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84 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise with Princess and based on our experience will probably be the last. Throughout the trip we felt like we were being charged for everything at every possible opportunity and were barraged with sales, markets and ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and based on our experience will probably be the last. Throughout the trip we felt like we were being charged for everything at every possible opportunity and were barraged with sales, markets and ‘auctions’ instead of being provided with entertainment. Everything seems geared to extracting more and more dollars out of guests. Nothing is given away free here. You have to buy your bottles of water - that they offer before a trip, decent coffee has to be paid for and there is even no wine with your meals - unless you buy it. Internate access is painfully slow and, bought per minutes is very expensive. Other cruises give water, wine and beer with meals and internet access for free! The food also did not come up to the promise. Formal dinners had small portions, arrived cold and seemed to lack much flavour or inventiveness. Help yourself food was sloppy, often cold and congealed and again lacked flavour. All in all, the catering seemed to be delivered below a budget rather than to a high standard. The decor in the rooms and common areas are also showing signs of age and costant use. Walls and paintwork are chipped and cracked. Finally the staff seemed generally unhappy. We talked to a number and it was quite clear that morale was low. Service was slow and disorganised. Many of the staff seeemed to struggle to understand English. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Sailed with a group of 16 friends which included spouses and kids. The group had fun spending time together however, the service was not acceptable. With a few exceptions, the crew was rarely engaged, inattentive, uninterested, poorly ... Read More
Sailed with a group of 16 friends which included spouses and kids. The group had fun spending time together however, the service was not acceptable. With a few exceptions, the crew was rarely engaged, inattentive, uninterested, poorly trained and just not friendly. More like mindless robots rather than highly trained friendly helpful crew. This seemed rather unusual as I've always had a great experiences on other cruises: Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Celebrity. Their crew are typically cheerful and engaged and helpful with their patrons. I found this rather surprising as it wasn't just one or two problem crew members but the majority were like that. It was the strangest experience. Food quality was fine. We usually went to the dining room or buffet. Selection at the buffet could have been better. The food quality there was solid at both places. Public washrooms were filthy. This was my first and last cruise with Princess. There are too many other options out there for me to want to give Princess another try. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
If I could rate it minus 10 I would. This was our first cruise experience and likely the last. Ship is small and is layed out poorly. Food is just BAD! Its like an ant hill trying to get around. Most of the staff cannot speak English, ... Read More
If I could rate it minus 10 I would. This was our first cruise experience and likely the last. Ship is small and is layed out poorly. Food is just BAD! Its like an ant hill trying to get around. Most of the staff cannot speak English, nor answer any questions. Princess screwed up my airfare TWICE. Their computer system is CONSTANTLY going down. The entertainment was sub par. The entire loading unloading process is a disorganized mess, and they dont care. You DO NOT get a value for your money. The only positive thing I was surprised at the size of our stateroom, it was fair sized. This was what they called a repositioning cruise, which translates to princess wants to get as much money as possible out if their patrons as possible and make money to move the ship to a new area for tour season. I will NEVER recommend princess. Every positive thing I was ever told about cruises was Not what we experienced. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Never again! Have sailed many times with Holland America, and also with Cunard and Viking. First time with Princess - and this will be the last time, also. Many Princess cruisers said this was not like previous cruises - much worse - ... Read More
Never again! Have sailed many times with Holland America, and also with Cunard and Viking. First time with Princess - and this will be the last time, also. Many Princess cruisers said this was not like previous cruises - much worse - and think it may be Carnival Corporation's doing. Terribly disorganized ship, inedible (literally inedible!) food served in dining room, staff bickering (especially kitchen staff - shouted arguments), front office staff inefficiency and uselessness, and HORRIBLE Disembarkation experience (Princess' fault - NOT U.S. Customs' fault, as Princess staff tried to blame). ALMOST FOUR (4!!!) HOURS STANDING AWAITING CLEARANCE!!! SOME PEOPLE MISSED FLIGHTS. THIS WAS PRINCESS LINES' FAULT - NOT CUSTOMS' FAULT, AS THE PRINCESS LINE STAFF TRIED TO BLAME. If Customs is slow, then we should have been provide a comfortable place to wait - such as a dining room - instead of being forced to wait, initially, in a space which did not have enough seats for everyone (1.5 hours standing) and then outside on concrete standing in line for another 2 hours!!! Additionally, the announcements which were made by ship's services were not informative at all. Our dining room steward and assistant, Michel and Paul, were two of the very few bright spots of this cruise. The dining room managers/greeters were always pleasant. There were several other stewards and assistants that we encountered during breakfast, lunch, and incidentally during dinner who were quite good, too. However, there were a few we encountered during breakfast and lunch who were brusque or snippy - possibly because they are overworked or because of the disorganization that seemed to pervade the entire ship's crew. Horizon Court - cafeteria-style dining: small, confined area with ostensibly a one-way entrance and exit which fails to work. Not nearly as many options as Holland America, and much more difficult to navigate. Also, for both dining room and buffet, quality of food is rather low (e.g, use of chemical whip instead of whipped cream, canned or frozen orange juice instead of fresh orange juice, most soups using the same apparently corn-starch-thickened base. Some seafood (lobster, e.g.) and fish was apparently thawed and then refrozen - mushy. Worst shipboard internet ever!!! Slowest and therefore most expensive internet ever encountered aboard a cruise ship. Definitely one of the reasons never to sail with Princess Line again. There were two issues that prompted a visit to the front office staff, both of which were raised during four visits. Neither was resolved during the visit, nor was a follow-up call received at any time (as promised). Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
-Three meals took two hours -Locked out of cabin because of battery failure, no supervisor around to open cabin, no process to identify when battery failing or rather process exists but is ignored because of cost of replacing door ... Read More
-Three meals took two hours -Locked out of cabin because of battery failure, no supervisor around to open cabin, no process to identify when battery failing or rather process exists but is ignored because of cost of replacing door battery. Better to wait until passengers locked out I guess -laundry lost, subsequently found -ship out of many supplies such as wine by the glass, applesauce, watermelon, and a number of other items -not all items on various menus are available -disembarkation took over 4 hours, 2 pm flight from LAX missed. Princess stood us up for over two hours without water,washrooms or food. No senior staff visible. Blamed customs and staff seemed more interested in the “turnover” of the ship than the passengers disembarking. As well created two classes of passengers as confirmed by customs and princess staff. A princess supervisor made the decision to get US citizens off boat first, leaving citizens of all other countries to wait in a longer line. They also decided to move their in transit passengers (these are people staying on the boat) ahead of the people who were late for their flights. Numerous princess staff promised help would be at the airport for flights but if any were there we did not see them nor did airline staff know about them. Princess kept blaming customs but only 8 custom kiosks for close to 3000 people. Clearly insufficient. Princess is responsible for putting boat at that pier. -serving staff not always around at the self serve dining area -bus yours took longer than expected. Again princess blamed others but the tour guides on the buses were aware of the longer time needed (due to start of local holidays and impact on traffic). Why is it if the guides on the buses know this princess does not? -lots of people holding seats for themselves in various areas of the ship and as far as I could tell, other than the princess theatre not being addressed. -pester you to do repairs on the cabin All in all I would say this cruise line is structured to reduce the cost of a passenger by as much as possible. This is not the type of cruise you would have received even 10 years ago, let alone 30. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Chose this cruise because of itinerary. This turned out to be on of the few things that went right. The cons: Turned our luggage in at the ship. From that point on it was lost for over thirty hours. The resulting indifference was ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of itinerary. This turned out to be on of the few things that went right. The cons: Turned our luggage in at the ship. From that point on it was lost for over thirty hours. The resulting indifference was shocking. In that time, the front desk caustically challenged me to go find the suitcases, asked me if I realized that they were processing over 7000 pieces of luggage, refused to give us so much as a tooth brush instead telling us that we should have had this in our carry-ons (I told them that I didn't feel this necessary as I turned luggage in at the ship), initially refused to let us eat in the dining room because we didn't have proper clothing, and a few other inconveniences that they refused to assist with. And what do I think contributed to this delay. When checking in, they took our bags at the first station. From there we went inside the terminal for passport control and registration. At this point, we were told that they had changed our cabin. When asked why, we were told that they didn't know. I pointed out that the bags had already been checked in to the original cabin and was told that this would be no problem. (What kind of genius set this system up in the first place?). We told the front desk of this switch and suggested that they check the other cabin for our luggage---don't know what happened on that end. So much for the check-in process. The cabin: Was nice except that our new cabin was directly above a super loud music venue. One night the bass was so loud that our bed vibrated. We called the desk may times to no avail, each time being given a standard answer of, "it will only be five more minutes". We were also advised that entertainment was a part of the cruise. So much for sleeping. One night it was so loud that I took my bedding to the seventh floor and slept behind a counter on deck until being awakened by a ship's officer and being told that I had to return to my cabin---I suppose that he was concerned about the image. The next day we were moved to a new cabin. Dining: Breakfast room (Horizon) was always dirty when we arrived. I was always there at opening, so this indicated that it had not been cleaned from night before. I was never able to get eggs over easy which seemed to be a foreign concept to them. Service was so-so with plates sometimes reaching up to six inches in depth. Often had to go get our own coffee. Dinner in dining room was always good. Lunch was a difficult period because the crew allowed inconsiderate guests to use entire table groups for card/game playing while others searched for places to eat. Nightly entertainment: Venues in Princess Lounge were always good. Others on ship used the old adage of, "the louder the better". Ports. Half the stops required tenders which, of course, delayed both leaving and returning. Also, if you hadn't bought a Princess tour, you were advised to come back early because those buyers were given priority at the end. A form of discrimination. I took one tour which was a complete rip-off and cancelled remainder, choosing to book locally instead. At two ports the cruise line had to cancel tours because they arrived late. Once because of mechanical problems leaving the day before and the other time because they couldn't raise the anchor. (I told you it was a horror!!) The ship itself: Shows many, many signs of wear. How it is showing a 4.5 rating is beyond my wildest imagination. The crew: Most show an inkling of indifference. Passing the buck to someone else is the norm. We did have one cabin person who was good. And, John, at the front desk, was super (had it not been for him this would have been a true wreck), otherwise the crew was simply indifferent. This was also one of the reasons that I cancelled tours, because when asking a Carlos, at the tours desk, some questions, he became so brusque that I finally simply cancelled tours booked. Complaints among others were rampant. Service to these people was the same as ours. One couple for whom the ship had lost their wheelchair had to cancel a tour because the ship refused to give them a wheelchair. Complaints on cleanliness were the norm. The front desk was a busy place!!!! I attempted to get this stopped in its tracks by both using the front desk when it began and writing to Princess.Com on the first day. I have since written to Princess on two other occasions and have yet to receive a response from them. To me this again displays the total indifference that they have for their customers. Fortunately, there are other cruise lines. Hopefully they care more. I would suggest that persons reading these comments would seriously consider whether you want to have the trip to hell and back before booking. Respectfully submitted. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
