Post-cruise report

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British Isles/Western Europe
Amsterdam, Brugge, Dublin, Edinburgh, London (Dover, Harwich, Southampton)
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#1
Chicago, IL
941 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
I thought I would write up a little review/info about our stay in the UK & London after our cruise this past summer. It seems that a lot of cruisers, especially those who travel a long distance, stay after or come early to see the city. We did 6 days in the UK/London after our cruise this past summer.

After we got of the IOS, we walked over to the Hertz rental car place. It's technically directly across from the port, but you can't get there that way. You have to walk all the way around the Holiday Inn, so it's about a 20-25 minute walk. This place was super busy! We were actually standing in a line, talking to people, but nobody said one of us should go inside. We thought they were all waiting. It was a little disorganized and somewhat slow. It took us easily an hour to get our car, with about 6-7 people ahead of us. We did reserve a smaller car, but then once we saw it, we realized we needed to upgrade to something a bit bigger. So we had a Volvo SUV. Luckily it comes with a Nav. system! LOL!

We took off out of there and headed to Plymouth. We had been to Plymouth Rock here in the US 2 years ago, so we wanted to see where it all started. We eventually got there, but it wasn't easy. Once we got there, parts of the tourist areas were closed, making it more difficult to get to see anything. I know someone else said there's some great stuff, but honestly, if you were just going there for a day, it's not well advertised or easy to get to. We drove around a bit, found a couple of historical marker type things, took a few photos, and then headed for the west coast.

We spent that night in Tintagel, actually at the Penallick B&B just outside of the town. My husband had been to this area many years ago and wanted to come back. The B&B was really nice, and it had WiFi - thankfully! We have a teenage son, so just relaxing in a B&B with nobody else around isn't really his thing. We walked down to the coast that afternoon, in the rain/fog of course. Then we drove into town for dinner that the King Arthur Arms Inn Restaurant. It was pretty busy that Saturday night. We found out something new as well, and we found it in London too. We had to go to the bar to order our meal and then give them our table number. The portions were pretty large, food was decent.

The next day we checked out and went back over to see the castle remains. It's a LOT of walking, up and down, and not meant for those who have physical ailments and such. We had a nice time and thankfully the rain let up for most of the time, but that fog was so crazy! We also checked out the old church and cemetery nearby. We had some scones before leaving town and heading into London.

On our way we had planned to stop and see Stonehenge. But once we got there and saw the prices, we just didn't feel it was worth it. We jumped back in the car and drove by, seeing the same thing without paying a dime. I want to say it was like $75 for the 3 of us. My husband and I had both seen it before and our son was fine driving by it. Plus, we realized we could make it to London in time to return our rental car that night instead of waiting until the morning, and we did - by like 20 minutes!

I'll add more onto this, with our 3 days in London.


B&W Stonehenge
by Cindy, on Flickr


St. Materiana's church
by Cindy, on Flickr


Untitled
by Cindy, on Flickr


Heading up
by Cindy, on Flickr

And a standard English countryside road. My husband did the driving. He lived in the UK for about 3 years, so it was like riding a bike for him, he just picked it right back up.

English road
by Cindy, on Flickr
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten




#4
Redditch England
1,892 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
A word of warning to add to this useful review. Do not depend entirely on your satnav. The often have minds of their own and will not necessarily take you the way you would like to go. At the first garage you stop at for fuel, buy a lage format roadmap as a backup. One big advantage is that you can see places near the road that might be worth a look. Satnav is likely to bypass all the towns and send you on boring motorways rather than scenic roads.

In fact, many people by one on eBay before they leave, for less than the car hire places charge.
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“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
#5
Chicago, IL
941 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by Bob++
A word of warning to add to this useful review. Do not depend entirely on your satnav. The often have minds of their own and will not necessarily take you the way you would like to go. At the first garage you stop at for fuel, buy a lage format roadmap as a backup. One big advantage is that you can see places near the road that might be worth a look. Satnav is likely to bypass all the towns and send you on boring motorways rather than scenic roads.

