Cruise shore excursions: go with a group or on your own?

AT SEA ABOARD THE WINDSTAR STAR LEGEND — Are you ready to take a vacation risk? Michelle and Lance Teschmacher certainly are—not a big risk. They are, after all, sailing on Windstar’s Star Legend around the Scottish Isles where there are 146 crew Ot take care of 205 guests. But rather than rely on the ship’s expensive shore excursions, Michelle Teschmacher explained, “We are happy to wing it.” Her advice: Ask the local tourism officials for the …

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At Scotland’s Fort George: a youth bagpipe band outperforms

INVERNESS, Scotland — Who knew? Who knew a youth band could be such excellent bag pipers and drummers. Of course, we are in Scotland—in the Highlands actually. We our ship docked in Invergordon, for port for Inverness, which is considered the entry point to the Highlands—and the home of “Nessie” the Loch Ness monster (no, we didn’t see her!). And as is the case on all Windstar Cruises, we are treated to a private event just for …

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The Miracle of Camp 60 – in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland

By Andy Yemma KIRKWALL, Orkney Islands, Scotland — We’ve all seen the World War II POW camp depictions – fact or fiction. Stalag 17, The Great Escape, Hogans Heroes. Here’s one that’s not only true, but truly inspiring. We are in the Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland, on cruise aboard the Windstar Star Legend. We have taken a shore excursion, the highlight of which is another Scotch Whisky distillery tour. The distillery tour (Highland Park) …

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At sea with Windstar – connecting families and generations

AT SEA ON THE WINDSTAR STAR LEGEND — The passengers on the Windstar Star Legend range from 11 year old Cassie Albert, traveling with her parents and older brother and sister, to 91-year-old Beverly Unger, who has brought her grandson Wyatt,18, on a high school graduation trip. She lives in Canada and he lives in Portland, OR. We are on an 8-day “Gaelic Explorer” itinerary cruise that began in Dublin, Ireland, and ends in Edinburgh, Scotland, with …

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Finding a hidden gem of a restaurant on a remote road in Scotland

ISLE OF SKYE, Scotland (Day four of Windstar cruise) — Like a lot of young parents, Shirley and Eddie Spears longed to raise their kids away from the city. But unlike a lot of parents, they changed their lives to do that—and in the process had a hand in changing the way the world thinks about Scottish food. The Spears own the tiny (15 table) Three Chimneys Restaurant and six-room inn on an out of the way …

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Learning about the origins of the Titantic in Belfast, Northern Ireland

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (Day two of Windstar cruise) — In 1907, Belfast boasted the largest docks in Ireland. More than 6,000 men worked at dangerous and low paying jobs. James Pirrier wasn’t even 30 when he controlled Harland & Wolff, the largest shipbuilding firm in the world that was in Belfast. Over dinner, he and J. Bruce Ismay from the White Star Line collaborated to design Titanic and her sister ships—the largest and most luxurious ever built. …

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Cruising Ireland and Scotland on a Windstar yacht

ISLE OF MAN, UK (Day one of Windstar Cruise) — Are you upper crust? The term, I learn today on the Isle of Man off the Coast of Britain at Castle Rushen, one of the best preserved medieval castles in comes from medieval times when you ate off of pieces of bread rather than plates. The more noble and important you were, the more bread you got—thus the term “Upper Crust.” We are on an eight-day Gaelic …

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Experience the Luck of the Irish on Crystal Cruises

Having  just celebrated St. Patrick’s day this week, this notice from Crystal Cruises is quite timely.  For those of you who have never visited Ireland, it is very lovely and full of delightful surprises.  There is no better way to visit than on ultra-luxury line Crystal Cruises, who now has more calls to Ireland than they’ve had in years, including cruises to and from Dublin. The line reports it will feature  total of six ports, including two …

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New cruises to/from Dublin bring the luck of the Irish to Crystal guests in 2014

Crystal’s new luxury cruises to and from Dublin, plus eight calls to the Emerald Isle in 2014, will keep the fun and frivolity of St Patrick’s Day going well past the holiday.  Crystal Symphony will visit Gaelic grounds during two seven-day British Isles voyages, the first departing from London on August 17, and the second ending there after an August 24 sailing.  Crystal Serenity also visits Ireland during a 14-day Trans-Atlantic voyage that departs September 5 and …

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Charming Northern Ireland — Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway

September 17-18, 2011 BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Yesterday we visited Belfast, a city I have long been interested in. We had a very early start as our small group tour departed at 7 a.m. The tour was organized through the Cruise Critic roll call online by Mary Ziergiebel, who tells me that she has been organizing such small group tours for about seven years. I connected up with Mary at the Cruise Critic “Meet and Greet” on …

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