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Emerald Princess Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,737 Reviews

Almost Seabourn Quality at Princess Prices (And That's a Very Good Thing)

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by chicagomelinda

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2016
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

We've sailed on a number of cruise lines, from Norwegian to Seabourn and Princess is the best in our book on the basis of quality and value. (Nothing can beat Seabourn, but the cost such that we can't make it a consistent way of life.)

All factors taken together -- quality of ship, food, entertainment, cost of extras and service -- Princess truly delivers and the 14 Transatlantic turned out to be our best voyage on Princess yet.

Embarkation: Smooth and easy (although we're Platinum, so it's typically easy). Tip for those who aren't Platinum -- Don't arrive too early or you will simply be placed in a very long line. If you arrive about 90-120 minutes after the "launch" of boarding, the lines should be much shorter.

Cruise Director: Most on the ship (including us) agreed that our cruise director, Marahscalh Stanton, was a disappointment. His role seemed to be limited to shooting video interviews that played in our rooms each morning, making shipboard announcements and occasionally hosting an evening show. Frenchie also made videos, but she was far more present (and delightful) with passengers. Marahscalh was friendly in the presence of senior officers, but otherwise appeared to be consistently en route someplace and never had the opportunity to acknowledge a passenger, give a wave or say a hello.

Food: My husband and I avoid all buffets, preferring to take meals in the dinning rooms. We were on Anytime Dining. For the most part, we were able to get seating in a timely manner (a particular challenge, since we preferred seating for two). Granted, we learned to arrive at the "perfect time," but Princess seemed to manage the guest flow in in Anytime Dining fairly well thanks to a delightful greeter (who's name I can't recall).

Speciality Dining: Word on the Curtis Stone "Share" restaurant was that it was overpriced ($35 surcharge) and not particularly good, so we took a pass. The Crown Grill, on the other hand, at $25, was superb -- so good that we went twice in two weeks. (My husband would have gone a third time, but I thought two times was perfect.) Another "Speciality Dining" opportunity that was great fun was the private dinner for two on the Balcony which, at $50 each (I believe) included a speciality cocktail, a beautiful flower arrangement that lasted us for an entire week, a private session with the photographer and a private serving of an absolutely delicious dinner. It was a very memorable evening and I'd highly recommend it. An important tip on the Balcony Dinner -- Make sure you book for an evening that you expect good weather and decent seas. The staff may be helpful in thinking all that through. My husband is a sailor and had some very smart thoughts about when we should have our dinner and he was right. The only Speciality Dinner that didn't hit the mark for us was the Crab Shack dinner. The setting wasn't very nice, and the food only passable.

Cabin: We had a balcony mini-suite that was very nice. We had purchased this trip at an extremely good price, which afforded us the mini-suite. We don't normally go in at that level (we're typically balcony folks), but the extra room was good.

Gym: The gym was large and lovely.

Ports and Shore Excursions: Unfortunately, we had to skip Azores Islands (Ponta Delgada) due to weather. We tend to do our own research and tours, so I can't comment on the Princess excursions, but I can say that the Ports we stopped at were outstanding. Lisbon was beautiful and easy to see on our own. I had a nasty cold so Bilbao was a miss for us, but we heard amazing things about it. In Le Havre we ventured out with another couple we met through Cruise Critic to Monet's Garden which, in itself, made the entire trip worthwhile. It was spectacular.

My only criticism is that we are Bridge Players and on a trip this long (more than 10 sea days), it would be very nice to have a Bridge Director aboard. Typically, the Bridge Director simply sails for free -- not a big expense given what that individual brings to the table. We had 50+ bridge players on a regular basis. Although Princess gave us a location (Crown Grill) and supplies, we were on our own for a Bridge Director (which is necessary for Duplicate Bridge). Thankfully, one poor soul volunteered, but this is a difficult job that offers no reward. We did take up a collection and gave him approximately $400 I believe at the end of the trip, but it couldn't approach what he offered us in terms of service. Everyone was very disappointed that Princess didn't offer a bridge director for a trip with that many sea days, and I would agree it was an issue. (Which is why I'm giving a poor rating for "enrichment activities").


chicagomelinda's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony

Very nice location (highest grade mini suite). Right in the middle of the ship, which was helpful during a somewhat bumpy part of the crossing.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


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chicagomelinda
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