1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Princess Cruises
  4. Emerald Princess Review
  5. Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

293 Princess Emerald Princess Family Cruise Reviews

This was our first Princess cruise after 12 on RCCL, 5 on NCL, and 2 on Celebrity. I was hesitant to go on Princess (not my choice) because it is in the Carnival family and there have been too many problems on Carnival lines for my ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise after 12 on RCCL, 5 on NCL, and 2 on Celebrity. I was hesitant to go on Princess (not my choice) because it is in the Carnival family and there have been too many problems on Carnival lines for my comfort. Nonetheless, we went and had a very good time. I would say that it was quite comparable to RCCL and NCL and a notch below Celebrity. We (hubby, me, and 3 year old) stayed in a a mini-suite, which was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the 2 TVs in the room (hubby could watch March Madness on mute while daughter watched a very good selection of family films on the other). The balcony was large, as was the bathroom. The room steward was very much on top of things, though I got the feeling that he was in charge of more rooms than he probably should have been. The food on the ship was generally good, not great. The buffet was good, but not particularly inspiring (and the crowd flow of the buffet was disastrous--seriously, Princess, do a usability study on that). Breakfast got old quick, and the dinners were okay. The best part was that they generally had the same dessert as the main dining room. The pizza and the grill were very good. The fish and chips in the Wheelhouse on sea days were also very good. The steakhouse was fabulous, though you paid for it. The food and the service at the steakhouse were outstanding. The MDR, however, left much to be desired. The food was generally okay, though bland. But the service was a nightmare. We were a table of 10 and service took three hours (which is too long for anyone, especially for a family with a three year old). On the first night, I talked to someone who I thought was a head waiter, and he promised me it would be better the next night. The next night, it was 40 minutes from when the last person sat down until we got any food. I drank the last drop of my water, and 30 minutes later, my glass still not had been refilled. I then talked to the manager of the dining room and told him that this was my 20th cruise, my first on Princess, and thus far they were not doing a particularly good job at making me want to take another cruise with them. Well, from that point on, service was impeccable. We got a new waitress, who was phenomenal. But I should have to cause a fuss to be treated in a timely manner. We were impressed with the Princess Pelican Club for the three year old. We thought she would hate it, but she wound up asking us when she got to go back to the Club. They had dance parties, painted t-shirts, got their faces painted, and more. I was impressed with the security. The door was always locked (parents had to be buzzed in) and an ID had to be presented to pick up the kids. After the first day, the staff knew my daughter by name and knew that I belonged to my daughter. Impressive. Also, one night when they went to the buffet and to a dance club, two large security guards went with them. This was the first cruise my daughter went on in which she could go to the club, so I can't compare it to others, but I was impressed. We were on the Spring Break cruise, and they had many more kids than usual (to the disdain of many of the older crowd on the ship), but the kids club seemed to handle the influx well. The only frustrating thing about the Pelican Club was that dinner started at 5:30 and the kids club didn't open until 6. So, to avoid the long dinners in the MDR, I would feed her at 5:30 in the buffet, drop her off at 6pm, and then run down to the MDR to join the group for the main dish that my husband ordered for me. I feel as though Princess could have done a better job timing everything to make things work more seamlessly. I thought the ship itself was in good shape. I loved that muster was inside. Overall, we had a good trip and would consider Princess again (especially since Houston is so convenient), though, to be fair, we already have two more cruises booked for the next two years, and neither is on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Our 9th cruise (4 NCL, 2 Carnival, 1 Celebrity, 1 Holland prior to this one). Arrival and embarkation were no problem, very fast. We prepaid parking since we were local to save the 5 bucks. Disembarkation was well organized and pretty ... Read More
Our 9th cruise (4 NCL, 2 Carnival, 1 Celebrity, 1 Holland prior to this one). Arrival and embarkation were no problem, very fast. We prepaid parking since we were local to save the 5 bucks. Disembarkation was well organized and pretty quick as well. Cabins available very early. Cabin - See cabin review, would have liked it better except C248 has a worn out mattress, hopefully not a common theme on this ship. We did get locked out of our room one morning. If you see other than green lights when unlocking your room, the battery that unlocks the door may be weak. We waited about 5 minutes for someone to come and unlock it and replace the AA's. Dining - Dinners were generally good. Just one or two times when service was slow, but usually service was much faster than other ships we have been on but did not feel rushed. We were anytime diners and rarely had to wait and then not for long. Dress code in main dining rooms is a suggestion only, we saw one woman in shorts and tank top on formal night! Breakfast was our least favorite in the buffet. I joke not when I say the hottest thing at breakfast might be the plate if it is fresh from the dishwasher, food was consistently lukewarm at best. Some improvement for sit down breakfast. Variety at breakfast not as good as other cruise lines. We did find going to the international cafe for the (free) breakfast items a good option and my daughter liked the gelato there for $1.50 for 3 scoops. The buffet also uses plastic coffee cups, not ceramic like most ships. Probably not an issue for most, but the plastic retains the coffee odor and I'm a tea drinker and my tea smelled and tasted like coffee sometimes. I'd bring my own cup next time. Afternoon tea uses ceramic cups and is generally a pleasant experience, though they just serve Lipton. They actually have the same tea deserts at the buffet at the same time and you can pick your tea if you prefer it that way. Lunches were just ok, pizza and burgers were ok, expect lines but they moved pretty fast for us. The buffet area is not big, fewer choices than newer ships out there. Activities - Our favorite was actually the movies in the theater. Pretty recent movies shown in the theater during the day when there are no shows going on. They might want to serve popcorn but we often brought our lunch/snacks in with us (trays in the armrests). Trivia was the typical with pretty competitive groups, yes or no show was mostly fun. Golf is a putting green, they have croquet but you have to use golf putters to hit the balls (no mallets), and shuffleboard is not workable in the corner arrangement they have (plus broken parts). Fitness facility was not very crowded. Few channels on the treadmill TVs and quite a few with fuzzy reception (bring your own earbuds). Service - One of the best parts of the ship. Other than the mattress issue with customer service, everyone was top notch. Entertainment - Mostly good. We're not into the Vegas style shows though other reviews will give you an idea, but we liked the comedian (mostly family friendly), the illusionist was typical for a cruise ship - ok, and the comedy singer was good - including his second performance. Excursions - We did one excursion through Princess, Amazing Secret River, Caverns and Playa Del Carmen (Rio Secreto) (ferry to Playa del Carmen, van ride to facility, don wet suit, hike/swim thru cave/river with stalactites (uneven walking surface, think twice before bringing kids under about 12), reverse the process with shopping time at Playa). We liked this one (16 yo daughter said it was her favorite of the trip) and given the timing, doing it thru the ship is the only way to go. In Roatan, we did a zip line thru South Shore Canopy Tours/Zip Line Adventures, trying to avoid the companies the cruise lines use to avoid the crowds, we prepaid with no problem, walked to meet them per their instructions, somewhat hot van ride to get there (people in the front row took all the ac vents) but overall a good time, a nice zip line and good value, felt safe. In Belize, we did the cave tubing thru Belize X-Stream Cave Tubing (part of Island Marketing). There are many companies offering the cave tubing. One big difference in my opinion, this one offers a 2-cave tour, you carry your tube about 10 minutes longer but get to do 2 caves. This matters because we were basically the only group in the first cave about 11 people and 2 guides, when we got to the second cave we joined everyone else from all different companies about a hundred people or more, not shoulder to shoulder but much more crowded. They tie your tubes together in a chain of 5 or 6, try to be in the front to hear the guide better. This is in a national park, multiple companies come here and x-tream brings people on several tours that start and finish in the same place - 2 cave tubing, 1 cave tubing & zip line, zip line only. Take earliest tender you can, they load vans as they get enough people and earlier departure means earlier return. Ship - The ship itself seems nice and did not seem crowded. Plenty of venues and always a place to sit and relax if you want. Pools didn't seem too crowded and this was spring break. Too bad there are no slides at the pool, but we knew that going in, Princess doesn't do slides (I'd say they cater to an older crowd). Hot tubs in the sanctuary were better, in the main pool area the jets were minimal. The nights where the casino was non-smoking made it easier to walk thru it. Scored enrichment low because there wasn't any. Other passengers - Did overhear a couple drunks at dinner one night (last formal night), a woman at the table next to us who just wouldn't keep her voice down and repeated the same curse words at regular intervals and a middle-aged man who was trying to dance in the dining room with a 21 yo girl from another table. Get a good mattress and temper your expectations about breakfast and a few other things and this is a fine cruise and a good value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Let me start by saying we are not picky and the type to gripe about little things. That being said I was very disappointed in our cruise on the Emerald Princess. We did the same cruise last year on the Caribbean Princess and was very happy ... Read More
Let me start by saying we are not picky and the type to gripe about little things. That being said I was very disappointed in our cruise on the Emerald Princess. We did the same cruise last year on the Caribbean Princess and was very happy with that cruise. We chose Princess again because of the food, I feel Princess has a lot better food than Carnival so we went with Princess. The food did not disappoint, it was very good and the service in the dining room was great!!! The problem we had was this boat has very few activities on sea days, this was a spring break cruise so the average age was much younger than what is usually on this ship. I still have no idea who the cruise director was, never heard or saw him/her. There are things like bridge and knitting classes, line dancing classes things you would see in a senior citizen home. Almost every show was an attempt to sell something. The ship is a nice ship almost the same as the Caribbean Princess but the entertainment was lacking to put it nicely. If you are 75 years old you will love it as it will be just like a nursing home if you are young and have kids re think this cruise!!!!! Since most gratuities are automatic the bar staff could really care less it took forever to get a drink or refill and they acted as if it was a hassle to serve a drink. We loved Princess last year but this cruise makes me look at that line very different now. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was my first time on a Princess cruise. I have been on 4 Carnival ships, 1 Disney ship and a Noregian ship. The lack of the little things that Priness offers is somewhat frustrating. Let me start when I first was brought on the ship. ... Read More
