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I read the reviews of others who took this same 10 day cruise and concluded that my wife and I, our grandson, and our traveling companion must have been in a Twilight Zone episode. Embarkation was a nightmare caused in part by the Norovirus on the previous sailing BUT this in no way excuses the herding of boarding passengers into a building at the port that had about 1000 seats fewer than the number of people inside. After waiting for more than 2 hours, we were ushered across the street into a massive traffic jam at security where we again waited for about 20 minutes before being pointed to another room with yet another massive line that ended with the clerks for the various deck names on the Emerald. We were Caribe deck; when we approached that line a Princess or Port employee told us to change lines to Baja since it was shorter. That's when we found that several deck lines were supposed to be manned by 3 clerks; each desk had 3 computers but only 2 people were working. We arrived at the Port at 1230 to park our car; we made it aboard ship at 345pm. Dining. We had previously sailed Golden and Emerald and opted for anytime dining after cruising on Emerald in June 2007. Slight difference this trip. When I called for reservations at 830am I was told we could have anytime we wanted...530pm, 545pm or 6pm. I wanted 8pm; nothing available but 530, 545 or 6pm. I asked the young lady taking reservations if I could speak to her supervisor after 3 consecutive days of this. I was told, "I have no supervisor, I am God!" and then she hung up. Next day, and every day thereafter, a male (Alan Fuentes) answered the reservations telephone...530, 545 or 6pm available, nothing else at any other time. I approached the DaVinci dining room head waiters and maitre d' after our first chaotic night and tried to make a standing 8pm reservation and was told by Augoste and Rui that I had to call reservations in the morning. This was NOT the same procedure as on Golden or Emerald previously...on those prior cruises, the DaVinci maitre d' accepted the reservation as we left the dining room every evening. Apparently ANYTIME now means anytime of your choice at 530, 545 or 6pm. After several nights of this process, my wife and I went to DaVinci without a reservation and we were told we could take a 'buzzer' and there would be a 1-2 hour wait for service. I lifted my video camera to the maitre d's face and asked him to please repeat his statement as I videoed him and the dining room. Lo and behold, we were seated immediately! As we entered DaVinci, I counted 35 empty tables but I could only see about 1/2 the room. From that evening on, I carried the video camera and we were seated moments after arriving...and there were ALWAYS at least 2 dozen empty tables. After several conversations with other passengers we discovered that the maitre d's were "selling" tables...tip them and you were seated, no tip, you wait...interminably. Wonder if Princess knows the staff is in business for themselves? The wait staff...they ranged from Denny's and Shoney's castoffs to superb. Unfortunately, the ratio of castoff to superb was about 10 to 1. We received wrong entrees, incomplete platters, and sometimes unrecognizable matter on the plates. Prime example, I usually order Eggs Benedict for breakfast. On 3 separate days I was served the egg, the English muffin, something that might have been Canadian bacon (but I could never be sure) and all covered with BROILED TO CINDER BLACK something that was supposed to be hollandaise sauce on top. On the other end of the spectrum, omelets were served piping hot and correctly filled. Too bad I never got a single piece of the toast I ordered with them each day. The New Year's Eve menu was extraordinarily fine food, well prepared and served with aplomb. It almost made up for the cacophony of screeching adults(?)and their heartily imbibing teen-age children who surrounded our table and drowned out the waiter as he tried to describe the various menu items to us. Princess' signature dish, the Alfredo pasta, was delicious; the filet mignon was outstanding, the fruits almost impossibly fresh and tasty, the smoked salmon plentiful and excellent, the vegetables invariably well-prepared and well-presented. But for the first several days of the cruise, there was no salt or pepper on the table, the wait staff poured the catsup onto your burger or fries, there was neither sugar nor sweet'n'low on the table, and there was no butter on the table for your bread or rolls. Your hands were sprayed with cleansing jelly before you entered the dining rooms. Of course, you were than handed a leather or cardboard encased menu that several hundred passengers had touched before you. LUDICROUS AND UTTERLY STUPID PROCEDURE. If you intend cleanliness and no disease spread, use PAPER menus and destroy each as soon as the passenger places his or her order. And then there was the Captain's Party for returning guests. It was the ONLY time during the 10 days that we saw any senior officer or staff member. It featured flat champagne and watered down drinks. The Bourbon on the rocks that I ordered was nothing but brown colored water, totally lacking in alcoholic content. If I had wanted a Shirley Temple, I would have ordered one. Entertainment. The singers and dancers were VERY good. We saw 2 production shows and there were the equal of or better than most of the previous productions on our 15 prior cruises. My