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54 Princess Emerald Princess Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

This was my 1st cruise my mam has done several cruises and wanted us to experience one,i was so disappointed found the security staff quite rude when getting on ship,a smile wouldn't go amiss,room was ok and kept nice by staff,i never ... Read More
This was my 1st cruise my mam has done several cruises and wanted us to experience one,i was so disappointed found the security staff quite rude when getting on ship,a smile wouldn't go amiss,room was ok and kept nice by staff,i never imagined so many older people thought it would of been a mixed age group,a lot of them were very rude,not a lot to do on there,as I'm a non drinker and not a gambler I was very bored,could never get a seat in the buffet,1 morning I stood eating my porridge,but what was annoying was people had finished there breakfast but wouldn't move to let others sit down,wasnt impressed with food,and while you are eating the staff are trying to clear your plates from under you,i got quite stressed on this cruise,trying to get a settee to sit on during the day to have a read was impossible as they had walking sticks on them but nobody was there,if you smoke please take cigarettes with you as you can only buy marlbrough lights which we don't like,you can buy 200 in shop on board but they only allow you 1 packet out of them till your cruise is over,it felt like we were at school again,this cruise is money money money,having to pay for transfers from the dock to the town your visiting,i wish I could say something nice about this cruise but sadly it was a waste of money,seen 1 good show tom jones tribute,but once again it was getting a seat again,lifts were difficult to get in with all the wheel chairs,wouldnt recommend this cruise for young people,we are 53 but just didn't fit in, Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Hi went on Emerald Princess 26/04/2016 from Southampton getting onboard brilliant cabin excellent new beds are fantastic entertainment acceptable condition of ship even after refit average then lets break down the actual living on ship ... Read More
Hi went on Emerald Princess 26/04/2016 from Southampton getting onboard brilliant cabin excellent new beds are fantastic entertainment acceptable condition of ship even after refit average then lets break down the actual living on ship buffet restaurant is the best place to eat although food could have been hotter choice and standard good the sit down dining is terrible we ate twice in the di vinci restaurant waiters want to take your order the exit you as quick as possible not allowing both diners to finish their meal then straight away next course then when completed start to clear table while you sit there absolutely disgusting Drinks the prices are terrible I had a single whiskey with 15% tip worked out to £6.82 a good cruise to cure you if you are an alcoholic we brought the soda package all right for first drink when they see pre paid tend to give you a wide berth maybe they get commission on sales There are lots of staff from different countries some very difficult to communicate with due to their lack of English onboard were 99% English Always trying to sell you something upmarket prices average service the best way you can sum up Princess Cruises 3 star hotel in Benidorm As stated we brought soda package you could have pump soda but not itns of coke you had to pay for these Cinema on deck very good good choice of films Embarkation is a joke shut several lifts down causing chaos took my luggage down the stairs otherwise would have missed embarkation slot Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We did the Eastern med cruise September 2012, on the Crown Princess, one of the ports I wanted to visit was Rhodes, but because of operational problems we could not dock, so I saw the Eastern Med cruise again for 19th September that ... Read More
We did the Eastern med cruise September 2012, on the Crown Princess, one of the ports I wanted to visit was Rhodes, but because of operational problems we could not dock, so I saw the Eastern Med cruise again for 19th September that included Rhodes again And Crete that I also wanted to see, the night before we were due to dock we got a letter to day our excursion to a beach on Rhodes had been cancelled, I was a sleep in the cabin and by the time my husband brought the letter in to show me the shore excursion desk was closed, so no Rhodes again, this was not the ships fault but the third party excursion company's fault partly, I asked the person on the shore excursion desk was it because of lack of interest or the weather report, she so no the trip was full so I said could she let me know why and I was told no. The next evening the weather became a problem for the captain, so he announced that we would not leave Rhodes until the early hours of the morning. Our trip in Crete the next day was at 7.00am so my husband set the alarm for 5.30am, he went down to the desk and said will we be going to Crete and was told yes, Approximately 6.30 to 7.00am the Captain said we would not be going to Crete we would have an extra day at sea, we where not the only people saying we could of had at least 6 hours in Crete, so why did it take 2 days at sea to get to Naples ??? Was it because of the extra port charges in Rhodes that he could not then pay for Crete port charges. What has made this so dissapointing is the fact that due to a health problem, this was my last cruise and the 2 places I really wanted to see. So thank you Captain for the dissapointmemt !!! The cruise on the ship was very nice food service every where was very good. As for the entertainment what entertainment !! The best night was the crews show. Sorry Princess that was my final !!? Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first ever holiday on a cruise ship, we choose Princess because it had the timing and visits we wanted. We choose a balcony room and paid full fare. I will keep this simple: A Cruise to us is nice food and entertainment ... Read More
This was our first ever holiday on a cruise ship, we choose Princess because it had the timing and visits we wanted. We choose a balcony room and paid full fare. I will keep this simple: A Cruise to us is nice food and entertainment 1: We were refused entry to the intermediate restaurants on formal nights (2) even though we dressed in the best we brought with us (Black suit and tie required) So ended up in the Buffet which was inconsistent in quality. (One night they counted 5 cherries per plate no lie) 2. The "Love Boat" theme is way past old - continues screening on one channel of captain stubbing and crew was just lame. 3. The timing of activities on the boat overlapped so after watching one show going to another event meant late arrival no seats or show ending 4. The cost of the on board photos is extreme way beyond a reasonable cost 5. On departure we were left at Rome without water in the sun and a 4 hour wait because of offloading time allocation. Good or better: 1. Staff are excellent they work there "guts" out for a pittance and 9 months servitude on contract 2: The at cost restaurants ($25) are what we should have had all along in quality The ship looks a little tired We will not be spending our money on cruising again based on this experience Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We picked this cruise by price and destinations. We flew to Istanbul on an afternoon flight arriving about 5:30pm; the ship did not leave until 23:00 hrs. Take our advice and try not to travel on a weekend as the traffic is tremendous and ... Read More
We picked this cruise by price and destinations. We flew to Istanbul on an afternoon flight arriving about 5:30pm; the ship did not leave until 23:00 hrs. Take our advice and try not to travel on a weekend as the traffic is tremendous and it took nearly two hours from airport to the cruise terminal. As we were late we almost walked straight in, and within a few minutes we were in our cabin together with our cases. We had a balcony cabin next to the rear lifts handy for the buffet and the fusion lounge; we did not notice any noise from the lifts. Joel was waiting for us and with a font of knowledge and tips. We soon renewed our layout memories and after a good dinner in the buffet we turned in early. The next day was a ‘sea’ day which enabled us to adjust to the extra two hours time difference, we did all the normal activities run by a brilliant entertainments team – I was glad to see that we were giving jobs to some of the ‘Colonists’ - we were soon caught up in activities like Trivia, taboo and Scattergrams, which may seem boring but when you’ve got passengers from all over the world it became hilarious. In the evenings there were game shows very familiar to the British, copies of mr&mrs, blankity blank and family fortunes. The theatre put on some good and varied shows from Mime, comedian, vocalists and not to mention the princess dancers and singers who put on some Broadway standard shows. The weather was fabulous our complete cruise, the sun beds and pools never seem to empty. They also became handy for watching some of the latest films with free popcorn. Being a couple of pensioners we did not take part in the more vigorous activities. Including learning to dance, ball or line. I’m afraid even a well equipped Gym couldn’t temp us. We tried both types of dining, the main dining room and the buffet. The main dining room was a bit disappointing the menu selection was poor and the alternatives looked good in name but when they arrived they were often only tepid and didn’t look inviting. On formal nights we ate in the buffet on the Lido deck which we found to be hotter, more varied and you can have as much as you liked. For the weight watchers there was a good assortment of salads and loads of fresh fruit daily. On this cruise we found waiting staff to be superb willing to chat (if not busy) and tell you all about the homes, it went to show what can be done we a few friendly words. They were always willing to fetch drinks or help someone with difficulties. Having done quite a few cruises we have managed to visit all the tourist sites in the Med at least once so now we’re happy going for walks around the port area or local town and seeing how the other half lives. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We sailed on the Emerald from Istanbul to Rome. This was our 2nd cruise having sailed on the Ocean Princess last year. First, embarking was a breeze. Took us about 30 minutes. We stayed in Istanbul a couple of days before getting on the ... Read More
We sailed on the Emerald from Istanbul to Rome. This was our 2nd cruise having sailed on the Ocean Princess last year. First, embarking was a breeze. Took us about 30 minutes. We stayed in Istanbul a couple of days before getting on the ship. If you have concerns about Istanbul, don't. What a beautiful city. We set sail at night. The ship is beautiful. Our room was a perfect size with nice closet space. We were on Caribe deck C515 with a very large balcony. 4 chairs and a table. Perfect. Dinner was the 2nd seating and Na was our server. She was brilliant and the food was consistently good. I only had one meal that was not great. They tend to cook beef longer so Americans beware on medium vs. medium rare. The nightlife was ok. The Skywalker Lounge was large but the DJ kept playing annoying pop music that was not appropriate to the age of the people that were in the room. He did not seem to care. The other venues were great. Don't miss the Fish and Chips lunch during the cruise. Best lunch on the ship!! Used the Sancuary and this is certainly worth the extra $$ when you are a day at sea. Very relaxing. Ports of call - Mykonos - wow - Malta (go to Mdina) - Sicily (go to Taromina) Naples (go to Capri) and finally Rome. We did some of the excursions but they were very long days. Next time, we may just do our own thing. Also - note that the internet connection was very poor and expensive. Unplug and unwind. You know you had a good cruise when you are already looking to book your next cruise. Enjoy the Emerald! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Embarkation was a bit fraught as the staff ignored any priority stickers and still sent you to the long line instead of the correct one. Ignored her and went to Priority everything went well. Nice room - poor steward She was almost ... Read More
