Independence of the Seas 30 June 2012

14 Night Italian cruise

Southampton, Gibraltar, Toulon, Livorno, Civitavechia, Ajaccio, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, Southampton

Our second cruise together

For five years we did not go on another cruise.  Reason being as we wanted to see some of the United States such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Nashville etc. plus we wanted to see a bit more of the UK such as Wales to see the puffins on Skomer Island and Scotland.

Initially we was going to sail just me and Jason on Navigator of the Seas to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary but a few months before our sailing we got a call from Royal Caribbean to say that we have won a cruise on Independence of the Seas.  However the cruise was going over the same sort of time we had Navigator booked for.  So we cancelled Navigator to and took this cruise instead.

We was over the moon with the win a holiday on Independence of the Seas for four.  The holiday was for a 14 night Italian cruise. We decided to take my sister Emma and her friend Caroline along with us as they both have not been on a cruise before.

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Royal Caribbean – Independence of the Seas Our second cruise together was June 2012 which we sailed from Southampton and visited Gibralter, Toulon, Livorono, Civitavecchia, Ajaccio, Cadiz, Lisbon and Vigo. We returned on her for our seventh cruise September 2016 we sailed from Southampton and visited Funchal, Tenerife, Las Palmas, Lanzarote and Vigo. Then again for our tenth cruise on June 2017 we sailed from Southampton and visited Stavanger, Kristiansand, Oslo, Copenhagen and Skagen. @royalcaribbean #royalcaribbean #royalcaribbeanindependenceoftheseas #independenceoftheseas #sailing #sea #ocean #cruise #ship #couple #travel #2012 #2016 #2017 #summer2012 #spring2016 #summer2017 #meditterean #europe #canaries #norway #norwegian #cruising #traveller #southampton #blogger #wow #royalmemories

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Cabin

1404 – Balcony cabin at the aft (back) of the ship.

Royal King size bed, sofa be, TV, telephone, minibar, bathroom with shower, vanity area and a hair-dryer.

This cabin was very spacious and so even though there was four of us sharing it we did not feel that caustrophibic.  ‘The balcony also helped as it made the cabin look longer and gave some light.  The cabin though has a few noise issues as above us was the Windjammer so every now and then we could hear movement of chairs and people walking across.

Plus even though our balcony was amazing and very spacious being able to fit in say four lidos if we wished the noise of the sea gushing from the back of the ship did make it quite noisy to sit out there whilst moving. However the view was amazing to see the countries from a distance when we was leaving the ports.

Joanne at the balcony

Our cruise adventure log    

As this was a cruise we had won it was certainly special and one we could also share with my sister Emma and her friend Caroline who both have never been on a cruise before.  Plus having a large balcony made it even more special.

Day 1 – boarding the ship at Southampton

Once we checked in we had to wait for a few hours before we could go to check out our cabin and unpack so we decided to visit the Windjammer and grab a bite to eat. We was all both highly impressed by the layout of the Windjammer with it’s space and so much choice of food from Italian to Chinese cuisine.  There was also many carvings out of fruit dotted amongst the buffet area.  The skill that some of these waiters have is highly impressive.

Afterwards we went to our cabin to unpack.  We was all highly impressed with the size and the balcony.  The balcony was so big we could lay three lidos out on it.  We quickly made ourselves at home.

However the wardrobe space was a bit of an issue.  As there was four of us and with it being a 14 night cruise and us three ladies having so many formal and casual dresses which we wanted to hang up it made it quite difficult to fit all our clothes in the wardrobe.  Poor Jason had to leave most of his clothes in the suitcase. Time to now wave goodbye to Southampton.

With any cruise sailing there is a sail away party which I had to attend and join in. I mean who does not like a sing song and a wave of a flag.

sailawa

In the evening we attended a welcome back show in the theatre which was great fun.

With it being our first day on board we decided to retreat to the cabin early.  Emma and Caroline though decided to go and dance the night away at the nightclub.

I was highly excited though in returning back to the cabin as I have mentioned before Royal Caribbean always makes towel animals so the suspense of seeing which towel animal I had tonight was immense.

When we got back to our cabin in the evening we had a lovely towel animal of a penguin.

Yes I know I am sad but look it’s a penguin how sweet is he?

Day 2 – at sea

Today we was at sea so we decided to participate in a few fun games on the ship such as inside soft ball bowling and snooker.

Plus during the day we went and played a few quiz’s in where we made some great friends. One being an old retired comedian whom used to help comedians such as Bruce Forsyth with new comical jokes. We then all regularly met up from time to time throughout the holiday to play quiz’s together. We were all so desperate to win a plastic keyring or even a pen.  However laughing aside about the merchandise you could win in the evening a bottle of wine. Most quiz’s was based around general knowledge.

Emma and Caroline went off to catch some sun rays.

Quiz friends

In the evening after getting suited and booted as it was formal night we went and played some more quiz’s with our gang of new found friends but this time we could win wine.

This evening we dined in the main dining room tonight and got a very lovely table for just us two at the window.  We also met a really lovely married couple Gaynor and Tony who we became great friends with during the cruise and to this day we still are great friends with them. We sometimes also played quiz’s with them.

Afterwards me and Jason decided to hit the casino in Casino Royale whilst my sister and her friend went to party all night long in the nightclub.  I did get worried about her when it went after 3am then I found them both sozzled outside the cabin door.

Day 3 – at sea

We went and explored a bit more of the ship today.  Whilst my sister and her friend slept in.

On my adventure around the ship I saw a red dog standing at a balcony so I just had to get my photo snapped with it.

The red dog and Joanne

Also today we decided to reenact the famous pose form the movie Titanic.

Titantic

In the afternoon me and Jason went and played yet more quiz’s.  The quiz’s usually are held in the Schooner Bar or the Pyramid lounge. I prefer the Pyramid lounge as the seats are much more comfy and there is a main stage unlike the Schooner Bar which is quite cramped and no stage area just a piano and a few tables and chairs in and around the bar area.

Pyramid Lounge

Plus amongst the parade of shops there was yet another resident car. This one was a  lovely blue Morgan.

DSC02095

In the evening me and Jason went along and played yet another quiz but this time we played alone.  Well I should say Jason played alone as this was a James Bond quiz and he is a massive fan and he wanted to prove how much of one he was to me and the entertainment crew.

Jason and his winnings

No surprise as you may of guessed by the photo he won.  He beat over 30 other playing teams all by himself and just got one question wrong.  You can see how highly happy he was with his win of goodies from pens, keyrings, baesball hat, etc. We ended up giving most of the merchandise to children.

I think Jason most likely ended up dreaming about James Bond all that night.

Day 4 – Gibraltar

Today was the day we all went off together to see the Barbary Macaques. Me and Jason have seen them before a few years back when we stayed in Gibraltar for a long weekend.  However I love animals so I was very excited in seeing them again.

Did you know though that the Barbary Macaque population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population in the European continent. Plus tradition has it if the apes disappeared British that rule over the Rock would end.

Here are some Barbary Macaque’s posing.  One even was doing some exercises.

Bless the baby Barbary Macaque.

Jason and one of the Barbary Macaque but which is which?

Gibralter monkey with Jason

Emma and Caroline looking nervous.

Gibralter monkey with Emma and Caroline

Us ladies all together.

Joanne, Caroline and Emma

Also from up the top of the Gibraltar mountain there was a lovely view of Independence of the Seas and some other ships.

Plus on the day there was military testing going on so we hear a few shots from the cannon that is on the cliff and we saw some army planes flying around which was spectacular.

I love Gibraltar and will never get tired of visiting it.

 

When we got back on board the ship we went and chilled for a while before heading off to dinner and more quizzing for the night.

ape

Plus tonight’s towel animal was a Barbary Macaque.

Day 5 – at sea

Today was a sea. We all decided to take it easy today and relax around the pool area.

pool

Plus tonight was another formal night.

Day 6 – Toulon

Today me and Jason visited the beautiful city of Toulon.  This city is in southern France and a large military harbour which sits on the Mediterranean coast with a major French naval base. The best way to explore the area is by road train.

I think my sister and Caroline went off exploring the town as well on foot.

Toulon train

I loved the view from the top of the cliff.

The beach was beautiful very quaint. Plus we was told the mansion/castle overlooking the beach on the top of the cliff was owned by the people who created the Michelin Tyres.

 

In the evening me and Jason tried our luck at Casino.  Our favourite games are Black Jack and the roulette.

casino

Day 7 – Livorno

Even though Livorno is a charming city we all got off today to go on an excursion to visit The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Did you know that Livorno is located on the Western coast of Tuscany on the Ligurian Sea and is considered one of the most important port of Italy and that Livorno is regarded as a quite modern city.

