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17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
We were on the July 8-23, 2013 British Isles trip on board the beautiful Caribbean Princess. This was our third time on this ship and it is my favorite. We had absolutely no problems on this cruise with the ship or crew. The weather for ... Read More
We were on the July 8-23, 2013 British Isles trip on board the beautiful Caribbean Princess. This was our third time on this ship and it is my favorite. We had absolutely no problems on this cruise with the ship or crew. The weather for our trip was incredible. It was very warm for almost the entire trip. Cobb, Dublin and Paris use Euros and all other places use the British Pound. I hope you find this summary helpful. I know I counted on the previous cruise critic reviews to help me plan our trip. LONDON: We arrived in London two days before the cruise. We took the tube from Heathrow to the stop close to our hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza St. James. The location of the hotel could not have been better. We walked from the hotel to Westminster Abbey, past much of the government buildings, Calvary Museum, over to St. James Park and to Buckingham Palace. The next day we walked over to the Westminster Bridge to catch the River Thames boat ride and saw both Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We took the river boat down to Tower of London. You could spend an entire day here but after about 4 hours we walked (yes, walked) down to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Would highly recommend walking up the 528 steps to the top. What a great view of London. You are higher than the London Eye. We than walked (yes, walked) back to our hotel. Walking does allow you to take in all of the sights and do some people watching. There are plenty of opportunities to ride the bus, which are everywhere. We did purchase the London Pass with the transportation included. It allowed us to skip many of the ques. Transfer to the Ship: We had International Friends take us from the Hotel to Southampton via Stonehenge. The bus driver that we had was TERRIBLE. Very scary. He cut off numerous cars and would zoom up on the back of cars he was following. Stonehenge was ok, it was one of those things that you go see to say that you saw it. Guernsey, Channel Islands: This is a tender port. We booked a walking tour with Annette Henry Tours. (www.annettehenrytours.gg) Annette lives in Guernsey and knows so much history on the island. She makes it fun, does some role playing and takes you places that would be missed by other tours. Make sure you walk to the actual town which is behind those building you see from the port. It is a beautiful town. The tour was about 3 hours long and I think it was 10 pounds each. We tipped her very good. Cob, Ireland: We did the Princess Excursion: Rock of Cashel, The Vee & Lismore. This tour was pretty good. We were able to see a lot of the countryside. The Rock of Cashel was interesting. We were there on a very warm day, close to 70 degrees and we were very lucky that our bus had air conditioning. There were two other buses in our group and both had problems with their air conditioning. There may be better tours offered than this one. Dublin, Ireland: We took the Princess Shuttle $8.00 per person each way to town. When we got to Dublin there were people there waiting to sell us HOHO tickets. Be careful!!!! Not all buses are the same. The green bus-which we purchased had only a couple of buses. They go in one direction around the whole town so if you want to go backwards you walk. Plus there was a big wait time between buses. Go with the RED HOHO bus. Our bus was €18 each. We did not do any excursions. We planned on doing the Trinity College walking tour but too many people showed up and you couldn’t hear the guide so we went out on our own. We walked around Trinity College, went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (on a Sunday morning between masses) and then went to Guinness Brewery €16.50. Buy your ticket in advance and they have a will call. Otherwise you will stand in line. The best meal on the entire cruise was at the Guinness Storehouse restaurant. Little place that offered a couple of items on the menu, you order at the bar. But their Irish Stew was Fantastic! If you are going to buy things to take back home-Dublin is the place to do it. They have a ton of shops with good prices. This was a hopping town. Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland: We booked a tour with Discover Scotland Tours, the Highland Lochs, Glens & Castles Shore Excursion 40 £ a couple. Our tour guide was Bobby Toner and he was fantastic!! (www.discoverscotlandtours.com) It probably helped that we are of Scottish decent. He was very interested in teaching us about Scotland. We went to the small village of Luss and what a picturesque little place. The flowers were just beautiful outside the homes. Got a lot of history of the region. We then went to the Inveraray Castle. Looks like a Cinderella castle. Look it up on the internet. It has been used in some of the Downtown Abbey show. The castle fee and lunch is not included in the tour. Actually had to pay to use the bathroom in a town on the tour. Stopped at a small church, he took us on some back roads with beautiful scenery. You don’t go here on a big bus. Our little bus carried 16 people. Bobby will give you lots of history and interesting story telling. Highly recommend! Belfast, Northern Ireland: We booked a Tax Tour with Belfast City Tours 125 £ a couple. There were just the 4 of us with a cab driver. At first, we weren’t sure about this tour. We were picked up at the dock and RUSHED to the Northern Coast. The good thing is that we beat all of the tours so when we got to the Carrick-A-Rede (7 £ each) there was not anyone there. Good for us! We paid our entry fee and proceeded to walk all the way down to the rope bridge, walked over to the island and WOW was it ever beautiful. Well worth the walk. But it is a long walk. Then our driver, William, took us over to the Giants Causeway (8.50 £ each). This is another site worth seeing. From the welcome center down to the causeway is a long walk. However, if you ride the bus be prepared to stand in line at both ends because the road only allows one bus at a time. We rode down but decided to walk back up. Watch your step on the rocks as they can be wet and slippery. We then headed to the Bushmills Distillery (8.50 £ each). We went on the tour and got our free drink. Up until this point William did not have much to say. We told him we were interested in seeing the city and learning about the conflict. William took us to both sides of the Peace Wall and explained the history about the conflict. This was very interesting. None of the sites were included in the price of the tour. Would recommend Belfast City Tours and William! (Belfast City Tours TD Taxis Booking TJ Doyle) Kirkwall, Scotland: Tender port. We did not book any tours. We took the shuttle (free) to town. Cute little town. We walked to St. Magnus Cathedral (free) and Bishop’s and Earl’s Palace (entry fee). We looked around for tartans and there are some nice shops. The wind was blowing so hard at this port that our captain had to have Tugs sent in from hours away to pull us away from the dock so the boat would not be damaged. We were over two hours late leaving port. Very light up here since it is so far north. Inverness, Scotland: We booked a tour with George Munro of Munro Highland Tours. George@munrohighlandtours.co.uk (195 £ a couple) This was not a typical tour in that we want to a lot of back road places that only a small vehicle could go. Nature walks, waterfalls, beautiful flowers, herds of deer. We drove through historic Beauly and we give a short guided walk around the 13th century priory (free entry) Stunning hilltop drive through crofting communities to Loch Ness. We took the 30 minute boat trip to Urquhart Castle £18.50 per person for this including the castle entry. The boat trip is nothing special in itself, but avoiding the queues and seeing the castle from the water makes it more than worthwhile. This was a good trip and George knows a lot of history. He also does distillery tours. It was a bit pricey. We did not see the Loch Ness monster! South Queensferry (Edinburgh): This is a tender port. Based on what I read on Cruise Critic I figured out how to get where we wanted to go. You walk up from the tender across the street and follow the people to the stairs. Straight up all 139 steps. Then you turn left and follow the path along the chainlink fence to the Dalmeny Train station. Take the train (£9.60) to Edinburgh. When you walk up the stairs from the train be ready to be wowed! Edinburgh is beautiful!!! We could spend a week here. Get a HOHO ticket and travel around the city. The HOHO starts at 9 am for $22. We took the bus through the city two times. We pre-purchased tickets to go see the Edinburgh Castle which was smart because the ques were VERY long. The Castle is worth seeing. Then we walked the Royal Mile and city streets. There is a great shop the Tartan Weaving Mill & Exhibition on the Royal Mall. Very interesting. The one thing we did not do but was highly recommended is going to see the St. Mary’s Close. Le Havre (Paris, France): Princess Excursion: Paris City Drive & The Louvre Museum with lunch at the Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Very interesting day. We visited Paris on Monday the day after the Tour de France race finished in Paris. Monday is also the day that one of the other major museums in Paris is closed. So EVERYONE was at the Louvre! It was packed. First, make sure you go to the bathroom on the bus. Because the lines are so long for the bathroom that you will lose your tour group. We saw the big three-Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Can take that off my bucket list-Oh, that’s right, it wasn’t on my list. My brother-in-law went to the top of the Louvre to take pictures of the pyramid on the outside (you arrive via bus in the basement). Well, he got locked outside (no receipt for re-entry) and we were all separated and lost from our tour group. The four of us finally got back together and were reunited with our group which did an ovation for us when we finally got on the bus. Went to the Eiffel Tower-extremely crowded, and went to lunch in the restaurant. Great view from up there. The food was not great at the restaurant. Then we headed back to the bus. It was about 2.5 hours each way on the bus. I would not recommend this expensive tour. Also, no chance to buy any souvenirs on this tour. Did see some pretty sights of the city including the Arc De Triomphe Etoile. Hope this summary helps someone plan their trip. I know I received lots of good tips from Cruise Critic!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
This was our sixth Princess Cruise. Booking last minute we found an incredible bargain ($1329 for a $3799 balcony; interior cabins were sold for $599). We are Platinum members, and hence boarding was very easy, as was disembarkation. Our ... Read More
This was our sixth Princess Cruise. Booking last minute we found an incredible bargain ($1329 for a $3799 balcony; interior cabins were sold for $599). We are Platinum members, and hence boarding was very easy, as was disembarkation. Our Cabin was R718, aft on the ship, but perfectly comfortable and convenient. Good things: We've always had pleasant experiences with crew, dining hall staff, stewards, and this was true on this cruise as well. Crew worked to be very attentive and helpful, with only one invisible exception I'll mention later. Always found if we are courteous and respectful of crew, they'll be likewise to us. We have liked Princess for social dancing, more floors and venues, space in general for dancing than we have found on Carnival or Royal C. That said, often live bands played very short sets (30 to 45 minutes) and then were wisked off to another venue. The ship has four dance venues. They make generally poor use of the Skywalker Club at the top of the ship, and the objective there didn't seem to be dance but selling drinks.. They kept a band in Wheelhouse Bar regularly most evenings capable of a wide selection of music. Only problem there was length of time between selections, waiting for computers to pull up their music. Explorer's Lounge was underutilized for dancing, bands starting late and leaving early so one of the over-done cruse staff games could be shuffled through, and those well worn performances were eternal, never ending. Club Fusion was mostly DJ music,and often slow without much being offered for dance, just an empty room. It is used some, but could be used much more effectively without huge overhead. I've read some downer reviews on food. In regular dining rooms, two things helped for anytime dining. First, don't ask for a table for two or you will wait a long time. Be willing to mix with others, and you are seated quickly. This cruise was very international, and we always enjoyed meeting others, Brits, Israeli's South Africans, many Asians, Aussies and New Zealanders. One of the great aspects of the trip was only about half of of the guests were American. The second thing that helped was to ask the waiter for a recommendation. A couple of times I went on my own, a steak, or a seafood item I had attraction too. Usually, if it was an every night available or if it was beef, it tended to be a bit ordinary. When I followed wait staff recommendations, I always got a good entree. On desserts, creme bulee is always a good choice. We found food to generally be a bump better than Carnival or RC. Some of the Excursions on this cruise were a mistake. Getting the more expensive excursion where you depart in the morning and meet the ship at Geiranger was a mistake. . Lots of down and wasted time, and the best sites can generally be seen from the Geirnanger side. We opted for a rental car in Bergen, a mistake (use Hop On Hop Off bus). For Flaam, buy railway tickets in Bergen the day before and save a few bucks. Stavenger is a walk on your own city, everything in good proximity of the ship; called that one right. Use public transportation in Tromso (we walked too much).. We were generally disappointed in the shows. Couple of weak entertainers, a magician and comic who brought no energy to the show and the audience was unable to generate any either. Because there were 3 shows each night (limitation of seating in theatre), shows were short, about 45 minutes. On this cruise, four or five times 45 minutes was actually enough. Sameness about them, lack of creative choreography. If not for midriff and sexual inuendo, there wasn't much else to carry them. Nice string group that was used in very limited capacity. A good group where most of the band was from Barbados, but again they were under utilized. My disappointment came in the Admin officers and his staff to help correct an error I made. I use a CPAP machine at night. In packing it, I had inadvertently left the silicone portion of the mask behind, the piece that sits directly upon one's face. I realized my error on the plane before landing at LHR. As soon as I boarded ship, I went to the Purser's desk and asked for an address to have the missing portion of the mask shipped too. We were in Bergen, Norway's second largest city following a day at sea, and I was told that if it were shipped there it would be delivered to the ship. I was provided an address, we called home and my daughter was off to the UPS Store with the address provided within the hour. She paid UPS Global $140+, had them box the item ship it out on overnight delivery. Upon returning to ship, an hour and a half ahead of departure, I asked if the package had arrived. At second request, a call was made to the port agent, who said he hadn't received the package. I was told there would be an effort to get the package traced, and they were certain it would be delivered possibly at North Cape, but certainly by either Tromso or Stavenger. I went by the Medical Office. Staff there was wonderful. We tried to take a regular oxygen mask, which cost about $200, and amend it to work. Good effort, but unfortunately it was $200 down the drain. Doctor there and staff were very responsive and polite. We checked in every couple of days to see if Admin officer had located the package, and answer varied as to whether the mask was in Oslo or Bergen. It never showed up. Six days into the cruise, UPS called my home phone in the states and left a message that they didn't have a deliverable address. UPS offered to ship the package back to my home address for another $170. Upon returning to the states, and running tracking info, there had only been one inquiry with UPS (other than the two I made by internet), and outside of about three crew packages, I don't think any other packages shipped to passengers could have ever happened given the lack of address, and the poor communication between crew and the largest American shipper. I tended to be more angry about this problem with UPS. My wife was more upset with Princess, as she felt there was no link or possibility for success put in place by Princess. With 1300 Americans on the ship as passengers, it seems to me that Princess should have in place a probablilty for successful delivery of a package from the states on a twelve day trip. They clearly did not. I would still recommend this cruise, and taking it with Princess. Holland America typically runs the same route, perhaps a day longer every summer. While a Princess fan for most of the past 20 years, I'll tell you we have generally had good cruises with Carnival, one great cruise on Pride of America in Hawaii, and we are giving RC Liberty of the Seas a shot next month. Our only terribly disappointing experience in cruising was with RC ten years ago, and their fumble made me reluctant to return and had Princess not been screwing up pricing and mismanaging their website this February, my wife would still not be open to returning to RC. Our view is for the money, Carnival offers a good cruise; Food not quite as good, unless one uses pay dining. The ships are gaudy, but crew nice and a fun experience. RC likes big ships, tends to herd passengers around like cattle, lots of unique on ship activity sometimes difficult to access and good shows, but from mid management up service is terribly lacking. Norwegian tends to have fewer frills, but good service; lots of not bad on NCL from my conversations with their cruisers. Hear very good reports on Disney and Cunard, but neither have offered a cruise to the right place and the right price for me. All the older people I know love Holland America, one couples' comment the hubby says "they have the nicest suites and most comfortable beds on the seas," but wife commented, "yeah, but you always walk around the ship feeling like you are going to trip on somebody's oxygen line." In short, if one goes with a good attitude, not aiming to be critical, and makes no mistakes on their end, you can have a good cruise at a reasonable price with a half dozen companies. Each has a target niche. . Read Less
