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334 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

We travelled to Miami for our latest Princess Cruise Our overnight stay was the Intercontinental Miami which we found delightful, having both an evening meal and breakfast in their main resturant,the staff were helpful and polite, both my ... Read More
We travelled to Miami for our latest Princess Cruise Our overnight stay was the Intercontinental Miami which we found delightful, having both an evening meal and breakfast in their main resturant,the staff were helpful and polite, both my husband and I enjoyed the short stay. Embarkation was simple and efficient as always with Princess. Our cabin 631 deck 10 is a cabin I could recommend as the balcony was excellent having room for not only two loungers but also a table and two chairs! I feel I must complain about the safety drill held on the day we left Port Everglades it was a shambles and the worst I have encountered in twelve cruises! I would have thought after recent events in Europe it would have been taken more seriously by staff! The itinerary for this cruise was excellent and we enjoyed the ports of call, Princess Cays was beautiful and a lunch was provided on the beach served by ships staff. St Thomas is a delightful port of call and Magden's Beach a wonderful place to spend an afternoon, it is truly one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world! The Emerald Princess is a delightful ship its standard of food excellent. We dined most evenings in the Davinci dining room and the waiters were polite friendly and knowledgeable, though the lack of a Sommelier was notable and simply a cut back on behalf of Princess. Entertainment we found poor especially the theatre shows which have been cut to thirty minutes this simply does not work, we actually spent more time waiting in line than we did sitting watching many of the shows, which were at best second rate! Disembarkation day for us was a nightmare, when travelling from America to the U.K. other cruise lines include a day spent in a hotel which gives one time to relax,shower etc., before a long journey home. On this occasion Princess included a trip to Dolphin Mall! This is not what the majority of travellers would want or expect before a nine hour plane journey,this again is simply a money saving option on behalf of Princess! Will I travel with Princess again maybe not when other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity supply a much better product. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We started our cruise as usual by arriving a day early to avoid any travel problems. All went well, especially with the lodging at the Comfort Inn Cruise port. We arrive on ship with absolutely no problems and everyone at the pier were ... Read More
We started our cruise as usual by arriving a day early to avoid any travel problems. All went well, especially with the lodging at the Comfort Inn Cruise port. We arrive on ship with absolutely no problems and everyone at the pier were their usual helpful/friendly self. While waiting in the pre-boarding room we started to notice the cutbacks; none of the usual cookie/pastry treats or beverages. No big deal, but raised an eyebrow for things to come. Made it to the room and as usual all was fine. Clean, ready to go but no friendly cabin steward to meet and greet (actually had to track him down for questions, he looked more than the usual pre-board BUSY). We are Value Added Veteran Cruisers, meaning we have been here before, done the first time cruiser regiment and now cruise for relaxation, on board entertainment and of course the meals in the all inclusive price. We try to make our vacation dollars S T R E A C H as far as possible. This usually allows us to take 2 cruises a year and enjoy all that cruising has to offer. We look for new ports of call and try to limit our on board booked excursions to only the new ports. At previously visited ports we will get off and do our own thing (taxi to beaches, shopping areas and local restaurants to get the local flavor). We are far from what the cruise lines executives would call their high rolling spenders. This cruise we had decided to fore go the formal restaurants and stick strictly to buffet dining due to the menu cutbacks we notice on our last cruise (Sirloin Steak was dropped from the menu along with some other minor items)with Princess. This worked well with us because the diner buffet usually serves the same menu as the formal dining rooms. Since we dropped the "suit, tie and gown" thing a number of cruises ago you could label us as "casual cruisers"(shorts, tees, Hawaiian shirts and flip flops). Our last cruise was a Norwegian around the Hawaiian Islands and their "Free Style Cruising" fit us perfectly. This cruise the buffet menu was the usual excellent fare offered as before so we were not disappointed. We choose Princess for the Movie Under the Stars feature on their ships. Our past Christmas cruises didn't disappoint and since we are "obsessed" Football Fans we have come accustomed to watching the playoff games on the REALLY BIG SCREEN. But alas this cruise failed to provide as in the past. When we could find a deck steward to ask if the games would be shown no one knew. We did notice that the usually ever attendant deck beverage waiters were no where to be found (kind of like our cabin steward; cutbacks?). We finally went down to the desk to see if the games were going to be played and were told that the someone would get back to us. The Cruise Director called back and left a message and were told that we would be able to watch them in our room on the TV and that they were replaying the same movie that was playing in the afternoon...MAJOR CUTBACK!!!! OK, we were not cruising with rabid football fans as in years past. Deal Breaker...maybe. The one shore excursion that we did take DOM110A for Dominica (our new stop) was less than satisfactory. The tour was changed for unknown reasons and the road conditions over some of the tour was boarding impassable. The garden was a view of a couple of trees and the "Falls" were a little disappointing. We understand that this is a new destination and that the locals are trying to grow a business but this one may need to "mature" before being offered as an on board excursion. Our experiences during the day met our expectations perfectly, low key and no surprises. The entertainment at night is where the "cutbacks" REALLY showed. A number of the shows were repeated and the quality questionable compared to the past. VERY NOTICABLE by us and other "cruisers". The Beatle Maniacs show saved us from total disappointment. The REAL problem for us seems to be the fact that the usually OUTSTANDING Christmas Show was dropped!!! It was replaced by the rerun Motown Show from 2 years ago! Deal Breaker; DEFINATELY FOR A CHRISTMAS CRUISE!!! To summarize, the cutbacks that Princess has been incipiently slipping in are starting to show. Not only to us but other veteran "cruisers" back home and the gap between Princess and Royal has widened to the point that we will probably going back to Royal Caribbean or trying another line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The Emerald Princess is fairly big, 3k passengers, and subsequently the embarkation was cumbersome. I recommend boarding later rather than earlier. We were well forward on the aloha deck and found our room comfy with lots of space for ... Read More
The Emerald Princess is fairly big, 3k passengers, and subsequently the embarkation was cumbersome. I recommend boarding later rather than earlier. We were well forward on the aloha deck and found our room comfy with lots of space for clothes., the usual wet tissue test over mirrors and hung pictures indicated neglect. I know that 4 hour turn around is tight. Still.... Ship is well laid out, good music and lots of floor space for dancing. I complement the band in the Explore lounge, they actually knew strict tempo ballroom. Bonus for those of us who love the dance floor. Movies under the stars, is a good idea, altho we never found time to partake. Atrium is only 3 floors on this ship, I recommend Royal Caribbeans! atrium here which goes all the way up to 11. that is impressive.! Floor shows in the main theatre were excellent, some of the best we've seen in 14 cruises. Unfortunately, it only seats 700, and unless you are willing to look at sparkly curtains for 45 minutes, no seats available by showtime.. For a ship this size, the gym was too small, as was the sauna/steam and change rooms. Attention should be made for more cleanliness in public areas. Our ports of call, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados,,St. Thomas, all very nice. I would advise, to do your own thing and NOT take a ship tour. Most ports had open bus tours for $20, including drinks. Food services/quality were good, but not exceptional. Lido dining was usually overcrowded. Seems to me, there has been a general cutback in staff. The specialty dining, which we tried twice was good for the value. (20$) Altho, I liked the wine bar, ( 40$ for a good vino) with complimentary sushi, in my opinion it was overpriced, with stingy servings (of sushi.) Here I would add the servers were very nonchalant. They were lousy! On holiday, one shouldn't have to to keep looking over ones shoulder for another plate of hors d'oeuvres. Disembarkation in Port Everglades, smooth. Overall rating, about low 7 on 10. Would I cruise this class of ship again? No.... Not until she fits through the new Panama canal locks. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My wife and I have traveled on Princess for three previous cruises. I have always been happy with the ship and its ports of call. The staff is always there when needed with a smile and greeting. With today's economy and fuel prices I ... Read More
My wife and I have traveled on Princess for three previous cruises. I have always been happy with the ship and its ports of call. The staff is always there when needed with a smile and greeting. With today's economy and fuel prices I understand the need to look at where excess spending can be reviewed. I am sorry to say the the quality of the food has diminished. The procurement of meat products is not up to previous cruises. The main dining room quality caused numerous individuals at every night sitting to return the food. We sat at a table for eight. The beef and lamb dishes were tough and the Beef Wellington was unable to cut. My wife and another party decided to eat at the specialty restaurants. The Crown was fantastic. Sabatini's was the worst italian food I have ever ate. Two of us ordered the Veal Chop and sent it back it was so tough. The Chop was smothered in a brown gravy. The pasta dish was also smothered in the brown gravy. The others ordered the shrimp dish and it came with 4 small shrimp. This should never of been a $25.00 extra charge. Princess Cruise Lines needs to review there Food and Beverage procurement for top notch quality or review the Executive Chefs standards. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The ship is nice and similar in style to all ships of that caliber. I found no difference between Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean. The nice thing about the Emerald is the closets and cabin storage areas are really ... Read More
The ship is nice and similar in style to all ships of that caliber. I found no difference between Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean. The nice thing about the Emerald is the closets and cabin storage areas are really large. On prior sailings, it's been difficult to store personal belongings. The ship was not always clean. Often times there was rubbish on the floor and in the elevators. Perhaps they did not have enough housekeeping staff roaming the ship. The wait staff in all the food outlets were better that excellent. We experienced almost all the outlets throughout the cruise and found their attention to details and to customer satisfaction superior. The food was average, but on par with other ships of that caliber. There was nothing special about the cuisine except in the specialty restaurants, where there is a surcharge. The entertainment was nothing special. They had one variety act that was a juggling duo and they belonged at kid's birthday party. They were not deserving of the Princess main stage. The Beatle Maniacs also performed twice on our cruise and they were the highlight of the entertainment. Of course, I am a great Beatle Fan! The review shows were average. The singers and dancers were not always in sync, many missed a step and they did not look sharp. I feel we received good value and I was not disappointed but I am not raving either. The vacation was relaxing and after a hectic work cycle the R & R was just what my husband and I were hoping for. Princess is run-of-the-mill for experienced cruisers as is all the other lines on that level. We have cruised on the more luxury lines (Crystal, Uniworld and Windstar) where you really have an experience to remember in all ways. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My wife and I just returned from a ten day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald makes two different loops through the Caribbean, and this particular loop stopped in Princess Cay, St John, Dominica, Grenada, ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a ten day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald makes two different loops through the Caribbean, and this particular loop stopped in Princess Cay, St John, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, and Aruba. Overall, we had pretty good weather (considering that October is still the rainy season in the Caribbean) and the cruise was enjoyable. We cruised on Disney the previous month, so some of our review below is a comparison of Disney and (recent) Princess experiences. We parked using the Park'n Go lot near Fort Lauderdale Airport, which is only a ten minute drive from the cruise terminal. Park'n Go parking costs only six dollars a day through the internet special, and the Park'n Go shuttle got us to the cruise terminal quickly (and were there to pick us up right away when we disembarked). I highly recommend Park'n Go. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the Princess terminal to go through embarkation about 1:30 PM, and we were checked in and on the ship and in our room in less than 20 minutes. The older gentleman who checked us in said that the crowds all try to check in before 1 PM, so our timing was perfect by waiting until 1:30. On the Emerald we were in cabin E502 on deck 8. The room was an "obstructed" ocean view, meaning we got plenty of light but couldn't see much past the big lifeboat right outside our window. The room and bathroom were nothing exceptional, but they were functional and met our needs. The room location was great -- right in the middle of the ship, just steps from the mid-ship elevators and only one or two decks above many of the lounge and entertainment venues, and two/three decks above the dinner dining venues. Our cabin steward, Andres, did a nice job cleaning up all the sand we tracked in from our various ports of call. The room was well soundproofed, and we never had a problem with noise from our neighbors or the hallway. The entertainment was a mixed bag on the Emerald. We enjoyed the Emerald Princess Orchestra, a seven piece combo fronted by a trumpet, trombone, and tenor sax. Every one of these musicians was an outstanding jazz soloist, and they played together very nicely as an ensemble. We also enjoyed two comedians (Troy Threadgill and Jay Moore). But the Orchestra did not play enough, and the professional entertainers did not perform enough, to fill up the day. Otherwise, there was too much staff (talent show) and passenger (talent show and karaoke) type stuff. The production shows we saw were colorful, and the dancers talented and energetic, but we just weren't taken with the material. Perhaps we were the wrong demographic (we are around fifty years of age and so a musical review based on Cole Porter songs does not do it for us). In comparison, we thought the Disney Magic production shows were better than the Princess production shows, and the Disney guest entertainers were marginally better. We went to some movies on the Emerald, and liked the concept of the Movies Under the Stars on the top deck, but on two separate occasions there were technical difficulties. For example, we went to the "Green Lantern" scheduled for 10 PM up under the stars. The movie started on time, but at about 10:12 PM it stopped, and then when it came back on they put some trivia up on the screen and the announcer said that the "entertainment" would start in 15 minutes. Well, we didn't feel like waiting around, and then having to see the beginning of the movie again, so we left. We saw another movie, the "Lincoln Lawyer," in the Princess Theatre, and the top 10% of the projection was cut off. We stayed for the entire movie, but they never fixed that, so I guess we saw 90% of the movie . . . .. We were also disappointed because the Emerald had no lectures on the history, culture, or politics of the Caribbean and our various island destinations. Maybe Princess doesn't put such lectures on because they don't appeal to the target demographic, or maybe because the average Princess passenger has cruised so many times to the Caribbean they just aren't interested in that stuff anymore. But we missed having those sorts of educational lectures. The Emerald casino was nice. The blackjack was good (five dollar minimum, with 3 to 2 payout for blackjack). I also enjoyed the poker a bit, but the Emerald Princess uses the Pokerpro electronic dealer rather than the live dealer, and I know a lot of folks don't like that. Also, the house poker rake was really too high (15 percent), and the combination of no live dealer and a high rake seemed to kill interest and participation in the cash poker games. In comparison, Disney did have a lecturer who spoke about our destinations -- but no casino at all. We were signed up for "anytime" dining on the Emerald. The food was OK, but really nothing spectacular. Generally, we thought the meat dishes were better than the fish dishes. The only memorable dish I had was the escargot on the second night, and I ordered two of those. We got a couple of inedible dishes, including one labeled "grilled calamari" that was nothing like any calamari I ever had, mushy and tasteless. We thought the food on Disney was overall marginally better than Princess. The anytime dining has pros and cons over the Traditional (assigned time) dining. With anytime dining, you can't be assured of eating when you want (unless you always want to eat after 8 PM). You can try to make reservations for sometime earlier than 8 PM, but often when you called you couldn't get the time you wanted. You could also just go downstairs to the dining venue at the time you wanted, but then sometimes you have to wait in line. We did that once and waited about 15 minutes for seating. I guess that is OK for some, but who wants to wait in line on a cruise? Another disadvantage of anytime dining is that you don't get a chance to know your tablemates very well in the way that you do for traditional dining. Of course, if you have traditional seating and you get tablemates you don't like, maybe having new table mates every night can be a positive. And with anytime dining you do meet a lot more people than with traditional dining. Another disadvantage of anytime dining is that you rotate wait staff and do not get to know and interact with your wait staff in the way you do for Traditional dining. I also would not be surprised if the wait staff does not like anytime dining. It seemed that they were using fewer waiters to cover more tables than with the traditional dining. Also, I think anytime dining may result in fewer tips for the wait staff. I know that when we had traditional dining on the Disney Magic we really appreciated our assigned wait staff, and we gave them some extra cash on top of the automated tip amount. But we didn't know our waiters when we did anytime dining, and so we just gave the recommended (automated) tip amount. We ate a few times in the Princess' Horizon court buffet, and it was just OK. After awhile we stopped eating there, and instead went to the sit down restaurants for breakfast and lunch. The Emerald had a lot of nice bars. A lot of passengers we overheard on the ship were excited about the happy hour drink specials, or, rather, the perception that the bar staff tried to hide the existence of such specials from the passengers because the tip (15% added automatically to your bill) would be less with the specials. Don't know about the accuracy of that perception, but I can inform you here that between 4 and 7 PM you can get a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks for $3.99 each in most of the bars on the Emerald. Just ask! The Emerald shore excursions were a mixed bag. Although I discuss the various ports below separately, I should say that the best excursions were not the ones organized by Princess, but, rather, the private excursions we booked separately after some research on the internet. The private excursions are smaller and generally cheaper, and you get to where you are going without being part of a mob. Also, we did not see even one other cruise ship during the ten day cruise -- probably because we were so early in the Caribbean cruising season. But that meant that each of our ports were relatively uncrowded. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It was a wonderful cruise, the worst we ever had was funderful! The food was mediocre at best, we have been looking to change from NCL for a while, but we can say for certain it will not be changing to Princess... Disney is for the ... Read More
It was a wonderful cruise, the worst we ever had was funderful! The food was mediocre at best, we have been looking to change from NCL for a while, but we can say for certain it will not be changing to Princess... Disney is for the little kids and their moms and dads, Carnival is for the young folks and the party set, and Princess is for the senior adults. I mean really, a whell chair parked at the elevator, on charge, and lets just say the elevators, they seemed to powered by the smell of depends! The ship was kind of in bad shape for a ship so new, lots of rips in the carpets, the carpet in our stateroom was dirty and dingy! The staff and service, well all I can say, our room steward was the best, the Matred was a great guy, but all the rest, was pathetic, I mean really, we even had an encounter with a waiter from India, and it just was not a good experience, he was very rude, and unreasonable. Even the the clocks on board were not even set right, the entertainment was bad, and the lectures were about global warming and the changes in the earth you really don't want to hear about while on vacation! I will never, I mean never use the Internet again on-board a ship, It was a total rip off, I paid $100 for 250 minutes, and each every time I logged on it took 29 minutes just to read my e-mails, believe me, I used my stop watch! And that equals to about 12 dollars at 40 cents a minute! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Check-in is the fastest most efficient we and our lifetime cruising friends have encountered. The destinations exceeded expectations except for Arrhus which we would have preferred to skipped in liew of more time at some of the ... Read More
Check-in is the fastest most efficient we and our lifetime cruising friends have encountered. The destinations exceeded expectations except for Arrhus which we would have preferred to skipped in liew of more time at some of the destinations where we only had 1/2 day. To get the most out of St. Petersburg we took a Red October private tour and we're glad to have done that as we missed the crush in the hot tour locations. Princess has had a reputation of holding it's private tour passengers 2+ hours in the ship until the 'ship's tours' have departed. The irrating part is that they were creating a second class passenger and they lied to them saying it was the customs people that insisted on this. We were set for a confrontation that never materialized as Princess provided a second gangway for departure.The ship is grand with the constant complaints by everyone about crowding in the public spaces. Cool weather keeping most people off the top decks. Level 7 becomes the inside walkway to get around the ship and it's jammed.We gave up on the buffets on the Lido deck due to crowding. The buffet area is better suited to a ship of 600 and the seating inadequate for the numbers of people.The food quality declined as the trip went on. Too long under the heat lamps and limited variety. The exception is Sabatini's and the Grill which were both excellent.Service was good for us. On a par with Crystal and they had better room service than Crystal.Re-entering the ship by the gangway you better lineup and behave or the gestapo like security staff will step in. Even with 2 gangways, everyone goes to the closest one creating backups.The toilets in our stateroom failed to work properly 7/11 days. We were told they were supposed to work that way. LOL Nawt!Elevators D,N and R are flakey. When multiple buttons are pressed, the first stop cancels all the other floors and sends the elevator back down.Stairs are the best recourse most of the time as elevators are overused.Finally the gym hours are limited to 7AM -!0PM. There are 30+ people waiting most mornings. Longer hours would be appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We sailed on this ship a few years ago in the Caribbean and enjoyed the trip and the ship, even though (and understandably) it was heavily American orientated. It was tasteful, clean and the staff were excellent. These haven't ... Read More
We sailed on this ship a few years ago in the Caribbean and enjoyed the trip and the ship, even though (and understandably) it was heavily American orientated. It was tasteful, clean and the staff were excellent. These haven't changed. This time the Baltic ports were fine but not spectacular, apart from St Petersburg. Here we took a private tour with Ulko Tours and our host Katia was brilliant in getting us past all the queues and making the day thoroughly enjoyable. Aarhus seems a waste of time as there is not a lot there. A few hours extra in Oslo may have been better, although this city is modern and doesn't seem to have much that is historical nearby, other than the castle and the palace. Warnemunde was an unexpected gem!We had 'anytime dining' which worked well and the waiters were excellent. The food was OK, not spectacular. We didn't eat in either of the two speciality restaurants.The entertainment in the theatre was mediocre, but Rosie in the Wheelhouse bar was 'par excellence' and Epithani (all over) were good. This group were good for dancing in the evening and a good few of the passengers enjoyed themselves - until the plug was pulled at midnight, or the annoying crew directors staff interfered and thought they could make it better - they couldn't, and spoiled a good evening - 'know your passengers Princess!When the daily newsletter opens up with the 'Enchanting Evening' entertainment section declaring a 'Basketball throw' as the start of the evening, hey come on, how enchanting can this be - surely something is not right. Replace the Editor with someone more inspirational. But then, hey, the other daily and evening programs seem more akin to a floating geriatric hotel than a super cruise liner!Bedtime according to Princess is midnight, as most venues close down then - sharpish, and the ship becomes a ghost ship. I, like several others on the cruise, like a quiet chat and drink when the entertainment finishes, so an extra hour or half hour even in just one venue would have been good. OK, some will say the Casino and the nightclub remain open after midnight. But the Casino has no tables and chairs suitable and it's smokey. The nightclub is on deck 19 and, whilst nice, is also smokey and has rap music rebounding off each wall!There are 2 so-called formal evenings on this cruise, but one has to question whether these should be in the program at all. We like formal evenings, but ones that are a little special. The captain in his newsletter asked everyone to be dressed to the 'nines' on these nights - very few bothered. But why should they - all it is is dressing up, parading around 2 decks and taking a photo-shoot, we can do this at home! A little effort and imagination could have made both evenings that little bit special. For example - a special dinner (oh yes we had the Chef's special 6 course dinner, but the night before, and on a night when half the passengers hadn't returned from a long day in Berlin) And why not have a dance evening, in say Club Fusion, exclusively for those who have taken the time to dress formally - they have a very good band in Gordon and his men. Could have been done with little effort!Sorry Princess but it's time for us to look elsewhere. Somewhere where we're not told to go to bed at midnight, somewhere where the entertainment is better, somewhere where it's less American orientated when ships are across the pond in Europe. Bon voyage Princess! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Good Times - Wonderful MemoriesThis review will be speaking for a group of 24 individuals traveling together made of up family and friends. We enjoyed another memorable cruise and will now share our experiences and opinions. We have been ... Read More
