This morning, Tauck guests board motor coaches for a one-hour drive to the small town of Enniskerry, home to Powerscourt. Powerscourt is a large country estate well known for its lavish gardens, ranked #3 in the world by National Geographic.
Tauck guests are given tickets to visit the gardens, which are quite spectacular. Unfortunately, it is a bit cool, cloudy and rainy, but it is easy to imagine how beautiful these gardens would be on a sunny day.
There are also some very nice shops within the Powerscourt complex and two championship golf courses that are immaculately manicured. In fact, Tauck has arranged a special lunch for us today at the golf clubhouse.
After a leisurely lunch, we board the coaches for the drive back to Dublin and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.
Each Tauck guest was given a ticket good for a pint of Guinness (or, a soft drink for those who do not drink beer). Having never tried Guinness, I wasted no time taking the elevator to the 7th floor, location of The Gravity Bar. The Gravity Bar is on the top floor and offers a 360-degree view of Dublin. Today, the bar is packed with people, but that just adds to the experience. I quickly obtain a pint of the dark brown Guinness and begin to learn why this is a source of pride for Dubliners.
If you have never tried Guinness, it definitely has a deeper, richer flavor than American beer. It almost has a hint of coffee taste. But, it is very smooth and I enjoyed it.
In addition to The Gravity Bar, there is one level with restaurants and pubs where you can dine, and enjoy a Guinness. Another level has the Guinness Academy where you can taste variations of Guinness, and even learn how to draw a pint from a tap. The bottom floor is a massive gift shop with every imaginable logo item for sale. This is a place I would want to return to should I visit Dublin in the future.
After our visit to Guinness, the motor coaches leave for the port of Dublin, where Le Soléal is docked and waiting for guests.
Embarkation in Dublin was simple. The ship has been fully chartered by Tauck for its 185 guests, far below the 234 capacity of Le Soléal. We are guided to the lounge on Deck 3 where we are greeted with a Welcome Aboard fruit drink.
The line moves very quickly and soon I am surrendering my passport in exchange for a stateroom key. A quick photo is snapped for security purposes, and that's it! A steward grabs my hand luggage and escorts me to my stateroom (507).
I will go into more detail about the stateroom in my final review, but it is very contemporary, has plenty of storage space, and a few unique characteristics you don't often see on cruise ships. The balcony will definitely come in handy.
There was little time to unpack before we were instructed to meet in the ship's theater to be greeted by the Captain, the ship's Cruise Director and Tauck's Cruise Director.
After the introductions, we were instructed to return to our stateroom to don our life vests and return to the theater for the muster drill.
This ship takes safety very seriously and the muster drill was one of the most thorough I have seen in many years. Guests are also informed of the ship's "no-smoking inside the ship" policy. Yeah!
Tomorrow, we will be docked in Belfast, Ireland. I have a Belfast Panoramic Tour scheduled for the morning.