Independence Of The Seas, Spanish Mediterranean Cruise Review 2014 Part 2

This is the second post of my cruise review which covers days 6 to 10 and visits to Valencia, Barcelona, Palma and Ibiza. Click here for part 1.

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 6 – Sea Day


We awoke at 8am to the phone ringing to tell us room service breakfast was on its way. In reality it was 7am as there had been a 1 hour time change overnight so I was a little bleary eyed as I got dressed to await its arrival.

Surprisingly in ten cruises and over 90 nights at sea we have never ordered room service so I thought it was high time we tried it as we were planning Johnny Rockets for lunch and only needed a small snack in the morning to keep us going. Apparently completing a room service request after a few glasses of wine is not such a great idea as my eyes got the better of me and I ordered slightly more than a small snack. In my defence I thought pastries for three would be a few croissants, not three platefuls of the continental stuff along with sausages, hash browns, cereal and fruit – oops! That said it was an absolute delight to sit on the balcony in the warm morning sunshine and enjoy breakfast which arrived with a smile and piping hot. It was also useful to have orange juice and croissants on hand for when our six year old Finn finally woke a few hours later.

Day 6 was a sea day so there was no need to rush anywhere and we enjoyed a fabulously lazy morning lounging on our aft balcony watching endless dolphins circle and hunt fish disturbed by the wake of the ship. One surfaced literally meters from us, squirted water from its blow hole and plunged back below resulting in squeals of delight from me.


After some leisurely reading all round Finn had already finished the first of his new books and it was time for lunch. We took the lift to deck 12 and the aluminium clad American diner Johnny Rockets which was surprisingly quiet. I fully expected to queue for a table as everyone was on board however we were greeted immediately and offered inside or outside seating. We chose a shady outside booth to enjoy our food and the fabulous ocean views. Our waiter Lloyd was very friendly and is from Jamaica. As we were married there we have very fond memories of the island and he chatted about his home town and how he will be heading back to the Caribbean with the ship later this year. Lloyd arrived with a starter of fries and onion rings and delighted Finn with a ketchup smiley face on a plate while us grown ups enjoyed dipping into a beautifully cool sour cream and chive sauce. We placed our order and I was delighted to see our drinks package worked in the diner so we order a couple of glasses of red and also two of the famous milkshakes which were buy one get one free because of our gold crown and anchor status which was a bonus.

We were enjoying our drinks and fries to a soundtrack of 50s doowop and 60s girl groups when the volume was raised and the waiters began to dance in a line inside the diner. Finn was a little disappointed we weren’t in there but he didn’t need to worry as within minutes the waiters were doing the same outside and happily posing for photographs.


The food arrived shortly afterwards, by which time the restaurant was filling up. Needless to say it was delicious. Andy had a burger, I had a chicken and bacon sandwich and Finn had a hotdog, all accompanied by more fries including some cheese and bacon smothered fries which were to die for.

We had fully intended to eat dessert as the sundaes sound amazing but as so often happens on this ship we were beaten after finishing our mains. We declined dessert but promised we’d put this right another day and our lunch for three cost just $23 including milkshakes, an absolute bargain.

After lunch Finn wanted to go to kids club as it was a Lego session so we walked him there via the top deck pools which were understandably busy with hardly any free sun loungers. People were lying on towels on the ground in places so we decided to head back to the solitude of our huge corner aft balcony to enjoy the sunshine and even more dolphin watching – heaven! I’m loving having this space and feeling rather blessed and spoilt.

When we got back to our room it was as ever spotlessly clean (thanks to the lovely Delores) but she’d also left a little crown and anchor gift for Finn of a colouring book and crayola felt tip pens – nice touch RCI.

I took a few moments to complete the mid cruise survey, saying what a wonderful cruise we were having, praising the main dining room staff and quality of food but but also raising our disappointing Chops Grille experience, it’ll be interesting to see if I hear anything following that.


Before long it was time to collect Finn from Adventure Ocean and then it was back to the room to slap on the sunscreen ahead of our daily dip and splash in the H2O zone. The pools were much quieter as it was nearly 5pm and there were plenty of empty sun beds as most people had gone to get ready for dinner. You can tell how hot the day was as we even persuaded Daddy into the pools and normally it takes Caribbean sunshine to achieve that! The water was lovely in the heat and we had a fabulous time. Finn insisted on an ice cream from Sprinkles, the free self serve machine and then it was time to go and change for dinner. We went back to our room in our beach towels feeling distinctly underdressed as the corridors were full of people in DJs and ball gowns as it was another formal night.

Spurred on by how dressed up everyone was on the last formal night I put on a favourite dressy frock and the boys donned jackets, shirts and trousers. The only problem was we still weren’t hungry following our huge Johnny Rockets lunch! Thankfully we’d booked a slightly later than usual table at 7.15. We’re on My Time Dining, the flexible dining programme where by if you pre pay your gratuities you can choose to dine when you wish. It works really well for us as I always like to pay the tips ahead and the flexibility works well with a six year old. We arrived and had a 5 minute wait while they sorted a table and were sat in our usual section but on 665. The service was once again excellent with Vicky arriving the moment we sat down to deliver me a diet coke before I’d even asked and announcing that two glasses of red were on the way – yes they do know us well by now! We confessed we were full of Johnny Rockets and made a valiant effort to eat ordering pate for myself and oxtail soup for Andy as starters and for mains I ordered a mixed grill, Andy the steak with just vegetables and Finn had chicken fingers off the kids menu. The pate wasn’t amazing if I’m honest but thankfully a small portion. My main was delicious but huge so I couldn’t quite finish and Andy also struggled with his steak. We declined desserts (yet again) and sat for a while finishing our wine. We decided some fresh air was in order to try and walk of our excesses so we went to deck 11 to watch another glorious sunset and enjoy the warm breeze.


It was soon 9pm and time for the show ‘Once Upon a Time’ in the main Alhambra Theatre. We’ve cruised with RCI several times but never seen this show although I’d read great things about it. As it was child friendly We persuaded Finn to forgo kids club and actually spend an evening with us to watch it. We took the lift to level 4 forward for the theatre upper level and quickly found some good seats. The theatre was at most two thirds full for the first of the evening’s two performances so there’s really no need to rush there too early for the shows unless you want front row seats, particularly bearing in mind the ship is completely full with many rooms at 3 and 4 berth capacity.

The show started and I was impressed with the fantastic production levels and it was wonderful to see an orchestra in the pit playing live rather than performers singing to backing tracks. The show featured a cast of around 20 dancers, lead vocalists and acrobats. The theme of the show is around fairy tales but features well known pop and rock songs and the stage sets and costumes are superb. Finn loved it, taking great delight in shouting out which fairy tale was coming next and squealing with delight in the Pinocchio scene at the dancing teddys. He didn’t want the show to end. Andy doesn’t really do musical theatre so wasn’t quite as enamoured however he did agree the production values were high and had a glass of red in his hand to help him through!

It made me think what great value a cruise actually is. We paid just over £4000 for this holiday (in prime time summer holidays) for 14 nights, that’s just £95 a night each which includes a fantastic itinerary, our bed and board, food, kids club, all entertainment (including ice skating, production shows, sports activities, quizzes and leisure) – it really is superb value. When I was pricing the holiday I compared the cost of two weeks in a four star all inclusive resort and prices were comparable but the offering is considerably less and the standard usually poorer on land. Likewise a show in an all inclusive hotel will not feature an orchestra, a cast of 20 and some trapeze artists! Well these are the arguments I’ll be using to persuade Andy about our next cruise!

After the show we went to the Schooner bar to enjoy the pianist and a nightcap. He was slick and professional but didn’t really get us involved in the way we have been in piano bars on previous cruises, still it was a pleasant enough way to while away half an hour. Then it was time for bed and we strolled back to the cabin ready for a sleep ahead of tomorrow’s adventures in Valencia…

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 7 – Valencia


I awoke to the sound of The Captain announcing our arrival in Valencia after another wonderful night’s sleep. There’s nothing better than a Royal Caribbean bed and the gentle movement of a ship to leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

I pulled back the curtains to see a blue, cloudless sky. The weather really has been exceptional this cruise however my view of Valencia Port was less than inspiring, row after row of containers and in the distance an outline of a city miles from where the ship had docked. Walking out of the port was not going to be an option. Royal Caribbean were offering a shuttle bus at €18 for adults and €9 for children return which would drop you in the historic old city. From our balcony I noticed some separate orange buses that were leaving the dock side before returning minutes later and guessed they were taking passengers to the port gates.

Still full from the day before we skipped breakfast, grabbing a croissant to go from the Royal Promenade. We disembarked around 10.30am and followed some crew to what was indeed a free port bus. If you ever want to find the most economical way into any town just follow the crew! Sure enough the port provided shuttle dropped us at the terminal building 5 minutes later.

Our plan for the day was to get a Hop on Hop off (HoHo) bus and then head to Valencia’s famous Aquarium, apparently the largest in Europe but then almost every port says that about their Aquarium! I’d done a little research and discovered that the HoHo bus stops at the port but on arrival at the terminal it really wasn’t clear where the stop was and the queue for tourist information was huge. We decided not to wait in line and instead jumped the public bus (route 4 from the roundabout) to the city centre. The bus was €1.50 each one way for myself and Andy, Finn who is 6 travelled free.

