If you thought cruising wasn’t for you – then maybe you need to think again! Once perceived as the holiday playground of the shall we say ‘older generation’ Royal Caribbean are making waves showing of their new fleet of family friendly ships that guanatee an unforgettable family holiday… for all ages! We explored the new Independence oft the Seas – or Indy as she is affectionally known after her multi-million pound makeover and extraordinary new features that make cruising holidays ideal for families.
Along with the usual cruise ship on-board facilities of shops, restaurants, bars, nightclub, theatre, spa and water park – this new Independence of the Sea fleet now boasts a brand new virtual reality Sky pad, racer slides, laser tag, a whole host of new eateries and so much more. We’ve rounded up reasons why you should consider an Independence of the Seas cruise for your next family holiday:
1. UK PORT
The Indy docks in Southampton, which means you don’t need to fly anywhere if you are UK based. Just think: no long flights or rushing to the airport with a baby, toddler and/or a small child in tow. For many British holiday makers this may just mean packing up the car or taking a train and heading to the south coast. Then let the ship whisk you away with ease to the Mediterranean, Scandinavia or, the Caribbean.
GOOD TO KNOW: You will need your passports to board and for security purposes. You will each be given a Cruise Card each which are essentially your ID for the entire trip – you must have them on you at all times.
2. PACK & GO
With no weight restrictions or baggage sizing rules you can pack for you holiday and not worry about paying excess. This means you can take those extra pair of shoes or those family sized bottles of shower gel and not have to drive yourself into a packing frenzy. This is a plus for families meaning you don’t have to pack too light – but of course, bear in mind the space and storage in a cabin is of a premium. What’s a real blessing is not having to think about hang luggage and plastic begs of mini products. It just means you can board (hopefully) stress-free.
3. CABIN FEVER
We’re not going to lie the cabins sizes vary greatly – but to be honest you hardly spend any time in your room so it can be treated as a base just to wash and sleep. Choose from balcony state rooms (with king size rounded beds or twin doubles), family rooms with lounges and bath tubs (ideal for those with younger children) or, you can book interconnecting rooms, rooms with bunk and sofa beds, luxury loft suites, family suites and the newest of the lot is the state of the art panoramic rooms with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall views that from sunrise to sunset with make for an out of this world view.
GOOD TO KNOW: Take international plug adaptors for your room.
4. HOP ON/HOP OFF
If your travelling with family or older generation family members you all have the opportunity to disembark the ship at any of the Mediterranean ports and visit the different cities and areas – meaning you can see as much or as little as you like. Making this the perfect multi-destination trip, without the hassle of lugging around all your bags and cases – and knowing that the ship is waiting for you at the end of a days sightseeing means the fun never has to end.
5. ENTERTAINMENT FOR KIDS (BIG & SMALL)
Children aged between 6 months and 11 years can enjoy all sorts of fun and activities on board the Indy. There is three (age appropriate) children clubs on board. Giving the parents some free time to relax and unwind. But, there is so much to do you probably won’t want to kids to have all the fun! From Splashaway Bay with outdoor swimming pool, water slides and fountains and the infamous drench bucket to indoor ice skating, laser tag, crazy golf and a library – you’ll hopefully never hear the words ‘I’m bored’ the entire trip.
There’s also lots of computer games, Sky Pad which is a virtual reality bungee trampoline for gravity-defying adventures. For older children there is a rock climbing wall, an Escape room, The Perfect Storm waterslides and of course, the ever-popular arcades. Also, check out the special teen zones for information on pool parties, movie nights and activities to suit those young and free adults.
GOOD TO KNOW: Using the arcades is not included in your all inclusive plan and many of the extra activities require you to pre-book.
6. GROWN-UPS ONLY
Want to keep up your exercise regime or fancy a spot of pampering on board? The Independence of the Seas offers the Vitality fitness centre and spa, a hair and beauty salon, a fully-fitted gym and an adult only solarium all on board for parents who either want to work out or chill out. There is also ample sunbathing spots and loungers for catching some sunshine, reading and relaxing.
GOOD TO KNOW: Treatments and beauty packages are not included in your holiday price – so be sure to check and book your appointments when you first get on board.
7. ON-BOARD DINING
One thing you don’t need to worry about is food and drink. There is plenty of fish in the sea…ha ha no, seriously you are spoilt for choice and there is plenty to suit every appetite, age and even those little fussy-eaters. With breakfast served up on a lower (level 3) and upper (level 11) decks at staggered times there is no rushing to the buffet table – and of course plenty to go around. From cooked breakfast to light bites – you may want to pace yourself and the food and drink never stops.
Various lunch stops include the new Fish & Ships (a poolside snack bar) for that ‘seaside’ treat, Johnny Rockets (an all American diner) coffee shops, pizza bars, Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream parlour, and sandwich bars along the Royal Promenade and the main hub of the Windjammer Marketplace where you can indulge in a buffet beyond your wildest dreams.
Dinner is a more formal affair and you are expected to dress as such but with a main seating at 6pm and a second seating at 8.30pm. From more casual dining again in Windjammer and speciality dining where you are required to book and offered table service at either a steak restaurant, an Italian eatery or the new Izumi (Asian-inspired) dining experience with fresh sushi and chefs cooking on real Teppanyaki grills right before your eyes. It’s easy to see how people can gain a few pounds on a cruise – as with any holiday – as the food is simply incredible, always available and the quality is simply world class. You really won’t be disappointed.
GOOD TO KNOW: All these various options means there is plenty of ways to work mealtimes around children’s bedtime routines – and children are catered for and welcomed in most of the restaurants.
With designer stores, a gift shop, fashion boutiques, beauty meccas and more – you can shop until you drop from 6-11pm every night. Those with a sweet tooth will love the new Sugar Beach Candy Store – a dreamland of confectionery that will give everyone that sugar rush high.
GOOD TO KNOW: Your cruise card is linked to your bank card (which is done on arrival at port) so all additional items from shops and bars can be swiped on here for payment on departure. No money is exchanged on board.
9. STARRY NIGHTS
After all that daytime fun, sunbathing and food remember to reserve some energy for the evening entertainment. The programme includes theatre shows like West End favourites Grease and Hairspray, spectacular Ice Show’s with all all the glitter and lights you’d expect from a professional, world class performance. There’s also an outside cinema showing great family friendly movies (and some can be watched from the heated pools and hot tubs), adult karaoke nights, late night clubs, Playmakers Sports Bar – where dads can watch the latest games with a pitcher of beer and some bar snacks, live piano music and singers, comedy shows and of course, a Royal Casino.
GOOD TO KNOW: There is a lot going on a cruise ship and a lot to remember so be sure to read your daily ‘Cruise Compass’ mini newsletter that is delivered to your room each evening. Here you will find weather information (winds, and sun rise and sunsetting times), daily highlights (show times, what movie is playing etc), deck information, WI- Fi zones and info, dining times, tips for wellbeing and safety while on board (as well as all the information you will need once it comes time to disembark – and most helpfully it will help you know what day it is! As it’s easy to not know what day or time it is once you step on-board.
Capture those once in a lifetime family memories at the portrait studio or by collecting your various professional shots taken throughout your stay from the photo gallery. Much like when you go to a theme park you can view and pick and choose which ones you want to keep forever. This is an additional cost – but great for that perfect family picture with everyone included.