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1,700 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

Flew into Quebec City the day before we could board our ship the Emerald Princess. We have cruised with Princess three times before all on either the Coral or Island Princess so this ship was much larger than we were used to. Ship - ... Read More
Flew into Quebec City the day before we could board our ship the Emerald Princess. We have cruised with Princess three times before all on either the Coral or Island Princess so this ship was much larger than we were used to. Ship - our ship was amazing. We had no issues with the condition or any staff that were onboard. We were taken care of by everyone from our room steward to the wait staff to the bar and casino staff. No complaints at all! Had heard many things about the ship prior to boarding but we totally enjoyed our room and the ship. Food - again had heard changes had taken place with the Princess menu. We were again very pleased. We ate in the Caribe Cafe, Horizon Court, the main dining room and we made one trip to The Crown Grill. The Crown Grill is well worth the additional cost. We sat up by the chef and watched our meal being prepared. Will do this again anytime we are on a ship that it is available. We also went to the International Cafe where we ate breakfast, lunch and several snacks. The pizza, ice cream and Trident Grill were all up to our expectations and we were pleased with the food. During peak times, it could be difficult to get a table at the Horizon Court. Also, people tend to butt in line like the food is going to run out. I have never understood this as I've never seen them run out of any food!!! Ports - because of Hurricane Sandy, ports had to be changed on our cruise. We were disappointed but we feel that the changes were made to keep us and all the other passengers safe. We truly enjoyed Saint John which was one of the replacement ports and would enjoy going there again as there were things we would have liked to have done but ran out of time and several things were "closed for the season" as we were unexpected in some ports and arrived a day later in some than we were supposed to. Disbarking - we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and had our biggest disappointment with the cruise which had nothing to do with Princess but our rental car compnay. We truly enjoy the cruises longer than 7 days as we really do get to relax! We were disappointed with missing ports but again understood that the captain was making decisions on what he thought was best for the ship. We will take an additional cruise back to the area to get to the ports that we missed. Yes we could nitpick things that happened on the cruise however I get to spend 12 days on a boat with all the food I want to eat, entertainment and someone to take care of me so we always make the most and best out of each of our vacations. We have already booked our next cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was supposed to be a leisurely trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway and then down the east coast with several stops on the East Coast. Instead we were never quite sure of where we were going next. Many passengers were disappointed ... Read More
This was supposed to be a leisurely trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway and then down the east coast with several stops on the East Coast. Instead we were never quite sure of where we were going next. Many passengers were disappointed that we did not get to stop at the scheduled stops, however, almost all took it in good spirits realizing that our safety in the face of super storm Sandy was paramount. The ships officers monitored conditions constantly and tried to get us to as many ports as possible. The shore excursion staff were faced with the task of arranging shore excursions in our new ports on very short notice (after the end of the cruise season for these ports). Almost the entire town of Saguenay, QE came out to see the ship since it was a Sunday. Corner Brook, NL was the other unscheduled (makeup) port. Both turned out to be nice stops. The passengers seemed to take all the changes in stride and not let Sandy get the best of them. We had a rear-facing balcony for the first time and we loved it. The food was quite good and service was delightful. It appeared that most passengers were seasoned cruisers and were willing to "go with the flow" Embarkation and disembarkation were quick and painless. We were on the ship and in our cabin in less than 30 minutes and disembarkation took about 45 minutes. We love Princess and are scheduled for a Panama Canal cruise in December 2012. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
The cruise began with a quick non-stop flight from the Raleigh/Durham airport. We purchased Princess transfer (as we always do in New York) and had to wait about 45 minutes for another plane to arrive with more passengers with transfers. ... Read More
The cruise began with a quick non-stop flight from the Raleigh/Durham airport. We purchased Princess transfer (as we always do in New York) and had to wait about 45 minutes for another plane to arrive with more passengers with transfers. The ride from the airport (JFK) to the port in Red Hood/Brooklyn was unbelievable. Our shuttle driver would have fit right in with the crazy drivers in Rome. My husband and I shared the shuttle with about 10 British passengers. We were all GREATLY relieved when we arrived at the terminal after about an hour. Embarkation was painless. We were onboard within 30 minutes. We arrived late so it was almost time for mustering once we got onboard. We got that out of the way and went to dinner and about 7 pm the ship left, headed for Newport RI the first stop. We arrived in Newport the next morning to pretty good weather -- sunny and about 60 degrees. That was the last of the sun we saw for quite some time. This was our fourth Canada/New England cruise and we've never had such yucky weather. I think we only saw the sun about five times during the 20 days. The ports were very nice. It's a beautiful cruise but it's much better with a little sunshine! Some of our favorite highlights from this cruise were: the land and sea tour in Newport, walking through the town of Bar Harbor (our favorite stop), the cute farmer's market in Saint John, New Brunswick, and the three day stay in Quebec City. We did a fantastic walking food tour in Quebec through a local company Le Vieux Quebec. The Emerald Princess is a nice ship although it's a little to big for our tastes. It's due for dry dock in December but it was in pretty good condition and didn't really show a lot of wear and tear. We had a wonderful cabin steward and waiter -- Princess always does a great job here. The food was very good at all locations. The ice cream and pizza on the Lido were some of the best. The music onboard was very good. The "party" band for the first 10 days, "Cactus Jack" was good. The one for the second 10 days, "Serious Sounds" was pretty bad. The group in the Wheelhouse (where we usually do our social ballroom dancing), "Rosie Quartet" was warm and cold. Sometimes you could dance to them, sometimes not. They had a very good guitar player and pianist but the drummer couldn't keep the beat most of the time and the lead singer was not very good. Two treats, as far as music, were "Allan and LaDonna" and Chris Jankowski. Allan and LaDonna rotated in the Explorer's Lounge and Club Fusion. They were a lot of fun and very talented. The piano player, Jankowski played in several locations (early in the Wheelhouse, the Piazza, and sometimes in the Adagio Lounge) and he was GREAT! Very talented and wonderful social ballroom dance music. Another surprise was when we found Gordon Hough as music director and orchestra conductor. We've met Gordon on about five different cruises and he's one of the best music directors Princess had. If he's on the ship, you'll have good music. Gordon and the orchestra did two great Dixieland Jazz nights in the Piazza as well as several jazz nights in the Adagio Lounge. Negatives: the Princess Patter was inaccurate every night, the terrible thin paper towels in the public restrooms that stuck to your hands, and the service at the passenger service desk. We are elite on Princess and still have trouble getting an answer or service at the passenger service desk. From our cruising experience, this is the weak link on Princess Cruises. They get wonderful staff everywhere else on the ship -- why not at the passenger service desk where it is really important? Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We began our cruise in Copenhagen. Because of our early flight arrival, we had to sit in the cruise terminal for about four hours. This was a situation that could not be avoided, so I cannot complain. People were very chatty, which kept ... Read More
We began our cruise in Copenhagen. Because of our early flight arrival, we had to sit in the cruise terminal for about four hours. This was a situation that could not be avoided, so I cannot complain. People were very chatty, which kept me from napping in the terminal, but then again, I had some interesting, if bleary-eyed, conversations. We also had tea, coffee, and ice water provided by Princess. Some people took the hop on hop off bus, or walked to the Little mermaid statue, but we've seen Copenhagen, and were too tired to do this. We were one of the first to board and had our first of many excellent meals in the main dining room. The food choices were numerous enough, and the quality ranged from very good to excellent. We chose any time dining, and after a while, requested a table for two, rather than sharing a larger table. This was due to the only unpleasant aspect of the cruise. As Americans, my husband and I resented the negative comments from the many Canadians and Australians aboard who considered themselves knowledgeable about what they regarded as the evils of our American system and values, values based on the hard-fought efforts of our founding fathers. When we apologized to the dining room manager about our persistent resistance to sharing a table and explained the reason, he was in sympathy and agreement (and he was NOT American). A friend of ours who has taken many cruises and has grown tired of them, cynically remarked before our departure, "a cruise is camp for grownups." At times I agreed, especially when I saw some of the childish pastimes that were engaged in (I mean, it was really a laugh to see the seriousness and vigor which passengers displayed in learning line dances. Line dances??? How far the human intellect has fallen! But, happily, I resolved my inner conflict by realizing that Princess offered many options for many tastes, and there was a lovely library and interesting lectures. The ports were interesting. In Oslo, we walked around on our own and saw the changing of the guard at the palace and "people watched" in the park. It was Sept. 11, and we witnessed some racial profiling on the part of the police, asking for ID from a young man whom we believed was one of the ship's crew. That evening, the captain, who was also the commodore of the entire Princess fleet, asked over the PA system for a moment of silence to remember the tragedy that hit America, but effected the entire world. In Greenock, Scotland, we took a bus provided by Princess to Edinburgh where we met some friends to see the sites on the Royal Mile. The guide on the bus was very well informed and enthusiastic about the points she discussed. We have been to Dublin before, so we walked into the center of the city and visited St. Stephen's Green, referred to extensively in the works of James Joyce, Grafton Street, and the Archaeological Museum (free entry). In Belfast, we took the free bus from the port to the city center, and attended church services, saw City Hall and the Titanic Memorial there, and went to the food fair, where we had many samples of local produce, cheese, beer, and bread. In Iceland, we took a private tour we learned about through the Cruise Critic Roll Call. It was more than excellent!!! It was half the cost of the ship's tour, and we traveled in a 12-passenger van. The guide was the owner of the business, and he provided a wealth of information about the sites we saw, the history of Iceland, the economy, and the country's main sources of income. Due to bad sailing conditions, we skipped Greenland and a port in Norway. We were happy to have two substitutions, instead of being deprived of two more places to explore. We stopped at St. Johns, Newfoundland, and learned about life there by talking to locals and reading the signs in front of historic sites. Our last port was Saint John, New Brunswick, which we have visited before. We took a long walk and saw the City market, the Loyalist Cemetery, and the local churches. The entertainment on the ship was enjoyable and varied each night. The cruise ended in Brooklyn, at the cruise ship pier there. People complained because we were not sailing past the Statue of Liberty to Manhattan, but there was a wonderful view of it and the lower Manhattan skyline. Overall, Princess provided an excellent cruise. We had no complaints, but it was obvious that if we were to have had a problem, the staff of the ship would have been happy to assist us. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We chose this cruise because of the port itinerary. Our focus is the ports of call, verses the ship itself. But both are highly recommended here. We made our own travel arrangements, including booking the cruise online. For the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the port itinerary. Our focus is the ports of call, verses the ship itself. But both are highly recommended here. We made our own travel arrangements, including booking the cruise online. For the first night we stayed at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers, but I would recommend at least two nights in Copenhagen pre-cruise. This modern high-rise hotel is highly recommended and a common pre-cruise hotel. The advantage during summer is A/C and a quiet room. The nearby mall closes at 8pm. The front desk sells Metro tickets. Just about everyone we ran into in Scandinavia spoke English, most without an accent. We were extremely lucky with the weather for our cruise from August 8th to August 19th. No rain on excursion days and most days were sunny. Several days were warm enough to swim in the ship's pools. We were prepared for rain, but not for the wind during rain downpours: typical umbrellas reverse in the wind. We were extremely lucky the Emerald Princess has a very knowledgeable and independent port lecturer: John Lawrence. He was very funny in person during his talks. Had I to do it over, I would have purchased and watched his DVD titled "Baltic Treasures" in advance. Also the book "Northern Europe by Cruise Ship" by Anne Vipond was useful along with the http://istopoli.com/cruise site. Princes Cruises has a downloadable PDF that describes the excursions which was very helpful and be sure to make your shore excursion reservations online before the cruise. You only have about 9 hours at each stop, so you have to spend your time wisely. The exceptions are Stockholm at 7 hours, so we will have to return on own someday, and at St. Petersburg which has a lot to see. The disadvantage of HOHO buses is sometimes you have to wait 30 minutes for the bus to pick you up. The advantage is price. Using cabs at key points will save you some sightseeing time. Small amounts of local currency via local ATM's for WC's and trinkets are a good idea. Some places require photo permits. City Halls are good attractions in Scandinavia. Oslo, Norway: Much is walkable; ship docks at city. National Gallery allows pictures except for one room. Need bus to get to worthwhile Vigeland Sculpture Park and need krone for the WC next to it; no ATM at park. (Norwegian Krone) Aarhus, Denmark: Most boring. We took ship's tour to see the countryside. Not sure what the best choice is here. Have some local currency via local ATM. (Danish Krone) Warnemunde, Germany: Instead of 6 hours traveling to/from Berlin, we took the ship's tour to Schwerin Castle, Lake Schwerin Cruise, lunch, & St Mary's Church. Well worthwhile. Castle allows pictures. We were lucky to visit Warnemunde during the sailing festival, highly recommended to watch during the sail out with horns blaring. (Euros) Tallin, Estonia: Walkable, no bus/tour needed. For WC need Euros and only good one is at entrance to Old Town. Take taxi to TV tower early in morning, if interested, otherwise long waits. Town Hall tower is very difficult to walk up. (Euros) Saint Petersburg, Russia: Took the most popular two day bus tour from Princess. My guess is a private tour would be better. With respect to the Peterhof Palace: long travel time, extremely crowded, long waits for WC, no pictures. Recommend seeing outside only. Outside WC there requires rubles (no line). Actually the Peterhof Palace was mostly destroyed in WW II, so what you are looking at inside is a new reconstruction. Other places have far better interiors. Hermitage museum allows pictures, and has great interiors, so maximize your time there. Be on deck as the ship leaves through a new narrow levy. (Rubles) Helsinki, Finland: HOHO bus a good choice here. (Euros) Stockholm, Sweden: Took John Lawrence's advice and did HOHO by boat and saw Vasa Museum first thing. Royal Palace Apartments were very worthwhile, but no pictures. Take cab to city hall for tour. Be on deck during the three hour entry or exit to Stockholm. We did not do Skyview, which requires reservations, so best to do on tour. (Krona) This was our first time with Princess. I was skeptical of the tipping system but it worked out fine. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Lounge music was varied and very good. Formal dining room service was excellent. What to drink at dinner was a problem, since only iced tea was free, in the formal dining rooms. This was the first cruise I signed up for free beverages and I am glad I did with all the free juices and sodas I could drink. Free afternoon tea was served in a formal dining room. The passengers were mostly older on this cruise. There were few children. Nevertheless, doing this port intensive cruise when you are younger is even better: lots of opportunities to do a lot of walking. There were plenty of taxi's on the way out. A flight leaving Copenhagen at noon seems about right except on Sundays, when 11am would have been good enough. You have to be out of your cabin at 8am. Having two point & shoot dedicated cameras are better than one, in case one fails (battery or lens lock), at a location you will never have a chance to return to. And since they have different specs, you pick the right one for the picture. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the ... Read More
We booked our flight separately, flying Delta-KLM. Be sure to pay a little extra and get the Economy Plus; more leg room, more tilt, and two across. The food and refreshments were frequent and included. You get early boarding with the First Class. We were met at the airport by a team of efficient Princess representatives, who directed us to where to take our luggage (free handy carts) and to our bus. We were whisked to the ship's terminal and noticed a long line of people waiting to get aboard. We were pleasantly surprised to find our wait was only about 15-20 minutes and we received a handy pocket map of the ship, our room card and pictures taken for i.d. Once aboard we made our way to our stateroom, with the help of conveniently placed personnel to aid us on our way. It was disappointing to find our balcony stateroom very cramped. It wasn't as nice or roomy as on a smaller Princess Two people couldn't be about at the same time. One had to sit on the side of the bed with feet out of the way while the other maneuvered around the bed. Also don't drop the soap in the shower or you'll get a bump on your head. There was no room for a foursome card game or pre-dinner refreshments. Our daughter and her husband had to knock on our cabin door and wait in the passageway. We couldn't all fit in the room together. The first day or two it was bewildering trying to find our way around. The little pocket map really helped, and on each floor near the elevators you would find a plaque of the ship and the layout for the floor you were on. The food was prepared for any variety of ethnic people, special diets, etc. My complaint is that the vegetables were almost raw. I like al dente, but their cooked veggies were 1 degree from raw. The baked sweet potato slices were hard and undercooked. Since I like vegetables and heaped them on my plate, I must say there was quite a waste. We were assigned a table at dinner, but ate there only 3 times due to the noise level. The workers stations are nearby and noisy, even though they tried to be quiet and the surrounding tables were quite noisy. Perhaps more insulation is required.'s We dined in the Grill and Sabatini's which were well worth the cover charge, and also the anytime dining room and the buffet. For a delightful treat, get a specialty coffee at the International Cafe and next to that is a delicious pastry, salad, quiche, and small sandwich counter to enjoy with your coffee. Nice place to meet a friend.The selection for the ports of call were excellent. Didn't enjoy Aarhus that much. St. Petersburg was the highlight but very, very crowded. The archipelagos on the way to Stockholm were beautiful...stay up to see the beauty of the area as you glide by; also the fjords in Norway. Warnemunde/Rostock, Germany was one of my favorites. Overall, the tours were well planned and educational. I had trouble understanding one or two guides. We noticed in the Princess Theatre that the shows were shortened to about 30 min. The crew singers, however, were excellent. Some amenities were missing such as the towel figures in your stateroom. I suppose corners have to be cut somewhere, but it doesn't feel as special to not have the extra niceties to remember that you were special and being pampered. We will not travel on such a large ship again as we felt we were lost in the shuffle of humanity. I didn't see or talk to the same people twice. I felt I was in a tenement building and the thought struck me, "what if there was a fire".On embarkation, it was very organized and easy to leave the ship. The buses were waiting and promptly took off for the airport making it easy for us. The hard part was when we were on our own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We left from Copenhagen on the Emerald Princess on Aug 30th. I will divide this review into major sections but all in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience with great staff on a beautiful ship. Very intense itinerary but a short ... Read More
We left from Copenhagen on the Emerald Princess on Aug 30th. I will divide this review into major sections but all in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience with great staff on a beautiful ship. Very intense itinerary but a short nap every afternoon enabled us to enjoy the ship in the evening. PORTS OF CALL; We had been in Stockholm and Helsinki in the past so I will focus on the new ones for us. Oslo, wonderful port, went to the Viking museum and visited couple of churches, found the people friendly and very helpful. took excursion with Princess, very organized and efficient. AArhus great medievil city with original wall around it, found people very friendly and architecture interesting. St. Petersburg highlight of our trip, took the 2 day excursion, very interesting, guide was great. History so interesting and the architecture so intricate and amazing. Went to 2 different restaurants for lunch both good but not great. Copenhagen interesting city with a great Canal Boat tour, people very friendly. Saw Tivoli Gardens at night so beautiful all lit up. Stayed overnight in the Kong Arthur, beautiful hotel but no air conditioning so would not stay in the summer. We were very Blessed to have sunny weather during our entire cruise, people told us this is very unusual for this time of year. SHIP: Beautiful, many different food and bev venues, well kept, always clean, staff courteous. Very disappointed in the Main Dining Room food choices. The food was good just not many options. I asked every night we went (4) about Escargot, I finally was told one night they were available but not on menu so I ordered them. They had Lobster one ight that was the size of a prawn. It actually was served with prawns as they were so small. My favorite meals were actually in the Caribe Cafe where theme dinners were served most nights. My favorite was the Bavarian night with an unbelievably tasty roast pork, sauerkraut and potatoe pancakes. I know it sounds like a little thing but I love the fact that the staff brings you beverages while at the Buffet. We took a Celebrity cruise last year and this was not offered and it really made a difference. The Lotus Spa is wonderful, had a different massage each sea day which I needed desperately after all the walking on cobblestones. Never took advantage of the specialty restaurants though we usually do, so I can not comment. Cabin we were in a Balcony room on the Caribe deck, the balcony was huge with 2 reclining chairs, 2 upright chairs and a small table. It was like having another room, We had a balcony for the 1st time about 10 years ago and can't go back now. It is well worth the money, the entry and exit into and out of Stockholm is breathtaking. The Cabin itself was pretty roomy with large space for clothes, etc. Cabin steward was excellent, took really good care of us. MISC: John Lawrence, past cruise director was on our cruise and did all of the port tours, I was lucky enough to send away for his DVD on the ports beforehand and it really made a difference. You can google his name if interested. HAPPY CRUISING!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We left on Aug. 20th for a land package and Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises sailing on the Emerald Princess which we had sailed before 3 times.Let me start by saying the pre-cruise was fabulas-Princess contrats with Globas and our ... Read More
