England Transport International
Cunard's Queen Victoria Cruises
After many wonderful years of sailing on the QE2, we took our last trip in September 2008 on her and had to go elsewhere for our cruise. The Queen Victoria seemed to be the most obvious choice in being a more similar size than the larger Queen Mary 2 and so we booked a two week Mediterranean cruise for summer 2009. Before I went I was as ... usual very excited to be sailing away and I searched the internet for videos and reviews but much to my disappointment I didn't really find that much that answered the questions that I wanted to ask. So I hope that this review will be useful to future Queen Victoria novices.
On first seeing the ship I thought she looked like a Cunard ship, the red funnel certainly set her apart but I couldn't help but feel that it was a little monstrous looking compared to the QE2 (but then again as most QE2 passengers were or still are creatures of habit, this didn't really surprise me). It was a bit more floating hotel-ish but I tried to get rid of any comparative thoughts that entered my head. If anyone out there did sail on the QE2 and is going on the QV I would recommend doing the same and seeing her for what she is, a new different ship because my grandmother didn't do this and so she didn't enjoy her cruise half as much.
The interiors of the ship are a tribute to the Victorian era and really she is a lovely ship. Lots of wood effects and memorabilia scattered around, a lot more modern than her predecessor but then again when I first stepped on the QE2 I remember thinking how old fashioned she was!
Embarkation was basically a breeze. After thinking that we might not make it due to traffic we did finally go through, although we had priority embarkation being Platinum World Club and Queen's Grill. I should probably explain the different tiers in Cunard now so as to avoid any confusion. On Cunard ships the type of cabin that you have regulates where you eat. As much as they don't like to say it, it is rather like a class system. The top "tier" is the Queen's Grill, which is exclusively for those passengers staying in the suites and penthouses. The Princess Grill is for those passengers in the mini-suites and all other passengers dine in The Britannia Restaurant.
After we got on board we did the compulsorary muster station drill and then went to the sailaway party on deck. Not really much of a party as more a couple of glasses of champagne and a bit of music. But it is nice to see the ship sailaway on deck. The champagne is at an additional charge so don't get too excited! We were a bit late and we were supposed to sail out with the QM2 but this didn't happen.
The Grill passengers get access to an exclusive area where there is a private deck and also a lounge where they serve afternoon tea, aperitifs accompanied by canapes and after-dinner drinks. Even though I was a Grill passenger the only time I ever went to the Grill area was to eat dinner. I never used the lounge as it always seemed dead to me. Very quite, not really many people except for before dinner or for afternoon tea and the rest of the time it was a couple of old people falling asleep. Not really my cup of tea. I also didn't use the deck, mainly because I'm nosey and like to people watch on the main decks. However I know my grandparents enjoyed having their tea away from the hustle and bustle and knowing they would always find a seat. Depends on your preference of holiday activity.
When we booked we originally booked a suite that was a grade down from the top suite but the upgrade fairy came to visit and we got one of the four best suites on thw ship, a Q1. I have to say that I didn't really take full advantage of everything, mainly because I rarely spend time in the cabin, but it was really something. There was a beautiful marble entraceway with pillars, which opened out to the kitchen area and dining table on one side and the lounge area through another. Through another door there was the bedroom and another door to a dressing area, which led to the toilet, and then another door to the shower room and sinks and then another door (which also linked to the bedroom) to the whirlpool bath. All beautifully decorated in marble. There was also a balcony that covered half of the aft of the ship with numerous sun loungers (including a double!) and a six seater marble table. Inside the kitchenette there was a bar and sink and every day they restocked our fridge and brought us crisps, pretzels and other snacks. We also received two complimentary bottles of spirits of our choice and a bottle of champagne and some chocolate dipped strawberries on arrival. Every night we were brought canapes and fresh fruit was stocked up every day. The shower was probably the best part because it was walk in and it had a seated area (makes shaving your legs so much easier!) and it was lovely and powerful. There was also a walk in wardrobe, which would have been amazing except my grandma insisted on putting all the suitcases in there...The only complaint regarding the cabin was that there was not complete privacy on the balcony. In fact if you moved half way towards the railings then anyone on the Lido deck could see you above. If I wanted to know if my grandparents were on the balcony when I was elsewhere on the ship I just simply went to the pool and looked over. In fact a man even said to my gran "I saw you reading on your balcony!". Slightly disconcerting.
