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5 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean from Southampton

Cabin A437. Far too small for two adults and one child; 3rd bed is lowered by steward each evening and is immediately over the main bed. It is unsettling for the sleepers who may as well be in a small bunk bed! Balcony was in need of ... Read More
Cabin A437. Far too small for two adults and one child; 3rd bed is lowered by steward each evening and is immediately over the main bed. It is unsettling for the sleepers who may as well be in a small bunk bed! Balcony was in need of painting and repair with rust and broken lock to next cabin. Could not get balcony door to lock. You can hear the next cabin's toilets flush and TV, etc. Drinks packages: Overpriced for what you get! Especially the soda package that promises soft drinks, mocktails and hot chocolate, however, there are just 5 mocktails to choose from that are basically slush puppies in a plastic child's cup; soft drinks are limited to fountain only cola and sprite. Overcrowded: The small pools are surrounded by deck chairs which are in no way sufficient for the vast number of passengers - hence people are up very very early to unfairly reserve them :( Also, the pools were full of small children all the time (mostly unsupervised) with teenagers and adults feeling uncomfortable to enter as you feel you are in a goldfish bowl - if you have any issues about your body shape or size you won't have the confidence to enter. Many women did not go in as everyone just stared (or ogled) at them! Entertainment: Even for cruise ship standards, the live entertainment was very poor. Any entertainer worth seeing was therefore in high demand by the passengers who, just like the deckchair reservists, arrived at the venues hours before to get the limited seats. Food: As you expect from a luxury liner the food was abundant with dining rooms (fixed or anytime), specialist areas (at extra costs) and large buffets. First-time cruisers will find this a good experience but others will compare the quality and variety against other cruises they have previously been on and realize the chooses, options and quality is less than expected. Fleeced: This ship seems to have a fundamental business policy that is all about making as much money as possible from the passengers who have already paid a small fortune already. Be prepared that every talk, event, shop, dinning room waiter, etc, will do their best to offer 'specials' that when totted up could cost you a lot of money. Staff: Most of the staff and crew will bend over backwards to assist and help. Obviously this is in accordance with the Princess training and expectations. However, it needs to be considered that their pay is low, they work long hours and work for 9 months of the year without a holiday. Their pay is also linked to a daily gratuity charge to each passenger on board. But are they getting all the tips you expect them to receive. You will not see any steward, waiter, cleaner or bar tender that is British or American which seems to be unfair... could this be that they are cheaper? Not sure. Remember that the gratuity is descretionary which means you can go to the reception on board and cancel it altogether and then tip who you want; you can pay less of the gratuity; you could opt not to include tips from your children, etc. It's up to you! Alcohol: You are not allowed to take any on board other than a 70cl bottle of wine per passenger. Any bought in the duty free shop or at shore will be kept until you disembark for home. This is the policy of all the cruise companies I've been with but I feel is nothing more than a way of forcing you to buy over priced drinks from their own bars! Tip: buy your duty free from shops on shore. For example, I bought x4 bottles of x1 liter of Smirnoff red label vodka in Gibraltar for £20 with the same product costing £44 on board... still cheap at 44 quid but remarkable at £20!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was a family holiday on the Emerald Princess, which suited our required holiday dates. We thought the ship was in good order, clean and tidy - very similar to P&O's Ventura and Azura. Embarkation was first class, as was ... Read More
This was a family holiday on the Emerald Princess, which suited our required holiday dates. We thought the ship was in good order, clean and tidy - very similar to P&O's Ventura and Azura. Embarkation was first class, as was disembarkation. The staff were very good and professional throughout the ship. Some of the minus points were no tea/coffee making facilities in the stateroom and dining in the dining rooms was not as good as P&O or Royal Caribbean, in that the choice of meals was average and quality not as we have previously experienced, to the point that, we chose to eat in the buffet on a number of occasions. Furthermore, we found that there was a hidden cost for the shuttle buses, some, for example, Barcelona, were expensive for the short distance from the ship, although we had been advised that it was a 10-15 minutes journey, but it only took 4 minutes at a cost of $10 each. Marseilles was $12, although this was a longer journey. Livorno cost $5, although this was an industrious port and was unsafe to walk. The shuttle bus in Civitavecchia was free. We feel these should be advertised when booking your holiday. Entertainment was poor to average, with some shows only lasting 35 minutes. Some of the comedians would be better entertaining the local pub on a Friday night as most of their jokes were years old. The singers were ok (these provided the majority of the provision of entertainment), as was the on-board band. Overall, we enjoyed the ports, and were blessed with good weather, but would we book with Princess again? Not so sure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise as we wished to go from the UK rather than fly and we had cruised with Princess twice in the past. Emerald Princess and P&O's Ventura are identical ships built in the same shipyard. I looked to go with P&O ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wished to go from the UK rather than fly and we had cruised with Princess twice in the past. Emerald Princess and P&O's Ventura are identical ships built in the same shipyard. I looked to go with P&O on the 22/07/2016 on a near identical itinerary in a mini suite but it was over £6,000 more expensive than Emerald Princess! Embarkation was a breeze, considering the ship was 29 people short of being at full capacity, using the parking services of CBS who valet parked the car, while the porters took our bags and we next saw them outside our room. Although we had priority boarding due to our Platinum status with Princess check in was quiet and we were on the ship within 10 minutes at 12.30. Our cabin was ready - a mini suite on deck 8 aft. The cabin was very well appointed and the décor looked fresh. As sated by others the beds are very good