We booked this cruise a few weeks before sailing, as we were in need of a de-stress break. The Emerald Princess certainly delivered.
We've cruised with Princess before, so we knew what to expect in terms of the ship and its layout. The Emerald Princess has recently had some updates, with a restyled buffet and top deck areas. The whole ship was beautifully maintained and extremely clean.
We booked a balcony cabin; be aware that Riviera deck cabins are fully covered, and as such it was rarely in the sun. This wasn't a great problem, but we'd avoid that deck again, as we like to sunbathe on our balcony which we didn't really do on this cruise. Our cabin steward was excellent, the room was always cleaned to a high standard, and he always seemed to appear when we needed to ask a question, or if we had an armful of plates from the buffet to take to our balcony!
Dining across the ship was consistently very good. We did miss the selection in the buffet that you find on the larger Princess ships, but we always found items that we enjoyed. Lines at the burger bar were very short when compared to other ships, even at peak times. Sometimes it puts you off seeing a long line to wait in, there were no long lines on this ship. We also enjoyed the pizza, and snacks from the international cafe were of high quality. Try the Passion fruit Chocolate slice - it was delicious! Food in the main dining room was on the whole excellent, and in the main staff were really warm, friendly and accommodating. One night we had wait staff who were less interested, and this really stood out as all other staff on the ship were amazing, always with a smile, and always ready to help. So two less interested staff out of a huge crew was not a big deal, but noticed. Particular mention to Franco, a Mexican waiter (I think I have his name right), as he was even more smiley, friendly and warm than the others. We were pleased to be say on his table twice. No wait or pagers for main dining room was an added bonus. We tried Curtis Stone one night, the meal was suitably longer, service was attentive, and the food was different in a good way. We were unsure as to whether we would feel it was worth the up charge, but agreed it was well worth a try. Highlight was the pasta, not how we were expecting it at all, but truly delicious - give it a try.
Entertainment was very good, we enjoyed three production shows in a week with a high standard of singing and dancing. We also enjoyed the British comedian. We were so pleasantly surprised to see Arny G on board, a lounge pianist and singer we'd enjoyed watching on a previous cruise a couple of years back. It was great to be acquainted with him again, and we enjoyed watching his shows each evening. The piano bar was packed every night as Arny has an amazing singing and playing style, with an infectious personality. He is very generous in involving his audience, encouraging requests and even twisting my arm to join him on stage for a song (or two)! He even showed us round Marseille, somewhere we hadn't visited before. Arny you are an inspiration and now a true friend! Thanks for playing such a big part in making the cruise so memorable.
Wonderful ports and weather, you really can't go wrong with a Med cruise on Princess, something for everyone on and off the ship. As relatively regular Princess cruisers, we are usually impressed - but we were still struck by how almost every single staff member we encountered was so eager to provide top service. Consistently high standards of food, service and entertainment across the whole ship. Princess is definitely up a notch from other cruise lines we've tried (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, P&O), everything seems to be done with more care.
Can't wait to repeat on the brand new Sky Princess on the 27th October - we're hooked!