It seems like Princess has decided not to prioritize customer service. This trip felt more like working with an airline than a cruise line. The guest relations staff was not empowered to do anything when a problem arose. The food was ... Read More
It seems like Princess has decided not to prioritize customer service. This trip felt more like working with an airline than a cruise line. The guest relations staff was not empowered to do anything when a problem arose. The food was mediocre. The entertainment, with a few exceptions, was terrible. The director of dining was abrasive. The decor was dated. The tendering was poor. Some of the scheduled events did not occur because the cruise director staff did not show. There was virtually nothing in the way of activities for our children. (Ages teen through young adult.) It was also odd that they had a series of enrichment lectures about serial killers. Why would that be a topic at all, never mind almost every day. On top of it all, you had the usual high pressure sales tactics (spa products, health products, art). Because of the poor training and customer service, the ship was simply not designed to give even the suite passengers anything extra. We made the most of our trip mainly by creating our own fun, designing our own excursions, etc. We also found out during the trip that numerous passengers were upgraded to Platinum, which was good for them, but further diluted the benefits of being Platinum, Elite, or Suite. For example, the evening cocktail party did not offer any complimentary drinks and snacks that were no better than what could be obtained elsewhere. Even the staff who helped suite guests with disembarking was rude. Christmas/New Year's is always a little hectic, but this was unbelievable. Also note that despite the cold weather, there is NO INDOOR POOL. The outdoor areas were almost unusable for the majority of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Poor customer service, Decent Shows, Decent to Good Food Our room had scuffs on the walls, including masking tap which was left around the trim of one of the doors. There were also crayon markings on one of the walls. We ... Read More
Poor customer service, Decent Shows, Decent to Good Food Our room had scuffs on the walls, including masking tap which was left around the trim of one of the doors. There were also crayon markings on one of the walls. We complained several times that our room was too hot and the A/C wasn't working sufficiently. We ensured that our cabin door and balcony door were closed, like they told us to do. They sent maintenance to our room 3 or 4 times. One time, they even has said WE were satisfied with the A/C, we never said that. We'd wake up sweating in the night because it was too hot. We we asked for fans, staff said they didn't have any because they were a fire hazard. (Really? Since when is a fan a fire hazard?) Toward the last few nights, we gave up on the A/C and just used left the balcony door open. Also, one night, the cabin door slammed closed while my mom was leaving, but then try to re-enter the room. It was shutting with such a force that her had slipped and her finger was shut in the door which resulted in needing 8 stitches in the ship's medical bay (FYI, that was about $500). Turns out the tensioner on the door was WAY TOO strong, but staff wouldn't admit it. Thankfully, they did agree to reduce the tension on the door so it wouldn't slam as much. (Follow-up, a week later my mom had an x-ray and the door fractured her finger) Other than that, the cruise was pretty standard. The restaurant food was pretty good. The buffet food was ordinary. We preferred the food on Norwegian Cruise Line. When going to the buffet, be sure to pack your patience. It is VERY difficult to find an free spot, unless you're going to the back of the shipt or going to eat your food poolside. The Bocce Ball and Croquet court were a little run down. The Croquet mallets were made of foam and falling apart. ALSO, their ice cream machine would serve icecream that wasn't fully frozen! We appreciated the many pools and hot tubs on the boat but there were no water slides as the ships was geared more toward the elder crowds. Also, there is a large sun deck and we never had to search long for a spot. This was a great plus! Our last cruise, We also appreciated the Tango music, the group was quite good. The shows on the ship were decent, we only were interested in about half of them. Production quality seemed pretty good, however, again, we preferred the show quality on Norwegian Cruise line. Overall, we wouldn't want to re-experience this cruise. We're happy that it wasn't worse, but we'll stick to another carrier. FYI, We were on the Emerald Princess. P.S. Last time my mom went on a Princess Cruise, about 10 people got ill! We haven't really had good luck. We won't be travelling Princess ever again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
The cruise itself was wonderful. We took the island passage through Alaska and enjoyed every port except Victoria. One garden to see and nothing else. This port should definitely be skipped. We went on the bus tour and they took us ... Read More
The cruise itself was wonderful. We took the island passage through Alaska and enjoyed every port except Victoria. One garden to see and nothing else. This port should definitely be skipped. We went on the bus tour and they took us around and showed us where the rich lived. Really? I thought I was on a Beverly Hills tour. Would rate it a 10 out of 10, but then the constant painful sales pitches on everything, made the cruise painful. A few examples: selling shots at breakfast, selling teeth whitening products when we were getting our hair done (and did not want to be bothered), selling innersoles when we went to the gym for a stretching class. The constant sales pitches would bring the rating from a 10 to a minus 1. We have gone on numerous cruise lines all over the world and will continue to cruise, but because of the painful sales gimmicks, we will never go on a princess cruise again Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
It was advertised as a Singles Cruise through match.com. There were 3-5 women for every man. The women were fighting over the men. That was the main reason I took this trip. The staff tried to sell us items 24/7..Not a day went by that I ... Read More
It was advertised as a Singles Cruise through match.com. There were 3-5 women for every man. The women were fighting over the men. That was the main reason I took this trip. The staff tried to sell us items 24/7..Not a day went by that I was not bombarded with a sales person. The entertainment was lacking. The food in the dining room was inedible....hard frozen and tasteless fish. The preparation of food was handled without gloves. Men making pizza wiping hands on face and apron barehanded kneading the dough. Food handlers in the buffet were not wearing gloves when handling food. The elevators were also difficult in deciding when to open and close the doors.. (Timer??) The TV was not user friendly. The staff not helpful. I have been on over 20 cruises and have nothing nice to say about this one. I traveled on Ruby Princess 2 years ago and it was head and shoulders over the Emerald. It was my birthday and the service was so slow that we missed my cake in order to see the next show on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Princess Cruises has entered the race to the bottom with so many changes, to what once was the popular "Love Boat" experience. The focus during the entire cruise was to generate onboard revenue with additional charges and ... Read More
Princess Cruises has entered the race to the bottom with so many changes, to what once was the popular "Love Boat" experience. The focus during the entire cruise was to generate onboard revenue with additional charges and fees. No longer is everyting included with the cruise. There are 4 alternate restaruants with very high additional fees charged ($29.00) per person. The food quality is inferior due to low quality provisions, inproper preparation and lack of training of kitchen staff. Princess should consider changing the name of buffet dining to Golden Corral at Sea, however Golden Corral has wider selection. Alternate dining restaurants were substandard and improper preparating of foods, all foods overcooked. The kitchen cannot make a good soup and does not know the meaning of bisque or chowder. What a truely disappointing experience with Princess. As a Platinum member with Princess, I will not sail with them again. Princess has transferred the labor costs entirely to the guest with the automatic gratuties added to every shipboard account. Staff onboard was great but they can only do with what the company provides, which is poor provisions and inferior training. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Started at the Westin Hotel via Princess for 2 nights. Upgraded the room for a modest fee and had a view of the Space Needle, Mountains entire Bay, etc. Watched the Ferris wheel change colors at night also. Excellent service. Ended up ... Read More
Started at the Westin Hotel via Princess for 2 nights. Upgraded the room for a modest fee and had a view of the Space Needle, Mountains entire Bay, etc. Watched the Ferris wheel change colors at night also. Excellent service. Ended up on the top floor! Princess transfered us from the hotel to the dock. We were on board for an early lunch in the MDRoom which was excellent along with the service. Unfortunately this was the last of the good service. We ate in the MDR for 3 nights with each night getting progressively worse. I have dietary restrictions and special ordered my meal. My meal was horrible, IF it arrived, part of the order was always missing and not what was ordered. The waiter could barely speak English and didn't understand what I could eat. The head waiter was condescending and never present to ask for something else. I actually lost weight dining on this ship. My husband also didn't care for the food. His halibut was like a brick. We did eat in the Crown Grill which was EXCELLENT. As was the service. I would have eaten there every night, but it was booked full until 9PM which is to late to eat. I understood from others they all felt the same way and that's why the specialty restaurant was booked full. One woman actually screamed at the head waiter after several nights of ''tasteless gruel". The International Cafe has also gone down hill with a thud. We had coffee cards and get several drinks a day each. Only twice was our order correct. I kid you not. Twice they completely lost the orders, and the others always had something incorrect. Typically the guys learn you choice, know your name and I enjoy personally tip them at the end of the cruise. This cruise they made fun of people, and laughed among themselves. One fellow actually said he would NOT make my order but would make it HIS way! It was 4 shots of espresso in a cup that I then half fill with soy milk. How simple. This was my 11th cruise with Princess and last half have been getting real hit and miss. The ship itself was lovely decor, our mini-suite was all new, carpet, great bed, new (not rusty) sliding door.The tour we took in Tracey Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer was fantastic. I could have skipped the White Pass Bennett Lake Adventure. When we got to our middle destination the generator didn't work at Bennett Lake had no lights or heat and it was freezing so we went back immediately to the train. The toilet on the train quit flushing on the way up. And Carcross has nothing to see, just desert sand and dry. Our driver was dangerous, she'd talk and not watch what she was doing and was always crossing the center line and would have to jerk it back. Also some of her "advice" was borderline crazy. We ran 1 hour late to our last tour which was Butchart Gardens. The ship had us waiting in one room waiting to finish docking. Then they moved us again. The Celebrity ship just before us left late so we waited a long period to get clearance to disembark. Then the ships staff (tour dept) had us walking every which way to get off the ship which was the back of the ship. We were in the front of the ship waiting. Usually the tours get off the ship first. This time we were last! Our bus driver asked why we were all so late.........so we lost an hour at the gardens. Why didn't they open the gangway in the front of ship? Gardens were beautiful......... We will not cruise next year, husband was pretty disappointed in it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Was a 4 hour wait just to get on the boat, therefore we hardly had anytime to enjoy the amenities. During the 4 hour wait partially we were in an area where there were no seats, no water, no food. My husband actually left as he is not ... Read More