Embarkation was a bit fraught as the staff ignored any priority stickers and still sent you to the long line instead of the correct one. Ignored her and went to Priority everything went well. Nice room - poor steward She was almost invisible and could not make a bed to save her life. She was great at pass the buck [- contact housekeeping - she would say for anything you asked. Not that this spoilt our cruise we just ignored the problems and sorted them ourselves We had a traditional late sitting table and a nice group of diners except on lady would ALWAYS come 10 minutes late which made getting to entertainments more difficult. The meet and greet was a hoot Not a great many of the promised roll call members turned up but those who did really enjoyed the visit of 15 of the top officers including Captain and first officer (with his little girl) and the CD. They stayed for about 1.25 hours and talked one to one with everyone there Such a friendly group. Thereafter during the cruise they would recognise us and use our names when greeting us. The first two weeks we had a pair of waiters who did not know their jobs and insisted on stretched across anyone who was actually eating to give something to the next person (what happened to silver service rules?) Nothing was said but the last week we had another pair who were marvellous and so helpful in every way the atmosphere of our meals changed immensely. The food was not the best we have had from Princess but still good. I was surprised and disappointed that there was no Greek night although it was a black sea and Greek islands cruise. The Chef advised when asked that their menus came from head office and they could not change them - strange I think considering the itineraries. I did request lamb shanks for a meal one night giving 48 hours notice - but they were not available. The entertainment was strangely timed and therefore mostly the late sitting diners could not partake in much except the late shows. Even the final Bingo was scheduled for 3/4 hour after the late dinner started No way could we take part. The dancing shows were good but the comedian was poor and the ventriloquist spoilt his show after a first good half then it went down hill as he got badly blue. The ports were very close of course being the Med and every day was a hectic tour with loads of walking and climbing steps but although exhausted we had a fantastic time. I had been honest and given in 2 bottles of Brandy for collection at the end of the cruise and it took me two hour to find these bottles which were not delivered in the normal way and I was waiting to finalise my packing., Eventually they were found IN THE LOST PROPERTY!! Disembarkation was easy no lines and our taxi was waiting for us on time Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My husband and I traveled with the Emerald Princess August 15th 2015 for a week eastern Mediterranean cruise. We've been on a selection of previous cruise lines including RCCI oasis of the seas, Carnival, Thompson, Norwegian, ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with the Emerald Princess August 15th 2015 for a week eastern Mediterranean cruise. We've been on a selection of previous cruise lines including RCCI oasis of the seas, Carnival, Thompson, Norwegian, Celebrity X. Our ages are late 40s Embarkation Rome Port of Civitavecchia was very smooth and professional and fast we arrived at one and proceeded straight to our state room B753 aft everything easy and our luggage arrived about two hours later, The state room We had a balcony room and was a bit dated but clean well presented large bed flat screen TV with lots of channels to suit most tastes modern movies children's channels,and of course the aforementioned Love Boat on loop,hairdryer was very good and vanity unit fine too, shower room was small but enough space for all your ablutions etc,there is shower gel and shampoo in pump dispensers in the shower, large walk in cupboard with plenty of space for clothes and enough wooden hangers for both of us, Our large luggage easily went under the bed, We found the bed to be a bit firm to our taste and asked our room attendant Resty if he could get us a pillow top topper this was provided for promptly and made a big difference. The balcony had four chairs and small table and was ok for the space. Ships description The ship itself has a demographic of 60s+ and this is catered for in its style and music and entertainment,the style is 90s and elegant but dated in these times of modern ships, Cruisers where European Americans and quite a lot of Australians, this cruise class is between a carnival and Norwegian cruise style, Staff Previous reviews have mentioned bad and off staff we found the opposite every member we encountered was friendly could not do enough for you from Resty our room attendant to Darko the head waiter who provided a chicken curry for one of the nights to Dordes who served us at the sanctuary in the morning and Crown Grill at night all courteous at all times. Food and Drink We had the premium drinks package and found it was value for money and had no problems getting any top shelf drinks at all bars, And at dinner we could have 40% off any bottle of wine under $100 We ate at Michelangelo restaurant a few time anytime dining it was fine nothing great but ok, Also we ate at the Italian restaurant Sabatinis found the service slow and food not worth the extra $25 a head. The Crown Grill we went to twice and food here was excellent I like rare steak and lobster was perfect too well worth the extra cost. We also ate in horizon in the morning and selection was good for breakfast.we found lots of tables at the rear of the restaurant and sometimes sat outside overlooking the pool area. Pool area There where a few pools one at the stern an adults pool and two on the top for children and one of those had a movie screen that we did not use. On the bow of the ship is the sanctuary area we used the pool but not the Spa and gym they looked good but we never used it, we did use the upper area with thick padded beds for sunbathing this costs $80 per person per day we had to book our days in advance especially the sea day,the staff provide healthy style food and afternoon tea,loved this area and wish every ship had one. Entertainment Entertainment was very outdated the only show I enjoyed was the Tom Jones tribute that was excellent. Piano bars classical music in the piazza Adagio bar even the Wheelhouse bar all dated and very boring need a bit of life in them,needs new probably younger entertainment officer even people in there sixties and beyond want to hear a mixture of music though the years. The night club caterers to 20 something's and was appropriate for them. Conclusion disembarkation we chose walk off disembarkation and was easy and effective no problems at all. If you don't mind an older style then and 70s nights then this is the cruise for you,the itinerary was great Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We spent 28 nights on Emerald Princess August/Sept and had a fantastic trip as did many others we befriended on the cruise. The ship and crew were absolutely fantastic and most were happy to have a chat and some even gave us advice re how ... Read More
We spent 28 nights on Emerald Princess August/Sept and had a fantastic trip as did many others we befriended on the cruise. The ship and crew were absolutely fantastic and most were happy to have a chat and some even gave us advice re how to get around in ports we were doing on our own. The ship is lovely and we can't understand why it is being refurbished soon other than to modernize some areas. We found all areas clean and tidy at all times. We ate most of our meals in horizon court as we did not want to be spending a couple of hours in the dining room and prefer to have sun and fun. (We also get over listening to people bragging about how many cruises they have been on etc, etc you would think it is a competition). The food was tasty and the variety at every meal extensive. Others also expressed the same thing. I do not know what some people expect...we often ate at the back of the ship to enjoy the view. We never found any area crowded.the meals we had in the formal dining room were of a high standard and everyone was friendly and worked hard to please people around us. We and others noticed a minority of cruisers who just don't know how to enjoy themselves and pick everything . Honestly do they have a slave at home?, the way they act and complain you would think so. I heard one person whinge to others that their cabin steward did not put fresh ice in their fridge. Boohoo. All they had to do was make one call and it would have been delivered OR they could get some from an ice machine. We loved the international cafe and every dessert on the ship was the best and tastiest we have had. Before we left we thought we would avoid pastries/desserts etc so we would not put too much weight on and decided most cakes etc look good but taste the same....well we broke our rule as every mouthfull was devine and by the amount of people constantly lined up for the treats they obviously thought the same. The only thing I do slightly agree with is some of the evenings were light on entertainment however we were on 28 days..and to be honest with our extensive port tours etc were too tired to stay up late but I do understand some people go for the nightlife. Korey Simon was on the last week of our cruise and was brilliant. So much fun we did stay up late and regretted it the next day... lol. I also want to comment re the formal nights. There were 8 during our month on board and we only attended 3. Live and let live. Not everyone wants to get tizzed up and attend. Once again it seemed like a competition between the women as to how OTT they could be. Not everyone's scene. so if you want to get dressed up fine but don't be rude about those who don't want to. Everyone's holiday is exactly that, Their experience not yours. Congratulations to all at Princess and we would not hesitate to recommend people to cruise with you. We will be back. Every minute of every day is up to you to make the most of it. life is too short. We thought all the trivia sessions were fun with David from the cruise directors staff and Cassie etc Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
From the moment we stepped onboard Emerald in Istanbul there was a complete lack of elegance and sophistication we had found on numerous cruises before aboard the Princess line. The ship was tired, the crew burned out and there was a ... Read More
From the moment we stepped onboard Emerald in Istanbul there was a complete lack of elegance and sophistication we had found on numerous cruises before aboard the Princess line. The ship was tired, the crew burned out and there was a complete lack of concern. The bedding looked like they had cleaned the floor with it and the bathroom towels were ragged and tattered. We have cruised Princess several times before although it had been three years ago this time and the difference was shocking. For those of us who enjoy the late seating dining this unbeknownst to us eliminated the evening shows. Show times were 6 and 7:30 instead of the traditional 10 PM show after a nice dinner. The entertainment was nonexistent. The Princess Employee Talent Show are you kidding me you could hear the dogs barking 60 miles away in Istanbul. The first full day was a day at sea and we tried to go up to one of the pools but there were no towels left so we got to sit on the dirty deck chairs and watch the unsupervised children strangling one another as the played some version of "King of the Mountain". Jumping, diving, screaming and carrying on it was a complete free for all. The toilet in our stateroom stopped working and the list continued. We were in shock as I began to think that somehow I wound up on a Carnival ship. I wrote a letter and emailed it to Princess corporate. About 48 hours later I received a telephone call from the Customer Services Director stating that he had heard from the home office and want a meeting with me. With nothing to lose and hopefully something to gain I agreed. We discussed the aforementioned issues along with horrible food both overlooked and undercooked, the free for all buffet on the Horizon Deck and the fact that you had to just about beg to get a glass of lemonade from the staff. There were people complaining every time we turned around. These were legitimate complaints and for the many that tried to speak with someone on staff they told how they were ignored and dismissed. At the end of my meeting the Customer Services Director requested that I meet with him again the second week which I agreed to do and I never heard another word from him. We decided to purchase a photo taken on one of the Formal Nights and as usual we saw the $19.95 sign but when I went to pay for the picture I was charged $24.95 and when I asked why the increased price the response I got was that it was a portrait. Seriously? How about the dry cleaning that came back in a ball of wrinkles? The ship is due to go to the yard in October which is probably about 6 months later than it should have. They requested that we complete a post cruise survey and as you can probably imagine I was more than happy to respond albeit not what they wanted to hear. I even attached a letter elaborating on our experiences leaving the door open for some type of resolution but all I got was a telephone call from someone in California identifying himself as the people in charge of dissatisfied passengers thanking me for my input. Are you kidding me over $10,000.00 spent and I get a "have a nice day." In a nutshell the cruise was a disaster and Princess completely dropped the ball this time. I cannot begin to tell of the frustration I feel with this cruise and this company. If your considering a Princess Cruise don't until they get straightened out if they get straightened out. Simply put we got ripped off! I will never ever do another Hop On Hop Off "Medley" cruise again and I'm very doubtful we will set foot on another Princess Cruise due to their give a heck attitude. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I have been on many cruises with different cruiselines, but never on a princess cruise before. Because of many excellent reviews Princess was on my bucket list so I was more than happy to book this cruise. I booked a balcony and was ... Read More
