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7 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Baltic Sea from Southampton

We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure ... Read More
We chose this 14 day cruise for its itinerary as we had only every visited Bruges before. Never started a cruise from Southampton due to the difficulties of getting down from the North driving with a stopover was our best option to ensure we got to the ship on time. This proved to be a good choice as it took 7 hours to get within 2 hours away the next morning due to traffic. The check in at the Mayflower terminal was very well organised with our car collected when we arrived to be waiting on our return. The ship was familiar to several other cruises that we have been on so finding our balcony cabin was easy, which we found it to be as expected with good size double bed, shower /toilet room, good storage space, TV and fridge which had three bottles of water (chargeable). TV had several English channels plus films should you wish to stay in you cabin. We brought the permitted two bottles of wine on board for the cruise any extra wine or spirits would be confiscated and given back at the end of the cruise. We later found out from fellow passengers that this rule was not being applied and they were bringing wine etc at each port of call. As the average cost for a bottle of wine at dinner was around $35 including the 15% service charge we would have saved a lot of money over the 14days even paying the $15 corkage. The overall cost of drinks on the ship were the most expensive that we have every experienced on any cruise ship or 5 star hotel around the world. When you consider that they do not pay any duty or vat the pricing is off the scale with only two draught beers available in some bars one being Newcastle brown, your only option was to have a can or bottle with a standard can of Boddingtons costing $5.95 plus 15% service charge. A good way to get better value is t buy a bottle of wine which has 5 glasses at a cost $25 as opposed to 5 glasses at $8 each both plus 15% s/c. They do have a happy hours in the wheelhouse every day from 3 – 4 and at the Skywalker at 10.30 if you are still awake. The deals is buy one drink at full price and get one for $1, speaking to the staff they said the previous cruise the extra drink was free. As moat people were on shore most days I suspect the opening times were not very well attended it would have been better to have a later time before dinner. We found at some bars practically around the pool areas there was an absence of waiters which meant you had to go to the bar to be served and at no time did the bar staff offer to have the drinks sent over to your table and for your convenience they charge your 15% etc. Overall we found lot of the staff did not seem to be interested in going out of there way as they believed they would not receive any tips. Staffs in the wheelhouse bar and the two evening restaurants were the exception very professional and gave good service. We were offered the drinks packaged when we booked at just under $40 each per day and when we boarded the ship this had gone up by $10 even at their very high prices you would have to be a drink a lot to get value for your money. Food in the De Vinci & Michelangelo restaurants was expellant with the flexible dinning we meet some lovely people from all around the world this coupled with great service made each evening memorable. The breakfast in the Horizon and Cafe Caribe was a little frenetic trying to find a table. With plastic plates we found by the time you got to your table the food was going cold. If you used the restaurants for lunch the same problems would arise and over the cruise not once were we asked would we like a glass of wine /beer with our meal. We did not try the three themed restaurants Share supplement $39, Crown Grill supplement $29 and the Salty dog $19. When you purchased any drinks you were not required to sign and on several occasions you did not receive receipt. You could check and print your account at terminal by customer relations or log onto your ID of phone FOC. Gratuities for the cruise other than the 15% service charge were not compulsory and opted out preferring to tip the staff who gave us the best service such as the cabin steward ad dining room staff. We tried room service once in the morning for tea/coffee sadly it arrived cold so we gave up and walked up two floors up each morning and brought hot drinks to the cabin. That same day when we got back in the afternoon from trip the tray was still there and the cabin was not cleaned. Phoning the number for the steward got no response when I phone customer services I was told to hang on before I could explain why I was calling. I was left hanging on for 35 minutes, I left the phone off the hook and when down to customer service only to be told they had no way of knowing if a gusts was holding on. The room was cleaned an hour later and as a way of apology we were left a large dinner serving tray with a four chocolates and a note of apology. Entertainment overall was good in the main theatre with the exception of a poor guitar playing comedian and a very dodgy hypnotists. The remainder of the entertainment was very good with some very talented performers and the