Good Times - Wonderful MemoriesThis review will be speaking for a group of 24 individuals traveling together made of up family and friends. We enjoyed another memorable cruise and will now share our experiences and opinions. We have been on a variety of cruises with all type of cruise lines several times over, lately loyal to Princess, but we could be looking again back to others to compare in the future.Pre Stay: Never again at this location: Comfort Inn Stirling Rd. Hollywood FLHotel is just OK; however, no upgrades or improvements were made since our previous stay two years ago. It has definitely gone down from our last stay. Never informed pool was closed and now a roped off "empty cement pond" surrounded by yellow caution tape in the patio area. Not a way our group (16 individuals) wanted to begin their vacations. Complimentary breakfast was a major issue since the waffle mix was spoiled and all the waffles tasted like vinegar. Took the staff a considerable amount of time to correct, by that time everyone had a terrible taste in their mouth and we were no longer hungry. Rooms were ready on arrival, excellent shuttle transportation from airport/hotel, hotel/pier and then with KSA again pier/airport - KSA was great. We will not book this hotel in the future, no matter what the price or group rate was offered. Staff friendly and helpful for the conditions they had to overcome. Embarkation: Princess does it best!KSA loaded our group and luggage at the hotel promptly at 10:45 AM, departure slightly after 11AM, arrived at the port 15 minutes later, small wait to drop off luggage and we were in the terminal with boarding group 4, shortly after 11:30 AM. Boarding began around Noon, and by 12:30 PM we were on the ship and off for lunch. Ship sailed with 3080 passengers, of which only 50+ were children.Rooms: Everyone Happy! EXCELLENT - Room Steward: Marlon! We had booked a series of connecting rooms/balconies (10) on the Baja Deck, all of which doors could be to everyone else's balcony to create one large open balcony for the group to "meet and greet" during the cruise. We were celebrating 4 birthdays during the cruise. Everyone was happy with the room accommodations. The very best Room Steward - Marlon, top notch, never had one better, he was outstanding and took care of everyone and always had a smile and greeted us each time with pleasant conversation. Found the storage and closet space to be generous. No one complained that the beds were too hard, and no one requested egg crates be added. Small issue with refrigeration, but that was corrected.Cruise Critic - Meet and Greet: One of the BEST very well attended & organized!Cruise Critic Formal Meet and Greet was extremely well attended on the second sea day at Skywalkers. Invitations were extended to the Princess staff and the Cruise staff, however, no one attended. We introduced ourselves along with a small gift exchange. Princess did provide the room, light snacks and a bartender for the event. Organized a slot pull for later in the afternoon. Kay and Bruce if you are reading thanks for all your hard work, you made it special for us to meet many new friends.Dining: OK - Servers were Excellent - Maitre d'hôtel, Nicola Furlan, very helpful!Our group of 24 selected the 6:00 PM early seating and assigned the Botticelli Dining Room, but scattered around 5 different tables with other passengers not with our group. The Maitre d'hôtel, Nicola Furlan, was extremely accommodating to meet our requests. New dining arrangements with confirmed reservations 6:00 PM in the Michelangelo Dining room assigning us three tables of eight for the cruise. Our waiters were the best even with all the tables they had to manage and cover with Anytime Diners, very attentive, picked up our personalities and wishes quickly. Never felt rushed or hurried to leave the dining room, made comfortable to enjoy our dinner time. Also should note that Nick in the Dining Room for breakfast was fantastic. High marks should also be given to our Dining Waiter, Salvio, and Assistant Waiter, Manuel.Food was not to the standard of previous cruises and our past experience on the Emerald. In fact, it was on the disappointing side, but there were selections for everyone. Pasta side dishes were excellent and very tasty. No one left hungry food was good or just OK. We all commented on the noticeable cut backs starting with the appetizers, soups, to the main entrees. Our group did not participate or select to visit any of the Specialty Dining venues. International Cafe - Enjoyed by all. The staff serving the Cafe was the best, well managed venue.Entertainment: Repetitive & Weak with the exception being - Beatle Maniacs, which was outstanding! All venues were overcrowded no matter what the event and/or location. Explorer Lounge is way too small for hosting any entertainment; many people could not find seats at the Lounges and/or Princess Theatre events. We found the entertainment very boring and repetitive from the Emerald Cruise in 2009. Same shows - Cole Porter - dull and boring, Boogie Shoes, little or no change that we noted, Motor City - not the Motown we remembered, possibly we were all too critical since all of our routes are actually from MOTOWN, where we grew up singing their songs. Hypnotist, Tim Triplett, who is excellent, is a definite repeat from 2009, with only very minor changes. Comedians were enjoyable, Al Katz and Rollin Jay Moore, at least they were new shows. We elected to skip Juggler.The best entertainment, were the Beatle Maniacs who really had the crowd rocking! This was presented one evening only, so I sure many of the passengers did not have the opportunity to see this great show. Well done. International Crew show was entertaining, but it was all singing other than the Cruise Staff acting very 'corny' trying to impress each other. Cruise Director (Billy London) of course had to sing for his own ego, should have left it all up to the crew, this seems like an inexpensive, cost cutting move on Princess to let their crew be an Entertainment event.MUTS - variety of selection, enjoyed several during the evening. Some of the movies offered were, The Tourist, Red. Morning Glory, Legacy, Tangled, Little Fockers, Burlesque, and King's Speech. MUTS is still annoying blaring away during the day, when there is little interest in PG films and animation films for children, considering the demographics of the age group cruising with Princess ....turn the volume down or off during the day.Casino and Bingo - Very generous this year to members of our group - a rare statement! We loved the casino on non smoking nights!Pools: Chair hogs seem to be kept to a minimum; no one ever had any issues finding a chair after breakfast either in the sun or shade, but we didn't arrive at the pool during the prime afternoon hours either. It was either early or late.Some of our best entertainment was spent playing Mexican Train dominoes with our group, Princess always found a table and lighting for us to set up for the night.Cruise Director & Staff, Nothing Special, rate Poor when comparing to previous cruise staffs. Everyone needs to work on their interpersonal skills and not their own ego's and attempts to out do each other. They do not come across as a warm and friendly staff, of course, that might be the example set by their director, Billy London's personality. CD, Bill London is definitely not to our standards of previous cruise directors, comes across with a big ego and all attention must be on him or his staff, not to the passengers. Rank him at the bottom of our list, but maybe we have just been lucky to have had excellent ones in the past. Wake Show in the mornings - we would just tune out. Cruise Directors do not make our cruise, but this staff was so weak a comment needed to be made. Stop with the old jokes at Bingo, we all have heard them over and over, just call the numbers, why people laugh over and over again at the same jokes, I will never understand, Heinz 57, I22 Quack Quack - silly.Port of Calls - Just about all were arranged independently and not through Princess.Aruba - 14 of us booked the Jolly Pirate independently for snorkeling (3 stops), open bar, BBQ lunch, rope swing along with the dancing and music while enjoyed the beautiful waters in Aruba. Crew kept us entertained all day long, we would highly recommend the Jolly Pirate and would book them again, and the charge was $50 per person. We would give this trip 5 Star rating for the day and entertainment value.Bonaire - Split group - Wonderful Day and Excursions!- One group to the Woodwind for their amazing snorkeling trip, safe, well organized and very knowledgeable, no matter what the experience level everyone gained new knowledge from this trip. Best snorkeling in the Caribbean, wonderful excursion, well worth the cost. 5 STAR Rating- Second group (non snorkelers) land tour 4x4 with Hans, 2 hours, took 4 people each time, very informative, but the seating was extremely tight with three people in the back of a Ford Ranger, glad it was only for 2 hours, charge was $108.00 total for the two hours, divided by the four passengers. 4 Star rating, not a 5 only due the fact of the back seat accommodations. Grenada - Chris Taxi Tour Highly Recommended! 5 STAR RatingTwenty two of us booked Chris for the day, he came well prepared with a new comfortable bus that fit the group well. Toured the major sights from the Fort, Spice Farms, the Rum Factory and other stops before ending at Grand Anse beach for a break - however, the weather did not cooperate to make a long beach stop. Spoke perfect English, answered all questions, used a microphone when speaking to make sure everyone could hear and understand, excellent driver and tour director - be sure to look for Chris if you are interested in a tour of Grenada. Charge was $35 per person for the full day tour, a great value for the cost!Dominica - Antours River Tubing - BEWARE - OUR FIRST BAD EXPERIENCE!!!! CAUTION - Dishonest - Broken Promises - Lack of communication - NO STARS!Booked on line with Antours a party of 9 for river tubing and since we had 9 we would qualify for a tour of Dominica. Accepted our payments and we were told to meet them for a 9:30 departure from the pier. Everyone was in the van (including four additional passengers, not booked with our tour), by 9:15 AM so the driver, Cedric left the pier. We were then told we had to drop two of the passengers off at the other dock for another tour. The remaining two passengers were not in our group, since they had purchased a tour through Princess and placed into our van by Antours. We went all the way to the other dock and dropped off the first two passengers, then proceeded to return to the same area we left from - at least a ½ hour delay (+), going right by the ship again!The driver was constantly receiving and/or making cell phone calls during the trip up the mountain many times stopping and leaving the vehicle to talk on the phone, never informing us of what is happening. This was an extremely crowded van with 11 passengers, and seating was uncomfortable with weak A/C. We all sensed there was a big stall in the making, since we were just driving around and around never getting to the river. When questioned it was hard for him to explain, but the look on his face said it all, something was wrong. Driver had trouble communicating and explaining, since his English language skills were poor to explain the situation and issues. We asked the manager to meet us at the pier, but he would not since he was working from his home. It took a while to receive an explanation, with several calls to the boss. It was described to us as an "industrial problem" - we would know it as a 'sick out' or 'blue flu etc.' Appears the guides and equipment were not available since they called off sick. Promises were constantly made and broken concerning when and where we would be tubing, frustration from the driver, who had to deal with 11 disappointed customers and no support from his management. Finally at 11:15 AM and two hours of sitting and driving around getting no where we took a vote to call it a day and return to the ship. The manager informed the group would receive a full refund for the tour, however, at this time two weeks (+) later, no refund as been issued, nor has any communication/confirmation been sent to us that they are keeping their promise to refund our cost. Our emails remain unanswered yet, when we booked the tours, their response was instantly. We returned to the ship pier at 11:38AM, very disappointed and frustrated with Antours. To end with a happy ending, we are hopeful that they will stand by their word and issue refunds, but that appears that will not be the ending since they are ignoring our requests and emails. Charge was $40 per person.Our final opinion on Dominica: For many of us we are now three for three with terrible experiences when stopping at Dominica. We would recommend this port be dropped from your itineraries, since the island is filthy and struggling; there are no beaches, no shopping, it has little to offer. In the future we will not consider booking a cruise stopping at Dominica. We have allowed three strikes - all bad experiences.St. Thomas / St JohnWe docked at Havensight - YEAH! Ruby was docked at Crown Bay.Left the ship at 8AM, took a taxi to Red Hook, boarded the 9AM ferry to Cruz Bay, and boarded a taxi to Trunk Bay for impressive snorkeling and swimming and the beautiful Bay. Returned on the 1PM Ferry from Cruz Bay to allow for shopping in St. Thomas, had plenty of time to shop for everyone's favorite BLING BLING! A second group took a trip from Princess to Turtle Cove/ Buck Island, loved snorkeling at Turtle Cove. The Jolly Mon catamaran crew was fantastic! They rated it their best excursion. They highly recommend this tour. This excursion was booked through Princess.Princess Cays Great way to end the 10 day cruise, however, beach entry is extremely rocky, returned to the ship early to enjoy the quiet time on the ship with everyone at Princess Cays. Tender processes has improved greatly since our last trip to Princess Cays, lines were organized, moved quickly and there was no "line jumping" as in the past. DisembarkationWell organized, easy to locate luggage, Princess does it the best, kudos to them. Captains Circle Party - Who came up with the idea to host in the Atrium? You couldn't see, or hear, very warm uncomfortable air all as a result of the massive crowd gathering. The Atrium was extremely overcrowded creating nothing but a congested mess. It is worse than traffic grid lock at high peak rush hour. This location, in our opinion, is not conducive for enjoyment, presentations or celebrations, it cannot handle the crowds. All in all it was a different cruise, the weather was out of the ordinary with mostly cloudy and rainy days, but no one can control the weather. In our opinion, we noted definite cost cutting measures in place that made a difference. We feel family and friends made the cruise giving us good times, laughs and memories to share forever. Always happy to be cruising, a great vacation! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Positives: The Emerald is a beautiful ship in good repair. Our weather was perfect with smooth sailing every day but one.Our room steward, Reggie, was outstanding. The first day I gave him a list of items desired and he produced ... Read More
