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OhioDogLover

Pacific Princess Review- What a Treat. Part One

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We sailed on the Pacific Princess 8 day cruise out of Dover on August 2, 2018. This is my review of that cruise.

 

Background

We had a 9 person group, all of whom had sailed at least 5 times before on Princess and other lines. One of our group chose the cruise because of the itinerary and date. We had a bit of concern about the seas and the distance from the docking areas /tender areas to towns. The weather was absolutely perfect. For distance to things, please see below.

 

Precruise

Five of us had Princess EZ Air. It was anything but easy. We had trouble getting the flights booked, a reservation was lost, getting seat assignments was an ordeal, etc. As our designated call Princess person, I spent hours on the phone working on the air reservations. All in all, I will think twice before booking Princess air again. On the good news front, we got where we needed to be. The transfers out of the airport were also goofed up. They showed up with a van to fit 4 of us, but no room for the fifth. The Princess rep did call and get us another car, so all's well that ends well.

 

Three of our party did not take Princess air and arranged their own transfers via train from Heathrow. It's a long way, and they did fine, but I think the car transfers are the preferred way to go.

 

Hotel

We stayed at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. The rooms were just fine; the service, not so much. Arriving at the hotel about 11:00 am, the rooms were not ready. Prepared for that, we left for a while and returned three hours later. The rooms were finally ready about 4:00. Acceptable, but generally, my experience has been that you can get your hotel room earlier than the designated 3:00 check in time. Service throughout our stay was consistent.

On the plus side, the provided breakfast was fine, and the hotel was close the the Tower Bridge subway/tub station. We walked to the Tower of London easily.

 

Precruise activities

We had 5 days in London before our cruise. We tried to see as much as we could during those days. We all got Oyster cards, and used them throughout our stay. The tube is easy to use, the Oyster cards convenient and easy to top off to add money when necessary. If you reach a certain maximum per day, there is no charge for additional rides, and the Oyster Cards give you a fare discount. Getting our Oyster card 5 pound deposit back was easy as was getting our unused fare refunded. Oyster Cards are a plus.

 

Arriving on a Saturday, we did our first real sightseeing on Sunday. We took a Golden Tour bus tour of Windsor Castle, Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath. It rained, the only really rainy day we had. Windsor was very crowded and we rushed through it. Really, we needed more time there. I had wanted to see Salisbury Cathedral and was not disappointed there. The Magna Carta was available and very interesting. Stone Henge was crowded but terrific. We had little time in Bath, but took a quick gander at the Roman Baths (not included in the tour price). The tour guide was disappointing. I would recommend that you spend at least half a day at Windsor. However, the tour provided transportation to four places we wanted to go and a box lunch. So, it was ok.

 

Monday, we went to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. Extremely crowded, one could only see a part of the ceremony, even if you were an hour early, which we were. After lunch and some shopping, we toured Buckingham Palace which, as I understand it, is open about a month each year. That was a terrific tour. Get the audio guide.

 

That evening, we did a London Walks Jack the Ripper Tour. Those are 10 pounds and fantastic. I can't recommend them enough. We got some history of London, some Jack the Ripper, etc. A value for the money.

 

Tuesday, we walked over to the Tower of London. Spending half a day, we couldn't possibly do it justice, but it was great. I recommend seeing the Crown Jewels first. Don't miss the White Tower with the armour display. Next was Westminster Abbey, another don't miss. The line was about an hour long, and it was hot, but what an interesting place. Following that, we snuck in the Churchill War rooms, another must see if you are a WWII history fan. TIP: Book this one on line in advance it you can. Due to the size, they limit the number admitted at any one time. You could easily spend most the day here.

 

Wednesday, we split up. Some of us went over to the Hyde Park area. Some of us went through Kensington Palace, with a brief stop at Marks and Spencer for shopping. Kensington had a Princess Di clothes display. There was a lot of history about William and Mary of Orange. Interesting place. That afternoon, we did another London Walks tour, this one was Harry Potter. It was even better than the Jack the Ripper tour. The guide gave us a great history of the financial district of London, as well as involving the kids in the Harry Potter stories.

