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MrsEmmaPeel

Detailed, Multi-part review of Royal Princess June 18th British Isles Cruise

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Thanks for the detailed review. We are sailing on Thursday on Royal Princess.

Do you remember if there is a Happy Hour in one of the bars in the late afternoon. Other Princess ships have had this.

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We never went to any of the bars in the afternoon, so we do not know, although multiple other threads on this board seem to indicate all happy hours (or maybe just BOGO ones?) are gone. We (DW and DH) only went to one bar during the entire cruise: Princess Live, and then only about 10:00pm. All of the other bars were too noisy for us.

 

Thanks for the detailed review. We are sailing on Thursday on Royal Princess.

Do you remember if there is a Happy Hour in one of the bars in the late afternoon. Other Princess ships have had this.

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Thanks for the great review....... you summed up Glasgow (where I am from) perfectly. It really is a fabulous city and often over-shadowed by Edinburgh. All in all, you made me feel proud to be British. Haste ye back! <3<3<3clear.png?emoji-heart-193

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And just to clarify again - we left Paris wanting to return. But we'd never consider it as a part of a cruise-ship day tour again (or even once if we knew then what we know now). It is simply physically impossible to beat the crowds in Paris that way, so not only is time insanely limited, all the attractions are mobbed. If anything it made us want to spent NUMEROUS days there, so we could plan our days such that we hit major attractions first thing in the morning or late in early evening, and filled the middle of the day with less mobbed events and nice, long (for us) cafe lunches. We WILL be back. We think likely as a London-Paris-London holiday. We hate crowds and are meticulous planners on holiday to avoid them.

 

Maybe one of the Paris excursions like the fully-planned one with lunch at the Eiffel Tower might have been better. But those get REALLY pricey.

 

Also, with 4 hours in the city, I could not convince myself to review my decades out-of-use French. With even 3 days there and a plan, I'm sure I would be happy to review it and could get more than enough to feel confident and less "stereotypical tourist"

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The last I was in Paris, there was a sign at L’Arc saying closed because of workers’ strike. We had never noticed you could actually go inside and wondered why anyone would. Now I know, and am so sorry I never took advantage of my opportunities.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Thank you so much for your detailed review - it's the best I've ever read! Now can't wait, we're doing the same trip soon. :D

 

My sentiments exactly. We're on the same cruise next May and the information was invaluable.

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Intro

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431807&postcount=1

Staterooms

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431832&postcount=3

Technology

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431864&postcount=4

Dining

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56432558&postcount=6

Nighlife

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56432583&postcount=7

1 Embarkation

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56441105&postcount=12

2 Guernsey

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56441647&postcount=14

3 Cobh

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56449550&postcount=17

4 Dublin

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455489&postcount=22

5 Belfast

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455731&postcount=23

6 Glasgow

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455907&postcount=26

7 Day(s) at Sea

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56463512&postcount=33

8 Kirkwall

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478469&postcount=38

9 Invergordon

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478475&postcount=39

10 Edinburgh

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478499&postcount=40

11 Day(s) at Sea (again)

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56463512&postcount=33

12 Paris/Normandy

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478509&postcount=41

13 Disembarkation

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478695&postcount=42

Wrap-up

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478982&postcount=43

 

Some have noted that we did not include photos with the review. This was a conscious decision on our part. First, DW does not like photos of us on public internet sites. And so we’d be limited to photos of the sights. And while I love my carefully-shot photos (especially my HDR compositions), the focus on this release was unique, actionable information for cruisers. People can find professional shots of everything we mention in this review all over. You don’t need us for that. Our value add (we hope) has been the information. Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE the photos on Cruise Critic. It just isn’t where we think we add value.

 

So now, we’re off to plan our next cruises over the next few years, and back to posting info on CC boards where we can help. Thanks!

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Intro

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431807&postcount=1

Staterooms

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431832&postcount=3

Technology

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56431864&postcount=4

Dining

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56432558&postcount=6

Nighlife

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56432583&postcount=7

1 Embarkation

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56441105&postcount=12

2 Guernsey

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56441647&postcount=14

3 Cobh

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56449550&postcount=17

4 Dublin

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455489&postcount=22

5 Belfast

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455731&postcount=23

6 Glasgow

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56455907&postcount=26

7 Day(s) at Sea

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56463512&postcount=33

8 Kirkwall

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478469&postcount=38

9 Invergordon

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478475&postcount=39

10 Edinburgh

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478499&postcount=40

11 Day(s) at Sea (again)

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56463512&postcount=33

12 Paris/Normandy

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478509&postcount=41

13 Disembarkation

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478695&postcount=42

Wrap-up

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56478982&postcount=43

 

Some have noted that we did not include photos with the review. This was a conscious decision on our part. First, DW does not like photos of us on public internet sites. And so we’d be limited to photos of the sights. And while I love my carefully-shot photos (especially my HDR compositions), the focus on this release was unique, actionable information for cruisers. People can find professional shots of everything we mention in this review all over. You don’t need us for that. Our value add (we hope) has been the information. Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE the photos on Cruise Critic. It just isn’t where we think we add value.

