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4 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Baltic Sea

August might sound like a good time to cruise to the Arctic Circle but it's wise to go prepared. As we discovered, it can be wet and windy, so we were glad we took waterproof over-trousers. We were less prepared for the numerous ... Read More
August might sound like a good time to cruise to the Arctic Circle but it's wise to go prepared. As we discovered, it can be wet and windy, so we were glad we took waterproof over-trousers. We were less prepared for the numerous children on board but, as it was school holiday time, this was probably inevitable. The 14 day cruise from Southampton included just 4 sea days but the weather prevented calling at Flån. On Board Having cruised to the canary Islands in May, we were pleased to find that Princess had made several changes to key Emerald Princess personnel. We liked the new Cruise Director, Paul Chandler Burns and his team kept us entertained. Lyndon Jolley had also joined the ship, as the destination expert, and gave some informative talks. Captain William Kent had recently taken over the helm and, even with his experience, he had some interesting moments with the strong winds in Stavanger. We had hoped for reasonable weather, as it was August, but the rain persisted and we failed to call at Flån, which was disappointing since we had managed to book for the Flån railway. Having booked this trip with Princess (which is unusual for us) the cancellation cost us nothing and the trip in the rain would not have been much fun. Dining We traveled with another couple, so had requested fixed dining at 8.15 pm. For some reason the booking had been messed up, so we were given a table in the Da Vincci dining room, which suited us nicely. Breakfast in the Botochelli dining room was often a frustrating start to the day, even when we arrived at 8 am before it became busy. The waiters were slow to take orders and a luke warm omelet could take 30 minutes to arrive. Afternoon tea was less leisurely and our waiters in the Da Vincci dining room were excellent. Food was of a consistently high standard, as ever, but the menu is now so predictable for any regular passengers. As it was August, there were quite a few children on board, so the dining room tended to be rather noisy at times. Maybe Princess should copy P&O and have some adult only ships! Entertainment We used to enjoy the resident song and dance shows but the same shows seem to run for years, so we no longer bother to go. We also feel that the production teams ruin the shows with the video backgrounds and unnecessary lights. Princess's new Magic To Go show had some of the best special effects we have seen on a cruise ship, being simple but clever, and it did not rely on annoying videos. The theatre was 100% full but many commented that it was not very magical and the music was unfamiliar. Steve Larkin's Freddie Mercury tribute act was good but Princess keep repeating it. Jeff Stevenson proved to be really popular and kept us all laughing with his endless stream of jokes and observations. Jayne Middleton's tribute to Annie Lenox was OK but the songs were not as well known, leading some to suggest that featuring Karen Carpenter or Dusty Springfield might have been better. Peter Howarth, the recent lead singer of the Hollies, sang a good mix of oldies, including several Roy Orbison numbers. We had seen him on an earlier trip but this time he gave a second show, which was equally good. We enjoyed listening to Pingxin Xu who played an amazing 140 string instrument called a Dulcimer. This made a nice change from the tribute singers and song/dance shows. Gregory Scott entertained everybody, on the last night, playing well known songs on his violin albeit with more distracting video backgrounds. Daniel Zafrani's "visual comedy and mime" act was one of the worst we have seen on Princess. It was neither funny nor entertaining so we, and many others, walked out after a few minutes. Whilst we like the tribute acts and enjoy the old 60's and 70's numbers, maybe it is time for Princess to engage some different artists. As ever, there were numerous trivia challenges, dance sessions etc and some extra events to involve the families on board. For passengers dining on the second sitting, there was very little to do between afternoon tea and 8.15 pm. Ports We had just 4 sea days, which suited us fine, as we like to get ashore and explore by ourselves. The scenery is spectacular but, in all honesty, there is not a huge amount to do at many of the ports. We booked a private fjord trip from Stavanger but Pulpit Rock does not look great when covered in mist under heavy rain. As it happens, we had been too late to book the train for our Scheduled Flån stop, so had resorted to booking the similar Princess trip on the same train. So, failing to get to Flån cost us nothing other than the enjoyment of the train ride (in the pouring rain). We had an enjoyable stop in Olden, in spite of the weather. It was easy to get to the Briksdal glacier on the local bus (about NOK 100 each way) and the 3 Km walk is scenic, with numerous waterfalls from the melting ice. There is plenty to see in Trondheim so we opted for a self guided walking tour. The cathedral is really the major attraction and we were there in time for the 1 pm organ concert, then climbed the 174 steps to the top of the tower. The NOK 90 seemed quite expensive, with a further NOK 40 for the tower, especially since photography is not permitted. A further NOK 90 is charged for the Bishop's Palace and again for the Crown Jewels but neither were very impressive. The old warehouses along the river are attractive and the small fish market is worth a visit. Honningsvag is the stopping off place for the North Cape but there is not much to see there other than the wooden church. The North Cape is a bit of a tourist trap and most passengers seemed to head for the visitor's centre there. The local bus charges almost NOK 600 