While sailing Holland America’s 14-Day Celtic Explorer Cruise on the ms Prinsendam, we spent a day in Dublin, Ireland. There’s much to see and do, and we explored many of Dublin’s highlights by walking around the city. One activity that we had planned in advance was a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery on Bow Street in Dublin’s Smithfield neighborhood.

Jameson Distillery Bow Street, Dublin, Ireland

Although Jameson Irish whiskey traces its beginning to this location, in 1976, production was moved from Dublin to the New Midleton Distillery outside of Cork, Ireland. While researching things to do while in Dublin, we learned that a $12.6 million refurbishment of the Jameson Distillery Bow Street was completed in March, 2017.

We had pre-booked the Dublin: Jameson Whiskey Distillery Tour and Tastings.

Chandelier -Jameson Distillery Bow St., Dublin, IrelandUpon entering the Bow Street building, one glance up at the chandeliers made it clear what product was created here.

tickets to Jameson Bow Street Experience, Dublin, IrelandWe headed to the ticket counter where our pre-purchased confirmations were traded for the actual tickets for our specific “Bow Street Experience.”

At the appointed time, our group was met by a Jameson Ambassador. This knowledgeable young woman entertained us as she shared the story of how John Jameson built a world-class brand from this location. We learned about the triple distillation process results in an exceptionally smooth whiskey.

comparative whiskey tasting Then our group got to understand the Jameson “difference” first hand during the comparative whiskey tasting part of the tour. Although I’m not a big whiskey fan, this was an impressive presentation that left participants with a good understanding of the differences between Scotch whisky, American whiskey and Jameson Irish whiskey.

complimentary cocktail - Jameson Distillery Bow St Experience, Dublin, IrelandOne the tour and tasting was complete, each participant was given a coupon for a complimentary drink in JJ’s bar. You could either have Jameson “neat” or Jameson, ginger and lime, which proved to be a tasty way to enjoy Jameson.

JJ's Bar - Jameson Distillery Bow Street, Dublin, IrelandThe Dublin: Jameson Whiskey Distillery Tour and Tastings lasts about 40 minutes, and it is a fun and informative experience.

Are you a fan of Jameson Irish whiskey?  

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In early June we visited Dublin, Ireland while sailing Holland America’s 14-Day Celtic Explorer Cruise on board the ms Prinsendam.

mural at Trinity College, Dublin, IrelandWithin an hour of our departure out of Amsterdam, Captain Smit made an announcement over the ship’s speaker system: due to a weather forecast with extremely high winds, our planned itinerary would have to be altered. We would skip the ports of St. Peter’s Port in the Channel Islands, as well as Milford Haven, in Wales. Instead, we would speed ahead of the storm to Dublin, Ireland, a port call originally planned for day 5 of the cruise. Instead, we arrived in Dublin on a sunny but windy morning that was day 3 of the cruise.

The Prinsendam docked in Dublin at a working port area not suitable for walking. The cruise port did, however, provide free shuttles to transport cruise passengers from the port to a drop off location by Merrion Square in central Dublin. At the drop-off spot, there were folks handing out local maps, and others trying to sell Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tickets. With a quick glance at the map, we saw that we were within walking distance of Trinity College, so we set out in that direction.

Trinity College — founded in 1592 — is the sole college of the University of Dublin, Ireland’s oldest and largest research university. Located on 47 acres on College Green, opposite the former Irish Houses of Parliament, Trinity College is now surrounded by the city of Dublin. Many of its buildings are situated around large quadrangles; these open areas of cobblestones and green lawns are inviting for visitors to walk through.

waiting to enter - Library of Trinity College DublinThe Old Library of Trinity College — pictured above — is Ireland’s largest library with a copy of all material published in the Republic of Ireland. Visitors to Dublin purchase tickets and wait in long lines to see the library’s spectacular Long Room, and to catch a glimpse of the famous Book of Kells — created around 800 AD and considered as one of Ireland’s finest national treasures.

We were not up for the long queue, so we continued onward in our exploration of Dublin.

Trinity College, Dublin, IrelandAs we headed toward the main entrance to Trinity College, we took in the view of the 98-ft. tall campanile, or bell tower, and the open area known as Parliament Square.

After departing from the college compound, we made our way to Dame Street, where, just past City Hall, we turned into Castle Street, walking to Dublin Castle.

