We started off on a good foot too by taking the day flight from Boston to Heathrow. We arrived in the evening without any jetlag. After a good night sleep at the Sofitel Heathrow we were rearing to go. Mother Nature was especially kind to us during our journey around the British Isles and post-cruise in Paris. Most days started out overcast but the sun would come out by the afternoon. We also had brilliant blue skies and sun on our first sea day and the best weather was during our visit to Milford Haven, Wales when the temps topped 80F. Best of of all there was no threat of hurricanes back home in Florida to worry about. Our petsitters are wonderful but evacuating with 2 dogs really isn't part of their job description.
We were able to use miles for award tickets on the BA flight to the UK and also the AirBerlin flight home saving $. Although it was distracting at times, I enjoyed using a camcorder for the first time. At some point I will figure out how to edit the videos and add them to the blog.
Below is an short recap with highlights of our journey, with the time spent in the UK, our post-cruise stay in Paris and general reflections of the Ocean Princess.
Favorite Port: St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands: Our visit was short but sweet. I had originally planned to disembark from the Ocean Princess here but demurred when other cruise lines had to cancel their visits due to difficult seas. We had a wonderful walk around the Old Town, visited Victor Hugo's fabulous home Hauteville House and gorged ourselves on a scrumptious lunch overlooking the harbor.
|View of St. Peter Port harbor and Castle Cornet from Le Nautique|
|Best Lobster Ever!|
|Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow|
|Fish & Chips Forth Inn Aberfoyle|
|Military Tattoo 2013|
|Loch Lomond from Balmaha|
|Sushi and Sashini Selection Ocean Princess|
|Chartwell House, Westerham, Kent, UK|
Best Find: Snoozebox without a doubt! I was so happy to be able to spend the night in our shipping container in Edinburgh for 82 pounds. This saved valuable time as we did not need to traipse back and forth to the ship during our 2 day visit. The cost of Edinburgh hotels in August is astronomical and Snoozebox was a great alternative.
|Our Snoozebox Room|
|Monet's Giverny Garden|
|St. Davids Cathedral, Wales|
|St. Jean de Luz Cod, Frenchie in Paris|
|Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland|
|Palace of Holyroodhouse|
|Shopping in the Marais|
|Pudding Selection, The Witchery Secret Garden, Edinburgh|
|Mary Queen of Scots Exhibit, Edinburgh|
Best Snack: Pierre Herme macaroons in Paris. Yum!!!
Relaxing Countryside Visit: Our visit to Scone Palace in Perth followed but the yummy Afternoon Tea at the nearby Gleneagles Hotel was a great way to enjoy the Scottish countryside. The Tea was scrumptious and surpassed our expectations. Very reasonably priced too! We did this on the ship's second day in Edinburgh.
|Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland|
|Sweet Section of the Afternoon Tea|
|Eurostar at Ashford International|
Best Ship Tour: Our Princess tour to the Powerscourt House and Garden in Wicklow which included Dublin on Your Own on the return suited us perfectly.
|View of Sugarloaf Mountain from Powerscourt House and Garden|
Favorite Hotel: Les Plumes in Paris. I picked it on a whim after reading the reviews. Loved the hip design, literary theme, convenient location and the reasonable rate.
|Les Plumes Hotel, Paris|
Review of Ocean Princess
Our 8 days on the Ocean Princess went by so quickly! Our balcony stateroom (7100) was cozy, nicely appointed and well located near the aft area of the ship. We got a price break with a sale just before final payment making the cost very reasonable. The "R" class ships are classy and it is so easy to get anywhere on the ship in just a few minutes. Where the Ocean Princess was lacking is in the entertainment department and some elements of the food. There were no lectures on the ship and the poor evening entertainment detracted from our overall enjoyment. The specialty restaurants on the ship were nothing "special" and we actually preferred the food in the main dining room. Breakfast in the Lido was excellent and the extravagant sushi presentation during one of the sea days at lunch was a wonderful surprise. The crew were very professional and the waiters, stateroom attendant and front desk personal were all terrific.
|Main Staircase Ocean Princess|
Best Ocean Princess Dessert: The Baked Alaska on the last night. The parade was fun, the atmosphere jovial and everyone's spirits were sky high!
Best Ship Feature: The small size of the ship! It was a joy to walk around. Another plus was being able to disembark in each port without hordes of people. Due to the Ocean Princess' small size we were able to dock in Rosyth and had a short train ride to Edinburgh. This beats tendering as the larger Caribbean Princess must do in Leith where getting to the train is not as easy.
Most Annoying Experience of the Cruise: The muster drill when the crew attendant in charge of our section was cackling the entire time and was quite annoying. We had a lot trouble hearing the announcer.
Most Disappointing Aspect Onboard: The entertainment. The shows were not good and there were no special lectures except for the port / destination presentations. I got a lot of reading done!
Overall Surprise: That the Ocean Princess was in such great shape! The ship is very elegant and well maintained. I expected it to be a bit worn and old looking. The ship was also very relaxing and sailed beautifully. It was so quiet with only 674 passengers onboard and at times felt like a private yacht!
I looked at many lines for a British Isles itinerary but with the exception of Princess, could only find ones that were 2 weeks long and / or at a much higher cost. With Princess offering the 8 Day cruises on the Ocean Princess during the months of July and August to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Guernsey it ticked almost all of the boxes. Princess offers a great product at a much reduced price in comparison to its competitors. Oceania and Azamara who also operate the R class ships provide a higher end product. You may not get the same high level of service and excellent food on Princess as you would on Oceania or Azamara but the cost is also significantly less. We loved the breakfasts as well as the lunches on the Ocean Princess during the 2 seas days but struggled a bit at dinner. The cruise was not perfect but close enough that with a great itinerary at the right price point I am very glad we booked it. I would highly recommend the Ocean Princess for those looking for an elegant ship, with a hard working crew, great service and a fabulous itinerary. The Ocean Princess provided a great overall experience and we look forward to sailing with them again.