So every night we ate in the Queen's Grill and every night it was pretty much perfect. The menu changed daily and in addition there was a grill menu that stayed the same with things such as steak, duck a l'orange, lamb chops, caesar salad, snails, frogs legs, tomato soup, all sorts of things. This was always good when you didn't fancy the menu but nothing was ever too much trouble and you could request anything you wanted. The snails were absoloutely amazing and I had two portions they were so good! Only criticism was that the second week some dishes on the regular menu were repeated. But at least if you enjoyed them the first time round you could enjoy them again.
The actual restaurant was a slightly strange set up. It was very long so we couldn't really see a lot because of the lack of width. The Grills are open seating meaning you can go to dinner from 6.30-9pm. This means that we didn't even see one table of dinners for the entire voyage. We had a private table for three but there was an option for sitting on a larger table with others. Sometimes the open sitting made this a little odd though with some people eating their appetisers whilst the others were eating their desserts. However our waiter was lovely, the assistant was slightly robotic and rehearsed, as if he had got an English phrasebook and learned five sentences. Wine waiter was sometimes a little tipsy and often our wine would not come back towards the end of the evening and we would have to ask for it. Still he was pleasant enough.
The Britannia Restaurant was my muster station i.e. the place to go if there was an emergency, and this was the only time I saw it. It is on two floors and it is rather impressive. I think I would have enjoyed eating here because every time I walked past there seemed to be a really good atmosphere that the Queen's Grill lacked. The main menu was the same but there was no option of the Grill menu. However I made friends on board with a family who requested an Indian meal one night and it was prepared for them without any trouble. I didn't hear any complaints about the food only about the "stuffy" people in Queen's Grill! How I loved to tell those people moaning to me about the Grill passengers that actually I was a Grill passenger! It is worth noting that on booking you have to choose between late and early sitting. I have to say that as we went in to our restaurant around the same time as the late sitting, we often found it difficult to get out in time for the evening activities. On the other hand the early sitting had half the day cut short to go and get themselves ready for dinner. I'm not really sure which is better!
Alternative dining options are available to everyone. The Todd English serves lunch and dinner, although I never went there due to the additional charge and having fussy grandparents. The Lido is a self-service buffet where you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also for snacks throughout the day. I usually ate there for lunch because it was quicker and less filling than going for the full three courses in the restaurant. The pizzas and pastas are made to order and they are really delicious. They are available late into the night and there are also sandwiches and salads available. Coffee, tea and juice (although it's like powdered, concentrated stuff) are available free all the time from here but you have to pay for any other drinks you want.
Another option on sea days is the Golden Lion Pub. This was where I spent the majority of my cruise. On sea days they had a few of the orchestra come play jazz at lunch and they served a pub lunch with the traditional cottage pie, fish and chips, etc. It tended to get very busy during this time. The pub was like an English pub from home. There were quizzes, karaoke, darts competitions, sport (when they could get the satellite) on TV. Although on port days it was empty it was never really quiet on sea days. Bar staff here were probably the friendliest but that could be because I spent most of my time in there! I even sat on the same bar stool...
So other bars on board were Cafe Carinthia, where I had a coffee once. This seemed to be the place where people just went to try to read a book but fall asleep. It was generally always quiet. The champagne bar seemed to be even more empty. The casino bar was usually buzzing during the evening, probably because it was one of the two indoor smoking areas. The Commodore Club was probably the most popular whilst I was on board. It offers fantastic views of the horizon and it was lovely to go sit there during sunsets. There was a pianist in the evening and they had themed nights such as James Bond and Rat Pack nights. They also served Churchill's Cigar Lounge next door so smokers tended to congregate there. Then there is Hemisphere's the nightclub on board. But this was usually empty and closed really quite early fora nightclub. Sometimes not long after the Commodore Club. I only went in a few times because there really wasn't a lot of atmosphere and it wasn't that big at all. Rather disappointing compared the Yacht Club on the QE2. The only time it was full was when they had a themed night such as 70s night but then it would empty pretty soon after.
