Royal Caribbean, Independence of the Seas
First of all, I'm not even going to play it cool... I am on cloud 9 writing this post and actually don't even know where to begin.
When choosing a holiday, I have to be honest, before this trip I would have never considered a cruise. Perhaps I was in the mindset of not having enough to do onboard to cover a week with kids but I've yet to meet anyone that has been on a cruise holiday and didn't love it.
When Royal Caribbean got in touch to invite Colin and I on the relaunch of the newly refurbished Independence of the Seas I literally had to pinch myself. It felt like the dream opportunity and also a great chance for a break away just the two of us, our first trip alone in over 5 years and our first time on a cruise ship... the excitement was very real.
Driving to the airport that morning we were giddy excited, like our 18 year old selves heading on our first holiday together... I had major butterflies for both leaving the girls and the excitement of the opportunity.
What we were greeted with onboard surpassed our wildest dreams. Call it naivity but I was panicking that I had forgotten shampoo having no idea there was actually a full shopping mall with everything from essentials to designer clothing/ jewellery brands to wonder around.
After we checked in Colin and I took a wonder to see what was on offer, with a cocktail in hand of course. There was (and far from limited to) a casino, arcades, restaurants to suit any taste, a shopping mall, shows, a club, glow in the dark laser tag, pools and jacuzzis, Puzzle break escape room,water slides, a huge choice of traditional pubs, sports bars, piano bars and cocktail bars, a hairdressers and spa... ok I'll stop now and you can find more here. But we walked around with our eyes like saucers while messaging my sister who has travelled with Royal Caribbean before and talks about it all the time... 'you were right, let's get saving as we are all going together' for me that's the dream, a big family Cruise holiday.
Whilst it was amazing to have the time together, Colin and I spent a lot of the time looking at what would be on offer for the girls and 'the girls would love this' was said quite a lot at every turn. There was so much for kids on board, from great food choices, baby and children swimming pools, entertainment, kids clubs and ice cream on tap would mean that the holiday would be suited for babies and children of all ages. It has been dubbed 'The ultimate family ship' and I can see why. However, With the sheer size of the ship and the variety of things it has to offer I think it would be the perfect holiday for anyone from honeymooners to the retired and winding downers. We sat one evening listening to a live Jazz band and the next night in a night club.
Independence of the Seas added the addition of the sky pad on the ship, a virtual reality bungee trampoline experience that made you feel you were actually in a game. My favourite however (to watch, I regret not giving it a go) was the 'Flow Rider' surf simulator but I laughed to my sides were sore at Colins attempt. He does look ever the professional but it's more down to my super quick camera snapping.
Two days was great to see what was on offer but not long enough to try (and eat) everything, though we give it a pretty good go! We stayed out far later than we would ever and acted like teenagers again heading to the club at 1am.One of my favourite parts of the trip was eating in the Tapanyaki restaurant Izumi. It's an Asian inspired dining experience, the chef cooks in front of you while entertaining and my sides were sore laughing. The food was also incredible and Sushi made me realise how the Sushi I eat normally isn't that great as the Sushi here was just something else.
Above all though, and as cheesy as it sounds the chance to slow down, unwind and be completely and utterly spoilt along with the best company was the icing on the cake! We ate (a weeks worth in 2 days), drank, admired the views and chatted non stop.
We both had never been on a Cruise before but within the first hour there was no doubt in either of us that we would be planning a holiday as a family in the future. Royal Caribbean miss no detail and nothing is too much of an issue. We are home feeling completely spoilt and dreaming of the next Royal Caribbean experience where we can travel in style to some beautiful locations.
A huge thank you to Royal Caribbean who kindly invited us on board to see the fabulous relaunch of Independence of the Seas. They asked for nothing in return and as always all words, images and views are my own.