We booked this cruise, our first Princess Cruise, mostly for its itinerary in Scandinavia, which interested us greatly. We weren't expecting a lot from the ship itself due to its negative reviews. However, we were pleasantly surprised!
To begin, the ship was stunning. The piazza is gorgeous, and the public areas and lounges were very well designed to host a large number of people, as we almost never felt crowded. We liked to hang around spaces like the Adagio bar on deck 16 (great for playing cards) and Vibe on deck 7 (where many events were held throughout the day). The main dining room, though somewhat less impressive than those on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Ships, still felt elegant and calm. This ship has definitely held up over the years!
We absolutely loved our balcony cabins. Our family of 4 had two of them side-by-side, and we opened up the balcony divider. It performed its function extremely well, with space used very efficiently (HUGE closet). The beds, which I understand were recently replaced, were very comfortable. We had no trouble falling asleep at all. I'd highly recommend our cabin location, deck 14 aft. This offered easy access to the Horizon Court and Terrace pool, and we heard nothing from the buffet above us.
The dining was what stood out to us most on this cruise. The buffet, Horizon Court, was one of the best we've had at sea. Though it wasn't huge like some other ships we've been on, we never saw the same items twice! Everything was constantly being changed, and the food was consistently good. The Trident Grill was fantastic for snacks, as was Prego Pizzeria. All of these restaurants close at 11pm, by the way. The main dining room food quality varied from okay to fantastic, but it always arrived hot and beautifully presented, which is something other cruise lines have struggled with.
As for the on-board entertainment, we were quite impressed. Shows were somewhat smaller scale than Royal Caribbean, which I think still outperformed this ship in Broadway-style shows. However, what Emerald Princess excelled at was the amount of shows. While Royal Caribbean only does 1 big show a night, with 2 time slots (early and late), Princess had 2 - 4 shows a night, with multiple showings of each! To name a few of these shows: "The Voice of the Ocean" (singing competition), "Magic To-Do" (Broadway style show), David Knight (comedy hypnotist) and "HalfDanskerne Trio" (Danish folk singers). Entertainment throughout the day was very creative as well. Our favourite was the "Crazy golf" in the Adagio bar on the last day. The Cruise director staff was very engaging and made good use of the on-board space. Aris was really great and never failed to make us laugh. There was constantly more than one activity going on at any given time: you won't get bored on this ship.
Service was excellent. There are very attentive and courteous servers in the Horizon Court, which Royal Caribbean somewhat lacks, and our stateroom steward, Luney, was very good. We had a few very minor hiccups with the Dining room service, but they were working hard. Our server, Katarina, was very professional and our food always arrived hot.
I won't go into too much detail about the ports, but I will say that I highly recommend this Scandinavian Itinerary. Bruges was picturesque, and great if you're a chocolate lover. Copenhagen was magical, despite the downpour of rain we got, and Tivoli Garden is not to be missed! I loved Oslo's engaging museums (we did the Folk museum and Fram museum), though it should be noted that if you prebook your Oslo pass, it is QUITE the walk across town to get it. Unfortunately, we did not get to Helsingborg as the captain had to cancel the tender due to a storm. This came as quite a crushing disappointment to us, as we really wanted to get to see Kronborg castle. Apparently, this cancellation is not uncommon either. If there is anything you really want to do in the area, do it in Copenhagen: don't wait for Helsingborg, as you very well may miss it. A word of warning about the weather: pack for the worst and expect the best. I had a sweater, a rain coat and a pair of shorts in my backpack, and I used all three over the course of one day! The weather in this part of the world changes drastically VERY QUICKLY. Be prepared.
We would certainly cruise with Princess again, and it may actually be our new favourite cruise line. I urge anyone looking to book a cruise on this ship not to get scared away by the negative reviews. Bad experiences can happen on any ship, don't let a few of them stop you from trying a cruise line.
Fantastic location with great access to the Horizon Court and Terrace pool. Didn't experience any noise from the buffet directly above us. Highly recommend this location.