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Great Ship, Shame About Some Of The Guests. by Viscount, Harefield

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Independence of the Seas

OVERVIEW: This ship’s ‘wow’ factor is its connection with water in the design of a dramatic water theme park on the pool deck – recommended for families with children. It is now based year-round in the UK for cruises from Southampton, although the onboard currency remains the US dollar, which makes

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Great Ship, Shame About Some Of The Guests.

Overall Rating: 4

21 out of 24 people found this useful

Reviewed By: on
Back on IOTS after earlier trips this year and it really did feel like coming home. A lovely surprise to be able to renew our acquaintance with Marianna from Ukraine, now working in Schooner's Bar, and that first drink just reinforced the feeling that everything was well with the world. Later the first evening we also discovered that Chris, Neil and Sophie of the Cruise Director's Staff were also still aboard IOTS and we settled in for a great time.
Captain Teo hinted in his welcome aboard chat that the weather might not be that friendly for Biscay and the Atlantic, and how true he was. Apparently we encountered the first severe Atlantic storm of the winter, and the rocky seas lasted pretty much all the way to Gran Canaria, by which time the novelty had definitely worn off. From then on, however, all was smooth, with even warm sunshine on the penultimate day.
Good stops in Vigo and Lisbon, where we did our own thing, having called there several times before. The weather improved in the Canaries, and our choice of trips paid off in spades. Camel riding at Maspalomas was a good laugh, and trekking in the Teide National Park on Tenerife and Whale watching in Madeira were brilliant, all in bright sunshine.
In our experience, the staff on RCI are more friendly and helpful than any other line. No different this time, as everyone from Stateroom attendant (an inside, as usual), dining and bar staff went the extra mile. Food was consistently very good, if perhaps not spectacular.
Entertainment in the Alhambra Theatre was mixed, so our usual tactic of standing at the back allowed us to quietly exit when we had seen enough. The comedian (forget his name) between Madeira and La Coruna was excellent, and the soul group got the theatre as rocking as it ever will on a cruise ship. Plenty of quizzes and game shows on offer from Cruise Director James and his gang, again of mixed quality and interest but generally good. James is quickly becoming a thoroughly professional CD, and while Joff still reigns supreme in that role, he now has some competition. James seems to have made the Rock Britannia extravaganza his own, and this was easily the best of the Royal Promenade shows. The ice show, Strings, is still breath-taking at the 3rd time of viewing.
That was the good stuff. For the negative feedback I would refer you to the report of 9th Nov from the Baron of Worcester, about Celebrity Equinox. While the Baron and Contessa are no doubt considerably richer (in a Birmingham accent) than me, I would like to make a similar point down at my level. We became hooked on cruising about 20 years ago, when we realised that the quality of the whole holiday easily surpassed anything that was available at a comparable price on land. The customer service, the food, the entertainment, and the occasional breath-taking moment such as the ice show, or sailing into a beautiful harbour, just combine to blow other holidays out of the water.
We chose this trip as the mother-in-law wanted to see Madeira, and IOTS offered a competitive price. In retrospect it is pretty obvious that a cheap 12 night voyage to the Canaries is quite likely to attract the package-holiday type of client, but it did come as a shock to see quite so many football shirts. Unlike Celebrity, the drinks package on IOTS seems to be viewed as a challenge, where the equivalent daily cost is regarded as a target to be beaten.
We go on cruise holidays to eat, drink, be entertained, and visit some interesting places. We can party better than most 50-somethings (40-somethings, come to that). I do feel however, that RCI's pricing policy with IOTS has reached a tipping point, and the giveaways are changing the whole atmosphere of the ship. I understand that many guests will not wish to dress formally (a few will even have tried it previously), but it is also true that when people are encouraged to dress up, their behaviour normally improves accordingly.
We were unfortunately aware of a couple of incidents where Cruise Director staff and bar staff were verbally abused by drunken guests, one of whom was proud to admit that he had easily beaten the drinks package target. Fortunately, we only heard by word of mouth about the episode in Bolero's where a knife was allegedly drawn. We are normally regulars in the ship's nightclub, The Labyrinth, but this time we felt totally out of place and slightly intimidated by the clientele, so we gave it a wide berth. Overall, my feeling was that if I wanted to spend my time rubbing shoulders with tattooed, loudly drunk, football shirt-wearers, with an undercurrent of hostility, I could easily achieve that in the pub at the end of my road.

So it does seem that the budget end of the cruise market may now not be able to offer quite the kind of unique experience that enchanted us 20 years ago. There were many first-time cruisers on this voyage and I hope that they were not disappointed. We are booked on Jewel to St. Petersburg next year, an itinerary which will probably attract a different kind of guest, so hopefully the problem will not arise. In future, however, we may have to use Celebrity / Azamara and the like for the more conventional destinations.

