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Cruising the British Isles ~ Day 1: The Floating Boutique

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Jan115

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August 2, 2012 ~ Embarkation on the tiny Ocean Princess was the smoothest we’ve ever experienced. We arrived at approximately 1:00 pm to check in. Our luggage was quickly whisked away, and we were warmly welcomed into the cruise terminal with smiling, happy faces. No lines, friendly staff, and all very fast and efficient, yet leisurely. There were even crew members waiting on board to show us the way to our cabin – not that you we needed help – the ship’s not that big. It was like a scene from “The Love Boat.”

The balcony cabin on Deck 7 was roomy enough, with plenty of storage space. However, the sleeper sofa when opened to the sleeper position, we would soon discover, blocked the way to the balcony. The end of the bed can be folded back – but not so easy if there is someone sleeping in it. So I found myself crawling over Jenn while she slumbered in the rather uncomfortable sleeper sofa, to get to the balcony whenever something interesting caught my eye off the starboard side, much to her dismay. On the other hand, our bed was perfectly comfortable. The bathroom seemed a tad roomier than the other ships we’ve been on and had plenty of storage. The balcony was large enough with a small round table and two reclining-back chairs. Honestly, though, there were several days when it was just too windy, cold or drizzly – or we were just too busy – to spend much time out there. Our cabin steward did a great job refreshing the cabin daily and always greeted us with a warm smile.

The ship’s interior design contains a lot of wood paneling, mirrors, art and floral designs, giving the feeling of a traditional cruise ship of the past – a classy look, and I loved it! No room portrayed this better than the ship’s library.

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Wood paneled walls, fireplace and a ceiling mural gave this room a warm, intimate look – a great, quiet place to curl up with a book or just sit and relax. The central staircase on decks 4 and 5 is beautiful and reminiscent of the staircase scenes with Jack and Rose on the Titanic, except on a smaller and less grand scale.

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The passenger demographic was much more mature and well-traveled – okay, “older” – than the cruises we’ve taken in the Caribbean on the big ships, though a few kids were spotted around the ship, as well as a number of younger couples. There was certainly no concern over “deck chair hogs” on this tiny ship in this cooler climate. Due to rain, drizzle and chill, the deck was vacant most of the time, and activity took place inside.

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However, I did spot a brave person in the pool on one warmer afternoon, and the hot tubs seemed to be used often. Those who did choose to sit outside were bundled in sweaters, including myself!

One nice thing about the small size of the ship was that everything we needed was either a deck or two above or below our cabin and never more than a couple of flights of stairs away – very convenient. Due to British maritime law, the casino was closed throughout most of the cruise (woo – saved some money there!) but, otherwise, the activities on sea days were similar to those on the large ships, but definitely not as varied and on a much smaller scale. Some of these included line dancing, trivia, Wii games, ice sculpture viewing, and the art auction. There are in-cabin movies, and I remember seeing one movie showing in the Casino lounge. Afternoon tea, was available every afternoon, and the Lotus Spa and fitness room provided classes, treatments and workout options.

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