The Caribbean Princess is a regular visitor to Belfast Harbour this year and as a special treat from Princess Cruises we joined this big ship at the start of a UK tour.
We boarded at Southampton with a bunch of UK bloggers, writers and journalists and began the cruise to our own final destination, Belfast. The cruise was a full UK and Ireland (with a touch of France) trip taking in Guernsey, Cobh, Dublin, Belfast, Greenock (for Glasgow), Kirkwall, Invergordon, South Queensferry (for Edinburgh) Le Havre, Southampton.
Flying over the night before from Belfast to Southampton and staying the night in the City before embarking was all very quick, easy and hassle free. It’s definitely handier flying into Southampton than one of the London airports, although from experience it’s more expensive, but worth it.
The Caribbean Princess has had a multi million pounds makeover before this seasons sailings. With new and modernised food and beverage areas, and new carpets throughout the ship, it was a much needed refit for this old dear. Turns out my parents actually cruised Asia on the Caribbean Princess for their first cruise 10 years ago when it was a relatively new ship.
Our first stop was Guernsey, a short tender journey from shore (check out our video above), and a cycle tour of the western coastline. What’s beautiful island in the sun!
Next stop was picturesque Cobh, the port for Cork, and a day trip to Charles Fort and beautiful Kinsale. It’s a part of Ireland I’ve always wanted to visit, and it was beautiful, but if I’m honest, give me the under rated Strangford Lough any day! The sailaway was stunning along the southern coastline.
Then Dublin, and when on a walking tour of the City which included a mini pub crawl, this must happen…
But surprisingly it was Belfast which was the star attraction for the passengers. The ship emptied as tourists excitement built to see this relatively new port. People were up on deck watching the arrival into port, the City glistened in the sun as the two cranes came into view with the Belfast Hills providing a beautiful sight from on board.
I was excited and proud to be arriving home and enjoying what many have enjoyed in recent years. Did you know the much hailed 89 ships arriving this year has just increased to 90 with a surprise arrival coming this weekend.
What kinds of things did we find out:
- The Visit Belfast folks boarded and were ready to point people in the direction of the City Hall and their HQ opposite.
- There was a free bus service into the city centre which many used.
- Giants Causeway and Titanic Belfast are huge draws.
- Tayto crisps were mentioned in a pre arrival talk!
- Passengers preferred Belfast to Dublin, they said it has a young, vibrant energy about it. It’s cool! Yes they think our city it great and want to come back for more.
Can you imagine how proud I felt, and it’s something I mentioned in my Northern Man column last month.
Some other Princess tips:
- Order a Deluxe Breakfast if you have a balcony cabin. It’s definitely a treat
- Make sure you try the speciality restaurants, they are always worth it on every ship
- Pre arrival destination talks are always worth checking out.
- Tours booked on board are more expensive but you’re guaranteed to get back on board, or to be looked after as priority if anything happens. You’re paying for peace of mind.
- If you want a spa treatment, get the special deals during port days.
- And a personal tip we’ve learnt recently, if you can, do a cycle tour. You get to see places a tour bus can’t take you and they are the best!
As for Princess Cruises, we sailed with them once before along the New England coastline, but this cruise has convinced us that we’ll be back on board one of their ships again. I definitely want to do the full UK/Ireland itinerary. The food and hospitality on board was superb, everyone was friendly and helpful, it was quite special actually. Great memories from a great cruise.
As always with cruising, don’t just go for the first price you see, you can always get a deal of some kind, so keep an eye out.
Check out one of their cruises for next Summer:
British Isles with an overnight stay in Dublin
May 1, 2018
Ship: Royal Princess
Sailing roundtrip from Southampton. Calling at Guernsey (St. Peter Port), England | Cork, Ireland (Cobh – For Blarney Castle) | Dublin, Ireland (overnight) | Belfast, Northern Ireland | Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland | Invergordon, Scotland | Edinburgh (South Queensferry), Scotland | Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France
Prices start from £1,538pp
Price includes accommodation, all main meals, 24-hour room service and onboard entertainment.
0843 374 2403 / www.princess.com/discover