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444 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

I resisted Cruising fir 40 years. this is the Baltic which made all the difference. St Petersburg alone is spectacular but all towns (Bruges, Helsinki, Talinn, Gdansk Copenhagen, Stockholm etc.) are brilliant. on board it's like ... Read More
I resisted Cruising fir 40 years. this is the Baltic which made all the difference. St Petersburg alone is spectacular but all towns (Bruges, Helsinki, Talinn, Gdansk Copenhagen, Stockholm etc.) are brilliant. on board it's like visiting a good restaurant every evening with excellent service and a 5 course meal.. really full buffet breakfast. but want coffee or tea with your free and excellent pastries, outside the buffet and it's $3-5. it's the same tea bags as in the free buffet. Not sure what the beverage called coffee served in the buffet, is. Internet costs $50 every few hours!. In short everything above food and accommodation at a premium price, including alcohol. Each bottle of your own costs $15 corkage,. with small exceptions, entertainment is "end of pier" quality. Lectures should be avoided. "Health" lectures sell you snake oil. excellent gym, saunas, swimming pools etc. Cabin is a bit pokey,(all of them!) but who cares. they intentionally provide minimum information about ports, to encourage you to take their excursion, also at a vast surcharge. we booked our own excursion to St Petersburg, before departure with TJ tours. Half the price! their excursion had 30 people coaches. we had nine. Our Guide was young Professor at their Uni. Better tour, cheaper than applying for a Russian Visa on your own. They say that if you're late from an excursion not theirs, ship sails without you. A scare tactic, TJ, guarantee to return also in time. you will be assailed with art auction sales, jewellery sales, discounted to twice normal price from their absurd pricing. I'd have thought the loss of goodwill in not providing free coffee/tea throughout the ship overweighed the income, let alone the profit. In the end, it's Hi-de-Hi at Sea with seriously upmarket food.. many ike that, obviously. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was our first Princess cruise - we have been doing Celebrity, but decided to try Princess primarily for the Baltic itinerary (Celebrity does not visit Gdansk Poland). The Emerald Princess was quite nicely finished, the common areas ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise - we have been doing Celebrity, but decided to try Princess primarily for the Baltic itinerary (Celebrity does not visit Gdansk Poland). The Emerald Princess was quite nicely finished, the common areas and dining are attractive and clean. The ship layout and size is very similar to the Celebrity Solstice class vessels. Embarkation at Southampton was very smooth and fast. We arrived at the pier at around 12:30 and were in our room by 1:15pm. Luggage arrived very shortly after. Our veranda stateroom was on the stern and had a large balcony with 4 chairs and a side table - it could have easily accommodated 6 people. The room itself was nice and featured a large closet. Overall, the room was similar to what we have been booking (concierge class balcony) on Celebrity, but it was touch smaller and didn't have a couch. We had traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room and were matched up with 2 great couples. Service in the dining room was attentive. Food on this cruise was a mixed bag - the best was as good or better than anything we've had on other cruises. Highlights included lobster (twice), prime rib and chateau briand in the dining room, fish and chips in the Wheelhouse Bar (the ship offered 3 "pub lunches" in this bar during the 2 week cruise)and the meals we had in the Crown Grill (ribeye) and the Share (Lobster and all the courses). The Horizon food court generally felt rather crowded - worsened by an inexplicable daily closing off of half the seating in the evening. Another highlight was the buy one, get the 2nd drink for $1 happy hour in the Wheelhouse bar. Misses @ the Horizon included no free gelato bar, no sushi (yes, Celebrity has both in their food court) and the fact that the pizza was located one pool area away from the Horizon seating area. We loved the Movies Under the Stars (do beware of seemingly dry seat cushions really being wet), and the Starwave Band, who played in various venues all over the ship. The shows that we saw in the Princess Theatre were pretty lame, with the exception being the finale of the Voice of the Sea contest. The Princess Theatre and Explorer Lounge are undersized for the 3,080 passenger capacity - no seating available unless one arrived very early. Excursions were disembarked very efficiently and the gangway never felt crowded when leaving the ship. We had remarkably good weather for this time of year in the Baltic, sunny or partly cloudy in all ports except for Helsinki (drizzle and 2 big cloud bursts during the day). All the ports were delightful, with the exception of St. Petersburg. If I were to make a repeat visit to the Baltic, I would prefer to skip this port -its residential areas are drab, dreary, depressingly poor in stark contrast to all its baltic neighbors. The showy palaces and museums, churches and the like are very shiny and well kept, but also very crowded. Beware - the Hermitage Is not air-conditioned or ventilated - extremely crowded and very hot. Russia requires an expensive visa or the use of a ships tour - what an unfriendly country! Gdansk and Tallinn were the star ports of call - full of history, well kept and full of places where one could happily spend lots of time exploring, eating and drinking. We will be back with Princes for a British Isles cruise (better itinerary than Celebrity) and possibly a Western Mediterranean cruise (I want to visit Gibraltar). But, our main line will remain Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We selected this cruise primarily for the itinerary, as I have been somewhat disappointed with the Princess cruise line in the past and it is not my first choice for a cruise. We have previously sailed both the Baltic and the Norwegian ... Read More
We selected this cruise primarily for the itinerary, as I have been somewhat disappointed with the Princess cruise line in the past and it is not my first choice for a cruise. We have previously sailed both the Baltic and the Norwegian fjords on Holland America, and loved both cruises, but had never been to Belgium or Oslo. We also wanted more time in Copenhagen than we had been afforded on a past cruise and the prospect of going to Hamlet’s Castle from Helsingborg, a small port in Sweden, was very appealing. We found that our expectations were met in reverse order – we loved the ship but found the itinerary and shore excursion offerings disappointing. We entrusted Princess to handle our transfer arrangements and our hotel in London the night before the cruise started in Southampton. We arrived after an overnight flight about lunch time at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. As the name implies, the hotel is close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, which was an excellent location for visiting one or both and enjoying activities around that part of the Thames River, which are numerous. The hotel, while a bit modern for my taste, was new, clean, comfortable and well appointed; we had a king sized bed, reliable air conditioning (neither of which is ever a "given" in England) and a large breakfast buffet (included in the cost) in the morning. The Princess representative at the hotel the day of our arrival was very helpful with tips on local restaurants and attractions. The coach was on time the next morning for our transfer to Southampton and we arrived at the cruise terminal shortly after noon. Embarkations was a breeze – swift, problem free, and our luggage was in our room before we were! We had time to make the embarkation lunch in the dining room which, excepting the Crown Grill, was the best meal on the ship; we were completely unpacked and settled well before the safety drill. (This was our 15th cruise - 4th on Princess - and it was our best embarkation ever. Kudos to the Southampton staff.). The Emerald Princess is beautiful, well-maintained, and designed better than other Princess ships (Star Princess and Caribbean Princess twice) on which we have sailed. Our stewards provided wonderful service, as did the bar tenders at Vines, our favorite place to hang out. (If you imbibe at all and are offered a complimentary “Sip and Sail” package on Princess, as we were, grab it! I’m not sure I would actually pay for the package as it is quite expensive and I could never consume 15 drinks a day. But we like wine and a few other cocktails and it really kept the boat charges down.). The cruise director staff, the port lecturer, and the entertainment in the piazza were all very good. The ship did a nice job of celebrating the 4th of July, including having some of the musicians make up a Dixieland jazz band to perform in the piazza. For all Downton Abbey fans, there was an exhibit in the piazza one night of Downton Abbey costumes. (Since we are fans of the show, and had tickets to visit Highclere Castle when we returned to England, this was an added bonus that we had not expected). Having previously sailed in balcony cabins, we opted for a mini-suite and were not disappointed. (For all Holland America fans and comparison purposes, the mini-suite on the Emerald was conquerable to a Vista Suite on the Rotterdam or Maasdam). We had plenty of space and were very comfortable. The only odd thing is that the balcony is completely exposed, which does limit one’s privacy and can make for a breezy and sometime wet time on the balcony. But I will always pay the extra money for a mini-suite on Princess any time that I can do so. The itinerary on this cruise, however, was a disappointment. In Belgium, this ship docks at an ugly, industrial port 2 hours away from Brussels. We took an all-day shore excursion which included a drive around the city, with landmarks such as the Royal Palace and parks being pointed out, then a walking tour of the old city. It started to rain just as the walking part of the tour started – which marred the process considerably. Lunch was included and, except for the dark chocolate mousse dessert, was not much to my taste (too much cheese and cream sauces). We then had a little free time in the city before the long drive back to the ship. I’m glad I did this tour, but I would not go out of my way to do it again. Copenhagen gets mixed reviews from this visit. The good: the ship docked at the closer-in quay and we were able to get a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus quickly. We first visited the Rosenberg Castle; the Danish Crown Jewels are kept in the basement! We walked thru the grounds of Rosenberg – which are very lovely formal gardens – to Amalienborg, the home of the royal family. The palaces (4 in all) are not open to the public, but we stayed for the changing of the guard, which (while not quite the beefeaters at Buckingham Palace) was fun and interesting. The bad: Our afternoon was less successful, as it poured rain. Copenhagen was even more congested than London (if that is even possible) and it took us over 3 hours to make what should have been a 90 minute loop in the bus. It really soured our evening canal cruise, which we gave up