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114 Princess Emerald Princess Family Cruise Reviews

Let me start by saying that this is our 5th cruise on Princess. We had read all the negative reviews posted recently on this ship and its cruise. And quite frankly, they concerned us. But we were already booked and there was nothing we ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this is our 5th cruise on Princess. We had read all the negative reviews posted recently on this ship and its cruise. And quite frankly, they concerned us. But we were already booked and there was nothing we could do about it. NONE of the horrible things those other reviews said happened to them--happened to us...NONE OF THEM. Lets start with the only thing that really did go wrong. We had signed up for Princess to provide transportation from Houston Hobby Airport to the embarcation dock on Sunday morning, Dec. 7th. We arrived in plenty of time that morning at the airport. For some reason, the bus was running over an hour late....and nobody knew why...not even the agents. So, that was frustrating. But the busses did eventually show up and they took all of our luggage and we never saw our luggage again until it was delivered to our room onboard the ship. So, that was cool. Lets make one thing clear from the top. If you want belly-flop contests, kids screaming, running, splashing and be annoying..... cruise with Carnival. If you like conga-lines...cruise with Carnival. If you want non-stop partying and drinking...cruise with Carnival. If you want an elegant ship...cruise with Princess. You you want good entertainment geared towards adults...cruise with Princess. If you want very good food....and alot of it...cruise with Princess. If you like to lay next to the pool, and not be splashed by 100 kids...cruise with Princess. If kids screaming is not your definition of peace and quite...cruise with Princess. Most importantly, if you want to relax...and enjoy peace and quiet... and be treated like royalty by the staff....cruise with Princess. This is exactly what you will and will not get on the Emerald Princess. Embarcation was a breeze. The only complaint was that they passed out a form at the beginning of the line that had to be returned before you can actually go onboard. It was a struggle to fill the form out and keep up with the line moving. For those of us who used Princesses transportation from the airport...it would have been much better to have been given that form when we boarded the bus so we could have filled out the form during the 35 minute bus ride to the dock. The Ship. The Emerald Princess is an elegant ship. Beautifully constracted with extensive use of varnished wood throughout the ship. The Atrium is truly elegant...as opposed to Carnival where the Atrium is all splash and glitter. The Vines venue in the Atrium is a 5-star venue by anyones definition. Our balcony cabin was A435. And we loved it. It was only a few steps away from the elevators midship....so we never had to walk far to get back home. It was very quiet...no outside noises whatsover. Our cabin Steward, Christian, was excellent...just excellent. He provided us with everything was asked for. He referred to us by our names when we met him in the Halllway, our room was cleaned 3 times a day. I asked him to iron my suit and shirts for formal night and requested that they be returned by 5PM the next day. At precisely, 5PM the next day, Christian knocked on our door with our freshly ironed suits and shirts. I wish I could remember his last name, so I could give him the credit he deserves. The crew was from all over the world. Some were from the Ukraine. I was amazed at how they could be so happy and smile at us when their country is at war...but they did. Everyone who serves on that ship made you feel like family....so friendly, so happy to see you. The entertainment onboard was must better than others have described it. The singers and dancers were excellent. The comedians and magicians were very good. The Emerald Princess does not have a dedicated "comedy club" and I did miss that. But however, there was always plenty of things to go see and do at night. Their cruise director Kelvin was especially HILARIOUS. Do not miss a chance to hear him. He is very funny, and you can't help but to like him. The food in the main dining room was very good and the service was faster than what we had experienced on other ships. We chose "anytime dining" and the key to making this work is to call for a reservation that morning. We always called and reserved our table for 5:15 OR 5:30, and we walked right in. Those that did not, they did have to stand in a very long line waiting for dinner. YOU MUST use Exotic Eco Adventures in Belize to take you to Goff's Caye. They will meet on the dock in Belize and after a 30 minute boat ride equipt with 2-200 HP outboards. They will dock on the most beautiful spit of land you have ever seen. Trust me, go the trip advisor and search for Exotic Eco Adventures in Beize....and Goff's Caye. Many called it PARADISE....and that is what it is...PARADISE. Everyone in our group loved this little small island. They serve FREE fun punches throughou the day. They will even bring you your own bottle to your chair. Barbeque chicken and lobster lunches are $12.00 This small island IS NOT TO BE MISSED. The ship does not offer it as an excusion...so please do yourself a favor and contact Exotic Eco Adventures and have them take you to Goffs Caye. You will never forget it!!! In Roatan, we contracted with Juan Carlos with "Islandertours". He drove us around the Island and took us to the west end at Bananrama. You will learn everything you wanted to know about the island and many things you would have never known if you had not gone with this company. He is highly rated to Trip Advisor and he treated us wonderfully. Our group of 4 adults paid him $100 for the day.. ($25.00 each) ..and we tipped the driver $40.00. We recommend him highly. In Cozumel, we dove with Alison who runs "Scuba with Alison" There were many reason why we chose her. She runs a small boat..never takes more than 7 divers on her boat. We have been on "cattle boats before---and we hate them. Alison is personable, and excellent dive guide and she will take care of you. $90 for a two tank dive with all the equipment including a computer. They will set up all the gear for you and you will never set it up yourself...even between dives. You can look her up on trip advisor. Her reviews are all very positive and she will write you back very quickly if you decide to want to go scuba diving with her. And $8 taxi ride will get you to where her boat the Maximus is docked. The disembarcation went smoothly as well as the bus ride back to Houston Hobby. Overall, all four of us really loved this cruise. And we would recommend it to ANYONE that wants a quiet, peaceful, relaxing cruise. But you REALLY HAVE TO GO SEE GOFF'S KEY in Belize!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As seasoned cruisers we weren't sure what to expect from the Emerald or the Houston Port, based on prior negative reviews. We are happy to say we didn't experience any of the negatives reported by prior naysayers. Port ... Read More
As seasoned cruisers we weren't sure what to expect from the Emerald or the Houston Port, based on prior negative reviews. We are happy to say we didn't experience any of the negatives reported by prior naysayers. Port Pros:Road construction around the port is substantially done, but the road signage was still inadequate as of Dec 14, 2014. The parking lot has been enlarged, and appeared to be big enough now. Cons: Parking lot directional signage was absent. Cops and parking attendants gave contradictory instructions to those arriving. Embarkation Pros: We experienced none of the embarkation process problems (identified in earlier reports). Signage was improved, but could be beefed up even more to match other ports like Ft. Lauderdale. Cons: They allow queue lines to cross in two areas (Check-in area and Plat/Elite/Suite waiting areas) which adds confusion.They also need more wheelchairs and pushers for mobility challenged folks at the start of embarkation. Ship/Excursions Pros: All crew was polite, eager to assist, and generally pleasant from top to bottom. Captain is fun, runs a tight ship of which he is obviously proud. The Emerald is starting to show her age (worn carpeting, bits of rust here and there, worn toilet seats, etc.) but the crew was constantly working on her- she is not neglected in any way. We had a cracked bathtub and a few toilets in public spaces overflow. Cons: Our only complaint surrounds the Excursions themselves, not the staff that facilitates them. We found details in the descriptions frequently inadequate, incomplete or just plain wrong. It appears Princess has sacrificed the "traveler" and suboptimized for larger "cattle call" tourist like experiences. Competitors are doing a better job in this area, and we believe Princess needs a significant revamp to compete with the burgeoning options. We've stopped using Princess excursions entirely, but booked two events for my independent, yet mobility challenged Mom. Both attempts were busts for her, as they failed to describe obvious impediments that prevented her access. Sadly, we were not credited in either instance. Dining/Bar/Entertainment All Pros, no Cons. Staff, food service and bar entertainment absolutely met our expectations in every way. We ate late each night and caught MUTS rather than going to the theater shows on this trip. Cabins All Pro: The Dolphin floor is entirely comprised of Mini Suites, which we successfully upgraded to right before we sailed. Cabin steward, "Reynaldo," was awesome and we had NO issues what so ever. Shopping Pros: The Effy store is a great addition. The prep for onshore shoppers is always well orchestrated. The addition of J Ribkoff, Tommy Bahama and Nautica clothes is FABULOUS. The tanzanite selection was incredible- onboard and on-shore. Cons: The jewelry choices onboard should be balanced between low, med and hi. Currently its too weighted at the extreme low and high ends, and the mid range options are suffering. For instance, I buy gold and silver charms for everyone on each cruise, but sadly I had no options on the Emerald from which to chose. (Ruby was better in this regard.) Overall, Emerald is doing a great job at meeting the expectations of it's patrons. Princess will remain our preferred cruise line, even if we don't like how they manage their excursion options. They cannot expect us to pay a premium for their excursions when they don't return the value for the cost: they are too short, have too many people, or are too often inaccurately described to be deemed reliable.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were very pleasantly surprised by our family pre-Christmas cruise on the Emerald Princess! I had been carefully following cruise critic reviews for the month of November and to be honest, I was having buyer's remorse for booking ... Read More
We were very pleasantly surprised by our family pre-Christmas cruise on the Emerald Princess! I had been carefully following cruise critic reviews for the month of November and to be honest, I was having buyer's remorse for booking this cruise! Then I read a few reviews from people who advised readers to not listen to all the negativity and just allow yourself to have a great time. Well, that is what we did and "WOW" we had a GREAT time!!!! The highs first: Number one was the food and our servers! We had impeccable service from our two waiters Leo and Kentut, they made each dinner an amazing adventure, even with a toddler at the table. The selection and execution was so good, that we never had a chance to explore other dining options because we didn't wish to miss a night in the main DR (this was a first for our group). Of course we ate too much because the buffets always had something inviting as well. The second highlight was our room steward, he was unobtrusive but still managed to know what we needed. We had adjoining rooms (C421 & C425--great spot, would book them again) with 2 children, so he had his work cut out for him. Next, the kids club staff were wonderful. They ensured our 8 year old had a great time and always employed security measures, so we felt very comfortable with them. All in all, a wonderful and relaxing experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had our first cruise due to the generosity of my in-laws. They purchased tickets for 14 of us to go together over Christmas week 2014 in honor of their 55th wedding anniversary. Further, they got everyone balcony rooms. We sailed out of ... Read More
