cruise review from British Isles

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British Isles/Western Europe
Amsterdam, Brugge, Dublin, Edinburgh, London (Dover, Harwich, Southampton)
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#1
40 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
We just got off Caribbean Princess - let me know if you have any questions

Guernsey: port cancelled because of weather. Also we were 8 hours late getting out of Southampton. Apparently a bunch of planes were delayed so that is why they delayed departure. Wonder if that had something to do with the canceled port call at Guernsey though the official reason was "weather."

Cork: we used About Cork Tours booking with Janice. We had an excellent tour going out to West Cork. Alot of the buses go to Blarney but we wanted to see more of the real Ireland so we went to some of the small towns and saw scenery. At the port, there is about a 10 minute walk to the exit. There is a Cork Heritage museum there with shops, otherwise nothing much in the town. if you want to go on own you have to take the train to Cork - we drove there on the way back and I am not sure what you would really do there for a whole day unless you were really into museums. It is a fairly sizable city. Not really touristy. I would recommend booking either a private tour or else go out to Blarney if that is your thing.

Dublin: we booked again through the same company About Cork Tours and had another excellent tour out to County Wicklow to see scenery as well as to Dublin to see the main sites including St Patricks' Cathedral. Princess runs a shuttle serve that was like $10 or something (not sure of cost but it was cheap) to main part of city. Of all the ports this would probably be the easiest to do on your own if you wanted to stay in Dublin. The buses are right at the port as well as taxis can come right up to the ship. there was a taxi line in the morning but i did not see if later in the day. Nothing is at the port in terms of shops, etc.

Liverpool: We had trouble finding a reasonably priced private company so we went with BusyBus. We went to Conway where we had 1 hour and 45 minutes to just walk around, have lunch or go to the castle. Then 45 minutes on a hike in the national park, then 45 minutes at the canal and 45 minutes in another small town. We were late getting into port and they adjust the time accordingly . We were out from 10:30-7. It was a long day- i think we could have skipped or had less time at canal and spent some more time at liverpool or else get home earlier. It was also more of a fun type tour -lots of jokes, etc. They used a big bus and i booked online before hand. Liverpool would also be easy to do on your own if you wanted to go to Liverpool. All museums are free and there is the Beatles museum thing nearby. If you are not into Beatles (if you are you should prearrange a tour with one of the companies mentioned on this board) or museums, there is not much to do in Liverpool. It was nice seeing some of the scenery in Wales.

There is a super long walk from the boat to the terminal. However they run a shuttle, though there are so many older/disabled people that if you are able bodied and young it's not really right taking up a space as most people walked - it is about a 10-15 minute walk up a sharp incline.

I found it difficult to find the Busybody people. they said they would be in yellow jackets but the yellow jackets were the same as the dock workers. They were not the type as in the picture. Others had the same problem as many bypassed the tour guide in the terminal and went straight to the bus. The bus is the last bus in the long list of buses at the port. There is a small beatles shop in the dock.

Belfast: we booked with Michael Doyle at Belfast city tours and went out to see some of the scenery around Belfast. we had been to Giant's causeway before so we saw other scenery as well as some of Belfast. Another excellent guide. In the afternoon we went to Titanic Belfast - you do not need to prebook in advance it was about 8 pound cab ride from port. In the afternoon i found cabs a little difficult to find in Belfast as there was not a line out there- you might have to wait to try to hail one. The museum was nice - it gets very crowded though. Might be difficult to maneuver with a wheelchair since it is so crowded. They offer wheelchairs though if you need one. The dock is right there at the port. There was nothing at the dock and like I said taxis were not too plentiful in the afternoon when we went to titanic so you might consider prebooking a private taxi - there are two main taxi companies I think in belfast plus also the private tour guides are also excellent

Greenport/Glasgow: there is a taxi company at the pier called Interclyde taxis which offers tours for 30 pounds an hour. No need to prebook though you can if you want. We had an excellent tour which we booked in advance. We went out to the canal, out to the castle, saw some of the small towns as well as rode through Glasgow. Glasgow did not seem much of a tourist towns unless you like going to museums. With the taxis you can schedule the day as you want. We took 7 hours and we did not even go inside the castle so if you wanted to go inside it might be like 8 hours or more depending on the sites you want to see as things are fairly spread out. We had a very nice tour guide as well on this tour. In this port you go through security inside the terminal building.

There are a ton of little shops inside the pier selling scottish stuff.

Intergoten: we prebooked with the taxi service that is at the pier - Scotland Taxi tours. You don't have to prebook as they have cars right there at 40 pounds an hour. We went out to Loch Ness to see the lake as well as some of the small towns and Inverness. Inverness is kinda like Cork in that is a city - unless you are into museums I don't know what you would do there a whole day. The taxi tours offer 3 separate tours - north to the castle, south or I think east. They are not the kind of service where they just drop you off in Inverness- it is more like a tour. They have a desk at the pier. There were two little shops at the pier.

Edinburgh/Queenbury: So this is important - Princess makes this very confusing as they are very cagey on whether or not there is a shuttle bus. There is - it is 10 pounds or 15 euros or dollars roundtrip and drops you right off in Charlotte Square. Buses start to return to the ship every half starting at 1. Princess either deliberately misleads or something because they make you think that you have to go either on the train (which is 103 steps to get up on) or else take one of their tours. Their "on your own" Edinburgh pass was $65 a person! If I bought that I would certainly be annoyed when I saw that the bus service was just 10 pound roundtrip! It was a very efficient and clean service.

Also when you get off the bus in Edinburgh there is a guy there who sells hop on hop off bus tickets. we took the hop on bus around edinburgh and out to the queen's boat Britannica which was nice to see. edinburgh is a really nice old town to do shopping or look around

The problem with this port is the tender. we got down there at the time of docking at 8AM and had to wait 45 minutes for a tender ticket. Most of the boat was not out there till around 10 or 10:30. Edinburgh makes it hard to plan a private tour because you just don't know when you will get the tender since they give priority to their tours. So this is what significantly impedes your time in Edinburgh. You really only have time for one big attraction like the castle, holyrood or the queen's boat and to walk around. Also it is only about 20 minutes to Edinburgh. i think there were some private taxis at the pier. Not much to do in Queensbury - just two small shops.

Le Havre: Princess had a shuttle service to LeHavre for $16. We booked the princess excursion to Honfleur which was a very nice and traditional French town. The walking tour is optional, some people just left the tour. It takes about 45 minutes to get there and 30 to get back since they go on a scenic route. You are there for about 2 hours which is just enough time. There are lots of cafes, etc.

If you have more than 2 in your party, I saw a sign (I think it is the Radio Taxi company but was not sure) who offered various tours. Honfleur was 120 euros roundtrip. They had set prices for many tours including Versailles which was like 450 Euro and Normandy which was like 485 Euro for a car. I knew the taxi service went to Honfleur but I did not know there were set prices for Rouen (which was like 285 euro but don't quote me on that) as well as to Normandy. There is a small shop at the pier.

We had previously went to Normandy on the princess tour and it shows you the main sites but you spend so much time at lunch that is makes it a long day. Next time i think we would go on the taxi tour to one of those places. Honfleur is a nice place to go though if you are tired at the end of the trip and just want to go to see a traditional town. they had their farmers market going on that day.

Overall Princess was great - we are platinum on princess so we sailed with them many times before. However, I noticed some changes in terms of the quality of the food- not as good, no steaks on the regular menu except for one or two of the nights. Also more diverse cuisine in Lido deck, in terms of asian dishes, etc. They have two new specialty restaurants though we did not go to any of them. The population was very diverse - I would say it was about half or less than half Americans. Alot of Asian tour groups on this particular cruise as well as many Europeans and Australians. Also diversity of ages. Sometimes we have been on European cruises where it is like a retirement home - this particular cruise was not like that.

They brought on the Beatles Celebration show which is on Facebook if you look it up - Beatles look alike who sing songs. That was a good show. Plus 3 or 4 production shows. They had irish dancers as well as two scottish shows though the scottish and irish shows were like at 5 so if you were on a tour you missed them.
#2
40 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
I would also add there was a shuttle service in Belfast to the main area of the city. I think it was free but am not sure. There isn't much to see in Belfast proper - a tour is more interesting and provides some context plus going out to the countryside is nice. If you want to stay in Belfast probably going to the gaol or the titanic would be most interesting.
#3
rocklin ca
1,015 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Thank you for this review! I am looking at this cruise for next summer and it will be on the Royal.
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#5
659 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
''Glasgow did not seem much of a tourist towns unless you like going to museums''


Glasgow has some of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in Britain - I trust you had a good look at the fantastic buildings, plus the buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.