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295 Princess Emerald Princess Family Cruise Reviews

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
I travelled with my husband and daughter to Southampton and the traffic was (as usual) very busy, we arrived at 2pm. I had heard that embarkation could be long and protracted but actually we went through the booking in and security stages ... Read More
I travelled with my husband and daughter to Southampton and the traffic was (as usual) very busy, we arrived at 2pm. I had heard that embarkation could be long and protracted but actually we went through the booking in and security stages very quickly; very impressed, and in our cabin (D627) at 2.30. Our mini-suite was lovely, with two tvs and an enormous couch. Our steward welcomed us and brought us a glass of champagne and very quickly our suitcases arrived too. I stayed in the room to have a bath (oh how I loved having a room with a bath for the first time; I had brought with me what seemed like the entire stock from Lush so I could bathe in luxury every day) whilst the others went to the buffet. Later, we did the muster drill, our cards being scanned to keep a record of everyone present; a good idea. There was a sail-away party on deck from 4pm but we preferred to relax on the balcony with a glass of wine (Princess allow passengers a bottle of wine/champagne each to use in the cabin). Mini-suite cabins on Dolphin deck are completely exposed no overhang at all. This meant that star gazing every evening was fabulous. I used a large umbrella for shade (if necessary) during the day. My daughter is 20 and the Princess Patter listed a few 18-20 get togethers in the evenings so the young adults could get together. I was pleased because she is too old the for kids clubs but young passengers still need a place to meet and chat. We had registered for anytime dining and we like to share a table with other passengers. We've always meet interesting people and this cruise was no exception. After a couple of days the lady at reception recognised us and would confirm that we would like to share (I was impressed by this because she must see hundreds of passengers every evening). It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. We didn't have to wait for a table ever. The food generally was very good and I have no complaints at all about it. I was pleased that to mostly came piping hot too. I spent the majority of my time by the Calypso Pool because I like the MUTS (watched several films and concerts, plus a couple of football games). I always found a place to sit in the shade, sometimes even a sunbed was available! The pools on Princess are freshwater and at a comfortable temperature so I swam every day. Towels were always available on deck (in cabin too) and, if not, I would ask a pool steward who would get me some straight away. I didn't use the (Horizon Court) buffet (deck 15) much at all, I don’t do breakfast and order coffee and tea using room service each morning (doubles as an alarm clock). For lunch I usually got a hotdog or burger from the Trident Grill or a piece of pizza from Prego Pizzaria, both very tasty. Next to the pizza place is Scoops, ice cream is available there. I did walk through the buffet sometime and it seemed to be well stocked with a variety of foods. At the back of the ship on deck 15 is Caribe Cafe and this opens out onto another pool area with a lovely view of the wake. I came here once for coffee and it was very relaxing to sit watching the wake. On deck 5 is the International Cafe which I had a look at, has some wonderful-looking food on display but I didn't try any (prefer to eat on the open deck during the day). On the last two days we decided to try the formal lunch (only on sea days I think) and it was super. I recommend it; again, we shared a large table with other passengers. On the last sea day we also did the formal afternoon tea. Mmmm, warmed scones with jam and cream; just delicious. I asked for my usual Earl Grey tea and got my own pot, but didn't want the sandwiches or cakes offered (I had of course recently had a formal lunch!) Entertainment-wise, there was a full schedule and we enjoyed going to the Explorers most evenings to see Kelvin the CD host quizzes. Daft fun and hugely entertaining. There would also be a show in the Explorers that we tried to attend plus the Princess Theatre shows nightly. It made for busy evenings. We had a variety of acts, several comedians; Berni Flint, Gary Thompson, Jeff Stevenson, Taffy Spenser, the marvellous Steve Larkins as a Freddy Mercury tribute singer; hypnotist David Knight (who also did an interesting talk about hypnotism later in the cruise), a couple of pianist/comedy entertainers; Darren Bethel and Maria King, plus other entertainment I can’t remember. I attended and enjoyed all the production shows in the Princess Theatre, particularly the Disco one and What a Swell Party. Films were also shown here during the day. If you can, go along to the Meet the Cast Backstage Tour on the final sea day, really interesting and we had a good chat to the dancers and singers. Also, make sure you go to the Culinary Demo on the last day in the Princess Theatre; a galley walk-through follows. I sat on the front row so I could get all the lovely aromas. I had a look at the Sanctuary area ($20 for half a day $40 for full day); very comfortable looking double and single sunbeds in sun, partial shade or full shade. Didn't have time to try it out but spoke to a table companion who did. She said the beds were sooooo comfortable and relaxing and she was served snacks and afternoon tea too. Just below the Sanctuary is the adult only pool. I tried it on the last sea day and it is a nice pool. It has a wave machine so that you can swim against the wave. There are two jacuzzis. Inside is the gym and Spa area. The toilets here also contain a steam room and a sauna. On the first sea day we all signed up for the Murder Mystery event that would cover the whole cruise. We had no idea what was going to happen but it turned into a bit of extra fun. It was hugely enjoyable and I would love to do it again. We stopped at Barcelona, Ajaccio, Civitaveccia, Livorno, Genoa, Monte Carlo and Gibraltar. We did our own tours at each place, having been to them all before. Because we are Platinum passengers (Princess takes all our P&O cruises into account as well as Princess ones) we got to wait at Club Fusion with tea/coffee/juice and pastries. It was just as well because we were delayed by about an hour getting off. Platinum passengers also each get 250 minutes internet (14 day cruise). This is handy if you want to keep in touch with family or do research. I am sure I’ve forgotten so much more to tell you, but sadly that is all I can remember just now. Just to finish by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise and it won’t be my last with Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our 13th Cruise and our 3rd with Princess; we liked our first two Princess cruises very much but would not sail on Emerald Princess again even if we won a cruise holiday. We boarded after shuffling along in the long boarding ... Read More
This was our 13th Cruise and our 3rd with Princess; we liked our first two Princess cruises very much but would not sail on Emerald Princess again even if we won a cruise holiday. We boarded after shuffling along in the long boarding process, when we got on board our cabin was ready; it may not have been cleaned too well, as there was still the previous occupant’s left over food in the minibar and spillage stains on one of the bedside units. The ship felt over crowded; there were too many people everywhere. At peak times trying to find somewhere to sit down and have breakfast in the Lido was nearly impossible; one day we took our breakfast back to our cabin to eat it. The bars were also over crowded. We had a dinner in the Crown Grill at an extra 25 dollars a head, the food and the staff were excellent. But on a nearby table there a family with a baby in arms bawling it head off, one of the adults in the partly lifted the baby above his head to see if it’s nappy was leaking and thus causing the distress. This did not make what we would call a fine dining experience, and were somewhat surprised that Princess allowed young children in the Crown Grill, so be warned.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our 7th Princess cruise but our first since 2009 and sad to say we did notice that standards had slipped in a number of areas. Mainly little things like they no longer produce the daily newspapers for US, Canadian and UK ... Read More
This was our 7th Princess cruise but our first since 2009 and sad to say we did notice that standards had slipped in a number of areas. Mainly little things like they no longer produce the daily newspapers for US, Canadian and UK passengers, a box of tissues in your cabin is no longer standard, but available if you ask, the sun decks were not cleaned to previous high standards and used crockery etc. was not cleared away as rapidly, and, unlike other US lines sailing from the UK, they don’t provide tea or coffee making facilities in your cabin. But by far the biggest disappointment was in the standard of the food, we always found that dining on Princess was exciting with each course savoured, this was no longer the case and the quality of some of the cuts of meat was well below our previous experience. Probably the biggest deterioration was in the breakfasts, we found a lot of the food items in the buffet were at best only lukewarm, whilst in the MDR we experienced very slow service. I highlighted some of these issues during the cruise and to be fair passenger services did take them seriously and we ended up with 3 boxes of tissues! But more importantly the buffet breakfasts did get much hotter. Overall the cruise was still very enjoyable, especially since we were with our 2 sons and their families, and we did get some very good service from most of the bar waiters and those in the MDR. Was it good value, well yes but only because we got 2 price drops honoured by Princess which resulted in the overall cost reducing by 40% from the original booking fee. Whilst Princess continue to give price drops they will likely remain competitive, but their launch prices in the UK are much higher than RCCL/Celebrity or now, on this year’s launch, even their partner company P&O, and as we need to book early to secure an accessible cabin then they would need to be providing a must have itinerary for us to give them our future business. Entertainment. This was typical cruise ship fare with production shows and guest artists in the theatre, but unlike P&O there were no guest artists in the other venues only the ships staff musicians, DJ music or the entertainment staff organising trivia type shows or the Princess Pop Star passenger talent contests. There were however some guest acts performing in the Piazza as well as a couple of pseudo shows from the ships singers and dancers. But Princess do try to pack more features into their Piazza area, as a result it can get very crowded at some times and finding a seat is well-nigh impossible. The lack of guest artists in the other lounges was probably fortunate for us since we found that both the lounges had poorer viewing access of the stage areas than their P&O equivalents, but for canned music this is not a problem. We also found that Explorers lounge had worse access for wheelchairs than P&O’s Tamarind or Malabar equivalents, and as a result we did not use this lounge. There were a fair mix of musicians on board including a string duo, a couple of pianists, a C&W duo, a guitarist and a party band, generally sufficient to find some bar with your type of entertainment. Ports of call. All the Ports of call were our first visits, at none of which did we take any ship’s excursions, mainly because Princess did not offer any accessible tours at all on this cruise, but they did provide free accessible shuttles where needed. La Coruna – The ship berths close enough to the town centre so that a shuttle bus is not needed. It is quite a large town on a peninsular, similar to Cadiz but much bigger and more modern, with a promenade, the Paseo Maritima, following the coast line and providing a reasonably level walk whereas the town centre is quite hilly in places. We did not venture as far as the Tower of Hercules but wandered around the old town and then into the town hall square which has sidewalk cafes all around it. We enjoyed a tapas lunch and then a short stroll back to the ship. Bilbao – The berth is at Getxo which is about 3 miles from Bilbao centre and requires a shuttle transfer of 20-30 mins, provided free by Princess. Unfortunately there was only one accessible bus and it did not run to the provided timetable, as a result we just missed it and decided to let the rest of our party use the normal bus and we went back on board, so I have no real information on Bilbao, other than the family enjoyed it and said it was very pleasant. Le Verdon (for Bordeaux) – The berth is a 3 hr. drive away from Bordeaux and Princess only provide shore excursion tours to Bordeaux or the vinery’s, but they do provide a free shuttle to Soulac sur Mer, however the shore excursion team and even the Captain go out of their way to disparage Soulac, and one of the team even told me that it had little to offer and any beach Soulac had was quite poor and too far away for an easy walk, all of which is quite wrong. The town is only about 20 mins away and although fairly modern is quite a charming little seaside resort. The main shopping street is about a quarter to half mile long leading from the main square where the shuttle drops you right to the sea front which has a magnificent beach and a pleasant promenade. It obviously began as a tourist resort back at the start of the last century and has one or two interesting old hotel buildings on the sea front, and quite a large old market building along the main street with the usual shops selling all sorts of interesting food produce. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. St Peter Port, Guernsey – This is a tender port and since I was informed that my wife would need to be able to take a few steps in and out of the ships tender and that there were also steps from the dock in the town we decided to stay on board. So we were rather disappointed to find that Princess were also using a larger shore based tender and we saw at least one wheelchair and passenger carried on board this vessel, but by this time the rest of our family had already gone ashore. Conclusions. We had a very enjoyable cruise and cruising still provides a high quality holiday at a reasonable price, but for those of us who have been cruising over the last 10 – 20 yrs. the cutbacks in quality of food and standards of service are quite noticeable. Comparing Princess with other lines we sail, we think they are now very similar to P&O, but have fallen behind Celebrity’s standards, and are probably closer to RCI and CCL itself. This is perhaps not surprising as both Princess and P&O are part of Carnival, but this now leaves Carnival without a main stream high end offering since HAL is a much smaller operation.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise with Princess and will definitely not be our last. We flew into Orlando a few days before our departure to visit relatives. We flew Allegiant Air which did an ok job. They charge for every little thing including ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and will definitely not be our last. We flew into Orlando a few days before our departure to visit relatives. We flew Allegiant Air which did an ok job. They charge for every little thing including carry on luggage, and snacks. It was nice flying into the Sanford Airport vs. Orlando as it is significantly smaller . The night before our cruise departed we stayed at the Hyatt Place Convention center hotel in Fort Lauderdale. This place is beautiful and new. The staff was friendly and helpful. There were a lot of eating places and shops within walking distance. They had a very nice free breakfast as well. The ship was beautiful, tasteful and very modern in décor. They kept it clean and in great working order. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They always stopped to ask if you needed help if you were looking at the ship map. One staff member, a chef, walked by me and said hi and then noticed I had stopped at the map and turned around to see if I needed help. Our room steward kept our room spotless and the ice bucket was always full, per our request. The age on this cruise was definitely older (70's/80's). My husband and I are in our early 40's but this did not bother us. There were only 32 kids on board this sailing. They had good evening shows with good variety and professionalism. They had 4 dancer/ Vegas style shows. The entertainment is definitely geared toward the older crowd. We saw a great comedian. We also enjoyed the large movie screen on deck. We watched some recent release movies. The dining was nice. We did the anytime dining and set a 5:15 reservation every night. WE had the same server who was superior to any we ever had on any other line. He quickly learned our likes and dislikes. Very professional and experienced. We went to the Crown grill and had some of the best lobster I have ever eaten. Our disembarkement experience was good until we got to the holding area where we were to collect our luggage. The staff here was rude and not helpful. They also did a poor job of sorting the luggage thus making things very chaotic. I would highly recommend this ship..   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We booked this Cruise for our 30th Anniversary, sailing with Princess twice in the past we had high expectations for this voyage and from the staff and we were not disappointed. The ship is beautiful and was identical to the Crown Princess ... Read More
We booked this Cruise for our 30th Anniversary, sailing with Princess twice in the past we had high expectations for this voyage and from the staff and we were not disappointed. The ship is beautiful and was identical to the Crown Princess from our previous sailings so we felt right at home. The staff was exceptionally friendly, everyone said hello or good day in passing and went out of their way to ensure our trip was an enjoyable one. I would like to extend Kudos to Antonio our cabin steward and to Roberto our bartender at the Explorers lounge. Both are exceptional employees and they do everything they can to make sure the passengers are happy and comfortable. We had roses in our room and Antonio laid out our nightwear on the bed and placed one of the roses on the bed for us each night. The room was always kept immaculate by Antonio and we truly hope he is given a raise or promotion soon, he truly deserves it. He definitely was the best cabin steward we have ever had on any of our cruises. We found out the chef was the same chef we had on the Crown so the food was exceptional as always. We did a mix of anytime dining, buffet and we also dined on our balcony one evening. That in itself is something everyone should experience once in their life. It was $100 a couple but well worth the cost for what we got. The only part we did not enjoy was the champagne, it was very harsh and not a good champagne. The shows we saw were wonderful, we watched Matilda twice. We love Terry Fater and Jeff Dunham so it was a no brainier that we were going to enjoy Matilda. We did notice for the Princess Singer and dancers the shows were reduced to 30 minutes so they were able to get 3 shows in but they were very good shows and the staff was very talented. Our ports of call were Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Saint Kitts, Saint Thomas and Nassau. We did a catamaran tour on Antigua and had a lot of fun, on Saint Lucia and Barbados we did the Rum tours which were very informative. On Saint Kitts we did a private tour with our cruise critic group with Thenford Grey which was very fun and I would highly recommend. Saint Thomas and Nassau we just walked through the towns and shopped since we had been at both of these islands before. Our cabin was a Mini Suite on Emerald Deck E727 and this room was very quiet and nice. The only problems we had was we had to remove the drain plug from the tub to shower so the water would drain, and it took a day and a half for the fridge to cool our water and soda. The balcony was not as large as we thought it would be, and it did seem as though our Caribe deck balcony was a little larger, but it was large enough for us. We did notice they no longer put the loungers on the balconies, only the chairs with foot stools. Overall we loved our cruise and would highly recommend Princess to everyone and anyone who wants to cruise. If you do not have a good time then the fault lies with you, not with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
completely agree with the Cruise Critic article about the fact that the ships are being so heavily discounted to fill them that it attracts a very different class of people on board. It not just Princess but all cruise lines do it. The ... Read More
completely agree with the Cruise Critic article about the fact that the ships are being so heavily discounted to fill them that it attracts a very different class of people on board. It not just Princess but all cruise lines do it. The buffet was packed every night which is the first time I have ever seen this on a cruise. the dinning rooms almost empty after 7pm. The staff were indifferent to us and barley spoke as if they couldn't be bothered but I can understand why as some of the people on board were so rude to them demanding instant attention and clicking their fingers at them.. And the staff know full well they are not going to make any decent tips on this voyage Formal night is a complete waste of time as people's version of formal is so very different. We ended up going to the Crown Grill dressed in our finery spending an extra $50 , the food was excellent but we didn't feel special or were made to feel special we thought we would be in there for at least 3 hours but only just managed to stretch it to 2 as the service was too quick. We would have preferred longer between courses so we could really appreciate the food. Certain bar staff were far too pushy in wanting you to order doubles which could be intimidating for any first time cruisers. A lot of the DISCOUNT cruisers would push in all the time shout their drink order at the bar without realising there was a queue (or LINE) and I think it was a completion to see how many people could fit in a lift (ELEVATOR) !! They would just keep coming when they could see it was full therefore squishing every one in side and some of them were not small people ! However we did have a fantastic holiday because most of the destinations we hadn't been to before and that is why we cruise. We don't choose cruises because of so called loyalty cards which are not really worth much, we look at itinerary dates and price and that determines where and when we go so I suppose it's inevitable that we encounter these types of cruises. It is a shame for the old cruises who like the traditions and good service. Cruising has become so popular now and reasonably priced it will be its downfall. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost ... Read More
As others have said, we took this cruise for the itinerary. Since it was our first cruise, we did not know what to expect. I booked our extra nights before & after the cruise in Copenhagen through the Radisson's website. This cost half of what Princess would have charged so I don't know why anyone would book through them. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Princess was going to charge us $120 to get to the hotel and we paid $40 on our own. There was a Princess table set up in the lobby & the woman told us to wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to board the ship after all the groups had checked in. it was great advice & we breezed through. The ship itself was grand. It was everything I expected. it was huge, well organized & super clean. Our mini suite with balcony worked great for the 4 of us. It was well thought out. I never felt cramped. There was plenty of storage so we were able to unpack everything. The bathroom was a good size - bigger than expected. We saw maintenance people working all the time. I had always heard people rave about cruise ship food so I was coming in with high expectations. I know cooking for thousands cannot be easy but really - can't they cut the rind off the pineapple before serving it? It took a lot of sawing to get it off with that butter knife. We ate mainly in the Horizon Court because it was convenient. We spent the extra $25 per person for dinner at Sabatini's & really should have saved our money. It was heavy on atmosphere & short on food. The menu was very limited with the pasta course being "chef's choice" which means zero passenger choice. I felt nickeled & dimed with the food. I wanted a Diet Coke one day & was asked for my room number so they could charge me so I skipped it. I had hot tea at no charge in the Horizon Court, dining rooms and through room service. I was surprised when I ordered tea at the European style cafe in the Atrium & they wanted to charge me! Ice cream was available at no charge near the pizza counter but if you wanted the "special" ice cream at the cafe, there was a charge. That said, the food was adequate & nobody starved. We loved the $3 flat fee for room service. The staff are very friendly & well trained. I found getting on & off the ship surprisingly easy. The only port I did not like was Aarhus. I cannot figure out why the ship stops there. I would rather have had another day in Stockholm. the ship docks in an industrial area with lots of commercial traffic so passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. We had to wait for a bus to take us a mile into town. Plus it was pouring rain & we went back to the ship. St Petersburg was the highlight of the trip. We booked a private tour through SPb tours & it was fabulous. Because we were a small group, the tour guide was able to get us to the front of every line. it was expensive & worth every penny. It was hot when we went to Peterhof & my kids loved running through the fountains. I had read that we might have to wait to get off the ship because we were not on a Princess shore excursion but that was not the case at all. My 9 year old went to the kids club one afternoon when we were at sea. My 14 year old did not go at all. I know Princess is not really geared towards kids but Disney Pictionary for 13-17 year olds?? They were so tired from sightseeing that we watched movies or swam in our free time. Princess really pushes on-board shopping & art auctions. I think having shops on board with nice souvenirs is great but please don't clutter up the hallways with tables of stuff. And don't tell me not to buy souvenirs in Russia, that I should buy them on board. I wanted to buy a book or magazine but the selection was almost non-existent. The onboard travel guru was great until they started broadcasting his lectures over the PA system. The entertainment was pretty hokey although we enjoyed the crew talent show - they were very genuine. Overall, the trip went smoothly & we have great memories. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