In 1204, King John of England ordered the construction of a castle. For eight centuries Dublin Castle became the seat of English rule in Ireland, as well as the social stage for Ireland’s ruling class.

Visitors can take tours — we chose the self-guided version — of the luxurious State Apartments. These rooms served as home to the British-appointed Viceroys of Ireland, and still have important ceremonial uses today, such as the inauguration of Ireland’s President every seven years.

The Drawing Room, Dublin Castle, Dublin, IrelandThe drawing room (shown above) was often the center of the eighteenth and nineteenth century social events such as the Grand Ball, held each March 17th to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Ladies attending balls would socialize here between dances in the ballroom.

Throne Room, State Apartments, Dublin Castle, IrelandIn the Throne Room, we got a close-up view of the large throne made for King George IV’s state visit to Ireland in 1821.

Another key site at Dublin Castle State Apartments is St. Patrick’s Hall. Formerly the ballroom, it is used today for state banquets and the inauguration of Ireland’s President.

After exploring the history of Dublin Castle, we were ready for lunch.

We headed to the narrow, cobbled streets of Dublin’s Temple Bar, an area known for its art galleries, theaters, pubs and nightclubs popular with tourists.

The Temple Bar, Dublin, IrelandIn the heart of the Temple Bar neighborhood is the iconic and often-photographed Temple Bar pub that dates to 1840. We had low expectations for lunch, given the high “touristy” factor, and we were pleasantly surprised. While popular with tourists, the Temple Bar pub offered an extensive menu of creative and delicious sandwiches, perfect with a pint or two of Guinness or Harp. Of course, the bar serves an overpriced Irish Coffee, but the service was terrific.

Filled and rested, our group set out to visit Dublin’s Smithfield neighborhood, across the River Liffey.

Jameson Distillery, Bow Street, Dublin, IrelandWe were on a mission to reach the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. We had pre-booked the Bow St. Experience several weeks prior to our cruise. Because of the high winds forcing a change to our cruise schedule, we were showing up on Tuesday with a ticket booked for Thursday. We headed to the restored part of John Jameson’s distillery and hoped for the best.

Chanelier -Jameson Distillery Bow St., Dublin, IrelandAs soon as you enter the Jameson Distillery from Bow Street, a glance at the chandeliers eliminates any confusion as to your location. Although Jameson Irish whiskey traces its beginning here back to 1780, production ceased here in 1976, moving instead to the New Midleton Distillery outside of Cork.

Realizing a missed opportunity with visitors to Dublin, a $12.6 million refurbishment of Dublin’s iconic Jameson Distillery Bow Street was completed in March of 2017. We are happy to report that the Jameson Bow Street Experience accommodated us on a tour, even though our tickets were for two days later. Learn more about our Jameson Bow St. Experience here. Click this link if you want to buy a ticket for the Dublin: Jameson Whiskey Distillery Tour and Tastings

Following lunch and the Jameson whiskey experience, we set out on foot to see more of Dublin. We crossed back over the River Liffey and walked on Patrick Street until we reached St. Patrick’s Cathedral.cemetery, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, IrelandDublin is unique in that it has two Protestant Church of Ireland cathedrals — Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral — both within a short walk of each other. Some of our group paid the admission to go inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In addition to being Ireland’s largest cathedral St Patrick’s is also the final resting place of Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and Dean (head of the Cathedral) from 1713 to 1745.

We didn’t go inside, choosing to buy some water at a store nearby and cool off. St Patrick’s Cathedral is next to a park containing the famous well where Saint Patrick is said to have baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. There is also a cemetery outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the photo above was taken.

As we made our way back to the cruise ship shuttle pick up spot, we walked through St. Stephen’s Green, a 22-acre park landscaped with trees, flower beds, fountains and a lake. It’s a beautiful place to take a summer stroll. We exited the Green on the north side, near the historic Shelbourne Hotel that dates to 1824. (SIDE NOTE: During a 2011 Prinsendam British Isles cruise with an overnight in Dublin, we got off of the cruise ship for one night to stay at the Shelbourne Hotel. If you have an overnight in Dublin, we highly recommend staying at the hotel, or at least having a drink in its famous Horseshoe Bar.

Back to Merrion Square, we caught a shuttle back to the cruise ship.

We used this book to help plan our day in Dublin, as well as our days in other Irish ports:

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Ireland

 If you prefer a tour in Dublin, check out these options (and many more) from Get Your Guide:

Have you visited Dublin via cruise ship? If so, what was your favorite activity?

