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We had sailed on the Emerald Princess two years ago in the Baltic, so we were familiar with the ship. (See previous post “A Wonderful Ship but a Disappointing Itinerary” from July 2016). There have been few major changes, so I will only repeat that the Emerald is beautiful ship and is being maintained reasonably well. We had cruised to Alaska about 10 years ago and wanted to do it again. We had a very narrow window of time in which we could travel and, of the available options sailing from Seattle, we chose this ship primarily for its competitive pricing. Embarkation in Seattle was one of the easiest we have ever experienced, certainly the best from any US port. Our hats are off to the Seattle ground crew who were efficient, organized, and professional. It took only an hour from the time we caught an Uber at our hotel in downtown Seattle to be fully checked in, on the ship, and seated in the main dining room with cocktails in hand and lunch ordered. And we do not yet have priority boarding! Service: The service on the ship was uniformly good and always given with a smile. The staff and crew convey the impression that they really want you to have a pleasant experience on board. Cabin: B722 – see review below. Activities and Entertainment: If you cannot find at least two things of interest to do on the ship on any given day, you simply are not trying. The entertainment staff was professional and organized. We enjoyed trivia, and many of the music options, such as the Dixieland band in the piazza and the Elton John imitator. The only negative comment is that sometimes the venue selected is too small and the overcrowding gets annoying. The cruise director overly relied on the Piazza when events could have been scheduled elsewhere with more seating and a better chance to hear, such as the Adagio lounge and Skywalkers’ night club, neither of which has anything going on during the day and plenty of space. Food: This is a mixed bag and there is absolutely room for improvement. The Crown Grill and the Salty Dog Gastropub were both very good and worth the upcharge. We did not eat at Share because the menu was just too odd for our taste. Pub lunch (offered on sea days in the Wheelhouse bar), the International Café, and tapas in Vines are good, complimentary choices. The Main dining room is hit or miss; sometimes good, sometimes not. The poolside grill and pizza bar are nice choices. The buffet is okay for breakfast but absolutely terrible at lunch and dinner; poor quality of food, limited choices, inadequate seating. Room service breakfast is only continental and not available on disembarkation day. A word about “Anytime Dining.” We booked very late (about 3 weeks before the cruise) and this was our only option. We were told that we could call and make a reservation. We tried to do so many times and, with only one exception, nobody ever picked up the phone! We finally spoke with the head waiter in the Michelangelo dining room; she is amazingly efficient and took care of seeing to it that we had a dining time and table of our choice. We do NOT recommend this option if any others are available. Disembarkation is always a jolt to the system; it starts really early and there is nothing relaxing about it. However, the Seattle ground crew again did an excellent job and we were in and out of the cruise terminal expeditiously. We booked ship-to-airport transfers through Princess and were off the ship and at SeaTac by 9:00 a.m. Port Valet: One of the reasons we found disembarkation so smooth was that we used the Port Valet system. This is fairly new in the cruise industry (though we used it successfully last November while disembarking a Holland America ship in Fort Lauderdale.) Here is how it works: you receive information about the service and sign up for it early in the cruise. Only certain airports and airlines participate. (We were flying American Airlines to Dallas/Fort Worth). The ship will obtain your boarding passes and deliver them to you along with luggage tags different from those on the rest of the ship. When you put your luggage out the night before disembarkation, you will not see it again until you reach your home airport. The luggage goes directly from the ship to the airport. This eliminates the annoying search for bags in the terminal and really speeds up the process. The cost? None in Seattle; it was a courtesy of the Port of Seattle. While we had a good cruise, it is an old saying, but the devil is in the details. There were things that Princess still does very well; formal night still involves dress whites for the bridge crew and long gowns for female staff. The champagne tower is fun. The “Captain’s Circle” cocktail party is great. But little things indicated to us that Princess may be cutting corners a bit – no breadsticks in the main dining room, smaller portions in the main dining room, no shower caps in the bathrooms, no “towel critters” on the beds, thin towels and not enough of them, worn out bathrobes. The buffet area (as well as our stateroom) is looking shabby and in need of refurbishing, if not a total re-design. We worry that Princess is spending so much money building new ships that it is in danger of ignoring its existing fleet. Time will tell….

A good cruise to Alaska

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by MostlyLegal

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
We had sailed on the Emerald Princess two years ago in the Baltic, so we were familiar with the ship. (See previous post “A Wonderful Ship but a Disappointing Itinerary” from July 2016). There have been few major changes, so I will only repeat that the Emerald is beautiful ship and is being maintained reasonably well.

We had cruised to Alaska about 10 years ago and wanted to do it again. We had a very narrow window of time in which we could travel and, of the available options sailing from Seattle, we chose this ship primarily for its competitive pricing.

Embarkation in Seattle was one of the easiest we have ever experienced, certainly the best from any US port. Our hats are off to the Seattle ground crew who were efficient, organized, and professional. It took only an hour from the time we caught an Uber at our hotel in downtown Seattle to be fully checked in, on the ship, and seated in the main dining room with cocktails in hand and lunch ordered. And we do not yet have priority boarding!

Service: The service on the ship was uniformly good and always given with a smile. The staff and crew convey the impression that they really want you to have a pleasant experience on board.

Cabin: B722 – see review below.