We got off in a large square, where we could have changed to another public bus (route 19) to the Aquarium however we spotted the HoHo (hop on hop off bus) so decided to take that instead. This was €16 each for adults and kids 6 and under were free. We went up to the top deck and took the last seats available thankfully under a little cover and shaded from the blazing heat as temperatures rose to 33 degrees today! I plugged in the free headphones they gave us, found the English Channel amongst the many options, studied the map and tried to get our bearings. There were two routes to choose from, the Historic city route (red) or the Maritime route (blue). We were on the blue route which included the Aquarium a few stops away from where we got on. In hindsight we actually could have got off the public bus a few stops earlier and easily walked to the Aquarium but the HoHo gave us a nice overview of the city while we enjoyed the breeze and the commentary.


There’s a central strip of parkland and water features that runs through the heart of the city called the Turia Gardens. It was created on the bed of the former river (presumably diverted elsewhere now) to create a fabulous green space in the city. The park is also home to the City of Arts and Sciences which houses several spectacular buildings with modernist and futuristic architecture that are museums, concert halls and galleries all surrounded by lakes and pools. We passed by on the bus getting a birds eye view but planned to walk back through and enjoy it fully on foot later. We got off the HoHo right outside the Oceanographic aquarium.


There were hardly any queues and we paid the €27 admission for adults and €21 for children. The aquarium comprises eight or so different buildings in an outdoor park style setting surrounded by pools or lakes. There’s also a large outdoor auditorium where the main attraction, a dolphin show takes place five times a day. Each of the buildings has a different themed exhibition, such as the Mediterranean or Tropics featuring fish and sea creatures from that region. The tanks were large and stocked with thousands of different fishes and there’s also a 60ft walk through tunnel with fish swimming over visitors heads. Finn was delighted to see divers working in some of the tanks cleaning corals and taking care of the fish, one of them even waved at him.

We were getting peckish so we went to the restaurant of which there were two to choose from along with a number of cafés around the park. We chose the grill style restaurant and bar and Andy spoke to the waitress in his best Spanish requesting a table for tres. He was obviously very convincing as she gave us Spanish menus rather than English! I went and swapped them as our Spanish really doesn’t extend to the intricacies of an extensive menu. The food looked delicious but we really didn’t want a full meal so we decided instead to sit in the bar and have a sandwich and obligatory bottle of chilled Rioja.


Suitably refreshed, it was approaching 2.15pm and time for the dolphin show. We made our way to the auditorium and took our seats high above the huge pools below. The show was narrated in Spanish but that really didn’t matter as the dolphins performed incredible feats that needed no translation including spectacular choreographed leaps as they sped around the main pool. Captive dolphins can be a point of contention for some but it was a highly enjoyable display and they seemed to be having a whale of a time!


Next we went to the Arctic exhibition where we saw walruses and my favourite attraction the Beluga Whales. These beautiful, pale and ghostly creatures were swimming in vast tanks and also very cute so much so we purchased Bluigi a little cuddly soft toy from the gift shop who now resides in our cabin much to Finn’s delight.

Time was ticking on so at 3.30pm we left the aquarium and walked to the City of Arts and Sciences through the park. It was a lovely stroll through breathtaking architecture, pools and gardens. We’d planned to walk up as far as Gulliver, a children’s playground shaped like the lay down giant from Gullivers Travels however it seemed to be getting hotter and hotter and time was ticking on so we played it safe and headed back to the ship. We spotted a well timed HoHo bus and the driver kindly waited for us as we ran to get on. We found seats upstairs and enjoyed a much welcome breeze and a few more stops before we arrived back at the port. The HoHo bus stop at the Port is actually a few streets back from the terminal so it was no surprise we couldn’t find it in the morning. If you were planning on doing this in Valencia I think you may struggle to find it too, its much easier to jump the public bus into the city and board there.

We had a ten minute walk back to the terminal and boarded the free port bus which took us back to the Indy. We were soon back on board with just enough time for a refreshing dip in the H2O zone and an ice cream ahead of dinner.

We had a table booked at 6.15pm today and we were finally hungry and able to appreciate dinner. Service was once again exceptional. Mary, the head waitress delivering a whole bowl of strawberries for Finn. I had duck salad followed by a breaded chicken breast filled with cheese and ham which was absolutely delicious. Andy had duck breast salad and a soup followed by a mushroom curry. I finished up with the Jaffa Cake dessert, a sponge, mousse and chocolate dish with Cointreau that tasted exactly like a grown up version of the chocolate topped biscuit – it was divine! My favourite dessert to date.


After dinner Finn wanted to go to kids club so we dropped him off and made our way to the Sky Bar on top deck to enjoy a few glasses of red while watching the sunset. The PA system was playing some of our favourite 80s Indie hits including Pixies and Talking Heads which we loved but possibly left some other cruisers bemused. It was a glorious sunset and a highlight of my trip so far.

Once the sun had set we went in search of entertainment, there weren’t any live bands playing as we were between set times in all venues so we went to the Alhambra Theatre. Tonight’s show was Pete Matthews, a ‘comedy juggler’ which hadn’t inspired us but he was absolutely brilliant and had the audience in stitches. Be warned there was a little audience participation so avoid sitting in the first few rows if you don’t like that kind of thing.

After the show we went to Boleros where the live band were starting a Spanish / Latin inspired set. I called kids club to check on Finn and he came to the phone with a disgruntled “what mummy?” and was adamant he wanted to stay for late night party zone which starts at 10pm and is charged at $7 an hour. I was quite pleased as I wanted to see the adults only Love & Marriage show, a Mr & Mrs type game featuring four couples from the cruise, one of which had been married 50 plus years. The show was hosted by Joff, our cruise director who is very funny. It was great entertainment, particularly when several of the guys couldn’t actually remember what their wives were wearing that night let alone where the first kiss was!

After the show we went to collect Finn who was still wide awake having had a fantastic time and we retired to our cabin ahead of our adventures in Barcelona tomorrow.


Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 8 – Barcelona

I awoke at 7.15am feeling fragile to say the least. A few paracetamol later, a glug of diet coke and I was dressed and heading to the Royal Promenade in search of sugary pastries which are a well known hangover cure. I left the boys gently snoring and grabbed the iPad to start yesterday’s blog.

I love the Royal Promenade, it’s a great feature of the ship and particularly pleasant first thing when hardly anyone is around. My favourite spot is Cafe Promenade which serves breakfast pastries in the morning, free self serve filter coffees and teas (or paid for cappuccinos and the like) and sandwiches and dessert snacks from lunchtime onwards. I always start my day by topping up the coke cups from our drinks package (which gives us unlisted wine, beer or sodas all week – although it was a little early for wine so diet coke it was) and sneaking a vanilla Danish. I sat down, relished the peace on the parade and started writing. After a short while I made my back to the cabin to see if the boys were stirring yet. They were still sleeping so I slipped onto the balcony to enjoy the views of Barcelona as we docked. We were at one of the berths quite far from town but we had spectacular views of the city and the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s spectacular cathedral which is still under construction.

The boys finally awoke with Andy feeling just as fragile as me. We both blamed Finn, as he wanted to go to late night party zone last night so we had to stay out and have one glass of red too many! As a result it was a very quiet start to the day, we literally just made breakfast, arriving in the Windjammer at 10.35am. It was fairly quiet and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of full English and orange juice to replenish lost vitamin C!

Our original plan for Barcelona was a lazy day on the beach as we’ve visited this amazing city many times before however the sky had clouded over and the weather looked almost stormy. We felt a few drops of rain on the breeze so we moved to plan B. This involved a reworking of outfits with me discarding the bikini and sundress in favour of shorts and layers. Finn donned his Abandon Ship sweatshirt (lovely new kids line of clothes and rather amusing cruise wear) and we agreed on a stroll up the Ramblas and a few shops instead as we’ve previously ticked off nearly all the major attractions. As we left the ship the weather brightened up, sweatshirts and we made our way to the port shuttle bus. A very reasonable €3 per person including Finn (no free kids tickets here) for a return trip and we were on board making our way to the statue of Christopher Columbus which marks the beginning of La Rambla. This is the Main Street in Barcelona that stretches from the port area to Placa de Catalunya, the main square at the top. It’s quite a walk but is lined with shady trees, human statues, market stalls and pavement cafés which act as a very pleasant distraction as you stroll. The city is infamous for its pickpockets and petty crime but I have to say it feels no different to any other major city to me and personally we’ve never had a problem. For anyone concerned there was a reassuring and regular police presence on the Ramblas today.


We (or rather Finn) had a destination in mind, the toy concession in El Corte de Ingles, Barcelona’s department store on the main square. We’ve spent many a happy hour in there over the years and he rarely comes away empty handed. Today was no different and he left with a few Pokemon figures and I was €30 worse off…. From there we went to Camper to get some new and desperately needed trainers for Finn – I was also hoping for a pair of shoes but sadly the Autumn / Winter stock didn’t inspire me. We strolled back towards the port and stopped in Plaza Real, one of Barcelona’s most beautiful squares just off La Rambla – on the right hand side if stood with your back to the sea. The square is a gorgeous tree lined oasis to escape from the madness of the city and we took a seat outside The Alex Restaurant to enjoy a chilled bottle of Rioja and some amazing and reasonably priced tapas – albondingas (meatballs) and patas bravas – both under €5 a dish. We were entertained by some amazing Brazilian street dancers who did backflips and somersaulted in front of the restaurant showing their six packs with their tops off much to the delight of a table full of French girls nearby and myself of course :) I happily donated a few euros to their cause!