We had our first cruise due to the generosity of my in-laws. They purchased tickets for 14 of us to go together over Christmas week 2014 in honor of their 55th wedding anniversary. Further, they got everyone balcony rooms. We sailed out of Houston on the Emerald Princess (all from Texas). After loads of research before departure, I wanted to put in some notes from our experience. First, we found our departure out of Houston to be flawless. Smooth and easy. A moderate line for embarkation, but, vacation was officially underway, so who cares about a line! All the port employees were smiling, friendly - even jovial. Thanks to all the reviews and information available online, I felt pretty well prepared. Right down to carrying a small bag with anything I'd like to have on hand immediately or even for dinner (we didn't board until 2:00 and dinner was at 5:30). Luggage did take a bit to arrive (mid-evening), but, again, with having the items I really wanted on hand, it was no biggie for us. I cannot say enough about the wonderful staff on the ship. I am lucky to have a husband with the gift for genuine interest in others and he's a great conversationalist. He and I believe in treating our waiter or bartender like a friend and not a servant. I'm sure, because we treat folks this way, we may receive better or more thoughtful service. However we got there, I can tell you we felt pampered 100% by all the staff (steward, wait staff, head waiter and bartenders). All the little details we mentioned up front enjoying were remembered and repeated daily - without a request. For me, that's pampering. Bless the dear soul who brought us coffee and juice each morning with a smile. We had standing reservations for dining daily at 5:30 PM at my in-laws request. My husband and I did not think we'd like the time being so early, but it was perfect. Two large tables takes about two hours to serve and we'd head out each evening to the main show in the theatre. At that point, there's a line waiting to get into to their tables. Choose 5:30 - trust me. We passed on a lot of the ancillary daily activities until the last two days as, I admit, some sounded a bit gimmicky. But, the last two days we participated and had a great laugh and good time. We both agreed, next cruise, we'll be checking out those opportunities daily. MOTION SICKNESS: I chose to use the prescription patch to keep potential motion sickness at bay. For those worried about the matter: IT WORKS!!! Don't bother leaving without a patch in place. Why even risk feeling badly when you can prevent it? No pill to pop, no sleepiness. In 14 people, about half had some minor to moderate sea sickness symptoms off and on. We were the only ones armed with the patch. FOOD: We found the food to be wonderful. The staff offered us "appetizer" portions if we were curious to try an entrée but did not want to have it for our main course. My college age sons tried so many different things I cannot recall. Our request for a special appetizer (off menu) was granted the follow evening. With a smile. We enjoyed most of our dining in one of the main dining rooms. I'm not keen on buffet food so this served my preference well. We did enjoy a pub lunch (fish and chips) one day and slices of pizza another (really quite good). Had a room service lunch of club sandwiches one day as well. Our sons enjoyed a second dinner after 10 PM in their rooms many nights. I appreciated the portion size being reasonable. Not small, but not "Texas sized". You can order whatever you want, but, if you are wishing to show some restraint, it's not hard to do. If you don't have dessert in the dining room, there are options to grab tiny confections at a coffee bar spot. They are really almost better than the main dining room. Grab three and share. ALCOHOL: All over 21 carried a bottle of wine onboard. Husband got one beer package (six for the price of five I believe). He ordered a few extra through the week. I got one canned soda package (diet coke and tonic water) and purchased a smallish bottle of vodka for $17 (room service). We enjoyed a bottle of wine in the evenings as a nice cabernet was available at $15/bottle. We did not spare on the consumption for our liking and felt the prices were reasonable. I had a minor accident that required a visit to the medical facility. Get the insurance that will cover these things!!! This was the last day at sea so not a real downer for the trip. I was surprised that the medical facilities are not available all day every day. It seemed to be 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. I assume there's reasoning behind this, but we had to beg to be let in (doors locked) while my foot was bleeding quite a bit. They'd really wanted me to wait to the afternoon hours. With my right toe toenail ripped half off (there's a story....), I felt pretty emergent. Some insistence by my husband got me in the doors, but, it's the one thing I did not research and wanted to share. It's a bit of a complaint, but, awareness would have been wise on my side to know the hours before the trip began. We had some looking for treat for motion sickness and they were always closed - just by chance. FYI for all to know!! CONDITON OF THE SHIP: There was constant maintenance going on everywhere. Not intrusive, but, evidence of real work being done (varnish, paint, etc. outdoors). Public restroom facilities were CLEAN and plentiful. I'm a real stickler for cleanliness and freshness. I appreciated the sense the ship was well maintained daily. OVERALL: The cost to value ratio worked for us and we are dreaming of indulging again - hopefully this year on a last minute deal. We will go Princess again. We'd both love to do Alaska in a few years. I am happy to report that I am a "cruise person". I wondered if I'd dislike the experience (kind of dreaded part of the year leading up to it). But, I'm sold. Eventually, more interesting destinations may be our goal, but, for now, we both agree the 'floating resort' experience we can get to via driving fits our budget and felt luxurious. We were pulling out our cash and leaving additional monetary tips for all that took care of us - in addition to the room gratuity. That's how much we felt well cared for that week. Thank you Princess!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I normally would not write a review but I must say this was fantastic. Taking Princess is first class and such great quality. I know going during the holidays is an expensive time to travel. But a family of 4 with Kindergarten Twins this ... Read More
I normally would not write a review but I must say this was fantastic. Taking Princess is first class and such great quality. I know going during the holidays is an expensive time to travel. But a family of 4 with Kindergarten Twins this was wonderful. The cruise was sold out and there were so many kids and families on board. What better way to spend the holidays then a cruise to the beautiful Carribean. New Year's is such a fun and wonderful time of year. The cruise was perfect. They had a huge New Years Party. My kids absolutely loved it! The kids club and the pool was there favorite. The food was wonderful and the ship was so very clean. I would take Princess again with my kids in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The port of Houston was the best check in we have ever had. We have sailed on the Emerald 3 times and the ship is as beautiful as it was when it was new. We went to the Crown Grill the first night and we couldn't have had a better ... Read More
The port of Houston was the best check in we have ever had. We have sailed on the Emerald 3 times and the ship is as beautiful as it was when it was new. We went to the Crown Grill the first night and we couldn't have had a better meal. We had early seating in the dining room and the food was not excellent however it was very good and there was something for every appetite. The service was excellent! I was glad Princess had movies in the theater in the afternoon however it would have been nice to have had an enrichment speaker. We were never at a loss for something to do. The International Cafe on deck 5 was fabulous. They had the best salads, sandwiches, and deserts. That is something not to miss! As for the ports,,,,, we have been to them many times and this time we enjoyed just staying on the ship. We had easy walk off with your luggage and it was indeed easy. Disembarkation was a breeze. All in all we had a great cruise and we will certainly cruise with princess again Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Our family of 5 including my husband, me, and 3 daughters enjoyed this sailing. We chose this itinerary for its Rome, Florence/Pisa, Gibraltar, & London ports of call. We flew into London City airport and went straight to Southampton, ... Read More
Our family of 5 including my husband, me, and 3 daughters enjoyed this sailing. We chose this itinerary for its Rome, Florence/Pisa, Gibraltar, & London ports of call. We flew into London City airport and went straight to Southampton, using Smithsforairports for all transportation. We were very happy with their service. Our boarding time was 2:30 but we were able to get on about an hour earlier. I had read in previous posts that embarkation was very disorganized but that was not our experience. It would be nice though, to be able to board when you arrive at the ship. Had hoped to be able to enjoy lunch in the open sit down dining room but it had already closed. Our alternative was to join the masses at the buffet. We were aware that the Emerald was hit hard with norovirus in the few weeks before our sailing. The buffet was always manned with staff encouraging the use of hand sanitizer. I noticed most people taking advantage of it. I think though, it should also be encouraged AFTER filling plates and touching all of the spoon handles and drink dispensers. I did not hear of any illness on our sailing. We had three staterooms: two ocean view next to each other in the aft section and one inside in the forward section. Although we requested the inside guarantee be put near the two oceanviews; Princess did not accommodate. The inside room was to be for adult daughter, the two ocean views for husband and myself; and the other oceanview for two daughters, adult and 16 year old. A quick change was made and my husband and I went with the inside so our 3 daughters would be next door to one another. The inside room was adequate, bed comfortable with plenty of storage. No windows makes it easy to sleep late! The two ocean views were sold as completely obstructed but we were delighted to see they had full view of see with obstructions to the sides. They were also blocked off so only crew was able to enter the areas below which meant no passerby's peaking in. Our first three days were sea days and welcome ones they were! We needed this down time to recoup from pre-cruise travel. We enjoyed many of the on board activities. Our 16 year old met with the teen group and immediately found a good friend with whom she spent a good amount of time. The teen club was an overall positive experience however she was discouraged to see some of the teens acting immature and bragging about smuggling in alcohol. These teens seemed to have very little parental supervision. Our other daughters enjoyed line dancing, zumba, fitness center activities, trivia, and karaoke. We do not utilize spa or any other on board activities that require extra payment nor did we pay extra to eat in the specialty restaurants. We enjoyed the food on board but I found myself sometimes just wanting something not so fancy. I never complain though about not having to cook so I enjoyed every meal! Our waiter Randolf and his assistant, Ali were great. Our room stewards were excellent and helpful as well. We enjoyed nightly entertainment in the theater. Some were better than others but overall we always manage to enjoy them. The last nights' crew theater production was wonderful and it was great to see everyone having such a good time. It was standing room only with many doing just that in order to view it. I do have a few complaints with Princess one being the internet access-not only pricing, but speed. I don't mind paying but when it takes 15 minutes just to log on and check a few emails; well, that's ridiculous. It's obvious that they manage to slow it down to make more money. Also, I'm not pleased with the day bedding that is stuffed on the floor at night under our bed and then put on top of our bedding during the day, including throw pillows on top of the pillows we sleep on. This just seems dirty to me. Also, at night, during popular events such as trivia or karaoke, the seating in the lounges was not adequate. Many times, we would have to miss an event we would have attended because there was no seating. All staff on board were friendly and helpful. I utilized the laundry room often and only had to wait a couple of times for a washer or dryer. It is $2 for a wash; $2 for a dry. The iron/ironing board came in handy as well. To make this as brief as possible, I will quickly post ports of call and tours used. With five of us, ship excursions are not an option. I booked everything independently after doing extensive online research and everything was great. Barcelona: Nancy Baum Dailey of enchantingbarcelona tours dot com. We enjoyed her tour and highly recommend. The highlight for us was la Sagrada Família. What an amazing building! Corsica,(Ajaccio), France: We toured on our own and went to Napoleon's home. We also walked to the beach to put our toes in the sea. Be aware that many sunbathers are topless. My American teen daughter was not quite prepared for this. We took a bus ride out to view the Isle de Sanguinaire. Overall, this port was a nice, one-time visit but we would not care to go back. The next 2 days we docked at Civitavecchia for Rome and Livorno for Pisa/Florence. I booked both days with Rudy's Rome Car Tours @ www.rome-car-tours dot com. If Rudy is not available he sends another guide which I knew was a possibility but unless you ask in advance, you are not told this. We were happy with both guides, especially Claudio in Rome who really went the extra mile to fit everything in. He hoped we wouldn't blame him that Trevi Fountain was under refurbishing, empty of water and behind scaffolding. Of course we didn't but were disappointed that we couldn't view it in all its glory. The highlights for us were the Colosseum, and Vatican area. We are not Catholic but enjoyed the history, art, and architecture immensely. The next day we spent the morning at the Tower of Pisa. We all loved this visit. The afternoon was spent touring Florence which was nice and a visit to the Academia to see statue of David and other art which was great as well. Genoa, Italy was our next port and frankly we were tired from the hard-going previous days. We got off the ship and stayed in the port area. Fortunately, the aquarium is there so we enjoyed it. It is an ugly building and this disappointed me but the displays are nice. We loved the dolphins and manatees. There was an overcrowding problem and it seemed very disorganized but overall it was a good visit. We visited some of the cheap souvenir vendors nearby before going back on board for the afternoon. Monte Carlo, Monaco is our next destination. My husband thought this was the prettiest port area. The expensive yachts probably had something to do with this! I found tomsportguides dot com very helpful in planning our walking tour of this port. He lists step-by-step instructions on how to get up to the palace area without having to take too many stairs. He has other port guides as well with the same helpful info. We enjoyed touring the palace, church and the changing of the guard at the palace. Also, the Oceanographic Museum and aquarium is wonderful and very tasteful building unlike the aquarium in Genoa. They do not however, have dolphins or manatees like Genoa does. They do have a shark pool with small sharks you can touch. The girls really like this. We returned to ship for late lunch and then hubby and I too the water taxi across to the casino for a quick peek. We are exhausted at this point and a sea day was welcome and enjoyed before our last port of call-Gibraltar. We loved our tour with John Lopez's Gibraltar Rock Tours; www.gibraltar-rock-tours dot com. Again, we did not know who our driver/guide would be but he was very good. We