Another busy place for the evening was the Queen's Room, which is where all the ballroom dancing was held. This got quite busy after dinner, especially with the older clientele. I didn't really go here except for the passenger talent show, which is always an amusing event. They also have ballroom classes and fencing there in the morning. Afternoon tea was also held here and it got really busy. I only passed through but the sandwiches and cakes did look lovely, served by white gloved waiters. It was a bit of a fight for a table so I just didn't bother. Plus breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and midnight buffet is a bit of a stretch or my digestive system! The cocktail parties were also here and this is where something is finally free. There is usually a choice between champagne (which is not really champagne) or orange juice or wine. If you don't like mingling it is a little pointless going and I would also recommend that if you don't want to meet the captain you go a little later and avoid the monstrous queue or come in from the other side. I just skipped the queue at the front and said I didn't want to meet the Captain but I did feel a little rude as if I thought I was better or something!
The casino was very popular. Bear in mind though that they can't open during port so it is only sea days and evenings that they open. I still think the popularity was due to the smoking area as much as the gambling attraction. If you don't know how to play they give tutorials throughout the voyage. I didn't personally gamble but I spent a lot of time there with the fellow smokers. It was sometimes hard to get a seat and I spent a lot of time standing around the bar or asking people if I could join them but it was a good way to get speaking to people.
There is also a library and I have to say I was a little disappointed because it had been raved about, being on two floors, but as nice as it was it was very small in comparison to the pictures I saw. Still quite cute and cosy though.
One of the highlights is the theatre, which is the best I have seen at sea. It really could rival the West End. I didn't go to any shows but there was the option to book a box with canapes and champagne for an additional fee and I'm sure that would have been wonderful.
The Winter Garden is out on the deck but is covered, like you expect from the old Victorian winter gardens. It is really pleasant but once again it never seemed to be very busy so I didn't often go there.
The one pool is nearby but I didn't test the water. On this particular cruise there were quite a few children and teenagers on board so I tended to avoid the pool areas. The pools aren't very big and the other one on the Lido deck seemed to attract as much young attention. The only time I ever went around there was to take the stairs up to smoke.
There is a shopping area complete with Harrods. But Harrods is really just the souvenir stuff. You can pick up some deals on perfumes and jewellery but most of the good stuff is never on offer. There is also duty free that you can pick up at the end of your voyage. There is also the usual QV souvenirs and a convenience shop. Don't expect too much from it though. The clothes would not suit anyone my age and even my grandma thought they were old fashioned.
The general atmosphere on board will vary from cruise to cruise. It often depends on the time of year and the itinerary to determine what the clientele will be like. Due to it being school holidays there were moer youngsters than usual but the number was nothing compared to the amount of children on other cruise lines. In comparison there were relatively few.
Cunard have the reputation for elegance and you do have to dress for dinner according to the dress code. This sometimes meas a man cannot enter the restaurant without a jacket and tie. Most passengers adhere to this but Cunard has it's loyal following and this means that most on the ships come year after year and they enjoy this type of cruising. I have to say that at first it is a novelty dressing up in your finery but then there were a few nights when I thought do I really need to put all this make up on and do my hair again? You also cannot wear shorts in the restaurant or jeans in the evening in the restaurant. This didn't really bother me except for the fact that we were in the Med so to change out of my shorts was just a hassle. So I just didn't bother.
You will find a lot of hardcore QE2-ers on there and the amount of times I heard "On the QE2..." but there is one certain aspect that I found strange. The smoking policy. On the QE2 the pub was smoking and on the QM2 the pub is smoking but on the QV it's not. Instead they confine smokers to a tiny room that is always full and to the casino. Now there are enough bars on board to make one smoking. If you don't like smoking you can go to another bar where it is non-smoking. But not all gamblers smoke and they can't go to another bar. This put my grandparents off gambling, as they normally would, because all the smokers were concentrated. I'm not quite sure what Cunard was thinking on that one. Probably some theory that smokers gamble and drink more, I imagine.
The prices for drinks are not that bad. At first you think they are until you remember that everything is in dollars on the ship. Really they are not much higher than you would expect to pay at home. You can purchase a soft drinks package, which allows you to have unlimited soft drinks at all times for a daily fee (sorry dooyoo took so long to process this suggestion I have forgotten how much!).
Overall I have little to complain about, and I did actually grow to like her exterior. We enjoyed it so much that we have booked a further three voyages on her for 2010. Just don't compare her to the QE2...
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Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of weeks on Royal Caribbean's 'MS Independence of the Seas' - a fifteen-thousand tonne cruise ship, upon which I traveled over 7,000 miles. A town at sea - - - - - - - - - Having not been on a cruise before, I really didn't know what to expect, and was in for a ... shock when I saw the ship for the first time. The Independence is currently the largest passenger vessel ever built, measuring a massive 1,111.9ft. To put that immense scale into perspective, it's twice the length of the huge Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, and incredibly tall. Walking up to the ship is like walking up to a skyscraper - and there certainly weren't any surrounding buildings which could compete with its height in Southampton where I boarded.
The Independence has a capacity for 4,370 passengers, which is quite incredible when you consider the amount of food and supplies needed for that amount of people, and the fact that life on board never seems really crowded.
After going through the security checks which are basically the same as you would encounter in an airport (metal detectors, x-ray machines etc), the boarding experience is pretty straightforward - unless of course you're planning on bringing a cache of heavy weapons with you.
Welcome to the USA!
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As an American vessel, the onboard currency is dollars - although due to the excellent 'seapass' system, there is no real need for any actual money to change hands, apart from in the casino. Basically, you pay for things using the seapass card which is linked to a credit card you have nominated before traveling. The card doubles up as a security pass which has to be scanned into a machine everytime you leave or board the vessel.
Continuing the American theme, my mobile was fooled into thinking it was in The States, as I had a "welcome to the USA message" when my phone was roaming for a new network. As well as a mobile network, each room has wi-fi capabilities, although charges apply to use the service.
Once onboard, I initially felt that I wouldn't ever be able to find my way around! The amount of rooms, decks, and passageways can be pretty daunting, and the general scale of everything is bewilderingly impressive. That said, I did get my bearings quite quickly, and I was soon familiar with my new floating surroundings.
Room with a view
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My room, or 'cabin' to use the nautical term, was on the port side of deck eight, located on the longest and narrowest corridor I have ever seen in my life - and that's no exaggeration. The room itself was of a medium size and very pleasant - I had a window which overlooked the 'Royal Promenade' (a shopping street which runs the length of the ship), so I could see what was going on in the busy precinct below.
The cabin bathrooms are small, but feature a huge mirror, loads of storage space, and an incredibly powerful shower which always stung my sunburned shoulders when I used it.
The bed was very comfortable, although I had a foam mattress which meant I kept waking up too hot in the middle of the night. Each cabin has a flatscreen Samsung TV which features film channels, sport channels, plus many of Royal Caribbean's own productions. One of the channels on the TV constantly showed the view from the front of the ship, whilst another featured the current navigational statistics like wind speed, distance traveled from the UK, and a chart showing where we were in the world. This made me appreciate how small we are in the grand scheme of things, when the largest ship ever built is depicted as a tiny dot in the middle of the ocean.
The TV doubles up as a interactive tool, allowing you to view things like your expenses account and general info about the cruise. The interactive service also offers a selection of the latest movies on demand - although it costs around $15 to view each one.
Tea and coffee making facilities are available in the rooms, although the little milk cartons which Royal Caribbean provides taste absolutely disgusting!
