Last week, we saw the UK’s favourite ship Independence of the Seas docking at Southampton for the first time after many years away from Europe. Now it is back with a host of amazing features and sailing to incredible destinations across the world – from Europe to the Caribbean.
Independence of the Seas is operated by the Royal Caribbean cruise line and entered service in April 2008. The ship’s Godmother, Elizabeth Hill, who was selected out of many applicants was on board with us and a few guests. Elizabeth Hill was nominated by her daughter Alicia aged 12, for setting up a charity, the Gamelea Countryside Training Trust based on a farm, which helps young people with physical or learning disabilities and those who have failed in school and are in danger of social exclusion. The 15-deck ship can accommodate 4,370 passengers and is served by a crew of 1,360.
This was our first time driving around Southampton Docks and not knowing which gate to arrive was quite scary. Luckily the road is well signed and it didn’t take us long to find the right gate and enter the dock. Both the short and long term car parks are next the ship which is just amazingly convenient. After making our way out of the car park, we arrived at the departure lounge to meet the team members from Royal Caribbean and PRs.
After a security check, we met up with some members of the crew who led our party on board this this enormous ship. Our first impressions of the ship were that it was extremely grand. The decorations and the marble floor looks classy and we had to remind ourselves that we were on a ship and not in a posh shopping mall or office building. They even have nice glass lifts with the day shown on the carpet to tell you which day it is today. This is a lovely touch to remind you the day of the week which I can imagine can be easy to forget while you’re cruising from place to place.
Before we went exploring the different types of suites, the crew led Elizabeth and the rest of us to see the original framed photo that Elizabeth had taken in 2008. It is amazing that the ship is already 8 years old and in 2013, she had a refurbishment to keep it looking fresh!
It was fantastic walking through the spacious corridors to visit the staterooms. We went on to visit the President Suite, Ocean Suites, Royal Family Suite and many more. I love the space and the decoration in the staterooms – even the smallest and cheapest interior facing rooms have a good size floor plan. They even have a Ben & Jerry’s room! Any guests who stay in that room will get free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream throughout their trip! How amazing is that! My son was very impressed and said he wanted to stay in this room if we ever cruise with Royal Caribbean! Also if you are an ice cream monster, you might like to know that you can get free flow ice cream cones next to the H20 zone! What better way to keep cool while sun bathing on the many sun loungers!
Next, we headed towards Adventure Ocean which caters for children of all ages, from babies and tots to teens. There are different zones catering for different age groups of children. It is also very important for us with two young children to know that they have so many different activities for the children. There’s plenty to keep them entertained while we chilled! This is what a holiday is for!
Later we had our lunch at the Chops Grille where we had our three course meals. The restaurant is nicely decorated and spacious. The food was amazing! I had the homemade crab cakes for starters, spicy jumbo prawns for main and raspberry sorbet for dessert. Many of our party had the filet mignon and my husband thought this was particularly delicious and just melted in your mouth. The children had the children’s steak too (first time for my daughter) and they loved it too. We all enjoyed the meal and I would definitely recommend them if you fancy a treat!
Then we went on to exploring the pool and other activities like mini golf and basketball. There is also activities like the Rock Wall climbing wall and FlowRider surf simulator which we didn’t get a chance to try.
Both of my children enjoyed dipping into the pool side and loved running through all the water sprinklers around it! The pool area is quite well shielded from the wind so it is not too cold on deck, even when docked in England!
We had an amazing time exploring this awesome cruise ship. The one big take-away for me was that there is plenty to do and will keep everyone of all ages entertained. This tour has definitely put this type of holiday on the radar – I could really fancy a cruise to various Europe destinations!
Disclosure: We were invited to experience the tour and not compensated to write this honest review.