Welcome aboard! It's been many moons since we were last able to sail and I was so excited to be invited to be a part of the Independence of the Seas Simulation Cruise from Galveston, TX this week. These simulation cruises are a way for Royal Caribbean to test out their new health and safety protocols for return to sailings. Each day I will try to give you a little recap of all we have been able to experience and how things are going on board as the ships return to operation.
We arrived in Houston last night and drove the remaining 45 minutes to Galveston this morning. After a little confusion with where to park (much of the Port is still closed) we were walking into Terminal 2 at the Port of Galveston at 11:02am for our 11am boarding time. Boarding times are extra important to ensure crowds are managed through the health screening and security process. It was a breeze for us and within 15 minutes we were walking onto the ship.
We have a Spacious Oceanview Balcony stateroom on Deck 7 Forward and found the accommodations to be quite lovely. After dropping off our bags we were ready to explore the ship! We started off by completing our safety drill, which includes watching a safety video in the Royal Caribbean App and then finding your Muster Station on the ship.
One thing we noticed immediately was how excited all the crew members were to have guests back on board, and of course we were excited to be here!
We made a reservation and headed to lunch at the Windjammer Café. The selection was plentiful and included vegetable lasagna and roast chicken in addition to the Americana, Latina and numerous other stations which had everything from cheeseburgers, to lobster, to butter chicken. In spaces where everyone was welcome, such as Windjammer Cafe, tables were marked for use or for social distancing but we had no trouble finding a table even with so many used for social distancing. We enjoyed a leisurely meal before making our way to the pool deck to soak up some sun for the afternoon.
|Beef Pho, Butter Chicken, Scallops, Lobster Tail and Carved Roast|
We found some loungers in the Solarium, which is open to vaccinated guests only, and grabbed some Mai Tais from the bar. Because the space was for vaccinated guests only, the loungers were set up as normal. In the main pool area, loungers were separated so there was ample social distancing. After some sunshine, we headed to Schooner Bar (vaccinated guests only) for some Name That Tune.
We had My Time Dining and made a dinner reservation for 7:30pm earlier in the day and headed that way after freshening up. The service was wonderful and we tried vegan, vegetarian and carnivore options with our favorites being the wild mushroom soup, the fennel and quinoa salad (vegan) and the prime rib. There was plenty of food and we left feeling quite stuffed.
|Antipasti: cured Italian prosciutto, salami, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive tapenade and crostini|
|Butternut squash soup (vegan)|
|Slow-Roasted Prime Rib- tender beef with potato croquette, broccoli and horseradish au jus|
|Wild Mushroom Soup- a rich blend of wild mushrooms with cream finished with chives and white truffle oil|
|Warm Fennel & Quinoa Salad (vegan)|
|Caribbean Jerk Pork Chop- grilled marinated pork chop paired with rice and beans, plantains and Jamaican fried dumplings|
|Baked Polenta and Feta Cheese - creamy corn polenta, feta cheese, crisp grilled vegetables, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette|
|No Sugar Added Pear & Blueberry Cobbler|
|Warm Hazelnut Chocolate Cake|
Tonight's entertainment included an ice skating show and a comedian, but after our full day we opted to save them for another night and called it a day. Looking forward to a fun-filled sea day tomorrow!