It was nearly 3pm so we strolled back to the waterfront where we boarded a waiting port bus which got us to the ship in no time. We chilled on our balcony and awaited sailaway before changing for dinner. Another glorious day (despite the hangovers) in one of my all time favourite ports.


At 6.15pm we made our way to the King Lear MDR and were quickly seated at table 666. Our waiters Edwin and Vicky greeted us, wine was poured and a huge bowl of strawberries placed in front of Finn, another great start to a meal. I ordered Chicken Consommé followed by a Butter Chicken Curry, Andy had Gourmet Meatballs to start, Chicken Consommé and then New York Strip steak. Finn ordered pasta again as he’d enjoyed it so much the night before. Andy thought the meatballs weren’t quite as good as those we’d enjoyed in Barcelona (the best he’s ever had he said) but he still cleared his plate, my curry was delicious and a nice change from what I usually order.


After dinner we strolled down the Royal Promenade, stopping at the duty free store to buy a few toiletries we had run low on. Finn decided he simply had to have a tub of Celebration chocolates which were served pick n mix so you could select the ones you wanted. A genius idea as it meant you didn’t get left with a load of mini Bounty’s or Snickers (Marathons to anyone of a certain age) as is usual at our house! They were quite reasonable too at $5 a tub and Andy helped Finn fill every spare inch so we’ll be eating them all week.

We opted for a quiet night as we need to be up fresh and early for Palma as we’re meeting my Mum and Stepdad who have lived in Mallorca for over twenty years. Finn is excited to see his Nana who he calls Nag Nag and I know they are just as excited to see their grandson too.

We went to the Pyramid Lounge hoping to see a live band but they weren’t playing till a little later. There was a quiz starting so I decided we’d join in although the boys were a little less keen. It was a blankety blank style thing where by you had to complete a phrase and there were 10 rounds in total. It wasn’t great but the highlight was watching Finn race to the front with the completed slip after each round. The host, one of the younger members of the events team, was obviously still learning the job and we’ve seen much funnier redcoats at Butlins if I’m honest. Sadly we didn’t win but as the prize was a Royal Caribbean baseball cap I soon got over it. We left after the quiz and headed to bed for an early night looking forward to seeing Nana and Grandad and enjoying a day in the Majorcan sunshine together.

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 9 – Palma

We awoke around 8.00am as the Indy sailed in to Palma, pulling back the curtains to enjoy fabulous views of the cathedral as the ship docked.

Finn opened one eye and said he had two very excited doggies in bed – his soft toys Jasper and Casper. Both were previous gifts off my mum and stepdad which he insisted were coming on the cruise to visit his grandparents who have lived in Majorca for over twenty years. We were all really looking forward to spending the day together.

We had breakfast in the Windjammer – French toast and sausages for Finn and myself and something approaching a full English for Andy – and then went to the towel station on top deck to pick up some beach towels. You need to show your sea pass card when collecting them but I’m not 100% convinced there is any kind of proper signing in or out system as they are usually retrieved from our room before we get an opportunity to return them.

We received a text from Nana (aka Nag Nag) and Grandad to say they were here a bit earlier than expected and waiting for us in the terminal. We disembarked with Finn skipping across the passenger bridge and down the escalator into his grandparents arms for the biggest of cuddles. After much hugging (for Finn not us!) we made our way to their car which was parked right by the terminal – now that beats a HoHo bus!


We drove to Santa Ponsa, a lovely beach resort, about twenty minutes from Palma where they used to live before they moved a little further up the coast to Calas de Mallorca. We parked up and made our way to the Watering Hole, a pub with a large outdoor swimming pool and a well stocked freezer of ice lollies – heaven for a six year old and as the wine was only €7 a bottle, fairly enjoyable for us too!


The pool was beautifully refreshing in the heat and we enjoyed some quality time catching up with the grandparents and enjoying a leisurely lunch, a little more wine and lots of dips in the pool. All too quickly it was time to make the short drive back to the port and after much hugging, kissing and waving we had to get back on the the ship. As regular cruisers I’m sure they wished they were boarding with us although they do seem to prefer the smaller ships that sail out of Palma such as Thomson’s Island Escape.


On our way back to the room we posed for a photo in front of one of the many gorgeous artworks around the ship. RCI has an incredible art collection across its fleet and I particularly remember the lovely ‘small wonders’ miniatures in telescope style viewers when we sailed on Oasis of the Seas. On Independence they have an ‘Inspired by’ series of modern takes on work by famous artists on each floor along the stairwells. On our way to the MDR we pass a fabulous midnight blue homage to Jackson Pollock that’s covered in the kind of squiggles you get when you wave sparklers around on Bonfire Night and a gorgeous blancmange pink panel inspired by Mark Rothko. On deck 4 there’s an update of The Scream by Edvard Munch which Finn is terrified of and on deck 6 above the Royal Promenade there’s a huge red sculpture of a dog which he adores – a little bit of culture at sea. Heaven.

Nag Nag and Grandad had very kindly bought Finn a Lego Chima set so we sat on bed while Mummy wrestled with the instructions and built something that looked vaguely like the picture on the box. Why are there always a few pieces left over? Oh well…

Tonight’s dinner dress code was casual so no major changes were required and we made our way to deck 5. We were greeted by our waiting team and strawberries, wine and diet coke arrived soon after as we perused the menu. I ordered buffalo mozzarella with rocket to start and beef tenderloin with garlic roasted potatoes for my main. Andy enjoyed a seafood risotto, white bean soup and Coq au Vin as Finn got stuck into breadcrumbed chicken strips and chips. The service as always was excellent although we were beaten by our mains and declined dessert yet again.

Finn wanted to go to kids club so we dropped him off on Deck 12 for an hour or so as we took advantage of the views and our drinks package in the open air Sky Bar. We watched the sun slip into the ocean listening to a DJ play some very apt Cafe del Mar style house tunes as we sailed towards Ibiza. Best laid plans to catch the live band at 9.45pm were abandoned as the sunshine, food and wine had got the better of us so we picked up Finn and returned to our room before they even made it on stage. The live music does seem to start a little late for my liking, particularly when you have a port day you want to make the most of the next day.

I replenished our coke cups on the Royal Promenade and popped into the cupcake cupboard for a cheeky mini vanilla – well I had skipped dessert : ) – before returning to the boys for a much needed sleep ahead of a day in Ibiza town tomorrow.

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 10 – Ibiza


Our tenth day began with a beautiful sunrise as the ship sailed into Ibiza town with its towering medieval walls and harbour full of expensive yachts. A speedboat zipped by with tunes blaring (evidence of the partying the island is famous for) and a procession of jets roared low overhead preparing to land at the nearby airport and marking the arrival of yet more clubbers for a week or two of fun and excess. Docking on the Indy seemed a far more leisurely way to arrive at the White Isle for a couple whose clubbing days are as long gone as The Hacienda and the other Manchester nightspots we frequented in our youth.

Normally on a cruise we enjoy the a la carte breakfast option but as this finishes at 9.30am and Finn has finally learnt the art of a lie in we’ve only made it once so we took breakfast at the Windjammer. Suitably replenished we collected our things and made our way to deck 1 to disembark.

Getting off we could see the crew bar situated a few decks below our room. It looks like a great place to hang out with huge open windows, tv’s, seating areas and a bar with significantly cheaper prices than we pay I suspect! I’m absolutely fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes on a cruise ship and think the logistics of these floating cities is amazing. I’d really like to do the behind the scenes tour they offer on some ships but they charge around $150 usually and I’ve always thought this a little expensive. I’ve not actually seen it advertised yet this cruise so we’ll see, I may treat myself.


We headed along the dockside getting a real sense of the size and scale of this amazing vessel. It really is enormous and until the arrival of Oasis and Allure was one of the largest cruise ships at sea. The sun was beating down and the temperature was already in the 30s so we took advantage of the shade of the dock wall as we headed to the port gates. RCI do offer their own shuttle bus into town but we wanted to see what other transport options there were. We literally just missed a public port bus which you can pick up just outside the terminal at a very reasonable €2.5 one way and €4.5 return per adult. There was already a queue for the next bus and a sign said they were every 30 minutes. Our other option was a taxi but the queues at the rank which is adjacent to the bus stop were huge so we decided to walk as we’d seen the old town from the top deck and it didn’t look too far around the bay. It was however incredibly hot and the walk took around 30 minutes so we were thankful for the shady, arboured pathways and gardens alongside the harbour that kept the sun off us. We passed upscale apartment blocks, bars and clubs and finally arrived at the area of the harbour where the port bus drops you off and there’s another taxi rank. We found a cafe close by for a much needed ice lolly for Finn and a diet coke for us as we sat watching cars and people pour off the Balearics ferries which head back and to between the islands.


After a bit of rest and refreshment we made our way through streets lined with shops and cafés that lead you up to the impressive city walls. It reminded me of Chester back in the UK as we crossed the drawbridge and through the arch into the old town beyond. We walked up narrow, cobbled passageways between white washed houses dripping with bougainvillea in full bloom, it really was incredibly pretty. The town is a little M C Esher like, a labyrinth of steps and pathways heading in all directions but we soon stumbled across a shady, tree lined and flower filled square with a choice of three small bars. The square was called Plaza del Sol but I couldn’t possibly tell you how to get there or even if we could ever find it again. We chose the bar Bella Sombra, purely because they had cool water mist spraying from their parasols which created a beautifully chilled atmosphere, a welcome respite from the blistering sunshine. We ordered the obligatory bottle of red for ourselves and a water for Finn and sat back and enjoyed the ambience. This really has been one of those magical holidays where we’ve seemed to take a serendipitous turn at the right time to find the perfect spot, each day. I was feeling a little tipsy on the red wine and very thankful and blessed.


