This was my first time on a Princess Cruise. Last year, my fiancé and I went on a Carnival Cruise to Mexico and we had an amazing time. We absolutely loved it, from the food to the service to the entertainment. The staff was phenomenal. ... Read More
This was my first time on a Princess Cruise. Last year, my fiancé and I went on a Carnival Cruise to Mexico and we had an amazing time. We absolutely loved it, from the food to the service to the entertainment. The staff was phenomenal. So our expectations for the Princess Emerald were pretty high. We had a lot of pros and cons in regards to the onboard experience.
First, the positives. The International Cafe was our daily go-to (sometimes multiple times a day) for coffee, tea and sandwiches. We bought two coffee cards ($35 each) that cover 15 specialty drinks, which ended up being a really good deal considering each drink cost $4-$5. We really liked the fitness center and used it often, and although we didn’t attend any of the classes, it was nice to see they were available. We went to dinner at Michelangelo’s most nights, and enjoyed the food, service, and the flow from appetizers to entrees to desserts. We never found ourselves waiting a long time to eat. The hostess was fantastic and her energy really added to the positive experience.
However, there were some complaints we had about Michelangelo’s as well. They lost our previously purchased and stored wine bottles multiple times, and would usually find them by the time we were ready to leave. One time they never found it, and gave us complimentary wine which was appreciated, but our thoughts were that if they didn’t have a working system in place, they really shouldn’t give the option to keep your wine at the restaurant. Also, sometimes the dress code was obnoxious (my fiancé was told to take off his hat although we saw other diners wearing hats) and I didn’t think it was appropriate to turn away multiple men wearing shorts who had paid good money for the cruise. It just seemed kind of knit picky to me.
That being said, for reference, the demographic on this particular ship to Hawaii was probably 80% senior citizens, which wasn’t an issue within itself, but we felt less accommodated and at times somewhat singled out being in our late twenties. The events were mostly geared towards much older adults (although there were a few productions we really enjoyed) and it seemed like everything closed very early. On Carnival, the pools and hot tubs stayed open well after midnight, and here they closed at 10:30PM. The only option by 11PM was the Skywalker’s Nightclub, which was fun sometimes, but it would’ve been nice to have some more choices. The staff in the bars and clubs seemed to thin out also, and we would have to go to the bar initially to get servers to come over to our table, which seemed kind of ridiculous, especially when most of the time they were congregating in an area and not doing anything else.
We felt a tad bit uncomfortable in that the pushiness of products and services sales kind of took advantage of and seemed to at times (for lack of a better term) prey on the older adults that may have not been aware of how overpriced things were in comparison to buying the same things off of the boat. We really didn’t like that, and it was something we didn’t see on Carnival at all so it took us by surprise. We also noted that some of the references were outdated, even for the majority demographic, which seemed lazy. One of the productions included music from the early 1900’s, and during an ice sculpting event one of the cruise staff asked the crowd “who remembers before freezers existed?” In that same vein, on days we chose to stay in our cabin we noticed that the channels would play the same episodes of the same shows on a loop for the entire day. This wouldn’t usually bother me, but another huge issue on this ship was that it was terribly overcrowded, so if you wanted to sit anywhere inside during the day most times your room was the only option. This became a recurring problem throughout the cruise. If you wanted to get a seat for a show, you would have to get there at least an hour early to guarantee you got seats, and most events a lot of people had to stand for. This became more annoying when the majority of the productions started at 7:30-7:45PM, so we had to rush through dinner a few times in order to get there by 6:45PM for seats…and then sit there and wait an hour for the show to start. We ended up sitting and waiting longer than most of the duration of the shows. We also noticed the public bathrooms were not very hygienic, and saw urine on the floors often. The Emerald collectively stressed only to use the public bathrooms for an emergency, which was concerning and not very realistic for people to have to go back to their cabins so often.
We had two frightening experiences on the elevators, where the elevator would clunk to a floor and the doors wouldn’t open. We soon noticed a pattern of elevators having to be maintained throughout the trip, and by the end we were pretty much using the stairs whenever we could.
I will say that our experience getting from LAX to the port was a pleasant one, and very organized. Once we got to the port things went quickly and smoothly, which was nice after a day of traveling. Our disembarkation experience, on the other hand, was an absolute mess. We paid to get our bags “transferred” to LAX, which we were under the impression meant we wouldn’t see them again until we got to the airport. Our group was called 45 minutes late to disembark and once we got off the ship we had to find our bags in the port lobby and take them through customs and onto the shuttle. This wouldn’t have been an issue if we hadn’t paid for something we could’ve done ourselves. Leaving the port and trying to find Princess’ shuttle to the airport was disorienting, and we got to our terminal less than an hour before our flight was set to leave (running through LAX is not fun and I do not recommend it). My fiance’s parents got caught in the torrential rain leaving the port, so having to walk 1/4 mile to the shuttle was even more inconvenient, and by the time they got home their bags (also “transferred”) were still soaked.
Overall, we had a mixed experience onboard the Emerald. The price of the cruise and the standards did not match up, we expected much more. We will not be sailing with this cruise line again. Read Less