Tag: Cruise (Page 2 of 8)

Posts that detail our experiences when on cruises.

Sea day

A day at sea means little more than eating, drinking and lazing. Which is nice.

After dinner we head to Crooners Bar on Deck 6 and score two seats at the bar. This turns out to be a risky move as Richard, head bartender, rarely serves the drink you order. Instead he will yell ‘boring’ before presenting you with another drink he thinks you will prefer – and he’s inevitably right.


Top tip: Do not order a ‘Dirty Banana’ from Richard – this is guaranteed to make him yell ‘Boring!’


Later we head down to the Princess Theatre. Tonight I made the mistake of submitting a terrible joke / question for the celebrity cooking show in the main theatre. On the plus side, I got to eat an inch-thick porterhouse steak and deep fried squid cooked by John Torode, so there is that.

Oslo tomorrow.

Slow in Oslo

We’ve arrived in Oslo without any firm plans, so there won’t be much on the agenda. After breakfast we fight our way through the crowds down on the dock and indulge our dark tourism tendencies by heading for the Vår Frelsers gravlund (Our Saviour graveyard) and the grave of Edvard Munch.

We make a detour at the Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church) to pick up a geocache (#GC1XE09) and take a quick look at the Devil of Oslo. On our (uphill) journey we notice that just about everyone in Oslo goes running on a Sunday morning – there are packs of joggers everywhere.


Top tip: They take Sunday seriously in Oslo, so all the shops are shut. If you’re going on a shopping spree, visit on a Saturday.


Dark tourism done for the day, we head back down the hill in search of a bar. Passing a pro-Ukraine rally, we take a patio seat at the Williamsburg Bab & Beer kebab restaurant. They may have craft beers and free WiFi, but at more than £22 for two pints, you can’t afford to stay for long.

UPDATE MAY 2024: It appears that the Williamsburg pub has closed and been replaced by The Scotsman bar.


Top tip: Alcohol is ridiculously expensive in Norway. Your best bet is to head back to the ship if you really want a cocktail or second beer.


We squeeze in another geocache (#GCJ3CA) on the way back to the dock and then back onto the ship. Enchanted Princess sails quite early in the afternoon, allowing us to really enjoy the views as we head back to the Baltic.

Copenhagen tomorrow.

Coping in Carlsberg, Copenhagen

Docking at midday, we had initially planned to spend the day at Tivoli. However, the weather looks pretty poor so we decide to try something different.

Boarding the 164 bus from the stop directly opposite the cruise terminal, we head down to the Nordhavn train station. We then jump on the ‘B’ train down to Carlsberg station (definitely not probably the best station in the world).


Top tip: You can buy a 24 hour ticket valid for all public transport for 80 DKK from the vending machine next to the kebab shop opposite the cruise terminal


This area used to be the home of the original Carlsberg brewery and there are some great brick building reminders. However, we’re here for the Elephant Gate:

Suspicious elephant seen, we’re back on the bus towards Assistens Cemetery for some more dark tourism. Here we come across two ‘celebrity’ graves – Hans Christian Andersen and Nils Bohr. The graveyard is surprisingly busy – not with tourists, but dozens of Danes walking and jogging.

There are also some quite unusual headstones to see:

We walk back up to the Nørrebros Runddel metro station and hop on the M3 to Copenhagen central station. We score an outside table at the very welcoming Jernbanecafeen and sample a local ale. The pub is a family-run affair and very well looked after – apparently it is also the third best bar in Copenhagen. Again, not cheap, but more pleasant than many we have visited.

Afterwards it’s back to the ship and a quick snooze before dinner.

Hop on, hop off

We’ve been to Copenhagen before, doing our own whistle-stop tour of sights from The Bridge. Because the ship sails early at 4pm, there isn’t a huge amount of time to do anything.