Take a look around
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After unpacking, I went to have a look around, and the first place I visited was the main shopping street which I previously mentioned. If you didn't know you were at sea, it would be easy to assume you were in the middle of a large shopping centre, or even on a town highstreet - there's even a sports car parked on the street which confuses the mind even more into thinking that you're still on land. At nights there are frequent events which occur on in the Promenade, and there was even a carnival style parade one evening.
Just off the street, down a flight of glamorously lit stairs, is the 'Casino Royale', which, surprisingly enough, is a James Bond themed gambling den. Housing hundreds of one-armed-bandits which are capable of paying out thousands of dollars, the casino is straight out of Vegas, and the croupiers around the roulette and poker tables are all ready to take your hard earned cash. I spent an evening in the casino, but didn't have much success - my initial fistful of dollars was soon reduced to a small handful of cents.
Food for thought
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Dining on board the Independence of the Seas is a real pleasure, and there are a wealth of café's and restaurants to suit most eating needs. The main self-service café is known as the 'Windjammer' - a huge eatery which is of a similar size to a small supermarket! Here you can go up and take whatever and however much you want, and there is an excellent selection of delicacies from around the world - Chinese, Italian, English - its all there, and it's all absolutely delicious. Then there are the desserts which, were *too* perfect.
In the evenings I ate in the dining rooms which are situated on the lower decks, with titles such as 'Rome & Juliet' and 'Anthony & Cleopatra'. These eating rooms are very posh looking and appear like the ornate settings which are depicted in the film 'Titanic' (although that's probably not the best thing to think about when you're on a ship!). Here the service is truly excellent, and the waiters and waitresses are extremely attentive. One example of this was whenever I took a sip of water, the waiter would come and top up my glass from the jug on the table - they never missed a sip! The dress code for these restaurants is preset, so some nights it's 'casual', others are 'smart-casual' (jacket required), and a couple of nights are 'formal' - a DJ and bow-tie should do the trick.
Occasionally the waiters (and there are hundreds of them, from all corners of the world) would perform a musical interlude during dinner - a theatrical parade which kept the old-folks happy! - a bit too smiley and happy for me though!
All the food from the restaurants is included in the price of your cruise, although alcoholic drinks are extra... a lot extra. If you wanted a beer for example, you would be looking to pay in the region of $7, whilst a small liquor like a Bailey's would be around $6.50 - extortionate really. Oh, and don't even think about using the mini-bar in the room, which has the following laughable price list:
Small bottle of Evian: $4.55
Can of Red Bull: $4.55
A question of sport
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After all that excellent eating, exercise is the key - and considering the fact that many people come back from a cruise a couple of stone heavier, I decided to make good use of the onboard sporting facilities.
The huge gym is located at the top and front of the ship, and has more exercise equipment than you could possibly imagine, including a boxing ring, and every type of weights machine that you would ever need. The exercise bikes and treadmill machines are extremely modern and touch-screen, allowing you to programme in your own routines so you can go at your own pace. The gym's location, providing a magnificent 360 degree view of the ships current position, allows for an inspired workout - I remember sitting on the exercise bike, staring out upon the huge Golden Gate-esque bridge in Lisbon Portugal, whilst watching the dolphins leaping out of the water - great stuff.
Next to the gym is a dance studio, a sauna, and a steam room, above which is a beauty salon which offers all sorts of cosmetic procedures, massages, and other relaxing treatments - all at a high price of course.
In terms of other fitness activities, on Deck 11 there is a running track (which I used on most evening), and two swimming pools with adjoining jacuzzi's. Actually, swimming for exercise was a bit tricky, as I always came face-to-face with the free ice-cream machine when I stepped out of the pool (which you could use non stop, all day long if you liked).
The sports deck is at the top of the ship and features an outdoor all-weather basketball court, a climbing wall, and a flow-rider (surf-machine). There's also a golf simulator (which I played during fairly rough sees - quite an experience), and a 'mini-golf' course, although this is more like glorified crazy-golf.