I have been on many cruises with different cruiselines, but never on a princess cruise before. Because of many excellent reviews Princess was on my bucket list so I was more than happy to book this cruise. I booked a balcony and was upgraded to a minisuite, nice surprise. At Istanbul I had a transfer organized by Princess; worked perfect. We arrived at the ship something around 1 pm, dropped of the luggage and went to the check in. 5 minutes later I was onboard and on my way to my cabin. Within a few minutes my steward came, introduced himself and offered me a glass of sparkling wine. Now I was ready to "move in". The size of the minisuite was really nice, but there were some signs of wear. In the bathtub there were many chips and deep scratches, the sofabed was beat-up and it was impossible to push it together properly. At the steel-covering of the balcony there was rust...a lot of rust. Carpet needs some shampooing. Now I grabbed something to eat at the horizon buffet, and I was a little bit disappointed about the food quality and choice. But I thought the limited choice resulted in the fact it is embarcation day. Big fault. The fruit selection was more than poor. I like a nice selection of sliced fruit in the mornig. What we got were melons. Every single day melons. Except of 2 days; one time there were pineapples (which were more than fully mature, brown at the paring) , the other one papaya. Fruitsalat contains.... melons. Mostly JUST melons. Cutted into squares of 3 inches. This cruise was during the season you can get everything everywhere: strawberrys, peaches, apricots, berries, think of whatever you want. We´ve got nothing. There were some whole fruits at the buffet, but I don´t want to cut 2 pounds of fruit into slices to have some fresh fruitsalat with my yoghurt. Same for the lunch buffet. Salad buffet contains cabbage.... a lot of cabbages. Some mashy tomatoes, some cucumbers. No nice condiments. Same for dinner. Food looked like in a cheap canteen. Quality of meat was more than mediocre, pasta was overcooked and tasted boring. Cheese platter contains 2 kinds of sliced cheese, cheapest industrial cheese ever, cutted from squares into triangles.... every single day the same. Surprisingly, the quality at the main dining rooms was really really good. This discrepancy was hard to believe. Although I prefer a more casual dining at some days I decided to avoid the buffet whenever possible (took a look every day and refused to eat there). Pools were well maintained. Shows were disappointing; boring. At the end of the cruise there was the same entertainer at two consecutive days. So I had a lot of time reading. I missed some nice workshops during the days, something like crafts, scrapbooks or anything like that. Ports were nice as expected. (Mykonos, Malta, Messina, Naples). Disembarkation was perfect; choosed my timeslot, left the ship within minutes. I enjoyed my cruise, but I see a lot to improve comparing this cruise to my previous ones (RCL, NCL, MSC and HAL). Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. Great food, very pleasant and helpful staff. Usual mixture of ports with some more attractive than others. However the star find was Nessebar in Bulgaria. Yards from the tender there were loads of ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. Great food, very pleasant and helpful staff. Usual mixture of ports with some more attractive than others. However the star find was Nessebar in Bulgaria. Yards from the tender there were loads of attractive shops and restaurants. This was one of the substitute ports as replacement for the Ukraine ports. All cruise lines should find an excuse to go there. The only reason I have not given the cruise 5 stars is the lack of enforcement of the dress code in the evenings. On the informal nights we had shorts, T shirts, jeans, leggings, flip flops and in fact some people turned up wearing what they had had on at the pool. On the formal nights guess what we still had T shirts, jeans, leggings etc On one formal night there was a reception for passengers who had cruised more than 5 times with Princess. Dress was quite a bit better but a minority turned up to meet the captain wearing shorts. They should never have been allowed to cross the door. Princess are enforcing no smoking and no alcohol rules so it is time they enforced the rules on attire which they list in the pre cruise information. At the door of restaurants and selected bars there should be signs saying what is not allowed and a security presence to turn people away. If passengers do not want to dress smartly they should go to the Horizon Court or stay at home Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I have travelled with Princess for 30 years often defending and promoting this company as times & cruise expectations have evolved & changed. I booked a 2 week cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona. I received 2 one week cruises ... Read More
I have travelled with Princess for 30 years often defending and promoting this company as times & cruise expectations have evolved & changed. I booked a 2 week cruise from Istanbul to Barcelona. I received 2 one week cruises with food, entertainment, in-room entertainment and public announcements duplicated from one week to the next. Different ports of call but the exact same onboard mediocracy. Oh, and noro-virus (the ship went to 'RED' status). The ship is in rough condition with mold and mildew growing around the whirlpools, elevators not functioning, decor pealing, burned out lights and an "EFFY Store." As an Elite passenger, we were greeted with an obviously dirty toilet with skid marks. As the sun entered the room, we could also see the antics of a previous passenger splattered on the artwork hanging on the wall. The table on the balcony did receive a cleaning 12 days into the cruise and the room was vacuumed once. We did of course receive our invitation on week one for the Captain's Party. No handshaking as the virus was throughout the ship. We also received a second invitation to a Captain's Party (same Captain's name on the invite) the following Thursday. However, we did not attend because the Captain disembarked for a 2 month vacation and a new Captain took the helm that very day. We are still curious why we received the second invite from a Captain and a system that must have known he was leaving. The system is broken. I felt we were simply a credit card number. Minimum effort by a system needing a radical examination & overhaul. I compliment the staff (not the head-office, not the accountants, not the system analysts & definitely not the senior management) in trying to provide a great cruise experience to each and every passenger but are handicapped by a dysfunctional, antiquated corporate culture. After 30 years, the question arises if I will travel on the Love Boat again (....by the way, the episodes were repeats & repeated too!)? Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Ship ran like a military exercise and was very smooth. Lots of food and doing the Greek Islands there was a lot to do and see in terms of culture. Was my first cruise so everything was very new and exciting. Mostly old people on this line. ... Read More
Ship ran like a military exercise and was very smooth. Lots of food and doing the Greek Islands there was a lot to do and see in terms of culture. Was my first cruise so everything was very new and exciting. Mostly old people on this line. Fun meeting strangers for dinner. Could not imagine wanting to repeat the experience (cruising) as would be bored silly second time around. Have decided this is mostly for the unadventurous with little sense of imagination. Good value compared with cost of hotels and taxis. Anytime dining is best otherwise you are regimented to time . Only downside is that you are seated with strangers but that to me was a plus. Instant friends! Beware of the government sponsored carpet scam in Turkey. erdogon forces all ship tour groups to compulsory visit a carpet factory at every port. If you open your mouth and ask the price they squirrel you away to a private room and give you the hard sell. The average is about 1000 euros but on the streets the gypsies will sell you the Chinese imitation for 20. Internet costs a fortune but good excuse to give it up for a week. Drinking costs a lot too. Cabin TV was crap. Endless repeats of love boat. Shows were good. Enrichment was only lectures on acupuncture etc. pools were ok. Food was varied but bland and mostly tasteless catering for the demographic. Don't waste money hiring a suit. Everyone came in their old business's suit. Give the casino and art display a miss. Ditto the photography. (WAste of money). Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have sailed with princess since 1977 and I have sailed on Emerald Princess several times. My last trip was out of Athens on the 16th of May 2015 and from the embarkation it had lots of issues. On arrival at Athens Port no one to help ... Read More
I have sailed with princess since 1977 and I have sailed on Emerald Princess several times. My last trip was out of Athens on the 16th of May 2015 and from the embarkation it had lots of issues. On arrival at Athens Port no one to help with luggage. The staff were actually sitting on the Trolley's smoking great impression, did not rush to help at all. I was sent into a embark hall to wait with no one in the hall then moved into another embark hall. Being a Platinum member I did not even get welcome back, just can I have your cabin number and not even enjoy your cruise. What do they say first impressions really matter. My cabin was fine but my steward had absolutely no personality at all. He forgot to clean my stateroom twice, left all his cleaning products in my bathroom for a week and left rotten fruit in my cabin. No attention to detail at all. I had no complaints about the dining room my waiter and assistant waiter were superb and so was our Head Waiter. The food has certainly changed since the last time I was on board. The Crown Grill which I ate in twice was marvellous, but the experience at Sabatini 's Restaurant was less than memorable, if they are going to charge for an Italian Restaurant they need to have Italian Waiters. The entertainment was shocking and the stage shows were there four years ago If they flog that Love Boat Theme once more I would scream, this is 2015 not 1977 yes they are celebrating the 50 years but really when leaving a fabulous place like Istanbul at 10 pm in the evening don't play the Love Boat Theme, seriously. The Female Cruise Director was dreadful They really need to pay attention to their staff and the way they dress, some uniforms have been in since Princess started and you need to get rid of the white pursers uniform on woman it is not flattering. I recently went on a Costa Cruise and I have nothing but praise for how beautifully the staff were attired. The front Desk staff were rude, cold and unwelcoming The boutiques need a massive revamp they are still in the 1980's The rudest person on the ship was the guy in the Internet café you are honestly doing yourself no favours having him aboard. My biggest beef was the fact that I had prepaid my departure transfer and nd it took 11 goes to get it right. I have cruised with Princess for a long time, I still had a good time on board but to keep up with the newest ships in the market they need to change. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I seriously don't know where to start for this unbelievable cruise. This was our 25th (gulp) cruise and our 9th aboard Princess. And Emerald Princess did not disappoint! We began our venture in Barcelona, staying at the Princess ... Read More
I seriously don't know where to start for this unbelievable cruise. This was our 25th (gulp) cruise and our 9th aboard Princess. And Emerald Princess did not disappoint! We began our venture in Barcelona, staying at the Princess sponsored Hotel Gallery. Pick up and transfers from the airport were super easy. This boutique hotel had clean rooms, a great breakfast spread with fresh fruit and good coffee. The location was perfect for wandering in Barcelona in the Las Ramblas area. Again, hotel to ship transportation was super easy. Our ship beckoned post-Barcelona - huge and gleaming. Embarkation was easy breezy and our rooms were ready by noon - such a welcome treat. Our mini-suites had great space, ample storage and closets, and a small non-shaded balcony. Service went above and beyond on this cruise - some of the very best service we have ever ever had on a cruise ship. The MDR staff was friendly and efficient, the bar staff were pleasantly conversational, and the housekeeping staff were also terrific. Activities onboard ship were plentiful on sea days and every evening. There were multiple shows each night to suit any and all tastes. I will say that the production shows were a bit on the tired side but that's just me. We tried to make it to as many shows, games, and activities as possible. The Cruise Director and his staff were quite good - very friendly and very busy. We tried the spa a few times and found the service to be exceptional. I had a wonderful Thai Poultice Massage one day and a pedicure another day - both treatments were lovely and the staff was more than hospitable. I do feel that the availability of exercise classes is a bit weak - only one stretch class early morning, but that's the way of things. The ports on this itinerary are incomparable from Barcelona to Marseille, Florence, Rome, Montenegro, Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, Kusadasi, and Istanbul. There was something in every port that appealed to us - especially the fresh fish for lunch each day. Food in the MDR, the Crown Grill, and the buffet were all quite respectable. I do not have one complaint regarding the food and beverages onboard Emerald Princess. Our disembarkation in Istanbul was super easy, we picked up a cab in no time at all and were to our post-cruise hotel within 10 minutes. Exhausted... and happy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We fancied a change from Celebrity Eclipse and booked a couple of weeks off in September, so had a window with 3 cruise options available. Basically - who would provide the best deal. Princess won! In a nutshell: Although smaller than ... Read More
