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May 9 - Travel day. We flew Delta One overnight from Atlanta to Heathrow. We landed around 7 am and had the fast pass for immigration so we were out of immigration within 15 minutes. We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (£25 for 2 people since we arrived on a weekday and bought the tickets 90 days in advance), then a taxi (£8) to the Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park across from Kensington Palace. My sister arrived on Saturday morning so she only paid £11 for two people on the Heathrow Express 90 days in advance. The Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park hotel was located in a nice, walkable neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, groceries, and shopping nearby and easy access to the tube and most important to us, the hop on hop off bus picks up right outside the hotel. If we go back to London, I would definitely stay there again. May 10 - London - I was excited to see London and we met up with friends who had arrived earlier in the week and did the hop on hop off bus. We were told the total HOHO loop was 90 minutes but we were surprised at how slow traffic affected the tour and ended up not seeing as much as we planned. Have a plan for what to see in London but be ready to adjust on the fly if you are affected by weather, traffic, tube issues or protesters. May 11 - London - Day 2, we took an Uber from the hotel straight to the Tower of London around 9:30 am because the tube line near us was closed for the weekend due to maintenance and we had read to get there as early as possible. We took the Beefeater tour and it was entertaining and informative. We had lunch at the café at the Tower of London and it was delicious. The Tower of London was much more crowded when we left around 1 pm. We jumped on the hop on hop off at the Tower and once again had difficulty with traffic and seeing the sights. I wondered what the HOHO bus would be like in high season (summer). Less than 1/2 way thru the loop we were told we could not get any closer to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby and surrounding sites because police had closed many streets due to protesters. We were disappointed but got as close as possible then walked the remainder of the way to Buckingham Palace. You could only see from the gate since you cannot tour until later in the summer. . If I go back to London, I will try the HOHO bus mid-week and see if that helps. It may be like any major city, crazy all the time. We got some decent pictures of Buckingham Palace but it started raining pretty hard so we grabbed a cab and headed to Kensington Palace which was unaffected by protesters. We toured Kensington Palace and walked around Kensington Gardens then joined our friends for dinner at the Goat pub at Kensington High Street. Food and drink were both great. May 12 - London to Southampton - Windsor Day Tours. We knew we had to get to Southampton from London and wanted to see the English countryside along the way and had read the great reviews for Windsor Day Tours. Jill was able to pick us up at our hotel in London because it was Sunday. Her tours can also originate from Heathrow. We had a photo stop at Eton College, then on to Windsor castle and the town of Windsor. Windsor Castle as wonderful; there was a slight wait for security. Buy your tickets in advance. We then had a lovely lunch at the White Lion in a tiny village called Wherwell. We saw thatched roof cottages and lovely scenery. After lunch we visited Winchester Cathedral and the town of Winchester where we grabbed our 2 bottles of carry on wine and then Jill took us on to the Room2 suites in Southampton. The cost of the tour was just a little more than the princess transfer but we wanted to see the English countryside and Windsor Castle and Jill worked with us to customize our tour. She was a great tour guide and very knowledgeable. We highly recommend Windsor Day Tours. Southampton - Room2 Suites is a new hotel that was clean, walking distance to Oxford Street restaurants and 3 minutes by car from Ocean Cruise terminal. We paid Uber £7 pounds instead of walking because we had 3 suitcases and the road across to the terminal was multi lane. May 13 – Crown Princess Embarkation - Our suggested arrival time was 1:30 for Dolphin Deck and as we weren’t sure of lines we arrived a few minutes after 1 pm. Very short wait for check in and we were in our cabin by 1:50. Our bags were already at our door – off to a great start. My sister was on Deck 10 and got her bags by 4 pm. Princess had very organized embarkation at that time of day. May 14 - Guernsey - Our plan for Guernsey was to take it easy and just wander around since we knew we had future days with all day plans. If you want to see things in Guernsey do your research and get a good map, Signage is available but not very intuitive. There is more than one museum and signage just pointed to museum without specifying. We arrived via tender around 9 am to find that most of the places to visit opened around 10 am, even the tourist center, (perhaps they open earlier In June and July later in the season?) but we could have left the ship later. We were worried about tender lines so we got up early. We wandered a bit then headed back early around 1 pm which worked in our favor. Tendering later in the afternoon was a nightmare with a 90 minute wait and was hampered by high winds. May 15 - Cork/Cobh – We had a great day with Craig @ Munster Bus Tours and we saw Cork, Kinsale & the Jameson Distillery. We had 6 people and were able to see so many things that we would never have seen on a big tour. Craig drove us around the city of Cork, we visited a local sweet shop/candy company where they were hand making candy, got great pictures at the beautiful St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and then headed to Kinsale. Before we enjoyed a lovely lunch in coastal Kinsale, Craig took us to a small memorial garden honoring the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The memorial garden was an unexpected, touching spot that we never would have seen on a large tour. Craig had secured a lunch reservation for us in Kinsale. After Kinsale we toured Charles Fort. Craig was engaging and entertaining and gave us great personal insight into the area. His pride in his home country was evident and the scenery was spectacular, exactly what we imagined Ireland to be. One note about the Jameson Distillery – it was an interesting tour but we thought we would see a working distillery and instead toured their old factory and did not actually see any actual whiskey production. We did enjoy the tasting! May 16 - Dublin – A free shuttle was provided into Dublin since we docked at a different place than originally planned – this created a bit of a headache for those just going into Dublin. My sister booked a private tour that left Dublin at 11 am and she needed to meet the tour in Dublin. She was waiting for the ticket for the Dublin shuttle at 9:30 am but it took forever and she finally arrived at the meeting spot in Dublin 15 minutes late so she lost her money on the excursion. If