I’ve been lucky enough to spend time aboard two cruise ships this year, the first being P&O’s Britannia for the launch of Astonishing. More recently however, I spent time aboard Royal Carribbean’s Independence of the Seas* to check out her multi million pound refurbishment. I have always loved the idea of a cruise – especially as it cuts out the waiting around at airports and numerous different flights. Just head to the land of nod and every morning you’ll wake up in a new place to explore. I always have to be quite active when I am on holiday so I’ve always been a bit put off by the thought of losing days at sea. That was until I stepped aboard the Independence of the Seas and I was completely blown away with how much she has to offer. There is something to do for all ages and interests, so sit back and let me walk you through 25 things you can do aboard this phenomenal ship.
Keep the kids entertained all day in this colourful, interactive aqua park featuring water cannons, fountains, whirl pools, waterslides and the drench bucket. Fun for all the family, this is the place to be to keep those tiny cruisers busy all day long.
RELAX POOLSIDE IN THE SOLARIUM
If you are not travelling with children or simply fancy a little break don’t fret! Independence of the Seas has an adults only Solarium complete with a full bar, sun loungers, hammocks and two cantilevered whirlpools which extend beyond the sides of the ship offering sensational views of the ocean.
RACE THROUGH THE PERFECT STORM
Grab a partner and head to the three storey tall, high speed waterslides named The Perfect Storm. Thrill seekers will be happy with clear glass sections offering electrifying views as you whizz around the many twists and turns. These are not your average waterslides! All you need to decide now is Typhoon or Cyclone?
SHOP TILL YOU DROP ON THE ROYAL PROMENADE
Shopaholics will be in heaven with the fabulous choice of designer boutiques. Browse the likes of Michael Kors, Ted Baker and Pandora…or if you’re after something really special head to the jewellery boutique on board. Make sure you leave enough time to pick up some sweet treats from the Sugar Beach candy store which is a confectionary dreamland.
SPRING INTO SPACE ON THE SKY PAD
A virtual reality bungee trampoline experience for guests of all ages. Strap in, grab your VR headset and choose between the pop video, giant sweet shop or alien battle. Let your imagination run away with you as you’re transported into another world
CATCH A WAVE ON THE FLOWRIDER
Test the waves on this 40-foot long surf simulator where you can catch a wave right on deck. If you’re wanting to become a surfing pro then why not book a private lesson? But don`t worry if you`re not feeling as adventurous.. you can watch from the stadium seating with drenching wipeout views.
TOUCH THE SKY AT THE TOP OF THE ROCK CLIMBING WALL
Make sure you are strapped in as you head forty feet above deck on their signature rock climbing wall. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a novice, take the wall at your own pace. Just don’t forget to ring the bell when you make it all the way to the top.
GO HEAD TO HEAD FOR PLANET Z
A glow in the dark Laser Tag arena which invites everyone to compete in the battle for Planet Z. Grab your vest and blaster, choose a side and head into the main area for 7 minutes of fast-paced, high-energy duelling. Let the best team win!
TRAVEL THROUGH TIME IN THE OBSERVATORIUM
A time-travelling professor is lost in space and its up to you and your friends to answer his call for help. Battle it out with 5 friends as you work against the clock to solve all his mind bending teasers in the 60 minute timeframe. Have you got what it takes to bring him back to the here and now?
TAKE A SPIN ON THE ICE RINK
Strap on a pair of skates and show off your moves! (Don’t worry if you don’t have any as beginners are welcome too.) I for one love ice skating and think this is a great addition to have aboard. Plus if you aren`t feeling so brave then head back in the evening instead to check out one of the spectacular ice shows featuring professional skaters from around the world.
SINGALONG IN THE ROYAL THEATRE
Offering a range of Tony Award winning musicals to watch at sea, from CATS to Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You to the recently added musical smash Grease – there is something for everyone. If that doesn’t float your boat they also offer original productions from jazz to cabaret with sensational vocalists and delightful dancers.