resident ships staff headed by Kevin Joy the cruise director putting on some great shows. A range of quizzes/trivia games in the bars plus dancing and bingo which again was expensive at $25 for two cards. There was a great emphasise every day on promoting fine art with several auctions taking place mostly I suspect at the prices they were being sold for our American friends this together with the daily jewellery news letter and demonstrations made a lot of us Brits feel very poor. We do not go on a cruise to buy fine art and jewellery and found that the effort that was being made could have been better use entertaining the guests particularly at sea days they could have put on an afternoon show in the theatre. Other services such as internet were again very expansive with tea or coffee with your cake $3/5. Duty free was a joke up to 60% off was stated not sure what they were basing their pricing on it certainly was not UK shop prices which were a lot less. It was noticeable that there were no price tickets on the shelves these could be found on an A4 sheet by the till, I suspect that they alter pricing depending on the cruise. When you left the ship at each port we found the staff to be totally uninterested and never once did any staff say good morning or have a nice trip this was repeated when you arrived back on board with only the last shore visit one member of the crew welcomed us back. The crew mix were from all corners of the world and not sure if this worked as we found some gave the appearance that they did not want to be on the ship. Ports of Call: We did not purchase any trips from the ship due to the high cost and at a lot of the ports you can walk into the town. We did buy from our cruise travel agent Cruise,co.uk a two day trip to St Petersburg and Tallinn. Zeebrugge/ Bruges we paid €10 for a coach from the ship to Blankenberge which had the local Sunday market and fair from their we were able to get a train for €5 each return to Bruges station with the centre of town 20 minutes walk or you can hope on one of the local tourist busses for €2 Copenhagen: You can walk from the ship to the Little Mermaid in 10minutes the centre of the town would take you a further 30minutes if you are fit. We used the combined hop on hop off Red bus visit all of the main sites. Stockholm: The port is a little way to the centre so we used the combined hop on hop off Red bus and river ferry which we were able to the main site including the Royal Palace and the not to be missed Vasa museum. Cost for the combined ticket €35 each Helsinki: The only bad day of weather with rain all of the day. The centre of the city is well within walking distance but due to the poor weather we paid the €10 for the ship bus to the town, you could get a walk on bus but did not believe that with the weather you would see much. St Petersburg: The organised tour company “Tour De Force” ensured you had a tourist visa, we did not have to queue at passport control and were meet by our young very knowledgeable guide for the two days. Lunch on the two days was arranged at an extra small cost. A very tiring first day with lots of walking but little queuing at each stop as our bus only had 28 people we were able to get some priority at each stop, we did notice the ship trips were large coaches and speaking to fellow passenger that night they had some queuing. The trip cost was less than £200 each plus the cost of the meals. Tallinn: The old town is in easy walking distance from the port we did however use a pre arrange walk on Red bus to see the main site before getting off at the top f the old town. One word of warning sadly at the old town battements were there many of passengers from the three ships that were in port a lot of Romanian pick pockets were operating, I myself had my mobile taken out of my from shoulder bag but luckily I felt the movement and the woman dropped it on a ledge in front of her and I was able to retrieve it back. The cheeky person just smiled and waked a little way in the crowed we were able to warn a lady that she was in her bag again she just blow a kiss and walked on. Sadly we did see several other pick pockets operating in the area but no police presents. Gdynia/Gdansk: The town is within easy distance to walk. We did take a taxi to the station to catch a train to Gdansk cost 22 Zolty return. Good service took 40 minutes. Nice old town but not a great deal to see. Money: We get some local currency for Copenhagen, Stockholm, Poland and Russia just enough to buy some food or drinks. All counties took the euro including Russia but not sterling so do not both changing into rubles. As your ship account is in US dollars your credit card will be charge at the ships special rate unless you opt for your card to be charge in $ and let you bank covert the rate. When we left the ship there rate was $1.21 to £ our Nationwide credit card was converted at £1.308 yet one more money making scheme from Princess. They should change their statement “Come Back New” to Come Back Poorer. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the ... Read More
