British Isles Trip Review w/Pics: A Thesis :)

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#21
League City, TX
41,863 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by Pam in CA
Put a lightweight tall kitchen trash bag at the bottom of your suitcase and another at the top. If your bags are left in the rain, this will help keep your clothing dry. You can use one or both of them as laundry bags instead of the pop-up bag and when going home, replace the bags at the top and bottom and pack your dirty clothes in them. When you get home, lift out and toss in the laundry basket.
I use the trash bags to hold the clean clothes while traveling to the cruise. Protects them from the rain better.
#22
Santa Clarita, CA
1,305 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Originally posted by sunluva7
Not only are you writing an enormously helpful review for us doing the Ireland/Scotland 8-day on the Ocean Princess, but you are also an amazing writer. Can't wait to read more!

Do the same four-seasons-in-a- day hold true for August? Should we leave shorts at home? I know I am not packing for the Caribbean and to be ready for rain and drizzle at all times, but not sure about the temperature factor.
I would think that the crazy weather pattern does hold true for August. My boss and her family went in August (at least to London and Edinburgh) and all her photos show them drenched! I heard that one of the summer months is actually their raniest seasons. However, I don't think it would be "cold", as it wasn't "cold" for us in some ports, so you might be able to get away with some bermuda shorts or capris that would be cool enough.

Originally posted by Sea Breezer
Emily,
Thanks so much for your day to day postings you did on the June 7th thread while you were on the trip as well as these review installments!!! We're on the July 8th trip and it has given us both alot of information as well as get us more excited than ever. Again, thanks so much. Hope we'll be on a future cruise with you.......
No problem! "Dog" posted on our thread when he was on the May 14th sailing and all of us were clinging to him for advice and updates! I knew how exciting and important it was to get actual on-the-ship reviews and I told myself that I'd help out the June 7th folks by giving them a heads up on what to expect.

Originally posted by Pam in CA
Thanks for the great review. Here are a couple of other suggestions: disposable undies for travel, particularly if you're spending overnight on a plane and a day or two in a hotel pre-cruise. I discovered them when packing for my safari and now I'm a firm believer.

Put a lightweight tall kitchen trash bag at the bottom of your suitcase and another at the top. If your bags are left in the rain, this will help keep your clothing dry. You can use one or both of them as laundry bags instead of the pop-up bag and when going home, replace the bags at the top and bottom and pack your dirty clothes in them. When you get home, lift out and toss in the laundry basket.

When packing toiletries and sundries, I get only travel sizes and sort them by type. I put the daily use items in their own Ziploc bag, laundry and fabric care items in another, over-the-counter medications in another, etc. These tuck into the odd spaces in the suitcase. I also always include an Ace bandage. You never know if you'll turn an ankle or need it. It can even be used to hold a suitcase together if it's damaged.

Instead of sleeping pills for long flights or to help me sleep, I have a minimum dosage of Xanax as I've found that what's keeping me awake is my mind going a mile a minute in anticipation and excitement. I split the pills which works great for me. I'm not "buzzed" when it's time to wake up when landing. On long lights, no alcohol. The effect is short-term.
Pam, you are the mother hen of the cruise boards and someone I look up to! In the past, we have done the trash bag trick but only brought grocery store bags to wrap our shoes in. The garbage bag trick is actually essential as one cruiser from our group had her suitcases left out in the rain while disembarking and all her stuff was wet except for what she smartly packed in plastic bags!

And yep, I was able to grab a bottle of 0.5mg of Xanax for the flight out and this worked much better than sleeping pills. I was mellow and in a fantastic mood! You are correct that my mind was going nuts with anticipation and excitement. The second morning of the cruise, I woke up at 4:30am with my mind reeling with thoughts and sounds and experiences from all the travel and people I had met the day before.

Only 29 more minutes of work until I can drive home and get this story continued with photos!
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Up next:
Disney Wonder ~ 3-night West Coast ~ May 13, 2018

Adventure of the Seas ~ 8-Night Eastern Caribbean ~ January 19, 2019

-Ruby Princess ~ CA Coastal ~ 4/1/17
-Carnival Inspiration ~ Girlfriends Getaway ~ 1/5/17
-Disney Wonder ~ West Coast (first cruise with our toddler!) ~ 5/1/16
-NCL Pearl ~ Pacific Coastal ~ 5/5/13

-Carnival Destiny ~ Bahamas ~ 1/21/13 ~ (Trip Report)
-Caribbean Princess ~ British Isles! ~ 5/26/12 ~(Trip Report - BEST CRUISE EVER!)
-RCCL Freedom ~ Western Caribbean ~ 1/18/09 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Monarch ~ West Coast ~ 2/18/08
-Disney Magic ~ Eastern Caribbean ~ 4/28/07 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Vision ~ Alaska ~ 5/19/06
-Star Princess ~ Mexican Riviera ~ 1/13/03
#23
Santa Clarita, CA
1,305 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Day 1: Planes, Coaches & A Ship - Oh My!

The Flight:
I’ll spare you the long details of our 24 hours of travel. We simply left Southern California at 8am on Friday and landed at Heathrow on 8am Saturday. Between those hours we were first on a S-80 in which I thought I’d be "cool" and get us seats in the back row, only to find that our view was of a giant jet engine...


