September 10, 2005
I sailed B2B (back-to-back) on the Sea Princess and this review covers the second cruise sailing
from Southampton to New York, via Cobh, Dublin, Thorshaven, Reykjavik, Qaqortoq, and St. Johns, Newfoundland. I covered the ship on the 1st review, the 2nd cruise food, service, everything was fine, I didn’t see any change, seemed consistent. Doing a B2B was a breeze, Princess gave me a letter explaining everything, my new cruise card for the next cruise, I went to the entry area to validate it and I was good to go.
The ports this cruise were the draw for me as I always wanted to see Iceland and Greenland, and we lucked out with the weather for Greenland. Iceland was rainy but we managed to see everything.
Greenland turned out to be a perfect sunny day, luck was with us.
Cobh is the port for Cork and many did take the Blarney Castle tour. I was glad I made the choice not to after I saw the picture of my table mate kissing the stone, upside down as they hold you! There was a band playing in the park right near the pier in Cobh, a German band playing Irish folk tunes, Glenn Miller hits and show tunes. The day was gorgeous and it was nice sitting out listening to music. I also hiked up to the cathedral at the top of the hill. I enjoyed being in Cobh and not touring.
In Dublin, I went ashore with two ladies from my table and did the hop on/hop off bus all around Dublin, shopped on Grafton street, stopped for snack, walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and just had a great day as the weather was wonderful! I enjoy cities and find the hop on/hop off bus/trolley type touring works best.
I did do a tour in Thorshaven (Faroe Islands). It was an enjoyable ride through the countryside, no trees, to Kvivik, a small village with Viking history and primarily a fishing village. There were all these little buildings, looked like garages but they had slits for the wind to blow through, boat storage. Many of the houses had steel roofs but a lot were still using sod for insulation. We stopped at a church that was all pine inside, wood is at a premium and pine is less expensive than other woods. When we drove up, the guide used a key that was hanging on a hook by the door. He sang a verse of a hymn for us so we could hear how the native language would sound. Very interesting tour.
Iceland probably had the worst weather of my cruise but we definitely made the best of it! Tours in Iceland are very expensive and do not include everything. If you swim in the lagoon, you don’t get the falls and geyser. If you go to the geyser and falls ($150.) you don’t get the Blue Lagoon. Seven of us were in touch on the boards before the cruise and agreed to rent a van. Gene volunteered to make the arrangements. In spite of the fact we had to tender in Iceland (not usually the case), it worked out very well. Side note, to fill half a tank, $ 78.00 US and we complain about prices!
We went to Blue Lagoon, first in line, opens at 10:00 a.m. We stayed in the lagoon almost an hour, and it was mobbed when we left, very crowded as buses had arrived. I think it was either 22.00 or 25.00, well worth it, I would do it again in a heart beat, so fun. I’ve read reviews where they say it is a major tourist trap but I didn’t care! Soaking in hot water, blue color you can’t describe, absolutely the best! There are pots of goop along the sides that we were scrubbing ourselves with, what a hoot!
Dragging ourselves away from the lagoon, we were off in search of the Golden Circle, falls and the geyser! It was foggy at times, raining but we did good, saw it all. When we started out, I was worried about the fog and visibility but it cleared and was just overcast with rain. We saw the falls and the geyser, well worth the visit. The terrain when we were first driving was very volcanic and looked like we were on another planet, moon or something, as we got closer to the falls, there were farms, animals, fields so it wasn’t all volcanic rock. Because we wanted to do the lagoon, falls and geyser, we did not see much of Reykjavik other than driving through on our way to tour.
We cruised Prince Christian Sund and it was wonderful, I stayed outside for almost the whole time, close to 5 hrs., spectacular. I’ve been to Alaska but I really enjoyed the sheer ruggedness!. There was an ice pilot to assist passage and naturalist onboard to explain things as we went, 60 miles long. Hard to explain or describe but I was so glad the weather cooperated and we were able to cruise the Sund. The next day we were at Qagortoq and that was nice. No organized tours but interesting to walk around the town and try to visualize what an isolated life it must be in the winter. There was a tourist office that opened for us and there were items for sale. They were doing a booming business.
St. John’s, Newfoundland was our last stop before New York. I did a tour, a coastal hike and that it was! They bus you up to signal hill (think Marconi and the wireless) and walk you back to the ship. Now they tell you it’s a downhill walk, not quite true! It was wonderful but I wonder how many sign up finding it a little too strenuous! It wasn’t a mile downhill, more like 2.5, up and down, along a cliff hanging on to a chain, not for the faint of heart either. I’d do it again in a minute! St. John’s is great, worth a little more time. A weather front was moving in so our stay in St. John’s was cut short.
This was a great crossing, I really enjoyed it. I’ve looked at this itinerary for years and finally did it. I’ve done 2 transatlantic, England to Miami and Miami to England, with all the sea days. I like this one because it had ports and sea days, 6 ports, 6 sea days and cruising Prince Christian Sund, perfect!