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Making Waves on the Med

Empty Nesters Brian and Denise Claridge enjoy a holiday afloat.

The Independence of the Seas is a majestic sight in the docks at Southampton as she prepares for the start of a two-week Mediterranean cruise. The 15-deck Royal Caribbean ship is 1112ft long and 185ft wide, and accommodates 4375 passengers.

There’s enough leisure facilities onboard to satisfy all ages, including three pools (six whirlpools), fitness centre and spa, sports court, rock climbing wall, a wave machine for surfing, ice skating rink, nine-hole miniature golf course, outdoor movie screen, casino, nightclub, video arcade and art gallery.

It’s no wonder Independence of the Seas was voted ‘Best Cruise Line for Families’ in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards in 2015.

There’s even a shopping mall that occupies an entire deck called The Royal Promenade, where you can shop for watches, handbags, jewellery, perfume, clothes and ship souvenirs. Afterwards, drop into the Dog & Badger (an English pub) for a drink, pick up a freshly baked pizza from the pizzeria, or enjoy an ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.

We loved our daily visits to the Café Promenade for a speciality coffee, with freshly made cookies and other delicious snacks. At night, the Royal Promenade comes alive with music and it’s a lively atmosphere, especially on carnival night.

Our balcony stateroom was more than adequate and included a comfortable Royal King bed, telephone, shower sofa, TV, safe and private balcony. It’s worth paying extra to have a balcony so you can relax in your own space and enjoy the sun and sea air, look for dolphins, and gaze at beautiful sunsets over a pre-dinner aperitif.

The interactive TV allows you to check your onboard account on a daily basis to make sure you don’t spend your money too quickly.

It’s hard to single out any particular restaurant that was our favourite, as they are all so different and the food is good wherever you dine. Apart from the five complimentary restaurants included in the price of your cruise, there are a number of speciality restaurants where you pay a cover charge. They include Chops Grille, an upmarket steakhouse, Giovanni’s Table, serving traditional Italian food, and Johnny Rockets, for American-style burgers.

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