dinner to do. The canal boat was wet, cramped, and the engines so loud it was hard to hear the guide. In retrospect, I would not have purchased that excursion, though on a beautiful night it would probably be a much better experience. Helsingborg in Sweden proved to be the biggest disappointment of the entire trip, since we missed the port. I had attended a port lecture (which was very good) and was looking forward to seeing that quaint, ancient town. We had booked an excursion by ferry to Kronberg in Elsinore, Denmark, also known as “Hamlet’s Castle,” and were really looking forward to it. However, it was again pouring rain, there were gale force winds, rough seas and high waves. As this was an anchor and tender port, the Captain felt the conditions were too dangerous to do so, and we really could not blame him at all. We are not mad about, just disappointed. (And he did send a written letter of apology to all passengers, in addition to his announcement, which was an added courtesy). Oslo is the port that made this trip worthwhile. It is a lovely city. And it helped that the weather was glorious that day – blue sky, about 65-70. The boats dock close in (the Regal Princess was docked right across from Akershus Fortress which is an even better berth to have – I don’t how that ship rated that berth and we did not) and it is an easy walk to the city center. We took a walking tour which was informative and toured City Hall, where the Nobel Peace prize is awarded. We then broke off from the tour, as we had booked the noon English tour of the Royal Palace in advance. (NOTE: this tour is popular and sells out so book in advance online). That was the highlight of the entire trip! WHY Princess does not offer this as a shore excursion is a mystery to me. Moreover, we needed a LOT more time in Oslo. The 4:00 departure was much too early. Many other passengers felt exactly the same way we did. Also, if you go, make time to watch sail away down the Oslo fjord. (Geiranger it is not, but still beautiful). We had considered taking the train from Southampton to London, but a transfer was included in our Princess package so we again let the ship handle the arrangements to get us into Victoria Coach Station, as we were staying in London on our own after the cruise. We had an excellent coach driver who provided some great information, both about Southampton and about the top London sights and how to get around easily. (He actually made we want to stay a day or two in Southampton to see the sights there. Again, why is that not an option offered by Princess?). He deviated from the route into London to drive us past Runnymede and Royal Holloway, a division of the University of London which has some spectacular buildings, as well as through some of the very affluent suburbs of London which we would never have found on our own. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
As a first time Cruise - i have to say how impressed I was. From the start of the cruise everything was made easy, checking in at the port was a doddle, off car park shuttle bus, cases taken off us - a short walk to terminal and check in, ... Read More
As a first time Cruise - i have to say how impressed I was. From the start of the cruise everything was made easy, checking in at the port was a doddle, off car park shuttle bus, cases taken off us - a short walk to terminal and check in, straight through and straight on ship. It really was so easy, directed to cabin, which i was worried about - but it was very nice. The ship was big, but easy to get around, the facilities were more than I expected and the service was what I would expect from a 5 star hotel. Nothing was to much bother as far as the staff were concerned, the food was good, you can go posh for dinner or casual whatever takes your mood. Plenty to fill your time whilst at sea, and we visited some nice ports. Excursions well organised, but plenty of help if you want to do your own thing.. Departure at end was so easy, known of that awful rushing you have at airports. Will i do it again, yes, be a foul not to. A great experience, looking where i can go next time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Hello All, Just got back from our 7 night Northern European cruise on the Emerald Princess. Overall we had a great time but there were some areas I wish to touch on in this review. My wife and I are in our mid-30s and I work in the ... Read More
Hello All, Just got back from our 7 night Northern European cruise on the Emerald Princess. Overall we had a great time but there were some areas I wish to touch on in this review. My wife and I are in our mid-30s and I work in the hotel industry so know a bit about what food and service levels should be. Embarkation - very quick, waited about 20 minutes and our room was ready when we boarded at about 12PM. Our Cabin R308 Balcony: Very quiet room except for the first day as it is near the luggage room. New mattress was amazing! I know all about mattresses and was very impressed with this one. The new sheets and duvets were fine, but not great. Balcony size was bigger than expected from reading the reviews on here. TV channel selection was not great and the TV guide for the movies was often incorrect. Cabin Steward - Excellent through the entire cruise Food: Overall very mixed experiences Breakfast in-room dining was fairly poor as there was no hot items such as eggs, pancakes, etc. Service was always on time though. The buffet I would say was OK not great. Lots of food options but not a lot of taste. Lunch: The buffets were what I would consider to be poor to average. With the exception of the soups the food was not good. Also, finding a table was also a constant struggle. Too many 6 top tables VS tables for 2 people forcing couples to take a 6 top round table. Pizza: Overall it was pretty good but from the reviews I was reading before the cruise I thought it would have been better. The burgers and hotdogs were also just OK nothing great. Dinner: Crown Grill: By far the best meal we had on the ship. Great food and great service. I had the lobster and it was excellent. It was nice you could also get a small sample of all of the desserts. Looking back we should have eaten here again. Salty Dog: Overall we were most excited about the menu as we were looking for a change of pace after so many formal dinners. Overall this was a really strange experience. We did not have a reservation but we went in around 7:30PM but it still looked empty. Mostly cruise officers eating there that night so it must be popular with the crew. The host said that the kitchen is very small and they can only serve 10 people at a time. We were seated about 8:15PM and had good service throughout the dinner. Between my wife and I we tried 6 of 10 menu items. My spicy beef short rib was really disappointing but the grilled cheese was pretty good. Lobster mac and was good not amazing. The desserts were really both really good (coffee and doughnuts & strawberries and cream). Glad we tried it but I wouldn’t rush to go back. Overall seemed liked a missed opportunity. Also I assumed the bar decor would match the menu but this was not the case at all. Main dining room: Pretty good, the 2nd formal night there was good service and food. Buffet: Not great, again bland food and crowded. Intl Cafe: Enjoyed most of the food and specialty coffee was pretty good. Nice to get soy milk as an option as well for lattes. Coffee: The regular coffee I thought was pretty good even though it’s from concentrate. From all the talk on the message board I was surprised the taste was good. Fitness Area: Was able to get to the gym 3 times and the treadmills were all in good shape. I think I counted 20 of them. The water fountain was not cold water which was not good. Casino: The card dealers all had a lot of attitude which made losing that much more painful ;-) Photographers: Took some very good photos! Disembarkation: We carried our luggage off and were off the ship by 7:40AM. We got a cab to the train station and made the 8:00AM train to Waterloo. We were in London by 9:30AM. I would highly recommend taking the train if you can manage your luggage. Trains leave about every 30 minutes to Waterloo and it’s a direct train. Going to the ship we left from Paddington but had one change in Reading. That was also fine but with luggage it’s easier to do the direct to Waterloo. All that being said we still had a great time on this cruise. We had amazing times in Copenhagen, Oslo and Bruges. A bummer we had to skip Sweden but these things happen. For us it’s more about the ports than time on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We have cruised to the Mediterranean twice and wanted to see Northern Europe. Very nice, the ship is lovely. The food is good, I read a lot of reviews that said the food was terrible, did not find this. Excursions are good, needed more ... Read More
We have cruised to the Mediterranean twice and wanted to see Northern Europe. Very nice, the ship is lovely. The food is good, I read a lot of reviews that said the food was terrible, did not find this. Excursions are good, needed more time in Norway, we took the museum excursion. Wonderful excursion just rushed. The service is excellent in all areas. One of the reasons we usually sail Princess. Embarkation and debarkation was a breeze. Very fast and organized. Where they do need improvement is entertainment, a couple of lounge shows were great, most fell short. Only saw 2 shows in the theatre and was disappointed. Overall we loved this cruise and will sail Princess again. This was our 4th cruise with Princess. The carpet in our cabin should be replaced, other than that cabin was clean and Francis did a wonderful job keeping it that way. Older ship but still very clean and beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We took this cruise because we enjoy the scenery of Norway and chose Princess cruises as we have always been very happy with the 10plus cruises we have taken with this cruise Line. Details of the experience follow - Embarkation and ... Read More
We took this cruise because we enjoy the scenery of Norway and chose Princess cruises as we have always been very happy with the 10plus cruises we have taken with this cruise Line. Details of the experience follow - Embarkation and disembarkation - efficient and as well organized as we have always found with this company. Stateroom(D330) and steward (Ruel)- The stateroom was very comfortable and the new bed very very luxurious as were the pillows. The furniture was a little knocked about but I think that reflects more on the folk using the cabin as the company replacing it every time someone miss uses it. Ruel our steward was exceptional we couldn't have asked for better. If we asked him to sort out any problem eg a warped door or broken light bulb it was reported immediately to the relevant department and sorted out very quickly. Dining areas and food- We used the buffet for breakfast and lunch and the traditional dining room for the evening meals. We never had to queue for food as at least one reviewer mentioned. Yes it was busy for breakfast but we always found seats. The food in the buffet was varied and quickly replenished as it was consumed. The one thing that is always difficult for any buffet whether in a hotel or on a boat is keeping food piping hot and it was sometimes not as hot as one would wish. The traditional dining was good and the dishes varied. We enjoyed our evening meals but I have to admit we are not 'foodies' and gourmet food not our desire. Service- always excellent. The crew were superb but if people treat them as we heard some people treat them then I am not surprised if they reacted without smiling or gave curt answers. Excursions- expensive but the 4 we went on were well organized and very informative. I particularly would suggest not missing the 8hour tour in the Lofoton Islands visiting a traditional fishing village and various of the islands and the Alsund visit to the pass of 11 bends. The ship, Emerald Princess, is not one of the new breed of Carnival Ships but we enjoy it's design and decor. In fact we booked another cruise on this ship to South America in 2018. I have read a number of negative reviews on the ship, its crew, its food etc. I think our cruise must have been in another dimension on a ghost ship as I don't recognize their comments as being of the Emerald at all. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Contrary to some of the reviews I have seen, I found the ship to be in excellent condition. All carpets and chairs looked new and all venues were well maintained. Embarkation and disembarkation both went very smoothly with no waiting at ... Read More