Then later cozied up in the middle section of a 777 which had zig-zagging turbulence and non-working headrest televisions throughout the nightly 9-hour ride. It was at this point in which I thanked whomever invented Xanax. (American Airlines ended up giving everyone 10,000 airline miles which was nice.)

Heathrow T3 Customs & Immigration:
We landed at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and proceeded down the loooooooooong hallways that lead you to UK Border Control and Customs. I had heard the dreaded stories of how awful the lines were at Heathrow for entering the UK. It made front page news and there were nightmare tales of 2-3 hour waits. I secretly hoped that our early flight would grant us less of a wait in line. Lucky for us, it did. We entered the big hall full of "queue" ropes (get ready to hear "queue" a lot instead of "line") and stood in the Non-EU line with others from our plane. The line for EU passengers only had a handful of locals in it. It took us 35 minutes to get through Customs. I know, because I clocked it (and was thanking my lucky stars it was that short.)

The Customs folks are really nice. The lady that stamped our passport looked like J.K. Rowling. Heck, EVERYONE in the UK was nice, but that’s a whole other story. After being questioned, having our passports stamped and turning in the blue sheet we filled out on the plane, we proceeded into another walkway area with the green and red hallways for "declaring" and "not declaring". The green "not declaring" hallway is obviously larger and we breezed right through that. I might be writing this out of order, but I think we got our bags last. Or maybe you get them before the colored hallways. I forget. Once retrieving our bags, we followed the herd down to what is the Arrivals hall. Once you see people in the Arrivals hall waiting with signs, you know you’ve made it out safely!

Princess Luggage Tags:
Regarding the Princess luggage tags: I did not put them on before leaving home. I put clear packing tape around them after they were folded to make them strong and I kept them in my bag. Once we got our luggage off the carousel, I walked over to an empty rental car booth at the airport and kindly asked the man working there if I could borrow his stapler to staple my tags on. He jokingly said, "Yes, ten pounds cash only please!" to which I laughed. I stapled my tag around each suitcase handle. You can put the tags on before you leave home if you want, but I wanted to keep the least amount of bar codes on each bag until they were needed.
 
 
Princess Coach Transfer:
Since we booked the Princess coach transfer from Heathrow to the ship ($49/pp each way), I kept my eyes peeled for a Princess representative. Sure enough, right smack there at the front of the fence in Arrivals with a clipboard with a Princess logo on it was a nice British lady. We didn’t have to show her anything, we just told her our last names and she checked her clipboard, gave us a green sticker and told us to "sit with the others".

The area where you sit is a "Meeting Point" area and it is next to a snack shop and a small café which was fabulous because we were starving. I bought a bottled water (make sure to get "still") from the shop and handed over two pound coins – the first time I’d ever used foreign currency – and I was very giddy! The café is great and has sandwiches, fruit, yogurts, etc. Bathrooms (get ready to say "toilets") are right around the corner from the adorable painted wall that says "Welcome To London".

We waited for about 30-40 minutes until the lady called our color (I saw others with blue stickers as well). It was probably 10am at this point. I’m not sure if buses arrive any earlier than this or not. We followed her outside to the bus area and waiting for us was a Crawley Luxury coach. I was secretly hoping it would be a big, white National Express bus since I heard they were super comfy. My fears were put to rest when we climbed aboard the Crawley bus and they had reclining seats and a toilet. (Plus the word Crawley just brought up my secret passion for the Downton Abbey show...)



Let me note that I am so completely happy that I booked the Princess coach transfer. I’ve had transfers on other cruise lines that were crowded and pointless but I knew this one would be worth it because I didn’t want to lug our giant suitcases on a train or in a cab. A private car was out of our budget, and I didn’t dare trust either of us to attempt to rent a car and drive on the opposite side of the road with foreign signs and roundabouts.

The ride from Heathrow directly to the ship was 90 minutes. This was on a Saturday so I wasn’t worried about traffic, though there was a spot of traffic about 10 miles out from Southampton and I remembered John Bull saying that folks like to head to the beach on the weekends. The coach was extremely comfy. Everyone was chatty the first 15 minutes after we took off but after that most of them fell fast asleep. I was wide awake and giddy just to be in another country, noting the different signs and companies and vehicles (the cars are all hatchbacks!)

Don't we look so awake? I'm trying to hide my double-chin.


The scenery between the two stops is beautiful! I didn’t know we’d be driving through what felt like the English countryside. I marveled at the miles of rolling green hills, sheep, horses and barns. It was a beautiful departure from Los Angeles. Once in Southampton, our driver weaved the bus all over the town streets and it was very noticeable how incredibly far away each cruise terminal is. I now know why you can’t "just walk it". Southampton looks to be quite a cute little city and I noticed a few of the hotels that people were probably staying at.
 

