Independence of the Seas, from Southampton. Sept 2011. 14 day cruise. Part One. Landlubber cast: Myself, using a scooter for medical reasons, DD (Dear Daughter) using a scooter also for medical reasons, DH (Dear Hubby) and DF (Dear Father) using a scooter for age reasons (91). We set off for Southhampton the day before we sail because I don't trust traffic works, accidents and tyre blow outs, call me paranoid but there you are, when you spend this much money on a cruise you have to cover all bases. Wherever we go in the world we always stay the night before near the airport or in this case near the dock. This case was at Jury's Inn, which was recommended. But, and there will be some buts in this report.... it was ok but you can get the exact same type of room for a lot cheaper at Travel lodge and this was in my opinion on a par with Travel lodge which we do use on a regular basis. It is just somewhere to lay your head for one night. We have done the Radisson and Hilton and for one night I begrudge paying those prices. So for the price I was disappointed with Jury's Inn. The food was horrible, if it was good I would say so but I will be saying it as I saw it. I had spaghetti bolognese and profiteroles, they were the worse cases of spag bol and profiteroles I have ever encountered in my entire life. The spag bol was I'm pretty sure made with soy meat, ok if you're a vegetarian but I am not. I have had veggie *meat* before so know what it tastes like and the texture of it and this was it. The cream in the profiteroles was *just* turning off and I wouldn't eat any more than the one I tried. So a big fat zero for the Jury's Inn I'm afraid, plus they had no porters... again on a par with Travel Lodge but at least at Travel Lodge prices you know that. Getting to it was also horrendous, it was in a horrendous part of the town, awkward to get to and couldn't find anywhere to park so yellow lines it was... we couldn't find the underground car park and we looked. Next day we were up and showered early and the cab took us to the docks... we could see the Indy (called Indy for laziness on my part) from way back, even before we were anywhere near it, so we all hollered and cheered and whooped liked the chavs we are Lol! Right... off to board or embark as they say, after collecting our scooters in the foyer. It was plain sailing, we boarded around noon time and with the ramps and lifts we were able to board with the scooters no problem. We cleared customs and got our seapasses, we filled out the forms online the week before and it was a lot quicker doing it this way. It was a breeze to get onto the ship and we headed for the windjammer as we'd not had breakfast, are you kidding me? I wasn't about to try it at the Jury's Inn, hell no! It was like stepping aboard a floating Hotel... ok I know it is essentially that but it's our first time and this is all new to us, so this is first time feelings. The ship is H U G E. It took a few days for me to get orientated even though I had studied the deck plans for months prior boarding. Plus I forgot about the colour coded carpet until the very last day lol, when it came to me.... typical. Anyway the Windjammer was easy to negotiate and we were able to ride the scooters up to it and we parked outside of the seating area so we didn't block the way for other people. I found the honeystung chicken that everyone raves about, it was very nice but rave material... no.... Don't worry this is not going to be a moany review, just as I saw it... my opinion only ok. Well we had tipped the porters at the dock £10 (Dad... that's waaaaaaaay too much I says).... our cabins were ready by 1pm and by 1:30 pm our luggage arrived! So maybe tipping worked? or did it? We'll never know will we? Well there was a mad scramble to find all the little nooks and crannys that will be *home* for the next two weeks, and a looksee at the bathroom and shower and balcony. We were quite pleased then we visited DD and DF across the hall and saw their cupboar... I mean inside cabin It was so tiny that DF rang up reception and queried about an immediate upgrade, he was going to pay for it, he wasn't expecting a freebie. He was told that he'd have to wait until everyone was on board before they could tell him whether there was anything available. Unfortunately we sailed at full board. It was a tight squeeze with a scooter in there as well you see, it was worse than our cabin and we had two scooters in ours, there was no way they could have got two in theirs. Yes I know now that there are handicapped cabins, but for those who don't get them as they are soon gone this will tell them that you can get scooter/s into the cabins, as long as they fit through the door. We made sure our hire ones would and we put the coffee table in the wardrobe to give us more room. We managed very nicely with two in our balcony cabin. Well