We decide to take it easy. There’s two or three geocaches (#GC4GQMG, #GC85DRJ and #GC5752N) within easy walking distance of the ship, so we decide to find those, then spend the rest of the day lazing onboard.

The caches take us an hour or two, then we try out the hot tubs. That’s plenty of activity for today.

Skagen tomorrow.

Fishy town

We arrive in Skagen early in the morning. As soon as we open the balcony doors we are greeted by the overwhelming smell of fish – this is very much a working fishing port.

We had planned to do an escape room in Skagen, but realise it’s further from the port than we initially thought. We then discuss doing the six mile round trip to the Skagen lighthouse on foot.

Instead we buy two shuttle bus tickets. One for the short journey into the centre of the town and a second for the trip to Grenen. We take the opportunity to grab a quick geocache (#GC3C3KE) in the centre of town before boarding the second bus. This takes us out to the very end of Denmark, the point where the North and Baltic seas meet.

Even from Grenen car park, it is a considerable walk across sand dunes and the beach, but eventually we reach a very long, thin sand bar that marks the meeting point. Rolling up our trousers we do the tourist thing and stand with one foot in each sea. Clichéd perhaps, but still good fun – and the weather is lovely.

For dark tourists, there are several WW2 bunkers left behind by the Germans in varying states of disrepair.

After the epic walk we are glad we bought the shuttle bus tickets – even though we have to queue for about 45 minutes for the next bus.

Skagen itself is fairly unremarkable, but it was apparently incredibly popular with Danish artists over the years. Something to do with the light apparently. Lin reckons she could spend another day easygoing here, looking around and maybe enjoying one of the local restaurants.

Tonight is formal night and we have been invited to the Elite Captain’s Circle cocktail party. Held in the Vista Lounge, one must pass a phalanx of senior ship crew who applaud you as you enter – a little disconcerting for us as relative newcomers to cruising.

Once seated we are treated to free cocktails and a short presentation by the chief officer for guest loyalty. The three most travelled guests are each awarded a bottle of champagne and then we are sent on our way once more.

Afterwards we take our chances at Crooners Bar once more. It’s fun.

Homeward bound

Another day at sea is another excuse to try out the hot tubs on deck. We are lucky and manage to secure a space in one on the main deck. I even do a few laps of the (unheated) swimming pool in a fit of madness.

The day is unremarkable. After dinner we go to the Princess Theatre, this time to catch celebrity chef and presenter of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Matt Tebbutt. Although he cooks a couple of dishes, the session is mainly memorable for the banter. Matt is hilarious and interacts well with a group of alcohol-fuelled ladies who heckle him almost continuously. We have a great time.

We’ve really enjoyed this voyage, so it will be a shame to wake up in Southampton tomorrow. Fortunately we have a trip to New York booked for early October…

Twas the night before Heathrow

Because we will not be returning by the way we departed, this trip is a little different to normal. We’re flying out to New York from Heathrow to pick up our ship, Sky Princess, then sailing back to Southampton via the Eastern Seaboard. This means that we can’t park at the airport like we would normally.

Instead, we catch the National Express coach from Marks Tey (via Stansted). The journey is relatively straightforward, but there are a few things to note:

  • Tickets are cheap. Like really cheap. Much cheaper than parking at Heathrow for a week.
  • The coach stop at Marks Tey is not marked as such. Check for the location on the National Express website first which has a handy, precise map display for every stop on their network.
  • The coach has free WiFi on board. It is rubbish.
  • Journey time is slightly longer than driving yourself, but the coach stops right at the terminals in Heathrow. For us, we thought that was a decent trade-off.
  • You can earn all-important Avios points by booking through the BA Executive shopping site.

When travelling from Heathrow on an early flight, we typically stay at a local hotel the night before. This makes choosing a hotel somewhat tricky because you have to park somewhere overnight, and then find a way to get to the terminal in the morning. We avoid taxis because they are ridiculously expensive for a 5 minute ride to the airport. 