loved our visit here for the wonderful views-they were perfect that day. We also greatly enjoyed touring the Great Siege Tunnels. Our last two days on ship were sea days and we needed them for our upcoming few days in London post cruise. Disembarkation went as smoothly as it could. We were again, transported by smithsforairports. I had previously arranged tickets for entry to Stonehenge on our way to London. We were glad to get to see this. We then went on in to London, dropped our luggage off at our hotel and went to an afternoon performance of The Lion King. It is an amazing production. We then had fish and chips nearby at Wellington Pub which were delicious. (Reservations were made online ahead of time which is recommended as the pub is small.) We then took a cab back to our hotel. I chose The Rookery Hotel in London after researching online. Since we needed two rooms, budget was a big factor. I was drawn to this hotel though, because of its history, architectural features, Old English decor and good reviews. It only has 33 rooms and I was not disappointed. It did take a while to get everything organized since we needed a rollaway bed and accessible shower. The staff were very helpful and prompt answering my numerous emails. The breakfasts, while not free, were delicious, fresh and beautifully presented; either served in our rooms or in one of the public rooms or patio area. My girls felt like princesses in the lavishly decorated rooms. Their room on the front did allow for some of the outside noise at night to be heard (trash trucks and people talking) but ours in the back was very quiet. We loved our stay here and would recommend it if you like a more homelike environment. It was a quick few minutes walk to Farringdon station to catch the tube for transport around London. The following day we enjoyed worship service at Hillsong London. That afternoon we had a tour with Steve Norris in his Cow Cab. (londoncabbietours dot com ) We learned a lot from Steve and saw parts of London we would not have been able to see on our own due to time constraints. He tucked in a few Harry Potter filming spots here and there which my 16 year old loved. He also took a photo of us Beatles-style at the Abbey Rd. crossing. The next day would be our last in London. We set out for Buckinham Palace changing of the guard ceremony. We stopped on the way at Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station for our Harry Potter fan daughters to take photo. Queue was long and it took about 2 hours. After changing of the guard ceremony, Hubby took two youngest daughters to Warner Brothers Harry Potter tour. They loved it! Other daughter and I bought tickets to tour Buckingham Palace. We enjoyed lunch afterwards on the grounds. The sandwiches were delicious and about $16.00 usd each. I like to say, we had lunch with the queen! A stop at the souvenir shop for some last minute gifts then on our way to the tube to Westminster Abbey. After finding it closed at 3:30 and Evensong another hour away, we decided just to head back to the hotel. We enjoyed nachos from next door, Burburrito and found the ingredients to be fresh and very tasty. We all packed up, turned in early to rest for our 6 am pick up, again by smithsforairports for transfer to Heathrow and flight home. Our trip was wonderful and everything went very smoothly which we are very thankful for! We loved the Emerald Princess and hope to sail with her again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I travelled with my husband and daughter to Southampton and the traffic was (as usual) very busy, we arrived at 2pm. I had heard that embarkation could be long and protracted but actually we went through the booking in and security stages ... Read More
I travelled with my husband and daughter to Southampton and the traffic was (as usual) very busy, we arrived at 2pm. I had heard that embarkation could be long and protracted but actually we went through the booking in and security stages very quickly; very impressed, and in our cabin (D627) at 2.30. Our mini-suite was lovely, with two tvs and an enormous couch. Our steward welcomed us and brought us a glass of champagne and very quickly our suitcases arrived too. I stayed in the room to have a bath (oh how I loved having a room with a bath for the first time; I had brought with me what seemed like the entire stock from Lush so I could bathe in luxury every day) whilst the others went to the buffet. Later, we did the muster drill, our cards being scanned to keep a record of everyone present; a good idea. There was a sail-away party on deck from 4pm but we preferred to relax on the balcony with a glass of wine (Princess allow passengers a bottle of wine/champagne each to use in the cabin). Mini-suite cabins on Dolphin deck are completely exposed no overhang at all. This meant that star gazing every evening was fabulous. I used a large umbrella for shade (if necessary) during the day. My daughter is 20 and the Princess Patter listed a few 18-20 get togethers in the evenings so the young adults could get together. I was pleased because she is too old the for kids clubs but young passengers still need a place to meet and chat. We had registered for anytime dining and we like to share a table with other passengers. We've always meet interesting people and this cruise was no exception. After a couple of days the lady at reception recognised us and would confirm that we would like to share (I was impressed by this because she must see hundreds of passengers every evening). It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. We didn't have to wait for a table ever. The food generally was very good and I have no complaints at all about it. I was pleased that to mostly came piping hot too. I spent the majority of my time by the Calypso Pool because I like the MUTS (watched several films and concerts, plus a couple of football games). I always found a place to sit in the shade, sometimes even a sunbed was available! The pools on Princess are freshwater and at a comfortable temperature so I swam every day. Towels were always available on deck (in cabin too) and, if not, I would ask a pool steward who would get me some straight away. I didn't use the (Horizon Court) buffet (deck 15) much at all, I don’t do breakfast and order coffee and tea using room service each morning (doubles as an alarm clock). For lunch I usually got a hotdog or burger from the Trident Grill or a piece of pizza from Prego Pizzaria, both very tasty. Next to the pizza place is Scoops, ice cream is available there. I did walk through the buffet sometime and it seemed to be well stocked with a variety of foods. At the back of the ship on deck 15 is Caribe Cafe and this opens out onto another pool area with a lovely view of the wake. I came here once for coffee and it was very relaxing to sit watching the wake. On deck 5 is the International Cafe which I had a look at, has some wonderful-looking food on display but I didn't try any (prefer to eat on the open deck during the day). On the last two days we decided to try the formal lunch (only on sea days I think) and it was super. I recommend it; again, we shared a large table with other passengers. On the last sea day we also did the formal afternoon tea. Mmmm, warmed scones with jam and cream; just delicious. I asked for my usual Earl Grey tea and got my own pot, but didn't want the sandwiches or cakes offered (I had of course recently had a formal lunch!) Entertainment-wise, there was a full schedule and we enjoyed going to the Explorers most evenings to see Kelvin the CD host quizzes. Daft fun and hugely entertaining. There would also be a show in the Explorers that we tried to attend plus the Princess Theatre shows nightly. It made for busy evenings. We had a variety of acts, several comedians; Berni Flint, Gary Thompson, Jeff Stevenson, Taffy Spenser, the marvellous Steve Larkins as a Freddy Mercury tribute singer; hypnotist David Knight (who also did an interesting talk about hypnotism later in the cruise), a couple of pianist/comedy entertainers; Darren Bethel and Maria King, plus other entertainment I can’t remember. I attended and enjoyed all the production shows in the Princess Theatre, particularly the Disco one and What a Swell Party. Films were also shown here during the day. If you can, go along to the Meet the Cast Backstage Tour on the final sea day, really interesting and we had a good chat to the dancers and singers. Also, make sure you go to the Culinary Demo on the last day in the Princess Theatre; a galley walk-through follows. I sat on the front row so I could get all the lovely aromas. I had a look at the Sanctuary area ($20 for half a day $40 for full day); very comfortable looking double and single sunbeds in sun, partial shade or full shade. Didn't have time to try it out but spoke to a table companion who did. She said the beds were sooooo comfortable and relaxing and she was served snacks and afternoon tea too. Just below the Sanctuary is the adult only pool. I tried it on the last sea day and it is a nice pool. It has a wave machine so that you can swim against the wave. There are two jacuzzis. Inside is the gym and Spa area. The toilets here also contain a steam room and a sauna. On the first sea day we all signed up for the Murder Mystery event that would cover the whole cruise. We had no idea what was going to happen but it turned into a bit of extra fun. It was hugely enjoyable and I would love to do it again. We stopped at Barcelona, Ajaccio, Civitaveccia, Livorno, Genoa, Monte Carlo and Gibraltar. We did our own tours at each place, having been to them all before. Because we are Platinum passengers (Princess takes all our P&O cruises into account as well as Princess ones) we got to wait at Club Fusion with tea/coffee/juice and pastries. It was just as well because we were delayed by about an hour getting off. Platinum passengers also each get 250 minutes internet (14 day cruise). This is handy if you want to keep in touch with family or do research. I am sure I’ve forgotten so much more to tell you, but sadly that is all I can remember just now. Just to finish by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise and it won’t be my last with Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our first cruise with Princess and will definitely not be our last. We flew into Orlando a few days before our departure to visit relatives. We flew Allegiant Air which did an ok job. They charge for every little thing including ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and will definitely not be our last. We flew into Orlando a few days before our departure to visit relatives. We flew Allegiant Air which did an ok job. They charge for every little thing including carry on luggage, and snacks. It was nice flying into the Sanford Airport vs. Orlando as it is significantly smaller . The night before our cruise departed we stayed at the Hyatt Place Convention center hotel in Fort Lauderdale. This place is beautiful and new. The staff was friendly and helpful. There were a lot of eating places and shops within walking distance. They had a very nice free breakfast as well. The ship was beautiful, tasteful and very modern in décor. They kept it clean and in great working order. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They always stopped to ask if you needed help if you were looking at the ship map. One staff member, a chef, walked by me and said hi and then noticed I had stopped at the map and turned around to see if I needed help. Our room steward kept our room spotless and the ice bucket was always full, per our request. The age on this cruise was definitely older (70's/80's). My husband and I are in our early 40's but this did not bother us. There were only 32 kids on board this sailing. They had good evening shows with good variety and professionalism. They had 4 dancer/ Vegas style shows. The entertainment is definitely geared toward the older crowd. We saw a great comedian. We also enjoyed the large movie screen on deck. We watched some recent release movies. The dining was nice. We did the anytime dining and set a 5:15 reservation every night. WE had the same server who was superior to any we ever had on any other line. He quickly learned our likes and dislikes. Very professional and experienced. We went to the Crown grill and had some of the best lobster I have ever eaten. Our disembarkement experience was good until we got to the holding area where we were to collect our luggage. The staff here was rude and not helpful. They also did a poor job of sorting the luggage thus making things very chaotic. I would highly recommend this ship..   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We booked this Cruise for our 30th Anniversary, sailing with Princess twice in the past we had high expectations for this voyage and from the staff and we were not disappointed. The ship is beautiful and was identical to the Crown Princess ... Read More
We booked this Cruise for our 30th Anniversary, sailing with Princess twice in the past we had high expectations for this voyage and from the staff and we were not disappointed. The ship is beautiful and was identical to the Crown Princess from our previous sailings so we felt right at home. The staff was exceptionally friendly, everyone said hello or good day in passing and went out of their way to ensure our trip was an enjoyable one. I would like to extend Kudos to Antonio our cabin steward and to Roberto our bartender at the Explorers lounge. Both are exceptional employees and they do everything they can to make sure the passengers are happy and comfortable. We had roses in our room and Antonio laid out our nightwear on the bed and placed one of the roses on the bed for us each night. The room was always kept immaculate by Antonio and we truly hope he is given a raise or promotion soon, he truly deserves it. He definitely was the best cabin steward we have ever had on any of our cruises. We found out the chef was the same chef we had on the Crown so the food was exceptional as always. We did a mix of anytime dining, buffet and we also dined on our balcony one evening. That in itself is something everyone should experience once in their life. It was $100 a couple but well worth the cost for what we got. The only part we did not enjoy was the champagne, it was very harsh and not a good champagne. The shows we saw were wonderful, we watched Matilda twice. We love Terry Fater and Jeff Dunham so it was a no brainier that we were going to enjoy Matilda. We did notice for the Princess Singer and dancers the shows were reduced to 30 minutes so they were able to get 3 shows in but they were very good shows and the staff was very talented. Our ports of call were Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Saint Kitts, Saint Thomas and Nassau. We did a catamaran tour on Antigua and had a lot of fun, on Saint Lucia and Barbados we did the Rum tours which were very informative. On Saint Kitts we did a private tour with our cruise critic group with Thenford Grey which was very fun and I would highly recommend. Saint Thomas and Nassau we just walked through the towns and shopped since we had been at both of these islands before. Our cabin was a Mini Suite on Emerald Deck E727 and this room was very quiet and nice. The only problems we had was we had to remove the drain plug from the tub to shower so the water would drain, and it took a day and a half for the fridge to cool our water and soda. The balcony was not as large as we thought it would be, and it did seem as though our Caribe deck balcony was a little larger, but it was large enough for us. We did notice they no longer put the loungers on the balconies, only the chairs with foot stools. Overall we loved our cruise and would highly recommend Princess to everyone and anyone who wants to cruise. If you do not have a good time then the fault lies with you, not with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
completely agree with the Cruise Critic article about the fact that the ships are being so heavily discounted to fill them that it attracts a very different class of people on board. It not just Princess but all cruise lines do it. The ... Read More
completely agree with the Cruise Critic article about the fact that the ships are being so heavily discounted to fill them that it attracts a very different class of people on board. It not just Princess but all cruise lines do it. The buffet was packed every night which is the first time I have ever seen this on a cruise. the dinning rooms almost empty after 7pm. The staff were indifferent to us and barley spoke as if they couldn't be bothered but I can understand why as some of the people on board were so rude to them demanding instant attention and clicking their fingers at them.. And the staff know full well they are not going to make any decent tips on this voyage Formal night is a complete waste of time as people's version of formal is so very different. We ended up going to the Crown Grill dressed in our finery spending an extra $50 , the food was excellent but we didn't feel special or were made to feel special we thought we would be in there for at least 3 hours but only just managed to stretch it to 2 as the service was too quick. We would have preferred longer between courses so we could really appreciate the food. Certain bar staff were far too pushy in wanting you to order doubles which could be intimidating for any first time cruisers. A lot of the DISCOUNT cruisers would push in all the time shout their drink order at the bar without realising there was a queue (or LINE) and I think it was a completion to see how many people could fit in a lift (ELEVATOR) !! They would just keep coming when they could see it was full therefore squishing every one in side and some of them were not small people ! However we did have a fantastic holiday because most of the destinations we hadn't been to before and that is why we cruise. We don't choose cruises because of so called loyalty cards which are not really worth much, we look at itinerary dates and price and that determines where and when we go so I suppose it's inevitable that we encounter these types of cruises. It is a shame for the old cruises who like the traditions and good service. Cruising has become so popular now and reasonably priced it will be its downfall. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
The Emerald Princess still has a "new" feel even though it came on line in 2007. With the exception of the buffet, we never felt crowded even though there were about 3000 passengers on board. That said, some shows in the theater ... Read More
The Emerald Princess still has a "new" feel even though it came on line in 2007. With the exception of the buffet, we never felt crowded even though there were about 3000 passengers on board. That said, some shows in the theater and clubs required you to get there early to get a seat.Overall, the food was excellent. I always think it humorous that folks complain about the food. Let's face it--when you eat at a restaurant that fixes food for 3000 people 3-times a day, perfection simply cannot be guaranteed. We ate at the Crown Grill (steak house) twice--definitely worth the $25 dollar surcharge.The entertainment was terrific. There were a number of different comedians who acts were among the funniest we've heard. The sting quartet was amazing--they seemed to play somewhere all the time, and were quite accomplished. The Beatles impersonators were a delight--close your eyes and you'd think the "Fab-4" was on board. The EP singers and dancers were generally good--but we had to laugh when the 4-singers attempted to sing the "Lover Boat" theme in 4-part harmony--oops. Might want to practice that a bit.The cabin was small, but ample. Our only complaint is the shower is tiny, and we're normal-sized people. Nice large closet area, with plenty of storage. Suitcases slide under the bed. Since we live in Florida and could drive to Ft. Lauderdale, we brought a box with a queen size 3-inch foam mattress topper for our bed which we gave to our steward at the end of our cruise. What a difference!!! Our bed was super comfortable.We brought 10-bottles of wine on board in a carry-on suitcase. No one said a thing. Two bottles were small (750 ml), and the rest were larger--1.5 L. We fully expected to pay a $15 corkage fee for the 1.5 L bottles when we boarded, but that wasn't the case. When we took a 1.5 L bottle to the dining room, we paid the corkage fee. Those we drank in our cabin cost us nothing. Our waiters teased us a bit about the "big" bottles of wine, but we just smiled, knowing that our bottles lasted twice as long as those purchased in the dining room. The Captain cancelled our scheduled port call in the Azores because of ugly weather. That said, we still visited 13 different ports. The transatlantic part of the cruise was very relaxing, almost 10 straight days at sea. However, the rest of the cruise is port-intensive. The ports are amazing, but be prepared for lots of walking and standing on the tours. Speaking of tours, we used Princess for some tours, and went out our own for a few. We would highly recommend SPB Tours for the Baltic ports. About 300 EP passengers used SPB in St. Petersburg. We booked the SPB 5-Baltic Pearl Deluxe Tours before we left--Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. The tours were all professional, comprehensive, superbly guided...and less than half the cost of comparable Princess tours...Also, we booked a Princess debarkation tour in Copenhagen. These tours end at the airport where your baggage will be waiting for you, and the tour only cost a few dollars more than the Princess shuttle bus to the airport. Be prepared to get acquainted with many different currencies. We thought most of Europe had embraced the Euro...wrong. England, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Sweden use their own money. The ship has machines that will change your money...for a reasonable fee. Suggest you check on the various currencies of each country, and how much of each you'll need. We were happy to note that our VISA worked everywhere we tried to use it.My only personal complaint is the awful coffee served by Princess Cruises, which I'm told is made from a syrup... If you're a coffee nut like me, then you'll buy the Princess coffee card which enables you to get brewed coffee at a few locations on the ship, usually the International Café on the Piazza. The card sells for about $30 and gives you about 15 specialty coffee drinks along with the free brewed coffee... And, while I know that dress codes have relaxed a lot over the past couple of decades, men wearing shorts, torso tee-shirts, ripped jeans, etc. are hardly appropriately dressed for shipboard evenings, even if the dress code is the usual smart casual. Lastly, in addition to checking out SPB Tours, check on Iceland Air for your return to the US. If they fly to a destination that works for you, you might save a bundle. We used them to fly from our debarkation port--Copenhagen--to Orlando (Sanford) airport--about half the cost of one of the major airlines.Bon voyage!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we ... Read More
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we chose a Lido level Balcony as we like the closeness to the Pool areas, and also like a cabin near an Elevator and in the Mid-ship to bow area. We like the sound of the waves crashing off the bow of the ship and the motion of this area more than the aft. We flew down to FLL two days early as we have come to do lately and stayed at the Embassy Suites on SE 17th Street. We have stayed there a few times in the past when the rates are decent and enjoy the location for the many restaurants and the good shopping options in the area. It is also a short taxi ride to the Beach area if you want to head down that way. This trip we rented a car for one day from Gold Coast Car Rental, who picked us up at the hotel to get to the rental location nearby and also took us to the Pier the next day when we dropped off the car. The price of the car was less than taxi fares would have been to get to the spots we wanted to visit and the ride to the pier was a bonus. Embarkation day had us arriving at the Pier just before 11:30am as we typically try to do. Normally the process has been very smooth on our last few Cruises, not quite so lucky on this visit though. Boarding was delayed and the first folks who arrived much earlier did not start to board until about 11:30. They stopped check in for about 20 minutes or so while we were in line and we ended up boarding around 12:30. No real reason was given for the delays. Nice thing is, the cabins were ready and we were able to drop off our bags before getting a bite to eat. The cabins on this class ship have a very large closet and plenty of storage space to handle everything we brought with us for the voyage. Closet even had enough space to handle a couple of the suitcases with the rest being placed under the bed. Only improvement I would like would be a shower door in place of the curtain and perhaps a bit larger shower similar to some of the newer Solstice Celebrity ships. The Emerald is very well maintained and very clean. She looked much as we remembered her from our cruise in 2009. The Crew was very outgoing and friendly and very eager to make sure everything went well for everyone on board. The food in the MDR was ample and very well prepared and our waiter Ray made sure we were very happy with whatever was served. Ray and the Headwaiter Luis also took very good care of my wife's Gluten Free issues by bringing the menu for the next evening so she could pick out her selection that could be adapted to the GF issue. This class of ship does make getting from here to there a bit more of a challenge than some vessels, especially back in the MDR area and on the upper decks but you learn to figure it out as you go along. I do like the ships as a whole, and really enjoy the International Cafe area for a lite lunch or breakfast. On this trip we actually learned to enjoy the MUTS movie area, especially the padded lounge chairs in the area. I did not find it near as loud in the area this time as I have in the past few cruises on Golden Princess, etc. The Itinerary for this Cruise was Southern Caribbean which included Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, and Aruba with three Sea Days along the way. The only new stop for us was Dominica where we took a tour with some of our Cruise Critic group with Pepper's Tours. It was a full tour of the island with stops at Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, a nice fruit stand, and Champagne Reef for snorkeling. Cost was $57pp and was well worth it for a full day of activity. We stayed on board at Princess Cays and for the half day visit to Grenada. It was nice to have a quiet ship mostly to ourselves. Entertainment on the ship was ok overall. The Production shows are very typical and we do not attend many of them, but those that did enjoyed them. The piano player did a nice job and had a big following and the comedians were also fairly good overall. The crew talent show had some highlights and worth checking out in most cases. There were lots of Trivia events on board also which many enjoyed on a regular basis. Our Cruise Critic group had a very active thread leading up to the trip and had a few things planned for on board. The Sail Away Gathering was lightly attended, which sometimes happens but the Meet and Greet in the Sky Lounge had a nice turnout and some folks also took part in a Gift Exchange toward the end of the get together. We also had a group Slot Pull on the first Sea Day, only about 16 of us took part but we had a good time and ended up only losing $1, pretty cheap entertainment and a good way to mingle. Disembarkation went very smoothly. We used their EZ luggage system so did not have to find our bags or take them to the airport. They were checked through to our final destination and worked very well for us. It is really nice on Saturdays and Sundays when you cannot check your bags at the airport until two hours prior to your scheduled flight times. You do have to be out of your cabin by 8:00 which is a bit early, but the Lido Buffet is open for breakfast until 10:00am. Taxi to the airport is about $15 plus a tip and a much better deal than Princess transfers, or a little better than a shared van. This was a very good Cruise on a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. We booked the Sapphire Princess while on board for a 28 day Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti Cruise which goes RT Los Angeles in the fall of this year. Booking on board got us the $150 pp. OBC for this upcoming Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very ... Read More