Contrary to some of the reviews I have seen, I found the ship to be in excellent condition. All carpets and chairs looked new and all venues were well maintained. Embarkation and disembarkation both went very smoothly with no waiting at all for our group. The cabins which were both outside were spotless and well serviced throughout the cruise. Our room steward was called Joel and nothing was a bother to him. He is to be recommended. We did anytime dining which worked well for. us. As early diners we never had to wait for a table. The food was generally good but we did have to return two courses where the meet was too tough or not cooked to our satisfaction. These problems were quickly resolved by the staff with replacement dishes. In fact we often preferred to eat at the Horizon where the food was, again, usually very good. Princess have the best cakes at see in my opinion. We don't use ships excursions and usually organise our own where we want to see anything specific. This usually works out well for us and saves a lot of money. We had plans for Stockholm but had to alter these because of docking changes. In fact the ship did not get into the scheduled port of Stockholm. We docked in Nynashamm which is a long way from Stockholm. The Captain's excuse was low water and crosswinds but four other cruise ships succeeded. There was no wind. In fact I was told weeks before by Princess Head Office that we would dock in Nynashamm so what can you believe? USA passengers had been told months before of the change. Our last port was Gdynia for Gdansk and my booked taxi did not turn up. In fact there were plenty taxis available at the port gate at a cost of up to 60 Euros return. The driver even waited for two hours in Gdansk for our return journey. A great port to visit. Entertainment was mostly very good as expected. We loved the shows . Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Have always wanted to travel Scandinavia and was not disappointed. The embarkation went smoothly as did the disembarkation. Our cabin was roomy, clean at all times. Our cabin housekeeper wasnt exactly overfriendly but was pleasant. Didnt ... Read More
Have always wanted to travel Scandinavia and was not disappointed. The embarkation went smoothly as did the disembarkation. Our cabin was roomy, clean at all times. Our cabin housekeeper wasnt exactly overfriendly but was pleasant. Didnt go out of his way to make the effort. Being our second cruise with Princess a little disappointed with the sit down dining. Food was not up to the standards of our previous cruise so we opted for the buffet style dining most of the time. Didnt do many cruise excursions through ship but the ones we did were not disappointing. Through Alla tours we did the 2 day Russian tour and was definately not disappointed. Service throughout the rest of the ship just perfect. Friendly staff, always wanting to make you feel special and served always with a lovely smile. We have booked next year for a med cruise once again with Princess and I am sure it wont be disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
excellent embarkation and disembarkation .Luggage arriv.ed very quickly the outside cabin was roomy with a separate large area for clothes usual small shower room. The cabin had comfortable beds and pillows and was kept clean by a ... Read More
excellent embarkation and disembarkation .Luggage arriv.ed very quickly the outside cabin was roomy with a separate large area for clothes usual small shower room. The cabin had comfortable beds and pillows and was kept clean by a friendly cabin steward.Food was good we opted for open dining and was pleasantly surprised by the organisation We sat with different people each night as a shortag.e of tables for two.The choice on the menu good and food arrived quickly.The buffet area at breakfast and lunch was too small for the amount of passengers with tables not being cleared quickly The hygiene policy was not very good no handgel on entrance to dining area and people ignored the hand gel option at entrance to buffet.Shows were good and varied with bands in various venues unfortunately there was only one hour of ballroom dancing to taped music on the last evening so this cruise line would not be an option to us again.Drinks were expensive and a gratuity charge of %15 also added the re was a long wait for drinks .We found the ship was very money making orientated.We did not participate in tours as ports of call are accessible and tours expensive.the ship was clean and all staff friendly Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
A lovely cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, made even more enjoyable by the weather. We did not buy official excursions as even in the quietest ports of Olden and Skjolden pleasant walks availed themselves taking you to idyllic sights. ... Read More
A lovely cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, made even more enjoyable by the weather. We did not buy official excursions as even in the quietest ports of Olden and Skjolden pleasant walks availed themselves taking you to idyllic sights. Overall the vessel was clean, well maintained and with a very pleasant decor. The ship itself was larger than we like, but despite the presence of over 3000 guests and children (half term week) there was always somewhere to sit on deck. Staff without exception were pleasant and polite. Cabin steward (E714) was superb. Noting previous reviews despite the high number of passengers we always found seating in the Horison restaurant, even at peak times. Ocean view Cabin E714 being towards the stern does from time to time pick up engine vibration, and certainly being over the stern thrusters does vibrate badly when the ship is docking. Despite this it did not cause loss of sleep. The let down was the standard of food in the DeVinci dining room, whilst good it wasn't great and certainly not to the standard we have enjoyed on other lines. Of particularly poor quality was the meat, usually overcooked and very tough. I can't understand why the Chef de Pass did not address this. I was also disappointed that you had to pay a significant sum to sit in the Sanctuary, a area on deck designated free of children. Likewise and unlike other cruise lines we have sailed with we could not find a jacuzzi reserved for adults only, this meant that given the school holidays jacuzzis and pools were overtaken by children. Despite criticisms it is not enough to put us off cruising with Princess but would not do so during school holidays. Embarkation and Disembarkation was easy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
First time with Princess Cruises for many years and found standard very good. Requested fixed dining, second sitting and table for 2. Staff very helpful in changing to quiet table. Pleased to see they still have the Champagne ... Read More
First time with Princess Cruises for many years and found standard very good. Requested fixed dining, second sitting and table for 2. Staff very helpful in changing to quiet table. Pleased to see they still have the Champagne Waterfall on first formal night ! Large Art Gallery Attended and enjoyed Art Auctions on board and made a purchase (a first for us !) Ports Did not take any tours as partner has reduced mobility and had been to Rome, Florence and Pisa before so explored ports independently. May 18 Barcelona Shuttle bus $10 return per person. Took taxi to Park Güell but should have booked park tickets in advance as long wait for entry. May 19 Ajaccio, Corsica Tender to go ashore. Stroll through pretty streets as far as Musée Fesch May 20 Civitavecchia Free shuttle bus into town May 21 Livorno Shuttle bus 5 Euro return per person Good for shopping ! May 22 Genoa Loved Genoa ! No shuttle bus but Hop-On - Hop-Off City Tour Bus stops right outside Cruise Terminal. Found this an excellent way to get overview of city. Did similar tour in Marseille. May 23 Marseille Shuttle bus $14 return per person May 25 Gibraltar Mini-Bus Shuttle to town £4 return per person ( was able to take folding wheelchair) Very busy but fun ! Entertainment First class and varied entertainment including Pingxin Xu on the dulcimer, two shows with Peter Howarth who has sung with The Hollies and played as Roy Orbison on stage,plus excellent shows from the resident singers and dancers topped by the production 'Magic to Do' Another plus: Events on 'Downton Abbey' theme including exhibition of original costumes from the series. All in all a very enjoyable cruise Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Some recent reviews of Emerald Princess have been very critical, so I will try to be as impartial as possible when writing this review, in the hope it will be of assistance to others considering a cruise on this ship. Comparisons are made ... Read More
