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Enjoyed our two week trip very much. Ports of call were fantastic cannot think of one we did not enjoy. With a couple of exceptions we booked private tours or did each of ports of call on our own. Did several of the excursions with folks we met on Cruise Critic. Getting on and off the ship could not have been better. Our room was ready when we boarded in Athens around 12 noon. We had a balcony of the port side of the Lido deck. We were worried about noise but found the room clean, quiet, and comfortable. The convenience of being on the Lido deck was great. As far as the shipboard experience we had anytime dining and we found the food in the main dining room much better than we expected. Great selection, except for the leg of lamb, were very well prepared. The service was great. We bought the wine card allowing us to order bottles of wine with dinner at a discounted rate, and although there was occasionally some confusion on the part of the waiter as to what to do with it, as well worth it. We were going to eat once or twice in one of the specialty dining rooms, but after a few days we enjoyed our meals in the main dining room so much we did not feel like eating the extra food, no matter how good, served in the specialty dining rooms. Never ate in the buffet for dinner so can’t comment there. Did not have the Pizza or the burgers. I wish the foods better reflected their ports of call but when you have to feed this many people this would be difficult to pull off. Did not spend much time in any of the bars. Given this was a port intensive cruise we only had lunch on board a couple of times always in the buffet. It was good. One of the times they had a pasta bar and it was really good. We had breakfast in the main dining room a couple of times it was nice and we enjoyed meeting new people but frankly the food in the buffet was as good if not better. One day they tried to substitute a florescent orange Tang like substance for real orange juice and there was a near mutiny on board. After a couple of days they brought back the real stuff. Used and enjoyed the Gym on several occasions. Has all of the stuff you would expect and it was all in working order. Did not take any classes. One of the first things we did was sign up for the thermal suite package. We had done this on a previous Princess Cruise to Hawaii and enjoyed it a great deal. On the Hawaii cruise it covered then entire two weeks of the cruise but we found out when it was too late that they only sell you one week at a time. We found that out when we tried to use it a couple of days into our second week and a fairly rude spa staff member let us know that they were not part of Princess and don’t have the same policies ship to ship. We enjoyed the Thermal Suite but it is not worth the $99 per person for just one week. We went to the high tea a couple of times and that exceeded our expectations. We like wine and went to a premium ($25) and a regular ($9) wine tasting. We enjoyed them both. We brought our coffee card that we did not finish from our prior princess cruise that was supposedly never going to expire. We were disappointed that we could not get complementary regular coffee with our old card (that was not supposed to expire) and the only complementary coffee would be coffee made from syrup that they have in the buffet. We are not big fans of the productions shows. Saw two comedians one was really good the other was so-so. Enjoyed the Turkish group that came on board a great deal as well as an English violinist that they brought on board. Our biggest issue (warning rant coming) is the lack of complementary places to relax outdoors, out of the sun. I do not find the noise and confusion of the main or back pool areas relaxing and most of the time you are baking in the sun. We enjoyed the Lotus Spa Pool a great deal but there are only 12 lounge chairs around the pool and on sea days there are folks that are up before dawn to reserve them and they rarely if ever leave. That pool also closes at 5:00pm. Most of the time we used the pool we would have to hang our stuff on the side of the hot tubs. What was particular infuriating about this is that we would look at all the shade an unused chairs above the spa pool in the “Sanctuary”. The reason they were unused is that it costs $20 per person for morning session and another $20 per person to sit there in the afternoon. So if a couple would want to use the area from 10am-3pm it would cost $80. I never saw more then 3-4 people up there at any point in time. What a waste of space. If they need to make more money why not bundle the sanctuary with the Thermal Spa? That combo would be worth $99/week. $80/day is not worth it. Calling this place the “Sanctuary” is an admission that the rest of the ship is not, so their slogans “escape completely” and “come back new” only apply to those that are willing to pay the extra fee. That said I am glad we went on the trip and enjoyed it a great deal. We made several new friends on the cruise, most of which we met on cruise critic. We will probably do Princess again in the future but may start researching other options that have the full suite of services included in the cost. Let me know if you have any questions.

