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298 Princess Emerald Princess Family Cruise Reviews

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... General: 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
Sail Date December 2016
Departure city was Syndey. This trip was on my bucket list. 6 of us in our group. Son, grandson, new daughter in law, 2 new granddaughters and myself! Stayed 3 nights at Four Seasons at the port. Arrival day was rainy; spent afternoon ... Read More
Departure city was Syndey. This trip was on my bucket list. 6 of us in our group. Son, grandson, new daughter in law, 2 new granddaughters and myself! Stayed 3 nights at Four Seasons at the port. Arrival day was rainy; spent afternoon in the Opera House. Early to bed as wedding in the park the following day. Hair and makeup done; beautiful sunny and warm day---perfect. Manley Beach, zoo and botanical gardens were also has ghlights. Embarkation and disembarkation was simple. We walked from hotel to the ship and took shuttle from the ship to the airport. Thank goodness for cruise critic's helpful hints about how to survive with 4 persons in a cabin. The over the door shoe bag from the container store was soooo useful. The wall magnets were used for jackets and handbags. The kids and teen programs were a hit with the grandchildren. They were eager to participate every evening after dinner and no sea days. I needed gluten free foods. The dining room staff in Michaelanglo were so attentive and kept me 'in line' when I was tempted to cheat. They then provided me with a wonderful substitute. We did some of the shows in Princess theatre, art lectures and spent time in Crooners with Cory when children were in their programs. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Wow so much to say. came into Sydney harbour by river ferry coming around the back and side of this amazing ship. Boarding was a breeze a few rather long queues but that was to be expected as the ship had to board three and a half thousand ... Read More
Wow so much to say. came into Sydney harbour by river ferry coming around the back and side of this amazing ship. Boarding was a breeze a few rather long queues but that was to be expected as the ship had to board three and a half thousand people. once we were finally through the Embarkation process walking across the gangway was so nerve racking wondering what is the ship going to be like? what awaits us just around the corner? when we got around that corner and set foot on-board the truly amazing M/S Emerald Princess we certainly were not disappointed it was beautiful as it was a Christmas cruise there was tinsel Christmas trees and all sorts of other decorations everywhere which was a lovely touch. Now to the cabin my first time in an interior cabin so didn't really know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised the cabin was roomy well designed and actually quite a pleasant room although the bathroom as always with cruise ships was tiny. The Dining OMG the choices for dining on-board was incredible, three dining rooms, three specialty restaurants plus the buffet, Café Caribe, the grill, a pizza place/ ice-cream place and a fantastic little café in the Atrium called the International Café a tip book early for Crab Shack, Share and Crown Grill all of which are very popular this can be achieved through the stateroom phone by pressing the dining reservations button or by calling 6219 from any phone on-board (only the stateroom phones have the speed dial function). entertainment and activities the night-time shows is unfortunately where Princess fell short personally I found some of them to be rather amateurish I personally quite enjoyed the Princess signature show Magic To Do although they could have done more to hide the wires, the activities were quite enjoyable especially the trivia which my family spent a lot of time at all in all the entertainment and activities were abit of a let down (the Trivia was fun though). The service WOW each and every crew member was pleasant smiling happy to help you in anyway possible always with a huge smile (especially in the case of Kefang who worked at the international café as a buffet steward she was always smiling) the cruise director Duke and the assistant cruise director Matt were hilarious always cracking jokes and making fun of each other a true delight to be around. The ports and shore excursions WOW WOW WOW New Zealand is an incredible place a truly breathtaking country starting off in the Bay of Islands right up the top of the North Island we did the Waitangi Estuary by sea kayak shore excursion kayaking up to a small waterfall and back with a short break a 2 hour shore excursion truly amazing next was Auckland an unfortunate let-down very much like Sydney not really anything truly exciting there this was followed by the best port of the entire cruise Tauranga where we went to the Tamaki Maori Village just outside Rotorua what a day we were on a bus for about 90 minutes from the berth at Mount Maunganui to Tamaki both the guide and the driver were always cracking jokes and telling us about the areas we were passing which made the bus trip quite enjoyable then we arrived at Tamaki we were met by a traditional Maori welcome ceremony where the Maori warriors made sure that we came in peace and weren't going to attack them which was quite a show we then went into the village and were split up into small groups at which point we went to different huts to learn different things about Maori culture and history which was rather interesting and fun we then went to learn about a traditional hangi which is a Maori way of cooking after this we moved the meeting house where we were entertained through a number of Maori performances including the famous haka and a performance of a Maori love song called Pokarekare Ana after this it was meal time where we enjoyed a traditional Maori hangi feast which was delicious once this was over we had a bit of time to browse the gift shop and take some photos of the village before it was time to head back to the ship we said goodbye to Tamaki and headed out to the bus we then commenced the 90 minute return journey to Mount Maunganui berth where our ship was docked during this trip we were given a bit of a private performance with our guide singing some Maori songs until we reached Rotorua and she was dropped off we then went for a drive through the nearby gardens and had a look at a rather large building within the gardens before continuing our journey back. next was Christmas Day which was a sea day transiting between the north and south islands Christmas day was quiet and relaxing which was nice it was also a formal night there was Santa's arrival Christmas carols and much more our next port was Picton where we went on a hike and scenic cruise up the queen charlotte track and sound which was beautiful after this relatively easy hike and scenic cruise we were dropped off in the Picton township and had a bit of a look around a market and the town which was quite a nice quaint little rural New Zealand town right on the water which was lovely. Our next port was Wellington which is of course New Zealand's national capital and an awesome city first thing we did was get the famous cable car up the hill and walked back down through the botanical gardens which were really pretty after this we walked around the great city and had very necessary retail therapy we also enjoyed some on NZ's famous fush and chups as they would say we returned to the ship happy and content after a great day looking around an awesome city. next was Akaroa a quaint little French town quite a nice place actually at this port we did the double decker bus tour which was quite enjoyable during this tour we travelled form Akaroa to the famous hilltop hotel for a photo opportunity and pit stop we travelled through a number of quaint little towns the view from the hilltop hotel was breathtaking right over the many bays. Next was our final port of the cruise Dunedin a lovely small Scottish city with quite a lot to see including a Cadbury chocolate factory (the obvious highlight) as well as a great little Scottish shop quite a nice little southern New Zealand city. our final day in New Zealand was spent on a scenic cruise through the absolutely amazing Fiordland National Park through the dusky doubtful and breathtaking Milford sounds a truly breathtaking part of an amazing country. The next day was New Years Eve and of course it was party time and also the cruises third and final formal night they had three different on-board venues with parties celebrating New Years they were the Piazza, the Wheelhouse bar and the Explorers Lounge the Piazza had a live performance form the Emerald Princess party band (Liquid Blue) and a gold and silver balloon drop at the stroke of midnight a great night all in all. Our final night on-board was when my family went to the Share by Curtis Stone specialty restaurant located on deck 16 aft a truly amazing restaurant the six course meal was exquisite and the service was impeccable and the restaurant itself was beautifully designed. all in all a very very enjoyable cruise would definitely recommend Princess Cruises to anyone who wishes to have a relaxing luxurious and enriching cruise. Disembarkation was a breeze as well in and out of the terminal in less than half an hour. Would I travel with Princess Cruises again in short yes definitely although it is not my kind of line as I prefer to have activities galore, water parks, water slides heaps of pools a young persons fun cruise I would definitely go with princess again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Our travelling party consisted of two families - our friends one adult and three daughters 16, 14 and 10 and us 2 adults and four boys 15, 11, 9 and 6. Nine year old had his bday on the ship. We arrived at Sydney Domestic airport early ... Read More
Our travelling party consisted of two families - our friends one adult and three daughters 16, 14 and 10 and us 2 adults and four boys 15, 11, 9 and 6. Nine year old had his bday on the ship. We arrived at Sydney Domestic airport early thinking of taking a maxi taxi if possible to the port, however once we picked up our bags we saw a guy with Princess cruises ask him a question and he introduced us to another shuttle driver who took all of us for $10 per person, which we would have probably paid anyhow as I doubt a maxi in Sydney will seat 10 pax. We arrived at circular key at 9:30, dropped of our bags and went for a walk around Sydney along the foreshore to darling Harbour and then via the CBD to the ship. We arrived at our allocated boarding time at 12:30 and were on the ship within 45 minutes. Went to our cabins on deck 8 (emerald) forward). We had two inside quads and an obstructed view twin. Cabins were fine. The ship was well decorated with Christmas things and it truly made you feel within the festive season. Music played was often also Christmas themed and overall they built it up nicely through the cruise, from lighting the Christmas tree in the Atrium to ginger house making competition with the three winners being added to the ginger town display. Christmas dinner was fine and all children received a present from Santa in the Atrium. On this cruise I also purchased the photo package for 199. We probably did not make full use of it but obtained sufficient photos to consider the expense worth while. We tried the various dining venues on board and had an evening at share and the food was very delicious it costs $39 pp but is worth the expense (we only took the older children here) . We also spent one night at the gastro pub $19 per adult and $9 per child. The burger was a delight and so were most of the others. I suggest that all other something different so you can try. Entertainment and activities were very good. The cruise Director 'Duke" and his sidekick ''Matt" were great, so where the shows and entertainers. We watched all the shows. We actually missed out on some of the venues which I realised at the end of the cruise so I will have to repeat :). Apparently Crooners was a place to be, but we did not frequent it, the piano player engaged well with a musical family and they put on some adhoc shows. The voice was a great show too, some very good talent, made it worthwhile. The top three were excellent singers. We attended several trivia and other things and involved ourselves whenever we felt like it. Carols with the crew was great and the Captain of the ship read out a Christmas story and was throughout the voyage informative and humorous. I also want to make mention of Dukes assistance a ships officer from France (nickname Frenchy) she was engaging with passengers of all ages, I observed her once having a great conversation with my 11 year old, and she did not know I was observing as I was quietly enjoying my drink. New Years eve was a great party, many venues had activities and they had a countdown in the Atrium. Party hats and noisemakers where handed out during dinner at the MDR and you could really get into the spirit. Fellow passengers on this ship was also a mix of all ages. There were a substantial amount of children on board - especially for a Princess cruise. In the two younger clubs there would have been about 150 and then probably another 150-250 teens. This made it therefore a varied demographic which was great. We also enjoyed Vines, they had a knowledgeable waiter there Ryan from Canada who was very helpful. Tasty Tapas and Sushi was avail too with your wine order. Our family also extensively made use of the coffee cards, several of the children had one, as they love hot chocolate, which was free and tea. So we now have two coffee cards left over that we can use for our next Princess cruise. The sweets in the Plazza caffee were delightful, Donuts, best ever, I will not eat any other donuts after tasting these. Food overall was very good and so many choices, you can not go hungry on this ship. Loved the Pizzas, the Burger bar was great food, Horizon court good too, although getting a table was not always easy. We ate there at various times, same as the MDR and felt the food and preparation and presentation at all venues could not be criticised. This was our first longer cruise with Princess and because we have cruised sufficient times with the company now we had reached Elite level. So we had the mini bar set up etc, but best of all was the free laundry. (by the way, if you think being Elite on board is special, just remember approx. 10% of the passengers will be at that level). Our cabin steward was great, very attentive and I made special mention of him on our survey. The ports we visited have so much variety that it is too much to list it all, let's just say, NZ is an adventure of its own, we found it easy booking a lot of things ourselves and only did one ship shore excursion. We will certainly cruise around NZ again and we were also very fortunate that we had excellent weather doing the Fjordlands. All the children travelling with us had a great time too and want to go again. The Emerald Princess is a great ship, very seaworthy, we had some high swell but the ship handled it very well. Disembarkation was the sad point of the cruise as it is time to say goodbye, fortunately we were already planning our next cruise, but the process was smooth, no issue and we took a shuttle back to the airport again costing $100 even though it was a public holiday. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We loved our cruise. Great service, great good.not too many children.only problem we had was with some of the nightly entertainment. The shows were too short and not as entertaining as we expected. The cruise director had the best singing ... Read More
