Independence of the Seas Tour Index
2014 was the last season Independence of the Seas would be sailing from Southampton, having arrived brand new in April 2008.  I had done the maiden voyage, returned in 2012 when solo rates were finally good and wished I could have done the last cruise from here, but alas it wasn't possible.  Then the opportunity to visit on the 20th September arose, courtesy of Virgin Holidays.  In 2013, Indy had undergone her first refit and there had been a few changes, though nothing drastic like Vision and some of the Voyager classes, but it gave me the opportunity to have a look as well as say my own goodbye to this wonderful ship.  We had to be at City Terminal for 9.30am and the annual boat show in Mayflower Park, closing Dock Gate 8 meant I had to get a taxi both ways after getting to Town Quay.  Each of the Virgin Holidays visitors were given a goody bag and were assigned a coloured lanyard before entering security to determine group.  I was red, with David Hearn from Royal Caribbean as our guide with Lucy, Sarah and Andrea from Virgin Holidays.  We had to fill in the usual health form and were given our passes inside the waiting area.  We boarded via the usual gangway to the Promenade Deck but the health forms weren't taken from us.  It had said in the email the visit was open to those who had not sailed with Royal Caribbean before or had a booking but even though I had, and sailed on Indy twice, it didn't matter in the end.  We began on Deck 3 but skipping The Labyrinth nightclub because we'd see it all via Deck 4 before making our way to the Alhambra Theatre back on Deck 3.  From there we made our way up to Deck 4 and through the photo gallery towards Casino Royale.  David explained about currency when someone asked why it's in dollars.  Also how you are only allowed to smoke in there and the Connoisseur's Lounge inside.  From there it was through the Schooner Bar and into The Labyrinth, heading down to Deck 3 via the glass stairs.  After the theatre, it was up two decks to the Pyramid Lounge before going along the Royal Promenade.  Cupcake Cupboard was a new addition during the 2013 refit, replacing the barber which had originally been there.It was a shame the air con wasn't cranked up more as it was boiling aboard, especially as there were already many passengers already aboard.  We had been scheduled to have a coffee stop in Cafe Promenade but it was full of passengers so David decided we'd have it in the Windjammer instead so we boarded the lifts up to Deck 11 and dodged the queue of hungry passengers waiting for it to open.  Afterwards, we made our way up one deck so we could see the outside deck.  No one was really interested in seeing the children's areas.  Indy now had the interactive guides the other Revitalized ships had and David explained how to use them.  While everyone else went to look around the Vitality at Sea Spa & Fitness Center, I went back onto the deck to enjoy the cooler air.  I couldn't be away from the group too long so didn't get a chance to snap Johnny Rockets or FlowRider down the aft end, which we missed entirely.  I rejoined the group, who were now down on Deck 11 in the gym part, which has a boxing ring.  Time was running away so the Viking Crown Lounge and Rock Climbing wall were our final public room stops, missing the wedding chapel, before we saw some cabins on Deck 10 while avoiding people from another group.  Despite many being open for viewing, we had to look at what was designated, which meant some categories skipped entirely, including an accessible cabin, which I managed to get a quick snap of as we were led past.  The Royal Suite was also open, people milling about inside, yet David said we weren't allowed to see it.  Then it was back to Deck 3 for lunch in the Romeo ad Juliet dining room after a speech by John Wilson, Head of Cruise at Virgin Holidays and who, it turned out, I'd met at the Royal Princess media event back in May 2014.  After lunch we were asked by David to fill in a questionnaire about the visit then we all left via the crew gangway on Deck 1.

Thanks to John, Lisa, Sarah and Andrea at Virgin Holidays plus David and everyone at Royal Caribbean for their hospitality.  To see photos of Indy sailing after this visit, click here.  

Arriving
Deck 14
Deck 13
Deck 12
Deck 11
Deck 10
Deck 5
Deck 4
Deck 3
Lunch
Leaving


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© Patricia Dempsey 20th September 2014
Not to be reproduced without permission