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We choose our cruises based on itinerary and price. We have focused on seeing Europe the past few years and have always wanted to do a British Isles cruise but the cost was substantially more than the Mediterranean cruises. The opportunity to grab a “sail-away inside’ cabin at a bargain rate was all that was needed to convince us. As a DIY cruiser the idea of cruising an English-speaking area also appealed to us. The fact that this was our first cruise as “platinum” latitudes members also weighed into our decision. The opportunity to have flights to Glasgow and a return from London without additional costs also factored into our decision. I will complete this review using the CC recommended categories as well as providing information on the ports of call. Dining : We traditionally eat all our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet. We eat all our dinners in the MDRs with maybe 1 in the buffet and the occasional Cagney’s as a treat. I feel “dining” was the only area that did not meet our expectations and our expectations are not that high. The fact that we only ate in the MDRs 3 times on a 12-night cruise speak volumes to the selections available. We had no memorable meals in the MDR and had issues with 3 dishes on 3 different occasions. Upon speaking with the food and beverage officer, it was communicated to us that the Jade is currently serving a menu that would be rolled out fleetwide in the upcoming months. That’s not good news for MDR diners as we feel the divide between Specialty and MDR has never been greater. The buffet was the usual fare with a memorable meal the first night of prime rib. I asked for a ¾” cut and it was excellent and tender. The best dishes in the buffet tended to be dishes that were stewed or braised. The fact that the “carvery” offered 3 nights of roasted chicken and 3 nights of a lesser cut of roast beef was not appealing to us. Being “platinum” allowed us to eat at Le Bistro and Moderno. We couldn’t book a decent time at Cagney’s so chose Moderno and it was way better than we remembered on the POA. The filet mignon and the lambchops were outstanding though they didn’t come through the dining room as often as the chicken. I didn’t see any prawns or seafood offered. We ate at O’Sheehan twice and probably should have eaten there more. I loved their Thai chili wings. The new MDR menus will not deter me from cruising NCL but I will factor a Specialty meal plan into my costs. Embarkation: We arrived at noon and went though the lineup without a stoppage. The line for non-preference boarding was not very long at all. It was one of the smoothest embarkations that we’ve ever had. Enrichment Activities: Non-existent as there were no cultural port seminars and limited information. If you’re not a DIY, you’re at the mercy of their excursions. Entertainment: The production cast and singers were probably the best group that we’ve had on any of our cruises. The singers could actually sing well and the “Blazing Boots” and “Elements” show were excellent. The illusionist was okay but the comedian was offensive mimicking old school Chinese accents ala Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The ventriloquist was horrible and we had to walk out mid-show. Fitness & Recreation: Weather was chilly so there was very little activity around the pool or outdoor activities in general. Onboard Experience: There was one entertainer that was excellent and drawing large crowds in the lounge areas singing folk and pop songs. I wasn’t wowed by any of the other entertainers. The daily activities were the same and did not change throughout the cruise. Assorted trivia and “toss” games were the usual cruise staff activities. We chose not to visit the art, merchandise, and service seminars or sales. Public Rooms: The ship is in very good shape and DW noticed improvements from her “Jewel” sister ship cruise a few months earlier. Service: Good but nothing exceptional. Lloyd (Philippines) and Monika (Hungary) from the cruise staff seemed a step above the others. Shore Excursions: The choices were expensive and usually involved a long time on a bus as well. Some ports offered free shuttles but when NCL provided them, a $15us fee was charged. Value for Money: With the sail-away aft inside cabin assignment, this cruise fell within my cruise budget. Summary: This cruise had a very different feel and vibe compared to the many European cruises listed on my signature. I believe that it was due to the make-up of the passenger ratio. It was announced that there were 1500 Americans, 400 Canadians and 400 others from 38 assorted countries. It felt more like an Alaskan cruise than a European cruise. Ports of call: (we had spent 6 days in Scotland pre-cruise so wanted a less hectic start to the cruise) Guernsey, Channel Islands: I planned a walk using “google maps” to the German signal HQ, Victor Hugo’s house, high street, and Castle Cornet. We docked outside St. Peter’s and tendered into Albert’s pier. Locals were surprised that we made it in due to winds in the morning. We started the morning late and landed on shore around 11:00 am. We were advised by shore volunteers that Victor Hugo house was closed so we had plenty of time to wander. We took the 25-minute hike to the German signal HQ ($4gbp) only to find that it didn’t open till noon. We had