A Transatlantic Princess Cruise From England to Florida
15 Day Transatlantic Cruise on the Royal Princess
My husband and I just returned from a 15 day transatlantic cruise on the Royal Princess cruise ship. This was our second cruise on the Royal Princess, but our third transatlantic cruise. We enjoy taking transatlantic cruises because there are lots of days when the ship is at sea and although some people find days at sea boring, we find that very relaxing.
The cruise ship left the port of Southampton, England at 5:00 pm Sunday, September 6th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Monday, September 21st, 2015. People are often surprised when I tell them that I was on a cruise ship for two weeks. Many of them think they would be bored, especially because we had six days in a row at sea. But my husband and I usually enjoy sea days on a cruise more than the port days. If you have never taken a transatlantic cruise, and think you might be able to handle about half of the days of the cruise at sea, you definitely should look into a transatlantic cruise because they have very good prices.
The stops on our cruise were:
- 1) Left from Southampton, England
- 2) Rotterdam, Holland
- 3) LeHavre, France
- 4) Vigo, Spain
- 5) Lisbon, Portugal
- 6) Ended in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Our first stop was in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
This stop was for all of one day, and then half the next day. We took a bus trip into the city of Amsterdam and went to The Amsterdam Museum, had a Heineken at a bar in the city since Heineken is brewed in Amsterdam, went to a restaurant called, Hage Klage for a typical Dutch dinner which included beef stew and of course, more Heineken.
Rotterdam Flea Market
The following day we went into the city of Rotterdam and had a wonderful time at an indoor/outdoor flea market that offered everything from food to clothing. It was an amazing sight to behold. I enjoyed the multitude of fresh baked goods and fresh produce much more than the line up of fresh fish. To a seafood lover I am sure the fish looked wonderful but looking at and smelling dead fish was not high on my list of experiences!
Our next stop was in the cruise port of LeHavre in France. We left the ship early in the morning and went on a tour by bus to the beaches of Normandy. This was a trip my husband has always wanted to take, but it made me sad. We went to three different beaches, saw an old German gun battlement with the actual guns still in the embankments, and to the D-Day museum. I found going to the Normandy beaches and seeing the fields that American soldiers lost their lives while fighting the Germans very eerie, and it just was so sad to be on that now hallowed ground. The trip was supposed to include a visit to the American cemetery but unfortunately it was closed that day due to a security issue.
The trip included a wonderful typical French meal at a local golf club. We had a view of the sea out a nearby window and that was pretty special. We were treated to a delicious meal of chicken breast, baked tomato, potato and a sweet and creamy custard for desert.
The next stop was in the city of Vigo in northern Spain. We went on a walking tour of a medieval town within the city of Vigo, Spain. I spent a LOT of time walking around the town and taking pictures of the 16th century churches and buildings. We had one hour of time on our own which we spent at a cafe and had Cokes and a little snack of tapas that they brought out for us. We had Cokes because I saw them on other tables and we don't speak Spanish and we didn't know how to order anything else!
I was amazed at the age of many of the buildings, including churches that were in this part of town. I spent most of my time taking pictures of these buildings and the beautiful alleys that were closed to cars.
The next stop was in Lisbon, Portugal. We took a combination bus/walking tour of the highlights of Lisbon which included the National Maritime Museum, the oldest part of the city the Alfama, and Jeronimo’s Monastery. The museum focused on many of the explorers that came from Portugal originally, and had many examples of Portugese boats, from fishing boats to boats of royalty. The monastery was huge and built in the sixteenth century.
Ponta Delgada, The Azores
Our last stop was in Ponta Delgada. We shopped in the stores at the port of Ponta Delgada in the town of San Miguel in the Azores and had a sangria at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. We have been at this stop many times before and have taken tours to various parts of the island to see a botanical garden, beautiful lakes, and natural hot pools.For those who don't want to take a tour, cruisers can get off the ship and walk around the dock area which has five stores with crafts and souvenirs, and plenty of restaurants. Many of the restaurants offer free WiFi for customers who order food and drink.
The Royal Princess Cruise Ship
We enjoy cruising with the Princess Cruise line the most although we have cruised with Norwegian cruise lines and Holland America. Princess seems to offer exactly what we need at a reasonable price.