Embarkation:
The bus pulled up to the Ocean Terminal and we exited and walked across the pavement into the modern building. Here is the part that a few folks are eagerly waiting for: In our case (not all, but for us) there was no staggered boarding. Or if there was, I sure as heck didn’t see it happening. It was nearly noon at this point, and the terminal wasn’t that busy at all. Maybe 200 people, give or take? A nice lady gave us both a red card with the letter "R" and a pamphlet about our health to fill out. I looked up and noticed that the folks currently in line were from the "P" section, so we weren’t far behind. I think we waited all of 15 minutes in the terminal until they called the "R" group and we quickly headed into the queue line. In the line, I don’t think we waited more than 5 minutes since there were so many windows with representatives open.

The three things we brought that were needed at check-in were:
1.) The health card you just filled out right then and there, swearing that you’re not sick.
2.) Your printed out Princess e-ticket boarding pass from your Cruise Personalizer page (or travel agent).
3.) Passports
I did not have to show them a credit card since I already activated our Capital One card as the card that we would be putting purchases on online in the Cruise Personalizer.

The nice person at the desk will take your passport and keep it for a few days. I believe we got ours back from our room steward between Dublin and Liverpool. They will give you a yellow claim tag that they tear off when they take your passports at the terminal. Do not lose this. You will need this little yellow tag to give to your room steward in return for your passports. Put this little tag in your wallet or your stateroom safe. Then they will give you a pocket map of the ship as well as your cruise cards. I noticed that your cruise cards are colored based on your Captains Circle color. Ours were gold. I’m sure others had silver and I think newbies had blue?

After that, you head to a section behind the glass walls where security is. Yes, after traveling lord knows how many miles and through various airports, you have to yet again take off your watch, wallet, jacket, belt, shoes, etc. to put into bins and to walk through a security area similar to an airport. However, in the line to do this, they have photographers to take your photo against a blue backdrop which will later be turned into your cheese-tastic embarkation photo. I use cheese-tastic lightly, as I secretly wanted to purchase the photo but never got around to it. I chuckle because everyone is so jet-lagged and out of it that all we could do is put on our best disheveled smiles while trying to drop whatever carry-on baggage we had for the picture. After that, it’s onto the ship! (You never thought I’d get to this part, right?)

On the ship:
I heard somewhere that rooms are ready right away on Princess because they kick everyone off so early on debarkation day. I can see how this is true. Our room was C218 which is a very far forward "BB" Balcony room on the Caribe deck, Deck 10. Here is the part of the story in which I get tomatoes thrown at me from the audience.

This room was an upgrade. From an Interior.

I know, I know, right?!?!? It’s like I cashed in all my Karma points. We originally booked an Interior in November of 2011 when they were having an apparent Veteran’s Day sale, or as I like to call it, "The OMG I Just Logged In And Prices Dropped 40% And Nobody Told Me" sale! I closed my eyes, squealed, clicked the computer mouse and made it official. Of course I did all of this at work, which forced me to bite my lip and attempt not to scream like a crazy person while sitting at my office desk in pure silence, toes curled.

"We’re going to the British Isles! We’re going to the British Isles! Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!"

It was an Interior on Plaza Deck 5, which I convinced my husband was great since we’d be right next to the main dining room and all the activities. I should also note that this was our first time ever booking an Interior. On our other cruises (which were shorter and decidedly less expensive) we would get balconies. But I touted that we’d "be on land so much" and would "only use the room to sleep" and "it would force us to do more activities onboard instead of lounging in the room".

I read all the fun "Upgrade Fairy" threads on the message boards and knew that there was a slim chance they might upgrade us. A few months after booking, in the Spring of 2012, I got an "Upgrade Notice" email. They had moved us from Plaza, Deck 5 to the very rear of Deck 10. No problemo. Same room, better deck. Sounds good. I heard that getting an upgrade was nice and that double upgrades rarely ever happen.

...Until 30 days before sailing, when I was casually perusing my e-mail one night in the kitchen when my Inbox chimed.
"Upgrade Notice"
My husband was right there when it happened. All I did was scroll a few inches down the page until I saw the Holy Grail letters...... "BB". Then I started shaking. I shook like one of those crazy contestants on The Price Is Right when they outbid their neighbor by $1.00 and they get to run up on stage and spin the big wheel. I quickly Googled "BB Caribbean Princess room" and it only took a mere three seconds for a webpage to pop up that had the glorious words...... Balcony.

I screamed. It’s true. I screamed like a crazy lady and I jumped off the barstool and did a running lap through the downstairs, winding my way around the front door and ending up back at the computer table. My husband, equally excited, had no clue how someone could get upgraded so many categories. All I could think of is that they were massively dropping prices (they were, it was quite a steal if you booked less than 30 days out) and that they wanted to fill up the "cheap rooms", I suppose.

And that, my friends, is when I started fanning my face with my hands, figuring that all of the stress and sleepless nights and obsessive planning and what-if’s and crazy airplane news and making an OCD three-ring binder was all for. This.....was fate’s way of saying "Chill out and enjoy."


(Technically our 7-year anniversary was on the 21st, but this was a pleasant surprise on Day 2.)


