Emerald Princess Cruise Review by westendgirl
- Sail Date: September 2009
- Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation was less than 30 minutes from taxi drop-off to unlocking our balcony cabin. We've always been Princess fans and I couldn't understand the negative comments from other CruiseCritics but this time we experienced some of the issues first-hand. BTW, we're still Princess fans and have booked two future cruises. Most (if not all) of the problems arose because there are 3,000 passengers on a ship designed for 2,500. This creates crowding in all public areas, specifically the Horizon Court buffet and any performance venues. If you want a decent seat, take a book and plant yourself 30-40 minutes early. And plan your breakfast for off-hours when it's not so crowded.
We had a table for 2, early dining in the Boticelli dining room. The service was extremely slow and after the third night - when it took an hour and 15 minutes to get our entree - we didn't go back. Three strikes and you're out. The waiter seemed to be working very hard but there was no cohesive teamwork between him and his assistant. Enjoyed the Wheelhouse Bar pub-grub and Vines Wine Bar.
The Vista Lounge, present on many other Princess ships, has been superceded by Fusion Nightclub. The way it's arranged, it can't be used as a venue for the Capt. cocktail party (champagne only this time) or the returning cruisers' Capt. Circle parties. These were held in the Atrium and it just wasn't worth the crowding and hassle. We only dressed for one formal evening and plan to shun these events in the future. We also will stick to Princess' smaller ships unless it's an itinerary we can't refuse.
But all in all, we had a great cruise. The captain did an admirable job navigating thru 2 North Atlantic storms, one with 80 mph winds and 21 ft. seas. Luckily, we do not suffer from seasickness. We missed St. Johns, Newfoundland due to weather and this created 7 straight days at sea. Princess did a great job of scheduling a variety of movies during sea days in the Princess Theatre as a diversion.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Probably the highlight of our cruise. The ship has a "Golden Circle" bus excursion which we had signed up for. However, we didn't relish being stuck on a bus with 40+ people for 8.5 hours, so we decided to rent a car from Hertz at the regional airport. Great decision! We managed to see all the major sights in the Reykjavik area and had no problem navigating the roads. They were all paved but had no shoulders and we only saw one guardrail all day. The topography is pretty barren and created by volcanic activity. Thingvillir National Park is memorable for being able to walk down the tectonic plate between the continents of N. America and Europe. Also the site of the world's first parlaiment approx. 900 AD. The highlight was Gullfoss (Golden Falls) a spectacular waterfalls for which pictures do not do justice. The geyser area was not as impressive as Yellowstone's; however, Geysir is the namesake of all geysers throughout the world. There was some spectacular scenery in the highlands on the ride back to Reykjavik via Selfoss. We caught the last Hertz courtesy van back to the dock with minutes to spare. Would love to return to Iceland for a longer visit. Qaqortoq, Greenland. Never did we think we'd ever visit Greenland. The approach with a full moon and our first iceburg sighting of the day was quite memorable. We were tendered to Q-toq and (thanks to other CruiseCritic reviews) knew to hit the one and only gift shop first thing. We scooped up our souvenirs and spent the next 3 hours exploring. The houses are brightly colored and climb up and down the streets surrounding the harbor - and so did we. Quite different from any place we've ever visited. Mostly Inuits but some Danes and other Europeans as well. We had selected a nice French cabernet and some local beer at their grocery but were crestfallen to learn there are no liquor sales on Sunday. The sail-away down the channel was spectacular. At dinner, the Capt. announced that they had spotted a large iceburg 1/2 nautical mile away and he thought photos or videos would be a nice souvenir of Greenland. What a treat! It was a distance from the ship and was hard to estimate as to size but it was approximately half the size of the Emerald. We did a complete 360 around the iceburg so everyone could see. With the setting sun as a backdrop, it was quite a sight indeed.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BelfastWe should have booked an excursion because there's just not that much to see in Belfast. We took the city's complimentary shuttle and de-bussed adjacent to their impressive City Hall, built in the early 1900's when Belfast was booming. However, they have erected a large ferris wheel next to it, a la London's, and it almost completely obliterates the Titantic memorial. What a shame. The Titantic was built in Belfast's shipyards. Princess brought aboard an above average local group 'Gael Force' who did a great job on the Irish standards. It was a lovely sail-away along the Irish coastline.View All 186 Belfast Cruise Port Reviews
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DublinWe took the ship's shuttle ($10 pp) and were let off adjacent to the National Library. It was within walking distance of many of Dublin's best-known sights. Our first stop was Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We had missed this the last time we visited Ireland in the 90's. Speaking of which, we were very much looking forward to an Irish coffee on this brisk day but they were charging 8 Euros per cup in the Temple Bar district. Thanks, but no thanks. Great to be back on the auld sod where everyone looked like my relatives.View All 293 Dublin Cruise Port Reviews
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Edinburgh (South Queensferry)We took the ship's shuttle ($10 pp) and were let off adjacent to the National We dropped anchor by the imposing Firth of Forth iron bridge and tendered into South Queensferry. There is a shuttle bus into Edinburgh but the train is a much better value at 5 pounds pp (round-trip). But be forewarned that you must climb over 1,000 steps to get to the upper part of town where the train station is. The trains run about every 15 minutes and go to the main station in the center of Edinburgh. We walked up to Edinburgh Castle and shopped on the Royal Mile. There were pipers everywhere which greatly added to the atmosphere. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the lovely green park in the valley between the 'old town' and the 'new town'. A beautiful sunny day. On our stroll back to the tender dock, we enjoyed wild blackberries with a young Scottish family. Princess brought on local entertainment consisting of pipers, dancers, and a fiddler. Drank a wee dram on our balcony before sail-away.View All 180 Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Cruise Port Reviews
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OsloOslo has one of the most beautiful port settings we've ever docked at. You're adjacent to the 14th c. Akershus castle instead of the containers seen at most large European docks. Oslo is a compact city and we took off on our own. We readily located the National Museum and Art Gallery. We skipped Vigeland statue park. If you've seen it once, you've seen it. Any first-time visitor should definitely seek out the Viking Museum. We explored the castle and particularly enjoyed the Danish Resistance Museum. The Oslo archipelago is a gorgeous sail-in and sail-away.View All 374 Oslo Cruise Port Reviews
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