passed the Victoria Tower on our way and double back to spend some time admiring the monument to Queen Victoria and the WW2 cannons in the area. The German HQ was quite interesting because of Guernsey’s location and the breaking of their codes (Imitation Games). DW had also read “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society” book which shed some light on what it was like in Guernsey. We then walked to Castle Cornet ($11.5gbp) via “high street” browsing and spent the rest of the time there before heading back to the tender pier. Portland UK: We docked at Dorset Pier and took the free port shuttle to Weymouth. The shuttle drops off at Brewers Quay and when we reached the river, we turned right for a hike to Fort Nothe ($5gbp). The fort was maintained by volunteers and was in excellent shape. We spent more time there than I had planned but it worked out well. Weymouth is a resort town and I wasn’t interested in walking along the beach or shopping. During peak season, sandcastles are supposed to be a highlight. Cobh, Ireland: our original plan was to take the train to Cork and then transfer on a train to Blarney Castle. It was raining hard on and off so we decided to explore Cobh and maybe go to Cork afterwards time permitting. The ship docks in front of the train station and the heritage center. We decided to do the Titanic experience ($9.5eur) thinking it was a museum but was pleasantly surprised. We received a boarding pass of an actual passenger and visited the pier in which they were tendered to the Titanic. We then heard stories and accounts of some of its passengers from the guide as well as interactive displays. At the end of the tour, we learned the fate of the person listed on our boarding pass. As the rains came down, we took an opportunity to use the free WIFI at a local fast food joint and wait it out. After the rain subsided, we stopped off at the Lusitania Memorial and headed for St. Coleman’s Cathedral up the hill. From the cathedral we took a hike to the Titanic Memorial Garden and had a good sightline of where the Titanic would have been anchored. We didn’t end up going to Cork and spent late afternoon back onboard. Dublin, Ireland: As the ship docks a way from town, we decided to take the NCL ($15usd) shuttle instead of trying to find our way by public transit. I had “googled map” a walk to the Molly Malone statue, the Spire, St. Margaret’s cathedral, Trinity College/Book of Kells, Temple Bar area, and Dublin Castle ($8eur). The Dublin Castle tour was excellent as we went underground to see the original walls as well as visiting the chapel/church. The chapel is no longer in use but the condition, styling was different and spectacular. We didn’t have time to see the Book of Kells as the lines were long and we didn’t pre-book. It was cultural night so the museums were open and free in the evening. We ended our visit at the National Gallery. Needless to say, we will return to Dublin as there’s so much more to see and the vibe of the city is exciting. Belfast, Northern Ireland: We pre-arranged a ($30gbp) tour to Giant’s Causeway from irishtourtickets.com. We took the 10:30 Express tour as DW is not an early riser. Our guide Ian was prompt and we were on our way on time without a stop at the town center as our ship filled the tour with Viator bookings. There was an 8:30 tour for $35gbp which was 8 hours available as well. Ian had a lot of stories and antidotes so the ride did not seem very long. We had about 90 minutes to explore the causeway and would of like more. We also stopped at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce castle, and the peace wall for a photo op. The driver’s emotion and passion could be felt as he tried to explain the conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics of years past. He promised and delivered us back to the ship 1 hour before sail-away. Kirkwall, Scotland: I was so looking forward to this port as there was a possible opportunity to see the northern lights entering or leaving Kirkwall. I had tracked the possibility on the Shetland Aurora site and stayed up till 11:30 in hopes of a glimpse but gave up because of all the cloud cover. It was mentioned by the captain that shortly after Kirkwall some passengers had mentioned a sighting. We docked at Hatson Pier in Kirkwall and a free port shuttle bus dropped us off at the town information and bus center. From there you could walk into town or catch the bus. There were 2 buses that provided a 3.5-hour tour of the area that people called a HOHO but it is not a true HOHO. It allowed you to stop at a site for a limited time and if you missed the cut-off, you were on your own getting back as it does only 1 loop. With limited availability, we didn’t plan for the bus trip. We had pre-booked a $10gbp tasting and tour at the Highland Park Distillery for noon. As we arrived into town early, we visited St Magnus Cathedral before catching the bus for $.75gbp to the distillery. We were lucky to have pre-booked the tour on-line for $10gbp as many from the ship were turned away. It seems NCL has many of the bookings combined with an island tour. The small group of 15 tour was informative and outstanding value. We received a tasting of their 10 yr. old and 12 yr. old scotch along with a commemorative glass each. The tour also gave you a $2gbp savings on any bottle purchased. I chose