Next chapter: The Room, The Food & Officer Eye Candy.
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Up next:
Disney Wonder ~ 3-night West Coast ~ May 13, 2018

Adventure of the Seas ~ 8-Night Eastern Caribbean ~ January 19, 2019

-Ruby Princess ~ CA Coastal ~ 4/1/17
-Carnival Inspiration ~ Girlfriends Getaway ~ 1/5/17
-Disney Wonder ~ West Coast (first cruise with our toddler!) ~ 5/1/16
-NCL Pearl ~ Pacific Coastal ~ 5/5/13

-Carnival Destiny ~ Bahamas ~ 1/21/13 ~ (Trip Report)
-Caribbean Princess ~ British Isles! ~ 5/26/12 ~(Trip Report - BEST CRUISE EVER!)
-RCCL Freedom ~ Western Caribbean ~ 1/18/09 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Monarch ~ West Coast ~ 2/18/08
-Disney Magic ~ Eastern Caribbean ~ 4/28/07 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Vision ~ Alaska ~ 5/19/06
-Star Princess ~ Mexican Riviera ~ 1/13/03
#24
Victoria, BC
5,416 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
emily, i am enjoying this so much. i look forward to more as this has been one of the cruises i check out all the time.
pam, i've never heard of disposable undies! that's the something new i've learned today...i wonder what the person who has to take out the garbage thinks?! and your garbage bag tip, i've used before. simple, effective, brilliant.
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#25
9,641 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
I'm loving your review. You really took me back to my first visit to England -- I, too, was soooooooooo excited the first time I used English money (pound coins; how cool are they?!) and I, too, marveled at how much unspoiled countryside was. Your enthusiasm is jumping off the screen and it's fantastic! Looking forward to more . . .
#26
Santa Clarita, CA
1,305 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Originally posted by cdngrl
emily, i am enjoying this so much. i look forward to more as this has been one of the cruises i check out all the time.
pam, i've never heard of disposable undies! that's the something new i've learned today...i wonder what the person who has to take out the garbage thinks?! and your garbage bag tip, i've used before. simple, effective, brilliant.
Hi there. Actually, it was us visiting your city (Victoria, British Columbia - during an Alaskan cruise) with it's small hints of British charm that started my longing for wanting to visit Britain. So, thank you!
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Up next:
Disney Wonder ~ 3-night West Coast ~ May 13, 2018

Adventure of the Seas ~ 8-Night Eastern Caribbean ~ January 19, 2019

-Ruby Princess ~ CA Coastal ~ 4/1/17
-Carnival Inspiration ~ Girlfriends Getaway ~ 1/5/17
-Disney Wonder ~ West Coast (first cruise with our toddler!) ~ 5/1/16
-NCL Pearl ~ Pacific Coastal ~ 5/5/13

-Carnival Destiny ~ Bahamas ~ 1/21/13 ~ (Trip Report)
-Caribbean Princess ~ British Isles! ~ 5/26/12 ~(Trip Report - BEST CRUISE EVER!)
-RCCL Freedom ~ Western Caribbean ~ 1/18/09 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Monarch ~ West Coast ~ 2/18/08
-Disney Magic ~ Eastern Caribbean ~ 4/28/07 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Vision ~ Alaska ~ 5/19/06
-Star Princess ~ Mexican Riviera ~ 1/13/03
#28
New Jersey
307 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
Thank you for posting a detailed review..I am really enjoying it. My cousin and I are planning on taking this trip in a couple years for 'our' big 40 birthday and this is really getting me excited about planning

My favorite part so far: "We’re going to the British Isles! We’re going to the British Isles! Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!"
I laughed so hard at that because just to my first cruise to Alaska (and I mean first cruise period) and I kept saying. - Oh my god, oh my god, we are on a cruise ship!
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Cheers,
Tina

The early bird may get the worm BUT....
the early worm gets eatten and its the second mouse who gets the cheese!!




Sea Princess ~ Alaska ~ May 13 - 23, 2012...First Cruise Completed! It was AWESOME!!
Celebrity Summit ~ Caribbean ~ Nov. 1 - 8, 2014...Yeah Man!
#29
Victoria, BC
5,416 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by DeloreanGirl
Hi there. Actually, it was us visiting your city (Victoria, British Columbia - during an Alaskan cruise) with it's small hints of British charm that started my longing for wanting to visit Britain. So, thank you!
awww shucks, i do what i can.
i had my first visit to london this past november and i want to go back! i reeeeaaaaaallly want to see scotland though. i can't wait for more of your review. i love the "hide your double chin photo".
where are you going next? you can do the legwork beforehand and i'll just show up to tag along!
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#30
Central Ohio
3,369 Posts
Joined May 2007
I would rank your review up there with those of Sailor Jack. Can't wait for the next installment. Hope you don't have to work until your review is done!
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NCL Pride of Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands, January 14, 2008, our 40th anniversary cruise
Sapphire Princess, Alaska,Vancouver to Whittier plus land to Denali, August 22, 2009
HAL Maasdam, Bostonto Quebec, bus to Montreal, May 14, 2011
NCL Pearl,Pacific Coastal, LA to Vancouver, April 29, 2012
Carnival Glory, NYC to Canada, August 11, 2012 our 2nd NE/Canadian cruise
NCL Jewel, Alaska, Seattle round trip, July 6, 2013 our 2nd Alaska cruise
NCL Sun, PacificCoastal, LA to Vancouver, May 13, 2014 our 2nd Pacific Coastal
NCL Dawn, Bostonto Quebec, Sept 11, 2015 our 3rd NE/Canadian cruise
NCL Jewel, Alaska, Seattle to Vancouver, September 17, 2016 our 3rd Alaska cruise
NCL Pride of America, December 9, 2017, our 50th anniversary cruise and our 2nd cruise to Hawaii
#31
Santa Clarita, CA
1,305 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Originally posted by cdngrl
awww shucks, i do what i can.
i had my first visit to london this past november and i want to go back! i reeeeaaaaaallly want to see scotland though. i can't wait for more of your review. i love the "hide your double chin photo".
where are you going next? you can do the legwork beforehand and i'll just show up to tag along!
In a perfect world, Pacific Coastal would be next. I'm a Californian since birth and have never been to Santa Barbara or San Francisco. Blasphemy! It hits Astoria and I think Victoria or Vancouver.

