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vcgeno

Review Crown Princess 12 Day British Isles – Dublin Overnight June 18-30

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For those of you that don’t want the details we had a great time, enjoyed the heck out of the trip and are very glad we did it.  What follows is a summary of the things we thought exceed expectations along with some things we thought could use some improvement.  We will also give you a run-down of what we did in every port and who we did it with.  We do not Bingo, Casino, Art, Photo, Gym, Trivia or spend a lot of time in the bars so will not have much feedback in those area. We will start out with some main areas and general comments: 

 

Room/Ship: 

 

We had a standard Balcony on the Aloha deck.  Our room was impeccably maintained by our friendly and caring room steward.  And we could not have been more pleased.  The room was bigger than our hotel room we had in London prior to the cruise (more on that later).  Bed was beyond comfortable and we used the balcony more than we thought we would (because the cruise is port intensive we had considered getting an inside cabin, were are glad we didn’t).  Our TV had some issues but other than that we were beyond satisfied.  

We sailed on the Sapphire Princess to Hawaii a few years ago and one thing we liked about that ship was that on one of the pool deck areas that had a clear cover.  That was nice because you could find a quiet place to read, enjoy the sunshine, but not freeze because of the cool sea temperatures.  I assumed that this cruise, because of the cool rainy weather would have that as well.  It did not.  As a result, the pool areas were for the most part unused and if wanted to get away from the sensory overload from the public areas of the ship your only choice was your room.  

 

Food/Drinking/Dining 

 

Dinner: As a perk our travel agent (AAA) provided a complementary dinner in each of the two specialty restaurants.  We all of our other dinners in the DaVinci dining room.   

The service in the specialty restaurants was amazing as was the food in Sabatinis.  The Veal Chop I had was to die for.  The Crown Grill was a disappointment.  When you walk in they show you examples of the different cuts of meat.  While I understand when you cook it shrinks a but the cut of meat I had was about half the width of the example.  It did not seem to be seasoned and was not very flavorful.  

 

I love good coffee and was disappointed to learn that the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants do not serve fresh ground coffee but the same awful coffee they serve up in the buffet.   The deserts at both the specialty restaurants were amazing.    

 

We enjoyed our meals in DiVinci a great deal.  The food was good enough, the service was also outstanding.  The three folks that greeted and seated you were three of the most customer focused staffers I have ever met and the wait staff was not far behind.   

 

We shared a table every night at dinner and feel sorry for those folks that don’t.  We met some interesting folks including a former member of the New Mexico Supreme Court, a nun, and a former Mayor of a small town in England.  In addition to that we met several Aussies that are taking some amazingly long what for them is winter vacations, and several folks for other parts of the US and Canada. Had some great conversations and enjoyed all the different perspectives.   Some ladies from the UK got my wife hooked on mint tea that you make with just fresh mint leaves.  Must have gotten popular because a couple of days later they said they ran out of fresh mint leaves.  

Lunch: They only have lunch in the dining room on sea days and we enjoyed lunch there on both of those.  We had lunch in the Buffet one day which was fine.  The other days we had lunch off the ship or skipped it all together.  

 

Breakfast:  We had four breakfasts in the Dining Room and the rest up in the Buffet.  You actually get a better breakfast in the Buffet but we enjoy the atmosphere in the dining room more.  We had some old coffee cards that were supposed to never expire but are now not going to be valid after the end of August.  Because the coffee in the buffet and dining rooms is so bad we would go and get a cup of fresh brewed coffee in the lobby to use up the remaining punches on the coffee card and take that coffee for breakfast.  Reminds me of a few years ago when we went to Disney.  We had purchased some four day passes for Disney world several years earlier but we had only use 3 of the days.  They said they would never expire. 15 years later we were in Southern California and had one day to go to Disney Land so we brought our passes thinking that they probably expired.  Nope they happily accepted them and let us keep the old paper pass as a souvenir.  Part of good customer service is not changing the rules after the fact.  Disney know that, Princess does not.  

Other:  Wine is a hobby of mine and I am in the business.  One thing we like about princess is that on longer cruises like this one they sell a wine card where if you agree to buy so many bottles you get them at a reduced rate.  We bought the 12-bottle package that lets you buy any bottle of wine up the $45 for $29.  If you buy a bottle of wine over $45 the reduce the price by $45.  When you did this, especially with the non-California wine it brought the price down to close to what you would pay at a wine retail store.   