We loved our cruise. Great service, great good.not too many children.only problem we had was with some of the nightly entertainment. The shows were too short and not as entertaining as we expected. The cruise director had the best singing voice of all entertainers as far as we were concerned. Embarkation was easy, had to get to library first to get some good books to read rather than carry them. There was a great selection. We had no problem with queuing for dinner. We were on fixed dining early. Only a few people there every evening. The restaurant stewards were excellent. Looked after the two of us sooo well. Food was good with plenty of choice. We found the adults only pool on level 14/15 at back of ship. The service there ar Cafe Caribe was great too. Easy to find a spot to sit and eat, read etc. Overall a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Overall, the ship was amazing. The dining was a WOW!! Although the entertainment was average, with only 4 or 5 musicals, the ship still kept our family of 4 busy throughout the whole day. The sporting and fitness facilities on the ship ... Read More
Overall, the ship was amazing. The dining was a WOW!! Although the entertainment was average, with only 4 or 5 musicals, the ship still kept our family of 4 busy throughout the whole day. The sporting and fitness facilities on the ship were outstanding, the ship provided us with a number of sports, such as table tennis(ping pong), basketball, soccer, cricket, paddle tennis, mini golf a jogging track and a well equipped high-tech gym. Every night, when the room steward refreshed our room he left us with delicious chocolates and the next day's edition of the Princess Patter( the newsletter with showed all the activities happening in the next day). One very important thing I would recommend you to purchase, especially if you are travelling with kids, is to buy the soda and drink package. And also purchase once you get on the ship, not before, because the price onboard is cheaper than purchasing it from the website. With 60 Australian dollars we could get all the drinks we wanted for free. And one thing that you should know is that Princess is not very strict with the package. For example, I could but a drink and then give the card to my sister and she could get a drink for herself. Our interior cabin was very nice. The service on the ship was amazing. The dining was also great. The pizza in this ship was amazing. For breakfast there was a huge variety of food, from pancakes, to waffles, to omelettes, to hash browns, to scrambled eggs, to croissants, to yoghurt, to chocolate croissants, to fruit etc. The dinner was amazing too, and the dessert was absolutely wonderful. The cruise was actually very great for children too, the kids clubs were awesome, and the youth counsellors very very friendly. The service on this ship was also very great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Decided on doing this cruise as relations were making their way back to Australia after spending 3 weeks with us in Wales. This was our first time with Princess and will certainly cruise with them again . As I was travelling solo and ... Read More
Decided on doing this cruise as relations were making their way back to Australia after spending 3 weeks with us in Wales. This was our first time with Princess and will certainly cruise with them again . As I was travelling solo and had to pay the dreaded double cost I chose a inside cabin , this was mid ship on Baja deck B411 ,cabin very spacious,loved the open wardrobe space making the cabin seem larger without the wardrobe doors. Good cabin steward who kept everything clean and tidy,loved the new bed and pillows so comfy you did not want to get up. We had my time dining and after being on different tables for a few nights we found two excellent waiters whom we asked to stay with ,we were lucky that if we dined around 7:30 pm there was usually room at one of their tables , Prasad was from Goa and his assistant from Brazil ,we were made to feel special every night,nothing was to much trouble for them The theatre shows were hit and miss , enjoyed Paul Brown who performed two nights fabulous voice he had been the lead singer in The Lion King in London,David Copperfield also put on two good shows once in the Theatre and and another night in one of the lounges. Also went to a few shows in the lounges put on by the crew and were also very good .only problem was there was never enough room and lots had to stand throughout the show. One of the highlights of this cruise was the transit though the Suez Canal ,excellent commentary from the bridge by an Australian lady ,sorry can,t remember her name ,also enjoyed her talk in theatre on Petra ,I had been a few years ago on a land based holiday to Jordan so had already visited Petra so enjoyed going through it all again. My only regret on this cruise was not taking the plunge and going the full 48 nights to Australia! May be another time.loved the Emerald Princess Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Having read some of the reviews (after we had booked!) we were concerned that we had made the wrong choice - delighted to report that we had a wonderful cruise and would have happily stayed on the ship and replay the holiday again! ... Read More
Having read some of the reviews (after we had booked!) we were concerned that we had made the wrong choice - delighted to report that we had a wonderful cruise and would have happily stayed on the ship and replay the holiday again! Original cruise choice was based on price of balcony compared with other cruise lines and Princess was the cheapest by a significant margin. Super quick embarkation - although we were late (major M25 problems) and would have missed the ship had 2 coaches laid on by Princess for passengers from "up north" not been delayed too. Be warned - they will not wait normally! We enjoyed the ship and the staff were polite, helpful and pleasant. British captain, mainly British first officers and UK passengers - the general atmosphere and culture on the ship was relaxed and very pleasant. Weather was brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed the ports. We like the more traditional cruise ship layout - rather than the new mega ships and quickly found our way around the ship.... very similar to Ventura. Some areas were looking a little tired (ship built in 2007) but this did not spoil our enjoyment and the Atrium area is lovely, as you would expect on a ship of this size. We certainly noticed the impact of the low £ rate against the dollar on board - and my perception was that the drinks were a little more expensive than the last RC cruise we went on 2 years ago - but frankly drinks are always a rip off on cruises, as are the cost of excursions, although generally we find the guides to be very knowledgeable. Tip - cruise line often runs a "flash sale" on trips with 10% discount - about 2-3 weeks before cruise. Allowed to bring on 2 bottles of wine and alcohol purchased on shore wasn't confiscated as it is by other cruise lines. The food was good in the buffet, but on occasion I felt could be hotter and the choice wasn't quite as varied when compared with the huge buffet areas on the much bigger cruise ships - but more than adequate - and generally seats could be found when required, even at busy times! We thought the food in main restaurants was very good and having opted for " any time" dining for the first time - found that it worked well and even when busy, the "buzzer alert" system was efficient and usually the wait was no longer than 20 minutes... worst wait was 30 mins. Any time diners could also book restaurants if booking before 5pm. 4-5 additional speciality restaurants - but I thought extra cover charges pricy at $19-39 dollars per person. The entertainment was fine and varied - although not first class - the ships dancers/singers were very good and thoroughly enjoyed their shows but they only lasted for 35-40 minutes and there were only 3 on a 14 night cruise - the rest off the nightly theatre programme was filled a variety of solo acts, which we didn't see. Two deck/pool parties - were good but felt the Entertainments Team could have made them better. No lecture programme other than the "Port Lectures", Spa, or Art Auction type stuff. The port expert was good and enjoyed his chats. I didn't find the sales pitches for the stores, spa or art auctions anymore OTT than on other cruise lines... they are all the same... and we had no problem switching off or ignoring them! Same with the photographers - always present but politely backed off when you said "no thanks". The ship was packed - loads of kids - so the two main pool areas were manic - but adult only pool and the adult only "sanctuary" provided alternative areas (extra charge for the latter - but one or two fellow passengers apparently found a back door in). I didn't see any lifeguards at all (so you must keep a close eye on kids) and the deck crew rarely checked unruly behaviour. Getting a sunbed on sea days was a challenge - but the deck crew enforced the "15 minutes absent and towels and belonging removed" rule - be warned - some passengers delighted in "grassing up" fellow passengers!!! Smokers are contained in only two areas on the outside deck - which worked well for all - non-smokers could avoid pollution and the smokers had the best social circle and gossip on the ship! Loved Movies Under the Stars" - some great films, football etc and screen resolution was really good. Liked that deck side ice cream, pizza bar and grills were open until 11pm (great for the Movies) - many ships that I've been on close these down at around 8pm. Pools stayed open late too, often until after 10pm. Café in Atrium open 24/7 otherwise restaurants open a variety hours from 5am to 11pm plus 24/7 room service - mainly FOC and reasonable selection on menu. Warning - 4 Passengers were left behind a Gibraltar as they didn't get back on time... and the Customer Officers were out in force at Southampton and had a field day with cigarette and alcohol smugglers who had stocked up in Gibraltar (£20 for 200 cigs in duty free)!!! Best bits - Jacuzzi at back of boat after 6/6.30pm usually empty - really hot and great to unwind after a hard day sight seeing, Movies under the Stars, main dining rooms in evening, ships dancers, spotting dolphins around Gibraltar and Iberian coast, ports and sight seeing, beds very very comfortable - best I can recall at sea (but were medium to soft which suited me). Main moans - it took over 1.5 hours to get off ship via tender at Corsica - although was very quick to get back on ship in spite of queue, 15 min rule on sunbeds a bit too draconian, cost of full day trips to Rome and Florence (although thoroughly enjoyed them!). Overall I would recommend the Emerald Princess and would certainly book for another cruise... if I can get a good deal again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
First time cruisers, two adults, two children 11 and 9, interconnecting mini suites( not necessary but the booking is a long story) although I would do interconnecting rooms again, just smaller. Overall conclusion, this is akin to a ... Read More