Had a fabulous cruise to the Baltic. All ports of call were excellent. The standard of service was great. And the staff went well beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great cruise. The food on board was excellent but some of the shows left a bit to be desired in there quality.the production shows were excellent and very well produced. Only major complaint was the stafff in the MDR not applying the dress code on formal nights. They had a couldn't care less attitude about passengers wearing,shorts,polo shirts,tee shirts etc. I think Pricess should abandon formal nights.i think it is pointless to advertise formal nights then totally ignore the rules. The selection of shore excursions was great and the staff at the tour desk were very helpful as were all the staff on board. The guides on the tours were very good and very helpful with any specific queries we had about things.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily ... Read More
Having previously cruised (with Princess) on our Honeymoon, we decided to do so again for our 10th Anniversary - this time, with our children (5 and 7) too!! We were very pleased with our previous Princess cruise, although we primarily selected the Baltic Heritage cruise because of the itinerary - the fact that we "knew" the cruise line made our choice even simpler. Due to an early morning flight, we arrived at the cruise terminal in Southampton slightly early for our embarkation time slot. However, we were checked-in very promptly and were allowed to board the ship shortly thereafter. The check-in/embarkation process was excellent and very "slick". After a brief walk-around the ship and some lunch from the Horizon Court buffet, we returned to our stateroom to find that our cases had all been delivered - again, very quickly indeed! We had primarily chosen this cruise because of the excellent itinerary, however we did not do any of the ship’s organised excursions. In the majority of ports, we simply did our own thing (very easy to do in most cases – especially Tallin!) and in St Petersburg we booked a 2-day tour via an independent operator – which was excellent and substantially less expensive that Princess’ own offerings. I would add however that the itinerary did not disappoint – it was fantastic – we visited some fascinating places and having 2 “sea days” at the end to simply “chill out” was perfect! Our cabin/stateroom was larger than we had anticipated (Room E114 - as reviewed separately below) and was more than adequate for our family’s requirements for 2 weeks. Whilst on-board, we enjoyed a variety of dining experiences - usually a buffet breakfast which was good, but could get very busy - and sometimes difficult to find a table (there are two sides to the buffet - usually only one of which is open at a time - so a good "tip" is to take your plate/food through to the other side which is quieter and usually had plenty of tables - the tea/coffee/water was always available in both sides). We sometimes used the buffet also for lunch - when we weren't ashore - or had a snack from the excellent pizza bar (cooking fresh pizza's throughout the day) or something from the grill (which had very good burgers!) - both of which are very handy for the pool. The evening menu in the restaurants had a "core" selection of dishes available each evening and also varied other dishes each evening. There was always something to suit all members of our family. The waiting staff in the main dining rooms were excellent and made our Anniversary dinner special and also made our son feel special on his birthday! Our children thoroughly enjoyed the kids activities on-board and the children’s centre staff were all first-class. We were fortunate to be on a cruise with a relatively small number of children (although still an adequate number for them to make friends and enjoy themselves) and as the children's area rooms are not vast, I could imagine they may get crowded on busier “school holiday” cruises. Similar to the embarkation process, disembarkation was a well-organised and “slick” process. We were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on-board prior to leaving the ship at our allotted time to find all our luggage ready and waiting for us. No fuss – just a very easy and fast process. In summary, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in seeing the Baltics. There were no particular negative experiences to our cruise and innumerable positives. All-in-all, a fantastic holiday! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad ... Read More
We chose this Scandinavian cruise as it is a part of the world I have always wanted to visit, and Emerald Princess happened to be there. We visited Zeebrugge, Copenhagen and Oslo, and had a visit to Helsinborg in Sweden aborted due to bad weather. I had not heard much about Princess before, and I was nervous about travelling with an infant after reading articles on this site warning about what an awful experience I was likely to have. Turns out, this could not have been more wrong. This was our third cruise, and hands down the best. The service was second to none - easily the best service I have ever experienced, not only on any cruise before, but in any leisure or hospitality environment. My baby daughter was treated like a celebrity across the ship, so much so that on our last day we had to take her on a "tour of duty" to say goodbye to each and every waiter and bar person who had fallen for her charms over the week! The team onboard could not do enough to make sure we had everything