Disclaimer: Due to the high price the internet on the ship (.99/minute) we were unable to blog live for this cruise. The events of this article took place on Oct 7, 2018.
Read about our previous day here.
Today we woke up docked in Cork, Ireland. We woke up early at 6:30AM to make our independently booked tour at 8:30AM. We showered and then headed to eat breakfast.
We went to eat at Moderno, which is a small restaurant at the aft of the ship. We had seen in the Freestyle Daily (Norwegian’s Daily Planner) that they had an express buffet here everyday, but had not had a chance to check it out. However, after several stressful mornings in Garden Cafe, we were looking for something more relaxing. After our great experience here for lunch yesterday we thought we’d give it a shot.
As expected this was a much less stressful experience than eating at the main buffet. There are far less people, and the seating is abundant. They have a small selection of warm foods such as scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, omelettes, and potatoes along with a small continental breakfast. They are missing waffles, pancakes, and any ability to customize your meal. Ultimately, all that mattered to us is that they have cereal, and thankfully they had that in abundance. It was a very enjoyable experience, and I foresee ourselves eating here regularly for breakfast.
Since we were up so early, we were able to witness a beautiful sunrise over Cork.
It was a little cool, but Zack and I went and walked around the deck to take some pictures.
Once we were done eating we disembarked the boat and walked two minutes to our tour bus “The Paddywagon.” We had previously done a tour with them to Nothern Ireland in 2012 when we were staying in Dublin and really enjoyed it. The tour was a full 8 hour tour with stops in Blarney, Cork, and Kinsale. We would rather have done something shorter but couldn’t find any shorter options independently due to our ship being the last cruise ship of the Cork cruise ship season. The cruise ship tour options were crazy expensive for shorter tours, and to book the exact same tour via the ship it would have cost for $648 USD, but through the Paddywagon it was $278 USD. Our other option was to tour independently, but the logistics of this port were a little complex for us to do all the things we wanted, so we decided to go ahead with the tour.
It was a quick 30 min drive to our first stop, Blarney Castle. It was very cool in the high 40s and overcast, but thankfully it did not feel bad as there was no wind. We had been to Blarney before when Zack was only 3, and thankfully, unlike Stonehenge, this place was EXACTLY as we remembered it with no random institution of shuttles or other inconveniences.
We were the first tour there, so no there was absolutely NO line for the Blarney stone. This was amazing as this would leave us a lot of time to explore the castle grounds.
The line was practically non-existent, and it only took us 15 minutes from bottom to top. It felt like a fast pass line at Disney World. The kids loved playing in the castle as there are lots of fun places for them to explore. We saw some of their friends from the kids program and they played together for a bit in some of the rooms.
Sadly, when we got to the top Zack was too scared to kiss the Blarney Stone, which was odd as the last time he was here, he was only 3 and more than eager to give it a try. Lucy also was too scared to try as well. Kendall and I, of course, had to give it an obligatory smooch.
It was a gorgeous view from the top.
There were just as many fun little places to explore on the way down.
By the time we had gotten down, the line had exploded to over an hour.
Since we were done with the Blarney Stone so quickly we were able to explore the castle grounds, something I have never done in my last two visits here. Zack and Lucy saw this “sculpture” in the gardens, which looks EXACTLY like the jungle gym on our playground back home. It took everything we had to keep them from playing on it.
We walked around the gardens and explored lots of fun little things such as this small tower.
They had some impressive trees as well.
Some of the towers were really impressive appearing from the inside.
The grounds are just as if not more impressive than the castle, and definitely the most underrated part of a visit to Blarney Castle.
Afterwards, we had to make our obligatory stop at the Walmart of Irish goods, Blarney Woolen Mills. We have bought many an item from here over the years, and funnily enough we still have all of them.
While Kendall did some shopping, Zack of course had to try on all the hats.