Some recent reviews of Emerald Princess have been very critical, so I will try to be as impartial as possible when writing this review, in the hope it will be of assistance to others considering a cruise on this ship. Comparisons are made with similar cruises in the last 18 months on Celebrity Reflection, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. In addition to these cruise lines we have cruised with Azamara (brilliant) and P&O (standards on downward spiral). In total we have now been on 21 cruises over the last 14 years. On this particular cruise it would appear that Princess were trying to rival their sister company, P&O, to see how many wheelchairs, electric scooters and mobility aids they can amass on one ship. To be fair, anyone with mobility problems will always favour cruises out of Southampton, instead of enduring flights, transfers and all the associated hassle. With so many wheelchairs etc. on board is the space taken up in the relatively small lifts. There were also the those with electric scooters who drive them straight into the lift, thus blocking the doorway and preventing the really disabled, in wheelchairs, from entering. Otherwise, with a large ship like Emerald Princess, there is plenty of room for everyone. SHIP - Emerald Princess is starting to show her age (launched 2007), although the constant maintenance, tended to keep most areas looking presentable. A lot of the deck furniture, is however, past its use by date and looking a bit shabby. For instance, the tables and chairs on the aft deck, aft of Cafe Caribe, have the fabric of the chairs coming apart and the table tops are badly stained. Although the waiters clear the tables and place new napkins and cutlery on these tables, they do not routinely clean them. In Cafe Caribe and Horizon self service restaurant, they do at least give the tables a quick wipe when clearing them. HYGENE – With Norovirus so common on cruise ships, we were surprised at the lack of precautions. We are used to being “invited” to use the hand sanitizers when coming on board and when using the restaurants. There was no such precaution on Emerald Princess. As a result around 10% of passengers did not bother to use the sanitizers. Regrettably it is the very same passengers with no desire to clean their hands who are unlikely to wash their hands after using the toilet and thus spread germs. When you use the serving tongs and spoons in the self service restaurants, these germs will be transferred to your previously clean hands. TIP – My routine is to use the sanitizers before and AFTER visiting the self service areas. In the main restaurants, with those who fail to use the sanitizers, there is another potential for the spread of germs. By providing each table with a basket of bread there is the possibility of spreading germs where someone with unwashed hands moves the bread around to find the variety of their choice. This is further compounded, because I have seen the bread left in a basket when the table is cleared, used to fill new baskets for the next diners. I prefer the system on Cunard ships where the bread is served to you individually, thus making the process more hygienic. Of course there is also the potential for the spread of germs via the salt and pepper pots, etc., etc. All this could be overcome by the crew members on the doors directing everyone to the hand sanitizers. Perhaps Princess do not adopt this procedure until AFTER an outbreak of Norovirus, by which time it will have ruined the cruise for countless passengers. For anyone still reading, I will be addressing the many positive features of the cruise in due course. CABIN – We had a standard balcony cabin. It is of reasonable size and the décor, while a little dated, was attractive. The use of large mirrors helps to increase the sense of space. While the carpet was regularly swept, a thick build-up of dust remained in some corners. There was plenty of hanging space and ample hangers for most people, although we always bring some extra hangers. Drawer space, shelves and cupboards were also plentiful and greater than that we have experienced on Cunard and Celebrity. A common failing on this and other ships, is the lack of strong enough lighting for shaving or applying makeup. Those of you under 50 may not appreciate that as you get older you need much stronger lighting as your eyesight deteriorates! The shower room was also a reasonable size, but lacked storage space, an area where Celebrity excel. Also Celebrity is the only cruise line where we have experienced a night light, so that you do not wake your partner when using the bathroom at night. The age of the ship was apparent, with cracked and missing grouting on the tiled floor in the bathroom. There was also a worn shower attachment which would not stay in a higher position. The temperamental vacuum toilet failed a few times, apparently because either the system was blocked (not by us!!) or the vacuum pipe had come loose. The flat screen TV was a reasonable size and picture quality was generally good. The remote control, was worn, with some buttons no longer working. When I mentioned this to our cabin steward, he told me to use alternative buttons. BED LINEN AND TOILETRIES – During the refit this year, new mattresses had been fitted. They are described as Medium Firm with a pillow top. We found them reasonably comfortable, although a little on the firm side, but different people have different preferences. There was good quality cotton bed linen and a reasonably lightweight duvet. Both feather and polyester filled pillows are provided and we found these comfortable. Bathrobes are provided on request. The bath towels were adequate, but certainly not bath sheet size, nor could they be described as light and fluffy, but showed only minimal wear. Shower gel and shampoo/conditioner dispensers are provided in the shower, plus a bar of soap. A tube of body lotion and paper tissues are provided. HYGENE – Bearing in mind that the beds and pillows are used daily by a succession of passengers for at least 50 weeks each year, I find it surprising that neither mattress protectors, nor pillow protectors are used. CABIN STEWARD – We found our cabin steward to be friendly and efficient. He soon learnt when we went to breakfast and dinner and the cabin was cleaned during these periods. Unlike Celebrity, “Please make up my room” cards are provided. Bearing in mind that each steward has 19 cabins to clean singlehandedly, he did a good job. FOOD – This is one area where Princess have always excelled within this price bracket of cruising. In our opinion they continue to do so. There was a very good selection of food both in Horizon self service and the main dining rooms. There is also a grill, pizzas and ice cream available. The quality was generally good, although we have found that better quality cuts of beef are used for the steaks on Celebrity and in particular, on Cunard. There were some very good soups, particularly the chilled ones and the pastry chefs remain excellent, There was evidence of cost cutting, with, for instance, very small glasses used for fruit juice at breakfast, but the waiters did ask if you wanted a second one. The jam and marmalade is not provided in individual pots, but is served to you at the table. A sensible arrangement, reducing waste and we found it to be very good quality. On Formal Nights there were the usual Lobster tail and Beef Wellington, etc. on the upgraded menus. We found that special requests to deviate from the menu would be accommodated where possible. WAITERS – We were on anytime dining and therefore saw a variety of different waiters at dinner as well as breakfast. (Which we ate in the main restaurant) The standard of service differed greatly, from those who provide the absolute minimum, to those who excelled, giving advice, making sensible recommendations and generally made sure you enjoyed your meals. We soon found it beneficial to be seated in the areas with the best waiter service. At busy times, particularly during breakfast, there were simply not enough waiters to cope with the demand. This resulted in very slow service, but it did improve after a week, with extra staff brought in from other areas. ANYTIME DINING (No time dining) – A letter in our cabin assured us that with Anytime Dining we could reserve a table at a time to suit us. On the first day, I tried to make a reservation and was told on the first day you had to just turn up to be seated. As a result there was a queue and delays, particularly if you wanted a table for two, which are thankfully numerous. On the second day I was told I could only make a reservation for 5pm for any night during the cruise. Apparently, when the ship is full, or almost full, reservations are not possible. TIP – Try to arrive at less popular times, before 8am for breakfast and before 7:30pm for dinner and not on the hour or half hour. Otherwise you are given a pager in the evening, with common waiting times of 20 – 30 minutes. DRESS CODE – What dress code? Other than on formal nights the dress code was smart casual. This was described as what you would wear to a nice restaurant at home. It appeared that many took this to mean what they wear to collect their kebab takeaway. Tee shirts and shabby jeans were common, with stomachs hanging over the waist bands. Not a pretty sight. On Formal nights a majority of the men wore dinner jackets or dark suits and the women were is smart dresses. A minority decided that an open neck shirt and jeans was formal enough for them, with their women dressing down as well. DRINK PRICES – The prices of drinks remain very high and even the drink packages are very expensive, unless you are an alcoholic, who drinks all day and night, in which case they are good value for money! Looking around the dining room each evening it was obvious the grossly inflated prices prevented the majority from buying wine. On average I would estimate that 1 in 5 tables had drinks and these may have been purchased within a package, or from on board credit. SUN LOUNGERS – Yes that old chestnut. There were instructions that sun loungers could not be reserved and any towels or property left on them would be removed after 15 minutes. Nevertheless, towels, books etc., were in place from early morning, with the same people reserving their favourite places each day. As we are not serial sun worshipers, it was not a problem for us, but on this ship there are limited areas protected from the wind and these were in demand. SECOND CLASS CITIZENS – If you have not paid the grossly inflated prices to take the tours organised by Princess, any right you have to get off the ship in port is taken away from you! When the ship is anchored and tenders are used there will be long delays in getting ashore. You must first wait for all the passengers on tours to leave, then wait in the allotted area after collecting your tender tickets. In Corsica, the ship arrived at 12:00 and we eventually stepped ashore at 2:45. The problem is only going to get worse, with the ever larger ships unable to dock in the small ports. Then with the larger number of passengers on board - 6000+! – it will take even longer to get ashore. Why do those of us who want to go ashore independently put up with this “Second class citizen” treatment from the cruise companies? TIP - I believe the answer is to arrange your tours independently in advance. Time and again we have found we can arrange an identical tour, with a smaller group, for as much as half the cost charged by the ship. Many of these tour companies also guarantee to get you back to the ship on time. Having booked your independent tour, tell the ship you are being met ashore at a certain time and insist on leaving with their tours. If they fail to permit this, tell them they will have to refund the cost of your tour! SHUTTLE BUSES – This continues to be another scam. With the larger ships, they are unable to dock close to the towns, but are usually in a commercial dock some way from the main port. For instance, in Barcelona the terminal for the larger ships is a 30 – 45 minute walk from the Southern end of The Ramblas. We were told that shuttle buses had been arranged, for which we must pay $5 each way. To buy the tickets it was necessary to join a long queue, followed by another queue to wait for and then board the buses. What we were not told was that the town provides a shuttle bus at a cost of 3 euros each way. There are also taxis at a cost of around 10 euros each way, for 2 – 4 people. TIP – Use alternative transport in Barcelona. You can use the port shuttle bus into town and then a taxi from wherever you find yourself when you want to return. I would not however recommend a taxi from the centre of the town, as traffic congestion could make it more expensive. In Marseille we had to pay $7 for the shuttle bus, charged to our accounts. Having charged us, we were told