Positives: The Emerald is a beautiful ship in good repair. Our weather was perfect with smooth sailing every day but one.Our room steward, Reggie, was outstanding. The first day I gave him a list of items desired and he produced everything on the list. He always cleaned our room promptly whenever we left it. Negatives: NorVirus. I heard about a case several days before the captain announced the outbreak and started taking preventative measures. I guess he was hopeful that it would just go away. The delay allowed the virus to spread throughout the ship. They were slow to start their sanitation efforts. The crew was poorly trained to do effective cleaning; exp. wiping off tops of tables haphazardly, but not under the top around the edge; top of chair arms, but not under the arms where everyone grabs a chair. One waiter in International Cafe actually took my coffee container and held it to pour the coffee and another time put it in the coffee specialty machine. I watched the same person drop a paper coffee cup on the floor, pick it up and use it for another person's tea.Dining Room: There is a definite decrease in number of personnel. The waiters are so busy and work very hard, but service is slow. The food selection is boring with a real lack of salads...only a choice of Caesar and another green salad. The rest are soups. This is the first cruise I have gone on and not gained weight. The International Cafe is an exception with great salads, sandwiches and fresh, hot cookies in the afternoon. A coffee card is a must if you drink coffee. A trip to the International Cafe is a must for some "great" coffee before heading to the buffet.Entertainment: The ship singers and dancers were mediocre. Most of the comedians were good with some outstanding. The Princess theatre is too small and if you wanted a seat had to go about an hour early. The same held true for the Explorer lounge. We did learn to go the second night of a performance and the crowd would be less. It would help if they would tell us in advance that a show would be held over for a second night. The TV programming is lacking. It would be nice if the enrichment series from the Princess theatre would be rebroadcast on TV. Also need more news; how about FOX?Cabins: A bit on the small size, but like the design. The beds are horrible; mattresses need to be replaced. I can't begin to tell you how bad they are. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
LODGING: Clean room. Our cabin steward, Enrique, was exceptional. FOOD: It was disappointing to eat at the formal dining room and the Horizon Court. It seems that the Chefs rely HEAVILY on SALT to bring about food flavors ... Read More
LODGING: Clean room. Our cabin steward, Enrique, was exceptional. FOOD: It was disappointing to eat at the formal dining room and the Horizon Court. It seems that the Chefs rely HEAVILY on SALT to bring about food flavors instead of using the proper amount of spices. Dining service was below average. More often than not, I have to tackle a dining room steward just to bring water and tea. Where are the supervisors? EXCURSION: The female manager in charge of the Excursion office (she was from Mexico) was very disorganized in that it reflected in the way her staff managed the crowd. For example, it was already well know there was a Norovirus threat on the ship. But when we arrived in Ireland, the passengers were staged in the Wheelhouse like sardines. All of us wondered why the staff can bring hundreds of people on board very efficiently, but failed to organize passengers trying to get off the ship in order to their respective excursions on time. There were several instances of confusion, frustration, and passengers using expletives due to a lack of organization on the part of the excursion staff. ENTERTAINMENT: Mediocre. OTHER OBSERVATIONS: Captain Circle members were treated like cattle by Captain Giorgio Pomata. Not once were we provided a private room like the Club Fusion to celebrate and honor Captain Circle members who have been loyal to Princess. The Captain Circle celebrations were done at the Atrium: not a very intimate venue! SUMMARY: In fairness to Princess, the price and ports of this cruise were excellent. However, my loyalty days towards Princess is at a critical end. Should Princess continue to provide poor service, lousy food, and ill trained staff, I am taking my business to Royal Caribbean International. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We had sailed on the Emerald before and our expectations were high. Unfortunately, our expectations were not met and we may cancel a future Princess cruise we have booked. We understand that cruising is personal and we all have different ... Read More
We had sailed on the Emerald before and our expectations were high. Unfortunately, our expectations were not met and we may cancel a future Princess cruise we have booked. We understand that cruising is personal and we all have different tastes, but the cost cutting seems to have impacted the quality a great deal. Our opinions on a variety of topics, some good and some bad, are listed below:STATEROOM: When we arrived in our cabin we were surprised that there was no top sheet on the bed. We had to ask for the sheet. We liked the design of the room with a wall/closet between the bathroom and the bed. Storage was ample and better than RCCL ships.CUISINE. Food selection was not exciting and in fact the hot soups were so salty that they were inedible. We stopped ordering hot soup, as did other passengers seated near us. Other items seemed to be over-salted. I did mention this to the head waiter, but nothing changed.SERVICE. Cabin steward and head waiter did an excellent job and were both friendly and helpful. Other ship personnel were friendly and always seemed to want to help.HEALTH. We noticed there were no hand-sanitizers in the main dining room the first few nights. We used our own. We were surprised at the lack of sanitation efforts. Even in the buffet, no one monitored the use of hand-sanitizers. It was not surprising that we had a VIRUS outbreak on the ship. While the ship took action (after the fact) it was too late. The captain's messages indicated the VIRUS infections were increasing each day. We took precautions and did not contract the virus.COFFEE SHOP. Yes, coffee shop! This was one of the better offerings. Wait staff was excellent, coffee variety and quality wonderful, and food offerings (especially fresh baked cookies) very good. One of the few highlight areas.ENTERTAINMENT. While the shows were mediocre, the movie offerings were wonderful. We felt like we were at a movie festival. It is also hard to beat Movies Under the Stars. First rate movies, popcorn, cookies, and blankets make this a great activity. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our 5th cruise -- second transatlantic. After a wonderful 12 day trip on the Crown Princess last July, we booked this cruise, confident that if the Emerald turned out to be half as good as the Crown, we would have a lovely time. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise -- second transatlantic. After a wonderful 12 day trip on the Crown Princess last July, we booked this cruise, confident that if the Emerald turned out to be half as good as the Crown, we would have a lovely time. Sadly, this was not so. We spent 16 days aboard the Emerald Princess and were relieved to disembark in Copenhagen. Embarkation was easy. Our room was ready and it was nice to be able to go directly to our mini-suite on Dolphin deck. Our luggage arrived promptly and our steward, Jayson, was delightful. Our room was fine. The tub had numerous deep gouges, eliminating any desire to use it for a bath. Other than that, the room was comfortable. The ship is in relatively good condition. There was a problem with one of the elevator but it was eventually fixed. The people at the service desk were always nice and helpful. We were able to print an up-to-date report of our onboard account activities by swiping our key card in a machine. What a great idea! Slots in the casino worked on a key card. Initially I missed the clatter of coins and carrying around a bucket of change. Over time I came to value this as a cleaner and more convenient operation. The food on this ship was generally poor. Many dishes were ruined by overly salty sauces and overcooked vegetables. I was served a lobster tail in Adagio that was too salty to eat. Menus were uninspiring. Plates often seemed to have been sitting under lights for extended periods before service. We gave up on Anytime Dining. Passengers were predominately Americans who seemed to enjoy an early seating. This required either calling for a reservation or lining up early. Emerald did not manage this dining option well. Lines were huge. The Crown Princess had two Anytime Dining venues which allowed people to truly enjoy flexible dining. The menus on the Crown were interesting and the food was well prepared and well presented - a far cry from our experience on Emerald. Kudos to the pizza people! The pizza was good and there was a nice variety whenever we visited. I'm not sure what meat was being served on hamburger buns but my one, and only, was inedible. We often ended up at the buffet - where, I believe, Emerald wanted us. We traded service oriented meals for cafeteria food. Often the menus were similar - which reflected badly on the dining room. Occasionally there were themes at the buffet - such as German or Mexican night - leading us to expect schnitzel with red cabbage/tacos and burritos. Instead, the food looked the same as every other night, with a token offering from the aforementioned country. Only one buffet was open at a time and only one side of the Horizon Cafe at a time. Navigation of the area was challenging. It is a small space. On a ship with 3,000+ people, it is inconceivable that the buffet manager considered this appropriate. The space is elliptical with openings at both ends - one designated as an entrance and the other an exit. In the center are two additional service areas. In order to access all options, one had to make a complete loop, ending at the entrance. Needless to say, this had people bumping into each other, circling, backtracking and trying to maneuver this poorly designed facility. There was another exit option - one that would have allowed people to access ¾ of the food with everyone moving in the same direction. This exit was locked. Management stood around surveying the operation. Since nothing changed, they must have been satisfied with what he saw. On the Crown, both sides of Horizon were opened at meal times - each presenting different foods! When Cafe Carib opened, one side of Horizon shut down. Carib usually included specialty foods like sushi and any themed meals - with extensive offerings. With two buffets open, seating was simpler. Interestingly enough, Emerald's wake-up show aired a video showcasing the redesign of a sister ship - including enlarging and reconfiguring the buffet area. Despite the inherent design flaws with Horizon, the Crown Princess managed to make dining, both buffet and Anytime Dining, an enjoyable experience. The Emerald did neither option well. The International Cafe was a bit of a disappointment. The desserts, while visually appealing, lacked flavor. The food options were redundant. The same salads and sandwiches appeared 16 days in a row. Only the quiche changed. It was still a nice place to sit and sip a cup of tea or coffee. Service was generally good and after a couple of days, the flavorless desserts were no longer a temptation. The Princess Theater is small. We found that arriving an hour early for shows insured a convenient seat. The venue filled quickly. The shows were predictable. More often than not, the performances seemed not worth the wait - not necessarily reflecting on the show as much as the amount of time invested in seeing it. The seats in the theater are neither generous nor particularly comfortable. The Crew's Talent Show was enjoyable until it spiraled into a water spitting production -- more gross than humorous - put on by staff members. We appreciated the string quartet that entertained us regularly and a wonderful young violinist who came onboard in Cobh. There were comedians and other performers appearing around the ship. Shuffleboard, mini-golf, and a sports court helped pass the time. I found the morning show boring. The duo lacked chemistry. Colin might be a great talent but all he seemed to do was sit, smile, and bob his head. Billy was quite the camera/microphone hog. In all fairness, they probably fulfilled the company's requirements for the program, showcasing options to spend money on the ship. I wished they gave updated weather reports. The Princess TV channel streamed old, and often incorrect, weather information. Is it possible to have a constant reading of 84% humidity for 16 days - rain or shine? We were thankful we had a balcony to assess appropriate dress for shore excursions. No blankets at nighttime at MUTS turned that into a non-option. I ended up traipsing down to our stateroom to get jackets, missing a portion of the movie. My jacket didn't keep my legs warm. The promised blankets never arrived. It would have been nice if they had made an announcement so that passengers could make other plans, or dress appropriately before heading out to MUTS. Smoking in the casino is unacceptable. The casino was always crowded on no-smoking nights. There might be a message there. We had lunch at the Wheelhouse Bar. The waiter took our order, retuned with our food, and disappeared. He did his job. If we had wanted anything else, we weren't getting it. At times Horizon had an attentive staff and other times it was strictly a self help operation. The staff in the dining room was good but they could not compensate for the dismal meals they had to present. My dessert choices in the dining room were always good, as were the rolls. Shore time: We had one tendering at Falmouth, England. It was a challenge. Long after the fog lifted, Princess was still stacking transports alongside the ship, waiting to form a caravan into port. The water was rough and we ended up bobbing like a cork for far too long. It was an awful experience. There never seemed to be anyone in charge of anything. There never seemed to be anyone feeling empowered to make a decision that would improve the comfort/convenient of the passengers. Surely the tenders could have proceeded to port once filled. They had been doing this run for hours before we boarded; and later in the day they were operating individually when returning people to the ship. We booked two shore excursions - one to the Normandy beaches and one to Keukenhof, gardens outside Rotterdam. The trip to Normandy was long (3 hours out and 2 hours back) with barely enough time on site to scratched the surface of things to see and explore. The