The Emerald Princess still has a "new" feel even though it came on line in 2007. With the exception of the buffet, we never felt crowded even though there were about 3000 passengers on board. That said, some shows in the theater ... Read More
The Emerald Princess still has a "new" feel even though it came on line in 2007. With the exception of the buffet, we never felt crowded even though there were about 3000 passengers on board. That said, some shows in the theater and clubs required you to get there early to get a seat.Overall, the food was excellent. I always think it humorous that folks complain about the food. Let's face it--when you eat at a restaurant that fixes food for 3000 people 3-times a day, perfection simply cannot be guaranteed. We ate at the Crown Grill (steak house) twice--definitely worth the $25 dollar surcharge.The entertainment was terrific. There were a number of different comedians who acts were among the funniest we've heard. The sting quartet was amazing--they seemed to play somewhere all the time, and were quite accomplished. The Beatles impersonators were a delight--close your eyes and you'd think the "Fab-4" was on board. The EP singers and dancers were generally good--but we had to laugh when the 4-singers attempted to sing the "Lover Boat" theme in 4-part harmony--oops. Might want to practice that a bit.The cabin was small, but ample. Our only complaint is the shower is tiny, and we're normal-sized people. Nice large closet area, with plenty of storage. Suitcases slide under the bed. Since we live in Florida and could drive to Ft. Lauderdale, we brought a box with a queen size 3-inch foam mattress topper for our bed which we gave to our steward at the end of our cruise. What a difference!!! Our bed was super comfortable.We brought 10-bottles of wine on board in a carry-on suitcase. No one said a thing. Two bottles were small (750 ml), and the rest were larger--1.5 L. We fully expected to pay a $15 corkage fee for the 1.5 L bottles when we boarded, but that wasn't the case. When we took a 1.5 L bottle to the dining room, we paid the corkage fee. Those we drank in our cabin cost us nothing. Our waiters teased us a bit about the "big" bottles of wine, but we just smiled, knowing that our bottles lasted twice as long as those purchased in the dining room. The Captain cancelled our scheduled port call in the Azores because of ugly weather. That said, we still visited 13 different ports. The transatlantic part of the cruise was very relaxing, almost 10 straight days at sea. However, the rest of the cruise is port-intensive. The ports are amazing, but be prepared for lots of walking and standing on the tours. Speaking of tours, we used Princess for some tours, and went out our own for a few. We would highly recommend SPB Tours for the Baltic ports. About 300 EP passengers used SPB in St. Petersburg. We booked the SPB 5-Baltic Pearl Deluxe Tours before we left--Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. The tours were all professional, comprehensive, superbly guided...and less than half the cost of comparable Princess tours...Also, we booked a Princess debarkation tour in Copenhagen. These tours end at the airport where your baggage will be waiting for you, and the tour only cost a few dollars more than the Princess shuttle bus to the airport. Be prepared to get acquainted with many different currencies. We thought most of Europe had embraced the Euro...wrong. England, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Sweden use their own money. The ship has machines that will change your money...for a reasonable fee. Suggest you check on the various currencies of each country, and how much of each you'll need. We were happy to note that our VISA worked everywhere we tried to use it.My only personal complaint is the awful coffee served by Princess Cruises, which I'm told is made from a syrup... If you're a coffee nut like me, then you'll buy the Princess coffee card which enables you to get brewed coffee at a few locations on the ship, usually the International Café on the Piazza. The card sells for about $30 and gives you about 15 specialty coffee drinks along with the free brewed coffee... And, while I know that dress codes have relaxed a lot over the past couple of decades, men wearing shorts, torso tee-shirts, ripped jeans, etc. are hardly appropriately dressed for shipboard evenings, even if the dress code is the usual smart casual. Lastly, in addition to checking out SPB Tours, check on Iceland Air for your return to the US. If they fly to a destination that works for you, you might save a bundle. We used them to fly from our debarkation port--Copenhagen--to Orlando (Sanford) airport--about half the cost of one of the major airlines.Bon voyage!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our 7th cruise with Princess and our third on this class of ship. We started our journey with our pre-cruise night at the Hampton Inn airport north with no complaints whatsoever. They are one of the few hotels left that supply ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise with Princess and our third on this class of ship. We started our journey with our pre-cruise night at the Hampton Inn airport north with no complaints whatsoever. They are one of the few hotels left that supply shuttles both from the airport and to the cruise port with no charge. We arrived around noon at Port Everglades with one of the speediest check-ins that I can remember. Everything on the ship was right on par from our previous Princess cruises with the exception of the staff. In our previous cruises the staff has always been very customer oriented, after all this is a big part of the experience that keeps us coming back. Countless times when we passed a crew member we were greeted with a blank face, not the usual smile or greeting. My 80 year old aunt whom is handicapped traveled with us. Not one time on our 10 day cruise was I ever offered assistance in carrying her food. On the second to the last day we needed to print our boarding passes of in the internet cafe. There were many others doing the same so it was a little hectic. The manager at the time was visibly very agitated and chose to ignore questions the were being asked. Had this been our first cruise and we had not experienced different, I'm not sure that we would be anxious to repeat. I think that we will be focusing on smaller ships from now on. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we ... Read More
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we chose a Lido level Balcony as we like the closeness to the Pool areas, and also like a cabin near an Elevator and in the Mid-ship to bow area. We like the sound of the waves crashing off the bow of the ship and the motion of this area more than the aft. We flew down to FLL two days early as we have come to do lately and stayed at the Embassy Suites on SE 17th Street. We have stayed there a few times in the past when the rates are decent and enjoy the location for the many restaurants and the good shopping options in the area. It is also a short taxi ride to the Beach area if you want to head down that way. This trip we rented a car for one day from Gold Coast Car Rental, who picked us up at the hotel to get to the rental location nearby and also took us to the Pier the next day when we dropped off the car. The price of the car was less than taxi fares would have been to get to the spots we wanted to visit and the ride to the pier was a bonus. Embarkation day had us arriving at the Pier just before 11:30am as we typically try to do. Normally the process has been very smooth on our last few Cruises, not quite so lucky on this visit though. Boarding was delayed and the first folks who arrived much earlier did not start to board until about 11:30. They stopped check in for about 20 minutes or so while we were in line and we ended up boarding around 12:30. No real reason was given for the delays. Nice thing is, the cabins were ready and we were able to drop off our bags before getting a bite to eat. The cabins on this class ship have a very large closet and plenty of storage space to handle everything we brought with us for the voyage. Closet even had enough space to handle a couple of the suitcases with the rest being placed under the bed. Only improvement I would like would be a shower door in place of the curtain and perhaps a bit larger shower similar to some of the newer Solstice Celebrity ships. The Emerald is very well maintained and very clean. She looked much as we remembered her from our cruise in 2009. The Crew was very outgoing and friendly and very eager to make sure everything went well for everyone on board. The food in the MDR was ample and very well prepared and our waiter Ray made sure we were very happy with whatever was served. Ray and the Headwaiter Luis also took very good care of my wife's Gluten Free issues by bringing the menu for the next evening so she could pick out her selection that could be adapted to the GF issue. This class of ship does make getting from here to there a bit more of a challenge than some vessels, especially back in the MDR area and on the upper decks but you learn to figure it out as you go along. I do like the ships as a whole, and really enjoy the International Cafe area for a lite lunch or breakfast. On this trip we actually learned to enjoy the MUTS movie area, especially the padded lounge chairs in the area. I did not find it near as loud in the area this time as I have in the past few cruises on Golden Princess, etc. The Itinerary for this Cruise was Southern Caribbean which included Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, and Aruba with three Sea Days along the way. The only new stop for us was Dominica where we took a tour with some of our Cruise Critic group with Pepper's Tours. It was a full tour of the island with stops at Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, a nice fruit stand, and Champagne Reef for snorkeling. Cost was $57pp and was well worth it for a full day of activity. We stayed on board at Princess Cays and for the half day visit to Grenada. It was nice to have a quiet ship mostly to ourselves. Entertainment on the ship was ok overall. The Production shows are very typical and we do not attend many of them, but those that did enjoyed them. The piano player did a nice job and had a big following and the comedians were also fairly good overall. The crew talent show had some highlights and worth checking out in most cases. There were lots of Trivia events on board also which many enjoyed on a regular basis. Our Cruise Critic group had a very active thread leading up to the trip and had a few things planned for on board. The Sail Away Gathering was lightly attended, which sometimes happens but the Meet and Greet in the Sky Lounge had a nice turnout and some folks also took part in a Gift Exchange toward the end of the get together. We also had a group Slot Pull on the first Sea Day, only about 16 of us took part but we had a good time and ended up only losing $1, pretty cheap entertainment and a good way to mingle. Disembarkation went very smoothly. We used their EZ luggage system so did not have to find our bags or take them to the airport. They were checked through to our final destination and worked very well for us. It is really nice on Saturdays and Sundays when you cannot check your bags at the airport until two hours prior to your scheduled flight times. You do have to be out of your cabin by 8:00 which is a bit early, but the Lido Buffet is open for breakfast until 10:00am. Taxi to the airport is about $15 plus a tip and a much better deal than Princess transfers, or a little better than a shared van. This was a very good Cruise on a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. We booked the Sapphire Princess while on board for a 28 day Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti Cruise which goes RT Los Angeles in the fall of this year. Booking on board got us the $150 pp. OBC for this upcoming Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
I am resubmitting this as I am unable to find my original review. My husband and I took his son and our 5 year old grandson on the Emerald Princess for their Eastern Carribean New Year's Eve cruise. My husband and I have been on ... Read More
