Recently we cruised on board Shannon Princess in Ireland and had the most fantastic Irish vacation… here’s the rundown on our cruise!
Olivia and Ruairi are the owners of Shannon Princess, a barge that as Ruairi himself puts it, “is not the prettiest girl in the fleet”! She does not look anything like the French hotel barges but once you step onboard, she is definitely as beautiful as the rest! The salon is lovely, the cabins cosy but extremely well appointed and the upper deck area is gorgeous – comfortable, pretty outdoor furniture and colourful pots scattered around – perfect for a summer’s day watching the stunning Irish countryside slip by.
And yes, we did have long, hot summer days… it was the hottest season in decades! Blue sky, high temperatures and the locals were enjoying the superb weather while it lasted – swimming in the rivers, out walking, picnicking and busking in the colourful streets and parks of Galway and Dublin*, and of course enjoying a pint on the street outside the charming pubs that are so prolific all over Ireland!
The excursions along the route were wonderful. We visited ancient ruins at Clonmacnoise, enjoyed a “birds of prey” presentation at Ardare Manor (which was awesome – getting up close and personal with these amazing birds was really special), visited haunted Leap Castle and met its eccentric but wonderful owner, and enjoyed a glorious afternoon wandering around Galway soaking up the atmosphere in that vibrant town.
As always the hostesses on board were fabulous, catering to our every need – and there is something extra special about Shannon Princess which I can only attribute to it being a family-run operation – Ruairi and Olivia have been in the business for years and have created a very personal, intimate cruise that really does make you feel like part of their family. Ruairi is full of fascinating facts and stories of Irish history and traditions, and Olivia’s cooking is truly exceptional, holding her own amongst the best of the barge chefs.
It’s easy to think of France straight away as being the pinnacle of barge holiday locations… but Ireland on the Shannon Princess is an absolutely outstanding cruise!
*Post-cruise, we stayed at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin – I cannot recommend it enough for its superb location, exceptionally beautiful rooms and terrific service!