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very well. It is the friendliest line we have cruised on. I am not referring to fixed smiles, or cheery good mornings. I am talking about a professional staff that really seems to like the passengers and their jobs, and does their best to be compassionate and helpful. We saw the same thing on a Med cruise on Princess several years ago. It is not as rigid or formal as most. For tours, you did not have to meet in the theater, and be marched off in lockstep. You just walked ashore at the right time and tour personnel were waiting to show you where to go. The captain was more willing to wait for late passengers returning from tours than most lines, and we had that same experience with them in the Med. It is really more "laid back" than most. The mix of passengers was truly great. Americans may have been a "plurality" but were not a majority. There were many, perhaps more, Canadians. Also a number of Brits, with some Aussies and even a family from New Zealand. We had "shared table lunches and breakfasts in the dining rooms, and met folks from all over including Switzerland, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Ages ranged from several infants to some very senior citizens. There were a lot of preschooler, grade schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults. Everyone, children included were very well behaved, friendly, and made a Christmas cruise so much better for us old folks. The food and service in the main dining room was the best we have seen in some years; at least as good on a 6 star Crystal cruise in the Baltic 8 years ago. The menu was quite varied. We had one night of lobster and two nights of excellent prime rib, and a couple of nights of small steaks. If you wanted a large rib eye, however, you needed to go to the Crown Grille. There was beef, chicken and sea food every night. Appetizers, soups and salads ranged from standard to exotic and were excellent. The MatreD was very helpful and they did the best job of accommodating my wife's gluten intolerance. They even had gluten free pancakes. They had sugar free and gluten free deserts every night. The breakfasts and lunches were also fine, and service was great for all three meals. We ate most meals in the dining room. We used traditional, but folks using anytime said they got seated with only a short wait at worst. The International Cafe, their coffee shop (extra cost) was excellent, and had a good light meal (free) three times a day. We used it at lunch; they had several excellent salads, a quiche of the day, and several small sandwiches. The only discordant note was the Lido deck. The food was fine, and they had lots of happy diners with plates filled high enough to make me slightly ill, but the selections were somewhat more limited than most. They had no "deli counter" to make sandwiches. They did have an omelet bar. There was a separate Pizza place, soft serve ice cream station, and a trident grill for burgers and dogs. Our rooms, ocean view unobstructed, was one of the smallest we have seen but very well designed and comfortable. No couch but the excellent flat screen TV was well positioned to be seen from the bed. Plenty of storage and closet space, and a decent bathroom with shower. We like the room very much but there was one problem. Our cabin had fold down bunks over the regular bed. If the cabin is made up as a double, access along the sides of the bed is partially blocked by the bunks, making access rather difficult; I had to face and hold on to the bunk while side stepping. I guarantee you will bump your head more than once. Bad design. The solution is to have the cabin made up as twin beds with the aisle down the middle. The room then works out very well. Entertainment was traditional but good. The production shows had four excellent singers and 11 quite good dancers. On non show nights, there were the usual range of comedians, singers, jugglers et al. All fine but I did tire of flatulence jokes. There was also good entertainment in the lounges, and in the main atrium (the Piazza) there were often musicians or performers. We were on a Christmas cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Aruba and Bonaire have good snorkeling and/or diving, with the usual overprice shops, and very little else. Never want to go back. Grenada is a great stop with both historical sites and some great natural scenery. Dominica is the most primitive and most beautiful of the windward/leewards, and a great spot for eco tours. St Thomas is St Thomas. Princess Cay is very well done but quite standard. We have done all of the lesser Antilles on sailboats and know the islands. The alternate Princess Souther Caribbean itinerary is better, but we wanted to go over Christmas. Interestingly, we saw few activities, only a game room, for the kids. There may have been more but they all enjoyed the lovely pools. The pools could not be covered but that was no problem in the Caribbean. Enrichment activities were a bit limited. A number revolved around the spa. There were French lessons from the Assistant Cruise Director. The best was a series of lectures by a lawyer. It may sound like an improble subject for a cruise line, and likely to be boring, but Michael Beshay was very interesting and very enjoying. He was not lecturing on the law, but using legal cases to entertain. Don't miss him if you have chance. One disappointment was the loss of the traditional afternoon tea. There was tea served at 3:30 in the main dining room, with background music, and all the sandwiches, pastries et al you could eat. However, the afternoon tea served in an intimate lounge setting with musicians playing classical music is apparently dead. Actually, there were no classical musicians aboard. Second year on two different lines we have seen this. Victim of the economy? I read the reviews on the Emerald before we left, and saw everything from one to five stars. I was a bit worried, but then I saw the same pattern for all th other lines. Different people want different things and that partially explains it. I do think some folks would give only one star to heaven, and others would give five stars to a garbage barge. Be interesting to see a graph drawn by Cruise Critic showing number of people giving each star rating. Certainly a bell curve, and the area under the curve would show the relative performance of each line. I would give Princess five stars. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci dining rooms that we frequented. The Horizon buffet was adequate but often crowded -- the sit-down dining is a much better choice. Our waiter and assistant waiter, Johnry and Arturo were fabulous, providing good recommendations (for food and entertainment) and service. The head waiter, Manuel, was always friendly and checking on our needs. We made good use of the gym, which had a good selection of exercise equipment. It was crowded one or two times during the cruise, but most often not. We had an inside cabin on the Carib Deck and found it quite spacious as staterooms go. We also had excellent service from our stateroom steward, Angelo. We greatly enjoyed the entertainment. We had two very funny comedians and an excellent performance from the BeatleManiacs. We also enjoyed many cruise staff-led events -- including trivia and an excellent "Liars Club" which we had never seen before -- worth checking out! We also enjoyed events in the Piazza including Christmas caroling, flamenco dancers, and a holiday cooking demonstration. This was the first cruise that had "Under the Stars Movies". We enjoyed a few movies plus NFL football games. Being a sports fan, this was a real treat! They also had servers that brought popcorn, pizza, and cookies/milk during the movies & football -- a very nice feature. One evening was a bit cold, but they provided blankets to the movie audience. We also took part in the 3-part "Survival French" class. We enjoyed all the ports of call. On Aruba, we caught a taxi (from Carl an entertainer who played his music for us on the ride) that took us to Eagle beach which is among the most pristine that we have ever seen. For $5 the adjacent hotel will provide you with a lounge chair and towel. At Bonnaire, we hired a taxi to take us to the Plaza Resort which was quite rocky -- should have brought water shoes -- but excellent snorkeling there. At Grenada, we hired a taxi (from Morgan who gave us a history of Grenada as we made our way up the elevations) to take us to the Seven Sisters Falls which was a more strenuous hike that took about an hour each direction. It had rained that morning, so the path was muddy and slick which added to the difficulty. The falls were beautiful with two cascades set in a rain forest. There was a local diver by the name of Super Butterfly who performed a back-dive off the first falls and also did a hop, skip, and jump off the second falls -- both quite daring! At the next stop, Dominica, we tried to book a whale watching excursion but we missed the boat by a half-hour, so we did a small tour of the town and found an internet cafe. We missed out on some eco-tours through their rainforest, but were a bit tired after the hike the previous day. At St. Thomas, we booked a sail/snorkel excursion through Princess -- offered by "Castaway Girl". It was fantastic! A very pleasant and relaxing sail out to an offshore island and then about an hour of snorkeling over a shipwreck and a coral reef -- and then a sail back with rum punch offerings. Highly recommended! Our final stop was at Princess Cay where we rented a cabana from Princess. It was a little pricey, but a five course catered lunch and free drink were included. The cabana was air conditioned which made it easy to spend five hours on the beach. There was an outbreak of norovirus that the ship's crew responded to appropriately to contain. We had been careful from the start of the cruise to frequently wash hands and use the purell dispensers found throughout the ship -- so escaped. There was a bit of a wait to get on the ship -- we arrived about 1:30 which may have been peak boarding time. Recommend arriving earlier. We chose the walk-off option which went fine and we had pre-booked a taxi to meet and take us to the airport. All-in-all, this was a very satisfying, entertaining, and relaxing cruise. Thanks, Princess! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the ... Read More
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the First Class. We were met at the airport by a team of efficient Princess representatives, who directed us to where to take our luggage (free handy carts) and to our bus. We were whisked to the ship's terminal and noticed a long line of people waiting to get aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to find our wait was only about 15-20 minutes and we received a handy pocket map of the ship, our room card and pictures taken for i.d. Once aboard we made our way to our stateroom, with the help of conveniently placed personnel to aid us on our way. It was disappointing to find our balcony stateroom very cramped. It wasn't as nice or roomy as on a smaller Princess Two people couldn't be about at the same time. One had to sit on the side of the bed with feet out of the way while the other maneuvered around the bed. Also don't drop the soap in the shower or you'll get a bump on your head. There was no room for a foursome card game or pre-dinner refreshments. Our daughter and her husband had to knock on our cabin door and wait in the passageway. We couldn't all fit in the room together. The first day or two it was bewildering trying to find our way around. The little pocket map really helped, and on each floor near the elevators you would find a plaque of the ship and the layout for the floor you were on. The food was prepared for any variety of ethnic people, special diets, etc. My complaint is that the vegetables were almost raw. I like al dente, but their cooked veggies were 1 degree from raw. The baked sweet potato slices were hard and undercooked. Since I like vegetables and heaped them on my plate, I must say there was quite a waste. We were assigned a table at dinner, but ate there only 3 times due to the noise level. The workers stations are nearby and noisy, even though they tried to be quiet and the surrounding tables were quite noisy. Perhaps more insulation is required.'s We dined in the Grill and Sabatini's which were well worth the cover charge, and also the anytime dining room and the buffet. For a delightful treat, get a specialty coffee at the International Cafe and next to that is a delicious pastry, salad, quiche, and small sandwich counter to enjoy with your coffee. Nice place to meet a friend.The selection for the ports of call were excellent. Didn't enjoy Aarhus that much. St. Petersburg was the highlight but very, very crowded. The archipelagos on the way to Stockholm were beautiful...stay up to see the beauty of the area as you glide by; also the fjords in Norway. Warnemunde/Rostock, Germany was one of my favorites. Overall, the tours were well planned and educational. I had trouble understanding one or two guides. We noticed in the Princess Theatre that the shows were shortened to about 30 min. The crew singers, however, were excellent. Some amenities were missing such as the towel figures in your stateroom. I suppose corners have to be cut somewhere, but it doesn't feel as special to not have the extra niceties to remember that you were special and being pampered. We will not travel on such a large ship again as we felt we were lost in the shuffle of humanity. I didn't see or talk to the same people twice. I felt I was in a tenement building and the thought struck me, "what if there was a fire".On embarkation, it was very organized and easy to leave the ship. The buses were waiting and promptly took off for the airport making it easy for us. The hard part was when we were on our own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside ... Read More
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line. For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away. Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt. Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings. One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom. The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions. The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship. After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information. Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late. Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and ... Read More
