The Caribbean Princess leaves from Southampton.
This is my trip report for the British Isles cruise on the Caribbean Princess. The cruise left Southampton, United Kingdom on July 31, 2016 and returned on August 12, 2016. Future cruises are scheduled to leave through the middle of 2017. Before I go over tips, recommendations and the patter for each port I will provide you with a high level review of the ship, food, activities, and experience as a cruise customer.
The Princess British Isles itinerary is outstanding with nine port stops and only two "fun days at sea." If only my cruise would have stopped at them all, more on that later. The cost of this cruise is good as inside rooms can usually be found for around $1000 per person. The entertainment provided was much better than I expected. The level of service experienced on the Caribbean Princess was outstanding for the most part, the only exception being the beverage staff at the Horizon and Caribe buffets. At times service was good (usually when a manager was present) but often once you received your first beverage it was difficult to get a refill. On one evening many people had to get up and find a way to get beverages themselves. This seems like a simple problem to fix so it seems like it's not a priority to Princess for some reason. As I mentioned most of the staff is outstanding, unfortunately, it doesn't take much to dampen a great experience.
Food - Overall the food is good and Princess does a great job serving so many people over a short period of time. It seems over the last few years the main dining room selections have declined a little probably in an effort to cut food costs. We found ourselves skipping the upscale dining room experience half the time and from the number of people at the buffet many others did the same. With that said one evening the upscale dining room had beef wellington and lobster tail as selections so at times the dining experience was outstanding. The wait staff was outstanding in the upscale dining rooms. It would be helpful if Princess would post the dining room entree menu in the patter each day as it would make for a better experience. There were nights we would have skipped had we known the menu in advance and probably other nights we would have gone to the dining room had we known. Make sure you look at the patter everyday to see if there is a special theme at the buffet. One night was seafood night and it was outstanding. They served crab legs, shrimp, lobster, crawfish and much more. While on the topic of food I must bring up a couple of issues that seemed to be consistent. If you order chicken then get ready for overcooked chicken that is so tough it's hard to cut with a knife. The chicken strips at the Pizzeria were always way overdone and tough. I understand Princess is afraid of under cooked chicken but this is ridiculous. Other chicken dishes at the buffet were also way overcooked and hard to eat. The other issue is seasoning the food. If you want your overcooked chicken strips and fries to have some salt you better remember to find some and put it on yourself. If you want to know how to cook a dry hamburger go to the Burger Grill and watch their double cooked pressing technique. The cold plastic looking cheese on top is great for those that like their cheeseburger cheese unmelted. Once again I suspect this cooking method is used because Princess is worried about under cooking food. To conclude let me mention once again that overall the food was good. I'm just going over the exceptions to the rule.
Entertainment/Activities/Communication - Entertainment on the ship was abundant and better than expected. The ship has a casino. It would be great if they had real Texas Hold'em tournaments but they don't. They have electronic versions instead. They also have bingo. The staff that sells bingo cards refuse to disclose the percent the house keeps and the percent of payout. The house keep is probably large. I suspect Princess relies heavily on revenue outside the cruise price. You can see it in their marketing schemes while on board. Most communication is focused on getting you to spend more with them rather than being objective and trying to help you enjoy your vacation. It starts to get really old. It's all about selling expensive drinks, tours, pictures, art, future cruises, gold plated necklaces, watches, no-name jewelry they try to convince you is a well-known brand, etc. There's no room for Princess marketers to expand as all forms of communication are focused on squeezing another dollar out of you.
Caribbean Princess Tips - If you get a cruise deal from Princess you can usually pass the same price on to a friend. Contact Princess if you need assistance. Take advantage of your ability to take on one bottle of wine per person. Also take on bottled water or soda if you want it. Plan ahead and look at your port options. If you feel comfortable with booking non-ship excursions you can save a lot of money over ship excursions. I have found that outside excursions often offer more for half to a third of the cost. Make sure you get back well before the ship leaves or you could get left behind. Tour companies understand you can't be late and this is rarely if ever a problem. If you are touring on your own get an early start and hit the busy places first to avoid lines. Also purchase museum and castle tickets in advance to ensure entry. Use Trip Advisor to see reviews of the tour company before you book. The ship's Internet access is really slow and expensive. Princess has no conscience selling their Internet access at $0.79/minute for as slow as it can be. I recommend a SkyRoam hot spot for wifi. The Skyroam hot spot only works near land but it allows up to 5 devices to connect and it worked great at all the ports for us. It costs around $100 or around $80 with a discount link. It comes with five 24 hour periods of use. You can buy a pack of 8 more for $40. If you are interested us this link for $20 off the price os a SkyRoam wifi hotspot. If the link doesn't work contact me and I'll try to get a new one. Finally, I recommend a USB charging hub that plugs into a standard US outlet so you can charge all your devices at once. There are only 3 outlets in most staterooms. It is easy to run out of outlets. I also recommend taking a couple USB battery packs to charge your phone and SkyRoam for extended use. I kept my SkyRoam plugged into a battery pack for a full day of use with no problem.Select a port below to see the port review and the Princess Patter.
The Caribbean Princess leaves from Southampton.
Take a loop on the bus, check out the German Occupation Museum and browse the shops.
Beautiful port near the Blarney Castle. Make sure you go out to watch departure.
Irish Coast Guard checking on our broken down ship. Port missed.
People waiting to cross the Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge not far from the Giant's Causeway.
Statue in Greenock, Scotland on the way to the train station. Train is a great option to Glasgow.
Princess skipped Kirkwall due to weather conditions. Most tour guides here don't refund if port is missed.
Dunrobin Castle is the largest in the Northern Highlands. There's a great Falconry show here.
Grounds of Edinburgh Castle with great views. Make sure to purchse tickets in advance to avoid long lines.
Starting at the Port of Honfleur in Le Havre to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery.