This was our 5th voyage on a Princess ship over the past 10 years. We checked into our suite and drank some champagne out on the deck. The George Vancouver Suite was very roomy, it even included a huge bathtub and two rooms and the deck was huge. We knew this was going to a great trip. We normally just get a balcony cabin but this time we got upgraded at the last minute to one of the top of the line cabins. The food and service was perfect.
We departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a calm morning and headed out. After a few hours the ship stopped off of Bermuda as a sick passenger had to be evacuated. We then continued on to our first landfall Ponto Delgada, The Azores - part of Portugal. We went ashore and visited Cabral Plaza and the gates of the city. We walked around town and stopped for lunch which included of course the famous Pastel de Natas. This was our second visit to St. Michael's Island - we stopped there in 2008 on another transatlantic trip on the Emerald Princess going to Florida from Venice.
Soon we were on our way to our next port of call Cobh, Ireland. It was great to be in Ireland. First was a visit to the famed Blarney Castle, we waited in line and slowly started to make our way up some wooden stairs. Once inside the castle walls the passage became very narrow and quite steep, Some of the steps were high and there was a rope to one side that you could hold onto to help get up the steps. Finally the roof and what a view of the surrounding country side. To kiss the blarney stone you had to be held by an old gentleman as you stretched down backwards to kiss the stone - a bit awkward and a little scary too.
Back in Cohb we walked down to the town of pubs, restaurants, and various shops. Lots of music going on that day. Street musicians and a band played at a nearby park. There are many signs posted for the White Star Line and statues to the lost souls of the Lusitania and Titanic. Both ships had stopped in Cobh. As we finally departed a community band appeared on the pier and played some spirited tunes.
Next stop was Dublin. Only problem for us the Queen was about to arrive for a rare visit so all the plans we had for visiting were changed. We did get our boat tour of the River Liffey and then a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral. There were barracades set up all over downtown and police on every corner.
Our first stop in the UK came at Greenock where a bus took us all the way across that part of Scotland to Edinburgh. We walked up a long hill to the castle at the top and then toured as much of it as we could. Nice views of the town from there. From there we had lunch in town at a nice hotel and were given some free time to walk around town for a few hours. Then it was a long bus ride back to ship.
Wales was next as we pulled into Holyhead. From there we made our way into Anglesy to Beuamaris Castle - a lovely 11th Century old castle that looked like a set for a Disney movie. It had a perfect draw bridge and a moat around it. We drove through some lovely countryside to get to our destination. Scones with cotted cream and tea for lunch in town and then we were off again headed back to Holyhead. We passed the military base where Prince William is stationed.
The next day we arrived in Falmouth in Cornwall. The ship anchored out and we had to take the Liter boats to the pier. There we were met by our guide who took us to St. Michael's Mount. We had to cross over at low tide to get to the Pilgrim's trail. Legend has it that St. Michael himself appeared on that Mount around the 6th Century and there have been pilgrims arriving ever since including us. The climb up was steep and difficult as the trail is all stones of different sizes. We finally huffed and puffed our way up to the top. We toured the castle and saw the lovely views from there.
Our next stop would be in France. Le Harve is in Normandy and was totally bombed out during the War so what we saw there was lots of concrete bulding low to the ground and nothing older that 1945. Our destination today was PARIS... The ride from Le Harve to Paris would be 3 hours. We arrived at the Louvre and spent 3 hours there with a gazillion others viewing the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo along with all manner of art. Lots of the art depicted scenes of the French Revolution. Soon we exited and headed across the river to the Eiffel Tower for lunch 200 feet up at Restaurant 85. They were ready for our group of 50 when we arrived and he had a nice but a bit hurried lunch with some pretty good wine. The trip back to Le Harve was very droggy. As the ship pulled out the Normandy invasion beaches could be seen in the far distance. Next stop would be England.
Southampton was our last port of call and we departed from there on another bus to London. We would be staying in London 8 days and our adventure continued to unfold.
Causes Ron Cabral Supports
National Wildlife Federation, California State and National Parks, Arf, Paralyzed Veterans, National Film Preservation Foundation, California Historical...