A Right Royal Cruise around the British Isles with Princess Cruises; my week on-board was filled with great food & wine, fun shows, tasty cookery classes as well as fascinating destinations & shore excursions.
Just a few weeks ago I was sipping prosecco and nibbling on tasty amuse bouche in the elegant Vines Bar on-board the Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess, whilst waiting for a freshly cooked meal in one of the numerous restaurants on board this beautiful ship; I was part of a small group of journalists who were enjoying part of the British Isles Cruise, a round-trip from Southampton, the cruise ports of call were Guernsey, Cobh, Dublin, Belfast, Greenock, Kirkwall (Orkney Islands), Edinburgh and Le Harve in France, before sailing back to Southampton. I’ve been on many cruises, as regular readers will know, and I love the whole concept of visiting different destinations without the hassle of packing and unpacking, checking into different hotels and all the time-consuming travelling from place to place. There’s also the added advantage of enjoying relaxing “sea days”, maybe with a deluxe balcony breakfast, as well as trying out all the restaurants and bars on board too, something I am always up for! But why is today’s title named as A Right Royal Cruise around the British Isles? Well, as well as the name of the cruise liner, I also visited (and ate on) The Royal Yacht Britannia on this journey, which will be covered in my next post about the destinations I visited on this cruise!
The Princess Cruises tagline is “Come Back New” and it’s easy to see why you would return from a cruise and feel rejuvenated and refreshed; it’s not just the fact that there is no cooking or washing up, but there’s amble opportunities to relax and keep fit whilst on-board. The Caribbean Princess offers a Spa and a Fitness Centre for special treatments and for a full workout whilst sailing, plus there’s an eclectic selection of entertainment on board too, from lived musical shows to cooking demos and “Movies under the Stars” by the pool! And once all that eating, drinking and dancing is over, there’s the famous Princess Luxury Bed to collapse in to when you are back in your cabin! I was in a Balcony Stateroom Cabin, where I had the chance to sit outside on my own balcony and enjoy the scenery and the seascape as we sailed around the British Isles. With complimentary 24-hour room service, private bathroom with shower, a refrigerator and flat-panel television, it was a very comfortable home away from home, and the Egyptian cotton sheets were a dream to sleep in too.
The Caribbean Princess recently underwent a multi-million-dollar array of luxurious enhancements, including tempting new dining options and fresh experiences for kids and teens on-board; and it’s the new dining options that I will be featuring today, as well as all the other dining areas you can enjoy on this elegant ship. All food as well as certain soft drinks and hot beverages are included in the cruise cost, but in addition to this, you can choose to dine in Speciality Dining, and for not very much extra money I discovered. There is a tempting choice of speciality dining restaurants, from Italian and Steak to Seafood and BBQ fare, and if speciality fining is not your bag, then you can eat all day in the buffet restaurant, poolside grills and the in main dining rooms. I’ve featured all the dining options below, with an example of prices and their menus….and, for the destination guide, please do pop back later when I will be highlighting my shore excursions in Scotland and France!
Details of a similar cruise to mine:
British Isles with an overnight stay in Dublin
May 1, 2018
Ship: Royal Princess
Sailing round-trip from Southampton. Calling at Guernsey (St. Peter Port), England | Cork, Ireland (Cobh – For Blarney Castle) | Dublin, Ireland (overnight) | Belfast, Northern Ireland | Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland | Invergordon, Scotland | Edinburgh (South Queensferry), Scotland | Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France
Prices start from £1,538 per person (based on two people sharing an inside stateroom)
Price includes accommodation, all main meals, 24-hour room service and on-board entertainment.
~ Vines ~
A wonderful place to meet before and after dinner, Vines was voted one of the “Best Wine Bars at Sea,” by USA TODAY and located in a charming corner of the Atrium. Vines boasts an extensive collection of still and sparkling wines as well as regional offerings for purchase. The menu also includes wine flights and a selection of wines by the glass. Gourmet delicacies, such as antipasti and tapas, are complimentary with any wine purchase.
~ Steamer’s Seafood ~
(Cover charge $12 per person)
We enjoyed our first meal on-board here, and it remained one of my favourite places to eat on Caribbean Princess. This new family-style seafood restaurant offers a choice of seafood dinners for a nominal fee. Choose from Black & Blue Mussels with scallops and kielbasa sausage, Classic Clams “Steamers” with shrimp and andouille sausage or the Broiled Platter which includes scallops, shrimp and crab-stuffed flounder, which is what I had. All come with generous sides and dipping sauces as well as starters and dessert. At lunchtime, help yourself to a buffet that includes Gourmet and Ramen Bowls with regionally inspired broths—all at no charge. Breakfast is also available at no charge, for speciality egg dishes like omelettes, fried eggs and eggs Benedict.
~ Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria ~
(Cover charge $25 per person)
A cosy and intimate restaurant serving rustic Italian cuisine featuring exquisite specialities from acclaimed chef Angelo Auriana, who is the former executive chef at the Michelin-starred Valentino’s and co-owner and executive chef at both The Factory Kitchen and Officine Brera in Los Angeles, California . Chef Auriana’s cuisine is inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavours from his hometown of Bergamo. The the new restaurant design and elevated menu is on board select ships, beginning with Caribbean Princess and Grand Princess, and I had the most amazing meal there on my second night. I started with Burrata served with roasted golden beets, fava beans,
mint basil vinaigrette and toasted hazelnuts; my main was Porchetta, a rolled pork belly toscana served with potatoes, spinach and roasted tomato. The restaurant also offers a choice of tempting cocktails and wine.
~ Planks BBQ ~
(Cover charge $12 per person)
Planks BBQ is a casual BBQ restaurant giving you a choice of “Planks” loaded with four meats, chilli, coleslaw and seasoned fries along with starters and dessert. Planks BBQ also serves a buffet-style lunch at no charge, with signature soup and freshly tossed salad, as well as regionally inspired fork-and-knife sandwiches. Buffet-style breakfasts, also at no charge, include savoury breakfast bowls customised for you. We all enjoyed two of their Plank platters with choice of 4 different meats served with seasoned wedge-cut fries, calico 3-bean
chilli, creamy confetti slaw, charred toast and dill pickles. The meat on offer was:
• sou’wester pulled pork
• chili-spiced roasted tri-tip
• kielbasa smoked sausage links
• caribbean island chicken drumsticks
• hard cider bbq pork ribs
• chipotle bbq meatballs
LOADED DORY WEDGE SALAD with iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, roasted corn &
black bean salsa, cornbread croutons, bacon ranch dressing
BAKED POTATO CHOWDER with chopped bbq beef, pork & burnt ends, cheddar cheese and chives
For dessert we all chose the KING PLANK CHOCOLATE CAKE with chocolate fudge frosting, caramel drizzle and crushed candied pecans
~ Crown Grill ~
(Cover Charge $29 per person)
With a rich wood décor and a theatre-style kitchen, Crown Grill was named among the “Best Cruise Ship Steakhouses” by USA TODAY. Featuring premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, this speciality restaurant offers an intimate dining experience in a classically elegant setting and an open kitchen where chefs prepare and cook to order top-quality cuts of beef, chops and seafood, and it’s where we had one of our last group meals together before we disembarked. The menu was the most diverse of all the speciality dining areas, and suggested for starters:
MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE SPINY LOBSTER CAKE & TARRAGON FOAM with Cured Olives & Grilled Asparagus
BLACK AND BLUE ONION SOUP with Fresh Thyme, Jack Daniels & a Roquefort Crust
As well as chops and seafood, there was a wonderful array of steaks to choose from:
NEW YORK STRIP*
Traditional Thick Cut Sirloin – 12 Ounces
KANSAS CITY STRIP*
Traditional Bone-in Sirloin – 16 Ounces
Rich with Heavy Marbling – 14 Ounces
Classic, Tender and Delicate – 8 Ounces
Served with Choice of Potato and Garden Fresh Vegetables & Speciality Salts
Loaded Baked Idaho Potato
Garlic and Herb French Fries
Red Skin Mashed Potatoes
Sautéed Wild Mushrooms
~ Ultimate Balcony Dining ~
Choose a luxurious breakfast or experience the “ultimate” romantic dinner at sea; I had breakfast delivered one morning for the ultimate balcony dining experience, with smoked salmon, assorted pastries, quiche, fresh fruit, champagne and coffee.
There are two types of dining for the main restaurants, Anytime Dining and Traditional Dining.
Anytime Dining enables guests the freedom to dine when and with whom they wish, at any time between 5:30 PM and 10 PM. Reservations are available through an on-board dining hotline, but not required, and diners may choose to eat only with their own group, or be seated with other guests. The choice is yours.
