Independence of the Seas joined the Royal Caribbean fleet in May 2008 and underwent a multi-million makeover in April 2018. New features added include Perfect Storm's two wild waterslides, Splashaway Bay water park, an Escape Room, Sky Pad Trampoline Bungee Dome, and Izumi Japanese restaurant; not forgetting the new panoramic staterooms, all-new Fish & Ships eatery, Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade, Laser Tag, and Sugar Beach Candy and Ice Cream Store. This all-in-one floating resort now really does have something for everyone - from the shops and bars on the Royal Promenade to some of the best dining venues, activity facilities, and entertainment shows at sea. On top of all this, Independence of the Seas sets sail a great selection of cruise itineraries from Southampton again in 2018 and also visits some fascinating ports of call where you can enjoy sightseeing and adventures galore ashore.
The King Lear and Romeo & Juliet Dining Rooms offer the option of traditional two-sitting dining or you can dine at a time to suit with My Time Dining; both venues feature daily-changing, multi-course dinner menus. Windjammer Cafe is the ship's casual, serve-yourself dining venue or you can sit outside and tuck into fresh fish and chips at Fish & Ships. Savour sweet treats and speciality coffees in the 24/7 Cafe Promenade, indulge in freshly baked cupcakes at Cupcake Cupboard, or choose your favourite sweets, confectionery, and homemade ice cream at Sugar Beach Candy & Ice Cream Store. A selection of speciality restaurants enhances your culinary journey - fries, milkshakes, and gourmet burgers are served in the 1950s-style American diner Johnny Rockets, take your seat for perfect pizza and a selection of daily specials at Sorrento's Pizzeria, or savour fresh seafood and premium steaks in Chops Grille. Feast on Italian, home-style cuisine in Giovanni's Table or Asian-inspired dining and teppanyaki at Izumi.
Quench your thirst with a refreshing drink at Squeeze juice bar or order waterside cocktails at the Pool Bar and Plaza Bar. Burgers, ice-cold beers, live sports, and arcade games are on the menu at Playmakers Sports Bar. Celebrate that special occasion with a glass of bubbly in the Champagne Bar or savour imported ales in the informal setting of the Ale and Anchor Pub. Indulge in exotic signature cocktails at Schooner Bar, while wine lovers can enjoy their favourite glass of Chardonnay or Shiraz at Vintages wine bar. Sip exotic mojitos and caipirinhas and shake your hips to the Latin music in Boleros Lounge.
By day, discover water-based family fun at Splashaway Bay and The Perfect Storm or bounce on the trampolines at Sky Pad. Learn to surf on the FlowRider surf simulator or glide around like Torvill & Dean on the ice skating rink. Meet the challenge of the rock climbing wall or the Escape Room, or simply indulge in a hot stone massage in Vitality at Sea Spa. There's fun for tots or teens at the Adventure Ocean, Video Arcade, The Living Room or Fuel Teen Club. After dinner, thrilling musical extravaganzas and production shows light up the stage in the Royal Theatre. Live music, dancing, and entertainment set the scene at both Star Lounge and Sky Lounge or show off your vocals in the funky and fun On Air Club karaoke bar. If you're feeling lucky, dice with Lady Luck at the blackjack tables and slot machines in Casino Royale.
Day 1: Southampton, UK
Arrive at the port of Southampton where you will board Explorer of the Seas for your journey onwards to Norway.
Day 3: Oslo, Norway
Oslo, the capital of Norway, sits on the country’s southern coast and is known for its spectacular snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills. Take a stroll around the modern city and be mesmerised by the eclectic mix of ancient castles and dazzling lakes. Journey back in time at the Viking House Museum or revel in the enchanted atmosphere at the magic Ice Bar Oslo. Stop by the Vigeland Sculpture Park and become fascinated with the ‘wonder-world’ of stone, iron and bronze human figures.
