As seasoned cruisers (11th cruise with Princess and 17th overall), we enjoy the Princess experiences: traditional cruising, many dining experiences (ranging from casual to Michelin), personal and expertise service, cleanliness, familiarity and excellent itineraries. Hence, we are enormously loyal to Princess and chose this cruise merely for the joint holiday itinerary to one of our favourite countries to cruise to – New Zealand – from hometown of Sydney. The itinerary included a new port, Picton, which was a lovely surprise, otherwise the itinerary was all familiar. This was our first time on the Emerald Princess and we enjoyed the ship very much; it is fairly new and well arranged.
Hotel Information: The mini suite stateroom was spacious for two people, though we have sailed before with 3 and even 4 passengers. Not a complaint about the room. Customer services officer, Steven Ross, was a credit to the cruise line and one of the senior shining staff members on-board. I strongly recommend pre-organising credit card info for the cruise prior to embarkation, to avoid purser's desks queues. A big stateroom qualm was the fact my parents, vacating in the stateroom next to mine, had significant difficulties with their cruise card, being unable to enter their cabin. Pursers desk staff tried to be helpful with remagnetising the cards but this issue continued for the entire duration of the cruise! Their advice offerings were considerate e.g. separate cards from one another or keep away from phones, never even applied. The technician who came to inspect the cabin door tossed the blame to another department and it buck was continually passed along so the easiest way my parents found to deal with it was queuing up for re-magnestiisng on a daily basis.
International Café: As huge fans of the International Café concept, we love time spent there! Sadly, the lack of seating was a perpetual problem. We were often scrambling to find space or seats in the café. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things but I do believe adding additional space in the atrium or including additional chairs would help the situation. Fellow passengers shoving aside others to snab a table, of which I was once already sitting at with a family member, is a lowly reflection of fellow cruisers etiquette.
Cabin was spacious with clean amenities and balcony. Beds were comfortable. Plenty of natural or artificial lighting, space for clothing or stowed items. Two televisions. Bathroom accommodates a decent sized shower-bath with moderate vanity and basin. Well furnished though slightly dated. Clean and mostly well looked after by our steward, Romy. Room is close to elevators and central stairs but a distance from the aft portion of the ship. Favour the minisuite configuration. Wifi was mostly unreachable in the stateroom, better connection in the hallway outside the room.
This was our fourth time to Wellington and we had an itinerary planned for our day. Compulsory shuttle bus entry into town, drop off is right in the middle of the shopping district/CBD. From there, a 3-5 minute walk to the cable car. Wait for tickets and a ride up was minimum but expect to wait. The cable car experience was very enjoyable, especially as it was around Christmas and the tunnel had been decorated with Christmas lights! At the top there are plenty of options, including a free transfer to Zootopia, the cable car museum or entry into the Botanical Gardens. Free informative staff are also accessible there. We took a 20-25 minute walk through the Botanic Gardens, through their easy track, which is mostly downhill. It was stunning and there are so many lovely things to see, even the devotee benches along the park's exit were very sentimental. From there, a quick 5 minute walk along the main road (park's exit) takes you to Lady Norwood Rose Gardens which are delightful! I would definitely recommend morning tea or afternoon tea in those gardens at the little Picnic café. There are also amenities, a gift shop and two beautiful greenhouses with lovely flowers and plants; the major highlight though is the rose gardens. Bring a camera for those amazing flowers! The walk back up to the cable car is 15 minutes via the fast track (quite steep) or a cab into town is around 10. Wellington has two department stores right in the centre - one is more high end shopping, further down the main street there's a galleries and strand like shopping district, but the main strip offers some good clothing and souvenir stores. A few quaint restaurants in the heart of Wellington for some lunch - most are pub like and a little more expensive than back home but worth it I'd say.