Keukenhof was a delight. We could easily have stayed another hour or two. These gardens showcase tulips for several weeks -- beginning in late April and running through the 3rd week in May. Our cruise arrived at what should have been peak time. An unusually warm April caused plants to bloom early. It was beautiful when we were there. One can only imagine how spectacular it was at its peak. Aside from the tulips, the gardens are huge, beautifully laid out, interesting, and if there were not a tulip in sight, it still would have been a day well spent. At other ports we did our own walking tours. We have been to Ireland, England, Oslo, and Copenhagen before. It was a nice respite to leave the ship and leave its problems behind. Exploring on our own was most enjoyable. To say we were disappointed by this cruise would be an understatement. I was particularly unimpressed with our captain. His handling of a norovirus outbreak was awful. We ended up on "red alert" on day 11. That was the first we heard of the virus. I believe that we were entitled to know about this problem long before the ship was shut down. I am more interested in my health than PCL could ever be, and I think most passengers, once apprised of the problem, would have done whatever was necessary to minimize the outbreak. Instead, we sailed on, oblivious to the danger, with more people getting sick daily and infecting others along the way. Did PCL have the right to put us at risk? I don't think so. I didn't pay to live that dangerously. I didn't sign on to end up incarcerated in my room. Instead of acknowledging the problem after a few cases, the captain allowed the virus to spread among the passengers and crew. We were crossing the Atlantic. We didn't get off that ship. We moved from venue to venue, risking infection, some spreading infection, unaware that sick bay was full and people were quarantined in cabins all over the ship. I heard that 1200 people were impacted. Judging from the diminished lines in the dining room and fact that so many familiar faces disappear, that might not have been an exaggeration. Once we learned of the contamination, we opted to use the dining room again. The food was still bad - salty, dry, and overcooked. The menu contained lots of odd items, like the ever appetizing pork bellies. After ordering off the left side for several nights, we returned to the buffet. It had gone from bad to terrible. PCL maintained its policy of having only one buffet opened at a time. Navigating it was more challenging than ever with servers clogging the passageways. We were so closely packed in that it seemed a most inappropriate environment for a contaminated ship. I thought that passengers, for the most part, were cheerful and courteous during the process. There were long lines to get into the buffet. Again nothing was done to alleviate a bad, dare I say unhealthy, situation. A simple solution would have been to move desserts to a different buffet. What a crazy notion, opening a second buffet in the name of public health!! We were glad to be leaving the Emerald and opted for a Princess transfer to the airport - which made it easy to get from point A to point B. Our gathering time was 9:30 in the casino. I noticed a beverage service area and asked the attendant for a cup of tea. He grunted, waving his arm to let me know that I could serve myself. WHAT! I hadn't been able to touch a salt shaker or a communal spoon for nearly a week and now I was able to handle everything. I fixed a cup of tea and returned to my seat at a slot machine where others also commented on this dramatic change of policy. At breakfast 90 minutes earlier, I was eating under a different set of rules. We exited the ship and made our way to buses which had been pre-boarded by folks with special needs. While we were waiting to depart, a member of the staff came onto our bus looking for Mr. and Mrs._____. She advised them that Princess had a cab ready to take them to the airport. Mrs._____ said, "I guess that's because we were in quarantine." They were sitting in front of us! We had made it this far without getting sick but it appeared that PCL's laissez faire attitude towards our health at disembarkation was putting us as risk. No one cleaned the area before two other people sat down. Yuck! I have referenced our cruise on the Crown Princess several times. We recognized that it was an exceptional experience as we lived it. A fellow cruiser advised us that we had a much admired and respected captain at the helm and that he had just joined the ship in Ireland. Could his presence have been the catalyst for the cheerful attitude of the staff and crew, the good food, and excellent service? The cruise was so enjoyable that we wished we had a more "at sea" days. There were a few hiccups along the way, perfection belongs to God, but it was an outstanding cruise. BECAUSE of the wonderful time that we had onboard the Crown we opted to try a repositioning cruise. We booked a cabin on with a balcony, loaded our e-readers, and made a concerted effort to keep our expectations low. They weren't low enough. There was a malaise, an apathy if you will, permeating the ship. I don't know when I first noticed it but it was there early in the cruise. The crew seemed tired, maybe even bored with their jobs. We purchased three coffee cards which I think qualifies us as regulars. These folks need to visit a Starbucks during the morning rush to appreciate working under pressure it. Occasionally they were affable but I did not find that they handled crowds well at all. Once we were on lockdown, it became a challenge to get a stirrer, or cream, or sugar. The staff and crew on the Emerald were remarkably different from those on the Crown. What "causes and effects" were in play to account for the differences? Did it all trickle down from the Captains? I don't know. I don't know when the first case of norovirus surfaced. I don't know how many crew members were affected or how this illness impacted work schedules and downtime. Once we were on red alert, exhausted staff could be seen spraying handrails, and elevator button. There was a group working the casino, attempting to keep up with the turnover of machines, while others guarded the beverage service areas on the Lido deck. These were mainly young people straddled with the overwhelming task of stemming the contagion, and paying a huge price for the Captain's poor judgment and bad decisions. Perhaps the coffee staff simply felt victimized also. I received an automatically generated e-mail from PCL with a contact number for a representative BECAUSE I said that I would not recommend Princess to a friend. The other comments that I made on this survey did not generate any interest. Ouch Princess - not the way to illicit confidence that you want to improve your operation. This may well have been my last Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control seriously, thus the blast of Norovirus on the ship. Granted, the staff worked diligently attempting to serve at the Horizon, but there is, on any day, such lack of control, food arrangement, and direction in Horizon, it is utter chaos. Anger and frustration on the part of passengers did not help.This is the only line we cruise that does not have someone at every door insisting on hand cleaner prior to entering any common areas. FOOD: The food was so poor, we stuck to mostly fruit, salad bar vegetables; grain bread and butter, wherever it was hidden. It appeared more people opted for Anytime dining, and lines were staggeringly long waiting to get inside. Service was very slow, and no one ever came back to ask if your meal was OK. Thus, we ate at the Horizon, among dirty plates and no service for even water.Getting past the poor selections, tough meats, uncooked fish, and service, the biggest problem - and one most anyone over 55 hopes not to experience - was the inedible varieties of foods overwhelmed with salt. Everything had far too much salt in it to taste like anything but salt.CROWDS: The ship sleeps more than 3000 people; but there just is not enough room in the common areas, the lounges, nor in the theatre when everyone is out and about. To see a show, you needed to be in a seat an hour prior.Since the ship is so large, you can only get into cargo ports - away from the towns. Shuttles were provided, at a cost each way. Again, we often have shuttles on other lines, but they are provided as a "service" for free.BEDS: We knew the beds were not great from the first cruise, and made phone arrangements prior to cruising. Sadly, one bed tilted toward the floor; the other sank so deeply in the middle we asked for pillows (6) to fill the gap and sleep on. Minimal response from the ship. Our cabin steward was phenominal in assisting and continually apologizing for the situation. SMOKE: Hallways were reaking from smoke coming out of cabins. Why they don't designate one side of the ship for smoking makes one wonder. It is not possible to eliminate the odor of smoke by washing down a cabin "when needed".We were part of 290 CC's, with four M&G with invitations sent to the Captain, etc. We never saw the captain or co-captain; they (unlike other lines for CC) never served appetizers or drinks. Very disappointing as it was obvious we were part of the "masses" and not important as cruisers.PORTS: The TransAtlantic and ports were the best. The Baltic ports were crunched into short port times, and inability to see as much as desired. St. Petersburg was a delight. Can't say enough about our private tours booked through members of CC, and all the organizing that went into the M&G. The one tour we did with Shore Excursions was simply OK; as usual, huge busloads and wasted time getting on and off for a "photo op".This 27 day was chosen for the itinerary, not the ship. Those of us who enjoy much longer cruises, and know it is possible to have much more for your money than what we experienced will look elsewhere. For us, three times and we're out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Princess Emerald is a beautiful ship and well maintained. The common areas such as the theatre and Explorer lounge are too small and require arriving an hour prior to a performance to obtain a seat. Since the entertainment was mediocre, we ... Read More
Princess Emerald is a beautiful ship and well maintained. The common areas such as the theatre and Explorer lounge are too small and require arriving an hour prior to a performance to obtain a seat. Since the entertainment was mediocre, we decided it wasn't worth attending. The cabin was well designed and provided everything we needed for our comfort, except for a decent bed. These beds need to be tossed out. The mattresses are very hard and concave. Thank goodness we were warned about them and ordered eggcrate toppers in advance. Our room steward, Reginald, was outstanding. The dining room service was a big disappointment. There has defineately been a cutback in staff. We waited for each course and for dishes to be cleared. Each waiter and helper served about 5 tables at a time. The food was just so-so, and the menu boring. (There was a real lack of salad choices; only Cesaar and one other choice.) We frequently just ate in the Horizon Buffet, or our favorite, the El Caribe Buffet. The International Cafe was great, serving a variety of salads and desserts. Their coffee was great, making the coffee card purchase a necessity. (Coffee served in the buffets and dining room is made from a syrup and is awful.) Of course the pizza bar, as well as the grill for hamburgers/hot dogs is always a good choice.We had hundreds of people ill with the Nor Virus on this cruise. The captain did not acknowledge the problem until about 3 days after it started. (I heard about it on the elevator by friend of one who was quarantined.) I think if they had announced it immediately, it might have been nipped in the bud. Being a nurse, I noticed many areas where the sanitizing was lacking and employees needed better instruction. One man serving tea at the International Cafe actually dropped the paper cup on the floor and picked it up and used it. Servers wiped tables off haphazardly. They never wiped under the edge of the table or under the arms of a chair. (This is what you grab when pulling up to a table.) It was several days after the virus was acknowledged before Purell stations were placed in common area hallways, etc. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were ... Read More
I thought getting on the cruise was a little confusing. No one really told us where to go, they just gave us a number. We got there early, 11am and there weren't that many people yet. Slowly the room started to fill up. There were seats, so at least we were able to sit down. We got a group 1 number so after the elite and gold members boarded, we were able to get on. We were super excited as not that many people got on before us. We ran to our room right away and called the dining line in the hopes to get on the chef's table list. The room we got was on the Lido deck, room 238. We wanted to be on the floor with the pools, buffet, where things were happening. It was a cozy room, comfy for 2 people and our 2 huge suitcases. Having a balcony is a must. It's nice just being able to sit outside, it also made the room appear larger. My complaints would be the shower, it's tiny. I'm 5'2 and 100 pounds, I can't imagine a taller, larger person trying to take a shower in there without getting stuck. My boyfriend is 5'8 and 155 pounds and he thought the shower was small. I also wish they changed the shower curtain. The white curtain was gray on the bottom which kind of grossed me out. Shower itself and bathroom was clean. The two double beds pushed together was comfy. My problem was with the goose down pillows. I kept getting stabbed in the face with feathers that would poke out. Perhaps thicker pillowcases would help this problem. The fridge stayed cold, I read some people had problems, but ours was fine. I would say do not leave chocolate on the top of the ref, it gets hot and even though the ref is in the cabinet, the wood gets hot. It melted my chocolate! I brought my own blowdryer, didn't like the one in the room.       