So far we have found four ways to reach Heathrow, each with their own complications.

  1. Choose a hotel on Bath Road
    This involves catching the “Heathrow Hoppa” bus from the terminal to the hotel. Reverse the process next day. Problem? The Hoppa may not start early enough in the morning to get you to the airport on time.
  2. Book parking with Purple Parking
    The long stay Purple Parking carpark is within easy walking distance of some of the Bath Road hotels, most notably the Premier Inn. Park up the night before and walk to your hotel. In the morning, walk back to the carpark and catch the free shuttle bus to your terminal. Problem? It can take quite a while to get to and from the terminals.
  3. Book official parking
    Similar to above, park the previous day and catch the included shuttle bus to your terminal. Problem? Your choice of hotels is limited to those within easy walking distance of the actual terminals. This includes Yotel and Hilton Garden Inn (Terminal 2 and 3), Sofitel (Terminal 5) and Holiday Inn Express (Terminal 4) – all of which tend to be quite expensive because of their location. The runway view from the Hilton Garden Inn bar is amazing though, so, if you can afford it…
  4. Stay at the Thistle Hotel
    Heathrow has an unusual driverless transport system that runs to one of their ‘business class’ carparks. The Thistle Hotel Terminal 5 is located behind said carpark and they have an agreement with Heathrow to allow their guests to use the pods to get there. Problem? You need a code to get through the gate between car park and hotel – which will cost you £6 per person each way.

We decided to try option 4 this time for three reasons. First, the pods look like fun. Second, we were able to pick up a room at the Thistle for just £54 on booking.com, allowing you to earn Avios on the stay using BA Executive Club. Third, this seems to be a really hassle-free ending to our journey.


Top tip: You can ride the pods at Heathrow for free – just press the button to return to the terminal when you reach the end of the line.


Here a map showing your hotel options near Heathrow Terminal 5. Most will require a taxi or Resort Hoppa transfer to reach:


Once at Heathrow, we make our way to Level 2 and the Pod Parking station. These self-driving pods are quite good fun and take just five minutes to reach the car park. The gate into the Thistle Hotel is easy to find and we are buzzed through by reception. It’s a bit of a walk with our suitcases to the front desk, but once there we are checked in in a matter of minutes. As an added bonus we are not charged for the inbound journey on the Pod.


Top tip: The Pods are not an option for guests at other nearby hotels like the Premier Inn. This is an exclusive agreement with Heathrow so Thistle staff will not sell gate access to non-guests.


We’re assigned room 173 on the first floor which is a bit of a pain when travelling with three suitcases. It’s quite a walk from reception and involves a few flights of stairs (there is no lift in that part of the building). However, the room does have a runway view which is brilliant. We’ve stayed in a ground floor room at the back of the Thistle before and it was very tired. This room is a bit knocked about, but the bathroom is nicer this time.

Later we head into the restaurant to watch the planes, consume some beers and have some dinner. Beers are ~£7 a pint. Expect to spend approx £15 on a main course. Lin says her steak and ale pie is good and I enjoy my bangers and mash which makes the bill a little more palatable.

Afterwards we head across the road to McDonalds for dessert. It’s busy but very, very efficient. It’s also much cheaper (and just as enjoyable) as dessert at the hotel restaurant.

Would we recommend the Thistle Hotel Heathrow? If you’re just looking for a cheap place to crash before an early morning flight, this is a really good choice.

So that’s pretty much it. Next stop, New York.


Please note that although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Boarding Sky

Thanks to jet lag we’re both awake long before 6am so I volunteer to go and get coffee. After convincing the sleeping desk clerk to open the front door I realise it’s raining. As I step into the street I realise it’s raining

I cross a few blocks without finding a single open coffee shop. For a city that never sleeps, New York seems to be closed a lot. Disappointed I return to the hotel and we both wait for breakfast.