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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
This was our second cruise with Princess. Two years ago we were on the "Ruby" in the Mediterranean. We are two young active senior citizens 62, and 65 from CT. Caribbean Princess is Ruby's sister ship, only a bit older. So ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Princess. Two years ago we were on the "Ruby" in the Mediterranean. We are two young active senior citizens 62, and 65 from CT. Caribbean Princess is Ruby's sister ship, only a bit older. So we had no surprises when we booked. The ship is beautiful, but some of the furniture is worn and faded. Some carpeting has been replaced while some has not. Some bathroom tile showed some black mold, and the bathroom mirror was spotting with age. These signs of maturity did not take away from the experience. The Caribbean Princess' mechanicals were fully operational, meaning she got ua from port to port and elevators and toilets worked just fine. We were most impressed by the friendly, helpful, genuinely nice staff. We loved Kelvin Joy, the Cruise Director, and his Deputy Cruise Director (Sorry...forgot your name.) who were funny, and informative. In the Island Dining Room, Randy and Almira worked hard to keep us happy by giving us food suggestions and accommodating our special requests. (We did notice the food quality declined from two years before, but we never went hungry.) The shows were good and very entertaining. We always went to the 7:00 one. We liked that we always got a seat, because there were 3 shows and we liked the shorter versions. Also when I ordered a diet coke in the theater (or anywhere for that matter)using my soda card, I was giving quick and respectful service equal to anyone ordering an expensive drink. The very best show was not at night. During our last "Sea Day," we went to the "Cooking Show". This was much more than we expected with cooking, comedy, and entertainment by the staff. DO NOT miss this one. We spent many afternoons in the Piazza drinking coffees, hot chocolate, eating too many cookies or at Vines drinking wine and having sushi. Our cabin steward was efficient and was always available when needed. He fixed a broken light bulb, and called someone to help us with a testy safe. He kept the bed made, gave up plenty of towels and toilet paper and always left us candy on the bed. We only did Princess excursions and enjoyed the time given. These excursions delivered what they promised. A couple of times we had to choose between shopping and a part of the attraction. (For instance, stand in line to kiss the Blarney Stone or shop at the Woolen Mills....It was DH's turn and we kissed the Blarney Stone. (Bring antibacterial wipes for the stone :) Princess excursions might be a bit costly, but they were well planned, and stress free. The all day excursions with lunch included, had the best food served, and was better than what was served on board the Caribbean Princess. The local tour guides were always knowledgeable and eager to please. Princess... should know the Caribbean Princess Staff always take good care of their cruisers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
After 4 days in London with constant sightseeing, we transferred via a Princess bus to Southampton. Bus transfer a bit chaotic but passable. Embarkation and later disembarkation at terminal good. We have been on this very ship 4 times now ... Read More
After 4 days in London with constant sightseeing, we transferred via a Princess bus to Southampton. Bus transfer a bit chaotic but passable. Embarkation and later disembarkation at terminal good. We have been on this very ship 4 times now and each time we very very satisfied. The food was very good, if not excellent, although we have seen the more expensive items disappear from the menu over the years( e.g. lamb chops)Service in the dining room was excellent but the average length of time in the dining room was over 2 hours. That would interfere with getting to entertainment. One of the section maitre d's, Toma, overheard me ask about escargots. He saw to it we got escargots the next evening. Each day when we returned from a shore excursion, we had a snack at the international cafe, which had good sandwiches and very good soups which were quite welcome since the weather around the British Isles was often cool and windy. The room service was excellent. We had breakfast in our room every day to save time since we always had an early excursion. It was always on time and we were brought things we ordered that were not even on the menu. Pizza and hamburgers by the pool were excellent. The cabin itself, an oceanview with a balcony, was trouble free. The steward, Ron, was excellent. All features of the cabin worked well including plumbing, climate control, fridge, TV, & comfortable queen bed. The entertainment was excellent. It was varied and enough of it. The cruise director and his staff were wonderful, except for one woman whose attitude regarding one of the trivia games was unacceptable. The cruise staff often has wrong answers to trivia. This woman insisted the American flag has 13 red stripes. This was on July 4 th no less. I was insulted. But this was more than made up for by the fantastic cruise director, Kelvin Joy. In 10 cruises, he is the best one we've ever had. Tons of personality, talent, good sport (and a great bum which he flashed at the end of the crew show), very friendly and easily accessible. The ports of call were a great selection and that's why we chose this cruise. Only Guernsey should be replaced since little to see or do.As for these ports, make arrangements on your own. The ships tours are not as good and are considerably more expensive. We took a tour of Cork with some friends we had met on an cruise 5 years ago and among other things they got us to the Blarney Stone ahead of the lines. Can't you tell I have the gift of gab?In Dublin, we took a free walking tour of the city which was interesting but too rich in history. In Liverpool, we saw two good museums and the Cavern where the Beatles got their start. On to Belfast, for a tour of the Giant's Causeway and the swing bridge at Carrick-a Rede, both worthwhile natural wonders. In Glasgow, visited Loch Lomond, and Stirling Castle which was over rated. Inverness included a tour of Loch Ness among others and was great because of the great guide, Gordon Pearson of Wow Scotland. Edinburgh, next, very colorful and St Giles church not to be missed for its stained glass windows. Last port was Le Havre and an hour and a half car ride thru Cruise Excursions.com (Not the ship)and an excellent guide(Florian) We went to the 2 American beaches of the D Day landing, the American cemetery and several other related cites. It was extremely emotional and we don't even know people who died there for our freedom. One of our friend's father fought there but survived. In all, a marvelous cruise, taking into account the ship itself and the ports of call. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
Background: We arrived in London on 2 June for a little sightseeing before our cruise set sail on 5 June 2013. There were eight of us in our group and we took the opportunity to visit London, Windsor Castle, and Stonehenge. We had ... Read More
Background: We arrived in London on 2 June for a little sightseeing before our cruise set sail on 5 June 2013. There were eight of us in our group and we took the opportunity to visit London, Windsor Castle, and Stonehenge. We had pre-arranged transportation for pick-up at Heathrow and at our Hotel for the trip to Southampton. Transportation requirements took place without a hitch Southampton Hotel: We stayed at the PremierInn Southampton Quay; we booked this hotel based on previous Cruise Critic recommendations and we're not disappointed; clean and comfortable hotel, friendly staff; reasonable price; good location, and close to cruise terminal. The hotel arranged two taxis for our group and the cost was about 8 British Pounds per taxi. I highly recommend the hotel if departing from Southampton. Ship Info: This was our 4th Princess Cruise and first time on the Caribbean Princess. The ship layout is basically the same as other Princess ships in the same category and we are very comfortable with that. We like the ease of access to food by the pools such as pizza and hamburger bars. The ship sails with approximately 3100 people, but one never feels crowded. Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal around 11:15am from our hotel, the trip was short and very smooth. Baggage porters we're standing by to take our luggage and they also reminded us to ensure we had all our travel documents in our handcarry bags and not packed in suitcases, we we're very impressed with this. The terminal wasn't too crowded at the time; but they weren't ready to start processing passengers yet. A receptionist handed out Health Forms and Check-in Letters based on your Cruise Status; Elite (Green) or Non-Elite (Orange). We waited approximately 45 minutes before our letter was called; I venture to say it took no longer than 5 minutes for us to have our room key in hand and head towards security. The security line was crowded and long by the time we got there. One factor that slowed things down was that "Elite" passengers who arrived late we're allowed to go to the front of the line to go through security. We we're on board and dropped our handcarry luggage in our room by 1:00pm. One of the things Princess has always impressed me with is the fact your room is ready for you by the time you board; in fact on this trip, our luggage was already at the door waiting for us. State Room: We stayed on the Aloha Deck; Room A705; we like this ship location, the deck is quiet and close to the elevators; which take you right to the Horizon Food Courts. Dining: We had Traditional Dining in the Coral Dining Room. Although we had requested and had been approved a 6:00pm seating time, our room keys stated 5:30; we spoke to the head waiter and our time was adjusted. I personally didn't have one back meal in the Coral; food was plentiful, tasteful, and very good. Our waiters Alberto and Jorge did an Outstanding Job; the eight in our group all submitted "Impressive Employee" Cards on them and all gave them additional gratuity at the end of the cruise. One thing I noticed about our dining time was the amount of empty tables. I am assuming people had reserved them, but 95% of the time they remained empty while we ate dinner; plus there was a waiting line of "Anytime" Dining passengers waiting to get in. We normally ate breakfast or lunch at the Horizon Food Court; nothiing special here; service was good for the most part; the food was plentiful, but the same as other Princess cruises we've taken. We still like the Pizza and Hamburger bar; our friends did have one bad experience with the burger bar when orders Brats; they said they we're awful. However, my wife and I never experienced this. Services: Our room was always clean and ready for us, although our cabin steward was very quiet and preferred not to interact with us unless necessary; we are okay with this; as long as the room is clean we're happy. The mattresses in our cabin need replacing, but plentiful for storage space. Shore Excursions: We only took one Princess excursion and that was the visit to Normandy for the 69th Anniversary of "D-Day"; feeling it would be quite crowded that day; we felt more comfortable traveling with the ship excursion. The excursion did not disappoinit and lunch at a very nice golf course (included) was included. We had booked 3 private shore excursions and had no problems; they were always ready for us when we arrived in port and ensured we returned to ship ahead of the required time. We had purchased entry tickets to attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Blarney Castle, etc on line and before departing for the cruise; this was a big plus and I highly recommend it as the lines to purchase tickets we're very long; we simply bypassed the line and went right in. Entertainment: My wife and I are layed back and don't expect too much in the way of entertainment; we we're very happy and content with the shows on this cruise. The lounges had trivia each night and we really enjoy that type of entertainment. Zumba, Bingo; Dancing, was all available and all suited our needs. Smoking: I enjoy a good cigar and the ship does have a Cigar/cigarette lounge.....Churchills. It was never crowded and service was good. There was one evening when a couple came in wanted to watch the French Open and complained about the smoke; the bartender reminded them this was a "Smoking" Lounge and they left, but not without fussinig. Disembarkation: Smooth, with a minor customs delay. Our appointed time to meet was at 6:55am in the Coral Dining Room; our number wasn't called until 7:40; our flight wasn't until 12:35pm from Heathrow, so we had ample time. When we arrived in the terminal our bags we're ready for us; the terminal was arranged by the color of your disembarkation tags and easy to find. We walked out the terminal and the buses for the Princess Transfer to the airport was waiting for us; luggage was loaded and we arrived at Heathrow by 9:30am. Sleamless process. Summary: My wife and I really love sailing on Princess and have very little to complain about; we understand servicing 3,000 people has its challenges; a clean room, good food, drink and entertainment is all we look for and Princess has yet to disappoint us.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This was a last minute cruise purchase. We had and have so many various commitments that any holiday had to be taken within a short three week window so, quite honestly, we would have gone anywhere (well, nearly anywhere) if there was ... Read More
This was a last minute cruise purchase. We had and have so many various commitments that any holiday had to be taken within a short three week window so, quite honestly, we would have gone anywhere (well, nearly anywhere) if there was immediate availability and an acceptable price. Find, agree, book, pack and arrive at Southampton for embarkation, all within five days. It was the best deal we could find but we did have some anxiety about our choice. Would the inside cabin be claustrophobic, would the Fore location be choppy, would the Princess Theatre one deck below Emerald prove intolerably noisy, and, finally, would the Norwegian weather be so grim that, coupled with the feared seasickness, we would, on the whole, rather prefer to be in Bognor! All fears proved without foundation and we have returned with wonderful memories. The inside cabin was perfectly adequate for our needs. It did have wall mounted bunk beds which didn't impinge upon us at all but we thought the space might feel uncomfortably cramped had we had two children sharing the cabin in addition to ourselves. We absolutely loved the fore location. It had none of the disconcerting vibrations associated with the aft area though I appreciate that this is a personal preference and some people prefer the vibrations to the rocking of the ship.For us, the gentle movement at night was soothing and enjoyable. The sea was never more than moderate and, although the side table drawers would occasionally and unexpectedly slide open this was no more than an amusement to us. Prior to embarkation, in those few fevered days of preparation I had posed the question of whether there was access from the fore of the corridor on Emerald Deck outside to the Upper Promenade. I can now definitively answer this question with an unambiguous "Yes". There are numerous doors from the Upper Promenade into the ship and it is certainly true that the majority of them bear the sign - Crew Members Only. However there are doors which don't bear this sign and one of them is just a few steps away from E112. From the inside it says Emergency Exit but not Emergency Exit Only. Opening the door gives you the advice to mind your step and watch out for high winds. A great way to get outside quickly and a great way to get back in after a walk. The Theatre is one Deck below and near the location of the cabin and we were prepared to hear a great deal of noise. We heard nothing. However, we spoke to some people two decks above us on Dolphin and they suffered a great deal of noise from the Theatre. We were completely puzzled by this though in no doubt of their truthfulness. We were then very surprised to hear some sound walking back to our cabin along the corridor on Emerald Deck. I then looked more carefully at the corridor. Some of the Ocean view cabins do not face other doors when they open their door but a blank wall. These cabins are around the 200's to the 230's and this is the area where I could hear the Theatre. I then remembered that the people on Dolphin had also had a cabin with similar numbers.Could it be (though I absolutely stand corrected if I have misinterpreted the situation) that the Theatre extends in height through a number of Decks and that this blank wall is the wall of the Theatre? In E112 we were well forward and with a number of cabins between us and this area and we didn't hear a thing. It was also very quiet as very few people needed to walk this far to reach their cabin. Oh dear, I've just thought, maybe now that I have encouraged all comers to access that very convenient door just beyond E112 there will be hordes of enthusiastic walkers marching onwards outside the door! Finally, don't be wary of this area. We loved the location and would certainly chose it again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
What a great way to see the whole of the British Isles in 12 days! Loved cruising with Princess. Met a lot of wonderful people via doing the anytime dining and asking to share a table. Thought the two wine tasting offerings during the ... Read More