that Princess could not be held responsible if the shuttle bus failed to get us back to the ship on time! More long queues to board the shuttle buses at both ends. ENTERTAINMENT – This is an area where there has been serious cost cutting. No well know acts any more and very limited live music playing around the ship. Whether you like the shows in the theatre is very subjective, so I will leave it for others to comment. MOVIES UNDER THE RAIN - Princess are keen to claim you can watch "Movies Under The Stars". Unfortunately if it is cold or raining, the open deck is not an ideal place for a movie theatre. VALUE FOR MONEY ? – Princess appear to have made decision to reduce the prices of their cruises to a point where they will fill all the cabins, thus having a captive audience from which they can make up the difference with highly inflated prices for tours, drinks, photos, etc., etc. It is of course up to you what you choose to spend on board, but this cruise, at around £78 per night, per person, for a balcony cabin, offers excellent value for money. It would have cost considerably more 10 years ago, which is probably one of the reasons cruising has become so popular. Would we cruise on Emerald Princess again? If the price and itinerary suit us, yes. In fact we have already booked another cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise as we had never been to The Canaries. Ship was very busy and like others on this cruise we could not get a seat in International cafe or crooners bar and had great difficulty getting a seat in Horizon at breakfast and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had never been to The Canaries. Ship was very busy and like others on this cruise we could not get a seat in International cafe or crooners bar and had great difficulty getting a seat in Horizon at breakfast and lunch. Our biggest complaint are the Tips. We paid the tips but feel cheated as it seems that others did not. Princess should increase the price of the cruise and include the tips. The staff do an excellent job and deserve to be fairly compensated. Good choice in all restaurants. Share specialty restaurant was a great experience - plenty choice of seating there. Excellent choice although expensive. We only attended 2 shows, one was very good , one was not so good. It would be good if the food theme for the Horizon evening buffet was intimated in the Princess Patter the night before. We stumbled across an excellent Indian buffet which we could easily have missed had we gone to the traditional dining option. Our steward Raymond did an excellent job looking after us. Cabin excellent, kept scrupulously clean with a bath and spacious balcony. Very comfortable bed and pillows. Not much to see in the ports which were mainly industrial due to size of the ship. We did not take any organized tours. One shuttle bus was free, another we were charged $10.00 each when the distance was readily walkable. Overall a nice cruise but it would appear we paid more than most due to the gratuity system. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and I were looking for a different cruise from the norm to celebrate our anniversary. We had sailed on the Emerald previously (and her sister ships) so the ship was quite familiar to us. Embarkation was one of the easiest we ... Read More
My wife and I were looking for a different cruise from the norm to celebrate our anniversary. We had sailed on the Emerald previously (and her sister ships) so the ship was quite familiar to us. Embarkation was one of the easiest we have ever experienced. We started our trip five days early in London and took the transfer from Victoria Motor coach Station to the ship. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and I figured that we would have to cue up for a while before getting on the ship and being guided to the buffet till our room was ready. No line and the cabin was ready before we got on. Total time from bus to cabin was fifteen minutes, fantastic! Our cabin was E220 and was better than I had expected. The beds were placed on the side of the room instead of the back and it made the cabin seem larger that it was. The room was an obstructed port hole room but it was not overly obstructed. The lifeboat outside the cabin was a smaller one and not one of the tenders which gave us a pretty good view. The only thing that you have to watch out for is the frequent crew going past the window for maintenance or testing. The shows were pretty good but not fantastic, The first comic though was not to my liking. I am one of the people who really enjoys the trivia contests, so having lots of them was great for me. I do wish that the prizes hadn't become so cheap. We do play for fun but a prize other than a key chain, fridge magnet or pen would be nice. The ships on board activities (Princess in general) don't overly excite me, so besides the trivia, I mostly find quiet places to read. The Skywalkers lounge is a pretty good place for some quiet time during the day. The pools are all open air on this ship and with the cool air for the first three days meant that going for a swim was out of the question. The pool was well heated which would have permitted swimming but getting out of the water would have not been nice. This is not the fault of the ship, except that they could have used one of the other ships which have a convertible roof over one of the pools, for this cruise knowing that it is cold in April in Britain at this time of year. I mostly try to avoid the buffet as I prefer to go to the dining room for my meals. Days in port the dining room is closed but there are other options besides lining up in the Horizon buffet for your lunch. We were ashore at every port (that's why we went on this cruise in the first place), which meant that we sometimes didn't get back till the afternoon and didn't feel like ruining our dinner. On a few days at sea they had pub lunches in the Wheelhouse bar where you can enjoy a nice British pub meal. The ship's shore excursions were pricey (aren't they always) so we did our own. Princess Cruises generally have a higher content of older passengers (as do Holland America which we have also cruised a lot on), but for some reason this cruise had a higher percentage of mobility challenged patrons. I have not seen the quantity of scooters that I saw on this cruise. If you can use the stairs I highly recommend it or you will be waiting for an elevator for quite a while. All in all the ship gave us exactly what we were looking for, a good vacation to a place we hadn't been to yet. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Short itinerary and date was ideal - especially as we went as far South as Lisbon. Travelled down a couple of days in advance just to elongate the holiday, stayed near Romsey at the Potter Heron Hotel - very good, visited Romsey Abbey, ... Read More
Short itinerary and date was ideal - especially as we went as far South as Lisbon. Travelled down a couple of days in advance just to elongate the holiday, stayed near Romsey at the Potter Heron Hotel - very good, visited Romsey Abbey, Salisbury Cathederal, and Poole Quay. On departure day, dropped cases off at the Mayflower Terminal at 11:20, parked car at Southampton Airport - (£42.00), train and taxi back to the boat, thus saving over £30:00 on the CPS quayside parking charge. Boarding was swift and efficient (Elite Line), and so on board by 12:35 - result. Nice surprise to find our Cabin available -) pity P&O cannot emulate this efficiency). Emerald Princess was looking great, and I was pleased with the changes made in the recent refit, although I suspect the major layout change to the aft entertainment venue, now looking like a large well appointed Public House - all leather seating around tables etc, no long rows of banquette seating - is more reflective of EP's forthcoming move to the Australian Colonies than refurbishment for say the UK or US market. The crew were all happy, and so a great atmosphere exists on Emerald Princess. Our Cabin was A204 0n Deck 12 - Aloha. Inside. Good size, certainly enough space, and no hassles here. Our Steward Armut - exceptionally efficient in the usual Princess way. We took Anytime Dining - worked very well, no major hold ups the longest wait was roughly 10 minutes max on the Captain's Welcome on board night. Service was very good. We Dined in the MDR on 5 nights all great, Crown Grill x 1 (Again very Good) and the Buffet x 1 - Lunch was either the Buffet, Pizza or Hamburger Grill, and we ate ashore twice for lunch. Breakfast was Buffet x 4 MDR x 3. Minor gripe about the Buffet, during our week on board the was never a menu on Display so you had to visit the servery first to see what was on offer very strange. Entertainment was pretty much spot on - 2 very good Crooner's in the Wheelhouse - Louise McMahon, and Crooners - Paul (was on the Royal P last year) both brilliant. The main shows were also great the only exception being the comedian on the third evening fortunately he got off in Lisbon. The Nightclub DJ was unfortunately exceptionally poor - no passenger interaction whatsoever, sadly the DJ also hosted a 'Great British Sailaway' at La Rochelle to celebrate HM Queen's 90th Birthday - totally shambolic - perhaps Princess UK should take some pointers from there colleagues in P&O. Overall apart from the non communicative DJ all was pretty good. Service was to the usual high Princess Standard. Took the Drinks package great move as the UK£ v US$ is not very good. Bearing in mind a glass of Wine + a pint of Beer is around 16USD 7 alcoholic drinks per day takes care of the initial outlay. Went ashore at all ports but did my own thing primarily as we have been to Vigo - 4 times, and Lisbon in excess of 10. La Rochelle was new, so a walk around the town more that sufficed - lovely French sea side town with lots of good eateries. In Lisbon following some research took the ferry across the river, local bus to the Statue of Christ the King - fantastic views, beautiful Chapel, the a short tram ride to the local mainline rail station and trained across the bridge (fantastic views) back to Lisbon, and walked around 1.5 miles back down to the old town and lunch. Total cost of the transport was around 9 Euros each - not a bad deal at all. Guernsey suffered in the weather was the worst of the trip - a mixture of thick sea fog, then light rain - so St Peter Port in the rain not a great place, didn't even attempt the around the island bus. Overall 9/10 for the trip, great sights, great service, great ship - Princess again - absolutely - Eastern Med or Caribbean next time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on this ship and really enjoyed it. The. ship was very clean and well presented and the crew were extremely friendly and professional. The only fault which we had - was the delay in bussing passengers ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on this ship and really enjoyed it. The. ship was very clean and well presented and the crew were extremely friendly and professional. The only fault which we had - was the delay in bussing passengers to La Rochelle as you are not permitted to take a taxi or walk into port. Tendering to Guernsey was also a slow process though to be fair- there was a heavy sea fog that day. The entertainment on board was quite good and my only fault would be the timings of some of the alternative fun shows, which clashed with the 8:15 set seating dining, meaning that we missed numerous good shows. This needs to be looked at so that all passengers can benefit from all of the entertainment - after all we all paid the same price for our equivalent cabins, so should all receive the same benefits! This was a cold weather cruise, and unfortunately the SkyWalker bar did not open until 10 pm. This would have been fine if you could watch "sail off " on top deck, but as it was cold, it would up have been nice to have a good indoor viewing venue , to watch the sail off in the comfort of indoors, and with bar facilities open. We only booked one shore excursion to Estoriil beach In Lisbon, which really was too early in the season. I did check before booking that the seafront promenade was open- and was assured that it was . However when we got there NOTHING at all was open on the sea front - not even one restaurant or toilets. As It was a cold rainy day, we therefore had to simply return to the bus.! Otherwise a pleasant and enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