we needed, and the food and presentation was exceptional. There was plenty of choice food wise - we ate in the Michaelangelo anytime dining room every night, and even my fussy teenage stepdaughter found something to eat off the menu. My 6 month old was quite happy chomping on breadsticks and steamed veg, although I was regularly offered baby food. A high chair and a clean, film-wrapped tray were provided quickly for us each time we arrived at either the dining room or the Horizon buffet for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was more than adequate for breakfast and lunch with plenty of hot and continental options available - my teenage stepdaughter was quite happy to have Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce for breakfast every day! Embarkation was smooth and speedy (we were onboard the ship less than 45 minutes from pulling up in the car in front of it), and our bags beat us to our room. There were plenty of areas, inside and out, to sit, and at no point during the day did anything feel crowded. This was despite the fact that due to bad weather stopping us from going ashore in Sweden and leading to an unexpected sea day - there was still plenty to do. Evening entertainment was varied and we found something we wanted to do every night - my stepdaughter took a shine to the house band, Starwave, so we watched them in a number of venues around the ship on different evenings. The theatre shows were lots of fun, including a musical written for Princess by Stephen Schwartz, a Robbie Williams tribute, and a version of The Voice. The only nights they were really crowded were the formal nights when more people were out and about, but we arrived 15 minutes before showtime and had no problems getting seated. We didn't purchase any official excursions so I can't comment on those, but we found something to do in each port - there was a shuttle at Zeebrugge which took us to the nearby town of Blankenberge for 10 euro each, We walked into Copenhagen, and we jumped on a hop on hop off bus in Oslo for around 30 euro each. Shuttles etc were all available from just outside the ship. Overall - I don't think I've ever been so sad for a holiday to end, and I would happily return to Emerald Princess tomorrow. I've already started looking at Princess again for next year! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly ... Read More
We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly surprised! To begin, the ship was stunning. The piazza is gorgeous, and the public areas and lounges were very well designed to host a large number of people, as we almost never felt crowded. We liked to hang around spaces like the Adagio bar on deck 16 (great for playing cards) and Vibe on deck 7 (where many events were held throughout the day). The main dining room, though somewhat less impressive than those on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Ships, still felt elegant and calm. This ship has definitely held up over the years! We absolutely loved our balcony cabins. Our family of 4 had two of them side-by-side, and we opened up the balcony divider. It performed its function extremely well, with space used very efficiently (HUGE closet). The beds, which I understand were recently replaced, were very comfortable. We had no trouble falling asleep at all. I'd highly recommend our cabin location, deck 14 aft. This offered easy access to the Horizon Court and Terrace pool, and we heard nothing from the buffet above us. The dining was what stood out to us most on this cruise. The buffet, Horizon Court, was one of the best we've had at sea. Though it wasn't huge like some other ships we've been on, we never saw the same items twice! Everything was constantly being changed, and the food was consistently good. The Trident Grill was fantastic for snacks, as was Prego Pizzeria. All of these restaurants close at 11pm, by the way. The main dining room food quality varied from okay to fantastic, but it always arrived hot and beautifully presented, which is something other cruise lines have struggled with. As for the on-board entertainment, we were quite impressed. Shows were somewhat smaller scale than Royal Caribbean, which I think still outperformed this ship in Broadway-style shows. However, what Emerald Princess excelled at was the amount of shows. While Royal Caribbean only does 1 big show a night, with 2 time slots (early and late), Princess had 2 - 4 shows a night, with multiple showings of each! To name a few of these shows: "The Voice of the Ocean" (singing competition), "Magic To-Do" (Broadway style show), David Knight (comedy hypnotist) and "HalfDanskerne Trio" (Danish folk singers). Entertainment throughout the day was very creative as well. Our favourite was the "Crazy golf" in the Adagio bar on the last day. The Cruise director staff was very engaging and made good use of the on-board space. Aris was really great and never failed to make us laugh. There was constantly more than one activity going on at any given time: you won't get bored on this ship. Service was excellent. There are very attentive and courteous servers in the Horizon Court, which Royal Caribbean somewhat lacks, and our stateroom steward, Luney, was very good. We had a few very minor hiccups with the Dining room service, but they were working hard. Our