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Sail Date: December 2014

We decide a month before the sail date to go away for Christmas on a short cruise from an easily accessible port. We had been on the Star Princess in 2007 to the Greek Islands.

We chose the Dec 21 departure from Houston on a 7 ... Read More

We decide a month before the sail date to go away for Christmas on a short cruise from an easily accessible port. We had been on the Star Princess in 2007 to the Greek Islands.

We chose the Dec 21 departure from Houston on a 7 day journey to the Western Caribbean with stops in Roatan (Honduras), Belize, and Cozumel.

The food was good. We especially liked the Crown Grill, Crab Shack and the Pizza and Ice Cream bar. The 7 bottle Gold wine package was a good deal.

The entertainment was excellent as was the service.

The transfer from and to Hobby airport was easy and well organized.

There were plenty of choices for shore excursions.

The ship was well decorated for Christmas and the crew sand several Christmas carols. Santa Claus showed up on Christmas Day.

video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHGMaJ7Y4Hc

All in all we had a great time.

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Sail Date: December 2014

I recently over Christmas travelled to Fiji and the South Pacific onboard the Sea Princess. Have cruised several times before but this was the first time onboard a Princess cruise ship. I was with my parents and my girlfriend and we had ... Read More

I recently over Christmas travelled to Fiji and the South Pacific onboard the Sea Princess. Have cruised several times before but this was the first time onboard a Princess cruise ship. I was with my parents and my girlfriend and we had a wonderful time.

Food - The food onboard was unreal! So much choice and was delicious. We ate in the buffet, the dining room and in the speciality Steak House. Did not have one complaint, was fantastic!

Staff - Probably on of the best features onboard. All the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. Did not encounter one rude or unfriendly staff member. Everyone happily greeted you and offered assistance where ever they could.

Staterooms - Very clean and tidy. Everything you need is there for you.

Embarkation - Was a breeze! Arrived there at our allocated time to a waiting shuttle and boarded with ease.

Ship - Really nice design. Pool area is great, theatres and bars all fantastic.

Entertainment - AWESOME! Had some terrific shows! They catered for everyone.

Anytime you on a cruise it comes down to what you make of it. There will be people who will complain about anything however we had a very enjoyable time onboard and will definitely cruise with Princess again.

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Sail Date: December 2014

I was initially concerned about cruising on the Emerald Princess at Christmas for fear that: 1) the ship would be overrun with unsupervised children, 2) we'd have problems departing and arriving in the Port of Houston due to fog and 3) ... Read More

I was initially concerned about cruising on the Emerald Princess at Christmas for fear that: 1) the ship would be overrun with unsupervised children, 2) we'd have problems departing and arriving in the Port of Houston due to fog and 3) that the number of passengers would make for a crowded ship. I am happy to report that none of my fears materialized and that our Christmas cruise was very merry indeed.

Embarkation: We (two adults in late 50's and two adults in mid 20's) stayed the night prior to the cruise at the Springhill Suites at Hobby Airport. The hotel offered free shuttle service from the airport and to anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. This worked our great for us because we had family members arriving at Hobby at 3 different times and they just came to the hotel on the shuttle. Also, the shuttle was great for taking us to restaurants, Walmart, etc. The next day we called Pasadena Taxis and they sent a nice minivan for our party of 4. The cost, as they estimated beforehand, was around $50. We arrived at the time Princess requested we do so (noon - 1pm) and the line was rather long, but moved at a good pace. We were onboard the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. The ship departed the Port of Houston almost on time--no fog problems.

Public Rooms: This was the largest Princess ship I had ever sailed on, so I was a little concerned that it would feel crowded. Not so. There were plenty of public places to go which were uncrowded. In fact, this felt as one of the most un-crowded ships I've ever been on. Because this was a Christmas cruise, all of the public areas were decorated which made it especially nice. The Piazza was wonderful and we enjoyed the champagne waterfall, Christmas caroling and other programs here. Another of our favorite spots was the area outside the Explorers Lounge. There were always some tables and chairs there where we could play our Scrabble game. The outside areas were equally uncrowded. Our go-to place for breakfast was the Caribe Cafe and the area behind the cafe and our go-to place for sunning and swimming was at the Terrace Pool. This area seemed to be a secret from most of the passengers because they were crowded in the Horizon Court and around the Calypso and Neptune Pools. The only public area that was a disappointment to me was the library. For such a large ship, this was a pitifully small library.