First time cruisers, two adults, two children 11 and 9, interconnecting mini suites( not necessary but the booking is a long story) although I would do interconnecting rooms again, just smaller. Overall conclusion, this is akin to a decent four star hotel, with obvious differences due to size and the fact it's a...boat. Myth one - you won't know you are on a ship. Oh yes we did, often. Both from the weather and the ships vibrations. But I would agree it is generally manageable but go with sea sick tabs and accept in poor weather it can easily be felt. Beware the bay of biscay. Myth two - you won't see your kids they will be having so much fun etc. Well, they did go to kids club, but they missed a hang out place (eg swings etc at a campsite) and whilst there are two pools, that's it. No slides etc so, having been to centre parcs etc it felt flat. But... They loved the photography (note they were trailing a-cake of having all photos taken on board for $200 - at first this may appear high but we walked away with 120 professional photos. I'm not sure they will keep going with this, but it did allow the girls to do a photo shoot most nights. Food - first recommendation is the salty dog. $19 extra but we found this to be excellent, but accept it is an unusual approach to food, eg you choose various small dishes after you receive a Parma salad. Deserts were great. Crown grill - $29 - ok, not worth it to us. My wife fish dish was well below par Share - didn't try, the $39 extra each was too much for us. Horizon court/cafe caribe - are buffets, and do as they say. We enjoyed the food their, but it's not gourmet, but easily acceptable. Overall, food, we were happy. Entertainment - is not the boats strength, lots of trivia etc but the shows we saw, musicals, hypnotist, comedian, magician, we're all fun. Kids loved that. Why, oh why they don't have a kids disco every night, just the formal nights, I don't know. So easy to do. Excursions - we mostly did our own except Pisa, which was fine, if somewhat expensive, but I knew that beforehand. Note to parents - our kids were really not interested in the excursions, in walking far, in the heat etc, so plan your trip well or have a miserable day which we seem to have too often. I'll plan better next time. When we were able to leave the boat just the two of us - grandparents on board - - I loved the simple pleasure of walking, exploring, and having a beer with my wife. Bars - I loved the outrigger - back of the boat - as it has great views. Shuts at six but you can sneak into the adjacccio and bring the drinks down. Others were fine but as we liked the salty dog, which is within the wheelhouse and is quieter than some - nice music being played - we often meet there for a smart drink. Pool bars were fine. Formal nights - I thought these were in the main well supported with many black ties, but I guess if you went up to the buffet it would hav been different. Would I do the Emerald Princess again...no. But that because my kids need more activity so we will probably try RCL next. Once they are older, yes I would although celebrity also attracts me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our first cruise with Princess. We sailed on the Emerald Princess from Southampton on the 20th August with our Daughter son in law and two grandchildren aged 14 and 11. Embarkation was slow, as there were storms affecting the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess. We sailed on the Emerald Princess from Southampton on the 20th August with our Daughter son in law and two grandchildren aged 14 and 11. Embarkation was slow, as there were storms affecting the port and Princess were unable, for safety reasons, to use the covered walkway to board the ship and boarding had to take place from dockside up a ramp. We were lucky as we were awarded platinum status due to our past P&O cruises, which gave us priority over many other cruisers. We were allowed to go straight to our stateroom and deposit our hand luggage. In my case quite a lot as I don't travel light! The ship was in quite good condition after a revamp in December, as it is not one of the newer ones, and public areas were well maintained and clean. We avoided the crowds in the buffet and went to the main resturant which we found opened for a short time for lunch. This proved a good move as I had a lovely fillet steak followed by a souflet. Other members of the family didn't fare so well in the buffet. The service everywhere on the ship was outstanding, every member of staff went out of their way to help. The only exception was one female server in the international cafe who was very short and sometimes quite rude in her attitude. However even she improved as the cruise progressed, so I think she may have been spoken to. We had a balcony cabin with a double size balcony, half shaded and the family had a mini suit which was very spacious, however their balcony was completely uncovered. Our cabin had plenty of hanging space and a very comfortable bed. I asked for extra hangers and two robes which came straight away. Our steward was excellent with nothing being too much trouble. He serviced the cabin twice a day including the balcony and vacuumed daily, something that was neglected on recent P&O cruises. Our bathroom was very small, with a shower that had a fixed head, which I hate, and a nylon curtain which stuck to you, but was adequate. Our children had a larger bathroom in the mini suit with a bath, which was not full size, but bigger than some we have had. Dinning was excellent. As we were a large group, having been joined by some of our daughters friends who were also on board, we were given a table in anytime dining at 8pm and allowed to keep it for the whole cruise. We had excellent service, with all our requests being met. The food was top quality, especially the meat and fish. Some of the starters and soups were a bit odd for our taste, but it was no problem to get a small portion of another course as a starter. Something again P&O no longer do. The resturant food and service was excellent for all meals so wherever possible we used this. The buffet was a different matter it is the same bad design in my view as Azura and Ventura with only one side open at a time. It was vastly overcrowded with no vacant seats, as the ship had over 3;400 passengers and some 900 children on board. The food was poor Luke warm canteen type food and the salad and fruit were truly awful. The fruit was always hard and unripe, and presented either whole or unpeeled. The salad which was all I wanted at lunchtime was a poor selection dotted about in different areas. One day someone had sliced up raw courgettes instead of cucumber. We didn't use this area after first couple of days. The international cafe had nice sweet treats and my grandson loved the doughnuts. Again lack of seating made this area unusable much of the time, so we took snacks back to our cabin balcony. We didn't use pool burger grill or pizza takeaway, but kids said they were quite good quality. Lemonade was available most of the day which was a nice touch. The wine was very expensive so we didn't have our usual bottle with dinner every night, just a glass and instead we made use of happy hour, and the nice cocktails for 5 dollars between 5.30 and 7.00pm, served in the lounge for platinum and elite passengers, these also came with free canapés. Entertainment was very hit and miss, there were a couple of good vocal acts. We didn't see the comedienne but we went to a couple of shows, which were poor due to lack of talent. One show written for princess could have been great as the production was good, it was just the lack of vocal ability that let it down. The children have cruised with princess several times and this was the first year they didn't enjoy the clubs. I think they were too overcrowded with equipment and activities being rationed. The 11 yr old boy liked the pools but again they were very overcrowded and I think potentially quite dangerous as it was almost impossible to keep your child in your sight all of the time with so many children in them. Daily activities were mostly quizzes, talks where that try to sell products, lotto and films which didn't appeal to us, so we read and went to a couple of lectures on sea days. Ports were good with the exception of Genoa which wasn't very nice. Corsica was by tender and the usual drag which was a wait of about an hour in a lounge after getting a ticket for the tender. Our highlights were the two days in Rome and Florence/ Pisa. After much research I had organised and pre booked private tours with a local company on line. These were in very comfortable Mercedes people carriers, with free wifi which the teen loved. Both trips picked us up from and returned us to the ship. This enabled us to see much more in a day than we could have done on a ships tour, as the drivers drove through the narrow streets right up to the attractions. On the Rome day we started at the Colosseum where we had priority tickets obtained by the company to save us time queuing. We set our own time at each attraction with the driver at our disposal all day and were able to drive up to and get out at the pantheon, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Pissa Navona etc, something we couldn't do on a coach. The second day was the same and the driver even took us to a beach at the request of the children for a swim on the way back to the ship. This is the first time I have organised private excursions, although we have got taxis before in some ports and would absolutely recommend this option. My husband hates coaches and for us this was a much better option at a reasonable price. One thing I wish cruise lines would sort out is the tipping. We paid all the daily gratuities charged and the service onboard was indeed excellent, being as good as our experiences on Celebrity and better than HAL and P&O. We also gave the cabin steward extra for great service. We did however see hoards of people removing their tips. In my view as these gratuities are charged in advance they are not tips they are part of the wages of hard working staff and should be included in the cruise price. If a little extra was added to every cruise it would cover this, enabling staff to be properly paid and the cost spread between all passengers who benefit from the services onboard. Overall a very enjoyable break with the family. We would definitely cruise with Princess again and I am sure the ship would be less crowded outside of school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our 3rd cruise as a couple, and our second cruise as a family with 2 children (aged 7 and 5). Our two previous cruises were with Royal Caribbean to Alaska and the Baltics respectively. We chose Norway and the Fjords for 3 main ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise as a couple, and our second cruise as a family with 2 children (aged 7 and 5). Our two previous cruises were with Royal Caribbean to Alaska and the Baltics respectively. We chose Norway and the Fjords for 3 main reasons. The embarkation port was Southampton so we could avoid the scrum, exhaustion and baggage weight anxiety of airports. The cruise was to a temperate part of the world- whilst warm, sunny weather is always pleasant we have no real interest in baking ourselves in the sun whilst drinking cocktails alongside others doing the same thing in limited open space. The wilds of nature also hold real fascination for both of us. Princess delivered on the vast majority of our expectations- whilst we didn't quite return home 'new' as the brochure suggested we would (thanks to the traffic hampering our 200 mile journey from the port), it is safe to say that we all enjoyed both the inside and outside aspects of out cruise. It was initially quite strange being aboard a different ship with staff trained differently and employed with a focus on different competencies. The RCI staff are very much 'in your face' from the moment you arrive, whereas Princess staff as much more stand-off-ish and discrete in their behaviour. In the end, this approach definitely 'sold' Princess to us. It was nice to be able to walk around the ship with a 'just got out of bed, don't talk to me until I've had coffee' look on your face without having to high-5 anyone, or grimace for a photo next to a staff member wearing a sub-standard costume vaguely resembling a Viking. Basically, if you sit down anywhere, even for 5 minutes, a member of staff will offer you some service of some description. They do this in a way that is unobtrusive and sincere (i.e. without 'please tip me' puppy dog eyes). The ship itself is also a major plus on this sort of cruise for some really key reasons. Unlike other ships we have sailed on, the deck areas / promenade deck enable you to walk around the entire ship and get vantage points from a range of angles. When navigating tight, towering Fjords, this adds to the experience considerably. The balconies are also a good size- deep enough to recline and catch some sun, and also high enough to not feel like you are in some kind of Perspex box. There are 2 main pool areas, both spacious enough to accommodate a number of people, and tiered to enable some escape from dive bombing children, or get shade when the sun is high in the sky. There are also 2 'adults' only pools at the forward and aft of the ship. The aft pool particularly offers stunning views over the back of the boat, and was quiet on the occasions I used it. High on the aft of the ship is a small but secluded family area with a large hot-tub and small pool too. This was a safe and pleasant area for our small children to play, although the small pool was the only pool not heated so it was pretty cold when the weather turned. The main pools were warm which, given the terrible weather we had at times meant that we could enjoy a swim without hypothermia (it was 8 degrees C at one point!). The dining areas are pleasant enough- the Michelangelo dining room where we ate most evenings was smart and felt fairly special, although the style is looking a little dated (dark wood panels, 1970s pub carpet etc.). I personally didn't like the buffet areas particularly, but that had nothing to do with either the décor or cleanliness, more the overall management of the operation. People routinely remained at tables long after they had finished eating. A polite 'oi, hop it please' would have been welcome for guests circling trying to find a seat with laden plates. Other areas of the ship were pleasant without 'wowing'. The atrium area was smart but quickly became crowded, and the other public bar areas were comfortable but seriously lacked natural light. The furnishings seemed to be modelled on a London 1920s Gentleman's Club crossed with country-house and sadly soaked up a lot of the natural light, low ceilings and soft-furnishings didn't help the effect of this. Some brighter colours, chrome and mirrors would be welcome (but equally that may create the effect of a different type of Gentleman's Club, so caution should be exercised if they do re-fit the ship!). In other words, the outside deck areas were excellent, but on a cruise beset by poor weather (cold and wet at times) we spent a lot more time inside that we would normally like. The stateroom (twin, balcony cabin, Aloha Deck, A703) was very comfortable. It's layout wasn't brilliant at night with a fold-away bed, but otherwise it was great. Warm, very good shower (although if you are over 6ft tall as I am, the ceiling is a little low) with comfortable beds. I liked the partitioned off area for storing clothes and the mounting piles of washing). A major plus was the TV- on previous cruises the picture has been poor with a woeful choice of entertainment unless you pay for it. On Emerald Princess there were 3 dedicated movie channels, one specifically for family viewing which we used daily. It was a great way to end an evening and