Originally posted by pizzalady1
I would rank your review up there with those of Sailor Jack. Can't wait for the next installment. Hope you don't have to work until your review is done!
Oooo, thank you! I think I've seen his name somewhere before. I'll have to seek him out.
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Up next:
Disney Wonder ~ 3-night West Coast ~ May 13, 2018

Adventure of the Seas ~ 8-Night Eastern Caribbean ~ January 19, 2019

-Ruby Princess ~ CA Coastal ~ 4/1/17
-Carnival Inspiration ~ Girlfriends Getaway ~ 1/5/17
-Disney Wonder ~ West Coast (first cruise with our toddler!) ~ 5/1/16
-NCL Pearl ~ Pacific Coastal ~ 5/5/13

-Carnival Destiny ~ Bahamas ~ 1/21/13 ~ (Trip Report)
-Caribbean Princess ~ British Isles! ~ 5/26/12 ~(Trip Report - BEST CRUISE EVER!)
-RCCL Freedom ~ Western Caribbean ~ 1/18/09 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Monarch ~ West Coast ~ 2/18/08
-Disney Magic ~ Eastern Caribbean ~ 4/28/07 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Vision ~ Alaska ~ 5/19/06
-Star Princess ~ Mexican Riviera ~ 1/13/03
#32
Santa Clarita, CA
1,305 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Chapter 3: The Room, The Food & Officer Eye Candy. (Day 1)

Back when the Caribbean Princess was out of commission straddled alongside San Juan’s port, there was a Cruise Critic member named MD Sue who saved our sanity by posting updates about the ship as she limped back to life with a new left rear propulsion engine. When MD Sue finally went on her trip, the first one after two weeks of cancelled sailings, she had a forward port balcony room on one of the upper decks with “officer eye candy”. I laughed at her comment and subsequent photos until I realized that I, too, had a similar room and view.

It was great to see the captain give the stink eye to those lazy passengers boarding 30 minutes late. (I kid, the captain is a total sweetheart.)


The Room: C218 – Forward Port BB Balcony
Our home away from home, C218, was perfect. The cabin size is modest but the balcony was massive! All balconies on Caribe Deck 10 truly are 9’x9’. They are partially covered and partially uncovered, which for this itinerary was perfect seeing as we had drizzly mornings and sunny afternoons. The Caribe balconies had two chairs with adjustable lounge chair backings and a small table. I read a few threads about how “awfully small” the tables are. But unless you’re eating dinner out there for two, I really didn’t find a problem with it. It’s enough space to hold a book and a drink. Or two drinks and a pastry.


I did notice that the balcony below ours had nicer chairs, ottomans, and a much larger table. Are these mini-suites?

This is the view from the entryway/closet/hallway. There’s more than enough room for two people to hang out in here. We never used the circular table for dining and I only sat in the chair a few times. The cruise was nearly over until I realized that the light switch for the two halogen lights over the reading desk is next to the wall outlet, and also that there was an outside balcony light tucked behind the curtains.


So, I read a few posts about how awful the beds were. I blew it off and played the whole “it won’t happen to me” card. And oh, it happened. It truly was awful. You can literally see in this photo how lumpy the bed is. The two twins pushed together were concave, like a lower cased “w” from being so worn in. They were a combination of flat, hard, and lumpy. I figured an egg crate couldn’t possibly help this situation any and we decided to blow it off as they were still bearable and anything to sleep on other than an airplane seat sounded great at the moment. I should also note that, as others have mentioned, the pillows are insanely soft and puffy. If you like this sort of thing, great. But they were too puffy for us and we had to nearly fold them over in half to create a firmness that worked for our heads and neck. Again, it wasn’t anything we griped about. We just accepted it and moved on.

Onto the closet…

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of closet space that was given. It really worked well with the room layout. Someone once wrote that you had ample room to get dressed with a dividing wall between you and the room and you wouldn’t have to worry about closing the curtains all the time.
As mentioned earlier, the closet comes with 20 hangars. I tried to immediately hang everything up and spray my Downy Wrinkle Release on it. We folded jeans and wrinkle-free dresses into the vertical cabinet which also house the safe. We created our safe code and put my iPad, wallet, and money pouch in it. There’s tons of room up top where the life jackets and pool towels are. Down below, I had more than enough room to house both large suitcases, four pairs of shoes and my hamper. Voila!