Cabin: Our party had both a balcony room and an inside room. The rooms on Princess are somewhat smaller than their counterparts on other cruiseships, but they are still fine. I will say that we had more than enough storage space for all of our clothes and luggage. And having a mini-fridge in all of the rooms is a big plus for Princess. The beds on Princess have always been so comfortable to me. Our cabins were on the Aloha Deck and we never heard a thing--no sounds from the ship, no sounds from the passengers, no sounds of the stewards' carts. This was the quietest room I've ever had on a ship.

Fitness and Recreation: The fitness room was similar to most fitness rooms on other cruise ships. Treadmills were the most popular machines but were available for use only after 8am due to the fact that there were cabins underneath. The gym was open from 6am to 10pm. There were lots of other recreational areas--putting course, croquet, half-size shuffleboard, and basketball.

Enrichment Activities: I don't recall any on this cruise. On previous Princess cruises, there have been educational talks about the ports-of-call, but not so on this ship. There were also not any "Scholarship at Sea" programs.

Dining: Our dining experience (late traditional) started out poorly when we were assigned a table in a highly-trafficked area next to the waiter's service area. We could see several other tables in quieter areas which were empty, so the next day I contacted the head waiter for the Botticello dining room and we were immediately re-assigned to a quiet table next to the window. (I wonder why passengers were seated at less-desireable locations when prime locations were available?)

The breakfasts in the Caribe Cafe were fine, but we were never able to get any grapefruit despite being told we could. For lunch, we always had pizza, hot dogs or hamburgers and they were all delicious. We never waited for the grilled foods and there was never more than a 5 - 10 minute wait for pizza.

The dinner menu was OK, but I have always found the food on Princess to be rather bland. Since this was a cruise out of Texas, I would have expected some spicer food as we love our Tex-Mex and BBQ. Even the food choices that were supposed to be spicy were not. Princess would do a real service to their customers by providing a "spicy" option at each meal.

Entertainment: There was lots of entertainment on this ship. We did not attend any of the production shows, but the performances by the guest performers, singer Lovena B. Fox and magician Michael Barron were excellent! The Christmas caroling by the staff was such fun and there were other programs in the Piazza which I enjoyed. My only gripe about the entertainment was that there was a nightly game show (trivia, etc.) each night at 9:15 pm, but those who had traditional late dining could not participate because we were never finished with our meals until 9:30 pm or later.

Shore Excursions: We had 3 port stops and we did a ship's excursion in Belize. I prefer private tours, but since this was a tender port and since we were only in port until 4:30 pm, I was afraid to book a private tour for our destination, the Lamanai Mayan Ruins. Like all big tours, we waited around a LOT but the excursion met our expectations. I will say Princess does a good job on their website letting you know exactly where you will go on your excursion and how much time you will spend there. The lunch, however, on this excursion was poor. The meal consisted of 2 small pieces of chicken, rice and coleslaw. I barely had enough to eat and my 6'4" son certainly did not.

Service: The service on the Emerald Princess was excellent. The staff was friendly and seemed to do all that they could to ensure you had a great experience. My interactions with the head waiter and with the pursers desk were productive.

Debarkation: We arrived in the Port of Houston about an hour later than scheduled due to weather. However, they made up some of this time and we debarked only 30 minutes later than scheduled. The debarkation was pretty good, but our assigned area, the Crown Grill, was too small for everyone who was supposed to be there. We ended up waiting in another area and ocassionally walking over to the Crown Grill to check on our debarkation time. Going through Customs and Immigration in Houston was easy and we quickly got a taxi (Pasadena Taxi again) to Hobby airport. The cost was around $60.

Value for Money: Because this was a Christmas cruise, the cost was much higher than the cost of this same cruise at other times. Therefore, our "value-for'money" was less. However, this was a great cruise and I would recommend both the Emerald Princess and doing a Christmas cruise.

A Final Note: As previously mentioned, I was really concerned about booking a Christmas cruise for 4 adults for fear we'd be overrun by children. When we were in the embarcation line, I commented to my spouse as to how few children there were. During the entire cruise we saw relatively few children and we did not experience ANY rude, misbehaving or unsupervised children. I was very pleasantly surprised.

