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bnickle

Three Nickles take on the British Isles. And a little bit of France.

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I’m really enjoying your review, especially as it’s my turn in just 18 days!

 

I thought your comments about Cobh/Cork were interesting. I organized a small group tour through Butler’s Bus (same company as eCoach) and really struggled with whether or not to include Blarney. Ultimately I decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at Blarney Castle fighting the crowds, and we opted for the English Market in Cork, Charles Fort, Kinsale, and the coastal scenery. I want time to wander and explore, and I thought Blarney would be too time consuming.

 

 

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I'm sorry is Anfield the soccer stadium in Liverpool? I say I am sorry because I don't follow soccer and when you started your post for Liverpool you mentioned your husband a bid LFC supporter. I decided this meant Liverpool football club. Am I correct? I only know of Liverpool for the Beatles and building submarines in WWII. Albert Docks. Any more tidbits you can fill me in

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I'm sorry is Anfield the soccer stadium in Liverpool? I say I am sorry because I don't follow soccer and when you started your post for Liverpool you mentioned your husband a bid LFC supporter. I decided this meant Liverpool football club. Am I correct? I only know of Liverpool for the Beatles and building submarines in WWII. Albert Docks. Any more tidbits you can fill me in

 

Yes the Anfield stadium is in Liverpool.

 

https://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/stadium

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Belfast

I am sitting here, in a weird kind of numbed awe, from what I promise is the most incredible tour of anything I have ever taken in my life. That’s probably way more hyperbole than I’m comfortable owning up to, but Greg and Kate are in the same boat of trying to talk about what we saw and just not having adequate words.

We were up at 6, to be ready to eat breakfast at 7, so we could be ready to disembark after docking at 8. I am not going to lie...I’m increasingly not a fan of the Horizon Court Buffet. It has a scattered and haphazard layout. In every other venue on board we have enjoyed the food, and the buffet has the advantage of being convenient, but it’s just not good. This morning, I had some fresh fruit and granola and yogurt, but the hot food is not really good. Or I could just be weirdly picky. My daughter votes the latter.

Our tour was arranged for us by the lovely and fabulous Dianne H., who I met on the CC roll call for this trip. Another of many reasons to participate in the roll call for your sailing is the meeting up with very nice people to make plans with. Dianne had made arrangements for a private tour for the five of us (Greg, Kate, me, Dianne, and her husband, Otis) with City and Causeway Tours that involved a drive over Irish backroads through small villages Glenarm, Carnlough, Waterfoot, Cushendall, and Cushendun, with several stops for photos of some of the most verdant, lush, countryside you will ever see. Then a lovely drive over the Torr Road, through BalleyCastle, a stop to look at the scenery at the Carrick-A-Rede, White Bridge Bay, and a very lovely hour at the Giant’s Causeway, walking around. Then lunch at Wee Cottage at Dunluce Castle, a visit to Bushmill’s Distillery for a quick tasting, and then head back to the ship. It was made plain that it was our day to plan, and we could subtract or add as was reasonable for the time frame.

We met Dianne and Otis and our driver/guide, Michael, at 8:15, and Michael was amazing. A gregarious yet soft spoken gentleman, Michael had us loaded into his Mercedes Van and speeding through town in no time at all. Driving through Belfast as we left town he pointed out various sights and some truly lovely architecture. Our drive through the Irish countryside was gorgeous. I am not sure we were prepared for the scope of beauty we were seeing, and Michael was an informative and fun host without being overly ingratiating. Each time he said, “And now, we’re going to see...” we saw something even more lovely than what we had just seen. Sheep and cattle scattered about the countryside, calmly munching cud and sparing us disinterested glances as we sped by. We reached The Torr Road, and Michael made sure we understood that it was known as The Rollercoaster Road for good reason before setting out. It is about, as I recall 15 or so miles of up and and down road with hairpin turns, sudden banking curves, and narrow passages all along a cliff side. The view is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I feel hyperbole in everything I’m writing here, but I just can’t think how to do justice to the scope of what we saw. We finished the road at a great view of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. He advised to not spend time crossing it, as the line is pretty long, and they only allow 8 people on it at a time. We enjoyed the scenery, and the area is stunning. We drove through White Bridge Bay, again pausing to wander about for a few minutes and just quietly soak up the view before heading a short distance to the Giant’s Causeway.

The Giant’s Causeway was packed with tourists, as it apparently was a heavy cruise day in Belfast, and when we arrived about 11:30 the lot was full of busses, vans, and taxis. Michael advised us to skip the Visitor’s Center, which charges an admission that actually is not needed to visit the area of the Causeway. There is a short tunnel you pass through, walking, then you have the choice of walking down to the site or catching a short ride down on a shuttle (£1). Greg and Kate walked down, and I rode down on the shuttle. A quick note...I had been wearing my knee brace all week and between that and soaking it in the therapy pool at the Enclave every day, I was doing ok, but I was walking A LOT so whenever possible I took it easy on my knee and the walk from the visitor’s center to the site is about a 20 minute downhill hike.

The Causeway is really cool. Michael had played a folk tale during our journey to the Causeway about the fabled origins of it, and it added to the mystery and spectacle of what we saw. The site is comprised of about 40,000 basalt columns of specific hexigonical shape, jutting upwards from the ground to form a large uneven land mass. Estimated to have formed between 50 and 60 million years ago, the columns provide a tricky walkway at the edge of the sea. It’s interesting and fun, and after being told firmly to wait for my ardent jailers...I mean, my concerned husband and daughter, I nodded, smiled, waited while they climbed on and up and then I walked out onto a flatter area for a small lookieloo at the lava formations. Then I caught the shuttle back up, another £1, met up with the rest of our group, and off we sped. I have to interject here that it seems like the National Trust is still trying to figure out how to market and charge for the attraction, as you cannot get to the gift shop without paying the Admission fee to the Visitor’s Center, but you do not need an admission ticket to the site itself.

On to lunch, at the Wee Cottage beside Dunluce Castle. Michael called ahead to make sure there was a table available, as this is literally a cottage with about 8 or 9 tables in it. The food is really good. It’s a limited soup and sandwich menu, but everything is prepared fresh. I had potato and leek soup and it was delicious. We watched out the window as an elaborate film crew appeared to be working on something and the waiter told us it was Walt Disney filming something. In any case, by 2:00 we had finished our lunch, and were on our way to Bushmill’s Distillery. Once there, we decided to skip the formal tour, which would have taken an hour and been pretty pricey, and just do an informal tasting. Dianne and Otis had tried Whiskey at the Jameson’s Distillery in Dublin, and they shared their “tasting” instructions so we could sip and savor. It was fun, and Bushmill’s has a very nice tasting set up as well as a lovely gift shop. They tried the Reserve and we tried the 20 year old, and I think we all really enjoyed it. It was a lot smoother than I was expecting.

Back in the van, and we are headed back to the ship, having all decided we were ready to wrap up what had been a perfect day. We got back to the ship about 5, and I can honestly say I cannot think of a negative aspect to the entire day. It was not only what we hoped for; it exceeded our expectations. Michael was the consummate guide and I recommend him and City and Causeway Tours very highly. Have your camera battery charged, your digital card empty and ready to fill, your phone charged, and a spare battery handy because the opportunity for photo taking is rich.

 

We were the kind of tired that is pleasantly sated, and decided to eat dinner and then chill in our room. We were seated with three other people, and they were very nice. Kate was not hugely hungry so she had a starter, then a second starter for her main. We wandered back up to the room, watched the lecture on tv for Greenock and Glasgow, I soaked in the therapy pool, and we all turned in for what was a very good night sleep. Belfast, we have decided we need to return someday!

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Thanks for posting your review. I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your cruise. We did the British isles cruise last August, except ours had an overnight in Dublin and did not go to Liverpool. I guess we'll have to plan another visit.

 

We also did the eCoach excursion to Blarney and Kinsale. The company won my affection by adjusting our excursion when the ship was several hours late getting to Cobh. We ran into friends from a previous cruise while in line to kiss the Blarney Stone. Talking with them made the wait not seem as long. We enjoyed walking through the gardens afterward and never made it to the shops.

 

I really feel the need to qualify our experience by saying that our driver was wonderful, and funny, and very informative. I don’t think he realized how busy everything was going to be. He said a few times that it was the busiest day he had seen at the Castle in a long time. Plus it was, by Irish standards, very hot that day. It just ended up being an over-ambitious plan for the day.

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Oh my goodness - I know that I paid $229 three years ago on same ship/same itinerary. I thought it would have gone up so will definitely be heading to spa on boarding to see if they are doing any sail away specials!!!!! Even $199 is cheaper than before. I thought I might have to just 'pay by the day' but now... :-) Fingers crossed.