wife and our traveling companion enjoyed the comedian's antics. Spa. My wife and I bought the Couples Thermal Suite package almost immediately upon boarding Emerald. We had learned about it on our prior Princess trips. We used the sauna, the aromatherapy steam room and the heated benches almost daily. We were not enthralled with the tropical rain showers in the thermal suite...on the first day out someone had dropped a large tube of sun block on the floor of one shower and it lay there, undisturbed, for 4 consecutive days before finally disappearing. On a ship stricken with Norovirus on it's immediate prior cruise this was appalling! Needless to say, we, and almost every other thermal suite guest used the other shower...and about day 5 there appeared a wadded paper tissue on the floor of that shower and it did not disappear until 3 days later. On the next to last day of the cruise during a late afternoon heated bench nap I was enjoying, the false French door screen fell off the door to the cleaning supply room and crashed into the heated bench on the opposite side of the suite. Let me assure you, that will wake you in a hurry! Teenage Activities. They must have been absolutely the best ever provided on any ship sailing anywhere. Our 17 year old grandson went upstairs right after we boarded the Emerald. We saw him for the life jacket drill, supper the first night, supper on the first formal night, and about midnight every night when he returned to the room to sleep. He did go ashore with us a couple of times; at least he started with us but he met some friends while walking and they all went off together. He ate most meals with his shipboard friends. For the first time in the 8 cruises he's taken with us, we did not play a single round of miniature golf! Cabin. We had a Caribe deck balcony cabin midship. It was precisely what we expected insofar as size and amenities but our cabin steward was above and beyond the norm. We never wanted for anything! Our cabin was immaculately kept. The beds were made up and turned down while we were away from the cabin. Our steward knew our comings and goings and never once did we disturb him or he us. We had clean towels and ample bathroom supplies without ever having to ask for anything. Overall commentary. We sailed Emerald in June 2007 on a Mediterranean cruise. The ship and crew were outstanding and the food was exceptionally good. It is hard to believe that a ship could change so drastically for the worse in just over 6 months. It is like an Olympic luge careening downhill at breakneck speed...beautiful to look at but requiring serious consideration before boarding as a passenger.

Not the same Emerald

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by Mal Greenfield

Trip Details
I read the reviews of others who took this same 10 day cruise and concluded that my wife and I, our grandson, and our traveling companion must have been in a Twilight Zone episode. Embarkation was a nightmare caused in part by the Norovirus on the previous sailing BUT this in no way excuses the herding of boarding passengers into a building at the port that had about 1000 seats fewer than the number of people inside. After waiting for more than 2 hours, we were ushered across the street into a massive traffic jam at security where we again waited for about 20 minutes before being pointed to another room with yet another massive line that ended with the clerks for the various deck names on the Emerald. We were Caribe deck; when we approached that line a Princess or Port employee told us to change lines to Baja since it was shorter. That's when we found that several deck lines were supposed to be manned by 3 clerks; each desk had 3 computers but only 2 people were working. We arrived at the Port at 1230 to park our car; we made it aboard ship at 345pm. Dining. We had previously sailed Golden and Emerald and opted for anytime dining after cruising on Emerald in June 2007. Slight difference this trip. When I called for reservations at 830am I was told we could have anytime we wanted...530pm, 545pm or 6pm. I wanted 8pm; nothing available but 530, 545 or 6pm. I asked the young lady taking reservations if I could speak to her supervisor after 3 consecutive days of this. I was told, "I have no supervisor, I am God!" and then she hung up. Next day, and every day thereafter, a male (Alan Fuentes) answered the reservations telephone...530, 545 or 6pm available, nothing else at any other time. I approached the DaVinci dining room head waiters and maitre d' after our first chaotic night and tried to make a standing 8pm reservation and was told by Augoste and Rui that I had to call reservations in the morning. This was NOT the same procedure as on Golden or Emerald previously...on those prior cruises, the DaVinci maitre d' accepted the reservation as we left the dining room every evening. Apparently ANYTIME now means anytime of your choice at 530, 545 or 6pm. After several nights of this process, my wife and I went to DaVinci without a reservation and we were told we could take a 'buzzer' and there would be a 1-2 hour wait for service. I lifted my video camera to the maitre d's face and asked him to please repeat his statement as I videoed him and the dining room. Lo and behold, we were seated immediately! As we entered DaVinci, I counted 35 empty tables but I could only see about 1/2 the room. From that evening on, I carried the video camera and we were seated moments after arriving...and there were