2019 Oceania Cruise Line - Celtic Kingdoms (MNA190804) on the Marina
Dates: August 4, 2019 through August 17, 2019
Ports of call:
Embark at Southampton UK
Glasgow(Greenock) Scotland - Missed(did not dock due to weather conditions)
Disembark at Southampton UK
This was our second cruise and first time with Oceania Cruise Line. We opted for a PH Suite (11035) and a trip that left us at the same port from where we started to allow us to extend the vacation in London UK. We chose an upgraded beverage package which we probably will not do in the future unless there are a lot of days at sea. The location of our suite was very convenient, near the executive lounge. It was spacious, nicely appointed and quiet. The staff in all areas of the ship were a standout. The passengers were a bit more mature here than on the Norwegian Cruise Line, though one could still find beverage glasses left in inappropriate places. The cruise line is known for the dining and wine experience. The main Grand Dining room was exceptional in ambiance, cuisine and staff. In my opinion, it out performed two of the specialty venues - Jacques and The Polo Grill. Jacques and The Polo Grill were not particularly special meals or service. However, both Toscana and Red Ginger were outstanding. We returned to Red Ginger for a second evening meal. Meeting and enjoying the company of other passengers was much easier on the Marina than the Norwegian Dawn. The two wine tasting/lectures were every informative and enjoyable. Mary Ann and I both enjoyed the services at the Canyon Ranch. We took one cruise sponsored excursion in Dublin Ireland. Frankly, the River Cruise DUB-006 OS was a disappointment. The tour guide banter during the boat ride on the Liffey was fun but there was no time for any questions and answers. The excursion continued on a cramped bus that sat in horrible Dublin traffic along all the streets that paralleled and bridges that crossed the river. We fared far better on our own in both Dublin and Cork. Both cities are very conducive to walking and the shopping is great fun. Our time spent in Scotland with Highlander Tours (Andrew McAlindon) was by far the absolute acme of the trip in Edinburgh and Invergordon. We were not able to dock in Glasgow(Greenock) Scotland due to severe weather. We have posted a review of Highlander Tours on the TripAdvisor site. The Hotel Rubens at the Palace is a very nice place with nicely appointed rooms and baths. The location in London is convenient but the lobby is cramped. The staff is solicitous and the Curry Room has excellent Indian food. We managed to see "Hamilton" at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London - a real serendipitous treat. We lightened our wallets when we shopped and ate at Harrods but it was lots of fun. I purchased the quintessential long trench coat at Burberry on Brompton Road - very nice staff and a great all-weather coat. The flights on British Airlines were typical long distance air travel - forgettable if you are lucky. We were bumped from Premium Economy to Business on the return trip from Heathrow, but had to wait 45-minutes on the tarmac at Logan in Boston for a terminal slot to become available. The food is a bit better in Business class but I am not fond of the seating arrangement. We were not able to be seated together. C'est la vie. We have used Patty Dyer as our AAA Northeast Travel Consultant on other occasions and she provides stellar service. I have posted reviews on Goggle Maps for many of the places we visited during the trip. In all, this was a wonderful vacation trip, full of joy and lasting memories.
The location of our suite was very convenient, near the executive lounge. It was spacious, nicely appointed and quiet. The bathtub was generously sized and shower was well equipped if a bit tight, though I could stand to lose some weight. The walk-in closet was exceptional. It was nice not to have to leave anything in the suitcases. The bed was decent, if a tad short. Everything was in working order and the balcony was a good size and unobstructed.
This was our embarkation point
Piped ashore by bagpipes, my wife and I met our guide dressed in full Highland regalia, under a red umbrella on the Newhaven quay. This is where the Oceania Cruise Ship Marina's tender left us for our ten-hour stay in Edinburgh. Not even the sullen moist skies could dampen the experience of seeing the landscape, the history, the castles and inns. Our guide knows all the roads, all the tales, the details and mysteries are shared in the most convivial manner. The time in the vehicle is spent with wonderful music and conversation. You pick your itinerary or you can leave it to Andy to make selections and everything is adjustable. He took the time to dress both of us in authentic kilts. Andy takes a huge piece of tartan cloth and expertly folds, wraps and drapes it on you, much to the delight of the passerby. He also took photographs with our cameras and phones, this is an experience you simply cannot get with a cruise ship's excursion offerings. We saw Castle Scone without being herded along on a ship's excursion tour like lemmings. The grounds were moist and fecund. There are ancient walls and burial grounds. our guide knows all the docents and they know him. His presence added so much to the outings. We had a great late lunch at Sheep Heid Inn (established around 1360) perhaps the oldest inn in Scotland. The staff were gracious, the ambiance was historic, the haggis was sublime with neeps, tatties, a great gravy and a nice local IPA.
The Holyrood Palace does not allow photography inside the residence. It is an impressive and beautiful structure with perhaps too many directly connected rooms for very specific functions. It becomes tedious and excessive when a resident or visitor must traverse several chambers to reach their destination. You will grasp my concern if you take the time to visit every accessible room. Nevertheless, it is a "must see" destination. I quite understood when our guide chose to wait for our return to the entrance plaza. At the attached abbey ruins, photography is allowed. The epitaphs on the tombstones are interesting, should you care to invest the time to read them - there are many and some are rather long.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The tour guide banter during the boat ride on the Liffey was fun but there was no time for any questions and answers. The excursion continued on a cramped bus that sat in horrible Dublin traffic along all the streets that paralleled and bridges that crossed the river. We fared far better on our own in Dublin on the second day. The city is very conducive to walking and the shopping is great fun.View All 44 City Tour Reviews
Cobh and Cork are both beautiful. The train ride into Cork from Cobh was fast and convenient. The station staff were very helpful in giving us suggestions for places to visit. The city is very pleasant for walking. The farmers' market was expansive and full of interesting fare. We purchased some local chocolates. We did a lot of shopping and visited a pub for more Guinness. Yum!