Having avidly read every review we could find on Emerald Princess I must admit we had a reservations about our cruise. This review is our experience and having heard a number of comments on board from other passengers it may differ from their experience. We have cruised with several other lines over a number of years.
This was the only ship in on 11th June and we boarded from Ocean Terminal - this was a breeze, with a large number of checking in stations and after a cup of tea from the cafe boarded with no problems. There were plenty of staff and I think 4 scanning machines.
We had a balcony cabin and whilst not as large as previous ships it was perfectly adequate and we really liked the hanging space which seemed much more generous than others we had in the past. There were a number of comments regarding the shower - I am not small and had no problems never once tangling with the shower curtain.
The bed wasn't that comfortable however a mattress topper helped.
We were anytime dining and were in the Michael Angelo - the second night we found a table that suited and requested to keep it for the cruise. I was advised that we could only do this if we dined at the opening time of 5.30pm as they couldn't hold a table empty if other passengers were waiting. This wasn't a problem as we always eat early.
Buffet - not very big, but as I am not a fan of buffets we only had a couple of meals there as there are plenty of other venues available.
I must say this is probably the best choice we have experienced in a main dining room. It was a 17 night cruise and we virtually had something different every night.
The quality was excellent and always hot.
We also had a meal in the Grill which was well worth the extra (my daughter arranged this as a Fathers Day present)
We loved the pub lunches in the Wheelhouse bar when on offer with traditional pub food i.e. Steak & Kidney pie - fish and chips - Scotch Egg salad - curry - Sausage and Mash.
The International Cafe - had a great choice of cakes and also sandwiches, salads and a pie of the day. Getting a seat was difficult sometimes but only walked away once.
(TOP TIP this is open 24 hrs and on disembarkation was empty -so as long as you don't want a 'full English' better choice that the buffet which I understand was chaos.)
By far the best we have had on any cruise. The singers and dancers were very professional and the speciality acts were outstanding (except in the Freddie Mercury act which was awful ) One of the highlights was the Venice Chamber Orchestra which was very well received playing a mixture of light classical music with a couple of novelty numbers.
I have seen comments regarding the availability of seats - Not surprisingly a number of guests turned up with a few minutes to go and looked surprised when the place was full. The shows were on average 40 mins long to enable 3 performances a night plus the speciality acts did another night in the Explorers Lounge giving another chance to see them.
Kevin & His sidekick were exceptional funny without being patronizing they put together a variety of activities without resorting to the 'Knobbly Knees & Belly Flop' contests.
There were talent contests, language classes, ukulele classes, guitar 'jam' sessions, guest choir -plus many more.
All cruise ship trips are expensive so just a guide if you haven't been to any of the of the following
Cadiz - Hop on Hop Off bus right outside the dockyard / town a short walk over the road
Valetta Hop on Hop Off bus a couple of hundred yards outside the dockyard with several routes
Venice ferry arranged by Princess quite a walk off the gangway $25 added automatically to onboard account however if you walk further there is a public boat for about 15 Euros
Kopa Hop on Hop Off bus just off the gangway - a short walk into town. our first time here and absolutely loved it
Dubrovnik We berthed in the port which was a bus ride to the old town - we have been twice, once before the war when there were very few tourists and it is an absolutely beautiful place. However subsequent visits have been a nightmare as the place gets so crowded. I understand that with so many cruise ships in there were major issues with the crowds.
Corfu We didn't go ashore here however its about 2 miles into the town and I did see a bus from the jetty though I'm not sure if there were any charges
Gibraltar transport is short walk from the ship 4 Euro return to Casement Square
The same people seemed to be on the same beds every day, so I don't know what time they got up to reserve them.
There were a number of sun beds tied up because people were too lazy to return the towels and left them in situ .
But the one that show how inconsiderate some people can be- were a couple who had all of their belonging on two very nicely placed sun beds next to the pool, but elected to sit in two chairs behind them for most of the day!
I can't finish without mentioning the Noro Virus outbreak. This appeared after about 10 days and although it didn't really affect us the increase in hygiene was apparent.
This was very lax previously and not enforced so hopefully now the ship will address this.
Overall - We had an absolutely brilliant experience and wouldn't hesitate to sail Princess based on this experience - this is only our own view having heard 'whinging' during the cruise. There will be other opinions I'm sure but I will say that if you want to look for faults I guarantee that you will find some.