you plan a private tour in Dublin and have to get into Dublin, I would allow at least 2 hours to get off the ship and shuttle to your meeting place. Dublin patter is attached and explains Dublin shuttle and private arrangements. We didn’t properly read the description for the Princess excursion for Powerscourt Estate and didn’t realize it was just gardens only. I thought you toured the house as well, but the house was damaged by fire years ago and was only restored as a gift shop with a small room showing a film about the history of the estate. If gardens are your thing, this is a great place to visit. There was beautiful landscaping, acres of flowers, and a Japanese garden but I was a little disappointed. We were dropped off back in Dublin and wandered around Trinity College and had a lovely pub lunch. May 17 - Belfast – This day was at the top of my bucket list and it was a wonderful day. We booked a private Antrim Coast and Giants Causeway Tour with Alister at City and Causeway tours and it didn’t disappoint. The Torr road was a fun, curvy drive and the scenery was spectacular. Northern Ireland is such a lush, green beautiful place. As with all of our private tours, we were mostly able to beat the large coaches since we only had 6 people. Our goal for this trip was to go as far inland as we could with the time we had and concentrate less on the cities and that worked out well. The Giants Causeway was surreal but very crowded. We walked down to the causeway and had planned to take the shuttle back but they closed the shuttle service so that a VIP tour could use the shuttle. I felt sorry for the folks who had mobility issues and had to walk back up the hill, it was over a mile each way. We did not pay to go to the visitor’s center. Alister took 2 couples back to the ship and then drove us 1 ½ miles to TEC Belfast to see the Game of Thrones Tour Exhibition. This was an added bonus for us since we are GOT fans and it was fantastic. If you are a GOT fan and in Belfast this summer, it is worth the money. May 18 - Glasgow – This was our second bucket list day and it was remarkable. We booked a private tour with Tom at Photowalk Scotland. Although the day was cold and rainy we got to see some lovely places including Glencoe, Stalker Castle and Kilchurn Castle. We even stopped at a beautiful small church and got amazing picture of blue bonnets in full bloom. Tom gave us the flexibility to change our plans when the rain didn’t let up for a while and took us to the castles instead of another Glen. He also was kind enough to share some sunny day pics with us since it was so rainy. Despite the weather it was one of our favorite days of the trip. May 19 - Sea Day – After 9 full days of travel, a sea day was much needed so we took it easy and just relaxed. We don’t have a lot to review on the Crown Princess but will say that it is a lovely ship. This was our 4th cruise and all ships we have been on could be improved slightly but the Crown Princess was great for what we wanted, a nice way to see the British Isles. We did not see any shows or comedians but my sister took in a few and said they were fine. May 20 - Kirkwall - This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow down for the Standing Stones of Stenness. We just rode right past it with not photo stop. We were able to tour the Ring of Brodgar and see a bit of Kirkwall as we were whizzing by the sights. For us, Guernsey and Kirkwall were just bonus days so that was Ok. Private tours at Kirkwall were limited and booked up quickly. Plan far ahead if you want a private tour in Kirkwall. May 21 – Invergordon - We booked a private tour with Invergordon tours and saw Castle Leod, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield, and Clava Cairns. The scenery was lovely. May 22 - Edinburgh - previous reviews had suggested the Princess Excursion “Edinburgh on your own” to maximize your time in the city since ship tours got tender priority. This was a great in theory but didn’t necessarily work for us. I think our Princess meeting time in the theatre was 8:15 am. Our plan was thwarted because we had to wait over 30 minutes in the Princess theatre for our total group to gather to go to the tender and then another 20 minutes on the bus in South Queensferry for four people who never showed up. The ship was in Edinburgh from 7 am to 7 pm but we didn’t get to the city until well after 10 am and got picked back up at 3:15 pm. Not nearly enough time to see such a great city. You could find your own transportation back you just needed to tell the driver. We walked straight to the Edinburgh Castle; we printed our tickets which we bought online from a kiosk. The lines were long. If you are going to the castle, buy your tickets in advance. Edinburgh was the best city we visited (compared to Dublin and London) and the only city we think we would revisit. Looking back at the patter for Edinburgh, you could get in line for a tender ticket in the Michelangelo dining room starting at 7 am. I would set an early alarm, take my chances on my own, grab the earliest tender ticket and take the X99 bus into town. It is a 45 minute ride from South Queensferry to Edinburgh. May 23 - Sea Day – we spent the day repacking. I did go to afternoon tea in the dining room which was just Ok and crowded. May 24 Le Havre - The ship docked in Le Havre on schedule and we easily got off the ship for our tour. We had 12 hours before we had to be back on the ship. We booked a private excursion with Overlord Tours to go to the D Day beaches. The cost was €980 for up to eight people. We had 6 and our group and the van was comfortable. Eight people in the van would have been tight. Our guide for the day was Thierry, we were very impressed with his passion and knowledge of the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. It was an hour and a half drive to Omaha Beach which went by quick due to Thierry’s narration. We toured the American cemetery, Omaha and Utah beaches, Pointe Du Hoc and stopped for a delicious lunch in Saint Mere Eglise where we saw the church where Paratrooper John Steele got caught on the steeple when he was trying to land in the town square to fight the Germans. Thierry was a great guide and we had no trouble understanding his English. May 25 Southampton to Heathrow – Princess Disembarkation was the easiest we ever experienced. We put our bags out the night before and found all three easily the next morning. We did leave fairly early so not sure if this was a factor. We chose private arrangements on the form and had passenger services change us to 6:55 am disembarkation for our 7:30 pickup. It was fast and efficient. We used Smiths for Airports for transfer for four back to Heathrow for £163 pounds. We were waiting on our driver by 7:05 am. Wait under the signs not on the sidewalk in the lanes. The driver must come in and confirm that you are there before bringing the car into the lanes to pick you up. We left at 7:45 am and arrived at Heathrow at 9:20 am for a 12:50 pm flight. Had business class for two of us. Checked in and through security in 20 minutes. Our fellow travelers had to wait in security for approximately an hour