to purchase a 10 yr. old 700ml bottle commemorating Inspector John Rebus for $29gbp that available only at the distillery. I don’t drink scotch but SIL does. Surprisingly, I brought it back onboard without it having being taken away. We had planned to walk back to town but didn’t see anything on the way up so we took the bus back. Back in town, we visited the Bishop and Earl’s Palaces for $4gbp. Invergordon, UK: We had planned to go into Inverness but there wasn’t anything that DW wanted to see so we stayed in Invergordon. It was bitterly cold and windy but we managed to buy a couple of pairs of leather thinsulate gloves at the dollar store for $7gbp each. The winds were 20+ kms a hour so we headed back to the ship after visiting the cathedral and seeing the town murals. This is a stop that I would consider a tour or head into Inverness. Newhaven, Scotland: Edinburgh was cancelled due to wind and rough seas. A big disappointment for many as there was no way of doing a 30 minute tender and not have ½ the tender get sick. I was so happy to have visited 3 days pre-cruise but had planned to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia close to port. Tyne, UK: Many took tours to Newcastle but we decided to stay in Tyne. We decided to take the free port shuttle into town and look around. We headed towards the Tynmouth priory and Castle for a look see. Just when you think you’ve had your fill of castles and cathedrals we stumble upon the remains of a castle, priory, and cemetery at such a spectacular setting. Paid $6gbp and spent a few hours on the site. The views were spectacular. We wandered through town and headed back to the shuttle pickup spot. On the way back to the ship, we got dropped off at an outlet mall 10 minutes from the ship. DW did some shopping while I got caught up with the free WIFI available. Southampton, UK: We disembarked at 10:00 and walked into town to drop our luggage off at Ocean’s Gift shop. They charged $5gbp to store each suitcase for the day. DW and I did some shopping before our 1:30 Southampton $6gbp walking tour which lasted 90 minutes. After a quick meal, we had a 5:00 bus to catch to Gatwick. Pre-cruise adventure: Our original plan was to fly into Glasgow and split our time there and Edinburgh before making our way to London. We were convinced by friends to spend a majority of our time in Edinburgh and my DW said we should visit St. Andrews as golf is a passion of mine. So, with the new agenda we flew into Glasgow for a night before making our way to St Andrews and Edinburgh. Glasgow, Scotland: We landed at Glasgow at 10:00 am and took the $8gbp airporter bus to Buchanan bus station. Buchanan bus station was 3 blocks from the hotel that I selected. As we were just staying the night to shake off the jetlag I prepaid for a hotel room at the Point A hotel. It was an inside room with no windows. I was shocked to see how nice the room was for $49us through Hotels.com and would stay there again without a problem. I may spring for a window room for an extended stay though. We had to stay awake to try to adjust to the time change but we had been up for 20 hour already. We walked to the National piping center which was a museum as well as a bag pipe school. I got to try the bagpipes and managed to get a note. As we were tired, we took the HOHO for a circuit of the city. We didn’t get off at any of the stops but didn’t feel we missed anything that we would regret. We had dinner at a pub around the corner from the hotel and then called it a day. We had a 8:00am train to catch at Queen Street station which was 3 blocks from the hotel. The train to Dundee cost $7gbp and took 90 minutes. Dundee, Scotland: As I wanted a hotel close to the train station and the bus stop to St. Andrews, I chose the SleeperZ. It’s a new hotel above the train station for $69us through Hotels.com. I’m feeling pretty good about the hotel choices as my Edinburgh stay is at the Marriott on points. The bus stop to St. Andrew was only about 100 yards from the hotel and took less than 30 minutes. I snuck onto the course for a photo on the Swilcan Bridge and just watched a couple of groups of golfers play the hole. We then made our way to the St. Andrews ladies putting club and paid $1gbp to play/putt 9 holes as we couldn’t do 18 before the members only times. They don’t call the course “The Himalayas” for nothing. Had a blast putting and then lunch in the clubhouse. We then made our way to the White Sands Beach (Chariots of Fire, opening scene) before visiting the British Golf Museum with our 2 for 1 coupon online. We had a great day at St. Andrews and headed back to Dundee for dinner in town. Another $7gbp 90 minute train ride to Edinburgh Waverly was scheduled in the morning. Edinburgh, Scotland: A wonderful 3 days spent in the city and plan to be back. Our first afternoon was spent visiting the monuments at Calton Hill, Waverly Station, and the hotel area. Day 2 was spent at Holyrood Palace for a tour in the morning and a “gilding” craft class in the afternoon. DW found the workshop on their website and insisted that we experience it. It was a highlight of her trip. Day 3 was spent with a Royal Mile walk and visit to Edinburgh Castle. It is highly recommended that you pre-book entrance to both the Palace and Castle or you may risk a long wait and possibly a missed opportunity if it’s a port day visit.