 

How hot is the water in the thallassotherapy pool? Britannia (P&O's sister ship) is just right but I found Royal to be very hot (a bit too uncomforatble). Was unable to stay in for long.

 

 

My favourite place. Glad you are posting live 'cos we have had very little information from Royal around the British Isles so far this year.:):) Enjoy!

 

 

Tracey

 

Well up to this morning, the water has been really hot. Not sure if people said something or if it seemed different because it was first thing in the morning, but the water was noticeably cooler...still quite warm without being hot. Also, the stone loungers have been very nicely heated throughout. I know people had complained in the past that they worked on a very iffy and random schedule.

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You appear to be heading into a bit of a storm going round the top of Scotland, safe trip, we get on her on Monday and cant wait.

 

Yeah...the Captain spoke and told us that we were headed into bumpy waters, but the night passed smoothly (I also never woke up during the night so I have no clue if we hit a storm or not) and as we head more out into open water it is supposed to be somewhat choppy today. We’ll see. I hope you enjoy your trip!

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I’m really enjoying your review, especially as it’s my turn in just 18 days!

 

I thought your comments about Cobh/Cork were interesting. I organized a small group tour through Butler’s Bus (same company as eCoach) and really struggled with whether or not to include Blarney. Ultimately I decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at Blarney Castle fighting the crowds, and we opted for the English Market in Cork, Charles Fort, Kinsale, and the coastal scenery. I want time to wander and explore, and I thought Blarney would be too time consuming.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

I wish we would have chosen that plan. It sounds lovely, and not nearly as hectic.

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I'm sorry is Anfield the soccer stadium in Liverpool? I say I am sorry because I don't follow soccer and when you started your post for Liverpool you mentioned your husband a bid LFC supporter. I decided this meant Liverpool football club. Am I correct? I only know of Liverpool for the Beatles and building submarines in WWII. Albert Docks. Any more tidbits you can fill me in

 

 

It is one of two football stadiums represented in Liverpool; the other team is Edmonton FC. Anfield is the Liverpool FC stadium, and quite nice. Liverpool has really a nice and rich history, and several connections to US history!

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Our tour was arranged for us by the lovely and fabulous Dianne H., who I met on the CC roll call for this trip. Another of many reasons to participate in the roll call for your sailing is the meeting up with very nice people to make plans with. Dianne had made arrangements for a private tour for the five of us (Greg, Kate, me, Dianne, and her husband, Otis) with City and Causeway Tours that involved a drive over Irish backroads through small villages Glenarm, Carnlough, Waterfoot, Cushendall, and Cushendun, with several stops for photos of some of the most verdant, lush, countryside you will ever see.

 

 

Oh my goodness! If you see Dianne and Otis again please tell them Cindy from June 30 says hi and I hope they’re having a great trip. Dianne and I were communicating and planning for about a month when we thought we were on the same cruise, and we were disappointed when we discovered the mistake.

 

Your post gets me even more excited for our day with City and Causeway tours. Fabulous review! I can’t wait to hear what’s next!

 

 

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It is one of two football stadiums represented in Liverpool; the other team is Edmonton FC. Anfield is the Liverpool FC stadium, and quite nice. Liverpool has really a nice and rich history, and several connections to US history!

 

I know the Scousers have a broad accent, its not Edmunton its Everton :D

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I know the Scousers have a broad accent, its not Edmunton its Everton :D

 

You are right!

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What a fantastic and informative review! Best in a long time, thanks for taking the time to share your trip with us. Can't wait for more!

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I still need to post about yesterday’s lovely day spent at Stirling Castle and trolling around Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park, but just a heads up...the storm we thought was going to hit last night is supposed to hit tonight, and we may have to skip Invergordon/Inverness. We’ll know tomorrow morning, but it’s not looking good. In any case, everything is still delightful and we’ve had, today, a restful and fun day at sea.

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I still need to post about yesterday’s lovely day spent at Stirling Castle and trolling around Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park, but just a heads up...the storm we thought was going to hit last night is supposed to hit tonight, and we may have to skip Invergordon/Inverness. We’ll know tomorrow morning, but it’s not looking good. In any case, everything is still delightful and we’ve had, today, a restful and fun day at sea.

Really appreciate this informative review! I was wondering if the outdoor pools on the ship were warm enough to use? Thanks!