for the return, 30 minute ride (but did include the entrance to the visitor centre) and the other options were even more expensive, so we gave it a miss. Tromsø is a larger town with plenty to see and do. Princess offered a shuttle bus to the centre for USD 5 per trip, You can then catch the bus to the cable car. It is best to get there early as the two cars only carry 28 people each. The trip takes just 4 minutes but costs NOK 170 return. We then crossed the bridge to visit the modern and old cathedrals and even the adjacent art gallery. The Polar museum was very popular too. The stop at Gravdal seemed rather pointless as it required a tender and there is absolutely nothing at the port jetty. It is the stopping place for trips to the Lofoten Islands but they are not readily accessible or exciting. A tender to Nusfjord would be better, if practical. We opted to walk the 4 Km to the town but there is nothing there except for an attractive wooden church. We later discovered that there was a free shuttle bus in the opposite direction to Leknor, which we do not recall being mentioned at the port talk. The penultimate stop, at Ålesund, was more interesting. It was a clear day, so we caught the local busses (662 from the port, then 664), which took us around the islands of Giske and to the lighthouse at Godøy. On returning to Ålesund, we climbed the 418 steps to the viewing point rather than resort to the hop on/off train. We had been to Bergen recently and it was good to return and re-visit the fish market. However, the itinerary only allowed a half day at this port. Forthcoming bad weather then meant the ship increased speed and we arrived at Southampton hours early. Wi Fi Elite passengers get a generous free wi fi allowance but we were unable to use it because the Internet connection was extremely slow or non-existent. Summary We chose August in the hope that we would get reasonable weather in Norway but were glad we had packed all weather conditions. Food was of a consistently high standard and service was always friendly and efficient (except for breakfast times). Everything in Norway is expensive and some of the entry charges are excessive. Norway gets plenty of rain even in August and in the north it can be really cold, so go prepared. There is enough to see and do at most, but not all, ports. Princess could do better with entertainment but they remain our preferred cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We mentioned this several evenings but nothing was done to improve our comfort level in the room. Our cabin was well located and well serviced. Clean towels were always provided and our ice bucket kept full of ice. Our room attendant always had a kind word to say to us. Even though the weather was cool, rainy and cloudy a lot of the time, we enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and swimming in the heated pool. At times the buffet was very crowded and it was difficult to find seating. We were impressed with the cleanliness and freshness of the food at the buffet. Our group of six arranged a private tour with White Nights to tour St Petersburg. We corresponded with Kate on line to set up the package. Kate was prompt in her replies and adjusted the tour to suit our wishes. When in St Petersburg, our tour guide, Dasha, was a delight. Dasha spoke perfect English, was on time, polite and very knowledgeable about St Petersburg. Since it was her place of birth she had a special love for the city. We were able to bypass line ups, find quiet places for her to speak to us when viewing the very crowded Hermitage and Catherine's Palace. The van we used was very comfortable and the driver excellent. When touring Berlin our group of six hired SPB Tours. We travelled by tour bus with about 40 people to Berlin, a 3 hour ride, met our tour guide in Berlin, had a 4 hour tour in a small van for the six of us, 3 people faced forward and 3 faced backward making visibility poor. We returned to the ship by tour bus, a 4 hour ride due to heavy traffic. Our tour guide spoke excellent English, since he was from Australia, but his love, knowledge and enthusiasm for Berlin was not nearly as good as we experienced in St Petersburg. We joined a Princess Cruise Tour in Oslo which had 40 people in the group. It was difficult to hear our guide and we missed the intimacy we experienced on our other tours. The on board shore tours lecturer John Lawrence was very good. If we missed the talks we watched them on TV in our room. We also enjoyed the TV play by play description of points of interest as we left Stockholm. On board all public areas and washrooms were always clean. An enjoyable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my ... Read More
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my feet and a slow walker. The scooter allows me to keep up with the group. I found the normal and expected obstacles throughout Europe. There are fewer curb cuts and many cobblestone areas but I did better than I expected. The primary challenge was getting on and off the bus. Princess uses Globus tours for the Imperial Cities Tour. The bus driver, named Marco stayed with us for the entire tour and was excellent both as a driver and in loading and unloading my scooter at each stop. At the first stop in Budapest I did not have an accessible room as Princess had not notified the tour operators that I had reserved an accessible cabin (and filled out their required form) on the ship. However the guide arranged an appropriate room in the other three cities. Upon arriving at the ship in Copenhagen we found the ship on Norovirus precautions being maintained from the previous transatlantic cruise. This caused us no problems and was removed about three days later. We have cruised previously on the Crown Princess and found the Emerald to be almost identical. The ship met our expectations with one exception. On previous cruises on this class of ship we have sailed to the Caribbean. The ship always felt spacious. However it was cold and rainy during this