The British Isles
The Cruise of a Lifetime
by Celece Seegmiller
A few months ago, I wrote about the British Open Golf Cruise with Azamara Club Cruises in the golf issue. It was an 11 night British Isles cruise sailing from Dublin on the beautifully refurbished 686 passenger Azamara Quest. Of course the highlight of the cruise was an overnight in Scotland for passengers to attend The 145th Open at Royal Troon on Saturday or Sunday. As I wrote about it, I immediately added it to my bucket list. Not only are the British Isles amazingly scenic, but a chance to watch my favorite golfers like Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler compete for the Claret Jug would be an incredible opportunity. Coincidentally, a few months later, I received an opportunity to sail on this cruise of a lifetime and I could not think of a better roommate or anyone who would appreciate this cruise more than my fiancée, Rob Krieger, a PGA Professional (you can read about his golf
experience and The Open in his article on page 64).
Rob and I started our cruise with a few days in Dublin, Ireland. Of course, pubs were on every corner and colorful flowers lined the buildings. Coming from the hot red rocks in the desert, we really appreciated the lush green foliage and bright flowers. We saw Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and charming architecture throughout the city. The tour ended at the famous Guinness Storehouse and it was worth waiting for. If you drink beer or not, a visit to the storehouse is a highlight in Dublin. We booked a special connoisseur experience, which only allows 50 visitors each day. We skipped the long lines and were treated to a special tasting tucked away behind a secret door in the historic connoisseur bar. The walls were the traditional dark wood and were covered with photos of the Guinness family, trophies, and other memorabilia. We learned a lot about Mr. Arthur Guinness, and I was impressed with his sense of business and all that he did for Dublin. We had to learn how to properly pour a Guinness before we could leave for the Gravity Bar, offering a 360-degree view of city skyline. It was the perfect way to end our first night in Dublin.
Once we boarded the ship, we spent another day in Dublin where Rob played golf and I enjoyed some time for relaxation with a massage in the spa. The next day we were off to Wales, where we enjoyed a country drive with a stop for high tea. The view was spectacular as the waves crashed into the rugged cliffs and the lush green hills were covered with more cows and sheep than I could count.
The next day, we continued to Liverpool, where Rob played golf and my day started with The Beatles Experience tour. I learned all about John, Paul, Ringo, and George. We saw their childhood homes,
Penny Lane, and Strawberry Fields. I discovered some interesting facts about their lives and the inspiration for some of their songs. We continued to the museum and my favorite room was John Lennon’s, where his famous round glasses sat on a beautiful white piano. The lyrics to my favorite song, “Imagine,” were on the wall and the song played as well. Tears rolled down my eyes as I thought about how relevant this song is today. We finished at the famous Cavern Club where it is said the Beatles played over 292 times. That evening, Azamara Club Cruises treated us to a special concert in St. George’s Hall. It is one of the most spectacular music halls I have ever visited. We enjoyed opera music, symphony music, and of course Beatles music, with everyone dancing, singing, twisting, and shouting. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks display over the water as we departed Liverpool.
Our next two ports of call were the Isle of Man, followed by an overnight in Scotland, where we attended The Open on Saturday and watched the final round from the ship on Sunday. After the thrill of The Open, we continued to Belfast where we made a drive to Giant’s Causeway. I was amazed by the majesty and mystery of this magnificent coastline with its unique rock formations that have stood as a natural wall against the ferocious Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns is simply mind-boggling. Following our ride back to Belfast, we visited the Titanic Museum. This museum was well worth the stop as was we learned all about Belfast, the construction of the famous Titanic, and her tragic ending.
Our next stop was in delightful Waterford, a seaport in southeast Ireland. It is the country’s oldest city and was founded by Vikings in 914 A.D., and parts of its ancient walled core remain. I thought it would only be appropriate to visit the famous Waterford Crystal Factory and select our champagne flutes for our upcoming wedding. The factory was impressive and we enjoyed walking around the charming seaport.
We continued to Cork where I had to kiss the famous Blarney Stone (of course I used lip sanitizer first). Blarney Castle and the grounds were striking
with bright flowers and gardens. A stop at the woolen mills provided access to some of the best souvenirs, and the remainder of the day was spent enjoying some fish and chips, and of course, Guinness, in the picturesque port of Cobh.
Our last port of call was St. Peter Port, Guernsey, a British Crown dependency in the English Channel. It is one of the Channel Islands and known for its scenic coastal cliffs. We enjoyed a walk through the narrow streets lined with quaint boutiques and pubs before returning to the ship for our last night.
It is said that once you kiss the Blarney Stone, you receive the “gift of gab.” I never considered myself to have a problem with the gift of gab, but it obviously affected my writing. I have so many more wonderful things to write about this unbelievable cruise and I am simply out of space. I am often asked about my favorite cruise or destination and I added this one to the list. From the friendly people, to the culture, history, and sheer beauty, this British Isles cruise was a wonderful escape from the desert heat in July. I thought the best part would be attending The Open, but it was just one of many incredible experiences I will treasure for the rest of my life and I can’t wait to return.