This was my first time on a Princess cruise. I have been on 4 Carnival ships, 1 Disney ship and a Noregian ship. The lack of the little things that Priness offers is somewhat frustrating. Let me start when I first was brought on the ship. I was lead through the bowls of the ship and not through the atrium like every other cruise I have been on. This took away the excitement as I see the atrium for the first time and hear the island music. There was no music playing when I entered the ship. The few was hard working and friendly however the cabin staff does not make towel animals when you enter your room for bedtime. If you have kids this is a disappointment. Heck I'm 40 years old and I was disappointed. The wait staff was friendly however there was only one show that the staff put one in the dinning room on the last night. While at Cozimel my family and I swam with the Dolphins which was a tour that the cruise line recommends. The staff would not let any photos taken while swimming with the Dolphins. They did have a staff photographer who took several photos. The end result was me and my family being dropped off, before the tour was done, in the photo store. Nice photos, however I was told the cost was $1,100 for all the photos and $70 per person if you just wanted one or two photos. What a rip off! Needless to say I didn't buy and pictures. I felt like Princess should do something about the price of photos. The worst part was once we said we weren't going to buy any pictures, my family and I were ignored and not taken to the next portion of the tour. I never heard any island music on the decks. I'm not saying there was none, just never heard any. On Carnival ships music is all around. A Carnival cruise is much more exciting and fun. I also think Carnival's ships are more for family's with kids. I thought Princess cruise line catered towards older people. If I was a first time cruiser I would have been happy with the cruise on The Emerald cruise ship, however I like the little things that other cruise lines offer. I'm not saying I would never cruise with Princess again, I'm just saying I would look at other cruise lines first.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My family of four had a great time on the Emerald Princess from 8-15 Mar 15. Rather than go through the minutia about what was good, I thought it might be more helpful to explain where we saw some things lacking. ENTERTAINMENT: As ... Read More
My family of four had a great time on the Emerald Princess from 8-15 Mar 15. Rather than go through the minutia about what was good, I thought it might be more helpful to explain where we saw some things lacking. ENTERTAINMENT: As discussed on this board previously, my family also found the entertainment to be mediocre at best. I expected a higher quality of nightly performances. DINING: Food was excellent but always seemed to bother me after dinner.... maybe I'm just not used to eating foods so rich. KIDS CLUB: Although this was spring break and there were many kids on the ship, the activities weren't that robust. My 12-year-old grew bored with her group the first day and my 14-yr-old was disappointed compared to other cruise line programs. Again, there just were not enough quality activities. BAR SERVICE: Woefully undermanned. It should never take 20 minutes to get a drink at any bar on a ship (in my opinion). As I said, we generally enjoyed this cruise although I believe we would rather cruise with other lines who offer activities more in line with our own personal tastes. The alcohol program was worth it for my husband and I -- him for quantity and me for the ability to order something different, not like it, and not feel guilty about not drinking it. When you add in the kids beverage program (including malts and mocktails), we more than got our money's worth. Excellent value. My review would be remiss without a shout out to the EXCELLENT medical service. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was sick the first day at sea but the medical staff took wonderful care of her, even calling during the day to ensure she was getting better. The Houston port was uber efficient and I will definitely cruse out of that port when we go again. Luckily, we experienced no fog. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Booked by ourselves. Little French Key (Honduras) was wonderful and cave tubing (Belize) was a lot of fun. However, at the port, we were "sold" to another trip company and things went downhill from there. Although our river guide was EXCELLENT (Javier's Adventures), the remainder of the experience was lacking.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We are older, ages 63 & 58, this was our 15th cruise, 4th on Princess. We live in Houston and were dropped off at the ship. Having cruised with Princess before on a similar ship we knew what to expect. Getting on and off the ship at ... Read More
We are older, ages 63 & 58, this was our 15th cruise, 4th on Princess. We live in Houston and were dropped off at the ship. Having cruised with Princess before on a similar ship we knew what to expect. Getting on and off the ship at Bayport was a breeze. Luckily, fog was not an issue, though we have dealt with it before in Galveston. The overall experience at Bayport was positive, way better than Galveston. I'll start with the food. We thought the main dining room food was good, but the buffet was not so good. We never had dinner in the buffet, only lunch and breakfast. Breakfast was decent, but the buffet lunch was lacking. There was good pizza by the pool and we enjoyed going to the International Cafe on deck 5. In the Botticelli Dining Room we had tables 66 and 76 located right next to each other. Sandra was outstanding. The staff seemed shorthanded so service was hit & miss on the busier nights. We never tried any of the specialty places on this cruise. Friends did the Crab Shack thing and they liked it a lot. Let's talk entertainment. We went to some, but not all the shows. We thought most of them were below par. Having recently cruised the MSC Divina and having been on the Oasis of the Seas maybe we're spoiled. Shows were better than Carnival shows, but worse than Royal Caribbean. The Princess Theater seemed a little old too and smaller than other ships we have been on. The DJs and live bands did a good job throughout the ship, however. Went to Skywalkers every night and took advantage of the two for one drink special between 10pm and 11pm. Pool deck and outside areas. We enjoyed the Lotus Spa pool and hot tubs almost every day. The Sanctuary, located above the pool towards the front seemed stupid. Looked like a ghost town to me. Just a wasted space that very few people paid to use. Spent time at the aft too near the Horizon Pool. The pool itself is small, but the aft area is a great place to hang out, especially above the pool. Never watched MUTS at the main pool, but the sound was not overpowering like it is on Carnival. I spent time outside on the Promenade Deck each morning and totally enjoyed the peace & quiet. We've been to all the ports, but Mahogany Bay in Roatan was a new dock for us. If you don't want to go to West Bay or the West End the port is fine for spending time off the ship. It's not cheap, however. In Belize, the wife shopped and I planted my butt at the Wet Lizard. We both had fun. Paradise Beach was our stop in Cozumel. Had been there before and would go back. We had a balcony cabin. I thought the balcony was rather small. The cabin was set up well, with a table and chair instead of a little couch. The storage area of HUGE. Biggest closet we've had on a ship. The bathroom was a cruise ship bathroom. Our room guy, Rocard did a good job. We like our cabin cold and it was cold. No cabin complaints. (Posted this cabin review in the deck plan section too.) Overall, we had a good cruise. We still like Royal Caribbean better and Carnival worse. For the right cruise, we'd cruise Princess again, but we'd never cruise Carnival again. The prices out of Houston were very cheap, that alone makes this cruise worth taking.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I’m from East Texas and drove to the port. On Saturday night before sailing on Sunday, we spent the night in Baytown, TX at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites on I-10 East. Great location, very convenient , close to Denny’s for breakfast, ... Read More
I’m from East Texas and drove to the port. On Saturday night before sailing on Sunday, we spent the night in Baytown, TX at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites on I-10 East. Great location, very convenient , close to Denny’s for breakfast, Target, Walmart. Easy 20-25 minute drive to cruise terminal, depending on road construction. Muddy & messy after a rain near cruise terminal area. Once you get onto port/terminal property they have things very organized and well-staffed. Parking was a breeze and embarkation very smooth. Long lines but moved fast. We arrived inside the terminal building at 10:45 and walked on the ship at 11:55. Went straight to our cabin and dumped our carry-ons then went for lunch & exploring. Our luggage arrived before 2:00. Dining: We had late dining (8:00). On Sunday night we walked out of the dining room at 9:55…very slow service that night and most nights. I wasn’t impressed with the breads, and I tried many varieties of rolls. I ordered beef filet medallions (on the menu every night) and didn’t think they had a very good flavor; also had a lot of gristle; very disappointed starting off the first night. However, Crème Brulee was awesome as was the cheesecake and heart-shaped chocolate love boat dessert, and these were offered every night also. They had two shows in the Princess Theater the first night, at 8:00 & 9:30, but were in the dining room during both shows. Lobster was on the menu the second formal night and it was awesome, prepared perfectly. I found the staff/crew on this ship to be the least friendly & cheerful of any ship I’ve sailed on and the food not the quality as on some other cruise lines. I found even higher quality meats tough and prepared with not a lot of taste. Ricardo, the Head Waiter in my dining room (Botticelli) was very arrogant and it appeared to be beneath him to spend more than 15 seconds saying hello from a distance. We were a table of 6, mostly women, and he never actually came to our table and carried on a conversation with us. He just rubbed me wrong from the beginning! The butter pats on the table for bread were chilled so hard they wouldn’t spread, and one night ours were even frozen. Grilled salmon was on the menu every night and it was awesome; prepared just perfect every time. Pizzaria & ice cream bar located mid-ship deck 15. They had hand-dipped ice cream as well as soft-serve. They served it to you, not self-serve. I didn’t think either were very good, and I tried several flavors on several days; just not the flavor/quality like I’m used to. International Café (deck 5 mid) in the Piazza is a great place to pick up a complimentary light (mostly continental) breakfast, a light deli lunch, a dessert, a snack. Really good food there. Gelato available for a nominal charge. Also in the International Café is a coffee bar with specialty coffees that you have to pay for. The Best thing going is to purchase a coffee card for $29 + gratuity, for 15 cups of any specialty coffee and unlimited regular coffee. You can choose to have your coffee in a glass cup or in a take-out cup, and you can have a 12 oz. or 16 oz. cup. And the great thing about this is that if you have any punches left on your coffee card at the end of the cruise, they carry over to your next Princess Cruise; just the specialty coffees, not unlimited regular coffee. There aren’t many real bargains on a cruise ship, but to me this is one. Vines wine bar is in this same area in the Piazza, as well as the 24-hour Internet Café & Future Cruise Sales desk. The cabin: In the shower they provide shampoo/conditioner combo in a pump container as well as shower gel (no soap). If you want an antibacterial or deodorant soap you have to bring your own. Wall mounted hair dryer by the dressing table/desk is plenty hot and plenty powerful. Small refrigerator in cabin but doesn’t get very cold at all. Had to ask cabin attendant to remove their drinks so we cold use it for our own stuff. TV in the corner on a shelf but not interactive, so you can’t check your account, menus, make reservations, etc. I’m used to this and was very disappointed. Can be a real hassle because you have to actually go somewhere to check on anything. Kiosks are around the Passenger Service desk where you can swipe your card and check account balance/activity. Love the closet set-up in cabins on Princess ships. Smart design, easily accessible and no door to get in the way. Traditional electrical outlet (two plugs) at desk/dressing table, but if you need another, the one where the TV is plugged in has one plug available and is very convenient. Our cabin was on deck 10 and had an extra large balcony, even though it was the same BE category as cabins on other decks with much smaller balconies. Ours overlooked the balcony below us…something to seriously think about if considering deck 9; NO privacy there at all. We felt so guilty for “intruding” on our neighbors below, but made the most of our nice balcony and used it often. Cabin doors are recessed in the hall, which makes it nice when entering your door