Princess’ pre-cruise London package

This item appears on page 28 of the April 2012 issue.

My wife and I decided to try the pre-cruise package offered by Princess Cruises (800/774-6237) before our “Top of the World” cruise from Dover, England, to Brooklyn, New York, July 20-Aug. 7, 2011.

For $579 per person, we would be met at Heathrow Airport, transferred to London’s Chancery Court Hotel and, after two nights, transferred by van to the ship in Dover. For an additional $189 per person per night, we could book additional nights through Princess at the same hotel. Was this a good deal?

Our flight landed in Heathrow at 7 a.m. After retrieving our bags and emerging into the arrivals area, we immediately noticed a well-dressed man holding a sign with my wife’s name. He whisked us away, with our bags in tow, to a private vehicle. Then began our two-hour journey to the five-star Chancery Court.

Since we elected to stay four additional nights, it was after the sixth night that we were picked up by private coach at 11 a.m. and taken to Dover, where our transfer to the Ocean Princess was simple and efficient.

Certainly, all this could have been done cheaper by staying in B&Bs or smaller inns and taking the Tube from the airport on the Piccadilly Line, but we wanted more comfort and less worry. With Tube stoppages frequent that July, connections were iffy, at best.

Princess booked us the room and all transfers for an average of $450 per night. This may seem extravagant to many, but rooms at the Chancery Court, with its 20% tax, start at $475 per night.

A bargain? No, but for those of us wanting a special prelude to a cruise, this represents about as good a value as can be found in London these days.

I could go on and rave about the hotel, praising its staff, location and facilities, but, at the least, I wanted to share with readers our experience of selecting a pre-cruise package that turned out to be a highlight of our trip.

Santa Rosa, CA