Was a 4 hour wait just to get on the boat, therefore we hardly had anytime to enjoy the amenities. During the 4 hour wait partially we were in an area where there were no seats, no water, no food. My husband actually left as he is not well and could not wait that long. My breakfast on the Sunday morning (eggs benedict) was cold, i had to practically beg for coffee at the breakfast. i had a snack at 11, the Pizza i had to roll up as it was so thin and greasy. Dinner food was very bland. There were 15 of us and some ordered the prime rib was i was told was good but the salmon was extremely bland and the crawfish etufee was only mildly spiced. My key card demagnetized when i was going back to my state room at 12 midnight, went down and waited for an hour and a half to get a new key. There were at least 5 other people with the same issue as well as numerous people trying to pay their bills prior to a line up in the morning. Instead of having a second line up (as this was an obvious issue that took 5 minutes when i finally got to the desk) had to wait an hour and a 1/2. I ordered several beverage packages, they did not take off my card, but had to be delivered to my room. I called and asked for a robe, but was told they were all being laundered. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Please be patient in the reading of this comprehensive review which has taken a long while to compile due to the unwillingness of various sources to explain their actions (inactions) whilst on-board this cruise. Rather regrettably very ... Read More
Please be patient in the reading of this comprehensive review which has taken a long while to compile due to the unwillingness of various sources to explain their actions (inactions) whilst on-board this cruise. Rather regrettably very little input from Princess Cruises themselves to explain their failings has not helped and that their only offering of their ‘sincere apologies’ (5 times over in the same ‘reply) does tend to wears a bit thin! A recent ‘final twist’ should however prove to be to the added benefit of many cruise passengers when visiting certain Indian Cruise Ports in the future, saving them significant costs, time and inconvenience This was to be our 35-36th cruise (if you count the 2 sectors) and we are well used to making allowances for some operator failings and loss in our expectations. Earlier last year we had also completed a comparable 50 Night cruise on the P&O Arcadia, only our second P&O if discounting their former Ocean Village brand. We had hopes and expectations of Princess equaling or surpassing it but sadly it did not even come close. There were only 4 new ports of call for us, Phuket, Ko Samui, Bali and Busselton, all of which were to be tendered. Most of our cruises have been with Princess but our strong allegiance to the brand was to be sorely tested on this occasion. From the onset the now well-written about ‘Indian Visa Farce’, along with the multiple mis-management issues affecting most passengers, were so far-removed from the standards of customer service portrayed in the recent Royal Princess ITV cruise series. We had sailed on this ship in the Baltic for 14 N in 2014 and was brilliant. Lest we were to forget the positives of this cruise we did find the staff, away from the customer services desk area, to be excellent - in terms of their levels of service, engagement and their maintaining good eye-contact throughout the cruise! The freedom dining service within the Michelangelo Dining Room, along with that in the International Café; both located on the deck 4 as and our cabin; were also at their best. To be able to walk-around the ship on the promenade deck on this class of ship is an appealing feature for us. Sadly this is fast disappearing from current cruise ship designs In our early reading of the ‘Roll-Call’ for this cruise we had identified that there were many troubles and issues being raised in obtaining the Indian Visa, in a variety of countries – both in cost-terms and sheer frustration in form-filling, visiting VFS offices, etc. We know that Princess have delivered so much to us in the past, hence we have remained loyal to them. We can only hope that despite their unwillingness to formally accept constructive criticism from many more that, they will address these and other concerns already expressed to them. With our having been to Cochin twice before we drew those visa problems to Princess Cruises attention and sought their approval to being allowed to stay on-board ship without our having to purchase a visa – cited as being possible in some cruise passengers previously posted reviews. After 3 weeks deliberation they confirmed, that “all guests visiting India must have a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa. Visas must be obtained prior to the cruises and cannot be obtained onboard. Irrespective of any advice obtained from the various India High Commission offices, these requirements will be strictly enforced and guests will be denied boarding if they do not have the correct visas on embarkation”. “You need to check with your travel agent or the government Authorities (VFS Global) and refer to CIBT (their preferred visa agent)”. Princess went on to REPEAT that “If you arrive at the terminal in Southampton without the relevant paper work then you will be denied boarding.” Faced with the latter ‘ultimatum’, were we not to adhere to their repeated directives and been refused boarding, we would likely be considered to be in breach of our (all?) travel insurance company’s cover. Like many more who would have preferred to have been given that same option, we felt that we had no choice but to get the visa - which both VFS & CIBT were also then recommending (advising?) as also being needed. The passenger mix on-board was far different to any of our previous cruises. For the first leg it was given out as the ship being Full – 3,028 Passengers with 1,405 – UK/ Ireland, 939 – Australia/NZ, 612 - USA / Canada We had also read on the passenger ‘roll-call’ that the cruise had been ‘over-booked’, as quite a number of them had received some amazing offers to stand-down. Some were being offered stand-downs during the cruise and as late as disembarking in Melbourne instead of Sydney. On the day of embarkation there was chaos and confusion at the check-in desks at the Southampton terminal. We subsequently learned that it was caused and compounded by conflicting directives being given by Princess Management to their personnel. Again, please excuse there being more details than I would normally wish to include in a review as it may help to fill – in some of the facts surrounding the circumstances of this ‘unique’ (all for the wrong reasons) cruise experience, to fellow passenger. The situations played-out at the Cruise Terminal can be summarised:- 1) Check-in staff had only been briefed that very morning to process all passengers without the correct visa documentation and to allow them to board the ship - but were to initially ‘fine-them’ £200 / $200?pp 2) One passenger we met was advised by Princess check-in staff that ‘over half’ the passengers were expected to arrive with the wrong visa or no visa at all and that the ship would be sailing half-empty and therefore the staff are being told to accept them for boarding”. 3) The check-in staff were later instructed l to drop those charges and to allow any further such passengers to check-in and to board. (those that had been ‘fined’ were re-credited). 4) Some of those passengers with no / incorrect visa were warned that they may have to depart the ship in Dubai and fly to Phuket and later rejoin the ship - which seemed most odd! 5) Others were told that their Cruise Cards would be ‘blocked’ so as to prevent them disembarking in India, which also seemed to be at odds with those ‘Dubai’ references. 6) Even the check-in personnel were openly questioning the indecisions and inconsistencies given by their own management team (Princess?). Princess had obviously not thought-through the significant consequences of making an extremely late decision - to effectively break / ignore their own ‘binding’ Contracted Booking Conditions - which they themselves had dictated and ‘imposed’ upon all of their fare-paying passenger’s. Least of all in their minds were the affects that their unilateral decision would have upon the vast majority of their loyal passengers – all those of us that, at some considerable cost(s) and time, had fully complied with those now very questionable Princess Conditions. A passenger we spoke with frequently (first-time cruisers), had met the Captain in the bar and asked him as to why all those passengers had been allowed to board. He was advised that, ‘because there were so many without visas; ‘upwards of 230’; it was felt that we could not leave so many in the port’ – ‘It may be that the Indian authorities will fine them $300 or so?’ Princess on-board management rather shamefully, chose instead to laud all the blame on to India for their having supposedly ‘changing of their rules – again!’ That was totally unfounded, as even CIBT (Princess recommended Visa Agents) have subsequently advised that there had not been any recent changes to India’s Visa requirements. Customer Services Supervisor when asked 10 days in to the cruise for the actual affected passenger numbers said ‘we do not know’ and 2 days later their Senior Manager was ‘not at liberty to divulge’. Neither would they clarify, then or since, those passenger numbers involved or as to why they had decided to breach their own conditions. Impressions were given of a major cover-up going on? With a further circa 300 passenger change-over in Dubai, references were made to most of those as not having a visa for India either. That may account to comments upon previously published reviews, referring to there being ‘several hundred’ without ‘the correct documentation’. As ‘converts’ of Princess to the benefits of their Freedom / shared dining (now adopted by other cruise-lines) this issue inevitably would get raised by someone during the table conversation at virtually all mealtimes. On a number of occasions we were also unfortunate enough to be witness to some of the shameful behaviour by staff Passenger Services members , who were disrespectfully shouting and / or talking down to passengers. Most distressing for those passenger and very upsetting for all those around the desk area at the times, including ourselves. Other passenger comments on this have also been previously aired in reviews. Immigration officials from India had boarded in Dubai and started their processing of visa checking the next day and were completed by the following afternoon. With immigration checks being completed the day before we were to arrive in Cochin a standard open-letter from the Princess Legal Department was issued to all cabins, seen as a belated attempt to try to defuse the situation. Passengers wishing to make claims were asked to ‘please reach out to a member of our Customer Relations staff upon your return home’. It also included 3 different e-mail addresses, one for the UK, Australia/NZ and USA/ Canada. Not to be interpreted as having taken benefit from their visas, there were 70 plus with correct visas not wanting to go ashore, ourselves included, elected to remain on-board - in the company of the ‘several hundred’ or so of those without ‘correct documentation’. We were also joined by large numbers of Indian families sampling the on-board bars and dining facilities Potentially, this should allow those passengers to reclaim the visa cost from Princess for their breaching of their own conditions - or so you may have thought! The UK & USA seemed to be given the ‘short-straw’ in that their e-mail addresses included ‘customer services’ as a prefix. Those of us from the UK seeking reimbursement of their visa costs from the UK have been advised to the effect “nor am I able to reimburse you for the visas you purchased”. Do not know what the USA passengers have since been advised? The Australian / NZ passengers were however assigned an e-mail address with a ‘claims’ prefix – but currently do not know how their claims have been dealt with either. This is not helped by Princess installing ‘firewalls’ between those 3 regions – to prevent cross-reading / interrogations of information including their differential pricings, etc. What has since been determined is that Carnival Group adopt a ‘Will be denied boarding ..without the correct documentation’ conditions wording (seemingly now only when it suits them?). However their P&O Australia brand independently conveys ‘May be denied boarding’ –in line with that conveyed by the RCI & Fred Olsen cruise line brands. Got to give it to the Aussies - they get to say it as it is! (They also remove fixed gratuity charges and insist £AUD on-board currency on cruises out of Australia - another lesson for the UK?) None of the cruise-lines, nor VFS Global and CIBT (+other agents?), elect to specifically cite and / or promote the Consulate General of India’s (CGI ) directive which confirms that there is definitely no need to obtain a visa if you remain on-board any ship whilst it is in any Indian Port. Only common-sense really, when most of the crew do exactly the same when the cruise ships are in port. Why therefore should passengers be discriminated against by Princess (+ other cruise lines?) Instead Princess attempt to thwart those same Indian Statutory rights from being recognised, for their own fare-paying passengers - by adopting a form of ‘weasel words’ to try to convey otherwise? At the time of this cruise Princess had included a reference in the Cruise Personaliser; only readable via your insertion of a bespoke passenger booking reference number; that read “Irrespective of any advice obtained from the various India High Commission offices“– (this has however since been removed from their current cruise conditions – see later). Both VFS Global and CBIT have repeatedly failed to advise applicants of that same very clear CGI directive. More