with other people walking in the hall; however, the halls are incredibly narrow and you can barely get thru when a cabin attendant’s cart is in the hall or you pass someone walking the opposite direction. In my opinion that is a definite design flaw. It is very nice that Princess’s cabin attendants still put a piece of chocolate on your bed when they turn it down at night. Many cruise lines no longer do this and I appreciated this special little touch. Around the ship: They have a sorry excuse for a shuffleboard court; half-court only and right in the middle of a walkway; very badly placed. Mini golf (deck 19 aft) is just a little putting green with a few holes, not actual miniature golf at all; very disappointing. Beautiful show theater; offered 3 shows Mon., Tues. & Fri. nights, 7:00, 8:30 & 10:15 and 2 shows the other nights, 7:00 & 8:30. Club Fusion (deck 7 aft) is a real neat & comfortable place with some fun activities there, including sometimes Trivia. Trivia is offered twice daily and sometimes has themes. Gatsby’s casino (deck 6 mid) is very spacious and comfortable. They offered 2 non-smoking nights and it was extremely pleasant in there those 2 nights; other times the smoke was almost unbearable. They had lots of penny slots and a nice variety of games. The Piazza is the central hub and was the venue for various entertainment throughout the week. They had a pop choir who performed the last day and they were really good; on Valentine’s Day the captain did a vow renewal ceremony for couples who wished to participate; the last night they had fun & lively Mardi Gras celebration with singing & dancing, as well as some other things. It’s a really nice area and can be seen from above on decks 6 and 7. The Sanctuary is a large space fixed up nice and offers great pampering, but is very under-used. We never saw many people there and it seems such a waste of good space for so few people. The cost is $20 for half-day and $40 for full day per person. I’m sure the cost is what keeps many from using The Sanctuary. Entertainment: Comedian duo Alfred & Seymore were very good. Theirs was a unique comedy show, not like anything I’ve ever seen. They were funny, clean and quite entertaining. I was very disappointed in the production shows by the singers & dancers. They didn’t seem as polished as most production entertainers usually are. Tom Franek was another entertainer who was awesome. He plays the piano (not like anyone you’ve ever seen before) and sings and has a really great show. Another entertainer was Andrew Phipps; he was a good entertainer but not a good singer. Not one of my favorites for the week. Ports: Docked at the Puerta Maya pier in Cozumel. Lots of ships in port that day and we shared a pier with another ship. In Roatan we docked along-side also and in Belize we tendered; very nice shopping in all port areas. In Roatan we took an excursion to Gumbalimba Park. It’s at the extreme west end of the island and is a great excursion for wildlife up close & personal. NOTE: can’t take bags, backpacks or large purses into park; can take small across-the-chest purses. Best not to wear jewelry either as the monkeys love to grab it. Can rent a locker for $3 to store things not allowed in the park. Can have your picture taken with a macaw on your arm or monkey on hour shoulder…very neat and lots of fun. Will also see iguanas & other lizards, hummingbirds, “rabbit rats”, butterflies & parrots. 40 minute (+/-) bus ride to park; bathrooms there & small snack bar. Entire excursion takes less that 4 hours. Disembarkation was the most amazing yet. I’ve never seen a smoother, more organized or streamlined plan. From the time we walked out of our cabin pulling our bags for self-assist disembarkation till the time we got in our car in the parking lot, it was probably 15 minutes, and that includes a stop at customs on the way out...a truly exceptional process. Other cruise lines should take some notes on Princesses procedures here!! All in all, sailing on the Emerald Princess was not my favorite cruising experience, but it was still a very enjoyable cruise with a very dear friend and we had a really nice time. Will I sail on this ship again…only if I find a truly exceptional deal that just can’t be passed up.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We always enjoy cruising and nothing terrible happened on our latest voyage on Emerald Princess from Houston Texas. But the bar is set high for ships sailing our blue oceans and Princess fell far short of the competition. I shall dwell on ... Read More
We always enjoy cruising and nothing terrible happened on our latest voyage on Emerald Princess from Houston Texas. But the bar is set high for ships sailing our blue oceans and Princess fell far short of the competition. I shall dwell on the negative in my notes here, but really to be a warning about items I found distasteful and distracting. There were positives as well which I listed too. I will never sail with Princess again, so this is my one-and-only review. Clearly, many customers like their ships and stay with them. On our ship, a couple was listed in the most traveled on Princess with 198 cruises for 1400+ days at sea! That is impressive - 4 years of sailing! - Maleficent's husband (these opinions are mine and may not fully represent those of my dear wife) CONS: * Be AWARE that any big change to your booking may cancel all or part of your shore excursions, dining reservations, upgrades, and credits! Princess appears to take great pride in stealing from customers by charging for these services and then "forgetting" about them once the passenger arrives! I am serious. We split a party of 4 from one cabin into two and all the bookings vanished for the boys we moved (so it was not obvious to us). Discovering this too late while already leaving port made it impossible to recover without "evidence". Yes, they would do NOTHING for us since we failed to bring WRITTEN PROOF for any pre-paid activity or benefit. Their records of our payments were erased entirely and all I heard was "it is not in our computer", which (as you know) means "I think you are a lying customer". They really do not trust you to be correct; I suppose that many customers must be attempting to scam the company and those White Uniformed "officers" have lost faith in humanity. * When our nephew lost his ship card, we were challenged to prove he had the Beverage Option - even though they gave it to him at departure and all our party could show our tags. They simply do not think the customer is to be believed. DO NOT SAIL WITH THESE THIEVES! * Anytime dining means "NOT being able to eat at ANY TIME" - thus, only certain times are open for reservations. Basically, from 6 pm - 8 pm, you must show up and wait in line, which can be 40+ minutes on some nights. * The $25/person upgrade dining was just okay; not bad, but about what you get for that price on land. * The "free" food was average; the pizza was popular but I did not think it so grand. Orange juice was watered down too much, but pine apple juice was okay. * Service for ice cream (really a frozen ice milk) is NOT self-service. Although this appears to be an upgrade, it just creates a long line to get food (on other lines, it takes 30 seconds to get a cup of custard). * At the buffet, you have to sit down to get any drink (other than water or tea), so add 10 minutes if you wish to take your food to the pool or stateroom. * They have the smallest cups for juice (about 3 oz) unless you ask for a large and convince them you will drink what you order (again, the lack of trust in customers). * The entertainment was a band (aka "orchestra") of 5 with the cruise director singing. He was listed as vocally trained and can sing better than me, but not so good as in Broadway-class shows from the other lines. * The magician was fairly good at slight-of-hand but his "tricks" were taken from his own Magic Store (which he plugged) and could be done by anyone; although he did them well, they were fairly obvious as the 3-rope trick is an old stand-by. Then, he showed his kids' video for 10 minutes to plug their acting careers! He gets "Dad Points" for that, but it was boring. * The daily newsletter (event listing) was NOT available at the customer service desk or at kiosks around the ship (like Carnival, Disney and others do) - so don't lose it or forget it - you get ONE copy per cabin! * My primary gripe was with the Shore Excursion desk; the nameless White Uniform man there was rude and of no "service" at all. I admit that my worst side came to the surface as I challenged him at the end of my first visit that I would resolve the ticketing problem and prove him wrong (Princess cancelled half of my group's tickets) even after he insisted that the "computer is always correct". I called my travel agent (Debbie at Cruises Only is a SAINT) who was helpful and found the record of our purchase. Sadly, she never could convince Princess of that fact and the issue was never resolved. I still have two paid tickets to see Belize that Princess refuses to refund to me - again, be cautious and BRING WRITTEN PROOF OF EVERY PAYMENT TO THESE SCOUNDRELS!! PROS: * The ship is basically clean, but typical in appearance without any special options. * Good wait staff & room staff too! This is nearly universal as these are the hardest workers at sea that you will encounter on any cruise line. These folks were delightful, funny, engaging and also helpful. * Our teens really loved it - first cruise so all was new and they found a good group to join and create friendships. We were concerned about not having enough in their age group, but (although true), it was not a problem. * The cruise director does not use the PA (public address) into the state rooms to announce activities - this was great as even my favorite line (Disney) interrupts my daytime naps too often to tell me about ice carving... * The medical staff was nice & friendly. Our nephew god a wood splinter in his finger from the hot-tub (sigh, some ship maintenance needed there), but they helped him remove it. They waived the $45 fee as well (but, of course, they should have). * The Beef Chili from room service was great! And that service was quick and accurate and the stewards were very kind and helpful - don't forget to tip those folks! * The add-on for drinks was a hit for our teen-age nephews who ordered every possible "virgin" beverage as much as 10 times per day! * The room steward has the key to unlock the connecting doors on the balconies! On all my other cruises, this became a 24-hour request to get that door opened, so this was easier and quicker than normal. However, when they did work on our deck, all the doors were opened for an hour and then everyone of them locked again, so we had to ask twice... * The other passengers were kind and gracious; at every meal, we shared a table and had very pleasant conversations with young and old alike. NOTES: * Be aware that the promenade deck, which provides a full 1/3 mile covered circuit of the ship is NOT on one level. I have never seen this before - you must go up from level 7 to 8 at the bow and back down as you make the loop. If stairs are a problem, then you cannot walk around the ship on that level. * On the 2-for-1 happy hour, be aware that you will get two of what you order, not your friends drink for free! Yes, they told us, but I just did not expect them to double my order rather than halve my bill (stupid me). Good drinks but very slow service when they are busy (35+ minutes per round). * If you drink, bring your bottle of wine per adult - was worth having it in our room. * The port of Houston is plagued by fog in some seasons (read more from others), which may delay departure and/or arrival. Be prepared in your travel planning for this as it seems to be likely. Our captain warned us every night about this possibility, which I suppose is good, but every time he talked on the PA to the entire ship (including staterooms), the news was never good. * Although our 15- & 16-year old boys loved the ship, they did not spend time in the teen lounge after day 2; it was an initial meeting place for the kids to bond in groups who then found the sports decks, gym and food areas to be their haunts as the ship's dedicated areas for them held little appeal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
The terminal at Houston, Tx is fairly new and very cruiser friendly. The parking lot is ample for the ships that depart from this port. The embarkation was the smoothest and quickest I have ever had on any of my cruises! They were ... Read More
The terminal at Houston, Tx is fairly new and very cruiser friendly. The parking lot is ample for the ships that depart from this port. The embarkation was the smoothest and quickest I have ever had on any of my cruises! They were organized and we arrived at the terminal, got luggage unloaded, checked in and got to our stateroom in less than an hour!! We had requested queen bed in our interior cabin and when we first arrived to our cabin, saw that there were twin beds in the cabin, as well as two berths on the walls! Surprise! Since there were only two of us, we certainly did not need the extra berths. PLUS, we had received an email from Princess a few days after we booked and paid for our trip, stating they had upgraded our room and gave us a cabin number at that time. In looking at ship layout maps and descriptions of rooms on several sites, including Princess', not one of them shows R331 to have berths in addition to the twin beds. In fact, Princess' website shows a small table and chair in the cabin, which certainly was not there, nor would have been any room for anyway. We went to customer service immediately to inquire about a different room and to request that we have a queen bed rather than the two separate twin beds. The staff was courteous and took down our information and said she would see that the beds were put together, but said there were no other rooms available. The cabin steward did put the beds together later in the evening, per our request. However, that created a whole new problem...there is only about a foot of space between the wall and the bed, on each side. With the berths protruding from the wall about 10 inches, it made it very difficult to get into bed. Once again, we made our way to customer services to inquire about a change. We received a letter later that day stating, 'Sorry, but no rooms. Enjoy your cruise,' No offer of any compensation or apology for not informing us of the annoying berths prior to embarkation. Entertainment was fairly good and entertaining during the cruise. The ship was in good condition and clean. The pool stewards made sure chairs were out around the pools for lounging, as well as watching movies under the stars, which was great. They also served cookies and milk in the afternoon. We only saw them with cookies one afternoon, but supposed to be every day. Had nice service in the dining rooms, with different servers, since we had anytime dining. Vados was the assistant waiter for a couple of evenings and he was great and very charming. Maitre d came around to diners and made conversation most nights and was very friendly. He definitely made a point to stress the ratings we give on our post cruise surveys and hoped that we all gave high marks! Food in the dining room was very good most nights. Steak overdone on the night they served them, but tasted OK. Food in the Horizon court buffet was only mediocre every time we ate lunch or dinner in there. The temperature was warm and most times the meat was dry and nondescript. Breakfast omelettes were good, and most breakfast food was good. Took shore excursion to Tabayana Beach in Roatan, Honduras. The bus ride there was quite long and along some very bumpy roads. The beach was nice, with lots of chairs and shade trees to park underneath, if you preferred to be out of the sun. They did not have water toys or shades to rent while there. The excursion included lunch while there. It was mediocre barbecue chicken, rice and beans and fruit. I would say find a tour that did not include paying for a lunch, because it really was extremely disappointing. The sand was beautiful white and smooth and the water was great. We explored the Mohagony Beach right next to the port when we returned from our excursion. In retrospect, I would have stayed at that beach to swim and sun and walked back to ship for lunch, or ridden the chairlift back and forth, which was $10 for all day, as many trips as you wanted to do. There were water floats and toys to rent. as well as shades. Fewer trees and the sand was not quite as nice as Tabayana Beach, but it was still very nice and way lots closer and didn't involve long bus ride. We took the River tour and Altun Ha ruins in Belize City and really enjoyed it. The tour guides, Ken and Sally, were great on the bus ride to the ruins. They were very informative and fun. After touring the ruins, we were taken to an outdoor area for lunch before boarding the boats for the river tour. Again, there was chicken, beans and rice and bottled soft drinks. Unfortunately, the Cokes were room temperature and the food was mediocre at best. Ken was our tour guide on the boat and we did see some crocodiles, a few howling monkeys in the trees, some iguanas and bats and some herons. No colorful birds as we had hoped, but was still very enjoyable 22 miles motoring back to the cruise port. I would do this tour again. I will say it was next to impossible to get an audience with the future cruise representative. She is only in the office a few short hours. They seem to encourage everyone to simply complete a form and drop it in the box rather than speaking with the representative to discuss future sailings. The staff did a great job of informing us what to expect for disembarkation and were well organized. Again, it was the best disembarkation that I have ever had at any port. We were very pleased with the ease and speed. Had the best porter to take our bags and got us through customs in record time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My wife and I took a western Caribbean cruise on the Emerald Princess. When we take our children, Carnival has more entertainment for the kids. But, when we want to relax the two of us chose Princess. We stayed on the Aloha Deck A-709. ... Read More
My wife and I took a western Caribbean cruise on the Emerald Princess. When we take our children, Carnival has more entertainment for the kids. But, when we want to relax the two of us chose Princess. We stayed on the Aloha Deck A-709. Our cabin steward made the bed and straightened the room when ever we left for any time at all. We heard no noise from the floors above or below us. The room came with a refrigerator and a safe. The shows were enjoyable although a little short at about 40 minutes each evening. We would have liked to see a piano bar and more dance lessons. The dining room was provided great meals and our waiters did everything they could to keep it that way. We got fish and chips at the pub and they were good. The pizza was great as I had it a few times for lunch. The buffet could have had a few more choices, but it was normal buffet style. We paid to use the exclusive spa area. I don't think I will do this again. They sell it to forty people and at times there were more people than spots for them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was our first time sailing out of Houston Texas. You actually embark at Bayport Terminal in La Porte Texas, about 30 miles South of Houston. We stayed in Seabrook Texas, about a 10 minute drive to the port. We found the Bayport ... Read More
This was our first time sailing out of Houston Texas. You actually embark at Bayport Terminal in La Porte Texas, about 30 miles South of Houston. We stayed in Seabrook Texas, about a 10 minute drive to the port. We found the Bayport Terminal to be easy to get into and out. On the day of embarkation we arrive about 11:00 am and got right into the terminal. At 11:30 am they started boarding and by 11:45 am we were on board the Emerald Princess. While the Emerald was showing some signs of needing some updates, I would say the staff was friendly, helpful and they did keep the Emerald looking good. Lot's of crew keeping things cleaned up and making sure we were being taken care of. Shows were "Fair" and not of the same quality of other shows I've seen on Princess ships. All worth going too, just seems like they were not as well choreographed as others we've seen. A comedy show with two black comedians is a must see, it is very funny. The two sea days out of Houston were great, nice to relax and enjoy the ship. At Belize you will be tendered into port. They do not use ship tenders, they use local tenders which are catermarans. The process is fairly quick other than this is about a five (5) mile trip each way.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was our 14th cruise and 2nd on Princess. We had a good time on the cruise but know that the entertainment is better on Carnival and the ships are more up to date on Royal Caribbean. I firmly believe that food is better on Princess and ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise and 2nd on Princess. We had a good time on the cruise but know that the entertainment is better on Carnival and the ships are more up to date on Royal Caribbean. I firmly believe that food is better on Princess and at dinner, the staff went out of their way to please of couple of our table mates (they should have left a bigger tip but I know that they didn't). The other positive about Princess is that they do not push alcohol as compared to other cruise lines. Our cruise also had a giant group of people (650 I think they said) from a dog food company in Utah. I was concerned about this at first but it was a benefit because it reduced the average age of the passengers by a ton. Sailed out of the Houston Terminal on 1/11/15, actually 10:00 am on 1/12/15 since the channel to and from the port was closed due to fog. Don't know if the ships leaving from Galveston had this problem or not. The result of the delay was that we did not go to Roatan, Honduras as scheduled but went to Costa Maya instead. Some of the crew said this was the second week in a row that they went to Costa Maya and that is was a better port than Roatan. Princess refunded the excursion we booked at Roatan but had to select something for Costa Maya. My first issue with Princess is technology or lack there of. On most ships I have been on lately, excursions can be booked from the cabin on the tv. Not so on Emerald and I can't say if this is true about other Princess ships. You also could not check you bill as on other ships. However, the excursion desk had no line in the morning and the staff was very pleasant. Some other photo galleries use facial recognition software to create and electronic folio for your cabin. Princess is the old time scan the walls for your photos. Excursions were okay. In Belize we went to the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha. The ruins are nice but take bug spray. There are these little bugs that you can't see or feel when they bite. It might not be until the next day or day after but you will be scratching for 2 to 3 weeks. Seriously! My other issue was the entertainment. The singing and dancing shows in the main room were okay. The feature entertainers were awful. The comedian told jokes about the small size of the showers and how hard the toilets flush. The guitar player could play but Dueling Banjos from Deliverance and Classical Gas? Both of these guys were in serious need of new material. The magician seemed bored. Secondary venues were too small. Many people were turned away from the Wheelhouse Bar or Explorers Lounge. I have avoided Holland America because I thought they catered to an older clientele. Now I have to add Princess to this list. However, there were many people on the boat that had sailed a dozen times or more with Princess (some admitted that it was to get the free laundry service). The food is better but it isn't good enough for me to put up with the negatives.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We cruised from the Houston Port (an industrial no man's land) to Mahahual, Belize and Cozumel. The Emerald Princess is a fine ship, very clean and with all the usual amenities. The staff was pleasant. We enjoyed the excursions to ... Read More
We cruised from the Houston Port (an industrial no man's land) to Mahahual, Belize and Cozumel. The Emerald Princess is a fine ship, very clean and with all the usual amenities. The staff was pleasant. We enjoyed the excursions to the Mayan temples in Chacchoben and Belize (do NOT miss the Lamanai temples in the jungle !). Breakfast and lunch at the buffet was plentiful and reasonably varied. The only real problem with the cruise was the dinner : 1- the 'filet migon' was NOT filet migon but a cheap generic tasteless cut. 2- the 'ceviche' was not edible. 3- the mussels were old and overcooked ... certainly the worst I have eaten (I have cruise over 18 times, travel to Europe at least 20 and live in a city of fine dining : Montreal). The 'fries' serve with them make McDonald's seem delicious by comparison ! B- The entertainment was unremarkable except for the excellent magic show by Michael Barron. As mentioned, the dinner was not up to par with Royal Caribbean, Holland America. Celebrity or Costa. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I booked a cruise to celebrate my parent's 60 wedding anniversary. Since we live in Texas, it's so much easier and cheaper to drive to Houston than fly. The cruise went to Roatan, Honduras, Belize City and Cozumel. My husband and ... Read More
