A Royal Party

We have been going around in circles between Britain and Europe this last while, and getting nowhere, but that’s all right. It’s a Royal Party and we’re in no rush.

That’s the beauty of being out at sea, it is truly liberating to detach yourself from what is going on back in the real world.

We are on the Royal Caribbean‘s state-of-the-art Independence of the Seas cruise ship somewhere in the middle of the English Channel.

But it could just as easily be the Twilight Zone with my internet completely down and the only access to what is going on back on dry land from the TV on one of the dozens of screens in the sports bar Playmakers.

And the beat goes on: The Valeras

I am slightly worried, though, about what fake news I’m getting.

The man on the box has just tried to tell me that my team of all talents, Celtic, have just been beaten at home for the first time in two years.

Listen to the sea

Sometimes you just just can’t think because of all the noise and distractions of modern life and need to get away from it, and yourself.

And that’s where a cruise, and Royal Caribbean’s multi-million Independence of the Seas rehab in particular provides the perfect release.

I step out of my balcony, put my feet up and listen to what the sea is telling me… shhhhh!

On solid ground: Before the water fun

It’s been years since I went on cruise, and the world, cruise ships and myself have changed, changed utterly in the intervening years.

Where I didn’t even have a mobile then, and was richer and freer for it, now it is my umbilical cord.

But enough already, I have a ship to explore.

Naturally, I jump straight in at the deep end.


But no boarder me

Sky Pad is Indy’s big kiddies’ playground on the 14th, and top, deck.

I start with the adrenaline-rush water slide, Perfect Storm, where you get tossed and turned down winding tunnels before hitting the bottom with an almighty splash.

The trick is to cross your legs, and your fingers, and resist the temptation to look down – you can thank me later when you avoid getting a big gulp of water in your gullet.

Fun with eggs: Dining on Indy

Water, water’s around you everywhere on a ship on the ocean wave obviously but the best waves are right here on board on Flowrider.

The surf’s up, and so am I, I and a queue of newbies, daft enough to think we can walk on water.

Making a splash

The fella in front of me is quickly dispatched back from where he started and the patient surf instructor spends the next couple of minutes trying to retrieve the board from under the torrents.

Quickly followed by retrieving me.

I dry (and dust) myself down as the self-titled ‘The Big Stuff’ announces his arrival.

I pull my lounger back… this guy is going to make a real splash.

And he did. standing tall and dancing on the waves. More surfboard, less wobble board.

I make a retreat for the virtual reality bungee jump.

Just the ticket: Access all areas

The idea is that you get harnessed in in reins, much like kiddies’ reins, and then take on one of a number of challenges.

I resist the candy crush game, I’ve just eaten again and more of that in a minute, so I opt instead for some sport and heading away big comets that are whizzing towards me.

No Richard Dunne me!

I reckon I’ve earned my Royal Party cocktail though, and choose a water feature where I can’t come to any harm. the hot tub on the pool deck, and my favourite cocktail, a Strawberry Daiquiri.

Fish and chips, anyone?

If you like a drink (guilty!), or even if you don’t, then you’re never too far from a bar.

Or a pit-stop.

There’s food from all around the world on Indy, but you can take the boy out of… well, you know the rest.

And I plump for the Fish and Ships cart, and the lightest cod and fires and calamari with just the right bite, and I’ve road-tested my squid. let me tell you.

I half expect to see ‘The Big Stuff’ in the queue, ready to refuel but maybe he prefers surf and turf!

Evening dining is an occasion on a cruise and affords couples the opportunity and fancy surrounds to dress up in their finest penguin suits, cocktail dresses, and in my case, kilt.

I scream, you scream, everybody screams for ice cream

And long may that cruise tradition continue, I say.

Of course the food needs to match it, and Indy’s cuisine is only the top quality.

I know what I like, and I like what I know.

And my beef and barley soup, duck and strawberry cheesecake leave me reclining in my seat, my belt opened another notch and an extra shirt button undone.

Is this a dagger I see before me: In ‘The Scottish Play’ restaurant (see the cufflink)

I’m out at sea on a pleasure cruise, and I’m uncontactable… I feel all floaty but my stateroom and my soft bed will have to wait.

The night is still young, and the night is when this ship really rocks.

The Royal Promenade on the 5th floor is where the Royal Party really gets started.

And you’ll never finish it all

This boutique shop, bar and cafe-lined ‘terrace’ is decorated with the drapes of all our countries to make us feel at home.

The De Valeras

And young and old, mingling, dancing, enjoying themselves as musicians play for our entertainment on the balconies above.

And here a young English band with an intriguing name really do catch the eye, the Valeras, or as we rechristen them, De Valeras.

For those of a younger disposition the action moves to Studio Be and a DJ set by reality TV star Mark Wright.

Thanks, but no thanks, if I want headbanging with a reality twist, I’d prefer it bungee-style in the open air.

I’ll have everything: Teppanyaki

Grease is more my vintage, and the next afternoon, after a lazy morning lounging by the pool and topping up the tan to make Her at Home jealous, I slick back my hair and make for the Royal Theatre.

There I will immerse myself in the world of the T Birds and the Pink Ladies and dance in the aisles. Tell me more, tell me more!

Well, OK then.


Eric the entertainer

Filipino Eric is our chef and he sharpens his knives, and his wit, and entertains us with his quips, and his tasty creations.

It is pure theatre and Eric drums away on the stove and leads us in a host of standard singalongs, all the time encouraging his diners to join the banter.

There’s always one, though, who thinks he’s the act… Wok’n’roll anyone?

We look for Eric later at the Karaoke bar, but alas, we have to endure instead a Dancing Dad trying to rap and lead the Royal Party.

The thought of it!

Water, water everywhere

I spend the rest of the evening back on the Royal Promenade bopping away with new friends to Hi Ho Silver Lining, Delilah, It’s Not Unusual, I’ll Tell Me Ma, 500 Miles and other foot stompers.

It’s the Royal party to beat all royal parties. I bet not even Harry and Meghan are having this much fun.

Travel facts:

Royal Caribbean was advertising short breaks from Fort Lauderdale from two days upwards from £277pp on Independence of the Seas but subject to changing circumstances. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie and http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk. Fly to Miami with Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com or British Airways http://www.ba.com


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