Enough about the room...Food, food is important. I love to eat good food. Living in Chicago, I've gotten spoiled on huge portions and good food. We paid extra and tried the Crown Grill one night. An extra $25 a person. We both ordered a ribeye and also got lobster tails, a side of mashed potatoes and cream of corn. We also got appetizers and soup. Appetizer, I can't recall what I got, so it must have been okay. Soup, I got the shrimp bisque, didn't care for it at all. Ribeye, I ordered medium and my boyfriend ordered medium rare. My steak came out as medium rare and his came out rare. I sent mine back, I couldn't eat it. My boyfriend sucked it up and ate his. Flavor was good. Lobster tails, you get 2 and they are pretty small, but they are good! Sides, I highly recommend the cream of corn, it's incredible! They put parmesan cheese on top. We also ate at Sabatini's one night. Wow, it's a lot of food and it's good! It's an extra $20 a person. You got cold apps, hot apps, option soup and salad which we said no to. Then you get a pasta dish, your main course and then dessert. Cold apps, you get cheese, olives, arugula and prosciutto. Hot appetizer you get fried romano cheese with sun dried tomato which I loved...calamari and fried zucchini which was also very good. Pasta dish, cheese and mushroom ravioli with a truffle sauce which was incredible and a fettucini. For my main course, I selected the seabass which was pan fried and topped with bread crumbs. It laid on a bed of asparagus with a lemon cream sauce. Wow, fantastic! Food in the dining rooms were pretty good, buffet was all right. Pizza, I did not like at all. Burgers at the grill was okay, nothing great. My boyfriend did purchase the all you can drink soda for $40 and we shared. He'd just grab me a soda when he'd get a soda. No one said anything. Beers, well my boyfriend drank quite a bit and it adds up. He bought a few buckets. 5 or was it 6 beers for $20 or so. 1 beer was about 6 bucks.       Spa, we got a couples Swedish massage in one of the cabanas. Was nice and relaxing. We did that on one of the sea days. I felt relaxed. My only complaint would be that they tried to push products on us and made us feel bad for not buying them.       Activities and shows. Umm, not really for us. We are a couple in our early 30's. This cruise we were on was filled with a lot of older people. We felt out of place. Not a lot of people our age. The nightclub was filled with seniors and they would play oldies music. The only shows we went to were the comedy shows. We enjoyed the comedian from Canada a lot, his name I believe was Scott? He was funny! The other comedian was Al Katz. He was also very entertaining. We didn't care for the impressionist, I forgot his name. He was practically begging for applause. The comedian/magician Joe was not funny at all. He didn't even really do any magic. He also kept looking at his watch to see if it was time to get off the stage. What we did to pass the time was either gamble at the casino or play cards. Good thing we packed cards. We also did movie under the stars one night to watch Red. That was nice. The reason why we took this cruise is it was recommended for couples, didn't really seem romantic to us at all. Not many activities for people our age. We were so glad that this cruise had 6 ports, we had a lot of fun exploring different islands. I think if we cruise again, we will try Royal Caribbean. Hoping for a better mix of people and more activities. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We booked this cruise on Emerald Princess primarily because we wanted to visit relatives in Antigua and we had missed the window of opportunity for a balcony cabin on the only HAL ship that includes that island. I read a lot of EP and ... Read More
We booked this cruise on Emerald Princess primarily because we wanted to visit relatives in Antigua and we had missed the window of opportunity for a balcony cabin on the only HAL ship that includes that island. I read a lot of EP and Princess reviews here before we left, some of which we found to be true and others not so accurate, at least not in our opinion. Some of the key points:* Yes, the cabins are very small, the beds are pretty bad, and the public spaces are quite crowded. However, storage space in the cabin was excellent, everything worked, and we were very glad NOT to be in a suite or mini-suite, where you're on display on your balcony. We recommend booking only a standard balcony stateroom.* Yes, the bed was horrid, but we knew enough to request the "egg crate" topper. While that had seen better days, our cabin steward lost no time installing it and it did make a difference. Princess could definitely improve the beds and gain points with us.* The ratio of public space to passenger is really low on this ship, so whenever we were in any public area there were crowds. That was our biggest disappointment regarding this cruise. HAL has far less crowded ships and we definitely prefer them, now that we've tried something different.* Despite their "scholarship at sea" advertising, we found VERY little in the way of educational enrichment activities on board. There were no cooking classes, and the two crafts "classes" - for which there was an extra (although nominal) charge - but neither offered any instruction whatsoever. We were given materials and left to figure out what to do with them. This is one way {rincess really trails HAL. On our HAL cruises, we've participated in a number of classes and activities that truly taught us something new, and we never paid extra for any of them.* On our first day aboard, crew members were trying to sell us something all the time. I'd read about this but even then I didn't expect quite so many hard sells. After that day it pretty much stopped except for waiters suggesting wines or cocktails. My DH purchased a soda card for $45, but unless you spend most of your time on the ship (and not in the ports) you'll never drink that much soda. I'm a wine drinker and I brought quite a bit on board, which helped keep the bar tab down.* If you like old-fashioned teak decks, loungers on the promenade deck, cooked-to-order food on the Lido deck, game rooms or spaces (for cards, scrabble, etc), or peace and quiet on board (WITHOUT paying extra for it), this is NOT the ship for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for good value, good itineraries, and aren't too fussy about the onboard experience, EP will definitely appeal.* MUTS is a terrific idea and we enjoyed it several times, but the popcorn was simply awful. Bring your own snacks. :)* Contrary to a number of reviews, we did not encounter any less-than-courteous crew members. Our cabin steward was fantastic. We used Anytime Dining so we had different waiters frequently, but most of them were very good and two were outstanding. Some of the deck waitstaff and others did seem to be bored or weary, but they were always friendly when approached and they know the ship well. It's a very diverse crew, which we enjoyed.* The food in the dining rooms was, for the most part, good. Not outstanding, but we always enjoyed it. The food on the Lido deck's buffets was generally mediocre, unfortunately, and that applies to both taste and presentation. Nothing (at lunch or dinner) is cooked to order. The sandwiches we tried were all very dry. We didn't even bother to get in line for a made-to-order omelet, as the line was really long. We HATED the way the buffets are enclosed - everyone is always bumping into everyone else, and there's nowhere near enough room to maneuver - and while it's nice to have waitstaff to serve beverages the wait was often too long. We'd prefer the option to get our own. Anytime Dining worked perfectly for us: we wanted to meet new people so we always did "two to share" and never had to wait. Logistically, Anytime Dining is very difficult to manage and Princess did it very well, especially with >3000 passengers. The pizza bar was one of our favorite places for a quick snack: NY-style pizza and always fresh. Skip the burger bar unless you're really desperate for french fries, and the only free ice cream is vanilla or chocolate soft-serve.* Hands down, Princess wins the award for the most efficient, least stressful embarkation and disembarkation processes, and that includes tendering to ports of call. Kudos to them for nailing this, because at embarkation it really sets the tone for the whole trip and at disembarkation it makes catching taxis/flights/transfers much less stressful. Our disembarkation waiting area was the Explorer's Lounge, where there were trivia and travel slides playing and coffee, tea, and water were freely available. * Emerald Princess is unusually difficult to navigate. I give the ship's designers very low marks... I suspect that they were trying to break up the public areas as much as possible to permit the perception that they're not as crowded as they really are. But the end result is that it's hard to get from point A to point B, even after 10 days of trying. We carried the map with us at all times and frequently had to refer to it. And even then, we often ended up at the wrong end of the ship... Between that and the cascading balconies that leave suite and mini-suite passengers with neither privacy nor shade, we think Princess would be wise to reconsider this design.* Contrary to many reviews, people CAN win in the casino: I did, and I'm one of the unluckiest people alive (at games of chance, anyway.) We aren't big gamblers: I especially am reluctant to just throw money away, which is how I generally perceive gambling. But my DH wanted to try the slots, so on the second night at sea we allotted $20 to them. He let me play it and I won $60. On another evening, we again agreed to a $20 total limit, and I won $150. After we'd left Antigua, we again agreed to spend $20, and my DH again let me pick the machine and play. It was a $1 machine and after playing just $9 I won $2700! My philosophy is "take the money and run" so we did just that. It paid for our passage, so we're living proof that people do win sometimes.* I can't rate Princess Cays, our last port of call, below, as there's no menu selection for it. But I'd rate it a 3 at best. There's no comparison to HAL's Half Moon Cay, which has far better (warmer, less rocky) beaches. Overall it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. However, I do like that it was the last port, as a pure beach stop is a terrific way to end a 10-night cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
30th Valentine's Day Wedding Anniversary We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose those cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. We had sailed on ... Read More
30th Valentine's Day Wedding Anniversary We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose those cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. We had sailed on Princess to celebrate our wedding anniversary four times before so anticipated a really special experience for our 30th. In January 2009 we did 10 day B2Bs on the Emerald with Commodore Romano and considered the Emerald something special. But as they say - things change. This review is for our first cruise, The Southern Caribbean. Embarkation We did B2B sailings on the Crown in January so needed a one night stay in Ft Lauderdale before we boarded the Emerald. The Rodeway Inn had a stay and park and cruise program so we tried that. The rates were good, the room was fine, we signed up for the included transfers to our ship - but we found when we went to the lobby at the 10:30 am designated time that the Rodeway Inn program for cruisers was extremely popular as the lobby was absolutely packed and people were even standing out in the parking area. So it took a bit longer than we expected but our van left for the terminal in about an hour or so. There we learned what the Platinum and Elite "Preferred Check-in" benefit really means. We were directed towards a doorway where we could see some people standing. Leaving those who were not Platinum and Elite sitting comfortably in the terminal, we stood for about 20 minutes in what should really be called the "Preferred Stand Up" line. When the line finally began to move it emptied out into the check-in area. The Preferred Check-in booths had long lines so we went to the Caribe deck booth where the line was shorter. And then onto the ship where we quickly recognized faces of staff we had sailed with before - and all was good and happy again. The Ship and Cabin When we first booked these cruises there were no cabins available for both cruises in the area we wanted, so we had to book different cabins. We tried inquiring a number of times to see if we could avoid the move but it was not to be. So we ended up in the very same cabins we booked - the upgrade fairy apparently was busy taking care of others on this cruise and didn't get around to us. We booked inside cabins amidships on the Caribe deck, and they were in a very convenient location and very comfortable. Our cabin steward was absolutely super excellent. The Emerald was oversold for this cruise - a number of people on our role call got move over offers and some others got great upgrades. The ship was very crowded - painfully obvious on February 6 as it was Super Bowl Night and we learned that we could only watch the Super Bowl in the Explorer's Lounge or MUTS - Emerald management did not obtain a license for in-room viewing according to the purser's desk. (However those on the Crown apparently not only could see it in their cabins but also at Skywalkers according to reviews posted on CC -we should have stayed on the Crown!). I probably don't have to tell you it was a zoo in Explorers and apparently if you didn't get a seat first thing after muster you wouldn't get one later. I stood up for a little bit of the first half but gave up - first Super Bowl I have missed in years. Those that have sailed Crown class ships know how crowded they can get - and the Emerald certainly was crowded. On the Emerald they do things differently than what we have become accustomed to on other Princess ships. For example they don't publish a menu/drink schedule for the Elite Lounge so you have to go up there every day to find out what they happen to be serving - and if you have been there you know some selections are very good and others not so much. In the gym on the Emerald they only have two exercise balls - and every time we were there they were in use. On the Emerald the Captain's Circle Party is held in the piazza. We are used to Captain's Circle Parties held in Club Fusion (on this class ship) where you can sit comfortably and order a drink and have some nibbles before the Captain gives a little speech about what is new with Princess and the most traveled awards are made. Since Princess has a lot of repeat passengers they typically have multiple parties because of the number of people that are invited as well as being able to have separate cocktail parties for those who eat early and those who eat late. But that is not the case on the Emerald - there is only one party and that is at 7:30 pm. That was rather strange for early diners - go to a cocktail party after dinner? The "party" itself was most bizarre. At the beginning there were about 2000 people milling around in the piazza on decks 5 & 6. There were just a few waiters serving the standard Princess free drink tray setup that includes those strange orange and yellow and green drinks and some other watered down mixtures. The poor waiters were mobbed and all their drinks were taken the moment they came past the barriers (apparently the Princess guards tried to keep first time cruisers out of the party - but didn't do a very good job of it) so the mob kept moving to try to find waiters