settling the children. The stateroom attendant Jovito was fairy quiet an discrete but was responsive on the few times we needed him. Embarkation and disembarkation was seamless and fast. Genuinely the best we have ever experienced. It was very well organised at the start and end of the cruise. Dining was generally good. Breakfast and lunch in the buffet offered good selections, though after 14 days it was hard to get too excited about it. The dining room menu needs some work. It was well cooked and well presented at all times, and whilst one meal was too cold, it was the only time this happened. Options for kids were fairly good and the waiters attentive. Our main concern was the lack of variety and particularly spice. Of the 3000 passengers, the significant majority were 'mature' British people and I suspect that this played some part in the food choices as the menus were usually a take on 'pub classics' (fish and chips, beef wellington, pork belly etc.). The only curry we saw on the menu was straight off the Wetherspoon's 2 meals for £5 board - chicken tikka masala. It was pretty good, but they could easily have build more into the menu for more cosmopolitan tastes. The starters were OK, but needed some variety- for some reason, in contrast to the main meals, they were often too exotic for more conservative palates / children. Overall though, the food was good and we ate well. The majority of frustrations we experienced on this cruise stem from the other customers rather than Princess, although they should probably have a look at what they could do to improve the experience for families / younger guests. To get the best out of this cruise required military-level standards of organisation and time-keeping to keep up with the older guests / seasoned cruisers. Every activity seemed to have been designed for the older generation (bingo, comedy acts, health seminars to reduce varicose veins, bunions, hair loss, swollen ankles etc.) and although we took part in the quizzes on a daily basis, it became very trying to pre-empt the hoards by arriving increasingly early at the event. It is no exaggeration to say we arrived at the theatre a full 35 minutes before the showing to find the room 80% full of more mature couples doing soduku puzzles, reading 'Mills and Boon' or sitting, highlighter in hand, scanning Princess Patter (the daily cruise planner) to get the march on events for next 24 hours. On one occasion we noticed a man fast asleep waiting for the show- he slept right through it to the end whilst families arrived with kids in tow, unable to find a seat. The 10pm show was just too late for our 5 and 7 year olds meaning we had a frustrating choice of arriving excessively early and enduring the bored whinging, or miss the show. Princess need to address this via a reservation system or giving priority to the earlier showing to families somehow. The same pattern played out across the boat- all of the best seats with good views were occupied by the same people at the same times, day in, day out. I swear that one lady was spending the night in her favourite chair, and by the ever increasing size of her knitting, suspect that she must have been commissioned by Princess to knit a winter coat for the ship or something. This basically meant that we partook in a limited number of events, but the ones we enjoyed were good fun- the entertainment staff were excellent throughout. The shows were a mixed bag but when they were good, they were excellent- well polished and energetic. It would be easy to criticise the performers but they performed with gusto (sometimes a little too much) and gave everything for their 35 minute slots, twice per night. The Queen tribute performer was very good, well worth seeing (but get there early!). We did not do any of the Princess excursions, preferring to book the local options instead. This proved to be wise- we did very similar excursions for up to 50% of the cost. Do not pay attention to Princess worrying passengers with missing the ship leaving port etc. All of the independent operators work to the same schedule. We found leaving the boat and returning straightforward, even when it involved a tender in the Lofoten Islands. The overall itinerary was disrupted by poor weather which was a shame. Stavanger was very cold and wet, as was Olden and Trondheim so it's unfair to be overly critical. We had to miss Flaam due to dangerous sea conditions which frustrated passengers, but given we had a very bouncy trip to Olden in 5m swells and that was 50% better than it would have been, I'm grateful the captain took the decision to remain in port. The itinerary lacked balance in my view. Norwegian towns are limited in their appeal when the weather is poor. They are staggeringly expensive (at one café a pint of local beer was advertised at nearly £17) and not that tourist friendly- it is the natural beauty which is the most impressive element in most places we visited. That said, it was an odd decision to dock in Tromso on a Sunday making it hard to get around with a limited public transport service and very few open shops, and Bergen had a lot to offer with only a morning in the city. Aalesund was stunning and has good access to the Fjords yet we left there fairly early too. It would have been better, if tides etc. allow to spend less time in places like Gravdal and Honnigsvag. The sail-aways were breath-taking at times. The trip out of Aalesund will live long in the memory, but don't expect much from the port stops themselves. The excursions were fairly varied and definitely championed the natural world. A hidden gem was the ship museum in Tromso next to the Aquarium. It is great for kids, giving them the change to explore a real arctic fishing boat. Don't miss the trip to the glacier in Olden and some good excursions are bookable on the pier at Lofoten; one of the highlights of the trip for us. Our kids attended the Princess Penguins kids club twice and the feedback was mixed. My daughter enjoyed it but my son found it a fairly negative experience. He is shy, but I think the majority of the children were a lot younger so he didn't really make any friends. It seemed well organised and the room was pleasant with a dedicated outdoor area. I imagine that all of the kids clubs can get quite busy on the Mediterranean / Caribbean routes. In summary, this was a good cruise offering a bit of everything. The usual gripes are present with over-priced excursions and drinks etc, but the over experience felt 'premium'. Princess could do well to look at their dining room management and listen to younger guests views. Nearly all of the complaints overheard or discussed with other passengers related to the behaviour of guests. There were a couple of small touches that we found really effective. My wife had her birthday on board and received a card, some balloons and a cake which was a nice touch, and we all received a good quality certificate confirming we had been to the Arctic Circle which the kids loved. I particularly enjoyed the cruise summary sheet from the captain and found it interesting to read. The ship's staff are low-key and industrious. They could smile a bit more at times, but then so could I. I'd take efficient and fast service any day over excess selling and forced jollity. This was a pleasant and memorable experience and we will definitely consider booking with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We had a great holiday. I was grateful for all the help I found out on forums like this one beforehand so I wanted to leave behind some tips that would have helped me plan my holiday in the hope it will be useful for others. 1) ... Read More
We had a great holiday. I was grateful for all the help I found out on forums like this one beforehand so I wanted to leave behind some tips that would have helped me plan my holiday in the hope it will be useful for others. 1) Excursions. The places we visited were the highlight of the holiday, particularly Lofoten Islands and North Cape. Be warned that the ship excursion prices were ridiculous and you could do anything you wanted at a fraction of the cost. I watched some of the excursion tour talks which actively said that you wouldn't be able to do private tours in locations like North Cape and Lofoten Islands - Absolute nonsense. We had various options everywhere to choose from at every stop ranging from organised tours (which tied into the ship's timetable which at at a stroke put pay to the Princess fear mongering that doing things privately meant you might get left behind) to getting on a local bus or hopping into a taxi - this might sound scary to some but it was simple and easy to do - everyone in Norway appeared to speak fluent English and all the services we used were well used to catering for cruise passengers. We had not pre-booked anything and bought all our tickets etc on the day with no issues whatsoever, Some of the ship's tours cost around USD250 per person! I still don't know whether I am jealous of the people who can spend that in every port on top of paying for a holiday or whether I am astounded by why anyone would go on this when you can recreate it simply and easily yourself at a fraction of a cost with no risk. I repeat - NO RISK. For example I think the Princess trip to the the Viking Museum in the Lofoten Islands was 150 USD per person. Our family of 3 did the entire thing for under USD 80 (that is all in, not per person) with the freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted and not stuck with everyone on a coach. As I have said, if I had paid attention to the tour excursion talk I would have believed it would have been impossible to do this independently. The museum was amazing: Longboat trip, axe throwing, archery, lunch in a viking chieftain's house of lamb stew cooked in a pot over a fire, washed down with mead! We had a great time. On a similar theme, I wouldn't have been able to look people in the eye if I tried to charge the USD 100 for trips to places literally metres away from where the ship docked that had an entry price of a fraction of the cost. North Cape was another one where the scare stories were peddled about doing anything other than a ship's tour. This was beyond easy. There was a tourist information point yards away from where the ship docked and we were able to book a guided tour to the North Cape with numerous stops on the way and a fantastic local tour guide (Monica - very knowledgeable with some great comic lines). The Ice Bar in Honningsvag may seem tacky to some but we found it to be great fun! The North Cape was brilliant, we had great weather and lots of fun. Again Olden was easy to do independently. We took a return coach trip that took us to the start of the main glacier trail and picked us up a couple of hours later. I read numerous things about using troll cars (golf buggies) and how difficult this walk to the glacier would be. Given we had a 4 year old I had been concerned we wouldn't be able to make it and whether we would need to get one of these troll cars. However there was no issue whatsoever with the walk up the hill. Yes it is a bit of a trek and much of it is clearly up a hill but for those of you wondering if you can make it and want something to gauge this by note that our 4 year old managed it with no complaint or any help whatsoever and we were up and down well in time to get the coach back. Stravanger, Tromso, Trondheim, Bergen etc were all easy to walk and navigate around and we had no problem independently getting to all the museums and sites of interest we wanted to see. It was a bit rainy in Trondheim and Stravanger but we still had a great time. 2) The ship itself - I've seen various reviews saying the decor was dated, things were rusty etc. We honestly didn't notice - too busy having fun. I loved the amount of viewing points available on board. It was great fun navigating around the ship and my 4 year old loved guessing which lift would arrive first. We had an interior cabin so no window or balcony so it was great that there was always somewhere I could go to watch the world go by and I honestly think for this specific cruise that was the right call to make. Interior cabin also meant that we could make it pitch black to get the little one off to sleep. The cabin steward was good fun, always friendly, always willing to help and always eager to entertain our child. He also would fix up the bunk bed in such a way that our child could sleep whilst we could watch TV or read in the evening without disturbing them which really added to the quality of our holiday. 3) Food - We mainly ate int he evenings in fixed time dining. Our waitress and assistant waitress were brilliant and both were great at interacting with our 4 year old and going out of their way to get her the drinks and desserts she wanted. The Horizon buffet was a little bit busy and there was always a bit of a trek to find an empty table. The selection was always great, loved the variety of fresh fruit and desserts. The quality of some of the food didn't match the dining rooms but it was a buffet so I didn't expect it to. It was good for what it was and the pizzas were very good. The International Cafe was great and we ate far too many pastries and pies!!! 4) Other passengers - There were a couple of times (on sea days) were I felt suffocated by the number of people around. This had been my main fear of going on a cruise. However this was only a couple of times and I just needed to go back to the cabin or get some outside space. After having read a fair few comments on this site making snide remarks about "little darlings" I was a little apprehensive about how other passengers would react to our young family. However i felt the vast majority of passengers went out their way to talk and interact with our child so my worries were misplaced. I did however witness some extremely rude behaviour from passengers to other passengers and cruise ship staff. At times it was breathtaking. I agree with other reviews i have read about people pretty much camping out to reserve seats in the princess theatre or in the various seating areas onboard. If you are going to spend most of your holiday sitting in a seat solely to reserve it all day, you may as well be sitting in a cafe in ASDA. 5) Entertainment - I thought the quizzes were quite fun but there was a little bit of a rush to try and get a seat (see above). The quality of the performance entertainment was very average. I thought the magician was in his element during the kid's show but Magic to Do and the evening adult magic show was pretty terrible. From where I was sitting it was like watching one of those magician tricks revealed shows. Watching him struggle to find the on switch or get the right grip beneath the table cloth to make the table float was a particular highlight. There was an "empty" box were people kept on appearing out of but from where I was sat I could see all the people in the "empty" box waiting to come out. Watching him fiddle about trying to get things out of his fake thumb etc made me feel bad for him. At one point he even had a pair of those light up thumbs that kids buy off the internet for a couple of quid - and he kept telling us he has performed at the White House - I can only assume it was for Bush junior! The singing made me tense akin to watching X Factor auditions. All in all entertaining but not in the way the intended. It was never a big driver for us as we knew we wouldn't see much due to the little one's early bed times but if the ships's shows/performances were one of our driving factors in booking with Princess this would have been an area of disappointment. 