 

Thermal Spa 

This was our 5th princess cruise and all the previous ones we purchased the thermal spa pass.  The Thermal Spa is an area below the massage area that has steam rooms, saunas, special showers, and heated stone beds.  A great place to relax.  On this cruise because there were only two sea days we were only going to get day passes.  On this cruise they were only selling cruse long packages so we purchased those and because the spa was open until 11 we were able to use it on about 60% of the days.   

 

Internet 

 

Our cruise had the new improved “Medallion Net” service.  We paid $99 to connect one device for the duration of the cruise (you can use multiple devices but only one at a time). They advertise it as being as fast as your home network.  Although it is much, much, better than the prior service which was unusable, it is slower than you home network, and occasionally does not work at all.  That said it is usable and I would do it again.  

 

“Medallion Class” 

 

When we first got on the ship, we were only issued a normal cruise card but on the second day we got our medallion.  We were helping them debug the system so we had to use both the medallion and the cruise card when getting on and off the ship.  Other than unlocking your door just by being near it I am not certain what the big deal for the customers is.  I can understand why it benefits Princess because they can now track your every movement on the ship (which I find kind of creepy).  Princess must be really proud of this because they are making it out to be a big big deal.  I wish they had put the money into better dining room coffee. On the Prominade deck, near the photo area, they even erected a shrine to the medallion during our time on board.  They even came out with a line of medallion-wear that you insert your medallion into.  I found that kind of funny because in the shrine area there is a picture of a man putting a medallion wear neckless on the neck of his wife and by the expression on her face you would think she had just received the hope diamond.  

 

Entertainment

 

The singers and comedians on the ship were all very good and because of that we attended more of those shows than we normally do.  Enjoyed them a great deal.  Wish they would allow them to perform for more than 45 minutes.  

 

Ports: 

 

Pre-Cruise: We contracted for the 4 day London pre cruise package from a company called Interational Friends.  The package included airport pick up, 3 nights at the Royal Garden Hotel overlooking Kensington Gardens and Palace, a full day tour of London, hotel pickup and a tour of Stonehedge prior to going to the ship.  Among other things the tour included the Tower of London, the Changing of the Guard, a boat ride on the Thames.  Among the things we did on our own was Churchill's War rooms, the National Gallery, the National Ballet at Albert Hall, toured Kensington Gardens, and visited 3 pubs. Enjoyed the experience a great deal.  The Hotel was nice and well located but the rooms were very small for what we thought was an upgrade.  

 

Guernsey:  We did Annette Henry’s walking tour of Guernsey.  She brings a wealth of personal knowledge and some dramatic flair which made this a highly insightful and memorable experience.  Highly recommended.  

 

Cork: Did the ships tour of Kinsale and Charles Fort.  Major disappointment.  Tour consisted of 1 hour bus ride, 45 minutes in Kinsale (it looks to be a very cute little town) a half hour at the Fort (would have been an interesting place if we would have been able to see all of it) and then another hour back to the ship.   

 

Dublin Day 1:  Booked a 5 hour “Nearly all of Dublin” walking tour with Dublin Tour Guide including the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library.  Learned a lot.  Book of Kells was a zoo, Trinity Library was way cool.  We were going to stick around after the tour but we were so tired after the long day of walking we went to a pub had a pint of Guinness and a pint of Murphy's to see which one was better (it was Guiness) and went back to the ship.  

 

Dublin Day 2: Did the ships Guiness tour.  It was touristy, crowded but we enjoyed the heck out of it.  We would have been better off on our own.  We could have done the whole thing, cab fare included, for the equivalent of $90. Instead it cost us $158.  

 

Glasgow: Another couple we met on line told us about a private tour they had arranged to see the Sterling Castle followed by a sheep dog sheep herding demonstration. The castle was wonderful and worth seeing.  In my mind's eye I had pictured the sheep herding demonstration to be in a picturesque countryside setting where sheepdogs would move a large number of sheep.  Boy was I wrong.  We went to something called The Scottish Wool Centre (basically your standard tourist stuff with a small restaurant).  It had a fenced in area next to it that had a half dozen or so sheep all of a different breed.  When it came time for the sheepherding the sheep went back in their pens and we saw a single sheep dog follow 3 ducks around an obstacle course.  Besides me in the mirror after agreeing to go to this, this was the stupidest thing I had ever witnessed.  If were driving along and happened upon this it might have been cute, but after driving over an hour to specifically see this, I learned to ask more questions and do more research before agreeing to do things.  