I booked a cruise to celebrate my parent's 60 wedding anniversary. Since we live in Texas, it's so much easier and cheaper to drive to Houston than fly. The cruise went to Roatan, Honduras, Belize City and Cozumel. My husband and I booked 2 staterooms with balconies and was pleasantly suprised to see we got upgraded to a mini-stateroom with $50 ship credit from Princess and $50 from Vacations To Go! My parent's room (Caribe 10 Deck) had a larger balcony with four chairs so we liked to sit outside with them and shared their complimentary champagne. I was able to bring my own wine (1 per person) and kept it in the mini-fridge. We were treated with such friendliness, starting with the parking people at the Houston Port cruise terminal to every single Princess employee! Parking (paid on-line,) embarkation, customs and debarkation were super smooth! We have twice sailed on Holland America to Alaska before but the Emerald Princess was larger and just as nice. However the Gulf of Mexico and Carribean are rougher seas and I was seasick a few times. I tried the ginger tablets, essential oil, and wristbands, and reluctantly used Dramamine on the last day only to fall asleep for two hours! I did feel better the rest of the day. I even felt seasick while snorkeling in Belize. Our room steward, Robert, was quite efficient and friendly -- wish I could sneak him home with me and my house would magically be clean! We opted for the early 5:45 pm seating for dinner and totally enjoyed the food and impeccable service. Our waiters, Chaiyut and Kiattisan, from the Philippines, were prompt and professional. My parents had dinner in the Crown Grill one night and raved about the lobster. My husband and I went to Sabbatinis which was equally good and very romantic. We never skipped dessert either! Needless to say, I'm on a diet now. One morning we had breakfast in the Da Vinci dining room where it's nice to sit down and order from a menu and dine with other folks. On port days, we opted for the buffet breakfast because it was faster and we had excursions booked. We enjoyed eating breakfast from the Caribe Cafe and sitting outside on the bow deck, enjoying the fresh air and view. Lunch was just okay, nothing special. We are not big drinkers, but occasionally bought a glass of wine or beer. Not a great selection so I'm glad I brought my own favorite wine to sip on before dinner. Once, I got the Drink of the Day in Cozumel -- a delicious frozen margarita. Unfortunately they ran out of straws. One thing I was surprised about were all the sales promotions for jewelry, art, spa services, etc. -- pages of ads in the daily newsletters, PA announcements. If you attend an informative seminar, there was a sales pitch to endure. When you get off the boat in port, you walk through all the duty-free, Tanzanite and diamond shops. When you get back on, the spa people were there to entice you for their services. On-board activities were definitely geared to an older crowd although younger people might like Knitters, Bible Study, Bridge, Bingo, Speed Sudoko, seminars on non-surgical face lifts and footprint analysis. I would have preferred more cultural, historical, wildlife presentations with a naturalist that doesn't have anything to sell! I participated in Zumba one morning but there were too many people crowded on the dance floor of the Fusion Night Club. The Brit instructor looked a bit out of shape too. Since I had my husband captive on the board, so to speak, and he hates posing for photos, I booked a session to take those beautiful black and white portraits in the Platinum Studio. Our photographer, Rozanna from South Africa, played music, offered a glass of wine, and got us laughing -- all in 30 minutes. As a result, the poses were very natural. The next evening she presented us with nearly 80 images in a slideshow where we narrowed our choices down to 4 poses and got a free 8X10. Before the photo shoot, I had my hair styled in the salon by Sushant from India. I thought it was well worth the $49 because my hair is always frizzy and Sushant transformed it! Quite a sweet guy, only 21 years old, and he's seeing the world! Afterward he did try to sell me two expensive hair products that I declined. For entertainment after dinner, we enjoyed Tom McTigue, an excellent comedian who happens to play the photography teacher in the Oscar-nominated film, Boyhood! The magician was okay, not David Blaine-caliber, but a fun show. If you want to see a show, make sure you get there 1/2 hour ahead of time. We skipped the song & dance and disco shows and watched recently released movies on TV instead. There's a good band that plays rock, country and pop covers out by the big pool during the day -- my 83-year old dad really liked it! On sea days I would find a quiet spot on deck, stretch out in the sunshine and read a book. Bliss! I did yoga in my room because the offered class ($12) was too early for me. Excursions -- In Roatan, we got a private tour with Victor Bodden ($25 for 4 people) plus $10 at the iguana farm where you get to feed them. Iguanas are ALL over the place, even in the trees. Another $5 at Monkey Business where the little cappuchins and macaws jump on your shoulder, plus $10 for lunch. Our guide was informative and drove us all over the island. However, he did take us to an souvenir shop that was twice as expensive as the shops at the Mahogany Bay cruise terminal shops. In Belize City, we used Sun Kissed Excursions, also known as Ecotours, for Goff's Caye Beach and Snorkeling. $40 each, not including lunch. It was a 35-minute boat ride from the port to the beach where we were provided the equipment, then jumped off the boat and snorkeled half-way around the island in turquoise blue water. I did see a lion fish but not much else. Plus I was getting seasick. After 45 minutes of snorkeling, we had about a couple of hours to lay on the board. It started getting crowded as we were leaving around 1 pm. Cave tubing and zip-lining would have been fun too but we had already done that at a previous trip to Belize. My parents also used Sun Kissed Excursions to go to Lamanai Mayan ruins by way of a speedboat on the river. They loved it! No need to book expensive excursions in Cozumel. We just hired a taxi and for $25 each, the driver spent 3 hours driving us all around the island, stopping at Playa Palancar for a hour where we sat on the lovely beach before the crowds came around 10 am. In all, the crew on Emerald Princess works really hard at trying to provide a vacation for all kinds of people, even LGBT, singles, children and seniors. The only drawbacks were all the sales pitches and not enough active activities geared to younger people.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc ... Read More
This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc that we saw while on board. Our mini suite, cabin D114 (portside), was very nice, but we were very forward and did feel the movement a little more than the mid ship staterooms we were accustomed to, but it wasn't real bad by any means. The Christmas decorations were beautiful around the ship! The added room in our cabin was nice with three of us sharing the space. Having a tub is also something you don't get in a regular balcony stateroom, and we enjoyed the bigger bathroom. The sofa bed for our grown daughter was great because the long sofa still had a portion to sit on even though the bed was open. Good idea! Our large queen size bed was comfortable for me but not as comfortable for my husband. The dining staff was the best of any of our 7 other cruises (4 th on Princess) They went way out of their way to please us, no matter what we requested! If we wanted a bottle of wine that we had not finished in a previous dining room for Anytime Dining, they tracked it down. If we wanted to try two different desserts, they just brought them without us even asking for both. They were all so friendly and never acted as if we were troubling them in any way. Many had a super sense of humor and made our dining experience a real pleasure. Entertainment we saw only on some of the evenings, so can't judge them all. The trivia game in the Explorers Lounge was very fun, the comedian illusionist was terrific, and the Casino non- smoking nights were good for just a little while, so as not to lose too much. Dancing in the Wheelhouse Bar was nice. We even learned some new dance steps in the Club Fusion. Bingo was well attended and was more reasonable to play than on other cruise lines. When you think about the chef having to plan for 15,000 meals per day, it is amazing what they are able to accomplish. We ate one evening in the Crown Grill Steakhouse and thought it was outstanding, well worth the $25 surcharge. Also on our last evening, we dined in the beautiful Sabatini's restaurant and had a wonderful meal, also a specialty restaurant. We never bought the alcohol package because we didn't feel it was worth it. You are allowed to bring a 750 mL bottle of wine per person in each cabin without a corkage fee. It was nice to sip a glass of wine on our balcony before dinner. At dinner we'd order a glass of wine and a pina colada by the pool, but never would have spent the amount of the alcohol package. The exciursions were okay except that in Belize we had to use local catamarans that held about 200 passengers to tender us to shore instead of the tenders from our ship. Because of that, it was open air and cooler on the morning trip to shore. The 2 hour river cruise was in an open air boat that was not very comfortable, it rained on us and we were cold, but we saw many crocodiles, iguanas, birds, and even bats on trees. Interesting. Tulum in Mexico was a long trip from the ship because you had to take a 30 minute big enclosed speed boat trip before taking a 45 minute motorcoach ride to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum . I felt it was worth it to see this ancient civilization on the gorgeous turquoise sea, but felt that I also missed a day on the beautiful beaches. You can't do it all! I figured that you can't always see the ruins on this magnitude. I loved this particular cruise because there were 3 full days at sea and it was so relaxing to just do your own thing! Whether it be walking the Promenade deck 3 times around for 1 mile of exercise or going to the big fitness center or just lounging under the huge outdoor screen to see a Beatles concert or see an NFL game, there was always something to see, eat, or do. I truly believe that it is up to each individual's attitude as to whether you will enjoy yourself or not. Some people complain about very minute things when on the whole picture, the cruise was wonderful and the staff was terrific in every way! Would we cruise with Princess again? Absolutely. It is very economical for what you get and if you paid a lot more on a high end smaller cruise line, you would expect more. Free liquor with dinner, smaller numbers at dinner, no waiting, etc., but we didn't break the bank and were very pleased ! We had a great time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Let me start by saying that this is our 5th cruise on Princess. We had read all the negative reviews posted recently on this ship and its cruise. And quite frankly, they concerned us. But we were already booked and there was nothing we ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this is our 5th cruise on Princess. We had read all the negative reviews posted recently on this ship and its cruise. And quite frankly, they concerned us. But we were already booked and there was nothing we could do about it. NONE of the horrible things those other reviews said happened to them--happened to us...NONE OF THEM. Lets start with the only thing that really did go wrong. We had signed up for Princess to provide transportation from Houston Hobby Airport to the embarcation dock on Sunday morning, Dec. 7th. We arrived in plenty of time that morning at the airport. For some reason, the bus was running over an hour late....and nobody knew why...not even the agents. So, that was frustrating. But the busses did eventually show up and they took all of our luggage and we never saw our luggage again until it was delivered to our room onboard the ship. So, that was cool. Lets make one thing clear from the top. If you want belly-flop contests, kids screaming, running, splashing and be annoying..... cruise with Carnival. If you like conga-lines...cruise with Carnival. If you want non-stop partying and drinking...cruise with Carnival. If you want an elegant ship...cruise with Princess. You you want good entertainment geared towards adults...cruise with Princess. If you want very good food....and alot of it...cruise with Princess. If you like to lay next to the pool, and not be splashed by 100 kids...cruise with Princess. If kids screaming is not your definition of peace and quite...cruise with Princess. Most importantly, if you want to relax...and enjoy peace and quiet... and be treated like royalty by the staff....cruise with Princess. This is exactly what you will and will not get on the Emerald Princess. Embarcation was a breeze. The only complaint was that they passed out a form at the beginning of the line that had to be returned before you can actually go onboard. It was a struggle to fill the form out and keep up with the line moving. For those of us who used Princesses transportation from the airport...it would have been much better to have been given that