6) Staff - I thought the staff were excellent and can only assume this is a major source of pride for Princess. Polite, Cheery, helpful and not overbearing. Alston our steward was fantastic and our table waiting team of Cherrie and Angge were both brilliant. They all definitely added to our holiday. I've noted some people seem to get very caught up in who the Captain is etc. I couldn't honestly tell you and I can't understand why anybody would care. Whoever he was, he didn't crash so top marks from me. 7) Drinks packages, Ice Cream etc - We couldn't make our mind up on whether to do a drinks package or not. We aren't big drinkers so the alcohol one was never on the cards but we were undecided about the soft drinks/coffee package. In the end we decided not to do this which was absolutely the right choice. In fact on the last night we were scrambling to use up all our free on board credit. I can see if you were going somewhere hot that this might be different but going to the Arctic meant the drinks package would be a huge mistake. I'd seen someone else see that the soft scoop ice cream was pretty inedible. I'd dismissed this when I read it thinking if it is ice cream and free then we would be frequent visitors rather than paying for gelato downstairs. However I was wrong. The soft scoop was digusting, truly disgusting. I took to mouthfuls and binned it. The gelato in the International Cafe was absolutely delicious and cost USD 1.50 for 3 massive scoops. This my friends was an absolute bargain and well worth the cost. 8) Extras. I've seen people comment about Princess trying to get you to spend money onboard. Looking back I guess there was a fair bit of this but I never really thought about it at the time and t didn't bother me in the slightest. I was on board to get to the destinations not to buy art, jewellery or spa treatments. Every now and then they would take your photo and it was available to buy for a ridiculous price but in the days of digital photography I'm not sure why people go in for this. For the next few years we are converted to cruising. Having backpacked many places across the world, when we started our family we thought our holidays would be limited to Cornwall and Brittany. However we love the fact that we can travel in relative comfort, waking up in a new destination having the freedom to explore independently and then at the end of the day get back onto our floating hotel with all our stuff and relax. Whilst our family is still young this won't be the last cruise. I'd have no hesitation in choosing Princess again. Poor shows, a bit too much bingo, a bit crowded at times and older people hogging tables and seats but this is offset by generally good quality food and excellent standard of service from staff and that is all the foundation you need to make your own fun and have a great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Cabin A437. Far too small for two adults and one child; 3rd bed is lowered by steward each evening and is immediately over the main bed. It is unsettling for the sleepers who may as well be in a small bunk bed! Balcony was in need of ... Read More
Cabin A437. Far too small for two adults and one child; 3rd bed is lowered by steward each evening and is immediately over the main bed. It is unsettling for the sleepers who may as well be in a small bunk bed! Balcony was in need of painting and repair with rust and broken lock to next cabin. Could not get balcony door to lock. You can hear the next cabin's toilets flush and TV, etc. Drinks packages: Overpriced for what you get! Especially the soda package that promises soft drinks, mocktails and hot chocolate, however, there are just 5 mocktails to choose from that are basically slush puppies in a plastic child's cup; soft drinks are limited to fountain only cola and sprite. Overcrowded: The small pools are surrounded by deck chairs which are in no way sufficient for the vast number of passengers - hence people are up very very early to unfairly reserve them :( Also, the pools were full of small children all the time (mostly unsupervised) with teenagers and adults feeling uncomfortable to enter as you feel you are in a goldfish bowl - if you have any issues about your body shape or size you won't have the confidence to enter. Many women did not go in as everyone just stared (or ogled) at them! Entertainment: Even for cruise ship standards, the live entertainment was very poor. Any entertainer worth seeing was therefore in high demand by the passengers who, just like the deckchair reservists, arrived at the venues hours before to get the limited seats. Food: As you expect from a luxury liner the food was abundant with dining rooms (fixed or anytime), specialist areas (at extra costs) and large buffets. First-time cruisers will find this a good experience but others will compare the quality and variety against other cruises they have previously been on and realize the chooses, options and quality is less than expected. Fleeced: This ship seems to have a fundamental business policy that is all about making as much money as possible from the passengers who have already paid a small fortune already. Be prepared that every talk, event, shop, dinning room waiter, etc, will do their best to offer 'specials' that when totted up could cost you a lot of money. Staff: Most of the staff and crew will bend over backwards to assist and help. Obviously this is in accordance with the Princess training and expectations. However, it needs to be considered that their pay is low, they work long hours and work for 9 months of the year without a holiday. Their pay is also linked to a daily gratuity charge to each passenger on board. But are they getting all the tips you expect them to receive. You will not see any steward, waiter, cleaner or bar tender that is British or American which seems to be unfair... could this be that they are cheaper? Not sure. Remember that the gratuity is descretionary which means you can go to the reception on board and cancel it altogether and then tip who you want; you can pay less of the gratuity; you could opt not to include tips from your children, etc. It's up to you! Alcohol: You are not allowed to take any on board other than a 70cl bottle of wine per passenger. Any bought in the duty free shop or at shore will be kept until you disembark for home. This is the policy of all the cruise companies I've been with but I feel is nothing more than a way of forcing you to buy over priced drinks from their own bars! Tip: buy your duty free from shops on shore. For example, I bought x4 bottles of x1 liter of Smirnoff red label vodka in Gibraltar for £20 with the same product costing £44 on board... still cheap at 44 quid but remarkable at £20!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was a family holiday on the Emerald Princess, which suited our required holiday dates. We thought the ship was in good order, clean and tidy - very similar to P&O's Ventura and Azura. Embarkation was first class, as was ... Read More
This was a family holiday on the Emerald Princess, which suited our required holiday dates. We thought the ship was in good order, clean and tidy - very similar to P&O's Ventura and Azura. Embarkation was first class, as was disembarkation. The staff were very good and professional throughout the ship. Some of the minus points were no tea/coffee making facilities in the stateroom and dining in the dining rooms was not as good as P&O or Royal Caribbean, in that the choice of meals was average and quality not as we have previously experienced, to the point that, we chose to eat in the buffet on a number of occasions. Furthermore, we found that there was a hidden cost for the shuttle buses, some, for example, Barcelona, were expensive for the short distance from the ship, although we had been advised that it was a 10-15 minutes journey, but it only took 4 minutes at a cost of $10 each. Marseilles was $12, although this was a longer journey. Livorno cost $5, although this was an industrious port and was unsafe to walk. The shuttle bus in Civitavecchia was free. We feel these should be advertised when booking your holiday. Entertainment was poor to average, with some shows only lasting 35 minutes. Some of the comedians would be better entertaining the local pub on a Friday night as most of their jokes were years old. The singers were ok (these provided the majority of the provision of entertainment), as was the on-board band. Overall, we enjoyed the ports, and were blessed with good weather, but would we book with Princess again? Not so sure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise as we wished to go from the UK rather than fly and we had cruised with Princess twice in the past. Emerald Princess and P&O's Ventura are identical ships built in the same shipyard. I looked to go with P&O ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wished to go from the UK rather than fly and we had cruised with Princess twice in the past. Emerald Princess and P&O's Ventura are identical ships built in the same shipyard. I looked to go with P&O on the 22/07/2016 on a near identical itinerary in a mini suite but it was over £6,000 more expensive than Emerald Princess! Embarkation was a breeze, considering the ship was 29 people short of being at full capacity, using the parking services of CBS who valet parked the car, while the porters took our bags and we next saw them outside our room. Although we had priority boarding due to our Platinum status with Princess check in was quiet and we were on the ship within 10 minutes at 12.30. Our cabin was ready - a mini suite on deck 8 aft. The cabin was very well appointed and the décor looked fresh. As sated by others the beds are very good but very firm! There are two flat screen TV's with various TV & movie channels along with sales channels for the shops and tours. The TV is not interactive as is the case on Ventura but you can easily get to the back of either TV to put in a HDMI cable to play DVD etc. There is also no curtain between the bedroom and the lounge area making it difficult for two people to watch two different TV's at the same time. The 3rd bed is made up using a pull-out section of the sofa and the 4th bed is a drop down bunk above the sofa. The bathroom has a full size bath with shower over it and a basin with ample storage. The lighting could be better in the bathroom though. Toiletries were poor but we used our own so this did not bother us. Soap was provided a plenty to make sure noro virus was kept at bay. The fully covered glass fronted balcony was large with two reclining chairs, two footstools and a table. The balconies on Deck 9 were the same size for the mini suites but were not covered and were overlooked by all those above. However the walls were not thick enough to stem the noise from our neighbours which could only be described as horrendous at times. Young, poorly behaved, children were left in the room alone during a port visit and the youngest (@8 years old was locked out on the balcony where he was standing on chairs looking over the side shouting his head off. He was lucky he did not fall and the crew quickly came to his aid and found his parents. The captain then made an announcement about parents being responsible for their children and that they should not disturb others. I have cruised nine times and never heard an announcement like that! However the noise continued night after night when they came back from the entertainment. Some people have no consideration and I would be horrified if we as a family disturbed others like this. We chose anytime dinning for the first time and were impressed by the flexibility of it. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a table for 4 and we were given a buzzer to notify us our table was ready. The food was of a poorer quality than we had previously experienced with Princess as would appear to be the case with most cruise lines. The choice was not as broad and the portions were smaller which I thought was a good thing as you could always ask for more if you wanted it meaning less waste. The waiting staff were helpful and in particular Princess dedicated a head waiter to my son to help him choose food from the menu due to his nut allergy. The self serve Horizon Court was ok but chose was poor as was quality. The Salty Dog Gastro Pub was superb and good value at $19 per person as was the Crown Grill at $29 per person. We did not us Share as the menu was uninspiring and at $39 each seemed very expensive. The pizza bar was excellent and the burger bar was good but far too busy. We had breakfast every day delivered to our cabin and enjoyed a varied mix of different items on our balcony in the lovely weather. The international café served good speciality coffee and teas. We bought the good value coffee card which gave you 14 coffee's and unlimited tea. The entertainment on the whole was good with a wide variety of different entertainers in various venues - magic, hypnotism, comedy, Broadway style shows, singers and bands. The house band Starlight(burst) whatever were very poor with a male singer that sounded like he had strangled a cat! You can't please all the people all the time. The movies under the stars was a great hit which made it tough to get a seat. However the films were always replayed on the cabin TV the following day. There was also films shown in the Princess theatre. The "Magic to go" show was the best my wife and I had ever seen at sea. For me there were too many quiz based things to do and there could have been more guest speakers. However, the Q&A with the Captain was very interesting as was the bridge presentation by the 3rd officer. The galley tour was interesting. My nine year old enjoyed the kids club and the activities were broad - making goo and dissecting an octopus - and varied. However my 14yr old had less fun and found that groups formed quickly and became quite a cliché. He spent most of his time with us. Our ports were; Barcelona - we did an open top bus tour which was ok. I don't get Barcelona?? Corsica - This is a beautiful little port and we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the local marina. Rome - We had a fab tour with Princess that did the whole of Rome in a day. It was very expensive but we did an awful lot so probably worth it. Livorno - Again we did a Princess tour to Pisa to see the tower. I would not do the tour again and I would either get a taxi or a hire car. Genoa - Not a great stop and I would not recommend this to anyone. We went for a little walk but did not feel safe and returned to the ship. Marseille - We docked @5 miles from the centre of the old port and took the shuttle bus in. The port is beautiful with great bars and restaurants flanking the U shaped marina. There is a giant wheel with spectacular views for €7 each. There was a high security presence in light of the recent terrorist attacks in France with heavily armed soldiers walking the streets but this actually made us feel very safe. I would go again. Gibraltar - This was our first visit to Gib and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We did not book a tour and were pleased we had not. As we left the cruise terminal there were many taxis's offering tours of the island for £22 each for adults and £12 for kids which included the £10 entrance fee to the sights - a bargain and well worth doing. Overall a good cruise slightly spoiled by a particular family but this was no fault of Princess and could happen anywhere. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure ... Read More
We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure we got to the ship on time. This proved to be a good choice as it took 7 hours to get within 2 hours away the next morning due to traffic. The check in at the Mayflower terminal was very well organised with our car collected when we arrived to be waiting on our return. The ship was familiar to several other cruises that we have been on so finding our balcony cabin was easy, which we found it to be as expected with good size double bed, shower /toilet room, good storage space, TV and fridge which had three bottles of water (chargeable). TV had several English channels plus films should you wish to stay in you cabin. We brought the permitted two bottles of wine on board for the cruise any extra wine or spirits would be confiscated and given back at the end of the cruise. We later found out from fellow passengers that this rule was not being applied and they were bringing wine etc at each port of call. As the average cost for a bottle of wine at dinner was around $35 including the 15% service charge we would have saved a lot of money over the 14days even paying the $15 corkage. The overall cost of drinks on the ship were the most expensive that we have every experienced on any cruise ship or 5 star hotel around the world. When you consider that they do not pay any duty or vat the pricing is off the scale with only two draught beers available in some bars one being Newcastle brown, your only option was to have a can or bottle with a standard can of Boddingtons costing $5.95 plus 15% service charge. A good way to get better value is t buy a bottle of wine which has 5 glasses at a cost $25 as opposed to 5 glasses at $8 each both plus 15% s/c. They do have a happy hours in the wheelhouse every day from 3 – 4 and at the Skywalker at 10.30 if you are still awake. The deals is buy one drink at full price and get one for $1, speaking to the staff they said the previous cruise the extra drink was free. As moat people were on shore most days I suspect the opening times were not very well attended it would have been better to have a later time before dinner. We found at some bars practically around the pool areas there was an absence of waiters which meant you had to go to the bar to be served and at no time did the bar staff offer to have the drinks sent over to your table and for your convenience they charge your 15% etc. Overall we found lot of the staff did not seem to be interested in going out of there way as they believed they would not receive any tips. Staffs in the wheelhouse bar and the two evening restaurants were the exception very professional and gave good service. We were offered the drinks packaged when we booked at just under $40 each per day and when we boarded the ship this had gone up by $10 even at their very high prices you would have to be a drink a lot to get value for your money. Food in the De Vinci & Michelangelo restaurants was expellant with the flexible dinning we meet some lovely people from all around the world this coupled with great service made each evening memorable. The breakfast in the Horizon and Cafe Caribe was a little frenetic trying to find a table. With plastic plates we found by the time you got to your table the food was going cold. If you used the restaurants for lunch the same problems would arise and over the cruise not once were we asked would we like a glass of wine /beer with our meal. We did not try the three themed restaurants Share supplement $39, Crown Grill supplement $29 and the Salty dog $19. When you purchased any drinks you were not required to sign and on several occasions you did not receive receipt. You could check and print your account at terminal by customer relations or log onto your ID of phone FOC. Gratuities for the cruise other than the 15% service charge were not compulsory and opted out preferring to tip the staff who gave us the best service such as the cabin steward ad dining room staff. We tried room service once in the morning for tea/coffee sadly it arrived cold so we gave up and walked up two floors up each morning and brought hot drinks to the cabin. That same day when we got back in the afternoon from trip the tray was still there and the cabin was not cleaned. Phoning the number for the steward got no response when I phone customer services I was told to hang on before I could explain why I was calling. I was left hanging on for 35 minutes, I left the phone off the hook and when down to customer service only to be told they had no way of knowing if a gusts was holding on. The room was cleaned an hour later and as a way of apology we were left a large dinner serving tray with a four chocolates and a note of apology. Entertainment overall was good in the main theatre with the exception of a poor guitar playing comedian and a very dodgy hypnotists. The remainder of the entertainment was very good with some very talented performers and the resident ships staff headed by Kevin Joy the cruise director putting on some great shows. A range of quizzes/trivia games in the bars plus dancing and bingo which again was expensive at $25 for two cards. There was a great emphasise every day on promoting fine art with several auctions taking place mostly I suspect at the prices they were being sold for our American friends this together with the daily jewellery news letter and demonstrations made a lot of us Brits feel very poor. We do not go on a cruise to buy fine art and jewellery and found that the effort that was being made could have been better use entertaining the guests particularly at sea days they could have put on an afternoon show in the theatre. Other services such as internet were again very expansive with tea or coffee with your cake $3/5. Duty free was a joke up to 60% off was stated not sure what they were basing their pricing on it certainly was not UK shop prices which were a lot less. It was noticeable that there were no price tickets on the shelves these could be found on an A4 sheet by the till, I suspect that they alter pricing depending on the cruise. When you left the ship at each port we found the staff to be totally uninterested and never once did any staff say good morning or have a nice trip this was repeated when you arrived back on board with only the last shore visit one member of the crew welcomed us back. The crew mix were from all corners of the world and not sure if this worked as we found some gave the appearance that they did not want to be on the ship. Ports of Call: We did not purchase any trips from the ship due to the high cost and at a lot of the ports you can walk into the town. We did buy from our cruise travel agent Cruise,co.uk a two day trip to St Petersburg and Tallinn. Zeebrugge/ Bruges we paid €10 for a coach from the ship to Blankenberge which had the local Sunday market and fair from their we were able to get a train for €5 each return to Bruges station with the centre of town 20 minutes walk or you can hope on one of the local tourist busses for €2 Copenhagen: You can walk from the ship to the Little Mermaid in 10minutes the centre of the town would take you a further 30minutes if you are fit. We used the combined hop on hop off Red bus visit all of the main sites. Stockholm: The port is a little way to the centre so we used the combined hop on hop off Red bus and river ferry which we were able to the main site including the Royal Palace and the not to be missed Vasa museum. Cost for the combined ticket €35 each Helsinki: The only bad day of weather with rain all of the day. The centre of the city is well within walking distance but due to the poor weather we paid the €10 for the ship bus to the town, you could get a walk on bus but did not believe that with the weather you would see much. St Petersburg: The organised tour company “Tour De Force” ensured you had a tourist visa, we did not have to queue at passport control and were meet by our young very knowledgeable guide for the two days. Lunch on the two days was arranged at an extra small cost. A very tiring first day with lots of walking but little queuing at each stop as our bus only had 28 people we were able to get some priority at each stop, we did notice the ship trips were large coaches and speaking to fellow passenger that night they had some queuing. The trip cost was less than £200 each plus the cost of the meals. Tallinn: The old town is in easy walking distance from the port we did however use a pre arrange walk on Red bus to see the main site before getting off at the top f the old town. One word of warning sadly at the old town battements were there many of passengers from the three ships that were in port a lot of Romanian pick pockets were operating, I myself had my mobile taken out of my from shoulder bag but luckily I felt the movement and the woman dropped it on a ledge in front of her and I was able to retrieve it back. The cheeky person just smiled and waked a little way in the crowed we were able to warn a lady that she was in her bag again she just blow a kiss and walked on. Sadly we did see several other pick pockets operating in the area but no police presents. Gdynia/Gdansk: The town is within easy distance to walk. We did take a taxi to the station to catch a train to Gdansk cost 22 Zolty return. Good service took 40 minutes. Nice old town but not a great deal to see. Money: We get some local currency for Copenhagen, Stockholm, Poland and Russia just enough to buy some food or drinks. All counties took the euro including Russia but not sterling so do not both changing into rubles. As your ship account is in US dollars your credit card will be charge at the ships special rate unless you opt for your card to be charge in $ and let you bank covert the rate. When we left the ship there rate was $1.21 to £ our Nationwide credit card was converted at £1.308 yet one more money making scheme from Princess. They should change their statement “Come Back New” to Come Back Poorer. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the ... Read More
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the shows left a bit to be desired in there quality.the production shows were excellent and very well produced. Only major complaint was the stafff in the MDR not applying the dress code on formal nights. They had a couldn't care less attitude about passengers wearing,shorts,polo shirts,tee shirts etc. I think Pricess should abandon formal nights.i think it is pointless to advertise formal nights then totally ignore the rules. The selection of shore excursions was great and the staff at the tour desk were very helpful as were all the staff on board. The guides on the tours were very good and very helpful with any specific queries we had about things.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily ... Read More