with something on their tray other than empty glasses. And when the soft spoken Captain tried to say a few words the about 800 people kept talking (only 800 because of lot of people left.) It was really sad that those on the Emerald responsible for putting that party in the piazza did not even think about how many of those invited could not stand comfortably for 45 minutes straight as there were very few places to sit available. So this is the way Emerald management chose to "show how special our repeat passengers are"? If you have sailed Princess for years you might recognize it was exactly like what used to be called the welcome aboard party. Of course in those days the Champagne Waterfall was later in the evening on formal night after the Captain's farewell cocktail party and dinner. Also on the Emerald they don't do a most traveled passenger luncheon - they just have a short cocktail party with some nondescript appetizers passed around. Pardon my rant but on the Emerald they are changing the very reasons we have chosen to prefer sailing with Princess over the years. It just seemed that they were cutting corners on all kinds of activities and it seemed really cheap. Princess used to be moderately elegant and sophisticated - not so on the Emerald. We usually don't feel the ship's motion on these big ships but the Emerald was an exception. There was very noticeable side to side motion, even when the seas did not look that rough. The Food Food on the Emerald was ok - some of our favorite dishes weren't as good as they were on other ships. There also seemed to be a problem when you specified how you wanted your steak (or prime rib or rack of lamb, etc.) At times requesting "medium-rare" delivered meat with just a little pink in the middle (medium?) but it might also be blood red (very rare?) at other times. We watched an interesting back and forth at the next table where a steak was sent back three times - and then the diner said she only really wanted the vegetables anyhow. Cruising can be both fun and funny. We tried the DaVinci the first two nights, were seated at not so good tables and the noise level in the dining room was very loud. We tried the Michelangelo the third night and were seated at a great table that was somewhat secluded. The waiters were excellent so we asked to have that table again the next night - and it became our regular table for the rest of the cruise. The headwaiters in the Michelangelo were also excellent and we found dinner there became the highlight of each day. The Entertainment The Emerald has the usual cruise ship entertainment - production shows are usually fairly good but the other acts range from great to absolutely terrible. We found them pretty average. The cruise director Billy London had just joined the ship and obviously was having a little difficulty getting adjusted. We usually turn on the TV when we get up and half listen to the Wake Show. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is informative, sometimes it is boring, but mostly they are just trying to sell you something. But we usually try to answer the question of the day and write dedications on very special occasions. Billy forgot to ask a question of the day on one day, forgot to give the answer to a question he asked on another day, and did not read any dedications on Valentine's Day - the obvious day we had written dedications for each other for our 30th anniversary. Perhaps there were too many to read but at least he could have said that. So instead of Valentine's Day dedications by passengers for their loved ones they talked about their own personal situations - and the rest of the Wake Show was trying to sell stuff like the spa and shops. They did have a nice renewal of vows ceremony in the piazza that a number of us enjoyed. But rather than the Captain performing the ceremony - it was done by the CD Billy London. But as I have been saying - they do things differently (even strangely) on the Emerald... Disembarkation Since we were doing a B2B we were in-transit passengers so were instructed by a separate letter to meet at the Michelangelo at 10:35 am for processing. We were in the process of changing cabins shortly after 10 when they announced over the PA system that all in-transit passengers should report to the Michelangelo. So we quickly put our stuff in our new cabin and headed downstairs to sit in the Michelangelo for 20 minutes. Then we were herded into the terminal and sat there for 15 minutes. Then we were herded to a line for passport inspection and directed back to the terminal sitting area where we sat another 20 minutes before going back onboard. Since we had just done a B2B on the Crown we were reminded just how differently the Emerald does things - on the Crown it took about 30 minutes for the entire process. Highlights I felt very fortunate to be able to celebrate 30 pretty wonderful years of marriage with my Valentine's Day bride on a Caribbean Cruise. The renewal of vows ceremony was fun and our anniversary dinner was superb. We met some great people. Last Thoughts Many repeat Princess passengers we spoke with on this cruise were disappointed and others even agitated and angry with the changes in the "Princess Experience" being implemented on the Emerald. A major concern was that Princess might implement these changes fleet wide. Was it a terrible cruise and are we saying we will never sail Princess again? Absolutely not. We have 8 cruises booked on Princess between now and spring 2012. However, none of them will be on the Emerald. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our 9th cruise with Princess and we hope the experience we had on the Emerald was just a fluke. Nothing really major, but all the little things add up to the point we were wondering if it was just us. But after talking to other ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise with Princess and we hope the experience we had on the Emerald was just a fluke. Nothing really major, but all the little things add up to the point we were wondering if it was just us. But after talking to other passengers late in the cruise and reading the reviews from others on the cruise, we realized it wasn't just us being to picky. Embarkation was uneventful, arrived just before 11AM and were onboard by noon. Once to our cabin noticed the wrong name tag was on the mailbox, mentioned it to the steward who said he would take care of it, Three days later went to Passenger Services Desk and then 2 tags showed up by dinner. Our cabin steward was mediocre at best. Glasses would not get replaced, had to ask twice for the water to be restocked in the fridge, chocolates were not placed on the pillow some nights and a few other minor things that on past cruises you never noticed because they were always done. I don't know if they have increased the number of rooms the stewards are responsible for or what, but the attention to detail is severely lacking. Then to top it all off, on disembarkation day we were to be in Club Fusion by 8AM. We went to breakfast and came to the cabin at 7:40AM and even though our carryon luggage was still in the cabin, the door was wide open and he had come in and striiped the bed already and the next passengers' nametag was already on the door. Talk about being pushed out the door! We had early seating in the dining room, the waiter was effecient to a fault. While you were eating the second course, he was setting the utensils for the main course. All the while telling you there is no rush, never had that done on our previous cruises. The food was typical Princess, some excellent, some just average. The last formal night on Valentines day was lobster night and the lobster we were served was covered in coarse black pepper, never seen that before. My wife asked the waiter to please bring her another plate without pepper and he responded that is the way it is prepared, but he could get her something else. Anyway dinner that night was a bust, though speaking with some fellow passengers the next day they indicated the lobster they were served had no pepper on it. Since the 2 staff members you see the most of were not the best examples of Princess hospitality it had a large impact on onboard experience. We really hope this was just a fluke and that this is not a trend or money saving measure that Princess is starting on. Other than that we had a great vacation and are looking forward to our next cruise on Princess in May. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose these cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. This review covers the second cruise - The Eastern Caribbean. Read my ... Read More
We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose these cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. This review covers the second cruise - The Eastern Caribbean. Read my earlier review on the Southern Caribbean if you wish as an introduction. This was our 47th cruise on Princess and 73rd overall. It was a very unusual cruise for us on Princess as there were many changes to what we had come to expect from a cruise on Princess- the most extreme one being the single Captain's Circle Party held in the atrium where everyone on the ship could attend. And then there were the little things that went wrong. Of course on every cruise some things go wrong and we all expect it to happen and let it pass. But on this cruise every day brought an increasing number of "little things" so the pile of "little things" grew every day (sort of a death by a thousand cuts but fewer). It was still an enjoyable cruise but not up to the standard we have experienced on other Princess ships. For the first time ever on a Princess cruise we started looking forward to disembarkation. Embarkation Since we were doing a B2B we were in-transit passengers. We were B2B on the Crown in January so had recently experienced the process at Fort Lauderdale which took about 30 minutes overall. There was a very large group of B2B cruisers on the Emerald and perhaps that is why the process took much longer (maybe 90 minutes) with multiple sit and wait sessions. Back in the cabin we unpacked again and being "real in-transit passengers" had no problem going to the dining room for lunch. Itinerary This is the third year in a row we have done this 10 day itinerary so you might correctly guess we like it. We've been to all these islands before but still enjoy them. Our first stop was Princess Cay. We have become more pool oriented than beach oriented, so on the Princess Cay stop we usually stay onboard and enjoy what for a few hours is our "semi-private huge yacht" where we have our choice of loungers by the pool. On St Thomas we continued our anniversary celebration of seeking out the jewelry pieces we wanted to buy and were again successful. We've seen the major attractions on Antigua yet still considered taking one of the tours they offer after you leave the ship and get in the shopping area - the "only need two more people and we will leave immediately and have a very good tour and see everything on the island" type. We chose to pass and just wandered around; since it was Sunday a number of the shops were closed. Our favorite island on this itinerary is St Lucia, beginning with the absolutely beautiful entrance to the harbor. This time we did the ship's land and sea tour - drive down to Soufriere with intermediate stops in a few towns, see the sulfur springs, lunch at an old estate turned into a delightful tourist attraction and a catamaran ride back to the harbor complete with a beach stop and many rum punches. It was a beautiful day and a great tour. In Barbados we passed on the Mount Gay rum tour this time, wandered through the terminal tasting rum cake and getting our charm at Diamonds International, then a nice walk back to the ship and some time on the sun deck. At St Kitts my priority was to find another Rima (brand name) tropical shirt, seems they always have the best selection there. The Ship and Cabin We had an inside cabin again on this cruise but this time on the starboard side. It was close to the amidships elevator and stairs so it was a very convenient location. Beds were not as comfortable as our last cabin. Our cabin steward was sort of less than average - we probably noticed it even more since our first cabin steward was super excellent. For a little detail, at the Captain's Circle party we talked with the Executive Housekeeper who asked how we were enjoying our trip - and we gave him a little feedback about our cabin steward. The next day our cabin steward was a bit frosty and that continued throughout the cruise. We went to a late night adult show by one of the comedians who made a joke about what cabin stewards do to people they don't like - and after that we hid our toothbrushes! On departure day we had a wonderful goodbye with our first cabin steward; we waved to our last cabin steward who was down the hall and he waved back - but it was too far to see if his finger was extended. The Emerald was oversold for this cruise as well and it felt very crowded - especially around the pool and at the buffet. They continued to do things differently on the Emerald this cruise - the Captain's Circle party was again in the atrium and all the other changes we didn't like last cruise were still the same (see my earlier review for the details). We had filled out those "Let Us Know" forms and let them know we thought the single Captain's Circle party at 7:30 pm in the atrium was an extremely bad idea - but they didn't even acknowledge our comments. But they apparently tried to make an improvement over last cruise with the Captain's Circle Party - this time all 3 atrium decks were used. Although invitations were sent out they were not collected so anyone wandering by could try to get a free drink. Only the standard tray drinks were offered - no wine available this time, and the three most traveled couples were kept in a roped off area on deck 6 where the ceremonies apparently took place. It was hard to see or hear what was going on so we never learned how many cruises or days they had. The Food Food on the Emerald continued to be inconsistent - sometimes great and sometimes not so much. Some of our favorite dishes weren't as good as they were on other Princess ships. For example, one of my favorite items at lunch in the dining room is Frito Misto - better quality seafood lightly breaded or battered, one of my absolute favorites on Princess. But on the Emerald it is more like what you get at Long John Silvers. Rather than sea scallops you get bay scallops with more breading than scallop. Rather than a nice piece of fish you get a heavily battered and soggy mushy fish stick. Rather than butterflied shrimp you get something that looks like it came out of a box of frozen Mrs. Paul's Fried Shrimp. Lunch in the Horizon Court was pretty good - even at times really good - for lunch unless you came later in the afternoon when all the pretty good selections were apparently gone. Breakfast at the buffet