server, Katarina, was very professional and our food always arrived hot. I won't go into too much detail about the ports, but I will say that I highly recommend this Scandinavian Itinerary. Bruges was picturesque, and great if you're a chocolate lover. Copenhagen was magical, despite the downpour of rain we got, and Tivoli Garden is not to be missed! I loved Oslo's engaging museums (we did the Folk museum and Fram museum), though it should be noted that if you prebook your Oslo pass, it is QUITE the walk across town to get it. Unfortunately, we did not get to Helsingborg as the captain had to cancel the tender due to a storm. This came as quite a crushing disappointment to us, as we really wanted to get to see Kronborg castle. Apparently, this cancellation is not uncommon either. If there is anything you really want to do in the area, do it in Copenhagen: don't wait for Helsingborg, as you very well may miss it. A word of warning about the weather: pack for the worst and expect the best. I had a sweater, a rain coat and a pair of shorts in my backpack, and I used all three over the course of one day! The weather in this part of the world changes drastically VERY QUICKLY. Be prepared. We would certainly cruise with Princess again, and it may actually be our new favourite cruise line. I urge anyone looking to book a cruise on this ship not to get scared away by the negative reviews. Bad experiences can happen on any ship, don't let a few of them stop you from trying a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease ... Read More
Note: this review is very much food focused! Everything about this cruise to Scandinavia was fantastic. This was not our first cruise (NCL & RCCL) but our first on Princess. Travelling with my elderly mum who has coeliac disease (needs a gluten free diet) we arrived at check in desks in Southampton approximately noon and we were on-board by 1pm. We went straight to our cabin something other cruise lines don’t allow until a set time and amazingly our bags were outside of the door. Off to the buffet next, a good selection of food, mum being a coeliac has to be a bit careful when eating in the buffet so selected some fruit and some cheese. We couldn’t believe it when I spotted a ‘gluten free’ tapioca pudding. There was a different GF pudding available in the buffet daily throughout the cruise which is tremendous. Back to the cabin. We were on Caribe Deck towards AFT – starboard and were really happy with the location. The Balcony on this deck is double the length of those on deck 9 and 11 – so a great choice for us. The balcony has 2 adjustable chairs with footstools and a table. The cabin itself was well appointed and I particularly liked the separate dressing room area which was particularly useful for mum to park her 3 wheel walker. The bathroom whilst small was again good with a walk-in shower. The only shame about this was it was a static showerhead and not a showerhead on a hose to be able to wash your more difficult parts! We ate in the main dining (Michelangelo) which was available for anytime dining. We always asked for a table for 2 and generally we had a small wait, this was anything from 10 to 30 mins. We were given a pager which allowed us to sit and get a drink or just sit and watch the piece band in the piazza. The first evening we made it known that mum needed gluten free meal. A Head waiter was then allocated to us for the whole cruise. Nelson was ours and was wonderful, he helped mum select off the menu for the first night and arranged for some gluten free bread. She had the country chicken as main and there was flourless chocolate cake for desert. He then gave her the menu for the next night and told her only to select Starter and main course and he will arrange something special for desert every day. This was on-going for the cruise. She ordered whatever she fancied and he made sure it was made gluten free. The deserts were amazing. She had Strawberry gateaux, raspberry and coconut cake, lemon sponge, a version of a red velvet cake and the list goes on. She was blown away. We also went to the dining room one morning and she had GF Pancakes. In the Buffet I was able to order GF Toast from the chef – this usually took about 5 mins to cook fresh for her. At 3.30pm everyday there was afternoon tea in the Botticelli. Again they more than catered for GF. Sandwiches, cake, Scones and these didn’t need to be ordered. For me, the sandwiches, cakes and scones were great and being brits the tea was good too! I must say the food quality and quantity was a high as we’ve had on any cruise. I was more than satisfied with the breakfast in the buffet and dinner in the dining room. So now onto the rest of the cruise. We were so lucky with the weather, we stayed on the ship in Zeebrugge and the weather was lovely and gave us the opportunity to look around a near empty ship and to generally chill out. In Copenhagen we had selected the ‘Easy Copenhagen’ tour as this was shown as being good for people not wanting to walk far. Imagine our surprise when we got the coach and it was a double decker! Luckily we managed to get a seat downstairs, however if there hadn’t been room we would not have been able to go on the trip. Not happy with these arrangements and to be honest it spoiled the excursion as even though mum was down