I am new to princess cruises, and they made a good 1st impression as far as the ship, crew, food and itinerary.
The only complaint i had was embarkation at fort lauderdale port. First, boarding was running late, apparently because it took them too long to get everyone off the previous sailing. I say start charging passengers $100 for every 15 minutes they're late disembarking & that'll get them off! also, i can understand princess wants to make their elite and higher loyalty passengers feel special, but it felt highly disrespectful to the rest of us to make us wait in the boiling hot sun for an additional 30 minutes or more while they all lined up & were all allowed enter the building 1st, before any of us were allowed to enter. Even people who arrived 30 minutes or more after we did were allowed to join that line & they all had to be allowed in before they would begin letting our line enter the building! it started things off with us being angry and resentful. After that, it was well organized and went rather quickly.
Anyway....on to the good stuff...day 1: as soon as we embarked, we went for lunch at di vinci's, which was very good.
My balcony cabin, baja505 deck 11 starboard side closer to aft, was great. There was plenty of space and storage. The beds were very comfortable. There's an open closet area with a tall cabinet of shelves next to it, and i loved it. Bring wire hangers so you'll have tons of hanging space for clothing. The bathroom was ok. Small shower, but at least the curtain curved out. Bring an over the door plastic shoe holder, so you'll have plenty of toiletry storage space, since there's limited vanity/shelf space in the restroom. The balcony was nice and private. I could look down on balconies on decks 9 and 10, but mine was covered. My parents were in dolphin201, a deck 9 starboard forward mini suite. They had an extra living room area with sleeper sofa, and their balcony extended out a little further, but it was 1 of those uncovered ones without privacy.
We did not attend the show that night.
Dinner was just ok, i had the curtis stone chef special fish stew, which was bland. Dad had texas chili, which was very bland, as was the cheese tart.
Day 2: i was disappointed that breakfast at divinci did not include grits. I'm a southern gal & love me some grits! Later i found out they had them at the buffet. Breakfast at divinci's was the same pretty much every morning, so that got a little monotonous.
Lunch at divinci's, london grill and mussels with rice pudding dessert was all delicious. Dinner at michelangelo: shrimp was amazing, as was the chocolate journeys dessert that they offer several times during the cruise. Always order the chocolate journeys dessert when it's offered!
During the day i tried to go to the serenity adult pool area off of the spa, but it was too crowded. There were tons of people in the pool & no loungers. It's a small area.
The pool area on deck 15 with live music was pleasant, not overly crowded & there were plenty of loungers.
I purchased the internet special 600 + 40 bonus minutes for $199 & it was worth it. It lasted me the 2 weeks.
We tried to use the princess @ sea app for free on board, but it was pretty much useless for sending messages to each other, since there's no notification when you have a message. You have to be on it, looking at it to know. So we gave up.
Comedian george casey from ireland was funny that night, clean humor that night.
Day 3: breakfast at divinci's was disappointing. Mom said her fried eggs tasted like bad grease. I ordered smoked salmon & they never brought a bagel & then looked at me funny when i asked for it. The menu said smoked salmon with bagel & cream cheese.
We tried to buy inch of gold in the atrium area, but it was super crowded & the 1 employee insisted on making each individual item right there, which took forever, as he moved at a snail's pace! We kept asking him why he doesn't take the orders like they do on every other cruise & have people pick them up later & his reply was that "it's not crowded right now, so this is how we do it." we replied, "yes it is crowded, we're all waiting & don't mind coming back for our orders." he wasn't listening, so we gave up for 1st time & came back later when we were the only ones there & he made our items for us at that time, which took forever & by the time he finished, there was a large crowd waiting & waiting.
It took us over an hour of standing there waiting to get our 4 items.
We tried to have tea time at divinci, but it was very crowded, since they seat people in only 1/2 of the restaurant. So we were told they didn't have a table for 2 and were turned away.
Dinner was good, and the show did not interest us that night. We do not like broadway musical style shows or motown reviews and such.