GAME ON AT PLAYMAKERS BAR AND ARCADE
Keep up to date with all the latest sports and make sure you don’t miss out on your footie fix. Or if your prefer, start you own foosball or air hockey tournament and see who takes the winner’s title. Alongside ice cold brews you’ll find signature burgers, popcorn shrimp and chicken wings galore.
TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME TLC AT VITALTY
A fitness centre and spa offering a whole host of luxury treatments including facials, massages and full body wraps. There’s a fully equipped, state of the art gym and a bunch of different fitness classes from yoga to pilates. Clear your mind and body with an afternoon of tlc.
WORK UP A SWEAT ON THE SPORTS DECK
As well as the flowrider and sky pad, the sports deck features a whole host of different sporting activities. With a full sized outdoor basket ball court, a running track winding all the way around the top deck and a 24 hour table tennis arena.
PUTT YOUR WAY TO VICTORY
Yes! There is indeed a 9-hole miniature golf course located at the front of the ship. Enjoy scenic views of the open ocean as your put your way to victory. You’ll find putters, balls and everything you need already there and the course is open 24 hours so you can enjoy day or night.
TAKE A CHANCE IN CASINO ROYALE
Head to deck four to practice your poker face and prepare to win big. This vegas style venue features all the classics like blackjack, roulette, three card poker, slot machines and Texas hold’em with tournaments throughout the day. Make sure you don’t miss out as the casino only operates when the ship is in international waters.
GAME ON IN THE ARCADE
You will find a whole host of favourites onboard with classics from the 80s and 90s including Guitar Hero, Skee-ball, Fast and Furious drift and a whole host of classic arcade grabbers. Whether you’re playing for a top score or just fancy your chances at winning a new Apple Ipod, the possibilities are endless.
ENJOY A MOVIE WITH A VIEW
If broadway shows aren’t your cup of tea then watch a dive-in movie at the open air poolside cinema. Enjoy a cocktail in the sunshine with major sporting events or catch a blockbuster under the stars. You won’t miss a thing on the 220 square foot movie screen.
STROLL THROUGH THE ART GALLERY
Throughout the ship you will find art on display but they also have a dedicated art gallery on deck 3 where you can indulge in a more cultural afternoon. You can purchase pieces for your own personal collections during on board art auctions where bidding starts as low as $50.
REMINICSE ABOUT HOME AT FISH AND SHIPS
The all new eatery a stone’s throw away from splashaway bay. A seafood spot where you’ll find quintessentially British classics like freshly battered cod and hand cut fries. Enjoy poolside without worrying about donning your fancy pants.
HEAD TO A QUIZ NIGHT AT SCHOONERS BAR
For a more relaxed evening experience try out Schooners Bar where you can sample their carefully constructed cocktails and relax in the Nautical setting. If you’re a dab hand at trivia then head to one of their regular trivia nights to test your knowledge! You’ll find this signature bar on all Royal Caribbean’s ships.
INDULGE AT CHOPPES GRILL
Choppes Grill serves up prime cuts of meat in this American style steakhouse. Indulge in forest mushroom soup followed by 6oz filet mignon with a side of truffle fries.. I dare you to see if you have room for dessert – I didn’t! If you`re feeling seriously indulgent they even do Maine lobster.
ADD A TOUCH OF LUXURY AT THE CHAMPAGNE BAR
After your three course steak dinner head to the champagne bar to enjoy a glass of premium bubbly. This quiet and elegant escape is the perfect end to an evening with live music to accompany your nightcap.
EXPERIENCE TEPPANYAKI AT IZUMI
Home to the first Izumi location on a Freedom Class Ship, Izumi offers an exotic Asian inspired dining experience where chef’s cook table-side on real teppanyaki. From Sushi to Sashimi, you will find a whole host of appetisers, entrees and desserts.
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY AT BOLEROS
This Latin themed bar serves up mojitos galore with a selection of tequilas to encourage you to dance the night away. A live six piece band provide the hottest beats and Latino rhythms, will you salsa or sambo?
So there we have it! Independence of the Seas surprised at every turn and left me feeling like there was so much more to discover. How would you spend your ideal day aboard?
* This post is in collaboration with Royal Caribbean – please see disclaimer.