Independence of the Seas - 11 Night Spain & Canary Islands Cruise
Port checking, as I tend to when I have cruises booked, I noticed there were several ships in Madeira on the 7th November 2012, including Independence of the Seas.  I looked up fares and saw they weren't too bad for singles FINALLY.  I hadn’t been since the maiden voyage and had been waiting for a decent fare.  I tried to book the 31st October 2012 online from the 13th August 2011 but there was an error in cabin selection and, if you were lucky enough to get that far, dining options.  So I contacted RCI UK on Twitter about it and they apologised for the technical glitch.  I gave up on the 19th and went to see Becky at Thomas Cook, booking inside cabin Q-2667, paying it off the following July.

There was only Oceana in the day the cruise came round.  Because the weather was so horrible and we returned on a Sunday when public transport was diabolical, I took the bus then got a taxi from the station.  Luggage labels are no longer being sent - boo! - and you have to print your own.  None of this is 'green' when you use more paper than they did.  Thankfully, you could get some there.  I did that first then joined the huge queue outside the terminal.  Boarding had been late due to a deep clean following norovirus during the previous cruise.  It was still raining so thank goodness for the slight overhang outside the terminal - once the queue moved fast enough to reach it!  Being currently listed as Platinum in the Crown & Anchor Society, I had priority check-in, which was great!  I had actually become Diamond due to completing the required number of Celebrity cruises required for Elite in their Captain's Club only six days before, but the status wouldn't be changed in time.  Lesley, at the UK office, said she would email the ship to tell them.  Instead of queuing for security with everyone else, you had your own entrance and machines.  Afterwards it was straight to the dedicated check-in where you're given a number then on!  The entire experience was far smoother than Copenhagen for Vision just under seven weeks earlier.  As you got to the escalator, your SeaPass card was checked before you were allowed to step onto it.  Once onboard, you were given a choice of lunch in the Windjammer on deck 11 or Romeo & Juliet on deck 3.  I opted for the latter, not keen on a bun fight with the hungry hoards while carrying so much.  Both were buffets but this was more relaxing.  The food was so so, however, particularly the baked pasta which was revolting.  Cabins were ready later than usual due to the extra cleaning and, despite the notice being clear and door closed, it didn't stop one couple opening it and going to theirs anyway.  They were quickly kicked out of the corridor and the door closed once again.  I'd killed some time in Vintages after buying the soft drinks package then waited on the stairs.  Shortly after 2.30pm, the door was opened and I went to find my room.  Inside I found my Diamond voucher book and welcome back gift - thank you, Lesley at Royal Caribbean UK!  The tea/coffee facilities were a vast improvement on those for her maiden voyage.
Went for a wander on deck and it was so cold and windy, though thankfully, at that time, dry!  When you keep going on the smaller ones (as I do with my beloved Vision, taking three cruises plus one on Jewel between Indy), you forget just how long these ships are.  As I was talking to my dad on the phone, one of the crew told me to get ready for muster.  By now the rain had started - ugh!
Muster was at 4pm and slowly everyone assembled on the Prom deck.  The new rule of not taking lifejackets is good in the cold so you can wear your coat but it's very difficult to see the demonstration of how to put it on, especially when you're at the back.  Due to the rain, I and a few others decided to stay there for our slightly late sailaway.  Oceana was also going to be late, meaning I couldn't take pictures of her sailing.  Captain Remo said we'd hit a force 7-9 - yay!!!!!!!!!!!
I decided to go and thank the Crown & Anchor loyalty person for the correct membership status.  There were actually two in there but I got the correct one.  Karla Forbes told me she'd received the email from Lesley but all I needed to do was get a new SeaPass card with the correct status, so Guest Services was the next stop.  The bloke behind the desk was a little cautious (despite my status being changed on their system) but he did it and let me keep my old card.  Due to the impending weather, they'd locked us in before we'd even passed Fawley.  Shops were open though - yay!!!!  The choice of Indy souvenir tat was diabolical and it was now generic Freedom class postcards.  Then a quick drink in the Schooner Bar before returning to the cabin.