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Thanks for the great play by play of your cruise! We will be doing the British Isles, with Dublin Overnight, on the Royal Princess in late August. Do you know the cost per person for the Dublin City shuttle? We are a family of 3 as well and perhaps a taxi might be the better choice. Hope the weather calms down for you!

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The storm is pretty bad at the moment in the north of England and my husband is currently removing a tree that has come down in the high winds. According to the weather reports the wind speed is supposed to reduce later today but not so much in Scotland so maybe Invergordon will be cancelled.

 

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Just checked on marinetraffic.com and the ship has missed Invergordon and heading to Edinburgh .

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Just checked on marinetraffic.com and the ship has missed Invergordon and heading to Edinburgh .

 

Yeppers. We got up this morning and turned the tv on to the ship location screen. The path was towards Invergordon (and actually we got pretty close) then the trail does a 180 like the ship decided, “nope” and we’re kind of trailing down the coast towards South Queensferry. The waters are choppy and there’s some swaying, but nothing major. They’ve busted out all kinds of board games on deck 7 and left them scattered about and there are a lot more onboard activities planned. It’s all good. We’re still on a cruise, and still having a lovely day.

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Greenock/Glasgow

Sooooo....Greenock, Glasgow, and a Groovy Goal Of Gallivanting. Greenock is a small, coastal town in the Lowlands of Scotland. The plan was to eat breakfast in the Buffet at 7 to be ready to meet Tammy and Shane (who I had met on our trip roll call...again, utilize your roll call to meet really great people, and to make really great plans) by 8, and then to meet the tour guide for the day’s trip that Tammy had planned with Scottish Terrier Tours by 8:30.

A quick word about breakfast. We had several days of the trip that called for time spent at breakfast to be quick and expedient. Basically, you have three choices for breakfast. You can do the sit down, full service breakfast in the Allegro (from 7:00 to 9:00), you can eat at the Horizon Buffet, from 6:30, to...oh, I don’t know...infinity, or you can order a continental breakfast through room service. (Suite and Club Class Mini Suite have a more varied room service option). On days that we had to get up and going we ate at the Horizon so we could be quick and Greg didn’t trust that room service operated on a tight schedule on early days. I have no idea if that is accurate or not; the staff overall really seemed to have it together so not sure why Greg was so suspicious. On our more languid days we ate the full sit down breakfast at the Allegro, and it was delightful.

Anyhoo, back to the Glorious Galloping down Gangways. Disembarkation seemed pretty smooth, and we found Tammy and Shane easily outside, just as our guide pulled up in his van. Graham was our driver, and is actually the owner of the touring company that Tammy booked. He was wearing full Scot Kilt array, which would please many many ladies wandering about the sites he took us to see. He gave us a nice history of Greenock, as we sped towards Glasgow and we reached our first stop, at the Glasgow Cathedral, in little time.

The Cathedral is beautiful. We are suckers for old Cathedrals and churches, and the Glasgow Cathedral was rich with history and a serene presentation of local color. This is where we experienced our first “OMG A MAN IN A KILT” moment with Graham. Women, mostly older, begged to have their picture taken with him. One tried to lift his kilt, giggling all the while. Here’s the thing...switch Graham out with a girl and the older ladies out with a guy trying to life her skirt and it’s not really that cute or funny. Try to have some class, and show some respect, people. Off of my soapbox, back to the tour.

After about a half an hour of wandering through, and listening to Graham’s knowledgeable commentary, we hopped back into the van and sped towards Stirling Castle. Ok. I need to own up. I thought I had researched Stirling Castle well, but obviously I had not. If you’ve ever been to Hampton Hall outside of London, it’s somewhat, on a smaller scale, like that. The castle proper is a series of the original walls and structure, with little recreation inside of what, historically, the rooms would have looked like. There is a wealth of well presented information of it’s history, and it’s importance in Scottish lore cannot be stressed enough. There is a really well stocked gift shop, and the castle, in total, can easily be viewed and experienced in an hour, to an hour and a half.

We then drove to a small outlying gift shop/mill/sandwich shop to stop for lunch (and to feed a few carrots to a long haired, Highland cow.). At this stop, a tea for two for £16 was offered, along with a variety of soups and sandwiches and toasties. we opted for sandwiches, and they were tasty.