 

So now, we’re off to plan our next cruises over the next few years, and back to posting info on CC boards where we can help. Thanks!

 

 

THANK YOU so much for your detailed recap of your cruise. We're taking this same cruise in May 2019 and your insights have been invaluable. You are appreciated!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this review. We have booked this cruise for August so this was perfect timing!

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Guernsey

 

Guernsey was one of the most anticipated ports for our entire crew. We’re Anglophiles and WW2 history buffs, and Guernsey had a lot of all of those. Originally, we considered splitting up and the younger crew renting bikes to bike the island. However, we decided splitting up at the first port wasn’t the best idea, and we only wanted to bike if the weather was perfect (as it turns out, it was…). We considered using the municipal buses to get around, but CC board posts from GuernseyCruiser indicated that using the municipal buses as HOHOs was a problem. You could definitely hop off anywhere, but the buses get so crowded that you may never hop on again! This finally got DH to look into hire cars. Since there were 6 of us, this got complex, but Value Rent a Car on Guernsey rents 7-passenger, automatic transmission, Ford S Max MPVs. They deliver to the cruise dock and you can return them there, as well. They also rent smaller cars, with stick and auto. In fact, we get the feeling we got lucky that they even had one S Max. They were easy to deal with, and were very helpful.

 

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that you’re walking off of your cruise tender and hopping into a right-hand drive car to drive around a small island with narrow roads, hedgerows and stone walls. This is doubly true with the Ford S Max. It is much smaller than a US minivan, but it feels like a truck on Guernsey’s roads.

 

On the morning, Guernsey was beautiful: partly cloudy and mid-50s to mid-60s F. We were very nervous about tendering lines and delays, as time on Guernsey was limited. We all grabbed breakfast and were at Symphony to get our tender tickets at 8:10 (our car was to be ready at 9:00). We got tender tickets 96-101. We were on a tender within 2 minutes. We were at the pier by 8:40. We were supposed to call the car hire firm when we boarded the tended, but that was hard to do as we rushed to it, and the tender is loud. So we didn’t call them until we were on the dock. It took about 15mins for the hire car representative to arrive, although we had immediately found what was certainly our car waiting on the pier. DW did the paperwork with them while the rest of us took photos of every tiny nick on the car (there really weren’t any).

 

The Ford was excellent, perfect for 4 adults and 2 kids, with a satnav and just enough cargo space for our daybags. Once we were all settled, we drove straight out of St Peter Port to the German Occupation Museum. We arrived not long after it opened, and there were very few others there when we arrived. This meant that most of our time there was unhurried. When we were close to done, the first Princess excursion bus arrived and that all changed. This would become a recurring theme on our independent travelling and third-party, small tours. We would get to attractions ahead of the “sticker people” (sorry, but it was the easiest way to determine the Princess excursion folks), and “surfed the wave” ahead of the crowds.

 

The German Occupation Museum was WELL worth it; a wonderful collection of artifacts, stories, photos, and documents that told the story of Guernsey’s Occupation in detail. I can’t imagine going to Guernsey and NOT going there. As a note, this museum only takes cash, so plan ahead. Also the souvenirs here were the most reasonable of our entire trip here, so it is worth taking a look.

 

From there, we drove out to the west coast of Guernsey and made our way from the southern end to the northern end, stopping at beaches and fortifications as we wanted. This was the true glory of having a car. The western coastal road is wide, and parking is plentiful. The best stopping point was Fort Hommet, which we had to ourselves and were able to survey in detail and climb the rocks out past the fortifications. The water was beautiful and it was a high point of the entire trip.

 

From there, we decided to try to see the Little Chapel. This led us through the center of the island, and most of the more complex driving we had to do. In the end, when we drove by the chapel, it was overrun by three or four full-sized tour buses, and didn’t look like much fun. We didn’t even stop, but instead headed back into St Peter Port, and dropped the car at 1:45. We had paid for a full day of the car (~80GBP), but we had done what we wanted to do, and we did want to have some time in St Peter Port. So we got a late lunch in town. Also we noted that the queues for the tenders were very long at this point. The Pier Manager said they got better about 3:45 and it was worth looking around the town until then.