At dinner I was put on a table for four despite requesting an eight, so was the only one there.  It didn't bother me but, as on Vision, it worried my waiters.  The couple to my left were the only ones on theirs too while Alan and Barbara, on my right, had a table for two, despite being in a suite.  All right for some!  Anyway my waiter Russel was very good as was his assistant (whose name I've forgotten but he was from Goa and used to work for Apollo on Oceania Cruises).  Due to it just being ickle moi, you tend to be served quicker so I had to kill time until the cabin was done.  My steward John was really good and, with his trolley next to it, I could find my room very easily.
Well what a bouncy night!  I got up late but the room had been alternating hot and cold constantly, which was annoying.  Even at 11.20am, when I got out of bed, we were still rocking and rolling.  Oh for an upgrade!!!!  I'd only had once out of all my Royal Caribbean cruises and that was Navigator in 2007 - my first with them.  Long overdue for another one!  I went for lunch in the Windjammer and noticed the stern flag was still flying.  A quick drink in Olive Or Twist to watch the sea.  This sea day reminded me why I kept returning to Vision - seats!  It is just so hard to find one on Indy, unlike Vision. who has much larger public rooms.  In the absence of a window cabin, I got some great wave action from the Promenade deck.  Due to my back, and the aggravation QM2 causes it in a bit of rough, I was very worried about Indy, especially after how badly Navigator handled a force 6 when I was fit.  But my fears were groundless.  The only time my back began to twinge was when I was standing still trying to snap the waves as they came up.  Indy sailed through it all effortlessly.  I was extremely impressed.  After signing up to the internet, I popped into Sorrento's for a snack before wave watching again and we got a beauty!  Back to the cabin to rest my back and I found not only a letter about norovirus during the previous cruise, but also goodies!
I had a nap then reported my awkward aircon.  It was formal night but I missed the Captain's booze up in the Royal Promenade due to the maintenance men appearing at 7.15pm.  There was a problem with the controls and it wasn't warming after he adjusted it so they had to go away for tools to tackle things above.  Well I couldn't stand that long with my back anyway, since the few seats there would be taken by those claiming them at least an hour before.  Unlike the maiden, there was now only one booze up which meant it would be very crowded.  Instead I got changed once the maintenance men fixed the aircon and went straight to dinner.  Alan told me that the waves reached deck 11 at 8.30am!  I had the potato curry - wooo!  On Vision, they added red bell peppers since I'd originally had it in 2008, although the menu makes no mention of them even now.  Due to my allergy I've been unable to have it but Russel told me it was no problem.  Hear that, Vision crew????  Give me my curry!!!!  Russel them told me if I fancied a curry off menu, to let him know so I decided to have a chicken one the following night.  The show was Graffiti Classics at 10.45pm so, after killing time while John did the room, I decided to go to that.  There was no description of the show and the cruise director, James Andrews, didn't say much either, but it was an Irish quartet playing classical music and bloody hilarious.  Regardless of whether you like that type of music, they're worth seeing.  A bit of rubbish telly afterwards and I noticed in the account section a big boo-boo under Crown & Anchor tiers - since January 2011 there have been six levels, Emerald after Platinum and Pinnacle for those who have done a zillion cruises.
Vigo was our first port and we were staying on ship time so no changing clocks.  With only Vigo and à Coruña being an hour ahead during the cruise, it made a lot of sense.  I decided to try the curry in Jade, on our assistant waiter's recommendation, only the servers couldn't tell me whether they contained bell peppers or not.  Fat lot of good THAT is!  Many just don't like the things while my allergy is quite rare.  Barbara, at dinner, has an allergy to all peppers making it harder for her.  Photos then and it was a bit nippy despite the sun.  The barricades up when I was there on Constellation a couple of weeks before were still in evidence BUT Indy was starboard so I could get pics of her bow - good girl!
There was a wedding going on in the chapel - awww.  One problem with being in a port is so many bars were closed and those open could be very crowded.  So I just had a wander then returned to the room to rest my back until our departure.
We were due to sail at 4pm but left early but moving from the dock when I got up there!  It was so cold and didn't help we hit a squall after turning.  Captain Remo came on as we were underway to tell us where we were going and about the weather.


© Patricia Dempsey 31st October-11th November 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission