The other week we were invited to spend turnaround day on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Independence of the Seas. The Independence of the Seas has just had a multi-million pound makeover and has some fabulous new features.
Blogging has provided my family with some wonderful opportunities. But without a doubt, being able to spend a day onboard the Independence of the Seas was one of the most amazing experiences we’ve had. We got to appreciate everything that a Royal Caribbean cruise has to offer a family without ever leaving Southampton.
Those moments on board the ship and walking around Splashaway Bay when no one else was onboard were something I will never forget. It was magical. The Independence of the Seas almost glowed it was so clean and polished. Also, the weather was amazing. And it was easy to close our eyes and pretend that we were in the Caribbean.
And what a day it was! From the moment we left home at 06:00 Little Miss H was super excited. She spent the whole day laughing, smiling, running, skipping and dancing. And she desperately wants to go on a cruise and in her words:
“Stay on the big ship with the pool (Splashaway Bay) for more than a day, please Mummy.”
I have to admit that I’d never really considered a cruise as a sensible option for a family holiday. Even though my parents rave about cruises, I’ve always been a little reluctant. But after our day on Independence of the Seas, I am a complete cruise convert. A Royal Caribbean cruise (and particularly on Independence of the Seas with its multi-million pound makeover) would make the perfect family holiday. And this is why:
10 Reasons Why A Royal Caribbean Cruise Would Make A Perfect Family Holiday
1. The Top Deck
I can’t really write a list of 10 reasons why a Royal Caribbean cruise on Independence of the Seas makes the perfect family holiday and not give Splashaway Bay it’s own point. From the moment we got onboard the ship, Little Miss was desperate to get her swimming costume on and dive into Splashaway Bay. And at the end of the day, it was nearly impossible to get her to leave the aqua park. Splashing in water on a hot day is Little Miss H’s idea of heaven.
Splashaway Bay is a bright and colourful aqua park and it’s an amazing sight when you arrive on the top deck of Independence of the Seas. It’s so much fun. And as it’s filled with water slides, jets, water cannons, pools, fountains and the bright yellow drench bucket there is no where to hide if you don’t like getting wet. Little Miss, Little Mister H and I had a wonderful time cooling down and splashing in the water.
The Rest Of The Top Deck
I know that if we went on a Royal Caribbean cruise on Independence of the Seas, Little Miss H would spend all the time at sea on the top deck. And this would be fine with me. Splashaway Bay is surrounded by sun loungers (including kiddie sized sun loungers which Little Miss and Little Mister H loved), with wonderful views, two hot tubs, a bigger pool, plus The Perfect Storm waterslides, FlowRider and other activities. You could be forgiven for spending all your sea days on the top deck.
There is even a poolside cinema screen, so you can enjoy Blockbuster movies and major sporting events while lounging in the cool water with a drink in your hand. When we were there a steel drum band was playing live music. And Little Miss and Little Mister H were thrilled that there was a free ice cream dispenser at Splashaway Bay. Whereas Mr H and I would be perfectly happy with a cold drink and some yummy fish and chips from Splashaway Bay’s bar, Fish and Ships.
2. Friendly Crew and Guests
I imagine that turnaround day is a very busy day for the crew of Independence of the Seas. Guests are arriving and are trying to find their staterooms and get unpacked. Yet, none of the crew we saw gave off any sign of stress. In fact, they all seemed to love their job. And everywhere you go on the ship, you’re greeted and welcomed by incredibly friendly crew. And we found that they were wonderful with our children too – waving, smiling and even giving Little Mister H a bit of a tickle (which he loved).
We also found that the other guests were friendly as well. And we struck up a number of conversations with some lovely guests. They told us why they always choose to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, why they loved Independence of the Seas and what they were looking forward to on their Mediterranean cruise.
Our children are very fussy eaters and I often worry that we won’t find food that they’ll eat. In fact, Little Miss H and I recently went to a festival where she lived on cheese sandwiches and chips. But with so much choice, the kids can’t complain that there’s nothing they’ll eat.
During the turnaround day we had lunch at Windjammer Marketplace, which is one of Royal Caribbean’s complimentary and casual-service restaurants. And there was lots of food to pick from. With fresh and yummy produce from around the world. Little Miss H was very happy to tuck into noodles, pasta and sweetcorn, Little Mister H ate a burger and chips whereas Mr H and I ate beef bourginon, rice and salad.
Then there were the desserts! Little Miss, Little Mister H and I all have a sweet tooth and so we were in dessert heaven. They all looked so yummy. And Little Mister H certainly enjoyed his chocolate cake.
There were a number of options for those guests with allergies or special dietary requirements. I spotted a whole part of the marketplace dedicated to gluten free food. There was also vegan and vegetarian options and allergens were clearly marked.
But if you don’t fancy Windjammer, then there are lots of other cafes, restaurants and bars to choose from. Eating places onboard Independence of the Seas include an elegant main dining room, a traditional Tuscan trattoria, a New York Style pizzeria and an authentic American Diner. Or if you’re too lazy to leave your stateroom then there is 24 hour room service (perfect for when you’re little ones want a snack at 4am).
4. Getting a breather
We love our kids. We really do. But sometimes it is nice for all of us to have some space from each other. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas offers kids clubs for children from 6 months old to 17 years of age. Which means if Mr H wants to go for a run or I fancy a spa treatment then we can go without worrying about the children. And we can relax knowing that the children are being looked after and having fun at the same time. Plus, if Mr H and I fancy having a romantic night together, then the children can go to the Late Night Party Zone from 10pm – 2am.
5. Independence Of The Seas
It’s impossible to write this list without including the Independence of the Seas. As the ship is amazing and truly beautiful. And I had no idea it would be so large. I was amazed by its size when we first saw it from a distance. But although the ship is huge, the attention to detail is unbelievable.
The interior is beautiful and everywhere you look has been carefully designed to be pleasing to the eye. Plus, during our day onboard Independence of the Seas I never felt that the ship was cluttered. And there was even a fantastic Royal Promenade where you can go for a stroll, shop (the kids were particularly taken by the sweet shop) or simply grab a leisurely cuppa.
6. Keep On Running
Little Miss H is starting to become interested in running (Mr H is already a keen runner) and loved the running track around the top deck. She actually managed to run a couple of full laps and we were so impressed. I can imagine Little Miss H and her Daddy waking up early and going for a run while the rest of the ship sleeps. But if running isn’t your thing, then there are also fitness classes, a fully equipped gym, a spa and a climbing wall.
7. Travelling Made Easy
We’ve never taken the children abroad. Mainly because the thought of taking a five-year-old and a two-year-old on a flight sends me into a panic. Therefore, I love the idea of being able to travel and take our children abroad without having to take a flight. With many Royal Caribbean cruises leaving from Southampton, it would be easy for us to drive down and then park in one of the many car parks. A flightless holiday abroad – amazing!
The whole ship is incredibly clean and the crew obviously work hard to maintain high standards of cleanliness. In fact, while we were onboard Independence of the Seas, Little Mister H had an accident on the floor of the gents toilets. Yet someone was there to clean it up straight away. They didn’t make us feel awkward and were understanding and helpful.
I also liked the emphasis placed on washing your hands on the ship and particularly before meals (there are sinks lining the entrance to the Windjammer Marketplace restaurant). And if you were in danger of forgetting to wash your hands before lunch, then a member of the crew singing the washy washy song is sure to remind you!
All parents dread hearing the words, Mum, Dad, I’m bored. Especially when you have paid money to take your precious offspring on holiday. But there is no time for boredom on Independence of the Seas. There is so much to do. And the number of activities and entertainment available on Independence of the Seas is truly amazing.
I’ve already mentioned Splashaway Bay but there is also The Perfect Storm water slide duo, FlowRider (a 40-foot-long surf simulator), Laser Tag, an Escape Room and the amazing SkyPad (a bungee trampoline experience where virtual reality headsets transport you so that you’re soaring through the skies). Yet, the action does not stop there. As Independence of the Seas has ice shows featuring the world’s best ice dancers and a brand new production of Grease: The Musical.
10. See the world
The people boarding on the day we were there were about to head off around the Mediterranean, taking in Gibraltar, Barcelona and Naples. We love teaching our children about the world and the different cultures and people that make this world the wonderful place that it is. A Royal Caribbean cruise is the perfect way to show our family lots of places in the world and explain why we are all different but why in our hearts we are all the same.
Thank you so much to Royal Caribbean for inviting us to experience turnaround day on Independence of the Seas. We had a wonderful day. And I’m now completely in love with the idea o going on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It would definitely be the perfect holiday for our family.
Have you ever been on a cruise? If so, where did you go? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Royal Caribbean invited us to experience turnaround day on Independence of the Seas. However, as always all thoughts, images and words are my own and are 100% honest.