became rather boring - I'm an egg and sausage guy in the mornings and on most ships there is some variety from day to day, but on the Emerald you had better like regular link sausages because that is all they offer - no Polish, no Italian, no chorizo, no bangers, no andouille - just plain link sausage. Well that was the case until morning 8 when there were three varieties offered plus cut up hot dogs, but next day it was back to usual. But on departure day the three different varieties were back again! Service in the dining room and the buffet was good to excellent - super excellent from the waiters we had gotten to know before on this cruise and even those from other sailings. (We spent 50 days on the Grand in the Med when we first retired and typically see some staff members we got to know on that ship - always a special pleasure when we recognize each other.) The Entertainment The Emerald has the usual cruise ship entertainment - it is what it is. If you are new to Princess you will probably find most of it enjoyable. If you have sailed on Princess before you probably have seen it before (or something very similar). Whether or not you like a particular comedian or hypnotist or juggler is really a case of personal opinion - when we read on cruise critic that someone thinks some comedian is really super we make a special effort to see him, and sometimes find them not so good. And of course I'm sure that operates in reverse as well. But again the Emerald does things differently - they only offered the production shows on one night, not two nights like other Princess ships. And they offered them at different times on different nights. Since they also don't provide the cruise planner at the start of the cruise it is hard to plan nightly activities until you get the Patter, and even then you don't know what might be repeated (or not) the next night. The band they used the most - piazza and poolside - was Icon and they played the usual mixture of everything. They were pretty good but the volume was cranked up so high you could hardly carry on a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Perhaps they are just responding to the Cruise Director and staff always yelling to "make some noise." We did get pretty tired of the CD admonishing passengers to quit complaining about not being able to find a seat in the Princess Theatre - and we got pretty tired of Billy London in general. He gets our vote for the most egocentric and self absorbed CD on Princess (actually all the other cruise lines we have sailed on as well.) It was all about him. We usually find the Wake Show informative and answer the question of the day but after a few days of it we decided to start the day without it. (He was in sharp contrast to the CD we had just sailed with on the Crown - she was fabulous!) Disembarkation This was the best disembarkation we have ever experienced - wish it could always be like this! Perhaps it was because we were at Terminal 4? Highlights We met some very nice people and had a great cruise critic group. We enjoyed catching up with some staff members we knew from previous cruises. We found some excellent anniversary celebration jewelry in St Thomas. And the weather was wonderful for all 20 days! Last Thoughts Hopefully Princess management will obtain statistically valid feedback about the changes they are experimenting with on the Emerald. We spoke with some staff members who said "everybody loved the Captain's Circle party in the atrium." Perhaps they are just telling management what they think management wants to hear. We'll be on 4 more Princess ships between now and December - hopefully they will still provide the complete Princess experience we know and love. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My husband and I sailed on the Emerald Princess on January 17th for a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise. Our cabin (E730) was spacious with lots of storage space and an absolutely huge covered balcony. We exereienced none of the noise from ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Emerald Princess on January 17th for a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise. Our cabin (E730) was spacious with lots of storage space and an absolutely huge covered balcony. We exereienced none of the noise from Club Fusion directly below us; in fact the room didn't seem to be utilized a lot. For a large ship the embarkation process was the smoothest we have ever had; in fact, there was no sense of crowding or herding at any point of the trip. We were impressed by the logistics of organizing such a large number of people. Disembarkation was equally simple. We did not use the transfers from port to ship as we found it both easier and cheaper to simply get a cab. Nor did we book any of the tours the ship offered since we had previously visited all the islands scheduled except Bonaire. There we booked an online snorkel trip that was fantastic - through Woodwind. A few of our disappointments include the following: a broken espresso machine at the Calypso Bar on several days which necessitated going all the way down to the International Cafe for a latte; not very good berths at St. Thomas and Dominica; some p.m. activities were scheduled to exclude second seating guests; we found the ship's layout awkward and irritating, having to go up and around the DaVinci Dining room; there was no daily newpaper which we really wanted; the dress standards are waaaay too relaxed, and formal nights are a joke (surely a coat and tie can't be too much to ask); too many activities seemed designed only to get passengers to spend money, specifically the ubiquitous art auctions (I find it difficult to believe that people actually buy this stuff); the dinner entree choices were rather limited and overall blah; our tablemates were wonderful, but our waiter was condescending; only took in one show - Rollin' Joe Moore, a commedial who was very good. Overall, the cruise was pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Good embarkation. Beautiful ship tastefully decorated and well maintained. Good room steward. Average to good dining staff. Slightly below average to above average food in dining rooms. Strange food selections in Horizon Court and other ... Read More
Good embarkation. Beautiful ship tastefully decorated and well maintained. Good room steward. Average to good dining staff. Slightly below average to above average food in dining rooms. Strange food selections in Horizon Court and other Lido deck eateries. Difficult to obtain fruit punch, lemonade, or iced tea except during meal times. This seemed to be part of a master plan to force the passengers to obtain their drinks from one of the many bars. Most bar drinks had very little alcohol, but this was offset by their stiff prices. Burger bar always busy when they were open. Pizza joint always open, but poor selection of pizzas. Would you like cheese or pepperoni? Biggest gripe - After early dining we invariably found that the early show in the theatre was filled 45 minutes to an hour before the show began. Not that the shows were anything special, but most seemed to appeal to the geriatric group on this cruise. The elevators were typically nearly filled with folks in wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility carts, so there was precious little room for folks that could actually still walk. Ok, so we walked and that helped burn some calories. Drink servers were generally difficult to find, took their sweet time and generally exhibited somewhat of an attitude. The cruise director and his staff seemed sophomoric at best and there was little or no "chemistry" between them and the passengers. Some demonstrated a little rudeness when explaining that the theatre was full and there was nothing they could do about it except to advise to try the second showing. Shows in the bars were also almost always filled to capacity 30-40 minutes prior to start of show. In summary, this ship is unable to accommodate this many passengers comfortably. A large portion of what would be the first floor in the theatre was given to a conference center, so even the second showing of most shows were filled to capacity with standing room only or people sitting on steps. This was our first Princess cruise and it will definately be our last. Carnival and Royal Caribbean leave Princess well behind in accommodations, food, and service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
My wife and I have normally cruised on Holland America, but we wanted to try another line, so we chose Princess and the Emerald Princess because of the different itinerary. My 16 year old daughter also came on this trip. This was a 10-day ... Read More
My wife and I have normally cruised on Holland America, but we wanted to try another line, so we chose Princess and the Emerald Princess because of the different itinerary. My 16 year old daughter also came on this trip. This was a 10-day Christmas Holiday cruise, December 2010. Itinerary included Princess Cays, St Thomas, St Kitts, St Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua. Due to weather, we did not stop at Princess Cays. This will be a short comparative review of what we liked and what we didn't like on Princess. Embarkation: The smoothest I have experienced. Excellent job! Food & Dining: The food was excellent, and we did not have any major complaints. Their premium dining restaurants were outstanding. The dining service in the Traditional Dining Room and Premium restaurants were outstanding. Food on the Lido Deck Restaurant was good, but very limited in selection compared to some other cruise lines. Service in General: Service in general, especially on the Lido Food Deck, was dismal. Upon embarking the ship, we went to lunch. For at least the first two days of the cruise, the wait staff was consumed with trying to sell cups, drink cards, and all sorts of things -- not much personal service going on. After they were all sold out by day two, it seems as if the staff didn't know what to do. Service was terrible. One old lady in the Lido Deck Restaurant who had trouble walking was looking for someone to get her a drink, she waited so long she got it herself. I basically did the same thing, and had to look for silverware. Meanwhile, six wait staff members were standing in a circle talking about who knows what. Service on Lido remained poor for the entire trip. I found Princess to be more Sales Oriented than Service Oriented. I didn't like that. Additionally, every time either my wife or I asked a crew member a question about the ship, like where something is, we normally received in a 'deer in the headlights" look like they never worked on the ship before. One day I went to the business desk, which was right next to a set of ship stores, and asked when the stores opened. No one knew. Same lame service during the entire cruise. We paid for better than that! On Holland America, service was outstanding. One day on the Holland Lido deck, I had to wrestle my tray away from a crew member who insisted on carrying my tray to the table for me! I won't fight anymore! Wheelhouse Lounge: I went to the Lounge for a meal and was about the first one there to order. Unfortunately, I was the last one served after a dozen or so couples came in after me. Wow, talk about not being on top of things! Poor service again. Room Service: Compared to Holland America, room service on the Emerald Princess was subpar. Could not order a full breakfast, and the menu was limited. On Holland America, you can order a full hot breakfast in your room with a large lunch and dinner menu. When I did order room service on Emerald, it was so late we had to leave before we could eat it. Room Attendant: The keeper of the room did a really good job. However, it seemed as if they received instructions to never interact with the customers, and I almost never saw him. On Holland America, they made their presence known, and always asked if you needed anything and how your cruise was going. Very friendly and helpful. It was a little different on Princess. I felt as if I was an inconvenience. Ship Restrooms: They were satisfactory, nothing exceptional. Paper towels, etc. The last time I cruised Holland America two years ago (ms Noordam), they didn't have a paper towel on the ship. All the restrooms had thick posh cotton towels -- really nice. Use once and throw in a bin. Excursions: The shore excursions at all the islands were very good and we had a lot of fun. Conclusion: Overall, I found Princess to be more Sales Oriented rather than Service Oriented. This was very disappointing. The reason people go on a cruise is for exceptional food, service, and fun. We don't plan on going on another Princess Cruise. I like service and the personal touch. I can go to a car dealership to get a unending sales pitch. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The embarkation ws the first clue that we were going on a horror ship. THe line to enter the terminal wrapped around the building, so to speak. New arrivals would break in line as there was no organization on any cruise line personnel ... Read More
The embarkation ws the first clue that we were going on a horror ship. THe line to enter the terminal wrapped around the building, so to speak. New arrivals would break in line as there was no organization on any cruise line personnel available to direct the process. We waiting in line, in the heat, for 45 minutes before we could enter the building. Once inside they service by deck rather than each clerk handling the next prson in lin. Thus, some clerks were busy and others not. Another disaster! Once on the ship things did get better. Lunch in the dining room was immediatelt available versuis the crowd at the normal buffet. The rooms were ready and bags arrived promptly. The food both in the buffet and the main dining room left a lot to be desired. THe lunch selection was boring. The evening meal selections were rather poor and the quality only average,at best. Service, however was excellent. The entertainment was below average, in fact, the puppet show was a disgrace with many people walking out. THe final production show "boggy shoes" was the worst I've seen and, again people walked out. Overall I was very disappointed in Princess after I had heard so many times how great the line was. I guess the key word here might be "WAS" because I have since heard many comments similiar to mine suggesting that something has gone amiss with Princess. This was my first cruise with Princess and it will be my last ast there is much better for the money. Even Carnival is better so perhaps Carnival should review what it is rthat Princess does not understand. If you enjoy walking or jogging on the ship, forget it. The jogging track is a very small circle. For walking on deck 7 you must go up and down stairs to complete a circle. Read Less
Sail Date December 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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