IT'S the ultimate 3G trip.

As far as multi-generational holidays go, it's not easy pleasing everyone.

But when you have a gigantic ship's worth of entertainment and activities on offer, there's something for all the family from tiny tots to their grandparents.

I took three generations of my family onboard Indpendence of the Seas as it arrived back in Southampton following a winter season based in the US to get a taste of what we could expect from a family cruise this summer.

Voted the number one cruise ship for families at the 2015 Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice Awards, we hoped to find plenty to please our 22 month-old daughter, my husband and I and my parents.

First up was a tour, taking in some of the delights of the far-reaching Adventure Ocean youth programme, for three to 17-year-olds, including everything from football and basketball to computer games and an arcade. You can even book a Barbie experience for your pampered princess or allow little ones to create their own cuddly toy.

Royal Babies takes care of the needs of even younger visitors with all manner of sensory toys and soft play, while teens love having their own exclusive space.

Much of the accommodation onboard is specially designed with families in mind, we discovered. For a touch of luxury, save your pennies and book the 1215 sq ft Presidential Family Suite with its 810 sq ft private balcony, hot tub and padded loungers.

But surely there is no better treat for a youngster than booking the Ben & Jerry's 'Sweet'. For ice cream lovers, cabin 6305 on Independence of the Seas is a real insider tip. Shown on deck plans as a normal cabin and not specifically mentioned in the brochure, the Ben & Jerry's cabin offers something rather extraordinary. For the slight inconvenience of having the view of part of a cow's bottom at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlour below, you're rewarded with free ice cream and access to a concierge lounge, unheard of for an inside cabin.

Lunch was in Chops Grille, the ship's upscale steakhouse restaurant. The three course offering with wine was delicious and we all agreed the Filet Mignon was one of the best we had ever tasted. Children are well looked after here with simple delights like spaghetti bolognaise and mozzarella dippers alongside superb steaks and of course plenty of chocolate cake and ice cream.

We spent the afternoon enjoying the pool deck, particularly the H20 zone, a watery paradise beloved by kids both young and old. Explore colourful sculptures, water cannons and fountains, swim, soak in the hot tub or just relax poolside with yet another free ice cream from the self-service Sprinkles.

Thrill-seekers will love the Flowrider surf simulator where you can bodyboard or ride the waves to your heart's content and the rock climbing wall, which towers over deck, just some of a whole host of sporting activities available onboard.

'Indy', as she is fondly known, is also home to a rather blissful spa, a casino and an impressive two deck high theatre, featuring musicals including Grease.

There is of course a host of nighttime offerings from all bars, restaurants, nightclubs, parties and even movies under the stars, but we had to get our feet back on dry land before Indy, who had only arrived that morning, sailed off to Gibraltar on her next 14 day Western Mediterranean adventure.

Rushing to disembark, we were tempted to become stowaways. A day just wasn't long enough to experience all the delights on offer onboard this gem in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

But it was certainly a family day to remember.


Independence of the Seas is set for a varied summer programme taking in most of the Mediterranean hotspots on beach and city breaks of various lengths before a 16 nighter sees it return to the Caribbean and Florida at the end of October.

In our top tip for family fun, Royal Caribbean offers a 14 night Mediterranean Beaches Cruise from 30th July – 13th August 2016 onboard Independence of the Seas, sailing round-trip from Southampton. Prices start from £4,796 (based on two adults and two children).

Itinerary includes: Southampton - England, Gibraltar – United Kingdom, Provence (Toulon) – France, Nice (Villefranche) – France, Barcelona – Spain, Palma De Mallorca – Spain, Malaga – Spain, Seville (Cadiz) – Spain, Southampton – England