I just got back from a 12-night British Isles cruise on Princess Cruises with 14 of my friends and family! We sailed on the Caribbean Princess from South Hampton to Guernsey, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and Le Havre, where we took a tour of Normandy.
All the cities were terrific destinations with a lot of interesting things to see. The shore excursions with the cruise line are convenient, but can be a little pricey. Instead, I booked an excursion with Wow Scotland in Inverness where we toured Loch Ness, Cawdor Castle (which is best known for its literary connection to William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth), and drove around the beautiful countryside looking for heather which blooms in August. Our tour guide Zane was very informative, and a private 8-hour bus tour was almost half the price of the cruise line’s excursion. Wow Scotland is a family-owned company and offers several different tours of Scotland – I highly recommend them.
We also used tours by locals in Belfast and had a fabulous day driving the countryside to the Giants Causeway. It is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. Our driver, Michael Colville, from Belfast was also amazing and full of knowledge about Belfast and it’s issues.
Our final tour in Normandy was well worth the trip. The American cemetery has 9,000 graves from the soldiers that lost their lives in World War II. A very humbling experience for all of us.
The great thing about a cruise is that you can go to a lot of cities and only have to unpack once. You don’t get enough time in the ports, but you get a feel for them and see which ones you would want to go back to and spend more time. My favorite city on the cruise was Edinburgh! I think you could spend a week there and still not see it all. Cruising is also a great way to visit foreign countries, because every night when you get back on the ship it feels very comfortable and safe.