As seasoned cruisers (11th cruise with Princess and 17th overall), we enjoy the Princess experiences: traditional cruising, many dining experiences (ranging from casual to Michelin), personal and expertise service, cleanliness, familiarity ... Read More
As seasoned cruisers (11th cruise with Princess and 17th overall), we enjoy the Princess experiences: traditional cruising, many dining experiences (ranging from casual to Michelin), personal and expertise service, cleanliness, familiarity and excellent itineraries. Hence, we are enormously loyal to Princess and chose this cruise merely for the joint holiday itinerary to one of our favourite countries to cruise to – New Zealand – from hometown of Sydney. The itinerary included a new port, Picton, which was a lovely surprise, otherwise the itinerary was all familiar. This was our first time on the Emerald Princess and we enjoyed the ship very much; it is fairly new and well arranged.
Hotel Information: The mini suite stateroom was spacious for two people, though we have sailed before with 3 and even 4 passengers. Not a complaint about the room. Customer services officer, Steven Ross, was a credit to the cruise line and one of the senior shining staff members on-board. I strongly recommend pre-organising credit card info for the cruise prior to embarkation, to avoid purser's desks queues. A big stateroom qualm was the fact my parents, vacating in the stateroom next to mine, had significant difficulties with their cruise card, being unable to enter their cabin. Pursers desk staff tried to be helpful with remagnetising the cards but this issue continued for the entire duration of the cruise! Their advice offerings were considerate e.g. separate cards from one another or keep away from phones, never even applied. The technician who came to inspect the cabin door tossed the blame to another department and it buck was continually passed along so the easiest way my parents found to deal with it was queuing up for re-magnestiisng on a daily basis.
International Café: As huge fans of the International Café concept, we love time spent there! Sadly, the lack of seating was a perpetual problem. We were often scrambling to find space or seats in the café. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things but I do believe adding additional space in the atrium or including additional chairs would help the situation. Fellow passengers shoving aside others to snab a table, of which I was once already sitting at with a family member, is a lowly reflection of fellow cruisers etiquette.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: No major complaints, Princess usually do a seamless job especially at the Overseas Passengers Terminal in Circular Quay, Sydney making the whole process even smoother, however disembarkation was the most unclear we have experienced in a little while - staff were completely lost in directing passengers to exit and there was no signage or indication of the disembarkation portal.
Dining/Club Class: Biggest highlight for our cruising experience was the introduction of Club Class for platinum, elite and suite passengers. With additional dining privileges for breakfast and dinner (and sea day lunches) this suited us superbly. Dining times can be allocated for the same time, to the same table and waiters, if passengers prefer (which we did!). The service was out of this world incredible! Our waiters Mylosh and Matt, and head waiter Razvan went above and beyond their call of duty to satisfy our dining wishes. Their service was a notch above. We certainly support CC's introduction.
We never have major complaints about the dining experience on-board Princess. Food is generally tasty, well cooked and there's plenty of variety at the dining facilities. My biggest issue was the overspicing of dishes, Princess seems to be going overboard with that. We enjoy the Princess style of certain dishes like the orzo salad (International café), salmon bagel for breakfast, pancakes, escargot and chocolate chip cookies - in my humble opinion, most places I dine at can't beat Princesses standard for these food items. I definitely recommend Share, the new speciality restaurant by Curtis Stone. The Michelin style menu was faultless - the pork ravioli and sea scallops are to die for! The view up there is also spectacular so I suggest booking for a 7pm or 8pm seating to watch the sunset.
Gym/Spa: Plentiful and diverse gym equipment with operational TV screens attached. Morning stretch classes and ab workouts were enjoyable but a tad short; Georgi was excellent with diversifying the routines each day. Yoga (paid class) was pleasant but a little too easy. Had an amazing facial by Lyndsay; she knew exactly what to do to make my complexion glow and I am so glad to have met her. Natalia the hairdresser was also great with her work. Alfie the manager seems to be doing a brilliant job!
Tender: Tendering services seemed to have improved from previous cruisers which had countless issues with immobile passengers attempting to get on-board lifeboat vessels, causing accidents and MAJOR delays. Glad Princess are sticking to their policy for whatever reason!
Captain: Must add that Captain Bill Kent did an excellent job steering the Emerald Princess. Despite rapidly changing weather, gusty winds, listing, uncooperative propellers and the silly season, Captain Kent kept the ship well informed. He was very personable, engaging in ship activities like the Christmas mass service, judging the gingerbread house competition, tender operations and partaking in tours.
Christmas Vibe/Entertainment & Activities: A wide array of Christmas activities and entertainment was available this cruise, providing a lot of fun, such as gingerbread house decorating, cookie decorating, Christmas card making, Christmas movies, carolling and mass. This left a very homely and warm feeling. Some of the activities were poorly timed, either clashing with meal times or other major events but overall very enjoyable and had a ball choosing what to do! Atmosphere and decoration on-board was amazing, even stunning! We often cruise over the holidays and this cruise exceeded all expectations - the ambience by décor and staff's friendliness was amazing.
Otherwise entertainment was a massive anti-climax! The MUTS was a flop; we attended it twice to have the audio not working from the start. This has also happened on previous cruisers. . It also makes a lot of sense to simultaneously screen the film on one of the stateroom TV channels, so that the movie can be watched with appropriate audio in the cabin yet this has sadly not been the case. As an extension to the in room entertainment, the TV and film selections are repetitive, being shown again and again all day. Shows lacked luster though some of the on-board games were pretty fun.
Tours: The two tours we chose were great - perfect length/duration, engaging sights and itinerary and well priced considering how much Princess OVERCHAGRES with their tours. Recommend the Waka experience in Bay of Islands if city highlights is not your thing and the Moa Brewery and Aviation Museum in Picton. Unfortunately, we could not attend the chocolate factory in the latter destination's tour, yet our company was still fully charged and not reimbursed for that expedition. Money making scheme...
Musty Smell – The ship had quite a strange musty smell at times; often vacuum like air dryers were used to manage it and took a few hours to dissipate.
Boutiques – Lacked lustre. Either shopping was based for amenities – knick knacks, souvenirs, toiletries or basic fashion – or was high end duty free. Stock was dated, uninspiring or limited.
Art Auction – Incredibly annoying. Not that we/I partake in this experience, but the staff involved are pushy and loud. The concept itself occupies way too much time, advertising and space around the ship and I think less could possibly be more in the case of Princess amending its art facility. Devoting a whole stateroom television channel to art history and documentaries is a bit much too…
As always, the service cannot be faulted. Staff try their absolute hardest to accommodate and please. Cannot say I met one staff member who was impolite or unhelpful! The atmosphere this cruise was amazing and so festive, especially celebrating NYE and Christmas onboard! Thoroughly enjoyed it and left misty eyed which we haven’t done in a while! Read Less