before clearing. The departure gate was cramped and hot but we timed it so we only had to wait for 15 minutes to board. At Heathrow you wait in the giant shopping area until your gate is called ~30 minutes before your flight. Crown Princess British Isles Notes: Crown Princess Mini Suite D618 – we had plenty of storage space and loved the extra room in the bathroom with the real tub and shower and the clothesline which we used a lot. We had planned to ask for hangers but found an adequate supply in the closet. We did take 4 pants hangers which was great when we had to hang dry our clothes. The balcony had two chairs with ottomans and a small table. We enjoyed the extra cabin space in the mini suite and the sofa; our friends often came to our room for a drink before dinner or to hang out in the evening. One note about cabin D618, we were startled early on the first tender day as the tender that lived just below our balcony was deployed and the gears were quite loud as it moved away from the ship and then was lowered down – it was fun to watch it deploy, you just need to know that if you are on Deck 9 in a mini suite, you may hear and see tender boats on tender days. PRIVATE VS SHIP TOURS – For the first time, we did a mix of private vs. ship tours and were very happy with the private tours. We are cautious travelers and only chose private tours with 5 star ratings and they all lived up to their reviews. When we had a private tour for a non-tender port, we just blended in with departing Princess tour groups, got off the ship and found our guides. We will definitely book private tours for future cruises. Private arrangements do require some extra time and planning for the tender ports. TENDERING - For tender ports, Guernsey, Kirkwall and Edinburgh allow extra time if you have private tours. There were tender delays even for the Princess tours due to high winds at Guernsey and Kirkwall. At one point during the Kirkwall day, waves were so rough that a crew member was hurt and tendering was suspended for an hour. There was a 90 minute wait to get a tender at Guernsey later in the day. LAUNDRY - Laundry was a crap shoot and as expected impossible on a sea day. If you are a super early riser or late nighter your chances are better. My sister started her laundry at 5 am and had company while she was there. Deck 9 had 2 working washers and only 1 dryer so we ended up hang drying a lot of clothes which was not a problem, it just takes extra time if you are out of clean clothes. We used the bathroom clothesline quite a bit. Deck 10 had 1 working washer and 2 working dryers. If you intend to do multiple loads buy your tokens early. You swiped your cruise card and it is $3 per wash and $3 per dry and $1.50 for detergent. I should have brought Woolite or similar as I did hand wash a bit but I managed with body wash and shampoo. I did bring tide pods and dryer sheets with me. Later in the trip, we checked and finally found an open dryer and ran our hang drying clothes down while it was free. BRITISH ISLE CLOTHING - With such long port days, I easily could have gotten away with only 1 or 2 pair of dress pants and rotated shirts. Since this was our 3rd cruise, we don’t always want a huge meal every night. We only ate randomly in the dining room and even then only 5 out of the 12 nights. We grabbed pizza, a hamburger/hotdog or ate at the buffet when we didn’t want to change for dinner after a really long tour day. Nice jeans or khakis and collared shirt or polo worked for most nights in the dining room for my husband. I should have brought more jeans/casual pants since we did have a few days of wearing jeans for 3rd or 4th time as I was trying to find an open washer/dryer in the very busy of laundry room. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people who looked lovely in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes on our 16 day vacation. WEATHER – I believe Scotland is having the hottest summer on record for June but for May all previous advice was accurate, layers, layers, and more layers. We took a warm coat and a rain jacket and alternated them or wore both at the same time depending on wind and rain. We really only had one very rainy day although we expected more. Lots of partly sunny days. I was happy to have a scarf and hat most days. Long sleeve shirts were a good base layer and I wore a sweater 3 days. I expected the weather to be in the 50s and 60s but the wind made it feel much cooler. My sister bought a warm hat in Kinsale because it was colder than she expected. FOOD - we weren’t sure what to expect with Princess and British Isles food but we were happy overall. We cruise specifically by itinerary and find cruising to be the best solution for us budget wise with meals/hotel/transportation all rolled into one, especially in places where we would never drive. We had been warned to expect bland, simple food in Scotland and Ireland and were pleasantly surprised at the delicious food at every stop. We had all sorts of yummy comfort food including cottage pies, fish and chips and hearty soups with sandwiches. We did not have one bad meal in port. Crown Princess food was as expected, a few stand out dishes but mostly average. As mentioned before, we don’t cruise for the food or ship entertainment just for the travel and transportation. Formal nights were the day of Guernsey and the first sea day. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes. We had anytime dining and turned up between 6 pm and 7:15 pm for each night in the Dining Room – we only ate there 5 out of 12 nights and Formal nights were more crowded. If the wait was going to be more than a few minutes they gave you a pager so we grabbed a drink at the International Café while we waited. We had less wait when we went at 6:15 or 6:45 vs. 6:30. On our last dining room night the night before Le Havre, we were moved to one of the fixed dining rooms and had better service than in the Michelangelo Dining Room. TIPPING - We haven’t cruised in 5 years so this may now be the norm but Princess automatically adds 18% for alcohol. On past cruises with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean we were able to add tip and decide how much to charge. Princess also doesn’t give you a receipt, you just have to hope the bill is right and check your bill periodically. They do have a self-serve kiosk where you scan your cruise card and get a print out or use the Princess @ Sea app. PRINCESS @ Sea app: The app was good for checking your stateroom balance by day and the total spent. Each person sees what they spent and the cardholder on file sees all cardholders. The messenger part was somewhat disappointing since it didn’t notify you when you received a message which made it difficult to make arrangements if you were traveling with other people. You had to occasionally check to see if you had received a message. Hopefully this will change when the Ocean Medallion service is finally rolled out. There were Carnival employees on board working on the service but about all we saw was the TV system was updated some to support on demand programming. Not sure how ocean medallion rollout will change this.

