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3 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Mediterranean from Southampton

First time cruisers, two adults, two children 11 and 9, interconnecting mini suites( not necessary but the booking is a long story) although I would do interconnecting rooms again, just smaller. Overall conclusion, this is akin to a ... Read More
First time cruisers, two adults, two children 11 and 9, interconnecting mini suites( not necessary but the booking is a long story) although I would do interconnecting rooms again, just smaller. Overall conclusion, this is akin to a decent four star hotel, with obvious differences due to size and the fact it's a...boat. Myth one - you won't know you are on a ship. Oh yes we did, often. Both from the weather and the ships vibrations. But I would agree it is generally manageable but go with sea sick tabs and accept in poor weather it can easily be felt. Beware the bay of biscay. Myth two - you won't see your kids they will be having so much fun etc. Well, they did go to kids club, but they missed a hang out place (eg swings etc at a campsite) and whilst there are two pools, that's it. No slides etc so, having been to centre parcs etc it felt flat. But... They loved the photography (note they were trailing a-cake of having all photos taken on board for $200 - at first this may appear high but we walked away with 120 professional photos. I'm not sure they will keep going with this, but it did allow the girls to do a photo shoot most nights. Food - first recommendation is the salty dog. $19 extra but we found this to be excellent, but accept it is an unusual approach to food, eg you choose various small dishes after you receive a Parma salad. Deserts were great. Crown grill - $29 - ok, not worth it to us. My wife fish dish was well below par Share - didn't try, the $39 extra each was too much for us. Horizon court/cafe caribe - are buffets, and do as they say. We enjoyed the food their, but it's not gourmet, but easily acceptable. Overall, food, we were happy. Entertainment - is not the boats strength, lots of trivia etc but the shows we saw, musicals, hypnotist, comedian, magician, we're all fun. Kids loved that. Why, oh why they don't have a kids disco every night, just the formal nights, I don't know. So easy to do. Excursions - we mostly did our own except Pisa, which was fine, if somewhat expensive, but I knew that beforehand. Note to parents - our kids were really not interested in the excursions, in walking far, in the heat etc, so plan your trip well or have a miserable day which we seem to have too often. I'll plan better next time. When we were able to leave the boat just the two of us - grandparents on board - - I loved the simple pleasure of walking, exploring, and having a beer with my wife. Bars - I loved the outrigger - back of the boat - as it has great views. Shuts at six but you can sneak into the adjacccio and bring the drinks down. Others were fine but as we liked the salty dog, which is within the wheelhouse and is quieter than some - nice music being played - we often meet there for a smart drink. Pool bars were fine. Formal nights - I thought these were in the main well supported with many black ties, but I guess if you went up to the buffet it would hav been different. Would I do the Emerald Princess again...no. But that because my kids need more activity so we will probably try RCL next. Once they are older, yes I would although celebrity also attracts me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our first cruise with Princess. We sailed on the Emerald Princess from Southampton on the 20th August with our Daughter son in law and two grandchildren aged 14 and 11. Embarkation was slow, as there were storms affecting the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess. We sailed on the Emerald Princess from Southampton on the 20th August with our Daughter son in law and two grandchildren aged 14 and 11. Embarkation was slow, as there were storms affecting the port and Princess were unable, for safety reasons, to use the covered walkway to board the ship and boarding had to take place from dockside up a ramp. We were lucky as we were awarded platinum status due to our past P&O cruises, which gave us priority over many other cruisers. We were allowed to go straight to our stateroom and deposit our hand luggage. In my case quite a lot as I don't travel light! The ship was in quite good condition after a revamp in December, as it is not one of the newer ones, and public areas were well maintained and clean. We avoided the crowds in the buffet and went to the main resturant which we found opened for a short time for lunch. This proved a good move as I had a lovely fillet steak followed by a souflet. Other members of the family didn't fare so well in the buffet. The service everywhere on the ship was outstanding, every member of staff went out of their way to help. The only exception was one female server in the international cafe who was very short and sometimes quite rude in her attitude. However even she improved as the cruise progressed, so I think she may have been spoken to. We had a balcony cabin with a double size balcony, half shaded and the family had a mini suit which was very spacious, however their balcony was completely uncovered. Our cabin had plenty of hanging space and a very comfortable bed. I asked for extra hangers and two robes which came straight away. Our steward was excellent with nothing being too much trouble. He serviced the cabin twice a day