the shower is tiny but I was expecting that having already heard about them, I did feel at times I was in an airplane toilet, no room to swing a cat, it was fine for two weeks but for a longer cruise I would have to go in a better grade cabin. We zoomed about to get a look at the ship, we checked out the pools and I was very and happily surprised to see that the adult pool does indeed have STEPS as well as the ladders to get in to it. Now I asked several times on a couple of forums and people who had been on this ship all said no, there were no steps in to the pools, just ladders. Well I can tell you, because I used them for two weeks, if you need steps for mobility reasons you CAN quite happily sail on this ship and use the adult pool safely. Forget the hoist for the other pool, I would sooner chew my arm off than make a spectacle of myself using that thing. Nowhere on any of the Indy brochures are there any pictures to show that they have steps, this should be rectified. Anyway I was a very happy bunny. We were informed by crew that 1,200 children had been on the ship the previous week and only 120 were on this weeks.... the cruise just keeps getting better and better. 1.200... ye gads! I think I would have jumped overboard! I deliberately book my holidays after the kidlets go back to school, don't get me wrong.. I love kids.... but just my own when I'm on holiday. I think the sprinkles ice cream machine must have been in a meltdown that week. Anyway the adult pool area was a joy to behold, plus it didn't have the constant pumping throbbing undertone from the music like the other pools did. I don't know exactly when I turned into my parents but it seems I have. We got a bit gussied up for dinner in the King Lear, heard the prime rib on the first night was delicious and it was. We swept in to the dining room and was shown to a large table miles away from the kitchen, the meal took ages to come but hey I wasn't in a rush anyway. I'm not exactly sure when we hit the Bay of Biscay but out came all the sick bags everywhere you looked. I felt weird, like I'd gotten drunk and was at that bed spinning stage, which is a state I absolutely hate and why I don't drink, so to get straight to that stage without drinking was horrible. Took 2 stugeron but still felt the same, I have no idea if I would have felt worse if I hadn't taken them. This weird feeling lasted for three days all the way around the bay in fact But on the return journey it wasn't even half as bad to my relief, only needed one stugeron that time. After dinner we checked out the other decks and decided we didn't need to see some of them ever again, decks like the flowrider and golf, and casino and games room, just wanted to see them and see what's what. I am happy to say that I could access everywhere by scooter, even able to fit two scooters in the glass lifts and three scooters in the other lifts at a time. I was able to access the bars and the shops and the cafes. The crew are extremely helpful in assisting you if they see you need it. I never asked, I didn't have to. There is plenty of rooms in the corridors outside the cabins on this ship, two abreast if you wanted to, so have no fears about people being able to pass by, it really is huge and ample to cope with scooters. The first formal night was on day two, we had three on this trip. We were going to do it but as I felt off colour and tired, my illness tires me out very quickly, we changed our minds and went casual/smart in the Windjammer instead. The looks we got because we were not in formal dress, you'd have thought we had stepped in a pile of dogs muck the way people were wrinkling their noses and looking at us as we passed them by in the promenade. Hey folks guess what! there is no hard and fast rule that you HAVE to attend formal night. Some people looked at us like we were low life and how dare we crawl out of our holes lol. We weren't wearing jeans or anything like that we were smart and we weren't even in the main dining room, oh well, good job I have a thick skin. The other times we did do formal and I can honestly say this... it didn't make the food taste better because we were dressed up. Bring back Ocean Village lol. (I've never been on Ocean Village just wanted to make the snobs choke a bit more ) Anyway this is the night to do shopping, the shops are empty but the bars are full, we still managed to wangle a few seats in the champagne bar though. I recommend the Almond Joy... slurps.... If I'm going to have a drink drink it has to be a liquer something and two is my max. Had no trouble negotiating the scooters around any of the bars or lounges. Plus there were not that many scooters on board. We stopped at Gibraltar and decided not to get off here, my the swimming pools were empty, this is the time to go swimming and get a sun lounger, the last couple of days it was hard to find