Great Itinerary!

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by lamchops

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We choose our cruises based on itinerary and price. We have focused on seeing Europe the past few years and have always wanted to do a British Isles cruise but the cost was substantially more than the Mediterranean cruises. The opportunity to grab a “sail-away inside’ cabin at a bargain rate was all that was needed to convince us. As a DIY cruiser the idea of cruising an English-speaking area also appealed to us. The fact that this was our first cruise as “platinum” latitudes members also weighed into our decision. The opportunity to have flights to Glasgow and a return from London without additional costs also factored into our decision.

I will complete this review using the CC recommended categories as well as providing information on the ports of call.

Dining : We traditionally eat all our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet. We eat all our dinners in the MDRs with maybe 1 in the buffet and the occasional Cagney’s as a treat. I feel “dining” was the only area that did not meet our expectations and our expectations are not that high. The fact that we only ate in the MDRs 3 times on a 12-night cruise speak volumes to the selections available. We had no memorable meals in the MDR and had issues with 3 dishes on 3 different occasions. Upon speaking with the food and beverage officer, it was communicated to us that the Jade is currently serving a menu that would be rolled out fleetwide in the upcoming months. That’s not good news for MDR diners as we feel the divide between Specialty and MDR has never been greater. The buffet was the usual fare with a memorable meal the first night of prime rib. I asked for a ¾” cut and it was excellent and tender. The best dishes in the buffet tended to be dishes that were stewed or braised. The fact that the “carvery” offered 3 nights of roasted chicken and 3 nights of a lesser cut of roast beef was not appealing to us. Being “platinum” allowed us to eat at Le Bistro and Moderno. We couldn’t book a decent time at Cagney’s so chose Moderno and it was way better than we remembered on the POA. The filet mignon and the lambchops were outstanding though they didn’t come through the dining room as often as the chicken. I didn’t see any prawns or seafood offered. We ate at O’Sheehan twice and probably should have eaten there more. I loved their Thai chili wings. The new MDR menus will not deter me from cruising NCL but I will factor a Specialty meal plan into my costs.

Embarkation: We arrived at noon and went though the lineup without a stoppage. The line for non-preference boarding was not very long at all. It was one of the smoothest embarkations that we’ve ever had.

Enrichment Activities: Non-existent as there were no cultural port seminars and limited information. If you’re not a DIY, you’re at the mercy of their excursions.

Entertainment: The production cast and singers were probably the best group that we’ve had on any of our cruises. The singers could actually sing well and the “Blazing Boots” and “Elements” show were excellent. The illusionist was okay but the comedian was offensive mimicking old school Chinese accents ala Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The ventriloquist was horrible and we had to walk out mid-show.

Fitness & Recreation: Weather was chilly so there was very little activity around the pool or outdoor activities in general.

Onboard Experience: There was one entertainer that was excellent and drawing large crowds in the lounge areas singing folk and pop songs. I wasn’t wowed by any of the other entertainers. The daily activities were the same and did not change throughout the cruise. Assorted trivia and “toss” games were the usual cruise staff activities. We chose not to visit the art, merchandise, and service seminars or sales.

Public Rooms: The ship is in very good shape and DW noticed improvements from her “Jewel” sister ship cruise a few months earlier.

Service: Good but nothing exceptional. Lloyd (Philippines) and Monika (Hungary) from the cruise staff seemed a step above the others.

Shore Excursions: The choices were expensive and usually involved a long time on a bus as well. Some ports offered free shuttles but when NCL provided them, a $15us fee was charged.

Value for Money: With the sail-away aft inside cabin assignment, this cruise fell within my cruise budget.

Summary: This cruise had a very different feel and vibe compared to the many European cruises listed on my signature. I believe that it was due to the make-up of the passenger ratio. It was announced that there were 1500 Americans, 400 Canadians and 400 others from 38 assorted countries. It felt more like an Alaskan cruise than a European cruise.

