people and no children but for this cruise the grandchildren came first.
We sailed from Southampton, boarding was quick and hassle free, as we boarded at 11am , RC had sent a timetable of arrival times according to deck number in the hope of staggering arrival times, and I think that may have helped. Our luggage was collected from the boot of our car and later delivered to our room (ABP car parking was £110 for 2 weeks).
Our rooms were unavailable so we grabbed some lunch in the Windjammer buffet, then relaxed on deck with a drink or two awaiting our room to be ready, which was at 2pm. We had a deluxe drinks package ( which meant we could have pretty much any alcoholic drink or premium coffee, or bottled water which otherwise you had to buy ) which was part of the deal we got 9 months before sailing. We were certainly glad of this, the weather was boiling hot and the temptation to try the chilled $9 cocktails was just too much, at no cost to us of course.
It is a massive ship, just having had a 2018 refit, with about 30 extra cabins added, which meant that including 1500 staff there were about 5000 people on board.
My cabin was a larger balcony cabin on deck 8 which was very nice but obviously wasn't part of the refit, it looked its age but had everything we needed except perhaps a bath. You need a suite to get a bath I think. We had a safe, flat screen TV with Freeview sattelite channels, Tea & coffee facilities , phone and a huge bed which is actually twins pushed together. Plenty of wardrobe and drawer space and a petite bathroom with shower. USA and Euro power points are provided. The large balcony was a boon in the hot weather.
My son and his wife and the children had a larger panoramic ocean view cabin (new addition 2018, deck 12) which was large enough for them. It was a similar size to our balcony cabin except the window was floor to ceiling, full cabin width leaning outwards which did what it said on the tin - a panoramic view including downwards. I was impressed, and of course it was all brand new. They had 2 twin beds joined to make a queen size bed, and the children had a bed settee.
The first 2 days were sea days as we were going first to Gibraltar, and the heatwave in the UK meant that getting a sunbed on the 2 sea days was a priority. Despite what the rules were about reserving sunbeds with towels, they were reserved as early as 6:30 am especially in the solarium, the sunbed patrols were very localised to the main pool area, and only a few people had their stuff removed for being absent too long. A large group of 6 like ours was a problem, but then some of us liked sun, some of us liked shade -so often we were separated by design rather than circumstance. Daytime entertainment was very good, they have an all day programme, and there is a show in the ice skating rink in the afternoon which is superb. Not to mention 2 main pools, a childrens adventure splash pool, solarium pool, Spa, gymnasium and about 7 jaccuzzis and that's just deck 11.
The food was very good indeed, lots of choice about where and when to dine, some had an extra charge, as is common on all inclusive holidays. New for 2018 was Fish 'N ships , where for $7 you could have good old english fish and chips. Some days they were half price, so we gave them a try and they were excellent.
In the Evening we had tried the specialist restaurants last year, so this time we had dinner in the main restaurant, the 3 course meal could be a bit fussy, albeit delicious and there was plenty of it without over facing you. There was a childrens menu so they could always find something they liked. We were on "My time" dining, which means you don't have a fixed dining time, in theory you book your table a day in advance at a time to suit you , at or around either 6 pm or 8:30 pm. In practice, we liked our table and the waiters on day 1, so ended up rebooking the same time , same table. If you wish to see the evening shows, which by the way were brilliant- then these time slots are essential, as each show has 2 showings sychronised with 30 minutes after dining room exit times.
The facilies for children were great, new for 2018 was the big water chutes on the top deck, the revamped splash pool on deck 11, the crazy golf had been moved (to make way for the chutes) to the front of the ship where the heli pad used to be. Theres a kids club too.
In addition to the evening shows were "standy up events" as I call them which I could not participate in due to orthopaedic problems. The centre of the ship was a massive promenade, like a shopping precinct full of bars, shops, coffee bar, ice cream parlour etc. It had 2 motorised bridges (raise/lower) above which served as stages for go go dancers, disc jockey and the Cruise Manager to perform on. On a few nights they held discos on the promenade, of course you cant get a seat in the bars there for love or money, so hundreds of ravers are doing their stuff standing up on the prom to 60's 70's or 80's music.
Dress codes were mainly casual or smart casual, and during the 2 week cruise there were three formal nights, optional of course. I would guess that maybe one third of holidaymakers dressed formally on those occasions.
I've done a lot of cruising over the past 20 years and certainly for this ship at least, the average age of cruisers has come down considerably. Its moved from an over 50's pastime to club 30-50 with kids and I promise you if youre in that age group you will love it on this ship.
Service was very good, staff very helpful, couldn't do enough for us. My daughter in law had a birthday on the cruise and we knew from last year that you could push the boat out and pay for a birthday cake, champagne and strawberries, decorate your room and pay approaching $200 for all that. This year we did it different. A nod to the head waiter and they made her birthday special for free.
Gratuities of $15 per person per day (includes the children) are added to your on board account unless you go to reception and stop that. This option allows you to tip those people who really made your holiday special, people you actually met, which is good to know.
I'm sure the younger members of my family would do this again, but for me it was too big a ship, too many people and not enough free seats in the bars in the evenings.
Travel operator: Thomas Cook
On arrival in Southampton at 13.30hrs we were greeted with massive long queues at check with lines of passengers snaking out from the building along the front of the terminal...not a good sign. The first thing we were handed was a letter stating they had an outbreak of the Novo virus on the previous sailing & a "super clean" of the ship was underway & extra cleanliness measures were in place. Then after another half hour we were handed another letter saying our Lisbon stop was cancelled due to a strike in Europe & we would be going to Lanzarotte instead...although disappointing as Lisbon was one of the ports we were looking forward to, Lanzarotte wasn’t a bad compromise. However a further letter handed to us said we could reschedule our cruise for a later date if we wanted.....I mean who in their right mind after travelling from Scotland all that way would decide there and then to change their cruise?? We asked why we hadn’t been informed of this option before we travelled...answer was...they had no time.