Crown Princess British Isles May 2019 Bucket List

Crown Princess Cruise Review by Southern Cruise

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Trip Details
May 9 - Travel day. We flew Delta One overnight from Atlanta to Heathrow. We landed around 7 am and had the fast pass for immigration so we were out of immigration within 15 minutes. We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (£25 for 2 people since we arrived on a weekday and bought the tickets 90 days in advance), then a taxi (£8) to the Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park across from Kensington Palace. My sister arrived on Saturday morning so she only paid £11 for two people on the Heathrow Express 90 days in advance. The Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park hotel was located in a nice, walkable neighborhood with plenty of restaurants, groceries, and shopping nearby and easy access to the tube and most important to us, the hop on hop off bus picks up right outside the hotel. If we go back to London, I would definitely stay there again.

May 10 - London - I was excited to see London and we met up with friends who had arrived earlier in the week and did the hop on hop off bus. We were told the total HOHO loop was 90 minutes but we were surprised at how slow traffic affected the tour and ended up not seeing as much as we planned. Have a plan for what to see in London but be ready to adjust on the fly if you are affected by weather, traffic, tube issues or protesters.

May 11 - London - Day 2, we took an Uber from the hotel straight to the Tower of London around 9:30 am because the tube line near us was closed for the weekend due to maintenance and we had read to get there as early as possible. We took the Beefeater tour and it was entertaining and informative. We had lunch at the café at the Tower of London and it was delicious. The Tower of London was much more crowded when we left around 1 pm. We jumped on the hop on hop off at the Tower and once again had difficulty with traffic and seeing the sights. I wondered what the HOHO bus would be like in high season (summer). Less than 1/2 way thru the loop we were told we could not get any closer to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby and surrounding sites because police had closed many streets due to protesters. We were disappointed but got as close as possible then walked the remainder of the way to Buckingham Palace. You could only see from the gate since you cannot tour until later in the summer. . If I go back to London, I will try the HOHO bus mid-week and see if that helps. It may be like any major city, crazy all the time. We got some decent pictures of Buckingham Palace but it started raining pretty hard so we grabbed a cab and headed to Kensington Palace which was unaffected by protesters. We toured Kensington Palace and walked around Kensington Gardens then joined our friends for dinner at the Goat pub at Kensington High Street. Food and drink were both great.

May 12 - London to Southampton - Windsor Day Tours. We knew we had to get to Southampton from London and wanted to see the English countryside along the way and had read the great reviews for Windsor Day Tours. Jill was able to pick us up at our hotel in London because it was Sunday. Her tours can also originate from Heathrow. We had a photo stop at Eton College, then on to Windsor castle and the town of Windsor. Windsor Castle as wonderful; there was a slight wait for security. Buy your tickets in advance. We then had a lovely lunch at the White Lion in a tiny village called Wherwell. We saw thatched roof cottages and lovely scenery. After lunch we visited Winchester Cathedral and the town of Winchester where we grabbed our 2 bottles of carry on wine and then Jill took us on to the Room2 suites in Southampton. The cost of the tour was just a little more than the princess transfer but we wanted to see the English countryside and Windsor Castle and Jill worked with us to customize our tour. She was a great tour guide and very knowledgeable. We highly recommend Windsor Day Tours.

Southampton - Room2 Suites is a new hotel that was clean, walking distance to Oxford Street restaurants and 3 minutes by car from Ocean Cruise terminal. We paid Uber £7 pounds instead of walking because we had 3 suitcases and the road across to the terminal was multi lane.

May 13 – Crown Princess Embarkation - Our suggested arrival time was 1:30 for Dolphin Deck and as we weren’t sure of lines we arrived a few minutes after 1 pm. Very short wait for check in and we were in our cabin by 1:50. Our bags were already at our door – off to a great start. My sister was on Deck 10 and got her bags by 4 pm. Princess had very organized embarkation at that time of day.

May 14 - Guernsey - Our plan for Guernsey was to take it easy and just wander around since we knew we had future days with all day plans. If you want to see things in Guernsey do your research and get a good map, Signage is available but not very intuitive. There is more than one museum and signage just pointed to museum without specifying. We arrived via tender around 9 am to find that most of the places to visit opened around 10 am, even the tourist center, (perhaps they open earlier In June and July later in the season?) but we could have left the ship later. We were worried about tender lines so we got up early. We wandered a bit then headed back early around 1 pm which worked in our favor. Tendering later in the afternoon was a nightmare with a 90 minute wait and was hampered by high winds.

May 15 - Cork/Cobh – We had a great day with Craig @ Munster Bus Tours and we saw Cork, Kinsale & the Jameson Distillery. We had 6 people and were able to see so many things that we would never have seen on a big tour. Craig drove us around the city of Cork, we visited a local sweet shop/candy company where they were hand making candy, got great pictures at the beautiful St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and then headed to Kinsale. Before we enjoyed a lovely lunch in coastal Kinsale, Craig took us to a small memorial garden honoring the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The memorial garden was an unexpected, touching spot that we never would have seen on a large tour. Craig had secured a lunch reservation for us in Kinsale. After Kinsale we toured Charles Fort. Craig was engaging and entertaining and gave us great personal insight into the area. His pride in his home country was evident and the scenery was spectacular, exactly what we imagined Ireland to be. One note about the Jameson Distillery – it was an interesting tour but we thought we would see a working distillery and instead toured their old factory and did not actually see any actual whiskey production. We did enjoy the tasting!