Activities and Entertainment: If you cannot find at least two things of interest to do on the ship on any given day, you simply are not trying. The entertainment staff was professional and organized. We enjoyed trivia, and many of the music options, such as the Dixieland band in the piazza and the Elton John imitator. The only negative comment is that sometimes the venue selected is too small and the overcrowding gets annoying. The cruise director overly relied on the Piazza when events could have been scheduled elsewhere with more seating and a better chance to hear, such as the Adagio lounge and Skywalkers’ night club, neither of which has anything going on during the day and plenty of space.

Food: This is a mixed bag and there is absolutely room for improvement.

The Crown Grill and the Salty Dog Gastropub were both very good and worth the upcharge. We did not eat at Share because the menu was just too odd for our taste. Pub lunch (offered on sea days in the Wheelhouse bar), the International Café, and tapas in Vines are good, complimentary choices. The Main dining room is hit or miss; sometimes good, sometimes not. The poolside grill and pizza bar are nice choices. The buffet is okay for breakfast but absolutely terrible at lunch and dinner; poor quality of food, limited choices, inadequate seating. Room service breakfast is only continental and not available on disembarkation day.

A word about “Anytime Dining.” We booked very late (about 3 weeks before the cruise) and this was our only option. We were told that we could call and make a reservation. We tried to do so many times and, with only one exception, nobody ever picked up the phone! We finally spoke with the head waiter in the Michelangelo dining room; she is amazingly efficient and took care of seeing to it that we had a dining time and table of our choice. We do NOT recommend this option if any others are available.

Disembarkation is always a jolt to the system; it starts really early and there is nothing relaxing about it. However, the Seattle ground crew again did an excellent job and we were in and out of the cruise terminal expeditiously. We booked ship-to-airport transfers through Princess and were off the ship and at SeaTac by 9:00 a.m.

Port Valet: One of the reasons we found disembarkation so smooth was that we used the Port Valet system. This is fairly new in the cruise industry (though we used it successfully last November while disembarking a Holland America ship in Fort Lauderdale.) Here is how it works: you receive information about the service and sign up for it early in the cruise. Only certain airports and airlines participate. (We were flying American Airlines to Dallas/Fort Worth). The ship will obtain your boarding passes and deliver them to you along with luggage tags different from those on the rest of the ship. When you put your luggage out the night before disembarkation, you will not see it again until you reach your home airport. The luggage goes directly from the ship to the airport. This eliminates the annoying search for bags in the terminal and really speeds up the process. The cost? None in Seattle; it was a courtesy of the Port of Seattle.

While we had a good cruise, it is an old saying, but the devil is in the details. There were things that Princess still does very well; formal night still involves dress whites for the bridge crew and long gowns for female staff. The champagne tower is fun. The “Captain’s Circle” cocktail party is great. But little things indicated to us that Princess may be cutting corners a bit – no breadsticks in the main dining room, smaller portions in the main dining room, no shower caps in the bathrooms, no “towel critters” on the beds, thin towels and not enough of them, worn out bathrobes. The buffet area (as well as our stateroom) is looking shabby and in need of refurbishing, if not a total re-design. We worry that Princess is spending so much money building new ships that it is in danger of ignoring its existing fleet. Time will tell….
MostlyLegal’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BD B722
Because we booked late, this was the best available cabin. It was clean and comfortable; there is refrigerator and a desk. There is an extra chair, but no couch. The bathroom décor is uninspired and, like many cruise bathrooms, really small! We had 2 chairs and a small round table on the balcony, which is smaller than we would have liked, but no footstools. We had to beg the steward for blankets to use on the balcony. All in all, the cabin was okay for a week, but we would hesitate before booking it for a longer cruise.
Aloha Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Juneau
    On a prior trip to Juneau, we had done the glacier walk via helicopter and taken the tram, so we felt we had seen the major attractions. We did some shopping at the House of Russia and had a pleasant stroll through the port area; we were again blessed with a sunny day. We then had a wonderful dinner at the “Alaska Fish and Chip Company at the Flight Deck.” They served the best halibut fried fish we have ever eaten anywhere! And it was fun to relax on the pier with a view of our ship and the seaplanes taking off from Juneau. If you are willing to pay for a meal off the ship, this is the place.
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  • Misty Fjords Flightseeing
    The exact title of our excursion was “Discovery Exclusive: Misty Fjords Seaplane and Crab Fest.” It was very, very expensive but worth every penny! It made our cruise and we would highly recommend it.

    The group was small – only 11 passengers. We took a one hour flight in a seaplane with our pilot (Luke, who was fabulous!) acting as a guide over the Tongass National Forest and the Misty Fjords National Monument. The only way to really see the majesty of these areas is by plane. We had sunny skies and a glorious flight! Takeoff and landing, both on the water, were smoother than any major airline could accomplish. The flight was followed by an “all you can eat” crab leg lunch with all the wine and beer you can drink at the lakeside George Inlet Lodge. A great way to spend the morning in Ketchikan.
    View All 104 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
  • Skagway
    We had done the White Pass Railroad previously, so we felt no need to do it again. We took a walk into town, (which is very easy to do from the Pier) shopped for souvenirs, and had lunch at the Skagway Brewing Company. (Good local beers but the fish and chips were not as good as in Juneau). Because we again had a beautiful sunny day, we spent the afternoon on our balcony enjoying the cool, crisp Alaska air.
    View All 975 Skagway Cruise Port Reviews
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