Day 4: breakfast at divinci, the usual eggs, bacon & toast was acceptable. Lunch: fruit mist fried seafood mixture, greek salad & chimichanga were delicious.
We attended 3 lectures that day & they were very interesting. Us involvement in grenada, an art talk & the video showing emerald princess' 12/15 dry dock.
The comedian david copperfield wasn't our favorite. If you're into immature fart humor, he's your guy.
I don't remember dinner, so it must have been just ok.
The way they work dinner, is if you have a set time or go before 7:30pm, you dine at divinci. If you dine earlier & my time dining, you can go to michelangelo.
Day 5: breakfast at divinci: frittata with italian bread & sausage was good.
We attended 2 lectures: us foreign aid & porta delgado sao miguel azores info.
Both lecturers were informative and enjoyable.
Lunch at the buffet wasn't bad at all. I usually avoid buffets like the plague, but this 1 was actually pretty darn good.
I spent a good deal of time in the jacuzzi, very relaxing.
Afternoon tea at divinci: we got there early so got a table for 2. They serve teas, scones, cookies & small sandwiches.
You can also grab small eats & desserts at the international cafe. Several times i went there for beef & guinness pie or a small quiche.
Dinner at michelangelo was surf & turf. Yummy.
George casey the comedian was good again. Not repetitive.
Day 6: the usual breakfast at divinci.
We attended a lecture about the vikings. Very interesting.
Lunch at divinci: goulash & spoetzel - delicious!
Pastries at international cafe were a great late afternoon snack. There's also gelato: 3 for $1.50 & they're great! You can purchase 15 specialty coffees for $31 punch card.
Dinner: lobster! And crab cake. Chocolate journeys dessert - woohoo!
The show that night was so you want to be a rock star in explorer's lounge - it was fun, like karaoke. I think there was something going on in the princess theater, but we were usually not interested & spent most of our time at the explorer's lounge shows. No wonder the princess theater is small. They don't really expect everyone to attend those shows i guess.
Day 7: we attended a very interesting lecture about henry the navigator.
Lunch at the buffet was all kinds of seafood: fish & chips, fried scallops, peel & eat shrimp, mussels. It was all good.
Dinner at michelangelo: sezhuan shrimp very good, beef stroganoff very good. No show that night.
Day 8: we were disappointed that we had to bypass the azores due to bad weather. We had an extra sea day as we headed straight for lisbon.
2 lectures that afternoon: the marshall plan & the olympics.
Lunch at international cafe and chatting with fellow guests.
Don't remember dinner.
The show we attended that night was karaoke in explorer's lounge.
This is where i stopped my day to day notes, so i will just talk about our excursions & what i remember.
Lisbon: we took the excursion to the cathedrals at fatima. It was the whole reason we & a couple hundred other cruisers were on this trip - to make the pilgrimage to fatima. It was fantastic. Our guide spoke very good english & was informative on the drive there. They took us on nice buses & we were well organized. They dropped us off right there & told us what time to be back, and that allowed us plenty of time to attend mass, walk around, view both cathedrals & do a little bit of shopping in the charming town & have coffee & pastries at a local shop. This was our favorite excursion.
Note: we found our there were 2 priests on board & they volunteered to hold daily mass. The 1st day was in the hearts & minds room, which was way too small. We brought it to the attention of guest services, that we needed space enough for well over 100 people, and they very quickly arranged for us to have a large lounge area each morning. They were very professional and accommodating.
Bilbao spain: we took the excursion to the old city. Our tour guide spoke very good english & gave us good information about the area. We stopped at a city park up high for a wonderful photo opp of the river & the guggenheim museum. She led us on a tour of the old city & our tour included wine & appetizers at an outdoor cafe in a central plaza. Delicious. We took off after a while & left the group to sightsee & shop on our own for a while. Then the bus took us to look at the guggenheim - there wasn't enough time to actual visit the museum, which was a shame, but i was happy to at least see it. I've seen so many photos of it online, it was cool to see it in person. The sculptures outside were beautiful.
