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aheape1979

Our Regal Experience: 20th Anniversary Trip Report- British Isles, June 9, 2020

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Posted (edited)

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.”  ~Mark Twain

 

Twenty years ago, a pair of young (20 and 22) newlyweds took their very first cruise, less than 48 hours after saying “I do.”  These new college graduates certainly didn’t have much money for a honeymoon, and Port Canaveral was in driving distance.  So off on a cruise to the Bahamas they went, giddy with excitement to be taking their first trip alone together.  Seasickness and sunburn didn’t deter their excitement, and they came back home stung by the “cruise bug” (and a jellyfish!)  They made a commitment…no matter what, they would take a great trip every 5th anniversary of their marriage.  

 

Fast forward twenty years…these parents of two teenagers have changed quite a bit.  Between them, they have 3 more college degrees, have purchased and renovated (Chip and Joanna style) two homes, built a life on the farm, seen careers skyrocket, and are grateful for the health, happiness, and home they have been blessed with.  Traveling has also been a part of the past twenty years.  They have traveled across the continental United States and Canada, to Hawaii, taken multiple cruises (RCCL, Carnival, Disney, and Princess), and been to Disney more times than DH cares to admit! 

 

The 5-year trip plan has worked out too! They have been on a Princess cruise to Alaska (and returned with child # 2 on the way!), an adult-only Disney vacation, Hawaii for 2 weeks on their 15th anniversary, and now had to decide where to visit for their 20th.  Having cruised the Regal to Canada/New England in 2018 for DH’s 40th birthday, they knew they loved the ship.  So when they saw that the Regal sailed the British Isles in 2020, the plan began!

 

Join us as we prepare to have a Regal Experience in June 2020!
 

Edited by aheape1979

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Posted (edited)

“Prepare while others are daydreaming.” ~William Arthur Ward

 

Welcome to our first preparation post!  


On the day 2020 British Isles cruise dates were released (in early 2019), we booked our cabin!  Then, the crazy travel planning began!  I’ll admit, I am obsessive when planning a big trip.  My bookmarked web pages have their own location folders, because each trip has a plethora of items to plan!

 

I travel a bit for work, so it’s helpful that I have plenty of Marriott points to “play” with.  Neither of us has ever been to the UK, and wanted to see some sights in England before the trip.  So we booked 5 nights at the St. Ermin’s hotel in the Westminster area using Marriott Points, with all 5 nights having suite upgrade certificates.  Fingers crossed, we will have a suite for free!  


We originally booked tickets through the airline, but cancelled those when they altered the schedule by 3 hours (and Princess EZ Air had a great sale!)  I’ve checked flight prices at least 4-5 times per week since then, and nothing else has come close to the super deal we got from EZ Air.  

 

Here are activities we have planned pre-cruise.  We will post links to each item once posted.

 

Bel & the Dragon lunch
Dinner at the Shard
GWR Train
Private airport and cruise transfers
Private VIP tour with London Magical Tours
Secret Garden Tour in the Cotswolds
Services at Westminster Abbey
St. Ermin’s Hotel
Tea at Fortnum & Mason
The Dove Hammersmith
The Victoria Paddington
Virgin Atlantic Arrivals Lounge LHR
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Visit London Markets (Borough, Camden, Columbia Rd. Flower Market)
Windsor Castle

 

Edited by aheape1979

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Posted (edited)

“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people.  Forget yourself.”  ~Henry Miller

 

Our Cruise Itinerary

 

The itinerary for our cruise portion is what really appealed to us; either DH or I have English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.  DH has never been across the Atlantic before, but has always wanted to visit the UK.  I traveled in Europe twice: once in high school and another trip in college, but never to the UK.  DH is a graduate of a military college, whose band uses bagpipes, so that music is very close to his heart.  We both love to try new cuisine, hear live music, and experience the natural beauty of the countryside.

 

This itinerary promises it all!
 

