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Home > Virtual Cruises > Oceania's Insignia: Dover to Dublin
Oceania's Insignia: Dover to Dublin
Day 1: Departure from Dover
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Edinburgh
Day 4: Peterhead
Day 5: Inverness
Day 6: Shetlands
Day 7: Orkney
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: Dublin
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Day 4: Thursday, Peterhead
PeterheadOne of the oddities about this type of itinerary -- and this would apply as well to passengers sailing on Baltic and Norwegian Fjords cruises -- is how much of the day (and night) is bathed in full-out light! This morning, awaking to a bright noon-ish sky (note I don’t say sunny -- we haven’t seen sun since Dover), I flung myself out of bed, frustrated that I’d missed breakfast and half a day in the port of Peterhead. And then I checked my watch and, no joke, it was 4:30 a.m.

Peterhead, as a port of call, was more of a gateway to the Scottish Highlands -- the biggest trip of the day was a two hour (each way) motorcoach ride to Balmoral Castle and Braemar -- than it was a destination in its own right. There was little to aid the independent-minded traveler -- there were no places nearby for car rentals and we didn’t see any taxis on our brief foray into town, plus it really was quite cold and rainy -- so we used this day for much-needed rest and relaxation onboard Insignia.

The ship's destination services department typically offers a handful of shore excursions each day (beyond the Balmoral trip today, one took in Fyvie Castle and another was a trip to Aberdeen) and they're probably quite appropriately geared to the passengers on this ship, many of whom are fairly senior. But one disappointment for more active-minded folks (and there are plenty of us, too) is that there’s absolutely no tour that’s really aimed at us. No bicycle-riding tours or kayaking tours or walking expeditions.

In Edinburgh that was no big deal at all, but as we come into smaller places it's starting to be a challenge. That’s because today -- and tomorrow in particular -- we call at very small villages that really are jumping-off points to other areas. And without taking one of Insignia's tours, you're basically stranded.

Our advice if you want to get the most out of every port: make your own arrangements in advance, before leaving home. The good thing about that tactic is you won’t feel disappointed or as if you wasted a visit at a particular port. The bad? Planning everything in advance leaves little room for whim, which can sometimes yield the most interesting and memorable trip experiences.

Today's lunch was interesting -- and good (though that's no surprise, I'm sure). We tried out Waves Grill, the ship's burger area, located next to the pool, and there was one delightful change from most cruise lines' typical grill: table service. It was quite relaxing to sit under cover (and out of the rain) and enjoy a relaxing lunch.

The real highlights of the day began at sailaway, when a band of bagpipers from Peterhead serenaded the ship as we pulled away from the dock. The Scottish theme continued as this evening's entertainment, which started at dinner and featured dancing afterwards. The menu in the restaurant had a fabulous Scottish theme (with appetizers like salmon terrine and goat cheese and apple tatin -- both of which were marvelous). We even got daring -- and ordered, as a main course, haggis. This is considered Scotland's “national” dish and let me just say is a bit of an acquired taste (this one, made of lamb, involves ingredients such as heart, liver, stomach and lung, all mixed up with oatmeal and fresh suet). It's traditionally washed down with a tumbler of good malt scotch. Have to say -- it was quite delicious even without the scotch!

Then, during dinner, restaurant staff led by bagpipers paraded through the dining room all decked out in their finest Scottish kilts. Turns out the ship rented a whole bunch of full outfits -- worn mostly by officers (though not the captain!) and entertainment staff. It was funny to see the Italian-born manager of the restaurant parading through the room in what I'm told was a Norman tartan. We even spotted a few passengers wearing kilts (men and women both); they must have brought them along.

Afterward, Flower of Scotland, a local Ceilidh band that the entertainment staff brought onboard for the evening, hosted a traditional Scottish barn dance...and it was all very merry.

Even with all the entertainment, we still managed to go to bed while it was still light (11 p.m.!).

Tomorrow we dock at Invergorden, the gateway to Inverness and the Scottish Highlands.
Day 3: Edinburgh red arrow Day 5: Inverness

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