As spring kicks into gear we are often invited to visit many of the cruise ships based in the UK for the summer. These days visits onboard are hosted by the cruise lines and are a great way for members of the Iglu team to familiarise themselves with the vast ships on offer, or to refresh their memory.
Earlier in the month Royal Caribbean invited members of our sales team to see Independence of the Seas in Southampton, offering a great opportunity to visit the largest cruise ship based in the UK. Robin, one of our sales consultants, went along for the visit, and here's what he thought of the experience onboard Indy:
Well, what can I say about this ship? I think the first impression you get when you walk up to the terminal is one of awe as you realise quite how big this ship is! Now, one of the misconceptions I have always had of the ship is that it's is very much geared to the UK market and is in some ways a little shabby and abused, and this is reflected through the reviews on Cruise Critic. I can honestly say that seeing the ship all of these misconceptions have been dispelled.
We boarded the Indy at around 10am, with most ship visits it's a case of being taken around the ship and shown all the main areas, lounges and then the state rooms, and sometimes it can all be a bit of an information overload! Royal Caribbean — being the innovators of cruising — decided to bring this attitude into their ship visits and created for us The Royal Quest. This turned out to be a kind of treasure hunt, where the aim was to see the entire ship, take photos of various things onboard and picking up bits such as teeth whitening kits from the spa, a cookie from Ben & Jerry's and also an ice cream cone.
We ended up running around the ship, seeing all the main lounges such as the On Air Bar, where we made a cocktail, and the ice rink, where we posed for a photo and had a bit of a laugh. We found the pharaohs in the Pyramid lounge and had boogie in the Labyrinth Night club. I think going around the ship the way we did gave us a true idea of how big, yet functional the ship was — with all the areas interlinked by the Royal Promenade down the middle of the ship. The rock wall is impressive, as is the Flow Rider which is literally the width of the ship, kind of gives you an idea of how huge Oasis of the Seas must be as she has two of them!
We also saw some impressive staterooms. We started with a Promenade stateroom — cabin 6305 — which is known as the Ben & Jerry's suite. It is above the ice cream shop on the promenade and those who stay in the room get free ice cream all cruise — which is a winner in my book. We also visited a disability-access promenade stateroom and a junior suite — both of which were huge — as well a large ocean view — sleeping four — which was very large as well. The best cabins I saw were an E1 grade cabin at the stern on deck 6, even though you have the beam at the stern with the Royal Logo, the balcony is a lot bigger than other cabins and the view is not that obstructed. The piece de la resistance however had to be the owners suite, and WOW is the only word I could use, with a lounge area, walk-in wardrobe and your own bar — this was the ultimate luxury.
As always with these things, after going around the ship and absorbing all the information, we finished in the main dining room for lunch, which was awesome. We were treated to steak followed by chocolate cake, all washed down with a few glasses of house wine — we do have such a hard life sometimes! The food was very good and the service was definitely attentive — even if we were only travel agents — you still got a very good idea of what guests would receive.
All the crew we came across were friendly and knowledgeable about the ship and were always happy to help and direct you to where you were aiming for onboard. After seeing the ship I would consider cruising on her in a balcony stateroom or, if I could afford it, the owners suite!
Currently there are some awesome deals on the Independence sailing from Southampton, all the way through the summer holidays.
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