 

We asked the Pier Manager for a lunch recommendation, and they recommended Nelio’s Deli. They bake their own bread, and offer wonderful and creative sandwiches. Prices were reasonable and the selection large. They are right on the high street, slightly north of the pier. We recommend them highly. We spent some time shopping in St Peter Port.

 

We then walked around St. Peter Port. One note was that we had gotten a single pearl earring from our car rental representative (I believe many vendors on the island have them) with the instructions to go to the Guernsey Pearl to get the other. This is right in St. Peter’s Port and a quick walk from the ship. DDs loved finding the shop and they were each given a pair of pearl earrings! It began to mist and so we headed back, getting back to the tender line about 3:30. We were on a tender in under 30 minutes and back on the ship 4:15. Note, you do not want to miss the boat here. One, you do not have your passports and so may not be able to travel directly to Ireland. Two, it is a small island with very limited external transportation options.

 

Every single person we met in Guernsey was helpful, welcoming, and nice; despite being tourist drivers on the narrow roads, we were never honked at or gestured at even once. Guernsey was one of our favorite ports from the entire trip.

 

We were generally careful about ALL of the various money issues (old 5 and 10GBP notes, old pound coins, NI Pounds, etc), but DM wasn’t watching and ended the day with a Guernsey Pound. So there’s a souvenir… DW always asked for GBPs. As a note, in Belfast, DW was handled a Northern Irish 5 pound note. She asked the vendor for an English note, and they kindly swapped it out for an English note.

 

Next... Cobh.

What a great review of Guernsey! I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves!

We've never been anything but pleased with the people we've met in the Channel Islands. Remarkably friendly and helpful.

 

So nice that you stayed ahead of the "stickers" and enjoyed the island on your own. Isn't Fort Hommet such an interesting site? 200 year old fortifications with 75 year old concrete integrated in. We've twice stayed just across the street from there while on holiday, so we've explored quite extensively. It makes for a nice spot to watch the sunset, too

DSC04654.jpg

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One note – I don’t know if this is common, but I found most shaken mixed drinks to have more little ice chunks in them than I prefer. I feel like they are shaking with ice cubes that are too small, or else not straining effectively. It was minor, but worth mentioning for those who are picky about their “up” drinks.

 

Yes Princess uses very small ice cubes and shakes vigorously leave mini icebergs in you Martini's and Manhattan's - out answer for this over the years has been to ask our drinks to be stirred not shaken - works much better.

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One note – I don’t know if this is common, but I found most shaken mixed drinks to have more little ice chunks in them than I prefer. I feel like they are shaking with ice cubes that are too small, or else not straining effectively. It was minor, but worth mentioning for those who are picky about their “up” drinks.

 

Yes Princess uses very small ice cubes and shakes vigorously leave mini icebergs in you Martini's and Manhattan's - out answer for this over the years has been to ask our drinks to be stirred not shaken - works much better.

 

You and James Bond!

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Ms Peel you pretty well covered the cruise. We where on the same cruise as your family. We had traveled on the Royal Princess for a January Caribbean cruise. The food and service in the Horizon was outstanding. But the British cruise we found it lacking. The serving staff was unfriend this time in the Horizon Court. Coffee was not the best, plus the food was no comparison to the January Cruise. I had talked to the head steward in the serving area in HC about the cheese bar. This cruise the cheese was placed out in chunks. On earlier cruise it was pre-cut. My complain was that children could not cut the cheese without grabbing on to the chunk of cheese. He just said that is the way company want the cheese to be displayed. And told me just to smack the child. The fresh fruit by day nine was getting a little too old to serve.

 

The overall all cruise was great. Our friends and us planning to go again next May. Heathrow was a 3.5 hour nightmare to go through immigration. Looks like we will go a day early to avoid the nightmare. Saturday is not a good day to land in Heathrow.

 

Thank you for taking the time to provide some great tips. Specialty on the non Princess tours.

Best wished and regard to you and your family Ms Peel

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And just to clarify again - we left Paris wanting to return. But we'd never consider it as a part of a cruise-ship day tour again (or even once if we knew then what we know now).

 

Loved your review as we are doing the British Isles cruise from Dublin next spring. FYI Just a note on Paris. We added 3 days in Paris prior to a Mediterranean Cruise (Rome to Barcelona). It was easy to fly to Paris and return from Barcelona after a 3 day stay there as well. We stayed in the Rue Cler area in a small Rick Steve's recommended hotel and really got the feel of Parisian life. So close to everything and an easy flight to Rome for the cruise. We also did this in late September, crowds were less than in the summer, but there are always thousands of tourists in Paris.