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For our 14-Day Celtic Explorer Cruise on Holland America’s ms Prinsendam, we booked a category G ocean-view stateroom. 
Holland America ms Prinsendam at anchor in Bantry Bay, Ireland
When booking a cruise, we often select a stateroom “guarantee,” leaving the specific cabin assignment up to the cruise line. (This strategy can sometimes result in good upgrades.)  When sailing on Holland America’s 835-guest ms Prinsendam, however, we prefer to select a specific stateroom. 

The “Elegant Explorer” — as the Prinsendam is known — dates back to 1988 when she was launched as the Royal Viking Sun. As much as we love this ship –we spent 70+ days on her exploring Europe in 2007 — we also know there is significant variation between staterooms, even among those in the same category.

For this cruise we chose stateroom 421, a category G ocean-view accommodation. Take a look inside…

entrance to stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineTo reach the entrance to stateroom 421 on the Prinsendam, you first step into a small interior hallway that leads to two cabins — #421 and #419.  When studying the Prinsendam deck plan closely, you can see these little hallways associated with some interior, ocean-view and vista suite staterooms.

With their entry doors separated from the main hallway, these staterooms are removed from potential noise in the main hallway.

interior view, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThis is the view as you first walk into stateroom 421 and look toward the windows. This cabin is located on the Dolphin deck — the lowest passenger deck — and is toward the front part of the Prinsendam where the ship begins to narrow. As noted on the deck plan, stateroom 421 has portholes rather than a full picture window.

Said to be 191 sq. ft. in size, stateroom 421 has two beds that convert into one king-size bed, plus a sofa. The desk is narrow, as is the walkway around the foot of the bed.
Since the only electrical plugs are on the desk, we brought along this Portable Travel Power Strip with USB Charging Ports to keep our smartphones, computers and other devices charged.

A refrigerator is hidden in the cabinet below the television.

As you turn around to face the other side of stateroom 421, you see two sliding doors.

walk-in closet, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineBehind one sliding door, you will find a walk-in closet, with two racks for hanging clothes, and a wardrobe with a number of shelves and drawers for storage. Note that all ocean-view staterooms do not have walk-in closets. Stateroom 425, just two cabins away from #421, has a very different configuration for its closet and bathroom.

walk-in bathroom, stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThe other sliding door in stateroom 421 leads into the bathroom, which features a tub and shower combination. Next door, stateroom 419 has a shower only.

shower/tub - stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineThe shower features an adjustable rain head (great for people of all heights); while the tub has several grab bars.

Note the in-shower dispenser of Elemis shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.  The tiled mirror over the tub helps the bathroom feel spacious and well-lit.

sink - stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineAcross from the tub, the single sink has a shelf below for storage.

The lighting on the mirror is my favorite feature; it offers some of the best bathroom lighting at sea for makeup application.

"hallway" to stateroom 421, ms Prinsendam, Holland America LineAs you exit the stateroom, here is a look at the interior “hallway” that leads to cabins #419 and #421 on the Prinsendam cruise ship.

Our bottom line on Ocean-view Stateroom 421 on Holland America’s ms Prinsendam:

  • This stateroom is one of the best category G ocean-view cabins as it one of the farthest from the front of the ship, where you may feel rough seas.
  • It is spacious at 191 sq. ft. — large for an ocean-view stateroom.
  • We like the Prinsendam staterooms that include a tub/shower combination in the bathroom, and a walk-in closet. Some cruise guests, however, do not like stepping into the tub and prefer the shower-only staterooms.
  • The interior “hallway” leading to this stateroom makes it quiet and peaceful.
  • While the Prinsendam is a small ship, the elevators can be slow. Walking to the dining room requires going up to flights of stairs, while it is seven flights up to the Crow’s Nest.

Have you sailed on Holland America Line’s Prinsendam cruise ship? If so, what is your favorite stateroom?

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Take a look inside these other cruise ship cabins:

Mossel & Gin Foodbar in Amsterdam’s Westerpark

June 27, 2017

During our pre-cruise stay in Amsterdam, several locals recommended that we check out Mossel en Gin Foodbar in the Westpark neighborhood. When we first trekked to the impressive Westergasfabriek (a huge park created from the buildings and grounds of a former gas factory), we were disappointed to find this restaurant specializing in mussels and gin did […]

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