 

London Walks offers more tours and if you book more than two they offer a discount. I can't recommend them enough.

 

The CRUISE

 

Embarkation

Thursday, we transferred to the ship. The transfer was seamless. Embarkation was easy. We had priority boarding but did not need it. There were so few passengers on the ship, it is very small, that we got there and got on quickly.

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I've cruised out of Dover before, on the Pacific Princess. so am looking forward to your next installment.

I am a HUGE fam of the Pacific Princess too, so another reason to reading what you have to say about her ladyship!

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Following along, I've become fascinated with this ship of late.

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Part 2: The Cruise

 

A brief overview of the cruise

 

Pacific Princess is the smallest ship in the Princess fleet. It is a wonderful ship and I can't recommend it enough. My last two cruises were on the Regal and Royal. I thought service had gone down on those cruises. This one was old fashioned cruising at its best.

 

We had upgraded to a mini suite and it was the largest mini suite I have seen. There was room for a sofa, a table and chairs, a seat at the desk, more storage than we needed, and ample closet space. The bathroom was large and had a tub. It is a big step into the tub, so if you have mobility issues, it might pose a challenge.

 

Others in our group had interior and obstructed ocean view cabins. They were all great, large and well appointed. We all commented favorably on the beds which were vary comfortable.

 

There is one dining room, plus two specialty restaurants. There is no International Cafe, but you really don't miss it. The buffet was never all that crowded, and open most of the time for something or other. Room service was the fastest i've ever seen.

 

The food was much better than it has been on my last several Princess cruises. The service in the restaurant was very good, and the food always hot. We had three gluten free people in our group and they were always able to get what they wanted without much ado. We had dinner in the Grill one night and it was the same. Service and food were exceptional.

 

As it was a small ship, the staff got to know you. They remembered names, drinks, coffee preferences, etc. The service throughout the ship was outstanding. There is a laundromat on board, and room laundry service was fast and good.

 

The ship has two theater spaces, and the staff did a great job with the entertainment. Want the promenade deck experience with deck chairs, you get it on this ship.

 

PORTS

JERSEY

The first port was Jersey and we tendered into port. The tendering was quick and efficient. Jersey had some shopping and a Jersey museum, which we enjoyed for 10 pounds. We also sampled Cornish Pasties at a local bakery. It is a lovely place.

 

CAUTION: One of our party got money at a bank ATM. He didn't get British Pounds, but Jersey pounds, which we found out are not accepted anywhere else and nearly impossible to exchange. So, get your pounds elsewhere.

 

WALES

The second port was Milford Sound in Wales. Again, we tendered in. I could not find an independent tour for our group, so we took a ship's tour. We saw Carew Castle and Pembroke Castle. The guide was good, the tour interesting. It was quite good for a ship's tour. It was an all day tour.

 

DUBLIN

The shop docked at Dublin. We booked an independent walking tour which did not meet our expectations. However, we did hear a great deal about the Irish political situation. So, if politics is your cup of tea, it was great. Sadly, we missed most of the great literary history of Dublin. I would like to go back for the cultural aspects and to see Trinity Library, which we missed. We did see the post office site of the Easter Uprising, the potato famine statues, the courtyard of the castle and the outside of Christchurch. Dublin was crowded and the economic boom evident.

 

EDINBURGH

The highlight of the cruise was Edinburgh. As the ship is small, we were able to dock and not tender, and got about as close as you are going to get to Edinburgh. Nonetheless, getting into Edinburgh was an issue. There is a bus and train, or you can do what we did and get a taxi. Four of us luckily found a taxi driver who took us into Edinburgh for 40 pounds and picked us up and returned us to the port later that day. We toured Holyrood Place and the grounds, which I recommend. Again, get the audioguide. We skipped the castle, which was a mistake, but had a good day.

