Recently we took a cruise to The British Isles and it was absolutely amazing. I’d never been to Europe before but dreamed of going since I was a little girl. If you have not traveled to Europe but want to do so, this is a great way to explore!
The cruise is twelve days and leaves from Dublin, Ireland ending in Amsterdam.
Here are the ports of call that we experienced:
Cork/Cobh, Ireland (You will need to take a train to Cork. The ship will pull into Cobh)
Dover, England (Transportation will be needed to bring you into town)
Le Havre (It will show up as Paris/Le Havre but Paris is a three-hour ride from Le Havre. Your best bet is to take a cab to the pretty city of Honfleur)
Bruges, Belgium (You will need to take a bus into Bruges)
It appears that the British Isles cruise for 2020 has slightly different ports of call:
Loch Ness, Scotland
We flew into Dublin and arrived mid-day. It was chilly, drizzly and gray which I had not really prepared for. If you go to Dublin in June, bring sweaters and long sleeves! At the last moment, I tossed my lightweight raincoat in my suitcase and I’m so glad I did!
Something we always do is fly in ahead of time to give us a cushion in case of bad weather and flight delays. The hotel we stayed in is called StayCity and it was a great location- close to the city but a few blocks from the craziness. You can view this hotel here. Everyone there was extremely helpful and kind. The people we encountered in Ireland were very friendly! Every restaurant we ate in was fantastic, great food and service.
I would go back to Ireland tomorrow if I had the chance!
From the hotel, we took a cab to the cruise terminal where we got on board the Celebrity Reflection. This is a mid-size ship that is elegant with lots of places to grab food or a drink. The cabins are pretty standard and there never seems to be enough room but we made it work. I was so happy to put my clothes away and settle in for twelve days. I don’t think the time has ever flown so quickly as it did on this trip. One day we were unpacking and the next it was time to pack up and leave!
If you go on this cruise, know that it is a whirlwind of adventure! You will want to explore each port if you’ve never been there before. At each stop, we either took a Hop On/Hop Off bus to get an overview of the city or we booked an excursion through the ship. Whatever we did, however, we ended up walking an average of seven miles each day, if not more.
It’s essential that you have very good walking shoes with you. I just wrote a feature over on Always5Star about the best shoes for walking and travel, so check that out. In addition to the shoes I mentioned there, I wore my Adidas sneakers which held up well.
The weather was very different in Dublin (damp, chilly) compared to Bruges (very hot)
If you are going to do this cruise which I cannot recommend enough, be sure to have these essentials with you.
Here’s my must-have list for the British Isles cruise:
This fan is for inside the cruise cabin or hotel room which never seems to get cold enough at night. I also like to have the air circulating. We brought two of these fans with us.
If you are in Dublin, expect drizzle. It was a light rain which required a jacket like this. This exact jacket folds up really small and is lightweight, has pockets and a hood. I used it a lot during this trip.
I absolutely love this tote bag. It’s big enough to fit an iPad, Kindle, phone, snacks, wallet, makeup bag, pens, keys, sunglasses and has room left over. In a pinch, I also placed my Canon camera inside while eating in a restaurant or sitting down. I especially like the fact it zips across the top, we were warned a few times about pick-pockets in big cities so I always made sure to keep it zipped.
The neutral colors were perfect to go with whatever I wore.
A crossbody bag is a must for hands-free travel! This one is ideal with all the zippered compartments. It packs very well since it’s so light and I was able to fit my wallet, little makeup bag (I always have my lipgloss and hair ties), phone, and other things like brochures and maps. It’s also waterproof! And at under twenty dollars, its an absolute must have.
Outlet Adapter *** VERY IMPORTANT***
I am clueless about voltage and power. All I know is that I plugged my blow dryer into the outlet converter and it worked for a second then began to smoke. Here is a good article detailing the electric situation.
You need the outlet and also a transformer. Not just the plug thing. A set up like this one will come in handy.
I used the blow dryers provided by the hotels but I missed using my own. I skipped the curling iron completely and wore hats every day! I strongly encourage you to research what you will need for your situation. Charging electronics, using a blow dryer, powering up a laptop, this won’t be a problem on the cruise ship which has the regular (American) outlets but in hotel rooms, you will require some kind of adapter.
You might not even open it but its good to have in case of rain. I checked the forecast leading up to our trip and the days promised to be partly cloudy and in the 60s, the reality was that steady light drizzle and damp air. I brought my small umbrella just in case.
I like this one which is windproof and comes in a variety of colors. It folds up and can be tucked into a side pocket of a bag or backpack.
Gloves in June? Who would think to pack gloves? Well, you should! I wish I did. Because I am so sensitive to cold, damp weather, my hands were chilled. Bring them just in case. The days we were in Dublin, Liverpool, and Belfast, I was freezing. Tuck these gloves into your pockets and you’ll be prepared for cool weather.
You really don’t need heavy duty mittens or thick leather gloves, something like these will do the trick.
When I am getting ready for a day out and about, I don’t want to fuss with my hair. Typically, a ponytail and hat is how I roll. I hate the sensation of wind in my hair, I don’t like feeling that my hair is knotted, I also don’t want to spend time curling or straightening it only to have it get rained on and ruined. Also, I want to avoid getting too much sun in my face. Therefore, I wore a hat every day!
I alternated between a simple black ball cap or a lightweight fedora. The ball cap folded in half and I kept it in my purse if I didn’t start out the day wearing it.
Something light that you can easily pack, a cardigan is going to be your most used item on a cruise. Its ideal for layering- wear a tee shirt, cardigan, light raincoat plus hat and scarf and you will be ready for anything.
A black cardigan is probably the first thing I pack. I noticed my friend who we traveled with, also wore a black cardigan all the time. In the dining room on the cruise ship, where you might be a little cold due to the AC, the cardigan is perfect with just about any dress.
I prefer a longer cardigan like this one, and I’d recommend it getting one in gray too.
Lightweight Long Sleeved Sweater
Again, for those cooler locations, this is nice to wear and can be layered. Gray or black is a good choice because it will match with almost everything.
A large scarf can double as a light blanket especially on the airplane. Along with my raincoat, I tossed this into my suitcase at the last minute and am glad I did! This one comes in a wide variety of colors and is under eleven dollars. You can roll it up and stick it in your carry on bag.
This is the most random thing on this list but I came down with a terrible cold while on our trip and was desperate for cold medicine. In some of the places we went to in Europe, they have their own brands of medicine and there was nothing that was suitable for runny noses, cough, congestion, ear pain, and sore throats. I bought a variety of medicines to help me and nothing did the trick. I had my Oil of Oregano and throat lozenges too but nothing helped me until I got to London and found something similar to good old fashioned DayQuil.
Do yourself a favor and bring cold medicine! Maybe bring allergy medicine, something for an upset stomach, etc. Have a large ziplock bag and fill it with anything you might need in case you get sick. Or else you will find yourself stopping at every single pharmacy from Dover to Bruges.
I will be writing more about cruising the British Isles so stay tuned!