Ports of call: (we had spent 6 days in Scotland pre-cruise so wanted a less hectic start to the cruise)

Guernsey, Channel Islands: I planned a walk using “google maps” to the German signal HQ, Victor Hugo’s house, high street, and Castle Cornet. We docked outside St. Peter’s and tendered into Albert’s pier. Locals were surprised that we made it in due to winds in the morning. We started the morning late and landed on shore around 11:00 am. We were advised by shore volunteers that Victor Hugo house was closed so we had plenty of time to wander. We took the 25-minute hike to the German signal HQ ($4gbp) only to find that it didn’t open till noon. We had passed the Victoria Tower on our way and double back to spend some time admiring the monument to Queen Victoria and the WW2 cannons in the area. The German HQ was quite interesting because of Guernsey’s location and the breaking of their codes (Imitation Games). DW had also read “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society” book which shed some light on what it was like in Guernsey. We then walked to Castle Cornet ($11.5gbp) via “high street” browsing and spent the rest of the time there before heading back to the tender pier.

Portland UK: We docked at Dorset Pier and took the free port shuttle to Weymouth. The shuttle drops off at Brewers Quay and when we reached the river, we turned right for a hike to Fort Nothe ($5gbp). The fort was maintained by volunteers and was in excellent shape. We spent more time there than I had planned but it worked out well. Weymouth is a resort town and I wasn’t interested in walking along the beach or shopping. During peak season, sandcastles are supposed to be a highlight.

Cobh, Ireland: our original plan was to take the train to Cork and then transfer on a train to Blarney Castle. It was raining hard on and off so we decided to explore Cobh and maybe go to Cork afterwards time permitting. The ship docks in front of the train station and the heritage center. We decided to do the Titanic experience ($9.5eur) thinking it was a museum but was pleasantly surprised. We received a boarding pass of an actual passenger and visited the pier in which they were tendered to the Titanic. We then heard stories and accounts of some of its passengers from the guide as well as interactive displays. At the end of the tour, we learned the fate of the person listed on our boarding pass. As the rains came down, we took an opportunity to use the free WIFI at a local fast food joint and wait it out. After the rain subsided, we stopped off at the Lusitania Memorial and headed for St. Coleman’s Cathedral up the hill. From the cathedral we took a hike to the Titanic Memorial Garden and had a good sightline of where the Titanic would have been anchored. We didn’t end up going to Cork and spent late afternoon back onboard.

Dublin, Ireland: As the ship docks a way from town, we decided to take the NCL ($15usd) shuttle instead of trying to find our way by public transit. I had “googled map” a walk to the Molly Malone statue, the Spire, St. Margaret’s cathedral, Trinity College/Book of Kells, Temple Bar area, and Dublin Castle ($8eur). The Dublin Castle tour was excellent as we went underground to see the original walls as well as visiting the chapel/church. The chapel is no longer in use but the condition, styling was different and spectacular. We didn’t have time to see the Book of Kells as the lines were long and we didn’t pre-book. It was cultural night so the museums were open and free in the evening. We ended our visit at the National Gallery. Needless to say, we will return to Dublin as there’s so much more to see and the vibe of the city is exciting.

Belfast, Northern Ireland: We pre-arranged a ($30gbp) tour to Giant’s Causeway from irishtourtickets.com. We took the 10:30 Express tour as DW is not an early riser. Our guide Ian was prompt and we were on our way on time without a stop at the town center as our ship filled the tour with Viator bookings. There was an 8:30 tour for $35gbp which was 8 hours available as well. Ian had a lot of stories and antidotes so the ride did not seem very long. We had about 90 minutes to explore the causeway and would of like more. We also stopped at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce castle, and the peace wall for a photo op. The driver’s emotion and passion could be felt as he tried to explain the conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics of years past. He promised and delivered us back to the ship 1 hour before sail-away.

