We boarded the Emerald Princess in Copenhagen. The boarding process was simple and efficient, considering the number of passengers involved. The total time to board was around one hour. One annoyance was that Princess ran out of coffee and water in the waiting area. We were able to access out cabins as soon as we boarded which was a pleasant surprise.
Our cabin was an interior on the Baha deck. From the time we arrived there were problems. The suction for the commode did not work. It was repaired on four different occasions. We experienced a loss of ventilation for a twelve-hour period during the second night on board. After four days of problems and numerous calls to customer service, we were able to reach someone in authority who moved us to another cabin on the Aloha deck. The new cabin had no problems. Talking to other passengers we discovered that numerous cabins had problems with their commode suction. The Emerald Princess is a new ship. Problems as described above should be a rarity.
One of the most egregious problems encountered during our cruise was the ship's lack of public area spaces. With over 3200 passengers on board and the inability to use the outside decks due to weather, there were people everywhere. The public areas seemed to be the same size as the Diamond and Sapphire Princess. Both of these ships have 750-800 less passengers. In order to get a good seat for shows and lectures in the Princess Theater and the Explorers Lounge, one needed to arrive a full hour prior to the event. On other ships that we have sailed, arriving thirty minutes ahead of time was more than adequate. One last observation: getting to the Bottecelli Dining Room was nearly impossible. Many folks needed the entire cruise before they found their way to the space. Poorly laid out at best.
Finally, the temperature inside the ship was far too warm most of the time. I heard more than a few complaints about the heat.
The ships crew was staffed by people from 42 countries. Cultural differences were evident. Our cabin attendant and dining room waiters (Philippines) were superb. Friendliness and service was consistently excellent. This cannot be said about the Horizon Buffett. Many of the wait staff were form Eastern Europe. Service ranges from excellent to downright poor. Many staff members displayed "attitude", especially during the breakfast time. Many days we had to get our own coffee and juice while the waiters stood around and watched.
The entertainment offered was poor at best. The production shows were definitely not geared to mature audiences. We walked out of two of the three shows presented. There was an opera singer who was OK and the requisite Magician. The only saving grace was the comedy and (lecture) of Kevin Hughes. He was excellent! Other lecturers put us to sleep. The lady who did the port lectures spoke at length on the history of the area but offered little practical advice (i. e. where to exchange money, transportation, shopping etc.)
The ports selected (Oslo, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Reykjavik, Greenland, and Newfoundland) were excellent. However, the time in many of the ports was so brief, that there was little time to explore on one's own. Additionally, tendering in Edinburgh and Greenland was an adventure by itself. We waited over an hour in line waiting to tender back from Greenland. Due to weather, we missed St. John's Newfoundland altogether. While severe weather in the North Atlantic is not unusual this time of year, Princess might have had a contingency plan in place such as maybe a stop in Bermuda or Princess Keys.
The food on board was not up to Princess standards. We cruised on Golden Princess to Alaska in July, and the food was noticeably better. The main dining room vegetables were consistently undercooked. Desserts ranged from outstanding to not editable. The Horizon Buffet was average at best. A noticeable exception was the Pizza Bar and Hamburger Line. Both were very good. However, since both places were exposed to the elements, one didn't eat there very often.
The debarkation process could have been improved by placing a crew member in each assembly area to keep traffic flowing and passengers under control. There was a great deal of pushing and shoving in assembly areas. We were told to be available for leaving the ship at 7 AM but were not allowed to go ashore until 7:45 AM.
We will cruise Princess again but never on Emerald Princess or any other Princess ship this large. It just wasn't worth the hassle. Other smaller Princess ships are more to our liking. I do not recommend this ship to anyone that is uncomfortable with large crowds.