We considered ordering the bar’s tapas but were still fairly full from our breakfasts so we chose instead to return slowly to the ship descending back through the old town to the harbour where we jumped a cab back to the port at a very reasonable €9 for the three of us. We got back onboard and went to Jade, the oriental section of the Windjammer as we fancied sampling one of the many curries they do so well on a ship with so many nationalities in the crew. We enjoyed a delicious chicken chattinad, chicken breast cooked in coconut milk with jasmine rice. It was so good Andy had to have seconds and I even managed a little dessert, a beautiful Oreo mousse that was fabulous. Finn had a hotdog which he quickly wolfed down and to his delight we had sat in the section of the restaurant that Vicky (our evening waiter from the main dining room) was looking after. The staff really do work incredibly long and hard but always with a smile on their faces.

We returned to our room and sat on the balcony enjoying the sunshine and a little more red wine. I was starting to feel a little hot so I took Finn up to the H2O zone where we splashed, sprayed and swam for a while and cooled off with yet more soft serve ice creams from Sprinkles.

The dress code for tonight’s dinner was casual but I always prefer to make a little effort and wear a dress and Andy always wears long trousers and a shirt or polo top. We made our way to our usual table to be greeted with strawberries, diet coke and wine. I chose the Thai style chicken starter with glass noodles which was amazing. For main I fancied the steak however it was being served with Diane sauce and I don’t like mushrooms. I explained this to Edwin who delighted me by offering me an alternative of pepper sauce which he seemed to magic out of thin air, perfect service once again and the steak was absolutely delicious. Andy, still full from lunch, managed only one starter, an Andalucian broth, followed by the Steak Diane as it came but without the mashed potatoes. Finn got stuck into a pizza from the children’s menu although we’ve seen many other kids eating off the main menu which is equally fine should they wish.


After dinner we visited Boleros for a drink and then headed to the Labyrinth nightclub where there was supposed to be a family disco but it was pretty empty. Instead we took front row seats in the Pyramid Lounge to watch the first set by the live band Undercover who were advertised as classic rock but threw in some Chic, Dido and Pharrel Williams covers too. We left around 10.15pm stopping on the Royal Promenade to collect a cupcake, wine and diet coke before going back to the cabin where a towel monkey awaited Finn and the chance of a lazy sea day lie in sounded like bliss for us all.


Click here for part 3.

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Mediterranean Cruise Review 2014 Part 1

This cruise diary was originally posted in daily installments on the Cruise Lovers Facebook group and the Cruise Critic forum and details our Spanish Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas between 26 July and the 9 August 2014. I’ve made a few tweaks, amended a few typos and added some of our holiday photos.

I didn’t realise how long it was and I’ve had to break it up into separate posts. This is the first which covers days 1 to 5 and visits to Vigo, Lisbon and Gibraltar. Click here for part 2.

Independence of the Seas – Spanish Med Cruise – Day 1

Independence of the Seas

I’ve decided to live blog our latest cruise, I love reading reviews and thought it might be fun to share the story of our family summer holiday at sea.

Firstly a bit of context so you know who we are. I’m Nicky (43) sailing with my husband Andy (51) and our gorgeous little sailor Finn (6). We are from the UK and live in the hills above Manchester. This is our 10th cruise, our 3rd so far this year (yes I’m a very lucky girl!) and I love cruising, a self confessed cruising geek. We have cruised lots of different lines, don’t necessarily have any brand loyalty, we’ve enjoyed RCI, Carnival, NCL, Thomson and most recently the MSC Divina – that was in April and my husband was adamant it was our last cruise for a while, not a chance I thought.

I was researching ideas for our summer family holiday and just couldn’t get inspired by the idea of two weeks in an all inclusive hotel and summer is a little hot for a city break with a 6 year old (although last year we had a fab land based holiday in Toronto) so I started taking a sneaky peak at cruise sites. I stumbled across the RCI Spanish Med cruise on the Independence of the Seas, it was departing in summer holidays on a fabulous family friendly ship with an amazing itinerary including Vigo, Gibraltar, Barcelona (one of our favourite cities ever), Ibiza, Valencia, Lisbon, Cadiz oh and a stop in Palma, Mallorca where happily my Mum lives so I can tick off a family visit too! Absolutely perfect I thought, now I just had to convince the husband…..

Several weeks of badgering, being a lovely wife and much red wine later he finally cracked and allowed me to book it on the proviso that I’d already had my main holiday (on the MSC Divina in Yacht Club) so I could only have an inside cabin to keep the cost down. Well I logged on to look at prices and sadly all the inside cabins had gone (hurrah!) so an outside it was, well so I thought. I called my amazing travel agent (who I have spent a small fortune with over the years) who called me straight back to say she had a guaranteed balcony for the price of an outside – did I want it? Did I ever! So we booked and the holiday countdown started.

We’ve never sailed on the Independence of the Seas before but had done the Oasis of the Seas on a back to back a few years ago so we had a good idea what to expect, a little like Oasis but without the park or the boardwalk. That didn’t stop me reading a million reviews and joining a few Facebook groups to help the days pass by and add to the excitement.

We were hugely excited about sailing from the UK as it’s not something we’d done before having always opted for fly cruises, the last one involved a particularly long, arduous flight and two hours at customs. The idea of avoiding that was heavenly and also as I get older jet lag and a 6 year old is not a great combination.

Anyway a few weeks ahead of boarding I logged in to RCI to do the paperwork and noticed our cabin had been allocated, I nervously checked the deck plan as I realised I was taking a bit of a gamble with a guaranteed. To my absolute delight we had been allocated cabin 7408, a corner aft balcony. I googled it and found a YouTube video showing the cabin and balcony which was huge. I couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were, happy days!

Independence of the Seas cabin 7408 aft balcony

Ok, that’s probably enough background so on to the holiday. Manchester is around 4 hours drive from Southampton so we decided to break the journey (and start the holiday a day early!) by driving two thirds of the way and stopping near Oxford in a Premier Inn. We made a lovely day of the journey stopping at a National Trust property to enjoy the glorious sunshine and a fabulous lunch. This turned what I thought might be a painful journey in to a lovely adventure and we arrived at the hotel relaxed and excited. The next morning after a leisurely breakfast we hit the road for an hour or so drive arriving at Southampton docks around 10.45am. I’d booked parking at the docks, yes it was a little more expensive than off site parking but absolute heaven to turn up, park, have our luggage taken straight off us by a friendly and helpful porter and then take a three minute stroll to the ship. At first sight the Independence of the Seas is incredibly impressive, my 6 year old was squealing with excitement (and I was only marginally calmer!). We headed into the terminal to find hardly no queues at all and as gold members we we’re given gold stickers and fast tracked through although I suspect even without a sticker you wouldn’t have been waiting long. We were through security, straight to the check in desk and had our key cards in our hands within minutes. We then followed the ‘to the ship’ signs where boarding had already started.

We swerved the ships photographers as always and headed up the gang plank to hear my favourite phrase in the world – ‘welcome aboard ‘ and that satisfying ding as they swipe your card.

Rooms aren’t available till 1pm so we went up to the top deck to explore. The pool areas are lovely, the adult only solarium looks fabulous with cantilevered whirlpools hanging off the ship although I’ll only enjoy that properly if Finn does Adventure Ocean. There is a central outdoor area with stage and bars and a huge splash zone kids pool which Finn was very excited about. We’ll definitely be sampling this on our first sea day I’m sure.

We headed to the bar to have our first drink of the holiday. We had pre-purchased the select drinks package that gives us any beer and wines up to $8 a glass plus unlimited sodas which is more than enough for us as we don’t really drink spirits. I think this was about £20 a day so really four or five drinks and you’re already saving money. It’s a bargain for us – last time we did RCI they didn’t do all inclusive packages and our bar bill getting off a back to back on the Oasis was eye watering. It’s nice not to have that concern this time.


My 6 year old was desperate to explore so we headed to the Royal Promenade a huge mall that runs along the centre of the ship on deck 5. We had a stroll, collecting menus and leaflets for the speciality restaurants and then headed to the Schooner Bar for a cheeky glass of wine, well I need to get value from that drinks package! We’d worked up a bit of an appetite so we headed to Sorrentos a pizza place on the promenade that also does panninis and desserts and had a few slices that weren’t exactly gourmet but were very tasty and soaked up the alcohol!

It was now 1pm so we headed up to the 7th floor, the corridor door wasn’t quite open so we waited in the library where my 6 year old was delighted to find a kids section and promptly borrowed some holiday reading. The doors soon opened and we headed to the aft excited to see our room. It’s quite a trek however I guess that will help with walking off the inevitable cruise calorie gain.

We opened our door and were delighted with what we saw, a lovely, spotlessly clean, spacious stateroom with large queen bed, sofa and good size bathroom however what really makes this cabin is the beautiful corner aft balcony. It is huge and has two sun loungers, a table, two chairs and a porthole to one side and a regular balcony to the other giving you two different sea views and a lovely mix of sun for me and shade for the boys. We so lucked out getting this and I’m beyond thrilled at the idea of having it for two weeks!