Emerald Princess Athens to Istanbul July 2015

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by vcgeno

Trip Details
Enjoyed our two week trip very much. Ports of call were fantastic cannot think of one we did not enjoy.

With a couple of exceptions we booked private tours or did each of ports of call on our own. Did several of the excursions with folks we met on Cruise Critic.

Getting on and off the ship could not have been better. Our room was ready when we boarded in Athens around 12 noon.

We had a balcony of the port side of the Lido deck. We were worried about noise but found the room clean, quiet, and comfortable. The convenience of being on the Lido deck was great.

As far as the shipboard experience we had anytime dining and we found the food in the main dining room much better than we expected. Great selection, except for the leg of lamb, were very well prepared. The service was great. We bought the wine card allowing us to order bottles of wine with dinner at a discounted rate, and although there was occasionally some confusion on the part of the waiter as to what to do with it, as well worth it. We were going to eat once or twice in one of the specialty dining rooms, but after a few days we enjoyed our meals in the main dining room so much we did not feel like eating the extra food, no matter how good, served in the specialty dining rooms. Never ate in the buffet for dinner so can’t comment there. Did not have the Pizza or the burgers. I wish the foods better reflected their ports of call but when you have to feed this many people this would be difficult to pull off.

Did not spend much time in any of the bars.

Given this was a port intensive cruise we only had lunch on board a couple of times always in the buffet. It was good. One of the times they had a pasta bar and it was really good.

We had breakfast in the main dining room a couple of times it was nice and we enjoyed meeting new people but frankly the food in the buffet was as good if not better. One day they tried to substitute a florescent orange Tang like substance for real orange juice and there was a near mutiny on board. After a couple of days they brought back the real stuff.

Used and enjoyed the Gym on several occasions. Has all of the stuff you would expect and it was all in working order. Did not take any classes.

One of the first things we did was sign up for the thermal suite package. We had done this on a previous Princess Cruise to Hawaii and enjoyed it a great deal. On the Hawaii cruise it covered then entire two weeks of the cruise but we found out when it was too late that they only sell you one week at a time. We found that out when we tried to use it a couple of days into our second week and a fairly rude spa staff member let us know that they were not part of Princess and don’t have the same policies ship to ship. We enjoyed the Thermal Suite but it is not worth the $99 per person for just one week.

We went to the high tea a couple of times and that exceeded our expectations. We like wine and went to a premium ($25) and a regular ($9) wine tasting. We enjoyed them both.

We brought our coffee card that we did not finish from our prior princess cruise that was supposedly never going to expire. We were disappointed that we could not get complementary regular coffee with our old card (that was not supposed to expire) and the only complementary coffee would be coffee made from syrup that they have in the buffet.

We are not big fans of the productions shows. Saw two comedians one was really good the other was so-so. Enjoyed the Turkish group that came on board a great deal as well as an English violinist that they brought on board.

Our biggest issue (warning rant coming) is the lack of complementary places to relax outdoors, out of the sun. I do not find the noise and confusion of the main or back pool areas relaxing and most of the time you are baking in the sun. We enjoyed the Lotus Spa Pool a great deal but there are only 12 lounge chairs around the pool and on sea days there are folks that are up before dawn to reserve them and they rarely if ever leave. That pool also closes at 5:00pm. Most of the time we used the pool we would have to hang our stuff on the side of the hot tubs. What was particular infuriating about this is that we would look at all the shade an unused chairs above the spa pool in the “Sanctuary”. The reason they were unused is that it costs $20 per person for morning session and another $20 per person to sit there in the afternoon. So if a couple would want to use the area from 10am-3pm it would cost $80. I never saw more then 3-4 people up there at any point in time. What a waste of space. If they need to make more money why not bundle the sanctuary with the Thermal Spa? That combo would be worth $99/week. $80/day is not worth it. Calling this place the “Sanctuary” is an admission that the rest of the ship is not, so their slogans “escape completely” and “come back new” only apply to those that are willing to pay the extra fee.

That said I am glad we went on the trip and enjoyed it a great deal. We made several new friends on the cruise, most of which we met on cruise critic. We will probably do Princess again in the future but may start researching other options that have the full suite of services included in the cost. Let me know if you have any questions.
vcgeno’s Full Rating Summary
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