What a great way to see the whole of the British Isles in 12 days! Loved cruising with Princess. Met a lot of wonderful people via doing the anytime dining and asking to share a table. Thought the two wine tasting offerings during the days at sea were terrific. We visited 8 ports: NORMANDY/HONFLEUR , FRANCE: We had arranged with another couple to hire Pierre Doublet as a guide to Normandy. He did an excellent job and I felt my head fill up around 3:30pm - info overload. As a treat, at the end of the day, he took around Honfleur. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND: 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. We visited the castle and then went to the National Scottish Gallery. What fun. INVERNESS/LOCH NESS, SCOTLAND: I tried to be really smart and take the local bus from the port to town. We had booked a tour of Loch Ness with Jacobite Tours. I wish I had taken a cab! Because of the bridge work being done in inverness, traffic is horrific and we missed the tour time. Jacobite was very generous in allowing us to cancel. We did take a bus to Nessieland and got a ride on a boat on Loch Ness for an hour and saw the Urguhart castle via the boat. Boat owner has pictures he took to prove he saw Nessie! We did cab ride it back to the ship (65 pounds). The scenery was quite lovely. Take a lot of british or scottish pounds and take the cab (or try to share one with someone). ORKNEY ISLANDS/ KIRKWALL Amazing - not to be missed. This was my favorite port. Took a tour with Orkney Aspects. They picked us up at ship and took us all over. Cannot believe we saw so many archaeological sites. Wear warm clothes - don't forget your gloves! GREENOCK/GLASGOW, SCOTLAND: Took the local train into Glasgow and then did the hop on and hop off bus around the city. What a treat. I wish we had more time to explore the city. Did take an hour to see the Glasgow Museum of Transport. We found this facinating. Wish I could have gone to the Botanical gardens. BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND: We took a cab to the the Titanic Museum. The cab driver did not put on the meter... so it cost us a bit more than what had been quoted. We paid 10 pounds. The museum was amazing but I really loved the tour of the pump house and the dry dock. We traveled into town to check out the city of Belfast and found a great pub. DUBLIN, IRELAND: Took the ship's shuttle into Dublin. Got on the Dart transportation (Pearse station) and headed out to Bray. What a beautiful seaside city. They have a Bray Swan Sanctuary. There is this ocean cliff walk that is spectacular. We took the Dart back to town and went to see the Book of Kells and Trinity College. We did have time for a pint at the Gueness bar on Kildare Street! CORK/COBH, IRELAND: Took the train into Cork and got the bus out to Blarney Castle. We did kiss the stone and walked through all their lovely gardens. Got a picnic lunch at the local supermarket and had a picnic in the park. Made it back to Cobh to explore that lovely village! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
Just finished a grand cruise around the British Isles. Ports of call, Paris, Edinburgh, Inverness, Orkney Islands, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Cork and almost Guernsey. Traveled on the Caribbean Princess. She is definitely an older ... Read More
Just finished a grand cruise around the British Isles. Ports of call, Paris, Edinburgh, Inverness, Orkney Islands, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Cork and almost Guernsey. Traveled on the Caribbean Princess. She is definitely an older ship, with some of the nice benefits of one, however, she does need a face-lift. We especially like the ability to walk around the 7th deck totally outside, something missing on the newer ships. Also noticed some places which a fresh coat of paint, or varnish, would add to the ambiance. The mattresses also need to be replaced as they are somewhat hard. The balcony furniture was newer looking and comfortable. Most of the things inside the cabin worked well, but the toilet did stop working twice, but quickly repaired. Our cabin Steward Sergio was a lovely, quiet, concerned, young man who was always responsive to any requests. You will be lucky to have him. Also two good bar hosts were Inna and Andrew at the Martini Bar next to Crooners. They knew our names after the first visit and always made us great drinks. They smiled all the time. The food on this particular cruise was excellent. With few exceptions we enjoyed every meal we had. The Palm Dining room had delicious offerings, hot, and plentiful. Also one plate of food not enough, then have more. Their offerings of Home Made specials were the best offerings on the menu. They also had offerings for our Vegetarian cruisers. Kudos to the master chefs. Our general experience on the ship was very good. Everyone we dealt with, from the cabin Steward, to bar tenders, to front desk attendants, were good experiences. Finally excursions. We had planned an excursion for each port. However, thanks to some great table mates we managed to change a lot of them and just go out on our own. Most every port had either complimentary transportation, or reasonably priced buses, cabs, and trains. You can negotiate with most of the cab drivers, and senior prices are available on most also. Excursion report to follow. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
We went on this cruise with friends who are platinum travelers with Princess. These friends, as well as other friends, told us what wonderful experiences they had had on Princess ships. Unfortunately, this particular cruise did not live up ... Read More
We went on this cruise with friends who are platinum travelers with Princess. These friends, as well as other friends, told us what wonderful experiences they had had on Princess ships. Unfortunately, this particular cruise did not live up to expectations at all. First, transportation provided by Princess from the airport to our pre-cruise hotel was difficult. It would have been much better for us to get our own cab rather than take hours to collect everyone on the bus and then wait in long lines at the hotel counter to get our room key. The hotel was centrally located and was nice. The transfer from the hotel to Southampton was uneventful. The check in process at the terminal was painfully long. The ship itself left much to be desired. We were on Riviera Deck 14 in a balcony cabin. We were supposed to have adjoining cabins and that did not happen. (The same thing happened to the couples next door to us.) The toilets had issues from day 1--either they took a long time to flush or they did not flush at all. The steward tried to help but the condition did not improve. The tile grout in the bathroom had black mold that could be clean off when I scrubbed it. The shower turned very hot or cold when someone nearby flushed their toilet or took a shower. The service staff members were all delightful. They were helpful and always ready to serve with a smile. This was true of all staff on the entire ship. The food in the Coral Dining Room was only adequate. The quality and variety of food one would normally expect on a cruise was missing. Although the wait staff was terrific, the food left much to be desired. I prefer my steak and prime rib well done.....that seemed to be an impossible task for the chef even after sending it back twice. The excursions were simply ok, and not well organized. The scenery was wonderful and we did enjoy our times in port. Most of the guides were ok....however, one in Cork took pride in telling us how much he loved to drink and how much he hated the Northern Irish. We cancelled our end of cruise transfer to the airport in favor of getting a cab--wise choice! All things considered, I don't think I would choose Princess again.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
We recently returned from our cruise around the British Isles on theCaribbean Princess and then several more days in the Englishcountryside and London.The cruise itself was fantastic! There were sooo many ports -- part ofour plan was to ... Read More
We recently returned from our cruise around the British Isles on theCaribbean Princess and then several more days in the Englishcountryside and London.The cruise itself was fantastic! There were sooo many ports -- part ofour plan was to see the major sites and decide which we wanted toreturn to on a separate land trip. For the first time we took the Princess air as we were allowed to select our airline and flight times and evenseats. The deal was excellent. The AA site was showing $1250-1500 forour dates and Princess sold it to us for $780!! Also, we were allowedto lower our stateroom cost twice when I saw it online for less!Princess itself also saved us $$ by not opening the casino for 5 or 6of the days . . . hmmm, we didn't know that until a week before thecruise. That meant no Bingo, either. But, there was TRIVIA! And, welinked up with a young couple from Bristol, England. We won or tied atleast 6 times, Yea!The weather was VERY changeable, and for us cold; however, it reallyonly rained twice (once as we sailed and again the morning part of ourDublin outing). In one day, it could be sunny, overcast, misty, thenwindy, and always chilly. It was strange seeing John in long pants, notshorts, for almost 3 weeks! He went through withdrawal the first fewdays. I had boots (Uggs), my down jacket, a wool scarf and gloves, anddancers' leggings for when I wore my tennis shoes. You KNOW we live inCalifornia for a