First and foremost, this trip was the best we have been on yet. Princess really knows how to do the British Isles! The Caribbean Princess isn't the greatest ship to pick for a cold climate. All of the pools are outdoors and I really wish they had chosen another ship with better enclosed areas.
My full report with photos is here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1652129
However, I have to write a little bit in this area for Cruise Critic to accept and post the review.
We visited 9 ports in 12 days which was exhausting but still fun. Below is a quick recap of the ports:
You take the ship's tenders into town on this small island. There is a bus that drives around the town (7/7A) that is very cheap. You can visit the main street, shopping area behind the main street, Little Chapel, and my personal favorite -- Castle Cornet. Be sure to stay for the noon-time cannon firing at Castle Cornet!
Cobh is a small town but it is adorable. You can walk around it throughout the day and note all of the Titanic references. There is a great Irish ancestry/emigration area near the train station next to the ship. The train is right there and you can buy tickets to go into Cork which is 20 minutes away for under 10 euros.
We got very lost in Dublin because we tried to walk everywhere instead of taking the HOHO bus. Please take the HOHO bus! Dublin is a very bustling city and it's easy to get turned in the wrong direction. However, cabbies in this city are nice and it's usually around 8-9 euro's to get back to the ship from the main River Liffey area.
Liverpool was the port that surprised us the most. The ship docks in an excellent location. You can see fantastic architecture such as the Cunard Building, Liver Building, and halls near the top of the hill. Of course, you have to visit Mathew Street, home of The Beatles. The entire Beatles area is great and the Cavern Club (albeit partially real) is still a fun visit.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND:
We dedicated our entire Belfast day to the new Titanic museum. This is a must-see! Please buy your tickets online ahead of time since it sells out fast. The museum is gorgeous. Nearby, you can also visit the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and down the road is the actual Titanic pump house and dry dock. All of these are in the "Titanic Quarter" which is walkable. Cabs from the ship are roughly 6 pounds.
Everyone went to Glasgow, so we used our Greenock day to stay on board and do laundry and walk around the local town. There isn't much to do in Greenock, but there is an Inverclyde tourism group in the cruise terminal that will take you on free 2-hour local tours (for small donations if you like).
INVERNESS/LOCH NESS, SCOTLAND:
We used Jacobite Tours to go to Loch Ness and it was phenomenal! I highly recommend them. We used the cruise line bus to drive into Inverness. It was pricey, but the views between Invergordon and Inverness are stunning. From there, we met up with the Jacobite van which took us alongside Loch Ness and to Clansman Harbor where we boarded the Jacobite Queen up Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle. We spent an hour at Urquhart Castle and then onto the Loch Ness Exhibition Center. It was a great day.
This is a do-not-miss city. We tendered into South Queensferry and walked up the stairs to Dalmeney train station. It's a 10-minute ride (8 pounds cost) into Edinburgh Waverley station. The ENTIRE city of Edinburgh is beautiful. Please, please visit it. And PLEASE buy tickets for Edinburgh Castle online before you go as the wait for tickets is over an hour. With printed out tickets from home, you can walk right in. The Royal Mile is also not to be missed. It is a ton of fun.
LE HAVRE, FRANCE:
We chose to stay close to the ship on this day as we had more laundry to do and packing. LeHavre is very unexciting and not worth much more than a walk around town. Please go to Rouen, Honfleur, or Paris.
The ship was clean. The staff was AMAZING. We had Roberto (Deck 10, forward) and he was A+.
The mattresses are awful and there are many complaint about them. However, Princess came and switched out our mattress within 24 hours of us filling out the comment card. The Passenger Services desk was full of helpful people. If they didn't know the answer to something, they would find out later and call you in the room.
We had Anytime Dining and loved it. We ate around 9pm in either the Coral or Island Dining rooms. Most of our servers were excellent with only 1-2 that were so-so. The food was realy good. I don't know why people complain about it. We had duck, lamb, veal, steak, salmon, pork, etc. It was all wonderful. The cheesecake was my favorite dessert by far!
Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. People before and after us had issues, but we didn't have to deal with the staggered boarding in Southampton. It was very well managed and went smoothly.
We did the Ultimate Ship Tour and it was amazing! If you have any interest in ships or how cruise ships work, please sign up for this!
We got VERY lucky and had spectacular weather through the whole cruise. We got very lucky. You have a 50/50 chance of getting into Guernsey and South Queensferry with the winds, tides, and choppy waters. We were very fortunate.
Please e-mail me or read the above linked story for more information. The trip was amazing and if you are going to the British Isles, you will LOVE IT!