Anyway today we went off to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa so first stop a coach.  Next we took a boat ride along a river and then a ride in a road train onto The Leaning Tower of Pisa. This was most certainly the best way to travel to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa as we got to see many fascinating buildings along the way in the boat.

When we arrived we was in awe of The Leaning Tower’s beauty.  We all just had to do one of those posies that everyone does from leaning or pushing the tower via standing miles in front of it.

Who do you think done the better pose
Jason, Emma & Caroline or me Joanne?

 

When we got back to the cruise ship Emma and Caroline had a session booked to surf on the Flow Rider.  So we went and watched them. They actually done really well and I was impressed how well my sister Emma managed to stay standing as this was her very first time in attempting to surf.

In the evening we went and watched a marvellous show based on circus performances.  There was even an elephant on stage which looked so real.  With so many acrobatics, flying through the air, Elephants trumping around the stage I just did not know where to look. It was a triumph and a great way to end such a great day.

Day 8 – Civitavecchia

Today was mine and Jason’s 5th wedding anniversary.  So we decided to take a leisurely romantic walk around Civitaveccia today.  We saw many old buildings and looked around many unique shops selling all sorts of craft. Emma and Caroline went and done their own thing.

map

Tonight we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Giovannis.  Jason gave me a lovely anniversary card.

Joanne and Jason our anniversary

However I um forgot to buy him one so he was not pleased.  My sister Emma also had organised for a special anniversary chocolate cake for us which was so sweet.  Alas though I don’t have a photo of the cake to show but it was absolutely yummy.

Later in the evening we went and watched an amazing Hypnotist Christopher Caress and it was one of the most funniest shows I have ever seen an hypnotist do.  I especially loved it when he made a man genuine think he was a woman and called Jessabell.  Unfortunately for that man whenever anyone saw him on board everyone called him Jessabell.

Joanne and Joff

Plus tonight I thought I would get a photo snapped with the amazing Joff Eaton who is a marvellous cruise entertainment director and is usually always found on Independence of the Seas.

Much later on during the night there was a feast put on for everyone on the top deck with so many carvings.  All the animals were made out of either butter or chocolate.  Who would of thought.  I especially loved the Zebra.  There was also so much food to eat from langoustines to cakes.

Today was most certainly a great anniversary and one that I have never forgotten.  However Jason always reminds me that I never bought him an anniversary card.

Day 9 – Ajaccio

Today we visited Ajaccio which is a French commune. Ajaccio is the largest settlement on the island.  Me and Jason decided to adventure out and look around the town whilst Emma and Caroline caught some more sun rays on board deck.

The beach at Ajaccio is really clean and large. I just had to walk along the seas edge.

Joanne and beach

Jason and Joanne

I had to also get a photo on my travels with this very large watermelon.  It was as long as my arm.  Unbelievable.

Joanne and watermelon

 

Tonight we played a few more quiz’s and thought we would catch a photo of the great entertainers that has entertained us throughout our holiday so far.

Entertainment staff

Day 10 – at sea

Today I decided as we are at sea I would get a bit more fit along with my sister and her friend.  Well I tried and let’s just say I managed to get one foot off the ground on the first step on the rock climbing wall but alas that was it.  I am way too week.  Epic fail.

Emma and Caroline though both managed to reach the bell at the top of the rock climbing wall.  However I thought Caroline would as she is a fire woman after all.

In the evening I went and partied the night away in the nightclub with my sister and friend.  However before adventuring in I just had to give the nightclubs bird a hug.

Joanne and nightclub

Day 11 – Cádiz

Today we visited the lovely Cádiz.  This city is in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz. Cádiz is regarded by many as the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe.

Whilst in Cádiz me and Jason visited the Park Genoves which is full of fake dinosaurs park which was quite fun.  However the park is quite small but it is worth a visit.

This beach here in Cádiz is where Halle Berry makes an appearance in the James Bond movie Die Another Day.  So Jason as he is a massive James Bond fan just had to visit it.

The rest of the area around Cádiz is very beautiful and everywhere was very clean.  Cádiz is certainly one of my favourite ports.

 

In the evening we went and played a game of Bingo and I went up on stage to check the balls.  In doing so I received a free t-shirt and a cocktail of the day.  Not bad for just checking some balls.

I was dreaming of balls tonight.

My sister and her friend went of nightclubbing.

