Edinburgh & HMY Britannia

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

We anchored off Newhaven, once a fishing village, a few miles outside Edinburgh and were tendered ashore (20 minutes) by the ship’s lifeboats - very reassuring to know they work!!

We took a ”panoramic tour” of the city by motor-coach which took in pretty much everything there is to see. No stops along the way, so no photographs ☹️. 

The guide was very knowledgable, but ill-prepared. He hadn’t done his homework, because when we were dropped off near Edinburgh Castle for a 90 minute opportunity to look around, unless you had a pre-booked ticket there was nae wee chance of ye getting in the noo! You only found this out after climbing a long, steep flight of steps from where coaches are allowed to pull up.

Rather than hang around, we opted to stroll around the Royal Mile and Princes Street. We’d been shown where Viking were providing a free shuttle back to the ship and the guide had OK’d people not returning to the tour coach.

Here his lack of forethought raised its head again. It’s all very well to show where the shuttle buses stop, drive all around Edinburgh and then expect anyone to have the vaguest idea where the aforementioned location may be. Fortunately, we remembered the name of the square - it’s where Scotland’s First Minister’s residence, Bute House, is located. 

Google maps came to the rescue and we located the shuttle stop - a hell of a long way from The Royal Mile. Viking always have a rep at the stop and she pointed out there was a simpler (not shorter) route back - walk to the end of Princes Street and turn right. Wish we’d known that in advance!

Our next plan was to independently visit the Royal Yacht. Our very helpful shuttle rep suggested that the shuttle was not the best idea as then we’d have to travel from Newhaven to Leith Ocean Terminal when we got off the shuttle. “Take the tram to Ocean Terminal- it’s only £2 each and there’s a stop just round the corner. “ Great advice - worked like a charm.

HMY Britannia was well worth the time. It wasn’t overcrowded, the supplied audio guide was brilliant and it was fascinating to see where so much of the UK’s “Soft Power” had been exercised. You were able to view everything: Her Late Majesty’s private quarters and office, the State reception rooms and dining suite, the officers’ and crews’ quarters and so much more. Everything about the self-guided tour was laid out to perfection.

The tram’s route continued on to Newhaven. Another few pounds well worth the paying - our feet had had enough.

Safely back on board for 3pm we settled in for a few hours rest before dinner and tonight’s show,  “The Swinging 60’s”.

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, tomorrow.