Making her way on the lakes and rivers of the Shannon Waterway, the aptly named Shannon Princess reflects a traditional Irish welcome mixed with contemporary luxury. The appealing team of Gibbons family owners, Captain Ruairi, Chef Olivia, and Host Ross, is top notch in all respects. Captain Ruairi is a trusted guide to the region’s many attractions, while Chef Olivia’s bountiful “new” Irish cuisine reflects her training at the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School.
The barge is decorated in rich browns and soft creams, accented by locally produced art work and crafts collected by Olivia and displayed in every corner of the vessel. With ample and comfortable seating, the salon and dining area serves as the social center of the cruise. The river’s scenery and greenery can also be viewed from the expansive deck, perhaps while lazing in the hot tub with a fresh cup of coffee and Baileys! Cabins are cozy and comfortable, offering clever storage space and beautifully tiled bathrooms. Typical of the Shannon Princess are thoughtful special touches: welcoming gifts, strategically placed charging outlets, and chocolates at bedtime.
Chef Olivia’s exquisite cuisine shows her creative use of traditionally Irish, locally sourced ingredients. Interestingly, Olivia purchases herbs and produce from the 17th century kitchen garden at Portnumna Castle, which is also presented as an excursion. At breakfast, guests can choose hot dishes from the printed menu while feasting on Olivia’s homemade baked goods. Lunch and dinner are multi-course affairs, followed by a different treat and featured after-dinner drink each evening.
Excursions reveal Ireland’s cultural treasures both ancient and current. On shore experiences include a whiskey tasting; a visit to “Ireland’s Most Haunted Castle”; an interactive program at Adare Castle with falcon and other birds of prey; and three lunches at well-chosen venues. Captain Gibbons is a versatile driver-guide who can discuss such diverse topics as Irish history and contemporary politics — as well as what happened when Michael Jackson lived in a local village for six months!
Crew aboard the Shannon Princess are carefully chosen by Ruiari and Olivia. As managed by Ross and the two delightful hostesses, there does not seem to be a minute when guests are not being offered a drink or a bespoke service of some kind. In 2022, Barge Lady Ellen returned to Shannon Princess twenty three years after her first visit to Ireland and the Gibbons family. She was thrilled with the vessel, the route, the scenery, the crew, the cuisine, and the warm Irish welcome. She highly recommends a cruise on Shannon Princess!
Last visited by Barge Ladies Ellen and Stephanie in 2022