stairs there was a large step she had to climb just to get to her seat this meant she wasn’t able to get out of the coach for the photo stops. Unfortunately but the time we got back to the ship it had started to rain so we didn’t go back out. The next stop was meant to be Helsingborg, this was a tender port. Due to high winds this stop was abandoned for safety reasons so it meant an extra day at sea. It actually didn’t bother us too much and we enjoyed the day relaxing. Next day was Oslo and again we selected the ‘Easy Oslo’ tour, this time we had a proper coach. This was an excellent tour, Oslo is a beautiful city. Once we got back to the ship mum went back to the cabin to rest and I went out and walked around the city and saw most of the main buildings close up. It helped that it was a lovely day. Upon leaving Oslo the scenery was stunning and reminded us of Alaska in some ways. We’d definitely like to do Norwegian Fjord cruise now. So in summary... a fabulous cruise and particularly if you or your travelling companions are in need of a special diet. The ship was lovely and we would definitely travel on Princess again. There was always lots to do, including plenty of trivia, karaoke, Movies under the stars.. You can do as much or as little and you want. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure ... Read More
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure plenty of people had an enjoyable week and I am pleased for you if you did. I found many things to be totally not up to standard and as such my review will not be positive. I’ll break it down into categories: Embarkation: Very, very smooth. Yes, it is a bit odd to have numbered cards as you wait in line, but it is a system that appears to work. Good for the suite and elite passengers to get to queue jump...I find that to be absurd and a little demeaning, but it is what it is. Those extra 5 minutes must be worth the pushing in, eh? Cabin. We had an outside cabin with a fully restricted view. This did not bother us as we rarely used the cabin other than for sleeping and changing. You could see the sea or the quayside to see if we were docked, etc, so no problem and a fair bit of cash saved for spending elsewhere; cash you’ll need, by the way, the ship is very expensive. The shower is small, as per expectations, but the shampoos and soaps are a bit cheap to say the least. The bed, as reported elsewhere, was magnificent. Food. Dire. We are generally quite easy to please and my wife is a vegetarian, but not a fussy one, if you know what I mean. But the non-meat options are so poor, she barely had what you could describe as a full plate for most of the cruise. She had to ‘piece together’ suitable meals and all had to be fish with no special vegetarian meal on offer. The buffet is way too small and there are nowhere near enough seats in the Horizon restaurants with breakfast being particularly shambolic. We shared tables, often, which is fine, but it is not a good set up at all. The buffet food was a bit strange, we felt, and the concept of vegetables is misunderstood. If there is a carvery, for example, have carrots, peas and green beans instead of just one with several potato variations. Strange. We only went to the anytime dining restaurants on one occasion and had that been a paying restaurant (well, I suppose we did pay up front...) I would have challenged a number of items on the bill, not least the ‘gourmet burger’, which was poor. We sat down and were asked if we wanted sparkling or still water. I asked for sparkling and so had to pay, though I didn’t know this at the time and no-one said anything...the sharing table guests got still water...free. This sort of mealy mouthed money grabbing leaves its mark and I hope they are pleased with themselves for it. Ports of call: Really, just really? In a nutshell: Bruges. It is not Bruges, it is Zeebrugge, a soulless container port. Bruges is miles away and Princess made it very clear in their port description that taxis from the port exit were ‘not plentiful’. Plus, as Zeebrugge is a container port, you cannot just walk off the ship and make your way to the exit. You could, of course, buy their trip into town for an amazing, amazing, amazing price of $179...each. This is laugh out loud ridiculous. Money grabbing, did I mention that? We stayed aboard, fed up, not knowing how to get to Bruges. Many people went to Blankenberge for about €10, I think, but the itinerary said it was Bruges...no, it was a container port and the sales pitch for a Princess partial excursion monopoly. Copenhagen: Fine. Helsingborg: Nope. Too windy for tenders, so we carried on towards Oslo at walking pace. Safety first, we have no problem with that, of course not. We also got $18 each refunded for the missed port as a port tax rebate. That bought a single drink! Lol. Oslo: Fine, but it left at 15.30 hours...we had missed the previous port, so why not extend this one? Oh yeah, it would probably have cost Princess more, of course. So, 4 ports...well, we got 2 and a container port. Useless. Entertainment: We only checked out the theatre on the last night and saw the very talented Neil Lockwood, very good he was too. We generally avoid cruise entertainment as it is not really our thing, but he was excellent. The theatre is large. Staff: In general they were a