ALWAYS at least 2 dozen empty tables. After several conversations with other passengers we discovered that the maitre d's were "selling" tables...tip them and you were seated, no tip, you wait...interminably. Wonder if Princess knows the staff is in business for themselves? The wait staff...they ranged from Denny's and Shoney's castoffs to superb. Unfortunately, the ratio of castoff to superb was about 10 to 1. We received wrong entrees, incomplete platters, and sometimes unrecognizable matter on the plates. Prime example, I usually order Eggs Benedict for breakfast. On 3 separate days I was served the egg, the English muffin, something that might have been Canadian bacon (but I could never be sure) and all covered with BROILED TO CINDER BLACK something that was supposed to be hollandaise sauce on top. On the other end of the spectrum, omelets were served piping hot and correctly filled. Too bad I never got a single piece of the toast I ordered with them each day. The New Year's Eve menu was extraordinarily fine food, well prepared and served with aplomb. It almost made up for the cacophony of screeching adults(?)and their heartily imbibing teen-age children who surrounded our table and drowned out the waiter as he tried to describe the various menu items to us. Princess' signature dish, the Alfredo pasta, was delicious; the filet mignon was outstanding, the fruits almost impossibly fresh and tasty, the smoked salmon plentiful and excellent, the vegetables invariably well-prepared and well-presented. But for the first several days of the cruise, there was no salt or pepper on the table, the wait staff poured the catsup onto your burger or fries, there was neither sugar nor sweet'n'low on the table, and there was no butter on the table for your bread or rolls. Your hands were sprayed with cleansing jelly before you entered the dining rooms. Of course, you were than handed a leather or cardboard encased menu that several hundred passengers had touched before you. LUDICROUS AND UTTERLY STUPID PROCEDURE. If you intend cleanliness and no disease spread, use PAPER menus and destroy each as soon as the passenger places his or her order. And then there was the Captain's Party for returning guests. It was the ONLY time during the 10 days that we saw any senior officer or staff member. It featured flat champagne and watered down drinks. The Bourbon on the rocks that I ordered was nothing but brown colored water, totally lacking in alcoholic content. If I had wanted a Shirley Temple, I would have ordered one. Entertainment. The singers and dancers were VERY good. We saw 2 production shows and there were the equal of or better than most of the previous productions on our 15 prior cruises. My wife and our traveling companion enjoyed the comedian's antics. Spa. My wife and I bought the Couples Thermal Suite package almost immediately upon boarding Emerald. We had learned about it on our prior Princess trips. We used the sauna, the aromatherapy steam room and the heated benches almost daily. We were not enthralled with the tropical rain showers in the thermal suite...on the first day out someone had dropped a large tube of sun block on the floor of one shower and it lay there, undisturbed, for 4 consecutive days before finally disappearing. On a ship stricken with Norovirus on it's immediate prior cruise this was appalling! Needless to say, we, and almost every other thermal suite guest used the other shower...and about day 5 there appeared a wadded paper tissue on the floor of that shower and it did not disappear until 3 days later. On the next to last day of the cruise during a late afternoon heated bench nap I was enjoying, the false French door screen fell off the door to the cleaning supply room and crashed into the heated bench on the opposite side of the suite. Let me assure you, that will wake you in a hurry! Teenage Activities. They must have been absolutely the best ever provided on any ship sailing anywhere. Our 17 year old grandson went upstairs right after we boarded the Emerald. We saw him for the life jacket drill, supper the first night, supper on the first formal night, and about midnight every night when he returned to the room to sleep. He did go ashore with us a couple of times; at least he started with us but he met some friends while walking and they all went off together. He ate most meals with his shipboard friends. For the first time in the 8 cruises he's taken with us, we did not play a single round of miniature golf! Cabin. We had a Caribe deck balcony cabin midship. It was precisely what we expected insofar as size and amenities but our cabin steward was above and beyond the norm. We never wanted for anything! Our cabin was immaculately kept. The beds were made up and turned down while we were away from the cabin. Our steward knew our comings and goings and never once did we disturb him or he us. We had clean towels and ample bathroom supplies without ever having to ask for anything. Overall commentary. We sailed Emerald in June 2007 on a Mediterranean cruise. The ship and crew were outstanding and the food was exceptionally good. It is hard to believe that a ship could change so drastically for the worse in just over 6 months. It is like an Olympic luge careening downhill at breakneck speed...beautiful to look at but requiring serious consideration before boarding as a passenger.
Mal Greenfield’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
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