We fancied a change from Celebrity Eclipse and booked a couple of weeks off in September, so had a window with 3 cruise options available. Basically - who would provide the best deal. Princess won! In a nutshell: Although smaller than Eclipse - 500+ more passengers. Public rooms and bars seemed dark and gloomy - though clean. Horizon food court a bit of a bun fight - nowhere near the selection and choice on the Eclipse Drinks cheaper - but drinks package more expensive!! All staff were polite and friendly - but not a lot of sincerity Entertainment poor, with the Cruise Director continually apologising for it saying he had no choice like in the 'old days' and had to make do with what he was sent! Production shows were OK, taped music backing and lots of enthusiasm, but 30 mins long and nothing else/support act. Not really a show!! Thankfully no Broadway/West End songs from the shows! Food was pretty good - almost on a par with Celebrity, couldn't justify the Speciality Dining options, which was good. Anytime Dining worked well, sometimes we'd share and sometimes took a pager - 20/30 mins wait while we had a drink. We liked the 'formal' afternoon tea - only did it a couple of times. Pizza bar was pretty good!! Cabins a bit smaller - but perfectly ok. Our Steward was great and totally unobtrusive. Adagio Bar was a hidden gem - we loved it for pre-dinner cocktails. Formal nights seemed far more 'informal'. Fewer people bothered to dress - which is OK, probably not such a thing with Princess. Fresh ice every day in our cabin - great to cool our GnTs - easily smuggled on from Morrisons in Gib!!! Getting off and on in ports was quick and easy. Photographers a bit over enthusiastic. International Cafe was great, get a coffee card for $35 which gives you 15x premium coffees and as much tea/filter coffee/hot chocs as you like. Food these was also good at any time of the day. No kettles in room so we used room service for early morning tea - a bit crap, but after day 3 we just went down to the IC and got good tea to take away - no problem, nice and hot and fresh! No interactive TV to view your bill etc. All sounds a bit negative but on the whole we enjoyed it!! Not in the same league as Celebrity but you get what you pay for. We paid not very much, for an inside cabin but I would have been annoyed if I'd paid an extra £800 per couple for a tiny balcony and got the same food and entertainment. Lots of people we spoke to were Princess Elite members who believed they were getting great value, free cleaning, a mini-bar and their own little queues for things - it was hard to tell them they were paying for it!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We used to travel down to Southampton from mid Suffolk in our car, staying overnight at a spa hotel, indulging in a first class dinner then going down to the dock by taxi and after the cruise returning to the hotel by taxi to pick up our ... Read More
We used to travel down to Southampton from mid Suffolk in our car, staying overnight at a spa hotel, indulging in a first class dinner then going down to the dock by taxi and after the cruise returning to the hotel by taxi to pick up our car. Having costed this out a couple of times, we decided this time that for marginally more money we could get a return taxi all the way down to the port without the hassle of driving. We got to the terminal at about 10.30 and took the lift up to the departure lounge. We later discovered that, as DW is mainly wheelchair bound we could have asked at the lower floor reception for help to push the chair aboard. We went to the check in area and all went smoothly as a priority check in. We then proceeded to a refreshment area to wait until called to pass through the security department. Upon boarding at about 11.30, proceeded down to our stateroom to find our baggage already there. Putting our valuables into the safe and dumping our hand baggage, we proceeded to the Da Vinci dinning room. At this point enroute to dine, staffs try to direct you to the buffet at horizon court, each to their own preference of course. Having had a light lunch, we then made tracks to find the Maitre d’ hotel to request a table for two for dinner. We are very sociable people but do like just being on our own at the dinning table. Well tables for two are as rare as hen’s teeth so we were most fortunate to be changed to one for fixed time dinning at 5.30 in the Da Vinci. I must mention here that we book with Princess over a year ahead so as to get a wheelchair accessible cabin (classified as HC ). Our cabin was C304. Next stop was down to the stateroom to unpack and read the what’s on program sheet, “The Patter”. At about 3.30 we went to our muster station for lifeboat drill at 4.00. this way we could use the lifts for the drill. We had already been to reception to register DW as needing carry down by crew should there be an emergency evacuation. One of our preferred entertainments in the evening is the Princess Theatre. Nowadays there are usually three shows each night at about 7.15pm, 8.45pm and 10pm. Our dinner time dictated that the 8.45 show was best for us. The age demographic on cruises out of Southampton seems such that there many more people in wheelchairs etc. than other cruisers using airports. I suppose over time those with infirmities will increase. Princess need to seriously look at accessible seating throughout the ship. Shipboard public spaces. International Café. On sea days this area was well overcrowded although extra tables and chairs were put out. The overcrowding was such that there was an overspill into the Vines bar, preventing anyone sitting down to enjoy a glass or two of wine. Vines should be relocated to somewhere quiet, say a corner of Crooners bar. Pool and sun deck. Here again the elderly age demographic of most of the passengers meant that these were not crowded and not overly used by the chair hoggers seen on most cruise ships, although some of the best positioned loungers were bagged early in the day without use most of the time by ignorant stupid people. Dining rooms. We only felt the need to dine in the Da Vinci. Ah. what an improvement Princess has made on the last few cruises we have been on. The food on our previous several cruises seemed to have slowly reduced in quality but this cruises food quality and presentation was a vast improvement Well done Princess, you must have listened to your passengers. Internet. “Oh dear” We being Platinum members each got 250min. free time. The connection speed seemed to be slower even than the old 56k dial up (for those who can remember that far back) such that to download emails took about 20min. “Oh dear” Now for our views on the evening shows in the Princess theatre. Day 1 Welcome aboard song and dance plus comedian Jeff Stevenson who was clean and excellent. Day 2 I got the Music. Very good. Day 3 Steve Larkins as Mercury Rising . Smut and innuendo just bad for us and several passengers walked out. Day 4 Chilli Gold. Very good singer. Day 5 Andrew Geater. An excellent singer. Day 6 Steve Larkins again. We gave it a miss and went elseware. Day 7 Production show Boogi Shoes. Excellent. Day 8 Vocalist Nic Page Falsetto on top of Baritone in the same song line. Not for us and some other passengers so we walked out and enjoyed a coffee on our balcony. Day 9 We were docked in Venice, it was festival time ashore and we were treated to a performance in the theatre by the Venetian Chamber Orchestra. Marvellous. Day 10 Nic Page again Oh dear. Day 11 Gary Thompson vocal impressions. Dirty school boy jokes not for us so waved him goodbye. Day 12 Blame it on the Boogi. Very good song and dance show. Day 13 Craig Owen violinist. Some good, some Irish fiddle jigs. Overall just about OK. Day 14 Gary Thompson again so again enjoyed coffee on our balcony Day 15 Berni Flint. A bit risqué at first but then excellent. Day 16 What a swell party Song and dance. Themed on the 1920s excellent Day 17 Berni flint again excellent. Staff we would like to mention Michels Head waiter for table 437 in the Da Vinci Marius waiter Dmytro junior waiter Dymi who ran the Vines bar Fabiola waitress in the international café Agnus the young lady who delivered our room service light breakfast each morning All the above were extra special Now comes one who could do better, sorry Pitsan our room steward, sometimes forgetful with face cloths and bath mats, most times several hours from us leaving the cabin to it being refreshed.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Emerald Princess is a large ship (113,000 tons) carrying around 3,100 passengers but we all felt the waves cruising in and out of Southampton in May 2014. Having booked back to back cruises, we can report that it was not a "one ... Read More
Emerald Princess is a large ship (113,000 tons) carrying around 3,100 passengers but we all felt the waves cruising in and out of Southampton in May 2014. Having booked back to back cruises, we can report that it was not a "one off" either, so we were glad not to be on the car ferry to Bilbao this time. A delayed get away and rough seas meant we arrived 3 hours late in Barcelona because the Captain needed to reduce speed to lesson the rock and roll. At one stage the use of tenders at St Peter Port seemed in doubt but it all worked out fine and we were able to join the island’s Liberation Day celebrations on 9th May. THE SHIP We liked the atmosphere on the Emerald Princess but must admit that we prefer the Diamond Princess and the smaller Ocean Princess that we experienced last year. Layout is not as good as the smaller ships, like Sea Princess, as there is only one theatre area and the Explorer's Bar was too small to cope with secondary shows. The Fusion Bar at the stern seemed under used and we believe that it would also have been a better place for the rather intrusive art sales. With the theatre at the front of the ship and our preferred Botticelli dining room at the stern, we had plenty of exercise walking between these and other venues. In poor weather the open upper decks could not be used and lower decks became very crowded. DINING We opted for fixed dining at 8.15 pm because 6.15 is too early and anytime dining is a bit of a lottery in terms of dining companions. Most bars were over-crowded by the time we had finished eating and the late show did not start until 10.45, resulting in time to kill and late nights. FOOD AND DRINK Food quality was consistently good but wines are over priced. Food presentation standards were good but meals can be quite leisurely, especially at breakfast. Meals on the formal nights were particularly good. My wife and I enjoyed a meal in the Crab Shack one evening. There was a USD 20 each surcharge and the surroundings were nothing special but the crab was really tasty, albeit enough for four hungry people. The pub lunch in the Wheelhouse seemed popular but we did not try it as we prefer to find something lighter in the restaurant, on sea days, even if it takes a little longer. We only used the busy Horizon buffet a couple of times. The International Cafe is a great addition but is poorly located in the piazza area, where there was inadequate seating. We would have liked to use the facility on several occasions but found it impossible to find anywhere to sit. With so many Brits on board, afternoon tea proved to be very popular, especially on sea days. It should really be a leisurely experience but the waiters tended to rush in with little sandwiches, cakes and scones all at the same time with no real guidance from their managers. SERVICE AND STAFF Service was always friendly and efficient with many of the hard working staff from the Philippines. Staff managers were, however, universally miserable and inefficient. TOURS AND SHUTTLES We normally avoid the overpriced tours and prefer the DIY approach, having done some prior research on the Internet. We did, however, opt for the travel and On Your Own trips to Bordeaux and Florence, which were OK. Ships of this size often have to dock in container ports, which tend to be remote and unattractive. In Marseilles, Princess charged USD 16 for a short shuttle ride and left many passengers waiting for more than an hour in the rain. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment quality was variable, ranging from poor to very good. Princess show productions had been cut back to 35 minutes but were well produced. Kelvin Joy, the Cruise Director, is still telling the same old jokes from his days on Sea Princess. Activities on sea days were very limited and often poorly timed. The locations for many activities were around the pool areas, which became difficult during the bad weather we experienced. Lectures were very limited and the port lectures lacked practical information, being mainly slides of buildings etc. We enjoyed several Spanish lessons, with a charming Mexican Lass. Trivia quizzes seem ever popular, as was line dancing. The only sail away party, from Gibraltar, was fun but Princess had skimped on the flags and not provided any streamers. Even the drinks at the Captain's Circle lacked alcohol. SUMMARY Princess remains our favourite cruise line but we will try to avoid heading south from Southampton in future. With most of the passengers being Brits, it resembled P & O rather than our preferred mix of English speaking nationalities.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Emerald Princess Review. There are lots of reviews which extol the virtues of Emerald Princess and the excellent itinerary of Mediterranean Ports it has done over Summer 2008, but I thought I would try to be different and identify and ... Read More
Emerald Princess Review. There are lots of reviews which extol the virtues of Emerald Princess and the excellent itinerary of Mediterranean Ports it has done over Summer 2008, but I thought I would try to be different and identify and include some of the little things that made our cruise more enjoyable and to provide that same information to help others in planning their cruise. However it is worth pointing out that Emerald is currently the pinnacle of Princess cruising, she is a wonderful floating 4 star hotel with a full programme of entertainment, excellent cuisine, a very comprehensive programme of shore excursions and a crew dedicated to making your holiday special. Of the many people we spoke with on this cruise virtually all enthused about all the above aspects. Outside decks. Despite having over 3000 passengers, deck space never seemed to be a problem, however only the MUTS pool (Calypso reef) has the traditional Princess white plastic sun beds with the soft separate mattresses, all other areas have blue canvas sunloungers which are not quite as comfortable; the sanctuary does have deluxe sun beds but on our cruise it was not well patronized. As a result the MUTS pool was generally the more difficult one to find free sun beds. We usually tried to find a space around the MUTS pool and, surprisingly, the movies during the day don't tend to intrude, if you don't want them too. I read and listened to an i-pod and sometimes watched the movie, and found it was much less intrusive than the periodic performances of a group when we sat around the other pool area. Emerald has a wealth of sunbathing places away from the pools, and of course a sports area towards the stern, and not forgetting the mini golf course on the roof of Skywalkers, as well as the golf simulator. Staterooms. We had a standard balcony cabin on Caribe deck, which have the largest balconies at 9 feet square, the layout is standard Grand class. • It has a walk in wardrobe with 6ft of hanging space and plenty of hangers for 2 (42 according to my wife). • It has a full length shelf above this with lots of storage space. • A full height set of 7 open shelves with the safe on one and with a covering door. • It has 2 narrow bedside cabinets with an open shelf and 2 drawers. • The dressing table has a large drawer and a 2 shelf cupboard. • If this does not give you enough storage space then you're packing too many clothes. • Most suitcases will fit comfortably under the bed(s). • It has a 20" screen LCD TV, still on the full shelf over the fridge (which I kept hitting my head on as I prepared the illegal pre-dinner drinks). • Your steward will replenish your ice bucket daily and place it in the fridge. • He is also your first port of call for any help with any extras you may need, and if he cannot supply it he will know someone who can. • The bathroom is small, but adequate, the shower curtain now has weights stitched into the bottom and this does help to stop it joining you in the shower. Personally I would like to see a complete re-design of the balcony end of the cabin, if they moved the fridge to the cupboard under the dressing table, and fastened the slim TV to the wall they could dispense with the fridge/TV unit and this would then enable them to incorporate a 2 seater sofa and do away with the rather useless single chair. This design might also be suitable for both inside and O/V cabins. Of course it might make mini suites less attractive so maybe this is a pipe dream. Dining. We always choose anytime dining so I cannot comment on the Botticelli dining room. The Da Vinci and Michelangelo dining rooms are identical except for the dEcor, but we did find that the service in Da Vinci was much slower than in Michelangelo. One of the waiters commented that this was due to both it's location, being a further deck down, and because Botticelli and Da Vinci share the same kitchen, which even though far bigger does sometimes get backlogged at busy periods. Breakfast is only served in the Da Vinci and as usual service in the dining room can be patchy, but overall it was good. We only used the buffet a couple of times for breakfast, but we did like the new regime where the cutlery and napkin are on the tables, and the waiters serve you juice, water and coffee; this is quite civilized. The same system applies for lunch and dinner, although we generally ate on deck at lunch, but even here the waiters will fetch water, tea and coffee. We never used the buffet for Dinner but I imagine that Cafe Caribe would be quite a good choice. Similarly we never used either of the speciality restaurants, Emerald is now serving the new Princess menus and, in my opinion, the choice and quality is even better, I only made two poor choices, Coq au Vin and Beef Wellington, but doubtless other people will have thought differently. Entertainment There are lots of venues with lots of shows, from the Princess Theatre, Explorers Lounge, Club Fusion, Wheelhouse Bar, Skywalkers night club, Crooners and even the Piazza. In the past I have been critical of the guest artists on Princess but on this cruise we were very fortunate to have some really good acts, and they had two better than usual groups in Serious Sounds and Derringer. We usually enjoy the production shows, especially when there are well known songs, and on this cruise only one of the shows had obscure music. Away from the Princess Theatre we enjoyed a few of the themed nights at Club Fusion, which normally have some sort of quiz, all hosted by the energetic cruise directors team; and we stopped by Explorers a few times to enjoy some of the variety shows. Shore Excursions. On this cruise the ports are very important to most passengers and the majority seem to head off on some excursion or other at all the ports, one tour had 24 coach loads at about 45/50 per coach, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how efficiently Princess got the tours away. This cruise is very port intensive and if you're not careful you can get shore-ex burn out very quickly. We limited ourselves to only two full days (Florence & Rome) and half day trips at Marseilles, Istanbul, Ephesus and Athens; at Naples and Mykonos we did our own thing. At Florence and Rome we took the Princess "on your own" bus, with the open top bus upgrade for Rome. Both worked very well for us and we saw quite a lot of the sights, but restricted ourselves to outdoor sightseeing and not doing any of the museums. In Rome you could probably do the open top tour yourself, the coaches park in an underground coach park near Vatican City, and the guides walk you to the pick up point just outside St Peter's square. There is an open top bus stop next to the pick up point and you could easily pick one up from there and plan your own tour, just remember to be back in St Peters by pick up time. One word of warning , try to buy small easily followed "walking" street maps in advance of your cruise, some of the free maps Princess issue are not very easy to follow. For the Rome open top bus tours see the link below: http://www.romaturismo.it/v2/romatiaccoglie/en/autobus2_4.html You may wonder whether to opt for private tours and possibly get a better price than Princess, we shied away from these because the majority were museum intensive, always very full days and, although their smaller vehicles can be used in the center of the cities, they are still subject to traffic jams and once you are on foot you can only walk at the pace of the rest of the sightseers. But everyone will have their own views. Naples was the only port we had previously visited and we have done Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, so we took the fast ferry to Capri. The ferry quay is only 5 minutes walk from the cruise pier and the service is about every 20 minutes, so it could not be easier. However we were disappointed with Capri, it is just a large limestone rock sticking out of the sea and crammed full of tourists and not particularly pretty. But again I'm sure others will disagree. However Mykonos is pretty, in fact it could have been specifically designed by Disney, and it even has its own wandering Pelican begging for scraps around the streets. Those streets are narrow and meandering, and a veritable rabbit warren, perhaps it's as well that it is only a small town otherwise it would be easy to get lost. The Emerald docked about a mile out of town, you could walk but the road is undulating and there are no footpaths, so we opted for the shuttle. The half day ships tours we did in Istanbul, Ephesus and Athens were ideal for us, we saw the Blue Mosque and Hagi Sofia and had enough time to wander round the market stalls in Istanbul, St John's Basilica, the Virgin Mary house and Ephesus itself; and the Acropolis in Athens. I'm sure that some people will not consider our trips were detailed enough and I know that most Americans want to try and fit everything into their trip; but I bet they went home after the cruise needing another holiday. For us lounging on deck and also joining in some of the many activities on board ship is just as important as sightseeing; and of course you do not want to be too tired to enjoy all the food and drink that Princess have available.. Best time for cruise Finally when is the best time to cruise? Our sailing was from 21st Sept to 3rd Oct and we had almost ideal weather; afternoon temperatures were in the low 70's with scattered clouds but early mornings could be chilly. We managed with shorts and short sleeved shirts, but some people did seem to need sweaters and windcheaters. We were only affected by rain twice, a short thunderstorm on the afternoon we were in Naples, and showers on the morning in Istanbul. Had it been any hotter then wandering around ancient ruins would have been even more exhausting; and according to our guide in Ephesus temperatures can reach 120 degs. on some afternoons in August. The only downside with this time of year is the reduced daylight, so perhaps May to early June would be even better. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We had a very enjoyable cruise on Legend of the Seas last year , so this year we joined daughter and family ( 3 children ages 6, 4 & 2.)on this cruise on the Emerald. The views in this report relate to my wife and myself as daughter ... Read More
We had a very enjoyable cruise on Legend of the Seas last year , so this year we joined daughter and family ( 3 children ages 6, 4 & 2.)on this cruise on the Emerald. The views in this report relate to my wife and myself as daughter has already submitted her report. We flew from Manchester on Titan Air , a Princess charter with the 200 people on board all heading for the ship. There was not as much space on the plane as I had imagined from previous posts , very tight for eating. The food was good served with proper crockery and cutlery and copious amounts of drink. Unfortunately the flight times had been changed a few weeks before , which meant that we did not arrive at the ship until 7 pm instead of before lunch on the original timings. It felt as though we had lost a day - some people were very upset that they had no time to go into Venice. The transfer to the ship was excellent and we were on board very quickly. The ship seemed enormous as we drove up to it, but looked really beautiful. It was even nicer on board , We hurried to our cabin on Caribe deck and were very pleased. Everything was shipshape and the balcony seemed enormous. I have to recommend the balcony cabins on this deck, as, although the people above can see you when you move to the edge , there is plenty of Privacy and room further back. Daughter had kindly given us a present of the use of The Sanctuary for the entire cruise. This was a real bonus as our beds were reserved for the whole time (always the same ones) and you are spoiled in there. They give you MP3 players, cold towels and continuous ice cold water. The healthy eating in there was lovely , and the fruit skewers to die for. It was nice to be able to come and go. Generally we enjoyed the food , breakfasting in the Horizon Court each day where we felt the choice was fine. If we were on board we lunched there or in the Sanctuary. Often had the ice cream served in Horizon at 3.30pm for 1 hour, it was excellent. I also liked to enjoy a coffee at the International Cafe , Though I found the coffee on the ship generally O.K.. There was also a good selection of teas. In the evening we had anytime dining, and this was excellent. It suited us just fine and despite a full ship we rarely waited long. We regularly got a table for 2 , but did notice that some people had reserved the same table every night but with the family we could not tie ourselves down to fixed times. It seemed easier to get the larger table when we all ate together. I thought the choices were good, and considering the numbers being served, it was very good. We tried Sabatini's one night and, for us, it just took far too long. Lots of small courses and when the main course came along it was, unfortunately, too rare for us. We were told that this was the way it was done there so we skipped that and enjoyed the marvelous Tiramisu instead. In all it took 3 hours so we shall avoid this if we sail on her again. Of course on anytime dining you have not always got the same wait staff, but generally the Filipino staff were very good. This comment applies to the rest of the staff, and particularly to our cabin steward, Felix, who was excellent. How they all keep so cheerful is amazing. We did not do many shows so cannot comment on them, time just seemed too short. The Explorers lounge entertainment always seemed very popular. There were many children on board but you would not have known it. We enjoyed so many aspects of this ship, from the pools to the Sanctuary, the dining and the ice cream bar. The itinerary appealed to us. We did a ships tour to Ephasus , the whole area was far too busy in August and with so many people it was hard to hear. We also took a ships tour in Istanbul, very interesting but not really long enough and we ended up having little time for the Topkapi Palace. We went on the tour including lunch and a cruise on the Bospherus, I would avoid that and stay on land. The traffic was horrendous and we were glad we were on a Princess tour as we only just made it back before sailing. We were all very disappointed to miss Mykonos, the winds had increased to 65 mph and the ship suddenly listed , the pool water all draining to one side , so it was obvious we could not make it. In Naples we went on a ship tour called "Sorrento and the lido". It was a re-visit to sorrento for us where we spent a lovely holiday 15 years ago. Yet again time was the enemy, though it was a lovely tour. The lido was nice , lovely warm water and a nice restaurant on the beach. Disembarkation came all to soon - arrangements went very smoothly. Overall my wife and I loved this cruise and would have no hesitation on boarding her again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Find here a review of our just completed Mediterranean Cruise on the Emerald Princess. It was a 12 day 10 port affair starting in Venice, visiting Piraeus / Athens, Kusadasi / Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Civitavecchia/Rome, ... Read More
Find here a review of our just completed Mediterranean Cruise on the Emerald Princess. It was a 12 day 10 port affair starting in Venice, visiting Piraeus / Athens, Kusadasi / Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Pisa/Florence, Marseilles, and finishing in Barcelona. Forgive the bad composition and poor English as my hope is simply share tidbits about our experience to help others decide if it is for them or what to consider after deciding on such a cruise. . We aren't big time cruisers, usually finding time and justification to get the whole family together every few years for one. This one was a special one, as it was the highlight event of my sabbatical and we had parents, in-laws and kids all along, a small party of 11! Its base purpose was to give those that hadn't been to Europe a taste of historical Europe as none had been there before. ( My wife and I the exceptions, having been to Europe several times before). In the end it was everything we hoped for and more. It was a whirlwind tour as these must be, with not nearly enough time for all that one would want, but there is never enough time for these wonderful cities. First some general observations that were big questions for me before my trip. Passports: Never took them into port. Princess asked for them right after we left Venice and returning them before we arrived in Barcelona. So there was no option to consider taking them into port and worrying about losing them. I suspect the reason for this is our visit to the Turkish ports. Regardless, given my personal experience I don't think I would take them into port even if I had them. I heard that if you miss the port the local Princess agent can help facilitate your transportation to the next port, at your own cost of course. With the likelihood of getting pickpocket or robbed being higher then missing the port I figure it's a far safer practice to leave it on the ship and take a copy and other documentation into port, but that is my 2 cents. Tours/Excursions: This cruise was all about a whirlwind tour thru historical European cities. I have much to thank all the cruise critic members for providing me the names of our fabulous private tour operators and in most ports we arranged private tours. After costing out the ship based tours and considering the limited mobility of my parents private was not only cheaper but far better. My biggest nightmare was getting off the boat to find no tour driver and / or getting taken or getting a bad driver, horrible tour. I can happily say that all the tour operators were on time and easy to find right after we disembarked. All the drivers and guides spoke excellent English and provided great history and details on the attractions, and the places we went for lunch or snacks were tasty and reasonably priced and gave us great local flare. The CC recommendations were all dead on, and the operators were great! ATMs: Even with my best planning and securing all the Euros I thought I needed to pay for the private tours I ran out. I had to go to the ATM well numerous times. My suggestion is when budgeting cash don't forget the little things, snacks, meals, entrance fees. Even after my best estimates a I came up short! Many places in Europe don't take credit cards ( AMEX / Discover for sure ) and almost all vendors I saw preferred cash to credit cards. The budgeted Euros disappeared very fast in the first three ports, and started to look for ATMs when I got to Rome. I can positively say after seeing my latest statement that ATM is the way to go! If I didn't have daily limits I would have done everything thru an ATM. ATMs were easy to find in Rome, Florence, Marseilles and Barcelona. I can't comment about the other places, as I didn't remember seeing any but I also wasn't looking as I hadn't run short Euros yet either. Ship: I was less concerned about the ship and or line as the cruise was all about the ports. Nothing made me happier then finding a Princess ship that matched my must see ports as I loved my experience on them when we last cruised Alaska. Another positive was how new the Emerald was. Emerald is a big ship with all the trimmings. Everything on the ship was spanking new and looked good as it should! Everywhere the crew was friendly and service was good. The lone exception was the steward for our cabin. I suspect he was the exception as others in our party had nothing but good things to say about their steward. While on the ship we rarely felt the crowds you'd expect for a full ship. There were two excepts, at the main Theater or walking about on Formal night it was always a mess. The lounges, bars, and other venues were rarely crowded. The pool, now that was another matter, as the chair hogs were out in full force and it was impossible to find more then a single lounger after 10am on most days. At sea days during the day and in port between 4:30 - 5:30pm sun decks and pool were crowded, but not unexpected. My only comment and suggestion to Princess would they need to figure out how to control the chair hogs as on both sea days in the hours I spent at the pool many chairs never saw anything but a book and or a pair of shoes. As an earlier riser I guess I could have reserved at 7:30 but that isn't me. Food: We made it an effort to have sit down dinner every night even the tiring port days, We did sit down breakfast and lunch for all but the port days where we had early tours. Dinner was anytime with a standing reservation at 6:15, and that turned out perfect! We always had 30' to an hour when getting back in port to get ready for dinner and it was early enough that we could finish and still relax and or catch a show yet go to sleep early enough that the next day we wouldn't be exhausted from the early rise. Food and service were good, so good that we decided against going to either of their specialty restaurant for a couple B-Days that we had previously reserved. I will say that sea food dishes at dinner were a bit sub par and had the overcooked texture you'd expect for mass production. Some of the desserts while pretty in presentation didn't live up to their visual promise. The cheese cake one of my favorites was horrible. Others in my party seemed satisfied and continue to select sea dishes and or the changing dessert selections. I quickly defaulted to the meat/chicken/pasta main course which was always good and the always yummy ice cream sundae. On our sea days we always did Tea and the service and food was better then what I recalled of my experience on Carnival or Disney. There were no complaints about food or service for sit down Breakfast and Lunch. They were outstanding like dinner. Lido deck buffet was exactly what I would expect from a buffet that needs to feed thousands. Nothing close to gourmet food nor presentation but far better in selection and quality I would find in my local all you can eat buffet, even the more expensive ones. Several in our party did eat dinner there on port days when they were simply too tired to make the 6:15 early dinner. They all enjoyed the changing selection themes and food. Entertainment: If this was a Trans Atlantic or longer Caribbean cruise I would have been disappointed with the entertainment. The big theater show had all the trimmings but was very bland and the one night we watched we left early. The comedians, musicians, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, etc. were all reasonably entertaining but we seemed to see them doing the same act over and over again by mid-way point. Luckily they were never expected to be highlight for our cruise but simply light entertainment before the next days big port attraction. Cable TV and Movie under the Stars was very good with lots of interesting first run or recent movies, but again you can get that on land these days. We do regret that we saw nothing of the 2nd half of the Olympics. I would have thought Princess would have made some effort to secure good and timely tape or live broadcast of that. We attended numerous art auctions, they were entertaining and informative but we had little interest in buying anything as the walls in our home are all spoken for. Sea Days: Went by fast with 4 sit down affairs; Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Dinner. We did two Movie under the stars, and watched the comedians magicians every evening. By the second sea/formal day we had lost interest in the repetitive acts and instead danced, enjoyed various lounge music and played cards. Ship Tours: No comment on any ship ones as we went all private. As mentioned earlier I can't imagine why any one would use ship tours. With a little research we ended up paying far less and seeing far more with much more convenience and mobility then anything I saw offered by the ship. For those interested in who we used only need to search the Mediterranean board to find the much recommended operators we used. Key Port experiences in the Brief: Venice: Dinner and sunset along Rialto was special and believe it or not wasn't highway robbery. A sub-group of us did take a Gondola ride, the consensus from them was very special and well worth every cent even though it is steep. They all talked about the great experience sailing the very narrow back canals. Basilica and tours were enjoyed by all that actual made the effort to stand in line and do it. Walking the streets with family, meal on the Grand Canal, and the private water taxi to and from Venice was the highlight for me. Athens: Acropolis, get a tour guide and do it early as possible before the crowds,. descend and make the whole thing feel like subway at rush hour. Or do it late in the day, but then you got to deal with the heat. We arrived at the opening and enjoyed views and sights before the masses came up. It was so bad going back down as you felt like a fish swimming upstream in a river of humanity, GO EARLY!! The Archeological Museum was great! It is something you can spend more then two hours but we only had an hour or so. Plaka wasn't a big hit for us as it was really hot during our time there, and many were still wishing for more time at the Museum. Athens was nice but at bit of a disappointment for us. Could have been we hadn't adjusted, could have been the long hot couple hours in Plaka but one person in our group said what I think sums up why Athens was less then what we expected. You can't go to Europe and say you saw the highlights without including the Acropolis, but after what we saw later ports we were less then overwhelmed by the attractions Athens presented. Kusadasi: Ephesus was the surprise number 1 ruins attraction for our group. I read much but everyone from 7 to 82 enjoyed this one! It was made much more positive by great guide with rich stories that brought the place alive. Again, I have the same tip as Acropolis, get there early before the crowds and heat arrive. We wished we had more time here to have seen more ruins and taken in more shopping. Istanbul: Do Topkapi Palace first and early. Go straight thru the entrance and skip everything and see to the fine treasure exhibit. Then, come back to enjoy the rest of the palace. If you don't, you'll find yourself in a mass of people. The St Sophia and Blue Mosque were spectacular for people that enjoy these things. The kids were less interested, but enjoyed the many stray cats we saw. I have what must be hundreds of random pictures of cats from Turkey. For those that enjoy unique local eating experience you can check our photo blog for a very neat small Art University combo cafe right outside St Sophia were we had wonderful Manti in a beautiful outside terrace, HIGHLY Recommended for experience, price, and location. This city was where we ended up doing the most exhausting walking. As such with our older parents our scheduled slipped a little and we didn't get the time we wish to visit both the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. Mykonos: Port missed due to high winds 65 MPH. It was a sight to see the whole ship tilt in the wind and the pool water tilted and sloshing out.. Naples: Do Pompeii with a guide. We choose not to and as wonderful as the ruins are it was hard to appreciate the story behind them even with a book. It is the only regret I had on this trip of not spending the 100 euros for the guide here. Like other places, get here early, the place is so different right at opening then 45' after opening. Amalfi is pretty but we felt over rated compared to Ravello. We had a wonderful lunch in a quiet local place in Pontone with spectacular views. Again, something I think you only get with private guides. Revello was the highlight as we had a leisure hour to shop, enjoy the views and more gelato. Civitavecchia / Rome: So much to see so little time. We walked / enjoyed Forum, Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, Four Corners/Key Hole. We stopped for a look and great history talk from our driver at Circus Maximus and the Forum. We drove by Spanish steps and many other sights but too much to see so we didn't stop. Had lunch right next to Vatican in what was clearly the convenience lunch stop for our private tour operator. Lunch was satisfactory and reasonable priced but couldn't compare to our meal experience in Istanbul or Naples for ambience or local flavor. The museum, chapel and St. Paul were spectacular and we could have spent more then half day in any, but so little time and so much to see. They say not to take pictures and or video of Sistine, but everyone was, some even with flash. It was simply impossible to control as it felt like standing in a subway station at rush hour. Given everyone ignoring the no picture rule I also snapped a few pictures of the great ceiling and wall. After the Basilica it was mad dash back to the ship. Rome is the one stop I wonder why cruise ships don't try and do two days, but the drive from Port also makes for much wasted time too. Livorno / Pisa / Florence: Another city with so much to see and not enough time. We intended to split into two groups, one doing Florence with more time to do the Museums and another doing Pisa / Florence. In the end we all went to together and did both Pisa and Florence. We got to Pisa early and were able to climb at 9:00am with no reservations. The climb was special experience to feel the tower lean change from one side to the other as you go up the steps. Of course we all got the posed pictures holding up the tower. Next stop was a Church overlooking Florence for photo's and a tour. Then it was time to get our reserved slot at Accademia for David. Get reservations as the line was long like the Vatican but we waited less then 5'. It is somehow sad to be in Florence yet only have 45' to an hour to enjoy the Accademia but that is the way with these whirlwind tours. We had a nice lunch overlooking Santa Croce then toured the church. After that was a quick drive to the Plaza where we visited Dumo. There was no time to climb it but we had about 45' for shopping and a walking tour of the various Plaza's and Ponte Vecchio. Then one it last gelato and we were off to the ship and left Italy. Marseilles: This was a rest/recovery port. Even with many exciting things to see here after Naples, Civitavecchia and Livorno we had long ago planned nothing here. After a leisure morning that including sit down breakfast we took the Princess shuttle to town. The highlight was train to Notre-Dame De La Garde to see the beautiful church and nice views of the city. Later we took a leisure walking shopping exploration of the port. For lunch we searched out a genuine French meal complete with cold and rude waiter. We came back in the early afternoon to enjoy sometime battling the chair hogs at the pool. Barcelona: Was the cruise really over? We took our last day in with a leisure morning including sit down breakfast and we were almost the last off the ship. Our hotel was right at the end of Las Ramblas. We had lunch and spent a hour strolling before siesta. We then checked in to the hotel. Some opted for a siesta too or watching Olympics. A few of us hurried out to catch La Sagranda and La Pedrera. That evening was more Las Ramblas. Next morning our wonderful vacation ended as we returned to the US but not without special memories to treasure for a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just back from a wonderful vacation and now trying to deal with jet lag, laundry, and the accumulation of dust while gone. Our family of four (two sons age 14 and 15) flew from Los Angeles to Venice three days in advance of our cruise. We ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful vacation and now trying to deal with jet lag, laundry, and the accumulation of dust while gone. Our family of four (two sons age 14 and 15) flew from Los Angeles to Venice three days in advance of our cruise. We chose to use a private water taxi since we had left Los Angles 26 hours earlier. I did not prearrange for a water taxi. Collecting our luggage was easy and we headed out the door into the main terminal. There we headed for the water taxi desk and got a slip and instructions as to where to go. In less then 5 minutes we were at the docks and boarding onto our private taxi. The cost was 100E, this was for 4 people, 5 suitcases, and 2 backpacks, and included the tip. We gave them our address to our hotel and off we went. This is the way to go. It alleviated any worries that we had since we were tired. This ride was a great pick me up, and we could take all of the pictures we wanted and stand or sit anywhere. I booked the Hotel Antiche Figure located on the main Canal www.hotelantichefigure.it. This hotel is rated number three on Trip Advisor (they have various rooms with view or no view). The hotel had a dock right in front of it. We booked the Deluxe Triple Room + extra bed overlooking the Grand Canal with buffet breakfast. I am glad that we booked this room overlooking the Grand Canal. We could go outside and people watch and boat watch, which was fun or just go out sightseeing. The hotel is located directly across the train terminal. Our room was comfortable and never had any issues with any noise. Also just outside our hotel was one of the areas to hire a gondolier, they were very busy. We were given some great ideas for places to eat and shop and were not disappointed by any. Make sure you pre-purchase your tickets for the Doge's. The line outside was running over 2+ hour wait in line for those who did not pre-purchase. We also took the Secret Itinerary. It was okay, we learned and saw plenty. The only thing that I would highly recommend is taking a fan with you if you are going in summer. It is extremely hot in some of the rooms, and our guide got upset that some of the people wanted to leave these rooms early because of the heat. (Oh yeah, she was the only one with a fan, and stood by the windows). We loved Venice, we had two days of brief rain, but this added to our experience. We would run to doorways with locals and other visitors waiting for the rain to let up. You could see they were also having fun doing this. I highly recommend to just get your self lost in the different alleys and streets. You will be amazed with the things that you will experience along the way. I would also highly recommend to coming early to Venice. There were quite a few people who flew through Princess and had less then ½ of a day in town. Plus when we arrived into our room we were notified that we would be leaving early in the morning when it was dark not the 8am departure like planned. We once again took a private water taxi to the dock, where they took our luggage and sent us off to do the normal embarkation process. We were in our room in less than 45 minutes. The majority of the rest of my review will mainly cover the ports visited. The ship was nice and really did not have any complaints. We did not make any of the evening shows. We actually were heading to a show, when we found out that we would be sailing by Stromboli, while sailing by we were entertained by it's eruptions, we later decided this was the best show. We were on the Sapphire last August and felt that the food on the Emerald was much, much better and that the buffet and Caribe buffet worked 100 times better. The staff that we interacted with were all attentive and wanting to help to make your cruise a memorable one. I booked private operators for all but one port. We were not disappointed by any. They all gave us a great day in each port but there were three tour operators who were absolutely outstanding. Athens - I booked with Athens Taxi- www.athenstaxi.org. Paul met us at the dock and immediately took us to the Acropolis as he said the crowds could get awfully bad. He was right, when we were heading back to his vehicle the bus were unloading and the crowds were thick. For those of you taking children under 18 they are free at many venues, just have a copy of your passport and they will let them in free. Over all we enjoyed Athens. Kusadasi/Ephesus - I booked with Ekol Travel www.ekoltravel.com. We booked Tour - 2 Ephesus, Terrace Houses, and the Temple of Artemis. We started the morning at Ephesus and had a wonderful time here. Make sure you have water and a hat. Pay the extra money and visit the Terrace Houses. Are family thought this was one of the highlights on our cruise. Yes there are steps to climb up in the beginning and at the end but I use a cane for a bad knee so I just went slower and did just find. The Temple of Artemis wasn't really much. The only problem we had with Ekol's is that they talked us into stopping at a handicraft cooperative. This turned out to being a rug stop. I would have preferred that they had been upfront with us. Istanbul - I booked with Kagan Kosagan and his wife Lale - Kosagan@yahoo.com. To start with we also tried to book them also for Ephesus but they were already booked. Lale Kosagan met us at the ship and she was one of our three favorite tour operators. She has such a love for her country and wants to be able to share it with you. We visited the Blue Mosque, the St. Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Cisterns. She allowed us as much time as we needed and was great with the boy's questions. We had a short time to also visit the Grand Bazaar. Everything was easy to do and had a great lunch that the locals like to eat at. Like I stated before, I would highly recommend their company. Mykonos - I originally booked a tour with Princess to tour Delos but we lost this port due to high winds of 65+ knots. The only excitement that day as we approached Mykonos was that the boat listed at least 10+ percent. It was a bit scary as one watched the water from the pools flowing out to the other side. Princess offered nothing for this loss. Naples/Pompeii- I booked benvenutolimos - www.benvenutolimos.com. Palo picked us up and suggested that we head straight to Vesuvius to hike the last ½ mile, before it was crowded and hot. It was an excellent idea. As we were hiking down, the cruise buses were just arriving. We then headed off to Herculaneum. Here we were met by Patrizia our guide for both Herculaneum and Pompeii. Patrizia was great and it helped having her at both sites. I would highly recommend visiting Herculaneum, which was buried under lava not ash like Pompeii. Many of the areas uncovered are in better condition then Pompeii. Benvenutolimos was our 4th favorite tour operator. Palo took us to a restaurant not usually visited by tourists. Here I had one of my best meals during this cruise. Rome - I booked Rome Cabs - www.romecabs.com. We were met by Big Marco who was one of our three very favorite tour operators. Marco was charming and thoughtful in making sure everyone was doing what he or she wanted. He seemed to go out of his way to get me as close as possible to the various sites. He said he wanted to make sure that my knee would hold up for the private afternoon tour at the Vatican. I had Marco once again arrange for a private guide at the Vatican and was extremely glad. It is so expansive and so many things to see. Once again would highly recommend RomeCabs with Big Marco. Livorno/Florence - I booked with Tuscany in my Pocket. Our family's goal was to spend the day in Florence only, as we wanted as much time in the museums there. We started off visiting the Accadamia, which besides the David had another special collection that was just amazing. We ended up spending an extra hour more then planned. We then grabbed a quick snack and headed off to the Uffizzi. What a great collection they have. We ended up at the ended with a bit of extra time and stopped by for a short visit to Pisa, which was perfect for us. Marseilles - I booked with Planning RVP - www.rendez-vous-provence.com. We were met by Thibaud Boyer who also was quite a nice young man. He made sure that beside us that the boys were having a good time. We chose this tour company because the boys wanted to see the Pont Du Gard up close and then spend as much time as we could in Avingon. There is a bit of hiking if you want to get up close and personal with this Roman Aqueduct. Had lunch outside the castle gate in Avingon, which was charming but expensive. Barcelona - I booked with Pepitours. Unfortunately I can't find his e-mail but search CC and you can find it. Pepitours was also one of our three favorite companies and a wonderful way to end our vacation. We visited Genoa a medieval castle and city, the Costa Bravo (the beach), and Barcelona. Everything about this day was great, great, great. We had a wonderful time visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There were unfortunately people who would not pay the 5E to go in. That is a total mistake in my opinion. You need to experience this in person and it helps to pay for the building of this church. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance in Barcelona it was okay. But not up to the usual Marriott standards. As far as disembarking in Barcelona it only took us max of 15 minutes to disembark (we left the boat at 7:15) and meet up with Pepitours. Princess seems to have this well planned out. I hope that this information might help others plan their trip as other fellow reviewers at CC helped me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Remember the advertisement where you feel like a king or queen on board? Those days are over. I guess the economy and rise of popularity have made it diffcult for cruise ships to maintain those standards. While the Emerald Princess was ... Read More