In fact, many people by one on eBay before they leave, for less than the car hire places charge.
I guess we got lucky then, ours was perfect! It took us on more scenic roads than we wanted! LOL! But no, it really was good. We had no problems, it took us exactly where we wanted, it showed us everything, etc... We did have a map as well. Again, we only had the car for about 36 hours as well, we weren't driving all over the UK with it.


One of the many scenic roads we were on....


British driving
by Cindy, on Flickr
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten




#7
Chicago, IL
941 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
So we made it into London on Sunday evening. We got so lucky in that there was a car rental place to return our car right across the street from our hotel. We stayed at the Victory Services Club, which is for military personnel. It was perfect! Definitely cheaper than most hotels and they had a room for 3 of us, which was hard to find in the city. If you're single, or want to travel cheap and are military or veteran, check them out!

We ate dinner in the hotel that night. We did walk around first for a bit, it's just north of Hyde Park. But the area right around there is mostly Middle Eastern/Arabic, which means all the restaurants are the same. I'm not a fan of that kind of food though, so we just ate at the hotel. I'm sure my husband would have found a dozen places to eat at! LOL! The food at the hotel was good.

The next day we started our London fun! So we had the London Pass (3-day) along with the Oyster Card. However, being the first time in London for our son, and it'd been 20-30 years for my husband and myself, we wanted to do more walking. We ended up not using the Oyster Card/tube at all that day. But that means we walked about 11 miles that day. It was exhausting, but nice to see so much.

We headed down to the changing of the guards and of course, it was already filling in by the time we got there. We ended up hanging in the center part, where the fountains are. We could see the troops and bands coming down the mall, it was nice. We didn't stick around for the actual guard changing part. We couldn't see much and it's nothing overly exciting, IMO. From there we walked down the mall, we saw some troops coming back to St. Jame's Palace as well. We went to Whitehall St. to see things down there.

We first stopped at the Horse Guards and Calvary Museum. We used our London Pass there, which gave us entrance as well as the audio tour. The audio was nice because it was one of those that you push the button for what you want to listen to. In the museum, it has a large glass wall that shows you into the stables of the actual guards. It was funny, the one girl was eating some snack that someone had given her and she kind of had her mouth full when she looked up and saw us watching her! LOL! She was trying so hard not to spit her food out from laughing. I think they just forget that there are people watching them. Lot's of interesting things in the museum.

From there we walked down the street, seeing 10 Downing Street, from a distance of course. There are a lot of memorials and statues along this route, so lots to see. We found a place across from Big Ben to grab some lunch. It's called St. Stephen's Pub, and we just got some appetizers and drinks. It was busy, we had to wait a little bit for a table, but it was the middle of the day, on a Monday, so that's to be expected. Good food though!

After that we walked across the Westminster Abbey. There was a line that took about 25 minutes to get through and into the Abbey. Our London Pass included the admission as well as audio tour. Again, it's the kind where you push the button for what you want to listen to. Of course, the Abbey is great to see, so much history and amazing things to learn. We were there later in the afternoon, so by the time we finished, tours were done. After we left there we went to the Churchill War Rooms. Again, our London Pass got us in there along with the audio tour. Now, this is a place that people really love! I wanted to, but I think I was getting tired. My husband spent a lot more time reading things and walking around. There are some really interesting things for sure, but it's almost overwhelming too. I also thought the museum on Churchill, which is in like the back half, was backwards. It starts with the end of his life when you walk in. It just had an odd layout. Had we done it earlier, or just weren't so burnt out on so much museum stuff, I may have enjoyed it more. Again though, my husband really did!

The last thing we did was the London Eye. It was getting into the evening. Not really sunset time, but we were wanting to wrap things up. So we walked over there and saw the lines! They were long! Now, since it was later in the day, some of the ticket booths and kiosk things were closed. The guy said we could buy the fast pass tickets online, but turned out you couldn't buy them for a ride in the next hour or so, only a few days out. Then we found the building where you had to go to get tickets. The tickets are expensive, but we still didn't feel like waiting in line, so we paid the extra £10 for the fast pass tickets. So it was like £120+ for the 3 of us. But it's one of those things you feel like you have to do and we did enjoy it. It's a nice, 30-minute ride, you get to see so much of the city too.