To take my elder mother (88years) to Santiago de Compostela. It was her first cruise and she was very impressed with the ship. As usual we found all the crew to be most helpful and friendly. We took the Princess tour to Santiago from ... Read More
To take my elder mother (88years) to Santiago de Compostela. It was her first cruise and she was very impressed with the ship. As usual we found all the crew to be most helpful and friendly. We took the Princess tour to Santiago from Vigo about an hour on the bus each way, so didn't have time to explore Vigo. The ships tour of Lisbon Highlights took us to the Alfama Quarter, Belem Tower, Monument to the Discoveries, 25April bridge. The town was very busy and we didn't really have enough time at Jeronimos Monastery, only visiting the church. The Maritime Museum was closed for renovation so we went over the 25April bridge, the same design as the golden gate bridges in San Francisco, to the base of the Christ the King monument, 100m high which was very impressive. Ken Broadhurst gave the destination lectures. He is very knowledgeable, gives a sense of the history with slides and appropriate music with gentle humour and useful information for today's visitor. La Rochelle was my favourite port, the small harbour with Street cafes narrow roads with specialist shops and a relaxed atmosphere Sea days on board were spent at various quizzes shopping 'events' and eating! Some venues were rather overcrowded at times especially the International Cafe. We had lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar but waited until after 1pm by which time the queues has dissipated. We had anytime dining meeting different people each night which I much prefer and did not feel the need to try the speciality venues maybe we would on a longer voyage. The wait for a tender to visit St Peter Port was long - nearly an hour but it was very foggy which seemed to slow everything down but we got there in the end. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and quick. Now looking forward to cruising the Baltic on Emerald Princess later this year with my husband. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise based on the transatlantic itinerary. Embarkation and lifeboat drill were flawless. We particularly like the inside lifeboat drill where you are able to sit in air conditioning for the 20 minutes or so. Other lines ... Read More
We chose this cruise based on the transatlantic itinerary. Embarkation and lifeboat drill were flawless. We particularly like the inside lifeboat drill where you are able to sit in air conditioning for the 20 minutes or so. Other lines force you to stand in the heat awaiting the arrival of other passengers. Our cabin on Aloha deck (234) was good as well as the steward, who always kept everything neat and clean. It was forward which was only an issue when it was very noisy during particularly rough seas. We chose anytime dining, but elected to dine every evening at 7:30 pm. Carlos, not sure of his title, reserved our favorite table 412 nightly. Carlos was the most upbeat member of the staff. In fact his bubbly personality was contagious making each evening great. Our waiter were extremely pleasant and efficient, always making sure that we had everything that we needed. Food was good, but nothing spectacular. For the most part the food at both the buffet and dining room could have been hotter. Port were all good as were the tours in Lisbon, Bilboa and LeHavre. The tour guides were both enthusiastic and knowledgable. We were happy to book ship tours prior to sailing, thus saving money and time. The entertainment schedule was lacking. The theater should have been utlized more often. We tried on three occasions to see the magician in the Explorer Lounge. The lounge was always filled to overflowing. I complained and was told that the entertainers were new and needed the theater for rehearsal. We were looking forward to viewing Movies Under the Stars, but the weather never cooperated. Luckily, the theater was used for movies later in the cruise. I attended Zumba classes with an excellent instructor. All and all it was a very good cruise and I wouldn't hesitate to sail again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Was pleasantly surprised that the complaints about the Emerald Princess were rectified for our stateroom D727 and throughout the ship. I did here people complaining about some of the most nitnoid items that I had to laugh. To the 19 ... Read More
Was pleasantly surprised that the complaints about the Emerald Princess were rectified for our stateroom D727 and throughout the ship. I did here people complaining about some of the most nitnoid items that I had to laugh. To the 19 year old chubby boy whose day was ruined because the plate in the Horizon Court buffet wasn't hot and to the 40 year old lady who pitched a fit in Cafe Caribe because the coffee was brewing and she "didn't think she should have to walk 15 feet to another station" - get over it. There are more of these types but I won't bore you with them here. And these are the people who will write Nast reviews here. Background - we travel solo extensively throughout Europe and the service on this cruise was equal or better than what we expect - so no complaints at all. 1) Karn, our steward, was very welcoming and efficient and kept the room in tip top shape. 2) all of our servers were very engaging and fun from risqué jokes to card tricks to remembers our names. 3) food was great, well presented, tasty and warm. 4) essentially while on the ship everything that was promised was delivered. Now - we are in a digital age and Princess has to catch up as their pre-cruise information sharing is horrendous. "Additional Charges Apply" is NOT an acceptable answer when I'm looking for the cost of a beer, the charge for the Crown Grill, or the charge for the thermal spa package. Knowing that prices can change is one thing but Princess should be able to come up with a price list on the website maybe 2 weeks before the cruise. Also when a booked customer sends an email requesting this information the at the minimum should get a response! Princess GREAT job on the cruise HORRIBLE job with getting information to this first time cruiser pre-cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
All in all, a very nice time! The Spring Breakers were partying up a storm, but never got obnoxious or intrusive...there were just ...em...a LOT of them. That being said, it was my bad for not taking this into consideration; my kids are ... Read More
All in all, a very nice time! The Spring Breakers were partying up a storm, but never got obnoxious or intrusive...there were just ...em...a LOT of them. That being said, it was my bad for not taking this into consideration; my kids are grown and Spring Break hasn't been an issue for a number of years, so...oh well. I'll know better next time. We stayed on the Lido Deck (15) in L102 - pretty much directly on the center point of the bow...AND IT WAS FABULOUS!!! OMG - I will never stay in the lower decks again after this! Lido is where it is all happening, and I didn't have to wait for elevators, etc. Just walk out of the room, and BAM! ALL the fun! Didn't feel any ship sway, slept like a BABY and zero overhead noise! The upcharge restaurants (Crown Grill and Gastro Pub - did not do Share) were well worth it, but the Dining room selections were meh, and so was the Horizon Ct buffet. Food does not seem to be the star on Princess as it is on other lines. The Casino (in my opinion) is pretty lame - all slots and table games - a couple of sad pusher machines. No claws, no throwers. I like slots, but I want coins spilling out, not "credits" on the face of the machine. ESPECIALLY when I am paying cash to play them, not my ship-board account. Again, just me. (DH did a job on the Blackjack tables tho - came back w/ $350 after betting only $40 - but he's good at that kind of thing). Embarkation to Princess Cay (Bahamas) was a long and boring proposition waiting for the tenders, and it was all just a big beach party...I should have just stayed onboard. But Grand Turk was easy as pie and great fun! We booked a Segway tour which was completely hilarious! Our Guides KJ and Manny were so patient and thorough - the Segway can be intimidating at first, but really, it's easy! And COMPLETELY fun - do it, you won't be disappointed! All in all, it was a nice cruise. We had much better service on Carnival, but again, it was Spring Break, so I'm not going to down Princess on this - they were packed full. We'll try Princess again, but we'll probably go with Carnival first. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
A bit of background, I have had somewhere around 13 cruises, mostly on RCI, so still a newbie by many accounts. I have enjoyed all the cruises I have taken, and I don’t really have a preference for a particular line. I have mostly been ... Read More