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens and we are Elite cruisers on Princess. We booked this 15 day cruise to be away for both Christmas and New Years. It was wonderful. Our last two cruises were Hong Kong to Shanghai and Yokohama to ... Read More

We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens and we are Elite cruisers on Princess. We booked this 15 day cruise to be away for both Christmas and New Years. It was wonderful. Our last two cruises were Hong Kong to Shanghai and Yokohama to Vancouver in the spring (2014) on Celebrity Millenium. They were truly horrible cruises in all ways so we have dropped Celebrity from our cruising list and have returned to Princess. Everything with Princess was superior. Embarcation was quick. I've noted other comments on this cruise about the ship leaving late - but so what??? We were on the ship, getting comfortable in our 2 oceanview cabins, eating a great lunch and an even better dinner and watching a show. Whether we were in port or on the sea is totally irrelevant as far as we are concerned - we were on shipboard! Our cabins were clean, spacious and comfortable - loads of closet and drawer/shelf space. Our steward was unexceptional but competent. Almost all the staff were friendly and accommodating. There was very seldom a line-up at Guest Services compared to Celebrity were most of the entertainment seemed to be meeting hoards of people in the Guest Services lines because there was so much to complain about on Celebrity. The on-board entertainment was the usual, and included a couple of fabulous magicians and the theater is lovely. All the decor was attractive, bright and cheery.

The food in the dining room was fantastic almost without exception. And hot. We thought the whole menu Celebrity was cold food only since none of our meals arrived warm on the Millenium. On Princess the fish was to die for. The beef was so/so, but we cruise for something different than we eat at home. We can eat good steak at home but fabulously prepared fish and lobster tails (served twice) are a real treat. The desserts were good too. Room Service was fine. Biggest complaint is the coffee which is crappy. But we remedied that by buying a few coffee cards which get you premium teas, hot chocolate and espresso drinks (lattes and cappucinos).

Our girls enjoyed the teen club, although would have preferred less freedom and a few more structured activities.

I had a great massage onshore in Ensenada and the 4 Hawaiian ports were also great. We rented cars on Hawaii and Kauai, taxied on Oahu and visited with friends on Maui. Our only complaint was on Maui. It was a tender port and the lineup to reboard was over an hour and a half. When we approached the front of the line we requested the top deck on the tender so we could get some photos of the ship and indicated our willingness to wait for the next tender we were referred the officer in charge who was a total jerk and a Hitler clone. We were treated very disrespectfully but refused to let it spoil an otherwise lovely cruise. You always meet the odd idiot when travelling.

We took independent debarkation in S.F. and exited swiftly.

All in all a lovely 15 days. Thank you Princess. We're already booked for 2 cruises totalling 35 days on Princess for 2016.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014

My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons.

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My husband and I wanted to do something different for Christmas, like not spend time with our family this year and do our own thing!!! It was our second cruise we have ever been on. I am going to list the pros and cons.

Pros:

The pizza was AWESOME!!! Always fresh, hot, thin crust, nice sized pieces, and there was always cheese and pepperoni available along with a special for the day.

Great selection of alcohol under 10$ which was included in the all-inclusive beverage card. The bartenders did not skimp on the amount of booze in the drinks.

Our stateroom attendant was great! She was very attentive, our room was always clean, and available to meet our requests/needs.

Deck 7 was our favorite. It is an open deck and we would walk around the ship a lot. There were several places throughout the deck to sit, read, and relax.

They had a British Lunch a few times during the week and the Fish and Chips were GREAT!!!

The disembarkation was very well organized, smooth, and efficient. Recommend letting cruise line get you to where you need to go (for us LAX).

We paid 20$/person to go to the Crab Shack and it was worth it!!! Delicious seafood and portions!

For entertainment we enjoyed Movies under the stars, bingo, and the exec chef demonstration. We were GRATEFUL that they televised the NFL games on the big screen Sunday and Monday night.

We appreciated that they hand sanitizer throughout the ship and at the entrances of food stations.

Although we didn't have kids with us, It was a nice touch that they had Santa circle the boat on the tender on Christmas day for the kids.

Overall, service was great and employees were friendly.

CONS:

Food in the Horizon Court buffet was so-so to below average. My husband had a piece of andouille sausage that he said tasted like throat spray.....and he eats everything! For a cruise in the Mexican Riviera we were surprised there wasn't more Mexican food?

We wished our time in Cabo was all day instead of just 1pm... The tender took some time getting to and from the shore.

The internet packages were overpriced so we opted to just quickly check our e-mails paying 80 cents per minute!!

If you purchase the all exclusive beverage package you better drink! Doing the math, it equates to drinking $50/day whether it be booze, soda, specialty coffee, etc. We did make good use of getting large bottles of water which were $3.50 each.

We expect it to be crowded when there is >4,000 people on a ship but...It seemed like there was never anywhere to sit for meals and there was always a long line when waiting to be seated for dinner (we were anytime dining).

Overall we had a good time!!!