We chose the Royal Princess because it is one of the newer ships Princess Cruise lines offers and my husband enjoys newer ships more. The ship, built in 2013, has a capacity for just over 3,500 passengers. If you enjoy ocean cruising on larger ships, the Royal Princess is definitely one to try.
One of the most exciting things about the Royal princess ship is the SeaWalk which is a glassed walkway with a 128 foot view directly down to the sea! Walking over this passageway does produce a bit of anxiety, especially if you are afraid of heights, but still it's a fascinating experience.
Like all Princess ships, a big draw is the Movies Under the Stars screen which allows movies to be shown on the pool deck. Crew members fit each lounge chair on the deck with a cover complete with pillow and provide blankets and free popcorn to the audience. It's like a drive-in movie but much more comfortable! And at various times during the day, a fountain dances to music and scenes on the Movies Under the Stars screen. At night, colored lights really make the fountain show come alive.
Along with the usual cruise ship free dining room choices, the Royal princess offers a pizza restaurant which is complimentary. In the large atrium there is a gelato station for which there is a nominal charge.
We truly enjoyed our cruise on the Royal Princess not only for her new and exciting additions, but also for the transatlantic itinerary.
On Board the Royal Princess
While on the ship when not on a tour, and on sea days, here is a list of what I did:
- Read 1 book, “Into the Wild” about a young man named Chris McCandless who purposefully went into the wild of Alaska to live by his own means, and died there after four months at the age of 24.
- Attended a concert by a man named Travis Turpin who is a wonderful vocal impersonator.
- Attended a classical music strings concert by a group named, “Liberty” which was four young women from the Ukraine.
- Attended a concert by Chris Watkins on an electric violin.
- Attended an electric guitar concert.
- Attended three variety shows with the ship’s singers and dancers.
- Attended a show by comedian Tom Briscoe.
- Watched a water fountain show set to music outside on Deck 16
- Shopped in the ship stores
- Had formal portraits taken by the ship’s photographer
- Went to three specialty sales on the ship to purchase cruise wear on sale.
- Attended a pub lunch at The Crown Grill restaurant
- Attended a beauty party offered by the ship’s spa staff.
- Took a tour of the Royal Princess Thermal Spa.
- Watched one of those movies on the large screen on a top deck at the “Movies Under the Stars” event which included free popcorn and lounge chairs with blankets and pillows.
- Attended three free cocktail parties hosted by the captain.
- Participated in the “On Deck for the Cure” walk for Breast Cancer.
- Walked 10 miles on the outdoor walking track.
- Swam twice in the adults’ only pool.
- Went in the hot tub twice on the adults’ only deck.
- Observed dolphins swimming alongside the ship off the coast of Spain.
- Went dancing with my husband.
- Went to breakfast with another couple we met that are from Michigan.
- Wrote five blog entries about the cruise for my blog, “Second Marriage Romance.”
- Watched a flower arranging presentation
- Gave my husband a ship’s tour for his birthday present.
- Celebrated my husband’s birthday with him.
- Attended an International Concert
- Went to a church service on board the ship.
- Watched a total of 20 movies, including:
A Little Chaos
If I Stay
Some Kind of Beautiful
The Age of Adeline
The Best of Me
The Fault in Our Stars
The Theory of Everything
This is Where I Leave You
Wish I Was Here
Now although these are the things that I did personally, there were plenty more activities available to cruise guests. Among some of the activities I could have done but chose not to do were:
- Line dancing, ballroom and Zumba fitness classes
- Trivia games with the cruise staff
- The Marriage Game with the cruise staff
- A second comedian show
- An Illusionist show
- Two port lectures
- Five lectures on Investing in the 21st century
- Used the Fitness Center
- More movies
- More books to read in the library which also had games that could be borrowed
- An Ice Sculpting presentation
- A backstage tour of the singer/dancing shows
- More concerts
- Book one of the many spa services that were available
- Participated in Clay Pigeon shooting
- Played Ping Pong…
And much more, but my husband and I go on cruises to relax and choose to do only things that will make us happy. Spending a lot of money on spa services does not make us happy, but they are available for cruisers to use.
I love to take cruises, and my favorite two cruise lines are Princess and Norwegian Cruise lines, although I do think that Princess has more available activities and that’s important when you take a transatlantic cruise, or any cruise that has a lot of days at sea.