Emerald Princess Cruise Review by cloudchaser
- Sail Date: March 2009
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Travel & Hotel. We live in Florida and drove to Fort Lauderdale. We've done this before and stay at the Hampton Inn on SW 12th Street. Good hotel, free shuttle, and you can leave your car there for a nominal charge.
Embarkation was well done. There was a long line but it moved along. Once you got to the check-in the process went quickly. There was space to move around the ever present photographer's back-up.
Our balcony stateroom was a disappointment. It was smaller than any balcony we can remember on any line. We were on Holland America in Dec 08 and our room was at least 1/3 larger. The bathroom was really small and the shower almost laughable. Our friends got a large balcony room (+$800) and the only difference was a larger balcony. We found that with the larger balcony you didn't have any privacy as all the decks above can look down on your balcony.
We were disappointed in the ship design. It appears that the primary consideration was for the number of cabins at the expense of the public areas. All the public areas were too small for the number of people on the ship. The theater seats are narrow and very close together (think discount airline). I found it so uncomfortable I skipped all the shows. My wife went to the shows with our friends. Anytime people gathered (shows, evening entertainment, and Piazza events) there was never enough room.
I use the fitness center, dry spa and steam room extensively. The fitness center, equipment, and classes were fine. The locker room is too small for the size ship. It is poorly designed with towel storage on the small bench and thus nowhere for more than one person to sit at a time. There is an additional thermal spa for $80 that I joined. I will not do that again as there is really no benefit over the free facilities.
We used Anytime Dinning. This was fine as long as you made reservations. If not, there were long lines most of the time. There is a dining room on Decks 6 and 5. Most people went to the Deck 6 room and Deck 5 was less crowded with a shorter wait. The food was fine. The free pizza was very good. On the days at sea there was an English pub food lunch menu in the Wheelhouse bar. It was very nice and I enjoyed it.
There was the usual spread of shipboard activities. All was as expected.
Another disappointment was the Princess policies on getting more money from the passengers. I ordered a drink and was asked if I wanted a medium. Now to me that means there is a small, medium, and large. Not the case. A medium is a larger drink than a regular size and more expensive. I haven't seen this type of deceptive marketing since McDonalds Hamburgers used it with their french fries. A fellow passenger fell on the ship and cut himself. The Purser's Office charged him $1.09 for band aids. There is free ice cream on board for a few hours a day but it is totally unadvertised as opposed to the for fee ice cream which is well advertised. The gym classes are $10 each if you buy a package for the entire cruise or $12 if you want to try just one. I could go on with more examples of, in my opinion, the loss of prestige of the line and the move to mass marketing techniques based on the size of the ship. When you are on-board, let the buyer beware.
The cabin service and our table service were very well done. We felt that clean-up and drink delivery on the Lido deck dinning were a bit slow. Everyone was pleasant and made the cruise enjoyable.
My wife enjoyed the entertainment. As mentioned before, all evening events were very crowded. Most shows were repeated three times over two or three days; I guess so everyone would have a chance to see them. We think the variety and quality was as expected for Princess.
We visited five ports. Excursions and other details were as expected.
Disembarkation was fine. We had the option of early walk off which we didn't use. Our group was called within five minutes of the expected time. It was a usual, timely disembarkation.
I filled out my comment form but couldn't fine a place to drop it off. I guess there was a box by the Purser's Office but who goes near that place on the last day? I expected a box by the gangway but there wasn't one.
Summary: A day cruising is better that any day ashore so don't take my comments above to mean we didn't have a good time. It was just a series of small nits that kept it from being a great cruise. Princess seems to have lost the ability to do the last 5% that separates a great cruise line from a good one. Overall I told my wife that we will not cruise on this class of ship again but I don't mind going on Princess. Perhaps we'll find the smaller ships still have the old Princess charm and quality.
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