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and out there for my taste, and I'm a foodie. Their standard "always available" menu is excellent. The Horizon buffet was very good with many choices. Evening entertainment included ballroom dancers (so-so), a magician (so-so), a juggler (amazing and hilarious), a Beatles tribute band (great fun) and the EP singers and dancers (fantastic). Playing throughout the ship was a truly fine classical string quartet (all lovely young ladies), a soft jazz combo with singer, Evolution cover band, and a few others. Something for everyone. Onto the shore excursions, comments are listed individually. But a few points about Russia: It's all about the bathrooms, and traffic. We did EP excursions both days, but also had a special AAA tour to St. Catherine's. Guides were competent, knowledgeable and utterly humorless. We used EP but if I were to do it again, I'd try something else. It's difficult to appreciate the sights when you're so frustrated by the iron control the Russians still exert over their guests. Check your other options. Also YOU WILL BE LATE to everything, so don't book two excursions too close together in time. You will leave late, and you will arrive back late, up to a couple hours. Save yourself stress and don't plan things too close together. Personal add-on to Bergen, Norway. After the cruise I spent 4 days in Bergen on my own. What a lovely city! But not for the disabled or those who need level ground. It's all on steep hills, and they're so steep there are staircases between the streets. I booked a cozy, utterly simple room with Ingrid's Summer Rooms. She is lovely, the room is clean, quiet, with shared bath and fridge. There's a grocery store 5 minutes away. I ate nothing at a restaurant. It's terribly expensive to do anything in Norway, but I did do the Norway Active tour for my splurge and loved every minute of it. PS, there's also a Noa Noa store near the beginning of the light rail. I got the 48 hour Bergen card and it was well worth it for me. Even with the price of the card I saved over 500 kroner on the things I did. It includes all bus and light rail, a big plus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on ... Read More
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on what is included in the base price. You have to pay for drinks (including soda, juice, and coffee), with the exception of the breakfast offerings. There are restaurants on board that require a cover charge, and pool areas that require a spa fee. All irritating, but I chose to ignore all of these options, and enjoy everything else. The ship: The Emerald Princess is a classy ship, in excellent condition. Decor consists of lacquered wood and brass. All of the public areas were comfortable and elegant. The only design flaw I could see was that it was difficult to walk from one part of the ship to another without having to go up and down to avoid blocked passageways. On the positive side, all of the stair climbing helps burn off calories! Stateroom service was not very personal, and was more like Motel 6. The food: I saw no need to spend money on specialty restaurants, since the food was so good in the main dining room. If you are patient, nearly all of the specialty food, such as lobster, are eventually served for free. The wait staff was very friendly, and their individual personalities showed through the stiff formality. Specialty cheeses and desserts were available 24-hours a day in the atrium, and pizza and burgers could be found near the pools. Entertainment: The shows are short, and shown more often, to try to make scheduling easier. The ship's dance crew put on a couple of really good shows, but overall the entertainment was less impressive than other cruises I have been on. (I guess I'm a bit jaded as well) The most valueable shows were the port lectures by John Lawrence. Listening carefully to his advice will save you time and money, as well as helping you to plan your port time. They were always repeated on the stateroom televisions. The ports: The ship visited 8 ports in 11 days, which was exhausting at times. I actually heard a few people complaining that it was too much, but my wife and I looked at it as a real value for the cost of the cruise. Be prepared for strenuous days. The port strike was resolved in Oslo Norway, so we were able to visit the port. The castle right next to the ship was incredible! The self guided tour allowed me to see it at my own pace, with time left over to visit the open air Viking Folk Museum. Aarhus Denmark was a small port, with not much to see. We made use of Denmark's free bicycles, and rode along the coast for a while before heading to the shopping district to explore and have a cold beer. We procrastinated too long, and arrived at the cathedral after closing hours (4 pm). Oh well, we had another beer instead. In Warnemunde Germany, we booked a tour through SPB that went to Rostock and Schwerin Castle. Our guide was relaxed and knowledgeable about the sites. She was actually part of the congregation of one of the old churches that we visited. Schwerin Castle was one of the highlights of the cruise. Lunch was included with the tour, and consisted of German sausage, sauerkraut, and a beer. Unlike the unfortunate people who went all the way to Berlin, we had time left over to walk around Warnemunde before boarding the ship. Tallinn Estonia was a warm and friendly medieval town. The people were vibrant, friendly, and willing to talk. I could see myself living there. We found a three story restaurant housed in a very old building, which was candle lit, and served wild game and a beer resembling mead in HUGE mugs: another highlight of the cruise. St. Petersburg Russia took about a day to grow on us. When we left the ship, we were greeted by some very serious Russian agents. It felt very oppressive. We booked the 2-day, as well as the Evening Fun Tour, with SPB tours. Our day guide was reserved and efficient. We must have seen every cultural sight there was. Well worth the money, and less costly than the Princess sponsored tour. The fun evening tour is what really won our hearts. Our tour guide, Sasha, was confident, outgoing, and funny. Ladies, keep an eye on your husbands around this cute young woman! Helsinki Finland was spread out, and therefore difficult to see in such a short day. We got to see the Temppeliaukio church, met some really friendly people, and enjoyed fresh fish in a farmer's market at the downtown docks. Stockholm Sweden was another highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately, the port had the shortest stay of the trip, so we changed our approach. We were the first people off the ship, and immediately grabbed a taxi into Old Town, where we stayed to explore the rest of the day. We were able to get pictures of the old palace, medieval church, and town streets before anyone else arrived. As the stores began to open, we sampled Swedish pastries, meatballs, herring, and of course...local beer! We made it back to the ship with a whole 5-minutes to spare. After the cruise, we spent 5-days in Copenhagen Denmark (it takes a minimum of three to get a good look at the city). We disembarked just as the International Jazz festival began. It rained a little bit just about every day, which was actually kind of nice. There is a lot to see here, and I think we covered about 80% of it. Kronborg Castle was definitely worth the 50-minute train ride to see. The underground ramparts really gave us a feel for the military life of its inhabitants. Climbing the tower at Our Saviour's Church was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The staircase spirals around the outside of the tower, to dizzying heights. My fear of heights had me crawling the last few steps! In summary, I would definitely recommend this cruise. It is rich in Norse culture, and a bargain for the money. I hope to return to some of the countries visited, because I enjoyed them (and the cool weather) so much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of ... Read More
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of this cruise would be diminished compared to past cruises but to my very happy surprise, that was not the case. I have never written a review before but since I read so many before my cruise I thought I would chip in with one. EMBARKATIONAN/SAIL AWAY As others mentioned, the line for embarkation was a bit long due to a problem with people disembarking from the previous cruise but once in the terminal things moved quickly and efficiently. Our rooms were ready when we boarded and we attended the 'sort of' sail away party (boat left port late). There was a raffle during the party for people who visited about 8 different venues on the boat before the party and had a card stamped but we barely had time to board, eat, tour the spa, Muster and get to the party, much less get cards filled out so that made the raffle kind of boring, I would suggest giving raffle tickets away to those who dance and participate in the party, that would sure liven things up and get more people to participate! SHIP/ROOM Ship is in great shape, public areas are pristine and there is something for everyone. Our rooms were on the Riviera deck (3 connected balconies) and I was concerned that there would be noise issues from the Lido Deck above but there really weren't (we were just forward of the public areas). Beds are hard but we brought a queen memory foam stuffed into a big suitcase and that really helped. Our stewards were efficient, helpful but not doting which was OK with me, we had everything we needed when we needed it. Food/Entertainment This is where, in my opinion, things were much better than some of the reviews here indicated they would be. We ate at the late seating in the Da Vinci dining room and had a fantastic experience every night. Eduardo the Maitre D, Raymond the Head Waiter, Nick our waiter and his assistant Richie all did a fantastic job of making our experience a great one. My daughter is gluten intolerant and they did an absolutely outstanding job of accommodating her needs and giving her a top notch dining experience. Food variety was good and the key was taking Nick's advice on selections. Yes, there are a few items on the menu that are below par but you definitely can have a gourmet experience if you trust your waiter and get the right things and you can always send back a below par item if you get one and have a better selection. The Lobster, Red Snapper and Lamb were high end restaurant quality as well as many of the appetizers and deserts. I found the Buffet to be fine, not great, but serviceable for breakfast and snacks. The International Cafe is a great option for lunch and snacks and I especially enjoyed the Trident Grill for tasty chicken sandwiches and fries. Bartenders were very friendly (especially Nadia and Andrew)and you never had to wait long for service either at the bars or poolside. Cruise Staff/Entertainment I found the entertainment to be enjoyable and of good quality. The band for the stage shows was very talented and the Poolside Band had great energy and enthusiasm throughout the cruise. The shows were very enjoyable and fun unless you were looking for Tony Award quality and I thought the Hypnotist, Comedians, Magician and Beatlemania concert were all entertaining. The cruise staff worked very hard and with great energy (especially Amy and Oxsana)to create a fun atmosphere for those who wanted to participate and the assistant cruise director did a knock out job at the mid cruise deck party. Only thing that would have been nice would have been more 20-25 year old mixers/activities earlier in the cruise for my daughters to meet others their age (they eventually solved that issue on their own!). Photographers did a nice job and weren't intrusive and I didn't feel as pushed to buy things in the shops on the ship as I had been on past cruises! SPA/Fitness Spa staff was great! Especially enjoyed the extreme shave and two massages. Prices a bit high compared to on land spas but discounts for multiple treatments and those offered as the cruise goes on help offset that. Fitness center was very well equipped and not very crowded most of the time. Logistics I never once had to wait in a long line, struggle to find a deck chair or fight for a seat at a show. The cruise was completely booked but I never felt crowded out. Yes, I tended to purposely avoid the times I knew would be busy but it didn't take much to schedule around the busy times. The crew did a great job of keeping things clean and moving, especially considering the added logistics involved with the NORO precautions. Ports The itinerary was a good one, nice ports interspersed with at sea days. I would have preferred docking in the St. Thomas dock closer to the main part of town and possibly trading a longer day in Grenada for a shorter day in Dominica but otherwise a good schedule. Private Island, as always, was one of my favorites, Paradise Point in St. Thomas is a kick, Went to St. George's Cathedral in Grenada for Palm Sunday and it was a fantastic experience but that didn't leave much time to enjoy Grand Anse beach, which is a gem. Dominica tubing was OK, river was low, Bonaire independent snorkel through Woodwind was the best excursion I have ever been on and we blew it going to Palm Beach in Aruba (very crowded) instead of Eagle Beach (pristine) Summary Overall, a great cruise. People can always find something wrong or to complain about but if you come in with a positive attitude, the Emerald Princess and her crew can provide you with a great cruise experience! Footnote: We were originally on the Caribbean Princess out of San Juan for 14 days but had to rebook on Emerald when Princess cancelled the first week of our CP cruise one week before our departure. Still waiting for response from Princess on the economic displacement we suffered by having the one cruise cancelled (even with 25% credit) and having to rebook (higher cruise fares, lost cabin credits and balcony breakfasts, less cruise days, higher airfares) so hopefully that will turn out the right way and we will all be on another Princess cruise soon! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our second cruise on the Emerald Princess. We had a group of 12 family and friends on this 10 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. We had veteran cruisers and 1st timers on this cruise. Embarkation: Princess just does it right in Ft ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Emerald Princess. We had a group of 12 family and friends on this 10 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. We had veteran cruisers and 1st timers on this cruise. Embarkation: Princess just does it right in Ft Lauderdale. We used an off site parking facility and were dropped off right in front of the terminal. Our bags were taken and we went inside and were on the ship in under 30 minutes. Our room was ready and our cabin steward met us at the door. Bags arrived before we sailed. Room: We were in an outside room. We had booked an obstructed view room, but were upgraded to a full ocean view room. I really like how the Oceanview rooms and obstructed view rooms are arranged. Much more useful than the inside rooms and worth the little extra it cost. The room was clean and had plenty of storage space for our clothes and stuff. One suggestion, if you have laptops, cameras, IPads,etc. bring an extension cord so you can charge several things at once. Plugs are not plentiful. Bath is small, but adequate. Wish the shower was a bit bigger, but it all works. Steward: Our steward was fantastic. Kept the room clean and organized and responded to every request quickly and efficiently. Dinning: We had first sitting and has a great waiter, Woody. He had been with Princess for 11 years and was a real pro. Thought the food an service in the dining room was very good. Nice variety and everything was served hot. One of our group was a chef and he even said nice things about the food. By the way, he went to the chef's table and said it was one of the greatest things he has ever done. Said it was well worth the $95 per person. Princess still does a nice job at the Horizon Court and the pizza is the best of any cruise line I have sailed. Only complaint I had was that it was hard to get a pouched egg at the buffet. Entertainment: The entertainment was very good. The only complaint I have is that Princess has gone to 30 minute shows and it is way too short. Not fair to the audience or the entertainers. There were plenty of activities, but the highlights for us were the movie under the stars and watching the Super Bowl on the huge outdoor screen. Princess even set up a buffet by the pool with traditional Super Bowl food-- i.e. wings, meatballs, pizza, salsa and chips. Was really fun. Overall: Another good experience on Princess. They make cruising so easy and so much fun. Yes there are things one could nit pic, but overall a good job. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Pre-cruise: We flew into FLL two days early and instead of staying at the usual pre cruise hotels, we rented a car and drove 45 minutes (in traffic) down to Miami's South Beach and stayed at The Miami Loews Hotel. Our stay was ... Read More
Pre-cruise: We flew into FLL two days early and instead of staying at the usual pre cruise hotels, we rented a car and drove 45 minutes (in traffic) down to Miami's South Beach and stayed at The Miami Loews Hotel. Our stay was fabulous! Great location, awesome service, great pool and beach area. My only tip...get a room with a balcony, otherwise the rooms are a bit small. Embarkation: Husband dropped the 3 of us off at the cruise terminal at 10:45, then he returned the rental car (rental car place gave him a complimentary ride to the cruise ship terminal). I handed off luggage (1 large suitcase per person and one bag of snorkel gear) to the porter and filled out the "health" forms. We waited in the platinum, elite & suites lounge...husband arrived 15 minutes later. We checked in at noon and then boarded immediately. The ship: We had been on the Emerald 2 1/2 years ago...we thought the ship was still in fabulous condition. We had a balcony cabin forward on deck 15 and our boys had an inside cabin forward on deck 14. We requested egg crate for the bed and bathrobes. We did anytime dining in Michelangelo dining room. Our waiter was Romeo Gonzalez from the Phillipines...he was awesome. We loved the pizza and did get 1 pop card and the boys the UKP cards. A tip for the UKP cards: you can get rootbeer from the bar and then go to the ice cream counter and get a scoop of hard vanilla and make a float. We thought the food varied from awesome (lobster and prime rib) to bizarre - we don't eat frog legs and sweet bread (aka brains and glands). The Horizon court and Cafe Caribe were good, and afternoon tea is fun. We ate in the Crown Grille once and it was good, but c'mon, food is definately plentiful and probably would not do it again. We saw a few shows, our favorite were the two Beatles music shows - they were awesome and not to be missed. Comedians were good and the production shows were...so-so. We were pleased that the crew did not push drinks as much as we have seen on other ships. We thought the ship was decorated nicely for Christmas and it was neat that Santa was around and thought the snow in the atrium was cool. We thought the crew did a great job keeping plates out of the hallways and the elevators were quick. There were 416 kids on board and most behaved well. It was interesting that the Emerald uses hand held devices to scan your cruise card when entering your designated muster drill area - no escaping muster anymore. The Ports: Princess Cays: we booked a bungalo...accommodates 4 people. We enjoyed it and thought it was worth it. It was nice to get out of the sun, wind, crowds etc. The snorkeling was very good. St Thomas: We have been here before and so we decided to go to St John on our own....We took a taxi to Redhook Ferry ($44 for 4 of us), the ferry to St. John ($24 for the 4 of us), a taxi to Trunk Bay ($42 for the 4 of us), paid to get into the park ($8 for 2 adults), then found out it was too rough and windy to snorkel and swim. Paid for a taxi back to the ferry, ferry back to St Thomas, and taxi to the shopping area. We wandered the shopping area and walked back to the ship...I think I would have just done a ships excursion. Dominica: We used AL Dive. 2 of us did a 2 tank, 2 locations dive...and 2 of us did 2 location snorkeling. It was incredible and would definately use them again. Grenada: We used Eco dive Grenada and 2 of us did a 2 tank, 2 locations dive and 2 of us (my 12 year old's first dive!) did intro to diving and a 1 tank dive. It too was incredible. We also wandered the market and picked up some spices. We loved Grenada. Bonaire: we had made arrangements to rent a car thru Hertz...well Hertz did NOT show up. Instead we made plans to dive with VIP diving. They were drumming up business outside the pier. And it worked out well, but I would avoid Hertz car rental in Bonaire. Aruba: I tried to rent a car before hand and had a tough time since it was Christmas that day, so we were just going to wing it. Well when we arrived, from our balcony we could see a car rental place at the pier so my husband hurried off the ship and rented a jeep for $100 cash and we spent the day touring the island, stopping at beaches, snorkeling, eating at Senior Frogs, getting a Starbucks mug, etc. We had a great day and loved Aruba, however because it was Christmas 99% of the stores were closed. It was ok for us cuz we are not shoppers, but something to keep in mind. Complaints: We were disappointed that Princess no longer gave platinum members a complimentary glass of champagne. And our pet peave is...babies (in diapers) in the pools...Princess' rules prohibit diapered kids in pools, but parents don't listen and crew does not enforce, same thing with under aged kids in the hot tubs with out a parent there. It's really not the kids fault, more like the parent's fault. Also saving seats/chairs in the Princess Theater, Club Fusion, Explorer's Lounge and by the pools. To those adults who put towels, shoes, magazines, sunscreen and oh yeah the potato bag chip clips to "reserve" chairs....you all suck! There is a couple of different ways to approach this issue. 1. Don't do anything about it and just silently complain. 2. Tell security and watch them do nothing about it. 3. When in Rome do as the Romans (and just join 'em). Or 4. Stand up for your right to sit in an empty seat and pack your boxing gloves. (security actually had to break up a fight poolside over this matter). Disembarkation: This was the first time we "walked" off the ship with our luggage...it went great. Post Cruise: For post cruise we took a taxi to the airport and rented a car and drove down to Key West for 3 nights. We stayed at Casa Marina. It was a very nice resort, just a few quirky issues (like a yapping dog in the room next to us). We absolutely loved Key West and the 4 hour drive was doable. After 3 nights in Key West we drove back to Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the B Ocean Hotel for 1 night and then flew home the next morning. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was a last minute decision to take the Emerald Princess for a New Year's sailing with my husband. Our daughter and her boyfriend, both first time cruisers, joined us. We had a very enjoyable cruise after the 28 hour trip from ... Read More
This was a last minute decision to take the Emerald Princess for a New Year's sailing with my husband. Our daughter and her boyfriend, both first time cruisers, joined us. We had a very enjoyable cruise after the 28 hour trip from Canada to FLL!!! For any of you driving to Florida, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Airport/Cruiseport on Sterling. Included in our night rate was free parking, a hot buffet and a shuttle to and from the cruiseport. Excellent service, newer hotel. Not your average stay over FLL hotel. Reasonably priced too!! All that for $200.00 Canadian, for 4 people! (They charge $20.00/day just to park at Port Everglades) The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays and New Year's Eve was a night we will never forget. Hector, the head waiter in the D'vinci dining room is our new best friend. When he found out my daughter's boyfriend had a nut allergy, he took great interest and had him choose his dinner the evening before, telling him what he could and couldn't have. We would just tell our waiter we pre-ordered and halfway through the meal, Hector would come by to make sure all was well. Although we found the entertainment on the ship so-so (the kids enjoyed it all) we totally enjoyed the last evening of entertainment when the staff sang. Hector was the star of the show, singing My Way!!! Our stateroom steward, Romel was fantastic!! One of the better ones I've seen. They are all good, but he always went the extra mile to speak with us and make sure we had everything we needed and wanted. The food was plentiful and delicious. We really enjoyed the Fettucine at dinner (as a side dish) plus our entree, which the selections were plentiful. The lunch buffets had a great variety and their salad bar was so fresh! The late afternoon sandwich bar was a big hit with us, especially the Tuna. I'm very picky since I cruise often. I love Princess Cruise Lines and have cruised with them often. There were a few items I thought needed improvement on this cruise. First, I found there was a lot of dirty glassware and dishes left around the Terrace pool everyday, which I haven't seen before. The chair hogs were back, but after a number of people complained about chairs being left with just towels on them for hours, the deck attendant started removing them after a few days. I do think Princess must make the Terrace "Adult Pool" sign larger for all to read. It took a few days but the parents of the children (one in a diaper) finally understood. Some pretended they didn't understand....too funny!! I was surprised at the number of people wearing jeans in the dining rooms for dinner. I feel if people want to wear jeans to dinner, the Horizon Court or Caribe Cafe was better suited for them. I found the buffets to be a bit chaotic. I've been on other ships that have an oval as their buffet, which is much better. I found people going this way and that in the buffet line and some getting a little hot under the collar with fellow passengers when they thought they were next. With that number of people on board, I thought it went quite well....there was enough food to go around and then some! We had arranged for the shuttle to pick us up at 8:00 a.m. so we could get back to the hotel, pack up our vehicle and get back on the road asap for the trek back to Canada. In our haste, we left behind a piece of luggage but was unaware of it until Princess called our cell to let us know. We had disembarked at 7:45 and here they were calling us within the hour. We decided to return to the ship (10 minutes) but our luggage wasn't released by Customs until 11:30 as they had to wait until each piece of luggage removed from the ship was accounted for and then the left over luggage scanned. The Princess rep felt bad, but it was out of her control. She went beyond to make contact with us before we left the States. We are forever grateful to her. All in all, another great cruise with Princess!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Well lets start from the top. We have sailed with the Walmart of ships aka Carnival as well as Royal Caribbean and Disney. Princess was on par with Disney even though once onboard we had a bit of a rocky start with some really horrible ... Read More