Harking back to the Golden Era of sea travel, the Traditional Dining option allows you to dine at the same time each day and enjoy the same dining friends and waiting staff throughout your voyage. Choose from either early or late seating.
Poolside, Deck and Casual Snacks and Coffee:
~ The Salty Dog Grill ~
(Some speciality dishes have a small supplement)
I had a few snack meals here on sea days, and also when we weren’t dining formally in the evenings; situated on the Lido deck, they offer simple but tasty burgers, hot dogs and tacos with fries. “The Ernesto” burger is a must-try, created by acclaimed chef Ernesto Uchimura, and named the #1 burger at sea by Cruise Critic. Or try one of the other 100% handmade Gourmet Burgers, including the Princess Burger or Triple Smoked Burger. The Salty Dog Grill also offers new Street Tacos—a Princess first—featuring a choice of grilled chipotle-lime chicken or roasted sweet potato-green chilli. There’s Classic Hot Dogs, plus loaded fries in tempting varieties including chilli cheese and bacon & cheese. Beer is also available here to purchase.
~ Slice Pizzeria~
Slice pizzeria is opposite The Salty Dog on the Lido Deck, and it’s a handy place to enjoy lunch or a snack whilst swimming or sunbathing. The menu includes specialities inspired by local favourites from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Try a Deep Dish Focaccia or a slice of their award-winning signature Neapolitan-style classics. Savour some California Artisan Toast with Cali-Avocado or Caprese toppings. Or go for a Sliced Stromboli, and enjoy an East Coast take on a classic Italian calzone that’s stuffed with delicious Italian deli meats and cheeses. Glasses of wine are available there to enjoy alongside your freshly baked pizza!
~ World Fresh Marketplace ~
This large airy, buffet dining area is situated on deck 15, where you can grab a bit to eat from breakfast to dinner, basically you can eat here all day; stop by for breakfast, and enjoy a stack of pancakes made at the pancake station, or enjoy a varied choice of hot cereal offerings or a full English style breakfast. At lunch, there’s a selection of handmade sandwiches, regionally inspired dishes, such as curries and stir-fries, as well as soups and a carvery section. For dinner, there’s everything from “All Day Breakfast”, family kitchen comfort foods with a PB&J bar and pasta, plus a multitude of fresh fruit and salad choices. Juice, water and hot tea and coffee are available here too. In the afternoon, they set out afternoon tea with an assortment of freshly made sandwiches, cakes and biscuits (cookies). I particularly enjoyed their curries and Asian inspired hot dishes here, as well as the chance to indulge in a slice of cake and a cheese platter now and then!
~ International Café ~
This was my to go to place for speciality coffee! Open 24-hours a day, the International Café located in the Piazza is the place for an ever-changing array of small bite meals, treats and gourmet beverages. Grab a freshly baked croissant to start your day, snack on pies and quiche or choose from a wide variety of salads and sandwiches at lunchtime, and indulge in decadent desserts in the evening. Coffee and tea fans will love the New Grounds Crafted Coffee menu featuring a variety of speciality espresso-based drinks made from a custom blend of coffee beans, as well as iced tea fusions. You will be charged a couple of dollars for the speciality coffees, but everything else including the snacks are included.
~ Coffee and Cones ~
Enjoy a coffee with an ice cream! Coffee and Cones offers complimentary ice cream cones to accompany your coffee. Pick up a chocolate cone, a vanilla, or a combination. Or treat yourself to an ice cream sandwich, with a tempting choice of flavors such as The Classic, Cookie Colada, Snickerdoodle, Honey ‘N’ Oats and Mint Paddy. There’s speciality coffees too, including Espresso and Cappuccino, Latte, Chai Tea and more. You’ll even find a choice of Frappes, such as Nuts for Caffeine, Mocha Milkshake and Mexican Frothed Chocolate. There is a small charge for the speciality coffees.
Disclaimer: I was the guest of Princess Cruises who paid for me for a one-week cruise around the British Isles, including several hosted and speciality dining dinners, accommodation and all my food whilst on board the Caribbean Princess, as well as flights and transport top and from Glasgow and Southampton; all views are my own and are not representative of Princess Cruises, any of their employees or third-party agents. With thanks to Charlotte Humphrey and all at Princess Cruises HQ UK for the invitation and opportunity to eat and drink my way around the British Isles! Karen S Burns-Booth
All Images: Karen S Burns-Booth and Princess Cruise