form when we boarded the bus so we could have filled out the form during the 35 minute bus ride to the dock. The Ship. The Emerald Princess is an elegant ship. Beautifully constracted with extensive use of varnished wood throughout the ship. The Atrium is truly elegant...as opposed to Carnival where the Atrium is all splash and glitter. The Vines venue in the Atrium is a 5-star venue by anyones definition. Our balcony cabin was A435. And we loved it. It was only a few steps away from the elevators midship....so we never had to walk far to get back home. It was very quiet...no outside noises whatsover. Our cabin Steward, Christian, was excellent...just excellent. He provided us with everything was asked for. He referred to us by our names when we met him in the Halllway, our room was cleaned 3 times a day. I asked him to iron my suit and shirts for formal night and requested that they be returned by 5PM the next day. At precisely, 5PM the next day, Christian knocked on our door with our freshly ironed suits and shirts. I wish I could remember his last name, so I could give him the credit he deserves. The crew was from all over the world. Some were from the Ukraine. I was amazed at how they could be so happy and smile at us when their country is at war...but they did. Everyone who serves on that ship made you feel like family....so friendly, so happy to see you. The entertainment onboard was must better than others have described it. The singers and dancers were excellent. The comedians and magicians were very good. The Emerald Princess does not have a dedicated "comedy club" and I did miss that. But however, there was always plenty of things to go see and do at night. Their cruise director Kelvin was especially HILARIOUS. Do not miss a chance to hear him. He is very funny, and you can't help but to like him. The food in the main dining room was very good and the service was faster than what we had experienced on other ships. We chose "anytime dining" and the key to making this work is to call for a reservation that morning. We always called and reserved our table for 5:15 OR 5:30, and we walked right in. Those that did not, they did have to stand in a very long line waiting for dinner. YOU MUST use Exotic Eco Adventures in Belize to take you to Goff's Caye. They will meet on the dock in Belize and after a 30 minute boat ride equipt with 2-200 HP outboards. They will dock on the most beautiful spit of land you have ever seen. Trust me, go the trip advisor and search for Exotic Eco Adventures in Beize....and Goff's Caye. Many called it PARADISE....and that is what it is...PARADISE. Everyone in our group loved this little small island. They serve FREE fun punches throughou the day. They will even bring you your own bottle to your chair. Barbeque chicken and lobster lunches are $12.00 This small island IS NOT TO BE MISSED. The ship does not offer it as an excusion...so please do yourself a favor and contact Exotic Eco Adventures and have them take you to Goffs Caye. You will never forget it!!! In Roatan, we contracted with Juan Carlos with "Islandertours". He drove us around the Island and took us to the west end at Bananrama. You will learn everything you wanted to know about the island and many things you would have never known if you had not gone with this company. He is highly rated to Trip Advisor and he treated us wonderfully. Our group of 4 adults paid him $100 for the day.. ($25.00 each) ..and we tipped the driver $40.00. We recommend him highly. In Cozumel, we dove with Alison who runs "Scuba with Alison" There were many reason why we chose her. She runs a small boat..never takes more than 7 divers on her boat. We have been on "cattle boats before---and we hate them. Alison is personable, and excellent dive guide and she will take care of you. $90 for a two tank dive with all the equipment including a computer. They will set up all the gear for you and you will never set it up yourself...even between dives. You can look her up on trip advisor. Her reviews are all very positive and she will write you back very quickly if you decide to want to go scuba diving with her. And $8 taxi ride will get you to where her boat the Maximus is docked. The disembarcation went smoothly as well as the bus ride back to Houston Hobby. Overall, all four of us really loved this cruise. And we would recommend it to ANYONE that wants a quiet, peaceful, relaxing cruise. But you REALLY HAVE TO GO SEE GOFF'S KEY in Belize!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As seasoned cruisers we weren't sure what to expect from the Emerald or the Houston Port, based on prior negative reviews. We are happy to say we didn't experience any of the negatives reported by prior naysayers. Port ... Read More
As seasoned cruisers we weren't sure what to expect from the Emerald or the Houston Port, based on prior negative reviews. We are happy to say we didn't experience any of the negatives reported by prior naysayers. Port Pros:Road construction around the port is substantially done, but the road signage was still inadequate as of Dec 14, 2014. The parking lot has been enlarged, and appeared to be big enough now. Cons: Parking lot directional signage was absent. Cops and parking attendants gave contradictory instructions to those arriving. Embarkation Pros: We experienced none of the embarkation process problems (identified in earlier reports). Signage was improved, but could be beefed up even more to match other ports like Ft. Lauderdale. Cons: They allow queue lines to cross in two areas (Check-in area and Plat/Elite/Suite waiting areas) which adds confusion.They also need more wheelchairs and pushers for mobility challenged folks at the start of embarkation. Ship/Excursions Pros: All crew was polite, eager to assist, and generally pleasant from top to bottom. Captain is fun, runs a tight ship of which he is obviously proud. The Emerald is starting to show her age (worn carpeting, bits of rust here and there, worn toilet seats, etc.) but the crew was constantly working on her- she is not neglected in any way. We had a cracked bathtub and a few toilets in public spaces overflow. Cons: Our only complaint surrounds the Excursions themselves, not the staff that facilitates them. We found details in the descriptions frequently inadequate, incomplete or just plain wrong. It appears Princess has sacrificed the "traveler" and suboptimized for larger "cattle call" tourist like experiences. Competitors are doing a better job in this area, and we believe Princess needs a significant revamp to compete with the burgeoning options. We've stopped using Princess excursions entirely, but booked two events for my independent, yet mobility challenged Mom. Both attempts were busts for her, as they failed to describe obvious impediments that prevented her access. Sadly, we were not credited in either instance. Dining/Bar/Entertainment All Pros, no Cons. Staff, food service and bar entertainment absolutely met our expectations in every way. We ate late each night and caught MUTS rather than going to the theater shows on this trip. Cabins All Pro: The Dolphin floor is entirely comprised of Mini Suites, which we successfully upgraded to right before we sailed. Cabin steward, "Reynaldo," was awesome and we had NO issues what so ever. Shopping Pros: The Effy store is a great addition. The prep for onshore shoppers is always well orchestrated. The addition of J Ribkoff, Tommy Bahama and Nautica clothes is FABULOUS. The tanzanite selection was incredible- onboard and on-shore. Cons: The jewelry choices onboard should be balanced between low, med and hi. Currently its too weighted at the extreme low and high ends, and the mid range options are suffering. For instance, I buy gold and silver charms for everyone on each cruise, but sadly I had no options on the Emerald from which to chose. (Ruby was better in this regard.) Overall, Emerald is doing a great job at meeting the expectations of it's patrons. Princess will remain our preferred cruise line, even if we don't like how they manage their excursion options. They cannot expect us to pay a premium for their excursions when they don't return the value for the cost: they are too short, have too many people, or are too often inaccurately described to be deemed reliable.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were very pleasantly surprised by our family pre-Christmas cruise on the Emerald Princess! I had been carefully following cruise critic reviews for the month of November and to be honest, I was having buyer's remorse for booking ... Read More
We were very pleasantly surprised by our family pre-Christmas cruise on the Emerald Princess! I had been carefully following cruise critic reviews for the month of November and to be honest, I was having buyer's remorse for booking this cruise! Then I read a few reviews from people who advised readers to not listen to all the negativity and just allow yourself to have a great time. Well, that is what we did and "WOW" we had a GREAT time!!!! The highs first: Number one was the food and our servers! We had impeccable service from our two waiters Leo and Kentut, they made each dinner an amazing adventure, even with a toddler at the table. The selection and execution was so good, that we never had a chance to explore other dining options because we didn't wish to miss a night in the main DR (this was a first for our group). Of course we ate too much because the buffets always had something inviting as well. The second highlight was our room steward, he was unobtrusive but still managed to know what we needed. We had adjoining rooms (C421 & C425--great spot, would book them again) with 2 children, so he had his work cut out for him. Next, the kids club staff were wonderful. They ensured our 8 year old had a great time and always employed security measures, so we felt very comfortable with them. All in all, a wonderful and relaxing experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had our first cruise due to the generosity of my in-laws. They purchased tickets for 14 of us to go together over Christmas week 2014 in honor of their 55th wedding anniversary. Further, they got everyone balcony rooms. We sailed out of ... Read More
We had our first cruise due to the generosity of my in-laws. They purchased tickets for 14 of us to go together over Christmas week 2014 in honor of their 55th wedding anniversary. Further, they got everyone balcony rooms. We sailed out of Houston on the Emerald Princess (all from Texas). After loads of research before departure, I wanted to put in some notes from our experience. First, we found our departure out of Houston to be flawless. Smooth and easy. A moderate line for embarkation, but, vacation was officially underway, so who cares about a line! All the port employees were smiling, friendly - even jovial. Thanks to all the reviews and information available online, I felt pretty well prepared. Right down to carrying a small bag with anything I'd like to have on hand immediately or even for dinner (we didn't board until 2:00 and dinner was at 5:30). Luggage did take a bit to arrive (mid-evening), but, again, with having the items I really wanted on hand, it was no biggie for us. I cannot say enough about the wonderful staff on the ship. I am lucky to have a husband with the gift for genuine interest in others and he's a great conversationalist. He and I believe in treating our waiter or bartender like a friend and not a servant. I'm sure, because we treat folks this way, we may receive better or more thoughtful service. However we got there, I can tell you we felt pampered 100% by all the staff (steward, wait staff, head waiter and bartenders). All the little details we mentioned up front enjoying were remembered and repeated daily - without a request. For me, that's pampering. Bless the dear soul who brought us coffee and juice each morning with a smile. We had standing reservations for dining daily at 5:30 PM at my in-laws request. My husband and I did not think we'd like the time being so early, but it was perfect. Two large tables takes about two hours to serve and we'd head out each evening to the main show in the theatre. At that point, there's a line waiting to get into to their tables. Choose 5:30 - trust me. We passed on a lot of the ancillary daily activities until the last two days as, I admit, some sounded a bit gimmicky. But, the last two days we participated and had a great laugh and good time. We both agreed, next cruise, we'll be checking out those opportunities daily. MOTION SICKNESS: I chose to use the prescription patch to keep potential motion sickness at bay. For those worried about the matter: IT WORKS!!! Don't bother leaving without a patch in place. Why even risk feeling badly when you can prevent it? No pill to pop, no sleepiness. In 14 people, about half had some minor to moderate sea sickness symptoms off and on. We were the only ones armed with the patch. FOOD: We found the food to be wonderful. The staff offered us "appetizer" portions if we were curious to try an entrée but did