Emerald Princess Cruise Review by tgohal: Wonderful cruise!
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The Emerald Princess still has a "new" feel even though it came on line in 2007. With the exception of the buffet, we never felt crowded even though there were about 3000 passengers on board. That said, some shows in the theater and clubs required you to get there early to get a seat.
Overall, the food was excellent. I always think it humorous that folks complain about the food. Let's face it--when you eat at a restaurant that fixes food for 3000 people 3-times a day, perfection simply cannot be guaranteed. We ate at the Crown Grill (steak house) twice--definitely worth the $25 dollar surcharge.
The entertainment was terrific. There were a number of different comedians who acts were among the funniest we've heard. The sting quartet was amazing--they seemed to play somewhere all the time, and were quite accomplished. The Beatles impersonators were a delight--close your eyes and you'd think the "Fab-4" was on board. The EP singers and dancers were generally More good--but we had to laugh when the 4-singers attempted to sing the "Lover Boat" theme in 4-part harmony--oops. Might want to practice that a bit.
The cabin was small, but ample. Our only complaint is the shower is tiny, and we're normal-sized people. Nice large closet area, with plenty of storage. Suitcases slide under the bed. Since we live in Florida and could drive to Ft. Lauderdale, we brought a box with a queen size 3-inch foam mattress topper for our bed which we gave to our steward at the end of our cruise. What a difference!!! Our bed was super comfortable.
We brought 10-bottles of wine on board in a carry-on suitcase. No one said a thing. Two bottles were small (750 ml), and the rest were larger--1.5 L. We fully expected to pay a $15 corkage fee for the 1.5 L bottles when we boarded, but that wasn't the case. When we took a 1.5 L bottle to the dining room, we paid the corkage fee. Those we drank in our cabin cost us nothing. Our waiters teased us a bit about the "big" bottles of wine, but we just smiled, knowing that our bottles lasted twice as long as those purchased in the dining room.
The Captain cancelled our scheduled port call in the Azores because of ugly weather. That said, we still visited 13 different ports. The transatlantic part of the cruise was very relaxing, almost 10 straight days at sea. However, the rest of the cruise is port-intensive. The ports are amazing, but be prepared for lots of walking and standing on the tours.
Speaking of tours, we used Princess for some tours, and went out our own for a few. We would highly recommend SPB Tours for the Baltic ports. About 300 EP passengers used SPB in St. Petersburg. We booked the SPB 5-Baltic Pearl Deluxe Tours before we left--Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. The tours were all professional, comprehensive, superbly guided...and less than half the cost of comparable Princess tours...
Also, we booked a Princess debarkation tour in Copenhagen. These tours end at the airport where your baggage will be waiting for you, and the tour only cost a few dollars more than the Princess shuttle bus to the airport.
Be prepared to get acquainted with many different currencies. We thought most of Europe had embraced the Euro...wrong. England, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Sweden use their own money. The ship has machines that will change your money...for a reasonable fee. Suggest you check on the various currencies of each country, and how much of each you'll need. We were happy to note that our VISA worked everywhere we tried to use it.
My only personal complaint is the awful coffee served by Princess Cruises, which I'm told is made from a syrup... If you're a coffee nut like me, then you'll buy the Princess coffee card which enables you to get brewed coffee at a few locations on the ship, usually the International Café on the Piazza. The card sells for about $30 and gives you about 15 specialty coffee drinks along with the free brewed coffee...
And, while I know that dress codes have relaxed a lot over the past couple of decades, men wearing shorts, torso tee-shirts, ripped jeans, etc. are hardly appropriately dressed for shipboard evenings, even if the dress code is the usual smart casual.
Lastly, in addition to checking out SPB Tours, check on Iceland Air for your return to the US. If they fly to a destination that works for you, you might save a bundle. We used them to fly from our debarkation port--Copenhagen--to Orlando (Sanford) airport--about half the cost of one of the major airlines.
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