Emerald Princess had just undergone a major refit, so we were interested to see what had changed. Sabatini's had become “Share” (now 29 USD extra) and part of the Wheelhouse had become the “Salty Dog Gastropub” (also an extra) ... Read More
Emerald Princess had just undergone a major refit, so we were interested to see what had changed. Sabatini's had become “Share” (now 29 USD extra) and part of the Wheelhouse had become the “Salty Dog Gastropub” (also an extra) but we were not tempted to try them. Nor the updated gym. We did, however, love the comfortable new luxury mattresses. The addition of 100 communicating doors might be fine for families but if you are allocated a four berth cabin having requested two single beds it is like being in a tiny dormitory.
The ship was 100% full with 3,100 passengers, mostly from the UK, making it more like P&O or Saga. With the Caribbean on their doorstep, there was not the usual mix of 50% Americans and other nationalities. As always, the service was universally excellent and everybody was made to feel very welcome.
Having stayed on the various islands several times, this was more of a reminiscence trip than an adventure but it was interesting to see how the destinations had developed.
After 3 days at sea, it was good to go ashore at Las Palmas when we reached Gran Canaria. Tenerife is more interesting and we discovered that the Tourist Office runs a shuttle bus to Puerto de la Cruz (19 euros return), which is easier than using the local bus. Lanzarote was rather deadly and even the Arrecife Tourist Office on the dock remained closed. Had we realised it was a May day holiday, we would have explored the geology of the island instead.
Madeira is still a delightful place and we enjoyed visiting the market then the botanical gardens via the cable cars. We had visited Santiago de Compostela recently, from La Coruna, so decided to look around Vigo instead. We obtained four self-guided walking tours but gave up after plodding around the Old Town, which is not very exciting.
With several days at sea, we attended lectures in the theatre and some excellent Spanish classes. Rod Repton gave some entertaining talks about his experiences in the police force but the port talks were mediocre and delivered in a condescending manner. Slide shows of places Ken had visited during his 17 years in the job were of no practical use to the many passengers who prefer to “do their own thing”, so we were pleased that we had browsed the Internet before embarking.
Theatre entertainment in the evening was of variable quality, starting with a really poor comedian but ending with the lead singer of the Hollies, who was great. There were two female singers, who seemed well received and a couple of other acts that were quite entertaining, including Mike McClean, who was really funny.
The resident singers and dances only performed on two nights and the second show was new to us. Unfortunately, the production team had made it look more like a video arcade, so the artists were poorly lit and the audience were dazzled by flashing lights. They also still fail to understand that the band should not drown the singers and that nobody enjoys having spot lights shone in their face.
There was no show for second sitting diners on the last night and the timing of Princess’s version of The Voice was not smart with a 7.30 pm start.
FOOD AND DINING
We had opted for second sitting dining at 8.15 pm and enjoyed each evening with two other couples. We also chose the Boticelli dining room for breakfast, lunch and even afternoon tea whenever possible. We noticed that steak had been down-graded to beef-burger on the alternative evening menu but there was generally a good choice for each course.
The food was of a consistently high standard and the waiters were cheerful, friendly and efficient. Our only criticism was that breakfast was rather leisurely and frustratingly slow at times. The Managers appeared to recognise this but helped by re-laying tables rather than organising their staff.
Sailing from Southampton is very easy and this is a good cruise if you can get it at a competitive price. The destinations are not wildly exciting but it made a timely Spring break. Princess remains our preferred cruise line and with over 500 Elite level passengers on board others seem to like it too.
Having re-read my earlier review from May 2014 (“Rock ‘n Roll from Southampton”), it seems that little had changed but at least the weather was calmer this time. Read Less