 

That evening, we all took the ship's Tattoo excursion. The ship did a good job of getting us fairly close to the castle. and we walked the last mile (it is uphill, if you have mobility issues that could be tough). The Tattoo was well worth the price of admission. We all enjoyed it a lot. Princess did a good job directing us back to the bus in the dark, and we were back on board about midnight. They did a great job.

 

The second day, our wonderful cab driver drove us to and from St. Andrews. The cost was 180 pounds for the four of us. If you are a golfer, it is a must see. Two of us are, and we got our picture on the famous 18th hole bridge. The town is quaint and presents a lovely walk along the cost. The driver took us back to the ship along the coast. A very nice day.

 

DISEMBARKATION

What a breeze. Few passengers makes for easy on, easy off. The transfer to the airport was seamless.

 

PLUSSES and MINUSES

If you don't need a huge ship, this is perfect. The only downside was the internet, which was really unusable. You had many amenities, nearly no lines, great service, terrific cabins, good food, etc. I would take this ship again.

 

We had one real day of rain in London, and a bit of drippiness in Edinburgh and St. Andrews. The weather was quite good all in all.

 

The seas were calm. I never even took out my sea bands. There was a bit of bumpiness one night, but that was it.

 

Most of cruise, you had lovely view of the shoreline.

 

OVERALL

I have come to prefer Celebrity, but this cruise made me rethink that. It was outstanding. I will look for more Pacific Princess cruises.

 

Ohiodoglover

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thank you for writing this. i love the pacific princess. you said it exactly: "old fashioned cruising at its best"... or at least as close as we can get these days.

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Thanks for the review. Your descriptions of the stops and tours was so good to read. It was very timely for us.

 

 

Do you remember if Princess offered a shuttle in to Dublin from the Pier? I can't seem to find any information about this with Princess.

 

 

Susan

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Thank you.

 

We love Pacific Princess, gets into Ports other sips can’t, you can get to know your fellow cruisers and crew.

 

Perhaps not the best ship for those who need to be entertained 24/7.

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Great information all round.

Especially good for those of us going to do some precruise land based tours in London.

Thanks for the tips on taking the walking tours in London.

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Thanks for your review! We leave for London on August 24, also staying at the Grange Tower, before boarding the Pacific Princess on the 26th. Your info was great.....! We are getting so excited to finally sail on this small ship. It will be an adventure!

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The only downside was the internet, which was really unusable.

 

Thanks for your comprehensive report.

 

Can you give more details about the Internet problems? In the past I have had no problems with the Internet on this ship.

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To answer the questions posed:

 

1) Princess did offer a shuttle from the ship to downtown Dublin. I don't remember the details because we did not use the service. Our tour picked us up from the pier for an extra charge and we took a taxi back to the ship (for about 11euro) from Trinity College.

 

2) the internet. I was told that there was some issue on this cruise. No one was able to connect very well. To check in for return flights, we asked the Internet Cafe attendant to do it for us. (So did many people on the ship. There was a long line for help.) He seemed to be able to do it more easily than we could, although it took him about 10-15 minutes for each group. I tried to do some office work but was unable to do so. I finally gave up. Strange it was so very bad, given we could see the shore. My hope is that they improve/fix it.

 

Ohiodoglover

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Thanks to OP for installment 2!

For Dublin we chose the ship's excursion to Malahide Castle. Delightful tour with an excellent guide, that ended with a visit to a charming pub, where we were served delicious Irish Coffee!

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Thank you for the information on the shuttle to Dublin. We are doing b2b sailings and we go to Dublin twice (only repeat stop) for our cruises. Have a tour on one cruise, so the shuttle will be perfect for the second cruise. Appreciate the information.

 

 

Internet sounds frustrating. Last time on the Pacific in the Caribbean the connection was also horrible and frustrating. On our second cruise, August 26 they are offering the packages you can purchase with unlimited internet. Sounds pretty pointless if they have done nothing for connecting.

 

 

 

Again I appreciate your information.

 

 

Susan

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