This was my 7th cruise with Princess, my 2nd on the Emerald. Sailed on it 2 years ago, and there is a noticeable decline in many areas.
Entertainment is the biggest change - the old Vista lounge (now Club Fusion) used to offer a second evening entertainment venue. It sits empty 95% of the time now, its used for the Captain's Circle events. I would expect they'll convert it into another pay restaurant or something to take your money when refitted. The few dance shows at the Princess Theater are the same ones I saw 2 years ago, You'll only see the dancers and shows a few times. The entertainment has really gone downhill, they hire lousy comedians and unknown singers now. Not sure if this is a trend on all Princess ships, but its definitely disappointing. There was one group, the Mosaic Trio that I enjoyed. The crew put on trivia shows and the like to entertain you, rather than hire entertainers.
Food - every breakfast in the Horizon court is the same and disappointing. Service is hit and miss there. Coffee is terrible. They even have plastic fruit on display there now! Fruit selection is not as good as before. A lot of dinner items they serve in the Horizon court are things people would never want and just sit there untouched. Dining Room main courses were generally good, but the waiters there are a far cry from what they used to have. Most can hardly speak English, ours always abruptly shoved our menus into our faces when we greeted fellow diners. They used to remember your preferences & name. They put no effort into that now. Don't expect a good cup of coffee in the dining room, its now the same crap they serve in the buffet. You have to buy a $30 (+15%) coffee card now to get a decent cup of coffee. ANY kind of coffee or tea in the International Cafe must be had with this card. Picking your pockets. A lot of little things that made the dining room feel like a classy restaurant have disappeared - the service, poor coffee, cheap quality ice cream, even the baked Alaska is terrible. Touted pasta dishes were dried out and lacked flavor.
Ship - expect to find elevator buttons that don't work. Exterior windows used to be washed regularly - they never were for the entire cruise - salt stained windows from the dining rooms/buffet detract from the experience. Ship shudders like an unbalanced washing machine when docking, wakes you up at night. Embarking and disembarking were fine. Internet - the worst I've ever seen on any ship. Passengers were livid about the snail speed and it locking up all the time, tech support unavailable (I asked purser's desk) as passengers struggled to print boarding passes. As a platinum member I got 250 free minutes that were pretty well useless to me as my ipad just kept freezing. Technology on the ship not able to keep up with the bandwidth demand of increasingly tech dependent passengers. No weather information on the ship channel.
Shore Excursions- Prices have gone from ridiculous to obscene. You can go ashore and hire a taxi and literally save over $200 on some excursions (for two adults) compared to ship excursion costs. No wonder they never sell out anymore. Ports were generally good - esp Malta, Genoa, and Kushadasi.
To summarize, Princess has been going downhill for some time and it was the first time my wife was really disappointed with them. She has been sailing with them since 1980 and used to love Princess. Carnival Corp is not maintaining the quality level of the Princess line where it should be. If costs are rising they should consider raising the cruise fare, instead of cutting the things people look forward to (esp. food, entertainment) and add new charges. If I want a cheap low quality experience there is Carnival lines. I expected a better experience with Princess and they missed the mark. I wonder if they are ruining Cunard.......
Our interior cabin was too hot- technician increased airflow which helped slightly, but it was still too hot and you had the squeaking noises from the ventilation now. First time I had a problem like that on a cruise ship, usually the AC is great. We heard there was a problem in other areas of the ship too. Cabin steward was OK. Cabin was relatively quiet (hallway noise) except for annoying morning announcements. Bed was uncomfortable for my wife. She had cabin steward put a cover on the mattress which helped a bit, but the ship needs better mattresses.
Nice train that takes you close to Vatican. Avoid Green Line Hop on Hop Off bus, that is the one the ship pushes. Intercomms inoperative, water doesn't drain on top deck (plugged drains). Long waits at some stops.View All 171 Rome on Your Own Reviews
Bus too hot and driver couldn't care less. Knossus way to crowded to enjoy - long lineups. Go off season as this place is just too busy. Good guide though. City of Heraklion was nice, good food.View All 57 Knossos Palace Reviews
No need for any tours to the walled city as it is a 5 min walk there.
Great shopping here. Saw Ephesus already so didn't bother with that. Friends took a cab there for 60 euros (couple). The ship charged a fortune and they saw less.
Been there aleady. Tram to the town is now ridiculously overpriced at 10 Euros roundtrip. Going for your wallet.
Couldn't leave Greece soon enough. Greeks see tourists as a cash cow, and shamelessly rip you off. Likely due to their economic woes.
Visited Naples. Nothing to see. Go to Pompeii. We were there already.
Great place. Good shopping, inexpensive, scenic, friendly and safe.