recently and rather selectively both of those bodies’ had no such problems in their recognising and passing-on to applicants the recent directive issued by CGI to increase the price for the Indian Tourist Visa by a further £10. Particularly for the benefit of those who also experienced this cruise I paste here a post-cruise ‘explanation’ offered-up by Princess. Not only does it differ to that conveyed in a separate e-mail from ‘them’ (Carnival), it is also at odds with the content of their own letter issued some 2 weeks in to the cruise to all those passengers registering formal complainants (presumably in an attempt to try to diffuse the situation?). Fact versus fiction you may say – “As explained during your cruise, the Indian Immigration Authorities decided that as they had allowed one couple to board without the required visa, they decided others would be permitted to do so as well, but would not be permitted to go ashore in Cochin. This meant those guests who decided to not purchase a visa prior to travel were allowed to board on immigration officials agreement, as opposed to being denied boarding as would normally be the case.” Compare that with, thirteen days in to the cruise – those passengers with no / incorrect visa had still not been notified officially of being able to stay on ship without incurring a penalty etc. for their doing so (confirmed by the Customer Services Desk). Also at that time Princess were still awaiting feed-back from the Indian Immigration authorities, as to whether those with no visas / incorrect visas would even be allowed to even stay on the ship’. A number of those we spoke to ‘without visas’ were still worried that they may have to disembark in Dubai – poor communications to them by Princess and so long after leaving Southampton! The 80-90+% of passengers that had complied fully with Princess Cruises conditions; paying sums which varied greatly between £250 to $1300 per couple (for the sake of an 8 hour stop in Cochin) had not been given any thoughts or respect they deserved by Princess. On the face of it, those passengers allowed to board without having laid out any expense (money and substantial time, etc) for an Indian visas were effectively made in to ‘winners’ - entirely due to Princess not invoking their own Conditions with them. They were not fined as some of them had expected to be. However, an e-mail between one of those passengers without a visa dated the 30.08.16; to / from the CGI (Consulate General India) Birmingham office; was presented and copies made and readily circulated as proof by them that they had personally done nothing wrong. They had merely exercised the very clear and precisely conveyed option, granted to ‘a foreigner’ to remain on board (in any Indian Port) without there being a need to obtain a visa. CGI are the very body that regulates Indian Visas (VFS Global are only their bespoke visa handling agents). That CGI e-mail statement has since been independently validated, along with the same information from their Visa Support Centre, that states:- “A transit /regular visa is not required by a foreigner who does not leave the ship while it halts at an Indian Port. In case a person desires to leave the ship during its halt at an Indian port, he/ she may be allowed to do so on a temporary landing permit not exceeding 3 days. Please refer the link http://boi.gov.in/content/temporary-landing-permit for information on the same.”……. Etc. This tended to put the blame fairly and squarely back on to Princess’s own shoulders. Seemingly the likes of both VFS + CIBT + other agents (?) were all too readily to have ‘supported’ them, however all make their living (money) out of the selling of Tourist visas. Despite this very specific information being re-presented to all of them, up to 12 weeks ago they continued to be in denial of that being an alternative option to buying a visa. Princess however still wanted to maintain that their ‘passengers will be denied boarding etc…’stance. VFS Global when pressed quoted that “You need to check with the Cruise Company as it all depends on their requirements”! Princess of course originally contended “I hope that you can understand Princess Cruises have no influence in this (VISAS)”. Had Princess decided to adhere to their own rules for this cruise, it is not difficult to work out that they would have potentially lost-out upon a 10 -15% benefit from their on-board spend, expensive excursions and their ever-increasing gratuities. Could it be the ‘$ker-ching’, factor had ruled their heads? This is the first Princess cruise that we have heard of some USA passengers exercising their right to sign-out of the daily gratuity charge. What message does that send- out I wonder? I subsequently put to Princess Cruises a number of simple but pertinent questions. In-keeping with everything else presented to them, they have declined to answer. Examples :- Would Princess expect 230+ - 500+ (subject of Princess Ratification) individual passengers to turn up for the cruise embarkation (in Southampton + Dubai) with no India Visa? Would all those passengers have independently risked contravening / breaching of Princess’s Booking & T&C’s and thereby render their own Insurance covers null and void, had they not been given professional advices that they could stay on ship? For Princess check-in staff to have been given conflicting advices by their management on allowing those with no visas to board the cruise; in direct conflict with the Princess’s own conditions; Princess management must have somehow ‘gleaned’ some time beforehand that there would be a major problem on that day concerning visas and how could they have known? By now it was getting to feel a bit like ‘Miss Marple’at this point? PRINCESS HAVING A ‘PREVIOUS HISTORY’ Princess have been asked repeatedly to confirm any of their cruise ships that have ever refused boarding, solely for their not having the correct visa documentation - at the time and since and have failed to do so. Had they done, it may well have served to quash the matter as it would likely have been verifiable from past posted cruise reviews? Princess have however seemingly ‘pulled the same trick’ on their much smaller Pacific Princess World cruise only 2 years ago – see:- http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2229888&page=19 – shelldo1 2.11.16. This only serves to convey contempt for the opinions of their loyal passengers, adding to the already loss of faith and trust that we personally now have of Princess as a leading cruise brand. Our lesson learned is to never believe what Princess Staff tell you whilst on-board, as seemingly it counts for nothing, even if you record them! It is as though no-one in the Princess organisation is willing or expected to take ‘ownership’ and / or responsibility for their own repeated serious staff-failures. Their important Information messages - about Visas, Passports, etc., instead of being conveyed on the front page of the Princess Patter, were only being presented on the Wake Show. Only a small percentage of passengers find the time to watch and on this cruise was further compounded by the frequent time-zone adjustments. 4No. ‘Serious Messages’ were conveyed by the Customer Services Director for the morning of the 24th October- two days after Cochin (had been pr-recorded hence was worded for the day at Sea after Cochin). – See https://youtu.be/EP4mFEEjlZE - 24.10.16 – Item 4of4 which conveys:- “The last ‘serious’ -I want to talk about on the Wake Show is the Visa Issue with India. As you know we have had a Lot of Passengers upset about the India Visa situation. We do know, we do understand. We have sent a letter to your cabin that the Corporate office is dealing with this and I wanted everyone to know a little bit of follow-up”. We had a huge meeting yesterday. Corporate officials flew in from Santa Clarita.” We met with the Chief Immigration and the Chief in Charge of the Ports as well to discuss all the issues that we have with them this cruise, including the onboard issues and some of the visa issues, some of the face to face issues - a lot of various problems. Ah, they know that, they understand that, it is being discussed still.” I am sorry there is no outcome that I am going to be able to give you – this year!” It is something India is slowly working on and trying to fix and at this point I can let you know to watch the near future and see what happens” Princess Cruises have been frequently requested to explain what that message was all about but have declined to do so. So why then did they choose to have put-it-out on TV if Princess (?) and their passengers would not understand it? My perception is that crew members are normally allowed ashore without themselves or Princess having to ‘buy’ a visa for them and that on this particular occasion the ‘local port authorities’ were creating difficulties for them – possibly because they had lost-out on the income from those visas? - See what you can make of the video clip! Tendering - On the same Wake Show / video, another of the CR Director’s ‘Important Messages’ concerned a decision to suspend / cancel priority tendering for Elite Passengers. This seriously questions their skill of basic maths, with 900 Elite out of 3000 passenger (30%) being determined by them as - “ So, as you know as an Elite passenger we normally have priority tendering we can do in some ports unfortunately that’s almost the whole ship so unfortunately we will not be having an Elite tendering lounge for our tendering in to Thailand”. Passports – The taking and late returning of passports was also farcical and rather irresponsibly executed on the part of Princess. They had recently decided to adopt a system whereby the cabin stewards are charged with collecting your passports at various set times, but do not give you a receipt card for them - as normal practice (still common practice on other cruise-lines?). Rather hypocritically of their system, the steward has to get a passenger’s signature each time they return the passports to the guest’s cabins- why different? An added role and responsibility for already over-worked cabin stewards you may think? – Good guess may well be it reduces staffing costs and does not cost the company? Their CS Manager subsequently explained that it is part of a ‘new Princess System’, introduced earlier in the year "in order to save paperwork”! When mentioning the unnecessary nightly junk-mail in our box to him – he rather flippantly responded with ‘that is another department sir’. I also reminded him that there are some very expensive visas inside most passenger’s passports (ours also having the even more expensive 2 Year China Visa). Their ‘new system’ however effectively places their passengers in breach of most, if not all, of the UK Holiday Insurance Company’s T&C’s. It also conveys that Princess are being rather ‘cavalier’ when it comes to the safeguarding of their guests personal and ‘intellectual property’, data etc. The need to obtain a receipt when parting with your passport has been mentioned several times on recent UK Holiday and consumer TV programmes as a ‘savvy tourist -reminder’! Yet another blinkered obsession of considering only their company interests ahead of their passengers when looking at cost-cutting! As one passenger has already posted on this site - “On the last day of the cruise the cabin steward was giving back our passports they were stacked on his Trolley for anyone to touch …………. A bit lax to say the least!” - Wood, Leeds http://www.cruise.co.uk/cruise-reviews/princess-cruises/emerald-princess/read-review-114479/ Re-boarding the ship in Singapore, our passports were again collected, only this time from inside the Terminal bridge link to the ship (no receipt given!). The Customer Services manager advised that they had to account for all of the passports as a Port Authority pre-requisite to leave the port and for Princess to ‘scan- them in’(?). About an hour later, the Captain came over the PA system, apologising for the delay to departure – as they were still missing 19 Passports which were “preventing the ship from leaving the port”. Some passengers were obviously rather more assertive in holding on to their passports with no receipt than we were? As Princess do not seem to want to know about this serious flaw; assuming of course that they intend to continue with it; I would advise taking your passports to the desk (on those stated collection dates) and insist that they give you a receipt for them. Another bit of cost-nibbling to watch out for is the free internet minutes available to Captains Circle members, Platinum and above. The threshold for the 500 minutes free package coming-in has recently been raised to 21+night cruise durations (from 17). The 250 minutes is still however a nice ‘loyalty reward’ to derive benefit from. Also look out for changes to their Future Cruise Deposit (FCD) forms which do not now benefit those passengers without internet access / skills. The option for passengers to be issued with a hard-copy confirmation (to your cabin) has been withdrawn so you can now only receive one by e-mail. The FCD is also no longer useable on future cruises over 45 Days duration (replaced by a supposed 3% price reduction?) – All this is in the very small ‘Specsaver-proof’ print included on the form. A widow-friend on-board had no e-mail address (then) but had been assured by the FC consultant that she would receive a hard-copy confirmation for the 2 further future cruise credits she had recorded on her form. No hard-copy was ever received. Although her credit card had been debited for 2 some three months later her TA advised her that Princess had only credited her with 1. Her companion, who had not even filled in a form for any FCC, had her credit card debited £75 for a single FCC. These are very basic errors and although since corrected, you may wish to carefully check your own Princess particulars on their web-site and upon your Credit Card statement in the future. Feeling reticent about taking out a further FCC it was late-on in the cruise that I tried to drop off our own form with the FC consultant but she was always busy. For the very first and last time, I decided to use their drop-box service. I had taken a photo of the form and only when I had not received an e-mail confirmation did I open the photo file and noticed that, whilst I had completed and signed the form, I had failed to insert our cabin number (my error). Being no hard-copy confirmations issued whilst you are still on-board ship allows them to process these forms post- cruise. However they cannot subsequently ‘manually’ rectify any missing or incorrect details, as indeed common-sense may have otherwise dictated if processed on-board? They are also adamant that this cannot be done retrospectively either. Had it been missing from a form for a cruise excursion I would imagine that someone would have had the ‘nouse’ to have obtained a cabin number? As things have panned-out since, with Princess being in denial of their staff failing or decisions, we had no plans to risk them again in the foreseeable future. Rather disappointing to experience that Princess standards had fallen so fast on this particular cruise, particularly when our recent experiences of ‘sister companies’, on bothP&O and Cunard, they have managed to have ‘upped-their-game’ and standards!. By Princess not wanting to take ownership / responsibility for their own personnel failures and management decisions I can now relate somewhat to the judges cover-up summation in the $40m 'magic pipe' case in which Princess Cruises were given a record fine for dumping waste at sea. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/02/the-40m-magic-pipe-princess-cruises-given-record-fine-for-dumping-oil-at-sea Entertainment Always subjective in terms of personal likes /dislikes and by our past experiences we have found that Princess usually manages to strike it somewhere ‘in the middle”. For the first 10 days or so the main shows were pretty good but then, apart from the odd exception eg. Jo little, they failed to impress many. This showed itself by the drastic fall-off in audience numbers, particularly for the late shows. The Princess show-team were judged by many to be below average, even resorting to miming songs on some occasions. Daytime activities were much the same, poor by any standard. If you strip-away the potential revenue- generating activities of spa treatment, therapy ‘demonstrations’, art auctions, ever-expensive bingo etc there was not much left. Carpet bowls, croquet (infrequent) and the like were all-over-the-place in terms of venue(s) and / or timings. Even the Champagne (fizzy water?-cheap) hoop-la started off on deck with 6 bottles (to be ‘hooped’). This was later replaced to 4pegs to be ‘hooped’ – best of 3 go’s - with only the one bottle prize when brought indoors (most days). Health & Safety gone mad they say – another cost-cutting scheme more-like? The first mention of Remembrance Day was in the Patter & the Wake Show for that very morning - mentioning the Service 11/11 held in the theatre - even the organisers were taken-aback as it proved to be standing room only. There was no pre-selling of poppies either and with their bringing forward the auctioning off of the Navigational Chart 3 days to that same afternoon we had expected the proceeds would have been donated to the Poppy Appeal (as P&O do). The $1,100 approx was however allocated for a Princess Charity. Has supporting the war-dead and associated charities now become yet another victim of being too ‘PC’? I trust that this additional information has served to enlighten those who experienced this cruise and that it may ultimately bring-about a change to Princess’s approach to their cost-cutting programme. Likewise, consider changes to the Indian Visa situation and to assist those when contemplating their future cruise itineraries, with Princess and / or other cruise lines. And now for the Twist - Indian Visa ‘breaking news’:- I am very surprised that this significant change has not been presented in the Main Tourist Media. From the 1st April 2017 the Indian High Commission (HCI) / Consular General of India(CGI) have included 3 ports (Cochin, Goa & Mangalore) to their on-line e-Visa system. Previously this was just for airports and effectively reduces the cost to $50 US pp - reported by initial users as being issued in circa 3 days. You can now find the instructions for an e-visa in the following web-site link - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html Their site information, responsibly and commendably, even warns of the on-line search engine risk of sending you to the wrong site link, by virtue of – “It is advised not to believe or fall in trap of any such unscrupulous elements who claim speedy/express grant of e-Visa and charge money for it” Recent access to the Princess Cruise Personaliser (only accessible after booking a cruise and then using a booking reference) for the current Majestic Princess cruise visiting Cochin in June17 has revealed that Princess have now made some very significant changes to their own Conditions - relatively ‘on the quiet’! It would seem that it had been re-compiled prior to the 1.04.17. and had already removed their previous conditions that we had cited to them as being potentially inequitable, namely:- “Irrespective of any advice obtained from the various India High Commission offices, these requirements will be strictly enforced and guests will be denied boarding if they do not have the correct visas on embarkation.” Likewise they had replaced their “Must have a multi entry Tourist Visa” with “staying onboard or going ashore require an Indian visa”. However, being compiled prior to the 1.04.17, this should be subsequently reworded as it is now negated by the introduction of the eTV for Cochin. Likewise the CGI (+HCI) statements should also now be automatically recognised / accepted (whereby the alternative option of staying on-board, without the need for a visa is an Indian statutory entitlement) Conversely, still included was an addition of “Please note that a regular Tourist visa is required; the Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV) is not valid for cruise passengers” as this would also now become redundant - by virtue of the introduction of the e-TV ie, for all cruise ship arrivals / departures for the current 3 ports of Cochin, Goa and Mangalore. However it took Princess 26 days in to April before formally ‘recognising’ this eTV change. This was done by notifying their passengers by e-mails (+ by respective Cruise Personalisers), however they can still be considered rather ambiguous and misleading by their very wording:- “Please be advised that the visa information for India has recently been updated on your voyage. Most nationalities require a visa for India if staying aboard or going ashore and it must be obtained in advance. Electronic Tourist Visas (eTVs) are now available for visitors entering India via the Cochin Seaport. We do not recommend eTVs for guests going ashore on Princess excursions or independent tours, as processing time at the port may be lengthy and we cannot be responsible if you miss your scheduled tour due to immigration delays.” Effectively, they are advising passengers; despite the much cheaper and easier to obtain eTV being valid; to obtain a full tourist visa at a cost £135- £260 pp (UK) for Princess to be able to guarantee that passengers can take, or rather make, their normally more expensive tours - preferring that their client’s should pay out a further £95-£220 more pp for their 8 hour stay? Wow! This comes across as ‘a really big-ask’ of their passengers (see later Cochin port advices). Princess still do not convey that you do not even need any Visa for any Indian Port if you were to chose instead to remain on-board ship as reaffirmed by both the official Consular General / High Commission of India confirmations That was even the case before and post 1.04.17. It has even been further reaffirmed by CGI / HCI after the 1st April by both those parties (and now endorsed by VFS since):- 1. A transit /regular visa is not required by a foreigner who does not leave the ship while it halts at an Indian Port. 2. In case a person desires to leave the ship during its halt at an Indian port, he/ she may be allowed to do so on a temporary landing permit not exceeding 3 days. Please refer the link http://boi.gov.in/content/temporary-landing-permit for information on the same. 3. Else, you may apply for an e-Visa which is valid for entry through 3 designated seaports (i.e. Cochin, Goa, Mangalore). The validity of e-Visa will be 60 days from the date of arrival in India. This is also verifiable should you wish to do so via these UK e-mail address links:- info.cgibirmingham@gmail.com - Consulate General of India Birmingham (CGI) info.london@hcilondon.in – High Commission of India London (HCI) (similar offices in other countries I suspect?) This ‘remain onboard’ entitlement applies to any Indian port (not just the 3ports accepting the eVT) and is applicable to ‘any foreigner’. VFS Global have now finally accepted this to be the case (despite there being no commission for them). This followed on from their failure to advise an applicant ‘post 1.04.17’ of the e-TV change or the remain on ship /no visa option, and their subsequent confirmation:- “However considering the fact that the Consulate General of India in Birmingham has advised you otherwise. We will raise this with the concerned authority and resolve this urgently for the benefit of our applicants and update our teams accordingly. In the meanwhile we will suggest you to please follow the instructions provided to you by the Consulate General of India, Birmingham”. With the availability of the significantly lower cost and ease in obtaining the new eVT this should now become less of an issue. Those with limited physical abilities and those of us who have been before may opt to save upon unnecessary expenditure. Although it has proved very difficult to get these points across to a number of the various parties over these last six months, it now seems that such persistence has gone some way to produce a significant change. Future cruise passengers should derive significant benefits from these changes, hopefully for many years to come. Or to put it another way - based upon 3,000 passengers; using the UK data; this could now potentially save cruiser passengers an average of £95 - £220 pp = £285 – 660K ($370 - 858K US) per ship! If only Princess were to be more transparent and clear and precise as the Indian Authorities have now proved to be! Their ambiguity only serves to confuse and disappoint. Americans who are offered the option of a 10 year full Indian visa may however wish to consider the individual longer term benefits to them. Apparently the Princess Cruise Personaliser for China is still insisting upon a double-entry visa, even though this was in fact superseded by a 2 year multiple entry visa back In January 2016 in the UK and almost doubled the price. We can only hope that Princess can somehow start to turn things around and begin to act upon genuine well intended customer feed-back? Happy Cruising. Ports of Call Tips Civitavecchia –Have visited here many times. Port shuttle coaches now drop you at a coach terminus which is further from the station for the trains in to Rome (10 Euro return) – now a 20 Min walk . At the coach terminus we noticed there were min-buses waiting with wi-fi facility for 20 Euro pp return journey in to Rome. Naples – Our having done Pompeii, Herculaneum and Amalfi coast ‘to death’ we tried one of the underground Walking Tours – particularly good if the weather turns. The one we did was Napoli Sotterranea (Naples Underground) only 10 Euro pp and took just 90 minutes to do, Others include the Catacombs. Those who did Capri by hydrofoil reported as being too rushed and very busy. Messina – Previously done the Godfather tour + Coastline & Etna (all good).A showery day so this time we opted for a leisurely walk in the town taking in the Messina Cathedral’s Musical Bell Tower at 12 noon. There were plenty of taxis at the port gates with really good value alternative tour options available. Suez Canal – A perfect sunny and mill-pond like waters transit. Narration of the points of interest over the PA was quite informative. Aqaba (Jordan) – Petra tour is a must if not done before. Whilst not cheap, those who did it independently as a group reported their experiencing more and their’s being far better value than the ship tour. The Waddi Rum experience also had good feed-back from those who did it – one for us next time around. There was no visa charge made nor was there a $25US admin fee levied (as was conveyed in the Princess Cruise Personaliser)! A free locally arranged transit port shuttle bus service was provided in to the town terminus and tourist centre where taxis and open-top Ho-Ho tourist bus connections were available Dubai – Do not rely on any references to a ‘Free Shuttle’ as this was a ‘no-show’ - despite the Wake Show announcing there was a service and the Reception Desk ‘making-up’ times when asked. Just take a taxi (cheap) to Dubai World Trade Centre from where you can either walk to the Souk and / or catch the underground to the elevated mono rail to the Burj Khalifa etc. (Pre-book the tower on –line beforehand – circa 16:00 is good (if time allows) to get the sunset as well). Make sure you use the official metered cream coloured Dubai Transport Corporation taxi cabs (pink trim have female drivers). Cochin – The presentation was for us to arrive in to the ‘new terminal’ but the day before it was changed back to the former ‘coal-yard’ berths. They had