reason.First stop . . . GUERNSEY, England . . . Sunny but windy. We had halfa day here and found on the internet that the Victor Hugo House MIGHTlet you in if some spots in it's small tours become vacant thruno-shows. We were there when it opened, and made it onto the 10:30 (2nd tour). I really think we were one of the VERY few cruise passengers to see this odd home of the renowned author of "Les Miserables." Totally worth it!!Then, we made it out to the castle just in time to see them fire thecannon and get our eardrums blown away. No castle visit here, but backto the ship with a short stop at a gift store to pick up some berryjams for which Guernsey is known. The town is totally walkable. Theline for the tender was huge, but it moved and eventually everyone madeit back to ship. Guernsey is also the only part of the British Islesthat was occupied by the Germans in WWII; but, the POW camp was out oftown, and we opted for the Hugo House.COBH (CORK), Ireland (for Blarney Castle and "The" Stone) -- Eventhough people (and Rick Steves) said "why bother" to this overcrowdedtouristy venue, we were in Ireland and HAD to do it. Took the first train to Cork ASAP after getting off the ship. The station is right next to the dock. Then planned the 10 min. walk to the bus station to catch the #224 toBlarney. Fortunately, we ran into our young TRIVIA partners from lastnight. We followed them at a walk/run to make the 10 minute trek tothe bus. Unfortunately, the bus left in 9 min. We missed it by oneminute. With the next bus an hour away, we decided to take a taxi toand from Blarney with our new friends. £20 total EACH way for the halfhour ride, but we got to set our return time to Cork to give us timeback in the little village of Cobh. Blarney Castle is surrounded by beautiful green grounds and the castle is just a shell, but we loved it. We climbed to the top, ready for the lines . . . . and found maybe only 10 peopleahead of us. "Kissed the Stone" and got the "gift of gab" as you cansee by the length of this email already. The castle and gardens wereso worth it. We're glad the others did not discourage us from thissite. Also, we noted that the ship's tours kept saying "maybe therewill be time "to kiss . . ." By doing it on our own, we were therebefore any large tours, lines, and a slobbery stone. The Woolen Millsdirectly outside of the castle are just a set of gift shops where wesaw stuff we would see many more times. Once back at the station weran for the hourly train and jumped on 30 seconds before it left. Cobhwas the last port of call for most emigrants when they left for the US. After reaching Cobh, we found a small and noisy pub (Murphy's) and had our first (of many) ales . . . Smithwick is my choice. John had the first of his two Guinnesses here. Guinness is NOT his favorite. The town was veryquaint and all the people and a band came dockside to send us off.DUBLIN, Ireland -- Rain then clear. Took the city shuttle bus fromthe ship into town (€5-8) and walked over to Trinity College. It was POURING rain! Had learned that the students led hour tours here every half hour. We got there early, booked the first one, and saw the beautiful campus with a very cleverand funny girl guide. It stopped raining, so we caught a historicaltour that we knew met right outside the gate of the college and paid onthe spot. It was led by a professor who gave us a two hour walk andlecture on the history of Ireland and the buildings of Dublin, endingin the student quarter (and now chic) Temple Bar area. Walked to St.Patricks cathedral, but didn't go in. Returned to Temple Bar where wefound a pub (certainly not too hard to do), called the Auld Dubliner,and had a chicken sandwich, fries(chips), and a couple of pints. Thenwe wandered back to Trinity College to line up to see the Book of Kells-- the oldest illustrated manuscript in Europe? The line looked long, but less than in the morning, and it moved quickly. Maybe 15 minutes -- and the price was already included in the student tour.BELFAST, Ireland -- Sunny, cold, a little breezy. Got a late start aswe had bought timed tickets online to the new Titanic Museum (11:00 AM). We found that a taxi was the only certain way to get to the museumalthough it WAS very near the ship. Visited the interactive museum forabout 2 hours (They did an excellent job on it.) From there we askedseveral people to be sure, and took a public bus to the center ofBelfast (10 min. and just a very few Euros!). We were on a mission tofind John's friend's hotel and pub. To clarify that, his friend ran amarathon here 2 weeks prior, and had a few recommendations for us.We quickly located the Crown Bar pub across from the Europa Hotel."Bellied up to the bar" (mostly standing bars in the British Isles) andthe tables and booths were all occupied. Here John did have aGuinness, for sure. He said it tasted better in Ireland than at home.A local next to us began the conversation which lasted half and hour. The Irish (and the Scots) are filled with stories. After he left, a rather drunk, old manmoved in, and we made a fairly quick exit. Going next door to Robinson's, wegrabbed another chicken sandwich (each pub has their own twist onthese) to sustain us on our return. We must say at this point, ALLthe people, no matter the setting -- on the street, in a store, in acab, everywhere -- were happy to see us and very, very helpful. Such adelight! Having checked before we left the dock, we knew where theships shuttle waited so we found it (paid) and returned to the ship.We had wanted to do the Giants Causeway, but it was 2+ hours there and2+ hours back, and we weren't sure if the Titanic exhibit would honorour timed tickets so late. Our young friends did the Causeway bypublic bus, so it is do-able. In retrospect, we're happy we hungaround in town and got a flavor of the city.GREENOCK, Scotland (for GLASGOW) -- Very sunny, almost warm. Glasgowwas an hour away by train, so we decided early that would not be for us. Big city,etc. So for this port I tried and tried to get an internet grouptogether on Cruise Critic to copy 2 of the ship's tours for half thecost. Found a driver/guide who agreed to do it for an acceptable pricebut we really needed 3 couples (had 2). As the day approached, hefinally said he'd adjust his price for the 4 of us -- GREAT! Then the othercouple would not contact me back. Had to tell the guide "no" as it wasjust too much for just John and I. We left the ship early, proposeditinerary in hand, hoping to land a driver. Finally, after a wait, wegot a guy to give us 5 hours for the price of 4. Still it was morethan we wanted to pay, but off we went. We drove through the beautifulScottish Highlands to Loch Lomand and the town of Luss (tiny, tiny,tiny . . . and not just for tourists), then we went up to InveraryCastle, which was really just the personal castle (BBQ on the patio andall) of local royalty and open to the public. And guess what? . . . aUS TV crew was filming for "Grand Estates" and the Duke was "inresidence." So we met (well, kind of met) the Duke of Argyll -- likethe socks -- trying to work the cash register in the gift shop . . . you know, to try toaugment the family fortune. The town of Inverary was also very smalland typically 17th Century style. On the way back, the driver droppedus at his favorite in-town spot so we could do some more pub research.Then we made the 15 minute walk back to the ship.ORKNEY ISLANDS, Scotland -- Sunny and cool. The terrain here remindedus of the Falkland Islands -- windswept and barren, not many trees, but tons ofsheep. Here we had booked online with a private company, OrkneyAspects. It was a small group (14) all day tour and cost half of whatthe ship offered. First we visited the Cathedral in town and burialspot of Arctic explorer John Rae. The church is now city owned andopen to folks who feel they want to come in to get out of the weatheror simply read the newspaper -- a very pragmatic approach. Then we setout for the islands neolithic sites: Skar Brae, a 5000 year oldsettlement; Mae's Howe, a tomb in a mound; Stones of Stenness and Ringsof Brodger, much like Stonehenge. The tour was fantastic! Lunch wasat a local farmhouse B & B overlooking fly fishermen in search oftrout. Back to the ship right on time -- very professional. It wasamazing to visit such ancient ruins and that we had full access to thesites.INVERGORDON, Scotland (for INVERNESS and LOCH NESS) -- Again cool butsunny! For access to Loch Ness we needed to get to Inverness. We could have takena ship's tour, the ships car/driver, a bus, or a taxi. Worried thatthe last bus back would be too crowded, we prearranged on the interneta 9:00 AM taxi for 8 people I found on Cruise Critic. It cost us £15each for the 45 minute ride and dropped us right in front of thestation where I had purchased on the internet a Jacobite Tour of LochNess by boat and Urkhart Castle. The castle was very cool . . . weclimbed in, out, and on the remaining structure and walls. The boatride was so-so (couldn't understand the narration) and sadly Nessie wasnapping, so you won't see our names in the record book for havingsighted her. Once done with the tour, we had 2 hours or so in the townof Inverness to continue our pub research. Went to the first where a"hen party" was in full swing (I believe, that's a bachelorette party .. . in costume). One of