nights on an eleven night cruise. There was in fact three. That caused some concern in the wardrobe department for sure. Same person organised that, who books the entertainment, I shouldn't wonder.
Dress codes are not adhered to however. Scruffy turn out on informal nights, and only marginally tidy on formal nights. We spoke to several people who were upset that formal did not mean formal. As for no shorts and swim wear in the dining areas etc....forget it. Lots of youngsters dressing as they wished to.
In Windjammers there was the expected excellent range of choices. Finding seating for five was near impossible. Why do couples always sit at tables for six I wonder? Our solution and well recommended to you dear reader, get up a bit early have breakfast and later lunch in the dining rooms. Much more civilised and refined. Waiter service. You get what you get. No piled high plates but you certainly don't starve.
The talks/lectures were mainly aimed at selling us stuff. Jewellery, smellies, no 'bargains', all it seemed at shore prices and go to the spa if you dare. Tour selling and bingo mad. This puzzles me! Buy a Bingo ticket and get one free!! Is that a bargain or a gimmick? Strikes me you are working twice as hard for no extra advantage over the next guy.
All the staff, pleasant.
Organisation in general, iffy.
Entertainment, not good.
Sail with ship again, No! Read Less