Two of our three cases arrived so I started unpacking. I have a small confession here, we had packed a couple of wine boxes in our luggage. In my defence we have booked and paid for the wine package so it’s not to save money it’s actually to save my legs walking back and to the bar from our room. I just wanted to enjoy a glass or three on my amazing aft balcony. One of the cases with a box arrived but the other didn’t. An hour or so went by and I was getting extremely nervous I’d be called to the naughty room! I’d already worked out what I was going to say, i.e. I was saving RCI money by drinking my own wine : ) Anyway thankfully I was worrying unnecessarily as our final case arrived a short while later – phew!

I unpacked and relaxed on the balcony and then there was a knock at the door, Delores our state room attendant arrived to introduce herself and check we had everything we needed. We gave her a small initial tip to ensure a constant supply of fresh wine glasses and towel animals and then headed up to muster. The muster was quick and easy and conducted in glorious sunshine, not something I was expecting on a UK sailing. We then took the 6 flights of stairs to the top deck as the queues for lifts were pretty long and taking the stairs always means you can enjoy a guilt free dessert later.

splashing around

There was a sail away party up on deck with the entertainment crew doing the Macarena etc. I bet they have to go on a training course to learn those dances. Another glass of wine later and we enjoyed a Caribbean style band and Finn and myself had a paddle and dance in the shallow pool. We’d all slipped into holiday mode very nicely.

We went back to our room to change for dinner which was casual dining tonight. We headed to the King Lear dining room for anytime dining and happily there were no queues. I had tried to reserve online our preferred time but the RCI site won’t let you as it’s a 14 night cruise with 3 people that’s more items that your basket allows. I called but they said just to do it on board. It wasn’t an issue as the staff happily booked us in and we were whisked to our table. We met our waiters Jose and Dominic who were friendly and helpful, keeping our glasses topped up and delighting my six year old with a napkin mouse (who now lives in our stateroom!). The dinner was delicious and both Andy and myself enjoyed a lamb broth followed by a fabulous traditional English roast beef dinner with garlic roast potatoes, gravy and even a Yorkshire pudding. It amazes me how they cater for so many so well and the food was piping hot. Finn enjoyed the kids menu and our waiters brought him fruit to start without us even asking and then he ordered chicken strips which were delivered with a ketchup smiley face followed by a delicious chocolate brownie that I helped with!

After dinner we met up with the family of someone I’d been chatting to on a cruise Facebook group. She has a 7 year old and the boys played together beautifully while we enjoyed another glass of wine in Boleros – yes I think we got value out of the drinks package today! They headed off to dinner so we explored a little more. We found the swings in the solarium and met a lovely family on their first cruise and chatted for a while. We were going to explore further but it was a bit windy on deck so we headed back to our aft balcony for a nightcap. Finn and myself snuck off to grab a cheeky slice of Sorrentos and were planning to make the opening night parade but holiday exhaustion got the better of us so it was an early night all round.

I was a little worried about the infamous Bay of Biscay but hardly felt any movement, a wonderful night’s sleep later and we are now ready for day 2 – more to follow later….

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 2 – Sea Day

As a family we love sea days. I always think it’s a perfect way to spend a second day giving you a chance to find your sea legs and explore the ship. My six year old wants us to go on a cruise that is purely just sea days as he never wants to leave the ship, so much so that disembarking at ports usually involves a little bribery around a visit to a toy shop.

We started the day in a lazy fashion, the boys had a lie in while I wrote the first instalment of this blog and then we headed for an al a carte breakfast. This is such an indulgent way to start the day and one of the things I love on a cruise. You rarely get waitress service at breakfast in any hotel these days and trying to feed a 6 year old at a buffet is a far from relaxed experience. We enjoyed a full English with proper back bacon rather than that American streaky stuff. This was served with fabulous hash browns and eggs any way we liked. We were happy to share a table so there was no queuing and we met a nice Scottish couple enjoying a good conversation around the Commonwealth Games, Scottish independence and plans for the cruise – a lovely and social way to start the day.


A quick note on wifi, one of the main reasons I’m able to write this blog and respond to comments etc. is because of the very reasonable wifi package. RCI do a 14 day unlimited wifi package which you can use on up to two devices at any time for $269 ( this included a small gold member discount of 10 or 20% I think). I was pleasantly surprised by this as we run our own business and despite having a great team back in the office I do like to check emails while I’m away. We’ve paid significantly more for wifi on previous cruises and it’s a joy for it to be across a few devices and unlimited. This saves all that remembering to log on or off as previously I have forgotten and lost valuable data allowance.

We left breakfast and headed to the Royal Promenade and collected our tickets for the ice show for the show times we wanted. The queues were small although apparently you don’t necessarily need tickets as you usually can get in on standby if there’s space.

We then headed to the King Lear dining room for the Cruisecritic meet n mingle. I think there were around 50 people however as it was in the dining room everyone sat in their own groups at tables so there wasn’t a lot of mingling if I’m honest. On arrival we were given a free RCI branded notepad and pen and there were refreshments available (cute little filled croissants, cookies etc). The event was hosted by Alison the activities manager, a northerner from Darwen not far from where we live in a village in the hills outside Bury. She did a great job of getting people laughing and there was a raffle where you could win a range of prizes from the good (bottles of champagne) to the less good ( a fridge magnet). I think everyone won something. We won a camera case or as Alison put it a hamster rucksack which my son’s toy doggy is now wearing.

Following the meet n mingle it was back to our room to relax for a little while and enjoy the lovely perspective from the aft balcony looking back on the ship’s wake. As that’s also our surname it seems very apt and I think I may be requesting an aft on future cruises as I’ve been spoiled by the space and views we’ve got on the Indy.

Finn decided he wanted to try kids club so we headed up to deck 12 aft, to sign him in. Our cabin is well located for Royal Promenade, dining and kids club and the exercise walking the corridors to our room is a bonus. Sign in at Adventure Ocean was quick and easy, the RCI kids staff really are some of the best at sea and so welcoming with children who may seem shy or hesitant. Finn was given a free Adventure Ocean lanyard for his sea pass and he skipped in happily to join the others in Explorers, the club that caters for 6 to 8 year olds. This allowed me and my husband a little us time so we headed to the top deck to explore.

We went to the flow rider – to watch not participate! I think we’re both a little old / lacking in balance for that kind of thing! It was still great fun as the music was blaring, the sun shining and everyone having so much fun. The young guys having a go seemed to be loving it and the instructors were showing everyone how it’s really done, at one point deliberating doing tricks that soaked the spectators – us included! Still it serves us right for sitting at the front, we chose the raised side seating later in the day!

From there we went off to the climbing wall. The teenagers on board really are having a riot, we peeked into their hangout space The Living Room too and I’m sure if you have a teen you won’t see them at all for two weeks. It certainly beats the wet caravan parks I holidayed at when I was a teenager.

We visited Olive & Twist aka the Viking Lounge, a bar at the very top of the ship. This is another RCI concept I love, great views in a peaceful setting. At noon we headed back to collect Finn. You get to Explorers through the huge video games arcade and a build a bear style shop. It’s like exit through the gift shop and I’m sure will cost us dearly later in the cruise – clever planning RCI!

Although it was lunchtime we still weren’t that hungry after our huge breakfast so we headed back to the room to relax. I just grabbed a slice of pizza from Sorrentos on our way and we thought we’d wait till dinner to eat properly.

The plan for the afternoon was the art auction, unsurprisingly Finn wasn’t keen so he wanted to go back to kids club. We dropped him off and headed to the auction or so we thought. We made our way to the art gallery on deck 3 as that seemed logical but they’d moved the event to the Pyramid Lounge. We had a quick explore of deck 3 stumbling across the ice rink, the ship’s TV station and the karaoke lounge which also has private karaoke booths if you don’t want to make a public display of yourself!

We finally found the auction and were giving our lot number. We’re no art experts but we do buy a bit and collect a little at home so I was keen to see what they had and maybe pick up a piece as a nice reminder of our trip. My husband collected our glasses of free champagne and we settled in. The auctioneer was rather cheesy to say the least, he proceeded to run through a long list of rules (which were already written on our lot cards) and then brought out print after print of quite frankly overpriced rubbish. Nobody was bidding, in fact he was bidding against himself to try and create some interest. I almost felt sorry for him but the champagne went down well. We left after half an hour and my husband likened it to the art version of ‘inch of gold’. He often offers to buy me an inch on our cruises – too generous I know!

We returned to our balcony for a glass of wine and then picked up our son. It was formal night at dinner which I love but my husband isn’t quite so keen. He refuses to do black tie but did manage a jacket and shirt and Finn wore a cute linen suit so we scrubbed up okay I think.

Formal Night

We made our way to the dining room and were seated in a different section to our first night, this time with sea views. Our waiters were Edwin and Vicky and worryingly our table number was 666 but there wasn’t any devilment to be had. Andy had scallops and double chicken consommé as he couldn’t decide which he wanted, the waiter happily brought both. I don’t usually do seafood but bravely had a taste and even I thought they were delicious. I had a very tasty chicken salad which was more chicken than salad then for mains I had Beef Tenderloin which was delicious, served with mash and asparagus which was cooked perfectly. Andy had Strip Tenderloin with a jacket which he enjoyed. Finn requested a fruit salad with extra strawberries and was given a huge bowlful in addition to his regular fruit salad, he then had a pizza with fries. I forced myself to order a dessert (well I have been on a pre- cruise diet for months prior to this) and enjoyed a yummy vanilla and strawberry cheesecake.

