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This was our 11th cruise since April 2004, which ironically was on the Caribbean Princess. We have been on 3 Princess cruises and again, ironically, all on Caribbean Princess. My sister-in-law and I turn 50 years of age this year, so our spouses and we went to see Ireland and Scotland. We mostly cruise on Holland America and somewhat on Celebrity X, but Princess had the best itinerary of the British Isles. Setting up the cruise was easy to do on line including air flights (great deals on business class), transfers, and insurance protection. My brother was vigilant in checking for deals and he got us better deals like 3-4 times! Transfer from Heathrow Airport to Southampton went very smoothly, taking about 2 hours. Transfer from ship to airport did not go smoothly as one passenger arrived 50 minutes late, but we still go to airport in time. The ship is clean and in fairly good shape. It can be a little tricky trying to get to the Plaza region or getting to the gym, as things are segmented on the ship. But once you figure it out, it isn’t hard to remember. The windows at Palm Dining are fairly dirty on the outside so we never got a clear view while eating. Staying healthy is a challenge on this ship. Though Princess web page states there is a jogging track, really you can’t run. The promenade deck opens 8am for runners, and the treadmills open 8am! We were off the ship usually 7:30am so it made it impossible to run. The track above is very short and doesn’t loop all the way around. I don’t like they elliptical riders (I don’t think anyone really did) and there are a limited number of exercise bikes. Entertainment was not good, I must say. I study voice as a hobby, but it doesn’t take a singer to know when performers are pitchy or have irritating singing styles. I saved a lot of money this trip because we didn’t stay out ong or even go to many performances: ergo less alcohol consumption. I never saw the Cruise Director, which is a first for me. One of the DJ’s for karaoke was rough around the edges so I opted out of singing. There were a couple of good performances though, such as a balancing/acrobatic act as well as a few small bands. Service: Good nice staff member was probably 80%. The other 20% were apathetic, unhappy, or frankly unkind. I sensed some discrimination on this trip, which was very disappointing. It seemed a good number of times some staff members avoided giving us service. The best thing in the cruise ship for me was the Palm Dining Room because Tonya and Joemar took great care of us, were fun, and made sure we enjoyed our food/drinks. The food has improved since the first cruise in 2004 and was very, very good. Michael, the head waiter, also stopped by every night and engaged us in dialogue. We loved our destinations: Guernsey, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh, and Normandie. We pre-arranged our excursions with different companies, in particular to have smaller or private tours. Also it saves a lot of money. My brother did all the planning and read reviews to be sure all the tours made it back to the ship in plenty of time. It was a challenge using a tender in Guernsey and in Edinburgh because they were slow. It took 1 hour 20min from the time we waited for the tender to the time we stepped out of the train in Edinburgh. It took 50min from Edinburgh back to ship, as we waited in the rain what seemed like hours for the tender to pick us up. That is why I wish we had more time in Edinburgh because we lost 2 hours round trip. Each destination was awesome, as we had hoped, so we are very please about that. So I did write on my comments to Princess Cruises about the things mentioned above, but in more detail. I sense some staff members need some cultural sensitivity training. As far as the workers who are burned out and unhappy, you are going to find them on every cruise.

Staff not as nice as they used to be, but the destinations were amazing.

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by mdiceskater

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 11th cruise since April 2004, which ironically was on the Caribbean Princess. We have been on 3 Princess cruises and again, ironically, all on Caribbean Princess. My sister-in-law and I turn 50 years of age this year, so our spouses and we went to see Ireland and Scotland. We mostly cruise on Holland America and somewhat on Celebrity X, but Princess had the best itinerary of the British Isles. Setting up the cruise was easy to do on line including air flights (great deals on business class), transfers, and insurance protection. My brother was vigilant in checking for deals and he got us better deals like 3-4 times!

Transfer from Heathrow Airport to Southampton went very smoothly, taking about 2 hours. Transfer from ship to airport did not go smoothly as one passenger arrived 50 minutes late, but we still go to airport in time.