A bit of background, I have had somewhere around 13 cruises, mostly on RCI, so still a newbie by many accounts. I have enjoyed all the cruises I have taken, and I don’t really have a preference for a particular line. I have mostly been on RCI only because if I travel with my sister in law, or some friends of ours, they are loyal royal. I am not. Variety is more important to me. So, I have a goal to try all of the mass lines. So far, from my vantage point, they are all more alike than they are different. I sometimes travel with my husband and our two children, and sometimes I travel with friends. This time it was myself, and my college roommate from many moons ago. This was my first Princess experience. For reasons I can’t explain, I thought that this line would prove to me that there are some lines that are superior lines. I didn’t really come away with that idea being validated. However, I did very much enjoy Princess, and will certainly cruise with them again. And, I do realize it isn’t fair to compare any line with just one voyage under the belt. Two voyages on the same line are often night and day in comparison. At any rate, on to the review of this sailing: So I think it is very safe to say this isn’t considered a “typical” Princess sailing. (very likely another reason why it didn’t deliver the experience I expected.) This was a 5 night sailing on Emerald Princess, leaving FLL and sailing to Princess Cays and Grand Turk. It was also the peak of spring break, and many, many young adults (and I use “adult” very loosely here) were on board. I am only 44, but I felt WAY old on this sailing. Which I think from all the research I have done, is not the norm on Princess. Embarkation: A breeze, but only because my friend had some status with Princess, so we got to skip the long line and pretty much get right on board. I usually am up and ready to get the port by 11, but on this voyage we didn’t arrive until closer to Noon. We got right on the ship, and the room was ready! That is something I am not used to, and I LOVED being able to check out the room and leave my carryon items. AND, our luggage was delivered right away. We were all settled in and unpacked before muster! A first for me. Another small thing I really liked, is they provided us with maps of the ship that are little fold up paper maps with a cardboard front and back to keep it protected. It was great to have in my pocket. When I was sitting in my lounge chair I could pull it out and refer to it. A small, but nice touch. I also appreciated their ap, Princess at Sea. I was able to do all kinds of things on that ap. I usually turn my cell phone off and toss it in the safe for the voyage. This time I decided to try the ap, and I really liked it. I can’t compare it, as I have not an ap yet on any other line. Muster was interesting. You still have to bring your life vest on Princess, I have not done that for a long time on other lines. And they took a lot longer to go through the process than I expected. It was made a little better by sitting in a lounge instead of being packed like sardines on the deck, but we sat there for about 40 minutes, and couldn’t hear half of what was said. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship in my opinion. It was clean, and the décor was pleasing and beautiful. The only thing that drove me nuts about this ship was the lay out of the Horizon Court buffet. What a nightmare it was getting in and out of there! But the food was fine, and there are lots of other options. The pizza was very good, there were several excellent choices at the International Café, and we attended a PUB lunch that was complimentary in the Salty Dog on one day, so our exposure to the buffet was limited. We ate at the MDR each night, and the service and food was very good. We shared a table with others most nights, and enjoyed the company of meeting new folks. I did not enjoy the shows on this voyage. There was a hypnotist, who was not to my liking for entertainment value, and there was a comedian that was sort of funny, but mostly just kept cracking up at himself. The CD was a bit of a snore as well. Nice man, but not very engaging IMO. One thing that I really did enjoy was movies under the stars. This concept is excellent. They put soft coverings on the lounge chairs, offer blankets, and have popcorn available. We saw a couple of recent releases and I really liked this option. I don’t have time for movies when I am home running from work to my kids various activities and such, so this was something that I appreciated being able to do. They also had some other good entertainment on the screen, like Elton John, and Bon Jovi. That is of course my opinion, but I liked what they had going on the screen. I made my usual donation at the casino, as far as casinos go, this one was not any better/worse than any other ship casinos IMO. Our cabin seemed bigger than I am used to for an inside. I book all over the map as far as room type. It depends on the itinerary and cost as to whether or not I am going to spring for a balcony or suite. I went with an inside this voyage. The room was plenty big enough for two with plenty of storage. I much preferred the layout of this cabin over any other ship inside that I have had. And the beds, my word the beds…. I have never slept in a more comfortable bed on a cruise ship in my life! A big thumbs up for the beds. Two very nice oversized pillows, super comfy bedding, and the mattress was perfect. I wanted to bring it home with me. Our room steward was excellent. Perfectly attentive. The only thing that I did not enjoy with our cabin was the shower. On most, if not all of my cruises to date, the shower nozzle has a way to lift it up and down, or totally off so that with limited space, you can take the shower nozzle in hand. That makes things so much easier. This one did not offer that convenience. Not a huge deal, but shaving was an adventure in this shower. I am glad I am somewhat flexible and short! This voyage stopped at the Princess private Island, Princess Cays, and at Grand Turk. Princess Cays was your typical private island. A very nice beach area, with lunch served and a bit of local shopping. We had to take a tender to the beach. This was pretty much just a wonderful, lazy beach day for us. Weather was beautiful. They offered plenty of activities, but we were content to lounge under the shade of a palm tree and nap, and read. The other stop was Grand Turk. I can’t comment on the actual island, as we did an excursion that left right from the beach. So we didn’t venture into Grand Turk itself. The ship docked here, so it was easy to get off and on. As soon as you depart the pier, there is a Jimmy Buffet restaurant, and shops. Also there is a beach right at the pier area. Along the beach there all kinds of companies selling excursions. I had done some prior research, and we walked down the beach and bought a snorkel/swim with sting rays excursion with lunch for $50.00 that had been recommended. We very much enjoyed this! Very small group. 6 of us total. We were well taken care of. I am glad we did the excursion, the beach was way too crowded for my liking. There was a Carnival ship that arrived a few hours after we did which made for a very busy day at the beach. A few more random thoughts: I am unsure if it was just my cabin, but the hairdryer they provided was a little better than horrid. I am glad I brought one. I wish there had been more trivia, we did this one afternoon and it was fun, but I didn’t see that they offered much in the way of trivia. The jogging track on this ship was pitiful. Very, very small. I used it once. Then I just settled on walking the promenade on deck 7. The gym is not well designed in that there are cabins directly underneath, so they do not allow people to use treadmills until 8 am. By then I want to be done with my exercise! That was a bummer. Walking the promenade and doing all stairs instead of the elevator was good enough for this sailing. All in all, this was just what I wanted, a nice relaxing vacation. I will definitely sail on Princess again, I am interested to see what a longer voyage not during spring break would be like. For now, I am going to give Celebrity a try next spring. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This is my 41st cruise and my first review on Cruise Critic. Princess is an outstanding cruise line and one of my favorites, but, they need to work on a few things. As I stated, I have been on 41 cruises, so I consider myself a bit of an ... Read More
This is my 41st cruise and my first review on Cruise Critic. Princess is an outstanding cruise line and one of my favorites, but, they need to work on a few things. As I stated, I have been on 41 cruises, so I consider myself a bit of an seasoned cruiser. Princess has the worst embarkation process I have ever encountered. I have only been on four Princess cruises and for each cruise there has been a line outside of the terminal- the wait was almost an hour just to get into the door! WOW!! Yes- Princess is worth the wait, but there are a number of people that find the wait difficult. Once inside, only one security line was open causing a longer backup. After you received your key, we were told to sit in another waiting area, once that area was filler, we were allowed to board the ship. The employees were rude with nasty and unnecessary comments ( I made the mistake of standing up because I was tired of sitting and I was told to sit and wait, the ship isn't going anyplace so just sit). Once on the ship I was amazed at her beauty! The Emerald Princess is a lovely ship and has a lot to offer. First, I must note that most employees aboard the ship are outstanding! They are very hardworking and will do almost anything for you. I traveled with my spouse and some friends. My friend wanted a pickle for her Bloody Mary and Jaime went out of his way to find her some pickles- something that he did not need to do! The staff made the trip enjoyable. My hubby and I stayed in balcony cabin A406 and it was roomy, clean and comfortable. The balcony had room for just a small table and two chairs, but it was mid-ship and covered. Our room steward kept our room tidy and took care of us the entire time. Dining- the food was good. I have had better on other Princess ships, but once again, the staff made the difference. They were outstanding. The top award would go to entertainment. I was very impressed with the entertainment aboard the Emerald Princess. The Illusionist show took my breath away. If you will be cruising on her soon, make sure you do not miss the shows. The comedians were hilarious! This was a short four day cruise, we had two days and a day at Grand Cayman. The pools were clean, the pizza delicious, the malts were the best! It was one of the most relaxing and memorable cruises I have taken. I was very relaxed until disembarkation! Disembarkation was just as bad as embarkation. Due to the port needing to close the parking garage at Terminal 2, this is where we parked our car, the ship returned to terminal 19 and everyone was shuttled back to terminal 2. Once again, the line snacked around the building, the staff was rude and it was very slow going. Princess had one person telling people which bus to take, the driver did not get off the bus to help load luggage- my husband loaded the luggage for our bus, he just happened to be the youngest gentleman (he is 57) on the bus beside the driver who did nothing. Once we were at the parking garage, once again my dear husband unloaded the luggage for everyone, there was no way we were going to have any of the older gentlemen (some with canes) unload those heavy bags. The driver just sat and did nothing. Shame on Princess for allowing this to happen. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Salty Dawgs know to expect Spring Break hounds aboard from mid-March to mid-April. The math is predictable: Spring Breakers plus frequent Happy Hours equals? On this cruise the Spring Break pack generally stayed around the main pool ... Read More