Day 4: Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark's capital city, is your next port of call. Ride the old-style amusement rides at Tivoli Gardens or get up close to colourful marine life at National Aquarium Denmark. Shop 'til you drop along the world's longest pedestrian shopping street - Strøget. A tour of the Carlsberg Brewery is a popular choice or enjoy family-fun at Dyrehavsbakken amusement park. Kronborg Castle and Christiansborg Palace on Slotsholmen Island are a must-see for culture fans. If you fancy something different, why not head out to the workshops, galleries and organic eateries at Freetown Christiania? No trip to Copenhagen would be complete without a photo opportunity at the world-famous Little Mermaid statue.
Day 6: Helsinki, Finland
Today, disembark at Helsinki and head to the old town where you find Senate Square, Presidential Palace and Opera House. Walk through Gardenia — the city's tropical gardens — and visit Ateneum, which is home to Finnish and European art. Enjoy the mix of Slavic and Scandinavian architecture as you walk along the pretty waterfront of this cosmopolitan city.
Day 7 - 8: St Petersburg, Russia
St Petersburg is one of Russia's most iconic cities. From its ornate palaces and beautiful bridges to its glistening canals and picture-postcard sights - there is plenty to see around every corner. Visit the Palace Square to admire the amazing Winter Palace, gaze in awe at the gilded cupola of St Isaac's Cathedral and enjoy the fountains at Peterhof Palace. Marvel at artworks by the grand masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, El Greco and Rembrandt at the Hermitage Museum. Indulge in retail therapy at the eclectic mix of shops at the Nevsky Prospect. A visit to the Conservatoire Theatre to see a Russian ballet show or a boat trip along the city's rivers and canals are the perfect way to spend the evening.
Day 9: Tallinn, Estonia
Today the ship docks in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. The well-preserved medieval old town enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is the perfect place to explore on foot. Visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Toompea Castle on top of Toompea Hill or spend some time in the Town Hall Square. Admire Peter the Great's Baroque Kadriorg Palace and the eclectic interior of Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin. Step back in time at Estonian Open Air Museum and Estonian Maritime Museum. View cutting edge art at Kumu art museum before enjoying lunch and city-wide views from the top of Tallinn TV Tower.
Day 10: Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden's vibrant capital city, Stockholm, spans an archipelago of 14 islands on the Baltic Sea coastline. Filled with more than 40 bridges and many galleries, museums, gardens, and parks, this city is perfect for exploring.
Looking for culture? Visit Vasa Museum, The Royal Palace, Drottningholm Palace, and Skansen — the world's first open-air museum. If you're a music fan, head to the popular ABBA Museum or go to Brunnsviken for a beautiful lake surrounded by cafes and botanical gardens. There are more than 1,000 restaurants dotted across the city, as well as streets of boutiques and designer stores on Drottninggatan — including the Nordiska Kompaniet and Åhléns department stores.
Day 12: Skagen, Denmark
Skagen is the northernmost town in Denmark, also known as The Land of Light. The town's biggest draw is undoubtedly Grenen - a sandy point shaped like the tip of a knife where two beaches and the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas meet. The unique Tilsandede Kirke sand-buried church, Skagen Fyr lighthouse and the 40-meter high Råbjerg Mile dune are awesome sights too. View the works of local artists at Skagen Museum or the teddy bear exhibits at Skagen's Bamsemmuseum. Watch mighty eagles take flight at Eagle World or discover the sweet-making process at the Candy Factory.
Day 13: Stavanger, Norway
Arrive at the port of Stavanger - gateway to the majestic Lysefjord. Meander through the cobbled streets lined with white-washed wooden houses and see artists at work in the old quarter. Visit the 12th-century Stavanger Cathedral and marvel at its vaulted ceiling and 13th-century Gothic chancel. Stop by the Norwegian Canning Museum to appreciate the town's heritage as the 'herring capital' of Norway.
Day 15: Southampton, UK
The cruise comes to an end in Southampton, where you disembark and make your way home.