Caribbean Princess British Isles August 1st: Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by Codders

Caribbean Princess 5
Member Since 2012

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Caribbean Princess British Isles August 1st

Sail Date: August 2012
Destination: Europe - British Isles & Western
Embarkation: Southampton
We booked this cruise having seen the price drop last spring and didn't think too much more about the trip while we got on with our very busy lives. Much later we stumbled upon the reviews from the same June 6th cruise -- and our hearts stopped. To see so many consistently terrible reviews almost made us cancel the trip. I believe that everyone who wrote in genuinely had a very unpleasant time -- it was Delorean Girl's summary that made us give the trip a try. We were hoping that things might have improved by the time our trip came around -- and indeed they had. The trip was a dream -- everything was ideal and I suspect that the criticism of the June 6th passengers was heard loud and clear by Princess.

There were no delays in boarding the ship as others experienced earlier. There was a short queue but it moved very quickly. No one was called by deck number -- we simply boarded as we arrived. Our bags were already in our stateroom when we got there. We had packed everything More inside the bags in garbage bags after reading about the waterlogged suitcases that some people experienced on arrival on that ill-fated June 6th trip. Ours were dry. Next we checked out the mattresses -- we had seen the lumpy mattresses in photos and heard how awful they were. Ours appeared to be new. Hmmmmm -- we thought -- did Princess get the message???

The stateroom was great -B618- and the balcony was totally worth the money. Each time we woke up we opened the curtains to find staggeringly beautiful landscapes before us. We had wine in the evenings there and waved goodbye at sailaways from there -- my husband was constantly out there taking pictures.

On the trip we did what is called "The Ultimate Ship's Tour" -- again based on Delorean Girl's experience. (Her "thesis" is worth reading and we are indebted to her -- her name came up many times on the cruise! ? ) It is an expensive tour - $150 each -- but they give you four or five photos, terry towel robes, chef's jackets and a champagne reception with the Captain so it turns out to be worth the money just for the goodies. During this tour we had a sense that the crew were aware of mechanical issues with the ship in the past -- direct questions about mechanical failures were answered with lines like "I really couldn't say" and then wry smiles. We know from the June 6th reports that this ship was held in port for 24 hours and the itinerary was subsequently spoiled for many people. Mechanical failure and a failed inspection seemed to be the problem. The situation was made worse when no information was released about what was going on. On our trip, there was a new captain -- hmmmmmm, again. He was making announcements about any slight delay any time they occurred and when we met him on the tour, he struck us as forthright and a man sent in to rectify problems. He oversaw the emergency evacuation of a crew member by an Irish Search and Rescue helicopter and passengers knew what was happening every step of the way. We watched the whole event from our balcony and could see the Captain on the glass-walled bridge with his hands on his hips -- his body language that of a man completely in charge. He was making announcements as he went -- we were completely impressed by the professionalism we saw.

We signed up for tours with Princess for every day they were available -- every tour was terrific. Highlights for us were Glamis castle, the Glendalough monastery and Dunrobin Castle -- but honestly, we could do this trip again with all different tours and I'm sure they would be equally wonderful. The guides were great and the buses were comfortable. The weather was picture-perfect. We were braced for rain and wind and yet I used my rainjacket only once while we had some drizzle at Blarney Castle. (The lines were so long there that we opted not to go up to kiss the Blarney Stone, two hours to wait and even then no guarantee of getting to the top of the castle) so we walked around and got lovely pictures and shopped at the Woolen Mill -- a must-do if you're there. We had blue skies and lovely temperatures just about every day -- an incredible bit of luck in a summer which everyone told us was the worst for rain in over a hundred years.

Food on the ship was superb in the dining room. We had the 5:30 seating and that let us do other things in the evening and get to bed early for early rises the next day. Dining room staff were outstanding -- when you pay so much money for the trip it seems like a no-brainer to take advantage of the wonderful cuisine in the dining room. Yet, many people, for their own reasons, eat mostly in Horizon Court. We had breakfast there every morning -- and it was good -- but on a couple of occasions we tried supper there when our tours ended past our seating time in the dining room. The food was truly terrible -- like bad cafeteria food - overcooked, dried out, overly salty, and just inedible. I was so grateful to get back to the dining room! We tried the Crown Grill one night - $25 extra per person -- and it was okay but the portions are gigantic and they were not as tasty as in the dining room. I had, for example, the filet mignon in both places and the dining room version was far superior.

Disembarkation was easy and relaxed. We were told to put our bags outside our staterooms before supper on the last night and we did -- many people didn't until later and that was fine since the bags didn't get picked up until ten o'clock or so. In the morning we had breakfast, waited for our group to be called to disembark and picked up our bags onshore with no trouble. There were lots of trolleys and we were directed to our transfer bus. The trip to the airport took about an hour and a half and we were dropped off at the door.

Overall the trip was outstanding -- I would highly recommend it, especially at the prices currently available. The ship is getting a bit worn but all was in good shape. We heard people say that they had heard the ship would be refitted next year. This may be the answer to the mechanical problems others experienced before us. We were lucky -- but I think a lot of that luck (beyond the ridiculously great weather) had to do with an attempt to address problems. We really saw a change -- and our hearts went out to people who had paid so much money before us only to have such a miserable time. We may have benefited from their complaints. Less

Published 08/20/12
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: BEB618 Balcony

B618 - terrific location, although across the hall from some sort of galley which meant we occasionally heard the sound of clattering dishes.

Read All Balcony (BE) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Giant's Causeway

Stunning scenery once again. Best bathrooms on the trip were in the visitors' center here. The walk to the Causeway is beautiful but the walk back is all uphill - take the bus back if your walking is impaired.

Glendalough Walking Tour

This was the most beautiful spot we saw of all our tours. The hills and valley here are steeped in a mystical presence. The ruins and graveyard called for more time than we had. We also saw St.Patrick's Cathedral before the trip to Glendlough - for an English literature buff like me it was something to see Jonathon Swift's grave - a haunting sense of history all around and indescribable photographic opportunities for my husband. The next day we went to Cork (Cobh) for a trip to Blarney Castle. The lines at Blarney were up to two hours long. People on our tour lined up and never got in in - we had to leave before they could get to the Blarney stone. We didn't line up but went to the Woolen Mill next door instead. It's a must-do shopping stop for all Irish goods - woolens, linens, keepsakes, Waterford crystal, housewares, upscale fashion - you name it, it's there!

Glamis Castle

Loved Glamis Castle - such a connection to the past and present times. St.Andrew's was an added bonus - golf shopping for my husband! The following day we docked at Invergordon and saw Dunrobin Castle - superb scenery and wonderful visit to a currently "lived-in" castle. Real sense of imperialism - somewhat angry-making to those of us with a colonial past! Exquisite gardens- don't miss the breath-taking falconry display. Next day we were at Glasgow and went to Culzean Castle. Amazing views here - interior of the castle is not as impressive as Dunrobin and of course Glamis is most impressively furnished of all. Culzean has a wonderful walled garden though - truly the best garden of the three.

We aren't big Beatle fans and so we chose to explore this port on our own. We checked out the museum called "The Western Approaches" - the secret headquarters for plotting submarine positions and receiving messages from central commands. It was certainly worth seeing, although not as "slick" as some museum displays but somehow more authentic as a result. Sopping is great in Liverpool - loved the city.

An outstanding excursion. We saw Monet's garden in Giverny - extremely crowded, but stunningly beautiful. Lunch at Forges - delicious. Afternoon in Rouen - the Cathedral is not to be missed and the town is lovely - cobblestones and historic architecture.
Read 60 Rouen Reviews

We saw the German Occupation underground hospital and tunnels - a haunting visit for any WWII history buff. The town itself is lovely and shopping is possible close to the ship.

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