Independence of the Seas has been a UK favourite since her launch in 2008. And it’s easy to see why:
Amazing shows and music?
Great food and dining?
Sail from Southampton?
So, when Royal Caribbean invited us to sail on ‘Indy’ after a multi-million-pound refurbishment, which they’re calling ‘Amplified’, we were keen to see if this would be a true amplification of cruise holidays, or quite simply a volume change.
First up, the gravity-defying SkyPadsm; it’s certainly one of the most striking things about the ship when you pull alongside, making it an essential first stop in our on-board explorations. And my, is it worth a visit! Virtual reality headsets on a trampoline is just a fantastic experience, leaving me as breathless as a full-size Mario Brother! And if virtual reality isn’t your thing, you can still try out the bungees and trampolines and admire the amazing ship-top view! Basically, don’t miss out!
Playmakers Sports Bar
Next up is Playmakers. So, full disclosure, I was on Symphony of the Seas last month, where Playmakers debuted, and I loved it – so I was sure I’d feel the same on-board Indy. I was right, it’s still a great place to go and have a relaxed drink. Whether you’re a sports-lover or not, it’s a wonderful stop off between adventures.
And on to dining. Because we all know that cruises are centred around their food. One thing that Royal Caribbean consistently get right is their top-class on-board entertainment – and with their new Izumi speciality Japanese restaurant, they’ve perfectly combined dining, fun and theatre. There’s something here to delight the taste buds of every sushi aficionado as well as anyone who likes their food a bit, well, hotter. A must-see/eat!
I have to give a special mention to the refreshed and refurbished Windjammer Café, whose makeover is really wonderful. Light and airy, but with some really clever interior design tricks that help maintain a level of dining intimacy that I’ve rarely experienced in a buffet restaurant, cruise ship or not, I was very impressed. As well as giving us all slick and attentive service, the crew also prompted a true belly-laugh with their dolphin-sighting practical joke: top class!
Observatorium puzzle break room
Finally, to the Observatorium, Indy’s brand-new puzzle break room, itself secreted away above the Viking Crown Lounge on deck 14. I’ll admit I love a good escape room and the Observatorium didn’t disappoint. Atmospheric and with incredibly high production values, I think this is the best I’ve seen. It’s worth noting that there’s a charge to enter, but it’s well worth the small additional cost. And no, I’m revealing nothing about the fastest route out of there!
In truth, for a ship voted Best Ship Sailing from the UK, I think we all knew that the clever team at Royal Caribbean International wouldn’t try to change the core elements which make Indy so loved and based on my conversations with my fellow passengers, they haven’t. But they have added some truly cool elements; amplified indeed!