After dinner we headed to Boleros, bumped into the friends we’d met yesterday and enjoyed a drink and chat while listening to the band. We were people watching and I was pleasantly surprised by just how dressed up everyone was for formal night, the majority of men were in tuxes and the ladies looked fabulous. There were some very cute little boys in their bow ties and girls in Disney style princess dresses and even the odd kilt! Very different to some of the Caribbean cruises I’ve been on where the dress code is often loosely interpreted.

Following drinks Andy headed off to bed, Finn and myself weren’t tired so we decided to explore the ship. First stop was the cupcake cupboard to sample the cakes, we had two small ones at $1.50 each and they were gorgeous. They also do cupcake decorating lessons which are probably great fun but I’m no Mary Berry so I guess I’ll pass on that.

Royal Promenade

We strolled the Royal Promenade visited all the shops and then went to the Pyramid Lounge for a nightcap and to watch the band who were great. We then had a quick walk along top deck where it was beautifully warm with hardly any breeze and surprisingly quiet. Finally we visited guest services as there was no queue. The team were very helpful, checked our account and confirmed our on board credit had been applied – now what to spend that on? They also provided a free sewing kit on request as we need to repair a broken sun hat.

Then it was time for bed after a lovely day at sea and we returned to the cabin to be greeted by a towel elephant and to read the cruise compass and plan tomorrow’s adventures. More to follow soon…

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 3 – Vigo

A leisurely start to the day resulted in us missing the a la carte and buffet breakfast options in the MDR so there was nothing else for it – we had to brave the Windjammer.

We made our way to deck 11 fearing the worst having seen it described on numerous boards as akin to feeding time at the zoo. Well it was busy as expected but after a bit of circling we found a table and proceeded to tuck into a delicious breakfast of French toast, American style sausages, home fries and ham – both the boys said it was actually tastier than yesterday’s a la carte. On leaving the Windjammer we spotted the English Fayre section which includes black pudding, back bacon etc. if a full English is what you prefer. The quality and variety was excellent, the food was hot and the staff were friendly and helpful clearing tables quickly with a smile so I’m struggling to see why anyone has felt the need to complain at all. I’m sure we’ll repeat breakfast there over the fortnight’s cruise.

We returned to our room, grabbed our belongings and made our way to the gangway on deck 4 which has a promenade style deck. This is great as it means you aren’t queuing in stairways or corridors to disembark but instead you stroll down an open deck in glorious sunshine, a nice feature.

Independence of the Seas Vigo

We were soon off and quickly ashore. Just opposite the port terminal there is a large three story shopping mall, if you take the escalators inside to the top you can exit into the town avoiding the steep walk on foot. We navigated the narrow streets, glancing in shops and headed towards a fort my husband had spotted from our balcony. We easily reached it and enjoyed fabulous views of the Independence below us and the stroll helped walk off a few cruise calories too. We ambled back down taking a slightly different route and stumbled across Vigo’s main shopping street which was lined with lovely floral planters and lit up by the sunshine. It was hot, hot, hot so much so it was possibly the only time my six year old has been begging to go into shops – to enjoy the air conditioning! We were searching for a Camper shoe shop (lovely Spanish shoes) but sadly couldn’t find one, still there are plenty more Spanish ports to go so I’m sure we’ll solve that before the cruise ends. We did however accomplish one mission which was to find a toy shop and €10 euros later we had some tiny plastic Pokemon and one happy six year old : )

By this point it was 12.30 local time so time for our first grown up refreshments of the day. We found a lovely little square surrounded by pavement cafés and practised the only Spanish phrases we know, vino tinto y cerveza por favour! Suitably refreshed we made our way back to the ship and were soon on board. You can’t help comparing cruises and I was looking at the decor of the Independence thinking although it doesn’t compare to the more stylish ships we’ve recently enjoyed such as the drop dead gorgeous Italian designer beauty MSC Divina, I actually much prefer the Independence for its facilities and atmosphere. I suspect sailing from the UK means it feels a little more like home and with lots of friendly fellow guests on board, it’s been very social so far. I can forgive some slightly dated colours or fabrics as I think the atmosphere is what wins you over. It does make me think I’d like to try Quantum from the UK next year as that could be the best of both worlds – just need to work on the husband now….

Unbelievably I was feeling a little peckish – I swear your stomach grows on a cruise! We checked our lunchtime dining options which were Johnny Rockets, Windjammer or room service but we opted for the ease and choice of Windjammer. Lunch was much calmer than breakfast with plenty of available tables. We sat in the front section and within seconds a lovely, helpful waitress came over calling Finn her little prince and taking a drinks order. Two glasses of wine and an iced water were with us within minutes and she even offered to get us some food if we wanted. We declined and took it in turns to check out and choose from the many options. Andy went to Jade, an oriental / ethnic section serving Chinese, Indian and Thai at lunch and dinner plus sushi in the evening I believe. He had stir fry pork and a lemon chicken with rice. I explored the main section and chose Chicken Schitznel and meatballs and pasta which were absolutely gorgeous. Finn enjoyed his first hot dog of the cruise and definitely not his last I’m sure. I vowed not to do puddings at lunch so I resisted temptation and we left to change into swimwear.

H2O Zone

Next stop was the brightly themed kids H20 Zone. I had read on these boards that the pools on the Independence were heated, well I can categorically tell you that they certainly aren’t on this one. Wowsers it was chilly but certainly refreshing when the temperature in the sun was around 80 degrees Fahrenheit so we weren’t complaining. Anyway we bravely took the plunge amid much squealing ( both me & Finn) and I was delighted to see he’d not forgotten how to swim, a skill he only recently learnt on the last cruise. The kids area is great fun with water shooters, cascading buckets, a waterfall, pools for tots and a lazy river. If you don’t have kids avoid this area like the plague and head to the adults only pool in The Solarium!

It was 2.45pm and Finn had a play date at kids club with his new friend Jaxon so we got dressed and I dropped him off. I came back via the Dog & Badger to collect a wine on my way before chasing the sunshine around my balcony for an hours quality me time. I was amazed how busy the Dog & Badger was on a glorious day, that said it was mainly blokes enjoying a quiet pint presumably while their better halves were sunbathing or enjoying all that Vigo has to offer. All in all I thought Vigo was a nice port, not the prettiest we’ve visited but very easy to DIY for a meander, a drink, a bit of shopping etc. We saw some lovely beaches from the ship a short taxi ride away around the bay which could be a great idea if you don’t fancy the main town.

I collected Finn from kids club and he’d had a great time, hot and sweaty and chatting ten to the dozen about variations on dodge ball and new friends he’d made. We went back to the stateroom to change ahead of the Strings ice show at 5.15pm in Studio B, the ice rink on floor 3.

We arrived five minutes before the show started but there were still plenty of seats so we found a spot with a good view. The storyline was at best tenuous but the performances were excellent. I had my heart in my mouth as they did the ‘headbanger’ on a rocking ship (you know you’ve watched too much Dancing on Ice when you know the move names!). Yes there were a few tumbles but the production values were great and the skill levels high. My only slight issue is Finn now wants to go skating this week and I’m living in fear of having to step foot on the ice as I have no natural balance!

After the ice show it was off to dinner, back on table 666 – good job we aren’t superstitious. Dinner was lovely, I had chicken and rocket salad with a pepper dressing and mustard crusted beef with Yorkshire pudding and Andy went for Cock a Leekie soup and Singapore noodles – delicious all round and plates cleared. Finn went for fruit salad and chicken strips, service was great and the wine was flowing but we didn’t manage dessert. I’ve noticed the menus have a distinct English theme heading out of Southampton, lots of dishes I’ve never seen on Royal Caribbean before, nice to see they adapt and cater to local markets. I Really must try the afternoon tea they apparently serve in the Windjammer daily.

The captain made an announcement just before we sailed to warn us of high winds and possible turbulent seas, he said it could get quite rocky and to watch our step and hold rails around the ship. I was a little concerned but felt hardly any movement at all during the night. The Independence is one of the most stable ships I’ve ever sailed on, the wind was whipping round the balcony a little but other than that no problems at all.

We retired to our room to relax for a little while and watch the sunset slip into our porthole so we could photograph it. Slight issue, we blinked and missed it, oh well plenty more nights for that opportunity I suppose.

At 9pm it was time for a show in the Alhambra theatre which is deck 3 & 4 forward. Tonight’s show was a headliner, this is where acts are flown in specially rather than the resident entertainment team. It was a band called the Zoots who did a 60’s covers set. They were tight and professional as they rolled out hit after hit and everyone seemed to be enjoying it and clapping along. It was fun but nothing spectacular and my husband thought they were a bit Butlins – that said we do occasionally go to Butlins for the odd weekend with friends and their kids and we always have a great time!

Finn was exhausted after a day of fun and about 40 minutes into the show was nodding off on my knee. At 6 he is now far too heavy to carry the length of the ship (quite a way on the Indy!) so we snuck out before the end and strolled back to our cabin.

A small nightcap later and it was time for sleep ahead of Lisbon adventures tomorrow…

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 4 – Lisbon


We awoke early around 7.00am eager to get up on deck to view the Indy sail underneath the famous 25 April suspension bridge across the Tagus Estuary. This was probably the one occasion our gorgeous aft balcony wouldn’t deliver the best view so we hot footed it to top deck with a matter of minutes to spare. We were rewarded with fabulous views and an optical illusion that really does make you think that perhaps the captain has misjudged his course, the clearance is literally a matter of feet. We obstructed the jogging track taking numerous photos (really people you are on holiday, who jogs on holiday?!) and looked out at Lisbon excited for the day ahead.