Kirkwall, Scotland: I was so looking forward to this port as there was a possible opportunity to see the northern lights entering or leaving Kirkwall. I had tracked the possibility on the Shetland Aurora site and stayed up till 11:30 in hopes of a glimpse but gave up because of all the cloud cover. It was mentioned by the captain that shortly after Kirkwall some passengers had mentioned a sighting. We docked at Hatson Pier in Kirkwall and a free port shuttle bus dropped us off at the town information and bus center. From there you could walk into town or catch the bus. There were 2 buses that provided a 3.5-hour tour of the area that people called a HOHO but it is not a true HOHO. It allowed you to stop at a site for a limited time and if you missed the cut-off, you were on your own getting back as it does only 1 loop. With limited availability, we didn’t plan for the bus trip. We had pre-booked a $10gbp tasting and tour at the Highland Park Distillery for noon. As we arrived into town early, we visited St Magnus Cathedral before catching the bus for $.75gbp to the distillery. We were lucky to have pre-booked the tour on-line for $10gbp as many from the ship were turned away. It seems NCL has many of the bookings combined with an island tour. The small group of 15 tour was informative and outstanding value. We received a tasting of their 10 yr. old and 12 yr. old scotch along with a commemorative glass each. The tour also gave you a $2gbp savings on any bottle purchased. I chose to purchase a 10 yr. old 700ml bottle commemorating Inspector John Rebus for $29gbp that available only at the distillery. I don’t drink scotch but SIL does. Surprisingly, I brought it back onboard without it having being taken away. We had planned to walk back to town but didn’t see anything on the way up so we took the bus back. Back in town, we visited the Bishop and Earl’s Palaces for $4gbp.

Invergordon, UK: We had planned to go into Inverness but there wasn’t anything that DW wanted to see so we stayed in Invergordon. It was bitterly cold and windy but we managed to buy a couple of pairs of leather thinsulate gloves at the dollar store for $7gbp each. The winds were 20+ kms a hour so we headed back to the ship after visiting the cathedral and seeing the town murals. This is a stop that I would consider a tour or head into Inverness.

Newhaven, Scotland: Edinburgh was cancelled due to wind and rough seas. A big disappointment for many as there was no way of doing a 30 minute tender and not have ½ the tender get sick. I was so happy to have visited 3 days pre-cruise but had planned to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia close to port.

Tyne, UK: Many took tours to Newcastle but we decided to stay in Tyne. We decided to take the free port shuttle into town and look around. We headed towards the Tynmouth priory and Castle for a look see. Just when you think you’ve had your fill of castles and cathedrals we stumble upon the remains of a castle, priory, and cemetery at such a spectacular setting. Paid $6gbp and spent a few hours on the site. The views were spectacular. We wandered through town and headed back to the shuttle pickup spot. On the way back to the ship, we got dropped off at an outlet mall 10 minutes from the ship. DW did some shopping while I got caught up with the free WIFI available.

Southampton, UK: We disembarked at 10:00 and walked into town to drop our luggage off at Ocean’s Gift shop. They charged $5gbp to store each suitcase for the day. DW and I did some shopping before our 1:30 Southampton $6gbp walking tour which lasted 90 minutes. After a quick meal, we had a 5:00 bus to catch to Gatwick.

Pre-cruise adventure: Our original plan was to fly into Glasgow and split our time there and Edinburgh before making our way to London. We were convinced by friends to spend a majority of our time in Edinburgh and my DW said we should visit St. Andrews as golf is a passion of mine. So, with the new agenda we flew into Glasgow for a night before making our way to St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Glasgow, Scotland: We landed at Glasgow at 10:00 am and took the $8gbp airporter bus to Buchanan bus station. Buchanan bus station was 3 blocks from the hotel that I selected. As we were just staying the night to shake off the jetlag I prepaid for a hotel room at the Point A hotel. It was an inside room with no windows. I was shocked to see how nice the room was for $49us through Hotels.com and would stay there again without a problem. I may spring for a window room for an extended stay though. We had to stay awake to try to adjust to the time change but we had been up for 20 hour already. We walked to the National piping center which was a museum as well as a bag pipe school. I got to try the bagpipes and managed to get a note. As we were tired, we took the HOHO for a circuit of the city. We didn’t get off at any of the stops but didn’t feel we missed anything that we would regret. We had dinner at a pub around the corner from the hotel and then called it a day. We had a 8:00am train to catch at Queen Street station which was 3 blocks from the hotel. The train to Dundee cost $7gbp and took 90 minutes.