May 16 - Dublin – A free shuttle was provided into Dublin since we docked at a different place than originally planned – this created a bit of a headache for those just going into Dublin. My sister booked a private tour that left Dublin at 11 am and she needed to meet the tour in Dublin. She was waiting for the ticket for the Dublin shuttle at 9:30 am but it took forever and she finally arrived at the meeting spot in Dublin 15 minutes late so she lost her money on the excursion. If you plan a private tour in Dublin and have to get into Dublin, I would allow at least 2 hours to get off the ship and shuttle to your meeting place. Dublin patter is attached and explains Dublin shuttle and private arrangements.

We didn’t properly read the description for the Princess excursion for Powerscourt Estate and didn’t realize it was just gardens only. I thought you toured the house as well, but the house was damaged by fire years ago and was only restored as a gift shop with a small room showing a film about the history of the estate. If gardens are your thing, this is a great place to visit. There was beautiful landscaping, acres of flowers, and a Japanese garden but I was a little disappointed. We were dropped off back in Dublin and wandered around Trinity College and had a lovely pub lunch.

May 17 - Belfast – This day was at the top of my bucket list and it was a wonderful day. We booked a private Antrim Coast and Giants Causeway Tour with Alister at City and Causeway tours and it didn’t disappoint. The Torr road was a fun, curvy drive and the scenery was spectacular. Northern Ireland is such a lush, green beautiful place. As with all of our private tours, we were mostly able to beat the large coaches since we only had 6 people. Our goal for this trip was to go as far inland as we could with the time we had and concentrate less on the cities and that worked out well. The Giants Causeway was surreal but very crowded. We walked down to the causeway and had planned to take the shuttle back but they closed the shuttle service so that a VIP tour could use the shuttle. I felt sorry for the folks who had mobility issues and had to walk back up the hill, it was over a mile each way. We did not pay to go to the visitor’s center. Alister took 2 couples back to the ship and then drove us 1 ½ miles to TEC Belfast to see the Game of Thrones Tour Exhibition. This was an added bonus for us since we are GOT fans and it was fantastic. If you are a GOT fan and in Belfast this summer, it is worth the money.

May 18 - Glasgow – This was our second bucket list day and it was remarkable. We booked a private tour with Tom at Photowalk Scotland. Although the day was cold and rainy we got to see some lovely places including Glencoe, Stalker Castle and Kilchurn Castle. We even stopped at a beautiful small church and got amazing picture of blue bonnets in full bloom. Tom gave us the flexibility to change our plans when the rain didn’t let up for a while and took us to the castles instead of another Glen. He also was kind enough to share some sunny day pics with us since it was so rainy. Despite the weather it was one of our favorite days of the trip.

May 19 - Sea Day – After 9 full days of travel, a sea day was much needed so we took it easy and just relaxed. We don’t have a lot to review on the Crown Princess but will say that it is a lovely ship. This was our 4th cruise and all ships we have been on could be improved slightly but the Crown Princess was great for what we wanted, a nice way to see the British Isles. We did not see any shows or comedians but my sister took in a few and said they were fine.

May 20 - Kirkwall - This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow down for the Standing Stones of Stenness. We just rode right past it with not photo stop. We were able to tour the Ring of Brodgar and see a bit of Kirkwall as we were whizzing by the sights. For us, Guernsey and Kirkwall were just bonus days so that was Ok. Private tours at Kirkwall were limited and booked up quickly. Plan far ahead if you want a private tour in Kirkwall.

May 21 – Invergordon - We booked a private tour with Invergordon tours and saw Castle Leod, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield, and Clava Cairns. The scenery was lovely.

May 22 - Edinburgh - previous reviews had suggested the Princess Excursion “Edinburgh on your own” to maximize your time in the city since ship tours got tender priority. This was a great in theory but didn’t necessarily work for us. I think our Princess meeting time in the theatre was 8:15 am. Our plan was thwarted because we had to wait over 30 minutes in the Princess theatre for our total group to gather to go to the tender and then another 20 minutes on the bus in South Queensferry for four people who never showed up. The ship was in Edinburgh from 7 am to 7 pm but we didn’t get to the city until well after 10 am and got picked back up at 3:15 pm. Not nearly enough time to see such a great city. You could find your own transportation back you just needed to tell the driver. We walked straight to the Edinburgh Castle; we printed our tickets which we bought online from a kiosk. The lines were long. If you are going to the castle, buy your tickets in advance. Edinburgh was the best city we visited (compared to Dublin and London) and the only city we think we would revisit. Looking back at the patter for Edinburgh, you could get in line for a tender ticket in the Michelangelo dining room starting at 7 am. I would set an early alarm, take my chances on my own, grab the earliest tender ticket and take the X99 bus into town. It is a 45 minute ride from South Queensferry to Edinburgh.

May 23 - Sea Day – we spent the day repacking. I did go to afternoon tea in the dining room which was just Ok and crowded.

May 24 Le Havre - The ship docked in Le Havre on schedule and we easily got off the ship for our tour. We had 12 hours before we had to be back on the ship. We booked a private excursion with Overlord Tours to go to the D Day beaches. The cost was €980 for up to eight people. We had 6 and our group and the van was comfortable. Eight people in the van would have been tight. Our guide for the day was Thierry, we were very impressed with his passion and knowledge of the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. It was an hour and a half drive to Omaha Beach which went by quick due to Thierry’s narration. We toured the American cemetery, Omaha and Utah beaches, Pointe Du Hoc and stopped for a delicious lunch in Saint Mere Eglise where we saw the church where Paratrooper John Steele got caught on the steeple when he was trying to land in the town square to fight the Germans. Thierry was a great guide and we had no trouble understanding his English.