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily selected the Baltic Heritage cruise because of the itinerary - the fact that we "knew" the cruise line made our choice even simpler. Due to an early morning flight, we arrived at the cruise terminal in Southampton slightly early for our embarkation time slot. However, we were checked-in very promptly and were allowed to board the ship shortly thereafter. The check-in/embarkation process was excellent and very "slick". After a brief walk-around the ship and some lunch from the Horizon Court buffet, we returned to our stateroom to find that our cases had all been delivered - again, very quickly indeed! We had primarily chosen this cruise because of the excellent itinerary, however we did not do any of the ship’s organised excursions. In the majority of ports, we simply did our own thing (very easy to do in most cases – especially Tallin!) and in St Petersburg we booked a 2-day tour via an independent operator – which was excellent and substantially less expensive that Princess’ own offerings. I would add however that the itinerary did not disappoint – it was fantastic – we visited some fascinating places and having 2 “sea days” at the end to simply “chill out” was perfect! Our cabin/stateroom was larger than we had anticipated (Room E114 - as reviewed separately below) and was more than adequate for our family’s requirements for 2 weeks. Whilst on-board, we enjoyed a variety of dining experiences - usually a buffet breakfast which was good, but could get very busy - and sometimes difficult to find a table (there are two sides to the buffet - usually only one of which is open at a time - so a good "tip" is to take your plate/food through to the other side which is quieter and usually had plenty of tables - the tea/coffee/water was always available in both sides). We sometimes used the buffet also for lunch - when we weren't ashore - or had a snack from the excellent pizza bar (cooking fresh pizza's throughout the day) or something from the grill (which had very good burgers!) - both of which are very handy for the pool. The evening menu in the restaurants had a "core" selection of dishes available each evening and also varied other dishes each evening. There was always something to suit all members of our family. The waiting staff in the main dining rooms were excellent and made our Anniversary dinner special and also made our son feel special on his birthday! Our children thoroughly enjoyed the kids activities on-board and the children’s centre staff were all first-class. We were fortunate to be on a cruise with a relatively small number of children (although still an adequate number for them to make friends and enjoy themselves) and as the children's area rooms are not vast, I could imagine they may get crowded on busier “school holiday” cruises. Similar to the embarkation process, disembarkation was a well-organised and “slick” process. We were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on-board prior to leaving the ship at our allotted time to find all our luggage ready and waiting for us. No fuss – just a very easy and fast process. In summary, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in seeing the Baltics. There were no particular negative experiences to our cruise and innumerable positives. All-in-all, a fantastic holiday! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad ... Read More
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad weather. I had not heard much about Princess before, and I was nervous about travelling with an infant after reading articles on this site warning about what an awful experience I was likely to have. Turns out, this could not have been more wrong. This was our third cruise, and hands down the best. The service was second to none - easily the best service I have ever experienced, not only on any cruise before, but in any leisure or hospitality environment. My baby daughter was treated like a celebrity across the ship, so much so that on our last day we had to take her on a "tour of duty" to say goodbye to each and every waiter and bar person who had fallen for her charms over the week! The team onboard could not do enough to make sure we had everything we needed, and the food and presentation was exceptional. There was plenty of choice food wise - we ate in the Michaelangelo anytime dining room every night, and even my fussy teenage stepdaughter found something to eat off the menu. My 6 month old was quite happy chomping on breadsticks and steamed veg, although I was regularly offered baby food. A high chair and a clean, film-wrapped tray were provided quickly for us each time we arrived at either the dining room or the Horizon buffet for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was more than adequate for breakfast and lunch with plenty of hot and continental options available - my teenage stepdaughter was quite happy to have Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce for breakfast every day! Embarkation was smooth and speedy (we were onboard the ship less than 45 minutes from pulling up in the car in front of it), and our bags beat us to our room. There were plenty of areas, inside and out, to sit, and at no point during the day did anything feel crowded. This was despite the fact that due to bad weather stopping us from going ashore in Sweden and leading to an unexpected sea day - there was still plenty to do. Evening entertainment was varied and we found something we wanted to do every night - my stepdaughter took a shine to the house band, Starwave, so we watched them in a number of venues around the ship on different evenings. The theatre shows were lots of fun, including a musical written for Princess by Stephen Schwartz, a Robbie Williams tribute, and a version of The Voice. The only nights they were really crowded were the formal nights when more people were out and about, but we arrived 15 minutes before showtime and had no problems getting seated. We didn't purchase any official excursions so I can't comment on those, but we found something to do in each port - there was a shuttle at Zeebrugge which took us to the nearby town of Blankenberge for 10 euro each, We walked into Copenhagen, and we jumped on a hop on hop off bus in Oslo for around 30 euro each. Shuttles etc were all available from just outside the ship. Overall - I don't think I've ever been so sad for a holiday to end, and I would happily return to Emerald Princess tomorrow. I've already started looking at Princess again for next year! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly ... Read More
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly surprised! To begin, the ship was stunning. The piazza is gorgeous, and the public areas and lounges were very well designed to host a large number of people, as we almost never felt crowded. We liked to hang around spaces like the Adagio bar on deck 16 (great for playing cards) and Vibe on deck 7 (where many events were held throughout the day). The main dining room, though somewhat less impressive than those on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Ships, still felt elegant and calm. This ship has definitely held up over the years! We absolutely loved our balcony cabins. Our family of 4 had two of them side-by-side, and we opened up the balcony divider. It performed its function extremely well, with space used very efficiently (HUGE closet). The beds, which I understand were recently replaced, were very comfortable. We had no trouble falling asleep at all. I'd highly recommend our cabin location, deck 14 aft. This offered easy access to the Horizon Court and Terrace pool, and we heard nothing from the buffet above us. The dining was what stood out to us most on this cruise. The buffet, Horizon Court, was one of the best we've had at sea. Though it wasn't huge like some other ships we've been on, we never saw the same items twice! Everything was constantly being changed, and the food was consistently good. The Trident Grill was fantastic for snacks, as was Prego Pizzeria. All of these restaurants close at 11pm, by the way. The main dining room food quality varied from okay to fantastic, but it always arrived hot and beautifully presented, which is something other cruise lines have struggled with. As for the on-board entertainment, we were quite impressed. Shows were somewhat smaller scale than Royal Caribbean, which I think still outperformed this ship in Broadway-style shows. However, what Emerald Princess excelled at was the amount of shows. While Royal Caribbean only does 1 big show a night, with 2 time slots (early and late), Princess had 2 - 4 shows a night, with multiple showings of each! To name a few of these shows: "The Voice of the Ocean" (singing competition), "Magic To-Do" (Broadway style show), David Knight (comedy hypnotist) and "HalfDanskerne Trio" (Danish folk singers). Entertainment throughout the day was very creative as well. Our favourite was the "Crazy golf" in the Adagio bar on the last day. The Cruise director staff was very engaging and made good use of the on-board space. Aris was really great and never failed to make us laugh. There was constantly more than one activity going on at any given time: you won't get bored on this ship. Service was excellent. There are very attentive and courteous servers in the Horizon Court, which Royal Caribbean somewhat lacks, and our stateroom steward, Luney, was very good. We had a few very minor hiccups with the Dining room service, but they were working hard. Our server, Katarina, was very professional and our food always arrived hot. I won't go into too much detail about the ports, but I will say that I highly recommend this Scandinavian Itinerary. Bruges was picturesque, and great if you're a chocolate lover. Copenhagen was magical, despite the downpour of rain we got, and Tivoli Garden is not to be missed! I loved Oslo's engaging museums (we did the Folk museum and Fram museum), though it should be noted that if you prebook your Oslo pass, it is QUITE the walk across town to get it. Unfortunately, we did not get to Helsingborg as the captain had to cancel the tender due to a storm. This came as quite a crushing disappointment to us, as we really wanted to get to see Kronborg castle. Apparently, this cancellation is not uncommon either. If there is anything you really want to do in the area, do it in Copenhagen: don't wait for Helsingborg, as you very well may miss it. A word of warning about the weather: pack for the worst and expect the best. I had a sweater, a rain coat and a pair of shorts in my backpack, and I used all three over the course of one day! The weather in this part of the world changes drastically VERY QUICKLY. Be prepared. We would certainly cruise with Princess again, and it may actually be our new favourite cruise line. I urge anyone looking to book a cruise on this ship not to get scared away by the negative reviews. Bad experiences can happen on any ship, don't let a few of them stop you from trying a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease ... Read More
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease (needs a gluten free diet) we arrived at check in desks in Southampton approximately noon and we were on-board by 1pm. We went straight to our cabin something other cruise lines don’t allow until a set time and amazingly our bags were outside of the door. Off to the buffet next, a good selection of food, mum being a coeliac has to be a bit careful when eating in the buffet so selected some fruit and some cheese. We couldn’t believe it when I spotted a ‘gluten free’ tapioca pudding. There was a different GF pudding available in the buffet daily throughout the cruise which is tremendous. Back to the cabin. We were on Caribe Deck towards AFT – starboard and were really happy with the location. The Balcony on this deck is double the length of those on deck 9 and 11 – so a great choice for us. The balcony has 2 adjustable chairs with footstools and a table. The cabin itself was well appointed and I particularly liked the separate dressing room area which was particularly useful for mum to park her 3 wheel walker. The bathroom whilst small was again good with a walk-in shower. The only shame about this was it was a static showerhead and not a showerhead on a hose to be able to wash your more difficult parts! We ate in the main dining (Michelangelo) which was available for anytime dining. We always asked for a table for 2 and generally we had a small wait, this was anything from 10 to 30 mins. We were given a pager which allowed us to sit and get a drink or just sit and watch the piece band in the piazza. The first evening we made it known that mum needed gluten free meal. A Head waiter was then allocated to us for the whole cruise. Nelson was ours and was wonderful, he helped mum select off the menu for the first night and arranged for some gluten free bread. She had the country chicken as main and there was flourless chocolate cake for desert. He then gave her the menu for the next night and told her only to select Starter and main course and he will arrange something special for desert every day. This was on-going for the cruise. She ordered whatever she fancied and he made sure it was made gluten free. The deserts were amazing. She had Strawberry gateaux, raspberry and coconut cake, lemon sponge, a version of a red velvet cake and the list goes on. She was blown away. We also went to the dining room one morning and she had GF Pancakes. In the Buffet I was able to order GF Toast from the chef – this usually took about 5 mins to cook fresh for her. At 3.30pm everyday there was afternoon tea in the Botticelli. Again they more than catered for GF. Sandwiches, cake, Scones and these didn’t need to be ordered. For me, the sandwiches, cakes and scones were great and being brits the tea was good too! I must say the food quality and quantity was a high as we’ve had on any cruise. I was more than satisfied with the breakfast in the buffet and dinner in the dining room. So now onto the rest of the cruise. We were so lucky with the weather, we stayed on the ship in Zeebrugge and the weather was lovely and gave us the opportunity to look around a near empty ship and to generally chill out. In Copenhagen we had selected the ‘Easy Copenhagen’ tour as this was shown as being good for people not wanting to walk far. Imagine our surprise when we got the coach and it was a double decker! Luckily we managed to get a seat downstairs, however if there hadn’t been room we would not have been able to go on the trip. Not happy with these arrangements and to be honest it spoiled the excursion as even though mum was down stairs there was a large step she had to climb just to get to her seat this meant she wasn’t able to get out of the coach for the photo stops. Unfortunately but the time we got back to the ship it had started to rain so we didn’t go back out. The next stop was meant to be Helsingborg, this was a tender port. Due to high winds this stop was abandoned for safety reasons so it meant an extra day at sea. It actually didn’t bother us too much and we enjoyed the day relaxing. Next day was Oslo and again we selected the ‘Easy Oslo’ tour, this time we had a proper coach. This was an excellent tour, Oslo is a beautiful city. Once we got back to the ship mum went back to the cabin to rest and I went out and walked around the city and saw most of the main buildings close up. It helped that it was a lovely day. Upon leaving Oslo the scenery was stunning and reminded us of Alaska in some ways. We’d definitely like to do Norwegian Fjord cruise now. So in summary... a fabulous cruise and particularly if you or your travelling companions are in need of a special diet. The ship was lovely and we would definitely travel on Princess again. There was always lots to do, including plenty of trivia, karaoke, Movies under the stars.. You can do as much or as little and you want. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if ... Read More