not want to have it for our main course. My college age sons tried so many different things I cannot recall. Our request for a special appetizer (off menu) was granted the follow evening. With a smile. We enjoyed most of our dining in one of the main dining rooms. I'm not keen on buffet food so this served my preference well. We did enjoy a pub lunch (fish and chips) one day and slices of pizza another (really quite good). Had a room service lunch of club sandwiches one day as well. Our sons enjoyed a second dinner after 10 PM in their rooms many nights. I appreciated the portion size being reasonable. Not small, but not "Texas sized". You can order whatever you want, but, if you are wishing to show some restraint, it's not hard to do. If you don't have dessert in the dining room, there are options to grab tiny confections at a coffee bar spot. They are really almost better than the main dining room. Grab three and share. ALCOHOL: All over 21 carried a bottle of wine onboard. Husband got one beer package (six for the price of five I believe). He ordered a few extra through the week. I got one canned soda package (diet coke and tonic water) and purchased a smallish bottle of vodka for $17 (room service). We enjoyed a bottle of wine in the evenings as a nice cabernet was available at $15/bottle. We did not spare on the consumption for our liking and felt the prices were reasonable. I had a minor accident that required a visit to the medical facility. Get the insurance that will cover these things!!! This was the last day at sea so not a real downer for the trip. I was surprised that the medical facilities are not available all day every day. It seemed to be 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. I assume there's reasoning behind this, but we had to beg to be let in (doors locked) while my foot was bleeding quite a bit. They'd really wanted me to wait to the afternoon hours. With my right toe toenail ripped half off (there's a story....), I felt pretty emergent. Some insistence by my husband got me in the doors, but, it's the one thing I did not research and wanted to share. It's a bit of a complaint, but, awareness would have been wise on my side to know the hours before the trip began. We had some looking for treat for motion sickness and they were always closed - just by chance. FYI for all to know!! CONDITON OF THE SHIP: There was constant maintenance going on everywhere. Not intrusive, but, evidence of real work being done (varnish, paint, etc. outdoors). Public restroom facilities were CLEAN and plentiful. I'm a real stickler for cleanliness and freshness. I appreciated the sense the ship was well maintained daily. OVERALL: The cost to value ratio worked for us and we are dreaming of indulging again - hopefully this year on a last minute deal. We will go Princess again. We'd both love to do Alaska in a few years. I am happy to report that I am a "cruise person". I wondered if I'd dislike the experience (kind of dreaded part of the year leading up to it). But, I'm sold. Eventually, more interesting destinations may be our goal, but, for now, we both agree the 'floating resort' experience we can get to via driving fits our budget and felt luxurious. We were pulling out our cash and leaving additional monetary tips for all that took care of us - in addition to the room gratuity. That's how much we felt well cared for that week. Thank you Princess!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I normally would not write a review but I must say this was fantastic. Taking Princess is first class and such great quality. I know going during the holidays is an expensive time to travel. But a family of 4 with Kindergarten Twins this ... Read More
I normally would not write a review but I must say this was fantastic. Taking Princess is first class and such great quality. I know going during the holidays is an expensive time to travel. But a family of 4 with Kindergarten Twins this was wonderful. The cruise was sold out and there were so many kids and families on board. What better way to spend the holidays then a cruise to the beautiful Carribean. New Year's is such a fun and wonderful time of year. The cruise was perfect. They had a huge New Years Party. My kids absolutely loved it! The kids club and the pool was there favorite. The food was wonderful and the ship was so very clean. I would take Princess again with my kids in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Houston Bayport is a great option for us in the Midwest. We loved the relaxed pace and boarding was efficient and smooth. Great facility, only wish there were more itineraries out of there. Having traveled on the Royal in Feb, we fell in ... Read More
Houston Bayport is a great option for us in the Midwest. We loved the relaxed pace and boarding was efficient and smooth. Great facility, only wish there were more itineraries out of there. Having traveled on the Royal in Feb, we fell in love with the Belini Bar and the Sushi Bar. I wish Princess would expand Vines to include pay Sushi and Belini like the royal. The way it works now (on ships other than the royal) is that you have to buy wine and you get some very basic Sushi. I notice that it is empty a lot of the time. Our evening dining service was very slow. Late sitting dinner typically took several hours, with appetizer being served 45 min after sitting. I was curious as to why that was and I noticed that my waiter spent many round trips getting wine and bar drinks for all the tables in the area. That extra duty, not typical of our other cruises, took him out of the area for 40% of the time. No wonder so slow. I recently read that they have eliminated wine stewards, perhaps that is the issue? Horizon Court was bland, over salted and smelled very dank. Apparently a prior cruise had flooding due to bad weather so I was o.k. to overlook. Lines were long during normal times. My wife and I decided to use the formal breakfast more often just to avoid the issues. This was a rare Princess cruise with 700+ children on board. Very fun atmosphere compared to the typical crowds. Youth departments did a great job of providing entertainment so hats off to them. We were disappointed with the shows as there was a lot of muscle clad guys ripping off shirts and skimpy dancers. I saw more than 10 families walk out each night. Comedian was pretty much for adults as well. Having been on Princess for 5 cruises, I have come to expect this but I would ask that if more than 10% of the cruise are children, can you not tone it down just a tad. Maybe not rip off shirts? Raunchy Vegas is old and expired. Cruise lines that provide more wholesome entertainment are thriving. Time to step it up a tad (my opinion). Tired of dance tributes with ex-Russian ballet dancers. After a while, it is just repetitive and boring. Lost one island due to weather, staff on board did a good job of coming up with another days worth of events. Watches and jewelry were surprisingly affordable. We were on board for our 20th anniversary. Worth looking at if you are in the market. A little more rust than I am accustomed to. Balcony was pretty rusty and so were the doors when disembarking. Having just come off the Royal, I guess I was just spoiled. Room Steward was great! Extra tip and a comment card. Overall, pretty good trip… Not amazing nor excellent. Seem like the crew is beginning to suffer under cutbacks? Carnival Corp (owns Princess): People take Princess for the elegance and service. This is starting to really suffer. Had a long talk with some folks on board about their experiences with Disney cruises. Family and I may just shoot for Amazing next time.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
The port of Houston was the best check in we have ever had. We have sailed on the Emerald 3 times and the ship is as beautiful as it was when it was new. We went to the Crown Grill the first night and we couldn't have had a better ... Read More
The port of Houston was the best check in we have ever had. We have sailed on the Emerald 3 times and the ship is as beautiful as it was when it was new. We went to the Crown Grill the first night and we couldn't have had a better meal. We had early seating in the dining room and the food was not excellent however it was very good and there was something for every appetite. The service was excellent! I was glad Princess had movies in the theater in the afternoon however it would have been nice to have had an enrichment speaker. We were never at a loss for something to do. The International Cafe on deck 5 was fabulous. They had the best salads, sandwiches, and deserts. That is something not to miss! As for the ports,,,,, we have been to them many times and this time we enjoyed just staying on the ship. We had easy walk off with your luggage and it was indeed easy. Disembarkation was a breeze. All in all we had a great cruise and we will certainly cruise with princess again Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We seem to have been on a different cruise to the previous reviewers.................. Pros: the crew, the cleanliness of the ship, our cabin steward and the staff in the International cafe. Cons: Our basic concerns were with the menus ... Read More
We seem to have been on a different cruise to the previous reviewers.................. Pros: the crew, the cleanliness of the ship, our cabin steward and the staff in the International cafe. Cons: Our basic concerns were with the menus and the quality of food being served. We are Elite members and have been sailing with Princess for quite some years and we were very disappointed with the range and quality of food in the Horizon and the very slow service in the main restaurants. We complained about the amount of beef dishes that were on the menu daily - firstly to the Head Chef of the Horizon Court who seems not to have the words "can do" in his vocabulary but blamed his superiors We then wrote a written complaint to the hotel manager and it took him a few days to respond - it may be just coincidence before the Captains Club formal event and his answer was ut us "Carnival's fault". The gym was so disappointed - most of the equipment, in particular the bikes and the cross trainers - needed major work and calibration mainly due to the fact that they are not designed for obese people who tend come and watch movies in the gym for some reason. The coffee on the ship was absolutely lousy and we a premium coffee card - even the staff agreed with us about the standard of the coffee. We took an excursion in Madeira and for four hours we were subjected one couple whose baby was crying continuously. When it rained the Lido Deck was like a skating rink because the drains could not cope with the rain water and some people on the deck were worried their cabins would get flooded every time it rained. The lounges were always full of people and were during the day with flip-flops and booze . We will never travel again on the "Grand class ships" as we have had the worst travel experiences on those ships . We are also Elite members on other cruise lines and will be more inclined to book with them in future ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Emerald Princess along fjords in Norway. I went with my 13 year old daughter. We have both cruised on the Emerald before when we did a 10 night Western Caribbean cruise 2 years ago. Embarkation. ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Emerald Princess along fjords in Norway. I went with my 13 year old daughter. We have both cruised on the Emerald before when we did a 10 night Western Caribbean cruise 2 years ago. Embarkation. We had a 2.30 slot and we arrived at Southampton at 2. There was a long queue but we proceeded through checking and security very quickly. We were on board by 2.50. Cabin. We had an inside cabin and our steward was the lovely Luney. Our cabin was A336 For the 2 of us the cabin was fine. I've never cruised in an Inside cabin before. When my husband joins us we usually book a Balcony. The room also had two upper berths so potentially it could hold 4 people. In my opinion that would have been extremely cramped. It was bad enough telling my teenager constantly to stop leaving clothing on the bed, floor etc. the bathroom though small was adequate. It had a shower, WC and sink unit. By the time we went to our cabin out luggage was already outside the room. Very impressive. We had missed lunch so we went up to Horizon Court on level 15. It was crazy busy. Vast array of good but the crowd and then trying find seating afterwards was very off putting. That was my first and only stressor of the holiday. We unpacked our clothes and went on top deck for whilst the ship was manoeuvring out of Southampton and Portsmouth. Dining. We had anytime Dining which gives us flexibility. We had dinner in the Michael Angelo dining room every night. We shared a table every night. It was lovely chatting to new people each night. The majority of cruisers were British with a few Americans and smaller amounts if people from other parts of the world. Food. Food was ok. I don't know why but the choices seemed less varied than previous cruises I've been on. And every beef dish I ordered was cooked incorrectly when received. I have never had that before and I have cruised a lot! I definitely felt that there was less crew in the dining areas and I felt service suffered for it. We had Afternoon Tea on the first sea day. The service was dreadful. The tea is only 1 hour and you are usually offered several trays of delicious nibbles. The day we did it, the waiter offered food to two people on our table and then walked off. re hello? There are 6 more of us? Service was very slow and we were offered 2 trays of nibbles in the 40 minutes we were there. Very disappointed. Our table was asked by the Head Waiter if everything was ok. He got an onslaught of complaints from everyone. It was quite funny. Ports. The ports were Stvanger, Arlsund, Skjolden, Bergen. All were gorgeous, scenic and relaxing. I literally felt my stress melt away. I loved the evening sails ways just sitting on the deck and absorbing the panorama along the fjords. Very similar to the Scottish a Highlands but it didn't feel bleak. I suppose because we were there during the summer. Movies under the Stars. Weather wasn't conducive for enjoying outdoor viewing but Million Dollar Arm was good. I didn't do evening entertainment, I tend to find it a bit old fashioned for me. Overall, it was an enjoyable cruise, but I think the Nickle and Dime cost cutting measures are tainting the overall standards on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Our family of 5 including my husband, me, and 3 daughters enjoyed this sailing. We chose this itinerary for its Rome, Florence/Pisa, Gibraltar, & London ports of call. We flew into London City airport and went straight to Southampton, ... Read More