We drove back through Cork on the way to our next stop, Kinsale. Our tour driver was very funny and energetic and it made for a very entertaining time. I’m not sure if he was playing it up, or if it really is just his personality, but he was exactly what you’d think of as a jolly Irishman.
We stopped at a quick overlook of Kinsale for some pictures.
Once we got to Kinsale, it was time for lunch. We ate at Kitty o’ Se’s which was a cute little Irish pub. Zack had some chicken goujons (tender), Kendall and Lucy split a cheeseburger and I had a ham and cheese sandwich. The total cost was $30 USD which was very reasonable. The chicken tenders were excellent, and tasted a lot like the chicken crispers at Chili’s. The Cheeseburger was just ok, and definitely not as good as the Irish pub on the Breakaway, O’Sheehans.
We, unfortunately, did not have a lot of time so we had to get back to bus after lunch. We wish we had more time to explore Kinsale as it seemed like a very cute little fishing village.
We drove through more beautiful Irish countryside on the way back to Cork.
Lucy did not care, and crashed out.
After getting back to Cork, we stopped by St. Cohlman’s Cathedral. It was very beautiful, but we could not walk around as they were having mass at the time. We wish we had time to go to mass, but unfortunately we had to get back to the boat.
Right across the street from the church were some homes that are incredibly reminiscent of San Francisco.
After our stop, we were dropped back off at the pier. Overall we really enjoyed our tour. We are typically not a big fan of 8 hour bus tours, but this one had really good pacing, and we never felt to rushed in anyone location. We had ample time at Blarney and it was great that our tour was the first to arrive. We really wished we had a little more time in Kinsale, but at 8 hours, I do not think the tour could really get much longer. The driver was incredibly entertaining and one of the highlights, and the bus even had wi-fi. We returned to the ship at 3:30PM with a full hour to spare.
We then went back to the room and rested for a short bit. After a brief rest, we decided to go to O’ Sheehan’s at about 4:40PM but there was a 30 minute wait, so we decided to feed the kids at Garden Cafe instead. They both had some mac and cheese, fries, a hot dog and a cupcake.
As we were eating in Garden Cafe, the ship started it’s sail away from Cork harbor, which is absolutely beautiful.
We then dropped them off at Splash Academy at 6:00PM. Normally it is closed from 5-7PM, but any day they are in port, Splash Academy is open all day.
After dropping them off at Splash Academy we went to our favorite complimentary eatery, Shanghai’s. There was a 20 minute wait, so we got a pager and had a quick drink at Mixx. As always we ordered some potstickers.
Kendall also had a spring roll and I had the beef chow fun.
We went back to Mixx for a bit and had a drink. We eventually wandered over to to Syd Norman’s Pour House to hear the house cover band play some classic rock hits. We arrived about 15 minutes early and there weren’t any seats available. Thankfully, we saw some of our friends from progressive trivia at a table and they were kind and offered to share their table with us. They sounded excellent and were a lot of fun. They played such hits such as Barracuda and Carry On My Wayward Son. They were probably the most fun I’ve had with a house band ever on a cruise ship.
After listening to them for a while, it was time to go pick up the kiddos from Splash Academy. Apparently it was pirate night.
After picking them up, we checked out some late night snacks at the Garden Cafe. There was some mac and cheese, hot dogs, nachos and some other items. We all had some cookies and soft service ice cream.
Afterwards we all went to bed. The seas starting to get a little rocky, as the Captain warned us earlier that the winds would be 40-50 knots with 9-10 foot swells, but it was nothing we haven’t ever experienced before. Tomorrow is a sea day as we make our way toward Ponta Delgado, Azores.
The house band and singer’s on NCL are definitely an upgrade from the typical RCI singer’s. Regardless of the style of music, I feel they are definitely more on key than the typical house singer’s on an RCI ship. I feel they also tend to have more of a personality, and rather than just play or sing music in a lounge, there is a little more crowd interaction. The nighttime entertainment continues to impress me on NCL, however, the venues do not.
Read about our next day here.
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