 

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014

Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. Hanukkah and Christmas ... Read More

Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. Hanukkah and Christmas occurred during cruise time and there was neither a rabbi or priest on board for Mass or rites. The entertainment was an embarrassment and the food lackluster. The company seems to have adopted a policy of scrimping to get by. I took one arranged excursion, zip lining in Costa Rica. I prearranged it on line before the trip. It was an adventure in the rain that I thoroughly enjoyed but it would have been better if the group of 25 had been smaller so as to make a speedier trip. The ship interior is badly in need of renovating. The carpeting was beyond repair in the hallway, the hot tub leaked and swamped the deck daily.

On the other hand the wait staff was impeccable as was the room steward. I enjoyed dining with pleasant people of various backgrounds. I took a taxi in Aruba to spend the day on a public beach. It was a breath taking sight and an enjoyable afternoon.

Since the trip I have heard that this cruise line is under the umbrella of Carnival Cruise Line along with Holland America and Cunard. After this cruise experience I doubt that I ever cruise those lines again.

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

This was our 6th Christmas cruise but 1st on the Royal.

We arrived in FLL a day before the cruise and spent the night at Embassy Suites. We took the hotels's shuttle to the port at 11:00am and were on board eating lunch in the ... Read More

This was our 6th Christmas cruise but 1st on the Royal.

We arrived in FLL a day before the cruise and spent the night at Embassy Suites. We took the hotels's shuttle to the port at 11:00am and were on board eating lunch in the dining room by 12:30pm. We are Elite so embarkation was quick and painless.

We were upgraded to a mini on Marina deck. Loved the size of the cabin and the large bathroom. The only minor issue was a noise during the day from the pool deck above when someone was dragging chairs around or walking in heels.

We missed the full Promenade deck as we like to walk in the morning and before dinner. There was a walking /jogging track on Deck 17 but it was not protected from the sun and rain. 7 laps around = 1 mile.

We did not use the elevators during the cruise so can't comment on those.

We had Anytime dining and usually ate between 6:00-6:30pm. We always shared a table and never had to wait. Food was good but sometimes underseasoned for our taste. Loved the Chocolate Journeys desserts on 3 nights. We ate breakfast in the buffet or International Cafe since we like to sleep in and never got ready before 9:00am to eat in the Dining Room. We missed Christmas wreaths on the tables and Christmas Crackers on Christmas day. Those changes made the Christmas dinner that much less special than previous years on the Emerald.

We had lunch at Alfredo's 2 times: pizza was OK but the crust was not salted. The 2nd time we tried the pasta dishes and they were very good.

We did not take any excursions and in most ports we did not get off the ship. We enjoyed staying on the quiet ship, reading on our balcony and people watching in IC.

We went to see the new production shows. Enjoyed all of them but they are short at 30 minutes. We did not see the other guest performers as comedians, mentalists and ventriloquists are not really our preferred entertainment. We did not like the new theater, prefer the one on the Emerald. This one seems like a cold cinema rather than a grand theater. There are no tray tables in the seats so people order drinks and then leave the empty glasses on the floor, which get kicked by people leaving the rows. You could see old lemons, straws and napkins under the seats.

We missed having a priest on board to conducts a Midnight Mass. This time there was Catholic service conducted by the DJ and cruise staff on a bare theater stage without even a Christmas tree. We understand that Princess wants to be politically correct but this cruise was advertised as a Christmas cruise so they could make an exception. There also was no Rabbi so there was an annoucement in the Patter asking for a passenger to conduct Hannukah services.

All in all it was a great cruise on a lovely ship. Perhaps if we have't cruised at Christmas so may times before, we would not notice all the little cut backs that made this Chrstmas cruise seem a little less festive.

 

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014

'What plans do you have for your day today?' - 'Did you have a nice day?' - 'Where are you going to eat?' - 'What did you think of the entertainment?'

These are examples of the opening conversation lines we did not hear from our ... Read More

'What plans do you have for your day today?' - 'Did you have a nice day?' - 'Where are you going to eat?' - 'What did you think of the entertainment?'

These are examples of the opening conversation lines we did not hear from our Concierge except 'Good Morning' and we only got that as a begrudging comment before she returned to her computer.

Not on this ship - Everyone made you feel as though you were on a really friendly ship and everyone including the deck and service crew gave you a cheery wave -- that was on Norwegian line.

The only time anyone spoke to us was when they were trying to sell you the overpriced jewelry and spa services.

And the lifts were a joke. The aft (front) lifts went to the 6th floor but you could not access the back of the ship from there you had to go to the 7th floor and then walk along to the middle to go back down to the 6th. ???

The ship itself was fine. The suite cabin we had was smaller than we normally get and we found our friends who paid less got a bigger suite two floors below.

