Fun Friday: My First Couple Days at Sea + My experience in Cork, Ireland

Fun Friday: My First Couple Days at Sea + My Experience in Cork, Ireland

by: Debbie Waltz

Welcome Back, Readers~

When we left off on the first post of My Fun Friday series, I spent the first days exploring London and preparing to board Regal Princess. Since I have cruised before, I know what to expect. But for those of you who don’t, here is a quick overview:

  • Ship Transfers. Ship transfers are often included with your cruise package; these allow for easy transportation to and from the airport on embarkation and disembarkation These must be arranged ahead of time. Depending on the time of your time and date of your flight, you may get ship transfers directly from the airport. In our case, we couldn’t so we had to come back to the airport from our hotel and get transferred from there. But more on that later.
  • Luggage Tags. Your luggage doesn’t go with you onto the boat, therefore this is an important step to notifying the crew which luggage goes where on the cruise ship. These tags are usually emailed to you ahead of time to be filled out at your leisure. It usually identifies your name, stateroom # and how many pieces of luggage you have (just in case you have a lot.)
    • Using the Application. Cruises today are trying to keep up with the technological advantages like Apps on your phone. You must load every important piece of information onto the cruise App. This and the lanyard will be the way of identifying you and your purchases on the cruise.
    • Lanyard. As creepy as this technology is, it comes in handy because you don’t have to worry about forgetting your key; it unlocks your room for you. There is also no need to carry a credit card because your info is already there for you.
    • It also allows you to keep track of your companions (if you have connected them in the app

A “not so easy” Ship Transfer

Having taken cruises before, we thought we knew what to expect going back to the airport and meeting at the designated spot for cruise ship embarkments. But we didn’t. Regal Princess wasn’t aware that we needed a wheelchair transfer to the boat; Mind you, we had filled out our share of “accessibility” paperwork for this cruise. (We had difficulty deciding on whether to bring my manual chair or my power chair.) We thought that the lighter one would be easier, but in the end, we changed our minds. It turned out to be the best decision for everyone!

But I digress…

Our liaison radioed the situation to his supervisor and we were asked to wait. Unfortunately, this meant that our extended family separated. Thankfully, since our bags were tagged with our stateroom information, the nieces could take them on the bus with them, so we had little to carry.

Meanwhile, other passengers were escorted out of the airport and to the buses that would take them to the Southhampton Port. For those of you who weren’t aware, this is the same port that Titanic sailed out from. Thirty minutes later, our liaison told us that our transportation had arrived. Someone escorted us to the elevator and down to where the cab met us. The driver wanted us to have easy ramp access with no curb cuts. By this time, our liaison was apologetic and offered to take a picture.

During the ride, our driver advised us how he had just picked up this job as a last-minute favor. We enjoyed watching as we drove down the other side of the street (remember; we are in the UK now) and made our way to the ship’s dock.

From there, we were reunited with our extended family and entered the cruise terminal to undergo another security screening. This is much like the screening one would undergo at the day airport.

All Aboard

Since I’m disabled, our family got expedited boarding; so our family got split up again; By the time we boarded Regal Princess, we were all exhausted. Waiting for our luggage to arrive,  we settled in making ourselves at home and taking stock of accommodations. As always, my mom arranged for us to have a suite. She figures this would allow greater mobility for my wheelchair to turn around and navigate spaces.

She was right! As with previous cruises, our suite allowed more than enough room for us to move around. As you can see, there are two twin beds that can be moved together to make one queen bed based on your preferences. Not only that but there is a pull-out sofa that can be made into a bed as well.

For convenience, there is also a curtain separating the living room and bedroom areas. This became convenient when Dad got sick with a cold and we kept our distance. (But more about that later.)

The bathroom was pretty spacious as well. Not only did it have an automatic button so you could open the door yourself (I should note that the suite room door had this same capability at some point, but they removed it before our cruise.

As handy as the push button was in the bathroom, this created some difficulty for my parents when assisting with transfers and other emergencies.  For example, they kept pressing every 2 minutes to ensure the door didn’t close. In a reverse but funny example, my parents often had to wait the allotted time for the door to close before changing their clothes to ensure their privacy.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering how we handled the bathroom situation. At home, I use the toilet seat system that can be rolled away for easy guest access and put back into place afterward. Since this doesn’t provide for portability, we used my travel toilet seat. This is like the one we use at home but without the rollaway capability. The only downside is that it has to be strapped on and off the toilet every time I need to go.