The shower in our room is rubbish, as is the WiFi, but the toiletries are decent. The breakfast is limited in choice but plentiful. We both agree that The Wall Street Inn is actually pretty decent and has much more character than one of the hundreds of chain hotels in the city. We would come back.

We check out just after 10am and walk down to Pier 11 to catch the ferry to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. The trip will cost $4 each and drops us right next to the ship. Once there however, it turns out that the ship is not yet ready to accept new arrivals. The terminal fills up quickly with stroppy cruisers who want to start their holiday.

Finally we are allowed on board Sky Princess. We stop for our customary sandwich and cocktail in the Plaza and then head up to our cabin stateroom to unpack. This time round we have booked a balcony room and the reduction in space is quite noticeable. But such is life.

With nothing planned, we spend the rest of the day chilling onboard the Sky Princess. Tomorrow we will do a little more exploring.


Please note that although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Back to the city

Initially we had planned to do some dark tourism on Roosevelt Island, but in the end we decide it’s too much hassle to catch two NYC ferries upriver.

Instead we decide to go full tourist and head towards Times Square. Seeing the enormous queue for the NYC ferry, we opt to walk to the nearest subway station (Smith-9 Streets). 


Top tip: You can save a few seconds by buying tickets through the NYC Ferry app. This will allow you to sidestep the ultra-long queue at the ticket vending machine.
Given that there are many hundreds of cruise passengers waiting for each ferry and that this particular route only runs every 40 minutes, you may need to consider the long walk to the subway.
Downloads: iOS / Android


It’s a good 20-25 minute walk through some areas that Linda thinks are a little ‘sketchy’. But hey, that’s Red Hook for you. And it’s still faster than waiting for an NYC ferry that we might not even get on.

Thankfully, it’s straight through on the ‘F’ train to 42 Street-Bryant Pk. Once there we take the obligatory tourist pics in Times Square, then head towards the Garment District because Lin wants to buy some zips. We trawl through a few shops without success before giving up. 

Heading back to the subway we stop at Yard House to sample some of their 260 beers on tap. It’s not cheap, but at least we get to try as many as we like before committing to a full glass. The classic rock soundtrack is pretty cool too.

Afterwards we decide to go straight back to the ship. Even though we don’t sail until 7pm, we don’t want to get caught up in a mega-queue for the NYC ferry again. We arrive 30 minutes before the next ferry and are both extremely relieved to find the queue is quite manageable at Pier 11. But it starts to grow. And grow. And grow.

As we queue, the ferry employees announce that President Joe Biden will be in town tonight – and that the ferry will close from 5pm for a few hours to accommodate him. That could cause some problems for cruisers returning after dinner! We’re entertained by a constant procession of helicopters landing at the pier side heliport – and the presidential air convoy as it passes overhead.

Back on board we watch as Manhattan slips away in the darkness. It looks spectacular from the water. 

Tomorrow we arrive in Newport, Rhode Island.

Our first Rhodeo – Rhode Island

The first stop on our journey back to the UK is Newport in Rhode Island.

Newport is ok, pretty much exactly what you imagine a town in New England to look like. The journey into port by tender is pretty good (I always enjoy the tender for some reason).

We do a bit of geocaching (#GC8FWQP, #GC88TKT) and take in some of the sights listed on Atlas Obscura. Newport seems to be a town that doesn’t like to wake up very early, so we have to wander around for some time before the bars open.

Apparently aliens built this tower.

Our dark tourism tendencies draw us to the Rhode Island Jailhouse Inn in search of an atmospheric beer. Too late we discover the Inn is actually a guesthouse. So instead we stop in at the Brick Alley Pub. The beer is ok, the decor suitably cliché and touristy.

A quick nose around the shops, a new Christmas tree decoration bought and then it’s back to the Sky Princess.

« Older posts Newer posts »

Please note that Journey Into Darkness does not select, endorse or control the advertisements shown above. See our Affiliate Disclosure page for more info.