My 77 year old Mother's first cruise and my first Ocean cruise. I was a bit nervous about the size of the ship, as my previous cruise was on with APT on a river cruise (176 guests).
Embarkation was lengthy. We queued for approx 1 1/2 hours. People remained surprisingly cheerful, despite nowhere to sit. It was a bit like queueing for the rides at DisneyWorld. There had been a last minute swap to the Mayflower Terminal - I can only hope the other terminals are better equipped and more efficient.
Our balcony cabin was clean, comfortable, and quiet. Bathroom was very small, but adequate. Water pressure excellent, with consistent flow of hot water. Complimentary toiletries sparse - no shower cap, only a shampoo conditioner mix, and body lotion. A glass shower screen would be impractical with the current bathroom design, but bathrooms definitely need an upgrade.
Our Cabin Steward, Karla, was delightful. Nothing was too much trouble, and she kept the cabin More
immaculate. We used room service on several occasions, including breakfast prior to an early excursion. No problems encountered - service prompt, and food/drinks at appropriate temperature.
We preferred breakfast at the Horizon Court. A la carte breakfast in the Dining room was too lengthy, particularly if sat with other guests. I also liked being able to sit outside to have breakfast after running around the jogging track, and not impose my sweatiness on other guests.
We chose anytime dining, and spent most evenings in the Michelangelo Dining room. The waiters seemed friendlier and more efficient than in the Da Vinci room. Our fellow diners tended to be people next to us in the queue! We met many delightful people, especially the American guests, who were well travelled, charming, and opinionated - always a refreshing, stimulating mix at the dinner table!
Dinner in Sabatinis was well worth the cover charge. Our waiter and Maitre d'hotel both helpful, informative, and great fun! The food was excellent.
One of my favourite dining spots was the International Cafe. Fresh salads, rolls, and yummy cakes.
The Vines wine bar nearby offered free tapas and Sushi when purchasing a glass of wine. I would definitely recommend both venues for the quality of their food.
I purchased a coffee card, as prefer expresso style coffee. The free coffee was drinkable though.
As a nurse, i was very disturbed by the poor hand hygiene practices on the ship. Hand sanitiser was visible at the Horizon Court buffet , but staff did not encourage its use. No wonder Norovirus spreads so easily.
Entertainment was patchy. Perhaps less trivia quizzes, and more scholarship@sea needed. That said, Cruise Director Kelvin Joy was a hoot! Dancing in Club Fusion ended too early. I ventured up to Sky Walkers Night Club a couple of times - very chic surrounds, and a DJ who responded to requests, and gauged her audience well.
Had a massage and facial. Both excellent but expensive. My relaxed mood totally ruined with a lengthy hard sell of products immediately afterwards - not a relaxing note to finish on.
The Fitness centre well appointed. Enjoyed the early morning stretch class. Treadmills don't open until 8am due to cabins below, but you can use cross trainers.
Once again, Sanitiser was available, but you had to search for it. There was no encouragement to wipe the machines down after use, nor any staff to do it.
Went on excursions in all ports. As a first time cruiser, I used Princess excursions which were well organised. Next time I'll organise some of my own, depending on where the ship docks as Princess did put on Shuttle buses, some of which were free.
If you like cosmetics, then head for the duty free shop on board. Clinique products are particularly cheap. US$47 for moisturiser that costs AUD$80 at home!
Disembarkation was quick and easy.
Overall, the cruise was wonderful, and the food and service exceeded my expectations. I will be cruising with Princess again (and bringing my own hand sanitiser!) Less
Emerald Princess Cruises to the British Isles & Western Europe