I used the same seat when showering. Thankfully, they had a bench where the seat was placed and a shower wand, which my mom used when helping me. This is where the accessibility form comes in handy for the crew; it gives them a clue as to your disability and what you need to be as independent as possible during the cruise. Our bathroom had this shower bench and an emergency button in case you fell (I’m not sure if that was included because I was disabled or in case an elderly person had the room)

My favorite spot was on or near our balcony. It had a ramp where I could go out and read my devotions and morning. It was great to feel the breeze and watch amazing sunsets from that view.


See what I mean??

One thing I will say about international cruises (since I have been on a few regular ones) is that the food is definitely different. I don’t know whether it is because of the type of passengers aboard or where their food source is located. But after trying a bunch of different foods, I stuck to American food and/or Caesar’s salad for lunch. I could usually find American lunch foods on the upper decks. Note: All food is included in your cruise package, but I would advise you to get a beverage package beforehand. If you are an average soda drinker like our family, it will save you a bunch. Otherwise, you will pay individually for every soda.

The dinner food was excellent, though; I will give them that. No matter where you went on board. We usually went to the same restaurant every night for dinner. Sometimes we got the same waiters; sometimes we didn’t. We learned they came from all over the world and served on board for 9 months.

We were served  3 courses:

  1. An appetizer- this often changed on where we were at the moment
  2. Main course- usually some kind of beef or chicken
  3. Dessert- This usually changed based on where we were at the moment.

Although you were not limited to these options, they also provided a “favorites” section where you can easily substitute for one item above. These could include shrimp appetizers, Caesar salad, etc… The same goes for the dessert menu. They had regular favorites you could substitute. My favorite was their signature “The Love Boat”- a chocolate raspberry mousse that was delicious.

Were you not happy with your selection after taking a few bites? That’s okay, they want to be satisfied with your meal. Just ask for something else! And if you want seconds or thirds?? That’s okay too…

The next night was one of the two formal nights we had aboard the ship while we were at sea. Our previous cruises in the US have typically had 3 formal nights. On these nights, passengers are more than welcome to get dressed up and take pictures with professional photographers around at different picture backgrounds strategically placed all over the ship. Depending on whether you purchased a photo package, these are included. But don’t worry, someone can purchase individually or anytime during your cruise. This can be done at the designated photo area or directly through the app.

I have to admit these were some of my favorite memories because Elizabeth came down to our room to fix my hair and makeup. These are just some of my favorites.




As you can see, everyone is a photogenic-even dad!

Accessible Ports

As beautiful as the British Isles were, not every port was wheelchair accessible. Some ports were tendered – a small ship called a tender shuttled people ashore. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this means the boat wasn’t able to dock directly on shore. Therefore, passengers need to be shuttled across to the shore. Obviously, my wheelchair weighs too much, so I couldn’t go ashore. Honestly, I’m not sure if they would’ve been able to accommodate a manual wheelchair; I’m pretty sure it depends on its weight and how many passengers boarded. Therefore, I was only able to go to 3 out of the 5 designated ports (I think?)

Cork,  Ireland

A short note about Ireland in general before I get into my sightseeing adventures. For some strange reason, the country requires you to forfeit your passport to the person in charge of cleaning your room or it has to be handed into guest services while you are in Ireland. Don’t ask me why. It will be returned to you after you leave Ireland, of course. My dad was kind of leery of this idea at first.

I’ll be honest in saying that Mom got up first and did some scouting for us. Based on some of the pictures she took, the land went uphill and downhill a lot. We were lucky to come across this little shop and snack area a little ways from the port.


Originally called Queenstown (in honor of the Queen), this port was one of the stops the Titanic made on its route to New York; As such, it featured many relics of that era that advertised its meeting voyage. This is also where we snacked and I purchased my first souvenir- an Irish tweed wool poncho with a matching wool newsboy cap and a woven Skellig scarf.


A fellow passenger from our boat saw us going by and mentioned there was a “Titanic” Museum just down the street that “would appreciate my smile.” So we decided to go. The museum had stairs and a manual lift you had to operate yourself with buttons. When we entered the museum, we realized it was a store full of merchandise and you had to purchase tickets to enter the museum. Unfortunately, the line was too long and we were afraid if we waited we would miss the boat- literally!

Next week, we will explore the next accessible port, Belfast, Ireland

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