A Royal party!
Go on spoil yourself on the Independence of the Seas where you’ll love relaxing by the poolside, dancing to great shows, or living it up at night
WE have been going around in circles between Britain and Europe this last while, and getting nowhere, but that’s all right, we’re in no rush.
That’s the beauty of being out at sea, it is truly liberating to detach yourself from what is going on back in the real world.
We are on the Royal Caribbean’s state-of-the-art Independence of the Seas cruise ship somewhere in the middle of the English Channel, but it could just as easily be the Twilight zone with my internet completely down and the only access to what is going on back on dry land being from the TV on one of the dozens of screens in the sports bar.
I am slightly worried, though, about what fake news I’m getting. The man on the box has just tried to tell me that my team of all talents, Celtic, have just been beaten at home for the first time in two years.
Sometimes you just can’t think because of all the noise and distractions of modern life and need to get away from it, and yourself. And that’s where a cruise, and Royal Caribbean’s multi-million Independence of the Seas rehab in particular, provides the perfect release.
I step out on the balcony, put my feet up and listen to what the sea is telling me... shhhh!
It’s been 16 years since I went on cruise and the world, cruise ships and myself have changed, changed utterly in the intervening years.
Where I didn’t even have a mobile then, and was richer and freer for it, now it is my umbilical cord. But enough already, I have a ship to explore.
Naturally, I jump straight in at the deep end.
Sky Pad is Indy’s big kiddies’ playground on the 14th deck. I start with the adrenaline-rush water slide Perfect Storm, where you get tossed and turned down winding tunnels before hitting the bottom with an almighty splash. The trick is to cross your legs, and your fingers, and resist the temptation to look down - you can thank me later when you avoid getting a big gulp of water in your gullet.
Water, water’s around you everywhere on a ship on the ocean wave, obviously, but the best waves are right here on board on Flowrider.
The surf’s up and so am I, I and a queue of newbies, daft enough to think we can walk on water. The fella in front of me is quickly dispatched back from where he started and the patient surf instructor spends the next couple of minutes trying to retrieve the board from under the torrents. Quickly followed by retrieving me. I dry (and dust) myself down as the self-titled ‘The Big Stuff’ announces his arrival. I pull my lounger back... this guy is going to make a real splash. And he did, standing tall and dancing on the waves. More surfboard, less wobble board!
I make a hasty retreat for the virtual reality bungee jump. The idea is that you get harnessed in in reins, much like kiddies’ reins, and then take on one of a number of challenges. I resist the candy crush game, I’ve just eaten again and more of that in a minute, so I opt instead for some sport and heading away big comets that are whizzing towards me. No Richard Dunne me!
I reckon I’ve earned my cocktail,
though, and choose a water fea- ture where I can’t come to any harm, the hot tub on the pool deck, and my favourite cocktail, a Strawberry Daiquiri. If you like a drink (guilty!), or even if you don’t, then you’re never far from a bar. Or a pit-stop.
There’s food from all around the world on Indy, but you can take the boy out of... well, you know the rest, and I plump for the Fish and Ships cart, and the lightest cod and fries and calamari with just the right bite, and I’ve roadtested my squid, let me tell you. I half expect to see ‘The Big Stuff’ in the queue, ready to refuel but maybe he prefers surf and turf!
Evening dining is an occasion on a cruise and affords couples the opportunity and fancy surrounds to dress up in their finest Penguin suits, cocktail dresses, and in my case, kilt. And long may that cruise tradition continue, I say. Of
course, the food needs to match it, and Indy’s cuisine is only the top quality.
I know what I like and like what I know and my beef and barley soup, duck and strawberry cheesecake leave me reclining in my seat, my belt opened another notch and an extra shirt button undone. I’m out at sea on a pleasure cruise, and I’m uncontactable... I feel all floaty but my stateroom and my soft bed will have to wait. The night is still young, and the night is when this ship really rocks.
The Royal Promenade on the 5th floor is where the party really gets started. This boutique shop, bar and cafe-lined ‘terrace’ is decorated with the drapes of all our countries to make us feel at home, and young and old, mingling, dancing, enjoying themselves as musicians play for our entertainment on the balconies above.
And here a young English band
with an intriguing name really catch the eye, the Valeras, or as we rechristen them by the end of the night, De Valeras. For those of a younger disposition the action moves to Studio B, and a DJ set by reality TV star Mark Wright. Thanks, but no thanks, If I want headbanging with a reality twist, I’d prefer it bungee-style in the open air.
Grease is more my vintage, and the next afternoon, after a lazy morning lounging by the pool and topping up the tan to make Her at Home jealous, I slick back my hair and make for the Royal Theatre. There I will immerse myself in the world of the T Birds and the Pink Ladies and dance in the aisles. Tell me more, tell me more? Well, OK then. Feeling advenurous I follow a recommendation and head for the Izumi Teppanyaki restaurant, with its open kitchen. Fillipino Eric is our chef
and he sharpens his knives, and his wit and entertains us with his quips. and tempts us with his tasty creations. It is pure theatre and Eric drums away on the stove and leads us in a host of standard singalongs, all the time encouraging his diners to join in the banter. There’s always one though who tries to think he’s the act: Wok ‘n’ roll anybody?
We look for Eric later at the Karaoke bar, but alas, we have to endure instead a Dancing Dad trying to rap.
The thought of it! I spend the rest of the evening back on the Royal Promenade bopping away with new friends to Hi Ho Silver Lining, Delilah, It’s Not Unusual, I’ll Tell Me Ma, 500 Miles and other footstompers.
It is the Royal party to beat all royal parties. I bet not even Harry and Meghan were having this much fun.