Next was the important matter of breakfast and keen to research the ship thoroughly we opted for buffet in the main dining room. We were quickly given an amazing table, allocated by Mary the lovely head waiter from our evening dining room, right next to the window – Obviously Finn got the window seat. We went to look at our options, it was a very English offering, all amazing quality but not quite the variety of the Windjammer yesterday. No pancakes or French toast and limited pastries but the full English on offer was delicious. Service was top notch, our waiter providing a diet coke on request as I don’t do coffee or tea and quickly taking away plates as we finished. We left with our stomachs lined ready for Lisbon, the city of seven hills.

We didn’t really have any plans for Lisbon, in fact we don’t really have any plans for any of the ports. That’s not to say I haven’t done my research but I’ve realised that the absolute beauty of this itinerary is that you really don’t need to do excursions to get the most out of the ports of call. Almost all of them can be enjoyed with a short stroll or shuttle bus. We slapped on the sunscreen and made our way off the ship.

We exited to glorious sunshine and passed through the port gates. My husband had spotted the hop on hop off bus from the balcony and suggested we check it out. Amazingly after 10 cruises, goodness knows how many ports, we’ve never done a HoHo bus however today it seemed like a great idea. There were a few options for transport including an RCI transfer into the city but we spoke to a really helpful salesman on the Yellow Bus company who offered us a day ticket at €15 per adult and Finn would be free, this included two bus routes, free red route trams and the funicular railway. This seemed like an absolute bargain so we jumped at it, boarded the bus to be given headphones for the commentary and made our way up to the open top deck. To my absolute shame Finn, my 6 year old loudly pronounced Mummy I have never been on the upstairs of a bus before! Well holidays are all about new experiences!


It was an absolute highlight of the trip, sitting aboard an open top bus in the glorious sunshine with a child squealing with delight as the trees almost brushed us. I really enjoyed the headphone commentary in English (and also numerous other languages at the push of a button) which points out the landmarks and showcases the highlights of Lisbon. If you have ever tried to walk through a city with a small child whose legs are tired you’ll understand, I honestly think I may be HoHoing in every port from here on in! We did the complete blue line tour back to the terminal taking in the sights for around an hour and then continued back into the city. Our plan was to have a quick break for an ice lolly and a drink and then take a tram ride and the funicular.

Sometimes things don’t quite go to plan as we found a lovely side street restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine ( it made sense economically – honest) to sip at on an outside table. The service was great and the food being served around us looked fantastic but we were still full of cooked English. On leaving we walked through the restaurant which was barbecuing fabulous fresh fish and meats so if you’re in Lisbon be sure to check out Aldea on Rua da Vitoria just off the Oura, it looked amazing. The wine was reasonable at €11 a bottle for a very drinkable Portuguese vintage, even on the main drag the prices seemed reasonable but we’ve learnt that it’s always better to head to the side streets for a better experience and deal.


The wine soon got the better of us so instead of heading for a tram or the funicular we ended up with a little retail therapy and found an incredible nearby shop called Tiger. It was like Muji but full of quirky, funky things at rock bottom prices. We bought a fly swatter, a sumo money box, a festival of Britain style coat rack, a kaleidoscope, a wine decanter and a pigs bottom fridge magnet (Finn’s choice) – as I said fabulous shop! I also had my eye on a 6ft cactus coat rack but thankfully sense got the better of me and we left. We then stumbled into a Camper shop, the fabulous Spanish shoe brand from Majorca that has stores all over the world these days. We love their shoes and I expect we’ll be leaving our Spanish cruise with several pairs each. Today was Andy’s turn and he now has a gorgeous new pair to add to our collection.


Time was ticking on and tummies were rumbling so we jumped a cab back to the ship, a bargain at €5 plus tip. There were some short but quick moving queues for security and we were soon back on board. We went to the room to drop our shopping off then myself and Finn went to Sorrentos to collect pizza and drinks. Sorrentos were serving hot roast lamb sandwiches with gravy jus, well it would be rude not to so I ordered two for myself and Andy (who had insisted he wasn’t hungry), pizza for Finn and a diet coke for me. The lamb sandwiches were scrummy and promptly wolfed down. I asked if they did wine that was in our package and they happily gave me two of those mini bottles ( the type you get on the plane) which made carrying so much easier. I’ll be stopping by regularly to pick up those in future!

We relaxed in the room for an hour while I made a start on this post and then Finn decided it was time for a swim. We made our way to the H2O Zone while Daddy enjoyed a rest. Thankfully the pool was distinctly warmer than the day before and as the sun beat down it was really refreshing. We swam, splashed, shot water cannons, stood under tipping buckets and conquered Finn’s fear of water on his face by running the gauntlet of a spraying corridor of hoops, I was very proud. After all that fun it was time for an ice cream from Sprinkles, a free self serve machine on the top deck serving vanilla, chocolate and a mix of the two flavours. If you wanted more variety they do have a Ben & Jerry’s on the Royal Promenade where you can get a range of flavours in tubs and cones for just a few dollars. I was a little disappointed that they don’t do their infamous hot core sundaes here as I was hoping to try one. I’d seen them at our local cinema but refrained as I was on a pre cruise diet, a fairly regular thing as I’m nearly always pre cruise!

Following the ice cream we went back to the room to change for dinner. I enjoyed a glass of wine in the sunshine on our balcony as we sailed away from Lisbon watching hundreds of jellyfish in the waters below.

Finn wanted to spend the evening in kids club as tonight was PJ movie party where all the children go in their pyjamas and watch a movie. This is a great idea as it gives parents a bit of ‘us time’ to enjoy a meal without having to discuss Minecraft videos or play noughts and crosses on the kids menu. As Finn insisted on going we decided to take full advantage and book a meal at one of the two speciality restaurants. We fancied Giovannis Table, an Italian restaurant that costs $20 a head however when we called to book they were doing a Murder Mystery night which isn’t really my husband’s thing as he lives in fear of audience participation! So we booked Chops Grille, billed as the best steakhouse at sea and costing $30 a head.

I took Finn up to Adventure Ocean and it reminded me of our very first cruise 4 years ago when he was just two. We were onboard Ocean Village (a cruise line that sadly no longer exists) in the Caribbean. It was our first proper holiday away without taking either set of parents with us and to our delight the kids facilities were amazing so much so our boy would have spent his entire holiday in there had we let him. They also had a night nursery complete with cots where you could drop off a sleeping child and they’d give you a buzzer so you could go out for dinner knowing the staff would contact you if necessary. We had many amazing nights enjoying dinner where I got to talk to my husband and eat hot meals – a really luxury as any newish Mum will understand!

The Independence of the Seas has Royal Tots & Babies, a similar programme for 6 months up to 3 years although I think there is a small charge. 3 – 5 year olds are catered for in Aquanauts, Finn’s group is the 6 – 8 year Explorers and there are the 9 – 11 year old Voyagers. Each group has their own dedicated play room and space with age appropriate games and toys. There are a range of free organised activities every day from 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 5pm and children can attend a kids tea in the Windjammer with youth staff between 5pm – 6.45pm again free of charge. There’s another free session between 6.45pm – 10.00pm and finally a late night party zone from 10.00pm – 2.00am for parents who want to dance the night away but there’s a $7 per hour charge for this. Finn has never done the late one before but said he wants to go so maybe later in the cruise we’ll be trying to stay awake so he can party the night away!

He skipped into kids club and we went to Schooners Bar for a pre dinner drink. At 7.30pm we made our way to Chops Grille located on deck 11 aft. It’s a separate restaurant located next to the Windjammer. Sadly it wasn’t all we’d hoped for, in fact it’s probably the only disappointment of our cruise so far. I may sound a little negative here but as you can hopefully tell from my posts I really am a glass half full kind of girl. I can only share how it was for us on the evening. We were met on arrival by a member of staff who was on a mobile phone and proceeded to chat for a few minutes leaving us standing there. Once he finished his call he then said, let me get the host and again we were left just stood there. A few minutes later the host arrived, checked our booking and escorted us to a nice table of two with sea views. The restaurant lacked character compared to the Chops Grille we’d visited and enjoyed on Oasis of the Seas which felt much classier and was located in Central Park.

The waiter arrived with menus and wine list. I already knew we couldn’t use our drinks package in speciality restaurants so I looked at the wine list to order a bottle. We’re no wine connoisseurs (although we drink plenty!), at home we’re just as happy with a box and rarely spend more than five or six pounds on a bottle. We selected the house wine at $40 which I was confident would be very drinkable. Unfortunately our waiter told me that was no longer available and suggested we try another at $108 for the bottle. I politely declined the blatant upsell and requested another at $45 a bottle that was also not available so we finally found a Shiraz at $45 which was. I was in need of a drink by then! Annoyingly he also tried to upsell us on water too, offering Evian or a sparkling ootion until I requested just iced water. Not a great start to what was supposed to be a wonderful date night dinner for two.

