Review: Independence of the Seas
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Impressive Independence (the second of three mini cruises)
114 people found this review helpful
We have been fortunate to have taken a good number of cruises but we are always looking for new experiences so the range of 2 night mini cruises presented us with a great opportunity to try three new ships this year. This was the second of the three that we have booked. In all cases we booked a guaranteed balcony and took pot luck with which category we got allocated.
Last week we had a very disappointing experience on Azura but it has informed our thinking and we will not be looking at P & O again.
By contrast, we have had a very enjoyable two nights on Independence, but it was not all good news.
The first hassle greeted us as we approached the port. Who thought that they could handle a ship the size of Independence through dock gate 8 with five different jobs worth stopping you and asking what you wanted to do, we had a large parking notice that they supplied in the windscreen!. Both West Quay and Town Quay were grid locked. ABP clearly excel at developing queues and causing frustration.
Once we got into the terminal, the RCI check in process was as slick as usual and we were on board in 15 mins at 11.15. The cabins were ready so we dropped off the bags and went exploring.
The first major contrast to Azura was the friendliness of the staff and the general ambience. Every crew member that we encountered offered a greeting and was friendly.
The second major contrast was the openness and light and airy feel about the ship. Independence has the luxury of size, but it is also about how well the space is used to keep the flow of passengers going.
We were allocated a balcony cabin near the stern on deck 6. We were a little worried about noise and vibration, but this was never an issue. The next major contrast was the size of the cabin and balcony, both of which were substantially larger than the one that we had on Azura. The shower was also a big plus, a proper screen door and a removable shower head – little things that make a difference. The disappointment was the very basic balcony furniture and there is only tea on the beverage tray. Not all Brits drink tea!
The main dining room is spectacular, a real statement of grandeur, we were allocated a table on the middle deck and dinner was a very pleasant surprise. The choice was good, the portions were substantial and the veg were fresh and nicely cooked. We had a very friendly and efficient waiter and assistant waiter.
Breakfast by contrast was a bit of a disaster with very long queues and food that was not that hot. The buffet set up on the bottom deck of the dining room is a shambles and it is difficult to get to the buffet as the tables are too close together.
RCI has improved its wine list since we last travelled with them but the prices of wine and drinks is somewhat higher than P & O prices.
We did not have time to use many of the bars and entertainment options but we did see the ice show. What a spectacle! This was an amazing performance by a very talented cast.
This short cruise was overcall too soon and it was time to disembark. This was another really positive contrast to Azura. Having queued through a number of public rooms for over 30 mins last week, we take our own luggage, we were invited to leave Independence at our convenience between 7.00 and 9.00. We had a leisurely breakfast and went to the gangway just after 8.00 and were able to walk straight off, not a queue in sight.
Before I forget, on the food side, the new Giovani's Table Italian restaurant was excellent. It was only the second night of operation, but the food quality and taste was exceptional, up with that of some of the best speciality restaurants and better than most.
We really enjoyed the Independence experience and will try it again for a longer cruise. It was not perfect, but then very few get everything right, but it offers a good value for money experience.
We are now looking forward to Queen Elizabeth, our third mini cruise in a few weeks’ time.
114 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.