The ship is clean and in fairly good shape. It can be a little tricky trying to get to the Plaza region or getting to the gym, as things are segmented on the ship. But once you figure it out, it isn’t hard to remember. The windows at Palm Dining are fairly dirty on the outside so we never got a clear view while eating.

Staying healthy is a challenge on this ship. Though Princess web page states there is a jogging track, really you can’t run. The promenade deck opens 8am for runners, and the treadmills open 8am! We were off the ship usually 7:30am so it made it impossible to run. The track above is very short and doesn’t loop all the way around. I don’t like they elliptical riders (I don’t think anyone really did) and there are a limited number of exercise bikes.

Entertainment was not good, I must say. I study voice as a hobby, but it doesn’t take a singer to know when performers are pitchy or have irritating singing styles. I saved a lot of money this trip because we didn’t stay out ong or even go to many performances: ergo less alcohol consumption. I never saw the Cruise Director, which is a first for me. One of the DJ’s for karaoke was rough around the edges so I opted out of singing. There were a couple of good performances though, such as a balancing/acrobatic act as well as a few small bands.

Service: Good nice staff member was probably 80%. The other 20% were apathetic, unhappy, or frankly unkind. I sensed some discrimination on this trip, which was very disappointing. It seemed a good number of times some staff members avoided giving us service.

The best thing in the cruise ship for me was the Palm Dining Room because Tonya and Joemar took great care of us, were fun, and made sure we enjoyed our food/drinks. The food has improved since the first cruise in 2004 and was very, very good. Michael, the head waiter, also stopped by every night and engaged us in dialogue.

We loved our destinations: Guernsey, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh, and Normandie. We pre-arranged our excursions with different companies, in particular to have smaller or private tours. Also it saves a lot of money. My brother did all the planning and read reviews to be sure all the tours made it back to the ship in plenty of time. It was a challenge using a tender in Guernsey and in Edinburgh because they were slow. It took 1 hour 20min from the time we waited for the tender to the time we stepped out of the train in Edinburgh. It took 50min from Edinburgh back to ship, as we waited in the rain what seemed like hours for the tender to pick us up. That is why I wish we had more time in Edinburgh because we lost 2 hours round trip. Each destination was awesome, as we had hoped, so we are very please about that.

So I did write on my comments to Princess Cruises about the things mentioned above, but in more detail. I sense some staff members need some cultural sensitivity training. As far as the workers who are burned out and unhappy, you are going to find them on every cruise.
mdiceskater’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BD 11726
The staterooms with balcony and the bathroom are a pinch smaller than other cruise lines we have traveled of the same price. No bed bugs were seen on our inspection. Mattresses are average to ok. Our balcony was smaller than the ones below us (I think) but still held 2-3 people easily. The doors can SLAM shut very loudly so folks in my hallway who were careless to close the door in a controlled fashion woke me up here and there. The walls are pinch think so you can hear neighbors sneeze or chit chat. And I always avoid a stateroom near the elevators/stairs because for some reason, kids like to congregate in these areas and talk all night. On my floor there were Uno Cards and Playing Cards scattered all over the place, and the kids had their personally belongings on the stairs to prevent usage of the stairs.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    TaxiTrax GIANT’S CAUSEWAY TAXI TOUR (7hr tour). Our guide was ready for us at least 30 minutes early, as we presented early to start our journey. Kudos to him! Due to heavy traffic, it took about 20-30 minutes to get onto the North Antrim Coastal route A2 Road.

    We went through very quaint towns with picturesque scenery, even when it would rain. And it rained on and off the entire day so thankfully we worse rain gear from head to toe. The green steep cliffs and bluffs served as a magnificent backdrop to the ocean.

    Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge Links mainland to tiny Carrick Island and is 20m long 30m high, circa 1755. It is mostly made of metal now and is very sturdy. This £5.9 per person trip is about a 5-10 minute walk to the bridge and is probably not meant for folks who are at risk of falling down. Especially in the rain, the tiny island surface is very uneven and slippery. After we crossed the bridge – WOW, The views! Fantastic! Really a gem. I felt like Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, especially when it briefly stopped raining.
    Dark Hedges was a location filmed in season 2 episode 1 when Arya fled Kings Landing. The majestic Beech Trees were planted by Stuart Family in 1700s and are terrific. It was very beautiful. We skipped Bushmills Whiskey Distillery as it was too crowded and frankly didn't have great reviews on line

    We got back to our cruise ship 2 hours before sailing off. Our driver usually gives tours in Belfast, so though he knew the area well as he summered there his whole childhood, he didn't know a ton of factual information about the sites. Then again, I hate a tour guide who gives info nonstop, and our 7.5 hr ride was pleasant because he wasn't over chatty. And he was courteous and receptive to questions. He basically said to let him know what we wanted and when we wanted to pull over for photos. I had notes in my iPhone so I knew a little of what we were visiting. Unfortunately all 4 of us had a little difficulty understanding his Irish accent. I would give 5 stars if we could have learned a little more.
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  • Giant's Causeway
    Giant’s Causeway is National Heritage Site with 40,000 basalt columns from ancient volcano eruptions 60 million years old. I see why it is ranked alongside Mt Everest & Giant Redwoods because it is spectacular. The hexagonal stones and the pillars -- how in the world did that occur!
    View All 82 Giant's Causeway Reviews
  • Cobh (Cork)
    ECoach on Butler Cork and Cohn. My brother found them on line and they have great reviews. The bus was parked around the corner from where our cruise ship docked--maybe about a quarter mile. A little chaotic getting to the bus via the crowded, narrow sidewalk. The bus left as soon as we were filled which probably took 10 -15 minutes. Our bus driver did a good job telling the interesting history of Ireland. First stop was Blarney Castle, which was gorgeous. Blarney Castle is very cool but don't expect much trying to kiss the Blarney Stone. We get there early as we heard you can wait for hours, and we heard around 10:30 this Monday morning the was 2 hours. Our wait was only 20min as we arrived 9:30. Climbing up the castle stairs is steep, which I found very cool but senior citizens might find too challenging. Blarney Stone experience was dismal at best as it felt as if it were run as a factory line. The dude at Blarney Stone races you in and out very fast --and he yelled at me (yes, I have it on video his losing his temper) when i had to put my glasses down. So I didn't kiss the stone because I got up and left because I don't like rudeness. The rest of my family did kiss the stone though my sister in law wasn't sure if she kissed the stone because she was raced out of there so fast. Several other tourists told me the same thing. A man ahead of us slightly scraped his forehead on the stone as he was hurried. The gardens are beautiful on our rare sunny day. The Blarney House from the exterior was gorgeous. We then went across the way to buy sweaters at Blarney Woolen Mills. Next stop was Kinsale, a quaint town with good food. I think I had the best Fish & Chips ever at Dinos [there is a take away section but we opted for the sit down]. We walked around this very cute town and treated ourselves with Kinsale Chocolates. In Cobh, we had enough time to quickly visit a beautiful cathedral. We got back to our cruise ship about an hour before departure. Great trip!
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  • Guinness Storehouse
    Guinness storehouse was truly stunning in its architecture, lighting, and interior design. It's just gorgeous with an amazing milieu. It's a self-guided tour but a person in the entrance region gives you a quick talk. I've been to several beer tours so I understand how beer is made, but this self-tour was more interesting. And there are large monitors displaying individuals who tell stories of the Guinness' and their start. We went to 2 beer tastings and the second tasting was uber cool. We entered an olfactory room that had four different smells that are supposed to have enhanced our taste of the stout beer. I don't know if it did or not but we found the smell to be unpleasant. Someone told us drink the beer in a different manner to fully taste the stout. Afterwards we went to the pub class to learn how to pour from tap to the specially shaped Guinness glass. I never knew there was a science to pouring! And after a group photo, we got complimentary pictures that can be emailed, put on Facebook or printed. Oh, there is free Wifi too. We walked up our free pint of Guinness to the 7th floor (can't carry beer on escalator and elevators were packed) to a 360 degree panoramic view bar. The icing on the cake was every single staff member was motivated and friendly. Great place!!!
