The Independence of the Seas whist pregnant: Day 6-7
Day 1-3: Southampton (Boarding, The Ship, Cabin #1700) Day 2-3: At Sea, At Sea – includes Chops Grill specialty restaurant Day 4-5: Gibraltar & Cartagena Day 6-7: Palma De Mallorca & Barcelona (You are here) Day 8-9: Valencia & Malaga Day 10-11: Cadiz & Lisbon Day 12-14: Sea Days (including Giovanni’s) and Conclusion
Day Six – Palma, MajorcaWe had a lazy morning planned of a beach transfer to Palma Nova with the official ship excursion. If you had four or more people it would be cheaper to get a taxi, and it was also on an easy bus route, but wanting to keep things simple we just opted for the RCCL transfer. Since Ben and I have cruised a lot we have been to Palma at least four times in the last six years or so, and we’ve done plenty of tours here before and my mum is a bit of a beach queen. The transfer was efficient and adequate, just a 15 minute coach transfer and pickup four hours later. The water was beautiful, clean and clear and with loads of large fish swimming right up to your legs! Ideal for snorkeling and I think kids would have a lot of fun in this clear, warm, clean ocean. The beach was quite dirty though, lovely white sands, but some trash and cigarette butts. We picked out over 10 butts from one small area where we put our towels. No fault of the beach authorities because there are bins absolutely everywhere, but I think the sand needs a very good sifting and I really don’t understand what sort of person comes to a beautiful beach and drops litter instead of putting in the bin that is a 30 second walk away.
Sun beds and umbrellas were 4.50euro and there were public toilets available at 50c but honestly, they were also very dirty. McDonald’s on the beach has large clean toilets, although you’re supposed to purchase something to use them. I think it’s worth the cost of a coffee or iced drink. If you purchase something you get a code on your receipt, but the door wasn’t actually locked and no one seemed to care when we were there, but we bought drinks anyway. There were also lots of bars and restaurants as well as a ton of tourist shops right on the beach. My mum went in and out of the shops and bought some a few souvenirs and sweets for her movies. The same sweets that were $5 on board were 1E even in a tourist area so if you want some sweet treats or gifts for home, definitely stock up whilst you’re on shore! When we got back on board we had a few slices of pizza in Sorrento’s and then found a bottle of Martini Asti and glasses in our cabin. It came with a letter saying apologies for the soot on our balcony from an essential cleaning procedure – we were out so didn’t notice anything and the balcony was spotless, but perhaps our cabin attendant had reported an issue. Free booze! Well, not for me, but I appreciated the gesture. The cathedral was a clear shot from the balcony – beautiful, and also worth a trip if you want something a little more interesting than the beach. Dinner in the buffet was okay, we ate very similar food again and I began to realise the buffet food really doesn’t change at all, lunch or dinner. We’ve also had some problems getting drinks, and for the third time we asked for Sprite and received soda water. There are some training issues here with drinks, and the service isn’t quite as good as we’ve experienced with other cruise lines.
Day Seven – BarcelonaWe wanted to go to the Sagrada Familia and booked tickets in advance. This is very easy to do and gets you inside instantly with no queue. There was at least an hours queue for those without tickets so you really are saving yourself a ton of time just by going to the website before you travel. This building is impressive and extremely unique, and well worth a visit even if you only have the one day in Barcelona. It took us about an hour to see all the inside, and then we went up the tower, which is an optional cost you pay when you book your ticket. There’s a lift up and then over 400 narrow steps down – not for anyone infirm or who will struggle but stunning city views from the top. My thighs were killing me by the time we got back to the bottom, but it was a good workout!
We had a small issue with the taxi at the cruise port. There was only one taxi in the rank when we left and he said it would be 25 euro to the Sagrada, I thought this was expensive, having researched 15 euro, but he turned on the meter and I thought he was just estimating. The meter ran to 13 euro and the he turned it off and said 25 euro! He argued that it was a fixed price that we had agreed to and the meter was irrelevant, he was obviously taking us for a ride in more than one sense. In the end we paid because I couldn’t be bothered arguing and wasting time over an extra 10 euro and he was beginning to yell and draw attention, but be careful. The taxi on return was 14 euro per the meter, confirming the first guy was a tourist trap. 12 to 15 euro is correct depending on traffic. Don’t be tricked into any fixed price shenanigans and keep an eye on the meter when picking up a taxi from the cruise port. After the Sagrada we did some shopping and walked around a nice park, but I was really feeling the 90s heat and we headed back to the ship. We ordered a fruit plate, cheese plate and the spinach dip with corn chips on room service. A perfect lunch or light snack and I really do appreciate room service being included. We swam, lounged about and played mini golf after that. Yup, mini golf on a ship! How much fun is that? Ben won but it was a close tie between him and my mum. I may have come last by a long way but I had a lot of fun. Dinner in the windjammer was okay but we were starting to see recurring issues that were a little frustrating. There was a Mongolian noodle station and roast beef on the carvery. I just had a baked potato but my mum and Ben filled their plates and said it was good. We however had more problems with drinks. We asked for Fanta, after 15 mins the waiter came back and said they were out of stock of Fanta and only had Sprite cans which were not included on our package, we told him they were, we’ve been drinking them all trip! He insisted he had checked, and only fountain Coke was included. This was simply not true but we’d almost finished dinner by this point and arguing was too much hassle. More training issues for the buffet staff. We went down to deck five after dinner and got Fanta in the cafe without a problem – from cans, of course! This is a recurring problem now, almost every soda order in the Windjammer has been incorrect or out of stock, unless its Coke, which is caffeinated so I want to avoid. It is frustrating on a $20 a day drinks package when we eat in the buffet for lunch and dinner, so I mentioned it at guest services in the hopes that they’d run a training session or at least give the drinks staff in the buffet a memo! We spent the evening wandering around the ship, collecting our photos, losing some money in the casino and chilling in Bolero’s, our favourite lounge. There was a beautiful sunset and I relaxed on my balcony for an hour before bed. There is nothing more relaxing to me than sitting in my pyjamas on a balcony next to the ocean, drinking a luxury hot chocolate from the cafe.