We finally finished there and walked north to the other bridge and crossed over, back near Trafalgar Square. We grabbed some dinner along the way at Prezzo Northumberland. Really good Spaghetti Carbonara! After a long walk back to our hotel, going through Piccadilly and up Regent St., we finally crashed!

One of the bands for the changing of the guards

Guard parade
by Cindy, on Flickr

Westminster Abbey

Westminster heights
by Cindy, on Flickr


Abbey from the west
by Cindy, on Flickr

In the Churchill War Room, someone drew a doodle of Hitler on one of the maps


Hitler doodle
by Cindy, on Flickr

Looking down at Parliament and Big Ben from the Eye

Parliament
by Cindy, on Flickr

Our son, hanging with the lions in Trafalgar Square


Hanging with the lion
by Cindy, on Flickr
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten




#8
Miami
729 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Hi Cindy,

Love your review, we are going to London next April for 3 days before our cruise.

ISA
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Carnival Victory 5/15/2017 (Birthday cruise)
Carnival Fantasy 10/31/2016 (Halloween)
Carnival Glory 10/3/2016 ( Fun cruise)
Carnival VISTA!! 5/24/2016(Mediterranean cruise)
Carnival Breeze 5/1/2016 ( good bye Breeze)
Carnival Glory 12/5/2015 (Fun cruise)
Bimini superfast 7/18/2015
MSC Divina 4/22/2015
Carnival Liberty 11/09/2013
carnival imagination 10/28/2013(Halloween)
Carnival Imagination 4/15/2013
Carnival Valor 9/15/2013 favorite cruise
Carnival Imagination 10/29/2012(Halloween)
Carnival Imagination 6/22/2012
Carnival Glory 4/22/2012
Carnival Destiny 10/31/2011(Halloween)
Holland America 11/30/2010
Carnival Liberty 5/1/2010
RCI Majesty of the seas 11/30/2009
Carnival Triumph 5/3/2009
Carnival Imagination 10/20/2008
Carnival Fascination 10/10/2007
Carnival Imagination 5/4/2007
Dolphin cruise (Bahama)1984

Up coming cruise
Carnival Splendor 10/22/2017
#9
Redditch England
1,892 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Good review, and a reminder to others, maybe those not as energetic, that it is easy to bite off more than you can chew.
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“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
#10
882 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Following your review with interest. We will be travelling to London for nights next August. Especially interested the Victory Service Club, as it is one of the reciprocal clubs available to us in London. (We have stayed at the Naval Club and Lansdowne Club on prior trips).
How were the accommodations at the VSC? Do you happen to have any pictures of the club/rooms? There aren't a lot of information/pictures on line.
Thanks!
#11
Chicago, IL
941 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by tnt10
Following your review with interest. We will be travelling to London for nights next August. Especially interested the Victory Service Club, as it is one of the reciprocal clubs available to us in London. (We have stayed at the Naval Club and Lansdowne Club on prior trips).
How were the accommodations at the VSC? Do you happen to have any pictures of the club/rooms? There aren't a lot of information/pictures on line.
Thanks!
So, we were 3 people traveling, which if you're not aware, is not easy to find accommodations for in Europe. We got lucky by someone telling us about this place. We really loved it! It's an older building, but some parts are a little newer looking. We had a family room, with the bathroom inside our room. We saw some really small rooms, when housekeeping was around, for single or maybe double travelers. Then, they didn't have a bathroom in there, just a sink it looked like.


I thought I took like one or two pictures of our room, but I think I deleted them, they may have been crappy. But honestly, the family room was quite spacious! We ate in the dining room twice as well. The first time was a little odd, not bad at all, but it was late on Sunday, we just almost felt out of place. It's hard to explain. I think we were getting used to the lack of a dedicated waiter, like we're used to in the states. We realized as we stayed on that this is common in London ( Europe in general) and they don't work for tips like here in the states. Our second time eating there was much better, we had a really nice meal and chat with one of the waiters we had.


