We are frequent cruisers, this was our 19th cruise. After reading the many reviews on this site, we had pretty low expectations for the cruise overall but could not find another ship that did this itinerary at this time. The first thing we did right was upgrade to Club Class. I believe because of this our dining experience was markedly different from others we knew traveling on this cruise and that reported by previous reviewers. Our meals were good and served hot. We never waited to be seated, had top-notch service and were often offered meals not available in traditional dining. Enough said - if you can afford it, it is well worth it (but a shame it takes this to get decent food on-board). The cruise is so port intensive that we did not really care that much about the rest of the ship experience. Entertainment was so-so and often non-existent during the hours we wanted which was about 7-9:30 pm. Day after day of getting up early meant we often retired to our cabin after that time. A bright spot was Laura Thompson, an acoustical guitarist/singer that was wonderful. Sadly, she said she is leaving the ship at the end of August so this will not help later cruisers. The Ports were great. We did not have some of the tendering issues mentioned in previous reviews although we made sure to get up early on these days and be one of the first off the ship. Not sure what it was like later in the mornings but it seems like Princess might have added additional tenders in Guernsey and Edinburgh. We found many of the days in Port are too short. Would loved to have had more time in Dublin, etc. What was particularly annoying was the ship's excursions were always late returning, often as much as an hour later than the all-aboard time we were given. It is not fair that all passengers aren't given the same time table. We did not do any of Princess excursions. By taking advantage of great advice on the roll calls, we were able to put together our own private or small group excursions for much less money. Smaller excursions can get you to the main attractions ahead of the tour buses. For example, we were first in line for Blarney Castle - went up and down to the stone in 15 minutes. When we left, the line was over 2 hours and many on the tours never made it to the top. Be smart, use trip advisor and cruise critic and plan your own excursions. One day we hired a private car to tour us all day at a cost less than the Princess excursion and we got to see twice as much. Overall, I would recommend this trip for the itinerary. The ship is in decent shape with some areas still in need of updating. The internet is atrocious and totally over-priced. Hard to believe in this day and age that they cannot get this right. Connectivity is no longer a nice-to-have but rather a necessity. We did try Sabatini's and the Crown Grill - both are worth it. We heard people on ship complain about Planks and the BBQ so we avoided them. No issues with personnel whatsoever. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful.
Our cabin was large and had plenty of room for the 2 of us. Pros: 2 nice flat screen TV's, rug and furniture were fine, storage was ample. Cons: The balcony had horrible paint peeling and was in need of refurbishment as was the bathroom. Princess has water temp issues and showers are either cool or scalding hot. There are not enough outlets and the bed is a bit of a hammock - not good on bad backs.
All we did was embark and disembark from here. It was easy, just wish it was closer to a major airport.
Annette Henry does a lively walking tour of the town. She is knowledgeable, animated and interesting. Book early, she only takes 18 people on her tour.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did a small tour through Elegant Irish Tours. We got to Blarney Castle and were first in line. The Castle and the grounds are lovely and worth the visit. We also walked across to the Irish Woolen Mills store. Because Princess cut the day short on us, we did not get to go into the English Markets in Cork but we did spend a few hours in Kinsale, lovely little town where we had lunch and did some shopping, before heading back to the ship..
We booked a tour of the Book of Kells, Trinity College and Dublin Castle through Lets Go Tours (thru Viator). We were first in to see the Book of Kells. Our guide, Neil, was fantastic. We then walked to Dublin Castle and toured the grounds.View All 11 Dublin Castle Reviews
We had pre-booked online to go through the Guinness Storehouse. Really enjoyed that as well. Took a cab, ate at O'Neil's and then back to the ship. Wanted more time in Dublin as there is so much more to seeView All 22 Guinness Storehouse Reviews
Part of our Dublin Castle tour above. The Long Room in the Library is really worth seeing!View All 24 Trinity College Reviews
We did the Fab 4 (3 hour tour). Caution, riding backwards in the taxi can make you motion sick as they drive around the city like NY cab drivers. Tour is great, saw Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Eleanor Rigby's grave, childhood homes and so much more. Walked around downtown afterwards. Again, too little time in Port.View All 38 Beatles Tour Reviews
We hired a Belfast Black Cab to tour us for the day. Our guide was "the" Paddy Campbell so we had an amazing day. Went up the coast to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (note, it is quite a hike down to the bridge and back up). Amazing if you are physically able to do it. We did the Dark Hedge from Game of Thrones, and the Giant's Causeway. Stopped and toured Dunluce Castle and then had a tour of Belfast city, the murals and the peace wall. Absolutely a fantastic day.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did a Timberbush Tour with friends made on Cruise Critic. We had an awesome guide whose name escapes me. Toured Stirling Castle which was beautiful. Had lunch down by Loch Lommond and then toured Glen Ord Distillery. Another great day.
Did a private day tour with Invergordon Tours. Our driver was Jym and he was most entertaining. We covered a lot of ground incuding Uruqurt Castle, Loch Ness, Calder Castle, The Battlefields, Glengoyne Distillery, and Black Isle Brewery. Would not bother with the Brewery again. Nothing much to see.View All 69 Highland Day Tour Reviews
We took a cab downtown and did the Castle, Elephant Café, Royal Mile, etc. Ate fish and chips at Worlds End Pub. The City is crazy busy in August. If going, get to the castle when they open otherwise you will wait hours to get in. Glad we had been there to the city before as the crowds were a bit overwhelming.
We did an 8-person Overlord Tour with Cruise Critic friends. What an amazing, moving day. Our guide was Rhetro and he was the best (ask for him). Cannot recommend this enough.View All 75 D-Day Beaches Reviews