La havre: we opted not to take the excursion to the beaches at normandy & the cemetery, because we were in france a few months earlier & went there. We took a cab to a beautiful old fishing village called honfleur. We loved it! Our cab driver dropped us off in town center & agreed to pick us up 3 hours later. That was plenty of time to walk the cobblestone streets, see the lovely park, do some shopping, visit the church, etc. It was a lovely town, and the people were very nice.
The only bummer time was having to go through an immigration check several days before arriving in southampton. Unfortunately there were only 2 officers on board & 1 called in seasick the day we stood in line for almost 2 hours with nearly 1/2 the ship passengers. 2 days later, both officers were available & it was just as bad for those passengers, since it was the last chance & there were so many people being checked by 2 officers. It sucked, but ended up making disembarkation super easy in southampton.
Disembarkation at southampton was so easy, since we carried off our own luggage. We literally just walked off & left the terminal, since we'd already been through immigration days before. We had pre-arranged a cab to london gatwick airport, which took 1.5 hour & was a pleasant ride.
This was my 1st princess cruise, and i can't wait to cruise with them again. The emerald princess was gorgeous - one of my favorite ships so far. With other cruise lines cutting back on food quality & no longer offering lobster night, it was nice to have it on princess.
I was thrilled with my treatment by princess when booking this cruise. I originally booked through my travel agent & paid the single supplement for an inside cabin. When prices went down & i contacted my agent to upgrade to a balcony, princess understood that i had basically paid retail for the cabin, so they treated me the same as if i'd booked directly through them & gave me double onboard credit, which ended up covering the single supplement. That was awesome & i really appreciated it!
I can't remember if that is the correct cabin category. It was one of the better balcony cabins, since it was aft. My parents were forward & heard the smashing of waves on the hull of the ship, and they said it kept them up a couple of nights.
My balcony cabin, Baja505 deck 11 starboard side closer to aft, was great. There was plenty of space and storage. The beds were very comfortable. There's an open closet area with a tall cabinet of shelves next to it, and I loved it. Bring wire hangers so you'll have tons of hanging space for clothing. The bathroom was OK. Small shower, but at least the curtain curved out. Bring an over the door plastic shoe holder, so you'll have plenty of toiletry storage space, since there's limited vanity/shelf space in the restroom. The balcony was nice and private. I could look down on balconies on decks 9 and 10, but mine was covered. My parents were in Dolphin201, a deck 9 starboard forward mini suite. They had an extra living room area with sleeper sofa, and their balcony extended out a little further, but it was 1 of those uncovered ones without privacy.
My parents had a rental car, since they arrived the day before. They picked me up & we returned the car & took the hotel shuttle & stayed overnight close to the airport. The hotel shuttled us to the port the next morning.
The guide was very informative & the drive on the bus was pleasant. They dropped us off at the cathedrals & told us what time to return to the buses. We had plenty of time to attend mass, tour the cathedrals & walk around town for shopping & coffee. Very well organized & the highlight of our trip.View All 4 Fatima Walking Tour Reviews
Our guide was friendly & informative. We went to a city park in the hills for a photo opp. Then they took us to the old quarter for a walking tour. Our guide did a great job. We went on our own for a bit & then met up with the tour a while later. We were dropped off for a very short time at the Guggenheim museum to walk around outside & take pictures of the structure and sculptures outside. There wasn't enough time to go inside the museum, but we knew that ahead of time. Very pleasant day. We truly enjoyed Bilbao.View All 7 Bilbao Old Quarter Reviews
We caught a cab at the port & went to the old fishing village of Honfleur, which was gorgeous. We spent 3 hours walking the cobblestone streets, visiting churches, shopping & sightseeing. We lucked out that the weather was gorgeous at every stop & we loved this village. I would really like to return & stay longer.