I am resubmitting this as I am unable to find my original review. My husband and I took his son and our 5 year old grandson on the Emerald Princess for their Eastern Carribean New Year's Eve cruise. My husband and I have been on numerous cruises all over the world and many different lines. We ALWAYS book full suites/penthouses. We booked L107 Lido Deck for us and a second cabin nearby for the kids. Our first morning we woke to THUMPING, LAMPS SHAKING, TV SHAKING, BATHROOM DOOR SHAKING. It was our first morning and at sea. So we planned on a leisurely day waking up whenever we did. Who could sleep with all the racket. It was 7 AM (our time). Turns out our bedroom was directly under the treadmills. When we booked the cruise the web site indicated we werr under the spa which is quiet. I called the hotel desk immediately plus notified our steward. Our steward, Jeffrey, was wonderful. He brought his supervisor to our suite to hear the thumping. The supervisor, Sammy, contacted customer relations manager, Anthony, who said he would see what he can do. Meanwhile the thumping was all day long. I asked for a meeting with the Hotel Manager Peter which was granted. In the interim the customer service manager offered to move us to a mini suite on deck 9 (we were on deck 15) and near our kids, that was the plan. If I wanted a mini suite I would have booked one! My husband and I explained to him that this was unacceptible. We were planning on having great holiday cruise with family and now we can't even stay in the suite we paid $10,000 for. The hotel manager suggested they would try to pinpoint which treadmills were affecting our suite and close them down for the mornings. They put out of order signs on the first 3 treadmills. The next morning it seemed quieter. Too good to be true because the thumping started. I called Hotel Manager again. Basically for 4 days I was calling the Hotel manager. i would go up to the spa to see what machined were being used. Sometimes it was the second 3 machines. In the meantime they have about 20 treadmills all along the front of the ship. The ones used the most were the ones on the starboard side above our suite. Whenever i went to the gym to check there was never anyone using treadmills on the port side. The woman at the spa desk said the customer relations manager instructer her not to close off additional machines. Maybe if they tried closing machines 1-6 we would not have had any issues. Finally while at sea I called Corporate Princess. After being passed to a second person they said they would look into it. It wasn't until day 5 that the customer relations person called our cabin and provided us with compensation. Considering we spent over $10,000 for our suite and we paid for the kids cabin, in addition to a few thousand in shore excursions, drinks, special restaurant, gambling, the $1150 they gave us is in an insult. This is the first complaint. Food was horrible. I have never been on a cruise where the food has been so bad. Even in the Crown restaurant it was not up to standards I am familiar with . Not to mention it took 4 days before I got a waiter to give mac and cheese to my grandson. Although EVERYONE on board said asking for mac and cheese was no problem no one seemed to be able to get it for us. Our first night in the Michelangelo dining room they said they didn't even have a kids menu! Finally the next night we got a kids menu. it wasn't until the fourth night we ate in Michelangelo and had a waiter named Wotold who managed to get us mac and cheese. Every night after that we made sure we sat at his table as he seemed to be the only competent waiter. The coffee in the Horizon was all water! We love a good cup of coffee in the morning. It was the pits. But in the evening the coffee was fine in the Michelangelo so why couldn't be the same in the Horizon. New year's eve was a major disappointment. They did not offer complimentary champagne. You had to buy a bottle if you wanted a glass of champagne at midnight. We have been on other cruise lines for new Year's and always was given a glass of champagne. The evening activities on New Years was terrible. Your choice was the top deck with the band and the activities group leading in line dancing or the inside piazza with balloons dropping. That was it! As i said this was the worst cruise ever! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
What a disappointment. After having cruised with Princess Cruise lines this has been the worst yet. The best tip I can give is to avoid their excursions all together. They are outrageous in price and provide poor service. You are better ... Read More
What a disappointment. After having cruised with Princess Cruise lines this has been the worst yet. The best tip I can give is to avoid their excursions all together. They are outrageous in price and provide poor service. You are better off finding an excursion off the ship after you dock each port. We had a complaint at one of our excursions and instead of trying to take care of the customer the excursion desk just led us on a wild goose chase. To make things worse their excursion manager, lied repeatedly when confronted with her superior. The overall attitude of the personnel was poor as well. Eighty percent of the crew seemed uninterested in their jobs and the passengers which reflected in their subpar performance. Our cabin steward falling into this category as well. He did the bare minimal to keep our room appear as if it were clean but not once was our balcony tables or chairs cleaned off in our 10 day voyage. If fact it was dirty before we even checked in and Princess charges us $11.99 gratuity each day for his poor service? They were so concerned over a virus that broke out during the cruise but what they fail to realize is that you can get just as sick from bird poop on the balcony chairs and tables. There is also an automatic 15% gratuity charged on all bar bills.... outrageous for the water-downed drinks which are expensive enough. They are also deceptive in their bar receipts because in addition to a automatic 15% charge there is another line for more gratuity which if you are not careful you may fill out giving them more of a tip. I don't mind tipping and in fact tip 20% or more for good service but I like it to decide how much I tip. When gratuity is already added each day then there is no reason for the crew to go above and beyond exceptional service. The buffet was subpar as well, same thing day after day...boring. On a positive note we loved our server, Michael, at the Da Vinci as well as Luis from Mexico. They went out of their way to make our dinners exceptional and we appreciate them for their charm and great sense of humor. As far as the excursion desk goes, they should all be fired especially their so called manager Roxanna who has the personality of duck tape. A word of advise to Princess Cruise Lines: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT ESPECIALLY IF YOU WANT THEM TO UTILIZE YOUR SERVICES AGAIN! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very ... Read More
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very well. It is the friendliest line we have cruised on. I am not referring to fixed smiles, or cheery good mornings. I am talking about a professional staff that really seems to like the passengers and their jobs, and does their best to be compassionate and helpful. We saw the same thing on a Med cruise on Princess several years ago. It is not as rigid or formal as most. For tours, you did not have to meet in the theater, and be marched off in lockstep. You just walked ashore at the right time and tour personnel were waiting to show you where to go. The captain was more willing to wait for late passengers returning from tours than most lines, and we had that same experience with them in the Med. It is really more "laid back" than most. The mix of passengers was truly great. Americans may have been a "plurality" but were not a majority. There were many, perhaps more, Canadians. Also a number of Brits, with some Aussies and even a family from New Zealand. We had "shared table lunches and breakfasts in the dining rooms, and met folks from all over including Switzerland, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Ages ranged from several infants to some very senior citizens. There were a lot of preschooler, grade schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults. Everyone, children included were very well behaved, friendly, and made a Christmas cruise so much better for us old folks. The food and service in the main dining room was the best we have seen in some years; at least as good on a 6 star Crystal cruise in the Baltic 8 years ago. The menu was quite varied. We had one night of lobster and two nights of excellent prime rib, and a couple of nights of small steaks. If you wanted a large rib eye, however, you needed to go to the Crown Grille. There was beef, chicken and sea food every night. Appetizers, soups and salads ranged from standard to exotic and were excellent. The MatreD was very helpful and they did the best job of accommodating my wife's gluten intolerance. They even had gluten free pancakes. They had sugar free and gluten free deserts every night. The breakfasts and lunches were also fine, and service was great for all three meals. We ate most meals in the dining room. We used traditional, but folks using anytime said they got seated with only a short wait at worst. The International Cafe, their coffee shop (extra cost) was excellent, and had a good light meal (free) three times a day. We used it at lunch; they had several excellent salads, a quiche of the day, and several small sandwiches. The only discordant note was the Lido deck. The food was fine, and they had lots of happy diners with plates filled high enough to make me slightly ill, but the selections were somewhat more limited than most. They had no "deli counter" to make sandwiches. They did have an omelet bar. There was a separate Pizza place, soft serve ice cream station, and a trident grill for burgers and dogs. Our rooms, ocean view unobstructed, was one of the smallest we have seen but very well designed and comfortable. No couch but the excellent flat screen TV was well positioned to be seen from the bed. Plenty of storage and closet space, and a decent bathroom with shower. We like the room very much but there was one problem. Our cabin had fold down bunks over the regular bed. If the cabin is made up as a double, access along the sides of the bed is partially blocked by the bunks, making access rather difficult; I had to face and hold on to the bunk while side stepping. I guarantee you will bump your head more than once. Bad design. The solution is to have the cabin made up as twin beds with the aisle down the middle. The room then works out very well. Entertainment was traditional but good. The production shows had four excellent singers and 11 quite good dancers. On non show nights, there were the usual range of comedians, singers, jugglers et al. All fine but I did tire of flatulence jokes. There was also good entertainment in the lounges, and in the main atrium (the Piazza) there were often musicians or performers. We were on a Christmas cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Aruba and Bonaire have good snorkeling and/or diving, with the usual overprice shops, and very little else. Never want to go back. Grenada is a great stop with both historical sites and some great natural scenery. Dominica is the most primitive and most beautiful of the windward/leewards, and a great spot for eco tours. St Thomas is St Thomas. Princess Cay is very well done but quite standard. We have done all of the lesser Antilles on sailboats and know the islands. The alternate Princess Souther Caribbean itinerary is better, but we wanted to go over Christmas. Interestingly, we saw few activities, only a game room, for the kids. There may have been more but they all enjoyed the lovely pools. The pools could not be covered but that was no problem in the Caribbean. Enrichment activities were a bit limited. A number revolved around the spa. There were French lessons from the Assistant Cruise Director. The best was a series of lectures by a lawyer. It may sound like an improble subject for a cruise line, and likely to be boring, but Michael Beshay was very interesting and very enjoying. He was not lecturing on the law, but using legal cases to entertain. Don't miss him if you have chance. One disappointment was the loss of the traditional afternoon tea. There was tea served at 3:30 in the main dining room, with background music, and all the sandwiches, pastries et al you could eat. However, the afternoon tea served in an intimate lounge setting with musicians playing classical music is apparently dead. Actually, there were no classical musicians aboard. Second year on two different lines we have seen this. Victim of the economy? I read the reviews on the Emerald before we left, and saw everything from one to five stars. I was a bit worried, but then I saw the same pattern for all th other lines. Different people want different things and that partially explains it. I do think some folks would give only one star to heaven, and others would give five stars to a garbage barge. Be interesting to see a graph drawn by Cruise Critic showing number of people giving each star rating. Certainly a bell curve, and the area under the curve would show the relative performance of each line. I would give Princess five stars. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci dining rooms that we frequented. The Horizon buffet was adequate but often crowded -- the sit-down dining is a much better choice. Our waiter and assistant waiter, Johnry and Arturo were fabulous, providing good recommendations (for food and entertainment) and service. The head waiter, Manuel, was always friendly and checking on our needs. We made good use of the gym, which had a good selection of exercise equipment. It was crowded one or two times during the cruise, but most often not. We had an inside cabin on the Carib Deck and found it quite spacious as staterooms go. We also had excellent service from our stateroom steward, Angelo. We greatly enjoyed the entertainment. We had two very funny comedians and an excellent performance from the BeatleManiacs. We also enjoyed many cruise staff-led events -- including trivia and an excellent "Liars Club" which we had never seen before -- worth checking out! We also enjoyed events in the Piazza including Christmas caroling, flamenco dancers, and a holiday cooking demonstration. This was the first cruise that had "Under the Stars Movies". We enjoyed a few movies plus NFL football games. Being a sports fan, this was a real treat! They also had servers that brought popcorn, pizza, and cookies/milk during the movies & football -- a very nice feature. One evening was a bit cold, but they provided blankets to the movie audience. We also took part in the 3-part "Survival French" class. We enjoyed all the ports of call. On Aruba, we caught a taxi (from Carl an entertainer who played his music for us on the ride) that took us to Eagle beach which is among the most pristine that we have ever seen. For $5 the adjacent hotel will provide you with a lounge chair and towel. At Bonnaire, we hired a taxi to take us to the Plaza Resort which was quite rocky -- should have brought water shoes -- but excellent snorkeling there. At Grenada, we hired a taxi (from Morgan who gave us a history of Grenada as we made our way up the elevations) to take us to the Seven Sisters Falls which was a more strenuous hike that took about an hour each direction. It had rained that morning, so the path was muddy and slick which added to the difficulty. The falls were beautiful with two cascades set in a rain forest. There was a local diver by the name of Super Butterfly who performed a back-dive off the first falls and also did a hop, skip, and jump off the second falls -- both quite daring! At the next stop, Dominica, we tried to book a whale watching excursion but we missed the boat by a half-hour, so we did a small tour of the town and found an internet cafe. We missed out on some eco-tours through their rainforest, but were a bit tired after the hike the previous day. At St. Thomas, we booked a sail/snorkel excursion through Princess -- offered by "Castaway Girl". It was fantastic! A very pleasant and relaxing sail out to an offshore island and then about an hour of snorkeling over a shipwreck and a coral reef -- and then a sail back with rum punch offerings. Highly recommended! Our final stop was at Princess Cay where we rented a cabana from Princess. It was a little pricey, but a five course catered lunch and free drink were included. The cabana was air conditioned which made it easy to spend five hours on the beach. There was an outbreak of norovirus that the ship's crew responded to appropriately to contain. We had been careful from the start of the cruise to frequently wash hands and use the purell dispensers found throughout the ship -- so escaped. There was a bit of a wait to get on the ship -- we arrived about 1:30 which may have been peak boarding time. Recommend arriving earlier. We chose the walk-off option which went fine and we had pre-booked a taxi to meet and take us to the airport. All-in-all, this was a very satisfying, entertaining, and relaxing cruise. Thanks, Princess! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was supposed to be a Canada/New England cruise, with a repositioning at the end to Ft. Lauderdale, where Emerald Princess will spend the winter season. We are from Atlantic Canada and took this cruise for the US ports we were supposed ... Read More
This was supposed to be a Canada/New England cruise, with a repositioning at the end to Ft. Lauderdale, where Emerald Princess will spend the winter season. We are from Atlantic Canada and took this cruise for the US ports we were supposed to visit - Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport, New York and Charleston. Charleston turned out to be the only port we actually made it to, other than a service call in Boston, when no one was allowed off the ship except for the 90 passengers who had originally planned to end the cruise in New York. On the second day in Quebec City, we were informed that they were monitoring Hurricane Sandy and were going to stay in calm Canadian waters until the danger from the Hurricane was past. So we entered the "Magical Mystery Tour" segment of the cruise (so named by the Cruise Director), where we visited unexpected ports such as Saguenay, (Quebec), Cornerbrook, (Newfoundland) and Saint John, (New Brunswick). Since we already live in this part of the world, these were of little interest. And I suspect most of the other 590 or so Canadians on board felt the same way. It became obvious after awhile that, aside from avoiding the storm, which certainly cannot be criticized, Princess's main concern was to limit their extra costs in dropping off the 90 New York departing passengers, leaving the 2900 other passengers with very disappointing substitutions for the US ports missed. Magically, we arrived in Boston on the day we had originally planned to be in New York, and the 90 departing passengers were put on buses headed to the three NY area airports, thus minimizing the cost to Princess. We could have easily sailed out around the storm and gone to Nassau, Bermuda, or Princess Cays and still arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on time. In fact, there appeared to be no reason we could not have made full day stops in Bar Harbour and/or Boston, if they had not wasted so much time stalling in Atlantic Canada. So the itinerary turned out to be a complete disappointment. No compensation was offered, and the Captain, who early on acknowledged he was getting plenty of suggestions from passengers on where we could go as alternatives to New York, disappeared from view completely from Boston onwards and was never seen or heard from again. I suspect he left the ship in Boston. It was disgraceful that he did not have the courage to face the passengers, especially at the Captains Circle party for Elite and Platinum members, where he had earlier committed to attend. Added to my frustration was the fact that when he did speak over the public address system early in the cruise, he had such a heavy Italian accent he was barely understandable. Aside the from the itinerary disaster, onboard it was a fairly good cruise. Emerald Princess seems to be in fairly good condition, although apparently is heading to drydock next April. My only serious complaint was that the bed in our cabin was the most uncomfortable I have ever encountered in 20 cruises. The mattress was in desperate shape. A couple of maintenance problems in the bathroom when we boarded were quickly fixed. Our room steward did a competent job, although he completely ignored the "Make Up Our Room" card we placed outside by 8 am in the mornings and it was often noon before our room was done. We have not cruised on Princess for almost 4 years, due to a major disappointment with our last cruise on Star Princess in 2009. The food at that time in the Dining Room was very tasteless, and frankly I was expecting the same this time. To my surprise, the flavor of the food has improved tremendously, at least on this ship, and we were very satisfied with the evening meal. We were on fixed seating in the Da Vinci dining room. Our waiter Johnson was great, ably assisted by Tony. However, breakfast and lunch in the Da Vinci was another matter. Service was incredibly slow and the food often luke warm and fairly bland. Horizon Court food was mixed, but it was never overly congested when we were there. The entertainment was also a mixed bag. Except for the final show, the production shows were poor. Maybe we have just seen too many. The other acts brought on the ship were mostly good, especially the hypnotist, which is something I had never encountered previously on a cruise. The Cruise Director Peter and his staff did a competent job. I really enjoyed the personality of Deputy Cruise Director Frenchie, as well as Ryan, who is crazy. But my main criticism of the entertainment is the impact from having a extra deck added to the latest Princess ships like the Emerald without increasing the public space,especially the theatre. As a result, they now have to do three shows a night instead of two, and they have shortened the shows to about 30 minutes - hardly worth showing up for. And if you go to the first show, as we did, the congestion outside the theatre after the show from people waiting to get into the second show is terrible, all the way back to the mid-ship elevators (which were also terribly slow at peak periods). So, the cruise was a major disappointment. Even with the surprise new ports added to replace the missed ones, we were cheated out of one port day. Absolutely no apology or compensation offered by Princess. Will I cruise on Princess again any time soon? NO! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the ... Read More
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the First Class. We were met at the airport by a team of efficient Princess representatives, who directed us to where to take our luggage (free handy carts) and to our bus. We were whisked to the ship's terminal and noticed a long line of people waiting to get aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to find our wait was only about 15-20 minutes and we received a handy pocket map of the ship, our room card and pictures taken for i.d. Once aboard we made our way to our stateroom, with the help of conveniently placed personnel to aid us on our way. It was disappointing to find our balcony stateroom very cramped. It wasn't as nice or roomy as on a smaller Princess Two people couldn't be about at the same time. One had to sit on the side of the bed with feet out of the way while the other maneuvered around the bed. Also don't drop the soap in the shower or you'll get a bump on your head. There was no room for a foursome card game or pre-dinner refreshments. Our daughter and her husband had to knock on our cabin door and wait in the passageway. We couldn't all fit in the room together. The first day or two it was bewildering trying to find our way around. The little pocket map really helped, and on each floor near the elevators you would find a plaque of the ship and the layout for the floor you were on. The food was prepared for any variety of ethnic people, special diets, etc. My complaint is that the vegetables were almost raw. I like al dente, but their cooked veggies were 1 degree from raw. The baked sweet potato slices were hard and undercooked. Since I like vegetables and heaped them on my plate, I must say there was quite a waste. We were assigned a table at dinner, but ate there only 3 times due to the noise level. The workers stations are nearby and noisy, even though they tried to be quiet and the surrounding tables were quite noisy. Perhaps more insulation is required.'s We dined in the Grill and Sabatini's which were well worth the cover charge, and also the anytime dining room and the buffet. For a delightful treat, get a specialty coffee at the International Cafe and next to that is a delicious pastry, salad, quiche, and small sandwich counter to enjoy with your coffee. Nice place to meet a friend.The selection for the ports of call were excellent. Didn't enjoy Aarhus that much. St. Petersburg was the highlight but very, very crowded. The archipelagos on the way to Stockholm were beautiful...stay up to see the beauty of the area as you glide by; also the fjords in Norway. Warnemunde/Rostock, Germany was one of my favorites. Overall, the tours were well planned and educational. I had trouble understanding one or two guides. We noticed in the Princess Theatre that the shows were shortened to about 30 min. The crew singers, however, were excellent. Some amenities were missing such as the towel figures in your stateroom. I suppose corners have to be cut somewhere, but it doesn't feel as special to not have the extra niceties to remember that you were special and being pampered. We will not travel on such a large ship again as we felt we were lost in the shuffle of humanity. I didn't see or talk to the same people twice. I felt I was in a tenement building and the thought struck me, "what if there was a fire".On embarkation, it was very organized and easy to leave the ship. The buses were waiting and promptly took off for the airport making it easy for us. The hard part was when we were on our own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside ... Read More
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line. For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away. Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt. Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings. One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom. The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions. The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship. After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information. Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late. Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and ... Read More
