On 10th August 2019, our Travel & Cruise Specialist, Emma, made a visit by invitation to Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas in Southampton. Here’s her blog….
“I’m lucky enough to live close to Southampton, so have see many cruise ships in dock, however the size of the Independence of the Seas just blew me away – and it’s not even one of the top 10 in size however it can carry just over 4500 passengers. The ship had a refurb in 2018, so a lot of new features. It had docked early the night before due to the bad weather and because of the weather had hadn’t docked the ‘right way round’ so we couldn’t board in the way that passengers would normally. We went up a stairwell onto deck 2 rather than deck 4.
After a tea and coffee stop, we had a tour of this magnificent ship. At 10am they did a final call for all passengers to have disembarked – however she was setting sail again at 5pm, so a pretty quick turnaround. Passengers can check in online to make their check-in at the docks quicker, and they were being allowed to board and use (open) facilities prior to their cabin being available.
On Independence of the seas there are 14 floors – all accessible by lift (but not all lifts go to all the floors). We first walked along the Promenade which reminded me of the airport. A selection of coffee shops/bars/shops – Michael Kors, Ben and Jerry’s to name a few gave it that real ‘duty free’ vibe.
We then went to see the facilities – library, Star Lounge (for welcome talks etc), Theatre (nightly shows by the crew and west end shows and cinema), Lounge Bars, Spa, Gym, jogging track (top deck), splash park, Swimming pools, escape room, wave rider, sports court, climbing wall, casino, games arcade, sports bar, art gallery and mini golf. So much to keep everyone of every age entertained. There are kids clubs from the age of 3-11 and a nursery for the younger ones.The younger ones would be fully entertained both day and night especially with their late-night programme (which is chargeable).
We then visited some of the cabins – ranging from interior staterooms to the royal suite.
The interior staterooms are as they say, interior, no window. They are compact, but they have everything you need, and great for those people who know it will be somewhere to just rest their head. In addition to the standard interior staterooms, you do get the option on this ship of Promenade view rooms, which have a window viewing the interior promenade area – great option for those on a budget and who do want a window.
Standard Balcony – the lead in room type with a balcony, good size with sitting area.
Panoramic Suite – new room type, spacious with floor to ceiling windows.
Panoramic Junior Suite – these were my favourite cabin type. You can see the bed below, behind where I was standing is a sitting area, with a revolving TV in the middle. Towards the door is an area perfect for children with bunk beds. There is one toilet and one shower room. Very spacious rooms ideal for families.
Owners Suite – very spacious, large room type, with dining area and full length balcony.
Grand Suite – large room type, full length balcony.
Junior Suite with Balcony – large cabin type, good for families (sofa bed and curtain across).
We ate at the main dining restaurant for dinner, which is included. Other eateries are also included such as Windjammer (buffet), Pizza and Café Promenade. There are a variety of upgraded meal packages clients can pre-book before they travel which gives them access to some of the other food outlets – these include Fish & Chips, Johnny Rockets, Italian etc. Tea and coffee are included and they can get this at the café throughout the day along with light snacks. Drinks packages can also be pre-purchased, varying in cost depending what’s included- if they pre-book this with soda package, they get refillable cups in their cabin on check-in. There is a large variety of bars to choose from, Sports Bar, Crowne & Anchor Oub, Schooner Bar….. OctoTip Alert!, The ship do have many stalls set up throughout the ship to try and ‘upsell’ clients who haven’t already pre-purchased, so it is best to pre-book if this is something you are definitely going to use!
They have an excursion desk for passengers to book once on board too.
Anyone who is nervous, and new to cruising, there are plenty of crew on hand to help throughout embarkation day.
Another great feature were touchscreen guides through the cruise, put in their cabin number and it gives them directions, choose somewhere to go and it does the same.
The ship was pretty much full by the time we were leaving. There were a lot of families on board, and I think the facilities they have on board are fantastic. We also saw celebrations for honeymoon and anniversary, so great for couples”.
For more information of this ship or any our our cruise packages, contact our Cruise Specialists today or are on hand to help and guide you through all your options.