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Thanks for the review! Sounds like you guys really had a good time.

 

Thanks for posting the awesome Photos of your British Isle cruise. We just finished our trip (18th June). Are friends are completely fearful of private tours. Their worry and my wife is missing the ship departure time. We did the Princess tours on the fact the ship wouldn't leave us behind. I know after looking at cruise photos. We missed out on some great private tours. Thanks.

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Great review. We are on the Royal for the TA in September. I'm coordinating the 'Meet & Greet' and was wondering if you have a list of the Royal's officers so I can pre address invitations.

 

Thanks

 

Tom

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Wow, I really appreciate all of your detail about the Paris on your Own excursion! I am looking at that for my family next summer when we are there. I didn't realize you have to take your passports with you (not thrilled with that given the pickpocket situation). It sounds a bit daunting. I may have to rethink that or do the more expensive excursion with a guide the whole time. And I didn't know you could climb L'Arc, and definitely didn't know about the macarons at McDonald's! Good to know :-)

 

I've been to that very McDonalds and had no idea they had macarons!

 

 

Loved your review as we are doing the British Isles cruise from Dublin next spring. FYI Just a note on Paris. We added 3 days in Paris prior to a Mediterranean Cruise (Rome to Barcelona). It was easy to fly to Paris and return from Barcelona after a 3 day stay there as well. We stayed in the Rue Cler area in a small Rick Steve's recommended hotel and really got the feel of Parisian life. So close to everything and an easy flight to Rome for the cruise. We also did this in late September, crowds were less than in the summer, but there are always thousands of tourists in Paris.

 

It's nice to stay "local" in Paris, vs being in a big chain hotel. We've had very good luck with an apartment company called Parisian Home.

 

There is so much to see in Paris, I can't imagine a cruise tour being enough to get more than the slightest taste.

 

 

 

Loving the review MrsEmmaPeel! I'm bouncing around a bit as I have time and it's very informative.

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Great review. We are on the Royal for the TA in September. I'm coordinating the 'Meet & Greet' and was wondering if you have a list of the Royal's officers so I can pre address invitations.

 

 

Officers can change by then.

 

 

Check the embarkation day Patter for the names and use those to address the already prepared envelopes and letters.

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Officers can change by then.

 

 

Check the embarkation day Patter for the names and use those to address the already prepared envelopes and letters.

 

I use a standard invitation. A printed envelope looks a lot better than my hand writing. I always check the patter before giving the invitations to customer service.

 

Tom

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"I’ll go further and state that assuming the ship docks the same way each time, port side is THE SIDE to have in order to face the interesting stuff."

Following up on this thought- did you find the Port side to be 'best' throughout the voyage or did it vary from port to port? I've got a starboard balcony booked- anyone else with previous experience with a starboard balcony care to comment?

Thx-

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Our feeling was that if the ship docked facing the same way on OTHER cruises as it did in each port for our cruise, we had the better side. But let me try to remember:

 

- Southampton - don't recall; we were focused on the ship (embarkation) and getting off (disembarkation), and it wasn't a gorgeous port (IMO)

- Guernsey - didn't much matter to us, but IIRC, we were facing away from the island once they anchored

- Cobh - AMAZING. We were facing the port, which is incredible, since it is on the side of a hill, and there was a band

- Dublin - I think we were facing the dock, but it wasn't that pretty

- Belfast - I do NOT recall being able to see the Titanic exhibit from our balcony.

- Glasgow - Photos indicate we watched pipers from our balcony at sail away

- Kirkwall - I seem to recall watching people pull up, buses, etc. So I think we were facing dock at that port.

- Inverness - we watched a great young piping band from the balcony on sail-away. So that was definitely a "facing dock" port

- Edinburgh - IIRC, we were facing the quay (tender port), but it was on and off foggy that day. Fun to watch tendering, though.

- Le Havre - I recall watching the lines getting onto the ship, I think. So we were perhaps on dock side?

 

So I guess it was more of a mixed bag. However, I do NOT recall there being great things on the dock side in most of the ports where we were not facing the dock. Cobh, Glasgow, and Inverness were definitely worth it.

 

I'd love to hear a similar response from someone on Starboard. Maybe we missed a lot of stuff :-)

 

"I’ll go further and state that assuming the ship docks the same way each time, port side is THE SIDE to have in order to face the interesting stuff."

Following up on this thought- did you find the Port side to be 'best' throughout the voyage or did it vary from port to port? I've got a starboard balcony booked- anyone else with previous experience with a starboard balcony care to comment?

Thx-

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