We left on Aug. 20th for a land package and Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises sailing on the Emerald Princess which we had sailed before 3 times.Let me start by saying the pre-cruise was fabulas-Princess contrats with Globas and our 8night package began in Budapest. We then went by bus transport to Vienna,Prague and Berlin then joining up with the cruiseship in Copenhagen.Our land tour was very comfortable, the hotels lovely and our tour guide Martina was outstanding. She was a wealth of knowledge who knew her history as well as any historian I have ever heard-She even knew little known stories about kings and queens that would make you understand how oppulant and crazy these people were back in their day!! She was a joy to be with and you could tell loved her job!! It was a fantastic 8 nights!!! Once we got on the cruiseship we were a little disappointed. The entertainment was awful and they had 5 production shows where the singers and dancers weren't even dancing together with each other or the music. They only had one decent show the whole 11 nights and that was a ventriloquist who was hysterical,but otherwise all the entertainment was not good. Princess has really cut back on that and that is very disappointing. The food was just mediocure and the head waiter not very accomadating,saying if you wanted this or that he would ask the chef and then came back saying no to me (I am a funny eater and don't like most items on the menu)I have never had this on any other Princess Cruise we've been on. The ship was well kept up and our room was excellent, service by our cabin steward very good. The ports of call were great and our two day call in Russia fantastic. We did NOT use the ship tour and instead used SpB tours which we found on cruisecritic and they were FANTASTIC!!! Half the price of the ship 2 day tour and we saw more and were in all the places the Princess tour takes you.They have a folkloric show right on the ship which is very good on the first night you are in St.Petersberg so going with SpB tours was GREAT!! You also don't have to worry about a visa because they take care of that all for you-so don't believe the cruiseline when they tell you-you can only go with a ship tour-NOT TRUE- In the rest of the ports we did Hop on Hop off buses which are right outside the ship right on the dock and very convenient and you save a lot of money by not using the ship tours. In all I would sum it up as a good time and for the money a very good choice if a Baltic Cruise is what you want. If you have the time I would highly reccomend the Pre-Cruise package! Budapest,Vienna,Prague and Berlin were the highlight of the whole trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
PRE CRUISE, SHIP, DINING, ENTERTAINMENT: We arrived day before around Noon & stayed one night at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which was very convenient & staff there very helpful. Next morning we booked a city/harbor tour ... Read More
PRE CRUISE, SHIP, DINING, ENTERTAINMENT: We arrived day before around Noon & stayed one night at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers which was very convenient & staff there very helpful. Next morning we booked a city/harbor tour with a local tour company which allowed us to return to hotel by 1:00 PM; we took a taxi to cruise port (about $50) & arrived around 2:00 PM. Since we just attained Platinum status, embarking & disembarking was a breeze but have never had problems prior either. Used Princess transfer for disembarking day & was airport before 9 AM. The ship as well as our room was very clean and well maintained. Our room was in the rear on the Riviera deck (14th floor) just below the Caribe Cafe which was very convenient; also we did not hear any noise from above although we did experience some vibration from the motors but not enough to bother us. Also, had no problem with the mattress being uncomfortable. Room was very comfortable and loved the balcony which we used a lot due to nice weather. Used self serve laundry couple times & that worked well. Loved the non smoking throughout the ship except for just a few areas. We selected this cruise for the itinerary & were not disappointed plus we had spectacular weather the entire cruise. It is a very port intensive cruise so usually by evening we were tired & not concerned too much about the entertainment onboard or fabulous dining. We went one night to see the Princess singers & dancers & they were pretty good but one night was enough. We also went the one night a comedian performed & he was good and the night we were in St. Petersburg, we went to see the local folk music group performance which we enjoyed. Occasionally watched the entertainers in the Piazza area. Did not participate in daytime activities due to all the port sightseeing. We always ate breakfast & lunch in the Horizon Court or burgers or pizza for lunch. We only ate in the dining room twice, the formal nights and found the service good. On this cruise, did not see a lot of tuxes or formal type dresses on the formal nights. Remaining evenings we ate at the Caribe Cafe which worked well for us. I found the food overall to be good & a nice variety which lots of options so that we never went hungry. I do feel the evening dinner entree options are not as good as they used to be; those options are now at the Crowne Grille. Coffee seemed better than on past cruises. The only objection we had was the photographers but you can refuse & no pressure from them. Biggest problem was in the evening where multiple areas for photographs were setup & people waiting in line really caused a lot of congestion. PORTS: Lots of walking; old towns usually cobblestone streets & hills. Copenhagen city/harbor tour was good when you have limited time. City very clean, people are friendly & most speak English. Very good public transportation. Oslo we did on our own as we were docked in town & very walkable & very pretty. In the morning we walked across the street to old town & then continued into town to a square by the main pedestrian walk area; we went inside a cathedral for free in the square. Continued on to the central station square & over to the new opera house & walked along waterfront back to ship. After lunch walked along waterfront to City Hall area & went inside. Leaving port, very scenic. Aarhus we did on our own; from ship we walked to Gamle By Museum (an outdoor museum of a reconstructed old town) - about 20 minute walk each way & entry fee was $20. Then lots of walking at museum; stopped at cafe there for coffee & biscotti, about $10; used our credit card for everything. In town lots of outdoor cafes and pleasant. River runs through town; follow the river to the museum. Berlin we booked through Princess the train tour/bus city tour with lunch & Allied museum. Train ride each way 3 hours but train was very comfortable & with open windows was pleasant. We were very satisfied with this tour & got to see the highlights plus the meal was very good at the hotel. I would have liked another day at this port to see the port area & Rostock. Tallin we did on our own but took the bus shuttle for $10 round trip; shuttle tickets were at a booth as we got off the ship. Bus dropped us off in lower town near an outdoor market & just a few block away was the entrance to old town & the flower market was there. We walked up to the upper old town & saw all the sights before returning to the lower old town & stopping for a drink at a pub & people watch. A beautiful, charming old town. St. Petersburg first day we booked with Princess the Catherine Palace, lunch & city tour seeing St. Issac cathedral, Peter & Paul Fortress, Savior on Spilledd blood. A long day, lots of walking beginning with the lines getting off the ship & going through immigration. The palace is amazing & beautiful & can take lots of pictures except in Amber room. Lunch was very good with some musical russian entertainers. Got to see lots of St. Petersburg on the afternoon city tour with several stops. We were pleased with this tour & the guide was very interesting. We were glad we had not booked an evening tour, particularly since there was the folk russian musical group on board that were good. St. Petersburg second day we booked the canal cruise tour with Princess so had the morning to rest up. Also, no lines when getting off ship. The canal cruise was nice but we saw much of the same areas we had seen the day before so would not do that again. For us, seeing one palace and an overview of the city was enough. Helsinki we did on our own & used shuttle near ship for $12 round trip to get to town as it was quite a long walk. In town bus dropped us off by the Swedish Theatre & we walked to the Rock church & went inside. On way back we stopped at the railway station & went inside, bought a newspaper from US & then stopped at Stockmans Dept store (no charge for restrooms). From there we walked down the Esplanade to the waterfront market area which is beautiful. Beautiful city with park area along the Esplanade & lots of outdoor cafes; nice city to wander around. Stockholm we did on our own & walked from ship to old town, Gamla Stan; follow blue line & then continue on sidwalk along waterfront (to your right) until you ssee sign pointing to right for Gamla Stan, cross bridge (first one) & Gamla Stan to your left up a few blocks you will see sign for Palace. Great place to wander around all the nice little shops & cafes. About 30-40 minute walk each way. Leaving the port, the Archipegalio is beautiful scenery. Would recommend this cruise ship & particularly this itinerary if you are interested in beautiful, old European countries with lots of history. People were all very friendly & helpful and we primarily used our Visa credit card for everything in the ports. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We had a great time on this 11-day Princess Cruise of the Baltic aboard Emerald Princess. We are experienced cruisers who had done a similar itinerary once before about 11 years ago. We loved Scandinavia on that trip and wanted to go ... Read More
We had a great time on this 11-day Princess Cruise of the Baltic aboard Emerald Princess. We are experienced cruisers who had done a similar itinerary once before about 11 years ago. We loved Scandinavia on that trip and wanted to go again. We chose this cruise because it also went to Oslo, Norway which we hadn't seen on our first trip. After watching the weather reports for several weeks prior to our tour, we were prepared for lots and lots of rain. In fact, the cruise before ours experienced rain every day of their trip. We were delighted when we were greeted by sunny skies for most of our trip. We only had rain parts of two days and felt very lucky. Embarkation was a snap here. We had taken a taxi from our hotel to the pier and were greeted by Princess personnel, who unloaded our luggage and pointed us to the check-in area. We are Platinum members of Princess' Captain's Circle but we didn't even need our preferred check-in benefits. We just walked right up to the counter, showed our passports and were welcomed aboard the ship. One of the best embarkation experiences ever. Our cabin was the usual (great) balcony cabin. We were on the Caribbe Deck (10) which gives you a much larger balcony than those on other decks. We had taken another cruise on Ruby Princess (Emerald's twin sister) a few years ago and had horrible water pressure and fluctuations in the hot/cold. We were worried this might be the same because the ships were built at the same time. We needn't have worried. Our water pressure and temperature were the best we've ever had on ANY cruise ship. Bravo! Our cabin was right across the hall from the self-serve laundromat. It was nice and convenient on the one day we did laundry. And we didn't notice any noise from its proximity the rest of the time.The food on the trip was fine, but in general the food on all cruise ships seems to be going downhill. You now have to pay extra in a specialty restaurant for the quality you received every night in the main dining room every night. There were a couple of nights when there was nothing on the menu that sounded appetizing and we ended up getting the "always" available steak or chicken instead. They did have the one night when lobster was served in the dining room and that was very good. Their cream of mushroom soup is also excellent. And we always found the service in both the dining room and buffet to be top notch. We dined at the specialty steak house one night and enjoyed a fabulous dinner. The steaks here rival Morton's and other great steakhouses on shore, so it is worth the $25 pp cover charge. The Horizon Court (buffet) was its usual chaotic experience with people criss-crossing back and forth through the lines and people trying to go both directions in a cafeteria situation. The fact that Emerald Princess has an additional buffet area (Caribbe Court) at the aft of the ship does seem to take a bit of the pressure off the Horizon Courts (port and starboard) but it was still challenging trying to find a table most mornings. I really wish Princess would take a cue from their parent company Carnival in this regard...it's probably the only area in which Carnival is better than Princess. Carnival has a huge buffet area with food stations spread out throughout the area. So you don't find a bottleneck of passengers all in one area at the same time. And they have plenty of tables so it never seems to be an issue trying to find a seat. Please, Princess, take heed and address this when designing your new ships or remodeling your existing ones!We rated the entertainment lower than normal on this cruise because there were no comedians included. We have been on so many cruises that we generally don't go to the main song/dance shows anymore. But we do love the comedy shows that we have enjoyed on most cruises. This time there wasn't ONE comedian in 11 days. Princess needs to correct this on future sailings. The one MAJOR problem we had was with an unexpected "course correction" when we were leaving St. Petersburg. We were still in the main harbor in completely smooth water when suddenly at 7:15 p.m. the ship listed violently to port and then just as violently back to starboard. We were in our stateroom watching a movie and we almost fell off the bed. A large bottle of water on top of the refrigerator went flying across our cabin. We were on the 10th floor and when we rolled back to starboard, we could see water and a red buoy directly outside our cabin. It's disconcerting when you are on the 10th floor and suddenly you are at water level. We talked to other passengers who were in the main dining room and had bottles of wine go crashing to the floor and many plates were broken. In the Horizon Court they had a flood when all the pools and hot tubs emptied. The Horizon Court was closed until the next morning, with only the Caribe Court in operation. There were crew member everywhere trying to squeegee water off the decks and use wet/dry vacs to vacuum up the water. One crew member told us that the galley was a total mess. The thing that amazed us was that there was total silence on the part of the captain until a full hour had elapsed. He then came on the intercom and basically blamed the incident on the Russian pilot who had been aboard to get us out of the harbor. Passengers were livid and everyone was speculating that they were too busy contacting their legal department to let us know what was going on. Again, we had NO CLUE what had caused the problem. I thought, what was that? A rouge wave? But you look outside and the water is completely flat! We did speak with one elderly woman the next day who had just gotten out of an elevator when this happened and she was thrown across the elevator lobby and crashed into the opposite wall. She was bruised but was able to continue with the cruise. We wonder if anyone else was hurt. In this day and age after the Costa Concordia incident you would think that cruise lines would be more proactive in communicating with passengers in the event of something like this. We are veteran cruisers and don't plan to stop cruising because of this, but there are other people who will probably never set foot on a cruise ship again because of it. You need to do a better job communicating with people. And for God's sake, don't let that Russian pilot anywhere near any of your ships ever again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside ... Read More
Princess's transfer service was outstanding. We were met at Copenhagen airport's luggage claim and escorted a waiting bus. We were brought to our hotel and our bags were brought to our room. Two days later we left them outside our hotel door and the bags were delivered to our stateroom. The last night of the cruise the bags were picked up then staged in a building next to the airport bus drop off location, and there were many Princess people directing passengers to their bags then into the airport terminal. Check-in at the ship was very fast with no waiting in line. For us, we stayed at the wrong pre-cruise hotel, the Kong Arthur. Although the room and bathroom were large and very nice, the hotel is "green," carbon neutral with no air conditioning. The outside temperature got up to 73 degrees but our room was 89 and only went down to 79 at night with all the windows open, which also allowed a lot of noise inside. The hallway also felt like a sauna and we didn't get the proper rest following our long flight. The buffet breakfast was really good but not included with the room price. Not a problem for us, but the metro transportation station is a 5-7 minute walk away and the most touristy areas, like Tivoli, Nyhavn, Stroget shopping street, are 15-20 minutes away. Our stateroom was very nice with a comfortable bed, desk and chair, tv cabinet with refrigerator, small table, 2 small end tables, a large open closet, a shelf unit with safe, and lots of mirrors that made the room appear larger. The balcony was spacious for more than the 2 of us and our cabin attendant kept the room spotless and the ice bucket full. In the bathroom there was a 2-prong U.S.-style electrical outlet (the prongs had to be the same size), a 3 prong outlet above the desk and another one behind the flatscreen tv. The European-style 2-prong plug we used at the hotel did not fit into the stateroom's outlets. The Eucalyptus scented bath products were a minor problem for this allergy sufferer. Room service for coffee a couple of mornings and for bottled water and sodas on other occasions was prompt. Other than during the first day's emergency muster drill, the ship seemed half empty. It was never overcrowded in the main dining rooms, the Horizon Court buffet, the main showroom, lounges, casino, etc. About 3 non-smoking nights at the Casino was appreciated. Food was good and the service was excellent in the dining room. Water glasses were not allowed to be empty and used dishes immediately were picked up. Even the service in the buffet was good. As soon as you were seated people were taking beverage requests. We purchased and easily used up one coffee card for a slight savings. One problem did occur at the Internet Cafe the day before disembarkation. The printer wasn't working during the day and caused a lot of problems for people trying to print airline boarding passes. The problem was fixed in the evening and they had a special 15 minute package that we used in addition to the 15 free minutes coupon found in our stateroom. The highlight of on board activity was John Lawrence's port lectures. The day before each port, he outlined in some detail useful information and history of the city we were about to visit. The in-person shows were better than watching the tapes on tv in the cabin, as he injected a lot of humor into the live lectures. As a bonus, he also gave a lecture about the last Russian czar's family, Nicolas & Alexandra, Anastasia and the other children. He was also available almost every evening to answer questions. The shows were good, although the best was our night in St. Petersburg. Guessing we would be too tired for an evening excursion, and we were, we were pleasantly surprised to find a local Russian folk dance/song group performing in the on board theater. Although the people who went into town for evening performance were pleased, I don't think we missed much by staying on the ship. After investigating private shore excursion companies, we decided to use Princess. They may have cost more but each was excellent and well-prepared. After meeting on board, we would march off the ship and onto our tour bus. A tip is to go to the gathering place early. As soon as a busload of people were there, they were led off the ship early. Many times I saw private company's on the dock waiting for their guests or at venues waiting to get in. We always walked straight inside buildings and a couple of times, most notably at the Peterhof summer palace outside St. Petersburg, we were the first group inside. See our port reviews for more information. Sometimes there was a line to get back on the ship and the worst lines were in St. Petersburg the first day to to through Russian Customs upon entering, then returning, but not too bad to make us late. Overall, we were very pleased with the Emerald, the Baltic itinerary (although skipping Aarhus and spending more time in Stockholm would have been great), and highly recommend this cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our 2nd Princess cruise. Last year did the Grand Mediterranean on the Ruby and loved it, so I had high expectations. I was a little nervous as I knew the Emerald is due for dry dock in a few months. The Emerald Princess exceeded ... Read More
This was our 2nd Princess cruise. Last year did the Grand Mediterranean on the Ruby and loved it, so I had high expectations. I was a little nervous as I knew the Emerald is due for dry dock in a few months. The Emerald Princess exceeded my expectations. We arrived at the ship about 2:00pm and were in our cabins by 2:15pm. We had 2 balcony rooms with adjoining balconies. I was pleased with the size of the rooms and pleasantly surprised to see that the closet and storage areas were just as large as in a mini-suite. Mustering: Relatively painless, done on the 1st evening in various lounges or restaurants and it lasted about 30 minutes. Food: We dined the 1st night in Sabitini's as it was a gift from our travel agent. The food and service were excellent. There is a lovely view out the back of the ship. All of our other dinners were anytime dining in the Michelangelo Dining Room. We had the same wait staff (Edwin and Yulia) every night but one, and had an outstanding experience. One of our party is a vegetarian and a little picky. Every night the head waiter (Martins) came to our table to go over the choices for the next evening. Several nights they served her veggie burgers from the Trident Grill near the pool! We thought that most of the food was great. The only exception was probably the steak entrees which we thought were good, but not great. We also did the Chef's dinner for the second time which is really special and well worth the money. They really make you feel like a VIP. Most mornings we did not have time for breakfast and grabbed a muffin or yogurt parfait from the International Cafe. Good quick food, and my husband loves the cappuccino and brewed coffee. They had 3 pub lunches on our 11 day cruise and we ate at all 3 of them. My 18 year old son LOVES Princess's fish and chip and bread pudding! I love the pizza but only managed to eat it once. Entertainment: We generally do not do a lot of shows, but even with our busy itinerary managed to see a few. The variety show with ventriloquist Steve Hewlett was funny and entertaining. It was not Vegas show quality, but I wasn't really expecting that type of show. I would say the same for the magician, Luca Volpe. He was not Houdini or David Copperfield, but I would not expect someone world class to be on a cruise ship. We enjoyed the short show. The farewell shoe with Pianist Liam Stewart and juggler Tibor Szobo was excellent. We also enjoyed Liam (this was his 1st cruise!) most night in Crooners and Tibor in the Piazza. Our favorite show in the Princess theater was the International Crew talent and variety show. It was really fun to see the young lady who served us coffee in the International Cafe perform a traditional Indonesian dance and the bartender from Crooners belly dance. Shore Excursions: We did not use Princess's shore excursions, we did all ports on our own except for St. Petersburg where we did a private tour for the 4 of us. The Emerald's port lecturer, John Lawrence was excellent and we had preordered his DVD on the Baltic ports. (johnlawrencecd dot com) I felt that this and cruise critic more than prepared us to do our ports on our own. I love the flow of the Emerald and for having over 3000 passengers it almost never seemed crowded. There were 2 exceptions. 1.) Some port days everyone tried to disembark at the same time and this was not pleasant. Security did do a good job of moving the crowd quickly. and 2.) On sea days and some evenings the shops would set up tables in the halls outside of the shops. Even though almost all of the merchandise could be found in the shops for the same price, it tended to create a shopping frenzy with the passengers. Disembarkation: We were supposed to meet in Michelangelo restaurant at 7:50am and wait to be called. We had a nice breakfast in Da Vinci dining room at 7:15am and by the time we got to Michelangelo at 7:53am a lady told us our group had already been called and to proceed to the ramp on deck 4. We had our luggage and were in a mini-van taxi by 8:05am. We heard a lot of stories about a lack of taxis, but there were plenty there when we disembarked. The taxi from the port back to the Marriott was 162.58 DKK or approx. $26.97. A few final thoughts: I would definitely recommend both the Emerald Princes and this itinerary! Almost everyplace we went took credit cards and we had no trouble with businesses accepting our sign and swipe card. I researched credit cards to make sure that I would not be charged conversion fees. I used a Capital One Master Card. I used local ATMs to get a small amount of currency in each country. I only used cash for tipping, and a few small businesses that did not accept credit cards. I researched ATM cards and used one that does not charge any fees and returns all other bank fees to the user. I used Capital One and Charles Schwab bank ATM cards. Don't forget to ask for a signed tax free form to get you 18-25% VAT tax returned to you. The amount you need to spend varies in each country, but it is usually anything greater than $20-$45. You take your receipt and the signed tax free form to the global tax free desk in the airport when you leave Europe and they will either give you cash or put the money back on your credit card. This took us about 20 minutes at the airport. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Embarkation: We took a cab from hotel by Central Train terminal, it was about 250 dkk and worth not trying to find our way from the hotel. We did go right at 1pm, there was a long line but moved quickly. Bags were taken as soon as we got ... Read More