Remember the advertisement where you feel like a king or queen on board? Those days are over. I guess the economy and rise of popularity have made it diffcult for cruise ships to maintain those standards. While the Emerald Princess was beautiful and well maintained, with many entertainment venues, service was slow and not so enthusiastic, and automatic gratuities or upcharges seemed excessive. After a wonderful visit in Barcelona, (avoid the Famiglia church, it is under MAJOR construction and the entry fee is not worth it, simply walk around the church on the outside.)Check in to the ship was fast and simple, our rooms were good size with plenty of storage. the bathroom was very tight, our sons laughed they could us the toilet while showering!!! Our room steward introduced himself and was on his way. I think it was this first day that sushi was at the buffet, the kids were so excited, but returned with much chagrin as it was almost inedible, as were the salty dumplings. Dinner that night took almost two hours, with incredibly slow service, the food was good, but nothing inspiring. We were seated within 15 minutes of putting our name in for the freestyle dining. Aux Provence was just stunning, it was storybook like and we purchased cheeses and tapenade to take back to the ship. We returned to the ship in the afternoon and now had a chance to explore it a little better. The pizza was fantastic, however, ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, etc. were an extra charge. The REAL Sushi was an up charge, tapas were an upcharge, and we learned that although we had paid for a soda sticker, (free unlimited sticker.) a 15% gratuity was charged even if you got it yourself. 15% was automatically charged on to everything!!!! We were seated again in about 15 minutes for dinner, once again, dinner was a long undertaking with slow service and we often went with empty water glasses and simply poured our own wine. About the third day our daughters asked, "where are the towel animals on our bed?" While the beds were made and toiletries most often replaced, (not always, we once ran out of toilet paper!!!) Turn down with chocolates involved removing a pillow and small coverlet placed strategically where you feet would be on the bed while lying there during the day. Much more cost effective and efficient. We did Florence on our own. Beautiful, the bus ride was expensive, but so was all of Europe. In Rome we booked a private tour separate from Princess and less expensive. What an amazing day, Bit of a bummer that Trevi fountain was not full of water at 11AM, they clean it every Monday morning. (something the ship could have mentioned.) Our tour guide said it was usually full by 11 AM. We saw so many things from the comfort of our air conditioned van with a courteous knowledgeable driver. Walked right into Vatican city past all the lines, and the same at the coliseum. Had lunch in a gorgeous uncrowded piazza and drank the fresh cold water from the various public fountains of Rome. We had a AMAZING personal tour guide at the Vatican. He did not just lecture but asked questions and our sons traded phone numbers and addresses with him to further discuss religions and history. We used the same tour company in Naples and toured the amalfi coast, enjoying Pompei, limoncello, and the beauty of Sorrento (lunch) and Swimming at the beach in Positano. Oh by the way, leaving each port the ship Historian (or something of that nature) did a narrative and played music associated with each port. It was very romantic and informative. One of our favorite parts of leaving each interesting place, wondering what you had missed while there. A much needed recharge day at sea was wonderful. We tired of the dining room food and tried the buffet, each nite is a theme and it was all ok, we often had to get our own drinks and silver ware. By this time, I would simply get up go on deck and poor my own coffee located at the bar end. Occasionally my second or third cup would be filled. As a party of six, it was difficult to justify the upcharge for the nicer restaurants, so we never tried them, most people liked Sabatini's but felt the steak house was not at all worth it. Mykonos was spectacular and as other have said in their review, eat at the waterfront, the food was delicious and the view spectacular. On to Istanbul, we were so excite to see this sprawling city. Our tour guide told us many interesting facts, one in particular stood out, 13 million people live in Istanbul with only 17 million in the whole country of Turkey. We visited the Blue Mosque and St.Catherines, then on the Topkapi We had an interesting lunch here, and then had much more time to see the jewels and arms, etc. Most of our tour thought we were here too long. We then boarded the bus for our carpet demonstration and the grand Bazaar. We were told not to purchase things at the grand bazaar as our tour guide bought her wedding ring here and it turned her finger green after a few months, she told us everyone here was dishonest. Our carpet demonstration involved laying many carpets out on the floor showing us the difference between silk and wool and cotton, it was the most blatant sales pitch. As it ended an apple tea was served, one tea server (salesman) sat next to me, he asked which people are the Rich people? we were held captive, Out of curiosity, I asked how much the 24x24 silk square rug was. $1000 American. Ok see ya later. We entered the Bazaar with 40 minutes to look around. Never even reached the spice market or the fish market. What a disappointment to travel half way around the world to see a city famed for its bazaar and to have your tour virtually eliminate it from your trip, while trying to sell you overpriced carpets. I do not recommend this tour not do I recommend the tour guide while we were an hour late returning to the ship mostly due to traffic, she informed us she could be fired for this on many occasions via microphone. I was particularly dismayed when I learned the entire population of Turkey was 71 million, it makes you wonder what our tour guide really did know. Kusadasi was beautiful, once again, we saw some amazing ruins, and exceptional sights and views. Athens was extremely hot and humid, the acropolyse was packed, our tour guide droned on and on, while she was informative she had no inflection in her voice. Great views again. A day at sea was definitely needed to recharge. We had paid for a tour in Venice and yet we were automatically charged $15 for a water taxi.Turns our we got to Venice late, (a spectacular entry into Venice, make sure you are all packed so you can watch.) We sat in the Princess theatre for over an hour waiting to depart and then were rushed past St. Marks Square, bridge of sighs, etc. to get to the GLASS FACTO RY, a one minute show and on to shop there for 20 minutes, our tour guide rushed so much some of the elderly could not keep up with her. We were rushed into Doges Palace and then the tour was leaving Venice, we had to use the water taxi tickets if we wanted to see any more of Venice on our own. HMMMMMM, once again, gimme more money. Be careful Venice was the only place a coke cost 15 euros for a liter. The police were at the trattoria we ate at, as two parties were refusing to pay the bill, one had ordered pizza and 4 cokes as a snack, it was $120 American, $80 just for the cokes!!!! By now we had learned that the ship was somewhat understaffed as part of the crew was pulled to train staff of the new Princess ship. As we requested our bill to review charges, we were somewhat chagrined to pay the automated gratuities. We certainly did not feel like kings or queens, I felt more like we had been to a medium class buffet. The boogie shoes show was great, comedians ok, Russian hoola hoopa and gymnasts, (in the atrium) great, but sometimes so crowded you couldn't see them, but most productions shows were just so so. The outside theatre was pretty neat, you could watch the sun set on one side of the ship and the moon rise on the other while watching a movie. Of course you had to miss dinner to do this!!!! We had paid for a tour in Venice and yet we were automatically charged $15 for a water taxi. WE were also told no transportation would be provided before 8 am on the docks, however if you chose to transport yourself at 8 am, you would also be responsible for all your own luggage, and no porters would be available. For a mere $55 per per person, they will take your luggage and motorcoach you for your flight. Out of fear we paid the $330. It was very hot on the bus we had to ask the bus driver to turn on the ac. We met another large family whom were not intimidated by Princess and they said the taxi's were lined up on the docks, they arrived at the airport before us. It was wonderful to see so many places, and so many cultures. We would do it all again, but would try to use outside tours and transports more. If you are going enjoy and have a wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
I travelled with three friends. All of us are independently-minded and two of us suffer from ill-health and needed to take things slowly. This formed the basis for some of our choices. We travelled to Venice independently, three ... Read More
I travelled with three friends. All of us are independently-minded and two of us suffer from ill-health and needed to take things slowly. This formed the basis for some of our choices. We travelled to Venice independently, three days early, so we could spend time looking around this wonderful city. We had booked at the Hotel Ala (Best Western), which has a great location and low prices. The rooms were small but clean. The bonus for us was being so close to St Mark's Square, so that the two of us with ME/CFS did not have to walk too far. After looking at various costs, we chose to take a water taxi from the airport to our hotel. With four of us travelling, it cost very little more than taking public transport, and saved about an hour in travelling time. We had pre-purchased Venice cards for travelling around the waterways of Venice, and had planned to collect these from the dock. However, the pick-up office was closed for tea, with no indication when it would open, so we had to leave without them and one of us spent a few hours the next day taking a water bus to the train station to collect them - a frustrating waste of time. Apart from that, the Venice cards were great. We travelled a lot by water in order to get our money's worth! It meant we saw more than we might otherwise have done. Our time in Venice was wonderful but we would have appreciated information from Princess Lines on how to reach the boat for embarkation. I had asked over the phone before leaving the UK and had been told it was simple. It was not. We wanted to use our public transport tickets. We knew the boat was at Stazzione Marittima, but the waterways map showed two places with those names! We asked about 10 different people and got 10 different answers. In the end we followed one set of advice and took a waterbus to the car park. After hunting around for the coach we had been told would be there (bad information!) we took a taxi to the port. It cost about 12 euros and was worth it! This event was our biggest disappointment on the cruise. We felt that Princess Lines was only interested in people booking hotels and transfers through them, not in independent travellers. Embarkation was simple and quick. My cabin was clean and a good size, though one of my friends ended up cleaning her bathroom herself! My steward was friendly and helpful and full of smiles, and even lent me his phone charger. The other friends were disappointed with their stewards - hardly saw them and certainly received no smiles. I grew to enjoy shipboard life. I spent 4-5 hours most days touring our ports of call. After that I could relax and rest in my room and build up energy for the next day. It is a perfect holiday experience for someone with low energy. Both my friend and I managed more than we ever expected. It's great to be able to get away from the stresses of everyday life and to have someone else prepare meals so all we had to do was walk to the dining room. One disappointment, however, was the slowness of room service. I gave up asking them for hot water after waiting 20-30 minutes on several occasions, and simply took my mug up two flights to the international cafe and asked them to fill it. I became well-known there! We chose not to go on any organized shore excursions. We did not want to spend that amount of money. We did not want to be locked into other people's timetables. We did not know if we would have the energy to keep going at a pre-set pace. On reflection, I think we enjoyed ourselves far more being independent. We did everything we wanted to do. We were able to arrange a fair price for taxis. Our trip to Ephesus was amusing as an example of bartering. The taxis outside the port wanted 120 euros. We offered 80 but had no takers. Then someone suggested we walk 2 minutes along the road and would find taxis willing to take us for that price. Instead, on the way we found someone prepared to take us for 65. We had to walk for 5 minutes to where his taxi was parked, but it showed us what is possible. We enjoyed all of our time in port, being able to decide for ourselves where to go and how long to stay there, and when to stop for a cup of coffee. Santorini is one place where you might want to consider ship excursions. Oia is a must for visiting. We found that all the taxis were booked so went by local bus. There was no queuing system and it turned into a real scrum at the doorway. If you are no good at pushing, then take a ship's tour rather than missing it. I looked in on a few of the evening shows and was not particularly impressed. I preferred to return to my room, put my feet up and read a good book. We dined most of the time in Da Vinci or Michelangelo. I am a very fussy eater but always found food that I could enjoy. I was impressed. I enjoyed the dining room experience and even had breakfast at Da Vinci rather than at the buffet. My daily highlight was the superb afternoon teas. I managed to get to afternoon tea every day. At the end of the cruise we had planned to stay in Rome. Getting there independently was more difficult than we had expected. There were no taxis to take us to the train station at Civitavecchia. We had to take the free port bus to the entrance and then walk. We managed it, stopping every hundred paces for a rest. From there it was easy. We took a train to Rome and had booked a hotel within walking distance of the station - Hotel Contilia. Again, we were happy with this choice. It was cheap but clean and in a handy location. We took a taxi to the airport for our return home. Our flight was with British Airways and unfortunately their refrigerators were not working properly and they were unable to serve us any food. We were hungry by the time we arrived at Gatwick airport! However, when we complained by email we were given 500 air miles each or £50 worth of travel vouchers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Emerald Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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