So on we queued for another half hour until we were virtually the last people on board. We watched as people skipped the queue etc then found out that the computer systems had crashed hence the long wait. Once on board we needed to get my 74 year old mother in law some refreshments so headed to the Windjammer only to find it closed and us rushed straight into a life boat drill where we stood again for another 20 mins which by that time we were well & truly miffed off. My mother in law had had enough by that time and took a little "turn" much to the annoyance of a crew member who was being pressured into making sure we got to the life boat drill.
What a wonderful way to start the holiday. Then to cap it all we found that one of our parties flight case was missing & to cut a long story short it never arrived, the bus driver didn’t remove it from the coach so we never had it all cruise.
Now you would be forgiven for not reading any more of this review but after all that happened on that first day we went on to have a great cruise. "Indy" is a great ship with great crew members & plenty to do. Food is fab, entertainment very good, all areas extremely clean especially after the recent Novo virus scare.
Windjammer restaurant was not self-service for the first couple of days due to the extra safe cleaning put in place, which didn’t bother us but it annoyed all the greedy folk on board who hated "asking for more". Main dinning is fantastic, waiters superb.
Cabins were great, very clean & tidy thanks to Tony our steward who would have done anything for us. The ship on a whole is superb. Special mention to the resident rock band "Rock The Boat" in the Labrynth Lounge who were superb and had the lounge full to capacity every night, the shows were good....Tribute shows to the Rat Pack & The Jersey Boys were particularly good as was Old Opportunity knocks winner Bernie Clift....and no he’s not the one with the ostrich !! Ice show is fantastic.
Have noticed that prices for drinks & photos are up this year which is a shame knowing that they can buy in the drink at ridiculously low prices & prices in the shops were also up on last year’s [we did the Caribbean on the Freedom last year].
Apart from the crappy start it was a very good cruise although the weather was poor & we missed out on La Corunna due to a storm...no fault of RCI. We would travel on "Indy" again but don’t know if we would do the queues at Southampton again...last year in Florida we were on board in under an hour.
The drinks on board are expensive compared with Thomsons drinks package which was a bargain, on RC you need a second mortgage but I was on holiday and indirectly my kids were paying. I prepaid the gratuities to allow me "MY time dining" this was a con! Firstly this does not grant the flexible dining times promised and secondly the gratuities are given as vouchers printed with the names of the recipient with no mention of the amount so again no flexibility.
As previously mentioned the entertainment was superb although the best seats in the theatre were reserved for RC regular cruisers, nepotism rules ok here. Food was also excellent as was our cabin, plus more than enough sunbeds were available. Finally all I can say is we enjoyed this cruise and would cruise with them again but would certainly not pay for the "My time dining".
Caribbean should be proud of these people. My wife had assisted passage as she is disabled and every one could not do enough. On one occcaision we had to call Maintenance late at night and someone was with us in five mins. The bars and entertainment were great - we spent most time in the Baleros bar - where the bar staff Daniel etc also all the waiters were great especially Anthony.
The only points that we were not completely happy with was as the ship was very full - Sun beds became an issue - on deck 11 Pool deck. also you had to choose time to go for lunch as Windjammer was very crowded.
Also in the inerior state room the phone was in such a position as to have to climb over bed to get to it the other side of the bed would have been more appropriate. If these are all the issues we had then we were very lucky,and a wonderful holiday was has = Thanks Independance of the Sea and Staff. We would reccomemd a Cruise with this ship it has got to be experienced to be believed.
Travel operator: Royal Caribbean " Independence of The Seas"
the cabin was excellent with a great attendant who looked after us for the whole time, the food was
5 star with great service from the staff.
the people at our table were a great mix and very friendly. the entertainment good and the cruise director joff was 1st class
we enjoyed ourselves every night and visited the many bars
we would recomend the cruise to anyone
Travel operator: Tates Travel
Well done to Joff our cruise director, the food, staff, weather and good company in the King Lear.
Travel operator: ruise Deals
Travel operator: Royal Caribbean
sea was very choppy and windy and chilly,bay of biscay rough my wife had motion sickness.
we spent to much time cruising and not ashore,if you dont drink or gorge on the excellent food or gamble you can be at a loss to do something,we saw very little of the sun untill madeira after that another day at sea.
all the stops entailed along walk or expensive shuttle transfer to towns.
we found the best resort to be vigo.
we enjoyed it but wont do it again.
Travel operator: rci
Ship now 3 years old but VERY clean and still looking good.
Huge effort by the crew to both clean and keep down norovirus, which seemed to be working, despite efforts of some ignorant passengers re basic hygiene.
Food was good and service excellent.
Lots of whingers on board and people who looked not to be enjoying it!
We found drinks and wine expensive but had same bottle of wine in local Southampton hotel for similar price and with the RCI wine package was actually CHEAPER! - buyer beware!
Seemed to us that a lot of passengers wanted minimum price for the cruise and cabin and then pay NOTHING more, hence moaning at cost of shuttle bus where it was too far to walk into port/town etc...
Some people also complaining the ship was too big - ie too far to walk to theatre or to dining room!
Only complaints we had were relating to rude and inconsiderate passengers - but this will happen everywhere on any cruise or holiday.
Windjammers buffet restaurant was closed briefly twice each day between breakfast lunch and dinner - but this is to give time to CLEAN the place and help keep down viruses etc - why have some people complained about this?
There are a few very negative comments and reviews on this ship and cruise - please take with a pinch of salt!
We had a great time and would go again, and again....
Travel operator: RCI
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