delight. However, the more ‘elevated’ staff were not, particularly the Cruise Director, who I found to be generally awful. I’m sorry to be specific, but I was unsure what he brought to the show other than his starring in his own intergalactic movie attitude. Tune in to Channel 29 in your cabin and you can watch him and his sidekick embarrass themselves each morning. We watched it as it was so bad, you just had to. Self-indulgent and childish, it was at best patronising, at worst a pair of adults behaving like gushy school children. Truly dreadful and I’d be all over this if I was running the ship. Haha, that’s likely! Do you really need to have his young woman sidekick being quizzed about not having a boyfriend? That is plain creepy. Am I interested in how the Cruise Director ‘keeps an eye’ on his favourite football team? No mate, I am not. The worst bit about them is how they are totally on-message with the Princess trademark upselling. When asked about the best restaurants aboard, the woman started to pretend to be thinking before coming up with 3 choices...all of which ‘she loves’. Which 3 do you reckon, then? Correct, the extra charge ones! Do me a favour the pair of you...One assumes she doesn’t join the fist fights in the overcrowded buffet then or, indeed, is not a vegetarian or a lover of fresh vegetables. Ridiculous and just out of touch with many passengers. I know some people will like the skittish banter but it is just endless and vacuous, it really is a tired formula. Holiday camp?...maybe. On the extra sea day because of the Helsingborg issues, they came up with a great idea for entertainment...making paper planes...I kid you not. The front desk staff were surly and unhelpful. Sorry, but that is how we found them. I loved the separate velvet rope section for elite and suite passengers...again, really? Do they actually push in like this anyway? Shopping: Awful. Expensive and lacking in choice. My wife bought a bag which was reasonably priced once they had applied the advertised 30% discount to bring it back to the price on the mainland, groan. We found another bag for my daughter back home, but we noticed it appeared to be damaged as we took it to the till. They whisked it away without any offer to knock a bit off. I raised this with the Retail Manager who brushed it all off a little too easily; fact is, I think, the same bag will be back on the shelf on the next cruise or back to the retail outlet village it came from. Buyer beware, that’s all I’m saying. The fragrances are more expensive than on the mainland and everything, everywhere is in dollars, by the way. It is an American ship, so fair enough. But it does slightly affect the cruise experience for Brits sailing from, erm, Britain. Go figure. The art auction: This needs its own section because it was so totally dreadful. Our ‘invite’ was received and the idea of free bubbly definitely got my wife’s interest. Sure, you can choose not to go, but it was a sea day and we were intrigued as to what this auction would be like. I have asked Princess directly to talk to me about our experience at the auction because what I saw does not sit well and I wish to establish what was going on. It was pressure and squeeze and foam and blather, laughable from start to finish except for the bit when bidding started after the auctioneer had taken an age to butter up the increasingly bored audience before she started her comedic selling patois as well as the hyper speed auctioneering spiel. Honestly, we were giggling like kids...perhaps good enough for Channel 29. The art work itself was a mix of horrendous garish coloured works together with stuff you can see in any school art department, no better. Just our two cents! Bars: Wow, expensive. They whack on a service charge on every drink, so we felt miffed about being asked for an additional $12.95 per day, per person for gratuities. We removed these and tipped our room steward ourselves, a lovely guy called Michael. Just increase the price of the cruise by $100 and do away with this contentious gratuity issue, it really does nobody any favours at all. There is a happy hour (2nd drink for $1) in the Skywalkers ‘nightclub’, which is worth taking advantage of if you are late up each night, as we were, though you’ll need to be able to withstand the same standard playlist of music each night...the opening hours of the bars is a little skitty and seem subject to alteration without notice. Generally, they are fine, it is the prices that are not, they are way out of order. Disembarkation: As easy as getting on, absolutely first class. I guess the suite and elite people get carried off on thrones...who knows! The only gripe is that they want everyone out of their room by 08.00. which leads to everyone piling for food in the already inadequate Horizon area...well, not everyone but a lot of people. Given that fellow cruisers love to place bags on chairs designed for actual humans, an act of selfishness that too many cruisers seem to enjoy (not all, but too many), you will find it hard to get a seat. Very hard. The weather was mainly superb and we had plenty of laughs. But it was not great, not by a long way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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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