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 1.36.13 PM.png

photo credit:  Princess Cruises

Edited by aheape1979

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excellent writing style … the purple is a little hard to read, but doable … will be following along

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We did British Isles cruise in 2018, and also five nights pre cruise in London.  Loved every minute, it’s a great cruise.  

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, voljeep said:

excellent writing style … the purple is a little hard to read, but doable … will be following along

Thank you for that feedback.  I will change colors.  I was trying to make it a little easier to spot trip updates, but I will see how I can modify it.

Edited by aheape1979

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7 hours ago, sunsetbeachgal said:

We did British Isles cruise in 2018, and also five nights pre cruise in London.  Loved every minute, it’s a great cruise.  

Thanks!  We are very excited!

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Wow! I've never seen a trip report get started 3 months in advance. This ought to be epic and you can bet I'll be following along.

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Posted (edited)

“Experiment!  Meet new people.  That’s better than any college education…by adventuring about, you become accustomed to the unexpected.  The unexpected then becomes what it really is…the inevitable.” ~Amelia Earhart    

 

We’ve met some great fellow cruisers on the CC Roll Call board and will be taking excursions or transportation with quite a few of them.  I am exceptionally outgoing, while DH is what personality profiles deem “an extroverted introvert.”  One of my favorite parts of any trip is the people we meet: people from all walks of life, education levels, geographic areas, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultures.  In all our travels, I can honestly say I’ve only met a handful of people that I wouldn’t enjoy sharing a meal with.  

 

While we love meeting new people, we don’t particularly like the experience of being on a bus full of 50 others trying to see new places.  Yes, I know we will be on a ship of over 5,000 people!  We just prefer to have a more personal experience when visiting new places.  If we can meet locals, learn about their homeland, and help support their livelihood, that’s how we plan to tour.  In some ports, we will be taking small group tours as well.  

 

  • Guernsey:  Walking Tour with Annette Henry (2 hours)  We plan to sample some local food and shops before returning to the ship.  

 

  • Cork (Cobh), Ireland: Small Group Shore Tour- Elegant Irish Tours.  It includes Blarney Castle, Blarney Woolen Mills, and Jameson Distillery

 

  • Dublin (2 days):  All tours are on our own, and we plan to walk or taxi as needed.
    • Early entry to the Book of Kells and Dublin Castle- booked through Viator
    •  An Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies- O’Shea’s Pub
    •  Guiness Storehouse tour
    •  Lunch at FX Buckley Steakhouse- Temple Bar (we have Black Angus cows, so DH is excited to sample some local Irish Angus beef!
    •  All the shopping I want to do!

 

  • Belfast, Northern Ireland:  Giants Causeway Extra Legroom Tour- Odyssey Coach Tours (small group)

 

  • Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland:  Private tour- Kilted Piper Tours.  We will share this tour with 2 other CC families.

 

  • Invergordon, Scotland:  Private tour- Highland Tours Iverness.  We will be joined by another CC couple.

 

  • Edinburgh, Scotland:  We will tour the Royal Mile on our own, with tickets to Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House.

 

  • Le Havre, France:  Though I would LOVE to visit Paris for the first time, 6 hours of travel on a bus isn’t our cup of tea.  So we plan to visit Honfleur, eat some French food, and enjoy the scenery.

I’ve been known to make slight changes to excursions as a trip departure nears, so stay tune!  For now, I think we have a really good blend of touring styles and by sharing with other CC’ers, have been able to schedule private tours for less than ship excursions.
 

(voljeep, I switched up the colors to make it easier to read the narrative)

Edited by aheape1979

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“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ~Albert Einstein

 

Club Class to Balcony to Mini Suite, oh my!  (Cabin Changes)

 

When originally booked, we were in a M6 cabin (Club Class Mini Suite).  On our Canada/New England cruise for DH’s 40th, we were in the same category cabin and loved it.  Our biggest “perk” was not having to wait in the sometimes-long line for anytime dining.  We sat near the same people every night in Club Class and got to know them.  We really enjoyed that aspect.  