May 25 Southampton to Heathrow – Princess Disembarkation was the easiest we ever experienced. We put our bags out the night before and found all three easily the next morning. We did leave fairly early so not sure if this was a factor. We chose private arrangements on the form and had passenger services change us to 6:55 am disembarkation for our 7:30 pickup. It was fast and efficient. We used Smiths for Airports for transfer for four back to Heathrow for £163 pounds. We were waiting on our driver by 7:05 am. Wait under the signs not on the sidewalk in the lanes. The driver must come in and confirm that you are there before bringing the car into the lanes to pick you up. We left at 7:45 am and arrived at Heathrow at 9:20 am for a 12:50 pm flight. Had business class for two of us. Checked in and through security in 20 minutes. Our fellow travelers had to wait in security for approximately an hour before clearing. The departure gate was cramped and hot but we timed it so we only had to wait for 15 minutes to board. At Heathrow you wait in the giant shopping area until your gate is called ~30 minutes before your flight.

Crown Princess British Isles Notes:

Crown Princess Mini Suite D618 – we had plenty of storage space and loved the extra room in the bathroom with the real tub and shower and the clothesline which we used a lot. We had planned to ask for hangers but found an adequate supply in the closet. We did take 4 pants hangers which was great when we had to hang dry our clothes. The balcony had two chairs with ottomans and a small table. We enjoyed the extra cabin space in the mini suite and the sofa; our friends often came to our room for a drink before dinner or to hang out in the evening. One note about cabin D618, we were startled early on the first tender day as the tender that lived just below our balcony was deployed and the gears were quite loud as it moved away from the ship and then was lowered down – it was fun to watch it deploy, you just need to know that if you are on Deck 9 in a mini suite, you may hear and see tender boats on tender days.

PRIVATE VS SHIP TOURS – For the first time, we did a mix of private vs. ship tours and were very happy with the private tours. We are cautious travelers and only chose private tours with 5 star ratings and they all lived up to their reviews. When we had a private tour for a non-tender port, we just blended in with departing Princess tour groups, got off the ship and found our guides. We will definitely book private tours for future cruises. Private arrangements do require some extra time and planning for the tender ports.

TENDERING - For tender ports, Guernsey, Kirkwall and Edinburgh allow extra time if you have private tours. There were tender delays even for the Princess tours due to high winds at Guernsey and Kirkwall. At one point during the Kirkwall day, waves were so rough that a crew member was hurt and tendering was suspended for an hour. There was a 90 minute wait to get a tender at Guernsey later in the day.

LAUNDRY - Laundry was a crap shoot and as expected impossible on a sea day. If you are a super early riser or late nighter your chances are better. My sister started her laundry at 5 am and had company while she was there. Deck 9 had 2 working washers and only 1 dryer so we ended up hang drying a lot of clothes which was not a problem, it just takes extra time if you are out of clean clothes. We used the bathroom clothesline quite a bit. Deck 10 had 1 working washer and 2 working dryers. If you intend to do multiple loads buy your tokens early. You swiped your cruise card and it is $3 per wash and $3 per dry and $1.50 for detergent. I should have brought Woolite or similar as I did hand wash a bit but I managed with body wash and shampoo. I did bring tide pods and dryer sheets with me. Later in the trip, we checked and finally found an open dryer and ran our hang drying clothes down while it was free.

BRITISH ISLE CLOTHING - With such long port days, I easily could have gotten away with only 1 or 2 pair of dress pants and rotated shirts. Since this was our 3rd cruise, we don’t always want a huge meal every night. We only ate randomly in the dining room and even then only 5 out of the 12 nights. We grabbed pizza, a hamburger/hotdog or ate at the buffet when we didn’t want to change for dinner after a really long tour day. Nice jeans or khakis and collared shirt or polo worked for most nights in the dining room for my husband. I should have brought more jeans/casual pants since we did have a few days of wearing jeans for 3rd or 4th time as I was trying to find an open washer/dryer in the very busy of laundry room. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people who looked lovely in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes on our 16 day vacation.

WEATHER – I believe Scotland is having the hottest summer on record for June but for May all previous advice was accurate, layers, layers, and more layers. We took a warm coat and a rain jacket and alternated them or wore both at the same time depending on wind and rain. We really only had one very rainy day although we expected more. Lots of partly sunny days. I was happy to have a scarf and hat most days. Long sleeve shirts were a good base layer and I wore a sweater 3 days. I expected the weather to be in the 50s and 60s but the wind made it feel much cooler. My sister bought a warm hat in Kinsale because it was colder than she expected.

FOOD - we weren’t sure what to expect with Princess and British Isles food but we were happy overall. We cruise specifically by itinerary and find cruising to be the best solution for us budget wise with meals/hotel/transportation all rolled into one, especially in places where we would never drive. We had been warned to expect bland, simple food in Scotland and Ireland and were pleasantly surprised at the delicious food at every stop. We had all sorts of yummy comfort food including cottage pies, fish and chips and hearty soups with sandwiches. We did not have one bad meal in port.

Crown Princess food was as expected, a few stand out dishes but mostly average. As mentioned before, we don’t cruise for the food or ship entertainment just for the travel and transportation. Formal nights were the day of Guernsey and the first sea day. We only did one formal night and my husband did fine with a long sleeve collared shirt and khakis and I wore a blouse with black pants. We saw plenty of people in tuxedos and formal gowns but we were not wasting precious suitcase space on fancy clothes. We had anytime dining and turned up between 6 pm and 7:15 pm for each night in the Dining Room – we only ate there 5 out of 12 nights and Formal nights were more crowded. If the wait was going to be more than a few minutes they gave you a pager so we grabbed a drink at the International Café while we waited. We had less wait when we went at 6:15 or 6:45 vs. 6:30. On our last dining room night the night before Le Havre, we were moved to one of the fixed dining rooms and had better service than in the Michelangelo Dining Room.