Dundee, Scotland: As I wanted a hotel close to the train station and the bus stop to St. Andrews, I chose the SleeperZ. It’s a new hotel above the train station for $69us through Hotels.com. I’m feeling pretty good about the hotel choices as my Edinburgh stay is at the Marriott on points. The bus stop to St. Andrew was only about 100 yards from the hotel and took less than 30 minutes. I snuck onto the course for a photo on the Swilcan Bridge and just watched a couple of groups of golfers play the hole. We then made our way to the St. Andrews ladies putting club and paid $1gbp to play/putt 9 holes as we couldn’t do 18 before the members only times. They don’t call the course “The Himalayas” for nothing. Had a blast putting and then lunch in the clubhouse. We then made our way to the White Sands Beach (Chariots of Fire, opening scene) before visiting the British Golf Museum with our 2 for 1 coupon online. We had a great day at St. Andrews and headed back to Dundee for dinner in town. Another $7gbp 90 minute train ride to Edinburgh Waverly was scheduled in the morning.

Edinburgh, Scotland: A wonderful 3 days spent in the city and plan to be back. Our first afternoon was spent visiting the monuments at Calton Hill, Waverly Station, and the hotel area. Day 2 was spent at Holyrood Palace for a tour in the morning and a “gilding” craft class in the afternoon. DW found the workshop on their website and insisted that we experience it. It was a highlight of her trip. Day 3 was spent with a Royal Mile walk and visit to Edinburgh Castle. It is highly recommended that you pre-book entrance to both the Palace and Castle or you may risk a long wait and possibly a missed opportunity if it’s a port day visit.
lamchops’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Inside
Cabin IC 10651
Typical NCL inside cabin!
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Giant's Causeway
    Belfast, Northern Ireland: We pre-arranged a ($30gbp) tour to Giant’s Causeway from irishtourtickets.com. We took the 10:30 Express tour as DW is not an early riser. Our guide Ian was prompt and we were on our way on time without a stop at the town center as our ship filled the tour with Viator bookings. There was an 8:30 tour for $35gbp which was 8 hours available as well. Ian had a lot of stories and antidotes so the ride did not seem very long. We had about 90 minutes to explore the causeway and would of like more. We also stopped at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce castle, and the peace wall for a photo op. The driver’s emotion and passion could be felt as he tried to explain the conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics of years past. He promised and delivered us back to the ship 1 hour before sail-away.
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  • Cobh (Cork)
    Cobh, Ireland: our original plan was to take the train to Cork and then transfer on a train to Blarney Castle. It was raining hard on and off so we decided to explore Cobh and maybe go to Cork afterwards time permitting. The ship docks in front of the train station and the heritage center. We decided to do the Titanic experience ($9.5eur) thinking it was a museum but was pleasantly surprised. We received a boarding pass of an actual passenger and visited the pier in which they were tendered to the Titanic. We then heard stories and accounts of some of its passengers from the guide as well as interactive displays. At the end of the tour, we learned the fate of the person listed on our boarding pass. As the rains came down, we took an opportunity to use the free WIFI at a local fast food joint and wait it out. After the rain subsided, we stopped off at the Lusitania Memorial and headed for St. Coleman’s Cathedral up the hill. From the cathedral we took a hike to the Titanic Memorial Garden and had a good sightline of where the Titanic would have been anchored. We didn’t end up going to Cork and spent late afternoon back onboard.
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  • Dublin
    Dublin, Ireland: As the ship docks a way from town, we decided to take the NCL ($15usd) shuttle instead of trying to find our way by public transit. I had “googled map” a walk to the Molly Malone statue, the Spire, St. Margaret’s cathedral, Trinity College/Book of Kells, Temple Bar area, and Dublin Castle ($8eur). The Dublin Castle tour was excellent as we went underground to see the original walls as well as visiting the chapel/church. The chapel is no longer in use but the condition, styling was different and spectacular. We didn’t have time to see the Book of Kells as the lines were long and we didn’t pre-book. It was cultural night so the museums were open and free in the evening. We ended our visit at the National Gallery. Needless to say, we will return to Dublin as there’s so much more to see and the vibe of the city is exciting.
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  • Edinburgh (South Queensferry)
    Newhaven, Scotland: Edinburgh was cancelled due to wind and rough seas. A big disappointment for many as there was no way of doing a 30 minute tender and not have ½ the tender get sick. I was so happy to have visited 3 days pre-cruise but had planned to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia close to port.

