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British Isles - By land or sea?

Discussion in 'Vacation Travel Information' started by Paumavista, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. Paumavista

    Paumavista TUG Member

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    Early stages of planning a trip to see the British Isles. We did a Mediterranean cruise 2 years ago from Athens to Barcelona and loved it....thought we got to see a lot....very busy but it was easy unpacking once & knowing meals, etc were taken care of.
    But we used to travel to Hawaii from the West Coast and always did our own planning and traveled out from one location.....I don't think I'd be happy cruising the islands because I wouldn't get enough of the experience.

    Now I'm not sure what's best.....I wouldn't mind a short cruise.....maybe hitting some highlights on the coast and spend extra time on our own on land....but there don't seem to be shorter cruises starting or ending anywhere in the isles. Maybe I'm missing a smaller cruise line someone has used?

    Any suggestions? Is May a good time of year?
     
  2. artringwald

    artringwald TUG Member

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  3. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    This won't answer your question about short British Isles cruises. However, we recently took a two week Celebrity cruise out of Southampton, England, with stops in Guernsey, five ports in Ireland, and two in Iceland. Upon return to England, we rented a car and drove by Stonehenge, stopped in Bath and on to a cottage in the Cotswolds that we had rented for a week making day trips out and about. We then spent four nights in London before returning home. Having previously spent three weeks in Ireland and taken many trips to England, we didn't feel port visits limited our experience. I would have liked more time in Iceland. Guernsey was delightful and another day there would have been nice too.

    If you planned your excursions (we don't take the ship's offerings) you should be able to get the green fields, rock walls, experience in Ireland. We certainly had opportunities to see castles and stop in plenty of pubs. There was time in Belfast to tour the Antrim Coast which is spectacular (or was back in the day when we visited and were just about the only people there). We too liked the unpacking once and a few sea days to rest. We also liked that for some ports we didn't arrive and disembark until 10:30 in the morning. Most cruises have us up by 6 AM and off no later than 9 AM so it was nice to sleep a little later and enjoy breakfast onboard before arrival.

    Anyway, it worked for us!
     
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  4. Dollie

    Dollie TUG Member

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    In 2012 we toured the Hebrides and Orkney islands in Scotland. It was a trip I put together after a lot of research. For the cruising part of the trip we used the ferry system. They allowed you to put together a “hopscotch” package to get around the islands. I contacted the ferry system and they helped put it together. By using the ferry system, we were able to rent one car and move it from island to island. A word of caution on renting a car, the driver had to be under the age of 70, my husband just made that. More investigating lead to some very interesting B&Bs to stay at. Some of our touring was planned, some was just exploring that lead to interesting finds. We also became members of their castle system which gave us a discount on admissions but more importantly, allowed us to skip the long lines at the castles’ entrances. You can find pictures of the trip here.


    This was a two-week trip and covered just parts of Scotland, but it did give us a feel for the islands. If we were to go back, we would probably use a Lindblad/National Geographic tour. We have used them before and enjoyed the trip. We hope to be circumnavigating Iceland this summer with them. They are expensive but it’s our type of trip and experience.


    If you’re interested in this trip, I can send you my itinerary that details our day-by-day plans.
     
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  5. Laurie

    Laurie TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We rented a car in the UK (pick-up in London) this past year, and the driver was 70+, and it was no problem. I had heard that the cut-off age was 69, and wondered whether that would be an issue, but it wasn't. They may have raised the cut-off age to 74, or maybe different rental companies have different rules about different rentals in the UK. But I changed reservations a couple of times with different companies in London, and it wasn't a problem with any of them. If you're concerned, call AutoEurope and ask.
     
  6. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    Hubby is 71 and we had no problem renting a car either. Age was never even mentioned.
     
  7. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I think the rental agents just lack the nerve to look someone in the eye and tell them, "You're too old!" It's one thing to print out 'policy', and quite another to enforce it. Maybe if some ol' codger rolls up in a wheelchair or walker, but an 'age qualified', able bodied senior, probably not. Now, if there is an 'incident', you can get the age would be brought up.
     
  8. cgeidl

    cgeidl Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Many rental firms are independent or franchises just using the rental name. I am 78 and have no problem getting rentals in Europe or S America so far.
     