Well lets start from the top. We have sailed with the Walmart of ships aka Carnival as well as Royal Caribbean and Disney. Princess was on par with Disney even though once onboard we had a bit of a rocky start with some really horrible service from guest services. We stayed at the Ramada Cruiseport Everglades which isnt much of a hotel but has a free shuttle and pretty well organized. beware here though. They had told us we got a free shuttle back after the cruise to the airport. Not true we had to pay 20.00 apiece for this service. We took the early shuttle 10:30 am to port and Princess has their own terminal and very well organized. We were in the first bunch (number 1) they let the suite guests on first and then we were on board and actually straight to our room at noon. Then out to a meet and greet with some cruise critic friends around 3pm. This is a really great good sized ship is great repair and brand spanking new looking. Cleaning was done everywhere all the time kudos to the hard working crew here. Well the usual muster drill took place and the weather out of Lauderdale was a bit wet so no sail away party to speak of. The purpose of our cruise was celebrating my 4 years cancer free so I was told by a Princess rep I spoke to on the phone as well as my AAA rep that I could go to guest services and ask how I could celebrate my 4 years cancer free anniversary. I had originally signed up online for the anniversary celebration since there was nothing specific to my situation thats why I visited the guest services desk. I was appalled, embarrassed, and got pretty red faced at the poor service I received from some young lady from Brazil. There was no one in line at guest services so the young girl motioned me over. I let her know that this was my first Princess cruise and I was celebrating my being 4 years cancer free and wanted to know what I could do to celebrate that. She kinda looked down her nose at me , snickered, and stated "We dont do anything like that here". I told her that I had been directed by a Princess rep to ask do this and she again restated we dont do that here. Walked away from me and then pointed and joked with her fellow guest service members. Man I felt about two inches tall then I got ticked. I went back up and told her I wanted to cancel all my anniversary plans I made online. She grinned and said ok and then went back to talk with her other cohorts. Well the next day I spoke with Crissy Reid who was the Captain Circle Host and Crissy seemed to get pretty concerned stating she would report this to Miguel in guest services. Crissy stated they did the Susan Komen deck walk so there were things to do for cancer survivors. Two days went by heard nothing from Miguel spoke to Drayton Pinton who assured me Miguel would contact me. It was only after persistent followup that I finally did get a meeting with Miguel who comped and my wife a meal at Sabatini's (I asked for nothing free) as well as sent me a letter of acknowledgment of being 4 years cancer free signed by some of the staff as well as a very nice Swarovski pen as a gift. The problem here was I hadn't asked for anything free I just wanted to know how I could celebrate on board the ship. One of Princess stated values was that they never say no to a guest and they always go to a supervisor and look for an alternative. This was not done by a guest service member. I liked the outcome but if not for a lot of my own follow up(7 days worth) I have to wonder what would have been done. Sorry about the rant.. here is the rest of the review. Princess is every bit as good as Disney. Our room was a simply inside room. Very comfy we usually go balcony but wanted to save a little and it was still a great room great shower amenities. Opportunity was we had asked online for robes and extra pillows as well as the egg crate on the mattress. None of this was done at all. It was done after we asked our room steward Eduardo who was a great hard working guy but I think their is some opportunity here for communication between online and the ship. Why offer it if you don't follow up Entertainment wise they had a great cruise director in Billy London. Great show.. Beatle maniac's was one of the best beatle tribute shows I have ever seen with period costume changes. All the other shows were good as well. Pretty decent bands in the lounges. Food was very good. Presentation was not as good as Disney but there asparagus soup was the best I have ever had. Finally real Baked Alaska on board a cruise ship as well. Bravo. The Champagne waterfall was very classy and neat. Plenty to do on board lots of fun without the typical lowbrow games played on board other cruise ships. Halloween party was great. The head lady in the Lotus spa was rude that why we didnt go there but the gym was great. Free sauna and steam room in there as well. I had never been to a church service on board a ship and being a Christian I wanted to check one out. The service lead by Colin was one of the most solid and wonderful services I have been to anywhere. Great service. This is not a blanket endorsement just a good service. Thank you Colin nice job. The Da Vinci dining room had it together much more than the Michelangelo dining room. We did Anytime dining. You really should try Sabatini's the service and everything here is excellent top notch really. Its at least a 2 1/2 hour meal so pace yourself and don't try to eat everything put in front of you or you probably will pass out. The dining staff here was the best I have ever had at sea most of all in the buffet. Really top notch servers that even remember your name. Not really much in the way of a Chocolate buffet or themed buffets with specially craved items or ice sculpture and decorations. But fair trade off for a very ever changing variety of food. Lots of different stuff every day. We choose the walk off disembarkation and got there about 45 min early. Very easy off. Pretty good job by Princess even though there is a huge opportunity with guest services. We will sail on her again. All the ports were great Princess excursions were good and reasonable priced. Plus you could reserve online with no up front cost. One other little stumble was they said the tips would be 10.50 per person per cabin per day. It actually stated this on the paperwork as well. Once on board we were charged 11.50 per person. I had the charges removed and paid in cash. Don't want to sound cheap but don't quote me something and then change the price. Again though I would suggest a Princess cruise to anyone. I remember the last Carnival cruise I took and it was a photographer trying to block my way and my families from getting on board the ship insisting we took a picture. After a complaint to Carnival I was offered a 12.95 chocolate covered plate of strawberries by Kay Savage on my next cruise with them. Princess will take better care of you than that Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We (mother, father, 24 yr old daughter) flew into Copenhagen the morning of the cruise. We usually prefer to give ourselves more time but our work schedules would not allow for this. After a rather unfriendly meeting with the Danish ... Read More
We (mother, father, 24 yr old daughter) flew into Copenhagen the morning of the cruise. We usually prefer to give ourselves more time but our work schedules would not allow for this. After a rather unfriendly meeting with the Danish immigration official I discovered my luggage did not make the trip. Not to worry I was handed "the essentials kit" at the airport so what more could I need? Other than underwear, socks and a formal outfit and party shoes? Filing the lost luggage claim took some time so we missed the transfer bus. The Princess rep outside was sympathetic to our plight and sent us in a taxi to the port. As Platinum members we were checked in quickly and were onboard and in our inside cabin on the Aloha deck by 12 noon. After a quick bite in the Horizon Court we crashed for some much needed sleep. I still kept hoping that a miracle would happen and my luggage would appear but that did not happen. We met our cabin attendant Rico and he did a fine job without being intrusive. He did have a thing for straightening up the room and every day we had a treasure hunt trying to find where he put things away. Dinner in the Botticelli dining room was good. We had a table for 3 as we requested and our waiter Mateo and Katarina the assistant did a fine job keeping us well fed. I have a food allergy and Mateo was very careful to be sure I had no problems. I found that the staff such as the waiter and cabin attendant were very good and showed genuine concern for our needs and preferences. I also found the general staff such as in the casino and Horizon Court was less concerned. Several times when asked a question or asked to do something they would snap back at you. I was surprised at their irritated comments. I also witnessed a shouting match between 2 deck attendants by the pool. They had a long and loud very public discussion about a difference of opinion. I was really surprised at that one. The first morning the captain made an announcement that the stop in Germany was canceled due to high winds in the channel that would cause dangerous conditions for the ship. Many people were disappointed because they had tours to Berlin planned. I hope they were able to get their money back from those private companies. I was disappointed because I was hoping that I would be able to be reunited with my luggage. The ship also decided this would be the first formal dinner which was unfortunate for me as all I had was the same jeans and cotton shirt that I had put on Monday afternoon to fly to Copenhagen. I also had only my sneakers for shoes. The ship had promised me some generic formal clothes they keep in stock for such emergencies but when I went to collect them I was told they had run out so I was out of luck. Many people had luggage missing and they were overwhelmed. I did do some shopping in the ship stores but they do not have socks, underwear or shoes available. I made do with what I could get; needless to say we did not do photos that night. Thursday we did stop in Stockholm and stayed there overnight till 2PM Friday. The trip through the fiords was a real treat. Stockholm was a lovely town and easy to get around. The ship had a shuttle into town but it was easy to just walk into town. Follow the blue line painted on the pavement. They do need to refresh the paint a little as it disappeared at critical moments but we were able to figure it out and find our way. It was much cooler than we expected on this trip and I wish we had packed heavier clothing. Sweden is also very expensive just a warning to those planning this cruise. The changing of the guard at the palace and the palace tour were both very interesting and enjoyable. Then good news at 10:15pm on Thursday my battered pink suitcase appeared at the cabin door. Rejoice! Lesson learned- pack a change of clothes in your carry on. I will not get caught again. Friday afternoon we set sail for Finland and enjoyed the reverse trip through the Fiords of Sweden. My husband got some great video of the journey. Saturday in Finland we did use the ships shuttle as it was not walkable into town. We walked around Helsinki including a stroll around the flea market. There was a souvenir store right at the dock where I could get some postcards and stamps and even a mailbox to mail them. We also picked up a few trinkets to bring home. Saturday and Sunday were days in St Petersburg. We booked the 2 day ships tour. It was great and we saw everything there was to see as shown by the 500 photos I took. A stop at a souvenir store where the prices were in Euros was a big help as we saw many items we wanted to bring home to friends. Each day the tour included a lunch including Russian Vodka. The first meal was not so great and the vodka was more like paint thinner but the second day was quite tasty and the vodka was smoother and drinkable. They also provided entertainment. It was amazing to see the beautiful churches with the beautiful mosaics. We were lucky to have cool but clear weather to do all our touring. Our guide was very informative. We had a group of 30 but they provided headphones and receivers so we were able to hear all the explanations. I confess that after a while I got my Catherine's and Alexander's confused but that's just me. Tuesday was a delightful surprise as we visited Tallin, Estonia. It was a warmer day and we could walk around without a sweater. Tallin was a nice friendly town and we enjoyed a beer in a sidewalk cafe in the town square. The ship docked right in town and it was a very short walk to the old town. Wednesday was an at sea day . It was cold and rainy and we really could not sit out on deck. The blah food in the Horizon Court was getting boring. My daughter wanted a plain turkey sandwich for lunch and she was told in the Horizon Ct that this was not possible. We finally went to our cabin and ordered on though room service. I know on past cruises they had a deli area where they would make sandwiches but when I asked I was told that never happened. Thursday the stop in Aarhus Denmark was a waste of time. There was nothing bad about it but nothing great to see either. We arrived early 7:30am and left at 2pm. The stores didn't open until 10am so we just walked around and returned to the ship early. Friday was Oslo, Norway. It also was quick stop leaving at 1:30pm. We were able to just walk into the town and see the harbor area. We also did some shopping for some Norwegian sweaters and hats. We were able to use credit cards for our purchases even though we didn't have a pin. We had been warned that this might be a problem. Disembarkation was quick and easy. We booked a post cruise stay at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. The hotel was nicely located. Our room was clean and large. The transfers ship to hotel and hotel to airport the next morning were smooth and hassle free. The entire cruise we used Euros, credit cards, and some Danish Kroners. We did not get all the Swedish or Norwegian Kroners or Rubles and we did just fine shopping. In general it was a great trip. I would suggest bringing some warmer clothes. Reading reviews I got the impression it was warmer but Aug 9 to the 20 it was cool most days. I feel the food on Princess has sadly gone down in quality. Many people we spoke with felt the same way. This was our 7th Princess cruise and we missed the delicious cuisine we had enjoyed on past cruises. The layout in the Horizon Court was also annoying. The buffet was like a giant pinball machine with people bumping into each other trying to find what was being served and the returning to get it. The layout at the coffee area was also not right. The cups were on the far left and the coffee on the far right with condiments in the middle. It made it awkward to get the morning coffee. On most days for breakfast and lunch we had great difficulty finding a table. Occasionally a staff member would help but most days we were just on our own. The last major difference was the attitude of some of the staff members. I was really surprised when I got snapped back at. I am a happy camper on vacation and am always grateful for the hard work of others to make sure we have a good vacation. I always say please and thank you. I do not expect to be made to feel like an idiot when I ask how we could get a turkey sandwich. I was very happy when I called room service and found that staff member was "old school" and very helpful and friendly. Many fellow passengers thought that this attitude problem was due to the fact that gratuities are automatic and not based on actual service rendered. I understand that this was cause by some rude people who did not give tips or gave much less than the suggested amount. I don't know what the answer is. I am just making an observation that I notice a change and I am sad that this is happening. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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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