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

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel Plus - BY JIM MURTY

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.

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