however managed to tidy it up a little in 6 years and aligned a fair number of Gazebo covered stallholders to screen-off – as we looked down from the ship! If you choose to purchase the eTV /visa and go ashore try the tuk tuk’s – far better experience than any tour. You see more, interact with the lovely locals and it is so cheap. We were told by those that took them that inside the port they were $25US but outside the gates $10US (2-seater) Phuket – Berth was changed to a deep water port and tendering in – shared with an RCI ship. The tender now dropped you some 5-6 miles distance from the town but there were no shuttle buses (free or pay) laid on. The advised 45 minute tender transfer times - turned out to be 15min out & 20 min on return. Port talk gave out false information – ‘you will get ripped off by taxis’ but, as others have commented, it seemingly just got rid of their unsold tours. Not surprisingly the 3 hour tender-wait was to prove very off-putting for some! Taxis were accommodating and cost less than made-out. Singapore – Having done 3 end-of-cruise stays here and this our second port of call we have done all the popular venues ( Sentosa Island, Ho-ho buses, gardens, even Universal Studios, etc) ‘to-death’. Visibility permitting I would recommend the top of Marina Bay Hotel for the best and varied iconic views. Costs of drink and dining-out seem to have risen sharply in 18 months – as some now liken the Singapore Sling at Raffles to ‘taking on a mortgage’! A walk from the cruise terminal to the Marina Bay Centre, to burn off some of those added-calories – took us approx 1 hour (If tempted to do, keep to the RHS pathway leaving the terminal to pick up on road crossing points). Taxi return was 10 minutes and cost us only $5 SGD ($3US). If at Peak traffic times / costs may vary as the city congestion charge is triggered on the meter. Princess made a charge of $8US pp each way for their organised shuttle bus! Laem Chebang – Princess Shuttle bus was laid on in to Pattaya at the seeming ‘standard $8US each way pp’! If doing again we would consider share / negotiate taxi from the port to see the sights en- route in to Pattaya - as some passengers opted to do. Bali – The CS Director came on the Wake Show to say that Bali was dropping the Visa charge claiming the Bali (Philippines) web site was wrong! The web-site was always correct as there never was a charge. Even their Princess Cruise Personaliser had conveyed the same, but also referred to a Princess $25 admin charge which was not levied or referred to– More proof that Princess are literally ‘all-over the place’ with their conflicting Visas advices. https://youtu.be/MJrujPZ2ZG0 - 2.11.16 Benoa / Bali - This venue was really talked-down by the port-talks advisor who gave out scares of high risk of malaria , bag snatchers, muggings etc leading to a number not wanting to risk it (my wife included). Fortunately she relented so we went ashore with friends and thoroughly enjoyed the town and taking a couple of beers on Kuta beach. Tender transfer time was only 15mins not the 40 that was given out! We shared a taxi from Benoa to Khuta Town / Beach (12-13km) – Port-controlled taxi outward was $25US. The return fare from town was only $15US . Princess shuttle-bus with a set time out and return was a staggering $49 return pp! https://www.whatsinport.com/Bali.htm Plans are afoot for the construction of a New Cruise Terminal (berth?) to take 3 ships for 2018. Freemantle – Our second visit here. First-timers, consider an ‘On Your Own option’ - Prison Tour (from $17AUD), free local shuttle bus service laid-on in to the town (walk-able) + a free circuit bus service from town out to the beaches which runs continually during the day. The Round Tower (donation box) and the Little Creatures Micro-Brewery (even do samples). There are also frequent trains in to Perth (20mins travel time) with station just 10 mins walk from ship. Busselton – This was really talked-down badly by the tours advisor; resulting in a fair number, not wanting another long tender crossing (15mins again not the 40 given out!); deciding to give it a miss. Others had suggested again that this was a likely a tactical ploy to get rid of unsold tours? Recent Cunard cruise conveys it to be “surrounded by calm waters and white-sand beaches is a family friendly town that has lots to do for everyone” ‘An absolute gem’ of a stop, noted for being home to the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the southern hemisphere, stretching almost 2 km out to sea. The locals were very warm and welcoming. A nice stroll in to the town but a free local bus was laid on for those that preferred. Display of vintage cars, Craft Stalls, historic court-house / prison cells (free access). There was even a reasonable selection of shops & supermarkets for the size of the places, with local pies + fish and chips proving to be too tempting to resist for many of us. Melbourne – This was our third-time port of call here and arranged to meet-up with relatives. Good Tourist advice provided in the Terminal Building which also serves the ferries service links to Tasmania. There is a convenient tram-link from the port in to and around the city. There is so much to see on-foot in the city that a tour, for many first-timers, may be a waste of money for agile passengers amongst us. Was a shame that we had to depart the port so early for Sydney. Sydney – A very early morning entry, mostly under a full moon with cloud. The Emerald was the largest cruise ship to have berthed here – only to be ‘trumped’ a month later by the RCI Ovation of the Seas. An announced fireworks and tug fire-sprays reception failed to live up to the hype but the iconic entry in itself did not disappoint. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
It would take us some hours to list all the issues (from a customer’s viewpoint) that need immediate addressing by Princess, as a result of our experiences during the 48 day Southampton to Sydney cruise on the Emerald Princess, but here ... Read More
It would take us some hours to list all the issues (from a customer’s viewpoint) that need immediate addressing by Princess, as a result of our experiences during the 48 day Southampton to Sydney cruise on the Emerald Princess, but here are just a few to start with, just off the top of our head: UPGRADING TO MINI SUITE: When we originally booked the cruise, we wanted a mini-suite but were told there were none available. While in UK, we were told by your Southampton office that mini-suite A329 on Dolphin deck was available and an approximate upgrade cost would be around AUD$2,500. We were told that we would have to contact Princess in Australia as that was where our booking was originally made. This was where we found out that if in UK or Europe, it was impossible to call Princess Australia as all calls were diverted by Princess to Southampton office. Not to be deterred, we then emailed Princess Australia who replied that the cost to upgrade to the mini suite would be AUD$11,640 When we told Princess what to do with their AUD$11,640 upgrade, they replied that they would do it for AUD$2,000 provided that we called them on a 13 number within 24 hours (Impossible from outside Australia and they knew we were then in UK). Well, by the time we did contact them (through the kind help of a Southampton offices staff member’s friend in Australia) Princess told us that we hadn’t replied within the 24 hours demanded by them and consequently the mini suite was no longer available to us. COST OF CRUISE DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU BUY IT ! As if this experience wasn’t bad enough, during the cruise a fellow passenger from UK asked how much the cruise had cost us. When we told them AUD$20,000 plus they gasped – they only had to pay the equivalent of AUD$16,000 for the same cruise. An American passenger present then advised us that they had paid a little over AUD$12,000 for the same cruise that we were all currently on There’s a lesson here, never buy a Princess cruise in Australia – much cheaper if you buy in UK or better still in USA ! ! ! INDIAN VISAS We were told by Princess prior to the cruise that we would be denied boarding if we had not obtained a visa for India, whether or not we planned to go ashore there. We had no intention of going ashore in India and would have been more pleased if the ship did not even call there. We then had to spend some AUD$400 to obtain the visas required by Princess but when we arrived in India, the hundreds of passengers that had not obtained their visa’s were told they didn’t need a visa if they stayed on board as we had planned to do. It turned out we were not the only passengers who had been forced by Princess to spend hundreds of dollars completely unnecessarily (and we spoke with several Americans who had been forced by Princess to similarly spend over a thousand dollars [AUD.] to get their Indian visa’s that they didn’t really need as they did not get off in India) To rub salt into the wound, all passengers were then hurriedly sent a letter from Princess’s lawyers trying to shift the blame to the Indian government (obviously to try to avoid the class action that we have been told has been started by passengers against Princess for damages and compensation caused by Princess) Not even so much as a word of apology to affected passengers from Princess for their incompetence ! LIBRARY: Shortly after embarkation we decide to visit the library on board. There was no library attendant and there were NO BOOKS other than a few in non-English languages (see pics) just bare empty bookshelves ! ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT: There seemed to be only a few decent shows put on by Princess and these were repeated over and over during the 48 day cruise. The other entertainment provided by Princess was of poor quality and obviously the cheapest they could get. Most of the remaining entertainment was provided (at no cost to Princess) by the passengers – e.g. Fashion Parades, Choir, Talent Time etc and even those were repeated over and over. Princess even spoiled the Talent Time show by apparently pre-selecting a semi-professional screamer (singer) as the winner when there were several other contestants with more talent in their little finger and who the consensus of passengers gauged to be much better than the person selected by Princess. FORMAL DRESS CODE: Your review of this ship is misleading stating “Most men wear suits, though a number wear black ties, while most women opt for cocktail dresses rather than all-out formal evening gowns.” There were around 8 Formal nights during our 48 day cruise and on each of these nights at least 95% of men wore Black Tie and the majority of ladies wore evening gowns. It was rare to see a man in a suit or a lady wearing other than at her glamorous best. Princess advertising blurb carries on about dress on Formal nights but we were amazed to witness a few improperly dressed male passengers (open-necked golf “T” shirt, no jacket) that were allowed entry to dinner at Crown Grill on a Formal night. When we questioned the Maître D, we were told “We cater for everyone - casual dress is OK”. What about the heavily tattooed male passenger wearing a blue singlet, shorts and scuffs who was allowed entrance to Horizon’s for dinner ? DINING ROOMS: After trying both dining rooms (we had anytime dining) we dined in the dining rooms only a couple of times after finding the food pretty ordinary and the service not much better. On one occasion, my wife sent her meal back 3 times and in the end, we walked out in disgust and went up to Horizons to eat. Other passengers at our table had similar experiences HORIZON COURT: We found the food here ranged from average to excellent and much better than the dining rooms. We found the staff both behind the counters and in the dining areas very good. As a result we ate here most of the time PRINCESS GRILL: We dined here on three occasions and found the food and the service excellent on each occasion. This restaurant was without peer in the dining stakes on board the Emerald ! ROOM SERVICE: Pathetic little menu - food served is terrible – examples - sandwiches made with dry, stale bread without butter, requested 3 minute boiled eggs and received cold, harder than concrete 30minute boiled eggs, etc etc all of which is obviously designed by Princess to save money by totally discouraging passengers from using room service PRINCESS EXCURSIONS: We were disappointed by the lack of knowledge or information / misinformation / (untruths) re ports and tours etc. by staff, especially tour desk and after our experiences during the Civitavecchia and Dubai excursions, we cancelled all 11 of our remaining prepaid excursions Rome excursion 3 October 2016 (winery) 3 ¼ hours in bus – told would be 1 ½ hours – no vineyards – taken to a shed with a few bottles of wine for sale – elderly passenger unconscious after falling backwards off a stool - bus would not start to return to ship – injured passenger not transferred to working bus for repatriation back to ship and forced to wait until bus repaired – tour was to have ua back on ship by 2pm – back at ship 5.45 pm Dubai excursion 17 October 2016 – Elderly passenger about to collapse on the street - no compassion or assistance offered by guide - fellow passenger ill trying to walk back to bus in unshaded blazing heat told by guide “Come on hurry up we must get back to bus” REFIGERATOR: We arrived no board to find a warm refrigerator in our cabin. Although a man came to “fix” it, he told us that it was the best he could do. It was not even cold enough to stop butter from melting, for the entire trip SMOKING ROOM: Its one thing to restrict smoking to one room but quite another to restrict it to a tiny dirty, non-ventilated room with not even enough chairs for passengers who do smoke to sit in