 

Belfast: Outstanding Tour.  We set up a tour with Belfast Cab Tours of Belfast murals and politics, the rope bridge, Giants Causeway, some Game of Thrones filming locations and Bushmills distillery.  Charly our tour guide was outstanding.  He took my wife and I around in a London Cab was very knowledgeable and accommodating.  A very memorable day.  

 

Invergorden: Another outstanding tour.  We contracted with Invergordon Tours for an amazing day.  My wife and I were escorted by our driver Willie in a Mercedes Sedan. We went on a hike to a waterfall, a boat ride on Loch Ness, St. Andrews Cathedral, Urguhart Castle, Cowder Castle, and the Glen Ord Distillery.  

 

Edinburgh: Yet another outstanding tour. We along with two other couples (including the couple that set up the duck herding) contracted with Edinburgh cab tours to take a tour of Edinburgh and then go to St. Andrews. We saw the outside of Edinburgh Castle from several angles, the outside of Holyrood Palace (the queen was in residence), walked through a couple of historic and scenic neighborhoods, went to a historic cemetery where among other things there is a stature of Abraham Lincoln honoring Scottish solders that died in the civil war, and toured Calton Hill before driving out to St. Andrews.  In St. Andrews we had lunch, did some shopping, and walked around the old course before heading back to the ship.   

 

Normandy: Yet, Yet another outstanding tour.  We did the ships tour to Omaha Beach, the US cemetery, had a nice lunch at a local hotel and toured the Debarquement Museum.  Very interesting and moving experience.  No wonder they are called the greatest generation.   

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. 

 

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Glad you enjoyed your cruise.  I did the same itinerary in '17 and loved it.  I hope to do it again someday.

 

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Thanks for the review!  We are taking a British Isles cruise on the Crown later this year, and your description adds to the anticipation!

 

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Thank you for your report! We are going in August. Can you advise which nights were formal nights? Your trip I think was the first "Dublin overnight" trip of the season. 

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thank you. we are going in a  July  cruise, very helpful information

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Did you have any problems like some previous cruises such as tendering and debating?

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Where's the pictures?  Glad you had a good time thanks for the review.

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13 minutes ago, FishinChris said:

Where's the pictures?  Glad you had a good time thanks for the review.

 

36 minutes ago, EllieinNJ said:

Did you have any problems like some previous cruises such as tendering and debating?

No problems at all.  Absolutely wonderful weather. 

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Thanks so much for the review. Would  you provide the link for International Friends pre cruise tour in London?  Cindy

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2 hours ago, trrn2016 said:

Thanks so much for the review. Would  you provide the link for International Friends pre cruise tour in London?  Cindy

 

I realized I had forgotten the links and when I went to put them in it said it was too late to edit.  Here it is:

 

https://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/pre-cruise-london.html?fbclid=IwAR2wofxDBPTOKzefNKmKLQyxyQ9_6gS-8LIb5xDSDXJKxQX4VFoCR_uXGQA

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Thanks for the Normandy cemetery picture, and your earlier comment about the Greatest Generation.  Very classy on your part.  

 

 

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Thank you VCgeno for your excellent review!! I am looking forward to this cruise in August. Your report is a big help in my planning. Thank you again.

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Great review!  Doing this cruise in a few weeks.  A few questions.  Was there any problem with the excursions ie getting on and off the ship?  Second, any plumbing problems.  Have a read a few reviews in which all have mentioned toilet issues or no water in the cabin.

 

Thanks

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2 hours ago, shopgirl151 said:

Great review!  Doing this cruise in a few weeks.  A few questions.  Was there any problem with the excursions ie getting on and off the ship?  Second, any plumbing problems.  Have a read a few reviews in which all have mentioned toilet issues or no water in the cabin.

 

Thanks

Other than the TV's having problems I heard of no other issues with the ship.  Our plumbing worked and we heard no one else complaining. We had great weather and there were no issues getting on or off the ship.  When all the excursions came back there was a long line to get back on but that was all that I know of. 

