By Huw Kidwell
The pre-inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Freedom class’ liner, the 160,000 gross tonnes, 18-deck, 3,634 passenger Independence of the Seas took place on 28 April 2008. Costing around £400 million to build, the two night cruise gave the opportunity to sample this new ship, currently one of the three largest cruise liners in the world (the other two being her sister ships, Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas).
Elevators in the Royal promenade
The scale was awesome, the Independence of the Seas totally dominating Southampton’s skyline, towering above all other vessels in the dock. On board, the sheer size made you forget you were actually at sea – the four decks high Royal Promenade with its pubs, bars, cafes, boutiques and old-fashioned barber shop was more akin to a Parisian arcade – minus the cobbles of course. Designed to be the ship’s hub of activity, where passengers gather throughout the day for ice cream, coffee and shopping, it also actually hosted the entertainment on one of the evenings with a colourful Mardi Gras carnival of song and dance.
The Royal Promenade runs almost the length of the ship with banks of three scenic and four passenger elevators at each end and the majority of the ship’s facilities accessible from either end Facilities include the spa, a gymnasium, theatre, restaurants, library, ice rink, night club and several bars. This central ‘artery’ promotes passenger flow around the ship and provides easy access to all areas. Passenger stateroom corridors also run the full length of the ship giving a rapid access route from either end of the ship if required.
The Deluxe Oceanview stateroom with balcony is 177ft² with a 74ft² balcony (approximately 23.5m² overall); with a shower-room and a very comfortable double bed. A 28 inch flat screen LCD television gave a good choice of satellite channels and pay-per-view movies. The balcony helped to take away any feeling of lack of space by providing an extra dimension to the cabin as well as an horizon and sea view. Cabin staff were assigned for the duration of the trip and remained friendly, courteous and helpful at all times, a testament to the excellent staff training program run by Royal Caribbean. The Independence actually offers 10 levels of cabin from interior stateroom and promenade view interior stateroom to four levels of Oceanview stateroom (standard, large, deluxe and superior) and then four levels of suite (junior, grand, owners and royal).
First published in the DesignClub on 2nd Feb 2009
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The Royal promenade is the central pedestrian area of the ship
Something of the scale of the ship can be gleaned from this photo of the bar on the upper deck