Just returned from an 11 day cruise on the Indy. We stopped in Vigo, and La Coruna, Spain, Madeira Portugal, And Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands (a Spanish territory).
As far as the ships are concerned, with Royal, once you've been on anything Voyager class or newer, you know your way around the ship. Some of the venues are a little different, but only slightly. I left from Southampton, and most of the passengers on the ship where from the UK. It was fascinating to note the subtle little thing that take place in different markets. For instance, each cabin has an electric tea kettle. Sorrento's offered steak and kidney pies and chicken and mushroom tarts! Breakfast featured 'black pudding' and lots of grilled tomatoes( pronounced to mah toes)
Two thing that drove me nuts all week....they were doing construction on a Michael Kors store on the promenade,and they had an enclosed area that jutted out into the walk way. This was directly across from the 'classic car' that they now have on every ship. Every day they would set up the 'sidewalk sale' cart right there, leaving a three foot passage for 4000 guests to walk through. It just made for a perpetual choke point. The ship also had a revolving door on the pool deck, that entered into the elevator bank in front on the Windjammer. Another poorly planned area that was always clogged.
I went to a couple shows. They were similar to the shows on the other ships, The 70's street party lacked some of the energy that I've seen, but I don't think the crowd was as enthusiastic. I never got to see the ice show. The love and Marriage show was also ho hum. I really don't think it was the cruise director staff, I think it was more the audience. On a US based ship, they have so many people who want to be involved. On this cruise they practically had to beg people to come on stage. I think this really highlights the differences in culture, not good or bad...just different.
We also went to Giovanni's. I have to say...while an intimate dinner for two is wonderful, going in a group of six made this a phenomenal experience. Be cause the course are served family style, we got to sample almost everything on the menu! Throw an three bottles of wine, and it was a lot of fun. And the food was exceptional. Well worth the 20 dollars extra.
I have to say that overall the food was very good, but I'm not terribly fussy. I did have to work more than I would have liked, so I only got to go to the dining room 4 time, but I had chicken Marsala, which was great, I had a steak that was tender and cooked perfectly. I ordered lamb shops, but they were thin and I didn't care for the sauce. They had escargot available every night. The windjammer was the typical fare, with a lot of curried choices. It was crowded, but I was always able to find a table.
The pool areas were pretty typical as far as crowds. I think the movie screen by the main pool drew extra people, but there were usually seats, and I did see them putting out cards to time the chair hogs. I spent most of my pool time in the solarium.
Overall the ship was very clean, in really good shape. I didn't see anything broken or old or damaged. I believe it was just refurbished this spring.
I have to admit that I'm a very lazy cruiser. I this was my 9th cruise with royal, so I don't go to a lot of the activities. I just like to walk the decks, watch the people, sit by the pools and eat and drink like a pig. so i apologize for not having
more info on the shows and such.
The ports were really interesting and rich in history. Vigo was a small fishing village, with beautiful old buildings, and sadly a bran new 'cruise ship' style mall. La Coruna was a larger town, with gorgeous architecture . The stone work and the churches were simply breathtaking. And Madeira was very similar. All three were on the bases of mountains and the towns were literally carve into the sides. The homes are all made of stone and concrete, but are in much better condition than the Caribbean. I never saw any structures that had that run-down impoverished look that you see in the Virgin Islands.
The canary island were the strangest place that I've ever seen. Lanzarote is like landing on the moon. It is the site of the longest volcanic eruption in recorded history. the whole island is lava and ash. I did a camel ride through the ash on a ship excursion.ere's no grass and only a few trees. I'm glad I went, but would never go again. Tenerife was more built up. I took a city bus down to the beach. The sand was brought in from Morocco. It's not a well known tourist spot, I went with a couple people from the ship who have been to the port often, but the bus was clean and easy to catch, especially since one of the people in our group spoke Spanish.
Las Palmas was a great walking city. The ship docked right in the center of town and you could walk over to the beach.
I have never liked the revolving doors on the Freedom class ships. As you said, the location is not very good. Plus you have people coming in from the pools, dripping water on the deck by the elevators creating a slipping hazard and the constant flow of people, some fighting to get into the Windjammer entrance, others trying to get on or off elevators. Then there is the learning curve for passengers, who instead of letting the door do it's thing push on it and lock it up. I don't know why they have never put up a sign telling people what to do.
I like black pudding, steak and kidney pie, all that British stuff. Too bad they don't serve it all the time but I guess it'd just end up in the trash.
Marsha, When you say escargot was available everyday, do you mean it was on the menu everyday, or you actually had it (or saw others having it)? I have yet to have escargot since they claimed to bring it back. They always have some lame excuse why they don't have it.