 

Well, as life would have it, I had major surgery about 6 months after our original booking.  We didn’t immediately change cabin categories, but after discussing it and looking at the huge difference in price, we decided that it would be a good decision to downgrade to a deluxe balcony.  (Those 20-something newlyweds I told you about earlier who were just happy to be on a cruise ship…they won’t cruise without a balcony now that they can.  The opportunity for fresh air in your face when you want it is just too much of a draw! When you live on a farm, you are used to fresh air!)

 

So down to a DB (Guaranteed) stateroom we went.  Hey, it’s still a balcony and more than just a chair in the sitting area.  So, we are good, right?  Well, 3 months later the Princess Upgrade Fairy came to visit!  Back up to a mini suite (MB) we went.  No, it doesn’t have Club Class, but we are immensely grateful for the upgrade.  Thank you, Princess Upgrade Fairy,…we didn’t even need to leave a tooth by our pillow!  
 

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Just back from Regal on Sunday.   Loved it.  Full review to be posted in a day or two.  

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Hi. Looking forward to all your views. We board Regal on 27th July our second Princess cruise. Any photos or tips would be fantastic. Have a lovely time.

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       I would like to read this review because I am interested in a British Isles Cruise.

However, I find the script font to be difficult to read.

Is there a way that you could change the font ?

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43 minutes ago, MJSailors said:

       I would like to read this review because I am interested in a British Isles Cruise.

However, I find the script font to be difficult to read.

Is there a way that you could change the font ?

MJ, I will take that into consideration.  There are only 6 or 7 fonts to choose from, and I will look at those choices.  I'm trying to make it different than the "standard" font so that those who want to read just the updates can easily tell those apart from reply posts.

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Posted (edited)

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” J.R. Tolkien

 

To insure…or not to insure.  That is the question.


Of course, the never-ending debate with cruisers is whether to purchase cruise ship insurance, outside provider insurance, or just go uninsured and hope all works out.  That 3rd option doesn’t sit well with me when we are putting this much money into a trip.  Yes, I can be a little of a control freak and always have a backup plan.  Both of our fathers have passed away, but both of our mothers are in their 60’s and have had some health or wellness issues.  Plus, we have 2 teenagers (one of whom will have just started driving) who will be left with them.  We pray that all goes well, and nothing major goes wrong during our absence.  But I just couldn't stomach the (even remote) possibility of having that money go down the drain.

 

Princess has 2 plans:  standard and platinum.  We originally booked the platinum plan with our Club Class mini.  Then, I began to think about those 5 days in London prior to the cruise.  If I book insurance with Princess, those days aren’t covered under the plan.  All those hotel points, suite night upgrade certificates, tours and transportation that we’ve already paid for…those would all be lost if our trip didn’t happen.  

 

When we visited Hawaii, I purchased trip insurance through World Nomads.  So I got a quote, and ended up booking a policy with them, much cheaper than one person’s Princess Platinum Policy.  But wait…if I look at the cruise and flights (business class), the total cost will be slightly more than the plan allows.  Well that doesn’t include those 5 days pre-cruise.  What to do…what to do… what to do….

 

Here’s what we’ve ended up with:  World Nomads plan AND Princess Standard Insurance.  I have 7 days from now to cancel the Princess insurance if I want to.  But when we total the cost of the entire trip including tours, excursions, air, and venue tickets (yes, I have a spreadsheet!), both insurance plans together are about 4% of the trip cost.  Do I feel a little better knowing it’s all covered?  Yes.  Am I absolutely sure I’ll keep both plans?  No.  But I’d better make a decision in the next week!
 

(MJ, is this font better?)

Edited by aheape1979

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, aheape1979 said:

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” J.R. Tolkien

 

 

 

(MJ, is this font better?)

sorry for quoting the whole response … I'll try to delete some of it thru edit if I can

 

much better - if you want , maybe use the "BOLD" feature … and increase font size , this is bold 18 - for people who read this on phones or tablets ?

Edited by voljeep

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“It’s good to have money and the things money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” ~George Horace Lorimer (Editor of the Saturday Evening Post)

 

Dom Perignon on a Prosecco Budget!