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and out there for my taste, and I'm a foodie. Their standard "always available" menu is excellent. The Horizon buffet was very good with many choices. Evening entertainment included ballroom dancers (so-so), a magician (so-so), a juggler (amazing and hilarious), a Beatles tribute band (great fun) and the EP singers and dancers (fantastic). Playing throughout the ship was a truly fine classical string quartet (all lovely young ladies), a soft jazz combo with singer, Evolution cover band, and a few others. Something for everyone. Onto the shore excursions, comments are listed individually. But a few points about Russia: It's all about the bathrooms, and traffic. We did EP excursions both days, but also had a special AAA tour to St. Catherine's. Guides were competent, knowledgeable and utterly humorless. We used EP but if I were to do it again, I'd try something else. It's difficult to appreciate the sights when you're so frustrated by the iron control the Russians still exert over their guests. Check your other options. Also YOU WILL BE LATE to everything, so don't book two excursions too close together in time. You will leave late, and you will arrive back late, up to a couple hours. Save yourself stress and don't plan things too close together. Personal add-on to Bergen, Norway. After the cruise I spent 4 days in Bergen on my own. What a lovely city! But not for the disabled or those who need level ground. It's all on steep hills, and they're so steep there are staircases between the streets. I booked a cozy, utterly simple room with Ingrid's Summer Rooms. She is lovely, the room is clean, quiet, with shared bath and fridge. There's a grocery store 5 minutes away. I ate nothing at a restaurant. It's terribly expensive to do anything in Norway, but I did do the Norway Active tour for my splurge and loved every minute of it. PS, there's also a Noa Noa store near the beginning of the light rail. I got the 48 hour Bergen card and it was well worth it for me. Even with the price of the card I saved over 500 kroner on the things I did. It includes all bus and light rail, a big plus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on ... Read More
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on what is included in the base price. You have to pay for drinks (including soda, juice, and coffee), with the exception of the breakfast offerings. There are restaurants on board that require a cover charge, and pool areas that require a spa fee. All irritating, but I chose to ignore all of these options, and enjoy everything else. The ship: The Emerald Princess is a classy ship, in excellent condition. Decor consists of lacquered wood and brass. All of the public areas were comfortable and elegant. The only design flaw I could see was that it was difficult to walk from one part of the ship to another without having to go up and down to avoid blocked passageways. On the positive side, all of the stair climbing helps burn off calories! Stateroom service was not very personal, and was more like Motel 6. The food: I saw no need to spend money on specialty restaurants, since the food was so good in the main dining room. If you are patient, nearly all of the specialty food, such as lobster, are eventually served for free. The wait staff was very friendly, and their individual personalities showed through the stiff formality. Specialty cheeses and desserts were available 24-hours a day in the atrium, and pizza and burgers could be found near the pools. Entertainment: The shows are short, and shown more often, to try to make scheduling easier. The ship's dance crew put on a couple of really good shows, but overall the entertainment was less impressive than other cruises I have been on. (I guess I'm a bit jaded as well) The most valueable shows were the port lectures by John Lawrence. Listening carefully to his advice will save you time and money, as well as helping you to plan your port time. They were always repeated on the stateroom televisions. The ports: The ship visited 8 ports in 11 days, which was exhausting at times. I actually heard a few people complaining that it was too much, but my wife and I looked at it as a real value for the cost of the cruise. Be prepared for strenuous days. The port strike was resolved in Oslo Norway, so we were able to visit the port. The castle right next to the ship was incredible! The self guided tour allowed me to see it at my own pace, with time left over to visit the open air Viking Folk Museum. Aarhus Denmark was a small port, with not much to see. We made use of Denmark's free bicycles, and rode along the coast for a while before heading to the shopping district to explore and have a cold beer. We procrastinated too long, and arrived at the cathedral after closing hours (4 pm). Oh well, we had another beer instead. In Warnemunde Germany, we booked a tour through SPB that went to Rostock and Schwerin Castle. Our guide was relaxed and knowledgeable about the sites. She was actually part of the congregation of one of the old churches that we visited. Schwerin Castle was one of the highlights of the cruise. Lunch was included with the tour, and consisted of German sausage, sauerkraut, and a beer. Unlike the unfortunate people who went all the way to Berlin, we had time left over to walk around Warnemunde before boarding the ship. Tallinn Estonia was a warm and friendly medieval town. The people were vibrant, friendly, and willing to talk. I could see myself living there. We found a three story restaurant housed in a very old building, which was candle lit, and served wild game and a beer resembling mead in HUGE mugs: another highlight of the cruise. St. Petersburg Russia took about a day to grow on us. When we left the ship, we were greeted by some very serious Russian agents. It felt very oppressive. We booked the 2-day, as well as the Evening Fun Tour, with SPB tours. Our day guide was reserved and efficient. We must have seen every cultural sight there was. Well worth the money, and less costly than the Princess sponsored tour. The fun evening tour is what really won our hearts. Our tour guide, Sasha, was confident, outgoing, and funny. Ladies, keep an eye on your husbands around this cute young woman! Helsinki Finland was spread out, and therefore difficult to see in such a short day. We got to see the Temppeliaukio church, met some really friendly people, and enjoyed fresh fish in a farmer's market at the downtown docks. Stockholm Sweden was another highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately, the port had the shortest stay of the trip, so we changed our approach. We were the first people off the ship, and immediately grabbed a taxi into Old Town, where we stayed to explore the rest of the day. We were able to get pictures of the old palace, medieval church, and town streets before anyone else arrived. As the stores began to open, we sampled Swedish pastries, meatballs, herring, and of course...local beer! We made it back to the ship with a whole 5-minutes to spare. After the cruise, we spent 5-days in Copenhagen Denmark (it takes a minimum of three to get a good look at the city). We disembarked just as the International Jazz festival began. It rained a little bit just about every day, which was actually kind of nice. There is a lot to see here, and I think we covered about 80% of it. Kronborg Castle was definitely worth the 50-minute train ride to see. The underground ramparts really gave us a feel for the military life of its inhabitants. Climbing the tower at Our Saviour's Church was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The staircase spirals around the outside of the tower, to dizzying heights. My fear of heights had me crawling the last few steps! In summary, I would definitely recommend this cruise. It is rich in Norse culture, and a bargain for the money. I hope to return to some of the countries visited, because I enjoyed them (and the cool weather) so much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Emerald Princess cruise March 7th-17th. Southern Caribbean route. We are from South Carolina so rather than deal with the airlines we decided to leisurely drive down to Fort Lauderdale. Our first stop was in Cape Canaveral at the ... Read More
Emerald Princess cruise March 7th-17th. Southern Caribbean route. We are from South Carolina so rather than deal with the airlines we decided to leisurely drive down to Fort Lauderdale. Our first stop was in Cape Canaveral at the Radisson Resort At The Port. If you ever decide to sail out of Port Canaveral this is an awesome hotel to stay at. For $160 we stayed in a suite with king sized sleep number bed, a full separate eating area with second TV, a hot tub next to the bed and a nice marble shower. The pool is done up to look like a tropical oasis with large stone arches covered with vines and a waterfall in the middle. The service there is top notch. We ate at Kelsey's pizza right next door and had delicious pizza and Greek salads. We then ventured on to the Springfield Inn and Suites Ft Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port. We got a king sized room with all the amenities for $193. This included a free shuttle to the port and the ability to park our car for the duration. With a 10 day cruise the savings really added up. You can book a return shuttle back from the port for $10 a person. We enjoyed yummy pizza from Carcione's pizza (large 1 topping with 6 garlic knots and a cold 2 liter...$14). Embarkation: We took the 10:30am shuttle to the port. Arrived inside around 11am and were put into group 4. It took about an hour before our group was called but once we were called things moved relatively fast. We went to our cabin and found our luggage had already arrived! We decided rather than fight the hordes at the Horizon court we would have lunch in the dining room. It was a decision well made. The dining room was not crowded and a perfect place to relax. My wife and I enjoyed a delicious cheese ravioli appetizer and then beef tenderloins in a rich gravy with red mashed potatoes. It was one of the best meals on the ship. I would highly recommend doing this instead of the horizon court. There are even cheese burgers available if you have picky little eaters. We did muster at 3pm and met in the casino. They now scan your room key card at muster so trying to hide from it won't work. It was quick and painless and soon we were ready to "escape completely". Cabin: We stayed in E 316. An inside cabin on the emerald deck. This cabin had it's ups and downs. On the upside we were conveniently located close to just about everything. The elevator was just around the corner and were were very near the theater, bars and dining venues. The room was spacious enough not to feel cramped and offered more than enough storage space. The bathroom was small but workable with a nice shower with good pressure and temperature variation. On the down side our first night we hit some rough weather with high seas and wind. The walls of cabin creaked so long and so loud sleep was almost impossible. Fortunately when we reached the calmer Caribbean waters the creaking subsided. Also we could never seem to get the cabin very cool. We didn't opt for a top sheet and later regretted it as it got pretty warm under the comforter with the little AC the room provided. We did get the egg crate mattress which made the bed more comfortable. What made our cabin stay the most bearable was taking my WDTV with portable hard drive along. WDTV is a small black box which allows you to watch Netflix, Youtube, Facebook and various other video, picture and music services with WiFi connection. We didn't utilize these since WiFi is very expensive and spotty on the ship. However I downloaded a DVD copier program (Ideal DVD copy) and burned 120 of my favorite movies to a 1 gig portable hard drive which I could plug into the WDTV. I then plugged the WDTV into the stateroom TV and by switching the sources with the TV remote was able to watch our DVD movies in our cabin. It was really great to be able to relax and watch a movie at our leisure right in the room. WDTV is $99, a 1 gig portable hard drive is $150 and the DVD burner program cost $40. So for a one time investment of $300 I can take my DVD library everywhere I go! Dining (my favorite part): We ate all our breakfasts in the dining room (except) for the last day. You should really avoid the horizon court as the food is not as good. The breakfasts in the dining room were very good. We enjoyed Eggs Benedict, blueberry pancakes, crispy french toast, and other yummy samplings. Each breakfast has 2 specials of the day and then the standard fare of eggs, pancakes, cereal, fruits, meats, etc. I disagree with other posters who said the coffee was bad. The horizon court coffee was nasty but the dining room coffee tasted just fine to me. The international cafe also makes a great breakfast stop. They have loads of pastries, donuts, coffee cake and muffins all of it tasty and fresh. For lunch we went to the dining room when available. The food was consistently good and the hamburgers outdid the Trident grill in both size and flavor. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers are available on every dining room lunch menu. The Trident grill was not bad. It featured hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, brats, and hot dogs as well as a vegiburger for non meat eaters. You may want to be in line a little before 11:30am as the lines get long. I do wish they had more offerings as well. I have seen other lines offer taco bars with nachos and chili. It would have been nice to make a chili cheeseburger or chili dog to break up the monotony. The pizza grill was another great staple with some of the better pizza I have had at sea. The crust is tasty and crisp and the ingredients fresh. They offer cheese, pepperoni and a pizza of the day. My favorite was the "surf and turf" which was tenderloin and lobster bits on a pizza. Again my only complaint is wishing the had more choices. Only 3 choices with 2 of them being staples gets old quick. The international cafe offers small sandwiches and salads with a quiche of the day and soup of the day. The sandwiches include ham & cheese, Mozzarella and Prosciutto, chicken salad, and others. The sandwiches are small but light and refreshing. The quiche of the day is usually cheese with either mushroom, onion, spinach, leeks or tomato depending on the day. I didn't try the soup and the Gelato was still unavailable. We never ate in the horizon court which is available as well. For dinner we stayed with the dining room. Here is where we encountered another Princess problem. Anytime dining. Which by all definition was certainly not. When cruising with princess before we were able to make a standing reservation for a table for two for the duration of the cruise. We were told that this was not allowed by the reservation line only to discover other couples were allowed to make this arrangement. We were told to arrive at 5:30 every night and we would be seated but that isn't "anytime" dining in my book. Other lines could accommodate us "anytime" and any seating arrangement we liked. All said our meals were generally very good and the wait staff friendly and attentive. The prime rib is a must try as well as the Goat Cheese Souffle, Lobster was sweet and tasty. Do have the Chocolate Hazelnut souffle as it is very good. One other complaint is the way tables for two are set up. There is a long community couch with chairs spaced out along it to create makeshift tables for two. The problem is you don't have any privacy as there are people at both your elbows. People who want tables for two usually wish to dine alone and not be subjected to forced conversations. I would like to see Princess create real tables for two instead of trying to pass this off as such. The international cafe has yummy dessert bites in the evening which we found outdid some of the desserts in the dining room. They are also smaller and less filling. Now for my favorite. The Crown Grill. We ate there twice and can't recommend this place enough. The steaks are some of the best I have ever tasted and always cooked to perfection. I would recommend the Scallop appetizer with perfectly cooked scallops. The Black and Blue soup with tangy Roquefort cheese. I had both the 8oz fillet and the 16oz Kansas city strip both delicious. The scalloped potatoes are a must try. They are swimming in cheesy goodness. You can also add as many 4oz lobster tails as you can handle. The only throw away about the meal was the signature salt collection. The salts were too strong tasting and really not needed. The Cafe Caribe was available for dinner but we never ate there. We also never tried room service as the menu and food quality are the worst at sea. Entertainment: We skipped all the song and dance shows. We saw Al Katz and he was pretty funny. He did the usual stand up and we found getting a seat in the theater at 7:15 was not hard. We also saw Steven Scott and thought he was very funny combining sound effects with his various funny stories. He did a dead on impersonation of the captain that had everyone rolling. I would highly recommend seeing him. Our most common night activity was sneaking off to our secret hot tub. I will now share with you the secret. In the spa area is a pool and two hot tubs which are virtually abandoned at 7pm-8pm. These hot tubs are really hot, not luke warm like the ones in the main pool area. They also have powerful jets. It was very relaxing to have the place to ourselves at night with the night sky, cool night breezes and the lights of the Sanctuary giving a nice glow. Seek this place out! Just take the elevator to deck 16, make sure you get robes to wear from your cabin steward. Ports: Princess Cays: We stayed on the ship as we had been there before and it rained most of the day. I felt bad for the people who took the rough tender ride over only to be rained on with no place to find shelter. If you have been here I would recommend a day of having the ship to yourself. Nice to avoid all the cattle lines and just relax. St. Thomas: Got off briefly to purchase alcohol. If you plan to do so on this cruise buy it all here as they have the best prices and selection. We were surprised to find that they didn't take our liquor and hold it till the end of the cruise. I can't say if you will be so lucky but it was a nice way of keeping our bar tab low. The other ports had little to no alcohol stores and they were more expensive with poor selection. Dominica: Stayed on the boat. We have toured it already and once you have been there you have been there. Grenada: Had planned to go to magazine beach but it was overcast. We decided to venture into town which was a mistake. Every 3 feet some guy would try to peddle his cab tour. It usually went like this... Do you want a tour? No thanks. Let me show you my beautiful island. No thanks. With all it's waterfalls and cliff divers. No thanks. And historic forts. No thanks. I will take you to Grand Anse beach. No thanks. Repeat this with every guy you pass on the street. We did find a very nice spice store in the mall called D#1 spice shop. She had the best prices and wasn't a tacky tourist shop. Bought spices and retreated back to the boat. Bonair: One of the best stops of our trip. We chose to take a free shuttle bus to the Plaza Resort Bonair for some snorkling and relaxing on the beach. When you get off the ship just look for a set of white tents featuring tours. The Plaza shuttle driver is usually there about every 10 minutes. The shuttle is free and the resort costs $10 a person for use of their beach chairs, pool, bars and restaurant. Bring towels as none are provided. This was the best snorkel spot I have ever been to. The water is glass clear. The sea floor is a mixture or rock and coral so there are tons of fish. The best part is you don't have to be a great swimmer to snorkel here. In waist deep water you can literally stick your face in the water and see all kinds of sea life. We saw Parrot fish, angel fish and even an eel poking his head out of his hole. I do recommend some water shoes to keep your feet from getting cut or slipping. The beach itself is small and relaxing. When you are ready they will contact the shuttle to take you right back to the ship. Here is a video I shot, please excuse the shakiness since my flip cam lacks image stablization... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pK5LkuZ0DI&list=UUWFaowMaC-ERNs2OSSFidug&index=1&feature=plcp Aruba: After reading the various Cruise Critic boards we decided to venture to Eagle beach for a nice beach day. The weather was perfect, sunny with a nice breeze blowing. Originally we were going to take a taxi there, $13 one way per cab but a tour driver said to us "Why do that when the city bus will take you there both ways for the two of you for $5?" The bus station is right outside the port terminal. The busses are clean and modern and very safe. We purchased our bus tickets and headed on our way. On the bus we met up with "Myrtle Beach", a Boston snow bird now living in, you guessed it. She told us all about Eagle beach and what it had to offer. She was quite the character. She also introduced us to beach towel clips which we are going to have to get next time. She bought them at Bed, Bath and Beyond and they seemed to hold the towels neatly against the chairs. We arrived at the yellow exterior of the Amsterdam Manor which is right across from the beach and we got off. The beach was pristine with soft sand and clear blue water. Chairs were $10 a person and they had bar, changing area and port-o-lets. Myrtle Beach clued us in that we could use the Manor's restroom and that there was a Coke machine in there with $1 Cokes and Water. We stayed on the beach so we never found out if this was the case. Had a great day and decided to leave at 1pm which was good since the busses were getting a little crowded. All in all a perfect beach day. Sea Days (one early and two at the end): We spent our sea days lounging in the sun. We tried a number of places on the ship. The Mutts pool area seemed to lack a good breeze due to the tall glass windows all around it. We sat by the main pool upper deck area which had decent breeze but a lot of other people packing in like sardines. I wish some of these people grasped the concept of " personal space " We tried the highest deck by the Doplar radar globes but ended up naming it the frying pan due to the heat coming off the floor since they didn't put down the blue turf carpeting. I will now reveal to you the sweet spot. The best spot to spend an entire day sunning. Grab this spot early and guard it like a pitbull. Just outside the Sanctuary there is a glass wall that leads to a series of chairs. If you take your chairs and position them right next to the edge of the ship facing the dolphin shaped Sanctuary sign you will catch both a breeze from the side of the ship and a breeze blowing in from the front of the ship. Also you can use the pool located in the Sanctuary which is very cool and if you go into the spa area there are some very nice bathrooms close by. This is the same area with the awesome hot tubs. Disembarkation: Self debarked and were off the ship by 7:15. Shuttle back was prompt and the driver parked right next to our parked car. We were on the road by 8:00. Closing notes: We had an enjoyable cruise but feel that Princess has lots of room to improve. Anytime dining needs to be refined maybe by adding more dining venues. The Trident grill and pizza grill should expand their menus. The room service menu needs to be retooled and improved. Vines is a complete waste of space. Nobody used it except as overflow from the Piazza. The staterooms need better temperature control. Not to be missed sunrises and sunsets. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our 6th cruise with Princess in 7 years and we're back to the Caribbean again, this time the Southern route. We flew from Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the "rustic" Ramada Inn,with several other nice ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Princess in 7 years and we're back to the Caribbean again, this time the Southern route. We flew from Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the "rustic" Ramada Inn,with several other nice cruisers also joining us on the Emerald.We got to the port about noon and it was a mess lines backed up into the parking lot, uh oh, something looked terribly wrong, and it was ? Well 90 minutes later we finally got moving and boarded about 1:45, whew ! The ship looked great just as it did last March for our East. Caribbean cruise. We got the same room,as last year near the slow elevators and stairs.It was clean, but small for 3, and after meeting Eli our steward and making some requests for hangers, mattress pads and robes, were off to find some lunch and explore the ship. We had some kind of mechanical issues with a life boat and did not pull out of port until dark 6:45 in the light rain. We're not off to a very good start I'm afraid. It has to get better right ? The "sail away" party what there was of it was also a bust ! Hope you like "art" it was everywhere and often.The crew and staff seemed very nice and happy to see us and made us feel welcome. We enjoyed meeting and playing along with the C.D. staffers JJ, Chantal,Megan,Andy & Oxsanna.As for the C.D. and his deputy, good voices, but pretty mediocre from there. Their morning "wake show" was pretty cheesy and boring, just sayin.Sure miss the Isl. Princess Billy Hygate, now that's a CD.Lot's to see & do on the Emerald, trivia, karaoke my favorite, bingo,eat,games, shows (3) per night,eat,check your daily patter and take it with you for reference.The ship looked great throughout, no worse for wear it receives.WE tried to do most activities but it's really impossible to see & do it all.The service was very good, sometimes too good, servers always trying to sell. Happy hour deals 4-7 ask your server for the "deals", or drink special of the day. The Photo studio same thing, you know if the photos were more reasonably priced they would sell more, creating higher profits. I'll bet they throw away, or re-cycle 75 % of everything they take ! Dining : Anytime is the best time ! You still need to make a standing reservation on your arrival day,asap. No waiting, go straight on in. The food was good to very good, depending on what you order. Some of the beef/meat selections were lacking, (cost cutting) measures I'm sure. The shrimp,scallops, lobster were all good, not great and many of the appetizers/pasta were better. We loved all the fresh salads, sand. and deserts in the Intn'l. Cafe in the atrium, delicious. The pizza and burgers were very tasty out by the pool if you did'nt mind waiting 10 min. or more for a burger,slow ! Loved the Pub lunches in the Wheelhouse lounge on sea days. Great Fish n Chips, bangers& Mash etc. A nice break from the crazy busy Horizon Ct. buffet. So hard to find an empty table for breakfast! Do yourself a favor, eat in the more relaxed Dining Room deck 6 the Bochelli. Great eggs benedict and the coffee is better,stronger too. Entertainment : Wow lot's going on and they have added a condensed show so there are 3 instead of 2 now, 7:15,8:30,& 10:00, good move Princess. The best show by far is definately the "Beatle Maniacs", get there early ! We also like the comedy of Al Katz, & Steven Scott, Mentalist Wayne Hoffman & Magician Jean Bouchard. I was with the famous "sisters" who were in the mentalist & magician show we got stopped and questioned quite frequently. So many extra nice people on this ship, I can't begin to tell you we meet such wonderful people on board, it was a real pleasure ! M.U.T.S. too many Muppet movies, we wanted to see "War Horse", or something better. Whoever schedules the movies needs some help in that regard.Karaoke and Princess Pop Star was great even if I was one of the main singers.Some really talented and fun people, thank you guys & gals. By the way if you tried to win a bottle of that champagne don't be concerned, it was pretty bad. In summary Princess still has a lot of little things to improve on, but overall another great vacation ! The nice folks they attract make the cruise what it is. Remember it's what you make it and the people you surround yourself with. We were lucky and met some extra special people to all of you that Hop,Karen & I met, THANK YOU and happy cruising. Next stop Hawaii March 9,2013 hope to see you all again, " ALOHA ", Monty Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We flew on Southwest from Vegas the day before where we met up with my sister and nepew. We had a nice flight, on time where they met us and off to spend the night at the Ramada Inn (cruise port). Turns out several of the nice people ... Read More