there (see pic) ON BOARD CLASSES – EDUCATION: Apart from those talks simply seeking to sell something at grossly inflated prices (by Princess) e.g. Diamonds, artwork, massages etc there was simply nothing ! What about some classes in Photoshop, Chess, Bridge, basket weaving etc. like other cruises ? Again, apart from blatant advertising talks by Princess, most talks and discussion groups were contributed by passengers who advised us that Princess were too stingy to pay them even a small fee or even present them with a small gift or certificate for their trouble ! UNSOLICITED JUNK MAIL: Finding unsolicited junk mail in our cabin mailbox daily and in also daily bulletin was a big turn off as was being personally accosted in public areas by Princess girls trying to sell overpriced massages etc CABIN BOYS: We had a good one. However others were not so lucky e.g. comment one from cabin boy to another cabin boy overheard by passenger while placing room service tray out for collection “They must have been hungry – why can’t they eat with the rest of the passengers ?” STAFF GENERALLY: On a positive note there were some excellent, professional and caring staff on board who went “the extra mile” in Customer Services front desk, Drink waiters, in Horizons, our cabin boy, the bar boys on 16th floor smoking area (Southampton to Singapore) and Manager Michelangelo Dining Room to mention but a few. However, there was also a really ignorant, arrogant senior staff member who had a standard reply to anything one said to him. Obviously, this person never listened to comments/questions from passengers and would simply smile and reply “I’m so glad to hear you’re having a wonderful cruise on the beautiful Emerald Princess” I’m pretty sure if I said to him “The back of the ship has fallen off and there are 400 passengers swimming for their lives” I would get the same smile and the same reply ! THE CONSUMMATE HOST ? After our experiences during a 48 day cruise from Southampton to Sydney on board the Emerald Princess, we simply could not believe the sheer, bare-faced arrogance of Princess cruises claiming over and over to be “The consummate host”. This claim repeated over and over both orally and in writing by Princess during the cruise antagonized not only us but many other passengers as well. We doubt that any Princess staff even know the meaning of the word “CONSUMMATE”? (i.e. “showing a high degree of skill and flair; complete or perfect”) Despite being in business for many years, Princess are nowhere near “complete or perfect” as they so arrogantly claim. The naked and insatiable greed and grab for every possible dollar by Princess, coupled with their sheer arrogance, is really breathtaking! SUMMARY: We have been on many cruises over the years, mostly with Princess. The first time we sailed with Princess was from Sydney to Los Angeles in 2008 and that cruise was magical – when we arrived in LA 32 days later, none of the passengers including us wanted to disembark as we had all enjoyed it so much. It convinced us to cruise with Princess in future. After our experiences with the cruise from Southampton to Sydney, we would never sail with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Wanted to go to the North Cape. This was a trip from hell. Our luggage was delayed for 4 days and when the cruise started there were very few clothing items to buy. After two days of this we asked to be booked on a flight to go home at ... Read More
Wanted to go to the North Cape. This was a trip from hell. Our luggage was delayed for 4 days and when the cruise started there were very few clothing items to buy. After two days of this we asked to be booked on a flight to go home at the next port and they said they could not do this. DON'T KNOW WHY. We could not go on shore excursions or even to the dining room due to lack of clothes. Got very tired of the buffet and not being able to find a seat. The cabins sure need to be refurbished and given a very good cleaning. Our sheets were not changed in our 2 weeks and everything looked dirty. The balcony was not swept once. The entertainment was awful. After 3 nights it just wasn't worth the crowds for the bad shows. Worst we have seen on any cruise line. I also never saw so many misbehaved kids on a cruise. We usually don't travel in summer because of this, but had to for this cruise. Most of the food was medium to awful. Sure was not from scratch cooking. They even had veg soup from a can with some stuff added. I can open a can of this stuff at home. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
To see the North Cape and Norway The show were very Poor They now charge 15% an all bar bills inc a bottle of wine at dinner. Tours expensive $119-$129 per person per trip Some bars were closed for the sale of art paintings i ... Read More
To see the North Cape and Norway The show were very Poor They now charge 15% an all bar bills inc a bottle of wine at dinner. Tours expensive $119-$129 per person per trip Some bars were closed for the sale of art paintings i came to see Norway not art paintings SALE The trip started at went down for dinner could not look out of the windows they needed cleaning we are talking on the 6th deck. there are no transfers to the town at any port so you have to walk a long way through the docks The shows in the evening were VERY POOR very amature you sat for 30-40 to see the show 30 min was the longest time a show was on. They have started charging 15% on all drinks eg- Coke $2 with a charge added on Every day they bobard you with offers ec Beefeter Gin duty free $30 i can by in morrisons cheaper. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if ... Read More
I strongly agree with all the points that a previous contributor-'cherub flashpoint', has already noted; impolite security staff who have no ability to smile, waiting staff that hound you constantly for drinks( God help you if you try to get your own tea/coffee-cups are snatched from your hands and you are told off!!!) or taking plates away from you. Started to fold a blanket after 'movies under the stars' to help the deck attendant- once again snatched from me -' I do that!!!' The tender to Corsica was a joke!!- a raffle ticket system turned into a free for all with the winners being who could get their mobility scooter to block the most passengers.The tour guide on the coach to Rome admitted she couldn't speak English very well- useful as a 'chocolate teapot' We have written a strong complaint letter to the company - no response as yet- I will never travel with them again!!! Luckily this was not our first cruise otherwise it would be our last. It will be Royal Caribbean in the future- they were friendly,fantastic variety of food, great entertainment and overall great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was my 1st cruise my mam has done several cruises and wanted us to experience one,i was so disappointed found the security staff quite rude when getting on ship,a smile wouldn't go amiss,room was ok and kept nice by staff,i never ... Read More
This was my 1st cruise my mam has done several cruises and wanted us to experience one,i was so disappointed found the security staff quite rude when getting on ship,a smile wouldn't go amiss,room was ok and kept nice by staff,i never imagined so many older people thought it would of been a mixed age group,a lot of them were very rude,not a lot to do on there,as I'm a non drinker and not a gambler I was very bored,could never get a seat in the buffet,1 morning I stood eating my porridge,but what was annoying was people had finished there breakfast but wouldn't move to let others sit down,wasnt impressed with food,and while you are eating the staff are trying to clear your plates from under you,i got quite stressed on this cruise,trying to get a settee to sit on during the day to have a read was impossible as they had walking sticks on them but nobody was there,if you smoke please take cigarettes with you as you can only buy marlbrough lights which we don't like,you can buy 200 in shop on board but they only allow you 1 packet out of them till your cruise is over,it felt like we were at school again,this cruise is money money money,having to pay for transfers from the dock to the town your visiting,i wish I could say something nice about this cruise but sadly it was a waste of money,seen 1 good show tom jones tribute,but once again it was getting a seat again,lifts were difficult to get in with all the wheel chairs,wouldnt recommend this cruise for young people,we are 53 but just didn't fit in, Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure ... Read More
Emerald Princess, 2nd July 2016, Northern Europe. This was our 3rd cruise having been twice with P&O on Aurora in 2014 and Britannia in 2015. We won’t be using Princess again and I would like to share our experiences. I am sure plenty of people had an enjoyable week and I am pleased for you if you did. I found many things to be totally not up to standard and as such my review will not be positive. I’ll break it down into categories: Embarkation: Very, very smooth. Yes, it is a bit odd to have numbered cards as you wait in line, but it is a system that appears to work. Good for the suite and elite passengers to get to queue jump...I find that to be absurd and a little demeaning, but it is what it is. Those extra 5 minutes must be worth the pushing in, eh? Cabin. We had an outside cabin with a fully restricted view. This did not bother us as we rarely used the cabin other than for sleeping and changing. You could see the sea or the quayside to see if we were docked, etc, so no problem and a fair bit of cash saved for spending elsewhere; cash you’ll need, by the way, the ship is very expensive. The shower is small, as per expectations, but the shampoos and soaps are a bit cheap to say the least. The bed, as reported elsewhere, was magnificent. Food. Dire. We are generally quite easy to please and my wife is a vegetarian, but not a fussy one, if you know what I mean. But the non-meat options are so poor, she barely had what you could describe as a full plate for most of the cruise. She had to ‘piece together’ suitable meals and all had to be fish with no special vegetarian meal on offer. The buffet is way too small and there are nowhere near enough seats in the Horizon restaurants with breakfast being particularly shambolic. We shared tables, often, which is fine, but it is not a good set up at all. The buffet food was a bit strange, we felt, and the concept of vegetables is misunderstood. If there is a carvery, for example, have carrots, peas and green beans instead of just one with several potato variations. Strange. We only went to the anytime dining restaurants on one occasion and had that been a paying restaurant (well, I suppose we did pay up front...) I would have challenged a number of items on the bill, not least the ‘gourmet burger’, which was poor. We sat down and were asked if we wanted sparkling or still water. I asked for sparkling and so had to pay, though I didn’t know this at the time and no-one said anything...the sharing table guests got still water...free. This sort of mealy mouthed money grabbing leaves its mark and I hope they are pleased with themselves for it. Ports of call: Really, just really? In a nutshell: Bruges. It is not Bruges, it is Zeebrugge, a soulless container port. Bruges is miles away and Princess made it very clear in their port description that taxis from the port exit were ‘not plentiful’. Plus, as Zeebrugge is a container port, you cannot just walk off the ship and make your way to the exit. You could, of course, buy their trip into town for an amazing, amazing, amazing price of $179...each. This is laugh out loud ridiculous. Money grabbing, did I mention that? We stayed aboard, fed up, not knowing how to get to Bruges. Many people went to Blankenberge for about €10, I think, but the itinerary said it was Bruges...no, it was a container port and the sales pitch for a Princess partial excursion monopoly. Copenhagen: Fine. Helsingborg: Nope. Too windy for tenders, so we carried on towards Oslo at walking pace. Safety first, we have no problem with that, of course not. We also got $18 each refunded for the missed port as a port tax rebate. That bought a single drink! Lol. Oslo: Fine, but it left at 15.30 hours...we had missed the previous port, so why not extend this one? Oh yeah, it would probably have cost Princess more, of course. So, 4 ports...well, we got 2 and a container port. Useless. Entertainment: We only checked out the theatre on the last night and saw the very talented Neil Lockwood, very good he was too. We generally avoid cruise entertainment as it is not really our thing, but he was excellent. The theatre is large. Staff: In general they were a delight. However, the more ‘elevated’ staff were not, particularly the Cruise Director, who I found to be generally awful. I’m sorry to be specific, but I was unsure what he brought to the show other than his starring in his own intergalactic movie attitude. Tune in to Channel 29 in your cabin and you can watch him and his sidekick embarrass themselves each morning. We watched it as it was so bad, you just had to. Self-indulgent and childish, it was at best patronising, at worst a pair of adults behaving like gushy school children. Truly dreadful and I’d be all over this if I was running the ship. Haha, that’s likely! Do you really need to have his young woman sidekick being quizzed about not having a boyfriend? That is plain creepy. Am I interested in how the Cruise Director ‘keeps an eye’ on his favourite football team? No mate, I am not. The worst bit about them is how they are totally on-message with the Princess trademark upselling. When asked about the best restaurants aboard, the woman started to pretend to be thinking before coming up with 3 choices...all of which ‘she loves’. Which 