Undeterred we pushed on and glanced through the menu and the waiter came to take our order. For starters I opted for the duck salad and Andy had the mushroom soup. We both ordered the 10oz filet mignon, mine cooked medium well, Andy’s medium then we asked if we could share a portion of the jumbo shrimp in addition. We’d done this previously and if you ask for a second main in the main dining room to taste or share it is no problem whatsoever, in fact the waiters seem delighted to do this. We were therefore surprised when the waiter said we could have the additional entree but we would be charged $10 extra for this! The service was very grumpy, our waiter less than helpful and he made us feel uncomfortable for even requesting the third main. We refused the extra charge as a matter of principle as we’d already paid over $100 for our meals and wine and felt this was yet another attempt to rip us off – as the menu leaflet clearly states a fee is applicable, not fees. It set the meal off to a bad start and we were unhappy diners. Finally sensing a little atmosphere the manager came over and explained we could have the shrimp after all. I’m glad they sorted it out but it still left us disappointed with the whole experience.

The food arrived, starters were okay, my duck salad was nicely presented and Andy enjoyed his soup. The steaks arrived, Andy’s was over cooked arriving well done rather than medium but mine was nice, the sauce was good and the side dishes plentiful and tasty. The waiter was hastily pouring our wine during dinner and as soon as the bottle was empty suggested another which we declined. We didn’t stay to order dessert although the couple next to us did and the portions looked huge. We left disappointed with the entire experience and won’t be repeating it. The menu describes it as upscale dining, overpriced more like….

We picked up Finn from kids club who’d had a whale of a time, watching Spy Kids and decorating an Adventure Ocean pillowcase he brought back with him as a souvenir of his evening. We came back via Sorrentos on the Royal Promenade so he could have late night pizza and it was incredibly busy as there was a party starting with singers on the bridge. It felt very crowded so we escaped back to the cabin to relax.

We are looking forward to a morning at sea as we don’t dock in Gibraltar till lunchtime, Finn is very excited to see the monkeys!

Independence of the Seas, Spanish Med – Day 5 – Gibraltar

We’re now well and truly in holiday mode waking later than usual with Finn still asleep at 9.30am, exhausted from all the fun he’s been having. By the time we were all up and dressed our only breakfast option was Windjammer. We arrived around 10.30am, just making it, as breakfast closes at 10.45. The restaurant was quieter than our previous visit and we easily found a table. I sampled the pancakes and waffles which were delicious, Andy enjoyed a full English and Finn snacked on American style sausages, his new favourite dish.

After breakfast we took a wander along top deck. The plan was to have a leisurely morning poolside as we weren’t docking in Gibraltar till 1pm however it was very windy and the H2O zone sprayers etc. had all been turned off to avoid accidental drenchings! We checked out the flow rider, mini golf and climbing wall but the wind was so strong we went down to the Royal Promenade to escape it. We stopped by the Dog & Badger (an English pub which bears no resemblance to any I’ve been in, more like a medieval tavern!) for a lunchtime glass of red. It also serves a wide selection of beers and traditional pub snacks like pork scratchings and crisps. We then went back to our balcony to watch our arrival in Gibraltar, impressed by the size of the Rock as it loomed into view. There was an incredible yacht moored next to us in port with a helicopter on board, apparently Roman Abramovich owns it’s sister ship – the things you can find out on the Internet!


We let the initial rush depart the ship and followed ten minutes later to find no queues as we strolled ashore into a sunny Gibraltar. Once again we hadn’t booked any excursions, our only plan was too see the infamous monkeys (search on YouTube if you don’t know what I mean) and Finn was very excited about this. I’d read on a few port guides that it was easy to get a shared taxi trip up The Rock so we walked into town. It’s about a ten minute walk from the port, easy enough but it was incredibly hot, 30 degrees, so I can see why some choose to pay for the shuttle bus. We did have a little grumbling about the distance and heat from a small child but a €1 ice lolly soon fixed that, much cheaper than a shuttle bus ticket!

We arrived in the main square which leads directly to the high street and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. As we were pulling into dock the town looked less than promising however beyond the high rises it has a quaint, Spanish village feel with pavement cafe lined squares, cool, leafy streets and some very recognisable shopping opportunities. The main square has a WH Smith and this was our first stop. We’d bought Finn two books to bring away and borrowed two from the library on board however by Day 5 he’d read the lot so we needed more. We bought 3 books from a small but well stocked children’s section and told him to make them last as I don’t think we’ll be finding any other English book shops on the rest of the itinerary. We explored the town with a sense of déjà vu as we strolled along what is in effect an English high street in the glorious sunshine having just departed a cruise ship. Strange but nice and good to see some familiar names. Next stop was Marks and Sparks as in a slight packing mishap we seemed to be a little short on underwear and I’d decided that it’d be cheaper to buy new than pay Royal Caribbean laundry prices. Incidentally if you do need laundry it’s actually not that bad. We were given a bag yesterday and you could fill it for a wash and fold service (ie no ironing so fine for underwear etc) for $30. Not extortionate but as I said probably cheaper to buy new if you can stumble across an M&S!

New supplies of knickers secured we were now ready to find those monkeys and headed along the high street to the taxi rank at the far end of town. The taxis are actually small minibuses, seating 8 or 10. It was incredibly hectic and a little fraught trying to get one as there was no queuing system with people just waiting for one to arrive and then approaching the driver. There were around 20-30 people waiting with more arriving by the minute and very few taxis. The drivers seemed to just choose who they wanted to take and at one point I was a little concerned we might miss out on the monkeys and have a very disappointed boy on our hands. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, a few more taxis arrived and a helpful, friendly driver welcomed us aboard. The cost was £22 or €30 an adult and Finn was allowed to travel free as he sat on my knee. As the ticket for access to The Rock is £10 anyway this is actually pretty good value as the one and a half hour taxi trip includes entry price to the Rock and the Caves. If you don’t fancy the taxi there is another way up, a cable car also at the far end of the high street. The cost is the same however the queues were apparently an hour or so long and as Andy suffers with a little vertigo I’m not sure that option would have worked for us. We shared a taxi with some fellow cruisers and set off up The Rock.


The trip is full of hairpin bends with sheer drops on one side so if you are of a nervous disposition think carefully about where you sit on the bus. Our driver and guide gave us some of the facts and history of Gibraltar as he was driving and our first stop was at a monument called The Pillars of Hercules which was a quick photo stop while the driver purchased our tickets. We boarded the bus again and then went to St Michaels Cave. This really was spectacular, a huge cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites which had been converted into a concert venue and was beautifully lit with changing colours. It was also a cool and welcome respite from the heat. We did see several people who had chosen to walk The Rock which would be a challenge at any time but navigating the steep, narrow roads in the afternoon sun must have been unbearable. There was a young boy who was ill in the cafe at The Caves and was clearly suffering from heat exhaustion after attempting it. The taxi was most definitely the sensible option. After the caves we exited through the gift shop (of course) and boarded our taxi once again.


The next stop was the much anticipated monkeys. We saw one clinging to the wing mirror of the taxi ahead which caused Finn to squeal with excitement and the adults to quickly shut the taxi windows. It was a little like Knowsley Safari Park only our driver told us to get out of the car! We had nothing to fear, the monkeys were freely strolling around us but provided you don’t touch them or get any food out they don’t come too close. We saw around 30 monkeys including some tiny babies clinging to their mums who were incredibly cute. We took some lovely photos and were touched by a plaque from the taxi drivers remembering one of the oldest monkeys who had passed away.


All too soon it was time to board the taxi and head down the Rock to our final stop, a photo opportunity by the cannons overlooking Gibraltar and the air strip. There were some fantastic views of the Indy on the way down.


Our taxi driver dropped us in the centre of town and it was a highly recommended trip although you may want to consider pre-booking to avoid the scrum at the ranks – I forgot to mention there’s another on the main square at the start of the high street too. After all that excitement we were in need of refreshment. All the pavement cafés seemed full however I spotted a bar on the main shopping street called The Royal Calpe with a sign for a beer garden. We went inside and found a gorgeous shady spot at the rear where we enjoyed a very reasonable bottle of red at just £7.95.

Refreshed and relaxed we made our way back to the ship on foot and were back on board a little before 6pm. We changed for dinner and made our way to the MDR. Our waiters Vicky and Edwin seemed delighted to see us and the feeling was mutual after the frosty service at Chops the night before. The head waiter who is called Mary is an absolute delight, popping over regularly to check all was okay and she was horrified when I mentioned our Chops Grille experience. I had bresola and rocket salad to start, Andy had breaded mushrooms followed by Mulligatawny soup as he couldn’t choose between the two. For main I had a roasted pork with mustard crust and Andy had strip steak. Finn had fruit salad and pizza – again. All was delicious and the service was wonderful as ever.

We returned to our room for sailaway and watched the Rock grow smaller amidst an amazing sunset from our balcony. An absolute bonus was the amazing display of dolphins in the wake of the ship as we left, a lovely end to a perfect day.


At 9pm Finn decided he wanted to go to kids club so we dropped him there for an hour while we went to the Olive and Twist lounge for a glass of wine. It’s a lovely spot at the very top of the ship that’s usually called the Crown Viking lounge on other RCI ships. There were plenty of small kids in the bar all holding toy monkeys after our trip to Gibraltar! The Olive and Twist is supposed to be child free after 10pm, we left just before that to collect our six year old from kids club but they didn’t seem to be asking anyone to leave.

We picked up Finn who’d had another amazing time and then we fancied a final nightcap. The plan was to go the Schooner Bar to see the pianist but he wasn’t on and there were no spare seats so we went back to the Royal Promenade and sat outside the Dog and Badger, a great place to people watch. We dropped by the CupCake cupboard on the way back to our room then it was time for bed, looking forward to a leisurely sea day tomorrow.

We filled in a room service breakfast order and settled in for a good nights sleep, more tomorrow….


Click here for part 2.