Certainly if it was my first time on a cruise I would think it excellent but unfortunately it seems I have been spoiled by Norwegian line.

Just to top it off we dined in the crab shack on the penultimate night and when the waiter put the napkins around my friend's neck he said 'How tight would you like me tie it?' and made a hanging motion as if to hang her.

This was unfortunate as her son had actually hung himself five years before.

We larfed and larfed over that one............!!

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

I did a back to back on Princess over the holidays and came back extremely disappointed in the drop in Princess Standards and amenities.

They did not have an omelet or pasta bar on this ship, which its competitors from Carnival ... Read More

I did a back to back on Princess over the holidays and came back extremely disappointed in the drop in Princess Standards and amenities.

They did not have an omelet or pasta bar on this ship, which its competitors from Carnival to Celebrity seem to have made a standard feature. There was not any area that contained additional sauces like soy, tabasco, ketchup or steak sauce anywhere in the Horizon Court. Newsflash Princess, passengers are becoming more diverse in the cuisine preferences and background, and you need to please them all – not just the American pallet.

Cabins were cramped and I always had to make sure my wife was not partially dressed and in view of the hallway whenever I opened the cabin door.

Several times during the cruise we ordered wine and then were told later –like up to 20 minutes later in the MDR that it was not in stock. Don’t they provide that information to the dining staff before their shift?

The Chef’s table while glitzy, lost the intimacy that we experienced in other ships. Also – I did not appreciate the entertainment by staff in the MDR – we were trying to get to know other cruisers and had this forced on us. Give the passengers the right to an uninterrupted dinner if they choose, please.

The addition of the high top tables in the Horizon court frustrated several of the older diners – they were difficult to maneuver around when Horizon Court was busy and were inaccessible by many.

And the upsell – the foot clinic, the wine tasting, the after dinner drinks, the spa advertising, it was worse than the Christmas consumer advertising we were hoping to escape.

Princess Cays is not even worth the tender ride out. Better to stay on the ship and enjoy a peaceful and (rare) uncrowded day on the ship. Also noticed that there was very limited bar service on deck as well, and many of the staff turned out to be not good at comprehension. My wife had to tell one server 3 times that she wanted a club soda – not too difficult, but the server had a hard time understanding.

The addition of the fountain on the top deck did not make up for the lack of the pool on the fantail.

Also, on the 26th of December I have had enough of the Christmas music until next December. But no, the piped in music and even certain entertainers kept it going ad nauseum. Many people were disappointed by the lack of Christmas decorations, but they simply did not have space on the ship to add anymore as it felt incredibly cramped with such a large amount of passengers.

It seemed like this ship was a training ground for many staff as they were endlessly asking others how to do their job or giving answers that were not acceptable to passengers which resulted in escalation to higher ups. We witnessed the women in the Cruise Director Staff be incredibly rude to others several times.

And the design flaws, no stairs midship, cramped workout area that people had to walk through and the downsizing to add additional venues that were rarely busy seems like a waste.

But the worst was eliminating the Explorer’s Lounge. That was our hangout after several cruises and the removal of this venue plus the downsizing of the Wheelhouse was a detriment –not an enhancement to prior Princess ship designs.

All in all we had a good time but it was mostly due to the itinerary and being with a loved one.

But never again Royal Princess. And you, sister ship Regal, are also grandfathered in.

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

Overall, we were happy with our cruise. We did B2B 4 and 5 night cruises. This was our first Princess cruise our others were four Celebrity and one Carnival. The ship was beautiful and was very nicely decorated. We enjoyed Grand Turk ... Read More

Overall, we were happy with our cruise. We did B2B 4 and 5 night cruises. This was our first Princess cruise our others were four Celebrity and one Carnival. The ship was beautiful and was very nicely decorated. We enjoyed Grand Turk and Princess Cay. Our Cabin Steward, Pol Mateo, was fantastic. Tatiana, from Vines, was also excellent. We liked the food and the entertainment. Christmas was fun. We enjoyed the Crown Grill. The casino staff was great. In other words, They did the big things very well.

Princess failed in our opinion, in the little things. There were never enough towels, they allowed people to reserve pool chairs for hours without being there, they did not clean up dishes around the ship, the lines for Anytime Seating for dinner were extremely (1 hour +) long, I paid for a coffee card and never received it (even after 4 tries), unlike Celebrity you rarely saw the senior crew members, they let children swim in the adults only pool, there was no benefit in having a mini suite over an inside cabin.

I know this was a B2B of short cruises over the Christmas break but we did not feel as if we were being treated like we did with Celebrity.

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