We took the Mediterranean Medley cruise on the Emerald Princess. Overall, I felt that (in comparison with our previous two cruises) it was mildly disappointing. The ship was smaller than the Royal Princess, which was our first Princess ... Read More
We took the Mediterranean Medley cruise on the Emerald Princess. Overall, I felt that (in comparison with our previous two cruises) it was mildly disappointing. The ship was smaller than the Royal Princess, which was our first Princess cruise. In favor of the Emerald Princess, it at least finished the cruise, which did not happen in our Royal Princess experience. But in every way possible, the Emerald was a mere spectre of its more elegant big sister ship.
The people working on board were the best, though! The stateroom stewards and various other servers with whom we chatted daily were really great. Friendly, skilled, and willing to be of service at the drop of a hat.
The entertainment was little more than a cut above a very talented high school production, and all of it that we saw was dedicated to promoting Princess (Here's to Princess was one of the titles). Since we paid to be there, surely they realize that we KNOW it's a cruise ship, which wants our business. But by providing little more than self-promotion, they took all the entertainment out of the shows, and it became just an elaborate ad. Very disappointing!
The food in the various restaurants was quite good, but the buffet was less than a quarter in size and variety of that offered on the Royal Princess. And it wasn't because of a lack of space -- there was a whole section of seating and potential food service that was not used on the other side of the ship from the buffet. It was barely larger than a school lunch line, which of course, limited the variations that could offered. The buffet food was mostly good, but the choices were limited, and seating space could hardly ever be found.
The excursions were jam-packed with too many sights, and not enough time to see them all. We did sign up for the strenuous excursions, but the pace was so fast that if you stopped to take a picture, you were going to be lost.
In fact, in Rome we had precisely that experience. We were out with two guides, Paolo and Sara, see the Vatican, cathedrals, and Colosseum. As we left the Vatican, there was a literal crush of people. We struggled to see the green flag that Paolo held high because of taller people who kept cutting in front of us. However, we caught a glimpse now and then, and we could hear the radio. Sara stayed mostly at the rear to keep the stragglers in sight.
Unfortunately, as we approached the bus station, the crowd got even bigger (and taller), and just as we caught sight of it, Paolo lowered his flag, turned off his radio and (we found out later) went over to stand against a wall inside the station. At the same time,Sara took off to find the bus, or some other task.
We could not see anyone we recognized, so we kept following the crowd as best we could. It turned out that three very elderly ladies (in their 80s) had also followed my husband's bright green shirt, so all of a sudden we found ourselves and our followers back in front of the Vatican. We knew we had to go back, but at this point, we also knew we must all stay together. So we worked our way slowly back towards the bus depot.
Fortunately my husband, Carl, had brought his cellphone, and he located a phone number on the map we had been given at the outset of the tour. He called the number, but it failed, so we continued back towards the depot. His phone began ringing a few minutes later, as we reached the depot, and I answered it. Sara was on the line, but kept demanding to know EXACTLY where we were. I told her we were at the depot, but that wasn't enough. I looked around for a landmark, but all I could see were wall ads everywhere.
At that point, we spied another Princess tour guide. In desperation, I asked him to talk to Sara and tell her our exact location, which he did, and it was worked out that we were taken on another bus to the lunch restaurant. When we arrived I was verbally attacked by Sara as to why we hadn't been where we were supposed to be, as though we were delinquents, which seemed rude, considering we made our best effort to follow.
We were shocked to discover that neither guide had made the slightest effort to find 5 missing group members! They had simply left us behind. My husband has been unwilling to book any other excursions than those offered by the cruise company, as he believed that action would insure that we WOULD NOT be left behind. We are now well aware that this is a myth, and you CAN be left behind...even on a cruise-sanctioned excursion.
They made no effort to look for the five of us, and they left without us, so as not to be late for lunch. They did not wait more than 5 minutes, so far as we could tell from accounts given by other members of the group.
That experience definitely colored our opinion of the rest of the cruise. Since we were using our Princess credit from the first failed cruise, there were duplications in the itinerary, which we OK, but meant that in three ports we were seeing pretty much the same things we saw the first time. Since the final two stops were part of this duplication, and not our favorite locations the first time around, it kind of ended on a lower note than I would have liked.
Overall, it was pretty average as an experience, although I sincerely hope that few people experience being left behind in the massive crowds of Rome. Read Less