    Edinburgh, Scotland: A wonderful 3 days spent in the city and plan to be back. Our first afternoon was spent visiting the monuments at Calton Hill, Waverly Station, and the hotel area. Day 2 was spent at Holyrood Palace for a tour in the morning and a “gilding” craft class in the afternoon. DW found the workshop on their website and insisted that we experience it. It was a highlight of her trip. Day 3 was spent with a Royal Mile walk and visit to Edinburgh Castle. It is highly recommended that you pre-book entrance to both the Palace and Castle or you may risk a long wait and possibly a missed opportunity if it’s a port day visit.
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  • Invergordon (Inverness)
    Invergordon, UK: We had planned to go into Inverness but there wasn’t anything that DW wanted to see so we stayed in Invergordon. It was bitterly cold and windy but we managed to buy a couple of pairs of leather thinsulate gloves at the dollar store for $7gbp each. The winds were 20+ kms a hour so we headed back to the ship after visiting the cathedral and seeing the town murals. This is a stop that I would consider a tour or head into Inverness.
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  • Kirkwall
    Kirkwall, Scotland: I was so looking forward to this port as there was a possible opportunity to see the northern lights entering or leaving Kirkwall. I had tracked the possibility on the Shetland Aurora site and stayed up till 11:30 in hopes of a glimpse but gave up because of all the cloud cover. It was mentioned by the captain that shortly after Kirkwall some passengers had mentioned a sighting. We docked at Hatson Pier in Kirkwall and a free port shuttle bus dropped us off at the town information and bus center. From there you could walk into town or catch the bus. There were 2 buses that provided a 3.5-hour tour of the area that people called a HOHO but it is not a true HOHO. It allowed you to stop at a site for a limited time and if you missed the cut-off, you were on your own getting back as it does only 1 loop. With limited availability, we didn’t plan for the bus trip. We had pre-booked a $10gbp tasting and tour at the Highland Park Distillery for noon. As we arrived into town early, we visited St Magnus Cathedral before catching the bus for $.75gbp to the distillery. We were lucky to have pre-booked the tour on-line for $10gbp as many from the ship were turned away. It seems NCL has many of the bookings combined with an island tour. The small group of 15 tour was informative and outstanding value. We received a tasting of their 10 yr. old and 12 yr. old scotch along with a commemorative glass each. The tour also gave you a $2gbp savings on any bottle purchased. I chose to purchase a 10 yr. old 700ml bottle commemorating Inspector John Rebus for $29gbp that available only at the distillery. I don’t drink scotch but SIL does. Surprisingly, I brought it back onboard without it having being taken away. We had planned to walk back to town but didn’t see anything on the way up so we took the bus back. Back in town, we visited the Bishop and Earl’s Palaces for $4gbp.
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  • Newcastle (England)
    Tyne, UK: Many took tours to Newcastle but we decided to stay in Tyne. We decided to take the free port shuttle into town and look around. We headed towards the Tynmouth priory and Castle for a look see. Just when you think you’ve had your fill of castles and cathedrals we stumble upon the remains of a castle, priory, and cemetery at such a spectacular setting. Paid $6gbp and spent a few hours on the site. The views were spectacular. We wandered through town and headed back to the shuttle pickup spot. On the way back to the ship, we got dropped off at an outlet mall 10 minutes from the ship. DW did some shopping while I got caught up with the free WIFI available.
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  • Southampton
    Southampton, UK: We disembarked at 10:00 and walked into town to drop our luggage off at Ocean’s Gift shop. They charged $5gbp to store each suitcase for the day. DW and I did some shopping before our 1:30 Southampton $6gbp walking tour which lasted 90 minutes. After a quick meal, we had a 5:00 bus to catch to Gatwick.
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  • St. Peter Port (Guernsey)
    Guernsey, Channel Islands: I planned a walk using “google maps” to the German signal HQ, Victor Hugo’s house, high street, and Castle Cornet. We docked outside St. Peter’s and tendered into Albert’s pier. Locals were surprised that we made it in due to winds in the morning. We started the morning late and landed on shore around 11:00 am. We were advised by shore volunteers that Victor Hugo house was closed so we had plenty of time to wander. We took the 25-minute hike to the German signal HQ ($4gbp) only to find that it didn’t open till noon. We had passed the Victoria Tower on our way and double back to spend some time admiring the monument to Queen Victoria and the WW2 cannons in the area. The German HQ was quite interesting because of Guernsey’s location and the breaking of their codes (Imitation Games). DW had also read “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society” book which shed some light on what it was like in Guernsey. We then walked to Castle Cornet ($11.5gbp) via “high street” browsing and spent the rest of the time there before heading back to the tender pier.
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