We flew on Southwest from Vegas the day before where we met up with my sister and nepew. We had a nice flight, on time where they met us and off to spend the night at the Ramada Inn (cruise port). Turns out several of the nice people staying there would also be fellow passengers also on the Emerald Princess. We had a tasty fresh mexican dinner that night, and visit with our nephew before our departure the next morning. Ramada did a nice job scheduling & transporting 3 large groups of us to the port, but I would not recommend the hotel, spend a little more, you will be glad you did. We arrived at noon and from the looks of the long lines not moving we could tell their were some major problems. We had heard later that someone had died, and the U.S. Coast Guard had sprung a random safety inspection witch one lifeboat failed, and had to be replaced. This caused another lengthy delay, and not much of a "sailaway party" sorry to say. We finally boarded just short of 2 pm, whew !We met our kind steward "Eli" and he took good care us throughout the cruise, the room was very clean. We finally pulled out in the dark & drizzle about 6:45. Like I said, "better late than never".Hopefully, the worst is behind us ? The weather was pretty choppy the first 2 days out and we had some overcast and drizzle at Princess Cays, but not bad, and it was warm, so it's all good.Our room was right near mid ship on Aloha deck so we were close to the stairs and the elevators, which were painfully slow, and usually packed with an avg. age of 60+, just sayin. Nice folks, some of the best we have ever sailed with.My sister and I were chosen to work with the mentalist on stage and later the magician in the Princess Theater, so we were recognized, and questioned often throughout the ship.How did he do that, etc. ?Entertainment, overall was good, not great. We really enjoyed the "Beatlemaniacs" again this year, Al Katz & Steven Scott, mentalist Wayne Hoffman and Jean Bouchard, magician. The Theater fills up fast so get there early, the back fills up the fastest. The C.D. staff were a lot of fun running all the various games, Karaoke & shows, JJ, Chantal, Andy,Megan, Oxsanna, thank you ! M.U.T.S. missed War Horse, seems like the Muppet Movie was playing all the time ? Happy hour is usually 4-7 ask your server for specials and the drink of the day, as drinks can be quite pricey.Loved the Cadillac Margarita & Mai Tai, umm good !Refer to your "Patter" as so many things going on you need it for a road map to remember it all.The dancers and singers were pretty good especially the two lead ladies, the guys, well I think some of the male Karaoke singers were as good as they were. 3 shows now in the P.T. so no need to rush dinner, a very good move by Princess on this, as the theater fills up quickly. Dining: We had "anytime dining" in the Michael Angelo, the secret here is make a standing reservation the first day with the maitre de, same table, servers and no waiting, just walk right in, like you own the joint ! Most people do not know this and had to wait.The meat/beef selections were not all that good but loved the seafood, many of the appetizers, and pasta's. I think overall food quality has dropped due to cost cutting measures? The "service" however was excellent. Thank You Sanya & Ketut very nice fellas.We also loved the Intnt'l. Cafe in the atrium, fresh salads,sandwiches, quiche & deserts, yum ! The Pub Lunches in the Wheelhouse were very tasty on Sea days. Loved the burgers, fries, & pizza out by the main pool too, get in line early for burgers, it really backs up.Don't forget room service for am and late nights too, just a little "tip" will do ya.  Cafe, great salads, fresh sand. quiche, and mini deserts deck 5, in the atrium.The Horizon Court, alias every man for himself. Folks just too many in there every morning during peak breakfast hours. In 3 words, "not enough tables". Do yourself a favor, relax and have a nice quiet leisurely breakfast,or lunch in the Bocheli dining room. deck 6. You will be glad you did, wish we would have too. Ports: Wow, just snorkled in P. Cays weather was just mediocre, but any beach day is better than your best day at work, right ? Saw a lot of fish & scenery there. St. Thomas shopped and beached at Emerald beach near the ship, next time were going to make it to Trunk Bay on St' Johns Isl. for sure ! Been to Megen's Bay before, very scenic and tranquil. Dominica: The best shore excursion ever #362. Thanks Joan & Alex. Check out Sassy falls and the tropical jungle, nicer and less crowded than Trafalgar, gorgeous ! Grenada:Took a nice catammaran over to the underwater sculpture park, wow ! Wish we had more time there, then off to Grande Anse beach, and a lot of rum punches, whew ! The crew kept pouring & pouring, a fun trip, but over way too fast. Bonaire : Best snorkeling & diving anywhere in the Caribbean. For $10 p/p we took a short drive to the "Plaza Resort". Pool, lounges, tiki bar, restrooms, showers, hammocks, and the best snorkeling ever right of the rocky beach ! Wear water shoes, and enjoy swimming in an "aquarium", tropical fish everywhere, beautiful parrots, angel fish galore in shallow water, incredible decision ! Aruba: 100 A S.E. nice hikes in the rocks, Calif. Lighthouse visit, and Palm Beach,beach stop. Very nice but crowded with too tours stopping at the same place, same time. They need to better organize these, but still worth while. All in all, another great Princess Cruise. Not perfect but pretty darn good, considering the crazy embarkation day and late sailaway. So many nice people we met and hope to see again someday, especially all my husbands Karaoke gang, Leeroy, Glenn, Jim, Claire, Robert,Heather & Daniele, Larry, Mayta, Bruce, Jeff,Nancy, Byron, Gordon, Barbara, thanks everyone for a wonderful vacation ! Princess has some kinks to work out, we all know it, but hey, nobody is perfect, we're all a "work" in progress". So how about "Hawaii" March 9, 2013 on the beautiful Sapphire Princess ? Be there or be square. Happy Sailing & ALOHA !!!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of ... Read More
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of this cruise would be diminished compared to past cruises but to my very happy surprise, that was not the case. I have never written a review before but since I read so many before my cruise I thought I would chip in with one. EMBARKATIONAN/SAIL AWAY As others mentioned, the line for embarkation was a bit long due to a problem with people disembarking from the previous cruise but once in the terminal things moved quickly and efficiently. Our rooms were ready when we boarded and we attended the 'sort of' sail away party (boat left port late). There was a raffle during the party for people who visited about 8 different venues on the boat before the party and had a card stamped but we barely had time to board, eat, tour the spa, Muster and get to the party, much less get cards filled out so that made the raffle kind of boring, I would suggest giving raffle tickets away to those who dance and participate in the party, that would sure liven things up and get more people to participate! SHIP/ROOM Ship is in great shape, public areas are pristine and there is something for everyone. Our rooms were on the Riviera deck (3 connected balconies) and I was concerned that there would be noise issues from the Lido Deck above but there really weren't (we were just forward of the public areas). Beds are hard but we brought a queen memory foam stuffed into a big suitcase and that really helped. Our stewards were efficient, helpful but not doting which was OK with me, we had everything we needed when we needed it. Food/Entertainment This is where, in my opinion, things were much better than some of the reviews here indicated they would be. We ate at the late seating in the Da Vinci dining room and had a fantastic experience every night. Eduardo the Maitre D, Raymond the Head Waiter, Nick our waiter and his assistant Richie all did a fantastic job of making our experience a great one. My daughter is gluten intolerant and they did an absolutely outstanding job of accommodating her needs and giving her a top notch dining experience. Food variety was good and the key was taking Nick's advice on selections. Yes, there are a few items on the menu that are below par but you definitely can have a gourmet experience if you trust your waiter and get the right things and you can always send back a below par item if you get one and have a better selection. The Lobster, Red Snapper and Lamb were high end restaurant quality as well as many of the appetizers and deserts. I found the Buffet to be fine, not great, but serviceable for breakfast and snacks. The International Cafe is a great option for lunch and snacks and I especially enjoyed the Trident Grill for tasty chicken sandwiches and fries. Bartenders were very friendly (especially Nadia and Andrew)and you never had to wait long for service either at the bars or poolside. Cruise Staff/Entertainment I found the entertainment to be enjoyable and of good quality. The band for the stage shows was very talented and the Poolside Band had great energy and enthusiasm throughout the cruise. The shows were very enjoyable and fun unless you were looking for Tony Award quality and I thought the Hypnotist, Comedians, Magician and Beatlemania concert were all entertaining. The cruise staff worked very hard and with great energy (especially Amy and Oxsana)to create a fun atmosphere for those who wanted to participate and the assistant cruise director did a knock out job at the mid cruise deck party. Only thing that would have been nice would have been more 20-25 year old mixers/activities earlier in the cruise for my daughters to meet others their age (they eventually solved that issue on their own!). Photographers did a nice job and weren't intrusive and I didn't feel as pushed to buy things in the shops on the ship as I had been on past cruises! SPA/Fitness Spa staff was great! Especially enjoyed the extreme shave and two massages. Prices a bit high compared to on land spas but discounts for multiple treatments and those offered as the cruise goes on help offset that. Fitness center was very well equipped and not very crowded most of the time. Logistics I never once had to wait in a long line, struggle to find a deck chair or fight for a seat at a show. The cruise was completely booked but I never felt crowded out. Yes, I tended to purposely avoid the times I knew would be busy but it didn't take much to schedule around the busy times. The crew did a great job of keeping things clean and moving, especially considering the added logistics involved with the NORO precautions. Ports The itinerary was a good one, nice ports interspersed with at sea days. I would have preferred docking in the St. Thomas dock closer to the main part of town and possibly trading a longer day in Grenada for a shorter day in Dominica but otherwise a good schedule. Private Island, as always, was one of my favorites, Paradise Point in St. Thomas is a kick, Went to St. George's Cathedral in Grenada for Palm Sunday and it was a fantastic experience but that didn't leave much time to enjoy Grand Anse beach, which is a gem. Dominica tubing was OK, river was low, Bonaire independent snorkel through Woodwind was the best excursion I have ever been on and we blew it going to Palm Beach in Aruba (very crowded) instead of Eagle Beach (pristine) Summary Overall, a great cruise. People can always find something wrong or to complain about but if you come in with a positive attitude, the Emerald Princess and her crew can provide you with a great cruise experience! Footnote: We were originally on the Caribbean Princess out of San Juan for 14 days but had to rebook on Emerald when Princess cancelled the first week of our CP cruise one week before our departure. Still waiting for response from Princess on the economic displacement we suffered by having the one cruise cancelled (even with 25% credit) and having to rebook (higher cruise fares, lost cabin credits and balcony breakfasts, less cruise days, higher airfares) so hopefully that will turn out the right way and we will all be on another Princess cruise soon! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Emerald Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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