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  • Historical Tour
    Kilmainham Gaol was truly fascinating. It was a challenge getting there from our cruise ship as our port was very industrial without any taxis in sight. So we paid €16/person round trip from ship to Merrion Square via bus and €4/person more taxi to the gaol. The bus tool 30 minutes due filling it up with passengers and due to traffic so we were almost late for our prepaid tour. The history of the jail was indeed somber and explained much of Irish history, from claiming independence from England to Civil War. Our tour guide didn't have the best social skills but was an encyclopedia of Irish history. The limestone jail cells were haunting. The jail section that was an atrium had many movies as well as musical recordings produced there. Fascinating place.
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  • Trinity College
    Trinity College. We didn’t have time to really explore this beautiful and historic college. So we didn’t get to see the famous library. The grounds are pretty and it sits in great location of Dublin filled with many stores.
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  • City Tour
    Sandemann Edinburgh David Maitland led our free walking tour for 3 incredible hours of entertainment, interesting history, and beautiful architecture. David was SUPER FUN aa he acted out Scottish history that made it sooooo enjoyable to learn. He is a blast of energy with a fresh way of story telling. Loved it! I understand so much more Scottish history now. We also got to see where the utterly brilliant JK Rowlings got some inspiration for Harry Potter. Be prepared to tip David well because he takes you on a terrific journey of Edinburgh.
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  • Greenock (Glasgow)
    Guide Mark. The bus was very on time and our driver/guide easily got us on board on to a Lochsmall bus in Greenock Ocean Terminal very near our cruise ship. It was raining and our very fun and informative guide, Mark, said it is liquid sunshine. We are glad we brought waterproof gear from our heads down to our toes, though there were many breaks of sunshine. Mark gave a lot of history of Scotland and seemed to know everything pertinent to this trip through the Highlands. First stop was the quaint village of Luss, where we shopped a little (wasn’t Duty Free unfortunately) and saw the 11th century “hog back” Viking grave in the church cemetery – where I got eaten up by gnats. There is a rest room that costs 30 pence, and the attendant there was so not paying attention when the toll failed. We saw 3 Lochs as well as picturesque glens and monros in the beautiful Trossachs. The most important site for me was the Stirling Castle of the famed Mary Queen of Scots. It is a majestic, fantastic castle with stunning views. Unfortunately we only had 1.5hrs but it is better than nothing – I think it cost $20 a person to enter. There is a free 45 min tour at the top of the hour, but we broke away after 30 minutes to see the insides. Super cool place with a very long history. I also liked the quaint town of Callander where we had a good lunch at Mhor. As we had time, he drove us through Glasgow and pointed out interesting areas. We arrived back 4:40 as we had to be on board our cruise ship by 5:30. Great trip!
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  • Highland Day Tour
    Invergordon Shore Excursions & Tours: TP done. Nigel Tours. Our guide and driver was Allan MacDonald, who truly is brilliant. Smart, well prepared, witty, knowledgeable, courteous...I really don't have enough words of praise for him. Probably the best tour guide I've ever had. We opted through Nigel to have a private tour, which really is awesome because you have more flexibility. We started early before our scheduled appointment in Allan's VW that was very comfortable from our cruise ship port to Inverness. Allan is from this region and knows the flavor of this historic area. We saw the Inverness Castle known for Macbeth to the beautiful houses of this town. We went to Loch Ness Rebel boat to travel down Loch Ness to Urquhart. He picked us up at the ruins to take us to Pringles Woolen Mill, where we bought Scotch and some gifts from the nicest manager. Afterwards we ate lunch at Culloden Moor Visitor Center (though we didn't get to eat pure Haggis because they ran out) and then explored the exhibition that very well explained the war between England and the Jacobites. One side, the walls displayed the Jacobites’ situation, and the opposing wall displayed the English perspective. There is a 360 theater but the sound was far to loud so I didn’t watch it. We then walked onto Culloden Battlefield where many Scots were killed. The field is marked where the English and the Scots stood.