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12 hours ago, vcgeno said:

 

I realized I had forgotten the links and when I went to put them in it said it was too late to edit.  Here it is:

 

https://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/pre-cruise-london.html?fbclid=IwAR2wofxDBPTOKzefNKmKLQyxyQ9_6gS-8LIb5xDSDXJKxQX4VFoCR_uXGQA

Thanks so much for the link. Our cruise is in May,2020. Trying to get information from them since their schedule does not go out that far.  Thanks again!

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Excellent review, thanks for sharing your experience. This cruise is one that we are seriously looking at. 

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We are on this cruise in August. Thanks for the review. It helps pass the days until it is our turn to go!! 

 

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Great review!  We were also on this cruise. I agree with everything you mentioned. We also had TV issues, as in every single time we turned it on it had to be rebooted - as in reach behind the TV and unplug it, then plug it back in and wait for it to reboot. We were also in standard balcony cabins but on Baja deck.  We had severe water noise, like a main drain in the wall and ceiling, in cabin number B254. It was ninety percent of the time and got annoying by the second day.  We just tried to drown it out with the TV and at night had to get used to the rushing water noise. I asked our steward about it and he said he had no idea. So do not book this cabin!! We also ate at Crown Grill and were not wowed. Luckily it was free (from when I booked it).  I honestly had better steaks in the MDR. We ate in the Michelangelo anytime dining room. And as you said, there were long lines getting back onto the ship after shorex's.  We didn't have delays getting off or onto the tenders in Guernsey or Edinburgh because we had Elite priority tender for the former and a Princess shorex for the latter.  I think someone asked above about the formal nights - they were the second night (in Guernsey) and the first sea day. Overall we enjoyed this cruise very much. Service was great as always on Princess and the ports were wonderful.  I also don't get the hype about the Medallion that we got to test out on this cruise. It was clumsy to carry around (and yah I'm not buying a bracelet or necklace to put it in LOL) and other than opening my cabin door for me when my hands were full I didn't see it as helpful really.  I was happy to have the regular cruise card (given to us at embarkation) and used it mostly. 

 

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Thanks for the great review. It sounds like you really maximized your time in London - you saw & did a lot!

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Great review! We did the British Isles cruise last year and loved every minute of it.  So much to see in all of the ports, we said we would like to do the cruise again in a year or two. 

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I was on this cruise and have a couple of points to make in case they are useful to those taking this cruise in future.  Princess (I have 30 cruises with that line) are notorious for charging for shuttle buses and not letting on about local arrangements.  Once you learn how cheap things can be on local transport ashore, it's too late to cancel and get a refund on your shuttle tickets.  In some ports, the transport is provided free by local docks or tourism people and STILL charged by Princess.  On this cruise, the buses to the city centre were charged at between about $16 and $32 round trip for 2.  In Le Havre, it's about 3 miles at a joint cost of $30.  My wife and I got a taxi to town for $8 and back again for the same price.  Didn't even have to share.  In Belfast, we found the car rental company SIXT had an office a mile down the road from the berth, booked online and they sent a shuttle for us.  The car cost $32 for the day, the same price as the shuttle to town.  We drove 55 miles to Bushmills and then the Giants Causeway, driving back along the coast road which was wonderful.  For info, if you go under your own steam to the Causeway, they will try to charge you about 16 dollars to go down the road.  Do not pay.  It is a public footpath and FREE.  They say that if you take this option, car parking has to be paid but there is nowhere to pay and no one asking for money.  We just drove out.  In Dublin, the tram is cheap and about a 20 minute walk from the ship.  In Cork, the train to town picks up about 20 steps from the ship.  Greenock station is a 20 minute walk for the train to Glasgow.   In Invergordon, the village is delightful and, if you want Inverness, the 28 or 28X bus is easy.  At South Queensferry, there is a bus X99 from the tender dock to Edinburgh, plenty of service and very efficient.  In Guernsey, the white building opposite the tender station drop is the bus information point and has very helpful staff.  Buses are really easy and the German Occupation Museum is worth the $8 entry and the effort.  If you want to save a packet, follow the above.

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Thank you for this review.  We will be on the same itinerary in August.   Did the cabins have On-Demand TV?

 

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Thank you very much for your review and photos! I am doing this itinerary next month and it will be my first 'longer' cruise.

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