The Independence also features an ice-rink called 'Studio B' - yes, you heard correctly - a ship with an ice-rink! - although I didn't use it, so I can't comment on how good it is. When not open to the public, Studio B features ice shows with professional performers in the evenings.
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The non-sporting entertainment on the ship is very good - the huge 1,200 capacity 'Alhambra Theatre' shows a selection of shows; from comedy to music, theatre to cabaret, on most nights. When not showing live shows, the venue broadcasts sporting events, and I watched the Man U v Arsenal Champions League semi-final here on the large cinema screen.
There is an Egyptian themed section known as 'The Pyramid Lounge', featuring a large bar which also doubles up as another live music venue. The entrance to The Pyramid Lounge contains real stone Egyptian-themed statues, which makes the area look even more like something which should be located in Vegas.
A number of other bars can be found scattered around the ship, although the drinks in all of these venues are of the same nastily high price.
For the bibliophiles amongst you, there is a well stocked library which also doubles up as a designated quiet area - I used the tranquility of this setting on a couple of occasions when I wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of cruise life. The library features a good selection of books which are available in a variety of languages.
On the Independence of the Seas there is always something to do - each day, you get a cruise planner which is delivered into your room. This details the many events which are going on throughout the day, and there really is something for everyone... Cigar tasting, basketball shootouts, longest drive competitions on the golf simulator, pub-quizzes, ice-shows, cabaret - the list goes on and on - there are literally hundreds of things going on at the same time.
Down with the sickness
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If anyone tells you that you can't feel yourself moving whilst on a cruise ship, it's a lie! Of course, some times this is the case - but whilst going through the Bay of Biscay on the return to England, the ship was ridiculously rocky. It's really difficult to sleep when the sea is in this condition - feeling your bed tipping back and forth whilst in a darkened cabin deep in a ship. Of course, some people may find this rocking motion helps them drop off - but for me, I felt quite claustrophobic, especially when combined with the slight creaking of the ceiling. Of course, the ship does have stabilisers, but in really rough seas they cant stop the 'motion of the ocean'.
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The Independence of the Seas is an amazing vessel, which really felt like home for a couple of weeks. There is so much to do and see onboard, that really the ship is a small town rather than a boat.
If it wasn't for a few really rough days, I would say that spending time on the Independence was the perfect holiday - and that's from someone who wouldn't have ever considered cruising in the past.
For more information, visit www.royalcaribbean.co.uk
Stats for the Tecchies
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Tonnage: 154,407 GT (gross tonnage)
Length: 338.92 m (1,111.9 ft)
Beam: 38.6 m (127 ft) hull
Draught: 8.8 m (29 ft)
Decks: 15 (passenger); 3 (crew)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric (kW)/3 pods (1 fixed, 2 azimuthing) 14Mw each
Speed: 21.6 knots (40 km/h)
Capacity: 4,370 passengers
Crew: 1,360 crew
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Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas
Currently the largest cruise ship in the world, the Independence of the Seas is the newest Royal Caribbean International ship, the third entering the new freedom class of ship, it was built in Finland and registered in the Bahamas. It has an astounding capacity of 3634 people and 1360 staff/crew. It entered service in February ... 2008 and the whole of 2009 it is operating out of Southampton, England.
I hope most of you enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend, I did, I went on my first ever cruise, it was a 4 nights mini cruise to Ireland, on the MASSIVE Independence of the Seas.
The Independence has 15 decks (these are just the ones you're allowed on, there are 3 more staff decks below the water line).
The facilities are quite out of this world for a boat, they include:
A theatre that seats 1300 people
An ice-rink, open to the public and with ice shows
The Royal Promenade (the indoor shopping street with bars and restaurants too)
A boxing ring
A climbing wall (I did it and made it to the top)
The flowrider (a surfing machine)
A basket ball court
A 9 hole golf course
A jogging track
3-4 swimming pools (depending on what you count, there are 3 sections, but 4 pools)
2 jacuzzi's that hang over the edge of the ship by 12 foot
Loads of bars, and much much more.