The bathroom was one of the smaller bathrooms I have seen on a ship. We didn’t mind. It has enough shelves to hold some makeup and other toiletries. I always put our toothbrushes in the glass cup they provide. They give you 2 washcloths, 2 hand towels and 2 bath towels along with a floor towel. The shower is a hexagonal tube of sorts and way smaller than other cruise lines. However, instead of the claustrophobia –inducing plastic Star Trek door like Royal Caribbean, they simply use a fabric liner to close. This liner gets very wet when showering and I found that even if the curtain stays inside the shower (via a very, very small lip on the floor) our bathroom floor still got soaked - towel and all. Just make sure to tell the person you’re with to not step into the bathroom with nice dry socks after someone has showered.

At this point, our stateroom steward knocked on the door and had our luggage. His name was Roberto and good lord, if you are ever lucky enough to be on this deck and have Roberto (from Mexico) as your steward – he is AMAZING. His enthusiasm was off the charts. He was young, peppy, funny, reliable, and apparently a big Lady Gaga fan. I swear he never sleeps. He’s up in the morning cleaning rooms, during the afternoon, and late into the evenings. We would step out for 60 seconds and he would magically appear out of nowhere and have turndown service completely done with a Patter and two pillow chocolates. I have no idea when he took breaks. We are the type of cruisers that sleep in really late and lounge around so I’m sure he hated that we threw off his cleaning schedule. Nonetheless, he was full of smiles and hello’s whenever we would see him – even if it was in an elevator or on land! I left him a raving review at the end of the voyage.

Since there wasn’t much of a “sailaway” (it’s a very, very different vibe than a young Caribbean cruise) we decided to hang out on our balcony while we pulled out of port and later moved down to Deck 7 for better views. I must add that Mike and I are huge (like….ridiculously huge) Titanic fans and I want to warn you that a lot of our photos throughout the trip have a constant Titanic theme. After all, Cobh, Liverpool, Southampton and Belfast were all HUGE Titanic ports. I say this because the Caribbean Princes s was berthed at 144. And Titanic was berthed at 146 which was right across from us. (Remember the movie? Where Jack won the poker hand and Rose got out of the car with her big hat? Yep, that was Southampton.) Spooky.

Once we gently and quietly left Southampton, Mike and I stayed on Deck 7 and watched beautiful England pass us by. It was then and there that I saw my first official castle…


Can you tell I was a wee bit excited?
You have to understand, I’m from California. The closest thing we have to a castle is the Disneyland castle, Hearst Castle, and the Medieval Times castle. Two of those three are fake. This was the real deal. Everything I was about to see was legit. Not a façade -- like the streets of my first job, Universal Studios. Oh no, this was real. No foam and plywood here.
As the evening progressed, we did the whole lets-walk-around-the-ship thing. The Piazza was perfectly sized and elegant. Though I must say that it’s really trippy being on a Caribbean-themed ship when you’re cruising in a British, cold climate. The whales and coral and palm trees were an interesting sight.

There was a quartet (yay, funding for real musicians!) playing in the Piazza and we grabbed a quick bite from the International Café. I have to say that I expected the International Café to be bigger. Maybe it’s because they use the word “café”. Regardless, a turkey sandwich was enough to hold us over for now. I never got a chance to sample their highly-reviewed cold pasta salads, which I regret.

Dining: aka The Table For Two Fiasco That Wasn’t
One of the first things we do on our first day of being onboard is to visit the Maitre ‘D to request a table for two. I asked a nearby employee where we could meet him and he led us to a short line that had formed inside one of the main dining rooms. Apparently quite a few people had extra “requests” like us.

Here comes the really bizarre/funny part:
The Maître D wasn’t at his wood podium like he normally is. Oh no. This was epic. This was out of a Godfather movie. The Maître D had his own fancy table next to the window. If you saw it, you would laugh. The window was so bright and sunny and he was sitting in front of it, backlit, with two other waiters and the seating chart and paperwork in front of him. One by one, a server would “allow” you to walk up to him to talk to him.

We couldn’t stop laughing because it was so overblown. We felt like we were at a bank getting ready to sit at a table to apply for a home loan! Luckily, everyone who left “The Table” was smiling. When it was our turn, I suddenly wondered that maybe our request was too petty for “The Almighty Maître D”. When we got up to “The Table” and sat down in front of “His Presence”, we kindly stated that we had Anytime Dining and we were hoping that maybe we could wait for a table for two to open up.

He chuckled and explained in a much romanticized Italian accent that it was no big deal for a table for two. You could call ahead and make a reservation or simply show up later in the night when the chaos dies down and there would be plenty open. He didn’t have to write down anything on our card or make any crazy arrangements. I basically just waited in line for a suave guy in a white tux to tell me, “Just show up. You’ll be fine.” We smiled, thanked him, and walked away bashfully with an embarrassing halo around us. And that, folks, is the extent of the drama when it comes to “getting a table for two”. We asked – so that you don’t have to!