a free lounger by the pools but plenty of them around on other decks. Chair hogs were not really a problem on this sailing I found, there was always enough as people were coming and going and chairs did free up, it all worked out well. I am an early bird so I was by the pool by 7am most mornings anyway and found I was the first one there, the only other people out were the track walkers and joggers. The first day the pool was freezing but it did warm up, it was hit and miss as to how warm it got but at least some days the chill was taken off it, we only had one day where it was lovely and warm. The solarium hot tubs were too hot and even more so when your skin was stinging from too much sun. It was pleasing to see lovely cushioned seating in the solarium area, you could just chill and read quite easily if you didn't want to swim. Part Two We didn't get Delhi belly once and this is a first for me as I'm very vulnerable and always come down with an iffy tummy sometime during my breaks, this never happened and I was delighted. The hand gel was stringently handed out at the Windjammer and even on some occasions at the King Lear, which I thought was strange, but didn't complain about it because it was obviously working. I did think I'd played an own goal as every time I sat on the balcony or looked out I felt queasy, thankfully it didn't last lol. Once the rocking had stopped I forgot about it and felt great. I do believe I have my sea legs now! Now on to the food.... The food was NOT disgusting as some reviews I've read have stated, not by a long chalk. But neither was it Michelin star either. I was disappointed to see the day before beef used the next day as a curry. OK it's what you do at home I suppose but not what I want to see on my vacation. Also the pastry topping on pies was pre formed cut little squares, again a cut back and it shows. The steak was ok, it was tender but a weird texture, it wasn't like steak fresh off a grill it seemed like it was in a bag steak? I don't know for sure but there was something odd about it but it wasn't unpleasant. Just not what I was expecting. Other than that the food was nice and fresh and plenty of it. The desserts were the usual hotel catering mousses and cakes and pies, edible and fine but only one got my vote and that was the coffee cream pie... delicious. The only one none of us liked was the banana crumble, it was done in a sickly sweet raspberry (like an ice cream sauce topping) and was beyond sweet. Anyway too much food and fruit but no complaints really. We also tried room service a few times and after a half hour wait it was always delivered with a smile. There was a self serve coffee and tea station by the pools that was free, I saw a juice station but don't know if that was free as I never used it. It seemed mad to pay for any drinks especially as the Windjammer was right by the pools and you could go in and get drinks all the time, so long as you covered up the beach wear and were not dripping wet. I found all the staff were very helpful to me as I can't have ice in my drinks and can't have them too cold so it was never a problem for them to pour me out a fresh drink without ice. The water from the tap in the cabin needs ice in it if you like a cold drink, but for me it was a perfect temperature but I suspect it will be too warmish for you. Although we didn't have any ice in our cabin I think your steward can get it for you. It was also cheaper to have cola/soda than bottled water from the mini bar. We like our tea and coffee so we took milk from the breakfast buffet and put it in the mini bar for ourselves, if we ran short we would just order it on room service. Well the ships compass tells me that Bobby Crush is on tonight in the theatre... so we won't be going then! LOL! We went to the ice show and it was good. I have seen better but they were still good, it beats watching corrie and er Bobby Crush.... Right we've talked about the food and the swimming pools now to tackle the crew I found all the crew to be absolutely fantastic, they were there to offer help even before you knew you needed it. I cannot fault them. We had some mini bar issues and it was sorted without any quibble, then one day my DD was given a freshly squeezed orange juice drink in the Windjammer and didn't realise that she would be charged for it so we told Guest Relations that we thought it was not very good to *trick* people in to buying the drink and that it should be made clear that it is a chargeable item BEFORE handing it to someone. They agreed and she was reimbursed, she is too nice to complain and wouldn't have ever said anything and that's probably what they were banking on.... lots of people not saying anything. Shame I was on the ship then wasn't it..... But to be fair to them it was taken off and no argument. Got to make a special mention about Jerome from Mauritius, seeings