    Afterwards we visited the magnificent Cawdor Castle with beautiful rooms and impressive kitchens. In the basement lies what remains of a holly tree, and the castle was built around it. The gardens at Cawdor are top notched. We were lucky it didn't rain because really, the gardens are breathtaking.
    ‘We saw a few other minor sites during our actively, packed day. It was the best! Allan got us back to our ship within a safe time of 50 minutes to spare.
    View All 57 Highland Day Tour Reviews
  • D-Day Beaches
    Overlord Tour Red Bull Express started late as late tourists trickled in one by one to the bus. Not a good start - but all worked out very well mostly because of our knowledgeable guide. The hostess, Bridgette, was polite and collected cash payment before we left 20 minutes late. We arrived at the impressive American Cemetery 1 hr 50 min and our guide took us to the rest rooms first. She walked us to the Walls of the Missing with a center statue, Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.
    Thousands of Americans are buried in perfect formation that is very haunting. This cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach. The reflecting pool and small rotunda like structure (chapel) is reminiscent of Washington DC. The visitor center is about 9 years old and really can take hours to properly view. The short films about D Day were excellent and brought humanity, a face, to the horrible war.
    We went down to Omaha Beach via coach and the guide gave us a sobering account of D Day - why Normandie, how the weather contributed to the great losses. We saw a gigantic German gun that remains in a bunker. Beautiful scenery with a profound, sad historical event.
    Next stop was the beautiful and quaint French town of Bayeux. There isn't a ton of time to spend there so we got a quick bite to eat at Karl's nearby the stunning cathedral. The Cathedral is beautiful and worth the visit.
    Last stop somewhat near our ship was the town Honfleur, where some impressionist painters like Monet have painted. What a lovely cute interesting town! Loved the outdoor restaurants along the water as well as the little shops, butcher, fish markets, cheese shops, and of course Calvados.
    So we arrived to our ship around 6pm with a 7:30pm boarding time, so we were safely back. I hesitate to give 5 stars because late guests make the tour late and threaten late arrival to ship.
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  • City Tour
    Liverpool History Tour - £60 - 3 Hour Tour Alan F. was our tour guide with the Fab Four Taxi Tour. He met us promptly at 9am right off the ship's exit and gave us a proper greeting. He made sure all of us wore seat belts which is a major plus on his part as it shows he keeps his passengers safe. His wit and sense of humor were awesome, as he teased me. I teased him a little--moderate amount--ok a lot, LOL! It really made the trip so fun. He knows Liverpool well enough to talk about salient points but not so detailed it becomes a lecture room. We saw the theater district and learned many interesting facts. We didn't do the Beatles Tour but he did show us where John Lennon first married as well as the pub he loved. We saw the impressive Catholic Church that was stunning inside. The Anglican Cathedral was magnificent and ineffable--I mean WOW!!! He showed us glimpses of Chinatown and shopping areas. It rained 100% of the time and we still had a great time. Highly recommend
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  • St. Peter Port (Guernsey)
    Castle Cornet sits by a beautiful shoreline. We were lucky for great weather to appreciate this old historic fort/castle. It cost £10 a person (warning for the island: get British pounds if you get change because you can't use Guernsey pounds in UK). We went to the living barracks to read on the history of castle as well as the island. A free tour started at 10:30 and was totally worth it! We didn't stay for the firing of the cannon as only one, not 7, is used. Of course the cannon doesn't launch a real cannonball into the beautiful harbor but just makes the huge boom for effect. It’s a cool castle.
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