Our family of 5 including my husband, me, and 3 daughters enjoyed this sailing. We chose this itinerary for its Rome, Florence/Pisa, Gibraltar, & London ports of call. We flew into London City airport and went straight to Southampton, using Smithsforairports for all transportation. We were very happy with their service. Our boarding time was 2:30 but we were able to get on about an hour earlier. I had read in previous posts that embarkation was very disorganized but that was not our experience. It would be nice though, to be able to board when you arrive at the ship. Had hoped to be able to enjoy lunch in the open sit down dining room but it had already closed. Our alternative was to join the masses at the buffet. We were aware that the Emerald was hit hard with norovirus in the few weeks before our sailing. The buffet was always manned with staff encouraging the use of hand sanitizer. I noticed most people taking advantage of it. I think though, it should also be encouraged AFTER filling plates and touching all of the spoon handles and drink dispensers. I did not hear of any illness on our sailing. We had three staterooms: two ocean view next to each other in the aft section and one inside in the forward section. Although we requested the inside guarantee be put near the two oceanviews; Princess did not accommodate. The inside room was to be for adult daughter, the two ocean views for husband and myself; and the other oceanview for two daughters, adult and 16 year old. A quick change was made and my husband and I went with the inside so our 3 daughters would be next door to one another. The inside room was adequate, bed comfortable with plenty of storage. No windows makes it easy to sleep late! The two ocean views were sold as completely obstructed but we were delighted to see they had full view of see with obstructions to the sides. They were also blocked off so only crew was able to enter the areas below which meant no passerby's peaking in. Our first three days were sea days and welcome ones they were! We needed this down time to recoup from pre-cruise travel. We enjoyed many of the on board activities. Our 16 year old met with the teen group and immediately found a good friend with whom she spent a good amount of time. The teen club was an overall positive experience however she was discouraged to see some of the teens acting immature and bragging about smuggling in alcohol. These teens seemed to have very little parental supervision. Our other daughters enjoyed line dancing, zumba, fitness center activities, trivia, and karaoke. We do not utilize spa or any other on board activities that require extra payment nor did we pay extra to eat in the specialty restaurants. We enjoyed the food on board but I found myself sometimes just wanting something not so fancy. I never complain though about not having to cook so I enjoyed every meal! Our waiter Randolf and his assistant, Ali were great. Our room stewards were excellent and helpful as well. We enjoyed nightly entertainment in the theater. Some were better than others but overall we always manage to enjoy them. The last nights' crew theater production was wonderful and it was great to see everyone having such a good time. It was standing room only with many doing just that in order to view it. I do have a few complaints with Princess one being the internet access-not only pricing, but speed. I don't mind paying but when it takes 15 minutes just to log on and check a few emails; well, that's ridiculous. It's obvious that they manage to slow it down to make more money. Also, I'm not pleased with the day bedding that is stuffed on the floor at night under our bed and then put on top of our bedding during the day, including throw pillows on top of the pillows we sleep on. This just seems dirty to me. Also, at night, during popular events such as trivia or karaoke, the seating in the lounges was not adequate. Many times, we would have to miss an event we would have attended because there was no seating. All staff on board were friendly and helpful. I utilized the laundry room often and only had to wait a couple of times for a washer or dryer. It is $2 for a wash; $2 for a dry. The iron/ironing board came in handy as well. To make this as brief as possible, I will quickly post ports of call and tours used. With five of us, ship excursions are not an option. I booked everything independently after doing extensive online research and everything was great. Barcelona: Nancy Baum Dailey of enchantingbarcelona tours dot com. We enjoyed her tour and highly recommend. The highlight for us was la Sagrada Família. What an amazing building! Corsica,(Ajaccio), France: We toured on our own and went to Napoleon's home. We also walked to the beach to put our toes in the sea. Be aware that many sunbathers are topless. My American teen daughter was not quite prepared for this. We took a bus ride out to view the Isle de Sanguinaire. Overall, this port was a nice, one-time visit but we would not care to go back. The next 2 days we docked at Civitavecchia for Rome and Livorno for Pisa/Florence. I booked both days with Rudy's Rome Car Tours @ www.rome-car-tours dot com. If Rudy is not available he sends another guide which I knew was a possibility but unless you ask in advance, you are not told this. We were happy with both guides, especially Claudio in Rome who really went the extra mile to fit everything in. He hoped we wouldn't blame him that Trevi Fountain was under refurbishing, empty of water and behind scaffolding. Of course we didn't but were disappointed that we couldn't view it in all its glory. The highlights for us were the Colosseum, and Vatican area. We are not Catholic but enjoyed the history, art, and architecture immensely. The next day we spent the morning at the Tower of Pisa. We all loved this visit. The afternoon was spent touring Florence which was nice and a visit to the Academia to see statue of David and other art which was great as well. Genoa, Italy was our next port and frankly we were tired from the hard-going previous days. We got off the ship and stayed in the port area. Fortunately, the aquarium is there so we enjoyed it. It is an ugly building and this disappointed me but the displays are nice. We loved the dolphins and manatees. There was an overcrowding problem and it seemed very disorganized but overall it was a good visit. We visited some of the cheap souvenir vendors nearby before going back on board for the afternoon. Monte Carlo, Monaco is our next destination. My husband thought this was the prettiest port area. The expensive yachts probably had something to do with this! I found tomsportguides dot com very helpful in planning our walking tour of this port. He lists step-by-step instructions on how to get up to the palace area without having to take too many stairs. He has other port guides as well with the same helpful info. We enjoyed touring the palace, church and the changing of the guard at the palace. Also, the Oceanographic Museum and aquarium is wonderful and very tasteful building unlike the aquarium in Genoa. They do not however, have dolphins or manatees like Genoa does. They do have a shark pool with small sharks you can touch. The girls really like this. We returned to ship for late lunch and then hubby and I too the water taxi across to the casino for a quick peek. We are exhausted at this point and a sea day was welcome and enjoyed before our last port of call-Gibraltar. We loved our tour with John Lopez's Gibraltar Rock Tours; www.gibraltar-rock-tours dot com. Again, we did not know who our driver/guide would be but he was very good. We loved our visit here for the wonderful views-they were perfect that day. We also greatly enjoyed touring the Great Siege Tunnels. Our last two days on ship were sea days and we needed them for our upcoming few days in London post cruise. Disembarkation went as smoothly as it could. We were again, transported by smithsforairports. I had previously arranged tickets for entry to Stonehenge on our way to London. We were glad to get to see this. We then went on in to London, dropped our luggage off at our hotel and went to an afternoon performance of The Lion King. It is an amazing production. We then had fish and chips nearby at Wellington Pub which were delicious. (Reservations were made online ahead of time which is recommended as the pub is small.) We then took a cab back to our hotel. I chose The Rookery Hotel in London after researching online. Since we needed two rooms, budget was a big factor. I was drawn to this hotel though, because of its history, architectural features, Old English decor and good reviews. It only has 33 rooms and I was not disappointed. It did take a while to get everything organized since we needed a rollaway bed and accessible shower. The staff were very helpful and prompt answering my numerous emails. The breakfasts, while not free, were delicious, fresh and beautifully presented; either served in our rooms or in one of the public rooms or patio area. My girls felt like princesses in the lavishly decorated rooms. Their room on the front did allow for some of the outside noise at night to be heard (trash trucks and people talking) but ours in the back was very quiet. We loved our stay here and would recommend it if you like a more homelike environment. It was a quick few minutes walk to Farringdon station to catch the tube for transport around London. The following day we enjoyed worship service at Hillsong London. That afternoon we had a tour with Steve Norris in his Cow Cab. (londoncabbietours dot com ) We learned a lot from Steve and saw parts of London we would not have been able to see on our own due to time constraints. He tucked in a few Harry Potter filming spots here and there which my 16 year old loved. He also took a photo of us Beatles-style at the Abbey Rd. crossing. The next day would be our last in London. We set out for Buckinham Palace changing of the guard ceremony. We stopped on the way at Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station for our Harry Potter fan daughters to take photo. Queue was long and it took about 2 hours. After changing of the guard ceremony, Hubby took two youngest daughters to Warner Brothers Harry Potter tour. They loved it! Other daughter and I bought tickets to tour Buckingham Palace. We enjoyed lunch afterwards on the grounds. The sandwiches were delicious and about $16.00 usd each. I like to say, we had lunch with the queen! A stop at the souvenir shop for some last minute gifts then on our way to the tube to Westminster Abbey. After finding it closed at 3:30 and Evensong another hour away, we decided just to head back to the hotel. We enjoyed nachos from next door, Burburrito and found the ingredients to be fresh and very tasty. We all packed up, turned in early to rest for our 6 am pick up, again by smithsforairports for transfer to Heathrow and flight home. Our trip was wonderful and everything went very smoothly which we are very thankful for! We loved the Emerald Princess and hope to sail with her again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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

Find an Emerald Princess Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click