Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Our October Mini Cruise

A couple of weeks ago, Jon & I headed off on a 5 night European mini cruise on board our favourite ship - Royal Caribbean's Independence Of The Seas.

The cruise would have been a really lovely romantic break, except for one small detail - our eldest son absolutely refuses to be left behind! Whereas his younger brothers love the opportunity to spend time with their grandparents, staying in their holiday caravan and getting spoiled rotten, for some reason Tyne just isn't a fan of not being wherever Jon & I are...so he came along too!

Before I carry on, I should apologise for the quality of the photos in this post as they are not up to the standard I'd usually like them to be - but in all honesty, this was a conscious decision.

I spend all of the holidays I go on either working, or just trying my best to get decent photos and video footage to share online and sometimes I find that this can really detract from the holiday experience - I'm a perfectionist and I'm very self-critical so my desire to capture good images can really get in the way of living in the moment.

I didn't want that to be the case this time, so I decided to forget the photo quality and just enjoy myself - we didn't take half as many photos as normal and the ones we did take were quick snap shots, but they'll just have to do! I LOVED every minute of not worrying about capturing the holiday and just enjoying it instead, so I regret nothing!

Anyway, on with the post!

The cruise was headed to 4 different ports, only one of which - Cherbourg in France - we'd been to before.

The other destinations were Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Bruges in Belgium and Paris, France.

At first I was quite tempted to book us on to various excursions to see the sights, but at the last minute I had a complete change of heart and decided that it would be far more relaxing and enjoyable to not rush about trying to see things and instead just make the most of the ship - considering that is the part of cruising we enjoy most!

So that's exactly what we did.

We spent our days enjoying lavish breakfasts in the Main dining room, lulling around on the sun decks sipping on delicious cocktails (me...) and having fun in the pool (Tyne and Jon!).

We also managed to enjoy pretty much all of the experiences this amazing ship has to offer, which is a rare achievement as usually we don't spend enough time on board to do everything.

But this time Tyne managed to have a go on the fantastic Sky Pad Bungee Trampoline which sits right at the very highest point of the ship, offering some amazing views and he & Jon enjoyed a game of laser tag on board too, which they said was a highlight of the holiday for them.

We didn't manage to fit in the escape room or the updated Independence Dunes mini golf sadly but it gives us something to look forward to next time. We also opted out of the Perfect Storm waterslides as Tyne was a bit unsure!

We also managed to catch a poolside movie, spend lots of afternoons enjoying the hot tubs, and even managed to go for a couple of night-time hot tub dips too which was really lovely as there's nothing quite like sitting in a hot tub under the stars as you cruise along on your way to your next destination.

We attended all of the promenade parties on board, including the 80's party which is one I'd never seen before, and we took in some of the amazing shows too.

Jon & I even managed to have a couple of hours in the casino one evening while Tyne was at the kids club, where we managed to walk away with £90 profit between us - not too shabby!

We enjoyed trying out some of the new areas on the ship which were added during it's refurb earlier this year, including Playmakers sports bar which is a new area on the ship - we went here for a quick drink and to try the Nachos, which didn't disappoint!

Infact most of the dining on the ship was of a very high standard. The Windjammer buffet restaurant always has plenty of choice, the late night venues Cafe Promenade and Sorrentos pizza are always great for a casual bite to eat, and the service in the main dining room was excellent as usual although I did feel that the food was perhaps slightly below the usual Royal Caribbean standard but nothing drastic - perhaps it was just the choices I was making, as my partners food was amazing all week long.

We did decide to try one of the speciality restaurants on board as it's been years since we've done so - we went for Chops Grille and I was so looking forward to it, but sadly I found it a bit of a let down.

The service was incredible and the restaurant itself was lovely, but the food was nothing special. Infact for us it was lower than the standard offered in the main dining room.

I don't think this was helped by the fact that we ordered our steaks well done and they were served to us medium rare at best - we should have complained really but we didn't want to make a fuss, so we just picked at it but found it unenjoyable as it's simply not what we like.

The side dishes were nice enough but nothing to write home about - the mash was the highlight of the meal. We had the lobster bisque for starters which again was nice but nothing special, and the dessert we also found quite under whelming so all in all - not a great success and we'd be in no hurry to return sadly.

It's left me in two minds about trying other speciality restaurants on future trips.

Our other dining experiences on board included our usual visit to Johnny Rockets which we always enjoy, this time being no exception and we also tried out the new Fish & Ships option on board which is located on the pool deck and offers such chip shop delights as battered mars bars, battered sausage, chip buttys and of course - fish & chips!

We chose the latter and I wasn't expecting much from it as I'd read some bad reviews - to my surprise it was actually really lovely!

We chose not to get off the ship in most of the ports, but did have a little explore of Rotterdam - checking out the tourist shops and having a Stroopwafel, which was good fun.

Otherwise our time was spent on board, relaxing to the max - just what the doctor ordered!

We had such a great time on board, as we always do, and both myself and Tyne shed a little tear when we disembarked.

I'm really keen to book a trip on board for all 5 of us, but I'm also conscious of the fact that children need to be over 3 and fully potty trained before they're allowed to use the pools or the kids clubs.

I know that my little two would be really upset to have to miss out on both of those things, so I think it's probably best to wait until they're old enough and potty trained properly before booking us all on.

It's also quite difficult to book/afford a trip as a family of five as there are very cabins on board that sleep this many people, meaning that two inter-connecting cabins need to be booked.

So we'll just have to see when our next voyage on board the beautiful Indy will be, but I do hope it won't be too long until we see her again!

To see more of our holiday highlights, have a look at the video below:

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