the hens keeled over, passing out straight onthe floor in front of us. We couldn't get to her or around her. AnAmerican woman (doctor/nurse) attended to her until she came to. Itdidn't appear to be alcohol related . . . but still 999 (there) wasnever called and the pub owners seemed unruffled, kind of steppingright over her. After we finished our wings with jalapeno BBQ sauce(an 8 on the hot scale and a 2 on taste), we left for the spot nextdoor. Much quieter and no "hens" or "roosters?" in sight. Finally, wedropped by Hootenanny's (yes, like in Arkansas) where others from ourgroup were going. It was very crowded; we didn't see them, but the"hens" had moved over here. We left before there were anymoreincidents. At 4:00 we all met back at the taxi and were dropped at theship. In all, it was a lovely country drive.EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Cool and sunny (Does this sound repetitive? TheIrish and the Scottish are loving it.) Outside the ship there was a city shuttlewaiting. Hooray! No stair climbing to the train or expensive taxiride . . . but we were prepared in case the shuttle really didn'texist. I say this because the Princess Excursion Desk people were mostuninformative. We know that's because THEY want to do all the selling;but honestly, here, no passengers could ascertain whether there wouldbe a shuttle or not. Usually, SOMEONE knows what to expect. Manymixed messages from the ship's "experts." Other than thetransportation in (we tendered here), we had planned for Edinburgh. Ihad bought castle tickets and tour tickets online. Once at the shuttledrop-off point, which was a 20 minute WALK to the sites. Edinburgh isbreathtakingly beautiful. All of the buildings, shops, and streetslook like they're straight out of an 18th Century novel. We made ourway to Real Mary Close (That's a small street where a plague-orientedunderground tour starts.) I had heard of this tour the day before fromone of our taxi riders who did this cruise last year! As we wereearly, we went to a Starbucks closeby. I learned online that the firsttour starts at 10 AM, so we were there! Unfortunately,we did not luck out this time; all tours were sold out until 1:00, sowe booked it and set out uphill for the castle. Our castle visit wastime stamped, but they let us in early! This castle is totally intact(rebuilt, of course). We met one of the castle guides for the nexttour (they go half-hourly). He gave us a 45? minute overview; then weheaded back to see the high points of St. Mary's Chapel, the CrownJewels, the prison cells, Great Hall, and the cannon. The view fromthe castle walls is phenomenal! After leaving the castle we walked DOWN the Royal Mile back to the Real Mary's Close. On the way we saw MORRISON's Kilt Shop. Closed, but we knew they had our pattern, whereas the other shops were "out" of the Morrison clan plaid. (Finally, I got a Morrison wool scarf :) Becausewe had about 45 min., we stepped in to a pub "The Filling Station." TheL.A. people will get this as there is a bar/restaurant with the samename near our house in Culver City. However, city law says no alcoholbefore 12:30. We ordered food and waited for the pint. By the time wegot everything (a small flatbread pizza), we had 8 min. to eat and makeit next door for the tour! The Real Mary's Close tour was of the (now)underground homes occupied during the plague by the less fortunate. Itwas all done by costumed guides and was very small and interactive.We're happy that our taxi mate turned us on to this, AND that we could fit itin to our other prearranged activities. As soon as that tour ended, wewent to our Mercat tour "Secrets of the Royal Mile." This was an hourand a half walking tour of the area. The guide was super, and she hadmany unusual and funny stories of Edinburg and it's history. We hadpaid for this on the internet, and it began promptly at 2:15 just asmentioned in Rick Steve's book. It ended at 3:45 and we needed to beback at the shuttle for the 4:30 (last bus). Whew! We made the 20min. walk to find the line for the bus. They had brought in a largerbus, and everyone got back in plenty of time.LE HAVRE, France-- Sunny, windy, sometimes cool. This was the stop togo to Paris or Normandy. We didn't care to spend so much time (andeven more money than the tour we had selected) to get to Paris to spendjust 3 hours. We had been there before. Anyway, we knew from thebeginning that we wanted to see the D-Day beaches. I booked the ship'stour and tried for a few weeks to book a private, small group tour ofthe landing sites, but everything was filled. We were there on June4, and the yearly commemoration is on June 6, too close to the bigcelebrations! So we held on to our ship's tour although it was $197each! It was a full day tour, and it was excellent! We went to 3 ofthe 5 beaches and to the American Cemetery. All of it was mindboggling and very moving. Every stop brought to mind all the movies ofthat significant day in history. We could envision the invasionmoment-by-moment. It was very meaningful to see the WWII veteransthere in uniform recollecting and being interviewed by various TVcrews. Lunch was at a farmhouse in the nearby countryside of Caen. Itwas an amazing course of chicken in mustard sauce and an array of wines. . . and the bread, the bread. Yummmm! After the 2 hour drive back,we concluded our 10 hours in Normandy . . . worth every minute. Ourcruise ends in the morning.SALISBURY, England (for STONEHENGE and the Cathedral) -- Sunny, warm andcool, windy. Once we disembarked with luggage in tow, we checked outroutes to the train station. We knew the train to Salisbury was£8.70 and a half hour ride. No walking path to the station so we got acab. Ports are like that in big cities, very hard to get out of unlessin a vehicle. Once on the empty train, the just-off-duty engineer cameand sat with us just to "have a chat." He was on his way home toBristol. When the ticket conductor came thru the car, she says, "Hey,who's drivin' the train?" (Their daily inside joke :) Once inSalisbury we asked the idle ticket seller in the booth how to get toour inn. She PRINTED out a map. We said these people were really nice. . . but oops, this map was the car route and not the direct walkpath. Didn't discover this error until 15 min. down the road. A fewmore helpful people got us rerouted. Our hotel The Crown and Rose wasan old stagecoach inn built 400 years ago. The route to and fromalways crossed the grounds of the magnificent cathedral. After dumpingour stuff, we headed to the closest stop for the Stonehenge Bus Tour(purchased online). This bus gave an audio narration and also woulddeliver us to Old Sarum, the ruins of the original site of the city ofSalisbury. Once at Stonehenge our bus ticket also included the audiofor the visit. Many people, again, told us not to bother withStonehenge. They we're wrong. We were mesmerized by the tall circleof stones. The park had been set up so that viewers looked up at it. This took othertourists out of your camera shot. Also, there were benches and grassto picnic here if one had planned ahead. Even though you cannotapproach the stones any longer (except on special "Inside the Circle"tours offered only 1-2 times a week), we were thoroughly satisfied withour Stonehenge visit; besides, we had "touched" the Stenness stones inOrkney. After a lunch at a B & B near the Old Sarum bus stop (spicychicken sandwich this time), we headed back to the Salisbury Cathedral.I especially wanted to visit this cathedral town because I thought(perhaps, mistakenly) that this was the construction on which KenFollett's "Pillars of the Earth" was based. Our first impression washow used the church grounds were . . . students studying, kids playingsports, people picnicking. Once inside we see that we are just minutes from the evensong performance. We did NOT sit in the choir, becausewe would not be able to leave once the performance had started, and ourplans were to see the supposedly "better" one at Wells the next day.ERRRT! We were wrong; this was a children's choir presentation, andthey were absolutely beautiful!! After about 15 min. John was freakingout with so much church-ish ritual, so we left to look for The MagnaCarta located somewhere on the grounds. We found the room, but it wasclosed until 9:30 AM. Hmmm . . . that would possibly derail ourquick-exit-to-Wells plan. We'll see. Left for the Inn. It was a lovely place with an English gardensituated on a small river with swans and their cygnets swimming up anddown. However lovely the hotel was, it meant a walk thru the villageand back and forth across the cathedral grounds to eat or shop, etc.Had dinner outside in a pub garden (The New Town Inn), where we wereentertained by some locals having a "team meeting" (we think) beforedinner. That night we checked about trains to Wells via Bath to findthat the old internet special I was counting on was no more. A ticket for anhour train ride would be £32!! "No way, Jose . . ." We checked thebus schedule and "Voila!" . . . an hour and a half ride, for £15. IF WE HURRY, there will be time to see the MC and make it to bus station for the only non-stop bus.WELLS, England -- Cool, sunny, some wind -- Made it to the Magna Cartaat 9:30. Had a chat with the curator while we waited to get in (himtoo!). Four copies (of the original 25 or so) exist. The