For the price and location, it really can't be beat. I would totally recommend it to those who are eligible. Oh, and the one doorman was awesome! He gave us some great advice and recommendations. Just very friendly people!
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten




#13
Romsey England
11,627 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by kctwinmommy
We walked down to the coast that afternoon, in the rain/fog of course.



English road
by Cindy, on Flickr
Hi Cindy,

Yes your photos kinda prove the point about the rain & fog.
The west of the UK is far wetter than the east, though that's usually more noticeable in the winter months & you were a bit unlucky.
The county of Cornwall is separated from the county of Devon (& Plymouth) by the River Tamar. A Plymouth saying is "If you can see across the Tamar to Cornwall it's going to rain. If you can't, it's already raining".

The weather in Wales is equally unreliable. A quote from Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert - " In the Bible, God made it rain for 40 days and 40 nights. That’s a pretty good summer for Wales.".

Enjoyed your review

JB
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Anyone who looks like their passport photo is too ill to travel (Will Kommen)
#16
Chicago, IL
941 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Our 2nd full day in London wasn't as crazy as our first! LOL! We had the London Pass that we used again, for the Tower of London. This time, we used the Oyster card to get around faster. So we hopped on, but the wrong one! LOL! So we got off about 5 blocks from the TOL and had to hustle over there. We were trying to get there right when they opened as we had read the lines get long, fast. We were just a little late, about 9:15 we got there. With the London Pass (which I've read has changed since then) we had the fast pass option here. So we didn't have to wait in line for tickets, we just walked right in line. We got through the gates in about 5 minutes. We did head right over to the Crown Jewels. Again, all the guides suggest doing it right away as the lines are shorter, which they were. So we were able to go right into the building, then it's a little slower walk through the whole exhibit. It takes maybe 30 minutes to go through there, and some amazing things to see. When we came out, there was already a line outside the building.

We spent a few hours at the TOL and then went over to the Tower Bridge exhibit. Again, our London Pass fast pass option meant we just got in line there. You can take an elevator up, or the stairs. I didn't realize we took the stairs! LOL! But there is a place to stop, they do a little presentation about the bridge, then you go up the rest of the way. I have to say, it was really cool, worth the time. You can walk along one side, then the other. They have all these glass floor parts too.

We didn't do as much this day as we had to get back to the hotel for the theater that night. We all needed to clean up, change, and grab some dinner before the show. We walked around the theater area there, the Soho District, and found this little Italian place, La Pastaia. It's nothing fancy, smaller menu, but we enjoyed the food. It's a smaller place. We had a fabulous time at the show of course - it's my favorite and I hadn't seen it since it's debut here in Chicago in 1989! I will say the Queen's Theater was a bit less impressive than I was expecting. And we were all dressed up, as I do when we go to the theater. So I was a little surprised, although I guess I shouldn't be, that the show was very casual. Being so popular, in the summer, high tourist months, there's a lot of people who are going. We've actually been to see it now in Chicago, it came 2 months ago, and it'd been awhile since going to the theater here. I realize it's changed in general, people don't dress up anymore.

Tower of London

Tower of London
by Cindy, on Flickr

Beefeater

Beefeater watching the crowd
by Cindy, on Flickr

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge B&W
by Cindy, on Flickr

A little freaky! LOL!

Silly family
by Cindy, on Flickr

Les Miz!

Les Miserables!
by Cindy, on Flickr
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Cindy

Past Cruises:
*Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas 2017 - Southampton, Le Havre, Hamburg, Oslo, & Bruges, and time in the UK/London

Trip Report - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post53711073
* RCI & Carnival cruise comparison post - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2526532
* Carnival Magic 2016 - Curacao, Aruba, Grand Turk
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2427055

* Carnival Legend 2016 - Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria
Trip Report http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2382500
Pre-cruise trip report (Seattle) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2381435



* Carnival Valor 2015 - Bahamas, (detoured to) Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico
* MSC Melody 2002 - Key West, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Jamaica
* Carnival Fantasy 2005 - Bahamas
* Carnival Glory 2006 - Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten