Emerald Princess Cruise Ship Review:
Summary of pros: Summary of cons:
Ship Atmosphere Our steward (name was Kemmanat)
Room location on Lido Deck Port of Salerno view
Big room/closet Food was hit or miss
Gluten Free taken seriously
Crooner’s Bar/AJ Clarke
Love Boat Cast/Ashleigh
Overall: One of our favorite ships, and one of our favorite cruises!
Ship atmosphere: Relaxed ambiance. This cruise was all about the destinations, and this ship was perfect for that. No over-the-top gimmicks, no climbing walls and waterslides! This kind of energy was saved for the ports and excursions. It was a mostly older crowd which looked to be ages 40+ (including us at 49 and 52). We saw very few young children on this cruise. It appeared and sounded as if most people were European or Australian.
Lido Deck Room 247/Balcony: First, we LOVED being on the Lido deck. Walk right out to the pool, the food, etc. We expected noise, being so close to all of this, but never heard anything! It was very convenient! But second, there was no one above our balcony that could look down onto our balcony, as we could to the ones below us. Speaking of the balcony, you need this! Watch the sunrise or sunset from the privacy of your balcony in a chair with a drink or snack. Wake up to amazing views and go outside to take pics in your PJs. It’s just an entirely different experience with a balcony. Room L247 was a good size, with a huge closet and a lot of drawers. By far, this is our favorite cabin on any cruise we’ve sailed on, and we will always book on the Lido deck in the future.
Princess Beds: That bed….I miss that bed! The bed and the bedding were so comfortable. We’ve talked about the bed/bedding as much as we’ve talked about anything else!
Internet: The Internet was incredible! All texts and pictures were sent and received instantly as if we were on land. We’d sit at the pools before dinner after long days on our feet exploring in the ports, perusing Facebook, posting pictures, using Google Maps, watching news stories, etc. Not once was anything slow. One night we were nowhere near land in the middle of the ocean and I sat inside our cabin on our bed Facetiming our children. And this is before the upcoming Medallion system!
Food: We arrived to see a Gluten free acknowledgment on the desk, even though I’d already received an email verification from them. When we gave our card for drinks at dinner, the server would then point out what was gluten free on the menu. So it must have also been registered electronically. So nice to know they take it seriously as I have Celiac’s disease. There were always gluten free options, no matter where we went to eat, with always at least one dessert option in the main cafeteria area. However, the food was hit or miss; sometimes great, sometimes disgusting really. Overall I’d say the food was fair during the day, and above average at dinner. Not as memorable as other cruises, but not bad, mostly.
Share: Amazing food! But allow a lot of time! There are six courses with considerable time in between. For us, it was just too much time spent on dinner – about 3 hours. But all of the people working there were very nice and went out of their way to make our anniversary dinner special. They even sang to us!
Crooner’s Bar/AJ Clarke: We ended up going there four out of seven nights. The bartenders were professional, friendly, and skilled. It was them that introduced us to a Beverly Hills Iced Tea, based on questions about what we liked. AJ Clarke was very talented and entertaining. One night his mom was his guest. We very much enjoyed his performances. We also liked the Crooner’s Bar isn’t enclosed, allowing people to come and go at ease and spend a little or a lot of time there, without worrying about interrupting his performance.
Skywalker’s Bar: The bartenders were great! Funny, accommodating, and skilled! We sat at the bar the last night and wished we’d done that every night. We went to Skywalker’s almost every evening. The DJ, servers, music, crowd – average. The bartenders there made Skywalker’s a lot of fun!
Pools: There were four pools, never crowded. We loved them all, but especially the ones at the back of the ship. It was amazing watching the sea go by behind us. The band, The Sound, frequently played at the Neptune pool. They were incredible! Great lead female singer, awesome song choices (top 40 from many eras; songs everyone knows). But it was entirely too loud! However, moving up to the top deck took care of that. When they started playing, many people would move to the top deck, but also many would leave. I felt bad for the band as I’m sure they noticed people leave when they started playing. But it wasn’t them, they were amazing! It was just overwhelmingly loud if you were down in the pool area.
Love Boat Cast: We had every intention of attending the Love Boat fun, but missed it due to an emergency call from home we had to take care of. However, upon leaving our room after that call, we encountered some of the cast at the elevators as they were just leaving the pool area where it took place, on the Lido deck close to our room. They carried the fun that we’d missed to us personally! Took our hands and danced, even used our cameras to take selfies. As quick as they appeared, they were off, laughing and having fun. They probably ran into other cruisers and made their night also! They could have ended their responsibility on deck and gone on their way. Thank you Love Boat cast! That made our night! I was able to zoom in on one of their name tags from the selfies and one girl’s name was Ashleigh. Her tag says she is the Jr. Asst Cruise Director, from South Africa. Thank you!
