The Roamers make the crossing
When we read in Lynn Martin’s blog and book about repositioning cruises, we were intrigued. Two weeks of luxury for about what a flight would cost? Count us in! We had planned to visit the U.S. to see our granddaughter around her first birthday, as well as to attend my twice-postponed 50th high school reunion, so we booked a 15-day Princess repositioning cruise from Southampton to New York. We traveled to Southampton by train, arriving the evening before departure. It was a relaxed way to travel, and the Eurostar even served a lovely lunch–with wine!
The Roamers on the Eurostar
We had time the next morning to explore Southampton, a port city with a fascinating history. Titanic references are ubiquitous!
The port’s history, in tiles.
We walked to the old town and stood (just for a minute; it’s creepy!) in a murder hole. At the walls of the old city, there’s a place where attackers could enter. The defenders then closed both doors and proceeded to shoot arrows or pour scalding water on the enemy until all were dead.
Entering the murder hole
After our walk and breakfast at the hotel, it was time to board the ship! The boarding process was seamless, and soon we were unpacking in our luxurious stateroom.
The ship’s three-level plaza (with plenty of bars!)
We had chosen an inside stateroom near the center of the ship for two reasons: it’s cheaper, and it’s more stable. We didn’t know whether we’d experience any seasickness (we didn’t) so wanted to be safe.
Our stateroom (after the steward put the twin beds together for us)
After heading to the pool deck to watch our departure, we explored the ship and settled down in one of the many bars for a pre-dinner cocktail. We couldn’t believe how beautiful, luxurious, and comfortable the ship was! The Enchanted Princess can accommodate 3660 guests, but our cruise had only about 2300, so there was a crew member for every two guests. The service was exceptional, the food was excellent, and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
On the first full day at sea, the Commodore announced a medical emergency. The patient, who we later heard was 90 years old, was evacuated at sea by helicopter!
That excitement over, we proceeded to our first port of call: Bergen, Norway. What a beautiful city!
Approaching Bergen in style
Once off the ship, we walked into town and stopped at the fish market for lunch. The weather was lovely–cool, but no need for a jacket! After lunch we headed to the funicular for a ride up the mountainside.
Bergen from the top
There were goats up there! And ice cream, and picnic tables, and a cafe. We spent about an hour enjoying the view and chatting with a couple from the UK.
We walked through the historical “wooden houses” district and wandered through several shops before heading back to the ship. The next day we were at sea, enjoying all the ship offered. There was plenty to do–dancing lessons, crafts, enrichment presentations, music, pools and hot tubs, and more.
Lunch with a view
Early the next morning we arrived in Belfast! We’d never been to Northern Ireland and were eager to explore. We’d booked a bus tour that gave us a great overview of the city, its history, and the sights. Most compelling were the murals around town commemorating the Troubles.
Bobby Sands tribute
We learned abou the history leading to the Troubles. Today Belfast is thriving once again, and we were told that the younger generations have helped the country move past its violent history.
More history of the Troubles
I would have liked to see more of the murals and learn more about the city’s history, but time was limited. We wanted to try a pub, and I spotted a beautiful one.
Beautiful old Belfast pub
They were fully booked so we couldn’t eat there, but I did visit the ladies’ room. Even the stalls were decorated!
Beautiful tilework in the pub ladies’ room stall
We also visited the Titanic museum (the Titanic was built and launched in Belfast). We learned about the construction of the ship, but I was most interested in people’s stories. One of the most fascinating things was learning about the differences among first class, second class, and steerage. Steerage class was actually nicer than I’d envisioned, but of course first class was first class.
Menu for the last first-class luncheon on the Titanic
That evening we were back on the ship, setting sail for Cork, our next stop. Ireland was another first for us, and we were excited to see this gorgeous area, where we had booked an all-day bus tour with a long stop at Blarney Castle. The ocean that evening was a bit rough, but we had no problem with seasickness.
A bit of a storm
The next morning we were on the bus and heading to Blarney Castle. What a beautiful place! Everything likes to grow there. The bus parked and we were on our own to explore the castle and grounds. We made the long climb up the narrowest of spiral stone staircases to the top of the castle (definitely not for the claustrophobic!), but we declined the opportunity to kiss the Blarney stone.
First view of Blarney Castle
The grounds were beautiful, full of gardens–including a poisonous garden! It rained most of the day, but we didn’t mind. We enjoyed a snack in one of the old horse stalls and visited a wonderful mill shop. Then we were off to explore beautiful Cork County. On our last stop of the day, in a quaint fishing village, we had a pub meal of fish and chips.
Fish and chips in County Cork
I guess Guinness is the drink in Cork!
Next, we had a couple of sea days. We discovered our favorite bar on the ship, the Good Spirits, where each afternoon the bartender would do a show featuring creative cocktails. My favorite was the Butterfly: 1.5 oz gin, .25 oz Cointreau, .75 oz simple syrup, 1.5 oz butterfly tea, and .75 oz lemon juice. When the tea is added, it turns purple!
Butterfly recipe on the bar’s screen
We developed a rhythm for our sea days. We’d sit with our coffee (latte for Phil, cappucino for me), then head to one of the restaurants for breakfast. Then I’d take a walk and Phil would go to the gym, then we’d head back to the room for a shower, and on to lunch. In the afternoons we’d work on our French, watch a movie, hang out on a pool lounge, or take a nap. Soon it was time to freshen up for the evening, which consisted of cocktails, dinner, and a fabulous show. The production shows were superb!
There’s so much more to share, but that will have to wait for the next post. I have to be ready when my granddaughter wakes up from her nap!