Day 12 – Lisbon

We docked at Lisbon today and this is a beautiful country. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. Me and Jason  decided to go on an excursion to see some of Lisbon’s main attractions, to taste a Pasteis de Belem and to look around their famous Aquarium Oceanário.

The Pastéis de Belém’s is the most famous pastry shop in Lisbon where you can get an original traditional Pastéis de Beléms.

Pastéis de Belém’s started up in 1837 and this is where they began making the Pastéis de Belém, following an ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. That secret recipe is recreated every day in their bakery, by hand, using only traditional methods. Even today, the Pastéis de Belém offer the unique flavour of time-honoured Portuguese sweet making.

They truly are the best and I even though you can buy these in many other places all over the world nothing beats these traditional Pastéis de Belém’s. They are so creamy, light and flaky.  I highly recommend going there if you are in Lisbon.

The aquarium Oceanário opened in 1998.  It holds over 8000 sea creatures and 7 million litres of saltwater.  There was so many sea creatures, mammals and birds to see here.  I am glad I went and I love the sea otters in particular.  They looked so happy playing with their water bottles.  In fact I bought a keyring with one of them on it that is how much I loved them and this aquarium.

Emma and Caroline went and done their own thing today.

Upon leaving Lisbon everyone is told on board to go and look at the ship going under the bridge as it is always a tight squeeze for ships when leaving the port.  So everyone gasps when we go under as the top of the ship barely makes it.

 

Ben & Jerry

Later in the afternoon we went and had an ice-cream at Ben & Jerry’s.

Jason and Joanne formal night

Tonight was formal night so we dressed up yet again.  After having a fun evening of quizzing and gambling we then set off back to our cabin.

Tonight we received not a towel animal on the bed but one that hanged.

The bat was so cute.

Bat

Day 13 – Vigo

Vigo was the next port of call and is one of my favourite ports.  Me and Jason went around town taking photos of the many statues whilst Emma and Caroline done their own thing.

I particularly loved the Horse statue called ‘The Horses’ and I love the Octopus statue.

Statue and Joanne

The Horses is by Juan José Oliveira whom entered Vigo in 1991 and is etched in the city’s collective memory and it stands 60 feet high.

Joanne and Octopus statue

The Octopus statue was created in aid of the famous French writer Jules Verne, who wrote 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and set the second chapter in the bay of Vigo. This statue can be found on the waterfront.

This evening Jason won the fruit machine tournament not bad hey.  So he got some money and a trophy.

Jason and winning

What a great way to end the day.

Day 14 – at sea

Alas this was our last day so we made the most out of the facilities from the pool to the bar area.

Emma and Caroline made use of the balcony.

Emma and Caroline balcony

In the afternoon I played a game of bowling which took place in the nightclub area.  Was quite funny though as we was playing with a soft ball and the ship was moving the ball was going all over the floor.

Joanne bowling winner

Ok, I did not come first I came second but still I got a medal for it, so not bad right

This was our last night in the main dining area alas.

I loved the desserts though tonight especially as I had lots of mini ones, heaven.

Also we had a photo with our lovely waiters that have served us our meal most nights throughout the cruise.  They were brilliant I hope to meet them again in the future.

DSC02338

Plus these are all the wonderful towel animals which our cabin steward made for us throughout the entire cruise along with a Bishop.

towels

Can you name them all?

Day 15 – Southampton disembarking

Alas this was our day of disembarking and back in the UK at Southampton. So it was farewell Independence of the Seas, until next time.

Highlights and negatives

Highlights

  • Our cabin as this was the first time we both have ever stayed in a cabin with a balcony
  • The wonderful entertainment staff especially Scott
  • The Hypnotist show as was highly amusing
  • The feast on deck
  • Visiting Pastéis de Belém’s in Lisbon
  • The many towel animals

Negatives

  • One negative was where our cabin was situated as we had the Windjammer above us we could hear movement of chairs and people walking above but then I can’t really complain as we did win the cruise afterall

Tips

Pre-book any speciality dining restaurants to secure a table as they can get booked quickly.

 

As we took this cruise many years ago and we was not writing a blog back then so these memories and notes are back from what I can remember of our trip. .

Have you sailed on Independence of the Seas before and what did you think?


 

NOTE: Royal Caribbean is always updating and improving their ships so I am sure that since my trip it has been updated. Discover the latest about Voyager of the Seas and upcoming itineraries via clicking here.

 

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