LondonMuseum has 2, but the BEST copy is here in Salisbury. I wish I stilltaught Government because there was so much usable info here. I wasWOWED (again) by looking at this ultimate piece of the democraticinstitution. . . . Then, back to the inn, taxi to the bus station,bought the tickets with 10 minutes to spare . . . . good timing! Oncein Bath, a city EVERYONE said we SHOULD GO TO, we were happy we didn'tplan a stay here -- way too big for what we'd become used to. The busto Wells was a local and took about one and a half hours on roads sonarrow the bus and cars had to back up every so often to let the othersby. In Wells, the driver asks us where we are staying and drops us offpractically in front of the place. This is the Ancient GatehouseInn, and not only is it ancient (1425) but it adjoins one of the citytoll gates! Our room was (oh no, again!) up a few sets of stairs andthen up a STEEP, uneven, narrow, circular staircase leading to ourturret. This room was not up to snuff, but what can I say -- Iwanted "character." I think it was last redecorated in theRenaissance; oh no, that's too modern. To make up for the climb, aseparate wash basin next to the bed, and a few baby flies, the viewfrom the little window was directly of the cathedral. Wow! I scoredagain. The hotel itself was once housing used for visiting friars andreligious guests, and it had a back entrance and sitting area thatmerged straight onto the church green. Went to a pub for lunch . . .the local kind (sing here) "where everybody knows your name." Had achicken sandwich on country wheat bread and a pint (of course). Took awalk along the walls and around the cathedral grounds. Again, the"park" in front of the church was totally in use. Next to thecathedral was the Bishop's House with a moat and swans! It was hereJohn ran into an older lady on a stroll. She greeted him and asked if hehad any questions. In the conversation, she informs him she was Mayorof Wells in 1988-89. He says, "Oh, should I call you MayorESS?" Shesays, "No, no. Mr. Mayor will be just fine [what wit!]." . . . .again, we meet royalty . . . well, almost royalty. We enter theCathedral and evensong is just about to start. This was wherewe PLANNED to watch it, but having been spoiled by the children ofSalisbury, we passed when we heard the adult voices. We returned in anhour to take the do-it-yourself Rick Steves/Eyewitness tour of theinterior. The highlights were the two clocks (one on the exterior) withreal action figures. This one wooden knight kept bopping the peasanton the head each time around. Quite comical. Shortly after, westrolled the town some more looking for a dinner place, decided on thesister inn right across the street and later shared a huge salad and athin pizza. ABOUT FOOD: We are very light eaters so we shared stuff2-3 times a day. Once off the ship, we found that everywhere the "sidesalad" was huge and fresh. So much for what I remember about "nolettuce to be found" in GB. And here in Wells, we finally had a"proper English breakfast." Yummy -- soft scrambled eggs, semi-crispbacon, and toast with marmalade. Tomorrow we leave for London; hopethe logistics work out.LONDON (Day 1) -- cloudy, maybe rain, colder than usual -- Walk to the(9:40) bus back to Bath (and it's crowded), walk 100 ft. to the trainstation, catch the 11:40 to Paddington (only non-stop route to London), in at2:25 buy an Oyster Card and switch to the tube. OOPs, our first (well,maybe 2nd or 3rd) big mistake no elevator or escalator. Did the tagteam "bag carry" up and down 3 sets of stairs and then AGAIN (. . . oh,no) at Victoria. We made the decision right there and then: Cartransfer to the airport, no questions asked! Made the 10 minute walkto the Grange-Rochester Hotel and were quite pleased with the locationand the room. Decided on the 5th floor room, as the 1st floor optionwas across from the hotel bar. The only problem here was that theelevator only went to the 4th (. . . oh, no again). Note for anyonereading this: The Grange-Rochester only has air conditioning on the5th floor. As we had made our London plans on the train there, westarted right off on our itinerary. Grabbing a guess what (chicken)sandwich at Pret-a-Manger, we used our Oyster Card again to jump righton the tube to Embankment where the 2 for 1 show tickets are. By theway, the Oyster Card is like a Starbucks Card. For a £5 deposit youload it with cash and swipe it before and after each ride, addingadditional cash if you need to once the card is empty. When you'reready to head for home, you may go to a booth where you get yourdeposit back PLUS any unused credit . . . more than fair. I decidedthat we had to see "Spamalot." John hates shows, movies, concerts ingeneral; but I remember he laughed so hard at the Tony's when it won abunch of awards that he would have no choice. We got our tickets forthe next day's matinee and headed to the meeting point for the "Jackthe Ripper" tours. I saw this in the guidebook; and, it WAS a walkingtour -- our preference. But, before the tour, we HAD to get somethingto eat. Our first pub stop had a such a popular happy hour that it was4 deep at the bar. Forget that. Walked a few more blocks and found amore upscale place (all "suits") and grabbed a table. A pint, a glassof wine, a salad, and a chicken sand. . .no! . . .chicken SATE.Delicious! Back to the meeting point for the "Ripper" tour. There were about 50other people. No problem, the guide was an expert on JTR and an actor,so we had no difficulty hearing him. We had a great evening tour!LONDON (Day 2) -- sunny, windy, cool -- First on our agenda was AbbeyRoad. We hadn't done this before, and I wanted my picture along witheveryone else who had headed to this cross street. NOTE: I did NOTtake off my shoes like many of the others. Then we headed toNottingham Rd. for the Portobello Market. Let's see, can you fit abouta million people in a half mile street? You certainly can. I boughtmy little porcelain box (made in China? -- the silver ones were WAYoverpriced), and we headed off. There and gone in 45 min.! Made itonto the right platform and then heard "delayed." After many nervousminutes, the train came, and we made "Spamalot" with time to grabanother (guess what) sandwich at a take out cafe. Oh, we had our first DietCoke over ice in 2 and-a-half weeks. Beautiful! We both loved the show, and we were sooo close -- 8th row. After the show, we needed a walk and headed to Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Stopped for a pint and a snack -- big mistake.Really weird nachos. Then we headed back to the hotel area (on foot)and found a pub nearby for a pint. Then took another little walk to find a place for dinner before going back to the hotel. We came out again for "dinner." (It stays light 'til 10 here in June.)Being in London, we had to have a meat pie. We decided on, no surprise, a chicken pot pie. It was not too good -- salty, salty, salty. Back at the hotel had a glass of wine and hit the sack.LONDON (Day 3) -- cloudy, even cooler, perhaps rain -- Today we headedto the Globe Theater. Caught the 10:30 guided tour. Very, veryinteresting. Again, I wish I were still teaching; there was so muchhere to take back to my English classes. The size of the Globe wouldcertainly surprise most Angelenos who are used to venues that holdten's of thousands of people. And, the theater itself was socolorful! From there we tubed it over to the Churchill War Rooms whichhad been recommended by a fellow educator. To see how the PrimeMinister holed up in this underground labyrinth was most informative.Again, I wish I were still teac . . . (you heard the rest) And,actually, no I don't wish that. We are HAPPILY retired. We spent anafternoon hour in Churchill's Red Lion pub conveniently located aroundthe corner from 10 Downing St. There we had a couple of pints and ac--k--n sandwich. It was fun but crowded. From there we found wecouldn't actually walk on Downing St. as we had when we were herebefore. Then we took our last tube ride, cashed in our Oyster Card,and headed out. Noticing that Buckingham Palace was just minutes away,we took a quick jaunt over to wave to the Queen . . . and she wavedback :) We took a different route back to our hotel and discovered adifferent pub where we sampled their goods and decided on fish andchips there for dinner. Returning later, we ordered and were servedthe hugest piece of fish we've ever had on one plate. It wasdelicious! (You've gotta eat this fried stuff once every 5 years, orso.) Tomorrow it would be car transfer to Heathrow and home. And, weowe a BIG "thank you" to the city of London for painting "look left" or"look right" directly on the crosswalk pavement. We did make it home inone piece . . . although we had a few close calls.Our entire trip was absolutely wonderful! Please excuse so manyreferences to "pints" . . . many of these were shared :| And besides,didn't someone say ". . . and don't drink the water." :) Also, thanks to DeLorean Girl on Cruise Critic for giving us many of our planning details AND for her great enthusiasm in general. Although we spent many, many hours researching on the internet, we're ready to go back already! This time for the "land (but no car) version." We had aPERFECT Read Less
Caribbean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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