We ate in the main dining room that night. Every night of the cruise is “Smart Casual” in the dining rooms except for the second night in (Guernsey night) which is “Formal” and your first Sea Day which was also “Formal”. Since we were “Anytime Dining”, we could eat between 6:30pm-9:30pm in either the Coral or Island dining rooms. We looooooved Anytime Dining. I didn’t mind that we had different servers sometimes. Our servers (except for 1-2 of them) were great . We didn’t have one bad meal on the boat. Also, my goal on cruises is to “not eat chicken”. I force myself to eat something other than what I eat at home. So I think the first night I had veal or lamb. I should also note that due to jet-lag and whatnot, we ate really late that night. We ate at 9pm in the MDR and gosh golly there were lots of 2-person tables available and we were seated within seconds. This would later become a pattern in the cruise.

There are four courses to each dinner, though you’re not required to pick from all four. One would be a tiny appetizer, the second would be a soup (cold and hot) or salad, the third would be the entrée, and the fourth would be dessert. If you order a cold soup (like a chilled mango soup, etc.) they will serve it to you in a cocktail glass with a straw. It’s really odd. It looks like you’re the lush ordering Pina Coladas every night at dinner.
The desserts ranged from various ice cream flavors, floating islands, crème brulee, tiramisu, Princess Love Boat Dream, cobblers, chocolate cakes, and my all-time favorite – the cheesecake. I don’t care if it’s flash frozen back there. It was GOOD.

P.S. Why do they ask for your room number on some nights in the dining room? Is it a survey? Do they want to keep track of when you eat, or what you eat? I found it perplexing. I should have asked.

Oh, let me also note that Dan Styne was the cruise director. I’m glad the Patter told us, because I never saw him anywhere except an intro or two on our stateroom television when he emceed the beginning of a show.

Movies Under The Stars = ESPN & “The Iron Lady” (these movies also play in your stateroom television)
Theater: “Welcome Aboard Showtime with Comedian Lenny Windsor” (cricket…..cricket…)
Dining Room: “Boy Voyage Dinner” in the buffet, and I think the fancy MDR menu was “Princess Dinner” or “Captains Dinner”. The titles really didn’t mean anything. The food was darn good in my opinion and anyone who says “it’s cafeteria food” must be a Michelin Chef at home because I sure as heck don’t get to eat veal, lamb, lobster, prawns, steaks and amazing salmon every night of the week. Just sayin’.
The “Ultimate Soda Package” is $7.00 per person per day + 15% gratuity. You have to drink a heck of a lot of soda. Wowza.

I should also note that my hubby drank the coffee in the buffet every morning and thought it was totally normal. He’s not an everyday coffee drinker so I can understand why people avoid it or bring the Starbucks Via packs. But he’d pipe up if he didn’t like it and he never griped about it.

To those who say the orange juice is gross, I’d have to partially disagree. It tasted like orange juice, but they pour it out of room-temperature plastic pitchers that sit at the drink stations without being refrigerated. Maybe that’s why. We also found it funny that they REALLY push the orange juice on you. My hubby said, “Do you think it’s because they want you to stay healthy?” He may have been proven right when a German server said, “Have orange juice. You need. Yes. I pour. It is vitamin C.” Hmm, okay then.

Next chapter: Chancing Guernsey – Day 2
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~Emily
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Up next:
Disney Wonder ~ 3-night West Coast ~ May 13, 2018

Adventure of the Seas ~ 8-Night Eastern Caribbean ~ January 19, 2019

-Ruby Princess ~ CA Coastal ~ 4/1/17
-Carnival Inspiration ~ Girlfriends Getaway ~ 1/5/17
-Disney Wonder ~ West Coast (first cruise with our toddler!) ~ 5/1/16
-NCL Pearl ~ Pacific Coastal ~ 5/5/13

-Carnival Destiny ~ Bahamas ~ 1/21/13 ~ (Trip Report)
-Caribbean Princess ~ British Isles! ~ 5/26/12 ~(Trip Report - BEST CRUISE EVER!)
-RCCL Freedom ~ Western Caribbean ~ 1/18/09 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Monarch ~ West Coast ~ 2/18/08
-Disney Magic ~ Eastern Caribbean ~ 4/28/07 (Trip Report)
-RCCL Vision ~ Alaska ~ 5/19/06
-Star Princess ~ Mexican Riviera ~ 1/13/03
#33
League City, TX
41,863 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by DeloreanGirl


P.S. Why do they ask for your room number on some nights in the dining room? Is it a survey? Do they want to keep track of when you eat, or what you eat? I found it perplexing. I should have asked.
They want to make sure that you are assigned to Anytime and not Traditional dining.
#34
3,826 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Thanks for bringing the cruise back to life!
Re: August 2009 we did this cruise with Liverpool & cork. You needed layers. Not scarf & mitts like may 14 th cruise I just did, but I remember I wore spring jacket a couple of days.

Also take US quarters for laundry. Purser only had a few when we needed them. Those 3 in 1 laundry sheets work well.

In mini suite you get 2 chairs, 2 footstools, 1 higher table. It was nice but we prefer aft facing cabins for view.

