We booked this cruise as an excellent late deal price as we had never been to five of the ports of call in the British Isles despite having cruised worldwide for many years.
We were pleasantly surprised that Princess has managed to maintain their usual high standards apart from allowing people in shorts into the dining rooms on casual night dining! As Captains Circle Elite passengers we also benefited from all their perks (some of the best provided by any cruise line's loyalty programme) as well as on board credit.
We like doing things on our own and not using the ship's excursions, which were horrendously expensive and we felt sorry for the majority of passengers who were American being fleeced in this way. We did our best to inform many of them we encountered of the do it yourself options available.
Ports of call:-
St. Peter Port Guernsey
This was a tendering port and only a half day call which unfortunately was a Sunday. It was quite foggy early on so tendering also started late. It is normally possible to walk for about 15 mins along the front to get a bus which does a 2 hour circular tour of the island for £2 per person. There was a small food and craft fair on the front and also a timed hill climb for charity by a variety of cars which kept the menfolk happy. Some of the shops were closed.
The ship docks alongside the railway station and it is possible to get a train (every half hour) into Cork for 7 Euros 60 per person and then a bus onto Blarney Castle if you wished. Cork is a very pleasant city and easy to walk around. There is time on your return to Cobh to go round the Heritage Centre near the ship and also to walk around the town. The weather was glorious as were all the flowers grown in containers round the town.
The ship provided a shuttle for $16 per person but it is possible to walk into the city centre in about 40 mins. Turn left once off the ship to the end of the road and turn left again. If you are lucky the 53 bus from the ferry may go past and you can catch it into the city centre. If not carry on along the dock road to the end and at the T junction turn left and continue to the roundabout just before a bridge. Cross over the road turning right and follow the road along the banks of the Liffey until you come to O Connell Bridge and turn right here for the hop on hop off bus (18 Euros) or left to go to Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We opted for the hop on hop off bus as it started to rain quite heavily and actually went round three times. Our driver gave his own commentary which was very amusing but this is not always so on the hop on hop off buses.
If you get off early there are some free tours of the city on offer. The cruise terminal is not brilliant and you have to go in a roundabout fashion to get off the ship and onto the street. From there you turn right at the end of the short street, cross over the road and continue along til you see James Street. Follow this street into the centre for Liverpool One shopping and the Walker Art Gallery. If you want to go to Chester James Street station is close to the road junction and it costs £4.60 return after 9.30 a.m. Along the waterfront is the Liver Building, the Museium of Liverpool Life, Tate Modern and the Maritime and National Slavery Museum and the Beatles experience on the Albert Dock.
Free shuttles were provided by the city. If you get the first shuttle (9a.m.) you can then book a tour to the Giants Causeway for £16 when you get off the bus as you are accosted by various people selling trips. If not going on one of these City Hall is straight ahead of you and they run free tours which are very interesting. The timings are by the door and it takes about an hour. There is also the Titanic Experience which you can see across the dock from the ship but to get there is a long roundabout walk around the dock or take the shuttle into the city and a bus back out or a taxi from the ship.
A 20 minute walk from the ship takes you to the railway station and it is less than £10 per person and takes about half an hour. It is as well to print off a map from the internet as the tourist information office is a way from the Central Station. A hop on hop off tour is worth while here. The return train is the Gourock train.
This was a Sunday again but there were some free local tours available if you got off the ship before 9 a.m. and other tours were available including Inverness and Loch Ness for £15 per person. ALternatively there was a local bus 25 from near the ship and it cost £11.50 per person for a day rider ticket and you can connect in Inverness to a bus going past Loch Ness. The bus takes an hour and it is a very scenic route but remember you need to get the 15:25 bus back to get back to the ship on time. Inverness had many shops open from 11 a.m. and a walk up to the Castle (albeit offices now) is worth it for the view. There is very little in Invergordon itself.
The ship anchors by the Forth Road Bridge and tenders in. Beware the jetty can be slippery due to the tides. There are various tours on offer and a shuttle into Edinburgh by local firms for £10 per person. If you wish to take the train turn left at the end of the jetty, cross the road, walk for 5 mins to a path singposted station and be prepared for a hike up many steps to get to the level of the Forth Bridge where the station (Dalmeny) is. It costs about £5 each return to Waverley and when you go through Haymarket station look up to get a view of the Castle). On arrival you are in the centre of Edinburgh with a 10 minute uphill walk to the Castle.
The return train is the Cowdenbeath one.
We have been here before and instead of taking the ships shuttle at $16 per person we walked into the city. The walk is well signposted and very flat. There are a few things to see such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Shipwrights House. A taxi into the city is 8 Euros and they charge 30 Euros per hour if you want a tour and it is 70 Euros to go to Honfleur. Paris is two hours away by train but you would not get much time there.
I hope this helps others.
It is also worthwhile finding somewhere on board to watch the sailaway as in many ports it involves sailing down a firth or lough and the scenery is magnificent.
We rated this cruise as in our Tope Ten Best Cruises and we have done more than 100 with various cruiselines but be prepared as it is 10 ports in 12 days, it can be extremely tiring if you try to fit in as much as we did. We averaged 3 miles walking a day!