TIPPING - We haven’t cruised in 5 years so this may now be the norm but Princess automatically adds 18% for alcohol. On past cruises with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean we were able to add tip and decide how much to charge. Princess also doesn’t give you a receipt, you just have to hope the bill is right and check your bill periodically. They do have a self-serve kiosk where you scan your cruise card and get a print out or use the Princess @ Sea app.

PRINCESS @ Sea app:

The app was good for checking your stateroom balance by day and the total spent. Each person sees what they spent and the cardholder on file sees all cardholders. The messenger part was somewhat disappointing since it didn’t notify you when you received a message which made it difficult to make arrangements if you were traveling with other people. You had to occasionally check to see if you had received a message. Hopefully this will change when the Ocean Medallion service is finally rolled out. There were Carnival employees on board working on the service but about all we saw was the TV system was updated some to support on demand programming. Not sure how ocean medallion rollout will change this.
Southern Cruise’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MD D618
Crown Princess Mini Suite D618 – we had plenty of storage space and loved the extra room in the bathroom with the real tub and shower and the clothesline which we used a lot. We had planned to ask for hangers but found an adequate supply in the closet. We did take 4 pants hangers which was great when we had to hang dry our clothes. The balcony had two chairs with ottomans and a small table. We enjoyed the extra cabin space in the mini suite and the sofa; our friends often came to our room for a drink before dinner or to hang out in the evening. One note about cabin D618, we were startled early on the first tender day as the tender that lived just below our balcony was deployed and the gears were quite loud as it moved away from the ship and then was lowered down – it was fun to watch it deploy, you just need to know that if you are on Deck 9 in a mini suite, you may hear and see tender boats on tender days.
Dolphin Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Belfast
    This day was at the top of my bucket list and it was a wonderful day. We booked a private Antrim Coast and Giants Causeway Tour with Alister at City and Causeway tours and it didn’t disappoint. The Torr road was a fun, curvy drive and the scenery was spectacular. Northern Ireland is such a lush, green beautiful place. As with all of our private tours, we were mostly able to beat the large coaches since we only had 6 people. Our goal for this trip was to go as far inland as we could with the time we had and concentrate less on the cities and that worked out well. The Giants Causeway was surreal but very crowded. We walked down to the causeway and had planned to take the shuttle back but they closed the shuttle service so that a VIP tour could use the shuttle. I felt sorry for the folks who had mobility issues and had to walk back up the hill, it was over a mile each way. We did not pay to go to the visitor’s center. Alister took 2 couples back to the ship and then drove us 1 ½ miles to TEC Belfast to see the Game of Thrones Tour Exhibition. This was an added bonus for us since we are GOT fans and it was fantastic. If you are a GOT fan and in Belfast this summer, it is worth the money.
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  • Giant's Causeway
    This day was at the top of my bucket list and it was a wonderful day. We booked a private Antrim Coast and Giants Causeway Tour with Alister at City and Causeway tours and it didn’t disappoint. The Torr road was a fun, curvy drive and the scenery was spectacular. Northern Ireland is such a lush, green beautiful place. As with all of our private tours, we were mostly able to beat the large coaches since we only had 6 people. Our goal for this trip was to go as far inland as we could with the time we had and concentrate less on the cities and that worked out well. The Giants Causeway was surreal but very crowded. We walked down to the causeway and had planned to take the shuttle back but they closed the shuttle service so that a VIP tour could use the shuttle. I felt sorry for the folks who had mobility issues and had to walk back up the hill, it was over a mile each way. We did not pay to go to the visitor’s center. Alister took 2 couples back to the ship and then drove us 1 ½ miles to TEC Belfast to see the Game of Thrones Tour Exhibition. This was an added bonus for us since we are GOT fans and it was fantastic. If you are a GOT fan and in Belfast this summer, it is worth the money.
    View All 82 Giant's Causeway Reviews
  • Cobh (Cork)
    We had a great day with Craig @ Munster Bus Tours and we saw Cork, Kinsale & the Jameson Distillery. We had 6 people and were able to see so many things that we would never have seen on a big tour. Craig drove us around the city of Cork, we visited a local sweet shop/candy company where they were hand making candy, got great pictures at the beautiful St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and then headed to Kinsale. Before we enjoyed a lovely lunch in coastal Kinsale, Craig took us to a small memorial garden honoring the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The memorial garden was an unexpected, touching spot that we never would have seen on a large tour. Craig had secured a lunch reservation for us in Kinsale. After Kinsale we toured Charles Fort. Craig was engaging and entertaining and gave us great personal insight into the area. His pride in his home country was evident and the scenery was spectacular, exactly what we imagined Ireland to be. One note about the Jameson Distillery – it was an interesting tour but we thought we would see a working distillery and instead toured their old factory and did not actually see any actual whiskey production. We did enjoy the tasting!
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  • Powerscourt Gardens
    A free shuttle was provided into Dublin from the Crown Princess since we docked at a different place than originally planned – this created a bit of a headache for those just going into Dublin. My sister booked a private tour that left Dublin at 11 am and she needed to meet the tour in Dublin. She was waiting for the ticket for the Dublin shuttle at 9:30 am but it took forever and she finally arrived at the meeting spot in Dublin 15 minutes late so she lost her money on the excursion. If you plan a private tour in Dublin and have to get into Dublin, I would allow at least 2 hours to get off the ship and shuttle to your meeting place
    View All 16 Powerscourt Gardens Reviews
  • Edinburgh (South Queensferry)