Thanks again for posting.
Dog
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dog
#35
Mesa, AZ
937 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
We still have over a year until our British Isles cruise--I am even more excited! I have been following all of your questions pre-cruise and this is great hearing all about it now! Thank you for taking the time to help all of us "soon to be" British Isles cruisers!
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Rose








Past Cruises:
I have more to add one of these days
HAL Rotterdam 11-22-2010 30 Day Hawaii / Tahiti
HAL Zaandam 4-27-2010 16 Day Circle Hawaii
HAL Zaandam 11-7-09 15 Day Circle Hawaii
HAL Zuiderdam: 9-26-09 3-day Coastal
HAL Zaandam: 5-22-09 Alaska
Princess Dawn: 7-6-08 Alaska
Princess Dawn: 3-9-08 Mexican Riviera
Carnival Elation: 7-2007 3 day Baja
Carnival Liberty: August 2005 12 Day Med
#36
Kentucky
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
We had the opposite dining issue: we wanted Traditional dining at a table of 6-8 (love to bond over dinner with new folks during the cruise, we traded email addresses!), and instead were seated by ourselves at a table of 4 (2 empty seats). So, upon our request, they moved us to a table of 6 beginning the next night.
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#37
Lakewood IL
1,319 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Emily - you write a great review!

And what makes it so exciting for me is that in a year we will be doing the same cruise! Oh please keep writing, it is wonderful! I am so full of anticipation!!!!
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~Linda

Future:
May/June 2016 : Elbe River & Baltics : River Allegro & Land Tour; Sept.-Nov 2016 : 4 Continent Cruise : Emerald Princess

Past:
Jan/Feb 2016 : Antarctica/South America : Corinthian; Nov. 2015 : Hawaii : Ruby Princess; Sept/Oct 2015 : Switzerland - Belgium : M/S Melody: July/Aug 2015 : Amsterdam - Bucharest : M/S Concerto;April 2015 TA to Barcelona / May 2015 Barcelona - Istanbul : Emerald Princess; Nov. 2014 Panama Canal w/family : Island Princess; April 2014 : TA - FLL to Berlin : Royal Princess; Nov/Dec. 2013 : Southern Caribbean BTB: Crown Princess
June 2013 British Isles : Caribbean Princess; Feb. 2013 Eastern Caribbean : Emerald Princess; Nov. 4/11 2012 - BTB Eastern Caribbean : Ruby Princess; Feb/March 2012 : Tahiti - Sydney : Ocean Princess; Jan. 2012 - Eastern Caribbean : Ruby Princess; Nov. 2011 - Southern Caribean : Emerald Princess; Sept. 2011 - New England/Canada : Caribbean Princess; Feb. 2011 - Hawaii-Tahiti : Royal Princess; June 2010 - Alaska : Coral Princess; Denali on our own; April 2007 - Lindblad - Panama Canal/Costa Rica; April 2006 - Lindblad - Galapagos/Machu Picchu
#38
West Wales UK
112 Posts
Joined May 2010
Hi Emily,

I too am loving reading your review, and can't wait for next installment! It is really interesting to see through your eyes (and excitement) of how it is for you to see the UK, I am the same as you when I go to the US, which I love!! either cruising or land holidays, I thought the comment when you got to the other side of airport and went to the shop and handed over £2 was so funny, are bless!!

Yes I know what you mean by get used to saying 'toilet' I however have got used to saying bathroom or rest room and sometimes say over here now!!

We are cruising end of Sept, New England, with 3 nights in New York prior, this is one cruise I have always wanted to do and am as excited as you were when you came to the UK!! I too am doing loads of research on each Port and weather....................layer layer and layers haha.

I think you were lucky with the weather, or had you just missed our 'heat wave'? the weather here at the moment is awful ..... winds and rain, can't plan anything with bl**dy British weather!!

Looking for to your next installment xx

Mel
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Britannia Dec 2016

Adonia Jan 2016
Adonia P&O Caribbean & Amazon Jan 2015
Ventura P&O Med Sept 2014
Azura P&O Caribbean Feb 2014
Emerald Princess New England and Canada 2012
Azura P&O Caribbean 2012
Golden Princess Alaska 2010
Oceana P&O Panama Canal 2009
Arcadia P&O Central Med 2009
Oceana P&O Caribbean Christmas 2007
Arcadia P&O Caribbean 2006
Tahitian Princess Tahiti 2005
Oceana P&O Caribbean 2004
#39
West Wales UK
112 Posts
Joined May 2010
Hey sunluva7,

Bring your shorts in August but not as many as you would for Caribbean! We tend to wear shorts/ capris and jumpers!! Weather here awful at moment lets hope we get some proper summer in August for you and everyone else!!

The evenings can be cold also, which I hate as love sitting out side in the evening with a glass of wine (or 2)!!

Mel
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Britannia Dec 2016

Adonia Jan 2016
Adonia P&O Caribbean & Amazon Jan 2015
Ventura P&O Med Sept 2014
Azura P&O Caribbean Feb 2014
Emerald Princess New England and Canada 2012
Azura P&O Caribbean 2012
Golden Princess Alaska 2010
Oceana P&O Panama Canal 2009
Arcadia P&O Central Med 2009
Oceana P&O Caribbean Christmas 2007
Arcadia P&O Caribbean 2006
Tahitian Princess Tahiti 2005
Oceana P&O Caribbean 2004