This was our second Princess cruise in 6 months (we usually cruise with Celebrity) and our first on the Emerald Princess. Although we’d lowered our expectations after our first Princess experience – this one week cruise was liberally ... Read More
This was our second Princess cruise in 6 months (we usually cruise with Celebrity) and our first on the Emerald Princess. Although we’d lowered our expectations after our first Princess experience – this one week cruise was liberally peppered with disappointments.
We were excited to have booked a mini suite, and whilst my husband was happy to have a bath to use (I prefer showers), the bathroom was disappointing in that the same basic toiletries were supplied, with no extra frills. Additionally, although the ship is supposed to have had a major refit, they obviously forgot the toilet seats as ours was scratched and had dubious looking brown stains ingrained within. Needless to say, much extra paper was used in covering it on each visit! We were offered a fruit choice to be delivered to the room, but after 2 days it still hadn’t arrived and had to be re-requested. We also expected a larger balcony, and whilst the seats reclined and had footstools, there was barely enough room for two of us to sit comfortably at the same time.
Our major source of disappointment with this cruise, however, stemmed from the various dining opportunities - involving both quality of food and the service provided. We knew from our previous cruise that the Horizon Court and Café Caribe buffets were both small and overcrowded with limited choices, but we didn’t expect such poor quality of food. Whilst looking appealing, we soon became familiar with the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The cakes and muffins were beautifully decorated, but were often dry and inedible. Toast at breakfast was mass produced in advance and resembled hard and dry floor tiles (not that I’ve ever eaten a floor tile) and the French bread could have been used as a secret weapon if we were attacked by pirates. Being vegetarian, the lunchtime options were very limited (more about this later) and in the end I settled for a sandwich and chips.
We, along with most passengers it seems, selected anytime dining. During our last cruise in November, after the first night, you could request a dining time for the following night from the maitre d’ and all seemed to go smoothly. On our way out of the dining room on the first night, we requested a table for the following night, and Romeo (a surly man whose name does not fit his personality) barked that we had to telephone the ‘dine line’ to book a table.
As a rule abiding person, I duly telephoned the dine line at 8am the following morning, only to be told most emphatically, that tables could not be requested in advance. Even when I said that I was following instructions, we were told that we couldn’t request a table. We again mentioned it to the charming Romeo who was adamant that we should phone the dine line. We didn’t bother again. Instead, we had to queue each night, often being given a table buzzer to let us know that we could be seated. Now, whilst we are friendly people and like meeting new people on cruises, we prefer to eat at a table for two, so that we may or may not chat to people alongside. On one particular evening, we, and the couple behind who also requested a table for two, were seated at tables that were so close to each other (no more than two inches apart) that we might as well have been seated at a table for four. As it happens, they were friendly and we had a very enjoyable conversation, but still…..
As mentioned earlier, I am a mainly vegetarian, (I will eaten some limited fish) and the options for dinner were extremely limited. One evening the chef ‘forgot’ to prepare a vegetarian option (although the maitre d’s equally surly assistant argued that this wasn’t so – perhaps she couldn’t read a menu!). In fact, Miss Misery, Romeo’s sidekick, liked to argue most things we said. It was only thanks to a lovely trainee manager called Maria from Peru that I managed to get a meal most nights as she took great pains to bring me forward menus and to arrange alternatives if necessary. However, the chef was either very poor at making ‘off piste’ meals, or simply couldn’t be bothered as a vegetable soup consisted of cut up vegetables floating in salty water and a mushroom pasta dish was so watery it needed its own flotation device.
There was also the mystery of the magical appearing broccoli. One evening my husband Malcolm requested some broccoli with his main course (how unreasonably demanding of him). The waiter, on bringing his meal and being asked where the broccoli was, told my husband that there was none left on the ship. Anywhere. The following evening, being seated at a different location, with a different waiter serving us, Malcolm again requested broccoli. Amazingly, a large portion appeared with no difficulty at all! You may think that perhaps the ship had taken another delivery of broccoli, but as we had been at sea that day, we think it unlikely to have been helicoptered in especially for us. We leave you to draw your own conclusion to this.
However, our greatest criticism must be reserved for the Afternoon Tea Incident. I love formal afternoon teas, but can rarely persuade my husband to go to them, so I was delighted when he agreed to join me and another couple we befriended, to tea on a rainy sea day afternoon. After we had been seated at a table for 8 (with four people we had never met before), Malcolm quickly nipped back to our room for something. The waiter appeared and started pouring out tea for everyone. I asked if he could pour tea for my husband too as he would be back in a minute. After shouting aggressively, ‘Who?’ and my repeating this three times, he refused to pour out the tea, saying that he would do it when my husband returned. He then proceeded to pour out the tea, wagged his finger at me and shouted ‘And don’t complain if it’s not hot!’ I was left speechless (an unusual event for me) and the others on the table (who I had never met before) said that he had been ‘unbelievably rude’ and one American lady said ‘Well, you’ve been schooled haven’t you!’ They all agreed that I had done nothing to warrant this outburst and were shocked by it. When my husband returned a couple of minutes later (his tea was still hot) I told him what had happened. At that moment the Head Waiter came along to ask if everything was alright and Malcolm told him what had happened, and pointed out the waiter to him. Malcolm asked if the head waiter would deal with him, or would he like him to. The head waiter was apologetic and said that the waiter would be dealt with by him.
Later that day, the Food and Beverage Manager (Sildui) called the room to apologise for the incident and said that the waiter had been disciplined. He seemed to think that a second hand apology would suffice. It won’t. I said how embarrassed I had been by his behaviour and how it had ruined my tea experience. He didn’t seem too bothered by this and just apologised again. The following day, Luciana (the supervisor at Passenger Services) also called to apologise. She said that it was all they could do and thanked me for bringing this to their attention. When I said that I was dissatisfied with this, she said that she could do no more (no mention of a face to face meeting, or a meeting with senior staff). When we said that we will bring it to the attention of Head Office she said that was fine! Don’t they care about leaving the customer satisfied?? We will certainly be communicating with Head Office!
One other thing that was apparent, and may account for the poor service, food and the fact that the staff seemed totally disinterested in the passengers, was the fact that there were no senior officers or staff in attendance on deck. We only saw the cruise director twice, on stage, when we attended shows, and his staff were only present when they were running quizzes. The captain was conspicuous by his absence. Unlike Celebrity where the officers make themselves known to passengers and can really see what is happening on the shop floor (or deck in this case).
In order to get some on board credit, we have put down a deposit for a future cruise. However, we checked that it is totally refundable, as unless there are serious improvements made, and our ongoing tea issue is resolved, we will be availing ourselves of this refund. Read Less