When Oliver and I were invited to sample a taster day on Royal Caribbean’s cruise liner ‘Independence of the Seas’ as part of their Royal Mums blogger campaign, I can’t tell you how excited we were. We couldn’t wait! What an opportunity.
I’d never considered a cruise for a family holiday choice until I read a book by author Milly Johnson called Here Come The Girls. In the book, four friends went on a cruise and I remember thinking “mmm, perhaps a cruise might be quite interesting after all”.
After travelling down to Southampton on the Friday night, we stayed in the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel on the Friday evening and then headed over to the docks on Saturday. The first thing that hit me was the sheer size of the ship, it was absolutely enormous! I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to a ship before so it completely threw me! It was 15 floors high and very impressive.
After going through passport control and security, as we walked onto the ship the next thing that I noticed was how plush the surroundings were. The younger kids were taken into Adventure Ocean to get some playtime with Matt, who was brilliant with the youngsters, and the older kids were taken away to experience the Flow Rider surf simulator. We then went onto the H2O zone where Ollie had tons of fun with water fountains, archways, water firing cannons and swimming pools.
The kids were then invited to make cheeseburger cup cakes, which were pretty awesome I must say, before moving to the ice-rink where us adults partook of a cocktail while the Captain gave a welcome speech.
We were entertained by the Captain and the Hotel Director during our lip-smacking 3-course lunch, who regailed us with tales of life on board and the responsibilities that go with their role. I was gobsmacked to learn that there were around 1,300 staff. An afternoon of free time followed to explore the ship further, which in our case meant back to the H20 zone for a spot of sunbathing (me) and fun in the pools and splash zone (Ollie).
The word on our lips as we left – Wow! What an amazing day. It was a whirlwind tour, but one of the best days out I have ever experienced. Ollie was completely overcome with excitement, and I wasn’t far behind myself.
Chatting to other families onboard, they said that on cruises they have already been on, the kids have had such a great time and often only meet up with the parents to scoff their food before heading off again! I found it really interesting looking at the type of passengers that were there. There were young couples, families, older people – there really does seem to be something for everyone.
Other onboard facilities include: a shopping area, an ice-rink, a boxing ring, a running track, umpteen places to eat and drink, a spa, a rock-climbing wall, a fitness centre, a mini-golf course, a golf simulator, a bungee trampoline, a zip-line and full-size sports courts. I couldn’t believe that all of this could fit on a ship.
This taster day totally changed my mind about a cruise holiday. I can honestly say I would love to go on a family cruise on one of these awesome Royal Caribbean ships. Apparently there’s a Dreamworks parades experience, featuring Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and the Penguins of Madagascar to name just a few. This sounds like so much fun and it would be an absolute dream for Ollie and I to experience this.
Or would we rather cruise around the Caribbean? The world is our oyster! Think we’ll start saving right now!
Here’s an example of a 14-night Spanish Mediterranean Cruise with costs:
Join Royal Caribbean International’s (www.royalcaribbean.co.uk; 0844 493 2061) Independence of the Seas on a 14-night Spanish Mediterranean cruise only from £1,149 per adult and £899 per child, but check current price by visiting the website direct (based on four people sharing an inside stateroom) .
Price includes transfers and a 14-night cruise departing from Southampton (England) and calling at Vigo (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Ibiza (Spain), Valencia (Spain), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona (Spain) and Cadiz (Spain) before returning to Southampton; meals and entertainment on board and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.
The price is based on 28 June 2014 departure.
For more information or to book or see www.royalcaribbean.co.uk, call 0844 493 2061.