Salty Dawgs know to expect Spring Break hounds aboard from mid-March to mid-April. The math is predictable: Spring Breakers plus frequent Happy Hours equals? On this cruise the Spring Break pack generally stayed around the main pool convenient to the bar, Trident Grill and the buffet. Itinerary: Emerald Princess - March 10~14, 2016: Ft. Lauderdale-at Sea-Grand Cayman Island-at Sea-Ft. Lauderdale Parking at the terminal is $15 a day. Savvy dawgs know to search for cheaper alternatives offered at some hotels or long term parking lots with shuttles to the ship. Something Princess knew but did not tell guests: the ship would depart from terminal 2 and return and berth at terminal 19. Princess did provide a bus shuttle back to terminal 2, but it looked like it would be a slow process. Salty dawgs expect embarkation will be a slow process regardless of their Captain's Circle status or stateroom category, and the Port Authority and Princess appear by their inflexibility to be satisfied that the current procedure won't or can't be improved anytime soon. Disembarkation was more organized, though poorly trained dawgs complicated the procedure by ignoring rules. Emerald Princess gleams after dry-dock and public venues look new. Staterooms were available upon boarding. Staterooms do not appear to have received much updating with one important exception: the new bedding is terrific. Sea Dawg kept the lowest possible AC setting and his stateroom stayed moderately cool. But a friend's AC couldn't keep his sunny stateroom cool. Most stateroom bathrooms appear unchanged except the cold water is tepid and the water in the toilet is warm! Fussy pooches know to bring their own scented bar soap and specialty hair shampoo and conditioner. We prefer having no minibar in the fridge. The room TV has more movie, news, music and Princess channels. The daily guide Princess Patter and other brochures greeted our arrival. There's a Princess smart phone app to keep dawgs aware of events, announcements and accounts. Our always pleasant steward kept our stateroom immaculate. There's a mandatory muster before sail away and dawgs must bring their life jackets. Crew members scan every ship card and muts who skip will have a private muster party later. I'm wondering if the ship will sink before everyone gets to their muster station ... or worse, the crew is jumping into the lifeboats while guests assemble in their assigned muster station. It seemed to me the crew exhibited a Titanic overconfidence of this top heavy ship's "unlikely" sinking. One muttered factoid easily missed: there were NOT enough lifeboats for everyone. Some guests would be evacuated via MES: Marine Evacuation System ... down a "seven-story slide" (actually a free fall down a vertical chute) into an inflated raft! The central Piazza is the hub of activity and feature talented musicians and performers throughout the cruise. Unfortunately, seating is limited and mongrels sometimes compete for chairs. Sea Dawg appreciated that photographers were less pushy and their photo shoot set-ups seldom restricted passageways. The grub: It takes some effort for foodie hounds to determine where best to eat. The 24-hour International Cafe, home of the best complimentary sandwiches and gelato aboard, and Vines, hosting the best wine list aboard, surrounds the Piazza. Pointer dawgs habitually fault the chow, but Sea Dawg loved the food. The complimentary Horizon Court buffet offers dawgs the widest variety, all-you-can-eat, self-serve meals aboard. You might see a Rottweiler piling her platter high with bacon here. In contrast, The premium SHARE by Curtis Stone restaurant offers pedigrees exquisite high flavor if small portioned culinary artistry. Sharp dawgs are keen to know when the Salty Dog Wheelhouse Bar presents complimentary "pub day" lunch: the fish and chips lunch and bangers and mash lunch are favorites. The complimentary poolside Prego "best pizza at sea" seems an exaggeration because the choices are limited and the toppings are thin. The complimentary Ice Cream Bar is right beside the pizza ovens, but the flavors are also limited. Complimentary milk and cookies are served mid-afternoon. Otherwise, complimentary snack foods are scarce (savvy dawgs pack their own). Between meals complimentary water, tea and sometimes lemonade can be fetched (savvy dawgs pack drink mixes to stir into their water). There are three complimentary main dining rooms: the "anytime" Di Vinci and Michelangelo and the fixed time and seating Boticelli. (It was nightly entertainment to watch silly dawgs prance into Boticelli demanding this or that table already assigned.) They publish the same menus. Patient dawgs will be rewarded with elegant table settings and fine service. The loosely interpreted dress code is smart casual, there is no formal night on this short cruise. The menus featured red snapper, duck, crawfish etouffee, lamb, shrimp and steak. There were some ingenious "soups" (think smoothies) and incredible desserts. Sea Dawg admits he doesn't eat this well during most weeks ashore. Lobster is served during long cruises and in premium restaurants. Well-heeled dawgs will probably find more satisfaction dining in the premium Crown Grill. And for a premium, Caribe Cafe hosts a "Crab Shack" seafood night. The shows: The star dawg was sick, and I figure no understudy was available because in spite of "the show must go on" mantra, our big production shows were canceled. Princess tapped its headline performers who proved very entertaining. Though Emerald Princess has many talented performers aboard, there was not an abundance of planned activities. This seems intentional to draw unwary hounds into revenue generating bingo, shops, bars, art auctions and, of course, the casino. Sea Dawg enjoyed "Movies Under the Stars" and was lucky to find the complimentary popcorn and blankets. The sail: A tug pulled the Emerald Princess clear of the berth and the bow of a Celebrity ship. The open seas were "rough" (waves up to 15 feet) the first night and first sea day. The long, narrow, "Pan Max" Emerald Princess jolted and pitched just enough to send landlubber pooches without sea legs to their sea patches, bracelets and remedies. Those in cabins fore and aft felt the ship movement most. The wind was strong enough to keep most off the open decks. Interesting to me how the published "Log of the Cruise" mentioned none of this, only hinting "Wind SSE 7" (Force 7 is about 30 mph; "Near Gale"). The wind and waves were more calm on the return trip. Grand Cayman: This is a tendering port (boats shuttle between ship and dock). Those with shore excursions are tendered first. Sea Dawg has been to Grand Cayman several times and did not desire to go to Hell and back again. Informed shopping hounds know that the cruise lines helped develop the ports so their stores occupy prime real estate ashore. The bargains are in lesser known shops further down the street. Shore excursions are cash cows for the cruise line. Independent dawgs can usually negotiate similar trips for much less once ashore Grand Cayman. Two other large ships were in George Town, so shops were crowded. Sea Dawg walked down the road to Seven Mile Beach; not far down the beach Sea Dawg came to Emerald Princess cruisers who had purchased the beach day excursion. I hope they enjoyed their lounge chair and weak drink. Sea Dawg walked to a hotel bar and bought a cold beer for a buck and reclined in a covered hammock. Thoughts of life spent here in Paradise is tempered by the fact that hurricanes hit Grand Cayman Island more often than any place in the Caribbean. Leave early to avoid long waits for a tender back to the ship. The two main pools sprawl across mid ship. There are also two small, adults only pools. Forward is the tranquil Spa Pool. Lounges are limited and "saved", but there is an easy access to the free gym and sauna, the pricey spa, and the underused, overpriced (and often windy) Sanctuary. Astern is the Terrace Pool next to a bar and short trot to the buffet. Dawgs can find more tables, chairs and lounges here. During most days the nearby Adagio offers a peaceful place to read or relax, provided some un-housebroken muts don't arrive. Sea Dawg appreciates that bar waiters were respectful and not pushy. They were also efficient and quick to clear your table if you left it unguarded while you dashed to the head. There are more security cameras aboard. Security, which is more about protecting company property, employees and liability, was not as obvious as dawgs might expect during this start of Spring Break cruise. In fact, I think there were more over 60 guests than under, and more families with children than college Spring Breakers. Most dawgs Sea Dawg stopped by Guest Services and obtained an accounting statement early the final sea day to avoid the long lines that would form there that afternoon. I had time to carefully inspect it and found that our statement was thankfully but disgustingly accurate. This is the moment inattentive dawgs discover they spent more aboard than on their cruise ticket. Our final statement arrived at our door 5 a.m. the last day and it was very quick and easy to verify. Sea Dawg is astounded how so many dawgs over-pack for this casual dress, short cruise! Things to consider packing: sunscreen, insect repellent (Zika virus protection), sunglasses, hat, an insulated resealable drink container, bar soap, specialty shampoo and conditioner, power strip extension cord, good walking map of ports, favorite snacks, hard candy, drink mixes, band aids, and over-the-counter remedies you often need. Princess publishes a list of items (like colas) not to pack. Take the advertised perfect vacation cruise with a good dash of sea salt. Dawgs who board with realistic expectations (i.e., the start of Spring Break), that not everything will go their way, who can adhere to their budget, and be flexible in their schedule will find this escape to paradise very pleasant. That's why I booked, and that's why I enjoyed this cruise and recommend it to you. Bon Voyage, Sea Dawg Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Emerald Princess – Western cruise – 2/27/2016 We had a mini-mini suite – D732 – at the very aft. The balcony was oversize with two lounge chairs and 2 footstools. There is no cover from the sun and rain. The suite had a ... Read More
Emerald Princess – Western cruise – 2/27/2016 We had a mini-mini suite – D732 – at the very aft. The balcony was oversize with two lounge chairs and 2 footstools. There is no cover from the sun and rain. The suite had a large (uncomfortable to sit on ) sofa, one club chair, two 2tv’s, and best of all….VERY comfortable beds. Plenty of closet and storage space with room under the bed for our suitcases. A full bathtub with a good shower and plenty of hot water was ideal. Our thermostat worked perfectly. Our room steward, Raymond, was friendly, always there for us and went beyond our expectations. Kudos, to Raymond!! Food – the next most important cruise element. We took all of our dinners in the DaVinci dining room at a set 5:30pm hour. We found the food very acceptable. Our waitress had a bad cold and should have been excused, as we did not want to get sick with her handling our silverware, etc. Otherwise, she tried hard to please us. Lunch and breakfast was usually in the buffet. Our advice is to get a table first and then get your food. The “one way” buffet line is a pain, but at least they are enforcing the Purell dispenser – thank God! The hamburgers out by the pool are usually overcooked and the pizza is just ok. Bars: Crooners Bar has always been our favorite on Princess and MELODY from the Philippines treated us royally. Entertainment: our favorites were Michael Minor the Ventriloquist and Erik Bryan of the “Magic to Do” cast. Erik is a star by himself. The Stephen Schwartz (Godspell) musical was not my favorite, but the costumes and cast did a good job. Eric Lyden, comic, was clean, but not funny. We really enjoyed “The Voice of the Ocean” – the judges, Michael and Erik (a great team) and who was that super winner that sang “Ride Sally Ride”? Great show! We liked the movies shown in the Princess Theater at 1pm each day as we didn’t go ashore. One problem: the theater is kept very cold, so dress warm. All in all, a very nice cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
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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