Front Desk: Everyone at the front desk was incredible. They helped us with a few different things, but mostly they were instrumental in getting our luggage to us, that had been missing for five days. It was the fault of United Airlines, not theirs. But when our luggage finally made it to Santorini, it was them that got it from the port, onto the ship, and to our room. Thank you!
Pompeii Ruins: Our very favorite excursion, ever! Our guide, Paulo, was incredible too! If you ever have a chance, cruise port or otherwise, this is simply a must!
Embarkation and disembarkation: We arrived with no luggage, so it was very simple from the start. But we walked right in, and right onto the ship. From Uber to our room was about 15 minutes! Disembarkation was also simple. We were the last group off, walked right off, and right to our luggage. Again, from room to transfer service was about 15 minutes. Easiest process we’ve ever been through. No lines at all, anywhere, on or off.
Salerno: One morning we opened our balcony curtains to the amazing view of the next port – and it wasn’t. Apparently this port is also a container terminal. The view was row after row of huge industrial containers. Not a huge deal, but a strike contrast from the other incredible views off our balcony that we enjoyed waking up to each morning. Our excursion guide explained that they’d actually built a port for cruises, then discovered it wasn’t deep enough and had to return to using the container terminal.
Steward: Sadly, this was our first cruise where our steward disappointed us. According to him, our schedule should revolve around what made his job the most easy. When it didn’t we were judged, put down, and criticized. Most of the people in the rooms he serviced rose earlier, ate earlier, and went to bed sooner. Several times a day he would ask us why we weren’t in port, weren’t we going to eat dinner, when were we going to bed. Our replies were met with judgement, shaking his head, looking put out, or openly telling us we wouldn’t receive his services if we didn’t comply. One night early on told us he was done at 5:30, and wouldn’t be back to turn down our bed if we didn’t leave for dinner by 5. We told him we wouldn’t be leaving for dinner by then but that was fine, we understood, no worries. But at that point we tried to temper his frustration by responding to his many criticisms about our schedule. We explained that we were on an 8 hour time difference, slept/ate later, liked the activities offered at night, slept in, liked going to the pool in between the port excursion and dinner, etc. He shook his head, put out. I walked away thinking we didn’t owe him an explanation, and that his response was incredibly rude. It got worse as the week went on as he tried to tell us what our schedule should be, and we went on with the schedule we’d planned, on OUR vacation. He became more and more insistent, and we anticipated his glaring judgment, harsh words, or condemnation each time we came and went from our cabin. One day we returned from port to put our suits on. He asked where we were going and I told him we were going to the pool. He then scolded us and asked why we weren’t getting ready for dinner. We told him we were going to dinner later. Again, we were met with his irritation. There were too many incidents to go into each one, but most were similar to this, each worse than the next. However, the worst incident was one night when we were in our room taking pictures of the sunset and getting ready for dinner, when he went from annoying to alarming. We had just returned from port and there he was standing by our room, again asking why we weren’t at dinner. We explained we wanted to watch the sun set from our balcony, and would also be getting ready for dinner, AND what time we’d be leaving, that it would be at least an hour or more. He wasn’t happy about that. About 15 minutes later he opened the door without even knocking. He knew we hadn’t left, obviously. He probably hadn’t left the place he was standing when we got to our room – lurking, as always, by our door. But apparently he thought we needed a reminder that we were on his time and he was waiting, and that barging in would make us go faster. I was unclothed, nude from the waist up. It was very embarrassing, and the trust to our privacy was now completely gone. That was a purposeful violation of our privacy that alarmed and actually frightened me. But even that aside, I don’t appreciate being told how to spend my time while on vacation, especially that I should be out of the room by 7 and back from the port and at dinner by 5:00, when the ship doesn’t ask that, provides many activities at all times, and doesn’t even require you to be back on the ship that early. The dining room schedule was our focus, not his. If I want to sleep in I don’t owe an explanation and don’t deserve condemnation or judgment, from anyone. I don’t need to be scolded by the steward because I went to the pool at HIS dinner time, or because I bring pastries back to our room instead of eating them there. Boy, his stare in the hallway between me and the napkin was intense! The pastries were gone when we returned a couple hours later, of course. Part of a cruise is enjoying the freedom to experience the many wonderful things scheduled, at all times, not on the steward’s schedule. But even if we wanted to sleep in all day or not eat dinner at all, that’s our choice, it’s our vacation. Usually the steward is rarely seen. Ours was always there, as soon as we opened the door to leave, and right there when we returned, asking why we weren’t where we should be, according to him. We continued to be kind, in every interaction, even when he barged into the room as I was nude. What do you do when someone has a key to your room and there’s nothing you can do about it? You respond with kindness, but include it in your review. Hopefully others will also let Princess know, and this will be taken care of for future cruisers.
Summary: We love Princess, and we loved the Emerald ship! We’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian previously but this was our first Princess cruise. We are now BIG fans of Princess. We had an almost perfect week!
Greek people are so wonderful. They were so welcoming and seemed happy to have tourists. There were so many people there ready to help, happy and proud to share their city. Our ship left from there so we stayed a couple days. We stayed in Koukaki, a safe area in walking distance of The Acropolis and Plaka. Don't miss Anatiofika! It's in between The Acropolis and Plaka - small little neighborhood, like a postcard, quaint, and so beautiful. Find the little church in Anatiofika with the Greek flag and you'll see the most amazing view of Athens from there! The taxis in Athens can be sketchy. We took a transfer from the airport which worked great and was the same price as a taxi. Even though we had a delayed/diverted/cancelled flight, Athens Airport Taxi/run by Emma followed our changes, always responded to each communication immediately and took care of us. We were also happy that Athen's has Uber. But be weary of using a Taxi. They'll take advantage of you. We actually saw a fight break out with a Taxi driver! Be careful in that that each area in Athens is different and can go from safe to unsafe within a block. In general, the closer to The Acropolis, the safer it is. We loved Athens - even though our luggage hadn't arrived (and wouldn't for five days). It's the locals there that make it so wonderful!
We also loved Santorini. It's exactly like what you see in pictures. Don't miss Oia, at the end of the island. It's about a 20 minute cab ride from Fira, where the cable car is. But for souvenirs and food, things are a little cheaper in Fira. There are only a few ways to get up on the island - basically the cable car, walking, or riding the donkeys. We were lucky to be the only ship in port and got right on and off the cable car. If you walk, they've been known to herd the donkeys into you to get you to pay to ride them, and it's slippery with all the donkey poop. But please don't ride the donkey's. You can read more about it here:
Kotor was our favorite! I'd love to go back and stay overnight. We were there the day of our 25th anniversary and it was just an enchanting place to spend that day. Take the hike up the mountain (8 Euros), for sure. We only went as far as The Lady of Our Remedy Church, as we had to be back on the ship by 2 and only had so much time, but it was very beautiful. Easy walk, amazing view! Also try The Harbour Pub, and sit outside. Great food and service! I took the most pictures at this port. Storybook setting!
We rode the hop on hop off bus and had a fun day.
Pompeii excursion was incredible!! The view of the Salerno port not so much.
Our cruise ended in Barcelona, where we stayed for a couple days. The Gothic Quarter is great for nightlife. We loved Sor Rita, a Kitshy bar, Bollocks, a rock bar, and Poloroid, an 80's bar. Some people like to stay in the Gothic Quarter, but I'd read that because it's older the hotels have problems with mold, ac, water etc. So we stayed right by Arc de Triomf, walking distance from the Gothic Quarter. Arc de Triomf has a pretty park with people blowing bubbles, musicians, and ice cream carts. Worth the stop if you can. There's a great restaurant near there called Elsa Y Fred with great cocktails, food, and amazing service. Barcelona has dozens of Gaudi places to see, and you definitely have to see Sagrada Familia, even if it's the only thing you do in Barcelona. But, there are so so many Gaudi places, it would take at least a week or more to see them all. We did also go to Park Guell, with its panoramic view of the city. One of our favorite things we did was spend an afternoon at Barceloneta Beach. There is so much to do in Barcelona and we felt a little guilty going to a beach instead of fitting in more landmarks on our last day, but it was such a fun time. Maybe because we'd just spent two weeks walking and sightseeing, but it's a very relaxing, pretty beach. The sand meets the shore with a border of beautiful rocks. Shiny, good-sized, all colors..worth the weight to bring some home. We used an amazing transfer service in Barcelona from the cruise port to the hotel and then to the airport. It was Pressicat/Roman LLort. Roman was amazing, so friendly and professional, and texted with us at all points. A word of caution about the Barcelona airport - we arrived three hours early and needed every second of that.