Back on the road to Loch Lomond, the lovely small conservation village of Luss, where we wandered about the shore, admiring some really lovely scenery, and spent some quality time just enjoying incomparable scenery. After our visit at Luss, we piled back into the van and headed out, driving for a bit before Graham pulled over at a scenic spot by the water, and poured a small measure of some really fine whiskey for us to toast a wonderful day spent in a glorious and enchanting land. He was an entertaining and knowledgable host, and the trip was smoothly executed to have us back to the pier about 3:45ish.

A note about the pier at Greenock: the point where private hires, taxis, and local buses drop people off for the ship is directly in front of a large Aldi’s. We trooped in after Graham dropped us off to purchase a bottle of wine and some more Diet Coke for Greg. Apparently that was a common idea amongst our fellow cruisers because they were wandering all over the aisles, taking a moment for some quick purchases. So if, by Greenock, you need something, you might find it at the Aldi’s that’s mere steps from the ship.

We decided, after boarding the ship, to enjoy some wine, hang out on our balcony, and watch the sail away at 6:00, then try out Alfredo’s pizzaria. We sipped our wine, 6:00 came, the local bagpipe corps showed up and performed a lively and spirited send off...and we did not sail away. We finally gave up and headed down to Alfredo’s. While eating dinner, about 6:30 or so, the Captain came on to apologize for the lateness of sailing, but that 6 passengers who departed the ship that morning had not returned, and he had decided that the walk to Invergorden would not be pleasant. I have no idea what story is behind that. Also...we skipped Invergorden, so.....

On to Alfredo’s. If there is one thing you take from this entire trip report, please take this advice near and dear: Get to Alfredo’s once, if not twice, or three times, while on your cruise. It is not a fast food counter. It is a sit down, full service restaurant, located on deck 6, mid-ship. There is a menu of starters, pastas, and pizza. There is a nice cocktail and wine menu, and there is no additional charge (beyond alcohol) for this gem of a restaurant. I had a veal ravioli dish (which was not called ravioli, but was actually ravioli) and Greg and Kate had pizzas (Kate had a vegetarian pizza loaded with different veggies and Greg had a pizza that featured italian ham). Kate and I split a carafe of white sangria, and it was just delicious, and a nice change of pace. There were plenty of empty tables and I cannot believe, given the high quality and the lack of additional charge, that more people do not make use of it. Get yourself here, possibly a few times, for lunch or dinner. It was a totally pleasant and surprising experience.

 

On to our room for relaxation, to the Enclave for me to soak my knee, and actually all of the rest of me, and another night in which I did not awaken to check on the comfort level of my bed. Tomorrow, a day at sea, then, on to Invergorden we sail...or....DO WE? (Whomp whomp whomp)

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I’m really enjoying your review, especially as it’s my turn in just 18 days!

 

I thought your comments about Cobh/Cork were interesting. I organized a small group tour through Butler’s Bus (same company as eCoach) and really struggled with whether or not to include Blarney. Ultimately I decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at Blarney Castle fighting the crowds, and we opted for the English Market in Cork, Charles Fort, Kinsale, and the coastal scenery. I want time to wander and explore, and I thought Blarney would be too time consuming.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

I am not going to lie...that sounds lovely and wonderful. More like what I wish we had experienced.

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Really appreciate this informative review! I was wondering if the outdoor pools on the ship were warm enough to use? Thanks!

 

You know, we really haven’t seen anyone using the pools. We’ve seen a lot of people in the whirlpools, and I’m not really sure of the pools are warm or not, but we have had unusually warm weather. I know that’s a non-answer, and I’m sorry.

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What a fantastic and informative review! Best in a long time, thanks for taking the time to share your trip with us. Can't wait for more!

 

Thank you! It’s ALMOST as fun writing it, as living it! Almost.

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Thanks for the great play by play of your cruise! We will be doing the British Isles, with Dublin Overnight, on the Royal Princess in late August. Do you know the cost per person for the Dublin City shuttle? We are a family of 3 as well and perhaps a taxi might be the better choice. Hope the weather calms down for you!

 

Hello! The shuttle is 8$ (USD) each way per person. The service begins at 11:30, and takes about 30 minutes. We chose the taxi because it was quicker to just grab a cab, and the cab ride only took about 15 minutes. I think overall it’s close to a wash cost wise comparatively, but if you have more than three people it’s definitely cheaper to do the cab. If you do choose the cab, get down to the disembarkation point on the ship as early as you can, try to be quick off the ship and get to the taxi stand fast. There are a lot lined up but they get snatched up quickly and the taxi stand line can form into a really long wait.

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