including the balcony and vacuumed daily, something that was neglected on recent P&O cruises. Our bathroom was very small, with a shower that had a fixed head, which I hate, and a nylon curtain which stuck to you, but was adequate. Our children had a larger bathroom in the mini suit with a bath, which was not full size, but bigger than some we have had. Dinning was excellent. As we were a large group, having been joined by some of our daughters friends who were also on board, we were given a table in anytime dining at 8pm and allowed to keep it for the whole cruise. We had excellent service, with all our requests being met. The food was top quality, especially the meat and fish. Some of the starters and soups were a bit odd for our taste, but it was no problem to get a small portion of another course as a starter. Something again P&O no longer do. The resturant food and service was excellent for all meals so wherever possible we used this. The buffet was a different matter it is the same bad design in my view as Azura and Ventura with only one side open at a time. It was vastly overcrowded with no vacant seats, as the ship had over 3;400 passengers and some 900 children on board. The food was poor Luke warm canteen type food and the salad and fruit were truly awful. The fruit was always hard and unripe, and presented either whole or unpeeled. The salad which was all I wanted at lunchtime was a poor selection dotted about in different areas. One day someone had sliced up raw courgettes instead of cucumber. We didn't use this area after first couple of days. The international cafe had nice sweet treats and my grandson loved the doughnuts. Again lack of seating made this area unusable much of the time, so we took snacks back to our cabin balcony. We didn't use pool burger grill or pizza takeaway, but kids said they were quite good quality. Lemonade was available most of the day which was a nice touch. The wine was very expensive so we didn't have our usual bottle with dinner every night, just a glass and instead we made use of happy hour, and the nice cocktails for 5 dollars between 5.30 and 7.00pm, served in the lounge for platinum and elite passengers, these also came with free canapés. Entertainment was very hit and miss, there were a couple of good vocal acts. We didn't see the comedienne but we went to a couple of shows, which were poor due to lack of talent. One show written for princess could have been great as the production was good, it was just the lack of vocal ability that let it down. The children have cruised with princess several times and this was the first year they didn't enjoy the clubs. I think they were too overcrowded with equipment and activities being rationed. The 11 yr old boy liked the pools but again they were very overcrowded and I think potentially quite dangerous as it was almost impossible to keep your child in your sight all of the time with so many children in them. Daily activities were mostly quizzes, talks where that try to sell products, lotto and films which didn't appeal to us, so we read and went to a couple of lectures on sea days. Ports were good with the exception of Genoa which wasn't very nice. Corsica was by tender and the usual drag which was a wait of about an hour in a lounge after getting a ticket for the tender. Our highlights were the two days in Rome and Florence/ Pisa. After much research I had organised and pre booked private tours with a local company on line. These were in very comfortable Mercedes people carriers, with free wifi which the teen loved. Both trips picked us up from and returned us to the ship. This enabled us to see much more in a day than we could have done on a ships tour, as the drivers drove through the narrow streets right up to the attractions. On the Rome day we started at the Colosseum where we had priority tickets obtained by the company to save us time queuing. We set our own time at each attraction with the driver at our disposal all day and were able to drive up to and get out at the pantheon, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Pissa Navona etc, something we couldn't do on a coach. The second day was the same and the driver even took us to a beach at the request of the children for a swim on the way back to the ship. This is the first time I have organised private excursions, although we have got taxis before in some ports and would absolutely recommend this option. My husband hates coaches and for us this was a much better option at a reasonable price. One thing I wish cruise lines would sort out is the tipping. We paid all the daily gratuities charged and the service onboard was indeed excellent, being as good as our experiences on Celebrity and better than HAL and P&O. We also gave the cabin steward extra for great service. We did however see hoards of people removing their tips. In my view as these gratuities are charged in advance they are not tips they are part of the wages of hard working staff and should be included in the cruise price. If a little extra was added to every cruise it would cover this, enabling staff to be properly paid and the cost spread between all passengers who benefit from the services onboard. Overall a very enjoyable break with the family. We would definitely cruise with Princess again and I am sure the ship would be less crowded outside of school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
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
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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