Independence of The Seas - Mini Cruise

Katrina Smith on 03 May 2017
My husband and I, and five other Travel Counsellors with their partners and children decided to take a weekend away together and sample a mini-cruise from Southampton to Bruges and Le Havre with Royal Caribbean.

The first thing to think about from the ladies point of view was what to wear. Even though it was just a three night cruise, there is still a formal night – a fabulous opportunity to dress up all glam! But no need to worry about baggage allowances, we could take whatever amount we wanted. So four pairs of shoes later, several evening dresses, handbags, day clothes, umbrella (well it was April), we were ready.

On arrival at Southampton our bags were taken from us, and would not appear again until they were delivered to our cabin – brilliant. We boarded, with minimal fuss (there was a bit of queuing whilst getting checked in, but no real problems).

Each evening a ‘Cruise Compass Newsletter’ was delivered to our cabin to provide a full run-down of the following day’s activities. This gave times and venues for everything happening onboard.

There are a huge variety of activities onboard – from Broadway shows like Grease to ice shows and a Celebrity Showcase – we had an evening with Bobby Davro. You can learn to play poker, attend art auctions, learn to make a cocktail, play football or mini-golf or even try out the Flow Rider – where you can surf the waves.

If you want to sit back and relax then there is the sun deck with its pools, the solarium and plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. If you have children that want to be entertained there are children's clubs where they will be taken care of in a safe and secure environment.

As well as the main dining room, which is where we chose to dine, there are also signature restaurants such as Chops Steakhouse Grille and Portofinos Italian restaurant. The teenagers might like to try out Johnny Rockets, a 1950s diner-style restaurant which features burgers, chilli dogs, fries and milkshakes. There is also the buffet restaurant – Windjammers.

Our first full-day was spent in Bruges where a monumental amount of chocolate was consumed, along with various Belgian beers. If you visit Bruges make sure you visit The Old Chocolate House, their hot chocolate and waffles are to die for. Likewise The Beer Wall is a great place for beer sampling, although it does get very busy. Then it was back to the ship to get ready for the formal night.

Our second day was supposed to have been in Le Havre, but unfortunately the French Port Staff were on strike so the ship made a detour to Rotterdam. It was a lovely warm sunny day in Rotterdam so we decided to stay onboard the ship and catch a few rays and explore a little more of what the ship had to offer. A really nice day relaxing and looking across at Rotterdam city.

We had a fabulous three days away and I would certainly recommend a mini-cruise for multi-generational families wanting to take a break away together – there is something for granny and grampa, mum and dad, the teenagers and the little ones. A great way for a group of friends to get away together, yet not be on top of one another the whole time.