The Independence of the Seas whist pregnant: Day 1

The Independence of the Seas

 

In August/September 2016 I headed onto The Independence of the Seas as a group of three point five. How does that work you’re asking? Well, my husband and I were traveling with my mum and the 14 day cruise was a gift to her for her 60th birthday present. Less than a week before we were due to go, I found out I was pregnant! So little William came with us, in a way. I was still in the first trimester and battling morning sickness and exhaustion, but pregnancy was not a valid cancellation reason on my insurance and we’d been looking forward to it for so long that I decided to plow ahead. If you are trying to get pregnant it is definitely worth considering travel / insurance plans. Whilst William was very much wanted, after 8 years of trying and battling infertility, his arrival was completely unexpected. Still, 2 weeks throwing up on board a ship with a swimming pool, spa, unlimited buffet and a balcony to sit on seemed a lot better than staying home!

I wrote this trip report whilst cruising and shortly after getting home, with the intention of posting it on Cruise Critic. As it happens, with the pregnancy and everything else, I never got around to editing it and sorting out my photos. Now I’m sharing it in a day by day report as we experienced it with lots of photos! I’ve split it up to help with ease of reading and loading pictures.

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
Day 8-9: Valencia & Malaga
Day 10-11: Cadiz & Lisbon
Day 12-14: Sea Days (including Giovanni’s) and Conclusion

Cruising really is an excellent family holiday, it used to have a reputation for being stuffy and populated by an ageing crowd – but some cruise lines over the last decade have really worked on family-friendly cruising and activities for all kids until it’s become my number one recommendation for families! Whether you’re in the early stages of pregnancy like I was, have a baby, are cruising with a toddler, or have kids of any age from newborn to teenagers, I can recommend cruising from my personal experience.

Day One

Driving to Southampton takes us only 2.5 hours so we headed off early on the day. We had pre-booked parking with APB parking which was easy to locate and just a 2 minute walk from the terminal.

Check in officially began at 11am, although we’d received a notice information us that check in was staggered and to leave until the afternoon. We always receive them and we have always ignored these. Worst case scenario we can always drop off our luggage and head off for something to eat if they say check in isn’t open, but on all the cruises we’ve done so far, we’ve never been turned away. Check in was simple. If this is your first cruise then don’t worry, it’s all very painless! Drop your luggage off with the porters and then head inside. Give them your printed boarding pass and your identification and you’ll get some shiny cards. These cards are your payment on-board, your boarding card and your cabin card, so don’t lose them!

After you’ve checked in there is always a bit of queue for security. It’s similar to airplane security but without any of the rules about liquids so moves quicker. You do have to go through a metal detector and have your bags scanned – this will become standard procedure any time you get on the ship as well and is all handled quickly and efficiently. Although it was quite busy, we had checked in and were boarding the ship within 30 minutes. We were one of the first on-board!

Cabins don’t generally open until the afternoon but most facilities are open. The buffet is always packed as the main restaurants often aren’t open. On The Independence of the Seas, the Windjammer was no exception. We had to wait about 15 minutes to find a table but then we ate a light lunch as it was around noon. I was a bit too excited to eat much and feeling pretty sick from the morning sickness and the car journey still. It was also just way too busy for me to relax.

At around 1pm (when many people were still not on board) the cabins were opened and off we went to check that out! I was so excited about seeing our cabin. I don’t know why but I just love that first look at a hotel room or cabin. Our luggage was already there which was super as I’m a bit of a worrier and always think “oh no, what if it’s lost!”. Our cups from our drinks packages (two premium non alcoholic packages and a soda package) were also there, but we never actually used them as we found them impractical to walk around with and the Independence of the Seas at the time of our trip did not have the automatic soda fountains.

The Cabin – #1700

We booked an Aft balcony, after researching and finding out they had balconies that were double the size of standard balcony cabins (for the same price!). Having never traveled Aft (that’s rear!) before I was looking forward to a different viewpoint too. I’m very lucky in that my husband and my mum get on very well so we decided to squish the three of us in one room rather than pay the hefty price of two rooms. Not every man would be willing to spend 12 nights in a room with his mother in law (and she snores!) so I felt quite lucky he was up for it.

The room was very spacious with a massive King size bed and then a sofa that converted into a double bed as well. The balcony was absolutely enormous for a standard balcony. The bathroom was tiny but it always is – it was perfectly adequate with a shower (no bath). If you are traveling with younger children, which we will be for our next cruise, you can see which rooms have baths in them when you book. If your kids are too young for the shower it’s definitely worth making sure you book a room with a full bath. They are often not more expensive, but only in specific locations and might sell out quicker.

Here are my pictures of this cabin:

 

The Rest of the Day

We wandered out to explore the ship – she is huge! The biggest ship we have been on, and a bit of workout sometimes just getting from point A to B. We grabbed a slice of pizza in Sorrento’s on Deck 5 as we were passing, and a couple of non alcoholic cocktails in Bolero’s on Deck 4.

We had muster at 3:15 and it was out at the lifeboat stations. The staff were efficient, but they had to use the old fashioned way of piling everyone into small spaces outside and ticking off names on a piece of paper. We then stood for an uncomfortable 25 mins because people were slow arriving, folded by the safety information. Kids were sitting on the floor and several older people needed attention and chairs. Having recently sailed on Celebrity and Princess I much prefer the more modern way of scanning your card quickly and then seating people in comfortable lounges. I would rate the muster good on behalf of the staff, but very poor for comfort. I know it’s safety first and of course I am grateful that this is taken so seriously, but other lines manage to find a way to get both.

We went for a swim after muster. The Jacuzzi’s were busy but the pool completely empty. With an air temperature of 18c, full cloud and occasional drizzle all day, we were the only people braving the solarium pool. It was fun, but yeah… Very cold. The frozen mocktail I was drinking didn’t help, but tasted good! I am actually pretty brave when it comes to swimming in cold water but my mum immediately sat herself in the Jacuzzi and it was quite hard to get her out! The wraparound Jacuzzi’s give an amazing view out of the water.

 

We watched the sailaway from the pool deck, where a crowd of folks were braving the grumpy weather.

We walked around some more, picked up our photos from boarding  and checked our photo package was listed which it was. No problems with anything we pre-ordered. Talking of pre-orders, our internet code was given at check in on a card as well, so we didn’t have to go the internet room or talk to anyone about that, which saved us some time.

We were exhausted, our phones told us we’d walked over 10km and 12 flights of stairs. That’s enough exercise for me for one day! We headed to the buffet at 6:30pm and got a window table. This would end up being our theme for the trip. Although I wanted to enjoy the fine dining, most nights I was just too exhausted from the day to bother getting changed and putting up with a 2 hour dinner service. I was a bit sad that we didn’t go to the main dining room, but the buffet was much more to my style this trip simply because of the morning sickness and my sudden pickyness with food, and how early I ended up sleeping most nights.

We all started with the split pea soup and loved it, then I had a chicken breast with peppercorn sauce, broccoli and carrots and mashed potatoes. Yummy. Ben had a bunch of stuff but loved the eggplant bake, and my mum had chicken tikka, rice, chips and poppadoms, her favourite! We certainly felt there was plenty of choice. We sat around for a bit, had a few drinks and ice cream from the machine, but honestly were knackered. I grabbed a hot chocolate from the cafe and was fast asleep by 10pm!

Continuing reading the rest of the trip report:

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
Day 8-9: Valencia & Malaga
Day 10-11: Cadiz & Lisbon
Day 12-14: Sea Days (including Giovanni’s) and Conclusion

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