Not your standard review…
On the 22nd September 2018, my family and I were kindly invited onboard the newly refurbished Independence Of The Seas. On this occasion, I was not asked to write a blog post to review the ship and its new additions. However, as a blogger you often feel it necessary to do so. After all, it comes with the job of being a blogger. I will be writing an entry after my cruise on Independence Of The Seas in October, not because it’s asked of me, or because it’s my job, but because I wish to do so.
Before the visit, many family members, friends and fellow bloggers assured me I would find writing a ship review on Royal Caribbeans Independence of the Seas easier than other reviews. “It will come second nature to you,” they confirmed. All the while an unusual blanket of anxiousness seemed to smother me. They had good reason to believe I would likely find it easy, for they are all too aware that this particular ship visit would’ve been one of my many times onboard the “vessel”. When it comes to Independence, I dislike referring to her as a vessel or a review. It just doesn’t feel right. For me Independence, consequently my first ever cruise ship, is not a vessel or a review. Indy is my home from home, my place of Sanctuary, my friend…
For those who know me well, or those of you that have read my blog, you’re probably getting the idea that I’m a hopeless dreamer and sometimes non-conformer. I am indeed helplessly controlled by my heart. This post will resonate those facts as I share with you a bitter sweet ode to an old friend.
An ode to Indy…
It’s been a year since I saw you last. I’ve missed you, oh how we’ve all missed you. Things have changed since our last meeting, you have changed, I have changed, we have all changed. I must admit, I felt a little anxious about seeing you this time round. Many times I have wondered if your new look might have changed your presence. Many times I have thought of you, willing you not to have changed. You were beautiful before. You are stunning now.
You have given our family some of the happiest and most magical memories that we all treasure and hold so dearly. There was a time when the freedom of travel and exploration was taken away from us. They do say the best things come to those who wait, and that’s exactly what we did. We waited until the time was right, until the doctors and consultants gave us the all clear to finally give the gift of travel, freedom and wonderment to our daughters.
Since the birth of our daughters – Hollie and Eden, life became a little more serious, and far more daunting than it had ever been before. Both girls were born with an un-diagnosed medical condition, which was something neither Jamie or I were prepared for. Years of hospital stays, watching the girls tiny bodies endure vigorous tests and the failed attempts to hold everything together when receiving those terrifying talks in the confined and cold relatives room are long behind us. Hopefully for now and for sometime, if not, all of time. Whilst the girls will always have the condition for the rest of their lives, we’ve all worked together as a team to manage their lives in a way that allows them and us to live day to day as if there is nothing wrong at all. When things get tough and we have hiccups, we are often asked by fellow parents “How do you cope?” The response is always the same – We have no other choice, it’s what we’ve always known and there are always others worse off. We wouldn’t change the girls for the world.
In 2013 things were certainly looking up for us a family. The pediatric consultants had informed us that the time was right for us to take our children on their first holiday abroad. The girls health passports were in place, treatment for the condition was more readily available and what’s more it was mentioned that cruise ships have fully trained doctors onboard. Furthermore, some even have helipads for emergencies. My parents often cruised and knew so much about various cruise lines and their ships. After lengthy discussions with the hospital team and family members a decision, almost against my will was made.
August 2013 came round quick, this is when you came into our lives and changed everything. This is when we first met you – Royal Caribbeans very own, Independence Of The Seas. My Indy, our Indy, the UK’s Indy. You gave us a new lease of life and the freedom to explore. Already anxious as an over protective mother, I became more and more panicked when I saw you up close for the time. After all, you’re a pretty impressive size! If I knew then, what I know now, I would’ve been on the ship quicker than the speed of light.
We spent two weeks in your company the first time. You made us feel safe, you made us feel like we belonged, that everything was going to be okay. My husband and I, and the girls grandparents were able to watch them grow from strength to strength independently and experience freedom like never before. All those things that others may take for granted, the children were now able to enjoy; Swimming pools, arcades, restaurants, kids clubs, the close proximity of others and the exploration of different destinations and the cultures. All of the things that could potentially result in a serious illness for one or both of the girls. You see Indy, they both have a rare blood condition. This often results in bleeds and many, many bruises. Consequently, we have received some hateful looks from other parents. You can only imagine what they might be thinking from their high stools of judgement. Nonetheless, it is probably a good thing we are judged, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For us and the girls, this is the easy part of the condition. The hardest part is the invisible side. They both have a lowered immune system, a common cold will often result in a serious secondary illness for them. You changed our anxiety, the levels were and still are manageable and you play a big part in that Indy. For two whole weeks and with a doctor onboard who knew everything about the girls before our sailing, we felt comfortable, safe and most of all we were able to relax and and enjoy making those precious memories that little bit more. Thank you!
Indy, you really were the turning point for all of us and we shall forever be grateful. We’ve since been in your company as many times as our salaries and jobs will allow. Indy, you are our home from home, our dear and trusted fun, fabulous friend. From the moment we step onboard and smell your freshly varnished railings you have us completely captivated by your presence. You offer us that place of sanctuary. There is no other feeling such as the feeling of waking up at the crack of dawn, throwing on some clothes and finding my very own, private sanctuary that is your bow. You allow me to feel humbled in your presence and that of the ocean and the sun rising on a new day. I’m always mindful here and forever grateful that it was you who helped us to live our lives to the fullest again, and it was you who showed us that all is well.
It is clear to us that you’re still so very dear and posses all of the wonderful attributes you had before your makeover, and some.
Until October Indy…
With much love and gratitude,
The Harris Family. xx
Firstinitialsea has been shortlisted for the Wave Awards as Favourite Cruise Blogger 2019 and it’s thanks to you. Voting begins again in a new round to the final. If you enjoy reading my blog, have a spare minute and wish to be entered into a draw to win a luxury cruise worth £8000 then please vote for me here. Thank you for your time and support.
It doesn’t matter how weird and wonderful your place of sanctuary may be, it’s yours. If it offers you a sense of belonging that is all that matters. I would love to hear all about your place of sanctuary in the comments box.
If you liked this post, please remember to click the like button.
Thank you for your time and support.
Forever grateful, Claire xx