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

With Emerald Princess to New Zealand: an enjoyable voyage down under

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by Ronald-NL

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Nov 2016
  • Destination: Australia & New Zealand
  • Cabin Type: Interior

The Emerald Princess is a sister ship of the Ruby and Crown Princess on which we sailed before.

Hence we felt immediately at home after a smooth embarkation in Sydney.

We especially like the coffee corner “International Café” which has the possibility to buy a coffee card for 15 specialty coffees at a pretty competitive price. Such a card gives you the right to consume unlimited specialty teas (we like the wonderful Ginger tea) and hot chocolates.

To go with the coffee pretty nice complimentary cakes and snacks are available, as well as high quality ice creams for a budget price (3 scoops for EUD 1.50).

Apart from the fact that this is a very cozy place, the service is impeccable and friendly.

Most days we had just a snack in the International Café for lunch.

Initially we thought the prices on the Emerald had risen considerably since 2015, until we discovered that on this cruises prices were in AUD instead of US$: ca 30% less!

Another area of the ship we liked very much (weather permitting) is the Horizon Terrace on the back of deck 15 and 16. Over there no loud music is played.

The Sabatini lounge is also a quiet place suited for reading, but here one sometimes feels a bit isolated from life on the ship.

When the weather is such that not many people want to sit outside (the crossing of the Tasman Sea was pretty windy wit rough seas), there is a lack of inside seats, above all in the International Café and the Piazza.

It should be remarked that the port lectures were excellent. Usefull information on what to do and how to do it independantly, not just advertising the ship tours (as is the case with many other cruiselines).

We consider this class of Princess ships as a benchmark for middle class cruise liners.

There are small shortcomings compared to the ships more up-class cruise companies like Oceania or Regent, but the price is in compliance therewith.

We made deposits for future cruises with Princess, so will certainly be back.

STATEROOMS

We had an inside cabin which was on the small side (but big enough and adequately furnished).

It is advisable to have the beds separated with the access area between them. That way the cabin appears to be much bigger.

The tiny bathroom is supplied with good amenities.

SHOWS

During the 13 day trip we got 3 great production shows in the theatre.

The guest shows in the theatre were of mixed quality. Some were really nice but e.g. the one man comedian shows were for non-Australians incomprehensible.

Initially the theatre shows were at 8:15 and 10:15 pm. The result of that timing was that the first show was usually overcrowded while for the 2nd show the theatre was almost empty: much to late considering the port intensive itinerary (which calls almost each day for an early rise)

In the course of the cruise the theatre times were –whenever possible- changed to 7 and 9:30 pm (like I knew them from previous Princess cruises). Much better.

That way one could go to the 1st show (ending around 7:45 pm), have dinner and -if one liked the show- visit it another time.

Apart from the shows in the theatre there was almost every evening a fantastic Canadian humoristic piano entertainer in the Crooners Bar. Better than many of the guest entertainers in the theatre. By consequence almost all nights the Crooners Bar was crowded to the rim.

RESTAURANTS

We had dinner mostly in the Michelangelo dining room where we got good service. Food quality was similar to a mainstream city restaurant, with a good choice. During formal nights a bit more exquisite courses were offered (e.g. lobster).

Princess obviously tries to have passengers asking for less courses. In previous years the main menu offered 4 courses (cold appetizer, warm appetizer, main course, dessert), now only 3. Of course one could still always order 2 appetizers, but one is less stimulated to do so.

Because of the low ceiling of the dining room the noise level is pretty high, especially for tables in the middle. On a 6 seat table it is by consequence almost impossible to have a conversation with people on the other side of the table.

PORTS

Apart from the crossing of the Tasman Sea (2x 2 days) + a day cruising in the fjords, every day was in essence a port day, which is great.

We were very lucky to experience the Milford Sound with sun. We managed to visit the other scheduled fjords as well, which –as I understand it- is often not possible.

In all ports we arranged the tours directly with a local agency or hired a car and made our own tour.

If you rent a car you should be aware of the fact that on some highways in New Zealand an electronic toll is due. E.g. a small part of the highway from Tauranga to Roturoa.

For foreigners the payment process is pretty cumbersome.

However, detours using business loops are available and clearly indicated.

CAR RENTAL WARNING

We encountered a problem when we tried to collect a reserved and prepaid car in Auckland (from EZI Car Rental, booked via a European booking agency). They refused to accept my Dutch driver’s license (which contains almost no Dutch text: just name, etc.) and hence would not deliver the car. They claimed that an International Driver’s License was required.

Their behavior was very stubborn and almost rude.

I managed to get as yet a car from another rental company a bit further in the street (at extra costs). There I was told that the requirement of an International Driver’s License depends on the insurance company with which they have a contract. For 2 other car rentals in New Zealand my Dutch driver’s license was accepted without any problem.


Ronald-NL's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
Service
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IE C245

We had an inside cabin which was on the small side (but big enough and adequately furnished).

It is advisable to have the beds separated with the access area between them. That way the cabin appears to be much bigger.

The tiny bathroom is supplied with good amenities.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Dunedin

With free shuttle bus to town.

Explored on ourselves. Very good free musea.

Akaroa

Scenic drive over the peninsula + Christchurg city sightseeing

Picton

Drove the Queen Charlotte Drive + visited some neighbouring sounds

Tauranga

Drove to Roturoa + visited te Puia park (geysirs + cultural show).

Over a small part of the highway from Tauranga to Roturoa an electronic toll is due. For foreigners the payment process is pretty cumbersome.

However, detours using business loops are available and clearly indicated.

Auckland

Initially booked (and prepaid) at EZI rental cars. Ultimately Alternative rental cars.

EZI refused to accept my Dutch driver’s license (which contains almost no Dutch text: just name, etc.) and hence would not deliver the car. They claimed that an International Driver’s License was required.

Their behavior was very stubborn and almost rude.

I managed to get as yet a car from another rental company (Alternative) a bit further in the street (at extra costs). There I was told that the requirement of an International Driver’s License depends on the insurance company with which they have a contract.


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Ronald-NL
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