  9. Laurie

    Laurie TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Maybe true for walk-up customers, but booking online I always have to put age into the first screen, and then once booked, you can read the tiny-print policy specs of your rental reservation. I did that this past year to make sure there wasn't an age exclusion, since I'd heard this could be a problem, and in our case there wasn't.

    Also I may have even asked AutoEurope on the phone - I like using them for overseas rentals when all else is pretty equal b/c ease of customer service, even tho you have to pay (refundable) at confirmation.
     
  10. JudyH

    JudyH TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    We did Oceania around the British isles and it was great. We did private tours at each port, some shared via Cruise Critic. The next year we returned and did on our own Manchester, a week on a narrow boat timeshare exchange, and a 10 day Road Scholar trip thru Scotland.
     
  11. Fullback

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    Hi,
    I am from the England and have visited a lot of the places in the UK but I have never sailed around it's shoreline. There are that many different places to see if you either drive, take a flight or a coach trip from the various areas. If you want to see the cities of say London, Bath, Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool etc with Stonehenge, Stratford on Avon these would be better visited by train, plane or bus. A lot of tourists hire a car and visit places like the Cotwolds, Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Lake District & Scotland, my advice if you want the cities then do what you want then look at going to other places, we are only a small country in comparison with the US and journey times are not great, May/June would be a good time, come back to me if you want anymore information.
    Regards
    Flanker7
     
  12. Paumavista

    Paumavista TUG Member

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    Looks like May was sweater weather.....pictures are great! I thought Normandy France looked really pretty (realize that's not part of the British Isles). The pictures of Urquhart Castle along the water was pretty too. Did you have a favorite spot on the trip.....a must-see recommendation?
     
  13. Paumavista

    Paumavista TUG Member

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    I would love to see your itinerary......my email is: Panamoka1958@yahoo.com

    I was trying to estimate some costs and the ferry system didn't look cheap.....I assume you found it easier/better/cheaper to have one car rental and use the ferry system then to drop off and rent again in Ireland/England.....? I think it would be time consuming to re-rent....but didn't know if the cost savings would be worth it.
    Thank you!
     
  14. Paumavista

    Paumavista TUG Member

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    Thank you.....I think you make a good point about visiting cities or getting out into the countryside. We are definitely country-side folk, which is why I don't think the train/public bus system will work as well for us. As I collect more information I will probably be back with questions....to people here, as well as tripadvisor and other travel sources. I didn't like the idea of "moving/packing" each day (which is why I leaned toward cruising) but my husband and sons like the idea & I'm still wondering if it's possible to find a few hubs to travel out from so we don't have to move every day.
     
  15. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Paumavista, we have done it both ways, and while you can 'see' various important sites around the isles by cruise ship, the only way to actually 'experience' Britain is from the land. To experience the Publick House gatherings of a neighborhood in the evening, and to wander into the small shops and interact with 'regular' people make you feel that you understand much more of the place. Travel is SO MUCH more than a collection of photo opportunities. Live it.

    Jim
     
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  16. Paumavista

    Paumavista TUG Member

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    Dollie, Thank you for the itinerary; will look it over closely & get back to you if I have a specific question! THANK YOU.
     
  17. beejaybeeohio

    beejaybeeohio TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Good Points, Jim!

    We have timeshared in England at Sutton Hall, Yorkshire: Whitbarrow Village, Lakes District; Lidsey Farmhouse Annexe, Sussex and Osbourne Club, Torquay. In Scotland we were at Kilconquhar. And also did a 14 night cruise around the British Isle on the Celebrity Eclipse with no timeshare trade attached. We use the hub/spoke method to sightsee from the t/s base.

    Paumavista, if you could do a combo of cruise/timeshare that would be ideal. On our cruise we visited places we'd not seen on our 5 weeks of timesharing- Belfast, Liverpool, Cobh, Shetland Is., Guernsey & Inverness. We returned to Dublin & Edinburgh.

    If you do book a cruise, find an itinerary that overnights in one of the ports. Ours did in Edinburgh, and even though we'd explored that city from Kilconquhar, we weren't there during the Tattoo which runs in August. But with the Eclipse overnighting in Edinburgh we were able to experience that incredible event and the next day take a private tour with Timberbush: https://www.timberbush-tours.co.uk/our-tours/from-edinburgh/ to the Trossachs and Loch Lomond.
     

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