Very good cruise: Independence of the Seas Cruise Review by vanvleckeren

Independence of the Seas 4
Member Since 2012
46 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Very good cruise

Sail Date: May 2017
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Southampton
I chose this cruise for the itinerary. Having cruised the eastern and western Mediterranean, the Baltic, and the Norway coast, I wanted to cruise the Atlantic coast of Spain and France. This cruise left from Southampton, and seemed to be mostly Brits though there a good number of other nationalities mixed in. The Brits are pretty formal, and on formal night, most of the men were wearing tuxedos, which is something I hadn't experienced on earlier cruises, when I was often one of very few men wearing a tuxedo. Given my earlier experience, I didn't bring a tuxedo on this cruise so I ended up renting one for the second formal night.

Embarkation was the best ever. I practically walked right onto the ship.

This was the largest cruise ship I have ever been on, though it was more similar in basic design to the medium-sized ships than I expected. I liked the look and feel of the ship, and it was easy to get around. I use the gym a good amount, and it has a beautiful and More large gym, with sweeping views out to sea. I was surprised to see a topless deck, though nobody was on it because the weather most of the trip was pretty chilly.

I decided to try out a promenade cabin for this cruise. I was just curious about what it would be like to look down on the promenade. I am glad I tried it, though in the future I think I will go back to oceanview or balcony (depending on the climate/weather). It was nice to look down on the activities, but it was necessary to keep the drapes closed most of the time because otherwise, people not only from the promenade but also the rooms on the other side would be able to see into my room. The cabin itself was quite nice, with a sitting area and the shower had doors rather than curtains, and seemed a little bigger than other cruise ship showers I have experienced. My cabin steward was very nice and did an excellent job making up the room and helping me with laundry and tuxedo rental.

There was a lot of talk on this cruise about how UK law requires the charging of a VAT (value added tax) on the good sold on the ship, and this really curtailed the shopping. That didn't matter much to me because I don't shop much on cruises.

I really liked the decor of the dining room and the service there was very good. We had a great table right next to the window so we had a view of the water. I signed up for early dinner, thinking it would be at 6pm (one of the people in our group was older), but early dinner was moved to 5:30pm, which was really too early for me but we made it work. The food was mostly good. RCCL has very good soups and I sometimes get those. I tried a couple of Indian dishes, which were good. I have learned to stay away from pasta, since the pasta sauces are not great and I suspect the pasta is at least partly pre-cooked since it's pretty starchy. But the beauty of the cruise is that if you don't like your dish, you can easily get a different one. We were very happy with the dining room experience.

I did tours in 3 of the 4 ports. It seemed that relatively few people were doing tours, since the theater was mostly empty when the crowds for the tours were gathered. But I really enjoyed the D-Day Landing Beaches Tour, the Gardens of Normandy Tour and the Gijon Bike Tour.

At the beginning of the cruise, the public areas of the ship, particularly the promenade, were quite crowded. We got some pizza at Sorrento's on the first day, and had to eat it standing up because there was no place to sit. Sorrento's pizza was reasonably good, though far from the best I have had, even at sea. It took until late in the cruise until I was able to get into the Dog & Badger, an English style pub with a singer along the promenade. The singer there was great and did a lot of songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s and some from the '80s and '90s. We found that table service in the bars was spotty, and we often had to get up and get our own drinks. These complaints about the public areas and bar service were my only real issues with the cruise. For some reason, the public areas seemed less crowded as the cruise went on. Maybe people found other less obvious venues, or maybe they just stayed in their rooms more.

I really wanted to see Grease but missed it because I had a minor stomach bug and needed to rest. I heard it was excellent.

All in all, it was a great cruise. Less

Published 06/17/17
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: PR8609 Promenade Stateroom

As noted above, I was curious about the virtues of a view of the promenade, with all its activities, versus a view of the ocean, which is beautiful but with nothing really happening. Because of the expected weather, I ruled out a balcony room, since I expected to get little use of the balcony. The room itself was pretty spacious with a sitting area, and the shower was bigger than other cruise showers I have experienced. The cabin was well kept and there were no issues with it. I liked certain aspects of the promenade view, like being able to look down and see the level of activity at any time, but it was necessary to keep the drapes closed most of the time, I intend to go back to oceanview or balcony in the future but I am glad I tried this concept.

Read All Promenade Stateroom (PR) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

At this port, we went out to the town of Atxondo in the Basque country (about 30-40 minutes from Bilbao) and had lunch at Asador Etxebarri. The town was stunningly beautiful and the restaurant was great. It was a great experience and we were glad we went off the beaten path to see these things.
Read 77 Bilbao Reviews

D-Day Beaches

I loved the D-Day landing beaches tour. It was great to hear the history of the invasion and very moving to see the military cemeteries. Our timing was very good, being there Memorial Day weekend and just before the D-Day anniversary.

I was only in Southampton to get on and off the ship, so I can't really rate it as a port. Only thing to say is that the trip down from London was pretty tough because of the holiday weekend traffic.

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Member Since 2012
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