Embarkation: We took a cab from hotel by Central Train terminal, it was about 250 dkk and worth not trying to find our way from the hotel. We did go right at 1pm, there was a long line but moved quickly. Bags were taken as soon as we got out of the cab, Princess has lots of people at the port directing you, very efficient. Probably took us 20 minutes to get to a check in clerk but again very efficient. Our keys were ready and we were on the ship pronto. It was raining and there isn't cover from check in to ship gangway but they had staff with umbrellas. Security takes your picture when you board the ship and it is in the system for them to check as you board at each port. Our room was ready and our room steward Karn greeted us and reviewed the safety drill time and where we could eat, the refrigerator in room, fruit orders and how everything operates. He did a great of cleaning up the room 2x a day and keeping us supplied with amenities. Food: We ate in the buffet, International Cafe, Da Vinci formal at 5:30pm, Sabatini's and Crown Grill on this trip. I liked the buffet better this trip then my first. Salad offerings at Horizon Court were great and you do have problems at peak times finding a place to eat in the dining area or on deck but there are many servers around to assist you and serve beverages. They also had varied offerings for all meal periods. I really liked the International Cafe salad and sandwich offerings, the greek salad is escellent as is the chicken salad with apples. The staff is ready for busy times and very pleasant. The seated dining at 5:30pm is a bit too early but our wait staff, Stephen and nino were very efficient and remembered out likes. The way the kitchen can feed so many people daily and well is amazing. Stephen has worked for Princess for around 20 years and is a big cheerleader for the company, took time to tell us of new innovations and how Princess is better than other lines. Nice to see positive employees. Afternoon Tea was fun but too close to our seating for dinner, so we just enjoyed scones and cream vs whole experience. Sabatini's was excellent, nice view on high deck. Adagio has got to be the best kept sectret for drinks, small and intimate, a string quartet played on night, was never crowded. We had a balcony so was amazing going into Oslo, Helsinki and especially Stockholm which has 58 miles through the archipelago to port. I couldn't believe going in how quiet it was considering how big the ship was, like on glass. You are so close to the islands...it was breathtaking. I would suggest in Stockholm, get up early to see the entrance into port for a few hours. My only complaint was the spa. Spa is predatory...my college aged daughter wanted acupuncture and I said yes to one visit. The acupunturist signed her up for $1000 of treatments including $190 worth of vitamins( 2 bottles) for weight loss. She wears a size 2 or 4! My daughter told me what happened and we went immediately back to the spa and the manager said she would have Julie call us. Julie did call and asked for my daughter, I said I was the person paying and would like to cancel the treatment, I was Ok with the first treatment only. She then asked me if me daughter knew she wouldn't be "cured" without the treatments and I said yes. So later I discovered only part of the cost was refunded. I didn't realize she had given the vitamins, so went back with the vitamins and they were supposed to be credited. Spa person told me she would call when the acupuncurist credited it...never got the call, went back and was told it was done. It wasn't....Also spa manager Dana is not hospitable. I went on first sea day for a 9am pedi and asked to cancel sanctuary times since it was so cold, she told me I had to go myself and cancel. I asked how to get there, bottom line is couldn't find it so got on house phone to do it. This is a hired company by Princess and they are all about $$$. You don't even get to relax during a pedi, no magazines, just upsell from the staff on other treatments. Enjoyed all the excursions booked through Princess. In Berlin we were delayed and the ship had to wait about 45 minutes for our train to get back. Stress free, lots of people we talked to were not booking excursions through Princess becasue of cost, I felt they were well run and decent value. We did walk off to leave ship at 5:30am due to early flight home, easy to walk off with luggage and catch a cab to airport, $500 dkk but take credit cards too. TAKE YOUR OWN HAIRDRYER! one in room is worthless:) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and ... Read More
I travelled the Baltic on the Emerald Princess with my 82 year old mom. Once aboard, our balcony mini-suite was comfortable and roomy, as described. Meals were fine, although occasionally the evening menu was a bit too eclectic and out there for my taste, and I'm a foodie. Their standard "always available" menu is excellent. The Horizon buffet was very good with many choices. Evening entertainment included ballroom dancers (so-so), a magician (so-so), a juggler (amazing and hilarious), a Beatles tribute band (great fun) and the EP singers and dancers (fantastic). Playing throughout the ship was a truly fine classical string quartet (all lovely young ladies), a soft jazz combo with singer, Evolution cover band, and a few others. Something for everyone. Onto the shore excursions, comments are listed individually. But a few points about Russia: It's all about the bathrooms, and traffic. We did EP excursions both days, but also had a special AAA tour to St. Catherine's. Guides were competent, knowledgeable and utterly humorless. We used EP but if I were to do it again, I'd try something else. It's difficult to appreciate the sights when you're so frustrated by the iron control the Russians still exert over their guests. Check your other options. Also YOU WILL BE LATE to everything, so don't book two excursions too close together in time. You will leave late, and you will arrive back late, up to a couple hours. Save yourself stress and don't plan things too close together. Personal add-on to Bergen, Norway. After the cruise I spent 4 days in Bergen on my own. What a lovely city! But not for the disabled or those who need level ground. It's all on steep hills, and they're so steep there are staircases between the streets. I booked a cozy, utterly simple room with Ingrid's Summer Rooms. She is lovely, the room is clean, quiet, with shared bath and fridge. There's a grocery store 5 minutes away. I ate nothing at a restaurant. It's terribly expensive to do anything in Norway, but I did do the Norway Active tour for my splurge and loved every minute of it. PS, there's also a Noa Noa store near the beginning of the light rail. I got the 48 hour Bergen card and it was well worth it for me. Even with the price of the card I saved over 500 kroner on the things I did. It includes all bus and light rail, a big plus. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on ... Read More
Before embarking on this cruise, I read quite a few negative reviews. I think many of them were over-critical, and possibly the result of being jaded from past luxurious experiences. Like other cruise lines, Princess has cut back on what is included in the base price. You have to pay for drinks (including soda, juice, and coffee), with the exception of the breakfast offerings. There are restaurants on board that require a cover charge, and pool areas that require a spa fee. All irritating, but I chose to ignore all of these options, and enjoy everything else. The ship: The Emerald Princess is a classy ship, in excellent condition. Decor consists of lacquered wood and brass. All of the public areas were comfortable and elegant. The only design flaw I could see was that it was difficult to walk from one part of the ship to another without having to go up and down to avoid blocked passageways. On the positive side, all of the stair climbing helps burn off calories! Stateroom service was not very personal, and was more like Motel 6. The food: I saw no need to spend money on specialty restaurants, since the food was so good in the main dining room. If you are patient, nearly all of the specialty food, such as lobster, are eventually served for free. The wait staff was very friendly, and their individual personalities showed through the stiff formality. Specialty cheeses and desserts were available 24-hours a day in the atrium, and pizza and burgers could be found near the pools. Entertainment: The shows are short, and shown more often, to try to make scheduling easier. The ship's dance crew put on a couple of really good shows, but overall the entertainment was less impressive than other cruises I have been on. (I guess I'm a bit jaded as well) The most valueable shows were the port lectures by John Lawrence. Listening carefully to his advice will save you time and money, as well as helping you to plan your port time. They were always repeated on the stateroom televisions. The ports: The ship visited 8 ports in 11 days, which was exhausting at times. I actually heard a few people complaining that it was too much, but my wife and I looked at it as a real value for the cost of the cruise. Be prepared for strenuous days. The port strike was resolved in Oslo Norway, so we were able to visit the port. The castle right next to the ship was incredible! The self guided tour allowed me to see it at my own pace, with time left over to visit the open air Viking Folk Museum. Aarhus Denmark was a small port, with not much to see. We made use of Denmark's free bicycles, and rode along the coast for a while before heading to the shopping district to explore and have a cold beer. We procrastinated too long, and arrived at the cathedral after closing hours (4 pm). Oh well, we had another beer instead. In Warnemunde Germany, we booked a tour through SPB that went to Rostock and Schwerin Castle. Our guide was relaxed and knowledgeable about the sites. She was actually part of the congregation of one of the old churches that we visited. Schwerin Castle was one of the highlights of the cruise. Lunch was included with the tour, and consisted of German sausage, sauerkraut, and a beer. Unlike the unfortunate people who went all the way to Berlin, we had time left over to walk around Warnemunde before boarding the ship. Tallinn Estonia was a warm and friendly medieval town. The people were vibrant, friendly, and willing to talk. I could see myself living there. We found a three story restaurant housed in a very old building, which was candle lit, and served wild game and a beer resembling mead in HUGE mugs: another highlight of the cruise. St. Petersburg Russia took about a day to grow on us. When we left the ship, we were greeted by some very serious Russian agents. It felt very oppressive. We booked the 2-day, as well as the Evening Fun Tour, with SPB tours. Our day guide was reserved and efficient. We must have seen every cultural sight there was. Well worth the money, and less costly than the Princess sponsored tour. The fun evening tour is what really won our hearts. Our tour guide, Sasha, was confident, outgoing, and funny. Ladies, keep an eye on your husbands around this cute young woman! Helsinki Finland was spread out, and therefore difficult to see in such a short day. We got to see the Temppeliaukio church, met some really friendly people, and enjoyed fresh fish in a farmer's market at the downtown docks. Stockholm Sweden was another highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately, the port had the shortest stay of the trip, so we changed our approach. We were the first people off the ship, and immediately grabbed a taxi into Old Town, where we stayed to explore the rest of the day. We were able to get pictures of the old palace, medieval church, and town streets before anyone else arrived. As the stores began to open, we sampled Swedish pastries, meatballs, herring, and of course...local beer! We made it back to the ship with a whole 5-minutes to spare. After the cruise, we spent 5-days in Copenhagen Denmark (it takes a minimum of three to get a good look at the city). We disembarked just as the International Jazz festival began. It rained a little bit just about every day, which was actually kind of nice. There is a lot to see here, and I think we covered about 80% of it. Kronborg Castle was definitely worth the 50-minute train ride to see. The underground ramparts really gave us a feel for the military life of its inhabitants. Climbing the tower at Our Saviour's Church was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The staircase spirals around the outside of the tower, to dizzying heights. My fear of heights had me crawling the last few steps! In summary, I would definitely recommend this cruise. It is rich in Norse culture, and a bargain for the money. I hope to return to some of the countries visited, because I enjoyed them (and the cool weather) so much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were not sorry. The ports of call were all very interesting. The Emerald Princess: Pros: -great food (best we have had on a cruise ship), standard cabins with good storage; Good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were not sorry. The ports of call were all very interesting. The Emerald Princess: Pros: -great food (best we have had on a cruise ship), standard cabins with good storage; Good service; International Cafe is good for a quick lunch & snacks; disembarking was simple & fast but embarkation was a wait since everyone came at once (2-3 pm) CONS: -ship is not well suited to cooler climates as it has 3 pools - all outdoor and uncovered - that were seldom used as the weather was not that warm; doesn't have a promenade deck that goes all around; does not have a front viewing area (would have been nice when going through archipelagos). Our room was on the plaza deck behind the art gallery & near the piazza- was very convenient during this cruise as due to the cooler weather, all the activities centered around the piazza rather than the pools. Ship was pretty much walking distance from the sites in all cities except for Helsinki but we took the JOPO bikes (ship excursion) so did not need the shuttle bus. JOPO bikes are fun but expensive for a bike tour. Helsinki was the warmest day we had so the only day we used the pool deck. (around 21C degrees). The only other organized tour we took was SPE tours in St Petersburg booked with a group of 16 through cruise critics. Katya at SPE was very good, spoke excellant English and was very conscious to what we wanted to see. Had lunch the first day with borscht and beef stroganoff; second day we stopped at STOLLE (the pie place) for lunch. These were pies to die for!! We saw so much in St Petersburg but unfortunately could not take the hydrofoil to Peterhof as the wind was too strong. Much as I loved seeing everything, I would consider a more relaxed tour if I did it again (no fault of SPE but we are on vacation after all!. Did not really see anything of normal Russian life, only the spectacles of grandeur. We did not go to Berlin but instead went to Rostock and Schwerin by train using the Lander ticket (for 4 of us). In Schwerin we rented bikes at the railway station and had a lot of fun seeing all the sites. It was a Sunday so everything was closed in Rostock unfortunately. If to do again, I would have gone to Schwerin & spent more time in Warnemunde, a really nice & interesting little seaside town). Major likes: ARos museum in Tallinn; Vigeland park in Oslo; Schwerin on bikes; Tallinn walking around; Helsinki (everything); Stockholm the VASA; Copenhagen - free 3 hour Copenhagen tour at City Hall at 11 AM daily & harbour tour by the same folk at 4 pm each day (cost $17 including boat cruise). Note re Copenhagen - a 3rd metro line is being built so it is better not to stay near Tivoli right now as it is all under construction. The Nyhavn area is much prettier and interesting. We stayed at the Clarion Neptune & it was great -well located & breakfast plus a light supper are included in the price. Free Internet. Easy to take the metro from the airport to the hotel - cheaper & more convenient than a taxi. Finally, remember to bring clothes to layer as it can be cold & windy. Sometimes rain. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This review gives a brief overview of when it is best to take the tour offered by the cruise line or go on your own. Copenhagen: We arrived a couple of days early and enjoyed Copenhagen. I recommend the combined Hop-on Hop-off bus and ... Read More
This review gives a brief overview of when it is best to take the tour offered by the cruise line or go on your own. Copenhagen: We arrived a couple of days early and enjoyed Copenhagen. I recommend the combined Hop-on Hop-off bus and canal boat ride. You can see a lot of Copenhagen with this tour. Oslo: The ship docks a short distance from the main square. It's very easy to walk around town. Arhus: Similar to Oslo, the ship is close to the main area of town, including the art museum with the coloured panoramic view. The City Bus (#18) takes you to the Viking Museum. Warnemunde: If you have not been to Berlin, you should do the ship's tour. It's a long day and 3 hours each way on the train. You only get a taste of Berlin, but there is a lot of significance in the trip. Tallin: Take the shuttle bus into town and you can easily do the rest on your own, including the upper town with the beautiful cathedral. St. Petersburg: We did the ships tour and we were very pleased. There are a number of other local tours that are frequented. Unless you have been to Russia before, I would suggest that you do not do this city on your own. Also, everything is transacted in roubles. Be ready for exchange issues. Passport control also adds time. Don't be late returning to the ship because the ship will leave on time. The harbour channel is narrow and is managed similar to a busy airport. One ship was late and was delayed by 24 hours. Helsinki: Easy to do the town on your own unless you want to visit a specific site outside town. The shuttle bus helps. Stockholm: Small town, but many islands so you need help getting around. The ship's tour is ok. You may want to arrange a local tour because the shore stop is short. Great passages: The ship has to traverse some nice passageways. Take a seat in the Horizon Cafe after leaving Oslo, St. Petersburg and Stockholm to view the local scenery. On Ship: John Lawrence is an excellent on-ship commentator. He is a wonderful story teller. Don't miss his talks. He often sets up outside the library. Spend a minute or two with him. He is very interesting. Calypso Cove: There are some good bargains here if you are selective. Casino: So-so. Serious poker players need not bother. Craps is better for the fun. Transfer to CPH airport: The cost is about the same as a cab, but they handle all the luggage. It's worth it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted ... Read More
This eleven day tour of scandinavia and the baltic region with Princess was a great experience. All of our expactations were met and exceeded. Pre cruise concerns...sea sickness, lack of interest in drinking, gambling, dancing amounted to nothing. There were heaps of things for us to do both aboard and ashore. I loved the art history and gem lectures, jewellery shopping (excellent prices for amber), art auctions, scenery, tour of the galley, variety of dining experiences, quality of food. We had three full days at sea...one unexpected as we couldn't land in Oslo due to a general strike and seven ashore days. We were disappointed in missing Oslo but actually appreciated the day (first day of cruise) to explore the ship and recover from our jet lag. On two of the shore days - Aarhus and Tallinn - we did our own thing and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On the other five days we did Princess shore excursions. All of them were managed brilliantly. They were exhausting days but absolutely brilliant. Of 3200 passengers only 11 were children. There were people from all over the world but mostly Americans. Many people we talked to were seasoned cruisers...quite a few had clocked up over 10 cruises many with Princess. The food, service and entertainment were much much better than I expected. Don't use " The Love Boat" as a reference guide! We used the specialty restaurants, Crown Grill and Sabatinis for formal nights. Other nights we did Anytime Dining in Michaelangelo and Da Vincis. A couple of times we had room service. We had breakfast at Horizon Court most days. All of the food was high quality and the service was excellent. We hardly felt any boat movement...mostly we had calm or mild seas. We will definitely cruise with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I am an equal opportunity cruise line passenger, but I prefer Princess as I like the laid back atmosphere and consistent service. A cruise is what you make of it, so I'm not going to complain about anything. We flew into ... Read More
I am an equal opportunity cruise line passenger, but I prefer Princess as I like the laid back atmosphere and consistent service. A cruise is what you make of it, so I'm not going to complain about anything. We flew into Copenhagen and took the ship's transportation to the port. It was about 30-40 minutes to the ship and another 30-40 minutes to go through the check-in process and board the ship. There is not much to do in the immediate port area, so it's best to explore the ship and get your bearings. Our ship left on May 23rd under sunny skies and temps in the upper 60's. We were very lucky, as this was the first week in many with warm, sunny weather. The Baltic was very calm, as we were sailing close to land most of the time. Sailing into the fjord of Oslo was gorgeous. I was in the gym around 7am watching as we slowly sailed up the fjord on the glassy water, zig zagging our way through the narrows during the 3 hour approach to Oslo. Unfortunately, the port authority of Oslo decided to go on strike this day, so we were denied entrance and were forced to turn around and sail right back out of the fjord. The day was beautiful as we sailed slowly for 3-4 hours down the fjord while John Lawrence, the port lecturer, narrated our passage. The sun was shining and temps were in the mid 70's, so the day was not a loss. Because of our denial into Oslo, we arrived in Aarhus at 8am rather than noon the following day. What a cute port town! An easy 10-15 minute walk into town with an ATM on the way, Aarhus is very easy to walk around. Again, the temps were in the 70's with the sun shining, so all of the Danish locals were out enjoying the day. The ship didn't leave until 7pm, so it was great to sit up on deck and enjoy a movie before getting ready for the evening. One thing about the Baltic cruise is that the sun rises in the 4am hour and sets in the 10 or 11pm hour. It's great to enjoy the outdoors and walk around the deck after dinner and view the beautiful sunsets. If you have a balcony, the sun will stream into any crack in the curtains as early as 4:30am, so be prepared. We docked in Warnemunde, Germany the following day, Saturday, with another warm, sunny day. All of the Germans were rushing toward the beach in Warnemunde so if the weather is nice, enjoy the day with the rest of the country. The beach is HUGE. You dock right in the town with only a 5 minute walk or so to everything. We chose not to go to Berlin, but to enjoy the local towns. We took a river ferry for about 10 or 15 euros up the river 45 minutes to Rostock. This is a very nice town with a great pedestrian area and a beautiful church. Lots of Germans come here to do their shopping. We ate lunch along the river, then took the return ferry to Warnemunde and walked around with the hoardes of Germans. Many people here do not speak English, as this is part of former East Germany. We had a lovely day at sea with more sunshine, then the next day in Tallinn, Estonia. Another fantastic port! Maybe a 15 minute walk into the walled city with cute shops along the way. There are two main gates to the city, so make sure to see both of them. This is very walkable. There is an upper town and a lower town with lots of colorfully buildings and some beautiful churches. Great shopping, especially amber. We found a couple of different places to stop for a beer or wine and just enjoyed the people watching. English was not a problem here. This was by far our favorite port! One thing to know is that you lose 2 hours of time on your way to Russia, then gain it back over the next couple of days. Our arrival into Russia was seamless. We booked a non-ship tour through Alla Tours and lined up to leave the ship at 6:30am. Yes, the passport control was rigid, but we still made it off the ship and through to our tour guide within 30-45 minutes. The first day in St Petersburg was fabulous and we were lucky to have nice weather. Upon returning to the ship around 6pm, the passport line was very long and you have to be patient. Russia is all about patience. Our second day was rainy, and it's very important to have a GOOD umbrella. Get one that has wind vents at the top. Sharper Image sells a great one for $29. Every other person on our tour had their umbrellas turn inside out except for us. After 2 days in opulent St Petersburg, Helsinki was a real let down. We took the bus into town, which was easy. The city architecture is boring and grey. We immediately took the ferry to the fortress of Suomenlinna which is a little island just off shore. It was nice to walk around, but nothing was open yet, so it was boring. We also walked to the Rock Church, but so did 1000 other people because there really isn't anything else to do. The port area downtown is alive with fisherman and you can get lots of fresh fish and reindeer dishes and eat it right there at picnic tables. We tried to find a cafe for a beer, but the beer was 12-15 euros apiece, so we went back to the ship early. The next morning, we sailed slowly through the archipelago into Stockholm and although it was raining, the scenery was unbelievable. With only a short day in Stockholm, we took the shuttle (for a fee) into town and walked to the Gamla Stan area. This is a very cute island with the palace and lots of shops in narrow streets. I would love to to back to Stockholm when the sun is shining and for longer than a few hours. Again, the sail out of Stockholm was just gorgeous and sometimes, you felt so close to an island that you could throw a rock from your balcony and hit land. This is a cruise where you MUST have a balcony as you are always close to land and wonderful things to see. This is a cruise to enjoy the ports and then rejuvenate at night on the ship. We always found good food, good entertainment, nice people and were never at a loss for something to do. Our flight from Copenhagen left at 10:45, so were were assigned to leave the ship between 7-7:30. Leaving the ship was very efficient and we took the Princess shuttle to the airport. The Copenhagen airport is one of the best airports I've ever been to, so getting there early is no problem. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to first class for our flight to JFK, so this was a fantastic end to a fantastic cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Needing to chill out and relax , we chose the Emerald Princess and the Southern Caribbean itinerary. There were 4 new ports for us and 6 days to relax. It was very enjoyable. We generally can never stay up for night life after a day of ... Read More
Needing to chill out and relax , we chose the Emerald Princess and the Southern Caribbean itinerary. There were 4 new ports for us and 6 days to relax. It was very enjoyable. We generally can never stay up for night life after a day of sightseeing, but we became night owls on this cruise. The new show times and entertainment schedule made choosing things to do much easier. We were able to do more then one thing each night after dinner. Embarkation was delayed, but once the doors opened, we were checked in and onboard in 15 minutes. We had a midship balcony on the starboard Caribe deck and were pleased with our steward. In another review of a recent Emerald cruise, a complaint was made that the employees were unfriendly and could care less about the cruisers. I found this to be totally the opposite of our cruise. The employees were attentive and smiling and eager to help. We enjoyed our meals and dined in the Crown Grill and Sabatinis as well as the Michelangelo Dining room. Lunches were usually at the International Cafe or Horizon. We were on Noro alert, so we were served everything. We had no problems with health and observed all suggestions to stay healthy. Most people did, as the numbers were not very large. Princess took action early and the spread was minor. The ports were interesting with Bonaire and Grenada our favorite stops. The weather cooperated as well as the seas to make the voyage comfortable. We were lucky to still find the old balcony furniture outside on the balcony when we arrived. We had the Ultimate Balcony Breakfast on our first sea day and didn't have enough room on the regular table for everything and can't imagine how we would have managed with the new cocktail table. I guess they will have to bring a table when they deliver the breakfast from now on. Disembarkation went off with out a hitch and we were on the road by 9:30. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise as we have all our previous Princess cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We arrived at port about 11 am and waited for about 45 minutes for check-in to start. Once it started it was quick and we were in our cabin shortly after noon. We were in an interior cabin. Previously we had booked balcony cabins, but ... Read More
We arrived at port about 11 am and waited for about 45 minutes for check-in to start. Once it started it was quick and we were in our cabin shortly after noon. We were in an interior cabin. Previously we had booked balcony cabins, but decided to try an interior this time. We think we will be able to afford a lot more cruises if we book interiors. I was a bit leery of an interior when we booked it, but it turned out to be quite alright. It was small, but quite comfortable. We were hardly in it except to sleep or shower and change. It was located just aft of mid-ship and we found it to be a good location. Our only complaint was that the a.c. was not cool enough even when set at the lowest temp. It was adequate, but we would have liked it a bit cooler. We heard the same from several other people. We also found the a.c. around the ship to be a bit uneven - some areas cool, others a bit on the warm side. Food: We enjoyed the food very much. We had anytime dining. We would go to the dining room whenever we wanted. Because we were willing to share a table with others, we never had to wait. The only people that seemed to wait for long were people who went at peak times and wanted tables to themselves. Almost all the people we dined with were very nice except for one strange couple. They gave the impression that they were better than everyone else and the husband was an expert on everything. The beauty of anytime dining was that we never saw them again. It would have been unpleasant to have to dine with them each evening. The pub lunches in the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days were very good. The Crown Grill had great steaks, lamb and seafood in an elegant setting with excellent service. The buffets had great food too and we ate all our breakfasts and most lunches there. The International cafe in the Piazza was great for a snack or light meal. It is open 24 hours and the food was very good. Entertainment: Very good shows in the Princess theatre, usually 3 shows a night at 7:15, 8:30 and 10:15. The Piazza had all sorts of things going on throughout the day - singers, dancers, musicians, juggler, sing-a-long etc. The movies under the stars is nice and we saw a few good movies there and also in the Princess theatre. There are lots of bars around the ship and there is always something going on in them. We did ship sponsored tours in each port and enjoyed them all. The ship itself is very beautiful. The staff was friendly and tried very hard to make your holiday enjoyable. Our steward Grace kept our cabin spotless and looked after our every need. All the staff we interacted with were pleasant and professional. We met lots of really nice people from all over. Disembarkation was well organized. We enjoyed this trip very much and have put a deposit on a future Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Just finished my first cruise on the Emerald Princess and we had a great time. The room was a fine size and the balcony made it perfect. We are both average size people so we had no trouble with the shower, which can be a little small ... Read More
Just finished my first cruise on the Emerald Princess and we had a great time. The room was a fine size and the balcony made it perfect. We are both average size people so we had no trouble with the shower, which can be a little small for larger folks. Most of the food was really good, some nights the menu read better than the food tasted, but the deserts, well you just have to experience them for yourself. The fish was kind of fishy tasting no matter how it was prepared, but the lobster and escargot were delicious. The activities were varied and something was going on all day long. The coffee and ice tea were fine, no I didn't buy a 70.00 drink cup, that I thought was a bit much. Our room was tended to all the time, and our waiter was so helpful with suggestions and wine recommendations. There was music going on at all times and the dance lessons were great. The only thing I can say that could be improved are the mattresses. Our steward did put a foam cover on the bed for us, but it didn't help. The mattress was just worn out and really should have been replaced. The gym was wonderful, the classes were great that they offered and the pay for pilates and yoga classes were priced pretty much like home. I would recommend this cruise to anyone Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Arriving at Port Everglades around noon, we waited in a long line that moved very quickly. Our first venue was the Horizon Court for a bite to eat and then on to our interior cabin on deck 12. After unpacking, we explored the ship and ... Read More
Arriving at Port Everglades around noon, we waited in a long line that moved very quickly. Our first venue was the Horizon Court for a bite to eat and then on to our interior cabin on deck 12. After unpacking, we explored the ship and located the Internet Cafe since the complimentary 250 minutes for platinum members was a new and greatly appreciated perk for me. We also located our favorite lite snack and dessert stop--the International Cafe, just off the Atrium. We arrived at the Michaelangelo diningroom at 6:00pm for Anytime dining and made our reservation for the same time and table every night. Arnel, our main waiter, was very attentive throughout the whole trip. He often brought us extra goodies and was mindful of our requests--one night I just wanted vegetables so he brought me a big plate of every vegetable in the kitchen. The last night he brought us Baked Alaska, which was on the traditional dining menu but not on the Anytime dining menu. The food was not exceptional in taste, but we always found it to be very good. The first two days were sea days with pleasant weather and we spent most of our time around the pools. Ice cream, burgers, dogs & fries, pizza is available near the pools. Wow! Wish they'd enforce the no reserving lounge chair rule! Lots of other activities available throughout the ship. Nightly entertainment was hit or miss. We loved the Beatles and the comedian Steve Moris, who will soon open a show in Las Vegas--gotta go see him again! The Princess singers and dancers were okay, but so much of the same-just changed the era. Wish Princess would do a Broadway show (like RCCL). Barty, the piano man in the lounges, was good. Club Fusion had a dance band; we enjoyed Evolution. Well, as I said in the beginning, we sailed the Emerald for the ports, and we weren't disappointed. The weather was spectacular so that helps to have a good time. First stop, Aruba, we walked around town and took the ship excursion Jolly Pirates. We visited two snorkel sites and were disappointed we didn't see more fish. Third stop was letting people jump off the rope swing (I think we spent more time here than at the snorkel sites). Aruba's beaches looked incredible with soft white sand so I'd like to explore more of this island. Next day the snorkeling on Bonaire with the Sea Cow (ship excursion) was superb. Eric and his crew were first rate with the equipment, sites, and helping people in any way. We visited two sites, both incredible. If you haven't seen what's below that beautiful water, you need to experience it! Grenada we took a tour with Mandoo, who can be found on the internet. He is so informative and passionate about his island. In Dominica, we made prior arrangements for the Interlude for a Day at Papillote Gardens & Retreat, about a 4 mile taxi ride from the ship dock. We knew to wear our bathing suits to enjoy the 4 relaxing warm water mineral pools located throughout the lush 14 acre rain forest gardens. Our favorite was the pool by the rushing waterfall, where George, the manager, brought us refreshing fruit drinks. Lunch of chicken or fish with seasoned rice and vegetables is included and served in a lovely open-air restaurant. This is an incredible place! www.papillotegarden.org St Thomas we booked Godfrey Tours (always use him; on the internet) for a very reasonably priced stop in town and then to one of our favorite beaches in the Caribbean--Coki Beach. No admission fee, lounge chairs $5, inexpensive snorkel equipment for rent, beach waiters that don't hassle you but will bring you eats & drinks. The beach has a nice sandy bottom with a rocky area to the right where all the fish hang out, but you can coax them out with a bite of food (dog bones sold here ,too) Good beach for children and beginning snorkelers. Coral World is next door with an aquarium and dolphin encounter. Princess Cays, a short tender ride away, is a beautiful stretch of beach with all kinds of water activities available. The snorkeling is just okay here. The barbecue lunch is very good, but check the open and close time as it seemed brief. This Southern Medley itinerary is great if you like port-intensive cruises. Six ports in 10 days allows you to cover a lot of ground--I mean water! We loved it! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Review of Emerald Princess Transatlantic and Baltic Cruise, April 26 -- May 23, 2012 This was our second transatlantic cruise on Princess. We were on Ruby Princess in 2010 from Ft Lauderdale to Barcelona. On this voyage, we again ... Read More
Review of Emerald Princess Transatlantic and Baltic Cruise, April 26 -- May 23, 2012 This was our second transatlantic cruise on Princess. We were on Ruby Princess in 2010 from Ft Lauderdale to Barcelona. On this voyage, we again departed from Ft Lauderdale but ended in Copenhagen. We stayed on board and continued with an 11 night Baltic cruise. Overall, it was a wonderful cruise. The service from the Princess staff was excellent. Food selection and quality was fine for our tastes but the entertainment was mediocre. More about that later. The first half of the cruise was very relaxing but then became very port intensive and exhausting. Having been on Ruby Princess, the layout of Emerald Princess was very familiar and almost identical to Ruby Princess. For the transatlantic cruise, we had a balcony cabin on Baja deck. Baja deck is the first level of balcony cabins to be completely covered by the balcony cabins above you. We could easily look down and view the balconies on the lower decks. For the Baltic cruise, we gave up our balcony cabin in favor of an inside cabin on Plaza deck. When we arrived in Copenhagen at the end of the transatlantic cruise, all we had to do was pack the loose items and the cabin steward moved everything to our new cabin. The Plaza deck is an interesting location since it was only steps away from the Piazza and the International Cafe open 24 hours. The ship was full for both segments. At the end of the transatlantic cruise, approximately 1000 passengers remained on board for the Baltic cruise. The passenger mix seemed to change for the Baltic cruise with fewer Americans remaining on board. Not surprisingly, there were very few children on either the transatlantic or Baltic cruise. The weather was mostly good on the transatlantic portion but took a turn toward cloudy, cool weather once we got to the European ports. Except for the first several days out of Ft Lauderdale, the outdoor areas on the ship were not used that much. There is no heated pool so there were only a few dedicated swimmers using the pools. Movies Under the Stars were running but like the pools, only had a few people using this feature. We like to find chairs on the covered Promenade deck and enjoy reading while watching the sea go by. Unfortunately, it was too cool for us to do this except for day 1 and 2. Dining comments We selected Anytime dining and that worked out well for us. We always asked to share a table and only had to be given buzzers on a couple of occasions. If you arrive for dinner before 6:30PM, there was usually not a wait. The food was fine for us and did not seem over salty as some recent reviews on Cruise Critic have mentioned. This was the first Princess cruise that we failed to eat in the Main Dining room for breakfast or lunch at least once. The Horizon Court buffet offered good choices for our tastes and was usually not too crowded. The servers in the Horizon Court were good at coming to your table to