cruise and almost everyone stayed inside all the time. We found the bars and hallways extremely crowded, especially the hallways when the boutiques had their sale tables set up. Our accessible cabin had enough room for us to store the scooter inside the room. The bathroom was level entry with the room. The shower had a pull down seat. There was one minor problem with the room that could not be fixed. The temperature control did not cool the room sufficiently. The food on this cruise was excellent. We ate one night in the buffet, one night at Sabatini's (old menu), and one night at the Crown Grill. All of our other meals were in the anytime dining rooms. We always chose to share a table and never had any wait. Most evening we ate about 6 or 6:30 PM. For lunch we chose to go to the International Cafe for the shrimp salad. At breakfast we used the buffet when we had early excursions and the dining room other mornings. I was always offered assistance in the buffet but if it was not crowded I declined the assistance. Our only problem with this cruise was the personnel in the Shore Excursion Department. I had never previously experienced discrimination due to my disability. Every time I or other passengers using walkers or wheelchair/scooters passed the shore excursion manager she rolled her eyes. One time I heard her sigh. This plus the poor excursion we had in Aarhus, Denmark were solely her responsibility. We had a train excursion in Aarhus and there were four of us who did not have seats. I spent the train portion of the tour seated on a wooden table in front of the door to the washroom. Three men stood on the deck outside the car because there were no seats. Although this was completely unacceptable it was not addressed on the ship even after I complained. After I returned home and snail mailed a complaint to Princess I got a phone call that informed me I was on a tour that was "too strenuous" for me. I also found this to be unacceptable. I was on the train, I didn't have a seat for the ride but since I can't stand for long periods I sat on the wooden table. This should be unacceptable for anyone, disabled or not. Overall this was an excellent cruise. We had an outstanding cabin steward. The food was very good and we enjoyed seeing so many new and exciting cities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Been on Emerald Princess 3 times. My review is not of the ship. There are many one can see. In general. We've extremely enjoyed the ship. Would definitely select the ship again Spent 2days in Cophengan. Stayed at the Isbens ... Read More
Been on Emerald Princess 3 times. My review is not of the ship. There are many one can see. In general. We've extremely enjoyed the ship. Would definitely select the ship again Spent 2days in Cophengan. Stayed at the Isbens Hotel. See review in Trip Advisor. Highly recommend. As others have indicated. This city is expensive. Soft drinks are $5.00; McDonalds meal for two is $25.00. No refills. A good meal for two is around $100.00. So be prepared. Great city to walk. Get good mape at the airport. Exchange monies at local banks in the city. Better rates in city. We used taxis. From airport to Hotel. 261 krones. Then taxi to ship terminal. 181 krones. Taxi from terminal to airport. 281 krones. Taxis take credit cards. Get the CPH card. If you use it 3 times...it more pays for itself. Read the Rick Steves book.....great leads on what to see and save monies Highly recommend having good light weight hooded jacked. Plus umbral.....one fore each person We didn't need any heavy jackets. We took them but, did't use Stockholm.....Get up early to see the trip thru the channel and the numerous islands. See the Vasa ship......Not in port long enough to any shopping. Tours take up most of the time. Recommend seeing the Vasa ship....then tour on your own Helsinki.....took ships tour. Rock Church, Nobel awards building, old market.....All there was in time. Again sort time in port St. Petersburg......We took private tour with Denrus......What others have said about this tour group is true. They are fantastic. They handed us a large packet with maps, DVD, tour out line in detail, etc. The issues of using other then a ships tour have faded. Our group was first off the ship. Only 24 in the group. We saw all what you read in the Complete St. Petersburg tour. It was the cruise highlight. The two days there .... With the small group allowed us to see more then the larger tour group. Smaller bus moved faster from spot to spot. Spend as much as you can for a tour. Best monies spent Buy your stacking dolls on ship. Found the quality and prices better Good buy on vodka. Also fur items.....need to know what you are buying Tallinn....We walk off the ship and tour by ourselves. Easy walk. Best shopping is just off the ship. There must be 50. Vendors there. Better prices ...then you'll find in town. Cash speaker...you can negotiate on items...... Warnemunde....bad weather....we did not get to port Aarhus......Another walking .... Self. Tour. We took a visit to the old village...great time spent. Again look at Rick Steves book for pointers Oslo.....took ships tour to ski jump + Viking ships......this is a must..limited time for any shopping. There was a building outside the ship for buying items and getting back vat taxes on purchases. In all cities people spoke very good English........ Weather can be rain, over cast, and at times in low 60's. We did have some days with sun. Never uused the Ships pool.....no time. Day at sea. Spent resting and enjoyed I could write more.......truly enjoyed Oslo.....took ships tour. Again limited in time...saw the ski jump....wow.....a must...saw the other Viking ships another must as part of the tour. Limited in time to do any shopping. just before end of tour some of the group asked to be let off in town.... Approx. 15 minute back to ship Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
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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