 

(Let me start by saying I’ve never had Dom Perignon…so I don’t know if it’s any better.  I digress…)


Does anyone else struggle to decide where to spend money vs. where to save when traveling?  It’s one of my ongoing struggles.  I don’t want to be so thrifty that we don’t enjoy ourselves, but don’t want to spend our hard-earned money if we don’t have to.  In fact, seeing how much I can save on vacations is thrilling to me.  I’m being transparent here…brutally honest!  There are certain things we won’t sacrifice (like staying in a hotel in a safe area) but others that we can give a little on.  Here’s my breakdown so far:
 

Spend it:

  • Business class flights- We’ve flown economy, premium economy, and first class if we ever found a crazy good deal.  Our last 9-hour flight was in Delta Comfort + from ATL to HNL.  The extra legroom makes a huge difference!  We have found, however, that red eyes (west-bound) are really difficult for us.  Thanks to EZ Air, we were able to snag business class (lay flat seats) for the same cost as Premium Economy usually runs.  That was a no-brainer!  If we can sleep for a few hours, it gives us the entire day in London without being zombies.  
  • Private tour in London- This is my gift to my husband on our first full day.  It’s a splurge, but so many people do not make it to a 20th anniversary.  Why not celebrate it? (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). We will have a 5 hour tour with a driver and a tour guide.  We will see all the major London sights and get a grasp on the city’s layout.  

Save it:

  • Private tours at a fraction of the cost- By sharing the tours we’ve booked with other CC’ers, we cut our private tour cost by half or more.  Yes, it takes a certain amount of trust to hope that the other parties show up and pay their part (and I’ve seen some CC horror stories).  But I’m trusting that all works out well.
  • Private transfers to/from the ship- We are splitting our transfer from London to Southampton with a fellow CC family.  That cut our cost, even though we had to increase the vehicle size.  
  • Cabin downgrade (discussed in prior post)
  • Hotel on points (prior post) Saving us over $2500!
  • Food- My platinum status with Marriott comes with free breakfast.  We’ve also heard that the hotel does evening wine and hors d'oeuvres.  I’ve also scoured the CC boards and asked questions to locals.  We want to eat some really good food, but not spend our life savings doing it.  We also plan to visit some of the markets.

What are your favorite ways to spend/save when you cruise?
 

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I'm sorry; did I miss how many days pre cruise in London?

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Thank you,aheape1979-

    The new type is better. 

Bimmer09- a well-known reviewer on CC, uses a blue, print font to make a distinction between his postings and others’ responses.

  •     Looking forward to reading more about your cruise !

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, AF-1 said:

I'm sorry; did I miss how many days pre cruise in London?

4 full days (plus arrival day), but that includes Windsor, the Cotswolds, and London.

Edited by aheape1979

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Following along we are booked on the September 1, 2020 sailing, also doing 4 nights before the cruise and then 4 nights after the cruise in London. Looking forward on hearing all about your trip. Have a great time. 

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The font is pretty tough to read. Changing the color helped a bit.

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14 hours ago, voljeep said:

sorry for quoting the whole response … I'll try to delete some of it thru edit if I can

 

much better - if you want , maybe use the "BOLD" feature … and increase font size , this is bold 18 - for people who read this on phones or tablets ?

Thanks.  I was already at 16 point and tried to use bold.  I'll tweak it again in my next post.  Unfortunately, I can't go back and change the prior posts, but I'll keep working on it.  Thanks to everyone for following along!  

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14 hours ago, aheape1979 said:

4 full days (plus arrival day), but that includes Windsor, the Cotswolds, and London.

Have fun. Great city and country for sightseeing 

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Congratulations on your anniversary and cruise . We too will be celebrating our anniversary (42nd) on the Regal but on TA followed by a 12 night British Isles with Liverpool . We hope to do a photo review when we return in late May . We also enjoy Virgin Air business and that's who we will use for the return flight . If you would to see what our travelogues look like here's one from the Regal

 

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