take care of drink requests. At breakfast, they have fried eggs already prepared and ready for self-service. The slowest step in gathering our breakfast was making toast but we developed a little "dance" each morning in which we would place the bread in the toaster and then go to the various stations collecting all of the other items and come back to the toaster just as the cycle had completed. Another Princess first for us was trying out the Chefs Table. If you want to do this extra charge event, you need to contact the activities desk immediately upon boarding since the number of available spots is quite limited. We did this event on the second night of the cruise. It consists of a tour of the galley and while there being served special appetizers and champagne. Your small group is then escorted to a main dining room where an elaborately decorated table was set up. A special menu was presented, including items cooked tableside by the Chef. The meal included several wine selections. The captain of the ship came by to greet our group. The evening concluded with a group photo and a copy of the Princess cook book. Is it worth the $95 per person charge? I will just say I'm glad we had the experience. The only specialty restaurant we tried was the Italian restaurant, Sabbatini's. I thought it was just ok and I would prefer the steakhouse which we have done on previous voyages. Entertainment Our most recent cruises before this one were on Allure of the Seas and Norwegian Epic. The entertainment on those ships blows away what is available on Emerald Princess. That may not be a fair comparison but those two ships raise the bar and makes the Princess entertainment seem worn out. To be fair, we don't do the night scene all that much, but the times we did visit various lounges, I was not that impressed by the talent. There was a string quarter playing frequently in the Piazza that was enjoyed by many. One of the best features on this voyage was the destination lectures given by John Lawrence. He came on board once we arrived in Europe and gave a live talk about each of the upcoming ports of call. This talk was then repeated on the cabin TV. His talks are also available on CD at www.JohnLawrenceDVD.com. The DVD would be an excellent gift for anyone planning a Baltic cruise. He is very knowledgeable and has a great British wit. Ports of Call The transatlantic cruise featured stops in Ireland, England (twice), France, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. The Baltic cruise visited Norway, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden. By doing both cruises back to back, it can be an exhausting and expensive series of shore excursions. It doesn't have to be I suppose since some people just get off and wander around the local port area. However, many of the ports offer long and expensive excursions. From these ports, there were long trips available into London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. We had previously been to London, Paris and Amsterdam, so we did other things. From the port of La Havre, a small group that met via Cruise Critic, arranged for a limo to take us to visit Mount St Michel off the coast of France. Princess did not offer such a tour. To visit Berlin from the port of Warnemunde, I think the Princess tour is the way to go since they have a private train to make the journey to and from Berlin. The visit to St Petersburg is the highlight for many that take a Baltic cruise. The ship remains in port overnight, allowing for a 2 day visit. I didn't want to be part of a large bus load making the rounds to the many points of interest, so I arranged a private tour though Anastasia Tours. Using Cruise Critic, I located 5 other passengers to join with us. We not only had a personalized tour but it cost less than the Princess excursion. I would definitely recommend Anastasia Tours. The tour guide spoke excellent English and had an astounding command of facts and figures about all the places we visited. The tour company takes care of the visa needed to visit Russia. Payment was not needed upfront and could by paid with any currency or credit card. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We are a recently married boomer couple who decided to sail on the Emerald Princess based upon the many positive reviews I read on the Cruise Critic website. We decided on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary because the islands, other than St. ... Read More
We are a recently married boomer couple who decided to sail on the Emerald Princess based upon the many positive reviews I read on the Cruise Critic website. We decided on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary because the islands, other than St. Thomas, would be new to us. This was my fourth Princess Cruise and my wife's second. We flew from Portland, Oregon, to Houston, then on to Ft. Lauterdale via UA. We always fly in a day early to avoid weather-related delay issues. Arrived at 4:30p.m. Would have stayed at the Emerald Suites near the cruise dock, however due to a reservation mix-up(my fault), we ended up at the Hilton Beach Resort. Nice hotel with COMFORTABLE beds. Walked down the street to a restaurant and had appetizers and people watched. Right off the beach. Long walk along the beach walk-way the next morning. Left for the port via hotel shuttle and arrived at the terminal about 11:15a.m. Waited in line until noon, when they started to process us onto the ship. An efficient and quick process, once the line got going. The ship is obviously well-maintained and well run. Constant maintenance and cleaning during the entire trip. The ship was maxed out and I think it holds 3k passengers. You are given a handy fold out map that easily fits in your pocket to find your way around the ship. Very handy. There is a lot to do on the ship. We attended some of the movies, all recently or currently in the theaters. Did MUTS twice and enjoyed it, although watching the one movie during the daylight hours was harder to hear, since we had a noisy table nearby. Evening is best, but bring a sweater. They provided comfortable chair pads and blankets. My wife attended the rum tasting and enjoyed it. I attended the digital photography class, although it was pretty basic, even though described as "advanced digital photography. Read and relaxed a lot during the two sea days. We were in cabin B239, which is forward on the Baja deck and on the starboard side of the ship. The seas were pretty calm during our voyage. Our cabin steward, Angelito, was very efficient and attentive. We were so pleased with his service we gave him two extra tips during the voyage (in addition to the gratuity automatically placed on our bill). He located a firm pillow, since the pillows provided were so well-used, they were compressed to practically nothing. We felt the overall service on the ship was excellent. Staff were friendly and attentive. Excursions-The first port of call was Antigua. We just did a beach excursion that day. The resort was nothing to rave about-kind of run down. The beach was nice. Free rum punch and lunch on a covered pier just out from the resort. Watch those rum punches....one lady in our group had WAAAAY too much punch and had to assisted back to the ship. They charged for the beach umbrellas, which we thought was a bit much. Second port of call was St. Lucia. We took the Catamaran sail to the Pitons and bus ride back. Enroute to the pitons, the captain stopped in a small cove and people swam and snorkeled for about 45 minutes. Vendors harassed us by parking their skiffs next to our boat. One guy was cajoling passengers to buy something incessantly. The boat captain tolerated it and even gave the pesky vendors some rum punch! Probably got a cut of the action (opinion). Finally got to the beach near the pitons and landed the boat. Vans picked us up and we went to the drive in volcano and did a short walk to a better viewing area. Some passengers complained that the sulfuric smell gave them a headache. The guide said the smell was a good way to clear your sinuses. Then drove to a plantation and started a tour there. We were to have lunch after the walking tour. Many of us were so hungry (last ate on the ship at 6:30a.m.), we skipped some of the tour and went directly to the covered dining room, where we ate a Caribbean-styled lunch. Very tasty. Loaded on to larger buses and then started a 1.5 hour bus trip back to the ship. VERY hilly and twisty roads. Would not recommend for those who are prone to car sickness. Stopped briefly at a small fishing village to shop and then back to the ship. Third excursion was on Barbados. We took the photo tour, operated by a professional photographer who studied photography in NY and has a successful business in Barbados. A great guide. This was called the Barbados Photo-Adventure, operated by Ronnie Carrington. If you are an amateur photographer, this is the tour for you. Sign up on-line, as this one fills up fast. I was on the wait list and he added an afternoon tour, so we were able to go. He takes you to the scenic Scotland District on the East Coast. BEAUTIFUL landscape and he has some wonderful stories about the island. We stopped at a rum shop on the East Coast. Fourth and final excursion was on St. Lucia. We took the four wheel drive excursion to Cockleshell bay on the S. side of the island. Drove there in an old British lorry (truck). The guide had been raised on the island. Kind of a rough-hewn kind of guy. Told us stories about how he used to hunt the wild pigs, cattle and monkeys when he was a young man. Kind of grossed some of out when he described how he used to cook and eat the monkeys. Sorry, too much information for us! The beach was nice, but no beach chairs were provided and the snack was pretty lame. Would not do this again. We shopped in St. Thomas and I purchased some camera lenses and a flash unit. Good place to shop, but the camera gear deals not as good as the prior times I have been in St. Thomas. This trip included Grand Turk, which is an island 1.5 miles wide by 7 miles long. A world-wide destination for snorkelers and scuba folks. The water all around the island is shallow to about 150 yards out and then drops off to very deep ocean water. The beach is right next to the ship and there a plenty of beach chairs. If you get off early, you can find a chair under the palms. You can rent chair covers and other gear. Lots of shops in a complex at the end of the pier and a JIMMY BUFFET restaurant/cafe/swimming pool. They also have a wave machine next to the swimming pool. The water is beautiful! We were there from 1p.m. to 6:30p.m. Dining was great. We did anytime dining and never had to wait for a table. Arrived at about 6:30p.m. every night and were seated immediately. We asked to be seated at a large table and enjoyed meeting new people every night. The food was excellent, but not outstanding, in our opinion. We had a continental breakfast several times in our balcony cabin and loved it. We signed up for the Chef's Table experience. You must do this the second you arrive in your cabin by calling the dining line. There are only two groups of 12 people that do this for the entire cruise. 24 folks out of 3,000 passengers. $95 per person, but I promise you it is an experience you will always remember. Tour of the galley by the head Chef. Three or four appetizers and champagne in the galley. You are then escorted to the dining room where an elaborate table has been set. Numerous courses serve to you accompanied by different wines. The chef does a flaming dish next to the table. The meal ends by the presentation of a coffee table book of Princess Chef menus and a group picture. Another night we did dinner at the Crown grill that specializes in steaks and seafood. $25 per person and well worth it. Great service. We thought the entertainment was kind of ho-hum. Nothing that stood out, except for the tribute group, The Beatlemaniacs. Princess could do a better job with their entertainment, compared with other cruise lines. They have also shortened their shows recently. They apparently did this to provide my venues and more opportunities for people to see the shows in the evenings. Not everyone likes the change. Disembarkation was simple and we were off the ship by 8:30a.m. Took a taxi to Ft. Lauterdale airport (about $12.50). Did not book the Princess shuttle service, which we thought was way too expensive. I highly recommend the service that Princess provides for $20 per bag, that sends your bag from the ship directly to your final airport destination. It was nice to get off the ship with only carry on luggage. They even print your boarding passes and deliver them to your cabin with our luggage tags. One final note. For some odd reason, numerous passengers developed a cough 3-4 days into the cruise. Raw throat. Not a cold, but you just did not feel 100%. My wife and I experienced this. This was brought up spontaneously as a topic of conversation at several dinners and venues we attended with other passengers. Once people cracked their balcony doors, the problem went away. Most thought it was a problem in the ventilation system. It was a mystery. I did mention it in my cruise review with Princess. Overall we really enjoyed this cruise. This is a well run ship and we heard very few complaints from other passengers. I would recommend this ship in a heartbeat. The 10 day Eastern itinerary is wonderful. Nice ports of call and three days at sea to enjoy the ship and relax. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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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