3 do you reckon, then? Correct, the extra charge ones! Do me a favour the pair of you...One assumes she doesn’t join the fist fights in the overcrowded buffet then or, indeed, is not a vegetarian or a lover of fresh vegetables. Ridiculous and just out of touch with many passengers. I know some people will like the skittish banter but it is just endless and vacuous, it really is a tired formula. Holiday camp?...maybe. On the extra sea day because of the Helsingborg issues, they came up with a great idea for entertainment...making paper planes...I kid you not. The front desk staff were surly and unhelpful. Sorry, but that is how we found them. I loved the separate velvet rope section for elite and suite passengers...again, really? Do they actually push in like this anyway? Shopping: Awful. Expensive and lacking in choice. My wife bought a bag which was reasonably priced once they had applied the advertised 30% discount to bring it back to the price on the mainland, groan. We found another bag for my daughter back home, but we noticed it appeared to be damaged as we took it to the till. They whisked it away without any offer to knock a bit off. I raised this with the Retail Manager who brushed it all off a little too easily; fact is, I think, the same bag will be back on the shelf on the next cruise or back to the retail outlet village it came from. Buyer beware, that’s all I’m saying. The fragrances are more expensive than on the mainland and everything, everywhere is in dollars, by the way. It is an American ship, so fair enough. But it does slightly affect the cruise experience for Brits sailing from, erm, Britain. Go figure. The art auction: This needs its own section because it was so totally dreadful. Our ‘invite’ was received and the idea of free bubbly definitely got my wife’s interest. Sure, you can choose not to go, but it was a sea day and we were intrigued as to what this auction would be like. I have asked Princess directly to talk to me about our experience at the auction because what I saw does not sit well and I wish to establish what was going on. It was pressure and squeeze and foam and blather, laughable from start to finish except for the bit when bidding started after the auctioneer had taken an age to butter up the increasingly bored audience before she started her comedic selling patois as well as the hyper speed auctioneering spiel. Honestly, we were giggling like kids...perhaps good enough for Channel 29. The art work itself was a mix of horrendous garish coloured works together with stuff you can see in any school art department, no better. Just our two cents! Bars: Wow, expensive. They whack on a service charge on every drink, so we felt miffed about being asked for an additional $12.95 per day, per person for gratuities. We removed these and tipped our room steward ourselves, a lovely guy called Michael. Just increase the price of the cruise by $100 and do away with this contentious gratuity issue, it really does nobody any favours at all. There is a happy hour (2nd drink for $1) in the Skywalkers ‘nightclub’, which is worth taking advantage of if you are late up each night, as we were, though you’ll need to be able to withstand the same standard playlist of music each night...the opening hours of the bars is a little skitty and seem subject to alteration without notice. Generally, they are fine, it is the prices that are not, they are way out of order. Disembarkation: As easy as getting on, absolutely first class. I guess the suite and elite people get carried off on thrones...who knows! The only gripe is that they want everyone out of their room by 08.00. which leads to everyone piling for food in the already inadequate Horizon area...well, not everyone but a lot of people. Given that fellow cruisers love to place bags on chairs designed for actual humans, an act of selfishness that too many cruisers seem to enjoy (not all, but too many), you will find it hard to get a seat. Very hard. The weather was mainly superb and we had plenty of laughs. But it was not great, not by a long way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We had never been to the Channel Isle and thought this was an ideal way of combining seeing Guernsey, enjoying a short cruise and trying out a new ship and cruise line. What an mistake. The passengers were so many that we unable to find ... Read More
We had never been to the Channel Isle and thought this was an ideal way of combining seeing Guernsey, enjoying a short cruise and trying out a new ship and cruise line. What an mistake. The passengers were so many that we unable to find anywhere to sit, bars didn't cater for non drinkers if they required a coffee when we were able to find seating. Queuing for up to 25 minutes in the Horizon buffet at breakfast when they closed a servery 1 hour and 10 minutes prior to lunch. By the time we found somewhere to sit to eat, the food was cold. Eating and drinking from plastic crockery. Waiting up to 45 minutes for a seat in anytime dining for an evening meal. The international cafe where coffee was served must have only seated approximately 60 -70 people if that. There were several hen parties on board and people walking round the ship with bottle of beer and glasses of wine, making it look like Blackpool at sea. The cabin, although small had no natural light as there was a tender straight outside the window, an 'obstructive view' - be careful and check your cabin before making the booking. Was comfortable with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. The steward didn't clear away anything that had been left in the room, like dirty plates or used glasses. The first night entertainment the with the ships singers and dancers was excellent, after that the entertainment went down hill. There were many first time cruisers on board and I don't think the ship has done itself any favours, as there was so many like us would never book with princess again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and I recently returned from a short Princess cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. Unfortunately, this was the most unenjoyable experience that we have had while cruising with Princess, or any other line. Our disappointment started when ... Read More
My wife and I recently returned from a short Princess cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. Unfortunately, this was the most unenjoyable experience that we have had while cruising with Princess, or any other line. Our disappointment started when we entered our cabin. We had never experienced a cabin with bunks on the walls. We elected to have Princess select our cabin. It was not a good fit for an older couple. Getting out of bed in the dark was a hazard because the presence of the bunks did not allow one to stand up straight while getting in and out of bed. The next disappointment occurred around midnight when we were awakened with yelling and jumping from the next cabin. We struggled out of bed trying to avoid hitting our shoulders and called the front desk. The noise was quieted that night. The next morning I went to the front desk to express my concern about the bed situation and the noise in the hallway for the rest of the night and early morning. The desk person said that he would pass on my concerns to the manager and that I would hear back. We never heard back! I took note that a message was sent out prior to the cruise cautioning passengers about the Zika threat. Another warning should have been posted regarding the fact that half of the passengers would involve everyone else in a wild spring break movie. Most of the time things did not operate in Princess Fashion. That is, young people were allowed in eating areas with no shirts and almost no clothes in some cases. I had to write a follow up message to communicate my ongoing disappointment with their customer service regarding an unhappy travel experience. After trading phones calls for a few days, I finally had a conversation with a customer service representative, Kyle. He apologized and was sorry that we did not have our typically pleasant Princess experience. He also indicated that he would share my comments with management so that the service could be improved. In the end, there was very little satisfaction from that exchange. We still have memories of a negative experience, a poor use of money and, especially, vacation time! There was very little that was pleasant about this voyage, save for the entertainment, which is always exceptional. Unless we were in port, there were virtually no deck lounges available, and no way to hear the Movies under the Stars because of the boisterous crowds that could not be controlled by the ship's staff. No one controlled a dress code in the buffet area, i.e. no shirts and cover-ups. (No class!) In addition to having an uncomfortable cabin, the toilet was inoperable until the morning of our first night at sea. Therefore, we requested a refund on our future Cruise deposit and Kyle said fine. After sailing with Princess about ten times, we now longer feel that our business is worth anything. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First cruise with Princess after using many, many other lines. Getting on wasn't bad, but getting off was a long, waiting nightmare. Theoretically there are people who will clear away unused deck chairs, but in four/five days we ... Read More
First cruise with Princess after using many, many other lines. Getting on wasn't bad, but getting off was a long, waiting nightmare. Theoretically there are people who will clear away unused deck chairs, but in four/five days we never ONCE got to sit on the deck: people would come up at dawn and throw a towel across a couple chairs and then never return. There is apparently a very loose dress code for dining; worse, it is unevenly applied. Some clothing passes, almost identical clothing doesn't. The waiters in the dining room were incapable of getting ANY order right. We finally gave up. Ordered a 'late harvest' wine ($4), instead got a port, which we sent back. Showed up on the bill as over $11. Complained, they reduced the price to $6, which of course was still wrong. The room steward was mostly efficient, but was uneven in what he left in the room, sometimes washcloths, sometimes not, never vacuumed; but he did leave a large wet towel hanging on the door for three days. Entertainment was lame, and tour organization was chaotic, barely made it to the "Trolley Tour," a total ripoff. For two, $50--consisted of a quick cramped ride to look at a salt pond, then a roadside geegaw sale, then quickly back to the ship for another load without stopping for even 10 seconds to let anyone TRY to get off a picture--not that there was much to see. Our fault for going to Grand Turk. Don't bother. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Booked 2nd 'best' suite as best suites were soldout. 'suite' was size of balcony suite on other cruise lines "small"!!! All 'non-surcharge dining ' had exact same menu!!!! And primarily fish ... Read More
Booked 2nd 'best' suite as best suites were soldout. 'suite' was size of balcony suite on other cruise lines "small"!!! All 'non-surcharge dining ' had exact same menu!!!! And primarily fish entrees..ugggh!! Ship has no stablizers!!!! Felt every wave, and noise of engines was annoying; old ship!!! New years eve celebration consisted of old, faded, video on large screen 'fireworks' wow!!! No complimentary champagne toast.....buy $40 bottle of cheap champagne if a 'toast' was wanted......cheap cruise line!!! About 1/2 point above 'carnival cruises' which are awful! If you smoke....go on another cruise line!!!! No smoking on balcony, small smoking area on 12th deck......please! Never, ever again! I'm sticking with norweign and holland america; quality cruise lines. We waited 3 years to book a new years cruise; we are totally unsatisfied, feel ripped-off and disgusted with princess cruises!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We survived the cruise despite numerous plumbing and air conditioning problems, both in the staterooms and public areas. The captain delayed our leaving port for several hours because of a problem with potable water (according to his ... Read More
We survived the cruise despite numerous plumbing and air conditioning problems, both in the staterooms and public areas. The captain delayed our leaving port for several hours because of a problem with potable water (according to his public address). Conditions went downhill from there. Passengers complained about non-working toilets or overflowing toilets; lack of hot water for some; lack of cold water for others; air-conditioning that did not cool; slowness of room and dining room service. The weather was wonderful, the ports-of-call(Turks and Princess Cays) enjoyable, and the passengers were as good-natured as possible with the infrastructure difficulties on board. We enjoyed the entertainment. We did not like the Horizon Buffet. With only one out of four stations open, most of the time, the lines were long to get food, and the selection available was limited. (Last month, we sailed on the Princess Regal and the buffet was so fabulous in selection and design, that I wondered how this could be the same cruise line). Dining room food was spotty in quality and taste (some very good, others awful). Crew seemed to try to give good service, but it was slow -- one evening 3 hours, another evening 2 and one-half hours to finish dinner. We definitely will never sail the Emerald again, and perhaps never again on Princess, because I question management's wisdom in allowing this ship to sail right out of dry-dock with such problems that affected the comfort of passengers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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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