as if I go over and knock on his door he's told me I will be welcomed and get rum lol. He was a star in the Windjammer. Next up is Wilmer from Colombia and Rodney from the Philippines, who likes to sing so if you find him in the King Lear serving get him to sing. Wilmer is 34 but he only looks 20 so whatever he takes I want some! He told us that he has two months off soon to go home and that he hates the long haul flight back home, he has to travel from London to Miami and then on from Miami to Colombia. It is interesting to talk to the staff and find out about their cultures. They really all were lovely what more can I say. Well we got gussied up this time for the Formal Night and had no odd looks, I know people like to dress up on holiday and that's good, I don't knock them for it but equally I wouldn't knock those who choose not to dress up either. Some of the ladies looked stunning, one woman had bright orangey red hair with two blonde streaks at the front and it looked sensational, others bathed in their perfume it seemed.... less is more is my motto. Also the black and white night was good, to see how the people dressed for that. I didn't know about it but others obviously old hands at this knew about it. DD whizzed about on her scooter and found parts of the ship that probably shouldn't have been found! DF was thankful though because he never managed to get himself orientated at all... which is a bit of a worry, him being ex RAF and all lol.... and was in the war.... Anyway he got his granddaughter to take him to certain bars and then come and fetch him after a couple of hours so he could find his way back lol. One time he did have to ask someone if the ship was swaying or was it him lol. (He's 90 so we cut him some slack lol) Oh and by the way, he never once used that scooter I hired for him. Lots of people were staggered that he is 90 as he does only look about 70, when asked how he did it his reply was "Plenty of brandy and no smoking" So there you are! One evening he got chatted up by an Australian woman, very pleasant she was, she is 81 and doesn't look it either. He had to give her his phone number and address and she also wanted his cabin number! Anyway they met up a couple more times lol. He got lots of ribbing for being 90 and pulling a bird. DD went in to the casino and kept winning money, she laughs and says she has no idea how she did it lol. But that it hardly cost her anything, at least she is smart enough to walk away when she is winning. Final Part. Right on to the ports we visited with a scooter or two.... Now we didn't do all the ports because some days I was not up to it but here are the ones we did do. I have to say that our balcony cabin was on the starboard side and this was always the side the ports were on, so if you book a balcony and want to use binoculars or just enjoy waking up and seeing a different port then this is the side to book. We had no troubles getting the scooters on and off the ship at any port, there were ramps and crew were always on hand and jumped in without being asked to help. I don't think if we had been tendered to any port that we would have been able to get on and off the ship. Florence, Pisa. There was a disabled shuttle but we had to wait for it and the heat was fierce, so unless you get off early and avoid the sun you will be able to use the shuttle here. We always went DIY because I don't think we could have used any excursion coaches, the European coaches are NOT like the American buses where they drop to the kerb and you can ride straight onto them. So for this reason next time we do a cruise we will be purchasing a Travelscoot (Google) they are not cheap but they will give us the mobility we'll need so we can hop on and off buses or coaches. So we abandoned Florence as the leaning tower is nowhere near the dock, and this I found to be the case at all the ports. Ajaccio, Corsica. We disembarked here as we didn't need a shuttle bus to get to the town. We were able to get around fairly easily but we must let it be known that we are thoroughly spoiled in the UK for the state of our paths and sloping kerbs at road junctions. Kerbs in Europe are not so good, we had to go the long way around to a crossing to be able to get our scooters on and off the paths. Seville, Cadiz. We again were able to get around this town fairly easily they had dropped kerbs but they do have cobbles all the way from the ship to the beginning of the town. So any false teeth should be well glued in Lisbon. From the ship to the port edge it was smooth but once you got to the edge of the the town it was hard going, whoever designed the pathways were not thinking of mobility scooters or wheelchairs. It is do-able but the pathways are a kind of zigzag pattern and the wheels of the scooters kept getting jammed in the grooves, which would be painful if you had a bad back.