Why take a cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean?

Date Posted: 29/05/2013

FlowRider surf simulator -  Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Bright, warm sunshine always helps when going on holiday, and the thousands of holidaymakers boarding Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas® over the late May Bank Holiday weekend didn’t need asking twice to jump into the pool and strip off before the ship had even left port. Rob Yandell outlines what the ship offers and who it might appeal to.

Having toured many ships from the main cruise lines, this was the first time I had explored a floating resort from Royal Caribbean International. And floating resort really does sum it up – in fact, you can easily forget you’re at sea as you stroll along the Royal Promenade at the heart of the action.

These are cruise ships for group travel organisers looking after people with a wide range of tastes and interests - and boredom would seem unfeasible. Whether it is table tennis, basketball, miniature golf, a rock climbing wall or surf simulator you don’t have to look far for options. There is even a boxing ring. Plus, with a dedicated on-board group co-ordinator you can organise tournaments, exclusive use of facilities, and areas if you want to do something with everybody together.

Above-the-sea whirlpools and the H2O Zone waterpark add to the reasons people enjoy the pool deck. Even before the ship set sail for its next cruise to Norway there was a vibrant atmosphere.

Entertainment and dining

You presume there will be an impressive theatre on a ship like this and I wasn’t disappointed. But how about an ice skating rink – now that you don’t expect. Plus, I am told the ice show is really good whether you’re an avid viewer of Dancing on Ice or not.

Dining options are varied and plentiful. With Royal Caribbean big on family holidays, burgers and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets® are popular, as is the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream parlour and Cup Cake Cupboard. Speciality restaurants Chops Grille and Giovanni's Table are a little special with a surcharge. For a casual, buffet option, the Windjammer Café covers all bases; my only issue was choosing what I wanted.

Milkshakes from Johnny Rockets - Royal Caribbean cruise

Pictured: Milkshakes at Johnny Rockets® is popular with all ages.

The main dining room is huge and over three floors - you can eat when you want if you’re not dining as a group, when you’ll have to book ahead. Luckily, you can shed the pounds at the highly impressive gym which boasts brilliant views at the front of the ship – perfect as you enter a port so a little tip to remember.

Relaxing and people watching 

Although the ship is huge, with over 1,800 guest rooms you can easily find a quiet corner on deck or inside. There are a number of lounges to relax in during the day which offer a peaceful retreat, although you will also find daytime activities such as bingo on offer. I spied some excellent spots for people watching, such as the ship’s library. After your day on-board or exploring your latest port of call, the lounges are good for pre or post dinner drinks and live entertainment. There are a number to choose from but I liked the Olive or Twist Jazz Club which has really good views. If you want to organise a pre-dinner drinks reception for your group, areas can be cordoned off or private rooms arranged through your groups co-ordinator.

There is also the nightclub, Labyrinth for those who like to party late and a variety of places to enjoy your evening, including the very popular Dog & Badger English pub, Champagne Bar, Vintages Wine Bar and the Schooner Bar which I am told has one of the best atmospheres. The casino offers slot machines and table games should you wish to have a gamble.

Where to rest your head?

There are options when it comes to the staterooms and it depends on personal preference. Is a balcony important? Do people want an outside cabin? If anyone in the group is relaxed about such things, savings can be made. Personally, I am a fan of balcony staterooms and toured a number of spacious suites too which are highly impressive. All staterooms have flat screen televisions and luxurious bedding. Ensure your group are mindful of fitting too many people in one stateroom, particularly if you cater for families with teenagers – it might get a little cramped.

Royal Promendade - Royal Caribbean Freedom Class

Pictured: The Royal Promenade at the heart of the ship is lined with bars, restaurants and shops.

As I have come to expect from a modern cruise ship, the facilities for children are first rate. Apart from the sports options already mentioned, there is a dedicated kids’ club and lounge, plus babysitting services for parents.

A Royal Caribbean cruise holiday is ideal for families and for fun-loving people who enjoy flexibility and choice. They have dedicated people to look after you and your group. Whether you wish to do things together or simply go your separate ways and cruise your way, it’s all possible.

Independence of the Seas is part of the Freedom Class of ship operated by the cruise line. There are another six classes to choose from and there is more information to be found on the Royal Caribbean website. The new Quantum Class ships will launch for winter 2014 with a series of Caribbean and Bermuda cruises from Cape Liberty, USA. The company keeps on innovating so you can have a standard of group holiday not easily match on land.

Where can you travel to?

Independence of the Seas sails to a number of destinations and its itineraries include:

Italian Med / Med Treasures / Caribbean / Bahamas / Spain & Canaries / Paris & Bruges / Norway / Transatlantic.

Information for group travel organisers can be found online at www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/conference or you can telephone 08445 717 567.

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