We watched a different show every night, went in all the bars and played game shows. It is big, it's almost like being in a shopping centre on water. I was worried about feeling movement, but you don't feel much, there is a constant hum which is the engines and you do move around a bit, I awoke the first morning and was moving slightly in bed, it felt like I was drunk.
I get sea-sick and I wasn't on here, but the water was very calm, I did feel a bit queasy at times, I think this was purely the motion sickness from moving.
Everything except exercusions are included, and drinks, although we brought the soda fountain drinks package for £20 each, and we got a free flask thingy with it, which was great cause we just got drinks whenever for free. There are drinks available in the restaurants for free at meal times too, but alcohol is obviously an extra charge.
The entertainment was good, and there was kids clubs for children of all ages. I would describe this boat as Butlins on a boat. It is great for families and there is a lot to do.
However the main thing that concerned me was the false sense of security being on the ship gives you. A lot of people left their kids to it, and although yes they couldn't go too far being on a ship in the sea, they could however go overboard, there were no high sides and the worse is people could be rapists or paedophiles, just because they are on a cruise means nothing, and people left kids of all ages, and they could have easily been targeted. It just worries me.
We had an inside cabin, which I didn't really like, I mean I'd never pay the silly money rooms with balconies cost but a window would have been nice, it was weird waking up in the pitch black with no idea of the time. It would have been nice to have some natural light. At first I was annoyed we wouldn't know what the weather was like but the Independence has a camera on the front top of the ship and you can look at it on the TV in your room (channel 18/19).
The food was fantastic in typical American order of priorities the food was top, there was a restaurant open at nearly all times, there was a void between midnight and 6am though. Although thinking about it, I think there was a pizza place open later than that. We ate in the main restaurant twice and another 2 on the other nights, there was so much variety and even the super fussy like me had a big choice. The WindJammer had a lot to offer, chips, burgers, pizza, salad, fruit, curry, roast dinners, meats, pastries. Everything you could want.
My favourite meal was breakfast - Pancakes all the way!
We choose first sitting which was 6pm, for dinner this was good as we didn't have to wait till 11pm for our show, we got to see the one at 9pm. We met some nice people on our table and got on well. I think though if the people were horrible it could make dinner quite awkward.
I didn't like that we were given envelopes to tip, I know it was an American boat and they are obsessed, but cruising isn't cheap and salaries in the hospitality industry are generally quite low (I always tip well and when it is deserved, I've had a few jobs in the hotel sector and so I know) BUT being told to tip this for that, and to tip not only our waiter, but the assistant waiter and the head waiter (who we didn't even see) is a bit much. The guy looking after our room was excellent and we tipped what we thought was very reasonable, but according to Royal Caribbean's guidelines we were tight.
My biggest upset was at around Midnight every night a banging noise started, and it continued to start and stop throughout the night, this did ruin sleeping for me, and I like my sleep and by the end of it, I was a bit grumpy.
Personally I wouldn't choose to go on another cruise if I had a choice, it was enjoyable but not my idea of a relaxing holiday. Perhaps if we were sailing around the Caribbean it would be different. My boyfriend however loves them and thinks it's the only holiday he can fully relax 100% purely because he likes the regimented routine, I like to be the boss and not be told what to do when, but hey.
Facilities: 9/10 (very kid orientated)
Cabin 8/10 (the bed was great, real comfy)
Overall experience: 7/10
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England Transport International
Transport International / Luxury cruise ship.
Transport International / Cruises sail out of Southampton harbour.
Address: Station Road / Transport International / Lichfield / Staffordshire / WS13 6HX / Operated by Central Trains / The station was built in 1849
Transport International / Built in 1990 the station takes its name from the nearby River Tame. Services run between Birmingham and Walsall. Operated by Central Trains.
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Transport International /
|England Transport International Recommendations 1|
|dooyoo Results 1 - 7 of 7|