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if you try to get your own tea/coffee-cups are snatched from your hands and you are told off!!!) or taking plates away from you. Started to fold a blanket after 'movies under the stars' to help the deck attendant- once again snatched from me -' I do that!!!' The tender to Corsica was a joke!!- a raffle ticket system turned into a free for all with the winners being who could get their mobility scooter to block the most passengers.The tour guide on the coach to Rome admitted she couldn't speak English very well- useful as a 'chocolate teapot' We have written a strong complaint letter to the company - no response as yet- I will never travel with them again!!! Luckily this was not our first cruise otherwise it would be our last. It will be Royal Caribbean in the future- they were friendly,fantastic variety of food, great entertainment and overall great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Booked this cruise without hesitation after a princess cruise two years ago which was outstanding. First problem occurred with the lifeboat drill, it took forever , the muster point we were at had very little seating which meant sveral ... Read More
Booked this cruise without hesitation after a princess cruise two years ago which was outstanding. First problem occurred with the lifeboat drill, it took forever , the muster point we were at had very little seating which meant sveral people with walking difficulties having to stand for a long time. Prior to the actual drill there were numerous pointless announcements. Thereafter the cruise was OK, but just OK, long wait for everything from drinks to tables to lifts. On a positive note the cabin was great with a very comfortable bed and the ship was very clean. The service was poor a lot of the time, and many of the staff lacked the sort of customer service skills you usually experience on a cruise. Finally the excursions were a massive rip off, 99$ dollars each for a short tour of Guernsey. Will not travel with princess again, it all seemed to be about the money. Drinks package was not worth having as often once the waiters saw your sticker they lost interest and you were left waiting. We had a two hour wait for disembarkation, and drinks were only provided for the elite group. Sorry princess, feel very let down. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure ... Read More
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure plenty of people had an enjoyable week and I am pleased for you if you did. I found many things to be totally not up to standard and as such my review will not be positive. I’ll break it down into categories: Embarkation: Very, very smooth. Yes, it is a bit odd to have numbered cards as you wait in line, but it is a system that appears to work. Good for the suite and elite passengers to get to queue jump...I find that to be absurd and a little demeaning, but it is what it is. Those extra 5 minutes must be worth the pushing in, eh? Cabin. We had an outside cabin with a fully restricted view. This did not bother us as we rarely used the cabin other than for sleeping and changing. You could see the sea or the quayside to see if we were docked, etc, so no problem and a fair bit of cash saved for spending elsewhere; cash you’ll need, by the way, the ship is very expensive. The shower is small, as per expectations, but the shampoos and soaps are a bit cheap to say the least. The bed, as reported elsewhere, was magnificent. Food. Dire. We are generally quite easy to please and my wife is a vegetarian, but not a fussy one, if you know what I mean. But the non-meat options are so poor, she barely had what you could describe as a full plate for most of the cruise. She had to ‘piece together’ suitable meals and all had to be fish with no special vegetarian meal on offer. The buffet is way too small and there are nowhere near enough seats in the Horizon restaurants with breakfast being particularly shambolic. We shared tables, often, which is fine, but it is not a good set up at all. The buffet food was a bit strange, we felt, and the concept of vegetables is misunderstood. If there is a carvery, for example, have carrots, peas and green beans instead of just one with several potato variations. Strange. We only went to the anytime dining restaurants on one occasion and had that been a paying restaurant (well, I suppose we did pay up front...) I would have challenged a number of items on the bill, not least the ‘gourmet burger’, which was poor. We sat down and were asked if we wanted sparkling or still water. I asked for sparkling and so had to pay, though I didn’t know this at the time and no-one said anything...the sharing table guests got still water...free. This sort of mealy mouthed money grabbing leaves its mark and I hope they are pleased with themselves for it. Ports of call: Really, just really? In a nutshell: Bruges. It is not Bruges, it is Zeebrugge, a soulless container port. Bruges is miles away and Princess made it very clear in their port description that taxis from the port exit were ‘not plentiful’. Plus, as Zeebrugge is a container port, you cannot just walk off the ship and make your way to the exit. You could, of course, buy their trip into town for an amazing, amazing, amazing price of $179...each. This is laugh out loud ridiculous. Money grabbing, did I mention that? We stayed aboard, fed up, not knowing how to get to Bruges. Many people went to Blankenberge for about €10, I think, but the itinerary said it was Bruges...no, it was a container port and the sales pitch for a Princess partial excursion monopoly. Copenhagen: Fine. Helsingborg: Nope. Too windy for tenders, so we carried on towards Oslo at walking pace. Safety first, we have no problem with that, of course not. We also got $18 each refunded for the missed port as a port tax rebate. That bought a single drink! Lol. Oslo: Fine, but it left at 15.30 hours...we had missed the previous port, so why not extend this one? Oh yeah, it would probably have cost Princess more, of course. So, 4 ports...well, we got 2 and a container port. Useless. Entertainment: We only checked out the theatre on the last night and saw the very talented Neil Lockwood, very good he was too. We generally avoid cruise entertainment as it is not really our thing, but he was excellent. The theatre is large. Staff: In general they were a delight. However, the more ‘elevated’ staff were not, particularly the Cruise Director, who I found to be generally awful. I’m sorry to be specific, but I was unsure what he brought to the show other than his starring in his own intergalactic movie attitude. Tune in to Channel 29 in your cabin and you can watch him and his sidekick embarrass themselves each morning. We watched it as it was so bad, you just had to. Self-indulgent and childish, it was at best patronising, at worst a pair of adults behaving like gushy school children. Truly dreadful and I’d be all over this if I was running the ship. Haha, that’s likely! Do you really need to have his young woman sidekick being quizzed about not having a boyfriend? That is plain creepy. Am I interested in how the Cruise Director ‘keeps an eye’ on his favourite football team? No mate, I am not. The worst bit about them is how they are totally on-message with the Princess trademark upselling. When asked about the best restaurants aboard, the woman started to pretend to be thinking before coming up with 3 choices...all of which ‘she loves’. Which 3 do you reckon, then? Correct, the extra charge ones! Do me a favour the pair of you...One assumes she doesn’t join the fist fights in the overcrowded buffet then or, indeed, is not a vegetarian or a lover of fresh vegetables. Ridiculous and just out of touch with many passengers. I know some people will like the skittish banter but it is just endless and vacuous, it really is a tired formula. Holiday camp?...maybe. On the extra sea day because of the Helsingborg issues, they came up with a great idea for entertainment...making paper planes...I kid you not. The front desk staff were surly and unhelpful. Sorry, but that is how we found them. I loved the separate velvet rope section for elite and suite passengers...again, really? Do they actually push in like this anyway? Shopping: Awful. Expensive and lacking in choice. My wife bought a bag which was reasonably priced once they had applied the advertised 30% discount to bring it back to the price on the mainland, groan. We found another bag for my daughter back home, but we noticed it appeared to be damaged as we took it to the till. They whisked it away without any offer to knock a bit off. I raised this with the Retail Manager who brushed it all off a little too easily; fact is, I think, the same bag will be back on the shelf on the next cruise or back to the retail outlet village it came from. Buyer beware, that’s all I’m saying. The fragrances are more expensive than on the mainland and everything, everywhere is in dollars, by the way. It is an American ship, so fair enough. But it does slightly affect the cruise experience for Brits sailing from, erm, Britain. Go figure. The art auction: This needs its own section because it was so totally dreadful. Our ‘invite’ was received and the idea of free bubbly definitely got my wife’s interest. Sure, you can choose not to go, but it was a sea day and we were intrigued as to what this auction would be like. I have asked Princess directly to talk to me about our experience at the auction because what I saw does not sit well and I wish to establish what was going on. It was pressure and squeeze and foam and blather, laughable from start to finish except for the bit when bidding started after the auctioneer had taken an age to butter up the increasingly bored audience before she started her comedic selling patois as well as the hyper speed auctioneering spiel. Honestly, we were giggling like kids...perhaps good enough for Channel 29. The art work itself was a mix of horrendous garish coloured works together with stuff you can see in any school art department, no better. Just our two cents! Bars: Wow, expensive. They whack on a service charge on every drink, so we felt miffed about being asked for an additional $12.95 per day, per person for gratuities. We removed these and tipped our room steward ourselves, a lovely guy called Michael. Just increase the price of the cruise by $100 and do away with this contentious gratuity issue, it really does nobody any favours at all. There is a happy hour (2nd drink for $1) in the Skywalkers ‘nightclub’, which is worth taking advantage of if you are late up each night, as we were, though you’ll need to be able to withstand the same standard playlist of music each night...the opening hours of the bars is a little skitty and seem subject to alteration without notice. Generally, they are fine, it is the prices that are not, they are way out of order. Disembarkation: As easy as getting on, absolutely first class. I guess the suite and elite people get carried off on thrones...who knows! The only gripe is that they want everyone out of their room by 08.00. which leads to everyone piling for food in the already inadequate Horizon area...well, not everyone but a lot of people. Given that fellow cruisers love to place bags on chairs designed for actual humans, an act of selfishness that too many cruisers seem to enjoy (not all, but too many), you will find it hard to get a seat. Very hard. The weather was mainly superb and we had plenty of laughs. But it was not great, not by a long way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Hi went on Emerald Princess 26/04/2016 from Southampton getting onboard brilliant cabin excellent new beds are fantastic entertainment acceptable condition of ship even after refit average then lets break down the actual living on ship ... Read More
Hi went on Emerald Princess 26/04/2016 from Southampton getting onboard brilliant cabin excellent new beds are fantastic entertainment acceptable condition of ship even after refit average then lets break down the actual living on ship buffet restaurant is the best place to eat although food could have been hotter choice and standard good the sit down dining is terrible we ate twice in the di vinci restaurant waiters want to take your order the exit you as quick as possible not allowing both diners to finish their meal then straight away next course then when completed start to clear table while you sit there absolutely disgusting Drinks the prices are terrible I had a single whiskey with 15% tip worked out to £6.82 a good cruise to cure you if you are an alcoholic we brought the soda package all right for first drink when they see pre paid tend to give you a wide berth maybe they get commission on sales There are lots of staff from different countries some very difficult to communicate with due to their lack of English onboard were 99% English Always trying to sell you something upmarket prices average service the best way you can sum up Princess Cruises 3 star hotel in Benidorm As stated we brought soda package you could have pump soda but not itns of coke you had to pay for these Cinema on deck very good good choice of films Embarkation is a joke shut several lifts down causing chaos took my luggage down the stairs otherwise would have missed embarkation slot Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
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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