but very firm! There are two flat screen TV's with various TV & movie channels along with sales channels for the shops and tours. The TV is not interactive as is the case on Ventura but you can easily get to the back of either TV to put in a HDMI cable to play DVD etc. There is also no curtain between the bedroom and the lounge area making it difficult for two people to watch two different TV's at the same time. The 3rd bed is made up using a pull-out section of the sofa and the 4th bed is a drop down bunk above the sofa. The bathroom has a full size bath with shower over it and a basin with ample storage. The lighting could be better in the bathroom though. Toiletries were poor but we used our own so this did not bother us. Soap was provided a plenty to make sure noro virus was kept at bay. The fully covered glass fronted balcony was large with two reclining chairs, two footstools and a table. The balconies on Deck 9 were the same size for the mini suites but were not covered and were overlooked by all those above. However the walls were not thick enough to stem the noise from our neighbours which could only be described as horrendous at times. Young, poorly behaved, children were left in the room alone during a port visit and the youngest (@8 years old was locked out on the balcony where he was standing on chairs looking over the side shouting his head off. He was lucky he did not fall and the crew quickly came to his aid and found his parents. The captain then made an announcement about parents being responsible for their children and that they should not disturb others. I have cruised nine times and never heard an announcement like that! However the noise continued night after night when they came back from the entertainment. Some people have no consideration and I would be horrified if we as a family disturbed others like this. We chose anytime dinning for the first time and were impressed by the flexibility of it. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a table for 4 and we were given a buzzer to notify us our table was ready. The food was of a poorer quality than we had previously experienced with Princess as would appear to be the case with most cruise lines. The choice was not as broad and the portions were smaller which I thought was a good thing as you could always ask for more if you wanted it meaning less waste. The waiting staff were helpful and in particular Princess dedicated a head waiter to my son to help him choose food from the menu due to his nut allergy. The self serve Horizon Court was ok but chose was poor as was quality. The Salty Dog Gastro Pub was superb and good value at $19 per person as was the Crown Grill at $29 per person. We did not us Share as the menu was uninspiring and at $39 each seemed very expensive. The pizza bar was excellent and the burger bar was good but far too busy. We had breakfast every day delivered to our cabin and enjoyed a varied mix of different items on our balcony in the lovely weather. The international café served good speciality coffee and teas. We bought the good value coffee card which gave you 14 coffee's and unlimited tea. The entertainment on the whole was good with a wide variety of different entertainers in various venues - magic, hypnotism, comedy, Broadway style shows, singers and bands. The house band Starlight(burst) whatever were very poor with a male singer that sounded like he had strangled a cat! You can't please all the people all the time. The movies under the stars was a great hit which made it tough to get a seat. However the films were always replayed on the cabin TV the following day. There was also films shown in the Princess theatre. The "Magic to go" show was the best my wife and I had ever seen at sea. For me there were too many quiz based things to do and there could have been more guest speakers. However, the Q&A with the Captain was very interesting as was the bridge presentation by the 3rd officer. The galley tour was interesting. My nine year old enjoyed the kids club and the activities were broad - making goo and dissecting an octopus - and varied. However my 14yr old had less fun and found that groups formed quickly and became quite a cliché. He spent most of his time with us. Our ports were; Barcelona - we did an open top bus tour which was ok. I don't get Barcelona?? Corsica - This is a beautiful little port and we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the local marina. Rome - We had a fab tour with Princess that did the whole of Rome in a day. It was very expensive but we did an awful lot so probably worth it. Livorno - Again we did a Princess tour to Pisa to see the tower. I would not do the tour again and I would either get a taxi or a hire car. Genoa - Not a great stop and I would not recommend this to anyone. We went for a little walk but did not feel safe and returned to the ship. Marseille - We docked @5 miles from the centre of the old port and took the shuttle bus in. The port is beautiful with great bars and restaurants flanking the U shaped marina. There is a giant wheel with spectacular views for €7 each. There was a high security presence in light of the recent terrorist attacks in France with heavily armed soldiers walking the streets but this actually made us feel very safe. I would go again. Gibraltar - This was our first visit to Gib and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We did not book a tour and were pleased we had not. As we left the cruise terminal there were many taxis's offering tours of the island for £22 each for adults and £12 for kids which included the £10 entrance fee to the sights - a bargain and well worth doing. Overall a good cruise slightly spoiled by a particular family but this was no fault of Princess and could happen anywhere. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if ... Read More
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if you try to get your own tea/coffee-cups are snatched from your hands and you are told off!!!) or taking plates away from you. Started to fold a blanket after 'movies under the stars' to help the deck attendant- once again snatched from me -' I do that!!!' The tender to Corsica was a joke!!- a raffle ticket system turned into a free for all with the winners being who could get their mobility scooter to block the most passengers.The tour guide on the coach to Rome admitted she couldn't speak English very well- useful as a 'chocolate teapot' We have written a strong complaint letter to the company - no response as yet- I will never travel with them again!!! Luckily this was not our first cruise otherwise it would be our last. It will be Royal Caribbean in the future- they were friendly,fantastic variety of food, great entertainment and overall great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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
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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