21 out of 24 people found this useful

Times cruised before: 10+
Sailed: October, 2011
Age: 56-65
Cabin: Inside
Occasion: Family holiday

Quality of Food
Macbeth Restaurant

Liam Stewart, pianist in Schooner, a pleasant way to spend an hour. Unknown comedian between Madeira and La Coruna was excellent

Shore Excursions
Trek in Teide National Park on Tenerife

Chris and Ellen - Cruise director Staff

Children's Facilities

Onboard Activities


Overall Rating
Review useful?
O'eil -
, St. Helens - Commented about this Review
You have booked arguably, the best itinerary cruise for next year, the Baltic. When you are in St. Petersburg, presumably for two nights, consider booking your "own thing" on line rather than pay through the nose on the ships tour. Ignore the doom mongers who say that you need a visa and can only do a tour via the ship, as the tour that YOU book (should you choose to) will organize everything for you and save you quite a bit as well. Enjoy!! Happy cruising, Dave.
15 Nov 11 15:07 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Rogers -
, Southampton - Commented about this Review
We too were on this cruise and found your review interesting. I think my husband and I have a very similar outlook to you - we are also quite able, and keen, to 'party' with the best and are in the same age group (yikes!). We have not been cruising for as long as you (about 7 years) but have been on the Indy about a dozen times and would echo your comments about some of our fellow guests. We first noted this decline 3/4 cruises ago with our last 2 cruises (January and October 2011) being particularly upsetting. We have been loyal to the Indy, and one more cruise on her is on the cards for February but, if the same atmoshere prevails, it will likely be our last. This is a great sadness because, for us, the Indy used to hit the right note - not too stuffy, not too 'Butlins' - and we have only recently been able to take advantage of the benefits of having Diamond status.
14 Nov 11 15:45 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Riley -
, Dewsbury - Commented about this Review
We also were on the same cruise as yourselves and will also mirror what you have said about some of the groups of people onboard. We have actually said that we would now give the independence a miss in future, although it is very convenient to be able to park at the side of the ship. That was the only cruise in fifteen years that I felt I could not leave anything on the table while I went to get breakfast. We have now decided to make sure that the next cruise will have a good selection of United States tourists onboard as they are mostly very polite. I felt ashamed to be British to see how some people behaved towards the cruise staff. Good luck with your cruise to the Baltic, it is a great cruise. Ourselves have booked on NCL Dawn for New England in the fall for next year. BTW great review..
13 Nov 11 20:26 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Brian -
, Manchester - Commented about this Review
I have been on the IOTS this Sept, great ship, but we find that its not as friendly as when you do a Transatlantic say from Malaga,which we did a couple of years ago on the Navigator, the ship was more quirky, better service and maybe because there were lots of Americans/ canadians and many other nationalites it seemed so much friendlier,,,We did enjoy the IOTS but don't think we would go again on was too British....Brian.
13 Nov 11 16:08 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Taylor -
, Southend-on-sea - Commented about this Review
Thanks for your review. Very interesting! We are cruising on the Indipendence next year and we booked it with some trepidation as we feared all that you have written with regard to Brits and drink. I will read the other review you referred to after this. We too are on the Jewel next year and did the same cruise in 2009. We weren't aware of any problems - drink or otherwise, so I think you are safe! By the way, Joff (with sidekick Steve) was our Cruise Director that time, and we loved the morning TV show with the two of them - it really had us laughing and was a nice start to the day. We have just returned, today, from a day visit of the Aurora, before it sailed for a mini cruise to Zeebrugge. It was our first time setting foot on a P&O cruise ship. We really liked the decor - very tasteful. The meal was no better or worse than RCI. The cabins were smaller than we are used to with RCI, but the prices we were quoted by our guide were quite a lot bigger! This is what has put us off booking P&O in the past. However, you can't beat cruising from the UK. One day we intend to book Celebrity, but can't often do two weeks, so RCI gives us more choice. Happy cruising!
12 Nov 11 19:39 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Viscount -
, Harefield - Commented about a Comment by Taylor (12 Nov 11 19:39)
Thanks for the info re Jewel. Joff and Steve were the double act on Indy in Jan this year, and did work very well together ! In the past we have found that P & O charge a more expensive headline price, but once onboard most things are cheaper than RCI, so I guess it's swings and roundabouts from that point of view. P & O tend to be more typically "British"........good in some ways, but the passengers tend to turn in early, so if you do like some late night entertainment you may be on your own....
14 Nov 11 14:27 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Cummings -
, BLACKPOOL - Commented about a Comment by Taylor (12 Nov 11 19:39)
Don't worry about any passenger problems on IOS, this reviewer must have just been unlucky, we have been three times on this ship and never encountered any bother, yes there are the football wearing shirts but that does not mean they are chavs or trouble makers (not usually anyway). OK some people still insist on ignoring the dress code on formal nights which can be annoying, oh how I wish RCI would enforce this more and stop these people from entering the dining room. Oh and by the way do not bother reading the review by Baron on the euinox unless you want a laugh as it is a complete spoof, I cannot imagine for one minute that this was meant to be serious because if it was then this person should be shot at dawn or put down.
13 Nov 11 13:10 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Taylor -
, Southend-on-sea - Commented about a Comment by Cummings (13 Nov 11 13:10)
Thank you Cummings. As Viscount said in the above review, when people are encouraged to dress up, their behaviour normally improves accordingly, and I think I agree with that thought. So I am keeping my fingers crossed for IOS! I have read the Baron review and hate to admit I found it very funny. I know it's far from being PC but that made it even funnier for me I'm ashamed to say. I, of course, think its a spoof too.
13 Nov 11 18:43 - Reply - Was this comment useful?

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