    Edinburgh - previous reviews had suggested the Princess Excursion “Edinburgh on your own” to maximize your time in the city since ship tours got tender priority. This was a great in theory but didn’t necessarily work for us. I think our Princess meeting time in the theatre was 8:15 am. Our plan was thwarted because we had to wait over 30 minutes in the Princess theatre for our total group to gather to go to the tender and then another 20 minutes on the bus in South Queensferry for four people who never showed up. The ship was in Edinburgh from 7 am to 7 pm but we didn’t get to the city until well after 10 am and got picked back up at 3:15 pm. Not nearly enough time to see such a great city. You could find your own transportation back you just needed to tell the driver. We walked straight to the Edinburgh Castle; we printed our tickets which we bought online from a kiosk. The lines were long. If you are going to the castle, buy your tickets in advance. Edinburgh was the best city we visited (compared to Dublin and London) and the only city we think we would revisit. Looking back at the patter for Edinburgh, you could get in line for a tender ticket in the Michelangelo dining room starting at 7 am. I would set an early alarm, take my chances on my own, grab the earliest tender ticket and take the X99 bus into town. It is a 45 minute ride from South Queensferry to Edinburgh.
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  • Greenock (Glasgow)
    PHOTO WALK SCOTLAND This was our second bucket list day and it was remarkable. We booked a private tour with Tom at Photowalk Scotland. Although the day was cold and rainy we got to see some lovely places including Glencoe, Stalker Castle and Kilchurn Castle. We even stopped at a beautiful small church and got amazing picture of blue bonnets in full bloom. Tom gave us the flexibility to change our plans when the rain didn’t let up for a while and took us to the castles instead of another Glen. He also was kind enough to share some sunny day pics with us since it was so rainy. Despite the weather it was one of our favorite days of the trip.
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  • Highland Day Tour
    We booked a private tour with Invergordon tours and saw Castle Leod, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield, and Clava Cairns. The scenery was lovely.
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  • Kirkwall
    This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow down for the Standing Stones of Stenness. We just rode right past it with not photo stop. We were able to tour the Ring of Brodgar and see a bit of Kirkwall as we were whizzing by the sights. For us, Guernsey and Kirkwall were just bonus days so that was Ok. Private tours at Kirkwall were limited and booked up quickly. Plan far ahead if you want a private tour in Kirkwall.
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  • D-Day Beaches
    We booked a private excursion with Overlord Tours to go to the D Day beaches. The cost was €980 for up to eight people. We had 6 and our group and the van was comfortable. Eight people in the van would have been tight. Our guide for the day was Thierry, we were very impressed with his passion and knowledge of the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. It was an hour and a half drive to Omaha Beach which went by quick due to Thierry’s narration. We toured the American cemetery, Omaha and Utah beaches, Pointe Du Hoc and stopped for a delicious lunch in Saint Mere Eglise where we saw the church where Paratrooper John Steele got caught on the steeple when he was trying to land in the town square to fight the Germans. Thierry was a great guide and we had no trouble understanding his English.
    View All 64 D-Day Beaches Reviews
  • Southampton
    London to Southampton - Windsor Day Tours. We knew we had to get to Southampton from London and wanted to see the English countryside along the way and had read the great reviews for Windsor Day Tours. Jill was able to pick us up at our hotel in London because it was Sunday. Her tours can also originate from Heathrow. We had a photo stop at Eton College, then on to Windsor castle and the town of Windsor. Windsor Castle as wonderful; there was a slight wait for security. Buy your tickets in advance. We then had a lovely lunch at the White Lion in a tiny village called Wherwell. We saw thatched roof cottages and lovely scenery. After lunch we visited Winchester Cathedral and the town of Winchester where we grabbed our 2 bottles of carry on wine and then Jill took us on to the Room2 suites in Southampton. The cost of the tour was just a little more than the princess transfer but we wanted to see the English countryside and Windsor Castle and Jill worked with us to customize our tour. She was a great tour guide and very knowledgeable. We highly recommend Windsor Day Tours.
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  • Windsor Castle
    London to Southampton - Windsor Day Tours. We knew we had to get to Southampton from London and wanted to see the English countryside along the way and had read the great reviews for Windsor Day Tours. Jill was able to pick us up at our hotel in London because it was Sunday. Her tours can also originate from Heathrow. We had a photo stop at Eton College, then on to Windsor castle and the town of Windsor. Windsor Castle as wonderful; there was a slight wait for security. Buy your tickets in advance. We then had a lovely lunch at the White Lion in a tiny village called Wherwell. We saw thatched roof cottages and lovely scenery. After lunch we visited Winchester Cathedral and the town of Winchester where we grabbed our 2 bottles of carry on wine and then Jill took us on to the Room2 suites in Southampton. The cost of the tour was just a little more than the princess transfer but we wanted to see the English countryside and Windsor Castle and Jill worked with us to customize our tour. She was a great tour guide and very knowledgeable. We highly recommend Windsor Day Tours.
    View All 9 Windsor Castle Reviews
  • St. Peter Port (Guernsey)
    Our plan for Guernsey was to take it easy and just wander around since we knew we had future days with all day plans. It is a beautiful island. If you want to see things in Guernsey do your research and get a good map, Signage is available but not very intuitive. There is more than one museum and signage just pointed to museum without specifying. We arrived via tender around 9 am to find that most of the places to visit opened around 10 am, even the tourist center, (perhaps they open earlier In June and July later in the season?) but we could have left the ship later. We were worried about tender lines so we got up early. We wandered a bit then headed back early around 1 pm which worked in our favor. Tendering later in the afternoon was a nightmare with a 90 minute wait and was hampered by high winds.
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